Nice little clip from the North Shore Poet’s Forum on the limerick form.
Here’s mine:
There was a red bird in a tree,
Whose feathers were lovely to see;
And his song was so fair,
As it pluck’d from very air
That I sang along out of key!

North Shore Poets' Forum

Our next Forum meeting is Saturday, May 21, and Jeanette Maes is presenting a program on Ella Wheeler Wilcox. We will meet in the Barnet Gallery, and we have been given special permission to have food. However, the library is having trouble with its water so we are advised to bring our own.

As usual, you are encouraged to bring copies of any poems for which you would appreciate gentle critiques.

In the meantime, I came across this in the New York Times today and thought you might enjoy it!

Back Story

(Stolen from the New York Times, 5/12/2016)

There was an old man in a tree, Whose whiskers were lovely to see; But the birds of the air, Pluck’d them perfectly bare, To make themselves nests on that tree.

That might sound a bit like Dr. Seuss, but it was written by the British painter and poet 

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001When I was little my grandfather would grab the Sears catalogue and disappear in the bathroom forever. In my house, we actually have a little mini bookshelf built into the bathroom wall. This not being big enough, we also have a basket on a shelf filled with Poets & Writers’ Magazines, Guitar Center catalogues, and an assortment of literary magazines.

Among them, the Bellevue Literary Review, Vol. 16, No. 1. Of course, if you are not familiar with this journal, please make haste and go and get yourself a copy. In this edition, poets Molly Peacock and Jeffery Harrison (who I spotted at the Mass Poetry Fest) and…

One particular poem caught my eye the other day–The Interview by Kathryn Starbuck. It 002caught my attention, in part, because my professional life includes a good amount of time spent interviewing individuals and compressing their thoughts and retelling their stories. Today, I work for a healthcare publishing company but in the not-so-distant past I worked as the editor and reporter for my hometown newspaper The Beverly Citizen.

In Starbuck’s poem, the speaker serves as both the interviewer and the interviewee as the poet attempts to disgorge the inner life of her subject. It doesn’t turn out well. Rather than information, the interviewer gets “cries emanating from the bathtub of a drowning child.” That sounds pretty horrible. This single stanza work turns as the speaker admits that nothing is clear but the fact “that something has happened/and that is has happened to me…” and that the speaker “will have the last word.”

For today’s poem, I took Starbuck’s The Interview and played with the author’s language choices as a form of an exercise (you know how you do that, take the line and make it your own). I’d also like to play around with a poem in which I interviewed myself (I wonder what I questions I would ask me). Finally, I’d like to work on a poem in which I address my former, reporter self and provide that girl some insight in which questions she should ask to get into the heart of an interviewee.

If any of these ideas strikes you and you’d like to take a shot at a poem please share it in the comment section. I’d love to read it!

Poem for day four.

Winter walk 023I am my own
particular shade of blue, a confluence
of little rivers running to an unnameable
sea that dreams of reflections of clouds.

There is no fact
of happening here. All science and
faith are foam glistening for a moment,
water trickling from tap to bath not
made for swimming.

I have no insight
for you. Nothing is
clear but then, nothing has ever
happened or will ever happen
to me, all wave after wave, all
cloud after cloud, war after unending
war. All I know is my own inner peace.

As I am numbering these posts it occurs to me that doing so may not be in my best interest. I mean, if I number them, then surely you’ll know much quicker when I’ve skipped a day or if the numbers are out of line. Maybe I’ll mix it up and use letters instead of days or random numbers or Roman numerals in the blog post titles just to keep things interesting.

It is a rainy day here in the Boston area and it promises to be a rainy week, although we are looking forward to sunny skies and warm, more May-like, temperatures soon. (Oh weathermen you fickle Gods how you play with our hearts and torment our plans!) It must be the rainy weather that’s causing my cats consternation because they would not leave me alone this morning. All purring and meowing and stretching out in front of me trying to trip me into patting them.

Poem for day three. (It’s a short one.)

Today is a day for cats.


This is Hugo.

Blue water, gray skies.

Yesterday was a day for dead
birds. Blue skies and gray water
covering the possibilities of the deep.

Lee 001

Lee Freedman at the 18th annual Tin Box Open Mic in Swampscott.

More than 25 people (I counted but got tired by 25) faced the podium and filled the upstairs alcove of the Swampscott Public Library Monday, May 2, for the 18th annual Tin Box Poets open mic reading in honor of national poetry month.

Our original open mic reading was sadly postponed back in April so the unofficial (official) leader of our group Lee Eric Freedman donned a hat and read a strongly worded work which ended with winter being un-apologetically shown the proverbial door.

