Arthur Turfa

The Metropolitan of Wallace Street by Arthur Turfa

Posted on Updated on

The Metropolitan of Wallace Street

by

Arthur Turfa

 A few Baltic households remained,

Interspersed throughout the barrio:

Bodegas and the Roberto Clemente Center

Between churches built by Russians,

Swedes, and Lithuanians two generations ago.

 

Re-gentrification rolled slowly from the west

Around the Art Museum, heading

Block by block toward North Broad,

Adding another ingredient to the mix.

 

In the 1600 block of Wallace Street

Gold-blazoned letters and Slavic cross

Announced the Holy Resurrection Cathedral

Inside the red-brick row house next to the

Vacant lot and music-blaring bodega.

 

From what once was a living room

The Divine Liturgy was served weekly to

Family and anyone who wandered in.

Metropolitan Trevor, Archbishop of Wallace Street

And renegade non-canonical Orthodox

Held forth with bargain-basement vestments,

A button-festooned miter and minimalistic icons

 

Late evening, humid or frigid, he walked

The nearby streets, consoling the

Derelict and drugged,

Pressing five dollar bills into hands,

Offering brief words of consolation,

A shooting star over a desperate earth.

 

During daylight standing with

Those who tried to temper abuse and

Ravages of urban living and

Herding the far-flung cats of

His nebulous jurisdiction.

 

On my last visit, again pleading with me to

Follow his course in any way I chose,

Standing with him at the altar for

The first and last time

Presiding over a dwindling flock on

A sweltering August morning.

 

When newsletters and notes no longer to

The Land of Enchantment came

I called to learn why, never expecting to

Hear how cancer short-circuited

Career and family to oblivion.

Halfway-reconciled to all he loved,

And to the God whose light nonetheless

Shone through the fully-human

Yet touched by the divine,

Metropolitan of Wallace Street

Asked for a cigar and soon

Passed from one life to the next.

 

Bio: Arthur Turfa lives in the South Carolina Midlands, but his poetry contains influences of his native Pennsylvania, California, Germany (where he has also lived), as well as other places. His first book of poetry. “Times and Places, Reflected”, will be released in the Spring of 2015 by eLectio Publishing.   Published in theMunyori Literary Journal and South Carolina English Teacher, he also maintains a personal blog, Some Poetry at aturfa.blogspot.com, and is an Owner at Words on Fire on Google+

Poetic Statement: Essentially I think Wordsworth had it right, although I do not always find long-lasting tranquility. Something or someone grabs a hold of me, and lingers until I recapture the moment, the glimpse, or the time from my life. My poetry attempts to include the reader into what I experienced, rather than telling the reader all about it or me. At times I strive for a sense of closure, at others I want to preserve something (more as a Symbolist than an Imagist). Whom do I read; Eliot, Auden, Rilke (in the original), Frost, Updike, Shakespeare, Bukowski, and others.Language that sings is more important that language that rhymes.

Advertisements

Three Poems by Arthur Turfa

Posted on

Three Poems 

by

Arthur Turfa

 

Weekends at Woolworth’s

For $18.49 a week

I got to spend my Weekends at Woolworth’s:

Sundays not included because of the

Blue laws in and around Philadelphia.

 

Friday nights and all day on Saturday

To avoid a conflict with a school night

And ruin my grades, or so the folks said.

Actually I would have had the choices

Anyway of Penn State, Temple, or Nam.

 

Mr. Fox, the cool assistant manager,

Told us about his tour of duty there

As we waited for customers to come

And check out so they could beat the traffic.

Heading both ways along Germantown Pike.

 

Miss Fogg, her frosted blond wig attempting

To disguise her five decades on this earth

Handed out our pay envelopes with cash

And told us where we were supposed to work.

 

Fridays on the upper level, two men

Regularly bought lots of plastic flowers.

Saturdays spent on the lower level

Talking with Linda from the Ancilla

Domini Academy wondering

If Vatican II would help me date her

And learning men’s wear from suave Mr. Knox.

