April 27, 2019

Colette Inez


I knew him by his tonsure,
head bare as a Buddhist monk
or a bowl holding lower case letters

that poured out on a page.
I almost saw that spillage
running out of his hands as he unlatched

the gate of Patchin Place;
O, ee, I followed him down Sixth
in jacket weather, he, neatly made

and wearing tweed. At the bakery
he pointed to swirls of pastry. A baguette
poked out of his paper bag like a periscope.

I remember asters, mums at the florist. Purple, pink
peeped out of the wrappings.
In the deli he would pick

Genoese salami, sliced thin, my favorite,
or half-sour pickles, the color of lagoons
in Lamour, Hope, Crosby films?

Far from frangipani, ee turned towards Sixth,
his face a mask, and I followed like Old Dog Tray
pretending the letter I’d never mail:

Dear ee,
Your “Somewhere I have never traveled”
charts my realm, too, even as I step from here to there,
too moony by half to ask for your autograph.
I failed to say I lived with Roethke’s “sadness of pencils”
in gray cubicles, carbon paper stains
on hands that itched to compose

more than shaky notes for poems after squabbling
with a lover, “glad and big.”
Moaning through rooms of maybe and no,

I wanted the impertinence of Edward Estlin C, to tease
like him

a sort of antic beauty of words reckoned on the page.
O, ee I wanted to leave

my lip prints on the flap of an envelope
holding the poems I’d never send,
though I could have left them at your door,

you were that near
when I stalked you back then
in love with your line

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation


Colette Inez: “I am this summer reading the great Tang Dynasty poet Li Ho and think of his line ‘fireflies in the tomb’ when I walk in the park in early evening and watch the flickering lights in the children’s playground and in the wet grass. A new translation of Rilke’s collected poems by Anita Barrow and Joanna Macy has also taken my fancy. I’m revising some poems written in Scotland seeing a few students and I long for Li Ho’s ‘Northern Cold’—‘flowers of frost on the grass as big as coins.’”

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December 20, 2013

Doug Holder

(1917 – 2013)

I’ve written more than a few poems for my friend Ed Galing, after getting the many letters he has sent me over the years. Ed’s letters are probably as good as his poems. They are alive and spirited, like the scrappy street urchin that Ed was in his early years. Ed can be needy, infuriating, and hilarious, but most of all loveable. And that’s the way I characterize his poetry. Like Ed, it shoots from the hip, giving it straight with no chaser. I find that, in contrast, a lot of the poetry I read today has a calculated ironic distance, almost as if the poet is afraid to display some honest sentiment or emotion. Ed Galing, at 89, is a poet who knows his allotted time is too short for posturing, for cool detachment, or obtuse and inaccessible verse. After long years of writing and submitting his work, Galing has joined the ranks of the major small press poets that includes: A.D. Winans, Hugh Fox, Lyn Lifshin, Alan Catlin, Lynne Savitt, and others. Like the poets just mentioned Galing’s poetry, stories, and essays have appeared in the most obscure and the most well-known journals across the country. Whenever I pick up a little magazine like the Chiron Review, Rattle, Lummox Journal, Poesy, Brevities, The Small Press Review, Pegasus and hundreds of others, I am not surprised to find Ed Galing’s name there.

I first encountered Ed Galing’s poetry in a defunct magazine founded by the late Ralph Haselmann Jr., Lucid Moon. Ed Galing was described as the “harmonica-playing poet-laureate of Hatboro, PA” (his hometown). I later found out that Galing’s work was liberally spread out over a wide swath of small press magazines, journals, newspapers, and the whole spectrum of publications. What came through in Ed’s poetry was his no-bullshit, call a spade-a-spade style. He reminded me a lot of my wisecracking Jewish uncles from boyhood, always busting chops and spinning stories. He is what they would call a mensch. A Yiddish word, it means someone of consequence, someone to emulate. That’s Ed.

