April 30, 2023

Deborah Meadows (USA) 1956

Deborah Meadows (USA)

Born in Buffalo, New York, Deborah Meadows' father—and others in her family—were ironworkers, and she grew up in a working class neighborhood. But Buffalo is also hope to notable cultural institutions such as the Albright-Knox Art gallery, where she spent many hours as a young girl. In high school she traveled to Stratford, Canada for the Shakespeare festival and attended concerts of the Buffalo Philharmonic, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, while working at the Buffalo Paper Stock factory. Meadows attended the State University of New York, Buffalo, where she studied literature under figures such as the postmodern critic and novelist Raymond Federman and professor Myles Slatin.
     Leaving Buffalo, Meadows continued her education at the California State University in Los Angeles, where she studied philosophy and literature, graduating in 1986. Soon after, she began teaching at California Polytechnic University in Pomona. Her first book of poetry, The 60’s and 70’s from “The Theory of Subjectivity in Moby-Dick,” was published by Tinfish Press in 2003. Green Integer published her Representing Absence in 2004; in the same year Krupskaya press published her Itinerant Men.
     More recently, Meadows has written plays, published by BlazeBOX as Three Plays in 2015.
     In recent years, Meadows has been active in international cultural affairs, traveling twice to Cuba to work to work with Cuban writers such as Reina María Rodríguez and Antonio José Ponte and she has traveled to and worked with poets in Buenos Aires. She has also been active with her faculty union and various issues involving access and equity in public higher education.
     With her lover, Howard Stover, Meadows lives in the Los Angeles area. They spend part of each year in a house they built in the Piute Mountains.


The 60’s and 70’s from “The Theory of Subjectivity in Moby-Dick” (Kāne’ohe, Hawaii: Tinfish Press, 2003); Representing Absence (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2004); Itinerant Men (San Francisco: Krupskaya, 2004); Thin Gloves (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2006); The Draped Universe (New York: Belladonna Books, 2007); Involutia (Exeter, United Kingdom: Shearsman Books, 2007); Goodbye Tisssues (Exeter, United Kingdom: Shearsman Books); Depleted Burden Down (New York: Factory School, 2009); How, the Means (Los Angeles: Mindmade Books, 2010); Saccade Patterns (Buffalo, New York: BlazeVOX, 2011); Translation--the bass accompaniment: Selected Poems (Bristol, England: Shearsman Books, 2013); The Demotion of Pluto (New York: BlazeVox, 2016); Lecture Notes: A Duration Poem in Twelve Parts (Kenmore, New York: BlazeVox, 2018); Neo-bedrooms (Bristol, England: Shearsman Books, 2021)

Chapter 61

Sightings, basis for portent specimen.

My body. The power to sway
in playfulness upon a vacant sea.

A sore of voices come back to life,
[touted regularly as carved
[by invisible, gracious water:
[the body, itself.

A match, only start her, assault
the female fish, obliquely.
In place of an enormous head,
[raise the buried taken.

Turns were taken, it jetted up
[and passed round that point
wherein the event rushed a steady finger.

The process:
—red tide
—“slanting sun… sent back its reflection
[into every face, so that they all glowed
[to each other like red men”

The ideological slip:
—killed or killers, the Pequod/Pequod again

The poetic process:
—each puff from whale spout matched
puff from Stubb’s pipe
—penetrating in search of gold watch,
“His heart had burst.”

The slip in Time
—expense of moral capital to acquire it

The process of exposé:
—death agony, a witnessed
tragedy of corporeal Body

The national slip:
—casual equation, large death
and small goods use us up

(from The 60’s and 70’s, 2003)

Chapter 2

inhaled reaching, followed by or tucked
in as most stop at this place.

A place of departure where headrests, sleep,
originals are required: cement
banisters merge public and private lives,
how can order disguise the bows, bowsprits, etc.

Frost lay. I said to myself, as towards
identity and self-naming, lower your bag
and cover the darkness toward
expensive pavements and pumice the
secret inwardness. It’s all self, all
society, dreary streets and buses on from
here and hereafter. Moving
absorbs many of the works in public, so
encased in ashes, in poor boxes.

