Our Writing page is available for
classmates and their relatives who would like to display samples of their skills at our
site. Works can be emailed to the address listed below.
The writers appearing on our site have given the
Class of 1953 Reunion Committee written permission to reproduce their
work. These works are copyrighted and may not be reproduced
without the writers' express
written consent. If you would like to get in touch with an author
other than Mary Comer,
write to us at
Contributing Poets: Jim Wood, Starr Piwowarski
and Leon Blumberg
Jump to Starr's poem Jump to
Jump to Memer's
The Poplar Bough by Mary A.
I do not love you any more.
You mean less to me than the poplar bough
Outside my window, black against the sky.
I do not know why I have cared before.
I am as calm as the gold evening now.
Yet I shall not forget you 'till I die.
Jim Wood: When asked if our site could reprint his poem from
the 50th Memory Book, Jim Wood was quick to oblige. He also
forwarded several more which have been added in recent updates. Jim has had a
number of poems published in magazines such as Romantic Hearts,
Slow Dancer and the Tucumari Literary Review. We
think he looks pretty good for someone older than the rest of
Jim recently had his first Kindle ebook
published. It's a good read of a detective story set in a
California coastal community. The title is "Woman In The Window"
and its available at Amazon.Com
From the tower on High Rock, you can
See the road winding along the coast
Through towns whose names alone are history.
To the south old Boston, Bunker Hill;
The old North Church where it all started.
To the north is old Salem town its narrow streets
Still haunted by the crimes of its past.
The road winds on into Beverly, North Beverly,
Hamilton and Wenham; old Ipswich town
Where any child can help you find the Devil's Footprint
Embedded in the granite stone beneath
The bell tower of the old church
Into Gloucester where the fisherman stares out
With blind eyes at the white caps bursting
On Norman's woe and finally ends
At the tip of Cape Ann, Rockport.
A town which any artist will know
If you just whisper "Motif #1."
But Lynn has none of this romance.
At one time, it was famous for shoes
But the factories
That once swarmed with industry
Have been torn down now,
And the General Electric
Hunkered there beside the flat salt marshes.
Is closed in like a narrow mind.
The water, stagnant by ocean standards, is smooth.
Dull patches of color float on it like dying rainbows.
The smell of diesel fuel contaminates the sweet sea
Crabs, mussels, fish are protected here
By the poisons they ingest daily.
Gulls that feed upon this infected harvest
Swim, preen, fly up; splash down.
Each move creates a circle
That becomes part of other circles,
Interlocking, overlapping; spreading.
But breakwaters guard the harbor mouth.
They never reach the open sea.
Was it callousness that
condemned you, Marie?
An attempt at humor overheard by a humorless servant
Who had walked too long among your hungry people?
I did not know you -- and yet
I can not purge your image from my mind.
I remember when they brought you, hands bound,
Standing in a milk cart drawn by goats,
Your lovely purple gown torn and filthy.
As they led you up the platform stairs
For the first time I saw your face.
Spittle ran from your bruised lips.
Your blue eyes were glazed over like china buttons,
You could not possibly have seen any of us.
I stood dumb as you
While a list of your crimes was read.
The crowd shrieked "Kill her. Kill her." As though
Your death could somehow change their lives.
They laid you down. Then straining at the rope,
They raised the great blade higher and higher
Until it caught the morning sun.
For one brief moment it shone like a Bethlehem star.
Then it was gone, lost in its blurring downward strike.
Did you cry out? I could only hear the cheers.
Your head fell forward and I saw the blood of a queen,
The color of roses.
It gushed out onto the platform.
Dripping through the cracks in the planking
It fell upon the cobblestones below
Like warm summer rain.
In A Secret Place The Sun Shone
Fitfully through the canopy of beech and oak
Tatters of light danced with patches of shadow
On the forest floor we children dreamed
And schemed of ways to catch and kill the squirrels
That leaped like sparks among the branches overhead.
We set our snares, dug our pits.
Spent the long supple days of summer
Confiding in one another.
"The squirrel comes down the tree here
Grabs the acorn with the string around it,
The rock crashes down and..........".
Oh, the plots we hatched.
The devious devices we devised.
