Thursday, October 27, 2011

3 Poems by Net Poet Society poet John Milkereit


John Milkereit is a creative thinker and citizen of the world. He began writing poetry after taking a seminar on the poetry of Billy Collins in 2005 at his local church. His poems have appeared in Harbinger Asylum, Swirl, Poetry Revolt, the Texas Poetry Calendar and has been a juried poet at the Houston Poetry Fest, and the Austin International Poetry Festival. He also recorded several of his poems at Taping for the Blind. Pudding House Press published two of his chapbooks last year, and Paying Admissions was a Finalist-of Note in their 2009 chapbook competition. He is currently taking an acting class so he can memorize and perform some of his work in front of loud, boisterous audiences. During the day, he is a rotating equipment specialist at a Houston engineering firm.

John Milkereit will be reading his poetry with Net Poets Society at the Friendswood Public Library on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 at 7pm.

Love Poem

                            Poetry is…great for getting phone numbers --Wynton Marsalis

I would rather just make you a phone. Endless minutes
with a ring tone of that rescued kitten. Why don’t
I make you a phone that you can’t put down, which
also jams other callers. Why don’t I wear you a hard hat?
Calloused hands that want to help—handyman hands,
which make concertos of insurance and retirement
funds. Why don’t I wake up with a dirty hard hat
that gets an orchestra on coffee? Why don’t I wash
your dishes? Get Palmolive cleaning your losses, dry
tears, and laundry. Why don’t I make you silence?
Knowing when to say nothing, getting into jeans
and work boots to dig quiet holes. Why don’t I fill up
your noisy chambers with jars of pennies, saved-up
so your heart won’t wash that away, your mind
would dial me like a phone. Go ahead and ask if I
cook. I would make you tuna salad, chicken salad,
or even your favorite—egg salad. So now, look what
I’m getting you. How can you hate me?

--John Milkereit

Rotating Equipment Engineer
A rotating equipment engineer ought to land in a poem
because I love the surprise of him
entering a dimly-lit hallway
with his sack lunch
ready to say no to someone.

I enjoy his negating self, his I-don’t-build-anything
kind of job description.
What he actually does is a mystery.
One morning, his glasses could reflect from a computer screen
a motor data sheet or the news that a volcano erupted in Indonesia—

you would never know for sure. I’d want as many turns
in the poem as the pumps he specifies. Words and shafts
are traitors and dirty when the start button is pressed.
Parts spin out of control, taking limbs off their operators.
I reminisce about the days when he made more money

than a doctor, when building factories was a revolution.
His metal is so much like the sentence that takes so long
to get poured, and welded, and bolted into its shape.
Why not turn the result
over to the rulers of the world?

With a red pen mounted on his keyboard, he always waits,
ready to reject a test.
He can fly to a factory in a pair of steel-toed boots
to witness what is ready to ship. No matter what he calculates,
or whatever tools are hidden in his pocket, he is never finished.

--John Milkereit

Upon Hearing That the Poetry Festival Lost My Poem Titles for Their Anthology
and where exactly did they go?
Monkeys in the jungle who swing
high above your submission process
would know rather than the greased
pigs. Since you’re the red-faced web
guru who lost the titles, can you say
if the titles were caught in an ocean
by the jaws of a novel? Did they sneak
home with someone else, or do their
coats no longer fit? Are their hats too
worn and tired? I want to know if they
went up in a hot air balloon to lift
a child I don’t know. Surely they would
have announced any rowdiness or
jealousy. I demand notification if they
fled to a courthouse to change their words
and wished to relocate. They have not escaped
abuse because there has never been abuse.
If they fell from this rollercoaster ride
called Poetry, then it’s their own fault,
and who knows where they landed.
The ferris-wheel operator would know
if they lingered a little longer to kiss
while you weren’t looking. I want to know
of lost keys. I want reassurance that your
volunteers always had money for spotlight
batteries. If the titles were stolen like license
plates, surely, you issued an A.P.B. I want
to know you asked the cyberspace reception
lady at the front desk. You had better find
the titles—I’m near the end of a book
whose title I don’t remember.

--John Milkereit

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Red Shoes by essayist and poet Barbara Carle

Barbara Ann Carle is a poet and personal essay writer.  Her poems have been published by Maps of Austin, Sol Magazine and Gulf Coast Poets.  In 2008 her poem “The Battle” won the Ted O. Badger Award.    She has recently completed her first chapbook, “New York Rhapsody”, a collection of poems about growing up in New York City during and just following World War II. 

Barbara’s personal essays have been published in “Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lovers’ Soul”, “The Democrat’s Soul”, “The Republican’s Soul” and the anthology “Thanksgiving to Christmas, a Patchwork of Stories.”  Her latest essay “A Promise to Keep” was published in the anthology “Fearless Nest”.     
She is a member of the Gulf Coast Poets, the Poetry Society of Texas, the Bay Area Writers League, the Spectrum Center Writers’ Guild and Women in the Visual and Literary Arts.  Barbara is the mother of four and grandmother of six.   She resides in Friendswood, Texas with her husband, Ed.

