Friday, August 15, 2008


I do not know how it calls

but I bounce off what I'm doing

and float on the words

the world is changed and gone away

the time that ticks so viciously

means exactly the next moment

and all those things that mean

there is nothing else and yet

gratefully it gathers in a grey ball

of thread and does not unravel

hangs there more motionless

than any illusion and the word

is the only motion I know

moving but carrying no twigs or branches

no leaves no gum wrappers

and there are no markers

that time could count

it was his special journey

everything had become indistinct

the war was it won or lost

his home his children

the house the cities with

order and direction roads to travel

these were thoughts that

tumbled endlessly

a washing machine in orbit

weightless cleaning nothing

everything tumbling

meaninglessly forever

maybe this is Circe

for whom he had searched unknowingly

but there were so many of them

each with their own

special enchantments

the magic of an oriental bazaar

the song of many temptresses

locked on land

trapped in offering trivial dangers

wasted songs tempting the

shipwrecked already of departed souls

pirates confused by bureaucracy

seeking plunder from empty ships

this and nights in the heat

and cold made dreamlike

with passion and slow lilting music

that stretches endlessly

without ever growing thin and dangerous

there is so much of it

and it is as if he was happy

thinking nothing of deep thoughts

dark swift dangerous

not watching running aground

on bars which you can't miss

with neon lights like beacons

head for the lighthouse

to save you with

night on the rocks

actually looking for it to end

but finding you must do it

over and over

this is the long of it

when time has gone away

and Odysseus lounges

on the endless sand

of an oceanless beach

drinking fragrant tea in bowls

and wondering

if he will ever

stop eternity grown to sameness

(First published in Autumn Leaves, volume 12(15), August 1, 2008

This poem is copyright © 2008, Russell Ragsdale, all rights reserved.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tagged by Pris Campbell

Okay, I was tagged by Pris Campbell who was tagged by Sam Rasnake in his second meme (go to his blog to read his):

Here is mine:

As an adult, the following selections have influenced or impacted me the most...

[These works may or may not be your favorites, and you may have first encountered them when you were much younger.]

the book:
Savage Beauty, Nancy Milford, Ransom House

the film / network series:
Matrix, 1999, Directed by the Wachowski Brothers

the music / spoken word recording:
The Magic Flute, by Mozart (in German)

What are your choices?

I tag Ozy, S. L. Corsua, Katy and anyone else who would like to put theirs up.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Four Haiku:

(for Alan Summers)

Night (Senyru/Senyru):

end of a long, hard day
breath held in
suddenly let out

journal of a dream
hand writing on pillow
cat wants to play

Morning (Senyru/Haiku):

toast soaks up butter
egg in skillet
morning sunrise

prayer towers subdue
the rusty hinge
of cloudless dawn

Friday, June 27, 2008


I have found a church in your smile
a faith in your eyes
I’m lost in every other context
hard vacuous thought
wandering confused in the night
this is not that
this is vigorous
no choice

loss is inexplicable
je suis fou
that makes sense

I am at last matrixed
to everything about you

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


air conditioner words
cool comforting
wanting nothing in return

a kind of silence
with words waiting
patiently inside

dust on Mars
having no breeze
to help realize
what it is

of hope
covering everything

Friday, June 13, 2008


day with its broken phrases
of brick and cement
tired and stuttering

a problem called cohesion
sunlight stretched too much
long late afternoon shadow
a lingering patient
thick with sage heavy breath

verb quick surgeons
waiting to open
patient flesh
that houses everything
too much possibility
need to do

we knew it
flat line of
horizon at sunset
thick liquid dark
transfusion has started

a new life
darkness follows light
word metronome measuring
the breath necessary
for a few
tercets into night

