Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Homeboy in Spite of Himself by John Gorman

From the book Red Pontiac Convertible by John Gorman:

The Homeboy in Spite of Himself  

“The dream was leaving…”
                         ~John Ronan

The edge
of that town I’d lived in
a fenced field of smashed cars,
a shack to sell their parts.
The screen of a drive-in movie
one huge tombstone by daylight,
mingy, post-War houses    scattered
built from kits and already crumbling
ditches and weeds
too much space around everything
a thin life
a jumble.

You’d die driving into it thinking
Now I’ll have to live here.
Leaving, years later, you’d barely look back
but you’d shudder
knowing that just because you’d been here
something that blossomed
in everyone else
would wither in you.

The dream was leaving
the dream was amnesia
then absolute re-creation   a shimmering self
willed solid and potent and deft
from the brilliant void of this horror
this displacement.

All right.

So why do the clover flowers
and goldenrod make
purple-green-golden bouquets
around the crumpled grille
of a ’38 Buick?

Why do the bottles
of off-brand strawberry and lemon-lime pop
gleam, in the stale depths of off-water,
among angel shapes of melting, bacterial ice
  in the zinc cooler
   at the wooden bread store
as if they were Jungian Truths?

Why do I believe it all over again
when the drive-in lights up
in the late summer dusk
full of popcorn and sleazy magic?

Marco Polo, apparently,
wanted to get out of Venice.
Why am I back in Aurora, Illinois
in the heat of this poem?


Dr. John Gorman lives in Galveston, TX and teaches literature and creative writing at UH-Clear Lake. His poems, gathered in three chapbooks, have appeared individually in dozens of Texas publications with more nationally and in Canada.  Dr. Gorman remains in demand as a poet and speaker at venues across the region including performances at the Grand Opera House in Galveston, TX and at Discovery Green in downtown Houston as part of the Public Poetry Series. 
Dr. Gorman has also been a featured poet at several FPL Poetry Series programs.
More poems by John Gorman: 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ellen cherry performance at FPL has been cancelled

The ellen cherry performance scheduled for Wednesday, February 20th at 7pm has been cancelled. We hope to reschedule this performance for a later date.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wings and a Ring program at FPL March 6

Wednesday, March 6 at 7pm Book Talk with author René Armstrong: Wings And a Ring: Letters of War and Love from a WWII Pilot - When René Armstrong's husband found a box of 295 letters in a junk store, he had no idea the profound piece of history in his possession. Thus began a journey to discover who these two young people were who met on a blind date, communicating to each other over three years in the only way this era could afford - through love letters that encompassed two continents. Enhanced with official, now declassified government documents, the love story of J.R. and Elnora unfolds as he writes to the love of his life from the jungles of New Guinea.

Rene’ Palmer Armstrong was born and raised in Texas City, Texas.  She is a two-time cancer survivor.  Upon turning 60, she retired from a regular job to write and make hand-crafted jewelry. She is now fulfilling a life-long dream of traveling while promoting her book.

Since the book's release in September 2011, Rene' has presented at the National Museum of the Pacific War, libraries, book clubs, galleries, book stores, service organizations, and Chambers of Commerce.  The book was selected for Baytown's Sterling Library's "One Book One Baytown" summer read event.  She appeared on the Great Day Houston television show and has been interviewed on radio.  In August 2012, she was a featured author at the Experimental Aviation Association's Air Venture Show in Oshkosh, WI.
She will be sharing some rarely-seen historic film footage of the 345th Bomb Group and will talk about the daily life of a WWII pilot in the jungles of New Guinea.
The letters below are from Rene’s book Wings and a Ring:


