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We met October 1st to discuss Poetry and Odd Titles.

Abigail selected a poem by its title believing it reflected her state of mind, “Poem by a Perfectly Furious Academician.” However, on reading the poem by Shirley Brooks, she discovered that it was written as if by a member of the British Royal Academy who had been selling paintings, “Till savage Ruskin/He sticks his tusk in,/Then nobody will buy.”

Roger read Henry Scott-Holland’s “Death Is Nothing At All,” a title which took him by surprise. Originally written as a sermon, the poem is now popular at funerals because of its optimistic view of death, “All is well./Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost./One brief moment and all will be as it was before./How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again.” From its title, it could also work for a poem that exhibits both pessimism and optimism.

Hazel was struck, as Percy Bysshe Shelley had been, by the name “Ozymandias.” This ancient Egyptian ruler becomes of symbol of human vanity and futility, “‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:/Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’/Nothing beside remains.”

Cate chose Larry Levis’s “Make a Law So That the Spine Remembers Wings” because from the title she had no idea what the poem was about. Is the poem a paean to freedom of movement, or a reminder that freedom comes with responsibility? “So that the truant boy may go steady with the State,/So that in his spine a memory of wings/Will make his shoulders tense & bend.”

Gail and Daria both brought fun children’s poem by Jack Prelutsky, who hated poems in his own childhood, but has brought delight to other generations.

Gail read “Twickham Tweer,” “When Twickham cooked a chicken/he would only eat the bones,/he discarded scoops of ice cream/though he always ate the cones.”

Daria read “Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face,” “Imagine if your precious nose/were sandwiched in between your toes,/that clearly would not be a treat,/for you’d be forced to smell your feet.”

Mae read James Carter’s “The Moon Speaks” which is a concrete or shape poem, forming both a circle and with bold first words, a crescent: “I, the moon,/would like it known – I/never follow people home. And neither do I ever shine.” Of course, the moon also does not speak.

AnnaLee closed the circle with a poem by Eloisa Amezcua with an intriguing and titillating title, “I Haven’t Masturbated in Five Days for Fear of Crying” (the link is to a podcast with some discussion of the poem). The poem begins, “because we know distance too well/because the blood bank didn’t have enough blood for nana & her new knee/because I see your car a car like yours parked across the street from my apartment.”

We welcome your comments about these poems and all things poetry. Please blog with us here at You can respond to our posts by clicking the little rectangular speech balloon at the top and near the date of this post.

~Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 7th to discuss Poetry and Longing.

We were delighted that so many attended this final spring session, and laughed at the number of poems from the nineteenth century, an era known for the attitude of melancholy indicative of longing.

Abigail opened the circle with verses from William Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood,” with its seeking after a remembered connection, “Whither is fled the visionary gleam?/Where is it now, the glory and the dream?”

Roger read “The Day Is Done” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wherein the narrator recommends poetry to recover from the day, which is the goal of the One Page Poetry Circle itself. “Then read from the treasured volume/The poem of thy choice,/And lend to the rhyme of the poet/The beauty of thy voice.”

Hazel read Lord Byron’s “When We Two Parted” concerning a secret and mysterious liaison, “They know not I knew thee,/Who knew thee too well:—/Long, long shall I rue thee,/Too deeply to tell.”

Cate read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “The Indian Serenade” another beautiful love poem from the Romantic era, “My cheek is cold and white, alas!/My heart beats loud and fast;—/Oh! press it to thine own again,/Where it will break at last.”

Gail read “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats with its desire for forgetfulness, “Darkling I listen; and, for many a time/I have been half in love with easeful Death,/Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,/To take into the air my quiet breath.”

Terry read W. W. Story’s “Longing,” in which the poet craves the ability to express deep feelings through art and words, “What is the worth of human art,/If the weak tongue can never speak/That which lives heavy on the heart,/Even though the heavy heart should break.”

Susan read Emily Dickinson’s “Success is counted sweetest” that reveals the poet’s compassion and empathy, “Success is counted sweetest/By those who ne’er succeed./To comprehend a nectar/Requires sorest need.”

David read “Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats, which ends with the famous ambiguous words, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Lenny read from Dan Fogelberg’s song, “Same Old Lang Syne,” which tells the story of old lovers meeting in a grocery store, with the chorus: “We drank a toast to innocence/We drank a toast to now/We tried to reach beyond the emptiness,/but neither one knew how.”

Jennifer read John Berryman’s “The Ball Poem,” describing a boy who has lost his ball, “In a world of possessions. People will take balls,/Balls will be lost always, little boy,/And no one buys a ball back. Money is external.”

