House of the Tomato

If a woman wants to be a poet, she must dwell in the house of the tomato. -- Erica Jong

Regional website for the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, in partnership with the Reader's Loft.

GREEN BAY / NORTHEAST

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IMAGINE Poetry Reading

  • The Reader's Loft 2069 Central Court, Suite 44 Green Bay, WI 54311 USA (map)

NOVEMBER: Give Thanks for Poetry

Nathan J. Reid & Ken Zahorski

Nathan J. Reid Nathan J. Reid is a poet living in Madison, Wisconsin. He started early in the arts, joining a theatre company at the age of 15, where he was involved in both the performance and technical aspects of theatre for ten years. At 18, he had his first publication with Teen Ink Magazine, and has been published several times since. Today Nathan is a spoken word poet, combining poetry and performance, exploring and sparking the sweet, poignant and honest good in people. In 2014, he was the featured spoken word artist for HOME: A Group Art Exhibition, Milwaukee Macabre Art Exhibition, Blest Clothing Line’s Spring Fashion Show, and was a featured poet for WFOP’s Poetry Reading Series. For more information on Nathan’s future performances and readings, please visit www.nathanjreid.com.

Nathan J. Reid

Nathan J. Reid is a poet living in Madison, Wisconsin. He started early in the arts, joining a theatre company at the age of 15, where he was involved in both the performance and technical aspects of theatre for ten years. At 18, he had his first publication with Teen Ink Magazine, and has been published several times since. Today Nathan is a spoken word poet, combining poetry and performance, exploring and sparking the sweet, poignant and honest good in people. In 2014, he was the featured spoken word artist for HOME: A Group Art Exhibition, Milwaukee Macabre Art Exhibition, Blest Clothing Line’s Spring Fashion Show, and was a featured poet for WFOP’s Poetry Reading Series. For more information on Nathan’s future performances and readings, please visit www.nathanjreid.com.

*We the Firefly*

Today, we are all unraveled
our lives pulled

exposing the accordion that blooms from the fragile bonds of our paper doll
folds

we realize we are time travelers, lovers and killers
telepaths and dumb-luck dreamers
I am my father and my unborn son
I am the woman on the bus
the child in her arms
the driver cussing silently to himself as his pancreas flinches against
each pothole.

And the universe reveals to us
how we are the most unlikely of every fat truth
and the walls we climb daily are laden with false bricks that can be pushed
in like a button
unlocking doors that lead to new space
but even there we get the feeling *we have been here before*
over and over and over.

Somewhere in a run-down apartment there is an ancient prince
he’s on his seventeenth life
he doesn’t understand where he is, the noise in the street
or why these colosseums are dripping from his eyes.
There is a sparrow resting her wings
she’s the embodiment of short and sweet
and every day she’s pretty sure that you and I and this whole damn world
is something she dreamt up last night in her sleep.

We are loopers, rabbit hole divers, matrix upon matrix
there is the illusion we are each an individual essence
when in truth we share one soul
it is a firefly caught between the canvas and the paint
and it floats across this portrait of existence
filling each life as it does so
meaning someday, somehow you will be the person sitting next to you
someway, some life you will see yourself from across the room.

Trust me, for I have been you
I have smiled all your smiles
your hearts pump my blood
our pulses are the waves, humanity the moon
I have been you
you are loners and regretters
heavily you sit without a dream to hold your hand
I have seen you
trying to crawl back through the rooms you have already walked through
as if you could rewind, cut, copy, paste, and create anew
as if that were some kind of miracle
but tall and glowing, and tall and alive, you have already walked through
I have seen you
you starlight, you midnight wanderers
don’t worry about the phone calls from family you ignored
they have already forgiven you with hugs and pot roasts
don’t worry about the dead friends who visit your dreams again and again
they are not tormented or lost
it just means you love them so much more than the time they were given
for you are them and they are you
I have been you
do not fester in a heap of sour love gone wrong
but rise above it so opportunities may find you
if you have hurts at the bottom of your heart
do not go looking at them through the bottoms of your drinks
reach down, take them in your hands
crumble them to pieces and toss them up to the heavens that swallow
everything yet say nothing
because this life is a moving cliff
and the day we were born was the day we let go
so unclench your fists
learn to make music with the air around your fingertips
the only moment is right here, right now
and right here, right now you’ll find every other moment
be a moment
be the wind that blows through the cemetery where children play
be the relief in somebody’s smile at the end of the day
be a fire-spitting darling at the front of the room
be brave so others can be brave too
be these words for they are no longer mine
be soft lips for the springtime
be boogie-woogie, jazz, and soul
when something wrong is going down, be the voice that yells, *NO!*
be the Sun! be the Moon!
be a cry for a cry and a truth for a truth!

