Odes to Oswego: An Oswego Poetry Anthology

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In honor of the 20th Anniversary of National Poetry month, we invited all alumni to submit a poem about how SUNY Oswego ignited their passion and helped them find their life’s purpose. We are pleased to share with you our alumni’s submissions.


Oswego Haiku

Oswego Spring bloom

awakens passion to teach

darling buds of May


Christine Pitz Cleary ’91


Beneath the Surface

The face that smiles at the world, assures those in angst, frustration, anger and despair.

Right and wrong ripple on the surface of a pond, moving off towards infinity in each direction.


When I studied psychology at SUNY Oswego, I learned that some would interpret the drawing of a necklace or collar on a person as a split between heart and mind.

Oh, the challenge and struggle that this would impose!


Would my future hold the answers to this passionate pursuit?

My life’s purpose laid out before me with sincerity and truth.


Like the sections of an orange, divided, yet fulfilling as part of the whole.

After the efforts to peel the orange, one is rewarded with the delicious juice hidden inside.


The ripples break against the shore-

The floating, smooth rhythmic ripples that look perfect on the surface

And the undercurrent slowly lapping at the edges and softening the break.


Perseverance reflects into my dreams while my optimism rises to bolster others.

The beginning foundations of my career have risen like pillars to hold me steady while my heart and head battle for a foothold in the ripples of my soul.


Alice Hall Nash ’83



Once a recluse, shunned

Lonely and stunned.


One small, bruised reed

With such great need.


One solitary life

So full of strife.


I tried to change,

Not be so strange.


Stranger in a strange land

There’s so much I didn’t understand.


Neurologically atypical,

Change required a miracle.


People had torn me into shards

But God renews what man discards.


Brothers and Sisters in Christ

God’s mighty love for me sufficed.


At Oswego, grace set me free

Many true friends embraced me.


I had always been rejected,

But at Oswego I was accepted.


Here my torn life was mended,

My loneliness finally ended.


Here God’s purpose for me revealed,

If to him my life I’d yield.


Worn, torn, full of strife

By God’s mercy given new life.


Shabby, bruised, scrappy lives

God’s hand, it revives.


So the woman once rejected

God’s glory now reflected.


Answering God’s divine call

Led to passions large and small.


Helping people through what I write

Keeps me busy both day and night.


Serving God and running His race

Will make the world a better place.


Yvona Fast ’81



Outstanding Opportunities that come the

Shores of Lake Ontario filled with Scholars

We learn to welcome Diversity of all while

Encouraging and Expressing our Dreams and Desires

Graduating Leaders of Tomorrow and Instilling

Owls of Knowledge that will keep us yearning for more.


Kim Backus Grindle ’81


Ontario Lake, the Mirror of Oswego

From the slatted shutter of my window,

In the squared span of my room,

I admired the sunset coloring

The solemn Ontario Lake.

The eyes of the lonely star

Still fatigued from a long journey

Slowly dimmed its flames

Announcing the crepuscule.

The shadow of Onondaga rested lazily

On the vast mirror.

A sumptuous spectacle

Awaited my curious eyes.

The lazy and hazy waves

Of the water in metamorphoses

Climbed the silver humps with douceur and nonchalance.

In time, I elevated my right hand

Above my forehead to engage my curiosity;

Far away … far away from a distance

I looked on a sailor adorned

By colored swans as if forming

A rainbow around the vessel.

Then, the tall pines of the old port,

Wrapped in mournful colors,

Extended its spiked hair to the sailor;

Suddenly resounded a tune in folly:

The lake began to shake randomly,

And the waves violently kept hitting the rocks;

And a loud and cacophonous symphony

Woke me up from my imagery.

Then I realized that was a dream!

Oh it’s time for class! I reminded myself.

I then headed to Sheldon Hall

For my early English class.


O Oswego cenacle of dreams!

O Bastion of spirit, poetry and anthology!

You are the mirror of the Great Lake,

The sanctuary of great prodigy.


Elie Fleurant ’76



Bottom floor of Poucher,

shuffling paperwork,

trying to appear organized, wise

in the world of student teaching.


But the only thing I’m sure of

is slipped between these papers,

a little story I’ve written, smitten

from my summer as camp counselor


where I was given the charge

of hundreds of children,

one who opened my heart, my start

of believing I could really be a teacher.


Sitting with my advisor,

Lan Shaffmaster, her world wise

beyond a shadow of doubt to me, agrees

when I whisper, for the first time


Would you read my story?

The less said the better,

I collect myself and leave, relieved

to escape my emotions by elevator


and in my swirl of uneasiness

I get off at the wrong floor,

needing to go back, start again, pretend

one more time, I know where I’m going


which is when I run into,

with my story in tow

and a smile that says she understands, Lan,

wink of confidence sending me on my way.


I scurry off, into the outside

where I breathe the breeze from Ontario

as it circles Oswego’s halls of learning, turning

my world in a sweet certainty.


Jim Farfaglia ’77


Becoming an Elementary “Teacher’s Assistant” in 1982,

Just three years of a hands- on experience was a wonderful avenue!

I loved what I was learning when working every day.

My vision as a teacher lingered and just wouldn’t go away.

An Associate’s Degree in Business wasn’t good enough for me;

So transfer to Oswego State,I did, to earn Bachelor’s and Master’s Education Degrees.

At 34 years young, I knew I had it in me, my ambitious heart told me so

Six years of life mapped out for me, my supportive husband, loving kids, and family…

Oswego State University was just meant to be!

A “Non-Trad” they called us… for those of us who had yearned

to reach our goals differently while the midnight oil burned!

Asked Dr. Bridgers to leave his 8:00 A.M. class early (so I could go to work)

left me befuddled, puzzled, surprised and squirrelly!

What a shock when he turned the tides and said,” See if you can arrive late at work.”

Dedication to my job and willingness to comply, I found those 15 extra minutes

by simply working through my lunch!

Oh my, the learning curve was beginning to grow its hunch.

Organizing, balancing family, kids’ school, sports, scouts, and play

made for some extra long nights with sleep being delayed.

But I was determined and persevered

my desire to teach others truly endeared.

Professors recognized how different non-trads could be

for we did our homework, we studied, we participated and we shined….

showing the young ones we non-trads were really in our prime!

As I look back the endless Education classes were a myriad of dreams…

all the professors delivering their best teaching methods, practices, and latest schemes.

Dr. Garno, Dr.Nash, Dr. Marsh, Dr. Shineman, and others too,

all inspired and encouraged me to pursue my goals whole-heartedly.

So, if life learning appeals to you just like it did to me…

Go ahead … be a good sport… and earn that “most wanted” degree!


 –Linda McFall ’88 M’91

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