2012 Poetry Issue

This is the Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind
2012 Poetry Issue

Table of Contents

Editor’s Note
Nancy Scott – Advantages of Not Knowing Mirrors
William Shake ‘N Bake – An Epicurean’s Epigram
Sally Rosenthal – Solace
Bunny Maginnis – I Saw a Sunset
Ann Chiappetta – Appearances
Cathy Brotz – Growing Old and The Golden Door
Valerie Moreno – Wake Up Call
Marilyn Brandt Smith – The Walk Home
Floris Brown – You dressed me in purple
Lori Castner – Window-shopping
Claudia Del Real – Another Day
Carol Fleischman – Braille
Rosetta Brown – A Poem Is
Carole Rose – Swinging
Rex Leslie Howard, Jr. – Force Unseen
Abbie Taylor – I Walk Alone
Ray Holland – The skies I remember
Ed Neiman – Meditation on the Memorial Wall
Karen Crowder – Country Folks
James Boswell – Oh Kapten My Kapten
Ruth E. Coleman – The Promise Keeper
Norma A. Boge – Longing
Bonnie Rennie – Okay I Can’t See
Kalu Ndukwe – A Third String Gratitude

For your convenience, each poem is separated by the ## symbol.

Editors Note: Poetry is literary art, and forces the artist into a habit of intricate deliberation as they carefully place words into a confined space–like a watchmaker gently laying the gears and springs into the body of their work. Every element is meaningful and has a defined purpose as they build rhythm and meld to fulfill the function of the artist. But where time is static, poetry is like a cloud–constantly changing and experienced differently by each observer.

I would like to thank everyone who submitted material for this year’s poetry issue. You have all done a fantastic job.

Nancy Scott – Advantages of Not Knowing Mirrors

I’ve forgotten again
what color
my clouded eyes are.
People have said grey,
but someone said blue once
and I like the sound of that.

I want to hear my face’s
laugh lines and heart shape
and wishful forty-five-year-old skin
but I don’t ask,
not wanting the sound of truth
unknowable by touch.

I can feel
my Irish-bent nose
and the breathlessness
of twenty pounds I should lose.
But the sound
of my still-thick hair
is silver.

Now isn’t that more fun than seeing?
William Shake ‘N Bake – An Epicurean’s Epigram

Eat what you love, and love be what you eat
O you who snack on care’s perfidious crimes.
A fool’s content lies more with white than wheat,
and diet is a symbol of the times.
Love is a dish of gusto-garnished veal,
and steak is not outwitted by the rest
of Cupid’s saucy arrows, for his meal
contents love’s least sad labour with the best.
If low-fat yogurt adds but little spice
to salad dressings creamy and divine,
it is the diet’s demons dour device.
Love and be loved with fat and flavour fine.
If counting calories you do despise,
then grab a chocolate milkshake and be wise!
Sally Rosenthal – Solace

I brought my mother a dog
to polish the dullness
of a nursing home routine and
make it sparkle
with Labrador enthusiasm.

I brought my mother a dog
to remind her she was the same person
whose ninety-one years had been graced with canine devotion,
from the wire-haired terrier of her native England
who, being averse to grooming, buried his brush in a neighbor’s garden,
from the mastiffs bred and shown by her late sister at Crufts,
from the Boston terrier, assorted brown mutts, and retired hunting spaniels
who had Christmas presents under our family tree
to the yellow Labrador who, with my hand on her harness,
deftly guided me through the institutional halls
on her missions of comfort.

I brought my mother a dog
to salve my conscience for
the care I could not provide
and to assuage my guilt for
the luxuries I had at home of
meals of my own choosing,
hot cups of tea,
and quiet privacy.

I brought my mother a dog
a few hours before she died.
As I held her waif-like hand,
listening to her changing breath and
bidding her safe travel, I prayed
the woman in the nursing home bed
that held no hint of home realized
I had brought us both a dog.
Bunny Maginnis – I Saw a Sunset

I awoke in darkness, the hour seemed quite late.
How long had I been sleeping, I tried to concentrate.
I must have closed the curtains, that’s it, without a doubt.
Or perhaps, a storm came through and then electricity went out.
I felt my way across the room and when I found the door,
I opened it and stood there, bewildered and unsure.
The birds were sweetly singing and folks were walking by.
At first I felt fear and anger, and then I began to cry.
For it was my eyes, I lost my sight I knew it had to be.
But I felt so alone and frightened, how could this happen to me.
I cried my God, where have you gone,
Why have you left me all alone?
You know on you I will rely,
But must I be blind until I die?
And then, in my mind’s eye there did appear,
A vision bright, and very clear.
A blue sky, puffy clouds, lovely to behold,
Surrounded a suspended ball of crimson, orange and gold.
My mind’s eye filled with wonder, I shed not one single tear drop.
For you see, I viewed this lovely scene standing high on a mountain top.
It was this that made me realize,
That I could live without my eyes. Though physically they are quite blind,
I’m not sightless in my mind.
Whenever a thing I wish to see,
I activate my memory.
Yes, that’s a day I’ll not forget.
I lost my sight, but, I saw a sunset.
Ann Chiappetta – Appearances

Once, not long ago
the details of life consumed me
Images of wild flowers, riotous colors in a
blanket of green
were picked, not left untouched.

Dependence on Televised Greek tragedies
Indelible Portraits, live feeds and last breaths
Possessed me.

Now a sound or smell overrides the lost optical cues
Memories ribbon the air with Familiar scents
Warm, pungent earth after it rains
Reminders of ripening tomatoes
The brace and sting of crisp winter wind
Recollections of hikes in the snow tipped pines

The soft, clear tinkle of ice on a windowpane
And my husband’s breathing deep in the night
Comforts the troubles
Lulls me back to sleep
Cathy Brotz – Growing Old and The Golden Door

Author’s Note: The first poem was written by my grandmother, Katherine Gilbert Cullerton, who was blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa. She wrote the poem in January 1985. She passed on in January 1988, just shy of her 98th birthday.

The second poem was written by my father, John H. Cullerton, on January 16, 1988, the day that his mother passed. He is legally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa and will turn 87 on May 20, 2012.

Growing Old
Katherine Gilbert Cullerton

You’ll never know how sad it is,
What growing old can be like,
Until you’re near the Golden Door.

My eyes are dim, my hearings’s poor;
The arthritis in my back
Gets worse with every twist and bend.

So enjoy yourself while you are young.
Get the things you can afford.

My greatest pleasure was helping others
And lending a helping hand.

I have a wonderful family
And kind friends by the score,
But I hope it won’t be very long
Before I reach the Golden Door.

The Golden Door
by John H. Cullerton

She sees it now… the Golden Door.

Slowly, nearer, nearer, nearer,
Even nearer, nearer more.

She is there now…

Then turns to take a final bow,
And returns to former state,
Of passing through that Golden Gate.

We do not know what lies ahead,
But see her smile as she does tread,
Along the beauty flower bed.

She slowly disappears from view,
As the Golden Door askew
Gently closes.

She is gone.
Valerie Moreno – Wake Up Call

Brooding too long
in bare branches
absent vitality

A touch stirs
sleeping resolve energy
time to imagine

unravel stiff boredom and respond-
universal wake-up call
Marilyn Brandt Smith – The Walk Home

I seldom walk this way, but since it’s late,
The highway tempts me, offers smoother tread.
Approaching from the woods, my traps all set,
I see that rain has left a silver sheen;

Lights from a passing car direct my gaze;
Am I the first to come upon distress?
Tendrils flutter, motion draws me near.
A child, a wounded dog, what have we here?

Hurry home and call for help from town?
Lift this bundle, see what I can do?
I touch the unfamiliar, pull away,
My God! It’s only broken bales of hay!

