Current Issue        Archives        Submissions        Books        Coming Soon        Contact


Richard Fein  (email)


About the Poet:

Richard was a finalist in The 2004 Center for Book Arts Chapbook Competition. He has been published in many web and print journals, such as Oregon East Southern Humanities Review, Touchstone, Windsor Review, Maverick, Parnassus Literary Review, Small Pond, Kansas Quarterly, Blue Unicorn, Exquisite Corpse, and many others. He also has an interest in digital photography. Samples of his photography can be found here.



Wandering Translucent Men

He was well shaven and wore a tie,
but his jacket was torn at both sleeves.
His gait was downright regal,
this lord of 3rd street in the early morning.
But then he saw it,
a throwaway sandwich wrapped in paper on a stoop.
He grabbed it and put it to his mouth.
But then he saw me,
and his hands squeezed the sandwich into mush.
We were eye to eye, we wandering translucent men.
I pretended not to notice, and he pretended I didn’t see.
Then he ate the mush.
I’m well practiced in walking city streets
with selective blindness and deadpan eyes.


An Average Ambition

Like everyone, my ambition is to just once be that one in a million.
Never mind of what—
nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred ninety-nine
versus me, just me.
But I remain squarely in the mean, just one of the modal mob.
My deviations are all standard.
Once on a survey I answered that I do it in public.
But I wound up squarely within the predictable projection of exhibitionists.
When a pollster once asked me Democrat or Republican,
I answered both.
But being undecided was in vogue that year.
Once I even said I shower with my bathing suit on.
But I was among the 8.5% listed as excessively modest.
Apparently all my eccentricities are acceptable aberrations from the norms.
Even my most private fetish has its own rack in the porno store.
Only one in a million succeeds in being that million to one,
and that one ain’t me.
On the bell curve of humanity I fall in the middle,
where the clapper limply dangles when not making noise.


Eve of Day

Fruit trees always hog the sun, for they rarely thrive in shadows.
Bright blossoms beckon butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.
Nectar is sipped; petals fall, and  ovaries swell to sweet fruits.
Fruit bats and birds taste all that ripens.
But what flavor is forbidden, apple? orange? mango? purple passion?   
Seeds pass through bowels unscathed then sprout from dung heaps.
And in the surrounding dark forest her hands part leaves.
Eyes hungry for light peer out and are lured.
Long hair drapes around her body,
snaking down from her neck all the way to her thighs.
But when she ventures out at eve of day,
her hair sways freely from side to side,
rhythmically revealing her naked breasts, belly, and waist,
as she approaches that singular tree.
She seeks wisdom,
but only the wise seek more wisdom.
Can she be given what she already has?


Hans Christian Andersen Got It Wrong

Hans Christian Andersen got it wrong,
for when the little brat yelled that the emperor was naked, nobody laughed.
His parents slapped his face and spanked his butt,
while feigning very forced grins.
And the nervous onlookers around them cheered even louder
to drown out the boy’s heresy.
For an emperor always sets the fashion;
after all, he’s the grand marshal of the parade.


Hans Christian Andersen got it wrong,
for when the little brat yelled that the emperor was naked, nobody laughed.
Many got naked themselves
and jostled one another to march by his majesty’s side.


Hans Christian Andersen got it wrong,
for when the little brat yelled that the emperor was naked, nobody laughed.
The crowd cheered and felt relieved, for with his excellency all exposed
no one needed to worry about what to say
if the regal presence pranced around with his royal fly open.


Hans Christian Andersen got it wrong,
for when the little brat yelled that the emperor was naked,
eventually the cheering dampened to silence
and the parading naked stopped
and found themselves just standing naked. next to a naked emperor.


Hans Christian Andersen got it all wrong,
And the little brat grew up to be the caboose of cavalcades,
always out of step and out of uniform.
To earn a living he swept the confetti that was proudly thrown
on the new emperor’s many spit and polish parades
of citizen solders marching in lockstep unity
without even one shirttail out or brass button missing.


Soap Opera Shakespeare
If obsessed love is a hunger then he hungered
like a larval wasp in a larval moth,
ravenous worm devouring ravenous worm,
in an orgy of unchecked appetites
A Not So Wise Fool


“Put out the light, and then put out the light!”


She called me, and I came. I never auditioned.
No Romeo or Othello starred in this street corner histrionics.
No Juliet either, but I arrived as a deus ex machina
to keep Desdemona safe throughout the final scene.
And this melodrama was played
not at Statford-upon-Avon but in Brooklyn by Flatbush Avenue.
Her act of charity was to call me and not the police.
I played the half-asleep 3 A.M. wise fool.
All I knew was to walk him around the block,
and keep him from pounding down her door.
Ex-lovers. Almost bride and groom.
But while her unsated hunger was sated, his was unabated.
The once star-crossed Juliet cowered in her bedroom.
And I became a backwards best man
dragging the groom away from the bride.
Got him into the car. He took out a handkerchief.
But not that infamous evidence of  infidelity,
for she had already confessed—no, proclaimed it.
That  handkerchief was used only to blow his nose.
And if I hadn’t been there, would it have become a deadly necklace?
My sobbing Romeo, my toothless Othello,
slumped on the seat and put his head on my shoulder.
I let him, however annoyed I was at this soap opera Shakespeare.    
Erstwhile lovers, “A plague on both your passions.”
In the rearview mirror I saw,
the once-upon-a-time Juliet raise her balcony blinds
then put on the light.