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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Nov 5

November 6, 2019

Frank Rubino

Deserted Corridor in the Airport

When I passed the duty-free shop there with its perfumes,
it smelled like you, after you’ve left a place.
I’ve read the sense of smell is plastic, 
physical pattern matching:
an airborne particle’s molecular shape 
sifted through the olfactory matrix,
or whatever they call it. I am sure
this jigsaw puzzle conception is simplistic
and like most things I think I understand,
incomplete, and the product of childish curiosity
I long ago set aside for business.
I remember before I got in an Uber
in 2003: the flex of your hair 
gathered in my hand, the smell that arose
from your scalp of fine shampoo from Soon Beauty
on 22nd street, and the way your brain
seemed so Edenic cased inside your head.
So much marvelous stuff you think all the time,
I’ll never know! And loving you,
even, I still don’t know, and it’s come back
now that I walk this bleak terminal, that curiosity.

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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GV—Book Launch, Jaco Bday Salute—Nov 15

November 6, 2019

The Magic Circle series returns to GainVille Café Friday, Nov. 15 for our annual Jaco Pastorius birthday salute and the launch of a great new book of poetry.

Featured reader will be DAVID MESSINEO and his new book of poems TWENTY MINUTES OF CALM. David is the longtime publisher of Sensations Magazine and the author of nine books of poetry.

Musical feature will be a birthday salute to JACO PASTORIUS featuring bass great and Jaco devotee JENNIFER VINCENT.

You don’t want to miss this!
A $9 cover includes coffee/tea, dessert.

Also featuring the RED WHEELBARROW POETS and the long-running BRING YOU’RE A GAME open mic.

7 PM, GainVille Café
17 Ames Avenue
Rutherford, 201-507-1800

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WCW—4 Terrapin Books Poets—Nov 6

November 6, 2019

For the month of November, the Gang of Five is co-featuring four very accomplished poets, all recently published by Terrapin Books: Hayden Saunier, Sarah Wetzel, Gary J. Whitehead, and Michael T. Young.

Please join us on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 7:00 PM, at the Williams Center, One Williams Plaza in Rutherford, NJ, to hear these fabulous poets.

About our features:

Hayden Saunier is the author of four poetry collections, most recently How to Wear This Body. Her work has been awarded the Pablo Neruda Prize, Rattle Poetry Prize, and Gell Poetry Award. She is the founder of the poetry + improvisation group No River Twice. (www.haydensaunier.com)

Sarah Wetzel is the author of The Davids Inside David, recently released from Terrapin Books, River Electric with Light, which won the AROHO Poetry Prize (published 2015) and Bathsheba Transatlantic, which won the Philip Levine Prize (published 2010). Sarah is a PhD student in Comparative Literature at CUNY’s Graduate Center.

Gary J. Whitehead’s fourth book of poetry, Strange What Rises, was published this year. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker and been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, the Guardian’s Poem of the Week, and the BBC’s Words and Music.

Michael T. Young’s collection, The Infinite Doctrine of Water, was longlisted for the Julie Suk Award. He received a fellowship from the New Jersey State Council. His poetry has appeared in Atticus Review, One, Rattle and Valparaiso Poetry Review. His poetry has also been featured on The Writer’s Almanac.

Please note: We must now pay $100 per month rent for the use the Williams Center for our readings. This is in addition to the $100 per month rent the Red Wheelbarrow workshop must pay for the use of their space in the Williams Center.

We need your help to survive and continue to hold our monthly readings. We will be asking for donations. A $5 per person donation is suggested. If we all contribute, we can pay the rent!

You can follow everything about the Red Wheelbarrow, its events and poets at these sites:
Blog – https://redwheelbarrowpoets.wordpress.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets Twitter – @RWBPoets.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Oct 29

October 30, 2019

Susanna Lee

Dear Anton, I Borrowed Your Last Line
But, Here, I Brought It Back
Oh, No! Now It’s Wrinkled, Sorry

Every morning I go outside to fetch the newspaper from the box.
Birds are already lined up on the telephone wire between the poles,
waiting for Anton’s last line to lead them in song.

Paterson Falls is dammed; it splutters and jams;
its water piles up, an ocean ladder reaching to the moon.
The river refuses to fall, waiting for Anton’s last line to drop first.

Five-year-olds at the neighbor’s birthday party swing bats,
but their swats cannot break the piñata.
It refuses to share its sweets before Anton’s last line shows up.

The sun cannot cast a shadow
without Anton’s last line to offer its silhouette.

Everyone is drowning in tears.
Anton’s last line is missing.

Lawnmowers go to sleep, unneeded,
as grass rends itself, distraught without Anton’s last line.

The earth opens up and swallows its own dust
in fear that Anton’s last line has come to a bad end.

Arctic glaciers bob fiercely on the roiling sea,
pleading for the safe return of Anton’s last line.

The heroic printer revs up—
it shoots out one black duplicate of Anton’s last line!

Please, Anton, here, take it back,
reunite this copy of your last line with the body of your poem.

Hold tight to your poems, Red Wheelbarrow Poets, hold tight.