Daria read Emily Dickinson poem which begins, “Longing is like the Seed/That wrestles in the Ground,/Believing if it intercede/It shall at length be found.”

Carol read Kahlil Gibran’s prose poem, “The Great Longing,” “Here I sit between my brother the mountain and my sister the sea. We three are one in loneliness, and the love that binds us together is deep and strong and strange.”

Mei translated two short poems by Li Bai (701-762 AD) from the Chinese. Here is “Misery of the Passion,”

The beauty behind the rolled pearl blinds
Sat alone with eyelids locked tight
But saw her wet tears dripping
Not sure whom to hate the most

AnnaLee read Marie Howe’s “What the Living Do,” an elegy to her brother who died of Aids, “We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want/whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it.”

Kai sent us Robert Hass’s “Meditation at Lagunitas,” which comments on the constancy of longing—“All the new thinking is about loss./In this it resembles all the old thinking,” and blackberries—a staple of fall.

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you in the fall. In the meantime, blog with us at Don’t be shy.

Fall 2019 Schedule (all Tuesdays)
Sept. 10, Poetry and Epistles or Letters
Oct. 1, Poetry and Odd Titles
Nov. 12, Poetry and Optimism or Pessimism
Dec, 10, Poetry and Confession

Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.


Welcome to the One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes (OPPC) blog.

We met on April 17th to talk about Poetry and Timing. The poems people brought were diverse in their interpretation, prompting everyone to agree that every poem written would fit the subject.

Abigail opened the circle by reading “Shadow March” by Robert Louis Stevenson, in which a child in bed describes the terrors of the night with lines that create a unique timing by alternating meters and rhymes, “The shadow of the balusters, the shadow of the lamp,/The shadow of the child that goes to bed — /All the wicked shadows coming tramp, tramp, tramp,/With the black night overhead.”

Roger read “Time and Life” by Algernon Charles Swinburne with its contrasting views of time, “Girt about with shadow, blind and lame,/Ghosts of things that smite and thoughts that sicken/Hunt and hound thee down to death and shame,” followed by the thought that “rest is born of me for healing.”

Hazel read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Sunset” from Queen Mab, an intoxicating view of a particular time of day, “Whilst suns their mingling beamings darted/Through clouds of circumambient darkness,/And pearly battlements around/Looked o’er the immense of heaven.”

Gail read Robin Chapman’s “Time” in which the narrator’s 87 year-old neighbor rings the doorbell and proceeds to give an update on her life, “her car and driver’s license/are missing though she can drive perfectly/well, just memory problems, and her son/is coming this morning to take her up/to Sheboygan, where she was born.” The poem is also a wonderful example of Enjambment, which was last month’s theme.

Terry read Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 49” on the unreliability of love and the law of human nature, which begins, “Against that time, if ever that time come,/When I shall see thee frown on my defects,” and ends, “To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,/Since why to love I can allege no cause.”

Christiana read “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare, with its enigmatic sense of bad timing, “But only a host of phantom listeners/That dwelt in the lone house then/Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight/To that voice from the world of men.”

Cate read Carolyn Kizer’s “Reunion” in which the narrator describes meeting a man she knew thirty years before, who had taught her, “inadvertently” that “The finest intellect can be a bore”…“I nod, I sip my wine, I praise your view,/Grateful, my dear, that I escaped from you.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with Edith Sitwell’s raucous “Sir Beelzebub” which begins “When/Sir/Beelzebub called for his syllabub in the hotel in Hell/Where Proserpine first fell” and ends “None of them come!” The poem was set to music by William Walton and recited by Barbara Hannigan.

Linda couldn’t attend the poetry circle but had chosen Langston Hughes’s “What Happens to a Dream Deferred”:

What happens to a dream deferred?
 Does it dry up
 Like a raisin in the sun?
 Or fester like a sore—
 And then run?
 Does it stink like rotten meat?
 Or crust and sugar over—
 like a syrupy sweet?
 Maybe it just sags
 like a heavy load.
 Or does it explode? 

We look forward to seeing you for Poetry and Choice, Tuesday May 8 at St. Agnes Branch Library in Manhattan. Choice will conclude the Spring Season of the One Page Poetry Circle. Look back here in the coming weeks for the Fall schedule and poetry themes.

In the meantime, please blog with us here at

See you soon —
Abigail Burnham Bloom and AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

The One Page Poetry Circle at St. Agnes Branch Library in Manhattan met on November 14 to discuss Poetry and Power.

