Paumanok, Poems and Pictures of Long Island, 2009

(An anthology of poems and photographs on Long Island, theme: the beauty in nature.)

"They sing

the island



Jim Merritt,Newsday

Long Island Life


Cover photo by:

Bob Schmitz of Levittown, New York 


Self-published through

Cross-Island Communications in Merrick 


Photo editor: Rob Bonnano

Color Images Laboratory in St. James


Book Binding: Frank Papp 

Cross Island Bindery in Massapequa


Graphic design: Stoyan "Tchouki" Tchoukanov

from Sofia, Bulgaria


Printed by:Super Print

Sofia, Bulgaria


End Paper Printing: John Kelley

Island Color Graphics and Print in Hauppauge

oArnold Brower

Map created by Professor Gilbert Hansen, Stony Brook University



Paumanok, Long Island's original name, used by our native Americans, has many gifted artists. This book began with an idea, collecting beautiful images of our natural world, photographs no one had ever seen before, and never would, the ones that collect dust after being shared with family and friends. But the idea grew, inspiration coming from the many talented photographers in the Sweetbriar Nature Camera Club, and then the Photography Federation of Long Island (PFLI), which represents work from one end of the island to the other. The photography was elevated to art, and I discovered there was so much more to be found. The idea grew when poet Claire Nicolas White showed an interest and invited George Wallace, Poet Laureate of Long Island at the time, to tea. There the idea of the marriage of poetry and photography took shape . . . Long Island's life, through the verbal and the visual, through the eyes of the people who live or lived here. A year's worth, for journaling to also find its place. Letters found their way to the post. The idea blossomed when the many made up for what I could not do alone, and so I became its guardian, nudging it along, making sure it progressed; writing, meeting, calling, collecting... going just short of mad!

Paumanok: Poems and Pictures of Long Island

is not about the hustle and bustle of our harried, pedestrian lives, loss,

or the disappearance of good things.

It is about life on this island, the one we can find if we look hard enough

into the secret places all around,

through th bramble and thickets of forests,

deep into the pine barrens,

in gardens and flower fields,

along cliffs and rocky shorelines of the Sound,

by river edges,

near ponds, around lakes,

and, often time,

over the sandy dunes to the sea.

Even over the bridges to our beloved Manhattan.

The island Walt Whitman knew, just yesteryear.

It is about the beauty and wonder in our natural world,

with us day in and out,

just waiting to be explored.


And while exploring,

perhaps there is paper and pen,

writing stone,

camera or paint brush 

and an idea, inside of you,

waiting to find its voice.


I hope you enjoy this work!

Kathaleen Donnelly

April Wind

          From my Manorville home


A leaf tumbles across the deck

Like a scampering mouse.

My eyes follow it to a resting place in a shadow.

April wind lifts fallen leaves to dancing.

These drying breezes sway bare branches,

Move clouds eastward over the meadow

in a parade of motion.


In the hoop house, tropical warmth, deep stillness,

And hope in basil seeds spreads on damp starter mix.


I am that tossing and turning leaf

Allowing outside forces to move me.

Let me fly across the lawn, find a lee spot to rest,

Catch my breath;

Move on...move on



Tom Stock

Marlene Weinstein

Donald Case

Beyond Words

     For Mark Egan


Yesthere are some things

that elude words &

simply must be sung:

how the rim shots of rain

& the bass line of wind


make more than a rhythm section

how the laughter of musicians

before the set is also a music

how the pretty girl suddenly

a beautiful woman makes

concentration tough all day


how the color green defies definition

is simply what it is

cannot be described

beyond the naming

beyond the singing 

of green things



Ron Overton 

Susan Tiffen




Sands At Seventy: Paumanok Soon Shall The Winter's Foil Be Here


Thine eyes, ears - all thy best attributes - all that takes cognizance of natural beauty,

Shall wake and fill. Thou shalt perceive the simple shows, the delicate miracles of earth,

Dandelions, clover, the emerald grass, the early scents and flowers,

The arbutus under foot, the willow's yellow-green the blossoming plum and cherry,

With these the robin, lark and thrush, singing their songs - the flitting bluebird

For such the scenes the annual play brings on.



Walt Whitman


(for Jack and Bernice)




This is the end

of what we know.

Beyond here it is all

migrations of wind

and water so dark

the fish like miners

bear their own light.


This is the edge,

where the green water

changes its mind,

then changes its mind again,

as we cast outward

from the green shore.




Back home, it rains

and the watercolors left

outside on the table

begin to run,


blurring like ecstatic maps

left by explorersheaded for the interior

and never heard from again.



Ron Overton

Ralph Pugliese, Jr.