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Oct 22

October 24, 2019

Frank Rubino
Big Shoots

Timmy’s baby-mother overheard me in my drinking 
and bullshitting around the campfire, 
and got in my face in her leopard-spotted jacket 
to attack my politics. She was so exercised,
I had to ask her to withdraw some paces and get rational,
and finally she calmed down, 
and we sat talking in the fishing chairs. 
It had been my first time shooting a handgun
that day, and Timmy had called me Big Shoots.
She revealed that she and Timmy were separated 
though they had flown here together on his father’s dime
and raised their boy together in his house 
near the base where he was stationed, 
and he was taking care of her other kids too, 
from her previous relationships. 
This had been the arrangement for a couple of years. 

I had been thinking all that time 
they were a nuclear family, 
and I looked through the campfire at Tim 
where he sat in hearing range 
the whole time she’d harangued me: 
he’d not moved, 
and looked inward in a wry, long-suffering way, 
just as he sat now and endured her 
divulging all his business, 
that he slept alone on the sofa since Afghanistan,
and was drunk and so forth. 
He didn’t say anything to stop her: 
he had told me earlier 
about his low point, and she was not it.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Oct 15

October 17, 2019

Mark Fogarty 
BLUE PLATE

Brian Burrows was a shrimp. 
I mean, we were ten, eleven, twelve years old 
In 1965 but even on a team of guys 
Not yet ready for puberty, he was small, 
Tiny as a mascot or an honorary batboy. 
We had to sell Critchley’s Candies for the Little League, 
Good stuff, sheets of green-colored mint 
Surrounded by thin skins of chocolate, but no one 
Was buying, even though we were canvassing 
House-to-house in our Flash Cleaners uniforms, 
Which you could get washed for a discount at Flash Cleaners. 

When we met back at the corner, no one had made a sale. 
“They’re all cheapies,” Brian declared. 

So, my father drove us across the river 
To Rutt’s Hut, where we waylaid the Saturday workers 
Coming out after a couple of dogs and a beer. 
The parking lot at Rutt’s was huge, 
A wraparound on three sides built 
On an abutment over Route 21, 
A kind of luxurious balcony over the Passaic River. 

Business improved. 

I guess real estate was cheaper in 1928 
When Rutt’s opened, allowing a parking lot 
As generous in scale as the ones at Sea World or Disneyland. 
It hasn’t changed any, either. Neither 
Has the roadhouse, a ram shack 
With no windows, odd for a restaurant, 
Unless it had originally been a whorehouse 
Or a speakeasy, which it could have been in those Prohibition days. 

Inside, Rutt’s sprawls through several environments. 
There’s a bar with a bunch of tables, in case you need to be close to the booze. 
Then a dining room behind a porous wall and, separately, 
A to-go operation where they shout back your order 
In some strange jack-tommy argot and there are more tables, 
Tables to stand at this time. Linoleum floors 
And fakewood walls complete the décor. It’s cash only. 

There’s a logic to Rutt’s that predates credit cards and 911. 
A sign by a bell says if bell sounds, call the fire department. 
Since there are no windows, it still smells like 1965, 
A static waft made up of old farts 
And the fumes from ancient shots and beers. 

Rutt’s lives on for its fried hot dogs, 
Called rippers because they rip in the hot grease. 
If you want to go long you can ask for wellers, 
Which are even better acquainted with the grease. 
Milk for the coffee comes in an oversized shotglass 
And is rarely filled more than halfway, waste not. 

The place won best hot dog in America three years running. 

I had a blind date at Rutt’s once. This was back 
When you had to answer personals by mail. 
I’m a writer; I did pretty well at this. 
When I called, the woman she said she was from Clifton. 
The only place I know in Clifton is Rutt’s, I said. 
I love that place, she said. Let’s meet there. 
And we did. And though I didn’t make the sale, 
She told me she had gotten two hundred letters, 
So I guess getting to meet her was like 
Being nominated for an Oscar, an honor 
Even if you don’t win. 

Rutt’s is the kind of place where people always tell the truth. 
The glimpse of the river from the parking lot balcony, 
The sweetness of the mint, is why I keep coming back. 

If you don’t get the rippers or the wellers, 
You can get one of Rutt’s Blue Plates. 
Corned beef and cabbage, boiled potato. 
Brisket and red cabbage, potato pancake. 
Soul food from 1965, a blue-plate year  
When no one had yet conceived of 
Tiny portions of food designed into geometric shapes. 

My Mom, God bless her, taught me not to play with my food. 

Flash Cleaners sucked the three years Brian and I played, 
But the hard Passaic winds that buffeted the field got us ready to be men. 

Critchley’s Candies is still in existence. Started in 1957, it is located at 812 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge, NJ. A box of chocolate mints is $12.98. Flash Cleaners is still at 43 Meadow Road, Rutherford, NJ. Jack Tommy: short order argot for grilled cheese and tomato. Jim DeLillo sent me some Critchley’s Mints after we had lunch at Rutt’s; this poem is dedicated to him.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Oct 8

October 10, 2019

Della Rowland

Odd Socks


Your shirts fit you loosely,
your pants but by your belt.
You pull off your boots 
and even your socks
at every chance you get.
Your mouth never smells
of liquor you’ve drunk
or smoke from your cigarettes.
Nor your body of soap
or of yesterday’s clothes,
nor your hair of shampoo.

You elude everything.
Not even your musk clings to you.
When you leave, you take
all your evidence,
like so many socks you’ve stepped out of,
shaped to your foot
but empty.

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