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.


Delos, an island sacred to
Apollo and Artemis,
was the crossroads of empires
for thousands of years,
then economics and
politics changed so that it
disappeared into history.
          Now the one-eyed watchman
each day pays homage
to mosaics on the island
–still vivid in their colors
sparkling in the sun–
which illustrate every event
in the life of mankind.
          Whether receiving fresh fish
from a local dory or
a cat crapping on his pallet
the watchman’s saying is the same
“May Zeus bless you!”
          As if after a war
          in Washington amid
          a handful of survivors
          the mayor wanders among
          the shattered monuments
          to sit by the Potomac dreaming.


We sat cross-legged, naked on the bed
          playing cribbage,
we waved our cigarettes
their tips a magic flame
as if conducting our side of the game
as if wands to call down a spell to win,
the tiny pegs in the ivory board
a way to count our victories
a primitive way to count the days,
using terms like “muggins” and “his nibs”
as our private language.

          And at dawn
when I took my newly grown mustache
out on the balcony to air
to inhale the unknown turquoise of the sea
the burning reds of canna, dahlia, bougainvillea,
you hid behind a long diaphanous curtain
          and a giggle.

Your face beautiful
          –I recall–
after all these years
a blend of Jean Seberg and Grace Kelly
          both gone too soon,
          who could have guessed
things taken for granted
like cigarettes and enduring marriage
would become outdated.


What kind of crazy business
is conducted in that
building built atilt in
the most modern fashion.

Do lines of contracts
slant down the page or
are they jumbled like
in a concrete poem.

Chartreuse table with legs
of different length,
chair which flips backwards,
corridor which wobbles

its warp as if sea-bound.
Where do workers go
after hour that a few
stiff drinks wouldn’t straighten out.

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

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