A common place. I muttered bathetic
entertainment by the weeping negro church.
I suppose I might look enough, seem
sufficient that tenting indoors, that judgment
more than ever divides. Matchless
is the miracle on the outside where the
window frosts only one-way. Northern
lights raise the dead man within, silken his
pillow lengthwise.
Now fiery, more of this scrape and plenty.

(from Representing Absence, 2004)

We’ve held subject positions

We’ve held subject positions beyond
the grave, experts claim.
A breakwall against sea surge
and psychological reduction, somebody
[or other coined it spectacular.

Too busy participating, we had no idea
how it resolved into a “scene,” and
we had no idea, and we had.

Official declarations that this
is the time for it were many places,
yet few of us felt implicated or even addressed,

[so we admired defacers:
This is the time for the foibles of logic
meant, alone, a long sentence
without appeal.
[The absurdities
of our shared rhetoric
omit how the body knows
[to do body things.

To bring out the shine, as a goal,
meant parental jingles extracting loyalty
[on whose behalves Our nation
[engages in it.

Sometimes you need a rock
to weigh something down.

(from Representing Absence, 2004)

Faux translation of Charles Baudelaire’s “To the Reader”

The sot, his error or fishing lens
lives in our spirits, works in our bodies,
so we eliminate our friendly notes
like mendicants nourishing our vermin.

Our fish are heady, our repentance milky.
We do ourselves gross injustice by what we have
and lease happiness in a scarlet shirt.
Known for its dye that runs when washed, we touch it.

On the topic of bad birds, there’s thirteen
who longs for our impress, our service,
whose baton will vaporize all our freedom
like a suave atomic scientist.

It’s the bull who has our reconstructed son!
About the repulsive objects we work on, we joke
about the day the flames of our descendants are not about here
we joke without bleakness in order to cross the sills that leak.

The poor debauched sot who lowers his mouth and eats
the martyred river from an antique cupboard
we go together along a passage of pleasure and secrecy
that is hard pressed like our agent’s orange.

Zig-zag yet still being formed by millions of hemoglobin donors
is the cut womb of the townspeople
and when we breathe death itself into our lungs,
we breathe the invisible flowers very deeply of our sad songs.

If Viola, poison, flowery painters, and revolutionaries
are not brooding again and again over their demented pleasures,
then the everyday canvas of our pitiful destiny
is our friend like a hell that can’t be hardy.

But the old images in the canyons, the mountain lions and bugs,
the chanters, scorpions, and biting snakes
are all monstrous exaggerations of those that are merchandized
at ramparts of our notorious zoo of cruelty and vice.

It is more laid, more sold, more unworldly
than anything else that can be a large gesture or big cry.
It volunteers the garbage of the land
and lowers all our attempts in this world.

The eye of the bored person involuntarily blinks
because it dreams of the sot high from smoking.
You know it’s true, that monstrous delicacy,
that drug of hypocrisy, like me, like you.

(from Representing Absence, 2004)


“Chapter 61,” reprinted from
The 60’s and 70’s from “The Theory of Subjectivity in Moby-Dick"(Kāne’ohe, Hawaii: Tinfish Press, 2003). ©2003 by Deborah Meadows. Reprinted by permission of the author.

“Chapter 2,” “We’ve Held Subject Positions,” and “Faux Translation of Charles Baudelaire’s ‘To the Reader’” reprinted from
Representing Absence (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2004). ©2004 by Deborah Meadows. Reprinted by permission of Green Integer.

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Midnight in Our Motivated

Right here, an alternate reading or despair our conditions?
Suggestion of foul play makes us experimental partners tentative

in keeping beat as nationalist pulse that races,
arranged in steps. But then coming down, erratic

words in mold and stale bread, informational or distilled
story, no unturned example, unpermitted dumping

altogether-now when most attacked historically –
At reading, our meter for conditioned signs now bypassed,

valid signature, worked valve, slick-faced
interference, rolled up welcome mats, suspicion –

now that's another story: hopped up percussionists
hum of air tankers on return circuit ‘til it's out

emphasizing old taints and favors, impediments
liked for charting counterintuitive voting patterns

believers are no longer pulled inward to its great
or sundown, whichever comes first. A new science,

a sort of confusion using bad foot to drag good
as two ends reach across states' suspension.

