Archive for the ‘Poem of the Week’ Category

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Feb 18, 2020

February 19, 2020

Jennifer Poteet

Family on Stone Harbor Beach


If only I could have joined them, 
the clean-shaven father 
in madras shorts who strained to manage 
both umbrella and cooler in the sand. 
He reached for the freckle-faced 
woman beside him. 
Their boy tugged at the towels 
slung over her left shoulder. 

They chose a remote spot near the dunes 
but I saw them from the dock. 
The boy helped his father secure 
the beach umbrella with a hammer. 
Soon, he ran, laughing, toward the waves. 
The father produced a ball, 
joined his son at the water’s edge 
and threw it to him. 

Boats bobbed in the distance 
like bathtub toys; 
a lazy airplane banner touted Goodrich tires. 
The mother put on a straw hat 
and started to read the newspaper. 
This was the family I might have had. 

My own father let my mother and me 
drag him to the seashore once, 
but wore a sports coat and dress shoes. 
He wouldn’t go anywhere near the ocean. 
My mother’s wet bathing suit 
dripped on his oxfords. They argued, 
then we endured a long car ride home, in silence. 

Now, the mother removed three sandwiches 
from the cooler and waved. 
Father and son, bodies bronze, 
stood in the sun and waved back. 
Only one thing was missing, 
it would have made them too perfect— a dog.

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Feb 11, 2020

February 12, 2020

Bill Moreland

Buy a Book Ya Bastids!


I sell reference books.
I’m a jockey in a cubicle
galloping across state lines 
and time zones.
My wobbly wagon is overloaded with
multi-volume, hard cover 
carcasses,
vetted by academics.
We offer it online free with the print 
and without that
digital ghost riding shotgun,
I’d have been extinct 
some time ago.
The Librarians I sell to have sentries;
Patience with fangs,
Fortitude with no budget.

I call them all,
and their names sometimes suit them;
from Somerval Linthicum 
at the Savannah Arts Academy
I can smell gardenias.
Tanya Faucet runs at the mouth.
Toylanda is a spoiled librarian.
But I will not cross 
Sister Loretta Marie Schollhamer
(assassins also have multiple names).
In the fall I like to call
Jennifer Two-Axe 
from Ichabod Crane High School.

I have a rambunctious librarian whose hobby 
is as a jammer 
for the Bay City Roller Girls
in the local Roller Derby League;
she elbows her way through the pack – 
on her back is stamped her pseudonym,
‘Sigourney Cleaver’.

Their breed, their kind is fierce and territorial.
The librarians’ heart beat as a pair of lions.
The American Library Association
were the first to push back 
against the Patriot Act and
“…opposes any use of governmental power 
to suppress the free and open exchange 
of knowledge and information 
or to intimidate individuals 
exercising free inquiry…”

Integrity like that you won’t get at Google.
In fact, they’ll sell it, they have a government contract.

The Black Caucus of the American Library Association
threatened to boycott our 
Notorious Lives set
if we did not expunge O.J. Simpson 
from its cover.
Editorial replaced him with Barry Goldwater,
and Barry Goldwater High School in Arizona refused to buy it,
a worthy exchange.
Our reference title on banned literature 
was itself banned
from a school district in northern Virginia 
of all places.
That is a ribbon we don with pride.

Once, a librarian whose building
was demolished by Hurricane Katrina
admonished me.
I told her our donation of a large set 
“was nothing, 
just books.”
And through tears she politely, 
firmly, as a librarian might,
sir-named my ass;
“When you scoop up books
with a flat shovel, 
and dump it 
in a muddy wheelbarrow, 
it’s more than ‘just books’, 
Mister.”

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Feb 4, 2020

February 7, 2020

Frank Rubino

DJ


I walked out the 33rd street side of my building, 
across the street for lunch, and felt, “We’re all soldiers.”

I see more and more homeless people in Penn Station camped in the passageways,
behind the departure board near track one where there’s a wall they go behind.
Maybe the cops are letting them stay. The cops are an army.

One homeless man, whose stomach is bare even in winter 
because he wears a skimpy cropped shirt, 
lets us pass around him in coats and gloves.
Are we an army, too? 

I know the Amtrak cops in Penn Station because I hit my head
on a fire extinguisher, and we chatted while they waited to see if I had a concussion.

I met DJ waiting for the Boston Amtrak. 
He was just out of Rahway jail serving twenty years. 
“I am not that kind of person,” he said, “but I will kill you if you fuck me.” 
I said, “DJ, if you always react like that, you’re going to be ruled by anger.” 
“You’re right,” said DJ. He asked could I help him get a train ticket to Camden, 
to get back with his ex-wife.
I don’t know if she knew he was coming.

Later, I considered whether I’d done a good thing 
giving DJ twenty bucks.

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Jan 28, 2020

January 30, 2020

Jennifer Poteet

My Mother Wanted a Daughter So Much
 

She took off her silver earrings first, 
and pierced the silicone cup of her diaphragm 
with an earring post, 
and stood, naked in the bedroom. 
She skipped the spermicide, too, 
while she waited for my father. 
He didn’t want more children. 
There were two already 
from his first marriage. 
What if my father had stopped to look 
at that little lanced disk, 
dormant most of the time 
in a pink silk pouch 
on the bottom shelf of the linen closet?

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Jan 21, 2020

January 29, 2020

Out of Tune

Tierra Sherlock


Whenever you came over,
you bee-lined for the guitar at the foot of my bed. 

I tried to learn to play when I was younger.
I spent hours sliding my fingers across the steel strings 
and pressing down so hard that they bled.

We laughed at how small my beginner guitar looked when you cradled it.
You said the quality was shit, 
but you still reached for the pick you always carried in your wallet.

I watched how easily your fingers found the frets, 
how you could feel for the right notes even with your eyes closed.
The strings never made a deep impression on your skin, 
your fingers never bled.

The guitar hasn’t been tuned 
since you stopped coming over.
I was never as good as you at letting the calluses form.

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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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