Wednesday, May 2, 2012

MORE POETS AT CLOUDBURST: Judith Kerman, ryki zuckerman,Helen Ruggieri, Phil Good


For me, poetry is at least partly a visual and musical art form. Or at least, it comes out of those parts of my mind. Making art is more important to me than poetry in particular, but poetry is my first and oldest art, and my central identity. (I'm also a musician, photographer, plastic artist, and computer artist). I'm intrigued by the pieces that "come easily" out of a weird part of my head, but more in love with the things I have to work hard for. Several years, I composed several songscapes for performance with my poems.
I founded Earths Daughters magazine in Buffalo in 1971, and have run Mayapple Press since 1978. Our catalog of over 100 titles includes books by Allison Joseph, William Heyen, Eleanor Lerman, Conrad Hilberry, Gerry LaFemina, Geof Hewitt and Helen Ruggieri. Last May, I retired after 20 years teaching and administration at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, and moved to Woodstock, NY.
My eight books or chapbooks of poetry include, most recently, Galvanic Response (March Street Press, 2005) and the bilingual collection, Plane Surfaces/Plano de Incidencia ( Santo Domingo: CCLEH, 2002). I have also published two books of translations of Spanish poetry, A Woman in Her Garden: Selected Poems of Dulce María Loynaz (Cuban; Cervantes Prize laureate, 1992; published byWhite Pine Press in 2002) and Praises and Offenses: Three Women Poets from the Dominican Republic (BOA Editions, 2009). As a Fulbright Senior Scholar to the Dominican Republic in 2002, my main project was translating the poetry and fiction of contemporary Dominican women; I made a video about Dominican Carnaval during a second visit in 2004.
Aleph, broken
slides from his
warm soup into bitter air,
breathes but does not cry,
the start
of a life without promises,
the dirty floor where language
will creep but no one hears it.
He is the first son.
Describe poverty.
Describe the ache to say.
Ellipsis, not the egg
but disconnection.

When he is old enough
to read, the letters crack
and fall apart, flakes of burnt paper.
He is a window with a missing pane.
Wind blows through on winter nights.
His fathers hat and beard
hunch over the kitchen table,
a shawl over his shoulders,
his hand trembling with chill
as he traces the lines of text.
the shirt I always imagine wearing –
            not coral, not gold
            but I can never quite
            focus on the difference
fragrant rice smell
like that cinnamon and
turmeric stew (almost that
            Buddhist monks’ robes
            “hot” sunset
            a glow, not salmon
like the light of October maples
reflecting off low clouds –
flames of the end of summer
            Hot hot hot
            the fragrance of cinnamon, cumin
            and onion
cream of tomato soup – too pastel
my frustrated efforts at color-mixing
wanting saturation, brilliance
            Why not choose an easier color?
            (I need an old
            National Geographic,
            an article on Burma)
no words for it –
not sweet, not hot
the glow persists
paella in a Spanish café near the ocean
My brother is standing under the ceiling fan
in my parents Florida apartment,
turning a screwdriver with his left hand.
He holds the fan housing still
with his right.
For years I have been fascinated
by my brothers hands,
strong and muscular, but graceful.
I have hands
like my fathers, with a square palm.
My brothers hands
are more beautiful than mine,
with longer fingers.

The postcard he once sent
is on my fathers desk:
the temples of Bangkok
rising above the city streets
like glistening rooster-combs.
Taxi horns cry
I ask my brother,
did you know that Thomas Merton died
in Bangkok when he stepped
out of the shower
and turned on an electric fan?

My brother says, Id never
be stupid enough
to work on wiring with wet hands.


Helen has been writing and publishing her work since the 1970’s.  A writer of both prose and poetry Helen lives in Olean, NY and taught at the University of Pittsburg, Bradford, PA. She spent a semester teaching in Japan at Yokohama College and has a FootHills published book The Character for Woman of short prose pieces (haibun) from that period. She teaches workshops on Japanese verse forms (haibun, haiku, senryn) Her own Japanese verse forms have appeared in publications in Turkey, Japan, Belgium, England, Russia and Slovakia. She has been published in Rootdrinker, Normanskill: Open Fields and in Benevolent Bird Broadside. She has studied with Bill Stafford and tries to pass on Stafford’s process, witnessing for poetry.  Ruggieri is a master gardener and has a black sash in Tai Chi.  She will be reading from a new book Butterflies Under a Japanese Moon from Kitsune Press. 

and her video:  Abutsu's "Journal of the Waning Moon"

The Power of Water  poem by Helen Ruggieri first appeared in the Winter 2009 (Vol. 83 No. 4) issue of Prairie Schooner

                         THE POWER OF WATER

                           In the evening grandfather came,
an empty spirit from a far place.
In this old country, he was under
the earth, held down with a stone.

Grandmother cried as she worked
milking the cows, turning them into
the meadow, carrying the pails
of milk on an oxbow over her neck.

