Burning Rings of Passion

ring-of-fire-poemsRing of Fire: Selected Poems 1972 - 2008
by Alessandra Gelmi (PublishAmerica)

It was a very late night at The Roxy in Chelsea in the early '80s. Madonna was set to perform one of her first live gigs to tracks. Alessandra and I stumbled into each other. My first New York muse; gorgeous and intellectually intimidating. Had the pedigree. Poetry in motion. Disconnected for years, she recently sent me her first published collection of selected poems. I opened and read. My memories were reawakened. Rekindled many of those early carefree New York mornings. Through the looking glass time machine.

But all is not primal passion. Instead hers is an exposé of her creative soul, all that has shaped into a wise and worldly woman. I could list all of her literary achievements to date, but that's not the point. Collected here are her written words to inspire the brain to conjure up one's own imagery. Flutter and take flight. Not flights of fancy as much as life lessons gleaned through keen observations.

"Television," one of my favorite pieces in her anthology, sports a Tom Waits-sucker punch that cuts to the quick:

I was adopted
and when I turned thirty
began to look for my mother
At forty,
after a Promethean search
I found her
invited her over for pot roast
"That is a very pretty television," she said
eying my 25" screen Hitachi
"Would you like it?" I asked
"Yes, I would," she answered
We loaded into her Pontiac
and I never heard from her again

Ditto for "My Uncle Waldo" with its jazzy cadence and Bukowski-like phrasing. A person we all may know, but perhaps refuse to acknowledge. And "My Grandmother Dahlia" adds a cultural lesson in the funeral ritual of the Parsis, descendants of Persian Zoroastrans. (Yes, she flexes her intellectual gravity. It is her pedigree, after all.)

Elsewhere "White Slip," her ruminations on a distant worker from a distant land, hangs on the page like a drop of sweat refusing to dislodge from the brow of an overtaxed soul that it pays homage to. This is poetry for the modern age. The vexed third world worker whose gossamer thread of humanity stretches from his/her impoverished country to our overstuffed buffet of too much stuff.

Bravo, Ms. G. May your muse continue to burn bright as we await your next collection. - Dusty Wright

dusty5a

Mr. Wright is the former editor-in-chief of Creem and Prince's New Power Generation magazines as well as a writer of films, fiction, and music. He is also a singer/songwriter who has released 3 solo CDs, and a member of the folk-rock quartet GIANTfingers. And before all of this he was a William Morris agent.

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