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Guest  Poetry

After graduating from Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida, in 1971, I attended Kent State University for a year to complete the academic courses required to receive my Bachelor's Degree…I had the good fortune of being able to take my English 101 course from my high school English teacher, who at that time was a Teaching Fellow at KSU furthering his degrees.  He was one of those instructors my best friend and I would stay after school to visit with and discuss all the things intense, earnest, inquiring 17 year old minds discuss with a worldly (to us) guy in his late twenties who enjoyed the classics and classical music.  He opened our minds to the possibilities and hopefulness of learning more and how to apply it to our own lives, which is what a good teacher should do for his students.  I was pleased to be able to take my first quarter of English with him and we resumed our friendship after my three year stint at art school.  He was able to direct me to other young English and creative writing teachers at Kent from which I took my subsequent required classes.
Upon receiving my degree I did the thing most college graduates did.  I took a job as a kennel boy at the Humane Society in Sarasota which my good friends from art school, Harry and Mary, were now managing (their first job upon receiving their Bachelor of Arts degrees).  The plan was to work for six months, long enough to buy and equip a Volkswagen camper, and travel around North America for a year.  Which we did.  At this point I began writing more prose and poetry until my money ran out and I returned to Kent, Ohio, where my best friend from high school was the manager of the local beverage store.  

I became assistant manager and settled into a pretty bohemian lifestyle living in a one room garage apartment five miles out of town in a very rural burg.  When my assorted cars broke down, I would ride my bike into town, or walk along the railroad tracks that ran through the woods beyond my house and into town.  I continued reading and writing and became involved with a group of writers  that met every Tuesday night in Shelley's Used Book Bar owned by Ralph Shelley, an older gentleman with a great head of white hair and stories from his past as a true rider of the rails, hobo style, and a writer himself.  The group of us younger poets, most ex-patriots of KSU (referred to by us as “the Hill”), would meet in his establishment among the racks of used books and read poems to one another and share criticism and the beers we all brought.  When it was time to allow Mr. Shelley and his wife some peace and quiet (they lived in the apartment above the bookstore) we would all move it down the block to DeLeone's, the local townie bar with cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon and a bowling machine, to boot.  

One of my writing instructors from KSU,  Major Ragain, was a frequent reader of this group.  We had established a strong friendship, which lasts to this day, while I was attending classes on “the Hill”, and would frequently meet at a variety of the local bars to discuss the Cleveland Indians, the trotters at Thistledown, and matters of the heart.  Major's writing evolved from his small town upbringing in southern Illinois, where he still maintains the family cottage on Vernor Lake, while my writing grew from a suburban upbringing on the shores of Lake Erie, 18 miles west of downtown Cleveland.  We both shared the belief that our families and our past was integral to who we are today and the important role each of our fathers had played in our lives.  

We put together a few poems commemorating our fathers in a small chapbook called Father Sky.  The poem “Star Wind Off the Water” is one of those poems, written when I was half my current age.  I do, however, still like to think of myself as intense, earnest, and inquiring. 
Ken Muenzenmayer  

Star Wind Off the Water
By Ken Muenzenmayer

       Nearly three years ago
        the importance of light
        when sound can be seen
        was shown me as my father’s hand
        led star wind off the water
        and stripped my heart bare
        under an awfully big sky
        pointing out stars I’d not seen
        in twenty-eight years.
        Had it not been for his other hand
        on my shoulder I’d have joined the fish
        to gulp stars and break the surface 
        of his words.

        The mouthing of our hands 
        was fine that night, a gentle flow
        of look at that, the way Scorpius
        swoops low and Arcturus seems so bright
        and God, how our lives have  changed
        in the past ten years and with the help
        of lack of sleep and too much beer
        we shed some tears and slipped
        into silence with the stars.

        Then I was left alone
        while the family slept
        & the moon rose orange
        as a spent Texas moon does 
        when Scorpius lies down to the         
        locust cry sing song 
        as the stars began their
        water star water song
        and the thundering clouds rode in...

	            I was ready as a weave
	            of galactic intention 
	            lay me down beneath the water
	            and my fingers whispered sounds
	            of Callisto and Artemis.

	            Looking up I could see my reflection
	            on the bottom of the sky
	            as a moon breeze lifted me
	            with a chant of joy
	            and a blessing for us all.

