lferlinghetti

Thank you to the 120 poets from 31 states and 17 countries who contributed their work to our I AM STILL WAITING Series, which ran from April 19, 2021 to July 16, 2021. It was a wonderful three-month homage to the late, great Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his influential poem “I Am Waiting.” Ferlinghetti’s work and legacy will resound forever! Many thanks to…

Cynthia Anderson
Paige L. Austin
Jaya Avendel
David Bachner
Sam Barbee
Jenny Bates
Laurel Benjamin
Shelly Blankman
Lavina Blossom
Rose Mary Boehm
Steve Bogdaniec
Ranney Campbell
Robin Cantwell
Gary Carter
Jan Chronister
Tricia Marcella Cimera
Clive Collins
Paul Corbeil
Joe Cottonwood
Barbara Crary
Howard Richard Debs
Rafaella Del Bourgo
Hali Denton
Lara Dolphin
Margaret Dornaus
Margaret Duda
Barbara Eknoian
Jeff Ewing
Attracta Fahy
Scott Ferry
Mark A. Fisher
Yvette Viets Flatten
Laura Foley
Thomas Fullmer
Martina Gallegos
Christian Garduno
Sue Mayfield Geiger
Matthew Gilbert
VInce Gotera
Vijaya Gowrisankar
Oz Hardwick
Steven Hendrix
Maura High
Stephen Howarth
Mathias Jansson
Sarika Jaswani
Andrew Jeter
Carole Johnston
Joe Johnston
Paul Jones
Feroza Jussawalla
Debra Kaufman
Lynne Kemen
Munia Khan
Kim Klugh
Tricia Knoll
Judy Kronenfeld
Mary Anna Kruch
Aakriti Kuntal
Laurie Kuntz
Jennifer Lagier
Paula J. Lambert
Joan Leotta
Eleanor Lerman
Robert Lima
Rick Lupert
Anne Lutomia
Andy MacGregor
Tamara Madison
Giovanni Mangiante
Shahé Mankerian
Betsy Mars
Lindsey Martin-Bowen
Mary McCarthy
Joan McNerney
Shannon Milliman
Elaine Mintzer
Lisa Molina
Sally Mortemore
Leah Mueller
Jagari Mukherjee
Lowell Murphree
Mish (Eileen) Murphy
Burleigh Mutén
Jill Namatsi
Lillian Nećakov
Maria Nestorides
Cristina M.R. Norcross
Mary O’Brien
Jay Passer
James Penha
Darrell Petska
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
Jessica Purdy
Patrick T. Reardon
Jeannie E. Roberts
Kerfe Roig
Ed Ruzicka
Rikki Santer
Federica Santini
Wilderness Sarchild
Sheikha A.
Julia Klatt Singer
Ranjith Sivaraman
Massimo Soranzio
Julie Standig
Carol A. Stephen
Terrence Sykes
Alarie Tennille
Gail Tirone
Richard Vargas
Smitha Vishwanath
Alan Walowitz
Kelley White
Lynn White
Jonathan Yungkans
Thomas Zampino
Andrena Zawinski
Yvonne Zipter
Joanie HF Zosike

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An Empty Page
by Sarika Jaswani

Barble
caught in an
earthen flask

I believe        I carry
wet      weight      As
sullen thoughts        ritz & warble

clamor under my hair
vehement to be spelt out
on my empty canvas
to be
upheld
exhibited
validated

as I voice
A trade        in

currency of liquid ink
on reliable spaces
                                   for calm
to stay between my eyes

adamant muses     sojourn
lodge in dark spaces
capricious they enfold

       whisper

      only faint

       fade
and leave…

I am still waiting
With a dry pen
       On
an empty page

PAINTING: One Way by Irma Blank (1991).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarika Jaswani writes under the pen name ArtInCrochet. A crochet artist, art tutor, writer of children’s stories, philanthropist. Poet. Dabbles in poetry, reading, and writing. Art lover. Bird lover. Dreamer and blogger. Sarika is a passionate poetry reader and writer. Her Poetry is published in The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls, Fevers Of The Mind, and A Cornered Gurl on Medium. 

