Jéanpaul Ferro is a novelist, short fiction author, and poet from Providence, Rhode Island.  A 9-time Pushcart Prize nominee, his work has appeared on National Public Radio, Contemporary American Voices, Columbia Review, Emerson Review, Connecticut Review, Cleveland Review, Cortland Review, Portland Monthly, Arts & Understanding Magazine, Saltsburg Review, Hawaii Review, and others.  He is the author of All The Good Promises (Plowman Press, 1994), Becoming X (BlazeVox Books, 2008), You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers (Thumbscrew Press, 2009), Hemispheres (Maverick Duck Press, 2009) Essendo Morti – Being Dead (Goldfish Press, 2009), nominated for the 2010 Griffin Prize in Poetry; and Jazz (Honest Publishing, 2011), nominated for both the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize and the 2012 Griffin Prize in Poetry.  He is represented by the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency.  Website:  * E-mail:

5 Poems

The Risk of Absurdity

Tattooed and pierced,

come dance atop the waterfires,

orange glow of the sparkling comics,

all shambled and wild-haired,

mad scientists, mad poets,

all the un-interesting things of the seven other elements,

an uncommon girl, her mouth tender like cinnamon,

go currents, shoulder to shoulder,

the truth no religion at all,

life with all its untraceable tracks,

God everywhere you look,

incredibly mad to live! frantic as hell to live!

you must race to it all to even live,

make those bombs fade away,

telephone wire to telephone wire,

anamorphic dream, sending birds askew

with microchips to fly from Mexico

to Maine,

two blushing suns in the simmering blue waves,

in the waves of anxious music,

footsteps atop rigorous black hands,

the CIA, the Creation of Adam,

fuming in iron, magnesia, and sulfur,

in the allies, panic-stricken at times:

in dreams, in stars; life just like that,

offering nothing but confusion,

but you must embrace it; look for it in others;

see the curve of the earth in rear view mirrors,

atop the cotton-candy fog of the autumn valleys,

up there it lives in the wood smoke of the old world chimneys,

in the books under the blue starry library roofs,

you’re not alive without this sensation of death in it,

with every aching sinew, aching of loss,

desirous of everything that is commonplace

to man, being in love when it is as effortless

as dying and waking, in the haunting loneliness

of evening, where you will do it all your life,

where in this suffering twilight you will realize

that you are crazy enough to think you can change

things, change things in this great, wobbling, stabbing

dream we all call our tumultuous world.

Letters from America

We always thought you should be proud
of your black skin, but you never were—

Black is the Shakespeare of all colors.

It is carnal like white is carnal, like blue,

like a red rain in the dead of night;

this unquenchable essence; something cupped

in the brand fires of the plains; half the day being black,

the nighttime sky full of this all encompassing blackness

that travels on forever.

And look at you!

Your eyes are the dusk over New Orleans.  Your hair

is the day breaking over the Nile.  Your feet this perfect

juxtaposition of Mississippi Jazz.

Black is the rough-hewn clay of all colors, it is the color of rebellion,

the color of the soul of James Brown, Johnny Cash, Hank Aaron, the

Beatles, Africa, and India.

On the moon the earth sits in a wet field of blackness,
a blue jewel-spot set in the dark tone of the universe,

look around you at all that is black everywhere,

God loves black—it is what you see when you close
your eyes to dream.

Мое открытие Америки

Jéanpaul Ferro

In the boisterous blue nights of Harlem,

where stomachs are often fissured shut with nothing but whiskey and gin,

everything a man owns is already pawned down at Sunshine Pawn,

to that man tomorrow is simply a mockery to the excesses of today,

a prisoner in chains, already immobile, face first up against the wall,

the hot barrel light of fire burning behind him down the alley,

echoes and shadows, a mind falling prey to illusion,

all the street lights turning from red to gray;

meanwhile, a politician stands on a street corner sermonizing

as all these stray children go running home, starving to death

slowly in their minds.

Night Funeral

I left the urban decay of Flint, Michigan the other day,

all the doorknobs of the abandoned buildings gone missing,

removed like no one is ever coming back;

the calcified glass of shattered telephone booths on the street,

flowers and weeds growing right through the pavement,

all the factories shuttered closed, apartment buildings boarded 

up, vacant skyscrapers waiting for some eternal spring to rise,

on Hand-to-Mouth Street there are crack addicts who look

like zombies, the skeletons of old box-stores sit there—burned

out relics from a by-gone era,

haunted neighborhoods without any neighbors, gay bungalows

completely naked, shadow-lands everywhere along the blue seams,

cars sit there without tires on innocent streets, 

kids wait on bleak street corners for something to break,

But I ask you:

is this America?  is this another missing planet?

is this a world full of lost winters and bleak masks?

is this the constitution of the greatest country in the world?

Gun, With Occasional Music

Across the ocean nobody was dying,

but back here in the red, white, and blue of America

you were all getting shot.

In the stress of our own disregard we began

to say: let’s get rid of all of the guns;

but it’s hard to say this to a man with a gun.

So we all went out to our little Italian restaurants,

and you wore your beautiful silver dress,

and I wore my darkest black shirt;

drinking Mojito cocktails, we listened to the haunting music

playing in WaterPlace Park,

watched them shoot the fireworks on up over Providence—

yellow weeping willow, orange spider web,

all of America dying while these dark jewels lit up the

nighttime sky.


Jéanpaul Ferro