	            Scorpius, Antares is your heart
	            a red giant shown me
	            by my father’s hand outstretched
	            guiding me in ways of his heart
	            under the Texas night
	            where the sky is as big
	            as the eyes allow.

	            placed there to guard your mother
	            by Zeus himself, your father, too,
	            knew the flow of the heart
	            and when to stop the hunting.

        three years later you arrive
        with the clouds in Ohio
        on a cold spring night
        to visit with grandsons
        that now stand taller than us.
        This night there are no stars to be seen
        nor songs to be sung
        and an Ohio sky narrows
        with the rising of trees.
        But we talk and look to this family
        then to each other
        and both silently agree
        that it is up to us to teach them
        of the wonder that lies
        in the blood we share,
        that we are the stars
        of our universe
        ignited each
        by the other.
Originally published in “Father Sky” by 
Ken Muenzenmayer and Major Ragain

Deep Dark Night
Hendrik Bergen
                A deep dark night;
                Red Moon;
                Three Birches.

Vanity Fair
Tami Bachert

            All the lies
            they want us to believe,
            Based on beauty,
            Vanity and greed-
            What is real?
            What is not?
            Can you tell?
            Or have you bought-
            Into the game
            that only counts
            Not the individual
            but the acquired amounts-
            It’s all too sad
            It’s all too real-
            Nobody cares
            how you feel-
            Only how you look-
            and what you’ve gained-
            Money. Power.
            Fortune. Fame.
            Can it bring you serenity?
            Can it take away shame?
     Can you determine who’s to
            Or maybe you already know....
Admissions and Admonitions
Milton Watts
                As old as water,
                Older than dirt ,
                No longer sensitive,
                Oblivious to hurt.

                Everything is old,
                And all of it a bore,
                Whatever has happened to 
                Has happened to me before.

                Whatever you've experienced,
                Be it good or bad,
                Is but the experience,
                I've already had.

                So dream your dream,
                Fantasize your fantasy,
                All you imagine has
                Been reality for me.

                The sensation and titillation,
                The intensity that you know,
                Will fade and lessen
                When you're old & feeling

                For it's up the hill through                             
                Then over and down the
                        other side, 
                Finally, faltering and falling,
                With nothing left but pride.
Lisa Hughes
Waiting for rain to fall upon thirsty leaves and soak
cracked ground

Waiting for words to come swiftly in silence and not 
speaking them

Waiting for the muse to shout aloud and
begin again

Waiting for a cleaver idea to throw paint and 
brush upon

Waiting for my eyes to see what's beyond and
look ahead

Waiting for my ears to hear beautiful sounds and
sing along

Waiting for the waiting
Behind the Scenes
Lisa Hughes
Everything took on a hazy glow, my eyes grew
heavy with the magic medicine, so slow

My fears seeemed to drift further and further away
into the distant fog

"How wonderful"' I thought as my body felt free
sailing away high in the sky

Maybe it won't be as bad as it seems somewhere
inside my mind so tight

Maybe when I wake up it will just be a frightful dream
about this cancer thing

Then it was over and I became one of the women
Second Chances
Lisa Hughes
I wanted

to eat wild strawberries
on a blanket 
under the eiffel tower
in Paris

So I

ate blackberries
on a tablecloth
under an oil rig
in Conroe

I wanted

to taste snowflakes 
in the Alps
on a mountain
in Switzerland

So I

ate a snowcone
on the Matterhorn
at Disneyworld
in Florida

I wanted

to feel the ocean
against my bare 
skin in 
deep water

So I

took off my
clothes and
climbed in 
a blue washtub
Monday sweet Monday
Lisa Hughes
Happy Monday everyone! What will the week bring and how can I best serve it up on a tasty platter? 

When I give my mind a little time and space it tends to loop around itself, over and over

Words and pictures flood the scene with neverending stories untold
of places and people right outside my door

Don't we wish we could fly away to exotic places dripping with sweet honey and marmalade

Bring back bright colors and patterns galore to wrap around our bodies so tight
that we feel giddy and special and so sure
Your Smiling Face
by Tami Bachert

        Your smiling face
        I still see
        Pictured here,
        But not with me.

        Did you know
        When this photo was taken
        So soon you'd leave this life,
        This world forsaken?

        Probably not.
        We seldom do
        Realize life
        Will soon be through.
        Instead we go
        Day to day,
        Living as though
        We‘re here to stay.
        That's not the truth.
        We’ll soon be gone.
        We’ll leave this earth
        Our fates  unknown.                                               
        So the tears I shed
        At the picture I see
        Are not just for you,
        They’re also for me.

The First of December
By Ken Muenzenmayer

        The sunset tonight was a pale yellow and lavender.
        The oak leaves are crisp beneath  our feet. 
        We settle into our home after work.
        The grandchildren have gone home 
        and we become ourselves again.
        It is so quiet.
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