National Poetry Month Spotlight: Brad Ricca

Wet Cell
I have held countless flashlights,
oil cans
and car batteries
ponderous squares of power
gone galactic cold.
Two-by-fours, band saws
and yardsticks,
and miles of measuring tape
stretched to their finite ends.
I’ve watched fingers
fall, without fear or pause,
into jars of black lube goo,
painting the clunky contacts,
swirling out and
pushing down
past all the oxidation.
Screw it all on tight.
Make every washer
thin and fragile
feel its own good worth.
Try it now.
Good job.
There it goes.
Water blots the paint
of the blinded interior.
And a How’s your oil
over the old radio
left by an oddjob painter.
I swing, he sings
and I wonder if I will remember enough
of all these tiny parts
to fill the oilcan
or the garage roof tires.
The fish is scattered dust.
The dog is down to bones.
All the manuals are lost.
My eyes turn like dials.
Clicking into “I have”
I stare at the car
along its long black curve
for a single
Q: Where is your favorite place to write?
A: In front of the computer, usually late at night. I used to write in notebooks, but I started not being able to read my own handwriting (which was really sad), so I mostly gave that up.

Q: Do you remember the first poem you read that really blew your mind?

A: The de facto answer to this has to be Emily Dickinson’s “He fumbles at your Soul,” (and that would be 100% true), but also James Tate’s “How the Pope is Chosen” and Matthew Rohrer’s “Every Which Way But the Luminous Fork” — those poems really just barged in and knocked me down, but at the same time said “Ok, if you want to try this, we won’t hurt you anymore.” They were lying. Neruda is somewhere around this answer as well.

Q: What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in the last 12 months?

A: That is what poetry is for.
Brad Ricca’s first book of poetry, American Mastodon, winner of the St. Lawrence Book Award, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in July 2011. Visit his website at