CANCELLED DUE TO IMPENDING SNOWSTORM: Viti & Bryant Read from Their Recent Works: This Sunday, January 20, 3 PM at Old Frog Pond Farm, Harvard, Massachusetts

Alas, Old Man Winter has flexed his ol’ muscle and the greater Boston area is expecting snow and a wintry mix on Sunday. Heather Bryant and I will next read on February 13 at Slater International Center , on the Wellesley College Campus. Please join us at 5 PM that day. Open to the public, book signing and refreshments to follow. Set your Waze for 106 Central Street, Wellesley MA and head towards Tupelo Lane. Ask any student where to park –Founders Lot or the tennis court lot behind Schneider Hall are closest.

POV: Tomorrow Night, January 7, 8 PM EST, on Blogtalk Radio, “Quintessential Listening: Poetry”–featuring Tzynya Pinchback, Jackie Oldham, and Lynne Viti

We’ll be reading from our recent work, so we’d love it if you’d tune in at 8-9 PM, and if you’d call in with comments or questions on what you hear!

New Year Greetings! Old Frog Pond Farm Poem of the Month for January 2019

My poem “Deep Midwinter After-Party,” is featured on the Old Frog Pond Farm website as one of two Poems of the Month, along with my poetry colleague Heather Corbally Bryant‘s “Holly Bushes.” We’ll be reading at Old Frog Pond Farm, 38 Eldridge Road, Harvard, MA at 3 PM on Sunday, January 20!

You can read “Deep Midwinter After-Party” and “Holly Bushes” here, on Old Frog Pond’s poetry page:       

POV: Three Women Poets on “Quintessential Listening: Poetry,” Blogtalk Radio, Monday, January 7, 8 PM EST

Please add this program to your calendar and call in to listen to us read our recent works–and to ask us questions or comment on what you hear!

Midnight Mass

We arrived at ten minutes of twelve, my father and I,
at St. Dominic’s, my grandmother’s church, though by then
she was tucked away in a nursing home south of the city
where nuns in nurses’ uniforms cared for her, prayed

the rosary with her until her mind went, until
the nursing home doctor prescribed restraints
so Grandmother wouldn’t assault the kind nuns, or
scratch herself till her thin arms bled.

St. Dominic’s was a grand church, studded with statues
of the Blessed Virgin, vaulted ceilings,
Stations of the Cross, painted wood, punctuated by gilt
as fancy as you’d see in a cathedral.

Two heavy glass doors at the front entrance, too modern
and the parish school, sturdy structure of gray gneiss stone,
Things that were always there. I must have absorbed all this,
Though what was important was being with my father,

on Christmas, in the days of the Latin Mass,
genuflecting at the pew he chose, watching him flip up the kneeler
to accommodate his bad leg, it wouldn’t bend.

 I opened my Sunday Missal to Mass of the Catechumens.
The priest faced the altar, not us, he mumbled his church Latin.
I loved the sameness of it all, the waiting till the usher
approached, waved us into the communion line.

I loved standing behind my father, shuffling
to the altar rail, waiting for him to kneel,
laboriously. I loved sticking out my tongue
to receive the tasteless paper disc that was Our Lord,

walking back to our pew, covering my face with my hands
as my father did, praying for whatever it was I prayed for
in those days, usually for God to repair my father’s leg,
Let him walk again without the brace.

My thoughts wandered to Christmas morning,
Whether I’d find what I ‘d asked for under the tree.
Everyone stood up. The priest, his back to us,
Was saying Ite, missa est. I know this because

The Mass is ended, it said.
But we weren’t done yet. We said   
prayers for the Conversion of Russia.
I loved these, especially asking for protection

against the wickedness and snares of the devil, who wandered the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Now, the Mass ended.

My father grasped the back of the pew in front,
pulled himself up to stand.
We exited with the slow-moving crowd,
were disgorged onto the front steps of the church.

In the black night, everything seemed possible.
Merry Christmas, pal, my father said.
Want to get breakfast?

Thanksgiving Lite, No Food Coma

Don’t laugh.

Our Thanksgiving  at the cottage was a day late, to accommodate traffic exigencies and the schedules of all four members of our nuclear family–that’s not counting our young cat, who didn’t really care when or where she got her usual ration of indoor cat pate.

And no, we didn’t have turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, white turnip (or sauerkraut if you’re from Baltimore), or any other Thanksgiving staples.

We roasted a 4 pound chicken from the Star Market, using Marcella Hazan’s old reliable recipe, with a whole lemon pierced and stuffed into the bird’s cavity.

We  baked  small Yukon potatoes and Brussels sprouts (Ina Garten style, sans the pancetta, for our son who doesn’t eat pork).

I made my mother -in-law’s pink applesauce, cooking the apples with their skins and then using a ricer to separate the skins from the pink pulp.

Cornbread  came from the box– the Trader Joe’s mix–sweeter than most cakes.

And for dessert, June’s Apple Crisp, another family standby, from The Silver Palate Good Times  cookbook.

So our bellies were full. 

And there’s still apple crisp and cornbread left over.

