Ray was a regular at the Saturn Poetry Reading, which I co-host with Su Polo. A modest and retiring guy, he was one of the finest poets on the circuit. He regularly de-emphasized the formal metrical structure of his work, with a reading style that suggested free verse. Unlike many formalists, he embraced the every-day in his poems. Ray was both as accomplished and real as they come, and regularly offered helpful feedback to others. He aided me in improving mine more than a few times.
I’m going to miss Ray’s new poems, friendly smile and fresh insight. Everyone at the reading will miss him.
Here is a poem I’ve written in tribute to Ray:
“Do your best,” my nightmare snickers. “What the hell –
You’ve got some time before the bell.”
Ray Pospisil – “EXAM DAY”
Your bell resounds, echoing
on though our nights-
the toll you thought would wait
a long day’s dreaming yet
tumbling us down into that blackness
you struggled to chart, lost and found
your way through time and again
by feel and tenacity.
But peeling for joy too –
brilliance punching through
Black square after white, you
strove to game the whole board.
As quickly as light pierced dark
you’d smack into eclipse from sunlight.
Living in this chiaroscuro
hodge-podge of laughter and loneliness
insight and despondency
you watched illuminated angels
square-dance demon partners,
studying their steps, barking
the tune in peerless couplets
or eloquent blank verse.
Thinking there was time yet
you danced to get the steps down pat
relishing every do-si-do –
time before the bell
a chance to tell it all,
you who told so well.
David Elsasser – Manhattan, NY[email protected]