Sunday, December 18, 2011

Poem: Vase


Vase on a shelf
Never deigned to be exquisite
But there

Then it fell
Knocked ‘gainst walls
‘Twas exposed to world

Until it showed cracks
Faded luster

More cracks

So it was left
Left on the shelf
To gather dust

Growing old in its broken solitude

Copyright SGW 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cancer Alliance Blog

LinkPeople finding their way here looking for information useful to anyone dealing with cancer, should check out:

David Haas, Awareness Program Advocate

Friday, December 2, 2011

Poem: Music

Music(Dedicated to Jerzy Jung, Cat, Novae, and Matt Kay.)

Melodies lift me to spirits removing
Notes of the singer
Gently fine in the soothing
Lilting, the voice of a graceful, soft soul
Connecting the chords as embracingly whole
Strumming guitars
Tapping ivory with touch
All sounds of the music I love oh so much
Strings adding body
Or drums for the pace
A world without song is a world I'd not face
Closing my eyes as each word grabs my being
Every line in a song leaves new stories for seeing
As rhythmic waves bring caresses to heal
This musical ocean is the cleansing to feel
To swing and to sway with a full-measured voice
Heavenly rising within rapturous choice
In music's a closeness to God everlasting
For the heart left adrift there's a line that He's casting
Artistic endeavors through the music discovered
A touch of true beauty in the sounds left uncovered

Copyright SGW 2003

*Inspired by every musician who has left their imprint on me, and shared their gift. More of my poetry is based on the sounds I have heard than on any other form.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


This is not a movie review. I am just home from seeing the movie "50/50," the story based on the experiences of its writer, Will Reiser. I have to admit that I expected this movie to be somewhere between sucks and stupid. For one, Seth Rogen tends to play the same character over and over in movies that are painfully dumb and shallow; he plays his usual character here, too. Secondly, my mother and brother recommended this, which was enough to make me bet my home that it was not going to be good (sorry mom and brother).

Surprisingly, "50/50" is a sweet, tender, funny, sad, fragile, and sensitive film that deals with the struggles of having cancer and human relationships in all their forms.

As a cancer survivor, I got a chill from watching the cold-hearted and detached doctor telling the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character, Adam, that he has cancer. The doctor reminded me so much of that day, February 1, 1999, when Dr. K___ told me I had cancer with nary a hint of feeling, compassion or understanding. I could feel Adam's shock and sense of confusion in those filmed moments.

I also felt the tinges of painful remembrance as Adam walks down the hall after his first chemo treatment. My memories returned to radiation sessions I had or more recent visit to Sloan Kettering for exams, biopsies and blood tests. As you leave, at least for me, you tend to notice people as if you can see through them. You observe and feel more deeply. Adam, though stoned from marijuana-laced macaroons, experiences this, and you see with him in a way that is artistically filled with depth and awareness.

You feel Adam's mortality throughout the movie despite his coolness and seeming refusal to succumb, until, finally, he admits his angers and fears. You are touched by his realization that his mother, though overbearing, means well and loves him. And you ultimately appreciate his best friend, the Seth Rogan character, Kyle, who stands by Adam 100% throughout.

While it was hard to come to terms with the relationship Adam develops with his therapist, Anna Kendrick's, Katherine, for its unlikeliness, Kendrick portrays Katherine with such a soft combination of gentle, awkwardness and determined support, you dismiss the weakness and appreciate her role in helping Adam through his struggles.

So this is not a review of "50/50," so much as it is my connection to it as a cancer survivor who was touched. One last thing, too: For all the single women out there, did I mention I am a cancer survivor?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Poem: Whole


Pieces lay tattered as remnants imparted
The gift of a promise turned grimly discarded
Relentlessly dreaming from irrational hope
It’s the curse of belief as the end of my rope
Truth belies wishes that at hand comes some start
The female whole that has broken my heart

The garden’s grown weeds far too countless to name
As the faces and memories play repeated refrain
Seen as the tease of a flowering bloom
What is left in the wreckage, only darkness and gloom

Exhaustion takes hold with a deadening vise
Years built ‘pon failure comes with too great a price
Sit and I write as remembrance transcribed
The pain will remind; hurt will abide

