The Poetry and Art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Thursday, February 1, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
Andrew Carnegie Free Library Reception Hall, Carnegie

This poetry reading was my first ever, held at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall (ACFL&MH). It was combined with an art exhibit in the same room.

The program, "Paths I Have Walked: the Poetry and Art of Bernadette Kazmarski" featured selected poetry and paintings inspired by and depicting the beauty of the local landscapes of Carnegie and the trails and byways along the Chartiers Creek and throughout the Chartiers Valley, paths I've been walking since I began to walk.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled "Stories From Home/First Person" for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I'm a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor's books as well as a daily listener to The Writer's Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

This show was the vision of Maggie Forbes, Executive Director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, and I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. The first one went so well that we did it again in 2007 with "Winter Twilight".

Below are all ten poems and images of the larger original art or prints featured in the show.

Dusk in the Woods, pastel, 2006, a scene in the woods near the Panhandle Trail in Collier Township, PA.

Birches 1: Autumn Showers, oil pastel, 1999, reminiscent of the birch in our front yard.

Birches 2: Autumn Splendor, ink and watercolor, 2000, a birch grove in autumn.

A World Overhead, pastel, a red-tail hawk, common everywhere in Western PA.

Creek Study in Snow, charcoal, Chartiers Creek in winter as it runs through Carnegie.

Summerfield, pastel, an old farm field being overtaken by trees, Settler's Cabin Park.

Spring Thaw, pastel, Chartiers Creek in Carnegie as the light begins to change and the creek flows higher in spring.

How Many Summers, pastel, the Ross Colonial Cemetery on Library Avenue, the site a lookout post over the valley for millennia.

From Carothers Bridge, pastel, 2000, a bridge between Carnegie and Glendale where I often stop to watch the creek go by.

Light Woods, ink, woods in snow in Settler's Cabin Park.

Carnegie Park: Dawn, pastel, light streaks through the mist and trees on a summer morning.

A Good Snow, pastel, an old barn on Ewing Road in Collier after a heavy snowfall.

Harvest of Color, pastel, a field becoming overgrown on Ridge Road in Collier.

Solstice, pastel, the sun sets on the winter solstice over an old Christmas tree farm on Ewing Road in Collier Township.

Section I. Purely Descriptive


Roiling clouds blown by winds
Before a summer thunderstorm,
Huge constructions in purple and blue
And lurid green tinged with coral.

The delicate lace of a fair summer day,
Puffs and wisps in white and cream
Shaded with lilac and blue
And edged in yellow.

Hazy wisps in autumn
Moving slowly from one horizon to the next,
Never amounting to much.

The heavy purple rainclouds of a late spring afternoon
Looming on the horizon
Shadowing the early wan sun
And promising a rainy night.

The approach of the first storm of winter
As flat gray clouds form in the west,
In their shadow bringing the first reminder
Of the eternal cold of year's end.

Field of Grass

A field of grass,
Never still, never silent,
Responding as one being to wind and weather,
Rippling in breezes, dancing in rain,
Changing each moment in its fervent march
To ripened maturity;

In the spring, new bright green velvet
Covers hillsides,
Undulating in capricious spring breezes,
Laying flat to reveal the shining silk beneath,
And cast with shadows of clouds moving quickly
Over hillside and valley;

In June, tall and deep green
With eager pale seed heads
Standing tall and youthful,
Dancing carelessly in storm winds and evening breezes;

In the amber of late summer
Under the relentless faded August sun,
It stands in simple primitive beauty
At the moment of its ripe maturity,
Whispering in anticipation
Of the end of its journey.

Ripened Color

The field of grass
In September has reached its full maturity;
As the wrinkles of a face
Share the joys and sorrows of a life's journey,
The field in the shadows and highlights of its grasses
Holds the colors of all the seasons.

The amber of ripe stems
Is toned with the warm, rich lilac
Of a winter sunset.
Shadows hold the deep bright blue
Of the early summer sky
Blended down to sienna
Borrowed from leaves in a winter pond.
In the highlights, the bright delicate green
Of new leaves on willows
Mixes with the yellow
Of silver maple leaves in autumn.

