Carolyn Raphael

My Parents' Autograph Books

They lie, as do their owners, side by side.
His book is neat as the shirts he always sent
out twice--to press and then perfect. Denied
a mother's smile, he knew what darkness meant.

Her book is ragged; the leather skin is flayed.
A dull gray batting bursts free from its bond
the way she gardened barefoot, disobeyed
his brown-eyed cautions with a will of blonde.

The eighth-grade entries, carved in Palmer script,
jingle their notes like a children's marching band.
"Poor ink, poor pen, poor writer, amen," John quips;
Kay wishes Dad life "like a piano--grand."

From 1921 and '28,
pastel forget-me-nots reverberate.

The Art of Memory

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600), defrocked Dominican monk and radical philosopher, was burned at the stake for heresy by the Roman Inquisition. He was a master of memory feats.

Before the printed word dimmed memory,
The mind was muscled to perform: to summon
Two thousand names (this said of Seneca),
To free the orator to dazzle crowds,
To save their song so poets could recount
Heroic tales of war and wandering.
And even after Gutenberg, the mind
Could capture words, then allocate, then hold.

Giordano Bruno, pedagogue to kings,
Performed his feats in London, Paris, Prague.
He built a memory wheel: one hundred fifty
Segments retrieved like berries from a bush.
Copernican, his books were banned, as he was,
Denied his sacraments and native soil.
At last the homesick wanderer returned--
Denounced in Venice, he was sent to Rome.
For eight hard years the Inquisition delved,
One day with questions, one with rope and wire.
The adamantine monk would not recant.

What reservoir did Bruno draw upon
To banish hunger, darkness, solitude?
Which archived images diminished time?
And in the crowded Campo dei Fiori,
Did memories console before the flames
Reached up to seal the chambers of his mind?


Carolyn Raphael retired from the English Department at Queensborough Community College, CUNY, after more than thirty years of teaching. Her poems have appeared in journals including The Formalist, Measure, Orbis, Pivot, and Rattapallax and on the Newington-Cropsey Cultural Studies website for the American Arts Quarterly, where her poem, "Honorable Mention," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She was a finalist in the 2009 Howard Nemerov Sonnet Contest. Her chapbook, Diagrams of Bittersweet, was published by Somers Rocks Press in 1997, and her poetry collection, The Most Beautiful Room in the World, was published by David Robert Books in February, 2010.


Taylor Altman
Sarah Busse
Nicole Caruso Garcia
Brittany Hill
Lisa Huffaker
Jean Kreiling
Barbara Loots
Charlotte Mandel
Annabelle Moseley
Angela Alaimo O'Donnell
Ann Walker Phillips
Carolyn Raphael
Jennifer Reeser
Hollis Robbins
Catherine Tufariello
Doris Watts
Joyce Wilson
Marly Youmans

Fifth-Anniversary MC Reading
West Chester University Poetry Conference
Friday, June 10
8:15 AM
Alice Mizrachi: Growing up in New York, I have been immersed in a culture that is constantly growing. Throughout my work you can feel the influence the city has had on me, the never-ending desire to grow and flow. One common thread in my work is the texture--rhythm and layers. I love to incorporate tactile surfaces that compel the audience to approach and feel it. Timeless and universal, my images evoke a raw feminine energy that leaves you feeling nurtured. My art is a vehicle to express to the world my journey as a NYC female artist in the past, present and future. I am logging my time here. After completing a residency in Paris during 2010, I am focusing on residencies in other cities with the intention of spreading my art globally.
32 Poems
The Academy of American Poets
The Atlantic
The Christian Science Monitor
The Cortland Review
Favorite Poem Project
The Frost Place
The Iowa Review
Light Quarterly
Modern American Poetry
The Poem Tree
Poetry Daily
Poetry Society of America
Poets House
Raintown Review
String Poet
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Verse Daily
Women's Poetry Listserv
The Yale Review

Bread Loaf
Poetry by the Sea


Barefoot Muse Press
David Robert Books
David R. Godine Press
Graywolf Press
Headmistress Press
The Johns Hopkins University Press
Louisiana State University Press
Northwestern Univ Press
Ohio Univ Press
Persea Books
Red Hen Press
Texas Tech Univ Press
Tupelo Press
Univ of Akron Press
Univ of Arkansas Press
Univ of Illinois Press
Univ of Iowa Press
Waywiser Press
White Violet Press

City Lights
Grolier Poetry Bookshop
Joseph Fox Bookshop
Prairie Lights
Tattered Cover Bookstore

92nd Street Y
Literary Mothers
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