The bright laughter of children
Planning murder, whirls from my childhood
Bringing with it the warm pleasure
Of all those busy, hope filled, happy days.
For we never went there on any summer morning
To find our secret place mutilated by success.
A Love Poem
(Dedicated to the Class of '53 on the occasion of its
In dreams I see us
Strolling down narrow streets,
Our bright laughter shattering the darkness,
Crouched Indian style beside rain pools
Held in hollows among green grassy hills,
Staring at dusty fields containing
long rows of withered corn and beans,
Plunging naked into mountain lakes
After switching one another
Until our racing blood sets ears to singing.
You are short, tall, full-bodied; thin and even though
your hair, your eyes; your flesh itself changes shape and color
I will know you and love you all in any place or any time.
With The Girl In The Red Dress
She was more than beautiful
Her voice, a melody, as lovely
As the tune the band was playing.
Her breath, warm against my cheek,
Spun her fragrance around me like a web.
She said her name was Roberta, and
For the duration of the dance at least,
We became a single graceful being.
But, without the music, the safety of the dance,
She became guarded, afraid of even being touched.
Why, I don't know.
She's kept her secret,
Safe behind the high walls she's build around herself.
I imagine them with towers and battlements.
Inside "My Lady," Roberta, is alone;
Locked in her keep, besieged by phantom armies.
And I am unable to reach her, --- but if I could
I doubt that it would set her free. After all,
She is so beautiful, and my feet are clay.
(From Red Rock)
The air was sharp. The sun
It's light, reflected in each wavelet,
Was fluid art, regulated with care
Or abandoned by wind and currents.
Like us, that sea was born one drop at a time
Had fallen as rain that nourished the earth
Tore out gullies, great canyons;
And every drop of it
Had returned from where it came, again and again.
That day the waves touched the rock gently
Like the gull's shadow that slid across the red stone,
And the sea sound spoke to me,
But I can not tell you what it said.
There are no words.
(The sound of creation)
One of many I's
Not sins but seeds.
Born to open, grow and bloom
Each of us part of the ever multiplying ripples
Set to moving when that original seed's
First word burst the surface
Of the silence.
Swinging sprightly out of bed
I hurry to the kitchen.
It's warm and bright.
Coffee's perking on the stove.
Why am I surprised to find you there
In the early morning sunshine?
We hold each other the way we should have,
Happy just to be together.
Then logic awakens within my head.
"Wait, She can't be here," it says
And I wake up again with all the pain
I should be used to
As far from sleep and you
As one can get.
I am ten million replications
of perhaps a hundred mutations
of a single cell, called DNA.
On the day I was born
my clock began.
I've become aware there is a limit
to my skill,
I watch soft falling flakes
Cool the brown earth
Clinging first to the chain link fence
Last to the empty driveway
Becoming a ticker-tape celebration
That accumulates on the ground,
Hiding deadly ice
Filling pot-holes with fluff
Rounding sharp edges
Making solids look soft.
Are you driving home
Through this nightmare world of hidden danger?
The snow-weighted coax curves to the house.
Your voice slides down that cable
Then Up to my anxious ear.
"I'm okay, Dad. Sure, I'll Stay put."
Such simple words,
Only, now, I can see God
Among the pure falling flakes,
And laugh, getting vicarious pleasure
Watch the children playing in the snow.
Like a glacial valley
I am full of hillocks and hollows
That fit only you,
And you are gone.
There is this woman,
With flesh so worn
You can see her bones
Shining bright behind her skin.
She has hills and valleys
That don't match mine,
Yet her bitter laughter reaches out
And grates against my soul like winter ice,
Perhaps we'll scour one another smooth
And recombined become a whole
If there is time.
At that time
There was only a restaurant,
A few shops,
And a half-assed collage
Of historical exhibits.
In an hour we could walk
California's Mission Trail
From San Diego De Alcala
To San Francisco De Asis.
See all the missions,
Each built to scale.
Like time travelers we peered
The glass fronts of the adobe cases
At the little buildings and the little people
All frozen in time.
You were California Spanish.
So we imagined them as good times.
They were good times.
Who walked slow and held hands,
And sometimes had Sunday dinner
Together at Knott's Berry Farm.
