Friday, October 4, 2013

Saga of the Apartment Dweller

         RENT.Too much. Quiet. Too little. Freedom from serious investment, no name other than home. #htspoetweet
The recent tweet, above, inspired the following poem.


Smell of others’ ethnic cooking.
Sound of snoring through thin walls
and music not at all my choosing.
Late and early—banging doors.

Windows like a guillotine.
Stairs, too many. Oh, my thighs!
Rent, too much, but less than mortgage.
Quiet, too little.  Still,  it’s home.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Well, it's October and although the topic for the month is "trees" I can't fault our socially conscious Heights-ers for focusing on political themes instead.  This tweet came in and deserves a response.

#htspoetweet So many people are not working but have jobs. US suffers #CongressionalShutdown while elites play games.  

Lament of the Government Worker

Some of us are called to service
working for our nation’s purpose.
Our individual self-worth is
satisfied through social justice. 

Our government was founded
on the rights of opportunity.
Democracy is grounded
on the principle of liberty. 

I ask you now; how free am I
if, as I serve the public realm,
my government declines my pay
while Congress refuses to man the helm?

Tweet me your thoughts #htspoetweet on this or trees or any aspect of life in the Heights. 
Your friendly neighborhood Poet Laureate, Kathleen Cerveny

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sweet Suite Expansion

First, many thanks to the lovely audience that attended my reading last Monday at the Coventry Library.  I shared the Poetweet Project with the assembled throng and have gotten several tweets as a result.  The topic for September is For Renters Only and this
provocative tweet:

Renter friend stole room from vacant apt. adjoining his, broke through wall into bedroom, sealed up door: Scot free. #htspoetweet

inspired the following - not exactly a poem, more like flash fiction.  And if it gives you a chuckle, that's cool.

Out of the Nutshell: A Minor Drama in Three Scenes

“I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams”. Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii

He peered in at the dismal one room apartment, shrugged and said, “OK. I’ll take it.” The building was almost empty; only two other tenants in the ten-suite building which slumped like a fallen soufflĂ© on the corner of Here and Nowhere. Although they came with the high ceilings and crown moldings of a bygone age of grace, none of the apartments were large; mostly one bedroom, with decades of paint slapped over wallpaper, encasing bobby pins, nails and the odd insect. Still, they were more than he could afford. This one sad room would have to do. Unfortunately, it faced east. Even a blanket over the window didn’t block the sun as he tried to fall sleep after coming home from his night job sweeping ashes at the animal crematorium.

 Weeks, months, a year passed with no new tenants, no sign of the landlord or even a maintenance crew. The building was as quiet as the crematorium after the burners shut down.  Night after night in his restless sun-soaked sleep, a voice whispered and wheedled with growing insistence: “There’s no one in the apartment next door, and just a thin wall between you and a real bedroom – one that faces west.”

 Weeks, months, a year passed. He slept quite soundly, now.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Coming Home

This poem was inspired by a tweet from a Cleveland Heights neighbor about her experience driving home after a vacation.  Here's her tweet:

Vacation to MI where I was born & raised. My comfort is road signs driving home "East Cleveland" to home, home is Cleveland!!

and here's my poem:

The Sign Says, “EAST to CLEVELAND:” I Read “HOME” 

You flee the routine; seeking
change, adventure.  Finding these
you wish, perhaps, for some magic
that will let you stay – release you
permanently from the  drudgery
of every day events – give you leave
to abdicate the dull predictability of home. 

But you know well that moment
when the glow tips over into longing.
No matter what awaits; piles of laundry,
stuffy house, sorting through the mountain
of unwanted mail - your eyes blink past
each green emblazoned sign, watching
only for the one announcing “home.”

There's still time to tweet me thoughts on vacation or stay-cation - the topics for August.  #htspoetweet
Or if you don't tweet, leave a comment below and I can work from that.

Check out my facebook page

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Bluestone (Cleveland) Heights

At the Cedar Fairmount Street Fair this weekend, there was a terrific and exclusive tour of Bluestone Heights - the name that the Heights is known by, by geologists.  We had the chance to step into the gulch behind the lovely Tudor Deming House and learn about the geologic history of this area, built on Berea Sandstone, Euclid Bluestone and Cleveland Shale.   Here's a poem that was inspired by (some of) what I learned.

Bluestone Heights 

In the Late Devonian
this place that I call home
lay at zero latitude; Equator.
Before the vast tectonic plates
settled in their current place,
my city’s global longitude
was at the locus of Peru.   

Our Heights were once submerged below
an intercoastal sea. Its depths,
a muck and silted dead zone, left
no ancient fossil trace.  Instead,
it formed the hard-pressed, layered bed
of Euclid Bluestone, Cleveland shale
that sandwiches our neighborhood.  

