Showing posts with label poem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poem. Show all posts


On the Pleasure of Silence: Remarks from a Modern Human (and Apologies to Alluding to Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation)

In this post, I reflect on the importance of silence and reading in forming ideas. Reading allows for a more immersive and contemplative experience, as opposed to passively consuming external stimuli like TikTok or television. I also speak about the value of storytelling and being called a poet by a child named Evan. I conclude by recounting a story about finding and decorating a Christmas tree in the forest.

On a quiet night in early winter, even in New York, there is an inspiration to read, and think, and look out my window.

No Books at the Dinner Table
The one freedom left to me is silence. In silence, there is the freedom to read, to think. Reading is a form of silence. A silence filled with words. In reading, I choose words like a savory meal; the brain queues words into the mind in waking life, but in reading life, I can choose carefully. Reading a book is sweet indeed. On a train, at the dinner table. Prone on my back. Against a tree. As a kid, I could not read at the dinner table. ”Bad manners,” my father would tell me. ”Put the book down, Greig. It's dinner. Get your head out of that book." Zero in on me looking forlorn. And include a wide shot of how awkward the family dinner became.

I don't fault my father. He was not a reader. But he enjoyed good conversation and didn't like being alone — even at the dinner table. As an adult, I have not turned into my father. But not because I am a reader and he is not — but I let children read whenever they want. Children should never be allowed NOT to read.

The Freedom of Reading
But back to my thesis. The freedom to form ideas is buttressed by silence. Is this the contemplative life? Silence is active in a book full of ideas. The ideas in a book are like taking one bite out of a delicious meal and savoring each morsel. Ideas pumped into the brain from external sources like TikTok, YouTube, random channel surfing on the television — do not have the freedom of “one bite at a time.” It's passive consumption. However, podcasts and audiobooks — I don't argue these are as passive because I find audio more immersive than visual. Don't get me wrong, though. I love the visual. And I love TikTok. I am more or less arguing for reading (and not suggesting one throw the baby out with the bathwater). 

Why read? I read for epiphanies. Not for epiphanies I have had but for epiphanies, I have not had.

I am silent, so I can learn of an epiphany in a poem.

When I Read a Good Story
When a story is told, your eyes grow bigger, and you rest awhile, knowing something good is about to come, and you know the pleasant color of a story put together as I go along is sufficient.

I am a storyteller. I tell stories. And I was confirmed in that role today. He called me a poet. His name was Evan — about nine or so. He called me a poet. I pay attention when kids say something important. Which is most of the time.

I told a story about finding a Christmas tree in the forest. We cut it down, a nice one — it was a sufficient size — and we drug it back home to decorate it. Sort of like that scene in Christmas Vacation 
 the one with Chevy Chase as the avuncular but hapless father -- where he takes his family into the woods to cut down the tree. Something like that. Now that's family.


Poem: Thrasymachus Blushing

thrasymachus blushing
blushing belies betrayal
betrayal of the body 
the body belied

so says socrates
not blushing
but catching thrasymachus in a blush

a crucial catch of the passage
says the professor
a critical juncture blushing

for in it
calls thrasymachus out

for is it not true
that one cannot
forfeit an argument?
even if one knows forfeiting is the right thing to do
our body forfeits for us
turning rouge
in a crowd of philosophers
vying for truth

to get the answer wrong is an admission of failure
of not getting it

and we want to get it

so we plow on regardless
but our body -
it sees our flaw
and quickens -
blood flows more fully 
and all can see our less than comfortable
feeling of resting with a certain unjustified truth
Greig Roselli ® 2012


Lance: A Fragment Poem

Wrapped in a green
T-shirt, I try to ollie — 
Is that a name?
Skateboards, he says.
It’s a move, dad —
Low riding jeans
I want to dress how
I want to dress
Do you think I'm shallow?

Water towers tower; we talk like men
when you are thirteen
You’re not as much a man
As you would want to be in your
Mind’s eye
Don't have it figured
You ain’t right
In the head

When do you first realize
What love is? Is it when:

He stirred the coffee with
A Donald the Duck spoon
Staring intently at the newspaper
As if to read it?