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

doctor scar

I fell on some lips
ripe with despondent promise
just as
he was going to pretend he didn’t exist
she saved him by pretending he did
and ordered the execution
it took place the following night
as a small and forgotten
but we hope
he’ll be better soon

could she laugh
damn right she could
did I
did I do da
all night long
with strong upturns
the following afternoon
like a day of sun
the night has been
praying for
a laconic laceration
in a flotsam jacket

at the fountain I
exchange coins with hope

Sunday, June 01, 2008

In response to a visit by S. L. Corsua

I am everywhere
the puppy is me

I am lost and I pray
you will look for me
(I am at home)

thank you for saving me
on a cloudless
night of sturm und drang
endless misery

suddenly concludes in your eyes
change of season
is a metaphor

I am the subject laid prostrate
by the object

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


everything’s slowing down
I have lit the candle
cat sniffing this page
camera freezing life
into little splashes
of light and color
painting hanging patiently
slow metallic drag
of the shutter
ancient shuffle of my feet
punctuation when the shutter closes

light like a haze
pale with slowing down
black cat asleep
white cat
rubbing her pink nose
on this pen
it falls
from my hand

camera finally clicks closed
last picture inside
but not understood
it let a little light in
each time
I know that now

tt works so slowly
taking so much time
when that was all that’s left
when people have gone
when always only
same places
pictures empty now
images in a mirror
with no one looking

I have become
the book I write in
between black and white
cat bookends
looking up to see
if there are angels
falling from the skies

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


the dog of summer
hanging around
scratching fleas
wagging his tail

articulate hesitations
sitting there
with a slipper
in his mouth

airport calls
planes answer
sit there
good boy

sun like butter
smooth yellow warm

Monday, April 14, 2008


your name stays with me
I am a suitcase of dreams

night is for hunting sleepers
it depends on dreams
as a day is a long dream

eyes see what they are thinking about
nightmares rise with the sun

your name has no words in it
is a sigh uttered in sleep
where arms flinch empty

I am insubstantial
I float through you

an unanswered question
I have dreamed myself
and you dreamed me

those lost forms float
through each other

never meeting
hands have no meaning

I can touch myself
only when the dream
becomes bright and wistful

intense and strangely sad
I can feel us

me having a body and a life
and then it goes pale
like a thief

prisoner of the future
and the past

a ghost that still knows
forty yeas of gray
cannot take one satin night away

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Spring haikus (2)

a lost pleasure is
tucked in the folds of darkness
birds sing to sunrise

the apricot tree
long bare suddenly flowers
at which spring smiles back

Sunday, March 23, 2008


undershirt overcoat in the vale little not big glade cut from the town with a blade run through by the train not on the vale but in it or under is better for worse far worse is than eyeless is the dirt like the worms making new friends at the funeral . that , is enough they welcome him in friends make a fence with their bodies won’t let him out ! this is your hole , forever like a door open like I’m sorry like I miss you like the lid closing with the smack of a kiss that sounds underground a subway somewhere simpers )

Let me add a few words about this strange new prose poem thing I have been playing with lately. This is a poem for Ion (pronounced yawn) Drimba, my friend and coach. He died in Brazil in 2006 and is much missed. I have attempted to (with the exception of internal punctuation such as contractions) use punctuation only as a verbalized part of the poem. So when you encounter one sitting strangely separated off from the phrases, please say what it is (for instance ! exclamation point , comma and the like). They have no other function in this poem, in reality. There are some natural rhythms here and some caesura that is unavoidable and I’m confident you will find them as you read this out loud. That, unfortunately is the only way this strange poem will make any sense at all. It might seem a little confusing (strange rhymes lost without the perspective that lines and stanzas provide, alliterative phrases that are inherently awkward) at first but let the parsimony principle be your guiding light and all will be delightfully murky. Enjoy!