Hadn't you hoped for a change adding fire,
telling-knots addressed to mind by hand, but the music

acquired measure runs its blood circuit, what's there
after midnight in our motivated glacial moraine. None.

No software adequate to discern delusion, an error
behind favoring the favored, never happens

yet how little we know of the world's composition
in just societies even in legislative form

or social constraint, those forces holding power of refusal
to natural domination, ill-gotten releases.

Products from agricultural regions compete for last:
feathers drop after double barrier, world becomes wide.

Irresistible volume to pattern desire, define equally
as mystify, knowing deferral works well –

boulder and drag-marks behind the car's embankment.
The means already upon us completes
our education by vanishing, tools stuck with range:

limits embellish mortal compass with blurred sides, so true

Reprinted from Shearsman, No. 67/68 (2006)

April 29, 2023

Karen Volkman (USA) 1967

Karen Volkman (USA)

Karen Volkman was born in Miami, Florida, and received her B.A. from New College in Sarasota, Florida, and an M.A. from Syracuse University. She lived in Brooklyn for five years, teaching at NYU, the New School, and the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y, as well as working as a poet-in-the-schools with Teachers & Writers Collaborative. She has held visiting positions in M.F.A. programs at the University of Alabama, the University of Pittsburgh, and Columbia College Chicago, and was the Springer Poet in Residence at University of Chicago from 2001-2003. She is currently on the M.F.A. faculty at the University of Montana in Missoula.
     Her first book, Crash’s Law, was a National Poetry Series selection, published by Norton in 1996. Her second book, Spar, received the Iowa Poetry Prize and the 2002 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets.
     She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Akademie Schloss Solitude, the Poetry Society of America, and the Camargo Foundation.
     Her concerns are with livid language, freedom and constraint, “specificity or stuttered plot.”


Crash’s Law (New York: Norton, 1996); Spar (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2002); Nomina (BOA Editions, 2008); Whereso (BOA Editions, 2016)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

Sign or cipher paints the green bird green.
Wipe the wet outer of the eye, the white.
They say: “it’s dawn.” Morning eats the night,
Morrow multiple, and worlds between,

and stagnant waters reeking in their sheen.
View this. And do. The harrow in the heat,
the tongue that spills its supple tender meat.
The mood machine will click cerulean

systems into spasms, a care elate;
specificity or stuttered plot.
It is no silence that the bliss-birds blight.

Or night-notes failing, humming weed or wait.
Cache cache, sing the figures, the weep is what
nerves their wire whirring, to ignite.

Reprinted from Crowd V, nos. 1-2 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Karen Volkman.

April 28, 2023

Paul Rodenko (Netherlands) 1920-1976

Paul Rodenko (Netherlands)



Born in The Hague of a Russian father and a British-Dutch mother, Paul Rodenko had not read a poem in Dutch until 1947. This fact enabled him to have a truly original view of Dutch literature, and he was immediately attracted to the Fiftiers and their writing.

     Rodenko was primarily an essayist and served as the chief critical advocate and apologist for the Fiftiers and for Dutch experimentalism in general, particularly in his book Tussen de regels: Wandelen en spoorzoeken in de moderne poëzie (Between the Lines: Walking and Looking for the Trail in Modern Poetry) of 1956.

      In 1977 he was posthumously awarded the Dutch prize for critical writing, The Wijnaendts Francken Prize.





Orensnijder tulpensnijder (Amsterdam: Harmonie, 1975).





Fire Beside the Sea, trans. by James S Holmes and Hans van Marle (Ijmuiden, The Netherlands: Hoogovens, 1961).





Weer gaat de wereld als een meisjeskamer open

het straaatgebeuren zeilt uit witte verten aan

arbeiders bouwen met aluinen handen aan

een raamloos huis van trappen en piano’s.

De populieren werpen met een schoolse nijging

elkaar een bal vol vogelstremmen toe

en héél hoog schildert een onzichtbaar vliegtuig

helblauwe bloemen op helblauwe zijde.