"The Red Wheelbarrow"; Or, A Poem About Poetry

In this post, I write about my favorite William Carlos William's poem  "The Red Wheelbarrow".
"The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams has fewer words than his other famous poem "This Is Just to Say." 28 compared to 16. "This is Just to Say" is simple: desire. "The Red Wheelbarrow" is complicated because it is not about desire. It is about language. And meaning what we say. A poem about poetry. I don't think I am saying anything different than what a poetry professor would say. It just seems right. My reading.

The Red Wheelbarrow

by William Carlos Williams

so much depends
a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white


Vocabulary Essay (Or, Short Brief): "On Bereft"

A very short brief on the word "bereft".
bereft (adj.) \buh-reft\
A state of loss, deprived. Often used with "of".
The face of a boy with a bereft look.

"Bereft" is a poetic word for it connotes loss without the slippery slope of s’s doubled in "loss".

The strong consonant sounds in bereft leads to a charge, tapering to a whisper, to a closure of the mouth, a word of leftover things, forgotten things, bereft things, a swallow of breath, exhaled, then exeunt.


Poem: "Is It Me Or Is It Not Me?"

image credit: statue of liberty crown
A man on the Astoria line
wears a foam green
Statue of Liberty hat

"Did he just come back from the Statue of Liberty?"
"Can I trust my inductive reasoning?"
Maybe he just likes to wear plushy foam green Statue of Liberty hats.
I have never been quick to trust inductive reasoning,
so to test my hypothesis I hazard a guess to which stop he will disembark:
Long Island City, I bet! All the hotels near the 59th street bridge 
it must be it!

The N train is spit out by the East River
and diligently speeds towards its station
stop. And, JUST AS I THOUGHT, the passenger with the green foamy hat
gets off,
no smiles, his head turned downward to his mobile device,
tapping away a message to his kids, perhaps?
An inductive me postulates thus: "Hey just got back from the statue of liberty! Love, dad!"

The funny thing is,
I just got back from the Statue of Liberty, as well,
but I am not wearing a green foamy hat nor do I text anyone, at this point;
I have no doppelgangers.

I am as distant from this human being with the green foamy Statue of Liberty hat as I am distant emotionally from everyone in this car.
We are all scrunched in like sardines on the train because the Q is on hiatus. No W, either.
A haggard woman with an aquiline nose (like my aquiline grandfather), like the kind of noses that busted through Ellis Island,
tells me she never comes to Queens and the days she comes who would have thought there would be such a mess. Signaling problems, I tell her; but we don't sweat. No one sweats; The small stuff! Everyone is easily leaning on each other, following the curves of the line, anticipating the next stop

But I still think the guy with the Statue of Liberty foamy green hat looks silly 
even though, like I said, I went to the island myself today, paid the twelve bucks and licked the undersides of Lady Liberty's fanny; and I am still not so silly as to wear a silly, ridiculous hat. My silliness has already been done, lying on my back in the registry of Ellis Island pretending I was my grandfather with the aquiline nose and the legal inspector asks me a question in Italian, and I say, "Did I come to America to learn Italian?!" The legal inspector tells me that he needs to know if I am literate in my native tongue or not and I cry to my mother country to let ole liberty let me pass. When my grandfather was dying my dad bought him a six-pack of beer to drink for the night. We had to sneak it past the doctors and I wonder how many times my grandfather had to sneak past people: sneak past the inspectors in the registry, sneak past the medical examiners and the anti-immigration protesters. To sneak past, again and again, to see the face of liberty sans a green foamy hat. I was silly today. I cried in the registry. Not, long fat sobs, but the kind of cry that sheds one fat tear on your face  small enough not to be noticed but fat enough on my face to feel emotional. I get up in the registry and thank the Park Service ranger — "Thanks, for the tour!"

"Make sure you see the washrooms, sir!"