The Red Shoes
By Barbara Ann Carle

My mother had many great qualities.  Unfortunately allowing others to make their own decisions was not one of them.  She was a firm believer in the “Mother knows best” theory. 
            When I was 12 years old, I picked out a beautiful navy blue suit to wear on Easter Sunday.  My mother announced that we would take a trip into Manhattan on Saturday to look for accessories.  Of course, New Yorkers never call it Manhattan.  To us it’s always “the city”, but a trip to the city was an unbelievable treat.  We always spent the whole day and were required to wear our very best clothes.  I chose to wear my green and black plaid skirt and my green sweater.  My mother was decked out in her favorite rust color gabardine dress, brown high heels and silk stockings with the seam up the back that she miraculously always kept perfectly straight.
            I was always fascinated with my mother’s coloring.  She had long; dark brown hair that she would upsweep into two intricate rolls, a style called a pompadour.   She was tall, slim and had large expressive eyes the color of dark chocolate.  My sister and I looked nothing like her, having inherited my Dad’s blue eyes and blond hair.  She was energetic, vivacious and had a steamroller type personality.     
            To make the trip even better, my mother decided that since my Dad didn’t have to work that Saturday, my younger sister, Roseann, who detested shopping, would stay home with him, giving me a whole day to spend alone with my Mom.
At the close of these day long trips, we always visited my mother’s favorite Chinese restaurant, the Red Dragon.  At the top of a long stairway, giant red doors decorated with gold leaf dragons lead into the restaurant.  The walls were covered with gorgeous oriental screens of black and white mother of pearl scenes from Chinese villages.  The tables were configured around a huge dance floor and while you ate your egg drop soup, and shrimp chow mien; you listened to piped-in Big Band music as couples jitter bugged or fox-trotted past your table.  My mother explained that at night the restaurant had a live band and sometimes she, my Dad and their friends would go there to dance.  So you can see why boarding the subway that Saturday was a memorable event.
            I always loved the city, especially in early April.  The snow was finally gone and the trees in Central Park were dressed in that pale green of new growth.  The yellow forsythia supplied the brightest color in the landscape with crocus and daffodils just popping up.    The city was crowded, noisy and exciting.    The air was cool and crisp and any unpleasant odors were masked by the smell of street venders selling hot dogs, large pretzels and sausage hoagies.   
I never understood who designated the flow of foot traffic in the city but my mother always managed to maneuver us so we were swept along in the exact direction she wanted to go. 
            We were stopped in front of the plate glass window of Tomm McCann’s shoe store; gazing at the huge display of shoes when my mother grabbed my arm and cried “Oh, Barbara, look at those great red shoes.  Aren’t they beautiful?”  Being on the threshold of individuality, I innocently replied “I don’t like red shoes”; a simple statement.  Not one you would classify as a declaration of war unless, of course, you knew my mother, which I evidently didn’t. 
The hand on my arm tightened as my mother spun me around to face her.  “You don’t like red shoes?  How can anyone not like red shoes?  You can get a red hat, a red bag and with those shoes you would look great.  Everyone needs a pair of red shoes.  They go with everything, blue, black, white.  I have 3 pair of red shoes.  Come on let’s go try them on.  You’ll love them.” 
I’ll never know why I drew a line in the sand that day but my response was clear and direct.  “No, I don’t like red shoes.”
            The expression on my mother’s face changed from shock to curiosity.  She lifted the left eyebrow of her beautiful brown eyes and stared at me.  I could almost hear her thoughts.  “Strange, I thought I brought my oldest daughter shopping.  The easy going, well behaved one who always tries so hard to please.  I thought I had left the difficult, defiant one home with her father.”  The curiosity instantly changed to anger and she stormed away from the store.   For the rest of the day my mother proceeded to drag me to every shoe store in Manhattan pointing out every pair of red shoes we encountered. 
It was a minor rebellion in the scheme of things but I am happy to report that I stuck by my decision.  At the end of a long, frustrating day my mother finally relented and bought me a pair of navy blue shoes. 
Of course, freedom comes with a price, and there was no trip to the Red Dragon.  I knew her clip “We don’t have enough time” was not the real reason.  Down deep, my mother hated to lose.  But at that point I didn’t care.  I rode home on the subway, clutching my new blue shoes, more than happy to have suffered the consequences.  And between you and me, I must admit; here I sit, a seventy-three year old woman who still doesn’t like red shoes.

Copyright © - Barbara Ann Carle, 2008

Look for Barbara Carle to be a featured essay reader at an upcoming Friendswood Public Library program.