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​           The ABC's of Memory
        Poems by Lenny Lianne
"Lenny Lianne's poems in The ABC's of Memory are like sharpened snapshots of local color against a backdrop of American folly and longing...alternately gritty, sexy, lofty, tender and deeply ironic, they raise a strident cry for independence from the stale attitudes of the past."  D.D Delaney, author, "The Holy Fool" and" Pastures of the Sun"

Arranged in two alphabets:  "An Alphabet from an Ample Nation" and "An Alphabet of Modest Means",  Lianne muses on American life in the twentieth century.

    BASIC TRAINING

In the beginning the body parts,
small, sharp-pronged and plastic,
came in a Mr. Potato Head Kit

– the first toy advertised on TV.
Same as Kix, Frosted Flakes 
or Sugar Pops, we had to have them.

For less than a buck, we bought 
two mouths, four eyes, ears, limbs,
four noses, three hats, eyeglasses

and a dapper pipe, all for poking
into russet potatoes. Our delight
wasn’t in arranging silly faces.

No, what thrilled us was to thrust
the spiked pieces through the skin
of a dumb spud, to smack and stab.

By second grade, attentions turned
to Timmy Cooper whom we chased
around the asphalt schoolyard.

Timmy would weep like a girl as we 
goaded him into handing over his roll 
of Lifesavers, his latest Pez dispenser.

In our surly teens, we toughed out
dark moods with charcoal-filtered 
cigarettes (“Us Tareyton smokers

would rather fight than switch”), 
flicking butts and snuffing them out 
with the toe of our oxblood Weejuns.

We smashed empty Pabst and Schlitz 
cans, one-handed, and lobbed them, 
the arc descending into distant corners.  

Drafted, we traded our floppy hair
for buzz cuts, our jeans for fatigues,
and marched or ran for miles.

We found out how to field-strip M14s
and pull the pin on hand grenades.
We believed we were ready.


    FULL OF GRACE

Me, I knew I’d never be cut out 
to be a movie-star glamour queen
like Elizabeth Taylor of my paper dolls

so I vowed to grow up to be a nun
during the day and ballerina at night
when I was in Catholic first grade.

To be attired in an ankle-length
outfit, even one so formless,
with the window of my face framed

by a white wimple while sunshine
slanted into classroom number 4
as if straight down from heaven itself,

making me as luminous as the angels
or saints on the holy cards I’d hand out
to eager learners who looked up to me

as bride of Christ and source of wisdom,
well, that was pretty impressive stuff
but undoubtedly just a day job.

So I fancied I’d dance at night
dressed in profuse layers of pale tulle,
one of the beauties in a corps de ballet.

Nightly, I’d wear pink rouge and lipstick,
powder my face, neck and shoulders
and put my beautiful hair in a bun.

Maybe all I wanted in those days
when I couldn’t even skip rope
with any skill and was self-conscious

was to be both beautiful and blessed
so I clung to what I understood
as those ambitions most full of grace.











