This blog will be a place to post poetry written by people living with Alzheimer's disease. We will focus on poetry that is created as part of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project. We will post information and news about dementia. We hope this blog is of use to the family members who have a loved one with dementia.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

APP poet Zoë Bird reports on Valentine Day at Sierra Vista, in Santa Fe

This was a special, short Valentine’s visit with the Dragonfly kids. On Monday, Feb. 8, we all got together and made valentines for the S.V. residents using recycled materials in the Sapling classroom; each of the 6 kids made 4 valentines for each of S.V.’s 24 residents. They were beautiful, and very touching; Helen, for example, made a valentine for Helen the elder reading, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Helen! I love you. I have the same name as you. Love, Helen!!!”

Actual delivery of the valentines on the 10th was really moving. Many of the residents were napping when we arrived, but the 6 kids presented their valentines to those who were present and the emotional reaction was tremendous. Residents were smiling, weeping and singing (Lupe sang, “America the Beautiful” and Frankie sang “Love Me Tender,” beautifully). The kids were shy at first, but warmed up with all the good feedback & seemed very happy about the visit. Molly (their teacher) & I were crying too!

Joel, an especially sweet and encouraging soul, seemed so overcome that I asked if I could give him a hug, and he accepted. I only got a chance to take a couple of photos, but the one with little Helen walking back from bestowing her valentine on a former kindergarten teacher shows something of the pride the kids felt & the level at which the residents were touched by our special “We love you” visit. Very, very special day.

Love me tender, love me sweet
Never let me go
You have made my life complete
And I love you so
Love me tender, love me true
All my dreams fulfill
For, my darling I love you
And I always will.

Love me tender- Ken Darby

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art--
...Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
...Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
...Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
...Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
...Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
...Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
...And so live ever--or else swoon to death.

.....Bright Star- John Keats

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Between Us

Between Us*
By Ken Saulter

Losing my memory,
losing it to disease,
is getting to be a problem.
Like when I'm in a in a group
and people talk to me
and suddenly I fall silent,
while my brain skips a beat.
They, and I, know it's not a senior moment.
Eyes divert to shoe laces or thereabouts.
The moment becomes one of palpable regret.
So here I am, a fraction of a person,
a clown without make-up or costume,
waiting giant seconds to recover.
They say I will not remember
these separation bricks
in the wall that is, regrettably,
being built between us.
I worry about forgetting habits, like
my gym locker combination,
after 20 years of use, and my many passwords,
and then, someday maybe,
where I live; or maybe not.
And, against our will,
the wall gets higher and higher,
But, I keep on living.
trying to lower the wall
or slow it down,
or build a gate,
or something.; March 22,2010. Ann Arbor, MI;
*Inspired by the poem "Tea Time",
in Slamming Open the Door by Kathleen Sheeder Boanno;
Alice James Books.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beyond Forgetting

Denis Glover with Hone Tuwhare from a 1976 tour.

I like Drew Myron's poem, "Erosion," from the new anthology edited by Holly Hughes, with a forward by Tess Gallager, Beyond Forgetting.

Myron writes about the poem, "I'm honored to have 'Erosion,' a poem about my grandfather included in the book. My grandparents Bart and Lu (Lucinda or Lucy) Myron were wheat farmers in Washington's Spokane Valley. After 40 years of farming, they retired and spent winters in the Arizona desert. In their last years, they lived with my parents. Bart lived to nearly 95 (just a few months shy) and Lu lived to 97."

The poem ends:

futile to search for data:
the face of a son, the hand of the wife
price of wheat, words,
any words to rise, rescue us

from this wait,
this long silent loss.

You may read the whole poem here:

Myron's poem with its rural images and knowing it is inspired by her farmer grandparents, puts me in mind of Denis Glover's "The Magpies," which is one of New Zealand's best known poems. I had the good fortune to hold a poetry session at an adult day care center, in Wellington, a few years ago and was introduced to the poem. We got everyone saying the poem together and the "Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle," was delightful to perform.

The Magpies

When Tom and Elizabeth took the farm
The bracken made their bed
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Tom's hand was strong to the plough
and Elizabeth's lips were red
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Year in year out they worked
while the pines grew overhead
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

But all the beautiful crops soon went
to the mortgage man instead
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

Elizabeth is dead now (it's long ago)
Old Tom's gone light in the head
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies said

The farms still there. Mortgage corporations
couldn't give it away
and Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle
The magpies say.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Kate Marshall Flaherty

Kate Marshall Flaherty recites her poem, "Faraway."

Kate Marshall Flaherty is a poet, yoga instructor, founding member of the Peace Theatre and guide of teen retreats on the Golden Rule. She lives in Toronto with her husband and three spirited teens. "Far Away" was inspired by visiting her own Grandma Millie in Bethel Nursing Home, NY, when on one visit her Aunt had cut and taped up pictures of clothes in order on the wall after Grandma had put her panties over her dress.

Kate remembers that no matter how foggy or quiet or vacant the day might be, that Grandma Millie always called us "my friend" as a kind way to cover that she'd forgotten our names, and she always brightened up for lemon squares.

Musician Mark Korven heard the poem several years ago and was moved to write the bittersweet Nyckleharpa music for it. He and actor Tony Duggan-Smith found the Guild Inn Estate grounds the perfect wintery scene for the reading with its random and haunting architecture.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Circus

The poem "The Circus," was created by residents of Oak Park Place in Baraboo, Wisconsin, in July 2009. The poem was composed by asking people to describe seeing a circus parade, what they liked about circuses, what type of food you would eat and what animals you might see at a circus, the answers are in order as given. The prompts are not included in the text. The second and third lines are from a well-known song and the residents
sang them throughout the performance of the poem as a type of chorus or refrain. The poem celebrates the town being the hometown of the Ringling Brothers and taps into the vivid images associated with the long history of circus parades in Baraboo. The photo shows participants creating the poem. Photo Credit: Brian D. Bridgeford/Baraboo News Republic, Baraboo, Wis.

The Circus

I like the Trapeze performers, the aerialist, and the moment they let go...

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.

Too busy farming to go, but if I did, I would like to see:
lions, tigers, ponies to ride, and elephants.

Colorful exciting bands, beautiful horses,
circus wagons of gold and red,
they came from all over.

Trapeze artists...will they be caught or will they fall?

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.

I enjoyed everything that makes the circus fun,
horses, ponies, big animals, small animals.

I am not as acquainted with elephants.

A dinosaur would be the biggest animal in the circus.

Zebras, people-
all kinds of people- clowns,
people are clowns!

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.

It was an adventure- never been before,
we took off from farming,
rode in the back of a pickup truck.

Something different that's for sure.

Cotton candy.
Peppermint striped taffy.
Root beer.

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.

I'll stay away from you tiger.

A forty-horse hitch! The calliope!

He'd fly through the air with the greatest of ease,
That daring young man on the flying trapeze.

The parade went right by my house,
it was exciting, with clowns and animals.

Keep up the good work clowns!