W R Rodriguez

W R Rodriguez
3201 Country Grove Drive Madison, WI 53719
Email: wrrodriguez@tds.net
Website: www.wrrodriguez.com

W R Rodriguez grew up in the Bronx where he worked as a bootblack in the family shoe shine parlor. He moved to Madison where he earned an M.A. in English and taught high school for over thirty years. The urban environment has been a major source of his writing: “Although I left The Bronx decades ago, it has not left me. To give ironic tribute to the Romantics, I regard the streets and tenements as worthy subjects of art. I enjoy creating poetry from my memories of people, places, and events, and also from research and imagination. I want my poems to work on the page and to have a strong voice if read aloud.” His website features audio of the poet reading his work. Thanks to his experience producing thirty-one volumes of Pressions, an annual literary magazine for Madison Memorial High School, he enjoys the independence of doing layout for his own print publications. Recently he has begun issuing electronic editions of his books.

His poetry has appeared in magazines such as Abraxas and Epoch, and in anthologies such as The Party Train, Welcome to Your Life, and Editor’s Choice III. Articles about his family’s experience in The Bronx were published in The Bronx County Historical Society Journal.

W R Rodriguez is the author of several books of poetry. His latest, from the banks of brook avenue, is an evolution of the work he began in the shoe shine parlor poems et al and developed in concrete pastures of the beautiful bronx.

Print editions are available from Zeugpress. Email the author at: wrrodriguez@tds.net. Electronic editions are available from Smashwords: smashwords.com/profile/view/wrrodriguez


the day i threw thoreau off the roof

was three days after a riot, was two days after our mayor toured the property damage, was a day after the radio told me i lived in a slum, was my first day off work in months. the day i threw thoreau off the roof, was a hot day which melted the tar, was another day of the mosquitoes which bred in the backwater of the sewer our city would never fix and bit anything that could still bleed.

the day i threw thoreau off the roof, was the angry day i refused to do my homework, was the happy day i watched yellow pages flutter down the airshaft like poisoned pigeons. the day i threw thoreau off the roof, was not up to civil disobedience, was just sick of reading about those damn beans.

© 1984 w r rodriguez
fom the shoe shine parlor poems et  al

my little red fire engine

my little red fire engine i sit i steer i pedal
toward imaginary disasters as though i were important but today no kids are out to save from the flames
too hot this august morning for many emergencies
this holy day of obligation at early mass the stone walls of saint luke’s church
chill the bronx heat senoras in black dresses finger rosaries
the last irish knights of columbus guard lonely pews
priestly latin drifts
through the morning peace firemen beside the holy water on the threshold are ready
to scramble but the alarm does not ring
the offertory bells startle all to salvation hook and ladder 29 just across the street
its art nouveau facade wondrous to a young boy searching for heroes
and glory engines shiny
freshblood red behind
a trinity of corniced arches prepared to rescue all from mortal infernos nothing burns
devotional candles melt with prayer the priest’s homily
is in the vernacular
heaven is heaven and hell is hell earth is the mystery to me
o for the paradise years before riots and assassinations and the arson that burns through the safety of sleep
brickbats bottles the rage of the mob greet the saviors
so many willing to throw stones at so few
before despair there is hope which flickers away
save the apartments we desperately need the building beside the church
is torched one winter night the top two floors lost before the ladder is raised
five stories overhead the lone fireman directs the hose
he is a silver angel
in the white spotlight the orange flames the black sky
the brown smoke
it is all just another insurance payout a cheap eviction of unwanted tenants this is the incense
of the church of the bronx charred tenement skeletons stand like sentinels of death
acres of crumbled brick and broken glass fill for years with garbage
weeds grow amidst the rot
faint promise of a green life the trash is set ablaze
these are the prairies of the slums where wild dogs scavenge
and there is wailing and gnashing of teeth we make our offerings and we eat the divine
we are blessed and are sent into the stark sunlight
of bronx streets
at the bakery the cinnamon buns are still warm
mother perks the coffee and sends me out to play in my shiny red
little fire engine
and i roar up and down
but the arsonists are sleeping and there is no one to save

© 2008 w r rodriguez
from concrete pastures of the beautiful bronx

a moon full and cold

there was a moon full and cold
and i was a child in the big wide
unwanderable world
kept safe by my parents and warm
while the radiator with its ancient scales
of cracked paint hissed like a tame dragon

through the green forests
and brown fields of footworn linoleum
plastic soldiers advanced from their beachhead
to conquer the living room or to die in glorious battle
cowboys and indians skirmished at fort apache
alien spacecraft landed and robots ran amok

gallant knights with british accents
rode forth from castle walls to great adventure
fighting firebreathing worms and other strange creatures
so the countryside would be safe for travelers
and a child might sleep in bed and fear no harm
there was no gore just valor and victory and i

was general or prince or hero
anything is possible in the moonlight
this is the moon that shone over stalingrad
when death oozed through the rubble
this is the moon that glowed over the balcony
when romeo swore his love and juliet was enchanted

a leafless lifeless moon amid the tarpaper sky
which rose above the rooftops which shrouded our souls
shining white beyond empty streets and unlit windows
beyond unseen sleepers and reason and dream
a moon bright and distant
as a future as a friend as a life beyond the immediate

i pressed my nose to the windowpane and saw the moon
looming over lovers and battlefields
i wanted to sit forever in its light
to drink in the heavens to drown in wonder
ecstatic and enraptured
sated and thirsting for more

the fearless loveless bloodless moon
beyond the who and what and where of the sun’s despair
its stark chill beckoned unanswerable

© 2015 w r rodriguez
fromfrom the banks of brook avenue