De zon speelt aan mijn voeten al seen ernstig kind.

Ik draag het donzen masker van

de eerste lentewind.


(from Orensnijder tulpensnijder, 1975)




February Sun


Again the world goes open like a girl’s room

from white remotenesses street scenes come sailing up

workers with alum hands are building

a windowless house of stairways and pianos.

The poplars with a schoolboy inclination

toss each other a ball full of bird voices

and way up high an invisible airplane

paints bright blue flowers on bright blue silk.


The sun plays at my feet like a serious child.

I wear the downy mask of

the first spring breeze.


Translated from the Dutch by James S Holmes




Robot Poëzie


Poëzie, wrede machine

Stem zonder stem, boom

Zonder schaduw: gigantische

Tor, schorpioen poëzie

Gepantserde robot van taal—


Leer ons met schavende woorden

Het woekerend vlees van de botten schillen

Leer ons met nijpende woorden

De vingers van ’t blaatend gevoel afknellen

Leer ons met strakke suizende woorden

De stemmige zielsbarrière doorbreken:

Leer ons ’t eleven in ’t doodlijk luchtledig

De reine gezichtloze pijn, het vers



(from Orensnijder tulpensnijder, 1975)




Robot Poetry


Poetry, cruel machine

Voice without voice, tree

Without shadow; gigantic

Beetle scorpion poetry

Armored robot of language—


Teach us with planning words

To peel the rampant flesh from the bones

Teach us with pincering words

To squeeze off the fingers of bleating emotion

Teach us with taut rustling words

To break through the manyvoiced barrier of the soul:

Teach us to live in the deadly vacuum

The pure and faceless pain, the poem


Translated from the Dutch by James S Holmes





De stad is stil.

De straten

hebben zich verbreed.

Kangeroes kijken door de venstergaten.

Een vrouw passeert.

De echo raapt gehaast

haar stappen op.


De stad is stil.

Een kat rolt stijf van het kozijn.

Het licht is als een blok verplaatst.

Geruisloos vallen drie vier bommen op het plein

en drie vier huizen hijsen traag

hun rode flag.


(from Orensnijder tulpensnijder, 1975)





The town is still.

The streets

have widened.

Kangaroos look through the window holes.

A woman passes by.

Quickly the echo catches

her step.


The town is still.

A cat tumbles stiffly from the window ledge.

The light is like a shifting block.

Noiselessly three four bombs fall on the square

and three four houses slowly raise

the red flag.


Translated from the Dutch by Peter Glassgold




Dutch poems copyright ©1975 by Paul Rodenko.


“February Sun” and “Robot Poetry”

Reprinted from Dutch Interior: Postwar Poetry of the Netherlands and Flanders, edited by James S Holmes and William J. Smith (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984). ©1984 by Columbia University Press. Reprinted by permission of Columbia University Press.



Copyright ©2005 by Peter Glassgold.


April 27, 2023

Pia Juul (Denmark) 1962-2020

Pia Juul (Denmark)

Pia Juul was born in Korsør, Denmark on May 30th, 1962. Her parents were both teachers and wrote books for children. She graduated with her General Certificate from Hobro Gymnasium in 1981. 
      Her first poetry was published in the journal Hvedekorn two years later, and in 1985 her first collection of poems, levende og lukket (living and locked) was published by Tiderne Skifter. In 1987 her second volume, i brand måske (on fire perhaps) was published, and Forgjort (Bewitched) followed two years later. She later published two futher volumes, En død mands nys (A dead man’s sneeze) and sagde jeg, siger jeg (I said, I say). In 1988 she was awarded the State Foundation for the Arts three-year grant.
     Along with her publishing Juul was active in the literary world as co-editor of the literary magazine Den Blå Port (1993-1995) and as a board member of the Association of Danish Fiction Authors. In 1996-1998 she was a member of the triumvirate committee of the State Foundation for the Arts. She has also written dramas, radio plays, short stories, and a novel Skaden (Magpie). Her translations from English and Swedish include Ted Hughes, Michael Cunningham and Michael Redhill.
     During the first decade of the new millennium, Juul published collections of short stories, fictions, and dramas such as Mit forfærdelige ansigt (2001), Gespenst & andre spi (2002), Opgang (2002), Jeg vil hellere dø (2003), Dengang med hunden (2005), Mordet på Halland (2009), and Af sted, til hvile (2012).
     For seventeen years Juul lived in Copenhagen, before moving with her husband and two daughters in Kragevig in the southern part of Sjælland (Zealand) in what she described as a forest.
     Juul writes of her drama, Spiritus: “I believe it’s possible to create a universe in any genre—as long as it has it’s own logic, I don’t think it needs to be explained.” Her poetry is characterized by an almost “reckless” imagination and an emphasis on meter and irony.
     She died at the age of 58 in 2020.