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Waiting for Sunset
by Andrena Zawinski

(at Capitola-by-the-Sea,
on another anniversary)

Waiting for sunset on the sands
at Pleasure Beach, a single sailboat
drifts in along the horizon line.
At cliff’s edge, the cypress shadow
umbrellas us where a lone tern
routinely picks through kelp.

I am still waiting for you
to pop the champagne cork
to celebrate another anniversary,
to toast the early evening’s spread—

a billow of clouds crossing
the blur of blue sky like a span
of wing bars on the rush of waves
tuning up the night’s voice,
droning out the growing quiet
tugging so hard at the tide.

First appeared in a different version in California Quarterly 34:3 and in the book by the author, Something About.

PHOTO: Seagulls at sunset, Capitola, California. Photo by Mark Rasmussen, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andrena Zawinski’s poems have received accolades for free verse, form, lyricism, spirituality, social concern; they include several Pushcart Prize nominations and have appeared in print and online. She is the author of three full collections and several chapbooks of poetry. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she runs a Women’s Poetry Salon.

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A Year of Waiting
by Mary O’Brien

A year of clicking and box checking,
for groceries we eat without savoring.
Heat them up, pour them over.
Half the order back at the store,
I am still waiting for someone to notice.

A year of no oil changes or tuneups.
Endless postcards from the mechanic.
Put air in the tires and postpone the carwash.
The ice cream is melting in the back seat,
waiting for us to notice.

A friend sends a photo from a year ago.
You’re wearing clothes you don’t recognize.
You work in a bedroom filled with stuff,
and arrange nice things to disguise the clutter.
Hoping no one will notice.

Your partner stopped shaving his beard,
You stop plucking those wild chin hairs.
On video calls you sincerely hope,
no one will actually notice.

The neighbor leaves his porch light lit.
It shines into your bedroom all night.
You want to hide longer in your dark space
Longing for someone to notice.

You stop worrying about the big things,
because there’s nothing you can do.
You fret endlessly about the little things—
only so much you can take.
But will anyone really notice?

You post on social the sunrises and sunsets,
later and later, now earlier and earlier.
Watching the cycle unfold and then fold again.
Will we only remember what we have not noticed?

PAINTING: Timeless Spring by Kazuaki Tanahashi (2011).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written during the year of COVID when the very minutia of living became overly prominent in many people’s lives, including mine. I wrote this one morning before dawn instead of the more urgently needed shopping list for contact-less pickup at the supermarket. I felt I needed to record how small and petty parts of my life had become, and the helplessness that is triggered by long-term waiting.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary O’Brien is an environmental writer and installation artist. Her writing evolves out of her engagement with place and community, and the research she develops for environmental art installations. Her nonfiction works delve into ecological loss and community resilience. O’Brien’s public art installations can be seen at watershedsculpture.com. Her essays have been published in Field to Palette, Stanford University’s MAHB Journal; The Solutions Journal; and in Women’s Eco Artist Dialogue. Find her on Facebook and Instagram

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Waiting
by Smitha Vishwanath

I waited for a call
My alkaline blood curdling
The pungency burning my insides
I tasted harshness on my tongue
And bitterness in my skin
I was a wisp of a child waiting—

I waited as a prisoner waits
For a glimpse of the open sky
To feel the sun’s rays on tired bones
Hungry for a bowl of kindness—
from those who had beheld
my mother’s generosity and been graced with fleeting time.

I became a miner—
Trapped—
at the bottom of a shaft
the heat of waiting—
turned the liquid iron in my heart
into steel

I waited no longer
Or maybe it had become a part of me—the waiting
Like my aching
Feet—I could walk
I could run, I could jump; I did not miss
Or crave for painless soles

Then I lost my father
And a shooting pain rattled every bone in my body
And pricked every pore in my skin
They say fresh wounds heal quickly
It’s the old wounds that are the worst
If they flare up again

I became a wisp of a child
I became a prisoner
I became a miner
Waiting—
I am still waiting
Is that so bad?

