THE POETRY OF RUSS GREEN and PHILIP ASAPH
I’m untangling the past in night time stillness
with Pandora’s box lying under ferns of a fearsome
interpersonal jungle. I couldn’t see
what feet had tread here. The rains had come and washed
away footprints, coagulated into mud.
I released my grip on the chunk of granite curled
in my hand, soothed by the running of relentless water.
Memories of digging for hours in my best and only
friend’s back yard just trying to make it to the next level
of earth. Always hoping to find water.
Granite is made of several types of rock mashed together
by the pressure of the inner earth. Among them, K-Feldspar,
the sweet parts of the conglomeration. Bright pink spots of joy
peeking out from even the roughest earth. That’s where the gods
and goddesses are found.
The lump in the throat when life gets so heavy.
Truth rock, lodged right there in the center
of the neck where it can’t be ignored. It’s the shaky
voice. Truth lodged against the voice box.
But every experience vibrates waves of trauma
the world has offered me and I have excepted…
Eat the arrow before it’s launched.
It’s perception. Einstein told us that just before
he combed his hair. His wife thinking
she’d witnessed the impossible.
Buddhist monks, weeks of working
on colorful creations of delicate sand and splendor.
They wipe it all away.
Fire in the belly of a one-man relief army
in Gatlinburg. Fire in the wounds of the locals
who fled the burning hills and hollers
of those Tennessee towns. Fire won’t ask you
who you voted for before it consumes
everything you knew. Fire won’t ask you
why you have no desire to run from the flames.
Fire won’t ask you about the cutting
on your forearms and legs. It won’t ask you
about the childhood scars that cut so deep
into your emotional cavity that you can’t
trust the burning embers of that longed for
Fire in the words of the digital
battleground. Civility and kinship charred
among the remains. Fire won’t ask you
about the rocks in your stomach
that won’t allow you to eat
after your best friend turned his back on you
leaving you curled up and weeping for days
at the end of that broken down old fishing dock
where you used to write poems together
Fire on the tongue of a construction worker
singing folk songs in Detroit while nobody knew
but for the whole country of South Africa
and they turned him into an Anti-Apartheid
icon. Guitar pick fingernails in the workingman’s wheel
with the dust and soot of that city pulsing
through down to his capillaries. A song about a teenager having sex
that sparked a revolution. Fire in the sheets of a bed-in
in Montreal lasting two weeks just try to give peace
a goddammed chance. The image singed with the memory
of gunfire splitting open the Upper West Side night.
Fire in every syllable of a civil rights savior—
come to Memphis to stand
with the sanitation workers. The fire that still burns
through the words of Maya, Ta-Nahisi and Michelle.
Fire in the thin bones of a liberator making his own salt
from the sea, in the restless hands of a nun in Calcutta,
in the fire dancer’s visions of co-mingling
cultures. Creating a world without collisions.
Fire in the feat of the marching protestors
on Fifth Avenue, building their tower
of song for the South Shore social
workers and teachers, singers
and Salutatorians. Marine Biologists too late
to save the washed up whale beached on the South Fork
of this divided island. And the burning need to stick a fork
in both forks of that overdone East End of white privilidge.
Chants for the word mavens telling it slant.
Fire in the third chakra on a yoga
mat in Killington channeling the chi,
the life force—balancing
the breath into hope.
© 2017, poems and photo, Russ Green, All rights reserved
RUSS GREEN is a Graduate of Hofstra University. Over the years he has been co-editor at Great Weather for Media and has put on poetry and arts events around Long Island and New York city in addition to hosting and curating poetry stages at various festivals.
Russ has read his work from New York to New Orleans to Santa Fe and cities in between. He is currently focusing on humanitarian based events. His first book, Gimme Back My Radio, is out with Night Ballet Press. In addition, Russ has been published in a number of anthologies. He can usually be found communing with the mountains in Vermont with interesting artist friends or roaming the docks of Port Jefferson Harbor at night looking for signs of life in the starry night sky.
PHILIP ASAPH was a furniture mover for most of his life. He won scholarships and fellowships to Eckerd College, Bucknell University and New York University. His stories and poems have appeared in Glimmer Train, Poetry, The Huminist, Tampa Review and elsewhere. Philip’s new book, Four Short Stories and Ten Love Poems is recently published.
Here is Philip reading three of his poems. If you are viewing this via an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to The Poet by Day to listen to the reading.
TONIGHT @ THE SMITHTOWN LIBRARY
RUSS GREEN and PHILLIP ASAPH will read their poetry this evening from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm EST at The Smithtown Library, 1 N Country Road, Smithtown, New York. The event is hosted by poet and writer, Gladys Henderson. She says, “You are in for an outstanding night of poetry. These men understand life, have experience; you will be mesmerized by their sonics and the quality of their work.”
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