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Connie & John Elsberg
Poems by John Elsberg

About Connie Elsberg

Connie Elsberg recently retired after more than thirty years of teaching sociology and anthropology at a community college.

She is the author of a book about women in an alternative religion (Graceful Women: Gender and Identity in an American Sikh Community) and several articles on that subject.

She has also written about a number of Punjabi Sikh artists and is herself a painter, mostly of acrylic abstracts.

She is currently preparing a short collection of John’s Elsberg’s poetry. They were married for forty-five years.


Spring 2015 ~
John Elsberg
August 4, 1945 - July 28, 2012

John Elsberg was a poet, reviewer, editor, and historian. He authored over a dozen books and chapbooks of poetry, and his work has been in a number of anthologies. He was the host of open poetry readings at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, for almost twenty-five years. He also led various writing workshops, including explorations of experimental poetry with high school students.

In the late 1970s, he was the fiction editor of Gargoyle. He was also the editor or poetry editor of several other literary magazines, including Bogg, The Delmarva Review, and Delaware Poetry Review.

As a young man, he taught for the University of Maryland, and then he spent many years as an editor/publisher of history books. His poems appeared in journals such as Hanging Loose, New Orleans Review, Lost & Found Times, Edgz, RAW NerVZ (Canada), American Tanka, and Lilliput Review. He lived in Arlington Virginia and Henderson, Maryland, with his wife, Connie.


A Selection of Four Poems by John Elsberg
"I’ve selected several poems. They aren’t necessarily what I think of as John’s best poems, but they all do what I think John did best: capture a moment, a feeling of well-being, an insight, the gist of what is longed for. They also capture memories. Many of my best memories of being with John center on New Jersey beaches, Avalon and Wildwood Crest, and many of John’s best poems use water as a central image."
Connie Elsberg ~
taking a shortcut to the beach buffalo farm
  the quiet of dawn old dog
  over water the wide sand on the beach
      rising to the sun   she looks and looks
            the concrete ship
                from World War I breaks up
                so slowly
            the clearest pebbles
            are called diamonds
      March sun at the shore gliding through reeds
  New cracks in the thick paint   off the inland waterway
  of the old porch rails     greenheads!
        red sky after sunset faded floats on the rail


To top

~       THE BEACH
I like to go down
  to the beach: the sand, the sun, the acres
    of space in the buoyant
tanning inches…and I like the waves,
  their incessant flapping,
      like the sound of pages
    in a heavy, unyielding volume
forever closing, especially when it’s time to go
    and someone’s waiting.
The squabbling of the gulls
  adds another side:
    but the standard of spleen
is set so impossibly high that the challenge is seldom
  accepted – instead,
    the children run
      with all the exuberance
of finding a whole new world purely by chance.
And often I stay
    Into the dinner hours,
  When the sun gets mellow
As the wind grows brisker, and then I feel
  The moments of the beach
  flowing over me,
      the end of the drain,
in touch with the outermost reserves of well-being,
  that sail in like the night.
To top

The water
beneath the ice turns away

from this winter’s


its liquid clauses
no tense

this is the moment

a season’s loss

and the coming
of what
will have

no certain

this is when
the water



To top

Slaughter Beach
so much unknown history
in a name

dogs off leash
beyond the dune houses
so much is theirs

clear lines of sight
without regard to season
clear sight

an hour’s drive
back to the Midshore woods
sand in our shoes





Connie Elsberg ~


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