 

Friends would stop by sometimes or I would see

Them during my hour-long meal break as

I passed on the 10% lunch counter discount

To head to Sal’s Steaks and Wee Three Records

Who had much cooler albums anyway.

 

A few weeks after the Mall fire

Water damage closed the lower level

And the upper level became crowded,

A real shambles for the next couple months.

 

Fully expecting they would lay me off,

On Saturday night a petulant man

Fired me for the inability to remove

Slushy black scuff marks without use of solvent

From the speckled linoleum floor.

 

Trudging to my Dad’s station wagon as

The first one in the family to be fired,

In adolescent anger I told him.

Dad suggested that the manager

could go to hell; much relieved, I concurred.

Thus ended my last weekend at Woolworth’s.

  

Observation Point 13, Ft. Drum, New York

 

Tree stretching toward Canada

Wispy clouds hover in summer sky

Vacationer’s paradise unfolding

Except for the large orange circles

On a small, man-made hill

Surrounded by the rusted wrecks

Or yesterday’s automobiles.

 

Radio transmissions crackle

Over in the Fire Direction Center

As bratwurst and kielbasa sizzle

Over on several hibachis.

 

Fire Mission! All human activity stops

As the hundred-pound rounds

Slam into the circles from a distance

Of classified information.

The plates have already been passed,

And as an FM rock station plays “Tommy”

By The Who, the howitzers blast away

At a few more wrecks.

 

Every shot has been in the box

And everyone his happy.

Like if good on OP 13 as

Lunch continues and I regret

Having taken so long to enlist.

Had I known the Army could be

This good, I would have joined earlier!

 

People along the way

 

Going half-way across the country

Thousands of faces flash by

In rest areas, attractions, streets, businesses.

Some of them stand out

For one inexplicable reason or another.

 

Shuffling from their SUV,

A family heads to the Lone Star

Leaning at the Sabine River Rest Area

Standing in front of thick gray clouds

So they can take each other’s picture.

 

Far from Hessen, in the Hill Country

German cuisine is served in a frontier house.

For a moment her native language

Floats in the air amid the Texan drawls

As it used to not so long ago.

 

Praying silently in the cathedral

With arms stretched along the railing

Her daughter converses as well

Discretely, impatiently speaking

Into her I phone.

 

Couple of our approximate age

Unhappy at everything

She fusses at restaurant hostess

Then unleashes a torrent of spite

At his day-long negativity.

Later I intentionally walk by them

As he slowly eats while she

Sits clutching her elbows

Not even caring to look at him.

 

From several feet away from the fountain

Tawny-tressed girl and mother standing.

Daughter appears to want a drink but refuses an offer

As her mother expresses her thanks anyway.

Two Poems by Arthur Turfa

Posted on

Two Poems

by

Arthur Turfa

 

The Conversation

 

Several years after the break

we stood together near the house

early on a summer evening

as the sun slid into western skies.

There we reflected on past years,

expressed mutual remorse

(at first so tentatively)

because the wounds had been healed.

 

Searching the wreckage of it all,

we salvaged enough to move onward

along separate but often parallel paths.

 

Thousands of miles behind me,

tens of thousands awaiting me,

we started the process of becoming

the people we were intended to be

even though the horizon was hazy.

 

Times and places slip away

softly and inexorably from us.

At times several chords on an acoustic

bring back walking over hills

or a sprawling campus.

For fleeting moments we are again

as we were but did not remain.

Far better to be who we have become,

to realize that it was better because

we stood together near the house

early on a summer evening

as the sun slid into western skies.

 

Precession of the Equinox: Polaris Shifts

 

Slightly tending westward, gradually

the lodestar  yields to its successor

as a new Astrological Age begins.

A residual memory, following me

from the Planetarium in Junior High.

Polaris’ replacement will then

give direction to new future stargazers.

 

One of the last young people to escape

from Kensington’s web of snarling streets

and elevated train lines, you seized your chance.