On A Stormy Night
start a fire in the hearth
We settle in before it,
Listening to the sounds
Of wind and pounding surf,
Warmed by trembling orange flames
That return us to innocence
I have my memories.
You have yours.
With soft touches and warm laughter
We whisper dreams.
In harmony with the wind and the sea
We pound against each other
Until, our fury spent, we sleep.
Poet's Cat May-Ling (May-May)
From her bandit face
Blue eyes watch me
Over my computer,
She must see the gates
To heaven open.
Knows just when the Muses
Have settled in, and
Chooses then to park
Her ass upon the paper
Or wreak havoc,
Walking across my keyboard.
In a Boston stall
I found a book of poems
Inscribed by the author.
With Love From Ben
Roberta, I fumed
How could you
Throw a gift of love away.
Then I read the poems
"Warsaw, 1983: in a Snowstorm"
There were names, too.
"In memory of
of sleep houses where
So many last closed their eyes.
I knew you hadn't thrown the book away.
I mourned for
Because the cries are distant, far away.
The wound is healing.
of (an Invitation from) Roberta
On the phone,
your voice was soft
I thought, how
sexy she must sound,
late at night,
your bathing suit,
by the pool.
But, it would have only been
a scrap of colorful spandex
without your lovely curves.
I delighted in
the sure grace with which
you wound and clipped your hair.
A prelude to your
And all I see and hear and sense
when I am with you,
is only a fragment
of the whole woman.
if you know
how beautiful you really are.
Is simply a matter of
being offered the right bait.
Is immune to temptation.
We all have
Judge me Ö and one another kindly.
Since somewhere within us all
The Devil Waits.
I live in reverie,
Watching pictures from long ago.
Simple scenes are most important to me now.
In spring the animals were born;
Chickens and hogs.
I remember the kittens stalking
Grasshoppers and sunbeams
Among the cow stalls in the barn,
But cannot forget the rain barrel and
The many burlap sacks I carried there.
In my summer garden I was a sweating god
Wrenching from the earth the poor doomed plants
I cursed as weeds,
Pausing only to watch the swallows
Darting high above,
Beyond my reach,
Or to feel the cool breeze full of shady secrets
From the woods beyond the field.
In Autumn when those woods were afire,
I heard the high honking geese
and looked up to see them,
Arrows, dark against the October sky.
It was harvest time.
I killed the hogs.
Hanged their bodies up to cure,
And from all those plants I spared in summer
I took the seed.
It's winter outside my window now.
The oak tree is a black silhouette.
High in its branches
A solitary clump of withered leaves
Trembles in the bitter January wind.
I wonder if it too, is afraid,
To just let go
I Remember "The Old Trapper's Lodge"
Was a bunch of adobe shacks
By the airport fence
Where we drifters stopped
While "On The Road."
There was Eldon from Texas
And his red-headed wife
Abducted those many times
By men who held her captive
Only until morning came.
The Indian girl,
Who cleaned her place so well;
Went mad with grief
When her infant son
Pulled scalding water
From the stove.
Ernie and Martha from Tennessee
Kept black-eyed peas simmering
On the stove.
You were always welcome to
A bowl, a drink, a smile.
Johnny's girl, Alma
Rode the suicide seat
When he had the crash
That scarred her face.
We saw the FBI
Take the kid away;
The girls who had no place to
But found a bunk with one of us.
We drank our beer,
An easy stagger from our beds.
Today was all that mattered
Red Rubber Ball
Squeezed, you squeeze back
From the inside out.
Thrown down, you jump up
Quick and easy.
I envied you that
Until looking closer
I saw the many nicks and cuts.
Could I perceive
At the speed you bounce
I'd see the G forces
Crushing you, until rebounding
You became round again,
Stretched out to meet your player.
The memory of the fall
Etched within the atoms
Of your red resilient flesh.
Falling From Grace
Is simply a matter of
being offered the right bait.
Is immune to temptation.
We all have
So, judge me
And one another kindly.
Since somewhere within us all
The Devil waits.
They grew near the wall in the lane
Where you could hear the stream
Singing softly beneath the snow.
Their tender buds had gray fur coats
That kept them warm in winter storms.
