Today's poetry for today's world

Frank Rossini


Frank Rossini grew up in New York City.  Writing poetry in the late 60’s, he also began writing song lyrics for a boyhood friend, the late Tom Intondi, who was a composer and performer centered in Greenwich Village.  Their collaboration continued until Intondi’s death in 1994.  Their songs were included on four independently produced CD’s/albums and on several compilations including Fast Folk: A Community of Singers and Songwriters on Smithsonian Folkways Records and Christine Lavin Presents Follow That Road on Philo Records.  From 1967 through 1972, Rossini was a middle school and high school teacher in New York City.  In 1972,

he moved to Eugene, Oregon, where he worked in HEP,

a migrant education program at the University of Oregon. While he was working for HEP, he completed his graduate work in Education and in Creative Writing.  In 1980, he became an Instructor in Developmental Education at Lane Community College, where he taught until he retired in 2010.  Rossini is the author of sparking the rain, a chapbook, from Silverfish Review Press.  His poem have also appeared in Seattle Review, Mississippi Mud, Wisconsin Review, Willow Springs Magazine, Poetry NOW, and others. 










today the sun broke

the juncos came back one

in the red

maple hops branch

to branch while my daughters watch

                                                                   the high

thin laughter of old

cartoons                at work the swallows have returned rattling

                air with rapid


             & dives


of heat too quick

                                          for shadows

these are one

kind of memory like the map the great

blue swims each year or the paths moon

flies from night

to morning

these are the big

memory that pops a messiah

from the crowd every 1000 years

or so & drowns the dinosaurs

in the dust of a pre-

nuclear nuclear



my father remembers

not buying me a new bike after a childhood

accident I remember

my newspaper manager's ink bruised face close

to mine the stink of his stale cigar & a wail

spilling from the ambulance

like blood                      & bent over a shot

& beer the driver a retired cop forgets

but wants to know

the score flickering

above the bar as the bartender wipes dust

from a row of unopened bottles

a black man his name

covered by dirt rises

from the base path  claps

& the jukebox skips

a beat so

skillfully no one notices anything

is missing

these are another

kind what we create as the air

eats our lungs              food

for dreams images for the soul

to rise to & snap

like insects from the passing



today the sun broke

my mother sits with a basket

of family pictures in her lap a nest

of exiled memories her mind an un-

broken shell holding only its last


we hand her our newest

born & she remembers

how to rock

        to ease

a child's cry        her rhythm the heart

I hold                  

inside me its blood


thru her nodding head like a prayer that's lost

its words a wind

that moves





“memory” first appeared in the Wisconsin Review.




time jumps


                        for miles davis


time jumps    in four

directions to the north everything

is cool & white a blue

sheet of ice groaning

like thunder

to the south the skies

blaze a heavenly city torched

by ancient blues to the east wind

rattles her tenement bones    to the west sun

spills red

red wine into an ocean of beautiful

sounds Miles

plays the moment I don't know what


it is

Miles whispers

a single

raven rides

the drafts of a desert canyon so quiet

you can hear


slip through wings time


as it cuts

into sand-

stone cliffs Miles stands

in darkness

his red trumpet spits

time billows from him like silk

kimonos splattered with wild

roses or bamboo

waves shimmering

in an earthquake Miles plays

the moment    "tempus fugit"


"it's about

that time" "fat

time" "big

time" "time

after time" & I don't know

& I don't care what


it is




"time jumps" first appeared in 5 A.M.     




this for that




we empty the house to make room

for more

a continual exchange of goods

give away a bag of baby clothes

a teenager goes shopping

clean the refrigerator

relatives arrive

clear the table

fill the sink

an empty room needs

a chair to enjoy its emptiness

a haircut needs a new hat


I turned over the stillness of a dead possum

a galaxy of maggots glittered in its place

I blew up

a balloon for my daughter

this poem filled

my mouth




“this for that” first appeared in The Chiron Review.




Writer’s Tip: My poetry has always been closely tied to my involvement in music as a listener,

a player (of limited but earnest skill), and a lyricist.  As I developed as a writer, I realized the

importance of sound in poetry.  My greatest influence is the music of the American composer

and saxophonist, John Coltrane.  Since I first heard his music in 1967, I have been a student

of his art, his life, and his spirit, and I have tried to include elements of them in my writing.  

In an interview, he was asked what his musical goal was.  He replied that it was to produce

the most beautiful sound that he could.  When I write, the idea of a “beautiful sound” is always

foremost.  Borges wrote that it is the sound of a poem that first calls to the reader/listener,

before the meaning.  As a lyricist, I was very aware of the importance of sound, and that

has carried over into my poetry.  Ralph Salisbury taught me very succinctly, “When faced

with a choice between sound or meaning, choose sound.”




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