Author Archives: lityoungstown

Two Poems by Lena Carson

DSC_0529Aren’t you glad your feet are at the bottom of your legs?

What if your feet were at the end of your arms?

You would have to grab things with your toes

You might bite your toes when you eat a sandwich

And it would smell like sweat

You would have to walk upside down

And you would probably get a headache

And you couldn’t see very far

If you tried to swing, you would have to lay on your belly to reach the ground

Your footless stumps would drag through the mulch and make a big mess

It would be so embarrassing

I give the whole thing a big thumbs down

Because I can


Love can travel like sound

Sound comes from moving things

It’s called vibration

Slow vibrations make low notes like a sad moan from all over the world

Fast vibrations make high notes like a lonely song on the top of a mountain

A sound can hold love inside it

My big heart vibrates fast

My love is strong

Love travels like sound

It can travel many miles

It doesn’t need a plane

And you can be happy because love can travel

It doesn’t need a hug

And you will feel that I love you

I love you

I love you

And I am happy to send you my love

COVID 19 Poem by Gregg Gaylord

Many thanks to Youngstown’s native son Dr. Gaylord for sharing this poem with us.

Ode for COVID 19

Covid 19, so much to adore.
Your lightning journey around the world
Hitchhiking in the cells of human travelers
Riding shedded droplets
Is no less an adventure than our noble attempts to explore the universe.
Not alive, you stir the passions of an entire species when you changed ever so slightly the RNA
strands nested in your womb
And then quietly, like a soft breath blowing out a candle, went dancing in the air into your host
as one
Finding fertile ground then multiplying and filling cellular minions uncountable as the stars.
I can’t help but admire your tiny package with simple threads of chemical code that becomes “us”;
When you stab medieval spikes through our last protective lining and empty your load into the
very cells we need to breathe, and hence to live;
No wall nor team of tyrants can stop you.
But your cowardice is revealed as you attack the weak and drown them — from within — in their
own fluids
Leaving them lifeless with lungs soaked like sponge in the ocean.
And when you prey upon us using our own kind as carriers making us unwitting accomplices,
Our unwitting baptism allowing your greasy membrane coating to explode your vile contents so
carefully transported to avoid detection strike through an armor of mace-like tentacles
Creating a path of utter destruction in those who cannot respond.
But still, a small group of people spread over those very airways and wet surfaces you traveled
and who, in a global effort, are weaving a trap of tools that your hosts and victims created
exclusively for you.
We can find your RNA sequence, we can find your composition and structure.
We can kill you with the simplicity of soap and water. And we can work to smother you with
antibodies stimulated by pieces of your body. We have a loom, and we will make a fine prison
for you. Your clever method of escape will keep us busy, but we will not fail.
Covid 19, you are not life
Covid 19, you are not alive.
And we refuse to die.

Gregg M. Gaylord, MD, was born in Cleveland and raised Youngstown. He attended Rayen and Liberty High School, and graduated with the class of 1972 before studying psychobiology and philosophy at NYU. He graduated in 1981 from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He is a fellow in the Society of Interventional Radiology and Medical Director of the Vascare Ambulatory Surgery Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Thank You, Youngstown Foundation!

Join us in profound thanks for a programming grant from the Youngstown Foundation Charles W. Darling Family Endowment Fund. The $5615 grant will support  programs in 2020 and 2021, including the First Wednesday Readers Series, the monthly Teen Writers Workshop, Adult-teen creative writing classes, and a paid internship to provide support for the Fall Literary Festival.

We are honored to celebrate the legacy of the late history professor Charles W. Darling, known for the folk music show on WYSU that ran 48 years. He was also the author of science fiction novels. The Foundation’s gift will support other Youngstown and regional writers, and we thank them.


April First Wednesday Canceled but send us your funny business

pexels-photo-2964115We joked about April Fool’s, but now we’re on the banana peel. It was going to be a barrel of monkeys hearing your hilarious poems and stories, and many thanks to Tom Beck for agreeing to kick it off.