levende og lukket (Copenhagen: Tiderne Skifter, 1985); I brand måske (Copenhagen: Tiderne Skifter, 1987); Forgjort (Copenhagen: Nansensgadae Antikvariat, 1989); En død mans nys (Copenhagen: Tiderne Skifter, 1993); sgde jeg, siger jeg (Copenhagen: Tiderne Skifter, 1999); Helt i skoven (2005); Radioteatere (2010); Avuncular (Copenhagen: Tiderne Skifter, 2014)

From Avuncular

What is an ‘onkel’

A Danish word

look it up

but wait a bit before looking it up

let me feel something first

onkel’s far removed from all definitions

a longing for a moment feeling safe in

childhood but not a person a state is

what’s contained in the word, perhaps an o

maybe an letter o pronounced å. Oh Åh.

     Oh you onkel.

Oh my onkel. Åh ånkel. Mon oncle Jules,

     a title that occurs

to me, Uncle Tom, Uncle Anders, Uncle Sam

     and all the

other uncles one knows without knowing

     them, also my

own uncles and yours, but…

(I’ll say it straight away:

comfy uncle

the most uncomfortable word in my dictionary,

closely followed by: playful uncle)

… but it’s not only childhood, the safe feeling

     of childhood

isn’t what it is

Eastern window-panes afar* each time I read

     this I sing I think

Åh, onkel Jeppe, but without thinking it

     even so , for he’s

not my uncle though I don’t call anyone anything just for

fun, but Flare up in the gloaming, it’s the

     uncle-like feeling I’ve mentioned

not the longing but the fulfilment of it, a full and round

moment as round as an uncle, and what’s more

     I don’t know if he borrowed

aunt Agnes’ money, and that’s uncle-like although

     he was younger than

she was and had this large poet’s head of hair,

      Moorland ponds like tiny stars

Catch the sunset’s homing.

Out in the twilight of the garden I see a yellow

      leaf fall to the ground,

it floats rather than falls, it takes its time



* Quotation of last verse of Jeppe Aakjær’s poem ‘Aften’.


From Avuncular

Translated by John Irons

April 26, 2023

Robert Crosson (USA) 1929-2001

Robert Crosson (USA)



Born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania in 1929, Robert Crosson remained in the East until his family moved to Pomona, California in 1944. He attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and received his B.A. in English in 1951, briefly joining the Communist Party during his college years. After college he began working as an actor in television and film, in 1954 landing a small role in White Christmas. The following year he appeared as the character Danny Marlowe in I Cover the Underworld. But Crosson grew increasingly dissatisfied with the Hollywood scene, which, combined with his brief political activities, dimmed his prospects for further Hollywood employment. In 1959 he traveled to Europe, working his way through various countries as a piano player, a black-marketer, and pimp.

     In 1960 he returned to the United States, enrolling in Library Science at the graduate level at the University of California, Los Angeles. Eventually he dropped out, taking night jobs and attempting by day to write his first novel. Jobs as a painter and carpenter, another movie role (in Mike’s Murder in 1984), and a 1989 Poetry Fellowship from the California Arts Council, allowed him to survive during these lean years; however, as he grew older Crosson grew increasingly dependent on “the kindness of strangers” and friends, particularly Los Angeles poet Paul Vangelisti, who–when Crosson was evicted from the Laurel Canyon house where he was caretaker–took him in. Crosson lived with Vangelisti from 1993 until his death in 2001.     

