Accepting personal essays about caring for people with Alzheimer’s for planned anthology

Gelles-Cole Literary Enterprises, publisher of the award-winning anthology CHILD OF MY CHILD: POEMS AND STORIES FOR GRANDPARENTS, is now accepting submissions of personal essays recounting a wide spectrum of experiences of people who are caring for, or have cared for, people with Alzheimer’s Disease. We are looking for caregivers’ stories, told with compassion but unafraid to confront the full range of emotional, financial, practical, or spiritual challenges caregivers face–compelling stories, expertly told in 600 to 900 words.

Reading fee: $5.00. Submission deadline is October 15, 2015.

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announce cover

If you happen to be near Woodstock, New York, this September, please stop by the Golden Notebook on Saturday, Sept. 12, when I will be reading new and selected poems at a Woodstock Poetry Society event. The reading begins at 2 p.m.

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Lessons Learned


Chances are you never were a student in Mrs. Levitt’s class.

But you may have known her anyway, if by a different name and in a different place and time. For I don’t know how many hundreds of us, she was that remarkable teacher whose lessons continued to resonate through the decades and throughout our lives. For I don’t know how many hundreds of us, she became a lifelong friend and inspiration.

That’s why, when we learned that her disease was terminal and her dementia rapidly progressive, a number of us created a Facebook BookCoverPreview (2)group called “Mrs. Levitt’s Class,” where generations of her students compiled a sort of accidental anthology as a tribute, and a final “thank you.”

Over the course of her illness and beyond–a couple of years, as things turned out–the Facebook posts accumulated and formed what I think is a remarkable portrait of a remarkable person. Nearing…

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At Paul’s Mall

Freddie Hubbard on the bandstand
blowing away at abstract truth
until up jumped spring
and we smoke the darkness
of Paul’s Mall just as if
it will go on forever—
jazzed breath ascending
endlessly heavenward through
the coils of the flugelhorn—
and just as if one jazzedsex waitress
is still returning to our table
like first light, all lips without sound
when the trumpet washes over
the shape of her words
and we order another round,
another round if only for the sake
of the intervals sculpted by her
wordless tongue and teeth
on this again our maiden voyage.

Copyright 1998, 2014 by Kenneth Salzmann

You can hear Freddie Hubbard’s rendition of “Up Jumped Spring” on Youtube:

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And when all was done then said,
it wasn’t his flaws that caused
him to disappear.
Often enough he had willed that to be so,
wishing to become as insubstantial as
the bundled absence of all he lacked.
But as things turned out
it was a random strand of virtue
that rendered him invisible.
Ones who should have known better
tugged and teased that thread into prominence,
then magnified it beyond all meaning.
Old friends spoke of strength and courage.
New friends suspected him of gentle grace.
He insisted he stood falsely accused,
Offering his alibi to a myopic mirror
that, upon reflection, denied
any impression of him at all.

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A face that may have been

shadow and flame upon

a pillow of fallen leaves

once when my fingers

traced eyes and lips across the night

until the source of her mystery

burned my flesh beyond forgetting

is now forgotten,

but these hands remember

what it is to touch.



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The Squeaky Wheel Reading

Last month, I had a great time giving a reading in a delightful little gallery and cafe in the lakeside pueblo of San Juan Cosala, Mexico.

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The gallery is called La Rueda (The Wheel), so the series — run by writer and artist Judy Dykstra-Brown — could only have been called The Squeaky Wheel Series. . . . and the event was so enjoyable that I decided to memorialize it in a manner by publishing the heart of my own presentation in an ebook now available on Amazon.

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Say No More

I intended to say we share words as well,

although it takes just two of us and a common language

to articulate a tower.


More like that Sunday magazine article

On dying languages in Patagonia

Than we care to say:


I asked her if she ever had

a conversation with the only other person

in the world who [spoke Yaghan].

No, Emelinda said impatiently,

the two of us don’t talk.


You might have said we are forever tossing

sound about in places where ideas are gathered

then drummed into senselessness.


That we are approaching the moment

when we will sit at a café table

telling secrets but speaking in tongues.


I intended to say we share words as well,

and the speechlessness of aged Yaghan women

hoarding icy words in a land of fire.


Originally published in Front Range Review


Note: Following the death of 84-year-old Emelinda Acuña (1921 – October 12, 2005), only one native speaker remains, Cristina Calderón of Villa Ukika on Navarino Island, Chile. Calderón (often referred to as simply Abuela) is the sister-in-law of Acuña.


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Blood Counts

Twenty-five years ago today my late wife, Diana, underwent a bone marrow transplant at the remarkable Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. While there were further adventures along the way (to say the least), that procedure gave her another 14 1/2 years of life.

Blood Counts

In this polite place:
A hand trained in the ways
of death and delivery
cups a pill, slides a gurney,
shrink-wrapped, bubbling,
through sterile chambers
overfilled with hints
of salvation served
on sheets of steel.

Suffering is silent here:
Purple or black fishes dart
in diversionary circles
at the backs of smiling clerks,
when blood counts
don’t add up.

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On the Day of the Dead, Ajijic, Mexico



Desert Rivers


DSC_1291DSC_1235 These three Mexican gravediggers must know

Deep, earthy truths about dirt and regret.

And know something of halting words that flow


In desert rivers that have dried and set

Like misspent hope beneath the desert sun,

As if rivers might cleanse an earthly debt.


When the final words of last sad songs run

Like faltering rivers across this day,

Gravediggers know an ending has begun.


These three Mexican gravediggers won’t say

How desert death encircles birth to grow

Startling blooms in the barren sunbaked clay.


These three Mexican gravediggers won’t show

The ways ice cold embers reclaim their glow.

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