Copyright SGW 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poem: Nameless


Everything, everyone, wherever might turn

A maddening silence would be all to discern

Reasons may vary as any drop of the sand

Though intentions bring promise the results are less grand

False are the footsteps from the masquerade dance

You follow the sign posts yet never advance

Stand misdirected with paralyzed grip

A stifling sickness that can shoot from the hip

As one quiet poem crafts a marking of words

Shout from the rafters and never get heard

Copyright SGW 2010

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Poem: Corporatocracy


The decisions are made in the shadows
Where the big-monied interests can thrive
Manipulating systems of power
As they keep the illusions alive

We can reference democracy’s standing
A republic’s the story some tell
And the tea-drinking masses can swallow
All the Kool-Aid that business will sell

It’s the bankers, CEOs, corporate interests
That devise all the rules to the game
‘Cept for sprinklings of progressive rebellion
Politicians are a lot of the same

Regulations are weakly concocted
Though they will sing us the “stifling” song
And the tax rules overwhelmingly favored
The richest of rich all along

The media won’t spotlight these actions
And the ignorant pull ‘gainst themselves
A small oligarchic construction
As the rest of our interests are shelved

And this teabagger movement is nonsense
For it fights for the richest man’s cause
Where the cause is moralistically lacking
As the ones most in need it ignores

So the dance is congressional illusion
It is fraudulent and merely for show
The outcome’s determined in darkness
Where the powerful interests can grow

Copyright SGW 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Poem: You


Cleanse me of the grime of exasperation
Frustration of an endless walk
Talk of what I have missed
Listlessly awash in sorrow
Tomorrow arrives and finds me gleaming
Dreaming of the promise you bring
Singing transcriptions found in words
Heard anew

Copyright SGW 2011

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Poem: Adrift


Out 'pon the ocean where horizon meets sky
Distance is timeless and the blink of an eye
Reflections of promise in the vastness of sea
In the softness lies hidden unforgivable plea
Dreams gone awash from the shores where we'd sit
Throw in the secrets we release bit by bit
With the sun gently fading what is light starts to fade
The singer can sing but the songs' all been played
I watch and I listen and I search to no end
The ocean demands quite a lot of a friend

Copyright SGW 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Poem: Loves Ones

Loved Ones

The quiet moments are fraught with complexity
Your absence is painful reckoning
Reminiscences of countless memento images
Better times
Someday, smiles will recall infinite joys
Now there is empty need for just one more shared day
Sense awareness of you lingering within my soul
I can’t lose that … I won’t
For you brightened my life a million times … a million ways
I will keep a lock box safely in my heart
Visiting you there
Never forgetting; always loving

Copyright SGW 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Poem: Blanket


To lie in the sun
On the first day of springtime;
A reward of peace

Copyright SGW 2008

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Abbie Gardner: Hope

Abbie Gardner has followed up her brilliant “Honey On My Grave” CD with another fine piece of artistry called, simply, “Hope.” The Red Molly member continues a long tradition of diversity in her music, with ample displays of blues, jazz, country, and pop/rock.

Gardner opens with “Break It Slow,” which does nothing of the kind. Her skill on the dobro comes quickly to the fore in this rollicking, bluesy beginning. But this track is merely setting a mood that is prevalent throughout the eleven songs on this CD. And that is what I believe defines “Hope’s” essence; it is a mood. Each song is unique, but they all blend together to create a feeling that the listener is sitting in a dark and smoky bar, with drink in hand, leaning back, and taking in musicianship extraordinaire.

Gardner brings vocals to the table that are at once sweet and soft, while also feeling edgy and sly. Her voice gives the impression of a wink and a knowing, furtive smile. The dobro only enhances that sensation with its alluring pull of playful, soulful, street-wise touch. Add in the smooth base of Craig Akin, slick piano of father Herb Gardner and the unassuming organ of sister Sarah Gardner (Can everyone in this family play at a high level!?), and the atmosphere of the downtown Chicago or New York bar/nightclub flourishes all the more. This is a tight group of musicians, also including Ben Wittman on drums and Emily Hope Price on cello, playing together as if one. The backing vocals of fellow Molly, Laurie MacAllister, along with Robbie Hecht and Fred Gillen, Jr. are also placed brilliantly and seamlessly throughout the tracks.