Poetry
​     



PLAYS FOR TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS 

SHAKESPEARE AFTER SCHOOL
An Hilarious One Act for Two Characters
by: D. D. Delaney
This funny one act features scenes from Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet in an unusual format—as ornaments brightening the lives of two high school custodians. All ages will enjoy this 45-minute "play within a play," offering a peek into the secret life of stage-struck custodians Rudy Mahoney and Flo Berry, who—after school, pretend they are Shakespearean actors, passionately playing their scenes as they imagine "real actors" would do. They transform themselves into Lord and Lady Macbeth, Brutus and Portia, Caesar and Calphurnia, and Lord and Lady Capulet, the unfortunate parents of Juliet. When they discover they are being watched—by a group of students at an unannounced play practice—the embarrassed custodians must adapt by including their audience in several of their scenes, creating an interactive performance. Approximately the length of a standard class, Shakespeare After School can stand alone or, combined with its sequel, Shakespeare: Playing for Laughs, can serve as the first act of a full-length theatrical entertainment.
The Characters:
Rudy Mahoney
Flo Berry
These characters are portrayed by character actors who will make them their own!
The Scene: This play should take place on a stage, or at the front of a large classroom. The props and costumes reflect that magical transformation from School Custodial staff to Elizabethan Europe.
From The Play…
(Standing facing each other—Flo right, Rudy left—in front of table, they pick up cups and toast each other with stiff artificiality. Then, Rudy, as Macbeth, turns downstage. Flo resumes Lady Macbeth.)
Macbeth: You know your own degrees: sit down. 
(Pause. Rudy is staring at the audience. Flo soon sees what he is staring at and stares herself. Rudy shifts uncomfortably toward her.)
Rudy: Flo. There are a whole bunch of students out there, watching us.
Flo: I see them, Rudy.
Rudy: What are they doing here? 
Flo: I don't know.
Rudy: Well...how long have they been there? 
Flo: I don't know. 
Rudy: Wait a minute. They're here for play practice!
Flo: Play practice?
Rudy: I forgot all about it! It was a change in the schedule, Miss Schock told me yesterday. What're we going to do? We're caught red-handed!
Flo: Don't panic. Improvise. Maybe they'd like to play our royal guests at the banquet.
Rudy: Are you serious?
Flo: Why not? They're here, aren't they? They're actors! It could be worse. Let me talk to them. You set up some chairs.
Rudy: Well, okay, if you say so. 
(Rudy sets up six folding chairs around the upstage rim of the table, a bench along the downstage rim. Flo comes downstage to the audience and recruits volunteers—three males, three females—to fill the chairs. Rudy places them, a volunteer standing at each chair.)
Flo: Hey. Hi. You sure took us by surprise! So...what can I say? We're playing Shakespeare. It's...like a hobby we have. You know, like...karaoke, when you teach yourself to perform your favorite songs. Well, we want to play the banquet scene from Macbeth. And you could help. Could I have some volunteers to be guests at the royal banquet table? Yes, you, and you, and you. Thank you for volunteering! Come right up and have seats, here, here, you there beside him, that's it. Now, the rest of you, imagine that you're guests at this banquet, too. You see, the Mac Bees are throwing a big, important dinner party, the first one since they became King and Queen. They've got to make a good impression, just about every important person in Scotland is there—including one guest who definitely was not invited. And that makes you all witnesses to some very bizarre behavior.
(They begin the scene, as before.) 
Macbeth: You know your own degrees: sit down. 
(Volunteers sit in chairs. Flo-Lady Macbeth sits on bench.)
Macbeth: At first and last the hearty welcome.
Here had we now our country's honor roof'd,
were the graced person of our Banquo present;
who may I rather challenge for unkindness
than pity for mischance!
Lady Macbeth: His absence, lord,
lays blame upon his promise. Please your Highness
to grace us with your royal company?
Macbeth: The table's full.
Lady Macbeth: Here is a place reserved, sir.
Macbeth: Where?
Lady Macbeth: Here, my good lord! 
(Macbeth stares in horror at Banquo’s ghost, seated invisible on the bench next to Lady Macbeth.) 
Lady Macbeth: What is't that moves your Highness?
Macbeth: Which of you has done this?
Lady Macbeth: What, my good lord?
Macbeth: (To ghost) Thou canst not say I did it! Never shake thy gory locks at me.