Freedman also read a lovely poem called “The Wilting” about being left in charge of  caring for his mother’s plants whenever she goes away and all the vines and greenery conspiring to fake their deaths despite the speaker’s best attempts to keep them alive.

We also heard from fellow Tin Boxers Clemens Carl Schoenebeck, Pushcart nominated poet and author of the biography Dancing with Fireflies, who read a couple of ekphrastic poems–one about his experiences viewing Michelangelo’s Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City and another about singing Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem  in a summer choir.

There were a number of other Tin Box poets at the podium including Ray Whittier and Paul Lahaie and Dave Sommerset, among others. And there were a number of poetry “friends” from other artistic groups in the North Shore who arrived to lend their poetic support to the event. And there were also newcomers who read from their collections works about love, loss, and connection.

With all this poetry out in the world, why offer yet another scrap of my own work? Because I believe that the process of sharing our thoughts with each other and with the world helps us to connect with each other and makes the world a better place. If only a little bit. Just like it did for those up in the library last night as the rain drizzled down and strangers and friends clapped for each other, for the power of their words and the community they formed. If only for a moment.

Poem for day two.

005 (5)Here they come, childless,
dogless and leashless into the chill
March air laughing and tugging at each
others’ fingertips hopping over the blue-
black seaweed crusted rocks of the jetty.

I can hear them behind me, mocking
the solitude they just disturbed, my
cross-legged meditation over the cursive
white lettered “I love you” painted there,
the pause and retreat of the waves, oh,how like a lover, as I retreated to give
them their own time and their own space
the lapping and the laughing following me home.



blades of grassComing off a weekend spent filling my head with lovely language, turning the proverbial page on April, aka national poetry month, reminiscing about past Aprils’ round robins with a poem-a-day, I thought I’d push the envelope a little bit and try my hand at writing a poem each day throughout the month of May.

These will be rough, essentially first or second draft works, and most likely raw in their self-consciousness by which I mean these poems may not quite know what they’re about yet. So I welcome any constructive criticism or feedback. But let me say a few words about that.

Last Friday, April 29, the Tin Box Poets of Swampscott held a panel discussion at the 2016 Massachusetts Poetry Festival regarding creating and maintaining a critique circle. We discovered that while we have no formal set of rules governing our critique process, we certainly do have one in place. That process, rather simply, includes the following four steps:

  1. Be kind
  2. Focus on the poem before you on the page
  3. Comment on the craft
  4. Be kind

In our monthly workshops, each participant brings their unique poetic talent to bear not only on their own creations but in their comments on the other participants’ poems. One person may love form and so can offer formalized suggestions to elevate a work. Another may love line break. Another assonance. Another rhyme. We all have something to offer and in offering it, shed new light on what a particular work might be.

So, poem one.

31 Harbor Ave.

It is noon. The sun is high.
Seaside your mansion windows
glint turning glass to mirror. The birds,
robins and house sparrows shake
themselves in your driveway puddles
your car tucked safe into its garage.
It is noon and the sun is high.
Deep in the dark mud beneath
the roots of the rhododendron earth
worms wriggle through the water
to the surface, not drowning.

The sun is high. It is near noon.
The sprinklers chickle and spin
the water beads on the bright green blades
of grass and glistens as it drips into streams
down the sidewalk and off into the sewer.

It is after noon. And the sun is high and still
your sprinklers spin. And water drips downstream.
And robins bath in driveway puddles. And the sun
sucks at whatever drops it can and the roots
of the rhododendron drink and the blades
of the grass sip. And the noon sun sinks, lower,
and still your sprinklers spin.


New year 2015 008oh, brittle wing of winter
rose, hold on past all Thanksgiving
and through the gentle
warmth of this
Christmastide as the forgetful
trample past armed
with all that plugged in
sparkle and twinkle of children’s eyes.

This is mortality, this photograph
of you. This photograph of you and this
photograph of those goddamned beautiful
kids so young. This photograph of
me holding a photograph of you
so that when you prepare for the inevitable
you’ll see my finger tip in the lower
corner and remember

my hands, the curve of my fingernail,
how those hands held yours at the beach
while we jumped the waves, how those
hands grabbed your belly chased by a joyous
cackle. This is the recognition of mortality, you

and me and the entire family here at the break
of the new year pretending into the winter
wind that falls with ice and ice and such a light
snow as to be misunderstood as rain

snapping photographs of ourselves together
before we close the car doors again and head
back into our own solitude where the whole
point of the thing is known but tucked away

in photo albums
waiting for the day they’ll be taken
down off
the shelf again.

Taken in November 2012 at twilight on Lothrop Street.

Taken in November 2012 at twilight on Lothrop Street.


When I was little, I used

to wish for world

peace but now

I know acceptance. That I shouldn’t

have wished

for anything but the tickle

of this snow

against my skin.