This rock and shale beneath our feet,
was mined for sidewalks; and above,
capped the crenelated parapets  
of all the old apartment houses
up Cedar Hill and down my street.

Tweet me your thoughts about our local geology, what you are doing on vacation or anything about life in Cleveland Heights #htspoetweet - or leave a comment after this poem.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

What's NOT Cool About Habitat Loss

I've been away on vacation most of July, hence the paucity of posts.  But this one was inspired by a photo and story that HeightsArts' new Executive Director Rachel Bernstein shared when I returned.  And with the topic for July being 'stayin' cool', her experience prompted this negative take on that theme.  It's an experience we have all had here in the Heights - all too frequently in the recent past - but seen through the eyes of our 'best friend.'


For thirty seconds, he just stared;
confusion overpowering instinct. 

“WHAT!”       “WHAT!?” 

raced through his brain.
And then the barking started. 

Even from the upstairs window
he knew the backyard enemy was big. 

“BIG!”            “WHAT!? 

Bigger than the one who lives
next door and smells like meows.
Bigger than the one across the way
who’s always chasing lawn rats. 

“I would catch them if I could get
out alone. But …WHAT!?” 

From the square of green behind
the white frame house, the deer
looks up, at the familiar sound.
Send me your tweets to #htspoetweet or leave a comment below.  Comments/tweets on the July theme, stayin' cool or the August theme vacation or stay-cation, are welcome.  I'll keep making poems as long as you keep inspiring  me.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pool Poem, Park Poem

My thanks to the staff and students of LakeErieInk for tweeting me inspirations for the following poems on our June topic of Parks and Recreation. 

Cumberland Pool 

The blue glass of the pool,
lane lines wavering below;
one deep breath— and leap!
Then kick, scoop, breathe,
kick, scoop, breathe, kick … 

Only me, only the water
dissolving me into summer.

Simple Pleasures 
I wonder—with each city park
now crowded with construction;
slides and swings and wooden
jungle gyms; fortresses, like
manufactured villages
for summertime amusement—
do children play the games
we used to revel in, on lawns,
in parks, those long and endless
afternoons of liberation in the sun?
Hide and Seek. Mother May I?
Crack the Whip and Statues; games
that need no more than friends. 
The Peace Park down on Coventry
has its entertainment complex;
beams of weathered timber, ropes
for climbing, chutes for sliding, perches
for the lookout, cubby-holes for hiding. 
Yet, down its gently sloping hill
roll a giggled gaggle—free of all
but self-directed motion, self-induced
emotion; tumbling dervishes
of mesmerized emancipation.

Tweet me your thoughts #htspoetweet on the July topic, "Stayin' Cool."  Don't Tweet? No problem.  Enter your inspirational thoughts in the comments section below and I'll  get them that way.  And come back soon!



Sunday, June 16, 2013

On the Streets Where We Live

Some of us get our best and most restorative exercise cycling or walking the beautiful streets of our city.  Here's a poem inspired by tweets from a current and a former Cleveland Heights resident and about what one can observe on these leisurely recreational outings.

What’s in a Name? 

Was it imitation or appropriation that gave the framers
of our city’s streets the impetus for naming 
them as if we lived a Merrie Olde existence? 

My morning cycle wheels me past half-timbered
Tudor castle-lets on sheep-sheared lawns along
the quiet streets of Berkshire, Essex, Norfolk;
the shops on Coventry, and yes, down Tudor.  
Longer rides meander Anglified suburban ‘shires’
of Devon, Derby, Lancashire.  And while there’s
neither Hartford, nor a Hereford, many a Fair Lady
lives on Hampshire Road—tree-lined and shady. 

I prefer the names that come to mind,
spontaneously on my evening constitutionals. 
This street surely should be Lilac Lane;
another could be Mock Orange Blossom Row. 
The roses now are blooming on what used to be
the fragrant and abundant Avenue of Peonies.   

And though I know this isn’t England - it’s the Heights,
those of us who live here have the privilege
to bike and walk amid a Botanic Garden of Delights.
Now let's get some tweets going about Cumberland Pool, Cain Park, baseball and tennis - I see you out there on the Middle School courts and running on the track.  Tweet me. #htspoetweet

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

First June Poetweet Post, thanks to an amazingly beautiful and more amazingly talented actress in our midst.  

June's topic is Parks and Recreation. There are many kinds of recreation.  For those of us who work all day, sometimes just a drink with friends is like a small vacation.

Happy Hour 

You’re dancing down the sidewalk toward our evening;
summer in your hair and open smile.
Too long the time and far too many changes
since we said we’d meet and share our lives. 

At the Fairmount, sparkled conversation;
the tingled sting of icy gingered drinks.
Faces flushed with eager, shared connections;
two women, strong and happy - on the brink
of expectation for the coming chapter
in our lives, already overflowing -  full and rare. 