Both grown sons have returned to their separate abodes to prepare for the coming week. The parents are back home, the chicken carcass and leftover meat is now soupified, joined by leeks, onion, carrot and spices, for tonight’s Sunday supper, with the last bit of the applesauce. Oh, and that apple crisp.

Sometimes it feels just right to break with tradition. 

And we didn’t miss the food coma.

Thank You, America — a poem collage by Kwame Alexander

Thank You, America

The sun rising behind farm houses in the Midwest 
The clear mountain rivers in Montana
I hope we have the wisdom to treasure all of it.

A glimmer of dawn
First flickers in Maine

For the mountains. 
magnificent weathered beacons of topographical wonder.

Tengo gracias that I can speak my mind 
y no aye consecuencia graves when I do so.

I won’t lie, I struggled with this question 
With all the fighting, hate and violence 
it has been difficult to remember to be thankful. 
However, when I read stories of people who 
stand up and speak out 
for justice and truth 
I become immensely grateful and proud of America.Article continues after this message from our sponsor

Freedom to whisper against kings
My grandmother who carried her green card 
in the broken tattoos on her back

I am thankful that other people are still trying to come here.
I am thankful for the vastness of our borders and the beauty of our natural lands.

Sunshine streaming softly 
while we sip our morning coffee.
But across the oceans our troops fight
ensuring that we keep our rights, 
to give us a land of the free.
For the first responders
For hope

I am thankful for America’s history, warts and all. 
Our past, full of light and dark, 
Read the history 
of heroes and villains 
See our country for what it is.

Free Press and Free speech
to speak out against injustices in our country,

For family
For places to walk safely
places to paddle
arcades of trees
varied, inexpensive food
tools and workplaces
longtime friends who listen
tennis courts

Indoor plumbing,

to worship whoever we want, 
to say whatever we want,
to go wherever we want.

for the public libraries. 
They raise up voices whom others attempt to silence.

for diversity. 
For differences 
My son is transgender and I am grateful for those who treat HER with respect and kindness.

for Cape May; for parties on the Fourth of July; for anarchist coffee shops; for church-run thrift stores; hole-in-the-wall BBQ joints; Lake Michigan; Vinny’s Pizzeria in the 90s; beer delivery in a snow storm;

for second, third and fourth chances. 
For forgiveness. 
I am thankful that my hybrid existence, hinted by my brown skin and slanted eyes, can make sense in America.

For many spectacular parks in our nation–from the huge and awe-inspiring Grand Canyon to the tiny neighborhood park with the small playground and the pretty benches painted by local artists.

I am grateful that America can change, too. 
for the millions who take to the streets, 
challenge authority, 
insist on change, 
demand justice, 
resist evil, tell their stories,

Wrought through division
Sustained by freedom’s hope
Seeking reunion 
I am thankful for America, most of the time.

Thank you, America,
For the mom and pop shops and rest stops.
For the back roads and the beaten paths.
For the love that greets me when I come home.

For the dream to become, 
the dream to make better or different, 
the dream to inspire, 
the dream of something on the other side 
of whatever is facing us in the moment

  by Kwame Alexander  

Reprinted from, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving 18 (collage) by Gina Maranto. Copyright Gina Maranto 2018 All rights reserved

Poetry for a Gray November Day: “At Dusk”

In the middle-aged heart
joy can bounce around  flow out
as blood moves through the arteries,
but despair can get stuck.

The two engage in battle:
joy enlisting hope, bliss, contentment–
despair conscripting doubt and anger.
A vessel of the  heart might rupture.

If I could grow the joy, I’d share it.
If I could exterminate the despair
I  would patent my invention.
Tomorrow, let’s watch the last bits of sun,
orange light fading behind the trees.

I’ll take your hand, we’ll laugh together.
This is what we’ll do before night falls.                                       ~Lynne Viti

First Snow of the Season


After weeks of rain that left us seven inches above the average, when the raking of leaves in the yard and driveway wasn’t even halfway done, the first snow took us by surprise. Wet, fat flakes drifted onto the deck, making for an enchanting view when I switched on the floodlight that illuminated the back deck. Our cat was mesmerized by the steady stream of snowflakes. But all I could think was about my boots, not the fancy quilted heavy tread ones that I ordered last week, but my old leather boots–the ones sitting in the entryway next to the as-yet unused canister of waterproofing stuff.

I can’t find my everyday gloves, the red leather ones I wore to Fenway Park on September 25, when the fall night was raw and cold.  I can’t find my favorite scarf, the one from twenty Christmases ago. I’ve misplaced the fur-trimmed hood that zips onto my storm coat.  The ice scrapers are in the garage somewhere, lodged behind summer gardening tools and garden statuary, and lawn sprinklers. 

I’m not ready for winter.

Lucky for me the rain began in the early morning, and by the time I left for work the roads were clear.  The temperature had edged just above freezing. I grabbed an umbrella and headed to campus. On the drive in, I mentally repeated my mantra for the day: It’s not winter yet. It’s not winter yet, not till December 21, over five weeks away The forecast for tomorrow in New England is 48 F and party cloudy–or as I prefer to call it, partly sunny.

Winter’s in abeyance. And all’s right with the world, until we’re walloped with a real snowstorm.

This was’t even a dress rehearsal.