That the ghastly bare-boned trees
Would grow green with undulating leaves
Which would turn gold and scarlet,
Be teased away one by one, like veils
While we raked them up and wrestled
Laughing in the piles, as summer died.
Treasures of Time
Passing time is seen indirectly
in the sagging muscles and tracks
of laughter that ring my eyes,
felt in the arthritic joints and
tightening tendons that turn
my hands to hooks,
heard in the cracked and aging voices
of children I knew long ago,
smelled in the memory of poppies and lupines
that disappeared when our town grew large,
became a city.
Only the lessons learned are forever.
Those, and the memory
of the agonies or delights
that stitched them like needlepoint designs
into the fabric of our souls.
of a Quiet Meadow
Our meadow is gone.
While we grew old, the forest
Crept down from the hill
And conquered it.
The young wood is dark
Crowded with nodding giants.
It smells of cedar, pine, hemlock.
I walk among tall trees and
Scraps of spangled sunlight.
Once deer grazed here.
You and I
Lay in the tall yellow grass
Watched red-tailed hawks
Floating on the blue air
High above us.
When storm clouds crested
The wooded hill,
We raced each other home
Arriving in a gale of laughter
Not always before the rain.
We stop to look in a window
Our reflections are in the glass
I see blue eyes, a dimpled chin,
A gentle loving face.
You laugh at me, 'cause
You've go no class,
But at least you will agree
We have a lot in common.
We're both in love with me.
Remembered Sounds and Smells
Whenever we entered the tavern
It always became still.
We'd whisper, "Dad,
Can we go to a movie?"
While searching your pockets
You'd grin, "These are my boys."
"Damn fine looking boys, Ed."
They would all agree, and often
Even pitch in some coins
For "Candy, popcorn,"
Or "A drink, ha ha."
With money in our pockets
We'd stagger out again
Drunk on praise,
Tobacco smoke, and
The smell of exhaled whiskey.
Iím told I ought to live in the present
See, hear, do,
Pack new adventure into each passing moment.
But itís Autumn and the air is golden.
Ripened fruit hangs heavy.
Leaves are falling.
As each shortened day grows colder,
I remember green growing Spring;
The warm days of Summer.
from the Crucible by James F. Wood
(A letter to a friend on the loss of his wife)
Dear Arthur, It's been a while, but I haven't
felt much like writing. You asked how I was adapting to my...loss.
I really wish I could tell you.
I remember Punkin telling me that when her
first husband, Dee, died, for a long time afterward she'd see him ahead
of her on the street or in shops. Even knowing he was dead, she'd
hurry to catch up only to find a strange face attached to a body like
You know me, Mr. Sensitive, I never met the guy, so I'd just nod and
fake something like, "Oh! How interesting." Well, it's my turn in
the barrel now, pal, and let me tell you, you're alone in there.
At first you say, "I'm going to change my way of living." You
throw out her clothes, surprised at how few they are, and how worn.
You keep some stuff: photo albums, her high school diploma, the
pigtail from when she was a little girl. I even kept an Arizona
necktie and a ring that belong to Dee. You get tired of burying
I packed up the dishes and got the old Franciscan-ware out of the
garage. They were seconds you know. Punkin and I spent two
or three days, when we were first married, at the factory on Los Feliz
Boulevard choosing just the right ones.
Last night I caught myself looking at the empty flower bed in the
back and thinking I ought to put some pansies and stock in there the way
we did the first year we moved into the house. She liked flowers.
I suppose I am tormenting myself, but what's the alternative?
It's worse than losing a part of your own body, because you're not
aware how much your wife has become a part of you until she's dead.
"Women are a dime a dozen, and the one you're married to is always a
pain in the ass." Right? Suddenly you're alone and your
emotions are scattered all over the place, like poker chips when someone
has just kicked over the card table. You realize then how much you
have depended and leaned on one another over the years. "Holy
Christ," you say to yourself. We really were one, a couple.
They say after people have had arms or legs cut off they can still
feel them there. I believe it. It takes so little effort for
me to sense her pausing just behind my chair when I'm watching TV and
feel her hand stroking the hair at the back of my head the way she used
to, or to hear her soft snoring beside me when I'm lying awake at night.