On hot afternoons I swam in the pond
supported by water which held me
when I wanted to be held and I knew
even then it would let me sink

when it was time to sink.
The church commanded us.
We obeyed.  It was stone
and wood and not the soft

lap of water where we were
forbidden to go.  On summer
evenings the air was thick
with singing insects and

water held the last of the sun,
a mirror of silver broken by
the leap of a fish into twilight
falling back into itself

I wanted then not to be
the muddy creature grandfather became
or the milky stooped grandmother
caught between two galvanized pails.

I wanted then to leap,
to rise up out of what was,
to leap into twilight,
to fall back into my true self.

                                      Helen Ruggieri

ryki zuckerman
Poet ryki zuckerman is author of the chapbook body of the work (Textile Bridge Press). Her poems have appeared in Black Mountain College II ReviewSlipstreamSwiftKickMonthly.PlanetLipsEscarpmentsPaunch, and Pure Light, as well as the Buffalo News and Artvoice.  Zuckerman has had poems published as broadsides by Seredipity Press, Textile Bridge Press, and the Tea Leaves Collection. She is anthologized in the new Brigid's Fire. She was "poet of the week" at  "poetrysuperhighway" and also has work online at Moondance.  She has been a co-editor for decades of Earth's Daughters magazine, the longest continuously published feminist literary periodical in the U.S., now in its 41st year.
       She has been a featured reader  at Daemen College (Readings at the RIC), UB Poetry Collection Reading (at the Butler Mansion), Buffalo State's Rooftop Poetry Series, NCCC English Dept. Raiders of Niagara Series at Talking Leaves Bookstore, Allen Street Hardware Cafe Spoken Arts Series, Nietzsche's, Big Night (Just Buffalo), St. John Fisher College (Rochester), Passaic Community College (New Jersey), Olean Public Library, Tru-Teas Series, Burchfield-Penney Art Center Rendezvous Series, the Screening Room, Center for Inquiry Literary Series, Dog Ears Bookstore Fourth Friday Series, Empire State College Appletree Series, BuffaloEast, Buffalo Society of Artists' Annual Poetry Reading at Artpark,  and other venues, as well as on spoken arts programs on WNED-TV, WBFO-FM, WHLD-AM (AudibleInk Radio) and thinktwiceradio.
        She created and curates The Gray Hair Series, which is now in its sixth season,   co-sponsored by Earth's Daughters, Just Buffalo, and Hallwalls.  She also created (and curates) the Wordflight Series at the behest of the Crane Branch Library, co-sponsored by the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library and Just Buffalo.  She is an Adjunct Art Professor at Erie Community College, City Campus.
epsilon eridani
for my late father, lover of sci-fi

astronomers sing of 
its radiant moons,
a little like our earth.
future generations might build
their dream house there.

anywhere a mist might rise,
there grow amoebae.
anywhere a tear might fall,
dew lifting off leaves,
settling on the surface
of primordial slime.

a lunar place
circling a planet
twinkling among
the distant stars
so many set out for,
spun stories &
chanted in tongues about -

you might be there now:
still shaking your head
that the clothes you read about
in '30's  sci fi novels -
the spacesuits of rigid plastic,
the futuristic styles
for intergalactic lolling around -
had actually arrived,
but fooled you,
as you pointed to your
polyester pants, your nylon scarf,
your acrylic sweater,
the soft side of plastic
for life on earth.

stopping by

On Jan. 29, 1963, poet Robert Frost died in Boston.
                     ("On This Day" in history, NY Times online)

the wind blew
his hair across his face,
as he squinted, snowblind,
in the brilliant cold of early january
and tried to tame the pages
and his eyes,
the world waiting for his new words,
his inaugural poem
for j.f.k.,
our fair-haired boy,
who we would lose
later the same year
frost left us;

the wind blew sparks of hope
into all eyes,
that day in 1961,
when, with the television cameras
focused on him,
frost, unable to see
in the snow glare,
recited, instead, from memory
"the gift outright":
"the land was ours before we were the land's..."

the wind blows the old dream
across the face of despair,
the dream that was ours before
we were the dream's,
some hollow melody
skips across the road we took
that led us to this precipice,
where we are still
at the edge of the woods
looking up at the falling snow.

trying to channel lucille 
(for lucille clifton)

the man had no voice.
when they cut out the cancer,
the talk went out of him,
the flesh that should have
formed a vowel
lay bloody in a kidney-shaped steel bowl

the police had no cause,
but adrenaline-pumped from running through
the yard, the house,
chasing the nephew
who had danced with drugs
and the law before,
they sent seven bullets,
steel-cut holes, 
into the man
who had no voice,
as he walked up the steps to the porch
of his own house they had invaded.

the town of homer, lousiana, 
will have no justice.
the jury sent down no indictment.
the killer quit the force.

and the woman who might
have pierced way down into the center
of the death-scene chaos and
stinky-to-high aftermath,
whose verse could cut through
a tangle of confusion
and fancy side-stepping, 
is herself mute,
gone from us
her colon cut from her,
bloody in a kidney-shaped steel bowl,

her flesh not saved,
her soul risen to high heaven,
waving to us from the far shore
wishing she could still
write it right.
previously published: epsilon eridani,  Buffalo News; stopping by, Artvoice; trying to channel lucille, Earth's Daughters)

No comments:

Post a Comment