“Comes Love” is the ultimate seedy-tavern song, with Herb Gardner’s ivory keys dancing about throughout the track. His lively playing joins hands with Abbie’s bouncy and smiling, “It’s You,” later on.

Abbie Gardner is also a gifted songwriter, and this has rarely been more clearly on display than in the title track, “Hope.” She sings: “Got no cause to believe, but my hope just won’t leave.” This, with the vibe her dobro transmits, and the musical accompaniment enhancing all the songs, is really what Gardner is most attempting to convey here. We should never lose faith, even in the worst moments, and Gardner has to “give up. I give in;” she won’t fight the reality any longer that she is a sucker for the promise that we tell ourselves; that in the bleakest moments, there is … hope.

Gardner also cannot resist other elements that define her. In “Bang Bang,” she is mischievous, devious, conflicted, and unsure. “I could aim for her or aim for him,” or she could do herself in or walk away. Bang bang takes on multiple meanings and possibilities here and one can only guess who gets banged, or not, in the end.

When taken as one, “Hope” always comes back to mood. The bar is filled with ominous-looking folk, there is a lot of something going on just beneath the surface or in the shadows and no one really knows what will happen next. However, through it all, there is a sense of possibility and insinuation that makes us wish to stay and see where it all goes.

Abbie Gardner gives us “Hope:” listen, feel, love and, most of all, hope.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Poem: A Fucking Poem

I do not often curse in poems, though sometimes nothing gets a point across more clearly. However, I was thinking of the ever-versatile word, "fuck," and, well ...

A Fucking Poem

If someone should ask you the most dimensional word
Cover kids’ ears so it isn’t soon heard
It is deemed rather vulgar or crude to its use
You won’t find it in classrooms or the famed Dr. Seuss

Fuck is a word that knows limitless place
“Fuck it” or “Fuck yeah” or “Fuckin’ disgrace”
“Fucked over quite royally” or “No fucking way”
“Fucking like rabbits” or “That fucker just may”
“Fuck up” a project; “Get fucked faced at the bar”
Or the envious marvel for “The fucking rad car”
“That mother fucker’s just fucked me,” so “Fuck you” returned
“I’ve no fucking idea” when a plan’s not discerned

“Fuck!,” you’d exclaim in a moment of pain
“That dumb fuck’s a moron” you would rightly proclaim
“Where the fuck are we” and “Who the fuck cares”
“Who gives a fuck” or “He is fucking downstairs”

The word can be fit into any deemed spot
It is a marvel of English though a prude’d rather not
I use it here freely as a tribute as such
The fucking poem is finished having used fuck … so fucking much

Copyright SGW 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Poem: Escape From Newark

Escape From Newark

Four hours and counting on United Six Forty-Five
Stuck on the runway; not a hope we'd derive
Chicago flights passing as we miss each connection
Cramped on the airplane with no moving direction
Pretzels and bread crumbs our in-flight consumption
Our eventual departure is a hopeful assumption
Control tower's offered little sign we'll be leaving
And with words such as Kilo there's a chance they're deceiving
We've sent for more ice and First Class got a cookie
But as to whether we'll fly soon - make no bet with your bookie
Great, now a baby is crying and my cell phone's gone dead
What I wouldn't give for a sandwich on some fresh, made rye bread

We're off of the plane ... for a moment ... removed from embarking
At Gate 18 stopping, our plane is now parking
Wait! We've re-boarded quite sudden and I'm back in my seat
At least we've made friends on the flight we did meet
The questions remain if we'll take soon to the skies
The door was just closed so let's see what's implied
Happy Days! Hallelujah! The planes in the air
On our way to Chicago; at last we are near.

Copyright SGW 2003

Footnote: I was flying from Newark to Seattle, with a stopover in Chicago. This was 2003 .... The weather was fine and there were no situations in Newark, not even a Mike "The Situation," as far as I know.

