I'm Walt. And I'm Marie Elena.
This is the collaboration of two kindred spirits; partners in rhyme;
"the best friends we've never met."
All "Across the Lake. Eerily."

Sunday, February 28, 2010


A game of catch stretched
from yard to yard. 
The kids in the neighborhood,
all came to stand in line,
a chance to take part.
A football, and a Dad
as quarterback calling the shots.
The have and have nots
were all-star receivers.
Short to the trees.
Out near the bushes.
Long near the house next door.
The little guys made the trees.
Most went for the bushes.
I'd look to Dad and he'd wink.
That meant only one thing.
Don't let the ball hit the house.
It rarely ever did. Go long.



The parish church in our neighborhood,
three generations of family worship,
in a brown brick abode. A grade school
occupied the first floor, through the doors
to a Catholic education. I knew the building
top to bottom. An altar boy with a run of
the sacristy. A student who had as much
of the classroom as he did the basement
"gymnasium". The backstage, the ancient
boiler room were all our sanctuary.
A fund-raising paper drive saw her sad
demise. In the wee hours, the furnace
broke the silence of night; an explosion.
Tinder set ablaze in a rapid conflagration.
The stage went first,the upper classrooms
followed. Devoured hungrily was the church
above. Sunday mass, Christenings and weddings,
funerals and communion became fond memories.
With morning's first light bearing witness, the
walls came crashing down. Mere feet away,
a long trailer full of discarded newsprint, unscathed.
St. Michael's came falling to earth.



One heart was freed
One soul was saved
One life unchained
One sentence waived
One died for me
One took my place
One sacrifice
One act of grace
One Holy God
One Trinity
One Perfect Lamb
One thankful me

Marie Elena

Photo by Keith Good

Saturday, February 27, 2010


She wants to change the spelling of her name;
my clever little cherub with huge brown eyes.
Not her given name, her nickname: Miki.

"Mommy, may I use two k's?"

“Of course,” I tell my clever little cherub with huge brown eyes,
“You may use two k's, if that is what you'd like."

She must be wise beyond her years, I think to myself,
my clever little cherub with huge brown yes,
to already realize she may choose to use two K’s,
without risk of changing the pronunciation of her name.

The thought makes me smile with pride.

The next day, my clever little cherub with huge brown eyes
comes home with a paper.
In the top right corner is her printed name:


Marie Elena


Thank you, no.   I just dabble.
Thank you, no.   I’m not that good.
Thank you, no.   Really. Thank you.
Thank you, no.   But I wish…
Thank you, no.   I MUST write, but…
Thank you, no.   Just thankful to be here.
Thank you, no.   I’m not published.
Thank you, no.   It’s nothing, really.
Thank you, no.   You are so much better.
Thank you, no.   But, coming from you …
Thank you, yes?  Yes, perhaps…
Thank you, yes.  Yes, thank you.

Marie Elena


one who most needs me
makes my thoughts her dwelling place,
my dreams, her abode.

Marie Elena


Some climb to reach the pinnacle.
Some help others climb,
and they together reach the pinnacle.

Marie Elena

Friday, February 26, 2010


Marie and I, our connection is groovy,
we could be an Eastwood movie.
She is "Good", it's plain to see,
"The Bad and The Ugly"? That be me!


ACROSS THE LAKE, EERILY: A Hand of Friendship

On opposite shores
of a stretch of lake,
an Erie divide where
the lake effects hide.
From Maumee, Ohio,
her dark eyes search eastward
for the sound of mused
verses and rhymes.
And from Sloan, New York,
his search emanates,
a westward insemination
of idyllic thought,
ever wrought on the
strength of connection,
poetic perfection
an elusive prize,
but lost in the eyes
of beholders both varied,
the beauty that rests there
is prompted and harried.
The wonder he sees
in the heartfelt struggle
of a mother and wife,
rapt in poetic nuance and affluence.
And she awed and mystified
by a heart mired
in romantic remembrance
and comedic absurdity
written by a hand
as new to the fight
as her own nudged
poetry proclaims.
Two names, as far
as they can see
Walt and Marie,
plotting along
to bring the other
to their next best verse.
A joining of spirits by
two veritable strangers,
posing no danger
to the comfort their
sole influences provide.
The stretch of an extended
hand of friendship across
the waters of this Great Lake
returned in the guise
of a poetic handshake
and touching each others
muse unmistakably.

*** Written in October 2009 on Poetic Asides, the pre-cursor to this same titled blog.



The incessant pause,
pregnant or otherwise,
saps my resolve and my mind.
Thoughts half developed are
interrupted by the sound
of a repetitive loud speaker,
calling Doctor Proctor,
paging the head nurse,
alerting a Code Blue.
And you sit with patience
wearing paper thin for
some word, some clue,
that this vigil will be falsely in vain.
But as the hours slink by,
the flow of other families,
hoping, praying, united,
remains steady and drawn out.
Long into the night, your
angst has turned into
an exercise in futility.
Intensive Care Nightmare.
And still, you are waiting.