Shakespeare: Playing For Laughs
An Hilarious One Act for Two Characters
by: D. D. Delaney
This funny play is a 45-minute educational entertainment featuring scenes from A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Winter's Tale, The Taming of the Shrew, and The Merchant of Venice. High school custodians Rudy Mahoney and Flo Berry find themselves catapulted into new careers as a touring duo. Their passion for Shakespeare extends to the art of comedy, interspersing their 45-minute performance with insightful commentary on the art of comedy, wisdom and, of course, The Bard. Approximately the length of a standard class, Shakespeare: Playing for Laughs can stand alone, or combine with Shakespeare After School, into a full-length theatrical entertainment.
The Characters:
Rudy Mahoney
Flo Berry
These school custodians should be portrayed by character actors who will make them their own.
The Scene: A bare stage or the front of a large classroom. The real show is the character acting, the costumes and the custodial props turned as if by magic, into Shakespearean paraphernalia.
From The Play:
Bottom (Rudy): God's my life! I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream. Methought I was…there is no man can tell what. Methought I was, and methought I had… But a man is a patch'd fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballet of this dream. It shall be called "Bottom's Dream," because it hath no Bottom. 
(Exit Bottom. Enter Flo, dressed as Shepherd’s Son.)
Flo: Your secret's out, Rudy Mahoney! We know all about you now!
Rudy: (From offstage) What? That I'm a jackass in disguise?
Flo: You said it, I didn't.
Rudy: (Still off) Hey, I'm just an actor. I don't write this stuff.
Flo: That's no excuse. You couldn't play it if your heart wasn't in it.
Rudy: What's that? The Flo Berry theory of acting?
Flo: It's not a theory, its’ common sense. Good acting comes from the heart. Don't you agree? 
Rudy: (Entering, carrying Old Shepherd’s costume and barn basket) I identify with Bottom because he's a lot like me. 
Flo: Isn't that what I just said? 
Rudy: I mean, Bottom is a working man. I'm a working man. He aspires to be an artist. I aspire to be an artist. 
Flo: Maybe that's why Shakespeare has him turn into a jackass.
Rudy: To make fun of artists?
Flo: You can't have comedy unless you're making fun of something. Or someone.
Rudy: Now you mention it, I have a socially conscious friend who disapproves of humor. He never laughs or makes jokes. He says it's a form of cruelty.
Flo: Maybe he's right.


























D.D. and Jolla in Dress Rehearsal

​Book: Venue Voices: Conversations about Race among Poets, by D. D. Delaney, a compelling stage drama with six actors sharing stories, wishes and problems dealing with contemporary racial encounters.

Publishing:   February, 2016
























































Fanny and Manny Tie the Knot
BEST ALWAYS, MARILYN MONROE
Time: 1954 to 1962 
Cast:  Marilyn, Joe DiMaggio, Arthur Miller (these are effectively played by the same actor)
A male and female crew to perform the telephone voices and change over the simple set between scenes. (This play was a finalist in the Virginia Prize for Playwriting in 1980 and has enjoyed several productions and good reviews)
ACT I: SCENE 1: February 1961. The maximum care ward at Payne-Whitney Psychiatric Hospital, New York.
SCENE 2. September 1954. A suite at the St. Regis Hotel, New York.
SCENE 3. July 1956. The master bedroom in a British country cottage at Eggham in Windsor Park.
ACT II: SCENE 1: Same as Act I opening.
SCENE 2. August 1960. A trailer on the set of The Misfits in the desert outside of Reno, Nevada.
SCENE 3. August 4, 1962. Marilyn’s bedroom on Fifth Helena Drive.
From the Play:
JOE: Yeah. I was thinkin’ about you all night long, too. So was every male in New York City.
MARILYN: (SHE FIXES HIM A DRINK AT THE CABINET/BAR) What? Are you sending off jealous radiations? When are you gonna understand, Joe, that this is my career. What? Did you hear about the crowds watching the scene outside?
JOE: Winchell came over. Toots’ and I went out with him and saw the whole damn thing. That was some exhibition.
MARILYN: (HANDS HIM HIS DRINK AND TURNS OFF THE TV. SITS DOWN IN THE OTHER CHAIR) Wasn’t that a great scene, though? I mean everybody loved it. Was it the way all those men were hooting and calling out to me that bothered you? Did you say you were with Walter Winchell? Fabulous! I wonder what he’ll have to say.
JOE: He’ll probably say that every bum from here to Harlem was out last night, getting’ a little piece of my wife.
MARILYN: No wonder I was thinkin’ about you. You were right there all along. Why didn’t you tell me?
JOE: (HE GETS UP, SWALLOWS HIS DRINK AND STRIDES AWAY FROM HER) I was disgusted.

