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.


We were crazy,
we took selfies of
you hugging a life-sized statue
of Vigata’s favorite mayor,
of me goosing the bronze horse
rearing in the square . . .

We wandered winding narrow streets
with higgledy-piggledy houses
all wearing red-tile roofs atilt,
to read euphonious names:
Luca Zingaretti
Cesare Boci
Peppino Mazzotta . . .
we waved and bowed to
doorways and archways
carved with wreathed putti
and garlanded gargoyles . . .

In the oldest cemetery
we searched for the hoariest headstone
you finding 1696,
and watched lizards fornicate
on sun-smeared tombstones,
where we followed their lead
as moonlight slicked the slabs.

Back in the States
at your parents’ house
when your mother asked what we did
unusual on our trip,
you had to excuse
yourself to the bathroom
while I with your father’s finest
vintage in my glass sloshing
wandered out onto the lawn
to pull myself together,
their whispering after
“Those crazy kids!”


The sergeant zigzagged across the field
followed by his wary squad,
a unique field he could see
with levers and pulleys
in the irrigation canals
and drainage ditches.

Of all things the door
to the main house was ajar–
these Syracusans are wily
he thought commanding his men
to surround the place
while he drew his gladius.

Bound to be gold or at least
some pure silver–but look
how huge that bathing tub is,
he moving carefully from room
to room noting in one a heap
of model catapults and cranes.

Then he glimpsed an old man
in the rear courtyard
pacing as if senile
in the bright afternoon sun:
“Greek!” he called, “show me
all your treasures or else.”

The old one lifted an arm
continuing to move in
fragile staggering steps
with eyes which minutely scanned,
mumbling, “Do not disturb
my calculations.”

The soldier observed that earth
etched with designs of
suspicious spheres and
cylinders, subversive curves
even discerning a letter (pi)–
“Obey or you die!” he roared.

As the elder waved again
a dismissive hand, the soldier
took several forceful steps before
swinging the sword with such fluid motion
that sent the ancient head
in a long arc gravity contested.

Later, after much ransacking
yet finding nil, the bewildered
sergeant was burst in on
by a terrified corporal:
“Sir, General Marcellus is coming
to visit the man you dispatched.

His edict when we landed
was on no account no one
harm the most revered Archimedes!”


White flashes through eyelids,
then tatting of rain
on eaves and panes.

Downstairs in the old auberge
odor of ashes in the grate,
place settings aligned neatly on white cloth
seem tender, inconsequential.

Under umbrella
we walk red clay and green brush hills
down to the sea
the Mare Nostrum where
we remember human history began.

By evening
storm grumbling and gesticulating
has clomped away,
stars luminous
as we acknowledge
the pageant continues.

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

Poetry in this post: © Ray Greenblatt
Published with the permission of Ray Greenblatt