Richmond Scenes–past and present


RICHMOND SCENES:  Poetry by Richard L. Rose

Perhaps you haven’t made it yet to the exhibition at the Library of Museum. Neither have I, in fact.  But I was surprised to see the title:  “TO BE SOLD” because it corresponds to my current research for the opera Monte & Pinky, which we hope to perform next year. This research, plus a prompt from the Poetry Society of Virginia and some time to work while traveling on a train have resulted in a small book of poems, RICHMOND SCENES.   Below are the first lines of some of the poems. For the complete poems and other notes, see Richmond Scenes. (Note: this book was later incorporated into Coming Around. See blog for December 14, 2015.)

Sophie’s Alley

The peloton passed into Sophie’s Alley

racing crumbling stables, whoosh of flame

from tipped pail of kerosene igniting . . . .

Walker’s Negro Organization Society

To tell you plain, I never will be done

with praising you. Not pain, my giant size,

nor “hinge of midnight” ere the moon arise–

my blackness . . . .

Lumpkin’s Wife

 He had a tall stump for the block

and had to help me up.

That’s when I caught his eye.

He said, Step down. Wait in the back.

Later he helped himself.

And so I came to stay.

Mined Out

We grew tobacco in a flower pot

below the sill from seeds like sanding grit.

Above the sill, it flowered over cosmos.

A horned caterpillar gnawed it down. . . .

The Catcher

Not far below us moves a spring

feeding abandoned fields

and toppled trees, departed going

concerns and lost yields. . . .

Two Veterans

Ginter’s novelties began with toys,

wind-up china dolls, gimcracks and slides

for stereopticons. His switching sides

came when the men he later led were boys. . . .

The Painter, 1960

Picked up for walking west of Boulevard,

a painter on his way back home had proof–

the check that he’d received instead of cash.

King Prosser, Nat, and insurrectionists, . . .