This play was a finalist in the Virginia Prize for Playwriting in 1980.








      I am the Brother of Dragons
             by Gillette Elvgren
The plays in this anthology were written over a period of ten years primarily for youth at the middle and high school level. They deal with social problems and can be catalogued as social action/problem/edu-tainment drama. They were commissioned by two professional companies, the NEW CITY THEATRE and SALTWORKS THEATRE COMPANY in Pittsburgh. The plays deal with a wide range of problems and stress areas for youth. I AM THE BROTHER OF DRAGONS focuses on the problems that having a teenaged chemical substance addict create within the family. ALL DRESSED UP is concerned with sexual activity in the high school arena with an emphasis onabstinence. DROP OUT addresses the chronic problem of drop outs in urban schools and proposes a positive approach to looking at this concern. OPHELIA LIVES features a drama team that is doing scenes from HAMLET as they explore Ophelia’s angst in terms of modern teen conundrums, such as eating disorders, cutting, and suicide. THREE LONG DAYS puts five kids in a “Survivor’ situation in which they spend three days on a deserted stage and have to explore the values of self esteem, learning to work together and support one another.
From:  I am the Brother of Dragons:  
CAST: 
SONNY
MOM
DAD 
SIS
(They all do a lot of doubling up.)
SCENE ONE: FAMILY PHOTO  
(Simple set. Consisting only of four chairs MOM, DAD and SIS enter and take stylized pose. Mom and Dad stand behind. Masks will come off and on during the first scene.) 
ALL: Hi!
DAD: We’re your typical American family.
ALL: That's right.
MOM: Church on Sundays.
DAD: Throw the ball around with the kid.
SIS: Bedtime stories. Did I ever tell you the one about . . .?
MOM:   (Interrupted.)  We do things together, like trips to the mall.
DAD: I got a minivan. V six. Bucket seats.
MOM: So we can rattle around, you know.
ALL: Together.
DAD: Smile!  (Steps forward.)  I work for Heinz in Pittsburgh. (Mask off.)  It's not easy, with all the new things they teach kids in college these days. They teach those kids things that I've never heard of. You've got to keep on your toes, work hard.
SONNY/SIS: (Echo) Work hard! 
DAD: He wants weights. (Sonny poses.) She's got to have ballet lessons (Sis poses.) and you want to go to where, Jamaica this summer?
MOM:  (Mask off.)  Frank, we don't see you anymore.
DAD: (Mask on.)  We do things together. Like picnics, Memorial Day.
MOM: You fell asleep.
DAD: I was tired.
MOM: You drank a six pack of beer those big cans, Frank.
DAD: (Mask off.) That was six months ago.
MOM: You know what I mean.
DAD: No, I don't know what you mean.
MOM: Shhh! Don't yell.  (DAD stops. Masks on. ) Smile!  (They pose again. Slower this time. MOM takes mask off, steps forward.) 
MOM: It's a full time job keeping this family on the right track and moving along I wish I had the time. Frank does O.K. at Heinz (mask on in response to Frank), I mean he's a good provider. For all that we never seem to be able to make ends meet. So, I work too . . . I’m a travel agent. I'm the one who actually arranges vacations to all those far away places you read about. Exotic islands and beautiful cities. Those far away places seem so romantic. That's really what I love, deep down, Romance and adventure... (Mask on.) And the security of home, of course... So in my free time which isn't much I take out my lap top and work on one of my novels: Desires of the Islander. (SONNY and SIS pose.) It's one of those historical romances. But it's not trashy! Just fun, escapist stuff. I love that. That's why I want to go to Jamaica. It's so primitive and rustic -- not so many bars



