Posts Tagged ‘Poets’

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Sept 10

September 16, 2019

Bobbie O’Connor

VACATIONS ON MY GRANDPARENT’S FARM

I’d take my little brother for a bumpy ride
in Grandma’s antique doll carriage
past all the orange tiger lilies
that lined the long dirt lane
open on both sides.

We’d stop at the field
full of black raspberries
and eat our fill.

Then, we’d visit Pearl and Ammon,
the old couple who lived 
at the end of the lane.

I got a kick out of how the chickens
were free to roam in and out
of their kitchen all day,
and how, as Pearl’s cotton dresses
would get worn out,
they’d become aprons
and, later, dust rags.

At night, Mommy would carry a kerosene lamp
to walk us up to bed
and tuck us in.
With no electricity,
everybody would go to bed early.

Whenever I woke up early enough,
I liked to watch Grandma brush her hair
before putting it back into a bun.
I was fascinated at the way it was so long,
it came to her knees,
and how the bottom foot of it
was red instead of gray.

As a teenager, I was expected to be helpful.
As a girl, that meant helping with meals
and all those dishes to be washed
after three big, hot meals every day.

It was much more fun to go work 
in the fields with Daddy and my uncles.
I’d get stuck with kitchen work
soon enough, when my brother 
was old enough to be a help
instead of a hinderance.

I loved standing, balanced,
on the flat-bed wagon,
pulled by the hay baler,
which was pulled by the tractor.

Using a big hook, I’d grab each hay bale
as it came up the chute from the baker
and stack it behind me.
I’ll never forget how horribly itchy 
hay dust is on sweaty skin.

There was no bathroom on the farm, 
just the outhouse and the pump 
for filling buckets of water for washing
when a shower
would’ve been so much easier.

Grandpa’s brother, Uncle Clarence,
had the farm next door.
After Aunt Maggie died,
he bought an old school bus,
had it towed to his farm,
moved into it 
and rented out the house.

A friend of the family, Fred,
lived nearby.
Sometimes we’d visit him.
There was a little brook to cross,
but the bridge was long gone,
so everybody just drove through the water
and up to his house.

After heavy rains,
he just didn’t leave
or get any company.

The front steps were gone also.
Instead of replacing them,
he just dumped shake in a pile
and built a little hill
slanting up to the porch.

Once, when Grandma was feeding the pigs, 
one charged at her
as if he was going to run between her legs,
but her longish dress got in the way, 
and she was thrown onto his back,
so she had a little ride,
but she was riding backwards.

While at the farm, the big treat 
was when one of my uncles 
would drive into the town in the evening
and come back with ice cream.

We’d all sit around the big kitchen table
and enjoy eating it in the glow
of a kerosene lamp.

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Blog – http://redwheelbarrowpoets.org
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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Sept 3

September 4, 2019

Mark Fogarty

A FAINT ORGASMIC TINGLE

Franz Liszt used to pay prostitutes
To sit in the front row at his concerts
And faint at his music’s crescendo. One night
He looked up from the piano. The chairs
Were empty. The faithless whores
Had taken his money but hadn’t shown.
So that night at the crescendo of the piece
Liszt fainted, slid right off the piano stool.

I myself have never fainted at music.
I do remember a faint orgasmic tingle, though.

One night at the Bottom Line I thought I discerned
People paid to kvell. It was for Jimmie Dale Gilmore,
A handsome, sweet-voiced Buddhist cowboy from Texas,
Discovered by the suits after his hair had turned silver.
I think they paid some of their women to swoon,
To audibly crush on the country crooner. I liked
Jimmie Dale, loved his early band, the Flatlanders,
Who got a contract in Nashville and recorded an album,
Only to see the label fold, the vinyl shelved, though they had only made
Eight-track tapes of the band’s Texas folk music.

Immortal as Liszt, those eight-track tapes.

Almost unnoticed was the Olympian
Who opened the show, Townes van Zandt, the crush of every songwriter.

