Saturday, April 11, 2020

Warrior Writers NJ Salute to Perry Rosenstein

"Back to Nature" by Jan Barry
Puffin Cultural Forum Calendar Feb. 2018


Week three of Warrior Writers NJ’s coronavirus-quarantine, online workshops on Zoom, on Sunday, April 5, reunited several veterans and military family members peering into laptops and cell phones at their homes and, in one case, sitting beside a spring-showered river. The main focus of this gathering was the grievous loss of a major supporter of progressive artists, writers and musicians, including our veterans’ arts programs: Perry Rosenstein, the founder of Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck, NJ.

A World War II veteran, Perry provided a welcoming place for O wow! sorts of thought-provoking art about the horrendous consequences of war and survivors’ and supporters’ on-going struggles for peace and community harmony. Perry and his wife Gladys Miller-Rosenstein supported with Puffin Foundation grants a wide range of progressive groups, including The Nation magazine; instituted the Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship, awarded to Americans who do conspicuously courageous social justice work; and founded the Teaneck Creek Conservancy, a local environmental jewel they and scores of enthusiastic volunteers crafted from a trash dump.

This is a selection of our writing workshop meditations.

  
Puffin

By Jan Barry

The first time I saw a Puffin
Was a painting on a chunk of concrete
In a wooded former dump site
That somebody had turned into a
Nature preserve off I-95 in Teaneck—
That somebody was a retired business guy
Named Perry Rosenstein
Who turned his corporate offices
Into a community culture center
And spread his transformational actions
Across Teaneck, New York City, and the world—
Perry died the other day, at 94
Struck down by coronavirus,
As it has ravaged places he loved


RIP, Mr. Rosenstein

By Tara Kraus

RIP, Mr. Rosenstein
I thank you for your creation,
your precious vibrant container,
Puffin Cultural Foundation
petri-dish artist skunkworx
of duende and social justice.
Where creativity Sparked, Forged, Trussed,
buttressed soaring truths
for our imaginal human rights futures, manifests in real time.
Your container called us forth, our Frontline Arts
brothers and sisters’ Armistice show on Veterans Day 2018,
I created my large
Trump nuclear abolition pop-up.
You called us
To go large as artists to stretch our craft
To raise our voices from a strangled whisper through a gasp of possibility
to full throated reverberating.
You call us forth to create the undeniable.
Gratitude.


The Puffin

By JoAnn Drozd

A place for all to gather
Memories of an endearing evening of art, writing, and music by a multitude of artists
My son’s emotional poem about the war machine & his girlfriend at the time, now wife’s
heart-wrenching rendition of Pink’s, ‘Dear Mr. President’
Bob was there beaming with pride & awe.
A beautiful night filled with solidarity & gratitude.
Thank you, Perry, for your everlasting donation to the Arts!
Such moving & historical subject matter to preserve with the community.
And how crucial a place it is, especially now, to record & keep alive
the bizarre days the world is experiencing today.
Rest in Peace, Perry, knowing what a legacy you left behind.
Thank you….


Puffin

By Sarah Mess

Perry, he gave us time, space,
And let our stories and our voices
Echo off walls of the Puffin
I read my first poem out loud there
When Jan Barry made a poet out of me
Perry was my butterfly in the wind
Who changed the trajectory of my life
And my regret is that I never got to tell him
May he rest in the peace
That he left behind in so many compromised
And marginalized voices
Peace that for some of us
Took a lifetime to find


A Salute to Perry Rosenstein

By Paula Rogovin

The puffin
a bird almost extinct
Pollution, overfishing, climate change
Diminishing food supplies –
And
They’re tasty
Perry Rosenstein - what a tasty choice
to name, to house your dream, Puffin Cultural Forum here in Teaneck, NJ,
to give voice to
Progressive artists, musicians, pets, veterans and military families, news media, nature lovers,
and filmmakers
Perry Rosenstein - your vision will never go extinct.
Perry Rosenstein - Present




Monday, April 6, 2020

Warrior Writers NJ Online Writing Continued

"Spring Flowers" by Jan Barry


Week two of Warrior Writers NJ’s coronavirus-quarantine, online workshops on Zoom, on Sunday, March 29, featured literary call and response between and among five veterans and three military family members. The prompts included military medical call up—one of the latest government actions to assist beleaguered community hospitals overflowing with covid-19 patients—music, spring, and anything else one wanted to write about. It led to a lot of what Tara Krause called “spontaneous poetry” and spirited discussion.







