I’ve been writing poetry since I was a teenager. I’ve never published–unless you count my high school newspaper. Here are some examples (including a few translations I’ve made).


One morn in May, not far from where there flows
The slow Connecticut, I met a lass
With eyes of cinnamon and shining toes
Pink as the pelican and white as glass.
My heart within me leapt to see her pass.
One morn in May, not far from where there flows
The slow Connecticut, I met a lass.

As every bud into its blossom blows,
So would I that our toes might cross the grass
And find the spring from which that river grows.
One morn in May, not far from where there flows
The slow Connecticut, I met a lass
With eyes of cinnamon and shining toes

1966        Richard Allen Fischer


After “A una nariz” by Quevedo

The nose was beaked and pointed like a mountain,
Snuffling a drum, a trumpet in its blowing,
The νοῦς of noses, origin and fountain
Of every nose, full-grown and ever-growing.
A nose superlative! A nose supreme!
Beneath its shadow continents went dark;
It outnosed Naso—gazing in its gleam
Men saw more splendor than in Iris’ arc.
A seventh wonder of the world was this
A pyramid of Egypt standing proud;
No scent on earth or heaven could it miss,
Pointed, protruding, and divinely browed.
The dream of every nasophile come true!
And when it sneezed, the world was made anew.

translation by Richard Allen Fischer



I was beardless in battle, but I am no Amazon
I slew my lion, but I am not Samson
I founded my city, but I am not Romulus
I was King of the Jews, but I am not Jesus

I kept my father’s sheep, but I am not Rachel
I waxed strong in the wilderness, but I am not John
I charmed with my harp, but I am not Orpheus
I was hid in the cave, but I am not Odysseus

I was filled with God’s spirit, but I am not Elizabeth
I ate hallowed bread, but I am not Simon
I rallied the oppressed, but I am not Robin Hood
I reigned in Jerusalem, but I am not Solomon

I danced for God, but I am not Miriam
I was the youngest son, but I am not Benjamin
I made immortal song, but I am not Homer
I was the Lord’s anointed, but I am not Saul

If still the riddle you cannot crack:
I peeped, but I am not Tom
I killed the giant, but I am not Jack

1978       Richard Allen Fischer


Sonnet #8 from “To the Sun” by Saul Tchernichovsky

Have I come too late, or was I born too soon?
“Gods” encircle me and burden all of space.
But stars, trees, songs are mine, human form and face
I praise and worship, O steadfast sun! O rhythmic moon!

For without you, my warming sun, we are all black holes.
And sun-spawn I name you: dark clouds of sleet and rain,
Sun-spawn: the tulip tree, son-born: the garlic skin,
Avatars of heat and light: the stone-like coals.

And the song-of-us-all shall the heavens and the earth
Replenish. To you, mother jackals sing as they give birth
To you, dawn’s trumpets as battle is bidden,

And the song of the spiraling galaxies, of Samson in his mill—
In this choir of infinity I will sing and not be hidden:
Still within my breast the dew that feeds the frightened children.

Translation by Richard Allen Fischer


An Unheeded Warning

“Hey Uncle! Look out for the splatter!
Don’t touch her! It’s weird Aunty Matter!
I’m sure that her particles
Ain’t the real articles!” —
BLAM!!! And the gamma rays scatter.

1989         Richard Allen Fischer


Intergenerational Debates

The “Jefferson Meeting” at the middle school,
The Intergenerational Debates.
My son and his schoolmates, thirteen years old, tall as I,
Working with some senior citizens,
Make public their mettle:
That the Electoral College Should be
Abolished.” Poised and embarrassed,
They make their points, pro and con.
The audience listens, proud and bored.
In the question period
A grown-up in the audience with some ax to grind
Speaks of Mayor Daley,
And dead people voting.
How, he asks the affirmative team,
Can this be prevented?
They’re so young and innocent, giggling,
Blushing, turning to each other
With quizzical excited looks, hands
To their mouths. The senior on their team
Speaks knowingly of having worked the polls
And the need for good challengers.
(She does not see what the kids don’t get.)
But one young brynn, the physicist’s daughter,
Speaks right into the microphone: “Wait!
I don’t get it! How can dead men vote?”

Ay shayne kinder! Sleep! Sleep till morning!
Time enough to discover the dead
Vote, veto, apportion, judge,
Legislate, condemn and
(If you are particularly doomed)
Filibuster. I hug my eleven year old
Closer to me and whisper in his ear:
“Lock up the cemeteries on election day!”
I could teach them the charm
For cloture
(If only I knew it).
I keep silent.

1993         Richard Allen Fischer


Portrait of the Poet as a Pinewoods Lifeguard

He ponders the universe out on the dock,
Upon the last dance he swimmeth,
At Ponds Long and Round he guardeth his flock,
The ponderous lifeguard of Plymouth.

1999        Richard Allen Fischer


Translation of Homer’s Iliad Book I lines 1 – 21

Anger! Sing anger, Goddess, the rampaging anger of Peleus’ son Achilles,
which savaged the Greeks with grief upon grief,
and hastened brave shades to Hades,
while the heroes themselves lay dead on the battlefield
dogs’ food and food for birds; and so was the will of Zeus fulfilled
from that very time when first they strove and parted in strife:
Atreides, the Supreme Commander, and god-like shining Achilles.

Which of the gods combined these two in perilous quarrel?
The son of Zeus and Leto. Furious at the High King,
he kindled a killing plague on the camp, that spared neither beast nor men.
For Agamemnon had shamed a priest, Apollo’s priest,
Chryses by name, who came to the scudding ships of the Greeks
to seek his daughter’s release, while bearing a bounteous ransom.
He held in his hand a golden wand with the bands of his god,
who shoots from afar and misses not. And then he entreated all the Achaeans—
most of all the two sons of Atreus, marshallers of the army:

“O sons of Atreus, and all you other battle-ready Achaeans,
may the gods who hold their homes aloft on Mt. Olympus
allow you to ravage Priam’s town, and send you all safe homeward;
but send my daughter home with me—my precious child!—and take this bounteous ransom.
Revere Apollo, son of Zeus, who shoots from afar—beware Apollo’s anger!”

March 25, 2017


Crepuscular Rays

Crepuscular rays! The day’s at neap
I gaze in wonder, wonder if I’ll sleep
Now sun done set, now dark be deep
Home is the shepherd, ditto the sheep,
The ewes that ooze, the lambs that leap
Some call me Odysseus, some Bo Peep,
But all of my girlies say, “Ew! What a creep!”
I’d buy better girlies but I’m too cheap,
So all alone on my throne I weep
(As I sowed, so must I seep)
Shall I climb Parnassus? No way! Too steep!
I’d drive but they repossessed my Jeep
It’s universe versus one poor “louche type
Ippon! And I’m thrown by an outer reap!
I’m dead on my bed with my head in a heap
Like a town torn down to its castle keep
I’d set my alarms but I can’t hear the beep!
Are there any rhymes left? Have I made a full sweep?
Cause the water is wide, the water is deep,
And fathoms to go before I sleep

2018          Richard Allen Fischer