Richard's Poetry

"There is a correlation between my volunteer work with teens and my own poetry. My poetry is often about finding a voice and uncovering a buried feeling. There's the sense that the feeling is important, essential, and human; but there's also the sense that the feeling is buried for a reason, from pain and shame. My poetry believes in this process of discovery, though the results are often not pretty. At least the rawness of life leads to a self-deprecating and earthy humor in my poetry, which I enjoy. And ultimately, I like the fact that my writing struggles for understanding, and through understanding strives for wisdom and compassion. There are three very different series of poems represented here.

"When I worked with teens in a psychiatric clinic, I wrote a collection of poems called BESTIARY. Unlike a medieval bestiary that uses animal stories to represent Christian allegories, my bestiary uses animal poems to represent emotional turmoil - intense love, consuming anger, deep depression, and profound confusion. The Camel symbolizes the feelings of a boy whose mother abandoned him as an infant to the care of a relative. The mother was a prostitute. The boy used to ride the bus through the streets where she worked, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. In the poem, the camel's ambivalence about water is analogous to the boy's ambivalence about love.

"During the period of my recent work with teens, I've written a collection of poems called THE ODD PUPPET ODYSSEY featuring two puppet characters named Pongo and Rico. Every poem in this collection is a different edgy and satirical adventure. In the course of their journey the puppets are sorting out their relationships with their creator and master, Geppetto, who is a lingering, malevolent presence - but mostly Pongo and Rico are exploring sexuality, love, identity, and the disturbing social forces that affect their view of themselves and their world. The poems in the series are often dark and psychological, with imagery that is sometimes crude, uncomfortable, and bizarre. Yet Pongo and Rico have a moral quality as they strive for greater understanding on both an individual and social level. Humor is an important part of the work, contributing to a sense of resolution and growth. The poem included here is called The Principality of Adenoids. Pongo provided the name for Pongo Publishing. You can purchase a copy of THE ODD PUPPET ODYSSEY on Amazon.

"I'm also including here another poem, titled You Are , different from most of my work, but whose theme is more spiritual and represents much of what I think about the teens and their emotional burden. I sometimes read this poem to teens at the end of writing workshops."