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  April 2015
volume 12 number 1
  home   (archived)
Annette Sugden
Rick Lupert's The Gettysburg Undress
Jack Bristow
Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally
Marie Lecrivain
Zabrisky & Rogghe's Green Lions
Marie Lecrivain
Walter Ruhlmann's Crossing Puddles
  a personal history of rock 'n' roll
G. Murray Thomas
Going to California
  mailing list
Marie Lecrivain April 2015


Walter Ruhlmann's Crossing Puddles

    I've yet (and probably never will), write a book about my hometown; not the place of my birth, but where I spent my formative years, or those places which have had the greatest influence on me. Very few poets can do without opening the floodgates to melancholia, anger, and disappointment. These feelings are as much a part of ourselves as the earth we occupy, and we, as human beings, prefer to stay in control. Walter Ruhlmann's newest collection Crossing Puddles ( © 2015 Robocup Press), is a wonderful and highly pleasurable example of a poet who's not afraid to explore this complicated transformation through a poetic medium.
    Ruhlmann, an English teacher and publisher of mgv2, gives the reader an intense, parabolic travelogue with Crossing Puddles that begins in Normandy, then moves to Bresse (a region of eastern France that butts up against the Alps), and then into the asymmetrically precise and vast landscape of Ruhlmann's consciousness. There's loving (and not so loving), reminiscences in the first section titled "Normandy", where Ruhlmann adroitly leads the reader through the labyrinth of his childhood and family memories. Nature darkly and deliciously haunts the early years of Ruhlmann's incarnation on this earth, as in the poem "Another Bleak House":

    The orchard behind the house was even gloomier. Apple trees, pear trees,
    quince trees, plum trees, thick grass and rhubarb, dahlias, daffodils,
    gladiola, irises, and lilies. Peonies and chrysanthemums.
    The fog often filled the garden, anti-Eden, anti-chamber of a past mixed
    with industry, agriculture and trade. Trade mostly. Dirty money, stolen
    goods, black market income, an inherited greed.

    In the second section "Bresse," Ruhlmann takes the reader through a series of defining crystallized moments, both quotidian ("Meat'), and sexual ("Jerking in the Bus"). This kind of subject matter is always in danger of becoming pedantic, and is anything but in the skillful hands of Ruhlmann's poetry. Again, nature plays a predominant role in Ruhlmann's work, and here, we glimpse a more robust and intriguing portrait of Ruhlmann the man, who, while reminiscing over an unforgettable and disturbing experience, finds his peace and pleasure in honest hard work, as in the poem, "The Crusty Dark":

    In the shed showing its inside
    I can see two saws -
    a spotting that brings new thoughts:
    soon these dry twigs and arms and boughs
    will be cut off, dismantled, dismembered.

    More wood to burn the fire next winter.
    More blood will flood and whirl in my heart.

    Winter has already started in Maore,
    & the island where I left my pride, my joy, and pieces of my mental health.
    I hate to say this but bats are mad.
    Other flying mammals - flying foxes - flowed high above,
    wider, fluffy, somehow less disturbing than these fat dragonflies
    who circle, twirl, swirl and whirl
    chasing mosquitos, flies and gnats.
    My late cat used to catch them from the balcony where I used to live.

    I love to say this:
    I love my worker's hands
    they dig soil and scratch and tear and plough.
    Dark fingernails, large red scratches, abrasive palms.
    The soreness cannot erase the pleasure throughout the day.

    The last section, "Remote Places of the Mind," reveals the open-ended resolution of where Ruhlmann's traveled, along with the reader, into this present moment. Questions that were never answered regarding family ("Late Epiphanies"), love ("The Blue Tit"), and the identity ("Genesis Revisited,"), come to the fore in a disturbing and wonderful sequence of abstract poems. Who has Ruhlmann become? Or, more accurately, who is he becoming, as in the poem "I Wish It Would Snow for Christmas (Another Acrostic Poem from a Deranged Soul)":

    Sometimes life is so bitching you wonder why existence matters so much.
    No trees, no garlands, no stupid baubles hung anywhere.
    Other lands, dreamed and fancied, could give shelter to that deranged soul
    of mine.
    Why haven't they sent me tickets to take that ghost train to hell?

    Fallacy, false images, fake and fancy dressing for the forlorn.
    Omens crash on that wrecked brain of mine,
    restless, neurosis and neurasthenia, neuralgia won't leave me in peace, just
    bits and pieces that

    clatter and eventually shatter.
    Hummus will remain after the fall.
    rotten skin,
    inane limbs,
    stained soil,
    torn flesh,
    sick and sulfuric ashes blown away     by the wind from the snowy eastern border.

    As an artist of any stripe, it remains a constant duty to one's vocation to keep questioning, researching, and refining one's identity. Ruhlmann's Crossing Puddles pays homage to this courageous and ongoing process.

Crossing Puddles, Walter Ruhlmann, © 2015 Robocup Press, 73 pages, ISBN 978-1-32-098137-8, $11.99

copyright 2015 Marie Lecrivain


Marie C Lecrivain

author's bio

    Marie C Lecrivain is the executive editor and publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles, a jewelry designer, and a writer in residence at her apartment.
    Her prose and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including: Edgar Allen Poetry Journal, The Los Angeles Review, Nonbinary Review, Gargoyle, Spillway, States of the Union, Orbis, A New Ulster, and others.
    Marie's newest poetry chapbook, Fourth Planet From the Sun, will be published in 2018 by Rum Razor Press. She's an associate fiction/essay editor for The Good Works Review, and the editor of several anthologies including Octavia's Brood: Words and Art inspired by O.E. Butler (© 2014 Sybaritic Press), and Rubicon: Words and Art Inspired by Oscar Wilde's "De Profundis" (© 2015 Sybaritic Press).
    Marie's avocations include photography; meditation; Libers CCXX and XV; marmosets; Christopher Eccleston, H.P. Lovecraft, and Sean Bean (depending on what day of the week it is); her co-owned cat Puff; expensive handbags; the number seven, and sensual tributes upon her neck from male artists-except male poets, who only write about it.

    "Writing is like having sex with a beautiful freak; adventurous and uncomfortable to the extreme." - m. lecrivain 2004

AL-Khemia Poetica