April is National Poetry month–I’m getting this under the wire for April 1

For the first day of N.P.M., I thought some quotes about poetry would be an appropriate start:

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”
T. S. Eliot
         Of course Eliot would have this to say about poetry.

“If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week.”
Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82
           Glad a scientist said this…

“To be a poet is a condition, not a profession.”
Robert Frost
          And what a condition it is.

“Poetry is like making a joke.  If you get one word wrong at the end of a joke, You’ve lost the whole thing.”
–W.S. Merwin
        My favorite quote about poetry.



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Pentimento Magazine–new print journal for poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, art, and photography

Pentimento magazine out of Lambertville NJ, Publisher, Lori Brozek, is a journal that centers on disability and is open for submissions until March 15, 2014 for the June issue.  A disabled adult or child can submit, or anyone connected to that community.  Poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, art, photography, and articles for a themed Reader’s Pen column are welcome.  The cover is always art by a disabled child.  Two issues a year will be published–June and December.  Two successful issues were published in 2013; for a free issue, go to http://www.pentimentomag.org.  There, you can also find submission details and how to subscribe.

Unlike most literary journals, Pentimento pays its contributors!

I’m a contributing editor and the poetry editor for the magazine.

Check it out!


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Upcoming poetry reading in Wallingford, PA for MADPOETSS

I’ve been invited to give a poetry reading on WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2013 at 7:00.

I’ll be reading with Doris Ferleger.  There is an Open Mic afterwards.

Survivors in the Garden, my book that concerns living with MS, will be for sale at the reading.

It is sponsored by MADPOETS and will be held at

Community Art Center
Wallingford, PA  19086

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2013 at 7:00 PM

414 Plush Mill Rd.,
Wallingford, PA 19086
* www.communityartcenter.org
Hosted by Brian Sammond & Eileen D’Ange

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Two of my poems published in Wordgathering, September 2013

I am indebted to the online journal, Wordgathering, for publishing my work and for celebrating writing about disability. Check out their website–they are a discerning journal looking for poetry, essays, fiction, art, book reviews, reading loops, and drama concerning disability.  The editor, Michael Northern, is passionate about this literature, and promotes authors whose work concerns disability.

From the Wordgathering website:  http://www.wordgathering.com

“As always, Wordgathering seeks work that develops the field of disability literature. We invite the submission of poetry, short fiction, and essays that discuss poetry from a disability perspective or that contribute to the theoretical development of the field of disability literature. If you have authored a book that you think should be reviewed in Wordgathering, and is consistent with our mission, please let us know about that as well.

Submission Guidelines


Here are my two poems published September 2013; both reference MS.  “The House is Finally Quiet” and “When Rain Falls to End the Drought”

The House Is Finally Quiet

This April day can’t make up its mind:
sun and finches flirt with the bird
feeder and wind throws itself against

a lowering sky as rain hits the roof.  Sun
shower marks sky’s edges of light
and dark so that it looks to be drawn

by an architect.  Precise lines assert the order
of things: the knowing angles of corners,
the perspective of skyscrapers and bedrooms.

Workers have finally ceased their jackhammer
assault on our concrete porch and walk.
Jagged blocks rest helter-skelter like mountains

upended by earthquake, or Zeus.   Last fall’s
leaves shift from one fence line to
another, wait for spring green to fold them in.

Suddenly I do not want my life to be any different,
even though my shorter left leg doesn’t
bend but swings forward, or when kind hands

tug me up from a chair.   My ungainly body yaws
from one side to the other, like a child
learning how to ride a bike.  Years ago, I shoved

the slowing, the stiffening, into the mind’s
compartment that hopes, always,
for the best.  I watch a man’s shovel dig straight

footers for concrete.  He steps around the old,
whose color, like gray sea mottled from rain,
mimics the changing spring day.  A sloping sidewalk

will rise to meet the new porch that now has no steps,
flanked by Emerald Boxwood, Knock Out roses,
and a cedar bench to sit upon.  Glorious – this shrine

to summer – where juniper jumps the wall, trails
to Snowflake hydrangea and bright liriape,
where Crepe Myrtle shouts scarlet blooms, southern sky.