When Kris Kristofferson won his songwriting CMA
He pointed at Townes in the audience and said,
Give it to him instead. Brilliant drunk Townes,
Memory zapped by early shock treatments,
Whose recollection began at about age eighteen,
But he wasn’t fooled by that, horrible sad shit
He couldn’t remember any more which drove him to call
His album, made twenty years before his death,
The Late, Great Townes Van Zandt.

Either you get Townes or you don’t. I myself
Used to think of him, when he sang “I’m tyin’ on
My flying shoes,” every time I flew. When drunk,
Townes was a clown prince, playing like Lennon
When he wore a toilet seat to entertain
The drunken German sailors of Hamburg.
That’s where you feel the juice stir, at the Star Club,
And there’s doomed Stu Sutcliffe trying his best
To play the bass at 4 AM, trying to keep up
With Lennon and McCartney and Harrison.
I’m giving you lot up, he said the night
He quit the Beatles. Life’s too short,
And I’m going to spend it with my Astrid.

That night at the Bottom Line, Townes
Was sober as a judge, thinking maybe the suits
Would give him a second chance. They didn’t.
He died of a heart attack after a drunken fall
A few years later. People will tell you he was a savant,
And I will, too.

Bob Dylan’s genius was parked somewhere else
The night he played at Jones Beach. No one knew
Who Laura Nyro was when she opened for him,
A brave woman out there with just a piano
And songs like “Eli’s Coming.”
“Eli’s coming, hide your heart, girl!”
She had the tingle, too. I never knew
Who Eli was, but I was ready to hide.

Later, when I wrote about the show, I said hearing bad Dylan
Was like listening to Mozart whistle.
Why would you pay to hear Mozart whistle?
On the other hand, it was Mozart whistling.

The music publisher said he would give me $50 a story
For every review of Townes, of Laura, of Dylan.
But he stiffed me, only gave me forty.
So, for the lack of ten dollars, I stayed covering the criminal geniuses
Of the savings and loan business, publishing the lists of their infamies.

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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—August 20

September 4, 2019

Arthur Russell

No One In My Family


The ordinary violence of family life
is the sawyer’s craft, making planks out of people.

My dad was the tablet Moses broke.

No one in my family ever spoke to god
or called out to their mother
in the night as adults.

After an evening of tongue twisters,
the big black bug’s black blood
was on all our minds for days.

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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—August 13

August 14, 2019

Arthur Russell

The Harmonica


In this poem, my mother is my mother,
and the harmonica is the Hohner 
chromatic harmonica she’d been saving 
to give me on the last night of Hanukah.

The candles in this poem are the multi-colored,
crayon-shaped candles I arranged 
in the menorah so the colors went 
blue, white, yellow, blue, white, 
with a white one slightly higher than the rest,
in the menorah
on the white Formica countertop
in our kitchen when I was sixteen,

and the flames in this poem
are the flames on those candles,
the tallow-smelling yellow, black, 
and orange flames 
I’d lit after saying the prayers,
and really, it’s the flames
that connect us to the distant past.  

The underwear in this poem
is the pack of white Hanes briefs
wrapped in holiday paper
that my mother excused herself
a moment to bring in 
through the dining room door
as her gift to me 
on the fifth night of Hanukah.

The tantrum in this poem
is the fit I pitched when 
I unwrapped the underwear,
one of the first in a line of angry fits
I pitched at her from 
time to time through 
youth, adulthood, and marriage,
through her own widowhood,
until she died forty-five years later.

Any effort to reconstruct
the logic of any of those fits
would be embarrassing,
and I’d be happy
to be embarrassed that way 
if I could remember the logic,
by which I mean the trigger,
but all that’s left in memory
are the fits I’d pitch
and the knowledge 
that whatever caused them 
still lives in me like a cramp.