     From the early 1980s to his death, he had several books of poetry published. He 1981, his first book, Geographies, was published by Vangelisti’s and John McBride’s Red Hill Press. They also published his poetry (along with the works of two other poets) in Abandoned Latitudes in 1983. Calliope was published the following year by the Los Angeles publisher Illuminati. In 1994 the Italian publisher Michele Lombardelli published Crosson’s The Blue Soprano; and Guy Bennett’s Seeing Eye Books published In the Aethers of the Amazon: Poems 1984-1997 in 1998; But most of Crosson’s writing remained unpublished at the time of his death–the result of a heart attack brought on, doubtlessly, by years of heavy smoking and drinking. Luigi Ballerini’s Agincourt press published The Day Sam Goldwyn Stepped off the Train, a selected poetry, in 2004.

     During the last years of his life, Crosson was beloved by Los Angeles innovative writers for his eccentric behavior–he was gay and often described in some detail his sexual encounters and experiences to both his gay and straight friends–his unusual sense of humor, and his poetry, which came to be recognized as some of the most original writing of his peers.




Geographies (San Francisco: Red Hill Press, 1981); Wet Check in Abandoned Latitudes: New Writing by 3 Los Angeles Poets–John Thomas, Robert Crosson and Paul Vangelisti (San Francisco and Los Angeles: Invisible City, no. 3, 1983); Calliope (Los Angeles: Illuminati Press, 1988); The Blue Soprano (Castelvetro Piacentino, Italy: Michele Lombardelli editore, 1994); In the Aethers of the Amazon: Poems 1984-1997 (Los Angeles: Seeing Eye Books, 1997); The Day Sam Goldwyn Stepped off the Train (New York: Agincourt, 2004)





The christian name makes impossible

any face-front exchange of plain talk.

The remedy (as I’ve sd before) runs

amok the chittering squirrels on roof-

tops & owls (tail-balanced) hung from

trees. Adjectives kill, or stultify

and, in any case, belabor the room

we so carefully establish. Privacy

hs everything to do with it–topical–

and them day-old sausages brought (un-

wanted) to the door we eat anyway,

threshold and lintel.


You tell me we have five years to

change the language. I wonder what

you mean. Me? Us? Why? And what’s

to change? Maybe you didn’t say

‘change the language’ but we hd 5

years. My overalls will be washed

fifteen times by then, some shredded

for lawn chairs; the rest abused &

at least one pair given my dentist

as collateral...Poetic endowments

(? To be sure) get me in fistfights

at parking lots.


(from Wet Check, 1983)



The Hartford


–can’t remember his name: a distinguished

writer; friend of a Friend who’d once played

tennis with his daughter–his house, a splendid

quarters off Doheny... I was invited guest.

His wife, my younger, went out for a swim.

We share drinks.


“Trouble at The Foundation,” he informed me,

was “Too many ‘pansies’–; glanced at the

manuscript it had taken four years to write–

read the first page. “Well,” he said, “at

least you’re literate.”

They had a dog–


Just down the street from Stravinsky


(who’d already left.



(from The Blue Soprano, 1994)



Coffee Table


–meant read the right magazines.

Made prominent.

Didn’t matter if you had one.

That was protocol.


Somebodys-wife who wrote for The New York Review–

Special reservations held party,

before bed.




He sat atop me.


I was thinking of the organist

in Allentown.


(from The Blue Soprano, 1994)





Boomie wrote me letters–

he kept copies


He had a sister and a brother-in-law.

His step-sister was a film star whom

I never met. She was mistress of Howard Hughes.

Nights, she would sometime visit the family.


His father (deceased) had once played the violin.



Very camp-gossipy letters

I have lost them.


Boomie was a director.

He knew Elsa: we once spent weekend at the

Laughton peacock-Farm in Palos Verdes.


Elsa (inimitably) maintained that spices should

be put with the pasta, not the sauce.

She like watching car-races on TV.


(from The Blue Soprano, 1994)





The lover I never dreamed of wouldn’t speak

When I was at the ocean too.

