Richard Swanson


A retired teacher of English, Madison resident Richard Swanson served as WFOP’s Secretary from 2010-2015, and was a member of the Poet Laureate Commission and The Council for Wisconsin Writers.  These days he reads a lot, enjoys cooking, fishing, woodworking—and writing. Many of his poems are often humorous and full of wordplay, but Richard has a commitment to human values and social justice, so narrative story-telling frequently anchors his work. His first collection, “Men in the Nude in Socks,” won the statewide Posner Award (now the Edna Meudt Prize).  That was followed by a second, long collection, “Not Quite Eden,” about the process of aging. Swanson’s two chapbooks are “Eastern Europe 1989” a saga about the end of tyranny there, and “Paparazzi Moments,” a wry look at popular culture icons, including Barbie (of the doll fame) and a fantasy pope driving a Ferrari through the Tuscan hills.

Richard is proud to be part of the statewide community of WFOP people, who nurture, assist, and set high standards for one another as creative artists.  He can be reached at where a list of his books is available. Developing poets can also get Richard’s encouraging feedback there, by contacting him, no charge whatsoever.  

Men in the Nude in Socks, winner of the statewide Posner Award and Edna Meudt Prize.
Not Quite Eden.
Eastern Europe 1989 (Chapbook).
Paparazzi Moments (Chapbook).


Men in the Nude in Socks

Hey, lookit!

These men in the nude in their socks—
all pinko torso and hatchling-haired legs.
Are those bald spots on the backside
or rumps on top?
Gawd, get a snapshot
get a guffawish gawk
at the gluteus maximus,
the muscle minima.
Remember the member-
ous droop and its stoop-
endous testicular particulars.
Come, let us gaa-gaa this fold-out,
slather our ardor at this
bare-boned dualped
planted in argyles.

Observe, observe:

Herr Fashionable Fuzzy Foot,
dimples, moles, flabulous contours,
a haunch to shame the showcase tapestries
of a meat market, oh there’s more. . . .

No nothing more than the image
of men in the nude in their socks
and the point the image is for:

Men in the nude in socks do not make war.

Cash for Clunkers

He’s never quite caught her right in the act,
her eyes in a furtive head to toe scan
but sometimes he questions if in fact
his wife has an agenda, some kind of plan.

Given his age and mileage, the wages of sin
in the form of his going-to-hell suspension,
does she see him, he winces, as a relic trade-in,
eco salvage in a crushing compression?

Is he hearing, he wonders, clandestine musings,
her yearning for something sans dings and dents.
These imperfections aren’t of my choosing,
a voice in his head pleads in self-defense.

She pats his butt as he toils at the kitchen sink.
“Hon’, could you see me as a vintage classic?” he thinks.