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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – May 23

May 25, 2017

Poem of the Week 5/23/2017

John Barrale

Her Cat in the Window Blue With Rain

I remember
her cat
in the window
blue
with rain,

and slow April mornings,

the pages
of her
favorite books
turning
on the table,

breakfast scant

like her robe
printed
with flowers,

the taste of cigarettes,
and black coffee,
sharp,

the sugar brown
and stirred in
with a white
plastic spoon.

I remember
her legs
dangling
over the edge
of the bed,

and the small
whisker sound
of nylons
pulled off
and on,

and the shyness

when she showed me
the broken china
she collected
and kept
in a box.

I remember
making love
on her
November-colored
rug,

her lace
and oyster
taste,

and the moon
coming through
the window

with its light

pale

on her belly.

I remember
Rue St. Denis
in December
covered in ice
and snow,

and the café
like a shiny miracle

open

at the bottom
of the hill,

the thin stems
of the wine glasses
twirling,

the bottles of wine
lined up in rows
so formal
and French.

I remember
her happy face
sitting across from me

and the bowl
of onion soup
we shared,

she closing
around
her pleasure
like the petals
of a flower,

she simple,
and there,

her face like her life,
creased with dreams.

Fifty years later, and old dogs
loose in the heart
still sniff
at memory.

I wonder

does she ever think
of me?

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WCW – Brandon Courtney

May 23, 2017

Wednesday, May 7, 2017, 7 p.m.

Williams Center for the Arts

Plus the words of William Carlos Williams
and open readings from the floor

Free

Brandon Courtney is a veteran of the United States Navy, and the author of The Grief Muscles (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2014) and Rooms for Rent in the Burning City (Spark Wheel Press, 2015), as well as the chapbook Inadequate Grave (YesYes Bøøks, 2016). YesYes Bøøks will publish a full-length collection in 2017-18. He has received fellowships and scholarships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Colgate University, Juniper Summer Writers’ Institute, and Seaside Writers’ Conference. His poetry appears or is forthcoming in Best New Poets 2009, Tin House, Boston Review, Guernica, Memorious, The Progressive, and American Literary Review.

From from Lazaretto

Without a shipboard morgue,
we kept the dead Iraqi
in the dairy box—his corpse
supine beside the eggs

and sour cream—a figure
draped in cotton sheets,
stretched to keep the still alive
from witnessing the mouth

and eyes of the nameless
drowned, whose tongue,
embalmed in wind and ocean
brine, capsized between

his teeth and, like a ruined
clementine, hung low: a thick
inch of fruit on the branch
of his throat. Yet every look

I stole revealed some skin
still beautiful: oil slick,
sulfuric-sweet beneath a shroud
of faded sheets, quiet

as a Mezzo note. Forgive me:
I saw the man as meat—

Contact: John Barrale – john.barrale@gmail.com

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – May 16

May 22, 2017

Poem of the Week 5/16/2017

Janet Kolstein

Can a Secret Keep A Secret

when it feeds on your blood
like a fat tick
that won’t let go?

When it flies under the radar
on a lost track,
Mephisto jams with The Friar
on Juliet’s baby grand.

It’s an old manuscript
pulled from a prison,
hard candy from a cloud,
a vagabond in the underworld.

If you sledgehammered your secret
at a county fair,
how high would it rise on the meter?
Or is its import a Fata Morgana
in the marshland of your mind?

Sometimes, that door knocker
drops to your gut like a whetstone.

The secret is the reason you still have a job,
your spouse,
the love of your fans,

why all the joys in life
have learned to play
professional chess,

and a prophet
conquers people
with a smile.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – May 9

May 11, 2017

Poem of the Week 5/9/2017

Mark Fogarty

Dame Edith

On the night of November 15, 1971, a fashion show at the Santa Barbara (Calif.) Museum included a segment filmed for the first reality television show, An American Family. Ironically, an icon and one of the founders of reality on film happened to be there, on the last night of her life.

There were cameras at the evening do:
A new type of thing, following people around
Hoping they will rise above the fondue.
There in the corner is an old young woman,
Heiress, socialite, muse, hanging around,
Forgotten dreamgirl now loved by the hour:
Edith Minturn Sedgwick, scion to everything
Bad in the American character from the Mayflower
To the droolings the idle rich plan.

It is the start of something new:
Reality television and the terror of the mundane.
Dame Edith was rarely mundane. This stew
Should have been hers, more than the girls
With the bubble asses or the society girls
Who kept the cameras rolling during sex:
Dame Edith for all her daring was proper, prim,
Mysterious, needy, wondering what’s next.
She’d tried her best to escape an American family
And did it as well as any fuckup could.
We fuckups must admire her disdain.
It was her last night on earth, though:
Behind the Music ending grim.
Time to drape a rose on her final flow
Via drugs and booze and questionable sanity.
I dare to think I wouldn’t have given her
The downs that ended up killing her,
Would have prodded her to one last
Ride on the chrome horse, one last
Chance to dazzle with her vanity.

