Photo by John Radacsi
Geri Radacsi’s third poetry collection, Tightrope Walker, is based on works of art. These new poems are intensely personal and impressionistic, not bound by the confines of their sources, although they also throw new light on a wide variety of artwork. Of this new collection Vivian Shipley says, “With an abundance of sensual particulars, Geri Radacsi’s ekphrastic poems draw us into the work of painters as varied as Henri Matisse, Norman Rockwell, and Paul Gauguin. By weaving wisdom into a complex music of flutes, clarinets, dance and legend, Radacsi’s memorable poems in Tightrope Walker are initially embedded in the mind’s eye but finally reside in the heart.” Ravi Shankar writes as follows: “Impelled by such maestros as Cezanne, Einstein, and Dorothea Lange, Geri Radacsi’s Tightrope Walker strides an amplitude strung between space and ground, discovering in each tentative step forward a verbal abundance that nearly reconciles self and world. Nearly, but not quite, because balanced throughout these ekphrastic yet personal lyrics is the “sweet unsalvageable,” a recognition that loss, heartache, disappointment and their eventual transformation into beauty are at the very heart of the human endeavor.”

And this from Gray Jacobik: “Reading the poems in Geri Radacsi’s third collection, Tightrope Walker, is like repeatedly slicing into one’s very first orange: there’s rich color, juiciness, and sweetness in each. The attitude Radacsi’s speaker most frequently adopts is that of beguiled wonderment, sometimes bemused wonderment. This joyful and refreshing attitude engages us first — for these poems, like all the best, are not showy, not loudly dramatic, and so honest they never manipulate the reader for effect. Rather, they are quiet, peaceful, luminious. What I admire most is the intelligence at the core of each — an intelligence clarified by the poet’s full-throated, sensuously-engaged imagination.”

Margaret Gibson is also enthusiastic: “A S haker box, a p ainting by Grant Wood or Monet or DaVinci, a Native American rock painting, a tiger on a postcard sent by a former lover: such are the prompts that begin this poet’s study of the visual. What she draws out of the visible in turn draws her out. The result of Geri Radacsi’s lively studies is poetry with a particular candor and perspicacity and passion.”

Geri Radacsi is the author of two previous collections of poetry. Her prize-winning chapbook, Ancient Music, was published in 2000 by Pecan Grove Press; and her full-length poetry collection, Trapped in Amber, appeared in 2005 from Connecticut River Press. She has been a journalist, English teacher, communication/media specialist, and freelance writer. Currently, she is Associate Director of University Relations, Emerita, at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. Among her publishing credits are The Atlanta Review, Embers, Comstock Review, Connecticut Review, Connecticut River Review, Iron Horse Review, MacGuffin, Nimrod, Southern Poetry Review, and The Southern Humanities Review. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, is the 2003 winner of the Connecticut River Review Poetry Prize, and has won several awards from the Connecticut Poetry Society. In 2004 she was a finalist in the Comstock Review, Blue Light Press and Owl Creek poetry contests. She and her husband, John, reside in Farmington, Connecticut. Their daughter, Sara, has been a continuous source of inspiration.

The Antrim House seminar room offers notes, issues for discussion, and writing assignments. Click here to attend the seminar on Tightrope Walker.

Click here to read five sample poems.

BOOK STATISTICS

ISBN: 978-0-9770633-9-0
64 pages
Binding: 6" x 9" trade paperback

$15.00US per book

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TIGER POSTCARD FROM AN OLD LOVER

A purr, steady and sonorous as a switched-on engine,
cuts my reverie in a room quiet as the color of sage.
The tiger arrives in the mail-swimming in

wet pelt. His glossy jaws, able to crush a backbone,
rest delicately on water as he floats down river past
sandbars and sunning logs, across ferny leaves and mud.

Good smells of bottom beds, flesh and blood,
the enormous head steams. He stares at me.
Vaporous stuff far from New England.

With beryl eyes like lamps, a coral nose exhaling
spangles of reflection, with thick white stripes,
he entangles me in the tender wreckage of old quagmires.

Starkly outlined against a background of black,
elusive of all light, he pricks up his furred ears
to hear his great deeds or his own ultimatums roared.

My finger traces his trident markings, lingers
on his cheek's lean muscle. Are his claws sheathed
or will they whip out, switchblades below the murky surface?

