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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Richard Newman poems

Richard Newman has a darkly clever poem at Verse Daily today. The poem, "Little Fugue of Love and Death," is from his new collection, Domestic Fugues, recently out from Steel Toe Books. Click the link above to read his new poem.

Richard Newman is the editor of the wonderful journal River Styx, and teaches at Washington University and St. Louis Community College. I believe he also writes and reviews books for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. You can read several more of his poems at his website, and I hope you do: Vacuum Packed: instant Richard Newman...heat and serve!

Here are a few more of his poems which I've previously posted here over the years, including "Briefcase of Sorrows" which my composition students always get a kick out of reading.


Let's face it: I make a shitty monster. Moths
hardly instill fear in the hearts of man.
A cherry bomb could pound me back to powder,
and if the villagers only thought about it,
they could have simply built a giant bonfire
and I wouldn't have been able to resist--
I would have flown inside in a burning minute.

Did you know some moths have no mouths? They live
for seven days after sprouting wings,
time only to fuck, fly, and die.
Not me. I run at the mouth in my old age.
Now that my pupae have left the planet, I creep
down lonely streets at night, drawn to the few
windows not dark and shut but empty and blue.

Richard Newman
from Monster Gallery: 19 Terrifying and Amazing Monster Sonnets!


My change: a nickel caked with finger grime;
two nicked quarters not long for this life, worth
more for keeping dead eyes shut than bus fare;
a dime, shining in sunshine like a new dime;
grubby pennies, one stamped the year of my birth,
no brighter than I from 40 years of wear.

What purses, piggy banks, and window sills
have these coins known, their presidential heads
pinched into what beggar's chalky palm—
they circulate like tarnished red blood cells,
all of us exchanging the merest film
of our lives, and the lives of those long dead.

And now my turn in the convenience store,
I hand over my fist of change, still warm,
to the bored, lip-pierced check-out girl, once more
to be spun down cigarette machines, hurled
in fountains, flipped for luck—these dirty charms
chiming in the dark pockets of the world.

Richard Newman
from Borrowed Towns

Briefcase of Sorrow

"Some writers get into the habit of letting of name a metaphor without really showing the image to the reader: sea of life, mattress of the soul, river of death...or (perhaps the worst) briefcase of sorrow."

--Frances Mayes, The Discovery of Poetry

My briefcase of sorrow slumps by the door.
The semester's done. I leave it behind,
all my manila folders of grief (stacked
and alphabetized, bound with rubber bands
of stretched hope), pens of overachievement,
and pencils of petty angst. At some point,
I suppose I should dump its insides out
on the table, the staple remover
of apocalypse, a few sticky notes
of indecision. Poor briefcase--it can't
ingest them, try as it may, and I should
especially purge the gradebook of mixed
endeavors, the crumbs of last month's sandwich.
Not now. My neighborhood pub calls louder
than some cloying briefcase, strap of pity
wagging as I leave, it's bright buckles
of expectation gleaming for my return
once again, when I will spill its contents,
the paperclips of despair, the Wetnaps
of desire, bringing it, light and swinging,
along my side to fill one more time its
compartment of everything and nothing.

Richard Newman
from Borrowed Towns

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