THE LAST DAY OF SEVENTY ONE
the last day is like all the other days
only this one is the last of those days
when I was 71 and before that 70 and before
that 69, then 68, 67, 66, all the way
back to 1.
so this is a poem about my life, you might say,
as it is now, before 72, on the last day.
it all started when…
and you can fill in the rest
it all ended when…
you’d better not fill this in!
the last day found me listening to
advice about focusing on my cat,
my little black Maserati of a cat
named Cleopatra, like the great
Egyptian queen, or North African
queen, hence she is black.
the advisor told me my cat
which is interesting because
there is some verbal similarity
between Egyptian and photogenic,
if you know what I mean,
which you probably don’t.
who knows what I mean or have ever meant?
although I tried to be understood,
or even known.
at least my meaning.
to be known, you know.
you get me, I hope.
because I will be 72 tomorrow
and the days are shorter
and my bed is empty
and my arms are empty
and my mouth is empty
my eyes are empty
there is not that much
to see when there is no
woman to be seen.
but who really wants to hear
the complaint of a man about to be 72?
why, not even me.
writing this is painful, I tell you!
behind the mirth is an earth of tears
and fears and all that disappears.
it all goes away.
you understand this, I’m sure
it all fades, passes, shrinks,
and one thinks about it
and writes books of philosophy and poetry,
plays and novels, even film scripts
deal with this final
so, here it is, the last day before the next
day and the day after that
all witnessed by my indelibly
black and blackest
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.