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“Song of the Middle Manager” wins Grayson Books Award

Grayson logo

I’m happy to announce that my third book of poetry, “Song of the Middle Manager,” has won the 2021 Grayson Books Award.

This year’s judge, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, describes her response to the book: “How in the world of balance sheets, mergers, and slick brochures, does our humanity grow and blossom? I didn’t expect I would fall in love with a book that draws on initial public offerings and cubicles and framed achievements for inspiration. In fact, I wanted to dislike it. But again and again, these poems of sacrifice and salvation pulled me in with their “stubborn harmony,” their tendernesses, their conversations with god, their compassion, their ability to find how ‘this mortal beauty will save the world.’ Song of the Middle Manager is disturbing and utterly beautiful.”

“Song of the Middle Manager” will be published and available in early 2022.

The publisher adds this note: “If you would like to pre-order the winning poetry book, send your name, address, and a check made out to Grayson Books to PO Box 270549, West Hartford, CT 06127. The price is $15.95 per copy. You may omit shipping and handling fees if we receive your order by December 1.”

A City is the People You Know There

A City is Swing Set

As a last-of-the-year post, here’s one of my poems now appearing in the Valparaiso Fall/Winter 2020-2021 (Vol. XXII, No. 1) issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review. VPR is one of the nation’s longest running online poetry journals.


After too many years, I knock
and a stranger appears at the front door
of the creaky white Victorian. No, she doesn’t live here
anymore and who are you?

All my friends have moved away
like me, taking their history with them,
but you and I could never change
what happened between us,
and then we do. Looking for a pleasant wound,
I go back to my private shelf and find
an empty space where my youth should be, with a note
in that still captivating hand of yours—dear,
thought you wouldn’t mind.

Another new poem

Recently published in Image Journal

Walking in Circles
by Richard Cole

I get lost easily, even now,
entering the dim, allegorical woods
preserved inside our city, always
the faint, white noise of traffic
somewhere beyond the trees as I wander
with diligence down a dirt path beaten
by others and myself. I’m on my way
I think, until I think I’ve been this way
before not twenty minutes ago. I’m never sure.
Nothing is a straight line
or even a labyrinth but a squirrelly maze
I trace and retrace almost every day
for whatever thoughts that might arrive
as I walk in circles, truer circles described
inside of circles, having learned
I need to get lost, a parade of one,
to find my calling, then lost again
to find my own way home.


Scattered Clouds Image

Here’s one of my new poems, published in THAT Literary Review:

by Richard Cole

Perhaps in heaven, the blind
will still be blind, the lame
won’t walk, the deformed will not
be otherwise, and it won’t
make a difference. Not a bit. Perhaps
all of heaven is just two
inches away, the earth made
truly in the image of heaven. Hard
to say. If it’s heaven all the way to heaven,
then it might be hell all the way to hell. We see
glimpses in the eyes of the patient dead
walking among us. So too,
in a heaven filled with children
already here. Somehow, this is it. We have all arrived,
a dazzling, infinite world packed
neatly inside our capacity.
If only we could see with both eyes open
what we see with both eyes closed, and perhaps
we always have.


This is one of my latest, called “Mitosis.” Like my other paintings, this one talks about unity and division, the lines and demarcations that are overwhelmed by an underlying coherence.