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find: Poetry U.S.A.

Janet Ruhe     poet / writer     U.S.A.

Spanish America I

in my fantasy Spanish America
everyone speaks the language of Neruda
in voices full and deep and beautifully harsh
textured like desert night with desert stars

      no, no water
      the stars are water

"Era el otoño delas uvas.."
(It was the grapes' autumn...)

i remember autumn when grapes were old
and all too sweet
and woodsmoke hung in the air
with the scent of horses and cold clouds

      no, no water
      the stars are water

"Temblaba el parral numeroso..."
(The laden arbor shivered...)

i can see the old fingers of the abuela
cutting clusters to bring inside
to put on the table to serve with toasted flour
you roll each grape in flour until it is coated
and then you pop it into your mouth
and it's like eating the arbor and the dry earth under it

      no, no water
      the stars are water

"Los racimos blancs velados
escarchaban sus dulces dedos..."
(The veiled white cluster had
frost-bitten sweet fingers...)

yes i know the too-sweet taste of eyes and smiles.
hiding in the pride of virginal white veils their frozen
malignancies, griefs, superstitions, enves, nightmares

      no, no water
      the stars are water

Y las negras uvas llenabau
sus pequeñas ubres repletas
de un secreto rßo redondo..."
(And the black grapes had
small udders filled by a secret
round river...)

it is clear to me even after years away
how the secret round river which contain
reflect the stars being as it is
within skins
and does not leave any of us alone

Excerpt from Arts Dialogue, March 1997, page 8

Janet Ruhe-Schoen was born in 1950 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., and lived in Peru and Chile from 1980 through 1993.
Immersion in the magic realism of Peruvian and Chilean language and life deeply influenced her writing style and world view. She has published numerous newspaper and magazine articles on environmental issues and other topics. Her poetry and fiction has appeared in journals such as Calyx and Terra Incognita.
Her book A Love Which Does Not Wait, nine biographies of great Bahá´ís, was published in 1998. She has just published a poetry compilation, A Woman's Moods (Are Never Done), with the byline Simona Ruiz. Her most recent book is The Nightingale, Baha'ullah, a retelling of the life of Baha'u'llah in poetic, linked stories strong on mythic and mystical aspects, published in English, with a Spanish translation in the same volume, by Badi Publishing.
She has two children and two stepchildren, and currently lives with her husband and daughter by the Hudson River in New York State.

Section of the poem, Spanish America I,
illustrated by Jacqueline Wassen
Click on the image to view the whole poem.

Spanish America IV
an excerpt

The panther
autumn comes

I dream of gold leaves
falling     covering the plaza
a thin layer

the gray light makes them look like
real gold

la niña
the child
wearing a red scarf on her head
black woolen stockings     black shoes
and dust-brown coat
walks among the leaves
singing in Spanish

las hojas     las hojas
malditos tesoros
the leaves the leaves
cursed treasures

she walks and
she sings and
there's no one else around

the falling leaves
the thin layer of leaves
covering the hard earth
of the plaza
now becomes thick
and the patina of gold
there is the warm brown of real leaves
with all their faults
galls and shriveled edges and

the gray sky darkens
it's almost black
the air is almost cold
there's almost a wind
and the empty swings on the plaza
move a little
all on their own

the leaves are now so deep
they reach the child's hands

mis manos     mis manos
mis manos cantan
entre los malditos tesoros
my hands my hands
my hands sing
among the cursed treasures

the leaves are now so deep
they reach the child's mouth

mi boca     mi boca
mi boca canta
entre los malditos tesoros
and my mouth sings...

Excerpt from Arts Dialogue,
December 1998, page 8 - 9

Excerpt from:
El hombre más qurido (Spanish Amercia II)

Illustrated by Jacqueline Wassen

flies into the light and up
to the mountaintop
where she becomes
a tango dancer

she tosses her wild hair
over her brow
to hide her eyes
and down she comes
tangoing down the mountain
and into town

where she extends her hand
to the man of her dreams
el hombre más querido

the most beloved man
(el que tiene los más enemigos
he who has the most enemies)
and she dances with him
Pero no se muere
but he does not die

and he says,
just because you dance with death
it doesn't mean you die
that instant

just because the gardenia scent she wears
to cover up her stench of dung and dust and despair
is on your hands
you don't have to fall
that moment
or even the next

Excerpt from Arts Dialogue,
September 1997, pages 8 - 9

excerpt from:
Gigantic Violin


like me she's a GRINGA
and i think she's busking
not only for money but so that she
can remember her name and keep remembering
despite the howling buzz of this street

if she'll come away with me
we may find her name and mine in the grass
beautifully inscribed on grey stones

and she is coming towards me and i
am trying to cross the street to meet her but
just try to find your way
across a street shaped like a gigantic

Excerpt from Arts Dialogue,
February 2000, pages 12 - 13

  • Interview: with David Ruhe, watercolourist, Arts Dialogue, October 2001
  • Poem: Gigantic Violin (Spanish America part 4), Arts Dialogue, February 2000
  • Poem: Spanish America (part 3), Arts Dialogue, December 1998
  • Poem: El hombre más querido (Spanish America, part two), Arts Dialogue, September 1997
  • Poem: Spanish America, Arts Dialogue, March 1997
  • Poem: blooms of secret seeds, Arts Dialogue, June 1995
  • Announcement: Oasis arts magazine, BAFA newsletter, June 1993
  • Poem: All as it is supposed to be, BAFA newsletter, March 1993
  • Announcement: Oasis arts magazine, BAFA newsletter, March 1993
  • Announcement: Oasis arts magazine, BAFA newsletter, September 1992
  • Two Poems: my God, The Religious Life, BAFA newsletter, June 1992
  • Reviewed: Oasis 2, arts magazine, BAFA newsletter, March 1992
  • Announcement: Oasis arts magazine, BAFA newsletter, September 1991
  • Poem: the green horse of Springtime, BAFA newsletter, September 1991

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