I murmur thanks, and soon go on my way.
Floris Brown – You dressed me in purple

In my grim loneliness
I also want to love
touch you
feeling with passion
the curves of your face
until I have my picture
of how I think you
might look

your voice, your warm
your smell, your footstep
your laughter, is all I have
to hold on to
to know
you are mine

your explosions of fury
your intolerable manner
of screaming at me
no patience venom
the purple dress you always
clothed me with
as doctors told

dimmed my light yesterday
like the branches of a willow tree
your dark side
hovered over me
clothed me enfolded me
and I wanted to elope
away from the dark side in you

then you give me your shoulder …
Lori Castner – Window-shopping

I spent those weeks
Before each childhood
Yearning to possess
The store display.
I stood in crowds
And peered through glass
Unable to afford
The porcelain doll
That begged for
Unconditional love.
I longed to caress
Sumptuous blonde curls
Knowing they would feel
Soft as down.
My fingers ached
To stroke supple skin
Certain it would prove
Lifelike and warm.
Eyes that shut in sleep
And opened wide in pleasure
Tantalized and beckoned.
Each day I stood adoring,
And anticipated Christmas
Sure she would be there
Beneath our tree.

The year I turned thirteen
I ceased to hope,
Too old for dolls,
Instead I received
A synthetic coat
My parents scrimped
All year to buy
And wore it six Decembers
Against Chicago chill.

Loving you is like
Those childhood times.
I return day after day
To bask in your smile
While your eyes look beyond me
To the nearby crowd
Or watch your own
Reflection in the glass.
Faithfully I wait
In reverence.
Eagerly you seek your own.

I long to relive
That yuletide season
When I put aside
Childish things.
And gratefully accepted
A gabardine cloak
That warmed me in seasons of cold.
Claudia Del Real – Another Day

Another day
Has come and gone.
Yet every day’s
like a new dawn.

So full of promise,
So full of life,
So full of hope
And sometimes strife.

Another day
Has come and gone.
Yet every day’s
Like a new dawn.

Love with your heart,
Live with your soul,
You’ll shed your tears
And sometimes lose control.

Another day
Has come and gone,
Yet every day’s
Like a new dawn.

Enjoy your life,
Conquer your fears,
And always know,
These are your best years!
Carol Fleischman – Braille

Fog hides the loops and lines of print.
A hand sails over a sea of dots,
Letters, words, and sentences flow past.
Fingers, like a silent ship, read forward.

A pattern of six dots plots a course.
The treasure is mine; I know the code.
Steady fingers ride the waves of dots,
Taking me as far as my mind can travel.
Rosetta Brown – A Poem Is

A poem is a bequest to leave behind
It is a treasure the poet bestows upon mankind
The poem is part of the creator that can be read and recited many years later

It is a brief moment in time
I dedicate it to the reader for it’s no longer mine
The poem may give them some insight
Or lessen burdens for some plight
Carole Rose – Swinging

The swing sits quietly in the early spring sunshine,
Waiting for me.
It has been months since our last voyage together.
I climb onto the swing
and grip its warm, strong chains.
The familiar sense of anticipation returns.
I swing gently at first
listening to birdsong
savoring the cool breeze,
and then:
I begin to push harder and swing higher.
I stand in the seat, my muscles straining,
willing myself to soar even higher.
I am oblivious to the other children on the playground.
I am wild with joy.
The wind speaks to me.
My heart is singing
my smile is radiant.
The swing is even with the bars.
I am free!
I am reaching for the sky!
I want to kiss the sun, to capture a fleecy cloud!
Suddenly I realize I can go no higher.
The swing slows.
I am spent, yet exhilarated.
I tumble onto a grassy carpet
and bury my face in its greenness.
A swing is just a swing and I am just a child.
One can only swing so high.
And yet
Imagination offers endless possibilities.
My swing and I will soar again.,
ever higher until we touch the sky.
I will kiss the sun,
I will capture my fleecy cloud.
Rex Leslie Howard, Jr. – Force Unseen

I come from places far and near.
I’m a moaning, whispering voice of force.
I’m not transparent though I am clear,
and nature guides my course.

I bring the world refreshing reprieve,
on the hottest days of spring,
In the Fall I prune away last year’s leaves.
while southbound birds take wing.

I bring the flurries of whitest snow,
with the chill of winter days.
I wonder aimlessly to and fro,
and sing in ghostly haunting ways.

I amplify scent when the days grow long;
I give waves to the heat and shimmer to the light.
I bring the tune of returning birdsong.
I’m the sweetness of remembered summer nights.

I’m an endless cycle not to be undone,
always beyond the hands that grasp.
Angry, I can be stopped by no one.
Even the oceans yield to my task.