PAINTING: Blue Woman by Eugene Leroy (1955).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The pain of losing my mother in 2006 had dulled over time only to resurface now with the loss of my father. I remember feeling lost at sea then and I feel the same now. It is the pain of losing someone and being left alone to climb back up again that led to this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Smitha Vishwanath is a banker by profession, a blogger by choice, a poet by accident and an artist at heart. She published her first book of poetry Roads: A Journey with Verses in July 2019. Her poetry has been published by Rebelle Society, Silver Birch Press, and SpillWords Press. Her poem “Do you have dreams?’” was recently featured on the National Poetry Writing Month 2021 website. Visit Smitha on her website.

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Waiting Is Not for Sissies
by Alarie Tennille

The bench is empty.
Why are you late?
I sit and wait five minutes,
     ten,
          fifteen.
               Red alert! Red alert!

My worry warriors charge
into action. Scouts scurry
ahead looking for trouble: the car
wreck, plane crash, heart attack,
kidnapping. Like Fox News,
they radio back every conjecture.

The strategists leap in. Plot
what to do if a, b, or c.
Where to go? Whom to call?
I am still waiting.

Tell myself to breathe deeply, assume
the best. Check messages, interrogate
memory. Perhaps I got the time
or date wrong.

I try to let reason rule, but it
rarely ever does.

PHOTO: Parallelograms by Nieves Mingueza (2015). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I probably spend more time waiting than an average person. Since I don’t drive, I have to wait on a friend or my husband to pick me up. I normally wait calmly for the first five minutes, but the friend picking me up that day is very punctual and usually sitting in front of my house before the appointed time. (The bench was poetic license.) We were going to a lovely French bistro for lunch, so I was especially eager. When I wondered how I could calm down, I did what a poet does¬–started composing this poem in my head. The tardy friend was a poet, too, so I knew she’d approve. Eventually I went upstairs to check my computer. She had sent an email asking to change the date.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alarie Tennille graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she serves on the Emeritus Board and Programming Committee of The Writers Place. Alarie is excited to have a new book, Three A.M. at the Museum, her third collection from Kelsay Books, which arrived in June 2021. The new book includes many ekphrastic poems and an introduction by Lorette C. Luzajic, Editor of The Ekphrastic Review. Alarie’s other books, Waking on the Moon and Running Counter Clockwise, are both available on Amazon.  Please visit her at alariepoet.com.

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London (Go Figure)
by Robin Cantwell

I am still waiting
            for a revelation
                        I am still waiting
                                     for full frontal nudity
                        also
            for a bus

                        the air
            thick with mist
the Thames
            by gaslight
                        like a bad Raymond Chandler
            all I needed
                        was a trench

                                     and full frontal nudity.

Two come
                                                   both at once
            do me a favour

                        I go straight to the top
            thinking
                        wondering
            and my favourite
                        pontificating

                                     where do all the plastics REALLY go
somebody should stop them

            and what about the PFOAs

                        somebody needs to tell
our old friend
                                                           Mr Teflon
            nothing lasts forever.

            A scream
                        a shout
            sir
                                     please stop undressing
                        oh boy
            this
                        I gotta see.

I go back down
                                                           it’s a man
                        a giant

            a godforsaken monolith

                        he’s taking off his clothes
these things take time
                                     when you’re wearing
            everything you own

            a wave of iPhones
                        flash in javascript

            I don’t know where to look
                        and yet
            it’s the only place

                        my eyes can see

                        he asks
for my bottle
            I hand it over

                                     he takes a shower

            like an English regent

            a waterfall
                        rebirth

he calls me John the Baptist
                                     and asks me where we’re headed

            to the same place, I reply
                        when it’s all said and done

            you’re drunk says he

            I can only apologise
                        I’ve had quite a lot

to drink.

            And then
and then

PAINTING: van Gogh Series #4 by Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1994). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this in response to Ferlinghetti’s “London Crossfigured.” Coming from London myself, it seemed like I had the inside track on this—though what came out was a poem about the time I helped a grown man take a shower on a night bus.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Cantwell is a London-based writer whose poetry has appeared in Visual Verse and Nine Muses Poetry. He is a graduate of the National Theatre and 503Theatre playwriting programmes,  and is currently on the Faber & Faber Academy completing his first novel.

