Poetry Niche – September 2022

This month’s column is dedicated to the memory of Jeremy Monroe, who died Thursday, August 12, 2021, the result of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was born in Chicago December 6, 1939, and lived many lives. He was a banker and a lawyer but his card only said poet.

Jeremy Monroe

Jeremy moved to Lakeside in 2012 and was an active member of the writing community, often organizing poetry events at local venues. I had the honor to read at several of his events. He loved to sit in the Ajijic plaza late in the afternoon writing, and people often stopped to chat with him.

You find joy in the memories and at the same time sadness at the departure of a friend. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to know Jeremy for ten years ago and to become his “wingman.”

John Friesen

Over Coffee

For Jeremy Monroe, in memoriam 

I’ll have another cup of coffee please
and one for the debonair man
whose words are wisps of steam
hovering above my cup; whose words
are tiny cohetes, tightly packed with long
experience and deep knowing, bursting
over the Ajijic plaza; whose words are 
rocketing from Mexican Train to Bolaño
to Vivaldi to remembered icy winds
crossing Lake Michigan.
I’ll have another cup of coffee please
and time enough under the sun to learn
his laughing memories of 25-cent
double features on long-ago Saturdays
at the Belmont Theater; to learn about
a nineteenth century sage forever
sharing living space in the family home 
in Lakeview; to learn about the gulf between
the study and the practice; to learn the secrets
of his latest story and poem.
I’d like another cup of coffee please
and time enough for new words over coffee
and beneath a mariachi moon.

–Kenneth Salzmann


Black Friday

It was on the news this morning, lead story.

Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, is dead.

And on my way to coffee, right here in

Downtown Raleigh, who did I see at the corner

Of Edenton and Wilmington? Robert Redford.

I could tell because he didn’t look exactly like

The movie star. Consider, e.g., Alan Ladd

A short man, perhaps 5’5”. Not really much

Taller than Brandon DeWilde in Shane. In the

Movies he was shot to look normal sized. But

If you saw him on the street waiting for the green

You might have thought him a kid, save for clothes.

So, Redford, dressed like Redford in khaki-tan

Pleated trousers, light lavender open collar shirt,

And a dirty-white sports coat. He carried a sissy

Bag over his shoulder, hanging down to his waist

By a long, black strap. Red hair sprinkled with

Gray. But what proved it was his girth. Not the

Beanstalk you see in the movies. He wasn’t

Dressed in mourning. Nor was I, even though

Johnny Cash had died. September 12, 2003.


It Feels Unfair

 This is not the first time I’ve resorted

To life as a laborer, but it is the first

Time I’ve resented it. It’s not the work

per se I resent, it’s a feeling of desperation.

It’s being cornered into work I feel

Unfit for, mentally and physically unfit.

Each day’s work leaves me physically

Beaten up. Feet, legs, back all ache

And my hands are sore and puffy.

A shower before bed. I awake barely

Able to walk. I walk like an old man.

Short shuffle steps, bent over back,

Right elbow and left thumb in pain.

Why after 30 years in a thinking person’s

Job, why after two business-oriented college

Degrees, why is it no firms in my field

Select me over other candidates? Why?

Could it be my gray hair? Or, is it that I

Truly am an outdated old horse who has

Lost touch with modern business needs

And practices. In my mind, I doubt it.

In my heart, I doubt it.

It feels unfair.



 Seated on a red bench

on the Malecon watching

white egrets resting on

branches of a dead tree

above the half-sunken boat

on a clear, cool morning

I saw a woman walking

toward me

with palms together.

As she passed, I said


She looked at me, said


and walked on



Night Approaches, a Villanelle

  I fear the coming of my night

Death the least of my concerns.

Age walks off with my body.

No defense, no will to fight

Can douse the fear inside me burns.

I fear the coming of the night.

In isolation from whom I love

My struggle yet goes on in vain

Not stooping low to blame some God above.

This struggle has no wrong or right

Yet continues on in body and mind.

I fear the coming of my night.

A trembling hand not concealed by glove

Masks the onset, no pain, just love,

But age walks off with my body.

The end is coming though out of sight,

And thankful am I there is no pain.

I fear the coming of the night

Not stooping low to blame some God above.


North Dakota Spring

 Tender shoots dared to touch the sun

Thin, pale needles of life

Nourished by the snow-wetted sod

Energized by a direct if more distant God

This new season.


On the News

Somebody gave some monkeys

Some computers to see if they’d get


They didn’t.

Actually, they never reported what

The monkeys actually did with the

Computers they used.

Which ones were the monkeys?

I wonder what the monkeys did.

They didn’t reveal the results.


Spring Colors

I love the colors of spring at Lake Chapala.

The sky reminds me of my years in North Carolina

where the sky was crystal blue as it is above Lake Chapala.

And I still think of it as North Carolina blue.

But here in Lake Chapala, the spring sky is the background

for the purple jacaranda and yellow primavera.

There is something sexual in these colors,

Softness in the jacaranda petals that fall by my window

And collect in the doorway. Invitation.

But the primavera is more demanding. Crystal yellow

against the crisp, blue sky and purple petals

all in grand collision.

As the day closes, it is almost like conversation,

soft words heard in soft lovemaking,

jacaranda soft, primavera still demanding attention,

As spring always does.


The Gardener

 Morning’s grass is cool and damp

beneath feet thinly guarded by old, worn tennis shoes,

holes where they bend and at top of toes.

They’ve dug miles into this red soil

as the gardener tends her garden, row by row.

On hands and knees, sometimes sitting on feet folded

under her, the altitude better to survey her domain.

Eyes, protected from a rising sun by the wide brim

of  an experienced straw hat, take in the night’s growth

and spot plants needing tending.

The sun continues arching higher. A red bandanna,

sometimes gritty sleeve, mops the gardener’s brow.

Bare hands, wiped on a denim bib, reach almost by touch

to remove encroaching weeds and protect new growth,

with a glance to the sky

for forgiveness.


When the Doctor Calls You on Saturday

When the doctor calls you on Saturday

Morning, you know the news isn’t good.

Caller ID says all there is to say.

It’s cancer you know and he’s done what he could.

You’re dry in the mouth and your heart beats fast

But it’s old news to you, you knew all along.

Prostate cancer you can often outlast, you

Will die by the tune of some other song.

You’ve outlived your brother, older than you.

Both grandfathers and uncles died younger.

It’ll take 12 years to outlive your father.

Still, this ain’t a race. Get busy!

September 2022 Issue

El Ojo del Lago – Home Page

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com


For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Mel Goldberg
Latest posts by Mel Goldberg (see all)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *