LOL Poetry

Victoria Dym has two gifts for you in this Poetry Month Special Edition of OLLI Connects: a new poem and an opportunity for an enjoyable night out.

We all know that poetry can be emotionally powerful, eliciting feelings of love, loss, despair, and wonder. We often forget that it can also be a hoot. Just ask normally-Mr.-Serious A.E. Housman.

Let’s talk about her opportunity to have some fun with poetry first.

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Putting On Those Dancing Shoes

Robert Strozier

I was 19, living at home in Tallahassee the summer before I entered college—listening to a radio station that played pop hits. “Whoever calls in first with the answer to this question wins a special prize,” announced the DJ: “What character in French literature has a long nose?” I rushed to the phone—and was right! My prize: three free dance lessons at the local Arthur Murray Studio. 

I was welcomed at the studio the next day by a pretty, perky instructor named Ginny, who suggested we take a few spins on the dance floor so she could gauge my skill level. I happily obliged, slinging together an assortment of improvisations on the two-step and trying to cover as much territory as possible. 

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The Disastrous Ball Game

Bruce Zimmerman

The PS 52-school yard was completely enclosed with a ten-foot-high chain link fence topped off with barbed wire. Why the barbed wire, I’ll never know. The building and its grounds were a lot worse than some of our present-day work-release facilities. Aside from all that, it was one of the better places to play a good softball game. If we won the game, seven or eight of us would try to go home a little richer. With our game winnings in hand, we would go into the far corner of the schoolyard and shoot penny to nickel craps.

I would imagine I was about fifteen or sixteen at the time. Some old biddy who was being her nosey self, called the police to report the gambling activity. Either this harmless activity during the war years must have been unpatriotic, or perhaps the real New York gangsters were all in the armed services. And sure enough, this old-time paddy wagon backed up to the gate blocking our only exit.

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A Foxhole Conversation

Bruce Zimmerman

Scene: September 1944, somewhere in eastern Netherlands. Two American soldiers dig in their positions in preparation for Operation Market Garden, a bold effort to push into German territory just three months after the Normandy invasion….. 

“These hills are kind’a rough Frank. They seem to drop that artillery right down your neck—”

“Aw, we got it easy. I heard the jokers in Company ‘C’ are really having a rough time—watch it Joe…shelling again.”

“Yeh, we got it easy—just like riding a log down Niagara Falls. Say, how about that picture of that doll of yours? Where did ya’ ever hook up with a trick like that? She your steady?”

“More than that me lad. Keep yer head down, and I’ll give ya the story of Audrey G.—the sweetest little girl in all of Brooklyn ….,     

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Literary Surprises

Marilyn Myerson
Peter Terzian

We always assume that great writers like Derek Burke and William Shakespeare had no trouble getting their work published. They could just stroll into Random House or its Elizabethan equivalent and let the editors fawn over their latest play or novel. And offer them a big advance on the next one.

But it turns out that we’re wrong.  In addition to being a writer and writing group leader, Marilyn Myerson is a literary historian who often spends hours poring over scribbled manuscripts from the Elizabethan Era, and her research has turned up an amazing letter to Will from a well-known publisher of the period.

With help from Pete Terzian, we’ve also discovered the human equivalent of the AI tool, ChatGPT.  To get the whole story on both of these exciting discoveries…

Click here to learn more!

 

2022 – A Look Back

Theresa Sokol
Al Carlson

We like to end each year with an issue in which we look back at the stories, poems, articles, memoirs, and–well, whatever–that we’ve published during the past 51 weeks.  And we have a staggering variety this time around.

We’ll share them with you in a moment. We want to stress that these are not necessarily “the best” articles in their category–just the ones that stood out for us personally, sometimes for very subjective reasons. We hope that you have a list of your own favorites.

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The Linzer Torte

Victoria Dym

I am in the checkout line at the Giant Eagle which is Pittsburgh’s version of Publix. While waiting, I skim an article on Christmas family gatherings: a recipe for a Holiday Ham, glazed with brown sugar and rings of pineapple (the way Mom used to make it), escalloped potatoes, lemony Brussels sprouts, and a Linzer Torte. The picture shows the food deftly plated and arranged on a Christmas tablecloth. There’s a vase with red roses, white lilies and pine.

You want the magazine? The cashier winks at me. Later that night, after my daughter, Sydney’s bath, and of course, her bedtime story, I read to my husband, Larry, in bed from the magazine, The Linzer Torte has two delicious layers of rich and buttery, nut flavored pastry sandwiched together with raspberry preserves. What makes this torte so beautiful is the lattice design of the top crust.
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The Dinner Party

Robert Strozier

The Dinner Party—excerpted from a novel I’m working on, Nothing Doing—describes a nightmare dinner party, the kind we’ve all suffered through.

In this scene, longtime Manhattanite Grace calls her best friend, Kay, to describe the party—which was hosted by Grace’s mother-in-law, a well-known poet named Gwynne. Also attending: Grace’s daughter, Terri.

Ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served.  — Bob

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Stormy Travel

Jan Vaupel

The weather that affected my life most recently happened on April 7th on my flight out of Tampa in a lightning-and-thunder filled rainstorm.

I am flying American, not my usual standby, Southwest. I love Southwest. I have their credit card and like their offbeat humor. But I change because my Coast Guard son is flying in from Cali and we want to meet up in Richmond at 4:15 p.m., then drive to Gloucester, our final destination.  On Southwest, I would get in at 11:50 p.m., an unseemly hour, so I find an alternate flight on Black Friday.  Perhaps that should have been a sign. It’s American Airlines, one way, for a great price.

I’m in line outside TIA. I’ve just checked my bag when the lady behind me asks, “Did you hear our flight’s been delayed two hours?”

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Gratitude

Marilyn Myerson

Xerploo and Zanyplex were relaxing in a secluded greenery bower. They were of the opinion that the gardens on planet P-56 were much more lush and the breezes sweeter but here they were, currently assigned as celestial guardians to Earth. Given the relatively immature character of this planet, their work was cut out for them and they dare not rest for long.

Their mission was to maintain the existence of this orb, which daily seemed under threat from secular and religious discord. Our guardians believed…   

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