Night Crawlers

I commend this poem to your attention–by Jackie Oldham, a Baltimore writer.

baltimoreblackwoman

I.

I used to be a Night Crawler:
one of those people
on foot
in the dark,
going somewhere.

Now, I nearly run them down,
barely able to see them
skittering across the street,
in dark clothing,
with only the dancing light
of their sneakers
visible in my headlights—
if I’m lucky—
as I drive across town
on a Sunday night.

I wonder where they could
possibly be going
at this hour—nearly midnight!

At the corner of North and Fulton,
on the unlit side of the street,
I spot a lone woman
walking her dog.

On my side of the street,
a corner lit garishly bright
by a large, portable rectangular
spotlight on the sidewalk,
and, a few feet away,
by a neon-blue police light
flashing atop the streetlamp,
a gaggle of male nightcrawlers
hangs outside The Oxford Tavern,
an improbably British-style building
in the heart of Sandtown,
where the…

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Anniversary

We’ve lived in these bodies so long.
Don’t think about their diminished condition,
the damage gravity has done,
don’t  worry if our legs feel papery.
I like the way they intertwine
on the old blue sheets.
Forget that your beard’s now flecked with white,
that what once seemed merely sun lines
are crow’s feet etched in deep symmetry on my face.
Ignore the muscle cramps that interrupt our play.

Your eyes are the dark eyes
That saw me that first night.
Your right hand is the same one
that brushed against me. You leaned over to
open the car door for me,
spilling me out onto the sidewalk.

I slid out, muttered thanks, goodnight—
Turned at the front steps, perplexed,
went home when I should have turned back to you.

 

Originally published  on March 10, 2017 in  the online ‘zine, Work to A Calm

A request if you’ve already purchased Baltimore Girls–and another one if you have not!

Dear readers,

I thank those of you who have already purchased Baltimore Girls for your support–especially if you pre-ordered from Finishing Line Press.

If you pre-ordered but have not yet received your book, contact me immediately and I will see that another copy is mailed to you within one business day!

I’m collecting photos of my readers holding up the book, for a checkerboard poster I am assembling. If you’d like to be in the poster along with the 23 readers who’ve already sent me their photos, please send your photo along, as a posting to my Facebook page (Lynne Spigelmire Viti) or by email. It’s time for your 15 minutes of fame!

And-your turn to write something– a review of Baltimore Girls on amazon.com. Go to the amazon listing for the book,  and scroll down to the bottom where you see Write a Review. Then write!

If you did not pre-order Baltimore Girls,  I have 100 copies of BG in my home office that i would love to unload. Proceeds from sales of these copies, which I received from Finishing Line in lieu of royalties, will be divided equally between the scholarship fund at my alma mater, Mercy High of Baltimore, MD, and Epiphany School, Boston, a private, tuition-free  middle school for Boston youth. Both are strongly faith-based schools that emphasize academics and character development. Both schools need financial support.

The cost of the book is $13.99. I will take care of postage costs if you live in the U.S. If you’d like to round up and give even more to Mercy High and Epiphany, I’ll be delighted.

You can email me at my school address, lviti@wellesley.edu, leave a comment here with your contact info (I won’t publish the comment ) or send me a tweet @Lynne Viti.

Thanks!

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Lynne Viti reads her  poetry at the  Westwood Public Library, Westwood, MA, April 3.

More Tankas, from Nancy Levine and Deborah Levine

Pilates
Right muscle, right work.
Contract, release, exactly.
Breath and work are one.
Tense for use, relax the rest.
I stretch, I breathe. I open.

By Deborah Levine

 

Lovers

dancing in the rain
minutes precious ticking clock
till we meet again
it is said love conquers all
without it I am nothing.

By Nancy Ruth Levine

 

The Nancy Ruth Levine Tanka Contest

Nancy Ruth Levine, my former student from my days teaching in the English Department at Westhill High School in Stamford, Connecticut in the mid-Seventies,  challenged me and others to a Tanka contest.

The Tanka is a Japanese closed form. The most typical meter is 5/7/5/7/7.

Here’s mine:

Teacher’s Complaint

No one’s read the book
Except my three best students;
Discussion flagging,
The slackers dream of spring break—
London,Iceland,Cozumel.

 

 

Add yours, in a comment!

 

Sunday Afternoon at the Gardner Museum

 

Since today, March 18, is the 27th anniversary of the Gardner Museum heist, in which 13 works of art (including several by Degas, a Rembrandt, and a Vermeer) were stolen from the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum and never recovered–I thought it was fitting to republish my poem about the robbery. The thieves have never been found or brought to justice, and to date, the paintings have not been found.