Hey wait! Do you have a funny story or poem? Send it to us here and we’ll post them on our website. Meanwhile, it’s hard to tell how the near future looks, so let’s stay in touch. Here’s the plan:

2020 First Wednesday Readers Series
May 6 Angie Orlando (memoir), Christine Howey (poetry)
June 3 Nikki Robinson (poetry), Terry Provost (poetry)
July 1 Diane Kendig (poetry), Hannah Rodabaugh (poetry)
August 5 Kathleen Strafford (poetry), Ted Lardner (poetry)
September 2 Susan Petrone (fiction), William Heath (poetry)
October 7 Kelly Bancroft (play), Jessica Jewell (poetry)
November 4 Craig Paulenich (poetry) & James Winter (fiction), NEOMFA reunion reading

Workshop: Writing as the Character in Poetry

Writing as the Character in Poetry

Whether humorous, intense, dramatic, or morbid, poets use persona as the speaker in poems to bring the reader into an imagined experience, new take on a story, or an entirely new world. The workshop will help to develop a strong sense of imagined-self in poetic characters with techniques lent from fiction and acting to open the imagination and create the strongest personas possible. This is a fun, generative workshops. Writers will go home with at least six new pieces. Writers of all genre are welcome!

Writing as the Character in Poetry. Teens & Adults. All experience levels welcome. Saturday, May 2, 1:00-4:00, St. John’s Episcopal Church,  323 Wick Ave. Course fee: $15 (collected at workshop). Need-based scholarships are available. Register here by April 19.

Meet the teaching artist: Jessica Fischoff is the Editor and Owner of [PANK], Editor and Owner of American Poetry Journal, author of the little book of poems, The Desperate Measure of Undoing (Across the Margin, 2019) and Editor of the upcoming Pittsburgh Anthology (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2020). Her thoughts on editing appear in Best American Poetry and The Kenyon Review. Her writing appears in Diode Poetry Journal, Fjords Review, The Southampton Review, Yemassee, and Prelude.

Food for Thought: The Hidden Half of Nature


We picked this book out half a year ago for our series on humankind in the natural world; who knew it would be so relevant?

The Hidden Half of Nature is described as an “ambitious and prodigiously researched book” that presents a “romantic view of the microbial world” by Sonia Shah, a science journalist writing for The New York Times.
“At the heart of this delightful book lies the simple belief that microbes have ‘shaped our past and how we treat them will shape our future in ways we are only beginning to understand.’” Publishers Weekly Review
“A must-read for avid gardeners, those interested in bolstering our precarious food supply, or anyone remotely concerned about their health and the soil under their feet.” Kirkus Reviews Review
“Eye opening … A must for all fascinated by the workings of the body and for those concerned with health care and the environment.” Booklist

You can find copies of the book through YSU Maag Library via OhioLink, the YSU Barnes & Noble, or the authors’ chosen links for purchase listed on their website.

Food for Thought book discussion will be hosted by our community partner Cultivate Cafe, 901 Elm St., on Wednesday, April 8, from 6:00-7:00 pm. If you would like to order a bite to eat, please arrive well before the counter closes at 6:00. Haven’t read the book yet? No worries. Join us.

No Fools, Just Fun: April 1 Features Storyteller Tom Beck & Humor Open Mic

THIS EVENT IS CANCELED but send your funny poems and stories to Lit

Join us for a celebration of April Fool’s with an evening of humor and play. Storytelling by Tom Beck. Open mic to follow–bring funny or playful work. We will also be celebrating National Sourdough Bread Day, so bring your favorite topping. It’s also, and we are not making this up, National Soylent Green Day. Haha yeah, we’ll be skipping that one. Wednesday, April 1 at the Soap Gallery, 117 S. Champion St., 7:00-9:00.

tom_beckTom Beck served on the faculty and as an administrator for 35 years at The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. Tom taught courses in Speech, Business Communication, Media, and Broadcasting. Tom was responsible for the operation of WZIP-FM radio station licensed in Akron serving central NE Ohio. WZIP consistently held the position of largest audience listenership for stations in its category nationwide and was awarded National Signature Station by the Broadcaster Education Association. Tom worked as a broadcaster in radio and television during his career in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and instructed in high schools, community Continue reading