Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Jan 14, 2020

January 16, 2020

Claudia Serea

Making sausage in the time of revolution

This sausage is best made 
during martial law,
lights turned off
and the window covered 
with a heavy blanket
that still lets through the white streaks 
of the tracers in the night sky.

Place a candle in a cup.
In its shaky light, we look like ghosts.

Think of the ghosts in the streets.

Think of the fires on the barricades,
the only candles these souls will have.

On the table, set up the cast iron grinder
with its large, enameled maw,
its helix, gears, and iron clamp.

Think of the tanks and armored vehicles
advancing like huge night insects,
tens of boots grinding the pavement.

Start grinding the lean meat
and the white belly fat,
piece by piece,
one red chunk, one white,
one red one, white, red, white,
stuff the grinder, careful
to not catch your fingers.

Think of the grinder that smashes
students, young men and women shouting,
“Freedom, we love you!
We either win, or we die!”

Grind, grind, grind, grind.

Stop and listen to explosions
and the giddy chatter of the guns.

Add salt, pepper to taste,
crushed cloves of garlic
and powdered sweet paprika.

Taste the tear gas and pepper spray
on the students’ faces.

Sink your hands into the meat paste,
hungry roots that turn and lift it,
turn, and lift again,
until blended and smooth.

Add a little bone soup
to soften the mix.

Think of the water cannons,
clotted bodies drenched in cold December.

Pull the thin, 
almost transparent intestine
onto the machine’s spout,
bunched up, white like the stocking 
of a high school girl.

Think of that girl
crowned with sniper bullets,

and start pushing the paste in the machine,
against the machine.

Push, push, push, push,
with the force of a mudslide,
its rage and fear 
and abandon.

Push, push, push, push,
until the dawn is born,
unrecognizable and wet,

and sanitation trucks roll in
to wash the blood from the pavement.

The candle burns to the bottom
and the only thing that remains is the smoke

and a song in the hearts
of the ones who survived.

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Jan 7, 2020

January 10, 2020

Paul Leibow

Death’s been good


Death has been good to my neighbors.
I watched as they pulled their new Jag,
it’s gleaming black lacquer skin, out of the drive.

I notice the chill in the winter’s sun,
a thaw off the rear defrost
clearing horizontal slats on the back window.

They own the funeral home on Main Street
where I went to pay my respects to Sophia’s relatives.

The police managed the lines around the block:
they form that way when they die young.
Breast cancer took her at forty-­one.

I remember the first time Stacy, her beautiful sister,
introduced us on Palisades Avenue.
Sophia looked stunning.
I never fully understood why I felt that way.

I remember working with her in the art department
at Zip-­Five books.

I felt awkward when she was passed over for a position offered to me,

the art director’s job I didn’t deserve nor take.
Life can be cruel that way.

I was hoping she might have been offered the position after I left.
I don’t think that happens when your boss is sexist.

I recall the time she came over with her husband.
We all were shocked after her daughter fell and bit her lip.

Sophia was casual, holding the blood-­drenched napkin
on her daughter’s mouth as she stopped the crying.

Death already very confusing. Is more so when premature.
I never properly processed what happened.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Dec 17

December 18, 2019

MARK FOGARTY

I BECOME A CHARACTER IN A CHEKHOV STORY
(for Fiona Conway)

In the first story I ever read by Anton Chekhov,
A young boy moves away from his grandfather in Moscow
To some unfathomable part of Russia six time zones away.
The boy misses his grandfather, so he decides
To write him a letter. Once he does,
He addresses the envelope “Grandfather.”
But before he puts it in the mailbox, he thinks again,
Maybe that isn’t enough for the postman,
And adds “in the city” underneath.

The woman who is going to marry my nephew
Sent me a note thanking me for an engagement present.
She must have been interrupted between name
And address. The address is correct, and her note
Was promptly delivered to me. But she addressed the top line
Only to “Uncle Mark.”

