I WAS ONCE DEAD TOO

In a famous painting
of Christ nailed to
and crucified upon the cross
I am the watching
leper on the right.
And with my one good eye
I watch as Jesus dies
and screams up into
darkening sky asking
his father for a reason

why?

And then, suddenly
as the clouds open up
and the rain begins
the Romans scatter like mice,
the water, burning off their
flesh like corrosive acid.
As I feel the wetness upon my
skin like the warmth of a beautiful woman
touching my face, I raise my
hands outward, and I am healed.
When a voice comes
which tells me I am now
the angel of death, and the
watcher in the eternity
that is time, wandering
the earth.

The screams of both Jesus,
and his murderers the Romans
now a distant sound & memory
in a world without messiahs
or miracles to amaze us.
Only questions
which remain unanswered.

~ R.M. Engelhardt

Poetry Reading…

Poetry Reading

SAINT POEM AT THE UAG, ALBANY NY

    To be a boxer, or not to be there
    at all. O Muse, where are our teeming crowds?
    Twelve people in the room, eight seats to spare
    it’s time to start this cultural affair.
    Half came inside because it started raining,
    the rest are relatives. O Muse.

    The women here would love to rant and rave,
    but that’s for boxing. Here they must behave.
    Dante’s Infemo is ringside nowadays.
    Likewise his Paradise. O Muse.

    Oh, not to be a boxer but a poet,
    one sentenced to hard shelleying for life,
    for lack of muscles forced to show the world
    the sonnet that may make the high-school reading lists
    with luck. O Muse,
    O bobtailed angel, Pegasus.

    In the first row, a sweet old man’s soft snore:
    he dreams his wife’s alive again. What’s more,
    she’s making him that tart she used to bake.
    Aflame, but carefully-don’t burn his cake!
    we start to read. O Muse.

    – Wislawa Szymborska

    _________________

Collected Poems Article, 2006.

Engelhardt Publishes His Collected Poems

MICHAEL ECK Special to the Times Union
Section: Arts-Events, Page: H1

Date: Sunday, October 29, 2006THE LAST CIGARETTE : R.M. Engelhardt

THE LAST CIGARETTE : R.M. Engelhardt

R.M. Engelhardt wears black sunglasses in the shade. He chain-smokes Djarums until his head is wreathed in a clove-scented cloud. And, in the middle of the day, he sucks down coffee like a trucker on a midnight run.

Engelhardt, in case you haven’t already figured it out, is a poet. But he doesn’t just walk the role, he talks it, too. In fact, he’s been speaking his poetic mind in public for more than a decade, at least on occasion as the host the long-running Vox and School of Night readings series, both of which he founded, fostered and produced at local nightclubs. Engelhardt, 42, is one of the leading lights of the Albany poetry scene, and he is finally, rightfully, celebrating himself with the publication of “The Last Cigarette: The New & Collected Poems of R.M. Engelhardt” on his own Dead Man’s Press.

He calls the work, which includes selections previously published in journals, online magazines and in his own chapbooks, “a handbook of my life.”

Q: Why do you write poetry?

A: Why do people breathe? Why do people make music?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I wrote a Greek myth when I was 12 years old. We were studying Greek myths and my sixth-grade teacher freaked out. That was my first clue it was like, hmmm, I did something interesting.

When I was about 15 years old, I was a Doors fan. I liked Jim Morrison and all that. Then I read (Danny Sugerman’s Morrison biography) “No One Here Gets Out Alive” and he made references to Blake and Rimbaud and other poets. Of course, being an introverted, quiet kid, in junior high, with glasses, the whole thing, I spent my time in the library, in the corner, reading all those books.

I started writing a lot at that time. It’s just a part of life. It’s who I am.

Q: Your work has been published and you’ve performed it as well, which do you prefer, the page or the stage?

A: Actually, I’m more partial to the page. I’ve written more than just poetry. I’ve written prose pieces and things like that, which are also in the book. I like the craft of writing itself.

I do enjoy performing, but I find lately that I’m staying in more and writing, rather than going out all the time.

It’s kind of crucial that you have a place where you can share your work with other people and perform your stuff and get feedback on it, but as I’m getting older I see that the form and the style in the clubs is changing, with poetry slams and poetry battles.

I’m old-school, and my style is different from what’s coming out now. You won’t see me doing any slams in the future. I’ve done them before, but it’s not for me.