Thursday, February 25, 2010


I battel this one every day.
This evil one wont’ go away.
He aims to trip me up, he does.
It’s seemingly for “just becuase.”
So call him “Typo,” if you will,
“Dyxlesia,” or “Lak of Skill.”
Whatevre name you give this one,
just know he will not be outdone,
and I will not give up this fhigt.
I’ll forge ahead to wright rite write!

Marie Elena

(I wondered what all the noise was, coming across the lake.  I see my friend over there has been busy, busy, busy!)


Start with yourself.
You're a woman; you're a man,
you don't quite understand,
but you know if it starts
anywhere, it starts with you.
You are one.

Someone comes along
and likes what you do; your style,
you can't help but smile,
because all you wanted was for
someone to take you seriously.
Both ones together; you become two.

The two of you have a plan,
a chance to spread the joy you feel,
and the feeling is real,
that when the next person joins your cause
you feel the load lessen.
Your small crowd is a company; you are three.

And so it goes, and so it goes.
You saw a chance and planted the seed.
Never assuming it was out of greed,
but out of a love for the world you believe in.
And you believed that if it started anywhere,
it started with you. You are one.

Each of us is one.

We are all one.



ME is you,
and I am me.
Poets both
to a degree.
I am he,
and ME is she,
and to that
we both agree.
Every time
I would rhyme,
she would read me
every time.
When she would rhyme
it's my time
to read her rhyme
every time.
It's apparent,
plain to see,
I am me
and she is ME.
Both of us
sure do agree,
we're poets both,
me and ME.



Sisters in the truest sense of the word.
Seven years removed, but time
has a way of balancing things.
Andrea two inches taller
than her older sister is more wise,
But, it comes as no surprise
how the chasm in time has found a way
to heal itself. Equals in every way,
sharing in a vague sense of the word, but
never at a loss for a friend.
Of a single mind and purpose,
working out of the same closet,
and offering the support for
lives that have so far given
all they could have wanted.
A safe home, a loving father,
a caring mother, and each other.
Teacher and learner, in no
particular order. Daddy's "Little" girls.
In the garden of my life, my American Beauty Roses, 
Melissa and Andrea.



All-in-all, a good start. In a nineteen day run into February, Marie Elena and I have been able to compile a base of material from which to work. From our personal observations, to memories of our similarly cosmic childhoods, to our always interesting games of "Haiku Jai Alai", we are growing more as poets and learning a bit more about each other; always a good thing. We are looking forward to the coming months with great anticipation; what a mighty gift we have been given. It has been a true blessing to have been brought together in this place at this moment in time. Marie and I appreciate all who have come to share our words and given tremendous support for our modest efforts. We hope we haven't disappointed. And we promise to continue in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie. Our own Casablanca: "This looking like the beginning of a beautiful friendship!"



The foyer is small. Manageable. The d├ęcor -- lovely. I linger a bit, as I assemble courage. Hesitantly, I enter the Great Hall. I find it grand and immense, accommodating a multitude. I am wholly overwhelmed. Surrounded by the beautiful, the finely adorned.

My modest cotton sheath is clearly inappropriate. Heart pounding, I want to flee. Yet spellbound, I linger. I watch. I eavesdrop. I cannot tear myself away.

Then, one notices my glances. Again, my heart pounds, as he offers a warm smile and nod. Is it genuine? A tender seed is planted.

Another catches my eye. She is altogether lovely, as she waltzes with ease and grace. I cannot take my eyes off her. She notices my stares, and responds with … a grateful smile? Can this be? The tender seed is watered.

Another whom I’d admired from afar takes my hand, and leads me to a moonlit window, clearly spotlighting me momentarily. The unexpected attention it brings makes me simultaneously ill at ease, and awkwardly grateful. The blush in my cheeks lingers, yet the tender seed takes root.

Others offer approving glances, gracious smiles. A young woman compliments my faux pearls; herself, adorned with genuine pearls of the highest quality, which she has been gleaning and stringing herself for many years. Yet her compliment is sincere, and the tender seed begins to sprout.

All at once, I feel myself being guided onto the dance floor. It’s him. He takes my left hand, and rests it in on his shoulder. He clasps my right, and places his hand gently on the small of my back. He guides effortlessly, teaching steps along the way. The tender seed begins to bud.

Marie Elena


Across the lake, muse comes alive,
beauty comes to roost,
life comes to words so expressed.

Across the lake, a heart paces
the pulse of inspiration,
a contagious rendering of existence.

Across the lake, a woman accepts
the mantle she has been destined
to take up to claim her position as poet.

Across the lake, a man struggles
under the mire of muse, refusing
to silence a voice found over time.

Across the lake, the music 
of a collaboration of like souls
composes the symphony of poetic thought.

Across the lake, I find that jointly
this woman and man, kindred strangers,
embrace friendship for a common cause.

Across the lake, confidently,
friends who have never met
stand abreast in the celebration of words. 

Across the lake. Eerily. 


Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Cyclical and symphonic,
     hypnotic in its insistence,
          rolling, surging, persistent
               by the moon's urging.
         Crashing, thrashing,
     ever-splashing is the lake.
The sound of power,
     hour after hour
          amidst sea bird calls,
               a summer evening falls;
          the sun’s rapid retreat
     burrowing under the horizon
with a vibrant auburn radiance.
     The warmth beneath our feet
          transfers from the soft sand
               straight to our hearts,
          you and I locked in love’s
     all-encompassing embrace,
soulful kisses burn with
     unquenchable fire
          beneath the canopy of
               starlit wonder with
          only the sound of the waves
     for our view. Lapping the
shore, seeking its nourishment
     from the abandoned beach but
          finding nothing to feed upon.
               Where this evening finds us, there is
          just you, just me and this blanket.
     The tide creeps closer as my words,
poetic and symphonic, hypnotic
     in their insistence, roll and surge
          by love’s urging, and are clutched
               closely to your chest, held to your heart.
          Words that warm, words that heal,
     words that save as the tide struggles
to take us out. You find comfort
     it their buoyancy, for in case of emergency,
          this poem can be used as a flotation device.



Once we had the measles,
my older sis and I.
I look back fondly on this time,
and think that I know why.

We shared a room together.
We shared our misery.
It felt so good to be so close
(as sisters ought to be).

Our beds were close together
(a nightstand in between).
We had a record player,
with records (some umpteen).

My sister kept us busy
with entertaining stuff.
She gave me some attention --
I could not get enough.

And every day when we awoke,
she’d look at me and say,
“I hope you’re feeling better.
What would you like to play?”

She always had fun things to do
while we were in our beds.
We’d pretend they’re boats or trains,
or carriages or sleds.

We’d listen to our records:
“Babes in Toyland,” “Peter Pan,”
and pretend that we were there –
this was my sister’s plan.

Our mother brought us toast with tea
(my favorite when I’m sick)
She read to us our favorite books -
she always let us pick.

Sometimes our mom would let us
leave our room to watch T.V.
She knew the change would do us good,
and boy, did we agree.

Then after, we’d discover
Mom completely cleaned our room.
The sheets would now be soft and clean;
and waft a fresh perfume.

My recollection of this time
is oddly very sweet.
Though I would be the first to say,
it must be incomplete.

Although I’m sure the measles
must be difficult at best,
my memories leave me feeling
very cared for, loved, and blessed.

Marie Elena

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The greatest value
is in the inner beauty
of the kindred soul.



Placing ball upon the tee,
proceeding then to tutor me
in suitable technique for game
in which Jack Nicholas earned his fame.
I swing my club to try to meet
that little ball … then I repeat.
Now, after several tries at this,
(at least, as Dad does reminisce)
and waiving other golfers through,
my father finally got a clue:
I’m not athletically inclined.
But, thankfully, he didn’t mind.
My lack of club and golf ball junction
seems to make each social function
livelier with hoots and cackles …
Think I’ll stick with rods and tackles.

Marie Elena


Enticing beauty,
the irritant in itself
is of great value

Marie Elena


Hearts split abruptly,
a degradation of emotion;
a commotion of fact and fantasy,
brought to bear, wrought with the fear
of a lonely life, or an amazing facsimile
of the same. Lost in the game
of who did what to whom,
finding out none too soon that the reasons
for your union were wrong
in the first place, finding yourself
in the worst place you can imagine,
bereft of passion and a mindless muse.
You have to choose between
what you really need, and what
your heart requires. A smoldering pyre
of indifference, spoken in a demeaning nature,
and her nomenclature tells you
that love’s labor was not lost,
it was blown to smithereens. 



Despite all my father’s fine efforts
at fishing allure he’d amassed,
to teach me to cast was just futile,
my fishing technique was out-classed.

I’d flail with my rod, so awkwardly,
my arms and my line, out of sync,
close to the edge, ankle deep in the sludge,
and one clumsy step from the drink.

Catching my line, a branch flusters me.
Looks like I’m fishing up the wrong tree. 


Monday, February 22, 2010


In making a pearl,
a grain of sand irritates
to entice beauty



memories of you
wash into my soul, spurring
pearls in the making

Marie Elena


In the undertow
turbulent thought becomes home
memories of you



the slight curl of your hair,
a moment there.

Drawn to the crinkles
of smiling eyes,
Now only a memory,

Two tiny scars
by the side of your nose,
Part of the memory of you
I compose.

The line of your jaw,
stalwart, yet smooth,
And cleft of your chin,
Combine to soothe.

The width of your shoulders,
Which capably bear
Heartbreaks in life
Which we cannot repair.

Laying my head
Once again on your chest,
Where I always gain comfort,
Reassurance, and rest.

If ever my sight
Is taken from me
You are the pathway
I’d walk comfortably.

Marie Elena


Essence of whispers
murmurings of yesteryear
churn in undertow

Marie Elena

Sunday, February 21, 2010


The soft summer sunset
places our silhouettes against the sky
and the cast of evening magic in your eyes.
The crash of the lake at our feet
is like the single sound of two hearts beating.

You, the gardener of my soul,
I am lost in the music of your laughter
and your gaze robs me of simple speech.
I love you with the truest love,
it is nothing compared to an eternity.

