A poem for today "... to breathe again..."
Starting in January, poet, actor, and teacher Gary Maggio began meeting with a group of local poets in the Albany Public Library’s Delaware Avenue branch. At those meetings held every two weeks, Gary was facilitating the Community Writers Workshop, a longstanding NYS Writers Institute program offered at no charge to the community and UAlbany campus, part of our role "to encourage the development of writing skills at all levels of education throughout the state," according to legislation signed into law by Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1984.
While the COVID-19 pandemic changed just about everything, Gary and his workshop poets are still meeting virtually. They're committed for the long haul. They persist in creating poems that'll serve as artifacts for future generations. Two-time Writers Institute guest Salman Rushdie speaks to the essence of poetry:
"A poet’s work … to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep."
Gary's poem "Corona" is one of more than 70 poems, essays, and short fiction that will be published in the upcoming edition of the NYS Writers Institute's Trolley literary journal.
by Gary Maggio
My street, modest as it is,
this night is like Paris, or Hamburg, or Istanbul,
the moonlit streetlights warm, casting
yellow glints on car hoods that one day will be relics
and charming, and casting long shadows too
of old red hydrants across the road
and on the manes of small blond dogs
whose walkers wear black cloaks
and domed hats of black felt.
There are no tall buildings here
in this my city. The cobblestones,
were they still here, would glow
of lamplight and rain. And from the glow too
of Mars in the west sky which in olden days
was referred to as the North Star,
red and warm and lone.
It’s an old night here, reminiscent
of worried carefree cities
where sweet families walked the streets
late at night,
refused to sleep, grateful to be awake,
to be silent and alive.
My street, reminiscent, calm,
the light of Mars timeless, enduring,
and the world really is instead not dying,
the city and all cities waiting
to breathe again and believe in northern starlight.
About Gary Maggio
Poet, actor, and teacher Gary Maggio began writing poems when he was accepted into John Montague’s poetry workshop at the NYS Writers Institute in 1999. In the early 2000s, he created the Capital Region Poets Workshop, which met twice a month for over eight years.
He has also worked as an actor in the Albany area for the last decade, performing at Cap Rep, Curtain Call Theatre, Theatre Voices, Homemade Theater and Albany Civic Theatre. He works part-time as a “standardized patient” at Albany Medical College, acting for and teaching communications to medical students and residents.
You can read more of Gary's poems and see his artwork at gmagikman.com.