Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poems. Show all posts


Street Photography: 74th Street in Jackson Heights, Queens (Plus Some Creative Writing)

     What was supposed to be a walk to increase my daily steps turned into a journey. People pop out. Restaurants offer outside seating. The night is crisp. Saturn and Jupiter are still visible in the sky — on the way to convergence. I wanted to get more faces in my photographs. But the moments passed by too quickly. I saw a masked guy in a cab. He was balefully looking out a window. The Q49 bus runs along 74th Street. Wear your mask. 

     Today in class an adolescent pupil couldn’t answer a question — so she said to me, “This question makes me feel unsafe.” I was taken aback by her statement. It’s the Covid. I imagined her shrieking out of class. By an unsafe question. I’m teaching a course on mythology. And one characteristic of myth is the unknown. So I get it, girl. Stuff gets real. From chaos to calm. From the womb to the tomb.


The Q49 bus in Jackson Heights rolls down 74th Street on a Friday night.

Lit up trees dot 74th Street in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens.

A bagger at a grocery store on 74th Street in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens checks his back-pocket.

A cat peers out from beneath a car.

A shop window on 74th Street in Jackson Heights features South Asian fashion.


Prose Poem: "Cloister"

image credit: Greig Roselli
In the cloister, there is often a sign on the porter’s door that reads, behind this door no one is allowed.  But, sometimes, after time has passed, the sign is worn by fingerprints and folks pass over the threshold unbeknownst to the lawgivers. And, as usually happens when laws are broken, a tension arises there – in the navel, in the cloister, and then, as it ineluctably does – community begins again.
"Cloister" is a prose poem by Greig Roselli.


Poem: A Monk Reads at Table

image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
at table reading,
our minds most likely a cacophony
of invective, misery, and lower back pain.

There is silence.  
Usually amid the drone of listless
 put an asparagus spear in your

the tables are urchin gray; the reader enjoys
eating in silence is all we can ever do


Gloss on Graduate School: Graduate Student Essential Recipe

1 bag of black-eyed bean* + water + 1 onion
(peeled) +i jalapeno. Cook till tender

add a bag of frozen collard greens

and a ham bone for seasoning

all can be had under $10, will last 
3 days of food

at least

Hot tip: substitute with a "sixteen beans" variety pack.


"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


Christmas Post: If Jesus were Albrecht Dürer

Self-Portrait of Albrecht Dürer
The twenty-fifth day of December is an odd time to commemorate an incarnation of a God? I agree with T.S. Eliot, though, "satisfactory." (the best use of that word in a poem is reprinted below).

Jesus, a rabbi from the first century (a century named after him, so to speak, in the year of our Lord) was born in Palestine, in the Northern Hemisphere, correct? So, he came into the world at the eclipse of the sun’s strength. The Winter Solstice (which by the way, this year was also marked by another eclipse, a lunar one). If he had born in Australia, however, he could have at least eschewed swaddling clothes. And there would have been more reason for sheep(or kangaroo) to be lowing.

How do the Australians celebrate seasonal Christian feasts? I suspect their Christmas's are void of hot chocolate and burning fires. More like surfing and tan lines to fête the baby Jesus.
And their Easter has to be a mess? But, that’s another story. Just suffice it to say, it’s a difficult stretch to celebrate new birth when everything around is falling into winter.


A Little Bit of Poetry: "Poem for a Trieb"

In this post, I present a poem I wrote inspired by a night of Scrabble where I felt the tug and pull of friendships and a desire to break through the mundane.
The author as a teenager —in Mandeville, Louisiana
at Georgette Pintado's house on Live Oak Street (with Amy and Jeff).

I never venture to believe in avatars anymore
for they seem too
much like
like Jesus,
in his benign human nature, divine,
so I dismiss the idea of divine blood,
vouching for more a raw libido, exhausted
breaths, numbing existence,
mere existence
The funny thing is

… when the coffee table
is cleared and Brian
sets up the Scrabble board,
David and Juniper
are determined to win,
so they joined in the fight to
beat us


Poem for a Phlebotomist's Office (Or, a Public Service Announcement for Donating Blood)

I present you with a poem to be read out-loud at your next visit to get your blood drawn.
Poem about getting your blood drawn
Read this poem when you get your blood taken.

Hey, it's just
blood being drawn,
dahlin' - no cry!

So, no sweat, boo -

What else you gonna do?

Sit back, relax, let
the trained phlebotomist do
her act! - 1, 2, 3

then you're done, hon! YAY!

At least it ain't no vaccine!

So get your snack on later and be serene

Wasn't it a "walk in the park?"!