But, I think, even though I had my moment of silliness, nonetheless, that I should get a hat like that for myself, put it on my head on the way to Lex and 59th street, in the rush hour traffic; pretend like I have just come from the Statue of Liberty to look for my Holiday Inn single-room, non smoking.


Poem: Train Station, Hammond, Louisiana

photo continuance: seattleweekly
stands a peach and plum seller and his grandson,
a pail of peaches for 10,
a basket of plums for 5;
the peaches downy and yellow,
a brown tinge of grass on top of their round facades,
the plums thin, easy to bite into;
they tell me,
a family of fruit sellers,
their white pick-up truck doubles as a storefront
and their transportation,
hailing from Alabama,
with Alabama plates,
traveling farmers,
a round, happy belly, age lines born from cheerfulness,

approaching to buy something with measly dollars,
rumpled in a cheap wallet,
the grandfather goes and sits down,
the grandmother, reading a newspaper,
her boy to handle the sale,
the morning summer sun heating the concrete;
the glint of an Amtrak train veering into the station;
the boy shows off his produce,
grinning like a seasoned salesman,
but serious when he
points to some small, green colored peaches,
“these here are sour; I don’t like ‘em,
but I can sell ‘em to ya anyway if you like, sir,”
“No, I think I like that basket of plums over there for breakfast,”
The boy, nods, obediently,
“I can sell ‘em to ya if you like, sir”
and hands the green basket like an offering,
placing a peach in the mix for extra,
this act of kindness both part of the sale and a kind of measure of survival,
meeting his eyes just for a second,
broken blue and his hair a matte of red,
a nondescript cap nestled on his head;
he answers questions;
“yeah, we go from Alabama to Mississippi; just came from Chalmette,”
he says, politely answering the queries, as if they are expected, as if he is used to this
 line of questioning —

and I wonder where they are off to next, which town, and for how long —
and slightly envious that it isn’t me, selling those peaches and those plums,

a kind of gentle harmony, biting into the small, but full plum,
its redness firm and meaty; a good feeling to have so early in the morning,
to be a produce seller, to pass off such delicate fruit,
you have to be gentle, and courteous,
making sure you seem to be sharing instead of selling —
and trusting that you are making people happy, sated,
their tummies filled with juices, grown from the earth;
a romanticism is there, for sure;
forgetting the commercial exchange, it is as if one is just picking these peaches and
plums from where they came; hearing the pluck from the branch,
just as natural as giving a handsome tip


Poem: "Heart Surgery"

After heart surgery, he appeared
at supper smiling, though hunched over,
as if his soul had trouble holding him
as if he were floating among the worn
tables and ragged cushions despite
himself, despite a ragged slit 
down his shaven chest,
once opened and bared
so intimately touched, so visceral  —


Poem: Effigy

Some old folks 
are like glazed doughnuts,
crusty effigies
on the brink of plastic lunch trays.
The dribble of orange juice,
the nausea of snot —
but she smiles,
because she’s old
and happy
that her son —
well — only me —
came to visit —
a chocolate heart wrapped
in aluminum foil — 
that I went and took a photograph


Poem: Evolutionary Biology

Stefan clung, like a primate, to his mother
when he was a kid, a little thing;
I would sometimes take him in my arms, pat
his bulbous head, shake his infant thighs — 
And he would cry — for his mother — 
offer his tiny fingers, sweet princely monuments,
Releasing and squeezing my fat adult digits,
all the while yelping for her feminine beauty.
As a dutiful father, I would
place him back in her petulant arms — 
sated his bloated body content between
her breasts — 
And she would extoll my fatherliness,
my manly concern,
all the while shielding and protecting 
some arcane ritual of evolutionary
image credit: "father with baby" by marjanhols
PDF Copy for Printing


Poem: "Feet in the Sun"

image credit: Greig Roselli © 2010
If a foot dangles
From a deck chair
Does the heart know
That the body knows
Those rays are from a star?