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It’s Late
by Mary McCarthy

And I am still waiting

           for my scars to heal

Waiting to find the days

           the lightnings burned away

Waiting for the words I couldn’t say

           loud enough to reach you

Waiting to get past the ache

           of your absence

           raw as the socket

           of a pulled tooth

Waiting to outlive my reputation

Waiting for the chance

           of one more resurrection

           one more spin

           across this tilting floor

Waiting like the dancing god

           with one foot raised

           between memory and anticipation

Ready to grow

           bright as the sun

           at the horizon’s lip

Ready for that

           last flash of joy

           That will leave behind

           no more than a shimmer

           of fractured light

PAINTING: Girl with Lantern by Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky (1908).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The topic of what we are waiting for seemed particularly compelling for me in terms of our situation with the pandemic, where we are waiting for it to end, for the possibility of some return to “normal,” and for my own situation, having had Covid and also just passed my 71st birthday. All of this left me with a sense of the pressure of time, that it is never guaranteed, not in years or days, or in terms of waiting for anyone to finish their plans, their work, their healing, or their struggle. In fact, we will all be surprised by our end, whenever it comes, and however, it won’t wait until we’re ready, so the challenge is to be ready now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy is a retired RN glad to find time for indulging her life long love of words and art. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, most lately in the anthology The Ekphrastic World edited by Lorette Luzajic, and the anthology The Plague Papers, edited by Robbi Nester, as well as in the latest issues of Earth’s Daughters and Verse-Virtual.

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I Am Waiting
by Wilderness Sarchild

after Lawrence Ferenghetti

I am waiting for my granddaughter
to come home from the hospital,
for her to walk, touch hand to nose.
I’m waiting for the refrigerator
to be empty so I can fill it again
and I’m waiting to take
off my mask and kiss my friends
smack on the lips and blow
bubbles in the face of a three-year-old.

I am still waiting for hate
to be flushed down the toilet,
composted into kindness,
and I’m still waiting for a night when
I sleep eight hours without
waking up even once to pee.
I’m waiting for cold to return
so I can complain about winter
rather than worry about global warming.

I am not waiting for the messiah to come.
I am waiting for each one of us to come
and save us from ourselves.

PAINTING: Waiting by Nicholas Roerich (1927). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I like imitating poems by poets whose work I admire. It helps me to get out of my habitual ways of writing and opens creative doors that often surprise and delight me.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wilderness Sarchild  is an award-winning poet and playwright. She is the author of a full-length poetry collection, Old Women Talking, published by Passager Books, and the co-author of Wrinkles, the Musical, a play about women and aging.  She has been featured as Poet of the Week on Poetry Superhighway, Poet of the Month at the Brewster Ladies Library, and can be heard reading her poetry on WCAI Poetry Sunday. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies and literary journals. Visit her at wildernesssarchild.com

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The Dust Won’t Answer
by Federica Santini

The dust won’t answer and tell us
the reason it blankets time with its quiet.
The crystal cable remains on the table
of years reversed and gone.

Ask the dust where everyone went
though remember, it does not
speak our language but waits, still
waits. Like dust, I won’t answer
the call of those who were
deaf to our plight.

You who mocked our accents:
I no longer answer to you. I am
still waiting and blanket
your false gods with my silence.

PAINTING: Heat and Dust by John Miller.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem starts from the title of John Fante’s novel, Ask the Dust, to reflect on the Italian American experience. It incorporates a reference to the “crystal cable” as an homage to Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his own reflection on time in “The Plough of Time.” Finally, the third key is unveiled in the last stanza, in which the “false gods” bring us back to Bartolomeo Vanzetti’s last speech to the court.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Federica Santini lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and teaches at Kennesaw State University. She holds an MA from the University of Siena, Italy, and a PhD from UCLA, where she studied poetry and literary translation. A literary critic, poet, and translator, her work has been widely published in North America and Europe. Her 2021 poetry chapbook, Unearthed, is forthcoming with Kelsay Books.