                      EVERYKID
                  by: Gillette Elvgren
                  A  PARTICIPATIONAL Play 
                modeled on the play EVERYMAN
Characters:
Everyboy
Everygirl
Wizard
Magician
Nit
Wit
(The play takes place in various locations indicated by simple props.)
SCENE ONE
(EVERYBOY and EVERYGIRL enter, obviously perturbed at each other.)
TOGETHER: Why don’t you grow up!
EVERYGIRL: Oh you’re impossible. Don’t wiggle your nose at me.
EVERYBOY: And you can please remove your finger from my face – don’t point, it’s impolite.
EVERYGIRL: Umph! I’ll point if I like. (She points up and all about.) People POINT all the time. (To audience) If any of you kids have ever pointed anywhere, anytime at anything or anybody raise your hand. See? Now, keep your hand up and close all your fingers but your first one. There, Everyboy. Everybody is pointing, and it’s perfectly alright.
EVERYBOY: They’re pointing up. Big deal. Nobody ever points up. Up is no place to point.
EVERYGIRL: Up is everywhere to point. Let’s show him. (Makes sound of airplane.) Look. There’s a jet flying high. There’s a jet way up in the sky.
EVERYBOY: Show me. I love jets. All that power, all that speed. Like huge shiny metal birds.  (He flies around the stage and then grabs EVERYGIRL’S hand.)
EVERYBOY: Look what you’re doing.
EVERYBOY: What?
EVERYGIRL: You’re holding my hand!
EVERYGIRL and EVERYBOY: Yuck!
EVERYBOY: Now show me!
EVERYGIRL:  (Not pointing.) Look, it’s over there.
EVERYBOY: I can’t see it.
EVERYGIRL: You’re not looking at the right spot.
EVERYBOY: Give me a clue.
EVERYGIRL:  (Not pointing.)  It’s near that cloud.
EVERYBOY: Which cloud? The sky is full of clouds.
EVERYGIRL: That big white one with humps and a tail.
EVERYBOY: But they’re all white and big and they all seem to have humps and a tail. Point. Don’t just stand there. Point. My neck is getting all cricked up. Please point.
EVERYGIRL: Point? But you said …
EVERYBOY: Forget what I said.
EVERYGIRL: ... that pointing was impolite.
EVERYBOY: I take it back. Pointing is princely....  
         A Wilderness of Riches
         Voices of the Virginia Colony
         poems by Lenny Lianne "...recounts the Jamestown settlement in narrative poems...Lianne's book is a fine addition to the ...lore of Jamestown" Scott Whitaker, The Broadkill Review

   This Natural World
The black bear, midstream,
swats a trout out of the water

The eagle reads a field
and drops down with open talons.

What we call the wilderness 
is nothing but itself,

full of sacrifice, of frail
connections and unfastenings.

A snub-tailed bobcat in a thicket
watches the meadow for movement.

The moment happens, unheard
and unhurried.  With pleasure,

we tell ourselves and otheSrs
we are outsiders in this place

though something ancient 
paces within each of us.

Face to Face with Smith Once Again
'"They did tell us always you were dead"
        Pocahontas in England, early 1617.

Seeing you again is like falling
forcefully into light, a gravity
of souls, even though I'm told
there is no resurrection in this life.

Seeing you again I'm aware
how we carry frail ghosts
as memories that fan their wings
and alight, unasked, in the present.

Seeing you after these seven years
opens my grief again like white wings
of a moth, fragile shreds like ash
that waft stubbornly into bright light.

Forgive me if I turn away.


"The Crossing", "Encounter", and "Face to Face with Smith once Again"  have won prestigious poetry awards.



  Frenzy of Color, Reverie of Line
        Poems on the Life and Art   
             of  Vincent van Gogh
             by Lenny Lianne
"For poetry and art lovers alike...those who love Vincent's paintings and drawings, and those who love words that bring pictures to life, Lianne incorporates his own words into ...her poems, and has included...his drawings and paintings with the poems"...Kit Schmeiser, from Amazon.
​             
​             PAINTING THE STARS
             Saint-Remy-de-Provence 
Painting the far-flung stars is as close to prayer
as a whore passing for an angel in dreams.
How can I say what grace such darkness will bear?

I watch the lamps of heaven waver and flare.
So out of reach, like a strumpet’s esteem.
Painting the far-flung stars, I suppose, is prayer.

