Posts Tagged ‘Williams Center for the Arts’


RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Feb 19

February 20, 2019

John Barrale

My Mother’s Cancer

All the years
of her unhappiness
finally blossomed,

the wild flowers spreading
in sepia clusters,

in sepia clusters,

in sepia clusters,

(so many clusters)

(so many clusters)

the wild flowers spreading

from the soft pockets
of her bones,

from the soft pockets
of her bones,

(so many pockets)

(so many bones)

all her summer coins

in the pockets,

in the pockets,

in those pockets.

The light,
so many colors,
so many coins,
she whispered.

Frank Rubino


Our four, you never knew what was next.
We made our house twice as big and gave them all rooms
when we got married. We added bathrooms too.
When I was their age, we had one bathroom
for five people. A small nook with a tub
and toilet crammed in. A plunger in the corner.
I remember the narrow door, how I used to
bastion myself in there for hours with books.
I still read many of the same books
in the bathroom: I kept them all these years.
My mother used to say of the poetry,
“You are so much better!”

Dad’s aluminum coffee pot was three pieces stacked.
I could draw you a diagram today of the pourer
on the bottom with its nose-sized spout,
the basket set on top of it
where we’d scoop Maxwell House,
and the topmost piece, the dripper reservoir
that set in the basket pressing down the grounds.
I believe an understanding of this coffee process and its equipment
trained my mind to create global computer networks.
Most people can understand coffee,
but they don’t think they know
anything about computer networks.
Somehow I do. Somehow, they do.

With the drywall off, we found the original studs of our house
were all stained blue. The builders had never seen that
on any other job: I think that is what they said, in Spanish.
Barbara expected me to understand them.
Now we know every day there is a blue skeleton,
blue heartbeat. It makes sense for this family.
Our son went out this morning for new tires.
He’s going to expect a zoomy, new-sneaker feeling
like when he first tried skating, expecting to fly around the ice,
but his knees shook and his legs collapsed and he cried.
It took him years to try again; he showed me
a phone video, him finally steady on rented skates
at South Mountain Arena, his girlfriend’s voice in the background.
I put my hand on his shoulder, felt his strong chest: “You skated!”
Right now, he’s driving home on new tires.

Something else during construction: we had a big soft cat
who liked to hide in clever places. One wall that had been open
to blue studs was closed that day and the cat was missing,
and putting my ear to the closed wall I discovered
she was hiding back there behind the nailed in, spackled
dry-board. With claw hammers, we cracked through to free her.

The workmen saw the ragged hole next day and laughed,
making cat jokes in Spanish I only half-caught.


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WCW—Frances Lombardi-Grahl & Melene Kubat Mar 6

February 19, 2019

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For the month of March, the Gang of Five is excited to co-feature Fran Lombardi-Grahl and Melene Kubat, two NJ-based poets of exceptional talent.

Please join us on Wednesday, March 6th, 2019, 7:00 PM at the William Carlos Williams Center, One Williams Plaza in Rutherford NJ to hear Fran and Melene.

About our features:

Fran Lombardi-Grahl’s poetry explores family and relationships with wry wit, gentle humor, and above all with great beauty. In Fran’s own words: “ My poetry is based on family memories and relationships that have shaped my life. Poetry has always been a way of both rejoicing in nature’s gifts, as well as recording those small daily acts that make up our lives”.

Melene Kubat’s poetry, like a fine diamond, draws us into a multi-faceted center that is a blend of many truths. While often contemplative and serious, Melene’s poems are also playful. Her inspiration comes from the natural and spiritual worlds, and the sorrows and joys of the human condition, and at sometimes, her poems perfectly express the resilience of the soul by allowing Melene’s keen sense of humor to have the last word.

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:
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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Feb 5

February 8, 2019

Arthur Russell

To Sarah

When you are old and gone of mind
and I am dead, animal dead,
keep this rent-producing property,
and please, collect the rents.

Go out, if you must,
in your pink house slippers
with fur on the instep and
your shepherd on a leash;
mutter that stuff about your mother
at the bus stop; pick up empty bottles
from the street and do without
combing your stiff grey-yellow hair,

but, please, Sarah,
stomp up and down the stairs on the first
so they hear you coming,
shave-and-a-haircut knock and call out landlord
with your eye against the peephole.

Don’t trust Grudin the plumber, he’ll
sell you your own toilet, but Harold
is good for legal. Also, Sylvia at Citibank.
She’ll try to get you to buy an annuity,
but otherwise good.

So much has gone wrong
in the kitchen and the crutches
and Elliott with his asthma,
and the sex thing between us,
and, I’ve been so bitter,
the books in the back bedroom
are strangers to me now.


Remember the Kandinsky,
that skinny book of Kandinsky prints?
That was such a happy day.
It’s in the back bedroom,
in the shelves under the window.

Now, I’m only Goldberg the landlord with crutches,
and you are Goldberg, the landlord with crutches’ wife.
I can’t help that, but I do love you.


When you die, Russell, the guy
who owns the car wash next door,
will buy this building from your estate,
and then he’ll send his son,
that pretentious, intellectual prick,
to clean out our apartment,
and he’ll smoke a cigarette
in our back bedroom and look out
through the accordion gates
east on Church Avenue
towards Boro Park, where
we first met outside the candy store
when you asked me to buy you
a Pepsi.

He’ll throw almost everything away.
He’ll find the Kandinsky book;
he’ll sit on the bookcase, smoke his cigarette,
look out the window, read the introduction,
stare at the pictures, and

keep it for a souvenir of how he suffered
working for his father,
or as some kind of perverse proof
that he is superior to all the mercantile idiots
like his father and me, who worked
for what we have.

