Poetry Open Mic Night


OLLI Connects kicks off our annual April Poetry Month with featured readings from the Victoria Dym & Friends Poetry Open Mic event that was held on Friday January 27, 2023. For your enjoyment we present excerpts from four of OLLI’s favorite verse writers, Evelyn Romano, Thomas Mueller, Kathy Winarski and Cath Mason. In each case their committed performance demonstrated poetic excellence that brought the written word to life. Below each video excerpt the poem is repeated in written form to allow you, our readers, to explore the meter, scheme and rhythm chosen for each piece. — Editors

Undone by Evelyn Romano


When I was ten
I couldn’t imagine
twenty. That was old.
But I’d be a grown-up
and know things for sure.

Older now, on a rollercoaster
I slide backwards.
Birds rise to heights
and know how to descend.
I spiral, spiral on an under-
draft of not enough.

Disillusioned by the final
dance when I’ll partner with
certainty, I try to abide:
feet on gliders, pulled
in all directions, mind
a purse heavy with
change, pockets fat
with confusion.

Three Short Poems by Thomas Mueller

Three Short Poems

The Train

Dancing through time
I watch candles burn
flickering past midnight
into early morning
waking to the mournful sound
of a train whistle.
I would like to be aboard that train
sitting on a pile of hay
feeling the thump, thump
of the tracks underneath
going anywhere, who cares?
my mind carefree to soar
above the moon
listening to their chatter
the lost souls beside me


White star burning a hole
through the moonless sky
a searing laser point of light
wrapped in the silk fabric
of the infinite mystery
My mind leaps, arching
through the bright hope
of early morning
when I awaken from an
opaque dream
to the rapture of your love

Satan On Leave

Satan took a holiday
cashed a check, flew to Cancun
for dinner and a bottle of wine
Rest, breathe, easy
no dark dreams, the devil’s delight
Candles burn, the sweet fragrance
of midnight
swaddles my soul

Absences by Cath Mason


What do you miss most?
You miss family, friends
fish ‘n’ chips, then sheep.
Or maybe pubs. Yes pubs
with names like Load o’ Mischief
Craven Heifer and Crooked Billet.
Pubs serving Sunday roasts
of local lamb and mint sauce.

Pubs in countryside.
You trek across fields
strewn with sheep
droppings, your face
in wind and slant rain
until you drip indoors,
duck under beams —
drawn in by laughter.

You miss your local
The Rising Sun set
in a terrace of cottages,
Aspidistra resilient
in front parlour window,
wood fire in the snug,

the warmth of
Lancashire hotpot—
pie ‘n’ mushy peas.

Spring in its beer garden
You bicker with your husband.
He calls you woollyback.
Bleats ricochet around
The valley, cream lambs
Scud across fields hemmed
by dry stone walls.

Today in a flat Florida landscape
of gated neighbourhoods
lined with palms, you long
For pubs on Pennine Moors:
shelters from
wind-wuthered gritstone.
You crave heathered moors
where sheep scale crags
and thrive on land
that won’t be tamed.


The Bastard Son’s Daughter by Kathy Winarski

The Bastard Son’s Daughter

I scrutinize
A fast fading photograph
Pulled from an old album
Long ago glue stains still visible
No names. No date.

Hoping to find the man
whose blood’s my own I speculate
A young man neither tall nor short
Skinny, for sure, dominates the 3″ by 3″
Slouching a bit, hands behind his back.

Yes, it’s him!
Look at that nose! Those ears!
His grin’s wicked. His eyes like mine.
Teasingly, he leans into the woman next to him.
His wife? His mother? An older sister?

Her perfunctory smile, eyes screwed as tight as her bun.
Stiff, straight, not engaging the teasing boy man.
Annoyed that her work’s delayed for a silly photograph?
Behind them an old house, wood shingled, in need of repair
Vines hanging from the kitchen window.

Who wanted to remember them?
Who didn’t want us to know?

Standing in the Buffalo cold long ago,
I was stunned by a mother’s silence.
I am still shocked by an orphan’s truth.



ART Thursday: Saying It Out Loud, A Reading of Original Poetry
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
USF Contemporary Art Museum (CAM)

Join in a night of Poetry Readings by USF graduate students in the “Craft of Poetry” course. The original poems were written with imagination, mystery and wildness in response to the MFA artists in the exhibit Someday You’ll Have To Say It Out Loud.

For questions or more information please email caminfo@usf.edu or call (813) 974-4133. This event is free and open to the public.

Evelyn Ann Romano was a member of the Lifelong Writers at USF for several years and has been a member of OLLI since 2016. She has taken OLLI courses in poetry, writing, technology and laughter yoga. Her latest anthology of poems published in February 2023, Eve Redeemed, is available from Amazon and other book sellers.

Tom Mueller holds bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering and sociology from the University of Miami. He worked in the private and public sectors as a civil engineer for thirty-eight years before his retirement in 2012. He is an athlete, plays drums, studies world religions and is struggling in earnest to learn conversational German. Tom has backpacked and hiked extensively in the United States, Canada, Europe and New Zealand, carrying up to sixty-five pounds of gear and single malt scotch. He published a collection of poems entitled Hope and Healing in the summer of 2021. Tom, his wife Janet and their black cat Ollie live in Temple Terrace, Florida.

Cath Mason’s poems are forthcoming, or have appeared in Palm Prints, Literary Mama, Woman’s Weekly, Pennine Ink and Sandhill Review. Her poem “Dent in the Day” won an honorable mention USF’s Poetry Competition 2015. Her poem “The Out of Body Experience of a Potato” won the humor prize in the 2012 Southport Writers’ Circle International Poetry Competition. Her poem “A Tampa Welcome” is on display on the Tampa Poetry Post at the downtown Municipal Office Building.

Kathy Winarski has taken many OLLI courses in poetry, literature, art, architecture, music, history and science. She is also a member of Write Time for Poets SIG. The Bastard Son’s Daughter was published in Slipstream 42.

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4 Replies to “Poetry Open Mic Night”

  1. This is delightful! A high-class poetry jam right in my room at home! Thank you all for performing your creative and colorful poems for us in this way. Each one stimulated my brain and gave me a smile. Please keep sharing your lovely poems with us!

  2. What a treat, thanks to all!. Before retirement, I used to go to work Monday morning–now I can sit back and read and listen to poetry–how cool is that. Such vivid and arresting poems too. Write on!

  3. I echo Mary’s words…this is a treasure trove to savour over and over again…each poem each time elicits new images, new reveries, new musings, new joys. Thank you, thank you….

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