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.


It is still night at four in the morning
as I stand by my half-open window,
the air finally cooled and still.
Cabs with yellow lights on their heads
circle the square,
motor scooters buzz
with dark girls on back
whom I have seen all day
walking with lovers
their hair long like their bodies
their eyes fixed on something distant.
Lights flash in distant windows
but I can’t tell if they’re cigarettes
lighted by people in the dark
or reflections through my window.
Continual talk and human noises
rise from under the dusty trees below
whose names I do not know.
I am amazed to be able to see
the regular flashing of light
from the airport cross the city
where I landed this morning.


       We are above the city
       in this stately hotel
       above the squalling and careering:
       sightless windows in aborted buildings–
       rug of dust and stacks of rubble–
       heat that pants in alleys.
I want to lose myself
in your wiles, your beauties
to submerge in your scented waves.
This room above the city becomes you:
your feet on the marble floor–
dark skin against the rosewood armoire–
eyes that pick up the sapphire threads
of the hanging over our bed.
You stride in rhythm to your hair
to throw open the balcony doors
where the ancient river below
is liquid sapphire
tossing up a breeze from eroded banks.
       But before us on the eighteenth floor
       hunkers the leg of a giant,
       a crane whose driver leers
       with groaning levers toward us.


I walk in side streets surprisingly wide
for in the daytime shopkeepers’ wares crowd
the edges of the narrow thoroughfares.
Odors of incense linger from the day
as I edge down stairways just steep enough
and slippery to make my step falter.
A distant sound of squealing brakes is
one boy tooting a flute as he passes
till the passageways echo my rhythm only.
Sometimes the heat is caught between the shops
then at a corner turning the breeze blows cold.
I descend farther and farther into
darkness unseparated from the light.

A sole shop still open I peer into,
glimpsing fine Turkish carpets on the floor
and a Moslem at prayer in the corner.
Religion rises like musty smells for
farther down a man squats among women
as if it were a laying on of hands.
I have a late appointment with Akram
in his small shop where he proffers cigarettes
and thick coffee in tiny stained cups.
We bargain for a bag’s worth of
bracelets, earrings, necklaces and pins,
in the bowels of this antique city
where the soul seems forged in easy silver.

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

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