Elnora Dearest,
     Methinks you are tearing your hair out again, but the truth of the matter is that I have been in Sydney for another week.  I may sound like a lucky man, but the truth is, I was sent there. I didn’t ask to go.
     I suppose I may as well tell you why, as you probably will find out sooner or later. You’ve heard that song “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer”?  Well, that’s me, and oh how I prayed.  We really had it bad, but I was extremely fortunate and only got a few small scratches on the back of my legs. Some weren’t so fortunate. We crash-landed and some fun. Oh well, I’m alright—I was in the first place, but they said, “You need a rest.” Who am I to argue?
     I had a great time as usual, but not so much money. The weather reminded me very much of Houston, and the mosquitoes were tough there too. We rented a car and dashed wildly all over town. We were really good driving down the left side of the road and the steering wheel and gearshift on the wrong side of the car.  We would sail down the street and if anyone got in our way we would yell, “Look out—Yank driving.” One taxi cab driver really gave me a laugh. He gave me one of the wildest rides I’ve ever had, and when I asked where he had learned to drive like that, he answered in a very Aussie accent, “Oh, I’m from Texas.” I knew you would have really appreciated that.
     I wanted to go swimming while I was there, but the beaches were having an epidemic of sharks and they don’t really appeal to me.  They are man-eaters, and they come right onto the shore. They are only about fifteen feet long. Not exactly goldfish.
     I did see a very good show while I was there.  It was Best Foot Forward with Lucille Ball.  I suppose you have already seen it, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I also was able to see Bing Crosby in Dixie. I’m not much behind, am I?
     An odd thing happened to me while I was there. When I was in California, I met another boy in the Air Corps and a Lt. in the Navy.  We used to have a good time together in the bar of the Senator Hotel in Sacramento. That was before I left the West Coast. Believe it or not, I was in the Australia Hotel in Sydney, and I saw both of them coming over to meet me. Small world, isn’t it? I really didn’t do a great deal while I was there. Just drink beer and eat to my heart’s content. It’s wonderful.
     What I’d like to know is where you have been. I haven’t had many letters from you at all. I suppose moving had something to do with it. Good Lord, but I’ve missed you, Elnora. Even in the big city, I couldn’t get my mind off of you for an instant. You can imagine how much I think about you up here. Every time I look at your picture, I could slug myself for not having married you before I left.
     My pretty, how could you make me fall so in love with you? Of course, I’ll have to admit it was my own free will. Anyhow it’s done, even if it took a war to do it.
     I think I’ll close, dear, as it’s very late. I have so much to tell you—mainly how much I love you and how lovely you are. I’ll write again tomorrow and more too. Night, darling. I love you with all my heart—
     Always, J. R.


Dearest Elinora,
     Another month, and another pay day. I drew my usual $100 and, as usual, I have no place to spend it. Never did I think that I could be in a position like that, but I have been for quite a while. I do manage to get rid of it quite easily in Sydney—spent two months pay in a week. Quite a system, isn’t it?
     The mail has really been messed up the past few days. No one seems to be getting any, and I can’t say that it pleases us. I should receive quite a batch in the near future.
     We had quite a time at the picture show the other night.  The film broke several times, and the sound gave out once or twice. Just when things were going smoothly, the air raid alert sounded and we had to black out. It lasted about thirty minutes, but no planes came over. By the time the show was over it was nearly midnight. Oh yes, I forgot to mention it rained intermittently during the proceedings. Some fun.
     This has really been one exciting day. The morning consisted of finishing a book I began several days ago, and during the afternoon I played volleyball and cards. Took a shower, ate supper, and here I am. Next thing I know I’ll be talking to myself. Don’t know what I’ll do this evening. I guess I’ll have to dig up something to read.
     If you are worrying about your income tax, think about me. I think I have a pretty good-sized exemption because I am overseas, but I’m not too sure. I should have married you and used you for an exemption. Now that’s a cold-blooded thing to say isn’t it?
     I’m at a loss for anything to write this evening. I’m more prone just to sit and daydream. I was thinking just now about how lonely I used to feel some evenings in Greenville. I don’t know why I detested that town so. I’ll never forget that New Year’s Eve there. I’ve never felt so lost in my life. Perhaps I should have been better off drunk, but for some peculiar reason I was sober. Then after a day’s flying, we go to eat supper and the club would be filled with officers’ wives. It was really a very pleasant place just before I left. I’m through will all that, and how well I realize it now.  All I want is to look forward to seeing you at the end of the day. Come a Saturday night, and we’ll go to the dance together. You’ll get to know many other girls just like yourself, and the days won’t be long either. We won’t have to make so many wishes, and just have a beautiful time. Pretty good daydream isn’t it, but it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. That’s why I like it.
     There is quite a golf game going on outside. They have one left-handed club and all the boys are right-handed except one. They have fun anyhow as the game consists mainly of arguments.
     I guess I’ll close, darling, and start my search for something to read. I’ll probably have to canvass every tent in the area. Night, darling, I’ll write more later on, or didn’t you know?
     Always—my love, J. R.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sy Liebergot at FPL last Wednesday

