h1

RWB Workshop Poems of the Week – January 9

January 12, 2018

Poems of the Week 01/09/2018

Desert Eagle Reads a Book

Don Zirilli

When picking out a book to hold
between your chest and a Desert Eagle .50 caliber pistol,
think about the pages the bullet must get through.

Your Encyclopedia could sacrifice its H,
the letter most like breath,
Hackensack hacked through,
“2000 Years of Hair Dressing” snipped away
by this metallic Hake,
“a large food fish of greedy habits,”
leaving behind a Halo of Hanging Gardens,
ending in Hysteria.

The Bible could offer a dream of creation,
a wall full of laws,
a history of disappointment,
Surrealist predictions,
and a frantic part two revision
before succumbing to Revelations.

The phone book could give up its names.

That hardcover Impressionist tome
could splatter its feverish color,
blur itself further,
refuse to focus or to clarify its aim.

When picking out a book to hold
between your chest and a Desert Eagle .50 caliber pistol,
consider the stories you’re prepared to lose,
string together memories of riven words,
read new endings with your lips moving,
walk slowly to the library,
wink at bluebirds, decoupage
another day to store away.

You’ll be tempted by stiff, heavy bricks of paper,
but check out a novel
that responds to your touch,
a tale that’s open-ended, unresolved,
that dares you to keep on going
after it’s done.

————————————————————————-

Diaspora

Arthur Russell

I have raised my eyes to a Midwood, Brooklyn sycamore
on the walk we’d take around my parents’ block
to smoke some pot before Thanksgiving dinner,
and I have seen the stick nest of the Quaker Parrots
jutting like a beaver lodge above the leaf-strewn lawn
of the Orthodox Jews who invaded
our assimilated neighborhood in the decades
since we siblings moved to Jersey and Connecticut,
unaware that Kings would one day rise again.

And I have heard their noisy chattered ruckus, though to me they sounded less
like Dizz and Bird at Minton’s Playhouse, popping peanuts,
than housewives calling deli orders out to countermen
in lab coats and smudged white paper side caps on a Friday
at Blue Ribbon while their cars were double parked on Avenue J.
So, when my sister touched my sleeve to pass the roach,
I pointed, as first one and then another, green as Kool Aid
or Hawaiian shirts, emerged and paused at the nest’s dark mouth,
pulsed their verdant wings, then flew away, and asked,
“Cindy, are those parrots or a figment of the weed?”

My Uncle Fred and Cindy’s boyfriend Robert watching Dallas
play the Giants in the kitchen, dipping crackers in the baked brie
before the guests arrived, when we, half-baked ourselves,
got home from our pre-Thanksgiving walk, I told my mother,
peeling carrots at the sink for crudité, there were parrots
green as Kool Aid or Hawaiian shirts living in the tree
outside the Berson’s house, and she said,
“Arthur, darling, Berson moved out years ago;
the yahmmies live there now.”

In his Clinamen Improvisation, Gregory Pardlo
sees those parrots, whose ancestors arrived from Argentina
in the hold of an airship and escaped from a crate at JFK,
as surprising avatars of love dispersed and thriving
on electric poles and street trees from Green-Wood,
where I’ve never been, to the ballfields of the college,
where I also smoked some pot back in the day.

Now, the cognoscenti give Quaker-Parrot tours to day-trip hipsters,
who are forced to sign agreements to keep nesting sites a secret,
lest the poachers catch and make the parrots into pets,
the very things that they were meant to be that distant day
their forbears came to America in crates.

————————————————————————-
Poem of the Week email subscription
https://zc1.maillist-manage.com/ua/optin…

Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org (246 followers)
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets (397 likes)
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RWBPoets (103 followers)

h1

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – January 2

January 6, 2018

Poem of the Week 01/02/2018

John Barrale

The Warm Coney Island Sand

I think of my father when I shovel snow.

The simple act of picking up
and throwing down

reminding me
of him,

in WW II,

tramping through

the Belgian snow.

I still mourn
the frostbitten toes

my father left

at the battle
of the Bulge

though the blackened ounces
were as lucky as rabbit’s feet

because he
came home.

=They don’t hurt, he said, reading my mind
as he wriggled the four stumps
deeper
into the warm
Coney Island
sand.