The Changing Sky

Pale blue in late winter,
As if too weak to put forth much color,
Growing through the warm blue of spring
To the rich deep blue of summer,
A canopy of hope and optimism.
All too soon it begins its fade
Into the cool blue of autumn
After the intensity of summer's heat,
Then fading yet more
To the pale blue of a crisp
Winter's day.

Section II. In the Moment

Road Trip, Late July, Western Pennsylvania

Green, green waves ahead
diminishing to blue over the northern horizon
exalted rises and shadowed valleys gradually made plain
to rolling hills and misted hollows
interstate unrolled as ribbon
around hill and following valley,
signs noting unseen destinations
bearing hopeful small town names:
little hamlets of Pennsylvania coal being crushed to diamonds,
glittering in the vales;
a gauze curtain of rain shower flows across hills
soaking opposite side of road
but the sun shines brightly ahead,
occasionally a sudden cluster of official orange obstructions
gives instructions to change directions
slowing pace to allow a close and careful study
of native plants along the roadside,
a stately brick farmhouse, a skull with empty windows, abandoned, its outbuildings only roofs in the tall grass
as if melting back into the earth from whence they were created;
then a curving exit that leaves the noise of four lanes behind a rise,
a sojourn on a quiet two-lane three-digit backroad,
once the lifeline before the interstate, now empty;
clusters of buildings at intersections, one traffic light flashing yellow,
old farms and equipment,
rusted industrial structures,
a field gone entirely to Queen Anne's Lace,
some cows on a hillside,
and everywhere roadside stands
celebrate the first flush of mid-summer bounty;
collect loose change from pockets and floor of car
and with the dole,
buy fresh homegrown sweet corn to feed thy soul.

Entering Paradise

On the death of a downy woodpecker who ran into my window.

I can only hope that
her heart was filled with the joy of the unfolding spring
and that she saw paradise reflected in the glass of my window.

Section III. Metaphor


The dogwoods are blooming up and down my street.
The breaking of the cold,
The unusually warm, brilliant spring day
Has brought my neighbors out to wash cars and cut grass.
Like the returning birds
Their conversations drift and circle from yard to yard
And cross the street on capricious breezes;
We have been put away all winter
Like articles of summer clothing
Our potential at rest,
Yet now, even at night,
Pale, airy clouds of blossoms
Hover in the darkness all over the neighborhood.

Raspberry Dreams

You can best see the constellations
by lying on your back and dreaming
and in due time the sky is filled with
cavorting gods and goddesses,
mythological beasts,
love, death, politics, art
all in the air above you;
yet concentration on one
will cause them all to lose their magic.

So I, facing the surprise berry patch,
focusing to find one berry, and then another
while the clean June sun spilled over my head
warming the smell of berries and leaves and dirt
and small wild plants brushed the soles of my bare feet,
became at the same time a small person
faced with a raspberry clump taller than me,
surprised to find something
so joyfully abundant
and free for the taking
where last week there had only been leaves
along this path,
and, while watching the clouds
forgetting the berries
in both ages
my hands found berry after berry
and my heart found dreams.

Like a Tree

To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
in spring.

Wild Apples

At a bend in the trail,
The scent of wild apples greets me.
A tree abandoned from an old orchard
Or sprung up on its own from old stock, wild and uncultivated,
Stands trailside,
Heavy with small round burnished apples.
The late summer heat releases their scent,
Sweet and tart, that the world may know they have reached their prime;
The wild perfume of the coming season.

From another tree one single leaf lets go
And falls, papery, dry and curled, slipping through branches
Clattering to the summer-hardened clay of the trail,
Loud in the silent heat of the August afternoon.
Months before,
Winter lost her grip, and, one by one,
The wildflowers of spring began to bloom,
Which, in their turn, faded into the shadows of the dense summer woods.
Now summer is losing her strength,
Autumn is thinning the woods
And bearing her own flowers and fruits,
Changing the palette of the landscape
With bright summer greens turning gold,
Deep rich shadows fading hazy blue.

Soon autumn will blaze along the trail,
And songbirds will move their chorus south.
Already winter has touched my hair,
And the smell of wild apples is in the air.

For details about these images, and more yet, visit my Landscapes and My Home Town pages or my photo gallery. For more writing, visit, my writing website.

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