In a number of interviews that I conducted with Ed, I became aware of his hardscrabble life, as it was reflected in his poetry. Ed told me that he started to write poetry as a young person during the Depression era. Galing’s family was on general relief, and they lived in very Spartan conditions on the Lower East Side of New York City and in the gone-to-seed environs of South Philadelphia.

Galing remembered his high school English teacher, Dr. Ginsberg, who was supportive of his work and pushed him to read the classics. Galing told me he took to poetry early on. As to why, he related: “Poetry could say something in a few words that prose could only do in the thousands. Poetry allowed me to pour out my heart and soul …” Later Galing mined his early years as fodder for his large body of work. In his most recent collection, Buying a Suit on Essex Street (Iniquity Press), Galing writes about his boyhood urban retreat—the fires cape on his tenement building over the bustling immigrant-filled streets of the Lower East Side.

Fire Escape

Mine was on the
fifth floor
A small iron
Outside the front
Looking down on
Essex Street
Lower East Side:
Down below I
could see pushcarts:
Crowded streets,
people pushing and
Screams and mutterings:
shouts of despair:
Up here, when I sat
outside the window
in my fire escape
I was six years old:
and already I knew
what it felt like
To be caged in
some wild animal.

Ed remembers vividly the cornucopia of sights and sounds the Lower east Side had to offer: “There were the cries of the merchants and the hundred of people pushing and shoving. There was a flavor to those streets I won’t forget. I think it shaped my life. There were the rooftops, the wash on the lines, the garbage on the streets, and the gang fights.”

Galing also felt the bitter taste of in-your-face antisemitism. He learned from the predominately Christian world that the Jews killed Christ, and that Santa Claus wanted no part of him. All this left an indelible impression on the man.

Galing has written many poems concerning antisemitism, as he experienced it. As an occupation solider in Europe shortly after World War II, he was a witness to the death camps at Dachau. Galing told me: “All of these events shaped my sensibility and my poetry. I found antisemitism everywhere … the Army, the Navy.” Galing saw the horrific ovens of the camps, and was enraged at the denial of the atrocities by many Germans he encountered. Galing, through the Lucid Moon Press, published a small book of his war time experiences, complete with photos. In spite of these experiences he did not become misanthropic. Galing told me, “This affected me as a man. I wanted to use my words to benefit mankind. I wanted to show that love is important to life.”

To this day Ed Galing visits Jack’s Deli in his old stomping grounds of South Phillie and entertains the patrons with his harmonica. Now that his wife is a resident in a nursing home, he visits her daily, and shares his poetry and music with the other residents, as well. Ed makes no concessions to the computer age and still corresponds with fellow poets by hand-written letter. He types his poems out on an old typewriter. Ed and I talk on the phone regularly, and he expresses his frustration with the infirmities of old age, his wife’s declining health, the capriciousness of editors, you name it. Yet, overall, Galing keeps a positive attitude, and still has eagle eye out for the next poem.

Galing has experienced a lot, but like many of his rapidly diminishing peers he is able to separate what is important from what is not. Ed has no time to worry about the latest trend, engage in navel gazing, or morbid introspection. What matters to Galing are the people in his life that he touched and who touched him. Ed reflected: “I have two grandsons, three grandchildren, and I am married to a wonderful woman. What is there to know about Ed Galing? Just a simple man, trying to write poetry, and perhaps trying to hear a good word about my work.”

Day’s Work

if my father taught
me anything,
it was how to exist
where existence
was hard to do.
and where every
breath of air
in our lower
east side building
was filled with
the acrid order
of rotten vegetables
that most of us
tenants ate, when
we could afford
to buy the left-
overs, from the
pushcarts on orchard
oh, the rabble, oh
the stench
oh, the jostling
and pushing of
so many of us
as we walked along
pavements so crowded
that we had to almost
walk out into the middle
of the street …
my father made life
as endurable as possible,
by wearing the same clothes
all year round, and when they
his needle and thread would mend them,
he ate little, mostly potatoes,
which gave him that round little
belly, and portly gait,
and he busied himself around
the apartment we had,
my mother in the kitchen,
making food on the coal stove,
learning how to squeeze beets
to make borscht,
and me in my six year old wisdom,
learning how to steal an
occasional apple from the
pushcart outside …
all in a day’s work in
those days.