 ©Marie Kane

When Rain Falls to End the Drought
for Lucas

When rain falls to end the drought,
her grandson rushes outside to rustling
fields and dry sycamore trees – sssshhhh
what sound those fields make in wind,
what ghostly light those sycamores cast.
Dry leaves brush clapboards of the house.
Underneath twilight’s window, she rises
to grab her cane, makes her halting way
to the door.  In the open, his upturned face
welcomes this gift of rain, this sweet
wetness, this relief from all things dry.

What thunder could be as loud
as her heart’s incessant noise?

©Marie Kane

Material on this page and on mariekanepoetry.com is copyright © to Marie Kane.  Use of this material in any form must be acknowledged and approved in writing by Marie Kane.  Email:  engmrk(at)aol.com

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My poem, “Radio Interview” used in discussion for teaching disbility poetry

In the June 2013 issue of Wordgathering, editor Mike Northen discussed my poem, “Radio Interview” in his article, “Ten Poems to Kick Start Your Disability Lit Class.”

 Mike is the editor for Wordgathring and one of the editors for Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, published in 2011, now in its second printing.

See the whole article about teaching disability poetry at:


Comment by Michael Northen on Marie Kane’s  “Radio Interview”  

“If the acceptance of a disability identity is problematic for some with congenital disabilities like cerebral palsy, it is even more difficult for a person with a disability acquired later in life. Unlike the person with CP who is not looking for a cure (to be fixed), someone with a spinal cord injury that suddenly finds themselves in a wheelchair or who has received a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis looks back to a former life, one they considered normal, one that was “really them.”

“The ambivalence of accepting the new person they are is expressed wonderfully in Marie Kane’s ‘Radio Interview’:


Her missionary voice beams from some NPR studio across inaccessible stars and blue-black space while I drive on in the coming dark, anxious to arrive home before my vision fades, before my leg brace constricts my calf, before leg spasms. She crows— I have no MS symptoms and haven ‘t for ten years — and credits rest, healthy meals, acupuncture, and reflexology with her symptom-free life. Why, she feels protected from that evil, eating fruit and whole grams and resting with her feet up on a cushion (sometimes she just HAS to stop and rest), while I grimace and regret the ice cream, rue the wine, lament those missed naps. No daily or weekly shots for her; steroids are hideous and the hope of stem cells? (Stem cells— uttered like a loathsome curse.) Well, she hopes research halts before anymore innocent lives are taken in the name of science. I can envision her heeled shoes winking as her rose-tipped toes slip in before she is launched back home to ride Byron, her show horse. (The riding, she asserts, fights fatigue and stress.) Then I am yelling at the radio, pounding the steering wheel at that nail-driven-home voice so much like the roaring page, the bastard blues — 1 want to propel Byron through an unlatched gate, his tail a free flag in the wind, push that smiling voice down a flight of stone steps until the jeweled shoes fly, and punch my hand through her smug assumption that she knows exactly how to manage MS, never acknowledging that my MS might be a different animal all together. Finally, lights on our cedar trees appear and disappear in the growing wind; I turn onto our gravel driveway, silence the car, clamber awkwardly out, stand supported by my quad cane and leg brace, and admit that I so desperately want, oh how I want, oh, oh, with my heart in my mouth, oh, how I want to be her.

How do readers feel about Kane’s reaction to the woman’s recovery? Is her reaction fair? If not, what about the implications for those whose conditions don’t improve? Does it imply that somehow they have not tried hard enough or that they somehow deserve their situation? Do some of us still secretly believe that people in these circumstances are somehow being paid back by God? Is it Karma?” 