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: Upon Pouring Coffee

the black, raven colored chemical that I love
to drink in the morning,
with my fat, contented cup
for my fat contented ladies,
sits perched on a landing in the sun room -

“What do you do?” she said.
And I said, “I pour coffee.”
“Oh,” she replied, retreating to the foyer.
by Greig Roselli
PDF Copy for Printing


Poem: “Backyard Fantasyland”

We hop around bridges, we dance with
trolls. We have a blast with ants. We
meet with nymphs and fairys.

Rabbits show the way. It is so nice
to know they have something to say.

A Badger invites us to tea, with a little
sponge cake.

A faun entertains us with a dance in
a meadow filled with dew.

All of these things happened in a five
year old’s backyard.

All you need is an imagination

See the mind, see the bridge, see almost
anything. All you need is an imagination.
Say, you are doing good.

January 13, 1994


On a Visit to Ozanam Inn in New Orelans — A Men's Homeless Shelter

New Orleans has an all-men homeless shelter on Camp Street. Today my cousin and I stepped inside to take a look.
Ozanam Inn 
photo credit: Ozanam Inn
Spontaneously, while walking on Camp street heading for the D-day museum, We crept behind a gate. Ozanam Inn sprung into view as if metastasized right there on Camp street, replete with a line of men, waiting in line for a room to sleep. But he didn't know what was behind the gate. I didn't tell him; he was horrified, ripped from a pleasant view into a darker corner, social inequality thrust upon a privileged. It was rudeness on my part; I had said, "Come here. I want to show you something," as if I knew what a good lesson was. To me, they were readers, workers, sinners, saints -- reading a newspaper, one, another a novel, and another dragging on a cigarette. Another protecting his bicycle leaning against the dump. For him, just a boy at my side, they were strangers, monsters in his sleep, the stay-away-from-them folks momma told you about, not the needy in want of bread, shelter -- not the Samaritan on the block. It was my fault; I deserved his "Don't ever do that to me again without telling me first" accusation. In my rush to enlighten, I revealed reality too quickly, shed the gauze from his eyes too swiftly as if I went to amputate his legs without warning. We walked to the museum and I could tell I had frightened him. He was skittish and uncomfortable, gazing into the plexiglass displays of bombers and beach ballasts, authentic uniforms; and my words, a mismatch of history and mentorship. An old veteran's wife approached us while I was trying to explain axis and allies; "Listen to him boy; you can't get a better lesson than this". You indeed can't get a better lesson that.

Poem: “Chinese Buffet”

photo credit: wikimedia
at the chinese buffet, during lunch hour
there's a table of brash intimacy
and lunch hour camaraderie -
the sleight parent wearing a holiday
green sweater, christmas lights strung
across her child-nursing breasts;
she gestures, eggrolls pushed to
the side, the travails of I-don't-know-what-
because I am too far away to eavesdrop,
but what I did notice I've turned into miserable verse,
I must admit,
of my own voyeurism
getting the best of me,
this haphazard bunch,
articulating with words and flesh
what I can only stab at
with my fork,
ashamed at my own frog-like
crouching in the chinese buffet,
while my mongolian stew
gristles in the background.


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

Alpha Christ Mural from Saint Joseph Abbey With Accompanying Poem

Artist credit: A mural by Gregory DeWit, St. Joseph Abbey Church, Saint Benedict, Louisiana

Poem: Neutral Ground

photo credit: Trevor Logan, Jr.
Neutral Ground

On the corner of Carrollton and Willow,
waiting for a bus, the # 34,
to be exact,
I sat on the neutral ground grass,
translating ancient Greek,
oblivious to the hatred.

A red boy and his friends,
in a pick-up truck,
stopped at the traffic light;
he spewed something my way 
knocked on my skull and dropped
among a soggy tootsie roll wrapper,
a bottle cap 

Vroom, like a cartoon,
You fucking bitch
and I merely turned to acknowledge
with a grin
and a greeting.

Not to turn the other cheek,
but out of habit.

I smiled, caught a glance
and turned back to my paperback
                    Greig Roselli
                    New Orleans, Louisiana


Prose Poem: "to leave"

to unsettle from place is fearful: fear eats the soul; they say face your fears, but isn’t place a barrier between us and our fears; a comforting worn thing set as a wall; for who really faces fears; except maybe the emigrant; moving away — but the death in facing back, like lot’s wife and her salt, or orpheus looking back — and I feel shame, like salt, and I feel evaporated … all those nice things I have come to like, to feel, I will have to give up so I can touch my belly again;


Poem: Fat Contented Ladies

I took this photograph of a decorative electric light bulb and lamp at the Louis H. Lattimer Museum in Queens.
photo credit: Greig Roselli*
the fat contented ladies with their
formaldehyde eyeliner, pat expressions -
flit around like wearied gods
looking for a handout, a dimpled whisper -

I can’t stand ‘em
PDF Copy for Printing
*I took this photograph of a decorative electric light bulb and lamp at the Louis H. Lattimer Museum in Queens.