Q: Why Albany?

A: I’m a sixth-generation Albanian. That’s one reason. My family’s been here since 1890.

Albany is where I grew up. It’s a part of me. A lot of people I know have died here. Their memories are here. It’s my city. It’s my town.

I tried Florida, just to see what it was like. I thought maybe I would stay in the Keys there’s a great quality to the way it’s laid back there but the funny thing was, I had nothing to write about. It wasn’t like Hemingway-land. It was more geared toward parrots, bad shirts and rich eccentrics with long beards.

Albany is it. I’ll probably live here the rest of my life.

Besides, in Florida it was very hard to find clove cigarettes.

Q: If you could trade places with one writer, who would it be?

A: I’d love to be in the Renaissance era, when poets were rock stars. But if it had to be one person, it would probably be Baudelaire or Poe but hopefully with a happier life and a nicer mustache.

Since I was a kid, Poe has been one of those influences that’s been inescapable. His work, his stories, they’re phenomenal. He had an imagination like you wouldn’t believe. At the same time I wouldn’t want to end up in his shoes. He died alone, and nobody wants to die alone.

Q: What do words mean to you?

A: Words are powerful. Words make a difference. They can create and destroy. They can open doors and close doors. Words can create illusion or magic, love or destruction. … All those things.

Michael Eck, a freelance writer from Albany, is a frequent contributor to the Times Union.

****FACT BOX:****

Verse and a `Cigarette’

Here are excerpts from R.M. Engelhardt’s “The Last Cigarette”:

“THE LAST CIGARETTE”

I think of you tonight

As I smoke my last cigarette.

I inhale

And in the smoke

I see you

Disappear…

_____________

http://www.scribd.com/doc/17440405/THE-LAST-CIGARETTE-THE-COLLECTED-POEMS-OF-RM-ENGELHARDT-19892006-Read-in-Fullscreen

The 2011 Albany Wordfest~National Poetry Month

2011 AlbanyWordfest

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Albany Poets is proud to

present the 2011 Albany Word Fest featuring the poetry,

spoken word, and music of upstate New York.  This year’s event will

take place on Saturday, April 16, 2011 at The Linda

(339 Central Ave., Albany).

This year’s event is the 10th anniversary of the Albany Word Fest and with

that in mind, Albany Poets is promising big things.

Thom Francis, Albany Poets President, says, “When we started

this event ten years ago on a Saturday afternoon in Thatcher Park,

we never thought it would become one of the biggest ‘mark-your-

calendar’ events of each and every year. We are very proud of

how we have been able to continue hosting one of the biggest

poetry open mics in upstate New York for ten years.”

The 2011 Albany Word Fest will kick-off with the 12-Hour Open

Mic at 7:00AM at The Linda. Albany Poets Vice President

Mary Panza says, “After the success of the last two 12-hour open

mics, we have decided to do it again, but this time, during the day.

This will give poets a better opportunity to share their work and

also give the audience more time to appreciate the talent in the

poetry and spoken word community.”  This open mic for poetry and

spoken word will be held from 7:00AM – 7:00PM.

Poets who wish to participate in the open mic can sign up online

by going to the Albany Word Fest website, www.albanywordfest.com

until 5:00pm on Friday, April 15.  Performers will also have a limited

opportunity to sign up at the event itself.  Each poet will have 10 -15

minutes to share their work. The open mic is open to all poets and

spoken word artists with no style or content restrictions. 

After the Open Mic, starting at 7:00PM, the 2011 Albany Word Fest

brings the annual Psycho Cluster F*#k to the The

Linda featuring poetry, music and spoken word from upstate New

York artists David Fey, Olivia Quillio, Avery, Daniel Nester,

Poetyc Vyzyonz, Mother Judge’s Open Mic Showcase, Metroland’s

Best Poets of 2011: Mary Panza, R.M. Engelhardt, and KC Orcutt,

and much more.

Admission for this event is $10.00. Tickets will be available for purchase on

The Linda’s website and at the door on the day of the event. This event is

open to all ages ( 21+ with a picture ID required to drink). 

The 2011 Albany Word Fest is sponsored by Albany Poets, McGeary’s,

The Linda, and the very generous donations of supporters of the arts

in upstate New York.

The 2011 Albany Wordfest~National Poetry Month