Given Some Royal Hanky-Panky, Rather Illustrious Family Trees...
Emails pour in with attachments and charts, communiqués on and from our elegant dead as if evites to virtual weddings...
'And what we have to learn from the poems of Lisa Ritchie is everything worth preserving and protecting in life: Love, lovers, children, cousins, parents, home, shred self and country, an abiding attachment to the beloved dead reaching to us from the other side of life. Here are poems that extol life, sing of its joy, despite the cruelty and entropy that threaten at every turn. Lisa Ritchie is a person you would want to know, whose poetry you have here, life seen through her bright, intelligent, compassionate eyes, what poetry does at its best, give heart. An old proverb has it that "it is in the shelter of each other that we live." These poems give respite in a world too often in need of such shelter.' — Richard Harteis
Link to a review by Grace Cavalieri
The Ancestors Wait, Wet
in the chilly garage
across fields drenched
from days of rain
have waited years
in wooden trunks
they persist in manuscripts
blue composition books
purple ink blurred
schoolboy essays on antique monarchs
tsars who tried to transform their lands
outlived their wars or not
letters written for fathers, sisters, progeny
for lovers locked in a soggy box
and careless descendants
who could not predict
the height of floods
the rage of hurricanes or wars
"The Ancestors Wait, Wet:"
Lalitamba 2016; Prosopisia, anthology editor
Anuraag Sharma, 2016
Guest of Honor
She has visited me several times.
Not during the year right after she died
while buying her ticket to spend
one more birthday with us. Tonight.
Did she pass this last year in limbo?
Is it easier now to obtain her brief leave
as a novice gains nunship
and with it, a limited freedom?
She appears at our door with her same cry of joy.
I help her over the threshold, take her coat,
foulard scarf and black cane. She smooths
her milkweed hair blown by an unknown wind.
The dining room laced with crepe paper streamers,
"Happy Birthday!" we shout. "Surprise!"
We speak loudly because she is deaf.
She joins in the singing, praises each gift,
blows out candles, licks icing off her stiff fingers,
winks at a child whose face I can't see,
and asks, "Whose birthday comes next?"
She crochets months ahead, just in case.
Oh! She's vanished!
Cake crumbs, dabs of icing,
scraps of bright wrapping paper,
still litter the table…
"Guest of Honor:" ©1974 New York Times; Tightening The Circle Over Eel
Country, Acropolis Books, ©1974 Elisavietta Ritchie, (won Great Lakes
Colleges Association's "New Writer's Award for Best First Book of
My Father, Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired
The shell explodes and scatters light
and alien finger bones. He isn't sure
if this is real or dream
but screams until he wakes.
The household wakens also, terrified.
He is embarrassed, and confused,
trapped back at Kharkov, Sebastopol, Anzio,
Monte Cassino, Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge.
Forty years have passed, the wars have not.
Shrapnel, rubble and peculiar shards of flesh
still litter all the bedroom floor so deep
he cannot find his slippers in the dark.
["My Father, Colonel, U.S. Army,
" NewCollage; Finding The Name, The Wineberry Press, 1983;
Tiger Upstairs on Connecticut Avenue, Cherry
Grove Collections, ©2013 Elisavietta Ritchie;]
"He asked me to fly to Bangkok with him,"
giggles the nurse. I picture my father's
wheel chair sprouting aluminum wings,
his skeletal shoulders growing feathers –
scarlet, vermilion, green –
like a swan sired by a parrot.
"I hope you agreed to fly with him,"
I answer. "He was a famous explorer."
She laughs, slaps her plump palms
against her white uniform.
"Lord, what a spaced-out
i-mag-in-a-tion your daddy's got!"
His blue eyes watch us. I smooth
wisps of hair like down on his skull.
My mad daddy...Here are
the springs of my imagination.
At eighty-four may I too
have license for madness.