I find myself riding the red-eye to morning,
because you have charmed the love right out of my heart.
Your influence permeates everything I touch,
and the blessing of you has been a well dealt hand in my life.
I live every waking second in loving reflection of you.

Walt                                                                             Photo by Walt Wojtanik


Harboring secrets,
lunar luminance pulls souls
into a whisper



Imagine a world where sin does not exist. Imagine a world where peace reigns, and where there is no reason for tears. Imagine no death, no fear, eternal health, and infinite beauty. Imagine no hunger, and no pain. Imagine a world where love knows no bounds.

Have you imagined heaven?


For our human minds cannot imagine, nor comprehend the mind of God, nor envision the perfection that awaits us.

Marie Elena


Night befalls the lake
vigilant moon eyes the shore
harboring secrets

Marie Elena

Photo by Keith Good


            Listening  to  the  sea  birds  call, and   thinking,
                        as  a  hint  of  nightfall  fills the  skies.
            Off  on  the  horizon,  girl , I  see  you .
                        looking  deep  into  your  Sunset Eyes.

            I can  feel  your  amber  arms  caress  me.                                                                     
                        the smile  upon  your  face, it  soothes  and  warms.
            Glowing face  of  angels,  you   possess  me.                              
Sunset Eyes protect  me  from  the  storm.

                        The sparkling water's flashing,
                                    your waves are softly crashing here on the shore.
                        Charging, then returning back to the sea.                                                                                 
                                    Your gentle hands keep falling,
your spraying softness calling, calling my name.
                                   Sunset Eyes return your love to me.

            Why is it you tease me with your wonder?
                        Wanting me to take you in my arms.
            Unashamed, you cast this spell I'm under.
                        Sunset Eyes embrace me with your charms.

                        Your face is always changing,
                                    expressions rearranging there on the sea.
                        Chameleon of colors there in the skies.
                                    Our looks are ones of sorrow,
                        but we'll be back tomorrow, standing in time.
                                    Gazing deep into those Sunset Eyes.

            Listening to the ocean’s song, and thinking,
                        as a hint of nightfall fills the skies.
            Searching my horizons, girl, to see you.
                        I'm always glad to see you, Sunset Eyes.

                        It's so good to love you, Sunset Eyes.


Saturday, February 20, 2010


Evening illusion
sunset seeks sanctuary
night befalls the lake



Hearts soften and stretch
a connection most sincere
shared words of friendship



I’m exactly half Italian, and half Irish.  One would assume this fusion would increase the predilection toward explosive behavior.

I blew that theory all to pieces.

Marie Elena


Dried seaweed moistens
changing tide toys playfully
hearts soften and stretch

Marie Elena

Friday, February 19, 2010


toes play gleefully
tracing hearts in the warm sand
beside dried seaweed

Walt                                                   Photo by Walt Wojtanik


wet stockings set free
sun climbs higher, warming sand
toes play gleefully

Marie Elena


You, a decade younger than I
Extremely good looking; painfully shy.
Me, just divorced from a man I had trusted
Forging a way; not yet adjusted.

Me, disenchanted with happy ere after, yet
Wanting renewal of love, warmth, and laughter.
Focused on making a way on my own;
Facing a future -- uncertain, alone.

Me, back in school, as I clean up debris;
You, nearly done with your two-year degree.
Exchanging brief glances in class and in hall;
Attempting discreetness, as well I recall.

Enter professor, who noticed our plight, then
Schemed with amusement and fiendish delight.
“You’ll need to pair up,” said this playful young teacher,
Whose hallmark, I’d say, was her matchmaking feature.

She gave us a sheet of one-hundred-plus fill-ins,
Ranging from neutral to oh-make-me-blush sins.
Then she sat back with a smirk on her face;
Happy she’d taken us on as a case.

You, walking out of the classroom that day;
Me, walking with you; both chatting away.
We, walking into a lifetime of love;
Now twenty years later, and blessed from Above.

Marie Elena

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Brilliance in the rising of the Son,
an endless horizon beckons,
radiance in the sweep of golden arms.
Reaching into an infinite darkness
to draw in all lost in its mire,
home; to where the Father resides.
Within you. In the center of your heart
is that light; a new dawning,
a glorious setting at the end of day.
Looking into the face of God.
Seeing the beauty of all creation, daily.



A lighthouse stands,
sentinel to the Great Erie.
A beacon bright, glowing at night,
to the wayfarers adrift on the cold chop.
It signals distance.
It offers direction.
It provides solace.

Shining out across the mighty waters:
the Niagara River to the North
where it spills in a cascade of thunder,
to Fort Erie on the Canadian side,
over the vastness, a dim glimmer
to the West toward Toledo,
diametrically opposed, bookends.

Sailboats swing by to visit,
and raise a friendly hand,
half in greeting, half in stoic salute,
totally in agreement that the beauty
of her silhouette against the declining horizon
expresses her import to all who navigate
in her harbor. All is well. Shine on  Buffalo Beacon.

Walt                                                                                                     Photo by Walt Wojtanik


Walking as we talk
spirits free and unrestrained
wet stockings set free



Climbing trees
Scraping knees
1, 2, 3’s, and A.B.C’s

Simon Says
Candy Pez
Eisenhower was the Prez?!

