Posts Tagged ‘workshop poem’


RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – July 18

July 20, 2017

Poem of the Week 7/18/2017

Arthur Russell


I love my guitar, but I haven’t learned
to improvise.
However you conceive
of boundaries on the other side
of which something like my facility in speech
would begin to emerge in music, on guitar,
I’m just a trained monkey.

I can muck around with volume, rhythm,
syncopate a song, but when it’s my turn
to take a solo after a chorus,
the scales that match the chord elude
me, or I need to start at the tonic
or I’ve lost the beat, which is so not me,
or I simply have nothing to say.

I stopped writing this poem
the last two days to take out my guitar. I can’t believe
I would need to write a
about a problem that clogs my music.
That’s like complaining to your mom about a bully.

I took out Jobim’s Corcovado for which I have a nice arrangement.

This doesn’t sound like poetry, does it?

I figured out the keys
it moves through, worked the scales in those keys up
and down the fret board,
and found snatches of melody to dip
into when I got to those bars.

God, this is killing me; it’s so embarrassing.
My music-literate friends
would read this and say: “What an idiot!”

After two days, I had nothing but
the arrangement I’d worked out six years ago.
Then I went back to this poem.

I hate
the way it feels to hate a thing I love
because it won’t give me the thing I want from it
the most.

That last stanza
gave me no trouble.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – July 11

July 13, 2017

Poem of the Week 7/11/2017

Susanna Lee


I am locust.
Fear my jaws, my crunching song,
God’s call to reap what you sow.

God’s great abundance is not a mistake.
Sow what you’ll need.
Cede first fruits to priests,
then feed the good food to the mighty.
Gather the rest and eat your fill.

Are some grains less than perfect?
Allow the least to glean.
Seek those willing to get down on hands and knees
and pick the stalks clean.

Starve me, hated locust.
Leave nothing in the field, or my numbers will soar.
I’ll return with a vengeance year after year
with ravenous appetite.

I’ll darken your skies in an instant,
come to feast on memories,
unappreciated past harvests.

You’ll hear my horde hum
just beyond the horizon.

The approaching jaws of the tiny,
in terrifying numbers,
tot up your sins.

The deafening chomp wakes you to reason.
You’ve created your own destruction.

I descend in season so you shall know
you reap what you sow.

I am locust, servant to God,
His chosen vengeance
for man’s greed, selfishness, and sloth.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – June 20

June 21, 2017

Poem of the Week 6/20/2017

Mark Fogarty

Visible Satellites

The New York Times didn’t have comics,
But anything else you wanted to know was there.
As a kid I pored over the “agate” pages (small type)
To see which ocean liners were docking in New York,
Or where they were going, and a little box
Informed you which satellites were visible in the sky,
And when, and on what course through the heavens.
I looked and looked, and saw Echo 1, Echo 2
Crossing space. I wasn’t so far from space!
I could cross the oceans and the oceans of the moon
If I read the New York Times.

The cops and the night owls waited for their copies
Of the Jersey Journal when the presses cranked at dawn,
Loud as Cream with Hendrix sitting in.
The skeins of paper ran along the ceiling,
Black and white birds sailing like kites
Before they would knot together and bang and fall
Onto rollers. I got 50 copies for the newsroom
And the ink would smear if you touched it.
You can read all day long in a newsroom.
My elbows had patches of ink and I knew more stuff
Than Ken from Jeopardy. The press men were deaf
And would curse you loudly if you approached.
I stopped the presses many times with mistakes
But never had the nerve to shout it. The deafies
Had no feel for the romance of the presses
Stacked high as Jimi’s Marshalls in my memory.

I worked for the sheets for forty years
And never ceased to kvell at my name on a page.
I still read the agate pages, which would solemnly report
The results of every rigged wrestling match
(Hogan d. Savage, Madison Square Garden, World Wrestling Federation)
As well as the track reports from St. Benedict’s,
And Pogo’s latest musings and the “woman’s” page
With its legendary (probably mythic) headline
For debutantes this year it’s balls, balls, balls.
I had instructions from five editors
To bring them Royko’s column the minute
It moved on the wires, when I wasn’t trying to puzzle out
The blurry words on the newly-invented fax machine
Or how the purple ink from UPI got carried to my underwear.

There’s a dock somewhere where I can still
Board those solemn liners in the inky night.

I wonder if Echo I and II still loop the world in flight?
My elbows aren’t black anymore and the stink of the pulp plants
Is reduced, I guess that’s a good thing.
The prints are slowly stopping their presses
Except when the newsreaders say, “Breaking news
From the Washington Post! This just in
From the New York Times!”

The red stuff was fake at those wrestling matches,
But the sheets can still bloody the nose of a President.


