RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – May 27, 2015

May 28, 2015

Mark Fogarty

To Ithaca, To Cayuga, To Cornell

Many will see you graduate besides the living
In the sunny field above the world,
Above the waters of the lake, the gorges
Rimming the colleges, the waterfalls:
You will walk to the stage
With your mother’s mother and your cousin, the judge
And your great aunt who finished here in 1904
When women rarely got a degree.

I’m thinking her father found himself,
Whether he came to Ithaca by train or horse-drawn car,
Reminded of home, of Ireland,
In the round rural spaces, the jagged gorges,
The green mats of the grass
Like the unspoiled world of the places we come from.
I think he must have been comforted
On his daughter’s graduation day,
To think of the vast beauty of the place where he was born.

Anna studied Latin to teach high school,
And her Cornell degree helped her keep her job
In the Depression, when there were two families
To feed. And when she lay dying,
Her sister Alice, a fine singer,
Sang her the Cornell alma mater to comfort her:
Far above Cayuga’s waters,
With its waves of blue.

I remember her, Anna, from my earliest days.
I remember her father through the stories Alice told.
You will remember these people too,
And the rock, the cross, the star, Cashel, Jerusalem.
You will remember everything.

Cayuga will look the same
When you return, a ten year adventurer
Along the lakes and shores of the world.
The deep, calm, brilliant
Waters of the lakes will reach to you
To hold you in the bowl of their hands,
With all the power of the armies of Brian Boru,
With all the power of the armies of King David.

I hope it will comfort you
That Cayuga is so hard to spoil.

And the sun beating down on the convocation field today
Is saying hey, the answer is tapping your shoulder.
The earth is battered, it is fragile,
It is scarred and bears the brunt of awful tides.
But it’s not too late to do something epic.
It’s not too late.

For Brendan Fogarty, B.S., Biological and Environmental Engineering Cornell 2015

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May 28, 2015

        Marisa Frasca read this gripping poem during her recent feature at GainVille Café. It tells a terrific and horrific story of a Sicilian woman giving premature birth caused by bombs falling from an American air raid in World War II (the Nazis controlled Sicily until 1943). Raffaela is increasingly distraught as the runtlike baby will not nurse and is in peril of dying and she has no outlet for her milk. What I really like is the turn Frasca gives the poem at the end. The woeful story devolves into a whole series of positive things about the world, the yang to the desolate yin of war. She has told me, btw, that Raffaela is her mother and the runt her brother, who survived his difficult birth and is still alive today.—Mark Fogarty
Raffaela at Eighteen

Raffaela hid under the olivewood
                                   Farmtable made by ancestor sweat—

Squeezed hard her ears and legs
                                   But the bombs, the dread, the labor pain
Could not hold her firstborn in
He flew out from under the table’s woodgrain
                                   Weighed less than a head of cabbage
Raffaela later said her boy resembled a ferret—
                                   Hair covered all except palms and soles
Her husband kept the runt swaddled in gauze and total darkness
                                   Inside a cotton-covered dresser drawer
When his eyes rested—a moment of freeze—he asked his wife
                                   What is this thing?
More bombs fell on Vittoria’s rooftops—
                                   Stampedes and shrills stormed dustclouded streets
Mediterranean sea lanes opened for an Allied Armada of 2,590
And The US Liberty hit by enemy bombers exploded off Gela in l943
Raffaela’s back let down, but her silk-soft nipples could not
                                   Coax the limp mouth to eat
Some neighbors abandoned their homes, others sought shelter
                                   Through half swung doors
Raffaela sat silent and cross-legged, keeping vigil by the drawer
Eventually she rose
                                   There was sunlight in the courtyard
And a German rifle tracking movement from a tree
                                   All Raffaela could do is urge and urge
The bitch with litter—
                                   Could she borrow one hungry pup?
                                   Could it suck and suck until blood oozed
                                   Until its teeth erected her human nipples like cathedrals?
All she knew is somewhere a world away was no mania to destroy
But to feed—none whimpered and whined from hunger
Women drew water from wells to quench a stranger’s thirst—
                                   Garlic, onion, drying figs hung on kitchen walls
Somewhere frugal hands mended socks and celebrated love—
                                   Infants nursed and slept in cradles
Wind carried sounds from nearby villages
                                   Of men and women churning wheat
And delicate saffron crocus poked through black lava,
                                   Orange calendula grew in open fields
Where cows with thick hides and swollen udders
                                   Shook away bullet-ridden parachutes
And falling bombs
                                   Like flies

“Raffaela at Eighteen” has been published in 5 AM and also in Marisa Frasca’s collection Via Incanto: Poems from the Darkroom from Bordighera Press.


