alice d’alessio | questions for henry

22 12 2008


Poetry Dispatch No. 261 | December 19, 2008

Editor’s Note: The real payoff in teaching—and in publishing the work of others, should you be also engaged—is the satisfaction of seeing a student, a friend, (eventually a fellow-writer’s work) come back to you in other publications, literary mags, books…accomplishments, accolades galore. (“I remember her/him when…”), Not that you can in anyway lay claim to another’s success or talent, but only that “you were there” in some way to witness the beginning, the development, and perhaps in some small way gave a little nudge.

Sometimes the attention happens suddenly. More often, years pass. Either way, the journey is a lifetime—which both (I hesitate to use the word ‘teacher’ as well as ‘student’) realize though may not express because anyone seriously treading the writer’s path knows it is filled with potholes, wrong turns, dead ends, economic insecurity, considerable failure. No guarantees.

Real writers know the commitment is to the word alone—for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health… And one (teacher/friend) never forgets the other (student/friend/teacher). The writer/teacher wants to see the friend/former student succeed on his or her own terms. Find her voice. Let it be heard.

blessingAll this by way of mentioning a friend, former ‘student’, a poet whose book, A BLESSING OF TREES, Cross+Roads Press, published in 2004.

All this by way of mentioning my joy in discovering a beautiful new poem of Alice’s in the current issue of the little magazine, FREE LUNCH, edited and published by poet Ron Offen.

FREE LUNCH has published some of the best poets in America and abroad. Editor/publisher, Ron Offen, sets the acceptance bar quite high. I wouldn’t say he’s a strict traditionalist, but he honors form, music, substance. You had better know what the hell you’re doing, and not waste his time just stringing together lines of plain prose and making it ‘look’ like poetry. (Their ain’t no ‘free lunch’ for you, friend, at Ron Offen’s poetry restaurant)

This is a great little mag to support, by the way. Single issues, such as this one that Alice is in (FREE LUNCH #40) cost $5 . Paid subscriptions (three issues) are $12. It’s a good way to stay in touch with some of the best work that’s out there. If money in these poor economic times is a problem–you might suggest your local library subscribe to it—for the sake of writers, all lovers of poetry in the community.

freelunchFREE LUNCH
P.O. Box 717
Glenview, IL 60025-0717


Alice’s new poem—only the first stanza, and the first three lines of the last stanza. I’m holding back on the last 8 lines in the hope you’ll send a small Christmas gift to a good little poetry magazine that remains dedicated to celebrating the human spirit all year long, for many years now. No small thing. $5 will get you this issue, #40. $12, three issues.

Thank you all…Alice especially for “questioning Henry”…for following the true path. —Norbert Blei



My greatest skill has been to want little. –Henry David Thoreau

Alice D’Alessio

How little, Henry?
Didn’t you hanker for a haunch
of venison, and a pint
with the local lads? A fierce game
of bowls on the lawn,
pummeling the backs of the winning team?
A ride on that newfangled train,
racing at 30 miles per hour,
with the wind
licking your cheeks, ruffling your whiskers?

Or, how about
a warm and breathing body
next to yours?

…(continued in FREE LUNCH

ron offen | winternacht

30 01 2008
Poetry Dispatch No. 209 | January 28, 2008

Winternacht by Ron Offen

Busy all day like children at play,
the snow grew tired, then suddenly
stopped and came to rest,
stretching out upon the fields
up to the pillow of a hill.

In sleep, a swirl of white enfolded me,
a bosomy Tante from an ancient time,
who cradled me as if I were a child
and sang a lullaby that said
I’d go where she would carry me
and dream and dream my life away.


The beautiful poem above, “Winternacht” by Ron Offen, appears in the recent Happy New Year flyer from Offen’s little but long-standing, extraordinary literary mag, FREE LUNCH (Arts Alliance), one of the best little mags around for any poet to land his or her poem. The mag has a long history of publishing poetry of substance and art.

Check for more of Ron Offen’s own work and more information on Free Lunch.

No, there ain’t no “free lunch” but then again there is or was…or might be. (At one time, in the early days, if I rightly recall, Offen indeed tried his best to nurture everyone with a free copy—a free literary lunch.)

The recent flyer addresses THE FREE LUNCH ANNUAL FUND DRIVE. So, that’s part of the answer and one of the reasons I am featuring both this poem and the literal message that goes with it:


issue38.jpgDear Poet or Subscriber:

Thank you for donating what you can afford to support Free Lunch. Even a dollar will help. If you can’t donate at this time or have donated recently, please excuse this request. Due to increased printing and mailing costs. and dwindling funding resources, we must ask for your support to maintain our schedule of publication. Not that all donations are tax deductible, since we are a non-profit organization. –Ron Offen

Amount of donation (Checks payable to Free Lunch)________

(Please cut on the dotted line and send to Free Lunch, Box 7l7, Glenview, IL 60025)


It’s a good cause, a good publication, and he’s a good man and a fine poet. He’s not asking for much…but he is asking for something to keep the stove going, the pots boiling.

I was going to take a friend to lunch today, probably spend around $20 bucks. Instead, in the spirit of what’s free and what’s not…I’m sending Ron the cost of a lunch I never ate—yet feel nourished just the same, knowing in due course (with a little help from a friend), more Free Lunch will be served for the literary needy.

Norbert Blei