Poem: Rabbit

how come life is like

the bald man

who comes to



ostensibly to spread

joie de vivre

but instead

reminds us

the rabbit we're


was shot in the backyard

along with the pigs?


Haiku in Honor of National Poetry Month

Oak Trees line a street in New Orleans.
Trees staring upward
Like tops spinning in circles
Empties our love out


Poetry: Gone with the Wind, among others — Leuven, Belgium

In this poem, which I wrote when I was a college student at the Catholic University of Leuven (K.U.L.), and living as a seminarian at the American College, I tap into feelings of aesthetic taste, sharing intimacy — and I used the phrase "stones of erasmus" for the first time! 
     Erasmus was a student in Leuven during the counter-reformation. One can still see the dormitory house where he supposedly lived and studied. There is a saying among students that only if the stones of Erasmus could speak! What would they say?  
photo credit: spirit of paris
After a film,
poster and reflections
neatly crisp

Intently, furtive glances, to the right, then gone …
left man passes, consume in a bite, then a girl
with glasses, lashes and a bic light
Curly Q’s and then somberness of night.
But, still the poster glows … the Trocadero, a movie
de l’amour and Vertigo, a fright:
An image of a man, a stale lacuna, a ghost of film noir
gazing, not apart, partly connected.  Dreams and visions
speak aloud to wet, litter caked streets.

Rotted lemon luminaries haze a path,
dulling humid low land streets, scarcity curtains pulled upwards,
A Peugeot passes, the stones of erasmus clamor to get out.
The posters gleam yet; characters speak and a stomach,
somewhere thirsty growls — it is filled and then …
in upward windows aching, she dresses for a silent figure fantasy.

A flicker, then bed, holding a teapot, languidly.
Une regard to a postcard, to consume.
Speeches to please, to sugar, then the tongue licks,
alors, madame …
then laugh,
like a box of potpourri; charming
half-dead, withered, enchanting


Poem: "Weight Problem"

photo credit: transiacc

I was shaving, showing my tummy in the mirror
A plump pudge gathered round
my navel,
a pink mound
peering and chuckling
over my pyjamas.
I poked my pinky into my flesh
a skin landscape, a planet of hair
laughing back at me
as I glided my razor across my
smooth gilette face.


Poem: Rotten Avocados

rotten avocado

the avocados were not yet ripe when I bought them.
but I found them ensconced in their own avocado skin, black as printed words;

and I remember the faint smell of hunger I had when purchasing them,

thinking they would be ripe and plump to eat.

© 2010 Greig Roselli
image credit: Wikimedia


Poem: The Porter Cat

soft and malleable;
I stroke the porter cat
when he lingers near the patio,
spreads his body on my lap and I tell him that he’s home;
his leonine form stretched from end to end;
he purrs with content      


Poem: "apple-faced kids"

when the clock sounds
the apple-faced kids
rush to class
not to learn
but to whiz in their heads
the wonders of the world


Poem: "nursing home"

her lying, sheets thin, mattress barely a support
she dying
glistening fluorescent light a harsh reveal
of her ruddy body, bare
save for the taffeta pajamas,
a crispy swath of rose embers,
issued by a crisis,
yet, her mouth curved a bit, sitting next to her -- so low --
i felt gravity’s relentless tug
and she curved, wincing at the pain,
although it hurt; a scissor-like pain throughout her entire frame,
she said it was okay;
her hair, long and brown like spaghetti string,
matted by the months of neglectful uncombing;
her beauty an archetypal beauty, matching the faces of every woman who was,
his, an is, an unmediated face of pathos lines, matching every face of those who are


Poem: Four Loves

The shrink’s nose told me to read The Four Loves
so i did

i read the whole book in two sittings,
even the bibliography,

sorta −

and pondered the book’s message,
you know,

how there are four loves,
according to the greeks,

those sexy helens


like how i used to love diecast cars and bowling
and now i mainly instant message.

how i used to love you in some other symbol,

how i used to gaze on you and blush.

how you ran away and closed the book.

how i came to sit and read

wonderin’ where it all went,


stitching together a story