Two Poems by J.R. Solonche


“He was the best president
in our history,” I heard him
say, the elderly man I thought
was talking about Lincoln, or
Washington, or FDR. As a boy,
he could have remembered FDR.
He could have heard him on the
radio giving a Fireside Chat. He
could have remembered the funeral
train. But when he said, “He’s a
self-made millionaire,” I knew
he was talking about Trump, and
all I wanted to do was grab a towel
and shove it down his throat. Shit,
I wish I had. I’ve always wanted
to write a poem sitting in jail.



I had roses.
I have no roses now.
I did not take care of my roses.
My roses were red.
My roses looked spectacular by the yellow lilies.
My roses looked spectacular by the front door.
Of my roses visitors would say, “Your roses look spectacular.”
This was years ago.
This was about the time my wife got sick.


Professor Emeritus of English at SUNY Orange, J.R. Solonche has published poetry in more than 500 magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s, including The New Criterion, The New York Times, The American Scholar, The Progressive, Poetry Northwest, Salmagundi, The Literary Review, The Sun, The American Journal of Poetry, Poet Lore, Poetry East, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and Free Verse. He is the author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions), Won’t Be Long (Deerbrook Editions), Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press), Invisible (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Five Oaks Press), The Black Birch (Kelsay Books), I, Emily Dickinson & Other Found Poems (Deerbrook Editions), In Short Order (Kelsay Books), Tomorrow, Today and Yesterday (Deerbrook Editions), True Enough (Dos Madres Press), The Jewish Dancing Master (Ravenna Press), If You Should See Me Walking on the Road (Kelsay Books), In a Public Place (Dos Madres Press), To Say the Least (Dos Madres Press), The Time of Your Life (Adelaide Books), The Porch Poems (Deerbrook Editions , 2020 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie Book), Enjoy Yourself (Serving House Books), Piano Music (nominated for the Pulitzer Prize by Serving House Books), For All I Know (Kelsay Books), A Guide of the Perplexed (Serving House Books), The Moon Is the Capital of the World (WordTech Communications), Years Later (Adelaide Books), The Dust (Dos Madres Press), Selected Poems 2002-2021 (nominated for the National Book Award by Serving House Books), and coauthor with his wife Joan I. Siegel of Peach Girl:Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in the Hudson Valley.

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