————————————————————————-
Poem of the Week email subscription
https://zc1.maillist-manage.com/ua/optin…

Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org (244 followers)
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets (396 likes)
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RWBPoets (102 followers)

h1

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – December 26

December 28, 2017

Poem of the Week 12/26/17

Claudia Serea

Winter break, 1988

We traveled first by freezing train
through the blizzard,
in the dark of the early morning,
hours and hours, through empty landscapes,

then by rickety bus
until it stopped
when the road wasn’t plowed any further,
and the driver said,
You’re on your own, kids.

There were no cell phones.
No one around.

We started on foot,
two dots
in the vast, wind-swept plain,

you, in your suit and wool coat,
hair slicked back,

and me in my long skirt
and high-heeled boots,
all dolled-up and hair-sprayed,
to impress
the future in-laws.

When we got tired,
we sat on the roadside
and ate frozen sandwiches.

We were the only man and woman in the world,
leaving behind
a shaky set of footsteps.

A cart piled up high with firewood passed by,
and the drunken peasant
picked us up.

We perched on top
of the white fields
until the next village
where the man went home.

So we were again on foot
until a car
filled to the roof with bread loaves
stopped
and we crowded in the back
in the warm fresh scent.

We rode through sheets of snowy night,
red-nosed,
glowing eyes,

and we weren’t cold at all.

————————————————————————-
Poem of the Week email subscription
https://zc1.maillist-manage.com/ua/optin…

Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org (245 followers)
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets (394 likes)
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RWBPoets (102 followers)

h1

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – December 19

December 20, 2017

Poem of the Week 12/19/17

John Barrale

Hands

I look down at them
play God—

reduce the world’s species to two

a left
&
a right,

my first act of non-creation
to downsize,
deconstruct,

decree
that there be

no beasts, no people,

no flowers,
no clouds

just fingers
and thumbs—

because even God
needs angels,

& maybe,
tomorrow,

when time
is scheduled to begin

I’ll let one
open the day
like a curtain.

————————————————————————-
Poem of the Week email subscription
https://zc1.maillist-manage.com/ua/optin…

Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org (242 followers)
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets (394 likes)
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RWBPoets (101 followers)

h1

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – December 12

December 14, 2017

Poem of the Week 12/12/17

Arthur Russell

The Heavier Stone

My dad died eight years ago.
Our relationship has improved a lot since then.
He arrives unannounced in my poems,
driving his maroon Lincoln Town Car,
bearing odd gifts – like a ten-pack of paper towels —
plays with the baby, leaves before dinner.

I hope my mother’s death earlier this year
will put us on a similar trajectory.
I’m not asking to be reconciled.
That would require a deeper well or a heavier stone,

but possibly, now she’s dead, she’ll stop interrupting
when I explain how an answering machine works,
and also be nicer to my wife.

Her refugee belongings huddle
in the dust-bunny corners of my home,
as if they, not I, had been orphaned,
and reminisce about her orderly closets,
her straightened twist ties and the pens
that weren’t tossed aside simply because they didn’t work.

I’ve never done well with actual people.
After cartoons and pen pals,
it was girlfriends in distant cities,
then poetry, the ultimate girlfriend in a distant city.

I hear my daughter and her friends
laughing in the living room.
That is the correct distance between me and joy.

Some people jump up and wave,
or run along the station platform;
others dream of the wind.

She told me that I couldn’t go to little league that day.
I slipped out, anyway, still crying in my uniform, with stirrup socks,
my oiled baseball glove on my hand,
and tried to walk to the game.

By the time I reached Marine Parkway,
the angry tears and snot had dried,
and I was enjoying my brigand walk
past the lawns, the stores and intersections
of our usual car route,
when she stopped across the street
and rolled down the window of her Bonneville,

and her face appeared in that trapezoid of missing glass.

————————————————————————-
Poem of the Week email subscription
https://zc1.maillist-manage.com/ua/optin…

Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org (241 followers)
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets (393 likes)
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RWBPoets (101 followers)

h1

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – December 5

December 11, 2017

Poem of the Week 12/5/17

Nasreen Khan

Indiana

You moved us here the day before
my birthday. We packed up the kid and the cat
and the milk crates of secondhand books and cardboard boxes of anemic houseplants
and said goodbye

to the cramped one-bedroom we choose for its drafty sunroom
where we made our baby, and where he slept bundled under the greenhouse panes
in the pale January sun.