Chutes and Ladders
Cathy Chatters
Having fun is all that matters

Easy Moneys
Tickle Bee, and Sunday Funnies

Piggy bank
Army tank
Peter Pan won’t walk the plank

Weebles wobble
Siblings squabble
Matchbox cars, and heads that bobble

Top Cat
Wiffle Bat
Hula Hoop is where it’s at

Mighty Mouse
Barbie house
“Under shirt” beneath my blouse

Pick-Up Stix
Kix and Trix
Easy Bake a real cake mix

Creepy Crawlers
Board game dollars
Festivals with Bingo Callers

Fearful of the thunderstorms

Tinker Toys
Oh the joys!
G.I. Joe for little boys

Erector set
Fake cigarette
‘60’s Barbie goes brunette

Water gun
Flying Nun
Loads of fun, and now I’m done.

Marie Elena


squishing as we walk
wet stockings go unnoticed
walking as we talk

Marie Elena


Erie laps the shore
lost in thought with wet stockings
squishing as I walk


Wednesday, February 17, 2010


That noise. It has stayed with me for as long as I’ve been sucking oxygen.
It’s like the sound of a fiberglass fishing pole whipping the air in rapid succession.
No. It’s the sound a rubber hose makes when you twirl it overhead. Helicopter blades slicing
the atmosphere? That noise. 

The memory of that day is tattooed on my Grey matter. ‘Think ink’.
Me. A thirteen year-old punk, a pisspot. My acne-pocked, “Pizza-with-the-works”
pre-pubescent self-portrait. Attitude running rampant and in search for an outlet 
for pent up male aggression. Enter my big mouth. My mother, God Bless her,
had her hands full with a half-dozen kids and my father, sometimes passionate, 
most times inebriated. Sometimes a funny drunk. Most times not. And me (see 
description above) looking for my place. Aimless, self-guided and a batch of stupid ideas
in my ever inquisitive psyche. That day. That noise.

Set the scene.

Sunny, summer, Saturday afternoon. Dad, soberly sitting at the kitchen table.
Sports page spread, cigarette – his unlit and dangling oral fixation. Mom, 
the housework Houdini, hands submersed in suds, her sincere supplication 
to a snippy, spoiled brat son. It all hinged on that simple request. “Can you take out the trash?”

I don’t know what prompted my edgy (read ignorant) reply. But the words 
fought each other to be the first ones across my lips.“I don’t feel like it. Why don’t you take it out?” 
Silence. Jaw dropping silence. I looked over to my father thinking, “Look at the man you raised.
A chip off the old shot glass.” But two words were all that emerged from my cavernous cavity. “Oh Shit!” Strike two.

He extricated the cigarette from his pucker. He folded his newspaper. By the time 
his palms hit the table to push himself erect, I had bolted out the screen door. 
I ran as fast as my wiry Wally wheels could carry me. There was a second slam of the screen.
Then it came. That noise. That fiberglass fishing pole, that rubber hose, low flying helicopter. 
It came faster and louder than my fumbling flat feet could carry me.

I found myself cast in a Peckinpah movie. In slow-motion I went down, felled like a sequoia.
Face first and tumbling like a handicapped hedgehog. My father, not one to waste unnecessary movement,
only got three steps outside the door. He reached for the broom that had previously leaned lazily
against the clapboard. He deftly flung the aluminum projectile like an anodized boomerang.
As it followed its circuitous path it cut the air, like a fishing pole. Rubber hose. Helicopter, catching me
perfectly at the back of my neck. Lights out. Down for the count.

I lay there stunned as my father slowly approached. He stood over my prone body pointing a reprimanding finger at me. “Don’t ever let me hear you sass back to your mother again!” Then broom in hand, he turned and headed back to the house. Stopping abruptly, he made a sweeping motion in the air. “A clean sweep” he laughed. From that moment I made it a point to mind my verbiage around my mother. And in case
I had a lapse of memory, I hid the broom.

And I still hear that noise.



This dark moist cave,
a spelunker's nightmare,
I woke up in this dankness,
with no clue how I got there.

I had no access to light,
and those incessant drums,
in my infertile mind
it was as bad as it comes.

Then there came quite a rumble,
I was given a squeeze,
more rapid they came
as quick as you please.

I felt myself sliding
in a downward direction,
even this rope 'round my waist
wasn't providing protection.

I felt this cool breeze
Suddenly, my feet were cold,
I hit the ground running,
(or so I've been told).

A light finally came
but my eyesight was blurry,
voices were scattered
people did scurry,

and me covered in muck
from my toes to my nose,
and gasping for breath
God only knows why

one of these people
found the need to slap me
and some angel of mercy
brought a blanket to wrap me.

I let out a yell,
a mighty beseech,
when I entered this world,
feet first out of the breech.



A space; a home.
A domicile, between Warsaw and Roland,
it is where I grew.

For three generations
we called it ours, passed down, this station;
a fine and noble inheritance.

Cousins around as well,
and there I did dwell
until my bachelorhood started waning.

