Poetry at the Post: It’s Pool Time! Yes!

The Wading Pool
The toddlers in their tadpole bodies,
with their squirt guns and snorkels,
their beautiful mommies and inflatable whales,
are still too young to understand
that this is as good as it gets.

Austin, Texas  June 7, 2015 photo by Alice-Catherine Jennings
Austin, Texas
June 7, 2015
photo by Alice-Catherine Jennings

A day at the neighborhood pool screams summer. Everyone’s in a good mood. The kids are electric; the parents can chill; and the singlets’ skin glow.

Born in 1951, George Bilgere has been called the baby boomer’s poet. You can watch a video of Bilgere talking about his poetry here.

Continue reading “Poetry at the Post: It’s Pool Time! Yes!”

Poetry at the Post: Black-Eyed Peas & An African Food Truck in Austin

OYE MUNDO / sometimes

…when i can taste the rare culture
of cuchifritos y lechón
chitterlins & black-eyed peas
& corn bread

Photo By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0}
Photo By Toby Hudson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0}
I’d been spying the food trucks on East 11th St for quite some time. Located close to East Side Yoga, I knew that one day after my noon stretch, I’d stop by one of those vegan/vegetarian food trucks circled around chairs and grass and a dose of East Austin funk.

Yesterday, the vegan African food sign lured me in past the partial metal fence. I entered food truck land. I was tempted by the Colombian choice. I’ve been to Colombia so thought at least I could make an educated choice but I was feeling hot and steamy so I stayed the course and headed towards Wasota African Cuisine. 


I ordered the V. 6 Jollof Rice and Spinach and V10. Akara (Black- eyed Peas Fritters). I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting but the owner said to sit in the shade as it would take awhile to blend and cook everything. He likes to make everything fresh for his customers—and, the food was guaranteed. Guaranteed? Like authentic? No, like I will give you your money back if you do not like it. For $10.72, why not?

africa 2

Here are my ratings on a 5 star system.

Hot and spicy: 5 (You can order it less spicy but I like the heat!)
Taste and texture: 3 1/2
Value: 5 (There was enough food for 4.)
Service and Friendliness: 5
Authenticity: Have no idea???

If you check out Wasota’s FB page, there is a special offer for 15% off.

Jesus Papoleto Melendez on the fire escape of his building on East 111th Street in East Harlem New York City. Photo By vagabond (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0}
Jesus Papoleto Melendez on the fire escape of his building on East 111th Street in East Harlem New York City. Photo By vagabond (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0}
The akaras, or black-eyed pea fritters led me to  “Oye Mundo/sometimes” and I discovered Jesús Papoleto Meléndez, poet and playwright and one of the founding poets of the Nuyorican poetry movement. You can watch him read “¡HEY YO / YO SOY!” here. 

& i can feel
a conglomeration of vibrations /
heat waves
body waves
people waves
of real gente
/ & i feel gooooooood

Poetry at the Post: Mash Up with Emily Dickinson on Easter Sunday

Easter Day Thoughts by Alice-Catherine Jennings
April 5, 2015
A take off on “I dwell in Possibility – (466)

April 5, 2015 Austin, Texas
April 5, 2015
Austin, Texas

It’s Day 5 of NAPOWRIMO and here is the prompt:

“Find an Emily Dickinson poem – preferably one you’ve never previously read – and take out all the dashes and line breaks. Make it just one big block of prose. Now, rebreak the lines. Add words where you want. Take out some words. Make your own poem out of it!”

The Dickinson children (Emily on the left), ca. 1840. From the Dickinson Room at Houghton Library, Harvard University
The Dickinson children (Emily on the left), ca. 1840. From the Dickinson Room at Houghton Library, Harvard University

Here’s what I wrote on “possibility.”

I dwell in possibility (unless it is raining, which it is today.)
I peer out numerous windows,.
I refuse to believe in impregnable doors.
I spread wide my narrow hands to gather paradise
Which I will not find today as it is raining.

photo courtesy of John M. Jennings   Artist Tom Sachs' "Miffy Fountain," (2008) — at The Contemporary At Laguna Gloria.
photo courtesy of John M. Jennings
Artist Tom Sachs’ “Miffy Fountain,” (2008) — at The Contemporary At Laguna Gloria.

Poetry at the Post: Moroccan Stew for Easter with Abdelllatif Laâbi

April 5, 2015

Happy Easter from the Atrium Loft Cafe & Literary Salon!

