Many of the poems in this book inspired poetry in me.
She flew out of the house in the center of a whirlwind whipping around her making her stressed beyond belief. Her mind was twirling through a mass of unhappiness, anger and so many questions she asked that went unanswered. She had been traveling on the straight and narrow, under full control but it wasn’t working. What was her next move she asked her dearest and wisest friend. Tone yourself down, she advised, stay calm and have faith, your turn is coming and is on the way. And there it was, as soon as she opened her heart and her mind, the bend in the road was right in front of her.
The perfect item to bring to my friendship circle of women is something I have no name for. I gather the ingredients first so they will be handy to me.
NO NAME RECIPE arlene s bice
peanut butter walnut halves dried dates sugar touched by cinnamon, in a shallow bowl
I place the items to the side of the old wooden table-top, cleared now of the crossword puzzle from last Sunday’s newspaper and the antique brass candle-holder containing a taper. I’m lucky enough to have stocked up on tapers when I could still buy them at wholesale prices. The holder was a gift from Mona, who in the winter invites me for dinner served in her simple colonial dining room, lit only by candlelight, as authentically colonial as the dinner served.
I’ve also moved the wooden bowl hollowed out and hand-painted on the outside, by the loving hands of a true craftsman. This too, was a gift, but from Norma who began as a customer in my shop and became a very generous friend.
These items are removed and the table scrubbed clean of cat fur wisps from my two girls, Mz Lizzie and Lady Jane. They give me the same great joy as the Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice for which they were named. They love to watch me cook and bake from the safe distance of a nearby wooden wine rack stand, a gift to my late husband still in use long after he has passed.
I cup a date in my left palm, holding the paring knife in my right. The sharp tip of the knife slits the date open like a pocket sewn closed in error. A small swipe of peanut butter fills the gaping hole easily before I reach for the walnut recently plucked from the ground under my neighbor’s huge, ancient walnut tree. It was necessary to scoot the squirrels away to get the walnuts. They don’t give them up easily even though the tree will give us thousands more this year.
As soon as I brought my little treasures home, I spread them out thinly on a cookie sheet, blackened with age and use, roasting the nuts on low heat for an hour or so.
The date and peanut butter embrace the newly received walnut half, not quite closing around it. Next I roll the piece into the cinnamon tinted sugar
waiting in the shallow bowl with the images of Toulouse Lautrec posters reminding me of another century. My friend Tom encouraged me to buy a whole set of them, knowing I would always treasure them as I do his pieces of artwork that I own.
The finished product is placed next to her sisters on the cut glass tray, a lovely platter salvaged from an unlovely time, an angry divorce, but now garnishing a shelf, patiently waiting for a lifetime of happy use.
P S: Cream cheese may be substituted for the peanut butter but nothing can substitute the friends that will share my creation.
Many people came into my life in the few years of the mid 70s when I worked at the American House Tavern and Restaurant as a bartender. Most of them were treasures, full of character. They were who they were.
Still, there are always a few phony people tucked into the masses. Mostly they can be spotted easily by a bartender as they walk in the door. It was fun watching them rattle through their spiel, trying to impress me. I often wondered why they bothered. What was the reason behind it? Were they bolstering themselves and why did they care what the bartender thinks of them? Some of the guys were trying to make a score. When that didn’t happen, they turned to try it on the next gal who came through the doors of this old, historic building. These guys were shallow, thankfully they were few.
Historic buildings were not what the average customer was thinking about. . . .