We all moved onward
and Mom died. For Dad, it became
a source of pride.

This carpenter, man of vision,
remodeled the house in a grand revision,
a king and his castle, surrounded

not by a moat, only neighbors,
extended family related or non,
until things started changing, and life went on.

Free and open, shared wide spaces,
coming and going to all of these spaces,
but the winds of change blew off of the lake.

Along the line, it stopped feeling like “home”,
a prodigal son, off on his own with distance,
staying away with stubborn resistance.

And life went on, changing things,
a liver cancer, and all it brings,
Dad’s appeal, sealing a return most welcome.

“Bringing Up Father” or so it seemed,
not a bit how I’d have dreamed, a role reversal
a love dispersal, a slow decline to the sad disease.

And then he died. Wood Place was now
just a space. Not a home, just a house,
the place was empty, not even a mouse.

“For Sale” the sign said, a deep divide,
a divvy up of all inside, only redemption
was what I took, stored in every dusty nook.

A buyer found, but at what cost,
an obvious satchel of memories lost,
but the space was closed in, a fortress constructed.

Totally sealed, a dirty deal,
vicious guard dogs made it surreal,
and a dignity lost for this storied old place.

A den of iniquity, a larcenous pharmacy,
police busts and stings, a cell of larceny.
A memorable home once so good,
but now, there goes the neighborhood.



Plentiful sun…
Perhaps more than my ration.
Just enough rain
To stir my compassion.

Love gained, then lost;
Caused trust to be broken,
Belief that ‘I love you’
Is done being spoken.

A thirteen-year marriage
Abruptly closed.
The love that once was
Has since decomposed.

For some I still pine.
My family once his,
And his family once mine.

Foreign-born terror
Appeared on our shore.
A long phase of peace,
Now an era of war.

Times of self doubt,
Though no more than most.
Times when I’ve felt
The desire to boast.

Loss of some loved ones,
Expected and not.
Heartache and sadness
That each death had brought.

New love born of trust,
I’d thought never could be;
A generous gift
God bestowed upon me.

Unspeakable pain
When my daughter fell ill.
Passionate prayer
For God’s healing and will.

Joy with each triumph,
Despair when she falls;
Heart-pounding fear
Of midnight phone calls.

We all go through life:
The good and the evil;
From wonderfully calm;
To horrific upheaval.

How then to handle
These varied affairs?
Envelop each
With a mantle of prayers.

Marie Elena
Photo by Keith Good

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Smooth sailing on an azure lake, 
tides and time waiting for no one reason
to change the course we manipulate.
We are the captains of logic, charting
the stars for the safe route home.
But as the swell begins to toss your
weary hull, an instance comes to fore
that all that seems tranquil, is now
turbulent and unrelenting, preventing you
from the completion of your journey.
In your thinking you order the lifeboats,
not giving up the ship, and not going down
with out a fight, tonight and every night.
You stand determined, hand on the rudder 
and tacking a hard starboard course angling
directly into the storm that batters your horizon.
Catching your sail, it turns you to your heart's
safe harbor, a lifeline tethered and strong,
sailing right along to the sanctuary of your soul.



Save for occasional rippling.

Of churning waters beneath the surface.

I find myself in the center of a perfect storm.

Dashed against the rocks.

In a tsunami of broken vows.

With the knowledge that the only way out

Is out.

Marie Elena


The crash of waves hypnotizes,
repetitive and refreshing,
it calls a resounding greeting,
in the shadow of its lunar engine.
A cyclical flow of an ebbing heart;
the give and take of passion's thunder,
going under for the third time, a surrender
unending, unconditional and unfettered.



Sentry in the wings
Always with a ready word
Little Moon Shadow

Monday, February 15, 2010


A long way back, in ’66,
When we were eight years old,
A dime was lying in our path,
And we thought we’d struck gold.

My cousin Tom and I took off.
We ran, so we could pop
Into the Korner Dairy
With the Christmas Tree on top.

The Korner Dairy carried
All the stuff kids LOVE to have.
Every candy known to man;
Yummy sweet-tooth salve.

Bit-O-Honey, Beamans’ Gum,
Mary Janes, and Pez.
Golden Nuggets, Nik-L-Nip,
“Cool,” my cousin says.

Flying Saucers, Circus Peanuts
Goobers, Pixi Stix,
Saf-T Pops, and Tootsie Pops
(They take how many licks?)

Rootbeer Barrels, Good & Plenty,
Necco Wafer Rolls,
Life Savers (made in Cleveland;
Candy rings with holes).

Wax Lips, Mallo Cups,
Bazooka Bubble Gum,
Whistle Pops and Whirly Pops,
And Slo-Poke Suckers (Yum!).

Sugar Daddy and his Baby,
Candy Cigarettes,
(Which today is too P.I.),
And Chocolaty Croquettes.

Charms Blow Pops and Fireballs,
Bubble Gum Cigars,
(There’s that darn P.I. again),
And Hershey Chocolate Bars.

Bottle Caps, Marshmallow Cones,
A Candy Popcorn Ball,
Candy Buttons, Chocolate Coins,
Why can’t we have it all?