Abigail read “Power” by Audre Lorde, an account of the killing of a ten year-old by a policeman who was acquitted “by eleven white men who said they were satisfied/justice had been done/and one Black Woman who said/‘They convinced me.’”

Roger read Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” with its beautiful evocation of the futility of power: “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;/Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!/Nothing beside remains.”

Hazel read “The Tempest” by James T. Fields which begins with the description of a storm, the power of nature, “’Tis a fearful thing in winter/To be shattered by the blast,/And to hear the rattling trumpet/Thunder, ‘Cut away the mast!,’” and then explores other kinds of power.

Gail read Gabriel Preil’s “The Power of a Question” describing the conversation between two old men, “Even a drop of Mozart/does not sweeten/the aridity of the hour./You are a squirrel in confrontation/with an uncracked nut,” which comes to life through the power of time.

Elizabeth read “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman and we were reminded of the power of the individuals in this country who make up the whole, “Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,/The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,/Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.”

Christiana read Sir John Collings Squire’s “Ballade of the Poetic Life,” “Princess, inscribe beneath my name/‘He never begged, he never sighed,/He took his medicine as it came’—/For this the poets lived— and died.”

Ken read “The Power of Words” by Letitia Elizabeth Landon (L.E.L.), “Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy/Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:—/A word is but a breath of passing air.”

Terry read “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou, in which the poet celebrates the power of believing in herself, “I walk into a room/Just as cool as you please,/And to a man,/The fellows stand or/Fall on their knees./Then they swarm around me,/A hive of honey bees.”

AnnaLee read “Fall 1961” by Robert Lowell, “All autumn, the chafe and jar/of nuclear war;/we have talked our extinction to death.” Yet he finds relief from this dire situation in nature.

Linda could not attend the circle, but brought “The Return of Lucifer” by Louis Ginsberg, father of Allen Ginsberg and Linda’s former high school teacher. In this poem Lucifer looks at his projects on the earth, “‘I’ll stay,’ he chuckled, ‘things are going well;/For, under Heaven, Earth’s a better Hell.’”

Look for our next post about the upcoming program for December. And, please blog with us here at

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.

The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 10th to discuss Poetry and Success and Failure.

Monopoly_JailCardsAbigail opened our discussion with her thoughts that success and failure were inherently linked, and that within each there were aspects of the other. For something to fail there must first be an attempt, which is a show of success, and often a success can feel like a failure. Later AnnaLee pointed out that many poems that begin by speaking of success, end up on a note of failure and vice versa.

Abigail read J. K. Stephen’s “After the Golden Wedding (Three Soliloquies)” a sardonic look at a marriage that appears perfect from the outside; however, the husband is oblivious to the feelings of his wife who thinks, “when beneath the turf you’re sleeping,/And I’m sitting here in black,/Engaged as they’ll suppose, in weeping,/I shall not wish to have you back.”

Roger read “Success and Failure” by the People’s Poet, Edgar Albert Guest, in which the narrator believes that an individual makes his own fate as failure is not undeserved and success is not just luck, “Most men, themselves, have shaped the things/they are.”

Hazel read two short poems by Leigh Hunt, “Rondeau” and “Abou Ben Adhem.” In both poems a man’s state of mind is successfully changed by an event. Here is “Rondeau” in its entirety:

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.

Gail read Richard Foerster’s “The Failure of Similes” on the impossibility of words and images to describe reality, “ In one image of the camps, the snow sifts down/like lime … or should it be the other way around?”

Delta read Noel Duffy’s “On Light & Carbon,” on the success of received wisdom versus scientific facts, “‘Where did it come from,/the world?’ I asked./‘It was born of God’s/Mercy and Love,’ the priest said./I trusted him.”

Rollene read “Child on Top of a Greenhouse” by Theodore Roethke, which describes the perception of a child in a precarious situation, “A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,/And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!”

Phil also read two poems: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” and Horace Smith’s “Ozymandias.” The poems were created in a contest between the two men as to who could write a better poem on a statue with the inscription, “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” Both poems show Ozymandias’ belief in his own greatness and a later perspective on his success.

Karen read Patrick Kavanagh’s “In Memory of My Mother,” in which the narrator remembers the golden moments of contact with his mother, “I do not think of you lying in the wet clay/Of a Monaghan graveyard, I see/You walking down a lane among the poplars.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with “Failing and Flying” by Jack Gilbert which concludes with the triumph of failure, “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,/but just coming to the end of his triumph.”

Larry uploaded two poems to our blog, “The Writer’s Wife” by Lucien Stryk and “Success is counted sweetest” by Emily Dickinson.

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you in the fall. And remember to blog with us here at Don’t be shy.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.