I comfort, enrich, bless and curse
and spread life around the globe.
I suck vast waters up when I suffer thirst.
yielding only to God’s control.

I bring down cities and entire nations,
with only a whispering sigh.
Never tiring and constantly patient,
I live on though I frequently die.

I am the one thing physical eyes will never see,
And against which Mortal man is helpless to defend.
I am the thing I’ve been and will always be,
I am the awesome force of wind.
Abbie Taylor – I Walk Alone

In favorable weather, I take the sidewalk
to the bank, pharmacy, post office, jewelry store,
card shop, senior center, library.
My white cane sweeps from side to side in front of me.
Alone except for the cars that whizz by.
I find peace of mind.
Ray Holland – The skies I remember

Beautiful was the deep blue of a clear morning sky
Fluffy white clouds that floated in every imaginable shape
A large white whale followed by fluffy cannon balls in the wake
A sitting dog begging for scraps of food, than falling on his backside
A bowling ball disappearing into a floating ship
Oh those unlimited, wonderful cloud pictures in the beautiful blue sky
Jet streams that criss-cross the sky on clear cloudless days
Each day gave off new dramatic scenes as my head turned upward to observe them

Dark stormy clouds in a grey sky that blot out the sun and warn of impending bad weather
Bright streaks of lightning followed by rolling booms of thunder usually followed
The bright sun breaking through any break in the clouds was and is a never forgotten warmth of nature

The night sky is a wonder to behold on a clear dark night
Stars that twinkle and shine as pinpoints of white light are uncountable
Each night the moon changes its size and brightness
Was that a man’s face that is on the full moon?
Birds fly, bugs skim and flutter about the sky

Now without sight all the memories of that greatness above live on in my memory

However, are they still all there?
There is warmth that flows from above to cover my face and arms
Clouds and shadows blot out that sunny warmth from my body
Today is that great sky looking just as I remember?
Or is it just a nebula,
Nothing that I now seem to perceive?
Ed Neiman – Meditation on the Memorial Wall

Author’s Note: A perspective, in reverie, upon a visit to The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C., and Remembering my brother, Gary Preston Neiman: (1951-1969).

Diaphanous, incorporeal, wrought of reverie,
A soldier’s image looms in fantasy
Over the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C.
His arms, (as The Wall), extend in earnest plea;
And thus perceived, the colossal eidolon speaks to me:

“Serving America, I perished in far-off Vietnam,
Bereft of blithesome youth’s due aspiration.
Dauntless, facing adversary’s pestilential gun,
Was I forfeited to vicious strife’s abomination.
My arms entreat: Come, see what this war has done!
As now they stretch inert in resignation.”

These arms are a wall of burnished granite, (black for mourning):
Poignant is the somber metaphor.
These arms are a ledger unfolded:
Grim chronicle of commitment’s tariff.
Names of this war’s casualties mortally wounded, (so many treasured thousands),
Here, with profound tribute, are enduringly told.

Not all the rain that bathes these gargantuan arms
Could fade the taint of blood surged from Kinsmen dispatched;
Nor could all the sunshine that warms their graven panels
Disperse the torrent of tears shed by those who loved ones here ennobled.

These arms, downward cant, seem heavy laden,
As ponderously burdened with eons of precious years unspent.
These arms are spread like a tormented V,
–For venture? … Or for Vietnam?

A V, devoid of conviction, shallow, inverted, signing distress,
Like flagging wings of a valiant Eagle aggrieved,
Or like a shaken Nation’s countenance woeful shown.
But yet, A V that strengthens structure,
Bulwark ‘gainst the surge of time and tide’s obliteration,
Forefending inhumation.

Oh, this palpable commemoration!
Its majestic simplicity!
It’s enthralling democracy!
Its fervent solemnity!
Pledge of perpetual veneration!

Meditate upon this stately, humble, Wall.
Apprehend its pleading call.
Mute, it speaks with myriad tongues in silence,
Despite the stifling hand of violence.
Listen to the eloquence of hush:
A whisper midst quotidian rush.
Gaze into deepness ‘neath its lustrous sheen,
Mirrored in glaze, perceived, unseen.
Touch the singled symbol of address,
As once was dealt the fond caress.