We could share an ice-cream cone,
If that is what we’d like.
Or perhaps a giant box of
JustBorn Mike and Ike.

Hooray for dimes in ’66,
So Tom and I could pop
Into the Korner Dairy
With the Christmas Tree on Top.

Marie Elena


Buffalo native Lucille Clifton (1936-2010), author of more than 20 books who won the National Book Award in 2001 for her collection Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, and in 2007 became the first African-American woman to be awarded one of the literary world’s highest honors, the Ruth Lilly Prize for lifetimeachievement by the Poetry Foundation, passed away February 13th in Columbia, Md., after a brief illness. She was 73. For more information visit http://www.buffalonews.com/home/story/955670.html


I remember as a little guy
of maybe eight or nine,
watching Mom prepare a meal,
everything looked fine,
she had a bowl of chickens,
gosh they looked so small,
and Mom would laugh at my small gaff,
"Why those aren't chickens at all!"
That evening we were having squab,
it was a real treat,
and each of us got our own bird,
just small enough to eat.
It had some tiny drumsticks
and tiny little wings,
all rolled up in a little bird,
they were the cutest things.

One day Mom said "It's squab night,
your Grandpa's in the shed,
take this pot out to him,
so we could all be fed".
I did not understand at first,
but did what I was told,
out to Grandpa's pigeon coop,
I was as good as gold.
I peeked in through the doorway,
and Grandpa was inside,
before him seven lifeless birds
that he was trying to hide.
Feathers strewn across the floor,
I felt my small heart throb,
that's the way, I learned that day
that they call pigeons, squab.


Sunday, February 14, 2010


Hiding in the milieu
Of still and shifting sand,
there lives a silent sandman,
working on his tan.
Munching on a biscuit,
standing on its side,
he comes out when the surf kicks up,
playing in the tide.

Walt                                                                                                  Photo by Walt Wojtanik

Saturday, February 13, 2010


When love speaks,
It speaks softly.

When love listens,
It listens intently.

But when love sings,
It ascends to the heavens,

And enchants its very Creator.

Marie Elena


…and on her headstone,
“She prayed without ceasing.”
For serenity comes only while taking His hand,
Perpetually strolling the lush garden of prayer,
In the midst of life’s unfettered existence.

Marie Elena
Photo by Keith Good


Note from Marie Elena:

Although “Across the Lake, Eerily” is a collaboration of, as we say, two kindred spirits (Walt and me), I desire to share the following poem and message below from a dearly loved cousin, who lived with my parents on Lake Erie for a time. Enjoy. 

By Christopher Daniel Donadio

It happened one day I admit
The spell of The Lake caught my eye
The thought that had captured me just wouldn’t quit
Until I would give it a try

The peninsula jutted 500 feet
Past the dock at the end of their yard
I knew I could do it just once, not repeat
What a fool for I knew not how hard

The idea occurred from the winds that blew
All the water out from Morin Point
Mud was all that remained and the idea grew
To cross over to McLearys Point

My aunt and uncle delighted at this
To think I would give it a shot
With encouragement, said, “Go ahead Chris”
And I waited until it was hot

The theory I had, the hot summer sun
Would dry up the mud for my path
What a lark I thought, oh this will be fun
What waited…an Erie Mud Bath

As the ladder was placed by the dock
Timidity rose with descent
You would laugh were you timing by clock
How quickly my plans would be rent

The first steps went well, yet doubt set in
Just twenty yards out mud was muck
The laughter it went from thickness to thin
As both boots in the mud became stuck

Note from the author:

This is a true story. Marie Elena’s parents are very encouraging, believing that their daughters, and their crazy nephew, could do anything to which they set their mind and heart.

I am one of the 6 cousins Marie writes about, who grew up as her back yard neighbor: the son of the mother who is the sister of her father. Marie has always been a great source of encouragement to me, even in my early days of writing poetry. With a few breaks in the silence in the last 20 years, I really haven’t written much poetry since living on the western half of “The Lake” near Marie and her family. I love your BlogSpot and your writings, Marie, and Walt, I love the poem of yours that Marie has shared with me (I believe it is titled “Down Syndrome Cousins”).

Friday, February 12, 2010


A summer of discontent,
suffering the slings
and arrows
of torrential
downpours, and foggy
misty colored mornings,
lacking of brilliant sunshine

and carefree days of
all your reminiscences.
Another solstice come
and nearly gone with
nothing to show but your
pale pigment and saturated yard.