And, just like his old man before him, Ed keeps working at his craft, a craft which has been his life.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation

Editors Note: Ed Galing died December 18, 2013, at his home in Hatboro, PA. He was 96.


Doug Holder was born in Manhattan, N.Y. on July 5, 1955. A small press activist, he founded the Ibbetson Street Press in the winter of 1998 in Somerville, Mass. He has published over 40 books of poetry of local and national poets and over 20 issues of the literary journal Ibbetson Street, which published Galing in every issue. He also created a blog for Galing years ago: (edgaling.blogspot.com)

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October 11, 2011

Doris Vernon


Crow flings his black cloak over his bony shoulders
Caws into the sky
Calls others from the Crow Clan
And leads them over the corn field
He’s painting     He’s painting
They feel the vibrations rising
Before they hear the sound
the artist staggers through the field
Down the country road
Back to his hotel
Crow flaps back to his perch
Shivers knowing his wings are black strokes
On Vincent’s canvas.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation


Doris Vernon: “Born September 14, 1924, I have been involved in the Ventura County poetry community for 10 or more years. I’m not sure, but I don’t think I write from the viewpoint of an old person. I keep forgetting how old I am. What interests me? I like good meals, a comfortable bed, conversations with friends, something engaging to read, and words. I have an enormous collection of my poems, gathering dust, so to speak, and they are all nervous about their future.”

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October 9, 2011

Phyllis M. Teplitz


          a dime to sit through a Fred Astaire movie
twice, kids to play with after school,
parents who loved me, and four sisters.
June, in college, juggling boyfriends, May,

just two years behind, sang
at all the ladies’ clubs. Eleanor,
way ahead of me too. Thirteen.
I tried imagine being so grownup.

Sure, we quarreled, but sometimes
we had such fun making fudge, dancing
to Glen Miller’s Boogie Woogie,
in the upstairs hall.

It was my birthday, my first party ever.
We played musical chairs, upset the fruit basket.
And for once, I was the center of attention.
I remember two presents,

a tiny glass vase of jeweled flowers
that shone blue and red on my hand.
The best one, a real diary. It even had
a little gold key to lock up my secrets.

After everyone left, I went up to my room,
closed the door and told my diary,
I can’t believe it. At last.
I am ten years old.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation

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October 2, 2011

Joan Stern


We’re going to the country for good

I told my kindergarten teacher.
It was 1929. I wasn’t thinking forever–

for goodmeant the country was a good
place, life there would be good.
I couldn’t know my father would take

a bus, a train and a ferry to work
leaving in the dark, coming home
in the dark, chain-smoking his way

to a heart attack, or that my mother
in the darkness of another winter
would die of pneumonia. The day

we moved to the country
my mother played Fox and Geese
with my brother and me. We lay down

and made angel wings with our arms.
We danced in a circle to keep warm.
She played with us all day in the snow

and no one could have told me it wasn’t for good.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation

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October 1, 2011

Nan Sherman


I used to know all the answers
but I don’t anymore
possess the assurance, bravado
of foolish youth.

The more ancient I get
the less I know.
My faltering footsteps,
seek secure ground.

Don’t ask me any questions.
I have no answers.

Where is the wisdom
that arrives with age?
Another fairytale for the young.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006
Tribute to the Greatest Generation


Nan Sherman: “I write poetry because I must. I have no choice. When the ‘duende’ rises up in me, full and passionate, I sit down and let it pour out. Those are the happiest moments in my life. Whenever I feel lost, I find my way in poetry.”

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May 22, 2011

Susan Rosenberg


How slowly………
we moved from center
to periphery;
Their visits now, I think,
stem from duty
more than pleasure
as we ply them
with too much food and
stories they have heard before;
We struggle to understand
their lively conversations
about a world
that is not ours;
and we laugh with them
without quite knowing why

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006

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