Petaluma River Press

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Lifeguard in the Snow Available

I just checked, and one cope of Eugene's book, The Lifeguard in the Snow is on sale for $168. I think it needs to be reissued.

from the first edition --

These poems are made from the poet's youth on a farm, as a merchant seaman, as a political radical, as a hospital orderly,as a wanderer in search of the American conscience, and as a father. The book is various and strong, the utterances of flesh and bone-a highly moving experience. Eugene Ruggles has worked long and hard with words, and he has achieved what every poet seeks, his own poetic voice.

The Lifeguard in the Snow

"It seems the snow is falling deeper than God
as I walk through it along our end of the ice,
it drifts between my legs like it was breathing.
The sweat hits in my back as I start to climb
the first white dunes that save the trees from ice,
I open my coat and hear snow inhaling the lake.
There is the raft I couldn't reach it's still there
frozen in ice like the last scream in a mouth.
Watching those young children all last summer
has folded this black sunburn through my chest--
a small girl water carved out of my arms forever."

Political Affairs

Dear Mr.Macki-

I am the poetry editor for the magazine Political Affairs. I've been an
admirer of the work of Eugene Ruggles for a number of years and had the
pleasure of reading with him once in Berkeley in the early 80s.

I would very much like to be able to publish a few of his poems in an
upcoming issue of PA.

Would you be the person to contact about this? If not, can you put me
in touch with Delia Moon?

Just offhand, you can find below the poems I'm interested in. I'd be
happy to see anything else.

Unfortunately, I am not able to offer payment but we would be honored
to publish his work.

Thanks for your help in this!

Michael Shepler
Poetry Editor
Journal of Marxist Thought
check us out at:
(734) 547-8084

To The World's People After This War

"They would love to see me dead, to say:
He belongs to us, he is ours."
--Mahmoud Darwish

--for Eqbal Ahmad, 1934 to 1999

After this massacre,
we will drop the smallest body bags ever made
into Baghdad,
they will be made of black rubber
with zippers like those we filled in Vietnam,
they will be from one to four feet long,
for the last mothers alive in Baghdad.
They will drift down as thousands of black leaves,
after our missiles have burned through water and skin.
We will try to drop them before the world can see
the remains these last mothers alive in Baghdad
will carry from our craters of sand
in their broken arms the rest of their lives.

Do you still see the young Vietnamese girl
running naked from Hanoi,
screaming with horror with her back on fire with Napalm;
her sisters running toward her from Baghdad.

Yes, we have seen to the future of Iraq--
these smallest body bags ever made
if rolled up tight enough,
can even fit inside the womb.

We cannot remove our government of wide graves
by ourselves. We will need your help
to pull us back from the desert of quicksand
beneath their great fleet of knives on fire,
to heal we will need your help
with the impeachment and the trial
of war crimes,
with the prison to be built with light. In light.
We will need your help
to lift these tears of blood from us after Iraq.

This is what we have grown for you.
This is what this Empire eats.

September, 2003
Eugene Ruggles


Waiting For The Boys

"Why tell what hurts?
You carried it, my boy, so brave, so far."
--William Stafford

--for Don Emblen

After three years back east my son Benjamin's two sons
are arriving this evening, learning the land by train.
They are five and three years old.

There is the dark oil war off in the distance,
today I will not listen to the distance
growing smaller.

We have been cooking grains, baking bread, pies and cakes all day
for this evening.
For years.

A black friend has brought over most of her garden
for the dinner and there is this morning's catch
of salmon from Bodega Bay!

The evening is opening around us.
Benjamin has gone out for more firewood.
For now, there is enough light from my friend's voice.

Waiting for the boys to arrive,
two fathers are setting the simple wooden ancient table
before the fire breaking, the reflections from the table as from water.
After these three years I've never been more alive since the morning I

Father's Day, 2003
Eugene Ruggles


The Stairs in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1957

Forty years ago today,
nine children were climbing
the longest stairs of hate
they would ever see, to enter
Little Rock Central High School.
The tall white crowd around them
shouting, "Give us one
of the nigger kids to hang,"
their faces lunging forward
through the heat,
"and we'll let the others go."

They were six girls and three boys,
the white dress of the first girl
clung to her with spit,
she was wiping it from her face
without tears,
the new books were torn
from their hands and ripped apart,
the screaming went on rising before them.
The stairs above them
kept flowing toward their bodies
through the heat,
light was breaking like glass on the steps,
another light broke around them.

They were climbing over hate
with a courage we had never seen.
They were leaving Eisenhower's paratroopers
across the street in the shade
and Brown vs Board of Education
with Thurgood Marshall in Topeka, Kansas
behind them. And they were
the first nine witnesses,
turning the terror in their backs to us.


Our Last Christmas Morning, 2002

" have resisted the wave of the cruel."
--Pablo Neruda
from a Spanish Civil War poem

--for Kathy Kelly
Voices in the Wilderness

For the death squad of two
in the Oval Office,
I send two priceless works against Greed and Hate;
I deliver to them Thich Nhat Hahn and the Dalai Lama.

The day is rising before my grandchildren wake,
their eyelids have never known American fire beneath them
as children in the Middle East have known all their lives.
To this day, twelve years of genocidal sanctions are not enough death.

This day we hold out as a simple gift
to the Iraqi people will never happen again.
For years we have been stalking peace in the Middle East.
By spring, we will never see most of these thin Iraqi children alive

There is no light coming from our skin.
By seven-thirty a.m., this last Christmas Day before war, has ended.

December 25, 2002
--Eugene Ruggles

Copyright (c) Eugene Ruggles 2003. All rights reserved.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gene Ruggles: Book Update

As one who has presented poetry in Sonoma, Marin and San Francisco Counties these last twenty years, I am grateful for the support that the late poet Eugene Ruggles gave me, and was gratified to learn several years ago that he was made an honorary Poet Laureate of Sonoma County. Had he been healthy enough, Gene would have loved to have actively participated in the activities that a poet laureate conducts.

Eugene Ruggles was a poetry activist most of his adult life. In addition to encouraging poets and aspiring writers of all ages, especially youth--he promoted and organized between fifteen and twenty major poetry readings and benefits in the last thirty years of his life, with the proceeds going to organizations like Amnesty International and the Phoenix Theater Foundation, causes that made a difference in the everyday life of young and old in San Francisco, Petaluma, Sonoma County, California, the US, and elsewhere around the world.

Gene was a significant poet. I trust that his work will be widely recognized as part of the American literary canon.

The only book of his published during his lifetime, The Lifeguard in the Snow (University of Pittsburgh Press), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, deserves to be republished.

Delia Moon, the executor of his literary estate, has been seeking a publisher for "Enough," his later work.

Please contact us or check back to this blog for an undate.

Carl Macki
1811 Novato Blvd., #69
Novato, CA 94947