Today's poetry for today's world

Edwin Romond


Edwin Romond’s latest book is Alone With Love Songs (Grayson Books, 2011).  He is also the author Dream Teaching (Grayson Books, 2005).  His work has appeared in The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Zone 3, Poet Lore, New Letters, Barrow Street, and The Rockhurst Review as well as in college texts and anthologies.  He has been awarded poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and from both the New Jersey and Pennsylvania State Councils on the Arts.  Garrison Keillor read Romond’s poetry on NPR and the late Tim Russert selected Romond’s memoir, “The Ticket,” for his book, Wisdom of Our Fathers.  Romond taught in the public schools for 32 years before retiring in 2003.  He lives in Wind Gap, PA with his wife, Mary, and their 12 year old son, Liam.  For more information, please visit www.edwinromond.com.




Click on the cover to buy Alone with Love Songs




Alone with Love Songs




It was an old motel
Lake Michigan
the rooms converted
to tiny furnished
for people like me,
single, straight
out of Catholic seminary,
for $85 a month
just enough space
to live for the first time
by myself.
Some days
I'd stand for hours
gazing out at waves
sipping coffee and
smoking the cigarettes
I needed like air,
not the last time
in my life
I would crave
what was killing me.
And I'd listen to records
long past memorizing
and, in the company
of solitude,
I fell in love
with love songs.
Years before mortgages
and picking out patio furniture
I shared my time
with Sinatra and Mathis,
Linda Ronstadt,
and Carole King, just music
and me, my eyes set
on restless Lake Michigan
vast as the future when
you're 20 and in love
with the promise of love
from James Taylor
or Joni Mitchell.
When Wisconsin snow
would erase the lake
from my window
I'd feel a blizzard of flames
inside me as I listened
deeply hour after hour
to haunting ballads blurring
distance between the romantic
and the real, and I,
love's lonely apprentice,
taking it all in,
getting it all wrong.




First Published in The Sun.           

Photo by John Maziarz.  








Liam has asked to wear his suit.

Only the second time in his life

he is putting on the tailored pants

and pinstriped, three button jacket.

He searches his drawer for his one

pair of dress socks, he finds his polished

oxfords in the back corner of his closet.

I see nervousness, no, I see fear in his eyes

as I knot his tie and slide it up his white shirt

ironed for a morning we will all remember.

“You don’t have to do this,” I tell him,

“there are others Mommy and I can ask.”

But he looks at me with that same scared

but determined look I saw seven years ago

on his first day of school. “No, Daddy,

I am going to do this.” “You’re only 12,”

I answer, “the others are grown men.

No one will blame you if you change your mind.”

And he repeats, “No … I am going to do this.”

And hours later I am watching him

use both hands to do what the five men

around him do with one and I am struck

by how much I envy my own son and

wonder if I could have done when I was 12

what he is doing now as he walks sideways

over the cemetery snow giving all

his strength to gripping the gold handle

on his grandfather’s casket as we follow

in his foot prints, our eyes blurred

with sorrow and pride.



 --from Alone with Love Songs, Grayson Books (2011)   




Click on book cover to buy Dream Teaching.




Dream Teaching




I am first in line for coffee

and the copier is not broken yet.

This is how dreams begin in teaching high school.


First period the boy who usually carves skulls

into his desk raises his hand instead

to ask about Macbeth and, for the first time,

I see his eyes are blue as melting ice.

Then, those girls in the back

stop passing notes and start taking them

and I want to marvel at tiny miracles

but still another hand goes up

and Butch the drag racer says he found the meaning

in that Act III soliloquy.  Then more hands join the air

that is now rich with wondering and they moan

at the bell that ends our class and I ask myself,

“How could I have thought of calling in sick today?”


I open my eyes for the next class and no one’s late,

not even Ernie who owns his own time zone

and they’ve all done their homework

that they wave in the air

because everyone wants to go to the board

to underline nouns and each time I turn around

they’re looking at me as if I know something

they want and, steady as sunrise, they do everything right.


At lunch the grouchy food lady discovers smiling

and sneaks me an extra meatball. In the teachers’ room

we eat like family and for twenty-two minutes

not one of us bitches about anything.


Then the afternoon continues the happiness of hands

wiggling with answers and I feel such a spark

when spike-haired Cindy in the satanic tee shirt

picks the right pronoun and glows like a saint.

And me, I’m up and down the room now, cheering,

cajoling, heating them up like a revival crowd.

I’m living only in exclamatory sentences.  They want it all

and I’m thinking, “What drug are we on here?”

Just as Crusher Granorski screams, “Predicate nominatives

are awesome!” the principal walks in

with my check and I say, “That’s okay,    

you can keep it.”  When the bell sounds

they stand, raise lighted matches

and chant, “Adverbs! Adverbs!”

I drive home petting my plan book.


At night I check the weather without wishing for a blizzard

then sleep in the sweet maze of dreams

where I see every student from 32 years of school days:

boys and girls, sons and daughters who’re almost mine,

thousands of them stretching like dominoes into the night

and I call the roll and they sing, “We’re all here, Mr. Romond!”

When I pick up my chalk they open their books,

look up and, with eager eyes, ask me to teach them.




First published in The English Journal.           








The girls giggled

but the boys laughed right out loud

when Mrs. Stone raged crimson

holding my eighth grade project:

“The Map of New Jersey.”


“Get up here, boy!”

and I had no choice

but to walk the gangplank to her desk

where my map choked in her fist.


“What’s this jazz?  Huh?

The ocean is not green, Bub, it’s blue.

Ya’ get it?  Blue, blue, blue, blue!”

punching my map with each word into my chest.

My classmates roared a chorus

of “Green ocean! Green ocean!”

their voices rising in waves of laughter


as I carried the wrinkled and ripped map

back to my seat through their sneers.

Soon, all their maps perimetered the room

leaving me adrift in the memory of a Sunday


when, in the October air,

my father and I walked over seashells

and I, only nine,

remarked that the ocean looked green.

My father, peering out from beneath his cap,

said, “Yes, it does” and his fingers swam

through my hair.




First published in Pudding.




Writer’s Comment: "I write mostly about my three loves: my family, my teaching, and my favorite sport: baseball.  Although my writing begins with my personal experience, I strive to address issues that others will find interesting and perhaps make a connection.  At one time my favorite part of writing poetry was seeing my work published, but in recent years I have really come to love the process of writing and all its discoveries.




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