Ray Greenblatt

Ray Greenblatt

Ray Greenblatt has lived in New England, the West Indies, and along the Eastern Shore. He has written short stories, essays, and poetry which have been published across the U.S. in periodicals as diverse as America, English Journal, and Joseph Conrad Today.

He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and won the Anthony Byrne Prize. He was also the editor of the magazine General Eclectic. A teacher for many years Ray Greenblatt has taught writing in the Philadelphia Writers Conference as well as spoken at the John Steinbeck Festival in Salinas, California.

Poems below from: ERASING THE LINES, Infinity Pub (28 Feb. 2006)


Nausicaa arrives
Nausicaa of the white skin
and the long legs
Nausicaa of the broad forehead
and the amethyst eyes.
We go for a swim in a high tide
she wearing strands of seaweed
swim with the oysters and bass
a diadem of birds against the sun.
At night over candlelight
in fluted tones as sweet as ripe fruit
she tells tales
of her narrow undulating island
where stone seals and heron
come to life on moonlit beach,
where birds of multi-colors
speak perched on her shoulder
to whisper sea secrets
and to straighten her windswept hair.
She tells of her ancient father
the gandy-legged one
who could predict weather
a thousand miles off
by chimes and tubes and hanging pots.
At dawn she is gone.


Like riding an oily snake
the gondola slurps and lisps through
tepid sooty water from the south
riffled by currents of wind from the north,
avoid discharges from a third floor chamber pot,
bright cloth hanging limply from balconies,
always the shadow of a priest in an alcove,
into the mouths of bridges then spewed out again
as quickly as a time warp,
pigeons filling the air like holey vestments,
odor of garbage and garlic,
cellars here are aquariums
where everyone’s ancestor is a fish,
not on way to a cathedral
but to a square where at a tiny table
you sip espresso or campari
waiting for a burnished sunset
waiting to hear dead quartets of violins,
where the ancient statues nod
and bow and wave like ladies of the night.


I have lived the good life.
I have just had a refreshing walk
to our splendid lighthouse and back again,
to where I now sit in this library
of hundreds of thousands of books,
in the cool shadows of this building
which will last—must last for eternity.
What a delight to dabble in what I wish—
drama, history, mathematics, ethics . . .
I have traveled, studied and taught
in Rhodes as well as Athens.
Yes, life has been very kind.
But can a discovery be evil,
can truth no longer be beautiful?
Let me relate what is so disturbing.
On the summer solstice I measured that
the sun had a seven percent inclination.
Behold, a correspondent in Aswan
south from here five hundred miles
found the sun to be directly overhead.
          What can this evidence imply?
That the surface of the earth curves.
And to conclude my calculations,
I determined the circumference of
the entire world—twenty-five thousand miles.
That suggests . . . I dare not say,
as head librarian, as tutor
to King Ptolemy’s son I dare not
shock our reputable world of philosophy.
But secretly in these shadows
where I feel safe for the moment
I can whisper what it all means
is that seventy-five percent
of the world lies yet undiscovered!
It would be quite difficult,
indeed, it would be pigheaded to believe
that all that unknown was mere water—
land lies out there, perhaps land
rich enough to rival our own!
Oh, I must calm myself or else
go blind with anxiety
as to what should be done.

For other contributions by Ray Greenblatt, please follow the links below:

All poems on this post: © Ray Greenblatt
Published with the permission of Ray Greenblatt