I’m old now, officially, and I hate it
When people move away, when the Dirt Club
Is replaced by a place that sells cleaners.
But I’m also the kid, age 5, being driven away
From the house where I lived with my grandfather,
Which had a breakfast nook and a delivery hatch
A small child could easily wiggle through,
An attic full of wasps and a sharp Knights of Columbus sword,
And an empty lot behind the house which in the Murmansk winters
Of midstate New York could sustain a snow fort for weeks.

My grandfather ran a furniture store.
The doors in the house were solid wood, he knew about wood.
He hung a Tiffany lamp in the breakfast nook,
Which was narrow enough you had to like the people you crowded in with.
It was only after I moved away I learned to be claustrophobic.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Dec 10

December 12, 2019

Frank Rubino

Like Jack Did

The level of conversation all the workday long 
is tech, tech, tech— it just opens a void in me.
The sad distance I first saw drawn 
in the comic book panels of Jack “King” Kirby
has been my sorrow throughout my career.

Across his galactic splash page in Kamandi 36, 
and throughout his work in Fantastic Four
he spread mural-like, between one planet 
and another, the apartness I now recognize 
in the black windows whose candy-colored computer code I write.

On my dark Samsung monitor, 
my typing looks like Christmas lights from Mars. 

If I could see across space and time like Jack did, 
I would see Kolomatsky’s young clean face on Second Avenue, 
outside the bodega where we talked. We talked
on the church wall about our girlfriends one spring afternoon,
and the way one can hook one’s arms around their thighs, 
while one’s face is in their muff. We loved those girls 
for letting us hook our arms around their thighs, 
like wheelbarrows we were dumping.

(Wonder if I was drinking my usual Tropicana orange juice.)

Whenever I break from work, and feel as empty as code, 
I wish I could kneel down in front of my woman and hook my arms
around her thighs, and when she lets me, and when I do,  
I have the feeling I’m crossing space and time, 
like Jack did.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Dec 3

December 5, 2019

Janet Kolstein

Isn’t it good, Norwegian wood?


At twelve tons and 77 feet tall, 
this year’s Christmas tree is estimated to be
in the same age group as me —
a Norway Spruce in its brilliant final stage
with 50,000 lights and a crystal star.

Who would agree to be cut down in maturity
for a death blazing with glory?
65-75 in tree years is not that many
compared to the Giant Sequoias
who’ve been one with the earth since before the time of Christ,
maybe Moses too,
and have never been the type for tinsel.

The cacophony of a crackling, never-finished city 
whooshes in a rush of energy
with the thronging, milling guests around Rockefeller Center
where the evergreen holds court,
so far in spirit from the tree’s last address.

Most Manhattan dwellers are transplanted from somewhere else,
I’d venture to guess,
and I was once one of them,
unburdoned by the ghosts of Christmakkah past
when both parents were alive and fairly well
in our house in Halcyon Park,
and the plain tree in our backyard stood healthy and tall.

Adding to this season’s poignancy
is an awareness that the glorious conifer’s destiny 
will soon be the lumber mill —
a humbling fall from splendor.

“Spruce” spent its early years on a coffee table in Florida, New York, until being planted in 1959. Admired for its Grecian symmetry, it was cherished as a friend to many. Whether bird or squirrel, it welcomed all who sought rest or shelterin its generous limbs, garnering international fame in its last few months.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Nov 26

December 2, 2019

Rachel Wagner

Dirty Money


Who touches more money throughout the day 
than the dude running the corner store? 
I think not a single person in the world. 
Probably not even a banker. 
Passing around quarters, pennies, dollar bills 
that have been around the block already themselves.
He barely even thinks about the prices,
his mouth just knows it when he sees each product.

I remember one time a kid was trying to trade me 
hella coins for cash so he could go buy a fake $2 gun.
It was the one that all the kids were buying that night.
I was like why don’t you just go buy it if you have the money? 
He said he didn’t want to look broke at the store.
I was like dude, you’re like eight years old. 
And why would I want all that dirty ass money 
ya’ll been scraping out of nowhere? 