Dish of the Day
by Abdellatif Laâbi, as translated by Andre Naffis-Sahely

For today’s special
we’d like to recommend a very spicy
‘killer’ stew

"Maroc , dune de Chegaga" by Jamou - Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Maroc , dune de Chegaga” by Jamou – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


Our menu today:   Vegetarian Moroccan stew accompanied by a fresh salade verte and a splash of wineFor dessert –an organic vanilla cake with chocolate icing. Poet: Abdellatif Laâbi.


"Abdellatif Laâbi-2011" by Ji-Elle - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -
“Abdellatif Laâbi-2011” by Ji-Elle – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


Abdellatif Laâbi is among the most well-known Moroccan writers living today. Born in Fez in 1942, he co-founded the poetry review Souffles in 1966. Six years later, Souffles was banned and Laâbi was imprisoned. He was released in 1980, and five years later he moved to France where he has resided ever since.” (Quarterly Conversation, June 11, 2013)

You won’t need a starter, he added
as the stew is very substantial
a local wine
the sort used for sangria

photo: Courtesy of John Jennings Wildflower Center, Austin
photo: Courtesy of John Jennings
Wildflower Center, Austin

Prayers for peace and tolerance…

Poetry at the Post: Brew Hopping in Austin with George Arnold



With my beer
I sit,
While golden moments flit:

beer 3

Last Saturday, six souls in search of sun, music and the mellow taste of beer headed for The Thirsty Planet Brewery, an Austin brewery with a purpose. According to their website, the team at Thirsty Planet “strives to keep the planet’s well-being in mind” during their day to day operations and gratuities from the tasting room are donated to a different charity each month. This month’s charity is Well Aware—”clean water for life.’

Thirsty Planet Brewery  Austin, TX March 28, 2015
Thirsty Planet Brewery
Austin, TX
March 28, 2015

Go, whining youth,
Go, weep and wail,
Sigh and grow pale,
Weave melancholy rhymes
On the old times,
Whose joys like shadowy ghosts appear,—

George Arnold was a mid 19th century poet and writer and a regular contributor to Vanity Fair. He is best known for his poem “The Jolly Old Pedagogue.” Arnold was also a frequent patron and part of the “In Crowd” at Pfaff’s Beer Cellar, a popular rathskeller in Greenwich village for New York writers and artists, including Walt Whitman. Other than that, not much is known about Arnold.

In the poem “Beer,” he laments the passing of his youth. Really?!! Arnold only lived to be 31! But, as we know, depression has no boundaries and age is relative.

What I like about this poem is how it makes me want to recommit to it (whatever it is today, this month, this year) yet reminds me that sometimes it’s okay to forget about it and to just enjoy the light, song and a glass of beer. Prost!

 Pfaff's beer cellar in 1857. Depicted seated is Walt Whitman.

Pfaff’s beer cellar in 1857. Depicted seated is Walt Whitman.

So, if I gulp my sorrows down,
Or see them drown
In foamy draughts of old nut-brown,
Then do I wear the crown,
Without the cross

beer 2

Poetry at the Post: The Reality of Tropical Depressions by Adrian Castro, or Feeling Dreary in Texas

The Reality of Tropical Depressions

Let’s not wrestle with water

It’s been a dreary winter—even my flowers are droopy so I went on a hunt for a poem—something to get me out of my funk. I’ve discovered that there is a poem for every situation. Someone else has already been there, felt that and today it was the poet Adrian Castro. Yes, things could be worse. I could be lying in the knot of a tropical depression.

“The Reality of Tropical Depressions” captured my attention. I liked its tempo, its progression, its innovative use of language. It made me want to find the book, read more. (Handling Destiny, Coffee House Press, 2009)

tip yr head at the orange sky blue lightning
partially our rainbow

and tonight will be “O.K./ after all.”

Here’s to the sun and flourishing flowers! I am so ready!

A flower in Delhi, India January 2015 photo credit: John Jennings
A flower in Delhi, India
January 2015
photo credit: John Jennings

Poetry at the Post: The Indian Quarterly—Sudeep Sen

Paper T[r]ails by Sudeep Sen


Paper dreams within the cover of a book,
book binds itself with the glue of a spine,

spine weaves together—dovetailed
by the grace of words—words of passion,


India is well—for a first time visitor—indescribable. Somehow, I still cannot put my brief two-week visit to Northern India into perspective. The focus of the trip was the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. Billed as the largest free literary festival on earth, the JaipurLitFest 2015 may have lived up to its hype with 300 authors, 140 musicians and 245,000 recorded footfalls over five days.

