Monday, June 19, 2017

"Thermodynamics." by Carolee Bennett

" may pass to the golden world..."

-William Blake

© Mark W. Ó Brien 2015

It doesn’t matter what the lovers question. The answers from night are the same: hoot owl, tree frog, twig-snap. A neighbor calls to her dog. A fire siren summons the men. Old songs drift out from a speaker on the porch. The lovers at their fire study each flame as inquiry: what next? what next? Too stubborn to accept they can’t see beyond. Any given ring of light narrow. The boundary quivers. Twelve miles away and three hundred sixty miles away, dystopia suggests itself to officials in the capitals. Signs of it all the way out here. On the lawns, surnames of those staking claim. But no trace of authority on the hill. And what little the creek says on the matter it mumbles. Van Morrison, the one clear voice: We were born before the wind.

His arm around her
shoulder. Her hand on his thigh.
Light on both faces.


© Carolee Bennett 2017


Carolee Bennett is an artist and poet living in Upstate New York, where – after a local, annual poetry competition – she has fun saying she has been the “almost” poet laureate of Smitty’s Tavern. 

plus, i rage against the man (often) & talk poetry (sometimes) on twitter:

Editors Note: Bennett Hill is not named after Carolee but there are those of us who would like to perpetuate that myth. ;););)

Monday, June 12, 2017

"Wearing Nature As Her Veil." by Michael Conner

"Walking in the rainy-day."
© Mark W. Ó Brien 2016

Saturnine mood swings of a regal, revered outcropping, lurking behind the shielding thicket of surrounding brush... Ononta'kahrhon remains demure and aloof yet stalwart in her resolve to keep gawkers at bay.

Wearing nature as a veil to help belie the arrogance of eons of upward thrusting granite, ...perpetually molding, chiseling, sculpting a profile recognized by the constituent inhabitants scattered in her visual wake for miles around.

No bawdy wind whipped, snow capped peaks to scream "mountain"...but rather a more subtle ...and humble posture as one who prostrates themselves in solemn prayer. 
arid plains so flat
writhing in jealous contempt
of Cradle Hill’s poise


©  Michael Conner 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

"Turtle." By Bob Sharkey.

"...and this, as evening fell..."
© Mark W. Ó Brien 2016

Meany’s heart was still beating at a scary pace.  Racing in flight from the horror of the walk-in closet full of tiny green boxes. Way out here in the countryside.  Why?  He shuddered at that close memory, at the immediate signals his body had given to run from that house down the road and abort the break-in.  Now, this hill shifting to darker greens in the fading light.  Looming above the lighter colors of a field.  The hill lying there like a giant flattened sea turtle.  Its neck extended, flippers spread out in vulnerable surrender.  Meany thought of how often men (and boys) had been ordered to “take this damn hill before dark.”  The names of hills of battle shuttled through his memory.  As he stood watching from the margin of the field, green shifted toward black. His heart slowed.  Getting too old for these assignments, he thought.  

Lone redwing blackbird
Posted as thin sentinel
Beside mint green field    


© Bob Sharkey 2017


Bob Sharkey is the editor of the annual Stephen A DiBiase Poetry contest.

Monday, May 29, 2017

"Onesquathaw Creek." By Howard J Kogan

"As I before God fearing men who knew me when 
stood farther and farther afield from my notes again..."
© Mark W. Ó Brien 2016

This sky reflects not the dark hill but its spirit history and stories.  Here where once First Nation Peoples lived below, their spirits live on above.

They were living on this hill and valley since the last ice age, now they are here in the sky lighting the dark ground, watering the dry hill, tending to it as they did since the early times, since before time when the land was mist.

This creek where they fished, this hill where they hunted, this forest that provided for their needs, all this is still theirs.  That it was taken from them does not make it less theirs, for the land belongs to those who love the land and not the ones who defend it with fence and gun and treaties as false as the Europeans who made them.