I guess God pierces the meniscus of air
and installs each star as a distant dot that gleams.
How can I say what grace such darkness will bear?

On earth, even dirt cradles meek seeds with care
while I hunger for more than food, it seems.
My painting the far-flung stars is close to prayer.

Alone, I feel broken in life, and often despair
of locating solace in my few earthy schemes.
How can I say what grace such darkness will bear?

Painting the far-flung stars is as close to prayer
as my constant talk of love amid tears and screams.
Lost or saved, I turn my face to the far elsewhere.
How can I say what grace such darkness will bear?


ARTIST’S SIGNATURE

I sign my work, simply inscribing 
Vincent. Nothing else but my name
in round, roman letters like pebbles
placed in a row to edge a path.

No van Gogh. 

as if I were walking far away
from my father and his unctuous
faith, far from art-dealer uncles,
purely vendors with dulled tastes.

I am not a van Gogh.

Merely Vincent in plain letters
like wet footprints impressed by work 
boots and wooden clogs of a peasant,
coming in from fields and croplands.

Vincent, signed in modest print.






















The Snow Queen
by Gillette Elvgren 
About the Play: This is a family friendly Christmas play adapted from Hans Christian Anderson. We follow the adventures of the young girl Gerda as she strives to free her best friend Kay from the icy grip of the Snow Queen. She battles the elements, escapes from robbers, is helped by a variety of human and animal characters, and, finally confronts the Snow Queen with the help of children from the audience. This play premiered professionally with Saltworks Theatre Company in Pittsburgh and has since had several University productions.
Cast: It should be noted that the original style of production
was done in such a manner that no more than 9 actors were
necessary to do all of the parts.
GERDA, an eleven year old girl.
KAY a year or so older, Gerda's best friend.
THE SNOW QUEEN
GRANDMOTHER
MEG
CHEW
NIBBLES
DOG
REINDEER  
OLD FINNISH LADY
WIND
SNAKE  
 DEVIL
DEVIL'S MATE
(Assorted "Actor" and "Snowflake" roles.)
 Time: 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Settings are various.
From the Script: SCENE ONE
NARRATOR: Once upon a time.... for that's the way most good fairy tales begin-- Once upon a time— which means that it took place sometime ago so once upon a time. . . I want you to know this isn't a story I've just made up, it could happen to you. Alright, for the last time. once upon a time there lived a bad goblin... no, "bad" isn't good enough for him for he was the devil, the worst goblin of them all.
(Actor puts on devil masks. Other actors with masks around the DEVIL)
DEVIL:
Take a pinch of pride,
Add a single tear,
Mix in a drop of despair,
And make a magic mirror. 
(ACTORS make a mirror. This can be done with sticks or mimed or anyway that you want to do it.)
DEVIL: A special mirror indeed. It makes the pretty look ugly, it makes truth look like a lie, for with my mirror you can't believe your eye. A Love song will sound delightfully like a curse, and if you've something wrong with you my mirror will, make it look ten times worse.
DEVIL'S MATE: Would you look at all those happy faces sitting around in a ring.
DEVIL; Look at that cute little thing. Quick now-children, show me the most horrible faces you can make.
Screw up your mouth,
Show me your teeth,
Make horrible claws.
Growl terrible growls.
Think of spinach, or trolls or wild buccanneers,
Now then show them the mirror...
See; they're not such sweet little dears.
Look in my mirror, and see the world as it is.
ACTOR: What a beautiful day, I feel swell.
(Mirror is held up.)
There's a chill in the wind— I don't think I'm well.
ACTOR #2: I could dance with joy, my boyfriend said I have a cute little nose. (Mirror is held up)
Oh no, it looks longer than a garden hose.
ACTOR #3: I think I'll spend some time with the lord today.
(Mirror is help up)  
Uh-oh, too busy, no time at all to pray.
NARRATOR: They ran to the end of the world with the mirror, until there was not a country or a person that had not been seen distorted in it.
(ACTORS run around improvising with audience and using mirror.)