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, Sappho, walk naked under the moon
on this beach,
now in a valley since my companion has left

whereas, Man has created the Epic
a song that must be chanted round a fire
punctuated by clench of swords on shields

I, Woman, have composed the first lyric
a song of love and loss and yearning
a song which can be hummed inward
in a room while knitting
or while sitting by a cradle

this side of the island is vacant
for villagers believe the dead dwell here,
yet I conceive that gods reign here:
their light reflected by the moon
is all that humans can withstand

I must go to the other side
to seek friendship,
my house has always open windows
and wide terraces,
my sign is the crab
for I too have learned
to approach life obliquely.


Did you write this
or do I imagine:
In the room they could not
communicate, but
coming out into the street
she leaned against him
with a smile.
The night as soft as milk,
he held his hand up
and turned it and it became
as significant
as a star.
I try to weave the pieces
together. I try
to understand.


Without limbs we can only intuit
lean chords of man’s flexed leg
his arm muscled as contorting snake,
but woman’s limb is turned
as if on a lathe so that
wood or clay would emerge as smooth
as sanded marble which it is–
did fingers clasp or caress;
the touch of Greek paints
clothed delicately the original work,
while to moderns that lack
creates a frisson of nakedness.

The gouge in abdomen
might symbolize a spleen
whose anger could not be contained,
the niche so close the heart
where love yearned but was not returned;
of the missing head we are reminded
of Orpheus whose head was washed
ashore still singing a dithyramb,
yet our torso’s missing head
holds ancient worlds to explore
where all the senses live–
far beyond this contemporary ken.


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

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