There are laws greater than man’s laws and there are forces that move through our lives, like the winds toss the autumn leaves.  Here is a sky of menace and glory looming high above us, a spirit sky, a sky that will rain down on us both its fury and tenderest blessings. 

spirits dance above
dark hills telling stories to
the listening ground


© Howard J Kogan 2017


Howard J Kogan is a psychotherapist and poet who lives in Stephentown, NY. His latest collection of poems is entitled "A chill in the air."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"Loaded with convincing reasons to go..." by Mark W. Ó Brien

"Sunset Road."
© Mark W. Ó Brien 2015/17

My father loved his big Irish Catholic family. One of the things he always wanted was a house to support it and a car to move us around in comfortably. In 1960 he got the house, but it took a few more years before he achieved the vehicle necessary to haul us all at once. That car, was a Madeira Maroon colored '67 Vista Cruiser! Equipped with a "Jetfire Rocket V8" engine powered by 315 horses, a sporty "Vista View Roof" and the patented "forward facing third seat" that "made everyone feel like members of the family!"

Three years separated my younger brother and I from our three older siblings. They sat together in the middle row of seats and enjoyed the "Unique Tinted Glass Vista Roof Views" as we tore down the highway. In many ways my younger brother and I were more like a second family. Although we faced forward, we knew we were in the caboose and tended to watch scenery out the back window instead.

Most weekends during the summer months Mom and Dad would take us up to the local John Boyd Thatcher State Park, in the nearby Helderberg Mountains, for family picnics. I remember hiking the Indian ladder trail, swimming in Thatcher Park pool, and playing tag with my siblings along the split rail fence lining the cliff edge. All the while the smell of hamburgers and hotdogs wafted about on the breeze...

Afterwards, just for fun, or to make the day last a little bit longer I suppose, at my Mom's request Dad would often drive the long way home through the mountains. Those were happy times, their sunsets and landscaped silhouettes left lasting impressions in my mind.

My thoughts would drift and blur with the activities of the day...

I learned to appreciate
how life and beauty recede 
out the back window.


© Mark W. Ó Brien 2015/17

Monday, May 22, 2017

"One autumn evening, in the long shadows." By Tess Lecuyer

"One autumn evening, in the long shadows."
© Mark W. Ó Brien 2015

The wild red barns herd their gangling offspring
slowly to safety and rest. 

snug by the cowling
of crisping forest
down at the throat of the hill

©Tess Lecuyer 2017

Tess is a long time member of Albany Poets and further examples of her work may be found here:  Tess Lecuyer.

Monday, May 15, 2017

"Angel Lights." by A.C. Everson

"Live in each season as it passes..." 
-Henry David Thoreau
© Mark W. Ó Brien 2016

Her shoulders carried the pack full of fine repast and blanket waiting for just the right spot, thinking the ridge above likely but for grumbles caused by too small a breakfast, rushed due to a change in the weather and the sure feeling that today was the day for this hike.

Crossing the field her load that weighed heavy in her soul lifts when looking up she sees Angel lights. Yes Angel lights, that’s what old mother called them. Long ago stories told to young ears that believed everything, wonders now who visits today. Could it be him?

She said they come when
The light is just right maybe
Doors in clouds open


© A.C. Everson 2017

A.C. Everson is a home grown poet, sculptor and performance artist. Her words can be found at Her art can be seen at Breaking My Art on Facebook. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

"Sometimes There’s a Glimpse." By Charles Rossiter

© Mark W. Ó Brien 2016

Lying flat out on volcanic ash at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho looking up at the million million starsor standing on the National Mall in DC surrounded by buildings of power, tears streaming because the gospel choir broke on through. Evening shadows climb slowly up a steep hill outside Taos. Venus on the horizon, the first stars. Somewhere a cloud reaches to a mountain, or does the mountain reach to the cloud?

moonlight on the water,
ocean waves along the shore,
my feet sink in wet sand


© Charles Rossiter 2017


Charlie Rossiter is the host of: Poetry Spoken Here--new podcast 1st & 3rd Fridays 
His free ebook "Poems People Like" is available here:
and you may hear Charlie read here at:

"where you hear poems read by poets who wrote them."