We said goodbye to the nagging, constant thrumming
that maybe we’d make it, and maybe we’d have enough someday to
do more than walk hand-in-hand past the New York City shops
in their Christmastime trimmings,

and goodbye to the church where we were married and goodbye to the friends hard-won
in the spaces between the North Jersey hustle, goodbye to the mossy wall on Park Avenue
that my fingers loved, goodbye to the people we had wanted to become here.
Goodbye.

Here,
where I see cracking plaster walls and a muddy Midwestern sky,
you see a future and an inheritance you can leave me, a backyard to
teach your son to ride his bike,
a sandbox to build, a tire swing to hang, a garden to dig for me.

You were so pleased to bring me home,
you would have carried me over the threshold
if I hadn’t been sobbing. Instead,
you laid me down on the camping mattress on the dirty floor to stroke my hair
and said what you’ve always said,
“We’ll make it, we’ll make it babe, you’ll see”.

————————————————————————-
Poem of the Week email subscription
https://zc1.maillist-manage.com/ua/optin…

Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org (242 followers)
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets (393 likes)
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RWBPoets (101 followers)

h1

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – November 28

November 30, 2017

Poem of the Week 11/28/17

Della Rowland

Thanksgiving Days

I know two brothers, borne by unworthy parents,
thrown back and forth between them, till,
teenagers now,
they wear the ill-fitting clothing of neglect that cannot cover certain bruises.

So tossed they were, they came to talk to each other in some harsh language
only they understand, jabs of shorthand, loud and jagged,
like their mother’s tongue.
They trust each other only. I see it shining in their eyes, as they spar, laughing.
They reply to others with their father’s clipped cadence,
and his tone, how he keeps it in the lower registers.
They repeat his omissions, with none of his ease or the subtle lilt
that lying brings to his inflections.

They’re transported North for holiday rituals and summer vacations
with their father’s relatives,
shown structured households where they don’t fit,
but roam feral, grunting, seeking warmth.

And so it was on Thanksgiving,
when everyone was full of turkey and ready for three kinds of pie,
that their mother called the older one
to tell him the toddler twins she had by her drug dealer
had been taken away because she beat up her boyfriend, again.
Don’t tell your brother. He’s already pissed at me.

When he hangs up, he is suddenly empty.
His aunt and grandfather sit with him until he pours out her news.
Can I stay here?
His aunt nods. I see her mouth tight against her brother and his wife.

He asked the same of me years ago, when he was my pup,
when we took long walks to find bugs on leaves or curbs,
when we read picture books by heart,
when he fell asleep between me and the back of the couch,
when he told me his dreams in the morning,
when we made momentous decisions in the grocery as to
which cheese made better jum jims to feed dragons.

He didn’t stay with me. He needed to go back home for some reason.
We’d had him two weeks already. He needed to go home.
He needed to go home.

I watched his eyes from the porch while he was buckled into the car.
I’m his father’s stepmother. The children call me by my first name.
His parents were expecting him. He needed to go home. I didn’t say yes.
He never asked me again. Perhaps he doesn’t remember. Still,

even with my well of guilt, my litany against his mother lengthens.
I know she’ll call him now whenever she falls down.
She’ll call that boy,
that boy with his sketch of a moustache,
his awning of curly hair over dark eyes that dare you to tell the truth
he can’t yet take in.

She’ll call him, that boy.
Not her ex-husband with twenty grand in back child support and a third baby boy.
Not her younger boyfriend she fistfights with.
Not her sister she stole from.
Not the younger son she stole from, not that wised-up son.
Not her addict-mother, or who-knows-where father.
Not her adoptive parents who are tired and have run out of cars.
Not me. Not some grandmother or aunt or cousin related by some convoluted adoption make-up-your-own-family board game.

Not that they all don’t owe her. Hell, everyone in this life owes her.
She has a right to her own deprivation, a story that’s hers that she can’t read.
Sins of the fathers, sins of the mothers
but no right to call this son, this boy, this one,

on holidays, in the middle of a school night, during birthday cake, from jail,
Valentine’s Day, double date with his brother, wedding night, anytime.

And I have no right to stop her.

————————————————————————-
Poem of the Week email subscription
https://zc1.maillist-manage.com/ua/optin…

Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org (242 followers)
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets (393 likes)
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RWBPoets (100 followers)