An outstanding artist and poet by the name of Jackie Cassen headed away from this Earth. I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday, and it’s very difficult to picture an open mic without her. I have too many memories of this great woman. Back in the day when The Cup was still “muddy”, Jackie was a regular at the Tuesday night open mic poetry. It was a night I always looked forward to, since there were people of all ages and styles of poetry. She was a mentor of sorts to me. She always encouraged me to keep writing, especially during times where I couldn’t get a handle on my life. For the people who want to create an artistic legacy on Staten Island, this is the woman you should look up to. In every sense of the term, Jackie was a free spirit. I almost expected a ritual spring wine and cheese party to take place at her house, which occurred every so often. I remember coming to a literary themed Halloween party where we drank wine and recited poetry until the wee hours of the night. Then there was a spring gathering where we…more or less did the same thing we did during the Halloween party. Nice vibes. Nice people. Good times. Everybody was supportive of one another back then. Jackie set that tone. She truly loved life and it showed every time she read at an open mic, threw a party, or even engaged a person in conversation. Of course, a lot of vice was involved. I drank my share of red and smoked my share of green whenever she was around. But this is secondary. Vices aside, seeing her brings me back to much better times. In a sense, she was like the groovy grandmother we all wish we had. Jackie – I love you and hope that even though you undoubtedly won’t see the words I am writing, you will know that I am writing them. You are in my prayers and I hope you join in on that open reading in the sky. Say hello to Gertrude and Alice for me and rest in peace.