Overflowing Hospitals

By Jan Barry

The military has issued
An emergency call up for former medics
And other medical personnel
To help with the coronavirus crisis—
Things are getting serious—
Convention centers are being turned into
Field hospitals—
This war I can relate to—
If I were younger and able
I’d volunteer
Like Walt Whitman
To help the hospitalized


The Call-up

 By Paula Rogovin

I’d rather see veterans
Called back to service
To build makeshift hospitals or work on hospital ships
To supply test kits, ventilators, and
N95s not M-15’s
To meet the battle needs
For this war -
The great global war for LIFE!


Music

By JoAnn Drozd

Music - is my life blood, a savior in the midst of great grief.

Listening to Kembo doing America the Beautiful & Hauser playing Can’t Help Falling in Love on Facebook & Instagram provided me with some clarity and humility.

After taking in too much news, Bob’s 3500 songs on his i-pod helps me get through the day. It helps remove the stress from the political craziness of the day. Brings me some sanity, a retreat of sorts.

The music and songs seem so much more meaningful. Listening & hearing them in a whole new way. Hope it brings all those impacted on the front lines of this crisis the feeling that things will resolve and return to some level of normalcy. I also hope we will all be changed for the better & remember the importance of human connection after this disconnection.

Funny how so many of us spent many moments of our days attached to our phones or other devices and now we crave each other’s company.

Music - the GREAT connector.


Hits of the Sixties

By Nancy Elkin Nygard

My father told me, if it's true it's not bragging.  This is true.
Walt Nygard is a AAA Star DJ !
At HIS right time he will get on youtube and boom!
I'm Blowin In The Wind to the Sounds of Silence.
And then, For What It's Worth, I wanna know
Who'll Stop The Rain?
His knowledge is amazing, a real student of
Rock n roll of the 60's.
So this Pretty Woman can Walk Like A Man and
This Wild Thing can Turn, Turn, Turn.
Can you Imagine going Downtown
But all you do is Wipeout!
Well, Don't Worry Baby it's Written On The Subway Walls
So Please Please Me Dear Prudence and stay home and dance!!


Spring

By JoAnn Drozd

Flowers to breathe in

Shrubs to admire

Trees to climb high

Soil to dig deep

Rain to boogie in

Sun to shine

Earth to save

What a stupendous gift we’ve been given. Let’s REJOICE in new growth and beauty. Let’s not waste another single precious moment. This world is ours to save….


Spring & Music:
Spontaneous poetry prompt’d

By Tara Krause

All complex systems in perturbation
Reach new states,
Equilibrium might be euphemistic,
But new states (un)certainly.

This week showed glimpses of
People’s hope in giving,
Across town, county, state, region, globe.

Our bioregions collapse into
Hot zones and faulty testing tracking scoreboards,
Wracking up bodies in the morgue.

Hope in giving as the mindful exhale
After the first reflexive intake of panic,
Triggers the neural cascade of altruism,
Solidarity and love in action.

The live streaming of jazz concerts, both
Unlocked from the archive vaults, and
Spontaneous jams streamed from bedrooms.

Notes and chord changes disaggregated into
pixels and bites, to meet our souls in
Neural new meanings.

My challenge, certainly trivial in the face of humanity,
Yet real to me at this moment:
Can hope in giving extend to self-love?