You became our Polaris, colorful in action

and attire, caring and cajoling, steadying

us to be the people you knew we could become.

 

Across the county or continent, we returned

and you greeted us, gloried in those returns.

As colleagues we spoke when storms neared,

and I kept your counsel in sight toward calm waters.

 

Now I know you began your precession,

stepping aside, though not then out of view.

Some of us search for you, exchanging pieces

that do not always fit together.

Second-hand accounts, some leading closer,

others in contradiction, point to a lodestar

that no longer shines in our heavens.

 

Every so often I scan the spreading stars

for our Polaris, until comes the realization

we are now lodestars for ourselves,

for stargazers we need to steady, for those

who receive the light as we did once

while scanning skies for our Polaris.

Three Poems by Arthur Turfa

Posted on Updated on

Three Poems

by

Arthur Turfa

 

Late Afternoon: the Pilgrimage Church

You asked me to explain to you a past

the always-correct Party had chosen

to hide from you. Yet in a new place now

you wondered about the saints and angels

within and without of Maria im Sand.

Willing I went with you over the

hills on that grey day, October fading,

winds bringing in clouds into the valley.

I pointed out the Virgin’s deep blueness,

the smooth apostolic face at the cross,

the font, pulpit, altar, sunless stained glass,

the mixture of styles, depending on time.

In the cemetery an old man spoke

about previous warfare’s heavy toll;

we exchanged a glance thinking of new deaths

and walked the streets of the closing-down town.

Interest does not always lead to belief.

But each November you light a candle

for your mother. You are a pilgrim

pursuing an uncertain goal as you

seek for answers to your unvoiced questions.

I think back to this day, and wish you peace.

 

Sunday Morning at Beech Island

Sunny morning on the crest of the hill,

Slightly-cold wind in this January

Blowing down the slope toward the Savannah.

Red-doored neo-classic chapel readied

For weekly glimpse of transcendent grandeur.

Uncertainties hover here over us,

Somber occasions, enduring concerns.

During flow of familiar devotions

Light transfixes heavenward-pointed Host

Suffusing unveiled glory over all.

Some linger later outside on the porch

Viewing the landscape with improved vision,

Savoring the moments they wish would endure.

 

A View Backward from the Bend

Every now and then, my path will bend.

If no mists fill the valley, if cloudless

Skies permit, I can gaze where once I went.

On ribbons of path straddling the ridge

Were elusive apparent destinies

Downward sloping toward sunset beaches,

That so thinly disguised a cul-de-sac.

Stretching to the sky, several towers,

Some unfinished, others now collapsing,

Their classrooms with closed windows preventing

Fragrant air to alleviate the staleness,

Not knowing the land where lemon trees bloom,

Scholars scour the text repeatedly

For some non-existing enlightenment,

Refusing to look at the external.

Occasionally a face that I see,

Or a song wafting melody to me

Reminds me of my travels on that path,

Reconnecting me to what I had loved

Even if no longer can be found

Even if it no longer can be loved.

As quickly as it comes, it disappears

And I follow the bend to straighter paths.

 

Bio: Arthur Turfa lives in the South Carolina Midlands, but his poetry contains influences of his native Pennsylvania, California, Germany (where he has also lived), as well as other places. He is working on an e-book of his poetry, scheduled for release later in 2014. Published in the Munyori Literary Journal and South Carolina English Teacher, he also maintains a personal blog, Some Poetry at aturfa.blogspot.com

Poetic Statement: Essentially I think Wordsworth had it right, although I do not always find long-lasting tranquility. Something or someone grabs a hold of me, and lingers until I recapture the moment, the glimpse, or the time from my life. My poetry attempts to include the reader into what I experienced, rather than telling the reader all about it or me. At times I strive for a sense of closure, at others I want to preserve something (more as a Symbolist than an Imagist). Whom do I read; Eliot, Auden, Rilke (in the original), Frost, Updike, Shakespeare, Bukowski, and others.Language that sings is more important that language that rhymes.