He’ll keep that Kandinsky on his bookshelves
when he goes to graduate school in Syracuse;
keep it in his apartments in Brighton,
Park Slope, Greenwich Village, Chelsea;
keep it when he gives up his fucked-up dreams
of becoming an artiste — he never had talent —
to become a lawyer, get married, move to Jersey,
have a kid and bookshelves,
bookshelves everywhere he went,
twenty, thirty years of schlepping the same books,
college books, grad school books,
his wife’s Elizabeth George mysteries,


until, one day, after his wife leaves him,
he’ll remembered you, Sarah,
and your garbage-sniffing shepherd,
and me, with my two amputated feet
lost in a trolley car accident, swinging
on polio crutches from one property
to the next, shave-and-a-haircut knocking,
calling out landlord,
and he’ll reimagine us as holograms
that capture the sense of style and loss
that he compassions, the way
that what you wanted as a kid
can be shunted into tedious commerce,
the way the past can evanesce,

and he’ll go down to his basement
and pull out that Kandinsky book,
and see how the show was mounted
in May of ‘45
just months after Kandinsky had died,
and he’ll picture us, Sarah,
when we were young and hip
how we went up to Harlem
to see Lucky Roberts play
stride piano,

how we went to see Kandinsky
at the Museum of Non-Objective Art
before it was called the Guggenheim,
being in love before the trolley,
before Elliott and his asthma
made me a bitter puss,
buying that book on the last day of the show —
and it was such a big deal for you,
you said Please, Morris, please let’s get the book,
and your voice made my sternum hum
so I had to buy it for you,
and what would later become
your stiff grey-yellow hair
was beautiful brown, and down to your shoulders,
in waves I used to compare to Barbara Stanwyk,
and you’d say No, I don’t look at all like her,
but you did.


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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Jan 29

February 6, 2019

John J. Trause

So Rest Relax

Sorry I missed breakfast. Was so rest relax…
Female Japanese guest’s
inscription in the guest book

In the Pomeroy Room of Hollycroft on
Lake Como at the Jersey shore in winter,
I noted the ivy motif of the room,
newly renovated, and read the guest book.

Almost all the prior guests remarked on the
“great breakfast”, “special touches”, “unusual
tranquility” of this frilly B&B.
I too made a contribution in the book:

“Many others have remarked on the special
touches, but I will be the only one brave
enough to name my favorite. I so love
the way the end of the toilet paper is

“folded into a perfect arrow shape to
correspond with the way the face cloths are all
arranged over the towels”. I included
a hand-drawn diagram. They will think you are

a serial killer, exclaimed the TV
comedienne staying in the room down the
hall with whom I stayed up late the night before,
laughing, while the other writers were asleep.

NOTE: Inspired by a writers retreat with Sensations Magazine at Lake Como, New Jersey, January 31 – February 1, 1997.


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WCW—Daniel P. Quinn

January 2, 2019

Happy New Year!

Please join us tonight at the Williams Center for this exciting event.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Dec 18

December 25, 2018

Zorida Mohammed


I aspire to be like an earthworm.
How else could I survive
the trauma-soaked debris
that my clients place on my plate?
Unbeknownst to them,
they depend on me to digest it,
making it more acceptable for them
like my mother chewing food from her own plate
and feeding it to me in infancy.

With as little affect as possible—
though sometimes a tear will roll out
without my permission–
I welcome the stories
that mar and rule their lives.

An eight-year-old knows
when it is time to hurry to the garage
(for privacy) so her military father
can be serviced.

I must bear witness to a stepfather
raping a daughter as the mother
forces liquor into her five-year-old mouth
with a stick at hand for any resistance.

Fifty years later, a blond little girl
in a 55-year-old body
no longer looks down from the ceiling
on the assault—

When she eventually is able
to allow herself to remember,
she dry-heaves and wretches for days
as she attempts to evict the demon semen
from her body.

I envy the earthworm
because it completes its life
without complaint and never
questions its place or purpose,
and never gives a shit
that its shit is gold.


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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week—Dec 11

December 12, 2018

Mark Fogarty


The best word I’ve come up with to explain myself
Is “wuthering.” And I don’t know what it means.
Out on the wildass moors, the spectral hound,
The ghost of passion, the sweet-natured vets.
Othello, ready for the hard-won Desdemona
To be swiped away by the prodding Iago.
Clueless. Except I wouldn’t kill her.
I’d check the train schedule for her.

Heathcliffe, it’s me, Cathy
I’m coming home now
So co-o-old, let me in your window.

Wasn’t it Heathcliffe out on the moors
And Cathy waiting at the window?
I guess it doesn’t matter. What’s the difference
Between men and women anyway?
An ounce or two of estrogen, testosterone.
A few inches out, a few inches in.

Kate was too dramatically beautiful even for me.
They model-posed her with her legs wide open on the cover.
I figured, if they want me to check out her snatch
Then her voice can’t be any good.

I can sit by the fire, drinking coffee
With no use for the empty moors.
For all my wuthering,
I can’t sit in an empty theater.

Kate’s voice was, though, good. A little mad, maybe.

The Irish came to the Caribbean, too,
Indentured servants, and stayed
For the green water and the lack of fog.
My brother told me about one of them with our name,
A captain in the Royal Navy,
Went down with his ship fighting the Nazis.
Well done, cousin, on those wuthering waves.

—Lyrics from “Wuthering Heights” by Kate Bush, from The Kick Inside (1978).


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