Monday, May 1, 2017

"Untitled." By Thomas E. Bonville

"The view coming down Cass Hill."
© Mark W. Ó Brien 2015

I only knew it from Cass Hill really, you can catch a glimpse of it over your shoulder along Cass Hill Road.  Off of Cass Hill Road was Dunbar Hollow Road, more of a path than a road, as I recall it.  I remember being told by my buddy that the road was closed, part of the year, when the weather was bad.  I believed it.  His old Plymouth had trouble enough climbing the hill to get to Dunbar Hollow, and that was in good weather.  It couldn't be any other way.  Cass Hill was a place that held a situational attraction at a certain time in a young man's life, in my case, me and my best friend's life, both of us 18, who wanted to have a swim and privacy on a summer night and a bonding with the universe.  

There was a sportsman's club on Dunbar Hollow Road.  My friend's parents had a family membership at the club, which allowed us to use the grounds without thinking we were doing anything wrong.  I never once in an entire summer saw anyone else there.  No hunters.  No fishermen.  Nobody.  The pond on the grounds was small, but it never was weedy, it had a dock with a diving board, and the water was deliciously cool on hot summer nights.  We would listen to the crickets, the cicadas, watch lighting bugs fire up their flickers as night descended on the day.  We would stay past sunset, watch the stars reveal themselves and tell their stories.  We would smoke pot, eat pretzels, chips and bags of popcorn, drink Genesee Cream Ale, and we would talk about the meaning of life, whether it was about the Vietnam War, rights and privileges for all Americans, who was better, Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays, what girls in our graduated high school class were prettiest, and who was the greatest guitarist who ever lived.

It was Hendrix, of course,

Ononta'kahrhan?  Never came up.

But I heard voices.

        My spirit brother,
was it you in the stillness
        that said to rebel?


©Thomas E. Bonville 2017

Thomas is a lifelong resident of the Hudson River Valley.  He writes, reads, listens and discusses poetry with The Rensselaerville Poets and the Posey Café.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Because God's grace has spilled over into our lives..." By Mark W. Ó Brien

"Because God's grace has spilled over into our lives..." 
© Mark W. Ó Brien 2015/2017

I dreamed I found the Seanchaithe's buried treasure and hoarded bequests in my mind brimming with the light of great stories. Inside my head I stood beside Ononta'kahrhon as nightfall arose from an expanding afternoon. Suddenly, I knew I must pour this light out like a bucket of sunset upon the heads of my children's children. The light, of memories of a future far away place in June. The light of an unexpected fire that I drew on a chalkboard, as an apprehensive child, when I looked out the window 'til the window disappeared...

It was a good dream,
I saw my dark haired grandchild
climbing up your hill!


© Mark W. Ó Brien 2015/2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

"Into Great Silence" by Tom Corrado

"as I sat before the cliff..." 
© Mark W. Ó Brien 2015

9 PM. Snow. I’m in the woods feeding my outdoor wood boiler. I do this twice a day during the colder months. I live out here in the mountains 30 miles southwest of Albany. My property abuts a 5500 acre preserve. I’m pretty isolated. The woods. Something about them. Something enigmatic. Intimidating. Daunting. Humbling. Indeed, as Frost reminds us, they are lovely, dark, and deep. But they are as well refreshingly invigorating. They spellbind me. Renew my sense of something. Hope, perhaps? I stand before them. They envelop me. Captivate me. I listen to the woods. I listen to the life of the woods. Their silence deafening.

the trees talk to me
as I enter their kingdom
at peace with the world


Tom Corrado, a musician, visual artist, and poet, coordinates the poetry group at the Rensselaerville Library, and blogs at

Monday, April 17, 2017

WASHTUB SPRING by Alan Casline.

