Niagara Falls, August 1989 from If the Patriots win the Super Bowl, credit Talker
As seen in Behold. The first print edition of Rundelania, in an age when print publications are disappearing, good news can still be found.
In August 2019, under the management of Andrew Coyle, Literature Librarian at the RPL’s Central Branch, Rundelania.com The Digital Literary Journal at the Rochester Public Library launched its first print edition. The journal is dedicated to the publication of original poetry and prose by friends and patrons of the library.Many of the authors are well known within the Rochester artistic community. A striking feature is the number of high quality pieces from people in a wide variety of fields: a pastor, a Toastmaster, a microbiologist, two attorneys and a PhD in Electrical Engineering. The eclectic mixture of backgrounds reminds us how surrounded we are by rich and varied poetic and literary activity.
When the library re-opens, Rundelania will be available in the library bookstore, located on the 1st floor of the Bausch and Lomb building of the Rochester Public Library, 115 South Avenue, Rochester. Issues are currently $2.00, supporting the Library Foundation for it outreach, programming and material budget.
In Rundelania, no. 7, May 2020, Andrew kindly published: “Providence, Summer, 1989,” “The Thirty Year Prophecy” and “A Period of Mutually Agreed Upon Reflection.” Kitty Jospé , facilitator of the Central Library’s Poetry Oasis (currently in “zoom” mode) published “Eucharisto” and “A Leaf Listens.”
Audio version — “Providence, Summer, 1989”
As seen in the AUTHOR’S NOTE at end, the next poem has an interesting “back to the future” back story after I contacted two of the women in the poem, both of whom I had lost touch with for almost 35 years. The third character is an imagined composite.
Caressing the still visible pinkish line with its sixteen stitches,
For thirty years he imagined telling the story to great effect over wine at tables for two.
Slyly he recounted how he had taken a Brown girl inside Sayles Hall.
Coaxing her upward,
Climbing a ladder to a musty, nearly dark alcove, sweater breached and bra unhinged.
Suggesting the math classrooms downstairs would be more amenable to their purposes.
The fall, the nail, the glass, the blood. The air cast, the sixteen stitches.
No doubt the gay organist who used the alcove placed a curse.
Because later he would take a RISD girl to the scene of the crime.
This time the organist was booming fugues from the Phantom of the Opera.
Chastened, he offered she go down first.
The fall, the nail, the glass, the blood. The air cast, the seventeen stitches.
Needless to say, the wound was fatal to our budding romance.
He always ended, squinting, that one Campus Dance he planned to take a woman
Back to the second floor of Sayles Hall when on the steps below the window at midnight
The Jabberwocks sang Ever True to Brown.
There and then he would propose.
Who knows, it might be a stranger he had just met. An old love back for Reunion Weekend.
It might be you. Curses don’t last forever.
In the afternoon before the Dance, those not wanting to overpay for their liquor
Tape bottles of Tanqueray and Old Bombay underneath their assigned tables.
By 10:30, the bottles empty and the revelers back in line paying double prices.
The clear skies above Providence keeping its celestial promise for an evening.
Ever the same twelve thousand people Under the Elms.
Rows of Japanese lanterns making the Green look like a colonial outpost.
The Big Band announcing that happy days are here again.
Dancers dancing as if it were 1955 or 1965 or 1975 or 1985.
Kisses melting time.
Said to be comfortable in his bachelorhood, they had met at the University track one June day.
She was young. Improbably young. Only 28.
They had made love in a Narragansett beach house as the Beavertail Lighthouse
Sent continual beacons of light through the window whose rhythm matched their own.
Somehow he sweet talked her into the Reunion and Dance.
She found his old story clichéd and obvious.
And she was from Manhattan and to her it was just another crowded affair.
And it might rain. And they would have to stay in dorms.
Fifteen minutes before the Jabberwocks were to begin, he went into Sayles alone.
Seeing her in the crowd, tipsily flirting with a circle
Of Class of ‘65ers, he beckoned.
Smiling, laughing, waving back, she returned to the conversation
With a man wearing a hat shaped like the head of a Brown bear
That made him look like a fool.
She had more fun than expected. The old guys were a hoot when drunk.
Was that him waving? It was dark and hard to see.
Too bad her train left so soon and she couldn’t stay the whole weekend.
Audio version — “A Thirty Year Prophecy”
After submitting the poem, I emailed it to the first two women represented. I’d been out of touch with both now nearing 35 years. The third character is an imagined composite. Not surprisingly, as she was not the one who fell, the event was a far distant memory for the first woman. I received this reply: “What a crazy surprise to hear from you!”
For the woman who fell and received stitches, the episode had more meaning. Below, with her permission, are parts of our email thread. University of Rochester English professor and distinguished poet James Longenbach once told me that when reading a poem he is entirely indifferent whether or not a poetic persona is or is not based on a real person. But here it is.
HER: I like it very much!
Thank you for sending. It brings back so many memories. I am really liked being in my 40’s and now my 50’s…. and that younger age was so difficult to bear. I still have that scar on my elbow.
I hope you are well. I have thought about you over the years and wondered how you were. My memories about what happened after the hospital visit [she was treated at Rhode Island Hospital] is a bit of a blur.
ME: Reflecting backwards, I clearly recall you in College House [the package store where I worked and we met, see 30 years ago when Billy Buck broke Rhode Island’s heart ] where an elderly customer woman said something to the effect that she felt an electric sense between us. I hadn’t thought about that in years and my memory may be faulty but I can still picture her and you.
Ugh, besides the ambulance taking you to the hospital, I’ll never forget Brown Security “interrogating” me about the incident. Memory may be faulty but I recall them play acting almost as if they were FBI agents pressuring me — including projecting a lamp light on my face — to admit to being a serial Sayles Hall intruder. At a reunion a few years later, I again met that Security Officer. He claimed that my hi jinks in Sayles Hall became legendary in Security history. (Ugh, I think I “sold you out” by saying you wanted to go to Sayles Hall. What a cad!)
HER: I remember the security at Brown were concerned I would sue the college (which I didn’t want to do because I had insurance and no reason to blame them for our antics). You were not a cad. You were a kid who was being pressured.
I think I do recall the elderly woman. I wondered later if the whole accident wasn’t some sort of predetermined karmic event (if that sort of thing is true).
The next poem first appeared in 2015 in the India digital publication The Criterion: An International Journal in English. Since, Criterion has gone defunct; all its poetry has disappeared from the ethernet. Andrew is kindly giving “A Period of Mutually Agreed Upon Reflection” a renewed existence.
ON RUNDEL AND THE CENTRAL BRANCH