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.


I first read the Odyssey
in a cheap hotel
on the second floor
where dust and grit blew through
shutterless casements and cracks,
street odors tangible.

As I read into the night
wiping moths and flies off the page
I felt I was moving,
the room the hotel stirring,
street about to sinuate,
docks banging together like boxes.

Of course the coarse breeze
nudged me in that direction,
the warm waters always swirling
sun and moon in constant orbit
the very air alive and writhing
as I sailed away.


We stop on a mountain slope
so green it seems vines
are growing around us.

We sit in cane chairs nibbling
cheese, olives, hard bread
drinking wine almost black.

We can barely hear
the Med beyond us sounding
like a muttering audience.

The History of Thucydides
does me no good. I learn
by listening to the tables

watching the expressions
even hand gestures
as long as light lasts.


In a coastal town
the sea is everywhere,
at the end of each street
like watchmen doing their duty.

During the day the Med
is golden, at night silver,
its odors like cooking
constantly in the air.

It sends wind to tap on your sill
in any hotel you choose,
whistling through the cracks
very plaintive melodies.

Wind joins you on the terrace
while you nurse an espresso,
ruffling your hair like
an audacious acquaintance.

Pretty soon when sun begins to brand,
you begrudgingly make this pair
—water and air—
your friends.

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