The stairs in this poem 
are the beige, carpeted stairs
my mother ran up to get the harmonica, 
frightened, maybe panicked,
by that young male anger. 
Who knows what she thought of, 
who she remembered,
what fears of her own were triggered
by my meltdown, 
maybe as far back as Brighton Beach
and the chaos of her own teen years,
the brutal anger of boys and men,
even though I can’t see my grandfather among them, 
maybe only as far back as my father’s
secret, bully machismo, hidden under that calm
undertone I heard coming from their room next to mine
the nights when he didn’t get what he wanted
and her whispered entreaties broke into shouted “no.”

She ran to get the harmonica, 
but only in the way that she would run 
to get a towel if a pipe burst,
panicked and calm,
and handed it to me.

The peace in this poem is the peace 
that overwhelmed my anger 
when I held the harmonica in my hands,
a peace as deep as morphine 
it was, and, for that moment,
and, maybe for the last time,
it brought me all the way back
to loving her.

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

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WCW—Anton Yakovlev and Yuyutsu Sharma—September 4

August 12, 2019

September 4, 7 PM—The Williams Center, Rutherford, NJ

Poetry in translation reading


The Williams Readings hosted by The Gang of Five in Rutherford, NJ, celebrate National Translation Month featuring poets and translators Anton Yakovlev (Russian) and Yuyutsu Sharma (Nepalese).

Please join us on Wednesday September 4th, 2019, 7:00 PM at the Williams Center, One Williams Plaza in Rutherford, NJ, to hear Anton and Yuyutsu.

About our features:

Anton Yakovlev‘s Russian translations have appeared in National Translation Month, Exchanges, The Stockholm Review of Literature, Lunch Ticket, KGB Bar Lit Mag, and elsewhere. The Last Poet of the Village, a book of translations of Sergei Yesenin, is forthcoming from Sensitive Skin Books in October 2019. Yakovlev’s poetry chapbook Chronos Dines Alone (SurVision Books, 2018) won the James Tate Poetry Prize.

Praise for Anton’s work:
“When Keats read George Chapman’s translation of Homer, he felt like an astronomer when “a new planet swims into his ken.” This is how I felt in reading Anton Yakovlev’s superb translations of some poems by Sergei Yesenin. Yesenin is an icon of early 20th century Russian poetry, communicating the vastness of Russia as a country and a culture, but he is not well known in the Anglosphere. Yakovlev’s translations strike this non-Russophone reader as a triumph of craft in combining a “peasant” simplicity that seems deeply and authentically Russian with piquant, always-tasteful touches of idiomatic American speech. These versions are a gift to readers of English in bringing across the quality and qualities of an original and unforgettable artist.”
—Daniel Brown, author of Taking the Occasion and What More?

Yuyutsu Sharma is a world-renowned Himalayan poet and translator. He is the recipient of fellowships and grants from The Rockefeller Foundation, Ireland Literature Exchange, Trubar Foundation, Slovenia, The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature and The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature.

He has published ten poetry collections including, The Second Buddha Walk, A Blizzard in my Bones: New York Poems, Quaking Cantos: Nepal Earthquake Poems, Nepal Trilogy, Space Cake, Amsterdam and Annapurna Poems. Three books of his poetry, Poemes de l’ Himalayas (L’Harmattan, Paris), Poemas de Los Himalayas (Cosmopoeticia, Cordoba, Spain) and Jezero Fewa & Konj (Sodobnost International) have appeared in French, Spanish and Slovenian respectively. In addition, Eternal Snow: A Worldwide Anthology of One Hundred Twenty-Five Poetic Intersections with Himalayan Poet Yuyutsu RD Sharma has just appeared.

Currently, Yuyutsu Sharma is a visiting poet at Columbia University and edits Pratik: A Quarterly Magazine of Contemporary Writing.