Sy Liebergot, Apollo era EECOM Flight Controller, spoke to a standing room audience about what it was like to be a front-line Flight Controller in Mission Control during the harrowing experiences of the Apollo 13 mission.  He included comments on the accuracy of the Apollo 13 film directed by Ron Howard.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

from Manuevers by poet Sybil Pittman Estess

Wishes and Needs

Sometimes, I’m born in Boston.
I come of age in decrepit mansions,
bricked and blue-veined.  A Japanese

garden circles a sculptured pool.
Inspired by my mother, professor
Of Eastern art, I attend Madame de Trop’s

school for girls.  At eighteen, trickles
of Latin and Greek and Renaissance painting
flow from my brain, down the refined sinus

track into my classic nose and out of my
seasoned mouth.  By twenty-one, I choose
for proper reasons either to research allergies

or to conduct the Paris Pops.  Svelte,
each day I romp with African animals, swim
with Amazon fish from Brazil.

Symmetric Again

 Nightmares for days.                                               

My niece in pieces in a mudpuddle;
I am arrested: “Unclean!”
No member of my family is whole.  All
severed, irregular.

Walking willfully, he comes to me
from all sides in a dream.  Robed
in fire, filling my white caladiumed
garden, he says, “You are Jacob.
You loathe Esau.  I will make you

symmetric again.”  As I flee, he
pursues me, saying,

“I am what
  I am.
  I am a rag man,
  the second coming,
  your dark self—renamed,

Sybil Pittman Estess, Ph.D., was one of eight finalists for Poet Laureate of the State of Texas in 2009.  She is the author of her new fourth poetry release: Maneuvers, 2010, by Inleaf Press. Estess has taught at the University of Houston, the University of St. Thomas, Rice University, Houston Community College, and Blinn Colleges.  She has served as a literature panelist for both the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Cultural Arts Council of Houston as well as on the Adult Education Council of Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral. Sybil Pittman Estess was a founding organizer of the Houston Poetry Fest. Estess, along with Laura’s Poetry Group members Vivian Macias, Kelly Patton, and Sally Ridgway, gave a reading at our FPL Poetry Series in September of 2011. 

More poems by Sybil Pittman Estess:

Monday, February 4, 2013

Recording Artist ellen cherry at FPL February 20

Emmy nominated singer/songwriter ellen cherry performs at Friendswood Public Library on  Wednesday, February 20th at 7pm

ellen cherry is a singer, songwriter, musician, designer, artist, producer, and recording engineer.

Baltimore based songwriter and performer, ellen cherry (lowercase letters intentional) has recorded and released original music continuously since 1997. In 2012, ellen released her newest and most intimate work yet, a piano-based album produced by Caleb Stine, entitled "Please Don't Sell the Piano". In addition to her personal compositions, ellen is working with the Maryland Historical Society on new music she will create, inspired by their 4-year-long Civil War exhibit, is a Strathmore Artist-in-Residence in 2012 and a 2011 Baker Artist Award winner (including the Semmes G. Walsh special music prize). In 2009, ellen composed an original score for Nana Project's shadow puppet piece, "Alzonzo's Lullaby", inspired by the true story of a circus train wreck south of Chicago, in 1918. The piece was awarded one of the most prestigious puppetry awards, the UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence. In 2012, ellen premiered another original composition to compliment Nana Projects' newest work, "Eureka!". The team has been commissioned for another original work by the Strathmore, inspired by the life and diary of Opal Whiteley, to debut in 2013. With fellow Baltimore based jazz musician/writer Sandy Asirvatham, ellen is co-producing (and is the visual alchemist for the live performance) "MOBTOWNmoon", a genre-defying new interpretation of Pink Floyd's classic, "Dark Side of the Moon", which will debut in 2013, and features some of Baltimore's finest working musicians from all musical corners.

ellen also wrote, performed and recorded an original song commissioned by the FOX Networks that was nominated for an Emmy in 2010. She is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Monarch Academy, a Baltimore City Public Charter School in an effort to satiate her passion for education and help further the idea of arts integration learning in Public Schools. She has been awarded Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards for Vocal Performance (2007) and Music Composition (2009) and founded her own studio and label, Wrong Size Shoes, in 2004.

Mixing equal parts of pathos and humor throughout her songs, ellen cherry is mysterious and powerful on stage and her banter gives audiences a peek into a whimsical, curious mind. She seamlessly fuses her love of History, Poetry, and Literature with the Usual Suspects of Love, Loss, and Despair, with a powerful, commanding voice and skill on both guitar and piano.

Filming "We are Baltimore"