No I don't roll over or try to reach out for her, not anymore.
You know, Art, even if by some miracle I met a woman I could get
along with, it would still take many years to build a relationship like
the one I lost.
What can you do except keep picking one foot up and putting it down
in front of the other. Anyway I don't know that I want to marry
again. This clay is too old and dried out to be molded anymore.
Your old buddy, Jim
Starr Piwowarski is the
website manager's grandniece and a creative soul
who lives and works in California but has roots tied to Lynn and Saugus.
Her California relatives still miss our beaches, visit on a regular
basis and occasionally score tickets for a Red Sox-Yankees game.
The Siren of the Heart
...and she's the most beautiful creature you'll ever
With eyes transparent, like ice
Skin that is flawless
And glowing with a brilliant light
When people meet her, they fall
They shake, tremble
Like a personal earthquake
She is the definition of deep
She is all that is warm
She is hope, dreams, wishes
Goal, ambition, motivation
She'll manifest herself within
Every part of your soul
Placing stars in your eyes
Jewels on your lips
All with a light so blinding
You lose all control
You lose all senses
But what we forget...
Is that the personal earthquake she brings
Will leave you weak,
Will leave you...vulnerable
She'll drive right into your heart
Like a rivet
As if pounded in by the hammer of God himself
Every time she walks away
And we'll curse at her
Crying out that we never
Want to see her again
Turning our eyes the other way
Feeling nothing but hate towards her
But that's how she's supposed to be
And we'll come back to her
Laying scars on scars
Tears on tears
Memory on memory
We'll call for her, cry for her
Because we can't live without her
Because we can't live without love
It's a pleasure to introduce
Leon Blumberg, the
author of "I Remember Lynn". He is an LEHS '43 graduate and he and
his classmates still continue to hold reunions at the Hawthorne
Hotel in Salem, MA.
be safe to say that if Guinness had a record category for high school
poem most often changed and printed without crediting the author, Leon
would be up there with the leaders.
While Leon wrote the poem as a tribute to
the City of Lynn, I'm happy to say we now have an authorized copy of the
poem along with an approved minor change for our high schools.
Lynn is our home town
Quite a city in it's day.
If you didn't make shoes or slippers
The G. E. provided your pay.
From City Hall to Market
The Commons on a summer night
The fountains dancing in color
And a band concert, what a sight.
Bessie Rolfe, Magranes and Goddards
Wonderful stores to shop
Burrows and Sanborn and Rogers
We knew them from bottom to top.
The Warner and the Paramount
The Waldorf and Olympia too.
Six acts of vaudeville at the Capitol
Plus a movie, cartoon and the news.
Street cars climbing Highland Circuit
The view from High Rock Tower.
Going to Boston on the Narrow Gauge.
It must have taken hours.
Whalen & Joyce, Manning & Cole
Classical and English High
Cobbet & Eastern, Pickering & Breed
We'll remember until we die.
Hanover Circle and Surfside Road
Ocean Street with all the swells
Broad & Lewis, Union & Market
And the dump with all the smells.
The Balloon Lady on the 4th of July.
The parades that made us proud.
The fireworks exploding at Manning Bowl
To the delight and roar of the crowd.
The smell of coffee at J. B Blood's
The Item and the Telegram News.
Choosing penny candy at the Red & Gray
And going to Musinsky's for shoes.
The Boston & Maine crossing Central Square
Over Hovey's and the Dover Smoker.
Huntt's and Hennessey's and Connolly's for fudge
Then Stilliano's for a chocolate mocha.
I remember the beaches, I remember the woods
I remember Lynn Shore Drive.
I remember the day we graduated.
It's remarkable we're still alive.
It's been a few years fellow students
Since we passed each other in Lynn.
But we'll always be proud we came from
Old Lynn, that City of Sin.
(A tribute to all grandparents, especially those
whose devotion goes beyond the call of duty)
Dear Memere: I have some things I'd like to say to you and figured
you wouldn't mind if a few close friends listened. Even though
today is very sad because we are gathered to say our final farewell to
you, we are comforted knowing that your soul is now at rest.
Somehow while staying right in our midst, you slowly slipped away from
us and we never got a chance to say goodbye.
