Some more poetry from the Mystic. And would love your submissions

Some more poetry from the Mystic. And would love your submissions

The Mystic from the poem, holding out a sea shell, Summer, 2015 [Photo: André Spenard]

So far we have received two wonderful poetry contributions, “November” by Olivia Spenard and “In a clinic in Paiwas” by Tom HarrisAnd recently several thought-provoking articles by Shadi Kafi and George Payne.

To encourage more poetic/visual contributions, below are some poems each with pictures added. The three with links were published in The Criterion: An International Journal in English.

We ask for your poems with complimenting pictures (especially one that will look cool on the home page!).

A Period of Mutually Agreed Upon Reflection 

She has three men to forget now.

Her husband who she left for her lover who she left

To be alone in her dreams.


The one where her father builds a shinto shrine

Of cigarette butts in the ashtray,

Telling her, doesn’t she know he is dying?


The father who pissed beer on her older sister’s bed

Before she was born.

The sister who wished she had danced on her father’s casket.

The one where an intruder carries a knife bloodied as with red barnacles.


The one where her husband is fucking another woman.

The one where her lover has become a mystic on a Caribbean island

Where she goes once watching blue dolphins play in the waves.


The New Yorker is publishing my poem!

I who wrote one poem in college thirty years ago,

Walked into a cemetery,

Lit my first cigarette in ten years,

And wrote a poem in my mind.

Lacking pen, I found a Starbucks,

Scrap paper and a black Sharpie.

Within fifteen minutes, finis.


The Brighton Cemetery off Winton Road, June 2015 (selfie)

The images and dreams

Taken from another person.

But who cares?


Then the letter.

To be published in an upcoming issue.

A complete novice.

Absolutely unprecedented and unimaginable.

The luminaries who grace the page

Of The New Yorker!

At the Tom Otterness sculptures on University Ave holding a New Yorker, October 2015

At the Tom Otterness sculptures on University Ave holding a New Yorker, October 2015

Friends and family for the rest of their lives

To be speechless.

The Department of English

In which I serve as an adjunct

To be dumfounded.


I who never play the lottery,

Won the lottery.


The woman

Whose life I borrowed,

Who left me,

Will come back.


Two on a rickety bicycle


Hey, thanks. Let me show you the house.

The ruse of the forgotten pen.

From when they exchanged numbers that evening at Jeremiahs.

Her children now at home with her sister

Eating Reeses and Nestles Crunch.

Look, seniorita, a Cuban flag bought last August

When Obama established diplomatic ties.

Going to fly it right next to the American flag

On Independence Day.

cuban flag

Cuban flag, Brighton, NY July 4th 2015

Up against a certain wall,

Back to a certain chair,

Her on my lap,

Leftover Halloween candy,

In a bowl on the table.

*  *  *
Healthy Relationships drawing 1-page-0

The Healthy Relationships Seminar done.

Skylarking home on the Canal Path

Under a purple evening sky

Making purple water.


Canal Path, Pittsford, NY August, 2015

Two Asians on a rickety bicycle.

The same two as before and before.

Her gangly with glasses, in back.

She, perched almost on his lap, in front.

Pleasant, short, more plain than not.

The same couple, for years now, swooning and looping

The Canal Path, the Lehigh Valley Trail, the Genesee Parkway,

Riverside and inland.

He whispering to her in Chinese

Or Talagog. Or Esperanto.

Or is it even words?

The single encounter at the municipal tennis courts

That is not me watching them on their bicycle.

The cheap used yard sale rackets,

The found balls fuzzless and soggy,

Black socks and Walmart tennis shoes.

rick 2

Cobb’s Hill, August 2015

“Hey, I think I’ve seen you guys on your bicycle.”

The returned stare as blank as this page before I started.

“Do you go to school here?”

We grew up in China

My husband grad student in Electric Engineering

Live in Whipple Park.

Back to forehands and backhands

Plinking into the net.

Funny, she and I never have played tennis like that

The way we talked about.

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

A Phone Call to Manhattan

We had made love in a Narragansett beach house as the Beavertail Lighthouse

Sent continual beacons of light through the window whose rhythm matched our own.


And the call was never made.


Beavertail Lighthouse, Jamestown RI

At three in the morning, pushing me down into wood chips

Scattered about the Children’s Garden

In Peace Dale.