Sunday Afternoon at the Isabella Stewart Gardner

Thieves in darkness smart enough to wear
cops’ uniforms, clever enough to talk
their way into the mansion
crammed with rich tapestries,
room after room of paintings, drawings
bowls, sculptures, carvings—
thieves experienced enough to tie up
museum guards, dazed and sleepy on the graveyard shift,
I suppose these interlopers came armed
with a shopping list and box cutters,
worked quickly, lifting the art
from the wall, and not gently,
slashed the canvass from each frame.

In the dim light they must have complained
about the working conditions as they moved
from the Rembrandt to the Vermeer, the Degas
— the unlucky thirteen stolen works, thirteen fruits
but for whom? A prince shut up in his rich apartment
somewhere between Boston and the South Seas,
or a Brandoesque recluse in London or Philadelphia
with only a handful of friends—no, acquaintances—
who’d see his art, and gasp or sigh, perhaps even
touch the oil paint, tracing the drapery of Christ’s garment,
so that nicotine-stained fingers rubbed against
the master’s brush strokes, the light that seemed
to gather in the painted figure’s eyes and shine out
from paint and canvas to catch the viewer’s gaze?

Or maybe the canvasses are shut-ins themselves,
rolled up and stashed in an attic or barn,
the thieves perhaps not so smart after all,
now long dead and their confidants
addled hoarders, barricaded behind newspapers, junk mail,
packing boxes that fill floor to ceiling, leaving
only a narrow path from front door to kitchen.

The museum’s glass addition sparkles
in the winter sun, people line up in the glittering
entryway, pay the price of admission and wander
from gallery to gallery, fixing on what’s here,
every wall covered, the art jammed so closely
it’s easy to forget what’s not there
till you enter, single file, the room
with the empty frames, the nothing of it all
startles you, and you think
who did this, and why?

Hard not to take it personally,
the absence of these canvasses,
as if you could walk right up to the woman
in long black evening dress, the pearls glistening
around her white neck, roping her waist,
and whisper sympathetic words– great loss,
dear Isabella, infuriating, irreplaceable, tragedy—

Walk through the crowd waiting to retrieve
coats and umbrellas, more people
than you’ve ever seen here, hear them
talking about the missing stuff, wondering
aloud, asking guards for details, hear
the same story over and over, it’s
a prayer that ends with
Give it back, give us back our art.

 

 

 

 

 

“Baltimore Girls” has shipped!

My friend –and guest lecturer visiting from U of Miami– Gina Maranto snapped these  photos, as I was opening the shipment of my 100 copies of Baltimore girls, last Thursday when we returned from a long teaching day.

 

If you did not pre-order, I have 100 copies I’d like to part with, so if you’re in the greater Boston area, let me know. I deliver signed copies!! If you’re farther away, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Finishing Line Press carry the book.  Or wait till I come to Baltimore or Stamford, CT, and come to my readings–I  will be selling and signing books!

 

Next reading: Sunday, April 2, 2017, Westwood Public Library,  660 High St, Westwood, MA 02090, 2-4 PM

 

 

I’m “live” today on the Jungle Red Mystery Authors Website!

Please post your questions and comments there about poetry, Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas, Emily Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson. Shel Silverstein, Allen Ginsberg, Adrienne Rich, Leonard Cohen, Alice Notley, Joyce Kilmer, John Greenleaf Whittier, and more!

Here’s the website url.screen-shot-2017-02-24-at-9-04-43-am

Guest Blogging on Jungle Red, Feb. 25

My pal Hallie Ephron, one of the Jungle Red mystery authors, has invited me to guest blog  on Jungle Red next Friday, February 25.  their tagline: “8 smart and sassy crime fiction writers dish on writing and life. It’s the View–with bodies.”

The Jungle Red website features eight women mystery authors, many of them winners of prestigious awards: the Edgars, Agathas, Anthonys, Neros, and more.

Of course, I won’t be talking/writing about Private investigators,  or who was responsible for that corpse in a mystery novel, but about my poetry–how I came to it, my writing process, where I come up with ideas for the poems.

My poetry collection, Baltimore Girls, is in the works at Finishing Line Press, although the February 24 delivery date has been pushed a few weeks later. Pre-orderers, please be patient–this small literary press in Kentucky is working as fast as it can to get the book to you.

Take a look at the Jungle Red blog now, and again on February 25 when I blog. Its interactive feature allows readers to comment or ask questions of the guest blogger, and I will be checking in all day (and early evening) long to see what you have to say.

Hallie will start us off with her interview with me, and you, readers, can take it from there!

Hope to see you–virtually–on February 25, from 9 AM EST to 9 PM EST! Please come!