She chatted briefly with Lance Loud,
Passing the torch on her last night on earth.
Pity selfies hadn’t been invented yet.
All men loved Edie, loved her from birth.
She was lively, pretty, sexy, proud,
With fat raccoon eyes that stab me yet,
A skinny Marilyn. Men tried to capture her
In her leopardskin pillbox hat, in her
Glittering image on a film, in her seedy moonturn
As a goddess in the Chelsea Hotel. I am sorry
It was always capture and release, and release.
Still her life was a triumph not ceasing to cease
Of catch me if you can while I carry
My loony lamp brightly, brightest, watch it burn.

Edie had a talent for ten-second happiness
The rest of us mad ones aspire to, a feel
For the brief caesuras there to be had,
The gift of gab to document it whole.
The abyss is there all the time, might as well
Skip over it this time, hey look, there’s the empress.
Yes, she was a waif, yes, her time was gamine.
But Edie made twenty unscripted films
In her seven years in charge of Pharaoh’s grain.
She was the queen of reality and its whims,
The American Family for good and bad,
Brilliantly free of it for her time of freefall,
Never a nebbish naked on some isle,
Trotting through the director’s taunts,
Her own creation, and you can hold the light:
Do you hear that siren, it’s mine,
You haunts have me on loan from the gods,
So take a good look while it shines.
The poets are writing about me tonight,
My glory’s like the moon, pale and bright.
America fucked me over, but I won’t feel it
If you give me a spike, oh honey boo boo,
There will be time for sadness in a bit
If that’s what it comes to, but for now
You’ll light my cigarette and wish you knew
My throaty laugh, and how I can plan to debut
The next thing to know about the night.

—————————————————————-

Songs inspired by Edie Sedgwick:

Femme Fatale (Lou Reed)
Just Like a Woman (Bob Dylan)
Leopardskin Pillbox Hat (Bob Dylan)
Please Crawl Out Your Window (Bob Dylan)
Like a Rolling Stone (Bob Dylan)

It’s a riff poem, a manic run where my voice turns into hers. many of the rhymes I changed later on, figuring that you get the cliche words first so the rhyme words are better. and sometimes that gives you a line. I wanted to rhyme “gamine” and Edie’s film career spanned 7 years so I made her in charge of Pharaoh’s grain to get grain and gamine for a half rhyme. Plus there are royalty words in there, queen and empress and so on, so why not throw in pharaoh as well lol? in the same vein I used the word “caesura” to refer to Caesar as well as the idea of this fruitful dividing of 7 years she had from the misery of the start and end of her life.

If you are interested in Edie there’s a bio called “Edie: American Girl,” and a film called “Factory Girl” that comes on the cable channels.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – May 2

May 5, 2017

Poem of the Week 5/2/2017

Janet Kolstein

Target, Starbucks and Three Madeleines

Into my misto, I dip a madeleine
and taste vanilla and coffee,
a hint of lemon,
wet on my tongue,
and I remember — what?

That madeleines are fattening?
That my car needs service?
That it’s tax time?

I dip again
and Kenneth Noland’s target paintings
spin into view,
some with a bull’s-eye pulsing red,
some an empty space, most
like an alien’s pupil,
and I circle back to his Soho loft
rocking a wall of sound with Karen and Ahmet,
and Ken, taking my hand,
and placing a pre-Columbian effigy
in my palm,

when I used to imagine
interesting things
would visit my sphere.

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WCW – Meta-Land: Poets of the Palisades II Anthology

April 27, 2017

Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 7 p.m.

Williams Center for the Arts

Plus the words of William Carlos Williams
and open readings from the floor

Free

FEATURED READERS

Joel Allegretti
John Barrale
Davidson Garrett
Josh Humphrey
Denise La Neve
Tina Kelley
Paul Nash
Rick Mullin
Alison Ruth
John J. Trause
David Vincenti
Anton Yakovlev
Don Zirilli

Contact: John Barrale – john.barrale@gmail.com

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – Apr 25

April 27, 2017

Poem of the Week 4/25/2017

Nasreen Khan

Dumb Ewe

She had been struggling for two days.
Father stumbled home from
a bender and
found her with a dead
lamb’s head sticking out of her,
its tongue lolling, purple and swollen:
Jesus Christ, you dumb ewe!
I can’t watch this anymore.

Holding still, very still in the
shadows of an empty goat stall,
I sucked my teeth, fiddling
with the loose one in the front

while he went to fetch the
shotgun on its rack
above our front door.

After,

he stroked her dead nose,
mumbling
You poor dumb ewe
dumb ewe, poor dumb
ewe.

She’d been the oldest sheep
of his flock—
a good birther with two live
lambs every year. She nuzzled his pockets
for sugar lumps and came to his voice.
She had given him more
than even a wife.
He sold her children
or ate them, he stole their milk
he was her master, father, husband, shepherd.
He said when she would be bred, which ram would
cover her, when she would eat, when she would be shorn
and now
when she would die.

In the empty goat stall,
I pushed my tongue hard
against that tooth and tore
it out of the bloody gum.

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