Can I allow my hope in giving to lead me into
The beauty of prepping new growth in the garden?
To the primal pleasure of thrusting
My hands into the thawing soil,
To give myself to life itself?


Reunited

By James Yee

I reunited with an old friend this week. I hadn’t seen her for quite a while. I think the last time was when I was in elementary school. I saw her almost every day back then. It was like I couldn’t go a day without her. Interesting though, we parted ways, for the most part, once I graduated into junior high. And after that I never really thought much about her from then on out. But who would have guessed that it would be all the quarantine and shelter in-placed measures imposed on us that would bring us back together. I will admit, there was a direct action choice on my part. But to make a short story even shorter, once back in the seclusion of my own home, when I was ready and feeling very hungry, I whipped her up again and put her together. When we physically connected, now inside my kitchen, my tongue instantly told me that she was just as I remembered. She made me happy once again. I’m so glad I brought home the peanut butter, grape jelly and a loaf of bread. For her name is PB&J – or more formally, Peanut Butter and Jelly! Maybe you know her as well.
Thank You Coronavirus for bringing us back together.


A Haiku with Slattern Extra Syllables

By Tara Krause

James Yee rises, takes to the streets
To feed deep human need;
Cup cakes are indeed essential.



Monday, March 23, 2020

Warrior Writers NJ Workshop Goes Online

"Weathering a Storm" by Jan Barry

Warrior Writers NJ’s scheduled workshop for Sunday, March 22, 2020 took place via the web application Zoom from 12 noon-2pm.  The group adapted this virtual format in response to the social distancing measures directed by government and health officials to help curb the spread of the coronavirus known as Covid-19.  
Some of the work that was created is posted here. It not only demonstrates the continued creativity of military veterans and their families, but it also serves to document how this community is using creative writing, poetry and the arts to deal with the situational concerns and lifestyle changes that have come along with the outbreak of Covid-19.  
We encourage others to write, share and post literary pieces of their own, created during this period.

James Yee



Prompt: Spring

Never Doubt Spring

by Tara Krause

Yesterday the croci shot forth from the leaf mulch,
purple truth ascendant.

The neighbor’s forsythia yellowed their welcome
along the fence.
One fussing wren showed up, marking his territory,
while a titmouse began his song for companionship.
The night before the spring peepers broke into chorus,
while Bodhi my service dog barked her first bark, hackles up,
to run off the piebald doe prepping the corner of the
garden for her annual birthing rite.
All phenology of the signs of spring renewal.
It is time.
To plant peas and spinach,
to sow clover for the bees and
to shore up the slopes.
To direct sow the hardy annuals of
poppies, larkspur, calendula, cleome and cosmos.
The roses are already pruned,
now to be fertilized.
Maybe it’s too late for winter sowing the native perennials of
echinacea and rudbeckia, but worth a try.
It is time
to start the lasagna tins of seeds.
Never doubt spring.
Even in pandemics, quarantine & panic.



Spring in a Time of Pandemic

By Jan Barry

Will this be the last spring
For many of us—for our way of life?
So we’d better savor every flower,
Every bird song, every dawn—

I cried yesterday to see a Facebook post
By high school students singing
A choral song, each from their homes,
Spliced together in an incredible concert
Of “Over the Rainbow”—

Young voices singing joyously
Into an uncertain future,
Using the latest technology
To share the soaring beauty
Of the human voice
With amazing creativity—

A wondrous display of spring
Popping amid a winter of deadliness



Prompt: Who do you appreciate now?

Who do you appreciate now?

By James Yee

Two, four, six, eight!
Who do we appreciate?
Me. Me!
Yay Me!

I think I’m comfortable in my own skin.
I have to be, especially in this life, if I’m going to win.
Satisfied with my inner and outer self,
I’m no slouch, sittin’ dusty on somebody else’s shelf.
Happy with who I’ve become,
And proud of where I come from.
That being said, still got some ideas up in my head.
Continuing to improve myself in ways for the better,
Makes me even stronger to handle any kind of weather
Being myself is something I will define.
And it’s my choosing where, when and how to shine.
Or shine not at all, ‘cause that wouldn’t make me small.
I might listen to you, but ultimately I’m going to do what I want to do.
And if I don’t, then appreciating myself I won’t.
Be who you want to be.
And I’ll go on just being James Yee.



