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Take a bad turn,
Make it right,
Write about it,
What do you get?
ShiftPoetry (™),
Just don’t forget the “f”.

©Howard Kern
December 13, 2018, 1:55 PM


November 27, 2018 - Below is a poem I was inspired to write based on the passing of my son's high school football coach, Larry Palmer (5/11/1960 - 11/24/2018). It applied equally to my childhood friend John Siegel (3/1961 - 11/2?/2018). Like so many others, including Cliff Hannel, Steve Ryan (aka Kerry Ryan), Keith Farr, Kenny Herman, Beth Brenner, Larry Gerson, Debbie Blum, George Mantour, Joey Miller, Judith Roseman, Steven Howard, just to name a few, they died too soon. During this Holiday Season, my blessings and prayers go out to all families that have suffered losses and I hope that everybody takes a moment to appreciate how lucky we all are to share this space on earth.


Too Soon

I act real cavalier,
Like I don’t really care,
But truth be told,
I really want to grow old,
I want to walk my child down the aisle,
Maybe sit with my grandkid for a while,
And hear those precious words spoken,
“Grandpa you must be jokin,”
But as I lie down on my bed,
I know in my heart that I have no say over where my soul will be led,
So I shut my eyes before I sleep,
And hope that my soul I get to keep,
But my fears are neither here nor there,
All these neurosis are mine to bare,
I write these words with a heavy heart,
In hopes that my soul will not depart,
But if my soul is called away,
Please remember my love of life every day.

©Howard Kern
November 27, 2018, 12:08 AM


November 27, 2018 – I have gained weight over the past several months. I mentioned this to my partner. I told her that I have not been writing as much. She advised me to write whenever I felt like eating for no reason. This is the poem her words inspired.


Writing Instead

Coping comes in many different forms,
Sometimes I eat when I’m under stress,
Sometimes I run until I can’t run anymore,
Other times I just want to become a different person,
But the best thing I can do for myself is just write,
Let my fingers do the talking,
Shut my eyes,
And just type away,
Until there’s nothing more to say.

©Howard Kern
November 26, 2018, 11:54 PM


Just One Letter

At times I may get sad,
And think about how hard life is,
Woe is me,
And then I realize,
It doesn’t have to be that way,
Just one letter makes all the difference,
Wow is me,
And it doesn’t stop there,
I can’t,
Just one letter,
I can,
And then some words are so amazing that their strength continues even as I play with the letters,
How great are those words,
I get a lift out of life when I live with love,
I like that,
Just one letter,
Life doesn’t have to be burdensome,
It all comes with attitude,
Sometimes it’s a matter of spelling,
And I know that it’s not as easy as one letter,
But wouldn’t it be nice if it were?
So I ask myself,
Why can’t it be?

©Howard Kern
March 1, 2018


I Didn’t Go to Your Funeral

I didn’t go to your funeral
I don’t even know if you had one
(I think you had one)

I know you’re buried
but I don’t know where

Was it a day thing?
A Saturday maybe?
And who showed up?

My dad I suppose,
With your good friend (who’d be his wife in three months)

Maybe our old neighbor
Maybe her kids
Or maybe she was skeeved by that whole business too?

I can’t build a memory of where I wasn’t
But I can say our whole time
(ok most of it)
was where you weren’t.
So I wasn’t either.

Your funeral?
I’m sure Somebody showed:
You were well liked among people who didn’t have to live with you.

© Ruth Waytz
June, 2018


My Only Grandchild Is Deaf

My Rabbi taught me that each night of sleep is a preparation for death. It is also a glorious time to replenish for the gift of a coming day.

I begin each day with these words.

“Thank you, Eternal One, for your kindness. You returned my soul to me, refreshed.”

But until recently - I would begin each day with an obsessive story of my grandkid Lucy...

Nearly 10 years ago my only daughter, my only child, whom I bore just short my of 21st birthday, announced that she was pregnant.

She’d been through multiple relationships and impressive career building.

I thought I’d never be a grandmother.

The moment I heard the news something struck me.

There is something not right about this baby.

For nine months I saw signs - literal ones - disability plaques in crazy places.

An old discarded sticker on a random floor announcing that “this appliance may cause birth defects.”

I kept my thoughts and experiences a secret.

During the pregnancy I spend a ton of time in New Zealand where I befriended a Maori Shaman called Ruth Tai. Her daughter too was having a first child - due within days of mine.

Close to term I told Ruth that we were having a girl. She too.

At the last she sent me a flowery loving email that highlighted the special nature of my granddaughter to come.

At the hospital Lucy was delivered perfect - pink pouty lipped and gorgeous - and unscathed due to a gentle - at least for her - caesarean section.

I counted fingers and toes - saw deep blue eyes flash open for a moment -

I announced to my daughter that Lucy was left handed - which she is.

I felt so connected to this baby.

And I thought that my prenatal overreaction was just that -

I held Lucy in my arms and sang to her - lullabies from my childhood.

I turned to my daughter and said “she loves my singing” - funny because I’m tone deaf - but she appreciated me - smiled and purred and clasped my finger in her tiny fist.

Then a nurse burst into the birthing room whispering something. “Not a valid test”. “Caesareans often have water that lingers in the ear canal - sometimes for a month.”

So we found out in a month that Lucy was deaf. Hearing loss they called it and I asked emphatically - what did she lose - she had nothing to begin with.

Clearly when I had sung she responded to my rhythmic movements - to my heart beating next to her through my delicate chest.

She felt my breath on her as I brushed her with air kisses.

She was ecstatic and told me so with a smile.

After reality set in - I went back to Ruth Tai’s email - looking for meaning - and I finally saw the line -

“She will hear differently than others - but that hearing will be so engaged that it will help to change the world.” There it was.

Today Lucy is the proud successful recipient of cochlear implants that she received when she was 9 months old - contrary to the wisdom of insurance companies

Who wanted her to sit in silence until she was two. But Grandma fought the system and climbed a mountain for a precious child.

When people ask what little light flashes in her massive curly minky brown hair with blonde highlights Lucy tells of computers in her head - and big magnets - and tiny external “processors” which deliver sound through apparatus to a healthy auditory nerve.

The lights are a warning for adults around her that her batteries could be running out.

She tells folks not to feel sorry for her. She speaks more eloquently and richly than other children her age. And clearly she hears everything.

She also has 20/15 vision and can smell pancakes on a griddle a block away from her home.

Lucy tells folks that “everyone has something” and that she has an advantage - which is that she can “turn you off” if you are not being nice. She tests that by taking off her processors until there are nods of assurance that only nice words are being said in the room.

Lucy loves to sing. Cochlear implant kids are tone deaf - funny - like me -

But at events be they birthdays, sing-a-longs or karaoke night - Lucy sings with such bravura and authority. Her voice is powerful and her skinny frame is entrenched. She sings from a very big heart and her face and demeanor give maximum life to words.

Lucy is a rockstar and yes she is changing the world one scared family with a deaf child candidate for cochlears at a time. One longing grandma at a time.

© Barbara Ligeti
April, 2018


On Divorce

I think that you hate me.

I know I hate you

I wish I did not

It crowds out my life

I invited you in

And gave what I could

It wasn’t enough

And the anger began

We had our two treasures

We love them the same

They live with our anger

Even when it’s not named

I want to forgive you

But anger is all I have left

To lose it might save me

But leave me bereft

© Sam Kitt
April, 2018