It was hard to understand
how you (as we knew you) could be gone but your body still be here.
One time I asked Sr. Nina where your soul was. She said it was
still with you, but your were no longer responsible for it.
Today as your tired body is laid to final rest and your soul rises to
heaven, we no longer must wonder and you can once again become
whole in our minds. Today we can let go of some recent images of
you and let memories that linger be those of days gone by...days when
you were a woman of strong mind and purpose tooling around Salem in your
royal blue Plymouth Duster with the St. Joseph magnet on the dashboard,
days when your creative hands cut out patterns on calico print for our
dresses as guides at the House of Seven Gables, days when you went to
Fenway Park with us to root for the Red Sox. It's not very hard to
find in our hearts special memories of you because you were such a
special person. Today we gather to remember these times and
celebrate the strength of your spirit which lives on in us all.
When I try to recall my earliest memories of you, I think back to a
time when I was so young that life was actually simple and the world was
full of magic. A time before books had words and there was a lady
we used to see a lot named "Memere." She had a big closet with
lots of shoes. And we immediately fell in love with her because in
a world that always tried to limit our candy intake, Memere said "Take
two pieces, honey, they're small." This was a good person who we
could easily trust.
When I was three, my sister, mom and dad were at the hospital a lot
and I got to stay with you. You always kissed me and tucked me in
and complied with the mandatory check for monsters under the bed.
Then when you came to bed later, you let me sleep with my leg on you.
Thanks...that was pretty special.
Then I remember a day when my sister came home from first grade with
her first French word des haricots verts. We called you to
find out that it meant "green beans" and we were so excited because we
had learned our first French word. Now we would be able to figure
out what you and mom and my aunt were talking about.
You used to pick us up from school when we had half days and take us
out to lunch. Mostly we went to Dube's. We always had money
with us but you never let us pay. You were so proud to show off
your grandchildren to all your friends.
There are many Bingo memories of you. You went a couple of
nights a week and picked up the other ladies on the way. On the
front seat of your car, we could always find a plastic margarine
container with a crocheted top to hold your Bingo chips and daubers.
When the phone rang after 11 p.m. at night we knew you had hit it big.
It wasn't always a coverall, sometimes it was the lottery.
You actually taught us how to play. When we went on a cruise
with my cousins we were thrilled to learn that they let little kids play
Bingo. My sister, my two cousins and I went early every day.
We had learned from you the concept of the "early bird" and its
importance for good table selection. One Christmas we gave you a
new lacy camisole set and as you held it up, my cousin said that with it
on you would be the "Queen of the Bingo."
Recently I was at the Eiffel Tower and as I waited in line I saw a
little stand with trinkets, just the kind you used to bring us when you
travelled...little leather bookmarks with fringed edges, pencil cases
and dolls. We had a collection of dolls from all the countries you
visited. I remember we all gathered around the kitchen table when
you got home from a vacation to hear your stories and see what you had
You always liked to be busy...crossword puzzles while watching TV,
ladies league and whist parties, working at the polls or planning
another vacation. You had so much energy and spirit and that's the
Memere we remember today.
Now, because you have been somewhat confused for the past few years,
I need to tell you a couple of things. There have been some people
taking very good care of you that I know you would be very proud of.
Your two daughters with the support of their husbands found the best
place for you to live. They visited you several times a week.
These two daughters who you once so lovingly cared for have taken care
of you. They talked with you even though you didn't understand
what they were saying. They never let any of your needs go unmet.
And until the end, you were the best-dressed. They were both
devoted and loving. Both your daughters have inherited the
strength of your spirit, so you should be very proud.
Memere, I am sorry the the sunset of your life was eclipsed by
clouds, but I accept that the universe doesn't always provide
explanations. I know that you now rest forever in a place beyond
the horizon when there is plenty of Bingo and baseball, diet Pepsi and
Canada Mints. I'm sure you have already met up with some of your
friends and family.
And so today I pray that we can soften the pain of your loss by
finding a place inside ourselves where we can see the image of your warm
smile and feel the energy that was once you. We pray for your
eternal peace and for solace in our hearts as we say goodbye to
you...Queen of the Bingo, our friend, our relative, our mother and our
Memere...may you rest well.
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