It’s basically the same materials getting gathered by local fiends
then getting passed between bags of dope hopefully.
Same dollars needed to hold the powder in a hammock, 
on the curb lookin like they might just be breaking down a bag. 
But they also got another dollar rolled up to inhale.
And those are two of the bills that will get fumbled around later, 
gathered together searching for a dealer,

who’s with me in my car. 
They look over at him to see if he got it on him. 
He’s sitting there telling them he doesn’t have shit. 
Already passed out the last of it.
Already tossed the plastic baggy it was bagged up in, 
which, in another world, 
could have maybe held a little sandwich.

Meanwhile, 
he’s been dipping into his pockets and stuff all day. 
Organizing everything. Taking money in. 
Taking it in singles, fives, tens, pennies. 
Doesn’t matter. Taking whatever. 
Then trading the liability he got on his body, 
stuck to his balls or sitting behind him sloppily 
tossed back, using underwear as a pocket,
like a cotton wallet.

The money slips into his actual pockets. A big wad of it. 
With me, he takes out the whole thing to pay for everything. 
Even if he just needs to peel a dollar off it. 
And as he’s doing that, I remember back to my babydad.
He would have me hold all his money just to get it off his body. 
But even when you got nothing on you people think that you do. 
You get harassed by the cops, or else you got junkies coming up to you 
to see if you got it or else who got it?

Then at the end of the night, me and that guy 
could be found around the corner on my couch. 
His hands on my body in the warmth of the house. 
Got his arms all around me as if I were a fat stack of cash, 
but I’m small, so his arms still meet each other behind my back. 
Touching me gentle as hell like he’d been waiting to see how I’d feel.
Then he stopped like wait he gotta wash his hands,
there’s black shit on his fingertips from touching money all day. 

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Nov 19

November 22, 2019

Rachel Wagner

Carrie’s Blood


There was this one time I fucked this dude 
like a week after taking a Plan B pill for this other dude. 
I mean, who hasn’t been there, right? Well, we had a wild night, 
then we woke up the next morning to a fuckin bloodbath. 
I mean, both of us covered in blood on some Carrie shit. 
Like straight up blood not period glops that are thick. 
This was thin red blood all over the bed, his legs, my butt. 
It looked like we were sacrificing a goat or something,
blood all over the place. 
Or maybe it was some pseudo virginity thing—
you know how people wanna hang up wedding sheets.
It was like that. 

I had to buy a new bed set,
and, actually, you know I never had my hymen cracked. 
Like the first time I had sex, there was no blood at all. 
A young tenderoni on my boyfriend’s cousin’s bed 
while his other cousin slept on the floor. 
It was the middle of the night, 
no one was supposed to know. 
But his cousin turned out to not really be asleep,
and, when I wrote about the experience, 
my father found the Word document. 
Then he kicked me out for it. 
And I was only over there cuz I had got kicked out my mom’s.
All that shit going on but no blood stains, at least. 

Anyway, this time, you know after the Plan B 
effectively forced my uterus to pour itself out, 
I remember the dude woke up before me,
well, fake-before-me cuz I was actually up. 
But he sat up, and I felt him looking over at me, 
so I pulled the sheets over me. 
I opened my eyes, then he was like, Wasup with all this blood 
you know if you were anyone else I’d probably run.

Whole time reading Carrie lately, 
I keep thinking of that drunk dude Carrie dated on Sex and the City
He comes to her window in streetcar-named-desire style,
pops up drunk the night they broke up and strips and calls her name.
Carrie!
All she can’t help but think is, Hmm maybe I do have good pussy, 
when, in reality, a dude like that is scary. That’s a real horror story. 
Dating a guy in recovery and he wants to fuck too much and jump into a relationship and relapses right outside her spot, naked? 
She’s lucky the episode ended there. 

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