In his later years and right before the cross-country trip he made, “destination” changed meaning so no longer were the mileposts counted off but instead “circle” replaced all the steps one in front of another in the way he used to carry maps and had to constantly check his pockets for the tickets he knew somewhere ahead he would need, not fresh and unfolded but crumbled and stuck with pocket debris, new dirt and fuzz of old laundry why he might be johnny appleseeding it with collected and broken flowerheads as old as just after the last time his jacket had been washed and time on from that, which he casually let fly from the pocket, he hoped held his ticket these seeds which as he plucked from where they were held in his palm pausing with a pinch between thumb and index finger and then brushing his hands together cleaning off all that were left and then taking the same two fingers and displaying to his eyes the ticket he was once again worried about missing his connection and it became time to speak about the silence even though to speak of silence was to end the silence he felt that yes it was time here at the beginning of the old path to a named spring to cycle the voice of his own silence to nature breathing as warm animals hid and his words were gone though you could say hid also and perhaps because there was no destination even his inner voice was silent and language in words was gone but there was the weak feeling of absence remembering words and unable to find even one just a nothing mind gone animal carcass dancing till he was there at the spring but couldn’t form his being just the black dark of silence which stirred a longing, a need which retrieved him except then his eyes blinked out and he could barely feel the wind as he fell into the mystery of time uncharted and so his hands reached out and moved in time indeterminate no longer were the breaths counted out how long unknown even the memory of movement had no word and he drank water from his cupped hands at that he again touched the world as if it were real.

He woke to the path which answered his riddle, saw middle clouds and heard Cloudpeople thrill-ride their soapbox derby cars made of tiny suspended water droplets straight into the green hillface, which called wind to wipe them off the hill’s forest chin like Shepard’s pie for lunch or vanilla ice cream on a hot day. Sheets, wisps & patches, rolls, ripples, heaps and tuffs, towers. Loggerhead came back with a new protest sign and the same hairy feet. Lumbering up and down a little switchback excuse me slipping by his rumble tale. What is the difference between memories and ghosts?  Everyone I knew walking with me on the trail again when I’m alone and want them all to shut-up. In a deep hole in the ground there is still snow, a last place to melt.

guess you don’t think the
world will end
  when you die
the little world
the perfect world
   with your life in it


© Alan Casline 2017


Alan Casline is the editor of Rootdrinker a long standing magazine of watershed poetics, art and nonfiction. He lives with his wife, Jennifer Pearce, in a suburban neighborhood outside of Albany, New York. 

You may order his most recent book here:

Monday, April 10, 2017

"...from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” by Philip Good.

"...from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”(Color.)
© Mark W. O Brian  2017

A poet takes a photograph of a mountain and the mountain wonders why. “What is all the fuss about?” said the mountain. “You make me feel closer to speaking with the angels,” replied the poet. And somewhere near the top of that mountain a lady slipper grew where no one ever saw it. One cool evening before the stars came out, a deer found that orchid and had a lovely meal. As the ridge line was defined by the glowing sky, a red tail fox ate a little rabbit.

The mountain was very proud of itself for providing a space for all this activity. Even though, the mountain wished not to be praised, it laughed with glee when the poet felt inspired to write about it. And then one day a nasty little greedy mining man came along and wanted to stick explosives in the mountain’s head. Lucky for the mountain a big black bear pawed and bit that man to death.

If a mountain touches the sky
and no one is there to see it
does it smile or scowl?


© Philip Good 2017

"...from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” (Albumen print.)
© Mark W. O Brian  2017

Philip Good is included in Infiltration, An Anthology of Innovative Poetry from the Hudson River Valley andHelix Syntax, the 41st Summer Writing Program Magazine, Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa University. You can listen to Philip Good on POET RAY'D YO — 

Monday, April 3, 2017

“Last Train to Clarksville” by Dan Wilcox

"Just earlier that evening."
© MarkW. Ó Brien 2015

It was a text, “Take the last train to Clarksville & I’ll meet you at the station; be there by 4:30, I’ve made your reservation.”  

Which Clarksville?  There are 22 in the U.S.  No Clarksville train station here.

I didn’t recognize the number & tried calling it.  There was a lot of noise on the other end.  I think the woman said, “I’m leaving in the morning & I must see you again.  One more night together until my train in the morning, coffee-flavored kisses, & talk.”  Then she hung up.

Perhaps I was wrong.  I got in my car & drove up into the hills to the nearest Clarksville.  I was right, no train station.  No bus station.  Just narrow, deserted country roads leading to empty fields, crumbling stone fences, old houses.  No people, except in cars on the state road.  I realized that there’s nothing you can expect to happen in any town named Clarksville.

     There is no train to
Clarksville, last or otherwise —
      Fucking lost again.
© Dan Wilcox 2017
Dan Wilcox is the host of the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center in Albany, N.Y.   
You can may read his Blog at and you can purchase his books @ apdbooks.