Richard Roe

richard roe photoBorn in Ohio in 1941, Richard Roe came to Wisconsin from New Jersey in 1966. His background includes a stint in the U.S. Navy as a Hospital Corpsman and degrees in Economics and U.S. History. While attending college and graduate school, he worked summers as a milkman, gardener, and window-washer, and during the school year as a busboy, waiter, night janitor, and teaching assistant. Currently he works as a Research Analyst for the Wisconsin Legeslative Reference Bureau. He is married with 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren. He began writing poetry in the mid-1970s on a whim which sometime later became a compulsion. A music lover, he sometimes plays music as he reads his poems. Other activities include choral singing, lay reading in the Episcopal Church, and the Middleton Good Neighbor Festival. Among his most memorable experiences were the births of his daughters, having an AFS student from South Africa live in his home for year, and his first trip to Maine. He enjoys biking and hiking, and putters in the garden. If he could start over, Mr. Roe would like to sing in opera, especially the rôles of Figaro in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and Boris in Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. His books of poetry Bringer of Songs and What Will You Find at the Edge of the World? are both published by Fireweed Press.



What hit him was a stone
falling from the sky,
or someone's gun butt,
or the curb he tripped on
that left him unidentified.
He turns corners wondering

if there are locks the keys
in his pocket might fit.
Restaurants smell of garlic
bread, onion soup, crowds
speak words, laugh at phrases
that appear to be jokes.

He gets off at a stop,
water gathers in cracks,
sparrows scamper to grab
sesame seeds. Three fingers
of whiskey, a song if he could
cry, candle stubs, doorways.

Someone hands him clean sheets.
A window lets him look out
on a lake. A young woman calls
herself his daughter, touches
his sleeve. He neither withdraws
nor returns her gesture.

Morning and he is gone,
empty glass, bed unslept in.
Sparrows scramble for seeds.
Water pools disappear.
Three fingers of whiskey,
shadows, doorways empty.

Walls are falling and desperate
men run for cover. The lifetimes
they snuffed might be remembered.
We are asked to remember
a great deal: lives reduced
to candle stubs, empty bottles,
abrogation of light and shadow.

He is the one the guilty
dream of when their walls
are torn down. When their
skies fall, they hide candles
fearing patterns of melted wax,
the locks his keys might fit.

© Richard Roe

* * * * * * * * *


Died suddenly in a terrible wreck,
appeared to be intoxicated,
evidence of notes in his blood,
song sheets in his brain.
Mad, I say, utterly insane,
his vehicle driven by music.
He bought it for a song.

© Richard Roe