2016's 1st Free Verse Poetry Group Meeting
January 16, 2016 (c) written by Stephen Johnston
President, Charles Southerland
At a table for eight, exactly that many sat, gathered today at the
library for the first meeting of the Free Verse Poetry Group of
Mountain Home's 2016 season. With little pressing business to
dispense with, we started off with Pat Oplinger's funny, and
all-too-familiar lines about holiday overeating, and the diets that
follow. Then began the read-around, each poet reading two poems
in the meeting that never slowed down for the next two hours! In
attendance were Pat Oplinger, Monterey Sirak, Bill Rhodes, Jackye
Swyers, Stephen Johnson, Marie Wayland, Tony Griese, and Lavon Lanoo.
Poems heard included:
Pat O: "Slurping" - about sharing 'doctored-up' raisin toast with her sister
Mary Lou after playing in the snow when they were kids. And, if you can
believe it . . a poem entitled "An-ist, a-trist, and an - ologist", sub titled (Senior
Rap), in praise of medical specialists who keep one kicking.
Monterey: "Between the Tick and the Tock" written (you guessed it, on
New Years eve) about the spaces between the smallest of time measurement,
heart beats, second hands clicking, etc. Also from Monterey, and written with
her friend Richard Lamoureux, "The Bridge", a piece they wrote pretending they'd
been best friends since childhood.
Bill Rhodes: "A Mother's legacy" (Ann Dunham) . This piece, about Barack Obama's
mother, garnered conversation about the relationships shared by presidents and their
mothers, and by extension . . the truth about how only a mother consoles men in
direst need of reassurance. Bill's "Driving into Spring" mentioned the "hen bit", a small
flower [purplish, on square stems] several hadn't heard of before.
Stephen Johnson: Reading from 'The Real People' ( a binder of one-page poems about
actual people from a lifetime), read "Russell Gene" - a poem that he read at the funeral
of the man about whom the poem was written, at Russell's request, and . . "Wayne", about
an old friend from teenage days. Some of the 'good' & some of the 'bad' in each piece.
Lavon Lanoo: Written in the voice of a grandmother whose "Dementia" prevents her from
recognizing her own granddaughter, Lavon ends the poignant piece with "Maybe tomorrow I will
know your name." In "BLUE", a teddy bear fills just a bit of the void left when Lavon's friend
became a widow. All agreed that the subject is universal; the gift of the poem will no doubt
be as, if not more cherished - than gift of the 'companion' bear.
Jackye Swyers: Using a so-called 'practice piece', a painting on a small canvas done by her daughter,
as inspiration, Jackye used only 13 lines and 52 words to 'depict' the "Song Sparrow" seen resting on
a bent "weed stem", silhouetted in black against a yellow "Full sun . . ". "Succession", Jacke's poem
describing the ever speedier entrance and exit of the four seasons, was admired for its pacing, and
[subject to her decision] may have surrendered (only) two words at the end.
Marie Wayland: Writing about the "Blood red in the Devil's basin" near "The Rock" (Standing Rock
at Pineville Arkansas), Marie, in her typical storyteller style, carried her hearers back to the 19 century
days when "Scantily clad children" played without a care in the camps of their native parents. Bill,
who's been familiar with the iconic formation for 50+ years, listened intently, and left celebrating the
poem and its writer. We listened to another of Marie's homages to the majesty of nature, "The Ultimate",
and searched for a few minutes for a 'better' title. Marie smiled while this transpired. Ultimately, the
odds the poem will be re-titled?
Tony Griese: As you know, Tony's high passion is the crafting of lyrics. Touching on a theme that roughens
any gentle heart, Tony lyrics from his "Right On Time" salvaged hope from the gone train of suicide. Though I'm
sorry to say I wasn't familiar with the production ["Outsiders", I believe] from which he borrowed his theme,
in "Stay Gold", he continues his quest for redemptive plots in real life, keeping the beat of the worth of sacrifice
going . .. . going.
THE CUP: was awarded to Jackye - by consensus - for the precise ekphrastic "Song Sparrow"
Misc: We decided to skuttle the "Put-A-Dollar-in-The-Cup-Box" penalty for failing to bring copies. This
was done very informally, very sneakily, by someone who owes a lotta 'back' fines . . . .me. The one
dollar that had ridden around from one winner's house to the next, was deposited with the Treasurer.
We missed you, hope to see you next month. You know who'd say, "Keep writing . . . "