THE HORSEY SET-arlene s bice
they came with bruised, calloused hands
coarser than sandpaper
to lift a shot of whiskey chased by a
cold mug of beer,
for hard work done out in the elements,
thanks not given
what they gave themselves;
not a lot of time
to linger; even on
horses had regular schedules
workers were there
to keep ‘em
they came from all parts
of the country, from
Canada, and the
Caribbean, landed here
in the center of
to work on
one particular horse farm
‘how did they find us’
some from the west or mid-west;
wasn’t that a reversal
They came as
more on the list
of guys & gals
no shifting duties
either you were good
carrying your own weight
or you were
Where I’m From-inspired by George Ella Lyon
arlene s bice
I’m from special dinners in the dining room
tea and toast for breakfast in the kitchen
a kitchen floor filled with piles of clothes
on Mondays, waiting for the wringer washer
I’m from home baked bread, lemon meringue pies
fried ripe tomatoes in summer with milk gravy
BBQ pork & fried chicken better than the South
junket when I was sick, all a mother’s pride
I’m from clothes frozen on the line before the pin is set,
coal chutes rattling noise, filling the bin, coal dust flying
church bells on Sunday morning, waking me up
listening to the Phillies on the radio playing baseball
on a quiet summer afternoon, playing Monopoly
or Catch ‘5’ on the Zeltt’s front porch till somebody
loses too often & gets mad, Mrs. Zeltt bringing iced tea
I’m from relay races and outdoor movies hanging
on the school on a summer night when mosquitoes
were plentiful; Wednesday afternoons walking two
miles to the swimming pool and once swimming in
our neighbor’s wooden pool that he built himself
flowers picked from the cemetery for Mother’s Day
getting caught smoking in the tree with the boys
I’m from roasting potatoes on a stick on an open fire, till they were black, snuck out of the bin in the bottom of the fridge and frogs’ legs Mom cleaned and fried for us after we caught them in the creek, sneaking eggs out of the nest in our chicken coop that had a straw smell like no other; the turkey had his own place, strutting around the small back yard, fenced so they wouldn’t get out or was it to keep other animals from getting in
I’m from American Bandstand on TV, playing hookie from school to dance before Dick Clark arrived
school dances, roller skating, and football games, movies on Friday nights, wearing lipstick, giggling over boys, tomato pies from Papa’s on Chambers Street on a Saturday night while watching Midwestern Hayride with my big brother Bob, graduating to babysitting, to flying in a DC 9 from Chicago & a Piper Cub at 15.
I’m from a main street dividing Trenton and Hamilton, where we counted the cars going by while waiting for Mom to get herself ready; we never reached 10; washing the porch with the hose in the summer and sometimes sleeping there when it was too hot in the house; sneakers and high heels, jeans and ball gowns, lots of picnics and plenty of pictures; I’m from a lusty passion for travel that stayed with me all my life.
Where I’m From-inspired by George Ella Lyon
arlene s bice
I’m from Liberty Street between the Methodist Church
& Cristofaro’s Memorial tombstones
the street dividing Trenton from Hamilton Township
on the township side
I’m from walking to school with friends,
kids who stood in my yard and ‘hello-ed’ the house
by calling my name, never knocking
on the back door
Piles of clothes lay on the kitchen floor
on Mondays when the wringer washer
got pulled up to the sink
tea & toast was breakfast
where a pink rose bush covered the fence
so pale in color that when we took pictures
in summer, petals covering the groun
like a winter snow
jigsaw puzzles spread on the old dining table
with fat oak legs rubbed shiny for holidays
summer was Catch 5, monopoly & rummy
on the front porch
swimming in Mr. Ron’s wooden pool, one he built
having no children of his own, cutting flowers
for us so we would not raid the cemetery on
Rosie’s old husband sat on a Bentwood chair
alongside the tomato pie place sidewalk
calling to all the young girls walking by
crossing the street
two blocks away was the best vegetable garden
with tomatoes ripe, red, & juicy, the old
Italian almost caught us with tomatoes
piled in our shirts
four blocks away was Pryor’s donuts
filling the air with hot greasy aromas
making us all hungry for a warm, plump,
sleeping on the porch on hot summer nights
playing in the attic on rainy days where I’d
find my father’s leg brace in a drawer, thinking
someday I’d be just like him.
- Zoom writing/poetry workshops online, they make life easier while bringing people together who otherwise may not be able.
- Online writing connections through SSS and TTOT and Sealey Chapbook Challenge.
- Online reading poetry aloud, which enables me to meet other poets from far away places.
- Summer rainy, grey days feed my soul, allow me to go within, pull out the deep thoughts.
- Crockpots. I love my crockpot because I don’t have to interrupt my writing hours to make something to eat when I’m hungry. I only have to lift the lid and clean up later.
- Heartland on Netflix. I’m a relative newbie to Netflix thanks to a friend. I could watch this series for the scenic beauty of western Canada alone. Add the joy of watching horses run, work, play. Wow. Add good writing scripts and good acting. Wow. I’m addicted.
- The relative ease of researching ancestors online compared to the pre-internet days
- For my ancestors who have interesting histories and are still giving.
An interesting poetic narrative of boys sent to war and the aftermath for them and the place they inhabit.