NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD Express %26 Inspire Development %26 Publication

Suzanne Lummis

When Larry Left Town

a collaborative group poem for Larry Colker from Suzanne Lummis’s Poetry Workshop

my cat called all day

for his poems—

not her usual, commonplace meow,

but a call with a coyote note,

Suzanne Lummis

a night-time-creature-with-insomnia-

at-High-Noon note,

a bluish



and nothing would appease her,

not even Friskies white fish and tuna fillets.

When Larry left town

every marionette sagged on its strings

followed his lanky gait

with painted eyes

wooden sighs.

Mary Fitzpatrick

It's okay,

he winked, and uttered some lines

that lifted their knees and wrists

clattered their limbs and

with his breezy assay


When Larry Colker left town

was it fate or chance, this relocation,

this alteration in the space/time continuum?

Marilyn Robertson

Back in my own, I watch the ghosts

of his youth dance in jerky simulacrum

to the staccato chattering of the family

projector, images in light neither time

nor space can erase.

When Larry left town

I was on jury duty. Larry

would have liked all the people

who brought books,

silenced their phones,

Cece Peri

opened doors for each other.

When we stood, the judge asked,

Can you be fair and impartial?

I said, Not today, Your Honor,

I’m just not feelin’ it.

Swear to God.

When Larry left town

I congregated alone in the middle of the street

outside Suzanne’s place like we used to do

in the cool poetry night air

where instead of farewells, we’d made a ritual

Beth Ruscio

of repeating the workshop’s winning phrases

unable, or just unwilling to stop

constructing and deconstructing

a stack of words

we would treat

with the reverence of monuments

and cultivating what Larry celebrated—

the triumph of a strong distaff voice.

When Larry left town

we were down a prophet

who could alert us to

bursts of glory, revelation.

The exuberance of that girl

in The Leap

Cathie Sandstrom

I remain converted

waiting for a return

of that rapturous rush,

grateful for his quickening

the girl I still carry.


When Larry left town

the LA sky grew quiet.

Birds followed him

onto the crowded highway,

Sharon Venezio

across the desert,

through the great plains,

navigating by the sound of his poems,

words dancing through the air

like tumbleweeds.

Back in our quiet-skyed city,

we recite amnesia and wings,

thank the winking stars

that beat white against the night.

When Larry Left Town

I headed to the Natural History Museum’s butterfly pavilion

and looked for his poems

among the amnesiac Buck Eyes

Monarchs and Swallowtails.

Their riotous colors

hinted at his wild imaginings

Jessica Goodheart


their zigs and zags

at his surprise moves on the page

from wit to sorrow

from joy to longing

and one Gray Cracker in a mottled cloak

blended with tree bark, flat-winged

and ever watchful.


When Larry left town,

waitresses stalled out on the 405

and howled, coffee pouring

from their hoods. As drivers inched past,

each of them felt a little less


David Eadington


But Doris wasn't driving; she steered

customers away from the back booth,

where Larry's poems gathered to chat.

She'd be sure to top off their cups,

and idle with them just a while.

Suzanne Lummis is a poet, writer, arts organizer, and teacher in Los Angeles. She leads private workshops and has taught for many years through the UCLA Extension Writers’ program where she evolved courses in poetic craft, the persona poem, and the poem noir (“Poetry Goes to the Movies”). This collaborative poem was generated as a spontaneous tribute by Suzanne Lummis and members of her long-running workshop.

— posted November 2018

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