Monday 7 November 2022

Five Poems by Raymond Alexander Turco


The Ship of My Brothers                                                          


I was enveloped in a peace that I could not abide,

drifting across the seas in my ship of old oak,

when I spied a brigantine out of the corner of my eye

that was racing to the end of the starry black night.


It was the ship of the seven sisters,

with sailors all beturbaned,


and crying out, senseless, to that wine-dark sky:




And they plunged into the depths of true wisdom

that only madmen can know,

as they sailed on the back of the bull

and went down, down,

foundering into the horizon below.


And I’d like to go with them,

but I can’t go now,

because I have a meeting with a ram and a whale

before the sun rises in the east,

and shines upon my bow.



The Shepherd of Many Turns                        


The door to the night

braced in ignorance and sweat

guards my trade:

I tend to my sheep

and bellow and whoop

my apostate song.

When I die,

I will pass from man

to ewe

to plant

to ant

to dust

in that great psychosis of the soul.

And I am afraid.

Who is there to comfort me,

for I am alone amongst my flock

astride the silent mountains of Calabria?


And you see,

we are so very afraid these times.



The Gods Who Rule the Earth                                      


Let us say a few words for our son in his trying time:

When he was young

he was already old.

When he was born,

we sang him the El malei rachamim

and we will sing it again

before he is done,

like a lullaby.

Every word he writes is erased,


from the face of this earth,

and from the face of the other earths that may be.

Every breath he takes cannot fill his lungs,

his fingertips are black with plague.


For we are the gods that govern the world,

and you must tremble.

We come in swiftly brokered tenuous peace,

like a golden thread intertwined in the hair of fate,

though even fate belongs to us,

and rests within our domain

that is very much like a feud, but eternal.


So tremble,

because we till the earth

and will always till the earth

until your teeth fall from your faces

and you regret

ever having been born.





I have written you one-thousand letters

and planted them between my aorta

and my best intentions.

Only when I am dead

will you remove from my heart the letters,

so full of “hope you’re well”

and “sorry to bother”.

But it’s on these pages that passion’s ink

has bled by now

through every bit of whitest square.



That Empty Jar                                                


In my cabinet there is

an empty jar of marmalade

that stands alone, unregarded.

I think I’ll fill it with my hopes and dreams today,

that empty jar of marmalade,

receptacle of my youth on display.

Were it to shatter on the floor,

what would become then

of my hopes and dreams therein contained?

Would they scatter to the air and dissipate

or would they melt there on the tile

to stain my every waking moment,

a reminder of my youth laid bare.


I think I’ll keep my jar hidden,

so only I can reach it

locked away,

and my hopes, my dreams,

I’ll eat them


So I won’t have to bear

to see

my life exposed, my will untested,

my shame that pains me night and day.

Raymond Alexander Turco was born in Hackensack, New Jersey, USA. He has a deep connection to Italian culture as may be seen in his work. He has a special affinity for European history, travel, surrealism, magical realism, and absurdism. He is also the author of nine stage plays, one produced and one published, and his poetry has been published in the Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow and with Bordighera Press.


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