Michael Northen, Wordgathering, June 2013

Material on this page and on mariekanepoetry.com is Copywrite © to Marie Kane.  Use of this material in any form must be acknowledged and approved in writing by Marie Kane.  Email:  engmrk(at)aol.com

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One of my poems chosen for the anthology “Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets” editors Lynn Levin and Valerie Fox

 In May of 2013, my poem, “What Not to Say to Me Now That I Am Crippled,” was published in the anthology Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, from Texture Press, edited by Lynn Levin and Valerie Fox.
The poem was first published in the December 2012 issue of

cover of Levin Fox book     BUY THIS BOOK!  It’s an invaluable source if you’re a poet striving for a topic.  Go to Amazon to buy the book:

Go to the publisher to buy the book:

 Review from Amazon.com:
(Contributors names below in bold are Bucks County (PA) Poets Laureate.)

“Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin’s Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets offers fourteen classroom and workshop-tested writing prompts that will appeal to both beginning and experienced poets. Among the book’s inspiring and unusual ideas are the Fibonacci poem, advice-column poem, and spirit-of-names poem.

“The book lends itself to academic courses as well as poetry workshops in less formal settings, such as adult-ed, community-based, and “coffee-shop” classes. Individuals will find the book to be a helpful companion to their independent practice of poetry. In addition to the prompts, scores of sample poems by a variety of poets are included.

Contributors include Marie Kane, Lewis Warsh, Christopher Bursk, Peter Wood, Leonard Gontarek, Corie Feiner, John Timpane, Dawn Manning, Hayden Saunier, Joanna Fuhrman, and many others. The book includes witty illustrations by Don Riggs.”

Lynn asked me to write a poem for the book using the prompt for The Rules Poem.  Part of the prompt reads:
The rules poem is a type of list poem that offers a collection of dos and don’ts or a set of directions. . . .  Write your rules in the imperative mood.”*
Fox, Valerie and Lynn Levin.  Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets.  Norman, OK: Texture, 2013.  24.

How could I not love the challenge of writing a Rules Poem?  My family’s nickname for me was “El Ordelero.”  Plus, I taught High School English for twenty-eight years – my life was giving directions.  I relished dictates, orders, edicts – and rules for anything.

The Rules Poem I wrote concerns Multiple Sclerosis, with which I was diagnosed with in 1991, and the things people SHOULD NOT say to me now that I am crippled.  I use the word ‘crippled’ and not ‘handicapped’ or ‘physically challenged’ in the title because I want what follows to be real and hard-hitting from the onset.  The poem was not difficult to write; I had a mountain of material.

I did wrestle with what to include and exclude, the form (couplets, at first), how to phrase the rules, and how extreme my ‘rules’ should be.  Even though I find using rhyme difficult, I challenged myself to use the long ‘i’ rhyme in the opening of the first line of each couplet, and words that rhyme with ‘would’ in the opening of the second line of each.

However, the poem’s length using couplets was too long for the page size of the printed book, so Lynn and Valerie asked me to alter the line length; I changed the lines to tercets.  As a result, some of the “would” rhyme is buried or changed, but the rhyme for the long ‘i’ sound remains in the first line of each stanza, and a few others.

Regarding the wry tone in this Rules Poem:
I understand that people often don’t know what to say to a person using a cane, walker, or scooter – or who has any handicap.  I appreciate those who don’t talk down to me, and who are willing to help me navigate the world that is decidedly not favorable to the handicapped, although accessibility and understanding are blessedly more prevalent now.

 Here’s the poem:

What Not to Say to Me Now That I Am Crippled

Try not to tell me to take your time when holding the door; if I could lag
behind by choice, I would (sluggishness is not an option with MS)
and I do appreciate that my sometimes

blind left eye discerns your kind face ignoring my conspicuous left foot
drop, and that do good is your mantra, but refrain from suggesting
that my walking will improve

if I comply with these cures: having a hysterectomy, or its opposite—
pregnancy, enduring the repeated sting of honeybees, or the
sipping of Aloe Vera juice at a bank-account-emptying spa

at Versailles—any of which ought to turn my question mark spine into
an exclamation point. Should I ask for a bathroom never, ever tell
me that I can wait. And for the life of me,