The days long gone, or of
summers past; one day to
bring the universe in alignment.
In your rambling search
for the one moment that
takes you home, you realize

your smile just brightened the room.
And you have returned.
The Erie County Fair opens today.
And you recall it all.
The animals and their "fragrances"
The fruits and vegetables

of some dedicated 4-H-er's success.
The games of chance more
giving than a lot of choices
you've made by yourself of late.
A grand Midway of rides and
thrills that you no longer

have the mind (or stomach)
to encounter anymore.
And the people.
The melting pot of humanity
clutching cotton candy
and twelve foot tall

plush dust collectors.
Melt in your mouth chicken barbecue
feeding the masses and
making you long for a moist towelette.
The exhibits entice you,
just as they did when

you were twelve and snot-nosed;
short pants and dirty knees,
and a curiosity befitting your age.
You remember it all, through
those eyes, and you crave for
that one more day to be twelve,

to sully your knees, and sicken your
stomach on an abundance of fudge
and the odor of rancorous cow pies.
Calliope music is your soundtrack.
Shouts and screams are your chorus.
You love these days, the last vestiges

of another summer gone amiss.
Youthful exuberance drips from
you like a cascade; washing you
in memories not soon relinquished,
and giving you that sense
that if you can get yourself to

another Fair season, it will be
a very good year. For this day,
your father's "Sonny-boy" has returned.



"Trolly Park," back in The Day,
No admission fee to pay.

Once-sought park was Youngstown’s pride
Railway’s ending on South Side.

Greeted by Jack Rabbit’s hills,
Promises of coaster thrills.

Wild Cat’s three-minute ride,
Acclaimed in “Top Ten” nation wide.

Lost River, Carousel,
Kooky Castle, Wishing Well,

Rocket Ride, and Kiddie Land,
Laffin’ Lena’s Loony Land,

Helter Skelter Bumper Cars,
Picnic shelter, monkey bars,

Cheyenne Shoot Out, Wacky Shack,
Of course, the CP Railroad Track,

Porky Pig the Paper Eater,
Ferris Wheels that rock and teeter,

Candied Apples, Caramel too,
Painted face and fake tattoo,

House of Mirrors, Tilt-a-Whirl,
Dip your fries in ice cream swirl.

Ballroom, built in 1910,
Drew in famous acts from then.

Dorsey, Tommy; Miller, Glenn;
Truly Big Band anchor men.

Tough times hit the park, and hard
Fire left it scarred and charred.

Sheet and Tube went belly up
Leaving Youngstown near bankrupt.

Once, Idora Park had shone;
Sadly, now a vacant zone.

Ticket Stand is all that’s left,
From demolition, fire, and theft.

Rats now roam where once we played,
No midway rides; no penny arcade.

Yearly visits, gone astray,
Revisiting my heart today.

(1895-1984, R.I.P.)

Marie Elena

For photos and information, see:  http://www.defunctparks.com/parks/OH/Idora/idora.htm


For obvious reasons, it was called "The Comet"
since riding on her would cause you to vomit.
A high-rolling streak of yellow and green
would make you take notice when it was seen.
A wooden behemoth, one of the last of her kind,
this old roller coaster was my very "first time".
On the Lake Erie shoreline of Crystal Beach Park
in Ontario, Canada. I rode on a lark.
A field trip from school had provided the occasion
that brought our young group to this Canadian station.
I eyed her from a distance, she held no allure,
she beckoned me softly, that son-of-a-cur.
But I just wasn't biting, I don't roller coast,
if I even got on her, I'd surely be toast**.
I had that thing beat I was filled with elation,
I was proudly avoiding a bad situation.

Enter the girl. Her name was Terry.
She didn't think coasters were the least bit scary.
She glanced to the top of this treacherous slide
then looking my way she asked, "Go for a ride?"
My plan had been thwarted, I started to panic,
I'd have much better luck going down on Titanic.
But, machismo kicked in and it said without shrinking
"Sure", as my brain screamed "What the HELL are you thinking?"
So we stood in the line for the cars to come 'round,
(or we stood in the queue, if you're true to the "Crown")
And often she'd smile every time she would glance
while I stood there quietly crapping my pants.
We boarded the car, strapped the belt, crashed the bar,
as the pulley grabbed hold of the very first car.
Clack, Clack, Clack, Clack, the Comet did rattle,
we were just half way up, this was purely a battle.
Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, Chuck, she came to a stop,
Perched every proudly at the very tip-top.

And then it happened. The pulley released.
(This was the part that I liked in the least.)
With her arms in the air, Terry gave out a scream,
which was just louder than mine (if you know what I mean).
It looped and it turned as it made a few passes.
And at the top of the next drop, I lost my glasses.
My mother would kill me, and besides, I can't see.
And she was having the best time there could be.
I almost lost lunch as I tightened the strap,
and by some crazy miracle, the specs dropped in my lap.
The ride came to an end and Screaming Terry turned meek,
and she leaned up and planted a kiss on my cheek.
But just as it seemed I had made a new friend,
she said, "That was fun, let's go do it again".

**(Or french toast, in keeping with the bi-lingual laws in this fine Canadian Provence!)

Walt                                                                                                                  Photo by M. Cusimano

RIDE THE COMET - A front seat ride await you on the Crystal Beach Comet


My Father played the drums as well
a Polka beat, he kept.
And all the Polish ladies
at the church just sat and wept.
The style he played, his masquerade,
was pure as far as I know,
Old Country sounds they heard around
the Polka Halls of Chicago.
Dad's motto spelled his sad dissent, 
his music would unseat them,
since he believed you drum, not dance,
                                                     "For if you can't join them, beat them."

Walt                                                                                                            Photo: Wojtanik Family Archive