Echo 1 was originally loosely estimated to survive until soon after its fourth dip into the atmosphere in July 1963, but it ended up living much longer than these estimates and reentered Earth’s atmosphere, burning up on May 24, 1968. (Wikipedia)


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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – June 13

June 15, 2017

Poem of the Week 6/13/2017

Susanna Lee

Camping for One

This year, I’ll be alone with the crickets
under the rising moon of my misery.
I’ll mourn outside my empty tent,
pretending, as I did when I was single,
my silver flute is a steel-stringed guitar.
In my best Joan Baez,
I’ll croon cowboy songs and nursery rhymes
and tunes of sad and happy times.
In evening’s cicadas and midnight’s owls,
I’ll hear echoes of the past.
I’ll fear spiders and snakes.
Raccoons might take to rustling under my tent.
I’ll make peace with a hint of bears,
and enjoy the setting sun.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – June 6

June 9, 2017

Poem of the Week 6/6/2017

Bill Moreland


1. The Man

Josef’s haircut was a furry brown burr.
With a red, greasy rag he wiped the plump, shaved, baby porcupine
that is his fat neck.
Muscle memory slapped the levers of the lathe,
adjusted his chuck,
tugged his nuts inside his briefs,
and transformed metal razor shavings into
a spiraling bundle of steel wool
that dropped around his oil soaked
Sears and Roebuck
steel-toe boots.

In the foundry trays there are, bathed
in the thick sickening sweetness of oil,
tiny precision parts, funneling
somewhere to assemble itself into some whole completed something.

The cutting tool’s blue-hot chamfered tip held steady.
Twenty times for every one ‘mississippi’
speeding alloy metal bits turned,
and cut, threaded to tolerances of
one ten-thousandth of an inch.
Twelve rapid-fire machines
punched out eighty-six-thousand-four-hundred screws,
per shift,
for armaments,
or precision surgical instruments.

The machinist serves both ends of the bullet.

In broken English, that Kraut cursed the Filipino kid on the hi-lo,
Pineapple! Haul your ass and put doze castings on der pallet dere, shtoopid.
Through his reach, feeding his machines,
motion and commotion,
Josef conducted a metal on metal
cutting choir
which sang,

Oy yea Oy yea Oy yea,

and from it
arced yellow sparks
trailing blue smoke,
comet flagellum
which either singed pockmarks on his face, stinging,
or they evaporated altogether.

The operator and the operation:
there is magnificence in this ugliness,
and each
has a casual audacity.

2. The Method

Near Newark Sewage, I was parked in Delawanna’s parking lot, they render fat. My windows were down; it was hot. I heard what sounded like a large bee hive; it was not. They were flies. Teed up on a flatbed truck, one dozen 5 gallon drums were on deck; each one open with pig carcasses, haunches and heads stuck out. Foreman flies hovered. Worker maggots scoured. A colony of iridescent wings and blue-green bodies shimmied in the sun; the swirling efficacy licked clean the cavities of the beasts’ hollowed-out eyes. They were the unannounced sub-contractors; their pre-rendering was startling, prepping as they did this primary ingredient for soap.

3. The Machine

Cinder fingers
write in the dust.

Sorrowful singers
cry at the dusk.

Diligent dilettantes
carry the musk.

Maniacal militants
march over rust.

A pattern of pillage
of plunder, of rubble.

Towering baubles,
the dunces will babble


still lower

into the grave

we’ll grovel,

’till those


do call



Oy yea Oy yea Oy yea.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – May 30

June 5, 2017

Poem of the Week 5/30/2017

Janet Kolstein

Who Are You Wearing?

Can you get more love than this?

Blown-out blond hair in a blunt cut
swings around her golden head
with every pivot.

To the cry of her name,
she twirls
towards and away
from nameless mortals
like me
watching on tv.

Her hand-spangled gown
with every swish and sway
of her Cannes camera-ready corps,

and, I wanna
feel le tapis rouge under my feet,
to soak up what was meant to be
to toast the week-end gross
from a thousand screens
launched in my honor,
my face a shrine,
riding high on flash
and flesh,
Valium to calm the riptide.

(don’t touch my air-brushed lips)
before the bling
goes back
in the box.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – May 23

May 25, 2017

Poem of the Week 5/23/2017

John Barrale

Her Cat in the Window Blue With Rain

I remember
her cat
in the window
with rain,

and slow April mornings,

the pages
of her
favorite books
on the table,

breakfast scant

like her robe
with flowers,

the taste of cigarettes,
and black coffee,

the sugar brown
and stirred in
with a white
plastic spoon.

I remember
her legs
over the edge
of the bed,

and the small
whisker sound
of nylons
pulled off
and on,

and the shyness

when she showed me
the broken china
she collected
and kept
in a box.

I remember
making love
on her

her lace
and oyster

and the moon
coming through
the window

with its light


on her belly.

I remember
Rue St. Denis
in December
covered in ice
and snow,

and the café
like a shiny miracle


at the bottom
of the hill,

the thin stems
of the wine glasses

the bottles of wine
lined up in rows
so formal
and French.

I remember
her happy face
sitting across from me

and the bowl
of onion soup
we shared,

she closing
her pleasure
like the petals
of a flower,

she simple,
and there,

her face like her life,
creased with dreams.

Fifty years later, and old dogs
loose in the heart
still sniff
at memory.

I wonder

does she ever think
of me?

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