Saturday, February 12, 2022

After Dickinson (poem)

The Word from the Corner

Shared on North Andover Poets Corner on FB

We are watching the show Dickinson. Very recommended! Watching this show as a poet or as anyone who loves the power of words, you will be transported. It's really well done - a lot to like about it - as it bends history in artful ways to open up Emily Dickinson, her life, her times and her words. I won't say more about it, other than it inspired this poem today. Here it is.

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After Dickinson 

Poetry is best
done in private
out of the light
done in a dark room
then destroyed 
but remembered 
like the echo of light
when an eclipse burns
permanent on the eye




Sunday, February 6, 2022

My Broadway Song: Shouldn't it? A Manifesto in Song

My Broadway Song

Shared on Rockport Poetry on Facebook

How did I find myself up at midnight...with the thought: "What is poetry? What should it do?" Well, if you ask this question, the first thing you know is "Yes, you're a poet!"

But here's how I found myself facing this question at midnight, and how I answered it:

You never know where inspiration is going to come from, or where it's going to take you.  Bob Whelan invited me to feature at this week's Rockport Poetry event, this coming Wednesday. I wanted to write something new for that evening. Well, I did, but not based on the original idea I had in mind. 

This Friday night, I watched the documentary "Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened". It's about the making and subsequent history of the 1981 Sondheim-Prince musical "Merrily We Roll Along". The musical featured young performers - ranging from 16 to 25 years old - all who had never performed on Broadway. Steven Sondheim and Hal Prince were at the height of their powers after a string of musical successes like Company, A Little Night Music, and Sweeney Todd.

"Merrily We Roll Along" closed after only 16 performances. Audiences got up and walked out during the show. It ended the Sondheim-Prince collaboration and almost drove Sondheim to quit  musical theatre.

The documentary about "Merrily We Roll Along" is beautiful and touching since it not only has great footage from the tryouts and rehearsals (captured as part of an ABC special that was never released), it follows the life path of these young performers over the next 25 years of their lives. A good number stayed in theatre, some with great careers on Broadway. Most did stay for a while but then found other paths, other callings.

But all were deeply affected by this wonderful life-changing experience - that ended in critical failure. They went from the heights of their dream together to the depths of rejection and disappointment. As young people.

Ok, it was midnight when I had the thought, "What is poetry? What should it do?"  

I finished the thought with "It should do something..." 

From there, I found myself writing a Broadway musical number! Here are the lyrics. I am going to sing this on Wednesday. It may or my not turn out to be art, but I bet it will be worth tuning in for.

I hope to see you there. Look for event info from our host Bob Whelan. 




Saturday, February 5, 2022

The real thing we call God (poem)

 The Word from the Corner

Shared on North Andover Poets Corner on Facebook

I write a number of poems about God, which is a little weird since I'm not sure I believe in God. To be philosophical, I do believe in Love and Justice as informing principles of the world, as creative essences of reality, the fundamental reality, as real as sunlight, quarks and dark energy. So yes, I believe in God. And of course, so goes the joke, I'm glad that God believes in me.
I read this one last night at Lee Eric Freedman's ReachArts/Swampscott First Friday Open Mic, a great open mic, with poetry & music.
I wrote this in December 2019 - before Covid. Strangely, it makes more sense now. May it serve. Peace.
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The real thing we call God

The real thing we call God keeps reappearing reappearing every time we give up reappearing every time we say God help me, I can’t go on Every time we are worn out by the friction of other people saying no purpose, no purpose worn out by the friction of life worn out by the friction of ourselves
saying no purpose, no purpose Wait in the field of dust in the field of dust, wait let the rain fall let it clear the dust let it clear the field let the water run
let the river run let it carry you to the quiet let the silt find its place let the water find its home let the water clear let the water still wait wait When we stand or sit empty empty of this life when we carry nothing but this heavy emptiness when we carry nothing the real thing appears God God thank you How can God appear out of nothing? wait wait

--Mark Bohrer December 2019

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Unequal Or Equal (poem)

Unequal or Equal
Here's my protest poem -
In memory of Blaine Hebbel. With thanks. Nobody did what you did.
Do you mind if I tip the scales, press a thumb, place a weight on the balance of my side? It will tip my way – Is that ok? Do you mind? Do you mind if I start the race halfway to the prize? Why, we still have the same chance – We start the same. We stand side by side. Ready? You have two laps to go. If I have but one
Do you mind? Do you mind if my house is on this side of the tracks? I really don’t do well with smoke. Do you mind? If things are
“equaled up” – do I have to give you what’s already mine?
Is that
what you say? If you get won’t you take this and that from me and mine? If you get won’t I have to give? Would that
be fair? If we don’t
Do you mind? Oh, and by the way if someone asks about this unequal-equal thing – I never said this. We never spoke. Do you mind? 1/2/2022 North Andover
Blaine Hebbel
in 2018 at the Walnut Street Cafe