29 April 2016

art lifts the spirit

a tiring day. on phone much too much. reserving storage space in Palm Springs. shutting down services here. more packing. & the weather nasty. cold with moments of rain & even snow. but I cleand up & took the bus to town. Wes Hempel was here for his opening. & I wantd to hello Wes & Jack Balas.

it was my second viewing of the show. & of course I saw new things. as much as I admire the large paintings the smaller pieces on paper thrill me in a whole different way. I'm excitd by the craft of painting that small. but there's also an intimacy in seeing work of that size. & for a writer there's the additional layer of meaning that comes with the image sharing space with printd words.

so my difficult day resolvd itself as it so often does. painting or film or poetry or music takes me out of the doldrums to that sweet place.

25 April 2016

thank you

to family & friends for making this such a sweet birthday. I truly felt special.

photo by Jim Cory

nothing like a birthday

to reflect on a life. today I turn 73.  holy shit.  when did that happen?

this birthday is like none other.  my first without Mom. her death 21 days ago was seismic. each one of those days I've wantd to call her. at 94 she remaind intellectually curious. almost every call wd include her commenting on the news. right till the end her morning paper was more important to her than coffee. but perhaps in a tie with bacon.

couple that major event with my selling my dream house where I've spent my last 22 years.  in 2 weeks I move to Palm Springs. what's left of my "stuff" (I've been downsizing for a year) will go into storage till I find a condo. & then I start over.

I can't predict -- nor wd I want to know -- what the future holds. this is simply a rumination on where I am now. my last book -- Ohio Triangle -- was publishd one year ago today. it is one of my most important collections but has gone without a review. however I've been putting out little books for 45 years & I can put all my reviews in one hand. I simply keep on making poems because that's what a poet does. & in the past Palm Springs has been a stimulant for work.

one of my friends wishes romance for me. I tried relationships twice. both faild. I'm so comfortable living alone I doubt I cd handle compromise again.

so here I am. an orphan at 73 facing my final chapter. I've faught alcoholism & depression. but I've written a couple of poems that bounce off the sun. & I've made love with angels before they had wings. as long as a verb or a naked man excites me I'll go on with gusto.

tonite I'm having dinner with a poet visiting from the east. I don't know if there will be cake or candles. but I will fill with grins remembering all the cakes. & I will be illuminated by the parade of candles that have lit this long life.

23 April 2016

"Go for Baroque"

art fashion show

at David Richard Gallery

with Dylan Anderson

photo by Frank X. Cordero

22 April 2016

some dolls

here I am in Sam Taylor's guest room with Mom's Madame Alexanders.

& here they were in their original home on Winckles St.

21 April 2016

a sign

a local consignment shop came to pick up the 1950s Coke machine my parents gave me years ago. when they left I saw something in the dust under which it had stood in my kitchen these past 22 years. I pickd it up. it was this fragment from an envelope:

I read that as her blessing for the move.

17 April 2016

my parents

this is one of my favorite photos of them because it's so spontaneous.  Mom was often self-conscious in front of a camera.  & Dad tended to pose.  but this is of them in the moment. & they're both happy & young.

I don't know who took this. or where or when it was taken. I think it may be a transfer from a slide.

16 April 2016


at Mom's wake cousin Sal brought out some old family albums. one was kept by his father when he was stationd in San Diego during WW2.  apparently Uncle Frank had gone to the legendary Hollywood Canteen & had kept this napkin.

15 April 2016

took a break

from packing (& going bonkers) to visit the city's newest excitement -- House of Eternal Return.  it's an old bowling alley which local artists -- with several million dollars from George R.R. Martin -- turnd into an interactive museum.

my dear friend Rita Wood took this of me in one of the more colorful corners.

10 April 2016

new to me

while staying at my cousin Sal's in Lorain he showd me some of his old albums.

this is me at 9 months.

& here I am at 3 with Aunt Sophie & cousins Frank & Regina.

looking at old snapshots I'm always amazed at how well-dressd I was as a child.

09 April 2016

last photo

cousin Sal took this as we celebrated Mom's 94th birthday


John Stuehr postd this on Facebook:

 Your mom reached out to the world to make her art and we send you now our autographs of love and envelopes of grief. Elyria, covered in snow this morning, has lost one of its treasures. My heartfelt condolences to you.


Helen Gildzen.
Her passing really felt like a tremor in the force. Good memories just rushed back. But that was Helen. 
She was really a great great person to us growing up. Could anyone have had better neighbors? Christ, the patience of tolerating 8 kids and running into/through her yard. Footballs, baseballs, all sorts of balls, how many vegetables did we crush by going into Al's garden. Ice skating rink. Blasting tennis balls with out little home-made cannon right at their house. Pellet guns. Snowy pooping in their yard. Would've made any neighbor today absolutely CRAZY!
What a laugh too. That was the only sincere cackle I ever heard in my life.
I delivered their Plain Dealer morning newspaper for many years. Always put it in the front door.
If it ever bothered her, boy did she hide it. She couldn't have been friendlier to all of us. Tootsie rolls, Smarties, (what were the others???). She always gave us a piece of candy when we delivered things from Mom to her backdoor. She had more life in that hobbit house than any McMansion. Goes to show.
Really lucky. Thanks Dad for having our home around such great people growing up.
BTW, Didn't we share a party line with the Gildzen's? What was that number?
Let's toast to her this summer.

Larry Mahl

I  can still hear Helen calling my name, "Pammy".  It automatically triggers my sweet tooth.  As for candy, she did give out the candy cigarettes, the candy buttons (dots) on paper tape and mini-root beer bottles (in wax).  You don't see those anymore. 

Also, it was funny that she and Mom had the same name and I thought they looked alike too.  I guess I though anybody over 50 probably looked alike back then.  Now, of course, I know better....  (Mr. Ruppelt was Dad's twin.)

Finally, it was from Helen that I learned that if someone put a garage sale sign out the night before, you should find a reason to stop by before it opened to see if you could get a "pre-showing".  I will think of Helen the next time I land a good garage sale find. 

Pam Mahl Plagens

02 April 2016


Melina on the newish couch in Kent

being taken away today by Habitat for Humanity