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.


A good time of day–ten AM–to hit the beach,
our gang piles necessaries into
the old Beetle and the older Citroen
and bucks out of our hill village,
passing little beasts in their cages
studying their alphabets
and church bells momentarily silent,
we have read and painted and sung and drunk
enough to stuff our imaginings
so that they might burst into reality
on the coast . . .
we wriggle off the main road at St. Raphael
and edge toward the shore
past sandy bushes and bright flowers
till the surf wiggles white and blue fingers at us . . .

our wine as well as bread and cheese
are all French
and so are most of us
including two Americans, a Greek, a Swede
yes, we will swim
yet talk we find not cheap
but invigorating
although the sun might yawn,
I, wearing a paper bag on my head
you, in white bikini and honeyed skin
your long hair up in a twist
are my cynosure,
underneath the blather
I yearn for time soon to be just with you . . .

I can see them all . . . even hear them . . .
as I sit here
forty years later
watching phantoms frolic on the sand
in form of another group of young people
so alive
as happy as we were then . . .


In this century what is left? What is sacred?
Searching for books in which
the secrets must lie, I travel to
Bowles’ Morocco
Camus’ Algiers
Graves’ Majorca
Berenson’s Riviera
Lampedusa’s Sicily
Joyce’s Trieste
Kazantzakis’ Crete
Pamuk’s Istanbul
Cavafy’s Alexandra
and Durrell moving constantly
from Alexandria to Corfu
to Avignon as I do,
so many missed books
but so many found
enough to last my lifetime
to fulfill my desires, if only a taste
in this mystical neverending sea.


There are no tourists
along this part of the coast:
the beach desolate,
only thing in the water
fishermen on their boats,
a hotel is hard to find.
          Whitewashed stone houses
windows blinded by shutters
seem to be shrinking
into their foundation,
streets partially covered by sand,
low sea wall which separates
wide beach from buildings
they treat like an alley dog.
          I sit under an awning
having ten PM dinner:
local fish whose name
I cannot pronounce,
salad made from local
lettuce, tomatoes, what I
think are cucumbers in
extra virgin olive oil,
bottle of passable red.
          I guess I’ve come here
for the local color,
I’m a writer,
your hair is tied back
and you wear sunglasses
though stars are bright, sea black,
I put you in because
eating alone would
be unbearable.

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

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