Anyway, we sat on the runway for 5 hours. Since the plane ran out of food and water, we finally went back to the terminal gate, got off the plane and crowded into the nearest restaurant. After 15 minutes, we finally got close enough to place an order, at which point we were called back to our plane without getting food.

Back on the plane, we sat another hour before taking off. This inspired me to write a poem called "Escape from Newark," which I then shared with my friend and travel partner. He loved it, but the girl on my other side heard it and asked me to read it again, which I obliged. She, in turn, told the flight attendant.

With about 45 minutes to landing in Chicago, they had me stand in front of the cockpit door and recite the poem over the intercom system. After, I was asked to announce my E Mail address.

Returning home from vacation, I had about 15 requests for copies of the poem, and, just a year ago, a girl wrote to me and said she was on that flight, found my E Mail address, and asked if I would send her a copy of the poem.

So, Bruce Springsteen may have performed at Madison Square Garden. But when he can claim to have put on a show at 30,000 feet, tell him to talk to me!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Poem: Eat


Eat with abandon within love of the meal

Shine with contentments from the joys that you feel

Taste buds should revel with distinguished perception

Each bite or lick is attuned for reception

Eat like you're dancing with a partner of food

Meals for sustaining are just blessings eschewed

Passioned embracing of sensations unbounded

God's food is yummy where the glee is compounded

Dive into dining so all limit's released

Eat like a Viking who will recklessly feast

Consume without conscience so the body's acquiver

Food can bring pleasure if allowed to deliver

Me, I'm a puppy who will pounce on his bowl

Tail is wagging as I frolic in whole

Face has a smile as I sing in delight

I love what I eat, every morsel I bite

So eat like the food is a gift you've unwrapped

Explode to the skies; you're the well that's been tapped

Join me in savoring every sip, every munch

... poem is over as I sit down to lunch

Copyright SGW 2006

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Poem: Tumult


Inside the dark of tranquility lies a numbing lament
Where the long, lonely hours mark the dreams gone unspent
Bereft in an ocean sits a ship with no wind
Secure is the man stands untouched by the sinned
Destinations might open to a land suffering’s spared
But the map is in tatters and the sailor grows scared
Winds whip with vengeance in an all-knowing rage
Escape not an answer for the battles we’d wage
Conclusions are wrought with uncertainty’s vice
As wrong choices linger to a far-reaching price
Devices of reason are unreasonably wasted
The tonic for suffering is consumed but not tasted
Screaming and laughing, always cursing the sky
Forget any wisdom or the gifts she’d imply
Slowly unraveled lies the nightmare delusion
Where all of the rhythms are but empty illusions

Copyright SGW 2009

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Poem: Boo


My special friend and roommate
Belly laugh inducer
Patting my chin with outstretched paw
Demanding a scratching
Let’s crawl about together
Lie in the soaking sun
Meow at the birds

You snuggled up beside me through my multitudinous struggles
Greet me at work day’s end
Sleep by my side

Head butts and kneading

So now, you and I,
We will enjoy our time together
No more false and torturous “treatments”
Let’s laugh together while we can

And then I will remember

Copyright SGW 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Poem: Incitement


Shots ring out in the morning air
Death comes to young and old
Snuffed out by madness

Madness enflamed
Madness incited
Madness called upon
Madness condoned

With targets, speech and fear
Of violent rhetoric en masse

You called for this day
Asked for it

And it came

It came and a nine year old is gone
It came and a judge is dead
It came and left others lost
And still more, clinging to life

You – Palin, Angle, Bachmann, Perry, teabaggers
Blood is on your lips

Copyright SGW 2011

Footnote: Perhaps the Arizona shooting was not caused by the violent rhetoric in this country in any way. However, the incitement has created a climate and that is real. In that way, I find a correlation between the shooting and the inciters.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Poem: Cords


Cords from sweatpants are cut away

Precautions of another time

Served up as a reminder

Of overwhelm and panic

Now these sweatpants with no cords fit less tightly

And am I wound less so?

Copyright SGW 2008

Posted for R.A. as a reminder that others understand, and that things do improve from the darkest moments. You simply must keep walking until you walk into a lighter space.