November 1, 2014


Richard Fein was a finalist in The 2004 New York Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition
A Chapbook of his poems was published by Parallel Press, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
He has been published in many web and print journals such as  Cordite, Cortland Review,
Reed, Southern Review, Roanoke Review,  Birmingham  Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Paris/atlantic,  Canadian Dimension, Black Swan Review, Exquisite Corpse, Foliate Oak,  Morpo Review, Ken*Again   Oregon East, Southern Humanities Review, Morpo, Skyline, Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse, Terrain Aroostook Review, Compass Rose, Whiskey Island Review, Oregon East, Bad Penny Review, Constellations, The Kentucky Review  And Many Others.


Between us was a human forest of work-a-day souls
day dreaming themselves far away from that dark subway tunnel
as they standing and we sitting rhythmically swayed
to the jolting of steel wheels on rails.
Between the buffeting bodies we could see across to each other.
At times I hid my gaze in the aspirin ad above her.
Her bashful eyes, in turn,
feigned a study of all the ads crowned over my head.
But our eyes betrayed us with our fleeting stares,
which between 86th and Canal street became less and less fleeting.
At Canal the car almost emptied.
She surrendered her seat, passed me by,
close, so very close, almost touching, and then she left.
Yet again we were eye to eye.
But she was on the platform, and I was still on the train
with the subway window in between.
The doors closed.
Yet through the window one brazen last exchange,
a deep visual drinking in, a ravenous beholding,
then the starting subway severed our tryst forever.


Not at all like a debutant butterfly
cracking open its chrysalis shell to greet the dawn sun,
while rolling out its once imprisoned, shriveled wings
like a colorful carpet, to straighten, to catch the morning breeze,
forgetting its history of an incessant hunger-driven leaf-grubbing grub,
forgetting its past as a lumbering larva that day-by-day week-by-week crawled
slowly to its dressing room pupa to assume the raiment of an angel.
And then it splits apart its last confinement
leaving all trace of the infant caterpillar below and behind
in that empty shell dangling from its last earthbound stem 
as it sails away alone and free, seeking no blossoms to crush
but only flowery sweetness to sip.

No, not like the beautiful forgetful-of-its-past butterfly,
but rather more like the ravenous locust.
Its metamorphosis wholly incomplete, a plodding progression.
No debutant ball, no wondrous emergence,
no sudden dazzle of miraculously unfolding wings.
Rather day-by-day, week-by-week 
the nymph inches along the very grass it gobbles
in a  continuum  of relentless growth
punctuated by casting off of cracked chitin shells.
with each retaining all the sculptures of the ones before.
Even the sprouting of wings is predictable
as they grow bud by bigger bud till that final carapace is chucked.
Then at last fully formed wings catch the wind.
but all of its rapacious infancy flies along with it,
for one's infancy is one's indelible adult companion.
Thus for the collective we
the proper metaphor is locusts swarming by the billions
our shape, our very course through the world chronicles our history
as we devour all the earth's virgin green Edens.


My dad who always beat me at handball years ago
sits on a park bench next to my mom.
Now before me is a fine-looking old pair,
hand in hand for forty years,
their faces golden in the early evening sun.
They ask me to sit, to talk
for we share so many common memories.
I'd love to talk. But my legs are restless.
I need to walk around the block
a few—no! many more times
before taking my place beside them.

~Richard Fein

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