And the call was never made.gladys-potter


A red sweater on a cool Fall evening in Providence

In whose cuteness I saw

Grandchildren at my feet at eighty.


Statue of Roger Williams in Prospect Park overlooking Providence

And the single phone call to Manhattan

That it would have taken

Was never made.

The beach house, Narragansett, Rhode Island circa 1998, my sister Leslie to right

The beach house, Narragansett, Rhode Island circa 1998, my sister Leslie to right

gp 3


gp 1

Poetic License: the “Children’s Garden in Peace Dale” is actually the Gladys Potter Garden near Wayland Square on the East Side of Providence.


Providence, RI 1986 [Photo: Sarah Lum]

A Thirty Year Prophecy

Caressing the still visible pinkish line with its sixteen stitches,

For thirty years he imagined telling the story to great effect over wine at tables for two.


Slyly he recounted how he had taken a Brown girl inside Sayles Hall.

Coaxing her upward,

Climbing a ladder to a musty, nearly dark alcove, sweater breached and bra unhinged.

Suggesting the math classrooms downstairs would be more amenable to their purposes.

The fall, the nail, the glass, the blood. The air cast, the sixteen stitches.


No doubt the gay organist who used the alcove placed a curse.

Because later he would take a RISD girl to the scene of the crime.

This time the organist was booming fugues from the Phantom of the Opera.

Chastened, he offered she go down first.

The fall, the nail, the glass, the blood. The air cast, the seventeen stitches.

Needless to say, the wound was fatal to our budding romance.


He always ended, squinting, that one Campus Dance he planned to take a woman

Back to the second floor of Sayles Hall when on the steps below the window at midnight

The Jabberwocks sang Ever True to Brown.

There and then he would propose.


Sayles Hall, Brown University

Who knows, it might be a stranger he had just met. An old love back for Reunion Weekend.

It might be you. Curses don’t last forever.


In the afternoon before the Dance, those not wanting to overpay for their liquor

Tape bottles of Tanqueray and Old Bombay underneath their assigned tables.

By 10:30, the bottles empty and the revelers back in line paying double prices.

The clear skies above Providence keeping its celestial promise for an evening.

Ever the same twelve thousand people Under the Elms.

Rows of Japanese lanterns making the Green look like a colonial outpost.

The Big Band announcing that happy days are here again.

Dancers dancing as if it were 1955 or 1965 or 1975 or 1985.

Kisses melting time.


Said to be comfortable in his bachelorhood, they had met at the University track one June day.

She was young. Improbably young. Only 28.

They had made love in a Narragansett beach house as the Beavertail Lighthouse

Sent continual beacons of light through the window whose rhythm matched their own.


Beavertail Lighthouse, Jamestown RI

Somehow he sweet talked her into the Reunion and Dance.

She found his old story clichéd and obvious.

And she was from Manhattan and to her it was just another crowded affair.

And it might rain. And they would have to stay in dorms.


Fifteen minutes before the Jabberwocks were to begin, he went into Sayles alone.

Seeing her in the crowd, tipsily flirting with a circle

Of Class of ‘65ers, he beckoned.

Smiling, laughing, waving back, she returned to the conversation

With a man wearing a hat shaped like the head of a Brown bear

That made him look like a fool.


Campus Dance 2015 Shortly after the Senior Sing at midnight, Brown lit up the sky over the East Side with the final 250th anniversary celebration. Alas, I was not there. Not back since 2002.

Later back in the Wriston Quad dorm she admitted

She had more fun than expected. The old guys were a hoot when drunk.

Was that him waving? It was dark and hard to see.

Too bad her train left so soon and she couldn’t stay the whole weekend.

SEE ALSO the ACTUAL poem from 1990 (with companion letter and photo) referred to in “The New Yorker is publishing my poem!”




Daphne 1-page-0

Page 1 Fall 1989


Page 2, Fall 1989

Niagara Falls August 1989

Niagara Falls, August 1989

Our first submission! “November” by Olivia Spenard, Creative Writing Program, School of the Arts

“In a clinic in Paiwas” — Thomas W. Harris (1925 – 1999)

On the Road. Destination Little Bohemia in the South Wedge.

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


Like what you see on our site? We’d appreciate your support. Please donate today.

Featured Posts


%d bloggers like this: