Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Class Act

Very sad to hear about Marianne. She was a wit, a personality, a mensch. One of the first of many passionate and gifted poets I met in Sonoma County. Donna Champion brought me to the Russian River Writers Guild for a holiday party, and introduced me to Maureen Hurley, Glenn Ingersoll, Paul Mariah and Marianne. I was nervous & young, and whatever poem I shared with the group that night was, I'm sure, crap. But Marianne, a gracious and nurturing presence, smiled and told me how wonderful the poem was.

Wait, I remember the poem now! It's in a drawer somewhere, if I haven't burned it. Yes, it truly was crap.

Ah, Marianne, thank you, dear, for your warmth and gentleness. And also, as I came to know you, your candor and your kvetching. But, always, with the light of understanding and a rare generosity underneath.

Marianne Ware taught both in the classroom and by example. She was not seeking fame. She merely loved poetry and kept it in her garden. She gave seedlings to others. She made more than poems. She made a life into which poems would always be welcomed. What a pleasure for me and for so many others to have shared in the bounty of that life.

D. A. Powell

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meaning of Water by Marianne Ware

I knew Marianne through my writers club, Redwood Writers, in Santa Rosa and through a mutual friend, Karen Batchelor.

Both Karen and I encouraged Marianne to co-publish a collection of her short stories with us in 2007. Thankfully, she agreed and her fine book, Meaning of Water, was released in March, 2008.

Last summer and fall, we were again able to promote her book and purchase more copies from the distributing publisher, Unlimited Publishing, and deliver these to Marianne in the nursing home.

UP not only kept Marianne's book, Meaning of Water, in distribution, but prepared a hard cover edition as a legacy for her and her family and featured it as Book of the Month. This book, Marianne's only published work of her own short stories, was very important to her and did improve the quality of her life in her last months. She received a final shipment of both hard cover and paperback books last fall and was thrilled to open their pages.

Anyone who would like to own a copy of Meaning of Water: it is available online through the Redwood Writers website:
Or the publisher's website:

All royalties go to Marianne Ware; I'm in touch with the publisher to have the royalties paid to her surviving widower.

Redwood has a limited number of copies that we will sell at our meetings; all proceeds to go to Marianne's family.

Our branch is planning to honor Marianne at our August 8th meeting with readings from her book and some brief testimonies by her friends. Details still in the works.

I am so glad that our club was able to participate in Marianne's work and her lively, creative spirit!

Kate Farrell

Marianne SSU Poetry Festival 1981

     ©1981, 2010 Maureen Hurley photos 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Marianne and Stella

by Lynn Millar

I had the honor of belonging to a critique group with Marianne, Donna Champion and Karen Batchelor. During that time, Marianne was working on her novel The Warzog Era. I helped chauffer her and solve some of the stickier computer issues.

Her alter-ego, Stella Warzog, roars through the pages, letting others describe the amazing Stella, until see speaks for herself in the end. Stella wins her court case in the novel. (How sweet is fiction.)

Marianne ached for herself and all other downtrodden souls from the cruelties of life, but she had a wicked on-target humor too.

I hope you enjoy this glimpse of The Warzog Era by Marianne Ware. Lynn Millar

Preamble: The Decision

Attorney at Law, Daniel Vastwind, awoke early on the morning of August 10th in a highly agitated state. He’d been dreaming about his most difficult client, Stella Warzog, who’d shown up in court wearing a purple velvet hat and an iridescent turquoise dress. Then she’d bellowed at her own colleague and witness, Irina Magnanopolis, who was already on the stand. “Don’'t forget to tell how our sexist pig of a Department Chair called me a ‘fat assed crone’.”

Stella’s outburst in Daniel’s dream was typical of the woman in real life. At the drop of an opportunity she’d open her mouth and reveal everything to anybody: former students, strangers in restaurants, inquiring reporters (of all people), though Vastwind had told her, adamantly, “DON’T discuss the case with anyone!”

Marianne Ware and Rosie

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bodies Nearly Touching

Cover photo Jessica Harpham

Bodies Nearly Touching

Marianne Ware

Some of these poems have appeared in the following publications: Under the Rainbow, The Sonoma County Stump, Voices, Valhalla, Sonoma Mandala,  Iame's Daughters, and First Leaves.

Special Thanks to Hunce Voelcker and Patricia Payne for their respective machines.
© 1982 Marianne Ware
Doris Green Editions
PO Box 783
Monte Rio, CA 95462

for Dave
who comes closest


(alright my mother)
said, (when she was
frazzled, up to here
with me and shopping)
“Stop whining, fidgeting,
that hanging on my skirt
or I’ll just put you
on the escalator,
better yet,
I’ll shove you through the elevator doors
before they close
and then I’ll run,
so you’ll be left to ride
up to the roof
with strangers.”

when we were on the Subway,
if I pulled her arm
again, again, to nag:
“I’m hungry, hungry;
when will we be home;
is this our stop?”
she’d say I was a brat,
that, when I wasn’t looking
she would leave me there,
jump up, sneak out
before the doors whooshed shut.
Then I could ride,
for all she cared,
to Kingdom Come
or Harlem.

That’s why, today,
in Penny’s, The Emporium,
3 thousand miles
from Gimbel’s or the IRT
when I go out alone
I choose the stairs
at 44, I quake
without a mother surrogate
(one who is tolerant and kind)
because I’m still
a rotten kid inside,
braced for abandonment,
convinced that Hell
is a conveyance,
my punishment:
an endless, solitary


In the night my father comes to me;
he is as I once saw him,
before radiology, the knife,
even before diagnosis.
His skull is whole and thick again,
his black eyes drugless and smoldering,
skin no longer ash but coppery, arresting
like a Gypsy’s. As he advances
I become insignificant, without articulation
or body weight to protect me.
He calls me a harpy, an ingrate;
says I’ve blasphemed him for posterity;
numbered his virtues as excesses:
dedication to THE CAUSE
rather than his selfish family
that I lied when I said
he coveted me unnaturally,
because I was the one who lusted.
I am vermin in his eyes he reiterates;
he has never, ever loved me;
there is nothing I can do to compensate:
forgiveness is alien to his rhetoric.
still I go down on my knees before him
kissing the Gestapo hem of his trench coat;
swearing to make misery my mainstay.

In the morning I am insane again,
until the poem pours from me.

                For Gerrye Payne, The Midwife

I remember when we lived on 112th Street in New York City
During the sousing shortage of the late 1940s.
We shared one room, the three of us, in a decrepit old building,
Just half a block and around the corner
From the famous Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Our beds were nearly touching,
A community kitchen down the hallway,
I’d get lost in the corridors looking for the showers,
My father, a dyed in the blood-red radical,
A believer in, “The nobility of the common man,”
Reveled in that atmosphere:
The inconveniences and lack of privacy,
Our beds nearly touching.
My mother swore it was a privilege to live with him,
Down among the multitudes,
We saw twisted, legless wonders
Trussed in carts along the sidewalk, selling pencils.
And I asked to give them money,
But he said, “No! We have to change the system;
Charity perpetuates the scourge of Capitalism.”
“Oh Please,” I begged.  “It’s cold; right now it’s cold.
My God they  must be hungry.”
Which made him turn his wrath on me, to rage
That Heaven would be made on earth, in time, by men like him,
And I must never take that name in vain (the Lord’s)
Because it meant I thought He lived, was not a myth.
Angry Father, righteous Father,
Spewed his doctrine, leftwing gospel , on the pavement,
Struck me blind and mute and once more unaccountable
In the chill of my eleventh winter,
A Baptism, then, of ice instead of fire,
Down the street, a half a block, around the corner
From the famous Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Frigid, rigid, pious Father,
Was there forgiveness in his teachings,
Opiates for someone small and weak and disenfranchised?
Not until I took communion:
Bit the hook, the Party line and the Manifest with the wafer.
Then I could worship him at midnight
When his fellows had departed,
Wise yet furtive in their travels,
See him haloed in the half-light
As he strained against my mother,
While our beds were nearly touching.

I remember in the ’50s on the West Coast
Where we’d come to escape from a tribunal
Led by someone named McCarthy,
How my Father, martyred Father
Gave his relatively young life
For the true Cause and to cancer,
How my mother, sainted mother,
Seemed resigned and then unburdened at his passing,
How it took me so much longer
To become a disbeliever
See our beds no longer touching.

Now I’m older, cured of visions
Of a true church up the block, around the corner,
Or a great and holy Father
Turning chaos into order.
But there are children, little children
Always looking for a Savior
As they tremble in the corridors.
Suffer children, suffer children;
He is risen in the Jungle
Where they’ve fallen with their bodies nearly touching.


On the road to Delano
in the late 1960s
the atheist’s daughter
(a tarnished young woman)
ponders this question:
“What was his name
on the road to Damascus,
Saul something or other?”

A curious thought
for a wanton blasphemer
heading north on the highway,
up from Los Angeles,
over the Grapevine
in a blue station wagon
covered with slogans:
“Viva la Causa!”

Raised as a cynic,
transgressor, irreverent,
she is secretly lusting
to give herself up to
someone who is worthy,
a cause that has meaning.
She’s a penitent,
this journey a pilgrimage.

Not Jesus her Savior
but a poor campesino
Cesar Chavez the leader
of the Farm Worker’s Movement.
San Joaquin is her holy land,
Delano is Calvary;
redemption for bad girls,
salvation for gringos.

“And what was her name,”
[comes another odd question]
“the harlot who washed him,
sponged dirt from his ankles,
she who was pardoned for all indiscretions,
the sins of the fathers
no longer her burden?”

Back home from Delano
in the late 1960s
comes the atheist’s daughter
who’s paid homage to Cesar
(his love like a mother’s).
Now bathed in the aura
of that pacifist martyr,
she’s become a believer.

(I’m Still Crippled)

Confused at the Interachange,
he went all the way to Glendora;
90 miles in the opposite direction
away from home.
Then, miraculously off the Freeway
parked, but with the motor running,
he had one of his seizures.
Luckily a kind man found him,
called his family instead of the Authorities:
a diagnosed epileptic
having no business behind the wheel.

Soon enough, it didn’t matter;
In ’56, brakes and steering gone,
his engine stopped.  Lights out!
Obviously he’d gone over the side,
though no one mentioned a crash.

She’d begun lessons immediately,
mateless, then, chauffeurless.
But her musculature betrayed her;
stiffening in tight corners;
five times she was tested.
After a year Allstate dropped her
for damaging parked vehicles.
The CHP said she held their record
for slow moving violations.
Back to riding busses
she let other men take her.

In my dreams, though, they drag on the Highway,
playing “Chicken,” “Pardon My Dust,”
and “Crinkle Fender.”
She careens, he swerves;
the road narrows.
First I’m with one, then the other.
“Slow down!  Let me out!”
I begin crying, and then--
“Stop, please, you’re trying to kill me--
Poppa!  Momma!”

        for Gerrye Payne and Richard Welin

When asked how it’s done,
We, the artfully married,
Hats full of ready homilies,
Pull out predictable allusions
To ourselves as: barnacles,
Still clinging to a ship in drydock,
Or a stubborn pair of apples
Withering on a bare November tree.

More cunningly we’ll move
To conjure clowns
Cavorting in an empty arena
After the circus leaves town,
Or old war horses galumphing
In the aftermath of the big parade.

Shrewdly, we will never show the hand
Revealing us as:  cannibals,
Stranded by a sudden winter,
Donner-passing the time,
Our hunger, and storms away.

Then, by a not so clever sleight of mind
We could delude ourselves the most
If we forget to say
The whole routine is done with mirrors:
When either face shines back a likeness
Of the other’s private yearning.

And, in that fast-shuffle of illusion,
As we respond to what we call,
“Our partner’s desperation,”
That’s how we work our special magic,
The hocus-pocus of this long time coupling.

MARIANNE WARE, born in New York City on March 24th, 1936, now lives in the country near Guerneville, California. She is a 1976 graduate of Sonoma State University. She has coordinated a successful prose and poetry reading series in Sonoma County for a number of years and is the co-founder of the Russian River Women Writers' Workshop. She is also a member of The Poetry Organization for Women, and The Poetry Society of America. She is currently at work in her novel-in-progress, Real Writing.

Special Thanks to Pat Nolan and Doris Green Editions for the facsimile of this book.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Poems from Tomcat

The Tomcat ©1990
P.O. Box 750251
Petaluma, CA 94975

An introduction by Donna Champion

Marianne Ware is many things to many people: daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and friend. From these numerous and varied roles has emerged a unique and gifted writer. Marianne's writing draws on her New York Jewish roots, life in California and the intricate weavings of the family structure.

She explores the many facets of her characters, their thoughts, emotions and dreams. Marianne instills in her fiction and poetry a wonderful sense of humor, as well as a concern for the human condition. Her writer's voice is not distracted or diminished by trendy styles and subjects; the writing is clear and direct, while her vision encompasses the complexities and absurdities of our daily struggles.

Like her chicken soup, Marianne Ware's writing warms and enriches our lives and nourishes our weary souls. We are lucky to know her. She is a mench, a real person, a real writer.


After a thunderous midnight argument,
a deluge of hailstone dreams,
a night of exposure on opposite ledges
across the king-sized chasm
of our bed,
we awake to a calm, clear morning,
rolling together easily
over a meadow of muslin daisies,
to find there are no gullies
or even fissures between us,
that we are scrubbed down now
and washed, wonderously clean.

Page 2 The Tomcat


Once again
you have invaded my village,
tromped through my secret garden,
confiscated my larder
and pummeled my sacred cow.
You have even raped me,
figuratively speaking,
terrorized me
with your bayonet posturings,
wounded me
with your knife-edged jibes.
I am dizzy
from trying to avoid
your land-mine arguments
occupied to the point of madness
with thoughts of
the Resistance forces
hidden in my basement below.
Yet, even as you slay me,
I understand that you were
forcefully induced
(just like countless armies
of your brothers),
given brutal basic training
(childhood in our culture)
for this life, this world,
this maim-or-be-maimed
combat zone.


My nose,
in middle age,
is so much bigger now.
It droops a whole lot
lower down than in my teens.
But finally it seems just right,
quite logically protuberant:
the ethnic hook my face was meant
to hang upon.


In the camp kitchen, amidst pots
large enough to make dragon stew
for all the Knights of the Round Table;
staples ample enough to last
a passel of Dust Bowl kinfolk,
all the long 1930's way to California;
dishes numerous enough
for the family reunion
of the oldest, most prolific
couple in the U.S.A.,
I find myself sore-footed,
backachy, resentful-
stirring spaghetti sauce for 300-
imagining locusts
chomping up the grain belt;
cattle all over Texas, Wyoming, Montana
bloated and dying in every culvert;
all the tomato plants in America
stricken with blight,
and even the delicious summer grasses
(tossed with dandelion and miner's lettuce)
outside in the bowl-shaped meadow,
withered, suddenly,
inedibly parched,
then blackened to the ground.


Some poets' landscapes
are too stark for me,
their vistas spare,
deprived in form and content,
so I get hungry at the breaks,
each time a bloodless phrase
is turned, and skinny similes
just ramble dryly on and on.

Too quickly I begin to crave
cream cheesy themes,
an ample bagel's verve,
pastrami, lox,
where there's no heft,
no meat, just desert sand,
a shade like Gulden's mustard
yet without its zip,
is smooth, cohesive texture.

I long for something solid, then:
good chewy chunks of speech
like Polish sausage, pumpernickel;
yet all I get are tasteless dunes,
bland Yucca spears,
a slice or more of cryptic sky.

Mojave pastorales are not for me;
their mesas beckon mainly to ascetics
who think of substance as a sin,
and that a worthy feast
is made of wind and grit
(no caraway) blown carelessly
across some bleached white
bones of words.
f there's no piquant pickle's bite,
no corny-beefy lines to love,
no beaming human being, there,
gesticulating at me
from behind the counter's glass,
then I repeat, reiterate:
a poem isn't much,
it's really desiccated,
without a deli in it.

The Tomcat Page 3


There is a walrus stranded in my bed;
slack.eyed, with belly up, he roan.
His tusks, glistening in the pre-dawn light,
seem less ferocious than you'd think,
although his snarls could wake the deaf,
barbinrrated, tsetse fly infected.
Awhile ago I read that whales
had beached themselves
along the southern California shore,
and certain people were concerned enough
to volunteer to push them back into the surf,
because they know: a whale out of its element
can crush itself to death with its own weight.
What can I do, these precious minutes, hours
as his moustache trembles and that clangor
issues only inches from my head? I've tried
to move away, to find a quiet place,
but he begins to squirm upon these gritty sheets
as if protesting my defection,
then flops his head about
and blares a trumpet off in all directions.
Could he have parasites - just like the whales -
affecting his poor brain and snout?
Or, does he thrash, a crazed, would-be seabound
somnambulant who dreams his mate and pups
are gone, his feeding grounds defiled,
his kindred maimed or dead.
In any case, this human lies here pinioned,
pensive, sleepless while that snoozing creature
e'roons his grating, mournful song.
I can't deprive him of his rest, appropriate
what Nature really meant for us to share.
There is a walrus stranded in my bed,
with on-shore rights atop these foamy dunes,
a claim upon these patchworked sands.


When asked how it's done,
we, the artfully married,
hats full of ready homilies,
pull out predictable allusions
to ourselves as barnacles,
still clinging to a ship in drydock,
or a srubbom pair of apples
withering on a bare November tree.
More cunningly, we'll move
to conjure clowns
cavorting in an empty arena
after the circus leaves town
or old war hones galumphing
in the aftermath of the big parade.
Shrewdly, we will never show the hand
revealing us as cannibals,
stranded by a sudden winter,
Donner-passing the time,
our hunger and the storfixi away.
Then, by a not so clever slight of mind,
we could delude ourselves the most
if we forget to say
the whole routine is done with mirrors,
when either face shines back a likeness
of the other's private yearning.
And, in that fast shtffle of illusion,
as we respond to what we call
our partner's desperation,
thaCs how we work our special magic,
the hocus-pocus of this long-time coupling.

Some of these poems have previously appeared in First Leaves, Dremning of Wings, The Paper, Power and Work, and The Sonoma Mandala.