Today, unravel with me
you are free
me, I have been you
I have seen you without a dream to hold your hand
so hold my hand
and we the firefly will flow out a new path
resting now and then on the canvas, absorbing rich paint
for I have been you
and when I walk around this world
stare into your faces
I know
you have been me too.

-- Nathan J. Reid

Ken Zahorski Kenneth J. Zahorski, Professor Emeritus of English and Ombudsman at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, is the author or co-author of thirteen books and four poetry chapbooks:  Leaves from the Family Tree (2007), More Leaves from the Family Tree (2008), Roots & Other Poems (2011), and Dancing at Dusk & Other Travel Poems (2013). The Kindness of Flowers and Other Poems, his most recent collection, was recently published by the St. Norbert College Press. His award-winning poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines and journals throughout the United States, including The Rockford Review, Pennsylvania English, Delta Epsilon Sigma Journal, English Journal, ByLine, Poem, The Aurorean, Yale Anglers’ Journal, and Avocet.  A lifelong naturalist, an avid reader, an extensive traveler, and a collector of seashells and memories, he enjoys membership in The Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and The Rockford Writers’ Guild.  The father of Twila and Alison, and the grandfather of Amanda, Savanna, and Isabella, he lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with his wife, Marijean, and their cat, Pesto.

Ken Zahorski

Kenneth J. Zahorski, Professor Emeritus of English and Ombudsman at St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wisconsin, is the author or co-author of thirteen books and four poetry chapbooks:  Leaves from the Family Tree (2007), More Leaves from the Family Tree (2008), Roots & Other Poems (2011), and Dancing at Dusk & Other Travel Poems (2013). The Kindness of Flowers and Other Poems, his most recent collection, was recently published by the St. Norbert College Press. His award-winning poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines and journals throughout the United States, including The Rockford Review, Pennsylvania English, Delta Epsilon Sigma Journal, English Journal, ByLine, Poem, The Aurorean, Yale Anglers’ Journal, and Avocet.  A lifelong naturalist, an avid reader, an extensive traveler, and a collector of seashells and memories, he enjoys membership in The Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets and The Rockford Writers’ Guild.  The father of Twila and Alison, and the grandfather of Amanda, Savanna, and Isabella, he lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with his wife, Marijean, and their cat, Pesto.

Music’s Kiss

Our garden toad was more outgoing
than my Uncle Leonard.
The toad, at least, croaked                                                 
and looked you in the eye,
while at family get-togethers
my uncle would sit in the darkest corner,

Sphinx-silent,
thin lips sealed bank vault tight,
starched shirt collar buttoned snug
as a hangman’s noose,
his eyes cast downward
studying the carpet’s pattern
as if its map might reveal
some escape route from conversation.   

But with a bow and fiddle
he was the Hallelujah Chorus,
all hosannas and exultation,
small round spectacles flashing white fire,
forehead furrows dancing like summer waves,                                     
chin making mad love
to the fiddle’s curvaceous body,
face sweet and soft as honey.

And there you have it:
toad made prince by music’s kiss,                                                  
his transfiguring eloquence
stunning us all into squat silence.

-- Ken Zahorski

Earlier Event: October 29
IMAGINE Poetry Reading
Later Event: January 23
UNDER MILK WOOD

© 2017 House of the Tomato