Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

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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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GV—Red Wheelbarrow Poets—January 31

January 21, 2020
Arthur Russell, musical guest, and Frank Rubino, featured poet

RED WHEELBARROW POETS ROCKING GAINVILLE CAFÉ ON JAN. 31

The Magic Circle series returns to GainVille Café Friday, January 31, 2020, for an exciting double feature of Red Wheelbarrow Poets. FRANK RUBINO will be the featured poet, and ARTHUR RUSSELL, who has featured before at GainVille, will return, as featured musician!

Frank, one of the managing editors of The Red Wheelbarrow and a member of the RWP writing workshop, has been published in such magazines as DMQ Review and Caliban.

Arthur has performed with his guitar several times at GainVille and at the Red Wheelbarrow anthology launch at the Meadowlands Museum.

Also featuring the rest of the RED WHEELBARROW POETS in the long-running BRING YOUR A GAME open mic.

A $9 cover (hardship? See me and I will get you in!) includes coffee/tea and dessert.

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

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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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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets
Twitter – @RWBPoets

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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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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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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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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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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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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RWBPoets

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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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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/RWBPoets
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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Nov 12

November 13, 2019

MARK FOGARTY

NOW YOU KNOW ONE OF THE MISSING

During the time that Misty was gone, she was one of more than a thousand indigenous women missing in North America.
—The Guardian

Misty Upham’s drama coach
Told her to find another line of work.
Despite that, she became a professional actor.
You’ve seen her in August: Osage County
And many others. I saw her in a movie called
Frozen River, where she gets involved in a scam
To smuggle people in from Canada
Through a tribe’s right to move unimpeded across the international border.
That’s real, guaranteed by the Jay Treaty of 1794.
The white woman was the star, but you’d remember
Misty in it, her persistence, her push
To cross borders. She would catch your eye.

Misty Upham was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award
For her work in Frozen River, and for a joint cast award
From the Screen Actors Guild for August: Osage County.

Now you know one of the thousands who have gone missing.
Now that you think about it, you remember her, too.
Oh yeah, the quiet one. The one who played the Indian girl.

Misty achieved what she did
Despite perpetual agony and anxiety.
Misty was gang raped as a teen. And she was raped
At the Golden Globes the year before she died.
She used alcohol and a whole formulary of drugs
To push on; she tried to kill herself several times.

When Misty went missing on the Muckleshoot Reservation,
Local police declined to search for her. She was just out partying
With other drunk Natives; she’d turn up.

Nothing fucking happened until eight days later
When CNN asked why no one was looking
For this notable young actress.

Her family, not the police, organized a search party for Misty.
After she was missing 11 days,
They found her dead, at the bottom of a ravine near the White River.
Her blood was full of alcohol, but the coroner ruled
He could not come to a conclusion as to why she died.

The treaties don’t protect you from shit.
You lived near a border of relentless indifference,
Near something inside that’s gone grossly missing.

And when they found you,
Your family touched you through the body bag,
Your arms, your legs, so you’d know
They came looking for you.

For Misty Upham, 1982-2014, and advocates for MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women). A detailed article from The Guardian about her is at https://www.theguardian.com/global/2015/jun/30/misty-upham-native-american-actress-tragic-death-inspiring-life

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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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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