THE PASSIONATE STRUGGLE INTO CONSCIOUS BEING
— Richard Poirier
my car, my ’98 Toyota Corolla, was broken into.
i’d walked to it with my colleague from the college
in the ghetto, i’d seen a car with smashed windows,
and took off like a bat out of hell to my car
parked around the corner. and there it was, windows also
smashed to smithereens, broken bits of class all around
the street. my first thought was my black bag and my
Puerto Rico wallet with the zipper i’d sewn together
several times, and of the 300 bucks in the wallet,
all the money i’d had as i continued to drift into
stark, naked, poverty and the prospect of either
being homeless or a life in a furnished room
like my poor dad back in Jersey City a long, long
but then i remembered i’d taken my bag
with me to teach a class and so my wallet
was not stolen!!! my car was gone, yes.
but not my wallet, its cash, and the few other
things in it that defined my life.
my friend and i ran back to the school.
i hurtled the stairs and made it back to
the room, my office perhaps, or someone’s office,
maybe my temporary office since i was an adjunct,
and there it was- my black strapped bag that
hung over my shoulder almost everywhere i went,
the one my redhead former girlfriend said was
my “pockerbook.” because it was my pockerbook
if not my pocketbook. it was filled with the holes
of my unholy life, a life made whole by my
unholiest deed that led to my holy unholiness,
to a Great Love, to unholy loves that followed,
to lusts and pleasures made holy in some performance
of myself that insisted on them being so.
and all of this became my own literature, my poetry,
my plays or play fragments, always the attempt, all that wonderful
failure, to make whole what could never be whole.
these would become me!!
more than me, my life!!!
this wonderful mess of a life.
always to be lamented.
always to be celebrated.
my endless, sentimental tears.
my only legal wife abandoned.
what a fucking selfish bastard i’d become
in pursuit of a woman, such an evil woman,
my maker, yes, she made me, created
me, Mr. Frankenstein. Richard Frankenstein,
i need to have my name changed.
all the parts of women’s bodies that have become me,
have fed me, still feed me, all those wonderful parts,
all those wonderful women, even the bad ones,
what is real here and made up will be for you
to figure out.
it’s all real.
it’s all fiction.
it’s all poetry.
it’s the play that never makes the stage.
the real deal.
the real stuff.
“get free” he said, he, my brother, big brother,
not orwell, my own big or bigger, older brother.
columbia brother, breaker thru the darkness,
into the light of mind, into the clear mind, developed mind.
machete in his hand
cutting thru the brush, the debris of our early lives,
and then there was me!
my path made easier.
until it all fell apart under the weight of new york
and those nights under the moving stars with my puerto rican
friend jose venegas, a real name for once,
a real story, or autobiographical at least.
my identity blown apart like the windows of my Toyota.
shards and bits scattered along the street.
my mind blown.
my heart shivering.
my fate in the balance.
goodbye new york city!
fuck you new york city!
i loved you new york city!!
and then i was gone.
into the jungle of birth.
and the rest is history as they say.
the rest is my history.
like a long string.
like egypt, africa, athens, rome,
new york city
the magic house.
the back room.
the computer screen.
christmas eve morning 2017.
RICH QUATRONE is a poet and playwright living in Spring Lake, NJ. He was educated at Rutgers College and Mason Gross School of the Arts, both at Rutgers University. He and Lorraine Quatrone founded PASSAIC REVIEW in 1979, inspired by Lunch magazine and the groundswell of poetry that was then in the Passaic-Rutherford area. Other mags to come out of that period were Footwork and Lips. Footwork became the current Paterson Literary Review, headed up by Maria Mazziota Gillan. Quatrone introduced Gillan to the poetry world by having her read at Passaic High School, publishing her first efforts in PR, and by having her interviewed on EYES OF THE ANGELS, the cable television poetry show, produced by Paul Juscyk and Rich Quatrone. Gillan turned her back on those who endorsed her and has made some kind of mark on the poetry world.
Rich eventually left north Jersey and the life and wife he loved there. Much of this was brought about by a rigged prosecution of Rich as a home instructor in Passaic and Lyndhurst. Some people knew the truth and encouraged him to fight the bastards who set him up, but Rich knew he’d been tried and convicted in the Herald News by people like reporter Steve Marlowe, so he accepted a very, very unjust plea bargain. This is a decision he has regretted often in his life, since he allowed the State to strip him and his family of every cent they possessed. He has never really recovered from the financial poverty. He received an expungement in 2006.
After the infamy of September 11, Rich began an all-out, six year campaign of reading hard-hitting poems, poems to educate, poems to connect personal love and world love, at the Java Hut, which later became the diluted Coffee Blue, in Belmar, NJ. During these six intense years, Rich founded CHILDREN OF SEPTEMBER 11, along with Timo Scott, as a guerrilla theater group taking on social issues often left unaddressed by too many others. Online Rich resurrected (actually the third incarnation) of Passaic Review, following the original magazine, then Passaic Review Millennium Editions. The new PASSAIC REVIEW EZINE, published some 1600 online issues, covering every conceivable part of Rich’s political, social, and personal imaginative landscape. Joined in this effort were scores of poets, including Bob Quatrone and Amiri Baraka. Rich kept the Ezine going until he abandoned it after the invasion of Iraq. Rich felt the country was no longer worth the risk involved in speaking so honestly publicly.
Rich is also the producer of PLAYWRIGHTS ON THE RISE at Lakewood’s historic Strand Theater. He’s done this series into, now, its seventh year under his helm. This is a staged reading series of new plays from predominantly new playwrights. Rich has two sons, John and Eric, both poets, musicians, and athletes. Their band THE LYRIQS is on the rise.