when I relate recent successes, don’t cry out “Good for you!” (as if I
were five and had just learned how to tie my shoes) — when I walk,
stand, or stay awake (“Good for you!”) —

or drive my car to physical therapy (“Good for you!”) — or shower by
myself (“Good for you!”) — publish a book of poetry, (“Good
for you!”) drop nothing that day (“Good for you!”) — and when

you spy me on my motorized scooter, don’t saunter by and claim
sotto voce to my husband, “I need that more than she does,”
nor should you whisper that your mother, father, sibling,

neighbor died of MS, then tell me that I look Fantastic! Delightful!
Splendid! Your flood of words insists that I am a marvel; my
doctors say I am doing well, considering.

Marie Kane

Material on this page and anywhere on mariekanepoetry.com is Copyright © to Marie Kane.  Use of this material in any form must be acknowledged and approved in writing by Marie Kane.  Email:  engmrk (at) aol.com



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“Looking at the Photograph” published in Naugatuck River Review

I am honored that my poem, “Looking at the Photograph,” was published in the recently released Summer 2013 issue of Naugatuck River Review.  NRR, a journal of narrative poetry, is published twice a year and has a contest every winter issue.  Editor Lori Desrosiers is committed to publishing well-crafted, modern narrative poetry that celebrates, as NewPages.com notes, “memorable characters. . . the people whose lives show up in small glimpses between the lines.”

Find their web page at:  www.naugatuckriverreview.com

Looking at the Photograph

After my brother died, I found a picture of us
fishing in a wooden rowboat with Uncle Norman.
On my brother’s slim rod, a golden-scaled fish

freezes into a question mark.  My uncle grins
his scruffy face into the camera, one hand raising
his rod, the other clasping a Schlitz or Budweiser —

whatever cheap beer the corner store stocked
in the cold case, its glass forever fogged.
I had stepped into my uncle’s rowboat so that

this Honesdale farming, hunting, fishing family
would clasp its arms around me.  They weren’t fooled.
“Are you afraid to move?  Cast your line!”

yelled my cousin, Jimmy.  I was ten, and water’s refusal
to support anyone dropped into it frequented
my nightmares.  My eight-year-old brother – less afraid

of dying than I – had clumsily raised his rod, cast his line,
and snagged a fish.  Now this is the kind of suffering living
involves: Uncle Norman catching the slick fish in his net,

whacking its head on the gunwale and stilling its jerky tail,
his age-spotted hand gripping my brother’s shoulder,
uncut nails digging in, yelling, “Thata boy!”  My mother,

 attempting to curry favor from relatives who disapproved
of her marriage to my father, but who were too scandalized
by her divorce to allow her back in.  My uncle, off the rowboat

and weaving toward more beer, Aunt Blanche slapping
his hand away, and my brother, ricocheting off sugar maples
as he ran from Jimmy, while the threat, “Really teach

you how to swim,” trailed after him into the woods.
The last time I spoke to Jimmy, he didn’t recall the day.
“Must have been when I was really young,” he said,

then offered perfunctory words at my brother’s passing.
Hanging up the phone, I wanted to fall backwards
into water and have it support me, cradle me.

I wanted to drink cheap beer in the sun next to that
water, arch back into warm grass, wake from sleep
knowing who I am.

Marie Kane

Material on this page and on mariekanepoetry.com is Copywrite © to Marie Kane.  Use of this material in any form must be acknowledged and approved in writing by Marie Kane.  Email:  engmrk(at)aol.com

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Revised Poem from April 2, 2013 April is National Poetry Month–read a poem, write a poem

Here’s the revised opening sections of this new poem:

My husband shops at the drugstore and workers have ceased

their jackhammer assault on our concrete porch

and walk.   Jagged blocks rest helter-skelter atop their former


place like mountains upended by earthquake, or Zeus.

April day can’t make up its mind: sun and finches

flirt with the bird feeder and wind throws itself against

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April is National Poetry Month

It’s National Poetry Month!–take part.  Read a poem, write a poem, recite a poem.

Here’s a poem I began yesterday–not completed yet.  I’ll revise as I go along.

The House Is Finally Quiet on an Early Spring Afternoon

My husband shops at CVS and workers have ceased
their staccato jackhammer crunch of our concrete walk
and porch.  Some sharp-edged blocks remain as helter-skelter

fill for the new porch.  They rest askew in their former places
like mountains upended by earthquake, or God, with color
like gray sea mottled from rain.

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My take on having MS

I have Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.  I was first diagnosed with Relapsing Remitting MS in 1991, the kind whose symptoms come and go.   Optic Neuritis was my first clue that something was wrong; I lost partial sight in my left eye.  (This is a first  symptom for many with MS.)   Thinking that my eyes were exhausted from grading piles of essays, (I was a High School English teacher), I finally went to my optometrist, who sent me to an ophthalmologist, who blithely said, after many x-rays and tests, “Well, you either have a brain tumor or Multiple Sclerosis.”  After seeing a childhood friend’s mother suffer greatly with MS, I almost hoped it was a brain tumor.

He sent me to a neurologist who ordered three different MRIs, a spinal tap, urinalysis, resistance tests for my arms and legs, and a host of blood tests.  The capsule of the MRI terrified me; no amount of head phones can ever block the pounding of the magnetic imaging.  And, if I never have another spinal tap it will be too soon; the resultant body-slamming three-day headache continues to give me nightmares.  Results came back –and yes, it was determined that I had MS.   After days of intravenous steroids in the hospital, then steroid pills, my vision came back to normal; lingering weakness in my left arm and leg rarely surfaced.  I began taking vitamin D and calcium and resumed my beloved teaching career, graduate school, raising my three terrific children, enjoying running, and, basically, lived a normal life.

Off and on I had some effects from MS, but nothing life-altering.  Oh, well, there was tripping and falling, once resulting in a broken rib and the other in a fall that bloodied my face so badly I went to school wearing a sign that read, “You should see the other guy.”  I stopped seeing my first neurologist–the over-an-hour-commute to his office was time-consuming–and went to see a neurologist with a near-by office.  He did not press me to have disease modifying injections, which had recently been approved by the FDA.  I told him I did not like the side-effects, and my distaste for needles was over-whelming.  My symptoms were mostly minor and infrequent, although when they did occur, my life was seriously affected.

I was hiding from the fact that this disease could take a nasty turn, thinking it won’t happen to me.  After all, I was active (I had been a track coach!), loved raising my children, enjoyed my teaching career and my writing–some of my poetry was being published– and I handed flare-ups well.  So what do you know, in 2004, thirteen years after I had been diagnosed, my left leg decided to stop working on one of my two-mile walks on the Delaware Canal.   I chalked it up to my left hip replacement in 1999, but soon was at my former neurologist’s office, agreeing to more MRIs, injections of Copaxone, and a host of other treatments for MS symptoms.  I also had a new diagnosis–Secondary Progressive MS.

In 2007, I retired from teaching after twenty-eight years.  MS fatigue, hand and leg weakness, and double vision difficulties are not compatible with teaching fifteen to eighteen year old students the gifts of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Arthur Miller, or Emily Dickinson–or the best way to craft a poem or essay.  Although I loved doing just that,
the wisest choice for me was to retire.

So, I live with MS.  Not very well at times, but I do the best I can.  All of my ‘helpers’ are vital.  My husband, Steve, most of all.  My quad cane, walker, and motorized scooter for long distances, are necessary for me to partake of the world.  My friends are wonderful in their understanding.  My children support me in any way they can.  The medicines I take to modify nasty symptoms of MS are also important.  What is most important is that I keep on with my life–writing, publishing, entertaining, cooking, reading, going to poetry readings and workshops, give readings when asked, and watching birds against the bright  blue out our sun room windows.

And I write–often of MS.  Survivors in the Garden, my book of poems published in 2012, mostly concerns my life with MS.  On other pages on this website, you’ll find some of my poems on MS.  I’ll be posting newer ones also.

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