We leave the warm sorority of this hour,
refreshed from work and home and other cares;
walk home through summer’s rain-washed, ruby air.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Two Views of Hail

So this is likely the last Poetweet post for the May topic of Spring.  Soon June begins the next topic for tweets - Parks and Recreation.  Tweet me your thoughts, insights, experiences about how you re-create yourself out of doors in the Heights in the early days of summer.

Now, two very different poems prompted by a short tweet about the hailstorm we had a week or so ago.


Pierced by the grape-shot ice
of a late May hailstorm—
fury after unsuspecting calm—
the hostas’ green and chartreuse hearts
lay open, like stigmata-ed palms. 

The sudden shift in temperature
should have been the clue
that all the shadowed days ahead
would open onto emptiness
as the door closed, soft, behind you.

And, on a completely silly note …

Hail the Hail! 

The rake and hose still hang by the pail
all neat on their hooks by the mower. 

And there they will stay for a week and a day
for the sky has begun now to shower.

“Get off of your duff!” says my wife, with a cuff
of her hand—powdered in Gold Medal flour. 

“There’s work to be done! Nevermind there’s no sun.
Don’t sit on the couch and just cower.” 

But then came the sound of the hail pounding down
and I knew I was safe in my bower— 

my man cave and La-Z-Boy beckoned to me
while the hail went and knocked out the power.

OK - not great literature. But sometimes its just fun to play with words.  And my guess is there can be some minor truth even in silliness.

More in June (maybe silly, maybe not) - but only if you tweet to #htspoetweet

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Frog Love

Thanks for the tweet from Virginia Beach that inspired this haiku.  Now, Heights-ers, I'm counting on you to keep me going!
Tweet your impressions of Spring (through May 31) and recreation (all of June) to #htspoetweet.

Here's a haiku.

The lush, ferned shore-line

hides the amorous bullfrog.

Still, his trumpet sounds.

Haiku, is a Japanese poetic form which attempts to capture a fleeting moment of experience of the natural world - a dramatic moment in an everyday occurrence.  The rhythmic, or metrical speech patterns of the Japanese are vastly different than American speech, so we cannot hope to replicate exactly the syllabic 'rules' of haiku as practiced by the great Japanese masters, Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa and Masaoka Shiki.  So, American haiku generally are written in seventeen syllables (yes, syllables) and arranged in three lines of 5-7-5 syllables.  A reference to nature and/or a season is obligatory, but the meaning of the haiku should go beyond a simple  recounting of an event experienced by the poet to comment on something resonant of human nature as well.

Kathleen Cerveny
2013-14 Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My thanks to a rare books librarian who tweeted me her thoughts on walking Lakeview Cemetery in the lush and verdant green of early May.  Her tweets inspired this poem.

Streaming Time 

A field of polished stones
cushioned in spring grass;
a blanket of renewal pulled
up snug against eternity. 

These people are not mine.
But I am reminded of those
now gone; their fragile bones
lying quiet under Prairie corn
or under other stones - an age,
an ocean or a continent away. 

In this garden, lush with memory,
the river of the grassy blanket runs
between the stones.  These lives
have had their moment in the stream
of time - and now it's ours.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fertility Dance

Thanks to several who tweeted me their thoughts (including some very poetic tweets) on the glories of this amazing spring.  Here's the next poem, inspired by YOU.

Fertility Dance

The ruffled arms
of cherry and pear,
shimmy in the breeze
like Carmen Miranda’s sleeves.
They cast their net of scent
into the blue sea of May,
fishing for bees.

And a beautiful photo of a crabapple tree that accompanied a tweet.  "Crabapple" just didn't fit the rhythm or linguistic aesthetic  of the poem so I changed it to "cherry and pear."  Poetic license, don'tcha know!
Now how about some tweets about that hail storm?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Poetweet Project Launched: First Spring Tweets Poem for May

The Poetweet Project is on its way!  Thanks to all who joined me to launch
the project.  A small but enthusiastic crowd gathered at the foot of Daffodil Hill in beautiful Lakeview Cemetery this past Saturday morning (May 4) to help me get this fun project out of the ground and blooming. 

See some photos from the day below and here's the first poem inspired by tweets from those who attended the event.  Send your spring tweets - impressions of the season, your yard, what spring means to you, etc., to #htspoetweet.  I'll make poems so long as there are tweets to inspire me.


All around the cemetery,
stone monuments to temporality.
And yet, fresh green and pink pop
from cherry, dogwood, Cleveland Pear.
Venerable magnolias bloom, impossibly again.
Chipmunks vault the marble markers
and woodpeckers churr the bugs
from old trees to feed new young. 
Kathleen Cerveny, Lakeview Cemetery