GV – Sonnets and Irish Fusion

May 26, 2015

The Magic Circle returns to GainVille Café in Rutherford, NJ on Friday, June 5 for the launch of MARK FOGARTY’s two new books of poetry: Sun Nets and Continuum: The Jaco Poems.  Sun Nets are short poems that catch the light, while Continuum collects a series of a dozen poems about bass legend Jaco Pastorius.

Our musical feature will be Irish piper BRENDAN FOGARTY.

The Red Wheelbarrow Poets’ Bring-Your-A-Game open mic will follow, with generous reading times.

$7 donation includes coffee/tea and dessert.
17 Ames Ave., 7 PM.
(201) 507-1800


RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – May 20, 2015

May 21, 2015

John Barrale

The Eye After Death

Bones remain, not the eye:
its parts too soft,
the aqueous humor,
the iris and cornea,
the watery liquid,
and the thick jelly
are soon dissolved.

The images of a lifetime,
freed of obligations,
go nowhere.

One hour after,
the eye’s teacup ocean
is windless.

By cruel design,
it fills with aimless,
drifting things.

Slowly they sink.

Sailors and passengers alike abandon ship.

The optic nerve,
once so vibrant,
stops telegraphing images.

Silent, it lies in a place without light,
a cold stone in a tomb
where all gods are refused,
and no image forms itself
from a spark.

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WCW – Paul Muldoon

May 19, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015, 7 p.m.

Williams Center for the Arts
One Williams Plaza, Rutherford NJ

Plus the words of William Carlos Williams
and open readings from the floor

Contact: John Barrale – john.barrale@gmail.com

Paul Muldoon is the author of twelve major collections of poetry, including One Thousand Things Worth Knowing (2015), Maggot (2010), Horse Latitudes (2006), Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), Hay (1998), The Annals of Chile (1994), Madoc: A Mystery (1990), Meeting the British (1987), Quoof (1983), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Mules (1977) and New Weather (1973). Muldoon served as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University from 1999 to 2004. He has taught at Princeton University since 1987 and currently occupies the Howard G.B. Clark ’21 chair in the Humanities. He has been poetry editor of The New Yorker since 2007. Paul Muldoon is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, he has received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature, the 1994 T. S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, the 2005 Aspen Prize for Poetry, and the 2006 European Prize for Poetry. He has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War.”

Your giving poverty a try
has hit another snag
since you stopped off in Shanghai
and bought three Kelly bags
and now you claim a Birkin’s
prohibitively dear
I hear you baby
I hear you loud and clear


RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – May 13, 2015

May 14, 2015

Richard Greene

Listening to Fats Waller

I think
this was the music of my mother’s youth.
She danced like a flapper, I suppose,
something it can be hard
to imagine one’s mother doing,
but she showed me the Charleston
when I was in my teens.
We danced it the only way you can,
mother and son,
between the sofa and the baby grand.

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RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – April 29, 2015

April 30, 2015

Janet Kolstein

Don’t Eat the Daisies

Quietly to myself,
I was humming Please, please don’t eat the daisies
the way old men whistle nameless tunes,

adding another mantra
to the long soliloquy
that spools itself in silence;
tumorous words, and worlds, lost
when the host dies:

haunted people holding films
that show their insides
stop-in for a cup of soup, a sandwich
before, or after, the portentous news
of the doctor’s views.

The shamans can see right through them —
through to the other side.

In my mind, I repeat mulligatawny as a crutch
until it just rolls off my tongue,

and I’m trying to be a saint,
to feel tough tenderness,
to celebrate, and elevate
the patterns of pedestrians
and the shapes shadows make
as the sun crawls across the city,
the life being given me,
trying not to cling
too desperately.

Blog – https://redwheelbarrowpoets.wordpress.com
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