The crane dips and bows,

turning, showing his best side

before his chosen mate, shifting

feet, stretching his long neck,

saying, See me? I’m the one—

handsome, tall, full-feathered,

at my best age and dress.

If she agrees, they cross bills

as emphasis, and hurry away.


You come to my door, hair shining,

wearing Sunday clothes, teeth

gleaming behind come-hither smiles,

teasing me with your ocean eyes.

I hear the sound of music. Drawn

together by an unseen force

we discover the same inland sea—

a private edge of sky.



Lynn Kozma

Christopher Corradino

Eric Lohse



In the winter silence of the woods

Standing on a hilltop deep in snow

I gazed downhill and watched a grazing doe.

She hoofed the snow in search of still green buds.


Although she saw me there, she was not shy

Like she’d forgotten not to trust our kind.

Then, as if sent solely to remind,

An Air Force fighter jet roared past nearby.


Disturbed, I turned and looked to see it fly.

It was so swift it far outpaced its sound

And suddenly flew by right overhead.


I lowered my gaze from that cold blue sky

And eyed the silent doe on frozen ground.

She turned to the valley and fled.



Steve Potter



silence grows 


as the mind clears



Stuart McCallum

Stuart McCallum

At the Seam of Everything We Are


Spring's everywhere out there,

stitching itself in hot and early and unexpected

a hundred miles, a thousand, from the fettered tongue,

a universe away from our first valedictions.


Flies zigzag skylights, a blue buzzing

as if no world will ever be large enough.

Wet things slit their shells, pink or ocher

or an odd oval blue

as we might have once been ourselves,

feet slicked with the brown translucence

of soft, uncertain bottomland.


Fern-feet, silver-fish disappear

when we cut through the dark “we see

only wisps of them slipping around

the notch of bark, rim of green. Old dreams

unravel in starlight, overturned from winter logs.

Spiders whisper over porchwood,

slip under the door, navigate the arm in sleep.

The crumbs dropped on yesterday's floor“

now a trembling froth of ants pinned to windfall.


Below thicket and grove, in spartina

thickening with the sudden season,

so many bodies bear the news

“jellyfish, horseshoe crab,

last November's fleeing wings,

yesterday's history in the channeled whelk.


Though all of these may be melodies

of the undone, we still remain,

our hungers poised at the intersection

of every place we are,

syllables of ribbons and rags,

lucky legs dancing down the road.



Elaine Preston

Aija Birzgalis


Red sunrise,

After gray daydawn:

Shade-trees, limpid pools,

Apart from burning noon-tide:

God and carmine, blending

Into purple twilight:


Caressing silent stars.


You, heart’s-ease

Urging me forward,

Leading me onward

To the hopeful distances,

While the mist clears,

On the far horizon



Olivia Ward Bush-Banks

Frank Muller



Green is a code, saying itself, unable to stop—blissfully in love with its secret.

A bird whirs by me, wrapping up the air.

I gather courage

and say

the bird deep inside myself.

I say her movement, her eyes, the body

And the little feet.

As I move past the word suspicion disappears

And she answers

landing closer.

I say things over and over, not knowing

where else to start:

branch, eye, feather, moving toward each meaning

so the forest may begin to recognize me

as someone who knows

without the word.



Yaedi Ignatow



The fox that run

sits twenty miles a night

stopped at my house

stood nervously,

shrilled its electric note

to the open air—

a challenge? A mating call?

I thrilled at its quivering stalks,

wondered that it survives

beside the expressway

somewhere in suburbia.

Our patch of woods behind the house

can’t be enough.



Charlene Babb Knadle

Jyoti Ganguly

Ann Glazebrook

On This Particular Morning


the man of the woodland wakes up

and it is autumn, and he is amazed

at how fast his feet and leggings become soaked

in the tall grass


when not so long ago it was all a wild clinging on

of seed and insects in the dry summer sun


But now it is morning and he wakes up

and the leaves and branches

he chopped from the walnut in August

smell like cider along the trail. The man


of the woodlands breathes it in, and deeply,

expecting the usual intoxication. Instead

his breath returns, in a clean and quiet

exhalation of clouds,


into the general decay o f the forest.

There is more dignity in the heavy going

of the red maple, with its wet, rusty leaves

that nearly touch the ground, now ready


for another brush with death, he reflects,

there is more dignity in that, than

in the raucous combat of God knows

how many crows on Kettleback Hill,


in the linden trees - so the man of the woodlands

decides he will not take a swing at the red maple


on this particular morning. No! on this

autumn morning he will head for Kettleback Hill.



George Wallace

Afternoon At Short Beach


The river's mouth widens here

strewn with salt marsh islands,

reeds burnished in a dull gold

in autumn at low tide

waving lean limbs, or flattened

to the sand like wet hair.