Seaweed and salt and wind

Blew every list away.


Words that would make me laugh now

Snorted bulls and boardwalks

Me. Me. Coins with the head of Caesar.

Flapping seagulls.



Under a log, left worms and white.

White–until I’m blue in the face

The mirror lit.


Candles. Or stars

Cut to the bone.


Toenails and chairs and elevators.

Faces in back seats. Wet skin.

A corked bottle. Salt

And seaweed.


The bare word he said

Needed dead men.



A green car.

Gone to the moon.

All thumbs and fingers.



(from The Day Sam Goldwyn Stepped off the Train, 2004)



The Red Onion


A charley-horse was not an erection, but a cramp

in the leg. Men whistled walking by the house. I

didn’t much notice it needed painting.


It was a red house, barn red. One side of it was boarded up, I never went in there. I

imagined it ghostly. I sometimes thought the men were whistling at me. But it was not the

case. The house was wooden, a very old house. I lived with my aunt, who rented the

upstairs. Nights, I tried to imagine what it would look like, but I could not do much with

it. The yard was a mud shambles: nothing could grow there. I could not imagine it a new

house, nor did I want to. It was not in the right place.



The reason it was called The Red Onion was not what I thought. I thought it was

called that because it was red–though a red onion is not red, it is purple. I did not like

the men whistling when they walked by. I pretended I didn’t live there.


(from The Day Sam Goldwyn Stepped off the Train, 2004)




The Man in the Moon


In this bright-red-paper wading boots,

His well-worn thumbs–:

‘You must be drunker than I thought!’

And dove into the lake.



The way the water shows the hills.

A milky rim–an edge

To this naked guy:



A husky fellow, read–

No sound of splashing; nor




A still-like–


Rock-reflection of

What’s plummeted.


(from The Day Sam Goldwyn Stepped off the Train, 2004)





Evil resounds like water.


Water is a way to think.

Thoughts drink well at noon.


Four is tonic and more fertile.

Five is sometimes marriage–

Sacred to Aphrodite.


Stark failures of the drowned.

Misery like success is infantile–

Feminine, wanting both yes and no.


Seven is the mind–virgin, musical–

Associated with the birth of heroes.

Eight seeks eros, ultimate friendship.



Water reads like skin–

Numbers sound like dance running.


What comes next, a question in the mind.

Half dozen of the other–

The first perfect number.


Moons incarnate.


Hand in a pale of rum so far from June

it makes one want to dance–

June, an alibi


For myopia & romance.


(from The Day Sam Goldwyn Stepped off the Train, 2004)



The Collar


I feel like I’m wearing a watch:

The hand to the cuff–the Ballpark–

Colorful folk stealing each others’ cars

And suits of clothes they live in (after

Retrieval) or bets on the races:

A world of bookies and fast laughs.


The sacred, sacred.


How to nail your hand to a board and drive

Timber to Emergency: how to lose a finger

And (again) pick up the guitar or piano.

How to walk crossroads against the light

And make it fine kettle of fish, having

Lost the sportspage or pooltable left

the backdoor open, or the wife

At her embroidery.


A round-trip to Aussie-land where babies

Are borne to pouches and eat Kiwi–

Aborigines prowling in the bush

This side marbled architecture they

Haven’t shoes to fit: the fix of a smile.



A child hugging his mother’s skirts.

Where sea is that and stone is a place

Of choirs.


(previously unpublished)





“The Hartford,” “Coffee Table,” and “Brecht”

Reprinted from The Blue Soprano (Castelvetro Piacentino: Michele Lombardelli editore, 1994). Copyright ©1994 by Robert Crosson. Reprinted by permission of Michele Lombardelli editore..


“Lemon,” “The Red Onion,” “The Man in the Moon,” and “Pythagoras”

Reprinted from The Day Sam Goldwyn Stepped off the Train (New York: Agincourt, 2004). Copyright ®2004 Estate of Robert Crosson. Reprinted by permission of Paul Vangelisti.


“The Collar” previously unpublished. Copyright ©2004 Estate of Robert Crosson. Reprinted by permission of Paul Vangelisti