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: JUST BEYOND MARACAIBO (Northland Press, Paoli, Pennsylvania, 1988)


I can’t write a poem to Greece,
only a hard song.
The arms of barren mountains
thrown down on the land
separate all.
Sheep and goats survive,
on melons and oranges
survive the men with their hair swept back
and the women with shawls of black.
It takes energy to survive.
But it also takes courage
which the land’s mystery makes fruitful.


Standing on the dock
I look across the night water
at lights spotting the far shore
and I think I can be
on any lake or bay or river,
until I notice the smell
of the baking kilns,
felucca roped at the mooring
with men in robes in the stern,
hooping of the hoopoe bird
with wings striped like a zebra,
rumble of Arabic,
rhythm of drums amid
those lights spotting the far shore.


I wanted to touch the steel
in Toledo—cold and shining
and removed,
I wanted to smell the oranges
in the moon gardens of Valencia,
I wanted to endlessly count the frets
on the Alhambra,
I wanted to see if I could be
a Roman in Seville—

but instead
I am surrounded by pickets
of cars in Barcelona—
cacophonous sugary sun,
wondering why sailors come here,
looking for sailors
and escape by sea.


The old crone passes on a downhill straightaway
headed north toward Paris in an ancient black
Citroen like a tank, grimacing, unrelenting.
She is bedecked in black cape and shapeless vestments
her nose a stiletto, face properly warted
wisps of gray matter from under her dark chapeau.
I imagine an Angora shares her front seat
in back valises, portmanteaux, silk reticules
a letter-bound book of Daudet and cachou drops.
The trees capture each other in nets of shadow
each mile loses a month from her decrepitude
as she leaves her shambled chateau outside Nimes
under the palms, toward the rows of chestnut trees
that border her chrome and thermopane apartment.
I duel with her over the Cevennes then lose her
I sense that her psyche shifts into modern gear
of angel dust and phosphorescent disco balls
that old crone—I will find her despite disguises.

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

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