Each name here scribed: a history hewn by tragic conflict,
–Abridged amidst a battle breaking.
Each cherished soul bethought: a private echo in the heart of its beloved,
–A throbbing, wistful, aching.
Each past: some future’s fabric weft of sacrifice,
–Demand of calamitous leave-taking.

Honor those absent.
Recall them present.
Wonder: what if…?


But these arms, alas, cannot embrace to grant surcease
Of sorrow’s pang, or abate the timeless anguished breath;
Nor ever can they, tranquil, folded be in pose of peace:

Karen Crowder – Country Folks

We awaken not to the sound of honking horns,
We are not disturbed by the constant sound of roaring traffic,
The melody of chirping birds wakes us from sound slumber
The quiet whisper of breezes coming through our open windows,

Early mornings are not nerve jostling with jarring sound of rush hour traffic
People always rushing down streets to subways and busses
In the country the smell of growing things fills the air,
Unhurried people arrive at work content with the gentle chatter of rustling leaves and barking dogs.

Late afternoon horns blare in the mayhem of oncoming traffic
People wishing to escape the cacophony of city noise,
Cars glide home with already planted gardens
The melody of robins and chickadees greeting them as they arrive

Nighttime falls with city sound of boom boxes and slamming car doors,
Serenity and rest are hard to find with loud music and sirens
The peepers chirp, birds serenade us through the evening
Sitting on porches, we love the tranquility of the country.
James Boswell – Oh Kapten My Kapten

Oh Kapten my Kapten, I broke down and cried,
Becausse I was bewildered by your study guide.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, directing toward success
With MP3 player, FM, and GPS.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, global navigation
Your system will point the way to my destination.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, global navigation,
Announcing streets in my town and across our nation.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, I need to be aware
Of where I am, where I’ll go, and how I will get there.
Oh Kapten my Kapten, when I choose to roam,
Your voice will declare to me
How I will get home.
Ruth E. Coleman – The Promise Keeper

In all the things that have happened to me,
God’s given me ability to see.
How to make it to the other side,
Whether I walk, jump, slip or slide.
He’s given me ways to conquer my foes,
By sniffing their deception, with my keen keen nose.
So far as attacks,
I ignore the whacks.
Like Ziggy and his dog,
I am victorious in smog.
Never knowing which way is up,
My way is made sure by my faithful pup.
Who is lead by the Powerful unseen Hand,
The Lord and Redeemer of mortal man;
The same who once walked on water,
Who healed the sick and raised Jairus’ daughter.
Who spit on clay and made the blind to see,
Who told His Disciples. “Even though they Crucify Me…,
I’ll shake off death on Day Three.”
and His Promise to you and to me,
“I’m coming again, and ALL WILL SEE!”
Can we trust Him? Sure we can,
Even better than sighted man,
Because we know who leads us, not our dog,
He’s the One who created and sees clearly in the smog.
He knows where we’re going, and our end.
He’s the One Who made us… Jesus, Our Best Friend.
Norma A. Boge – Longing

When days are dark and the world’s so cold
And memories are all I have to look forward to
I think about you, so sweet and so playful
And how I loved to see the boy inside the man
I know you loved me for your own reasons
And my heart holds a special place for you
Time and space conspired to keep us apart
And I’m sorry fate dealt the hand it did
I will carry on, as will you, down separate paths
And I’ll meet you where the stars collide
Bonnie Rennie – Okay I Can’t See

Some say “So sad that you can’t see!”
But that simply seems so silly to me.
The sights in sounds, in symphony
So sensational, not to be scrapped or scorned, sincerely!
I savor the songs, and seriously!
No room to perceive them, if I could see.
The shouting sea, the sandy shore,
The sheltering sunset, who could seek for more.
The other senses see how to celebrate life.
Were I to see now, it would surely bring strife.
So please don’t say “sorry” that I can’t see.
Glad to set aside the shallowness
Love what my heart can see.
Kalu Ndukwe – A Third String Gratitude

Though not a 1st or 2nd string,
Which the world may call east or west,
But my heart truly sing:
Thanks, thanks for your best,
Life’s battles fiercely fought,
That the blind everywhere:
Their joy and independence no more hurt,
And peace to all found so dear!

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