My heart backs off-what was I thinking
to believe I might sip love's hum off that mouth
meant to lap up blood from the bright wounds of prey?

A WOMAN'S LONELINESS

"Pommes et Oranges" by Paul Cezanne

Scrubbing apples, digging out bore holes,
I'm alone at the sink coring where a birth

and a poison are carried, a few Grime's Goldens
riddled by honey-bees, then maggots.

I'm peeling skin, cutting flesh, throat is choked
with absence, parents buckled in photos on the fridge,

rocking my pity to my daughter's music
which bleeds there goes my everything

behind her locked door, a distance unbridgeable by
old lures when I'd say: Come

chase apples down with your chin in the tub.
I wish for one sweet bite of connection

as at the window I smooth the bracelet she once
gave me, a wilted leaf caught in the links.

About to curse the house's creaks
and sighs, I catch a whiff of cloves and cinnamon.

Enough to rouse a bear's hunger. How urgent
the scrabble of sparrow claws on the sill.

How loud my marching feet.
I'm knocking, then pounding on her door,

offering her an apple.
The house, skilled at quiet, quakes.

"MIGRANT MOTHER, 1936"

Photograph by Dorothea Lange

I. In High Resolution


Come ahead, camera lady.
From that far off
we probably look like ducks
on a shooting gallery wheel-
reminds me how the wind
closes in, blasts
us from badland to badland.
Model T goes clickety,

and you click, click. My little girls turn
their faces from you,
hide on my shoulders. Heavy. Hard.
Go on, take my dress,
once it was pink as your skin.
Take my frown.
I won't smile
shivering in this piss-drizzle cold.
Snap away, close enough to take baby.
I'm carrying another one inside me,
but you can't take my feeling of falling.

You want more? Wait.
I'll curl my fingers to my mouth like a fist.
Oh, you like that? Come closer.
Listen, I've seen enough dust and wind
to know a wolf lives inside me
teaching these girls to stalk and snap
the necks of birds for us to eat,
to scratch the fields for frozen turnips.
I'm keeping my children moving,
not sitting and dreaming in a mirror.
I'm not raising stars.

How can a god-damned picture
make me better off when I just sold
my car's tires for food?
There's no leaving.

II. Close Up, Mother to Mother


Two small daughters lean
into her shoulders. I stare at their necks,
ripe for kissing, or breaking.
My daughter, so tender
at that age, has dropped me off
at the gallery. She's driven away, needing
to buy soy milk and organic eggs
for her own young ones.

How many years has this mother
squinted at dawn, speechless
eyes anxious among thousands! Her face
is a famine so terrible
I cannot turn away. And with only
the picture's thin glass between us
the underskin of this woman's fear-
that a world blank and impoverished
will destroy her children-
shows up in me.

WAITING IT OUT

"Branchville Pond," pastel by J. Alden Weir


The sky won't stay still
this night of the winter solstice
when Gram and I stand in the doorway,
switch on lights in the garden and watch

snow grow more snow,
nonillions of flakes sinking easy as ashes
smothering orange fruits of fire thorn.

Wild grasses rim the water, shake reedy spikes,
keep their blue color
with the confidence of cold steel.

I hug my stillness.
Why as the year unlocks,
when past lets go and future
clicks open, do I feel content
in the exquisite hush?

Perhaps it's knowing
Gram has outwitted the world's dead weight:

at eighty-nine years,
two days after her husband died, she'd wrung
the necks of his noisiest
bantam fighting cockerels.

Where chicken coops once
stood, streaked and splattered,
she set out beds
of jasmine, honeysuckle, lilies and lavender-

quiet fragrance steady as vengeance.

"TIGHTROPE WALKER, 1924"

Everett Shinn


Assured as a snowy owl perched
on a tremulous high wire,
he pauses a moment midway-
palms out and cupped down,
he peers into the pool
of our assembled darkness
gasping from below.

Costumed in white, he waits, self-absorbed,
on the long line that disappears
in two directions, both tempting but shaky.
On one foot in muscular solitude,
perhaps he believes at twenty-one or so,
home is something he can leave behind.

There is trouble in his world.
War and revolutions turn
on grating axles.
Children cry with mouths open
hungering for their parents' return.

On his island of ivory light, he quivers,
tests the edge of answers.
His heart's rumbling, intense and
smoldering,
is not of the crowd.

He seems in love with air,
certain of its buoyancy.

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