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 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—July 30

July 31, 2019

Frank Rubino

Changing a Battery

1.
My brother-in-law Laszlo who was the family engineer
and Hungarian, rewired our furnace ignition during Hurricane Sandy.
Working with laconic deliberation, 
connecting the leads with his needle-nose pliers 
and voltage gauge according to the rehearsed steps in his mind, 
he reconfigured our ignition switch to draw power not from the dead house feed,
whose riverside PSE&G sub-station transformer the Passaic had flooded,
but from a green extension cord he passed through the basement window. 
I daisy-chained it to my other cords from Christmas to reach across the street. 
The guy who lived there, Dr. Paul Wicherburn, 
suffered from a degenerative nerve disease
that was killing him over a ten year period,
but he was out of his wheelchair, 
and walked around back through the snow 
to show me where to plug into his generator 
to ignite my furnace and warm my house. 
A few days later, more snow fell, 
and the township plowed the street, 
ripping out Laszlo’s extension cord,
and inside our house it was cold again. 
We felt like squatters, running the dark hallways in our headlamps and parkas, 
and saw our breath indoors, and felt the itch of our armpits in our dirty clothes.

2.
I figured my son’s no-start was connected 
to the alternator they had replaced 
without analyzing the root cause. 
When we popped open his hood, 
his battery looked shot, 
with sea-green corrosive salt crusting the posts. 

In my derelict Mazda was a new battery, 
and we could swap it into my son’s car, 
and we would start his car 
without bothering his Uncle Laszlo for once.
We had to knock all the corrosion off with a wrench,
and hope the nuts weren’t locked in with rust,
and hoist it out of the compartment 
to make room for the replacement, 

and it was then that my son’s great strength, 
his wide shoulders and broad chest,
filled me with gratitude for his youth, 
and I stopped faulting him 
for all the damages he had done to our various cars,
among which had been the disastrous 
front-lawn off-roading that left my Mazda 
with no working capacity except its battery charge. 

With his vigor, he extracted his dead battery— 
a fifty pounder shoed-in with a hidden bracket— 
and thudded it into the curb grass 
in front of Dr. Paul Wicherburn’s house, 
where we happened to be working,
as it had been a convenient place to roll 
his disabled vehicle in neutral— him pushing,
me steering. 

When his disease finally did kill him,
Paul’s wife, Molly, told me that Paul 
had loved to watch our family’s antics
on bad days, through the window, 
from his wheelchair.

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

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WCW—Hilary Sideris & Rick Mullin—August 7

July 23, 2019

For the regal month of August, the Gang of Five is excited to co-feature Hilary Sideris and Rick Mullin, two poets of great talent and majestic expertise.

Please join us on Wednesday, August 7th, 2019, 7:00 PM, at the Williams Center, One Williams Plaza in Rutherford, NJ, to hear them.

About our features:

Hilary Sideris’ poetry has appeared in numerous print and online publications. She is the author of Most Likely to Die (Poets Wear Prada), The Inclination to Make Waves (Big Wonderful), Un Amore Veloce (Kelsay) and, most recently, The Silent B (Dos Madres 2019).

The poet George Held wrote of her latest collection: “Do not read The Silent B unless you love John Donne, Cole Porter, and Richard Pryor; unless you dote on word-play, satire, and wit; unless you cherish the silent “b” in “dumb,” cognates for “fire,” and the leap from “gaffe” to “laugh”; and unless you feel for the dyslexic, the dysphemic, and the different.”

Rick Mullin’s poetry has been published in various journals and anthologies. He is the author of seven volumes of poetry and two chapbooks, including Soutine (Dos Madres Press), a biographical novel in verse written in terza rima, and his most recent collection, Lullaby and Wheel (Kelsay Books, 2019).

The poet Anton Yakovlev wrote of Rick’s poetry: “From the moment you read the first poems in Lullaby and Wheel, you know you are in the hands of a master. Rick Mullin’s voice is one of the most distinctive and recognizable in metrical poetry today, and this collection sees the poet at the top of his form. Effortlessly switching from the whimsical to the philosophical to the deeply personal to the fanciful and again to the personal, these profoundly enriching poems guide the reader through a whirlwind of emotions and mindsets, recognizable and startling in equal measure.”

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.