Who Do I Appreciate Now?

By Paula Rogovin

We know the doctors, nurses, and EMT’s
But let’s look behind them
to the layers and layers and layers
of – what should we call them?
The unnoticed frontliners

Let’s start with the farmworkers –
many forced to work to grow our food
so they can feed their families

Factory workers who make the things
we all need or think we need

Truck drivers, train engineers

Teachers remotely teaching the children
or those struggling to teach the children
whose reality is real, not virtual

mental health workers
restaurant workers
delivery workers…

Thank you
to the unnoticed frontline workers
Thank you for your service.

Wish your bosses would
thank you, too
with higher pay
   paid sick leave
       and medical care



Who Do I Appreciate Now?

By Tara Krause

The frontline:
first responders
as always
suit up on a daily basis
un-flagging.
“Thank you for your service,”
as said to veterans.
Yet now the seemingly invisible,
though ever present and giving,
step forward into the breach of pandemic:
The nurses,
the doctors,
the teachers,
the babysitters,
the home health aides,
All who bring the reality and risks of caring
into our imposed social distancing and virtual reality.
And the new “essential” frontliners:
The mail lady, who lugs up the porch stairs my emergency ration packages
of expresso, dark chocolate and cigarettes in quarantine;
the supermarket aisle restockers, who risk all for minimum wages
and no medical benefits;
the butcher, who scraped the last pound and a half of ground sirloin
off the grinder machine so that my service dog could continue her raw diet at least for another day;
the new workers at the Paterson plant, who now make the toilet paper to replenish the nations’s empty shelves.
The veteran in me almost heartbreakingly envies you:
“You do not have to kill to serve.”
 


Who Do I Appreciate?

By Nancy Nygard

I thought I would write about my garbage men, so under rated in our lives. 
But as day 8 of social distancing comes to an end, the thing I am appreciating is being able to be a part of my grandchildren's lives.  
We used to be with our grandson Zeke, 4 years old, every day, 5 days a week and at times
I would long for the carefree easy retirement days I'd heard about.
Now I have that time to walk and smell the roses, which I do and I love. 
But I face timed my son Sam and into the picture walked Zeke and he took my breath away!
So I most appreciate the human touch, especially of my 6 grandchildren.
We need to touch each other.
Peace and Love.



Prompt: Your own thoughts

Dear Coronavirus

By James Yee

Dear Coronavirus,
Thank you for cutting carbon emissions and reducing greenhouse gases. You’ve shown us that it can be done.  Our environment, right now, is better because of it.  If we could just figure out how to maintain and build upon this beneficial change.

Thank you for bringing families together, and for putting parents back into their children’s education and school work.  I’m glad you’ve help take those heavy backpacks off the shoulders of these kids.

While you don’t discriminate, thank you for pointing out that we as people still do.  You’ve shown that some of us are OK with calling you the “Chinese Virus”.
Thank You for forcing us to be more creative.


Hunkered Down

 By Jan Barry

Hunkered down in quarantine bunker—
The winter returns when I was
Shut in with double pneumonia—
No playing in the snow with my friends
Waving outside the window—

Somehow I survived that season,
That childhood scourge
In the time of TB isolation hospitals,
Chicken pox scaring kids’ faces,
Polio-withered legs—

I pushed myself as a scrawny, sickly kid
To run, play baseball, football, basketball—
Rather than lay around in a sick bed


Science

By Paula Rogovin

When the president
rejects science,
that equals murder to me

How many will die
  when the president holds
  hateful campaign rallies
  instead of science-based
  press conferences for all to see

We must rise up
by the millions and millions
even if it’s virtually