These are the Friday Five words used:


Monday, March 17, 2008


town of my dreams
streets slick with night
green spring sunny days
to sit
and write

and lunch on the terrace
sparkling sea water
walks along the beach

talks with friends
colleagues students

sunny day
convertible drives
top down
along a coastal highway

trips to mountains
picnics in meadows
music at the symphony hall
ballet and opera
at the theater

cocktails on the boat
in evening

cool large and hushed
outdoor cafes in the afternoon
people walking by
us sitting talking laughing

in quiet coves
of afternoon sun

with friends
kids and grandkids

and time
precious time

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


leave the light on
we will see you

Beethoven is home
the madman

is this your game
who is winning

conquest Mozart

coming home from
miles away

to radio

key in a lock

pastisse is a
midnight game

you didn’t win
it isn’t finished

Friday, March 07, 2008


she felt happiness
in her mouth eyes

chocolate endures
it tastes long deep

burning her mind
an itch

daylight hides her thoughts

a feeling inside
what she should do

doing without finding words
my sense of completion context

feet feel floor
as dancing

8 MARCH 2008

Saturday, March 01, 2008


from the bureau of words
in the drawer of my mind
looking through the mess
for order

looking at morning’s mural
painted on energetic flesh
in my eye my yard
my neighbors

migration dilated
made larger in parking places
to morning movement
seen and heard

and understood
without speech words
which aren’t even kempt
in dictionaries

found but confused
under alphabetical tyranny

never understanding silent order
of string to fingers
and vinegar to nose

Sunday, February 24, 2008


with the sun’s infliction
watching gathering lines
searching for the
words of waiting
as well as music
from the margins
of afternoon
which were agitated
and in that agitation
crows called to their hue
the colorlessness creeping
up from the roots
of Soviet style apartment buildings
down from Lenin
all the way up
to the language
darkness speaks with
black mitigating wings
scudding on the
ebb tide of sunset
to the land of closed eyes
that dance with black
that bleeds from every
corner crack
taking away all
but the sunny frosty afternoon
I still carry inside

Friday, February 22, 2008


light falls on the sidewalk
lit rooms behind curtains
look like eyes in the dark
listening watching laughing
lives like that so near by
lonely figures passing
longing by the street light


post on the internet
poet friends will come read
put a comment or two
places frequented less
perhaps someone listens
probably no one new
preaching to choir again

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


again today no new snow
to cover up our sins
the world comes
seeping through
the black ice
harder and more dangerous

the ghost carriers scurry
across the solid sea
of brown stained white
how many times must I see it
before I can say it is true
they spend their ghost faces
on dreams they may have
while waking

some of their dreams are of you
some of your dreams flow back
that is a more fluid ocean
than the sky
with its racing thin water
sailing faster than any ship
trapped narrowly between
freezing cold and frozen solid

this water doesn’t betray our water
this water sends its love
without the tyranny of feeling
every day is valentine’s day

Sunday, January 27, 2008


it is not today it is tomorrow
assertions of discomfort
accusations instead of requests
the lonely litany of proving others wrong
domestic pain on the half shell
the full fury of a bite
dissected in mid-air
the vampire as a victorian silhouette
the vasectomy of life

the herodotus of failure
in leather volumes
with blood running down their backs
the piles of lazy dishes
the lilting halo of cupidity
numerical as sin
but well grounded in
ever-shifting theology
and prismatic light
glancing off the scales
of unbalanced philosophy from discussions
held by the apple tree

when the end has come
I’ll take the dishrag
releasing all the brown halos
purging to the core
the earthly sins
that have trapped you here
and bid your soul
song along the skyline
and speed exceeding
God knowing what you have prayed for

Sunday, January 20, 2008


(for Paul Auster)

Because quarry stones
don’t have to tell – secrets are
hard, patient, quiet.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

thing and not again

i dream battles
dozens of opponents
i am the army of me
killed nightly
but my task
starts again
i want to say
i am but
it is not me
i keep thinking
i was
but that
is only a memory
that is so
often forgotten
like my desk
when watching tv
like my dog
when im teaching

these things
come back to me
in times and places
and go away again

but every night
again i fight
and it won t end
i stop believing
learning is the goal
of education
until i can
resent my students
enough to do
what i am told

but then
what will i dream

Saturday, January 05, 2008

bar canon

the poor
are so full
of how bad
their lives are
the rich
are full of
stories about
how much
fun they are having

i sit
at the bar
and listen
and struggle
anxious about one
embarrassed about the other
having been both
to believe
any of it

i m scared
to say it
but glad to be

too bad
buk can t
be here
to enjoy this
so well sorted