The crowds were intense—especially as the week wore on. It was nearly impossible to push through the cross paths on the grounds of the Hotel Diggi Palace at midday—or to find a seat at one of the sessions. Yet, if you went early in the morning, the queue for chai-in-small red-earthen-cups was short and you could grab a spot somewhere at one of the 10 venues. And, who you might find seated next to you could be surprising-from an economic advisor to Prime Minister Modi to a graduate student from LA studying Renaissance trade routes in India as international visitors were represented from over 50 countries!


photo credit: John Jennings
photo credit: John Jennings

Sometimes the best part of a trip is what you discover when you get back home. That’s what happened to me. After decompressing from the 31-hour journey from Jaipur to Austin, I discovered my complimentary copy of  The Indian Quarterly.
This is a beautifully produced literary and cultural magazine full of essays, art, fiction, poetry, photo essays. My favorite part is discovering new poems and poets, such as Paper T[r]ails by Sudeep Sen


Paper dreams in stacks, between covers,

among notes left surreptitiously
between pages for someone else to read.

Poetry at the Post-Austin: Coffee #3-Cenote & “Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast”

“Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast” by Hannah Gamble

Listen. Come over: the cold has already eaten
the summer

Cold hadn’t even nibbled at summer in Austin, Texas when I stopped by Cenote for a latte. I’d been trying to stick to breakfast teas but the week had been stressful. I just needed a cup of something stronger.

Cenote East Austin, TX
East Austin, TX

Cenote is close by but parking can be a challenge. It was too sunny and hot to linger on one of the picnic tables outside yet sitting inside can be a bit jarring if you are not able to find a seat away from the door or bar. Not always an ideal place to set up your laptop and work, its friendliness and killer breakfast tacos for $3.50 (on non-GMO corn tortillas) make up for the lack of comfortable space. Plus, there is a juice bar on site.

Hannah Gamble’s poem seemed to fit my mood last week. On one hand, it was a week of writerly events like the The One Page Salon and food-filled evenings with friends but also one of anxiety and a sense of life crashing in. It was one of those weeks when I needed “another pair of ears.”

I can’t tell if I’m hearing wind chimes
or some gray woman with failing arms
dropping a pan full of onions and potatoes.

Poetry at the Post-Austin: Coffee #1

Prose Poem (“The morning coffee.”)

The morning coffee. I’m not sure why I drink it.

In search of a local place to read & write, I walked over to East 6th Street’s newest spot, Cuvee Coffee. It’s sleek industrial with a welcoming staff.

Maybe it’s the ritual
of the cup, the spoon, the hot water, the milk,

I like the ritual of going somewhere to write. To be social but not.
To read and drift off.
To “meditate. About what?”
That’s just it…. you don’t know where your mind will wander.

It’s the same way in Ron Padgett’s poem, “The Morning Coffee,,” The narrator begins with a statement about drinking coffee but moves to Pappa Bear and Baby Bear, and
the shattering of a cup.

In a way it’s good that Mama Bear isn’t there. Better that she rest
in her grave beyond the garden, unaware of what has happened to the

If you happen to be in Austin, come join me at Cuvee Coffee.

Poetry at the Post-Austin Annex: “Consider the Hands that Write this Letter”

“Consider the Hands that Write this Letter”
after Marina Wilson

Left palm pressed flat against paper,
as we have done before, over my heart,

For the last week, I’ve been at war with the mail—junk mail that is. It was taking over my psyche. I needed some peace, some comfort so I looked to poetry, my reliable friend.

Arecelis Girmay’s poem reminded me of the beauty of receiving hand written notes. I used to have a daily practice of writing one note a day to a friend.

I looked forward to the selection of the notecards, the decision as to what to say, what not to say— the physicality of walking to the mail box and slipping each note into that slim slot.

Could I revive this practice, I mused. I doubt it. With social media, I no longer track street addresses.

The rush of receiving Christmas cards—I miss it. I used to hang all that color and glitter around the front door. Ted Kooser’s poem “Christmas Mail” calls up that era.

Cards in each mailbox,
angel, manger, star and lamb


Meanwhile I am killing junk mail with a new weapon: Paperkarma. Download the app. It will change your life.

If you have any other effective junk mail killers, drop me a note.