This broad expanse of emptiness

its water rippling silver in pale sun,

extends to darker, wooded coasts.

Distant sounds of life, a barking dog,

a pounding hammer, a motor's dull

drone, and the sea-torn cry

of a gull, reverberate in silence,

even the wind's voice stilled.


A few men stand, alone,

with bucket and pole to catch

something, or nothing.

They ignore each other

having found their peace

while somewhere, inland,

women congregateto

talk, like birds

that twitter in the trees.



Claire Nicolas White

Stu McCallum



on the back

of the ladybug

the sun rises



Cliff Bleidner

Richard Hunt

M. James Pion



That wind knows how to walk on sand, leaving a dance of prints

To puzzle teams of cryptographers, that light colors water like a child,

That oceans shore up history even before its telling,

That logs ease up on a beach, ragged after years of adventure,

That a pale flank of sky steps gingerly on hard, cold sand bed,

That grains from the Indian coast wash up on Jones Beach,

A shock of maroon dots white rivers cascading from a fenced road,

That froth freezes into cream puffs, serving itself to gulls,

That an orchestra of dried weeds awakens fingers nesting in a lovers hand,

That waves find stillness in their movement,

That birds fall like messages, but rise again with the next easterly,

That wind and sun, sea and sand, weave into us their tales,

Makes this human telling the least spectacular of all.



Pramila Venkateswaren


Kathy Donnelly

To An Old Friend At A Poetry Reading


A small leaf settled on your shoulder,

stuck to the threads of your sweater.

I was about to pick it off, but you bent forward,

suddenly attentive to the speaker,

and your wild gray hair flapped and rustled about your head

as if in a wind.

I thought how much like an old tree you had become,

and I would not remove your only leaf.



Sandy McIntosh

M. James Pion



Milkweed pods settle

on my mind

like sleeping birds.

Curled on branches

gray thoughts

wait or the wind.


I pry one open.

Angels unfold

and take wing


flaring to orange

as if each dark seed

were the tip of a match.


While filaments fly

claiming the Earth

with milky light.



Orel Protopopescu



I’m too young to join the kids who garden

at the neighborhood park, mom says.


So I’m gonna grow little daisies on my windowsill.


Grandma calls me a windowbox Gardener,

and I like that.


The colors of my daisies are as winter as snowflakes

and as summer as lemons.

I planted some snips of hanging ivy at the edges of the box,

hoping some leaves would reach down to

Mrs. Sander’s window (I hear she’s lonely).


My window box is made of cedar.

Uncle Emil built it. And I think I’m a leader

of windowboxing . . .


People have been watching my daisies grow

in this city and whattya know—

they’ve got window gardens of their own.



Linda Carnevale

From her collection of poems on children and gardening.

Susan Tiffen

Bill Kreisberg

Island Of Longing


Again and again, leveled by love,

I've come back down to

this island, considering the things

I might have done, all

the ascendant lives I lost

by not insisting that I am.


I've lived by longing quietly, an

island wherever I am, always

one of my letters silent,

dependent on the free, good will

of continents, the company of visitors

coaxed by a light to the land that is --


the long, low, retreating way I am.



John Kaufman



It’s not about the flowers

but who we are          as we tend

to their spidery pinkish    wisps

     to seed-pouched splendor


     It’s because we bend

before them      with meal


as     we      wonder      if

     beauty like God

didn’t really exist

would we      will-o’-the wisp

     petal by petal      by petal

    have to invent

     with our fists full

of white powdered    animal bones

as we           stoke what we know

     of earthen fireworks


     so as they release their

small starbursts         they feed us

     on          air-          loomed


essences … …



Gayl Teller


Linda Russo


Gene Keys



a moment of peace, palpable

draws me as a drop of living dew

into the morning    hawk-wild

an osprey nesting on steel

and the wind   among wires


visible   vast   the bloody heart of the world

quivers upon will

mechanical day   breaks up


I speak the air

attuned to affection

carefully uttering

the stones   the stars

the length of a true road

through a salt forest by an ocean

towards the snow mountain beyond

                                 which we are tending



D.H. Melhem


Going Barefoot


On that first warm day

when the air was eiderdown

and sunlight

beckoned, we would

kick off our Buster Browns

and ankle socks

to race across the lawn,

green velvet underfoot,

until we reached

the gavel drive

when our pace slowed,

feet pierced

by sharp-edged stones

and toes burned

by sidewalk. We winced

but would not retreat.

Feet must be toughened

for days of summer stretched

in an endless cloverchain

beneath a turquoise sky.



Lynn Buck

 Elinor Shoenfeld