Fig Tree

 

Offering herself to strangers,

ripe purple ova,

sweet sacks of seeds

soft for the squeezing and tasting--

somebody tell her

not to do that!

Sprawled all over the sidewalk

for any dogwalker to finger,

any old lady, hobbling by on her walker, gets one,

or homeless guy settling in for a smoke,

or surreptitious single mother

with her plastic bags,

her army of climbing kids.

Not very ladylike,

crotch open for a sneakered foot,

a panting embrace,

and all that black honey, oozing.

See how her heart’s left

smashed on the sidewalk

for feral cats to sniff,

her intimate goo underfoot,

pecked by pigeons, swarmed with ants.

Should have pruned her harder,

brought her up short

before she showed her desire so freely

upraised arms opening to sky, profligate

branches that could poke somebody’s eye out:

such crazy need to feed the world.

As a child, I used to creep onto the stairs when my parents had guests over and eavesdrop on the grown-ups. A creak of the stairs would invariably give away my position and I’d be chased back to bed, only to reappear at the next opportunity, hiding and listening. I wanted to be where the interesting conversations were happening. I still want that. Only now the conversations happen all over the country, all over the world, with friends, friends of friends, and complete strangers. Our stories rub up against each other and expand and change in ways I could never have imagined when I was young, and they now include rocks, weeds, fruit trees, cats, stars, and myths from all over the world, as well as all kinds of people. 

 

If you’re just stopping by to look for a poem or a link to a creative resource, welcome. If you’d like me to present at your conference, give a reading, workshop, or keynote address, send me an email. I am also available for individual consultations at reasonable rates. Otherwise, I’ll be here at home, digging weeds out of the rosebushes, or sitting on a bench at Lake Merritt with my notebook on my lap and my ears open.

What They're Saying about Alison . . .

Naomi Shihab Nye

"I bow down to Alison Luterman's poems. They will help you think, they will fortify your living."

 

 

 

Ruth L. Schwartz

"No living poet does better than Alison Luterman at spinning the whole rich texture of American life into poems."

Ellen Bass

"Alison Luterman, like the beings who inhabit her poems, has found a way to love this complicated, painful, and wondrous world." 
 

Tony Haogland

"Alison Luterman is a heroic humanist. She takes poetry's service to human life seriously - that the inner life can't be killed. Thus her poems strive to describe, defend and validate various inalienable rights - the individual imagination, the mysterios and inconvenience nature of desire, even our right to be wrong. She is a court jester, a life coach, a can can dancer."

The Chain
LYRICS BY ALISON LUTERMAN & MUSIC BY LOREN LINNARD
 
SYNOPSIS - Amina Thrash is an ambitious young alt-rock singer with kidney disease. She performs her signature song, ARMADILLO, as the curtain opens. Her longtime, long-suffering boyfriend Nick wants her
to take a break and receive a much-needed kidney transplant, but she does not want to postpone her triumphant world tour and storms off leaving Nick to sing A FOOL FOR YOU. Meanwhile Sam and Ted, a married gay couple and parents to two young children, are also struggling with kidney disease. Ted would like to give Sam his own extra kidney but they are not medically compatible. He and Sam and their dedicated Dr. Durga sing TRIO OF LIGHT.

 

Dr. Durga is trying to coordinate a kidney “chain" which will allow different donors to give to complete strangers so that their own loved one may receive a kidney. Her patient Chester needs a kidney, but his strict Jehovah’s Witness faith prohibits blood transfusions, and his wife Lucille is adamant that she doesn’t want to risk being separated from Chester for all eternity if they disobey God’s law. After a tense meeting with Dr. Durga, Lucille sings THE RULES ARE THE RULES to explain her point of view. Chester then sings IT''S A GOOD DAY (joined by Lucille on the last verse), expressing the mix of acceptance, love, and stubborn hope that keeps him going.

 

Durga has a one-sided phone conversation with her mother who thinks she is spending too much time on her work and not enough on her personal life in HELLO, MA. Ted and Sam, frustrated at the roadblocks they are encountering, debate taking matters into their own hands in the duet STEALING FIRE. Everyone wants something; it all feels urgent. The whole Company sings RIGHT NOW.

 

Part of Dr. Durga's job is to encourage organ donation. She does so with a lively presentation in the song EVERYONE WANTS TO BE A SUPERHERO, which might double as her own personal manifesto. Sam and Ted reaffirm their love with the duet I GIVE MYSELF TO YOU, while Amina, conversely, chafes under Nick's continued attempts to get her to slow down with her solo KILLING ME WITH HIS KINDNESS. The stress is even getting to Durga who sings DON''T WASTE A BUSY WOMAN'S TIME. The first act closes with a stubborn Amina trying to reprise her signature anthem ARMADILLO, but collapsing onstage in Berlin before she can finish the final verse.

 

Act 2 opens with Lucille beseeching God in LUCILLE'S PRAYER. Sam and Ted grieve their losses in the duet WHERE DID MY DREAMS GO? Even the upbeat Durga has a moment where she wonders if perhaps her mother might be right after all in EIGHT HUGS A DAY.  Chester weighs the possible consequences of going behind his wife's back in his solo WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

 

Amidst all this turmoil, a moment of harmony comes from an unexpected source: Amina, post-death, sings a duet with Nick, SOME ANGELS WANT TO FALL, which allows them to reconcile.

 

Finally, Chester and Lucille's religious dilemma has been solved in a creative "work-around," the kidney recipients and their donors are in adjacent operating rooms, undergoing transplants. Dr. Durga and Ted are left to nervously pace the corridor and contemplate their own legacies in the duet WILL A PART OF ME LIVE ON?

 

To close, the entire company sings the anthem LINK IN A CHAIN. To know oneself as "only a link in a chain" is both humbling and liberating.

Saying Kaddish With My Sister
SYNOPSIS - Lorraine Horowitz is dying of cancer, attended by her daughter Lydia, a performance artist with pink hair. When Rahel, the long-estranged older daughter, rushes in, Lorraine dies, leaving the two younger women to work out their relationship—if they can.
 

Listen to one of the songs from The Chain, "Link in a Chain," performed by Raymond Bambao, Jessica Fisher, Paula Helene, Jonathan Leavy, Loren Linnard,  Alex Taite, and Branice McKenzie.

Above photos from the
staged reading of The Chain
©2014 Felicia Gustin
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Above photos from the Strand Theater Company Production of
Glitter and Spew
©2011 Ken Stanek/kenstanek.com
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© 2020 by ALISON LUTERMAN. Website design by Eli Koester and Eaden Marti.