Poetry by Charles Rifici

Seashore Lullaby, by Charles Rifici

I was short and the waves were tall

     Before she was taken away

I dredged up the gall and watched myself fall

     In love with the Rose of Cape May

Neither the howling wind nor the blinding sand

     Could possibly stand in our way

Together our love stretched as long as the shore

     Before she was taken away

It was born of the beach, this love of ours

      I, and my Rose of Cape May

Neither the Gods nor the sharks nor the sea turtles’ hearts

     Could ever have felt such a way

Then, Neptune set forth a tumultuous storm

     Before she was taken away

And this most jealous of gods lifted the sea

     To rupture the Rose of Cape May

She fought the debris and the pounding rain

     Day, after day, after day

Some knew—it was only a matter of time

     Before she was taken away

All the Gods in the Heavens would not allow

     She to be brighter than they

     To be more beloved than they

So, they conspired together far out at sea

     And they plotted to wash her away

Then, they snapped the stem and plucked the petals

     Off the frightened Rose of Cape May

Dislodged from the sand, she could no longer stand

     My broken Rose of Cape May

Since her soul is set free, her petals float on the sea

     The legendary Rose of Cape May

I gather those petals like the most precious of metals

Because I cannot be sure as the ocean settles

     And things dare to drift away

     If my memory or her petals will be the first to float away

The Garden Girl, by Charles Rifici

When she touched her fingers to those keys

She felt like she was free

The ivory—cool

Bench of hard oak

Sleek

Black

Pop-topped piano

SMACK

Her fingers hit the keys

A waterfall on the ivories

Little girl

Little girl with the tiny voice

Infant fingers

Baby eyes

Hammer down

Hammer down now

Hammer down little girl

Roll that song like thunder through the air

There—

There’s the girl they won’t forget

How they cried when she keyed the minuet

Imagine

Lush

Green

Garden walk

October air

Midnight starshine

Petunia in her hair

Hungarian dances filling up the night

She wakes that old piano beneath the candlelight

Hair tossing 

Like wildfire

As higher dances her song into the sky

Head shake

Her octaves cause a music QUAKE –

                                       Quake –

                                      quake –

                                     quake –

. . . slower . . . 

. . . slower now . . .

Hush be the crickets

Hush be the night

She lets the tremble of the keys

Snuff the candlelight

And with all her little heart

The girl shares Canon in D

As the bride exits from the garden

As beautiful as can be

Charles Rafici is a New Jersey lawyer and poet.

Interview with Charles Rafici

  1. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I could hold the pen, but I truly started creative writing outside of school hours during my freshman year of college at Rutgers University in 2004.

2. Is writing your full-time job? If not, what is?
No, traditional writing is not my full-time job. I work full-time as an attorney in New Jersey. Fortunately, writing is a significant part of my profession, and my legal writing satiates my need to write on a daily basis. I appreciate how the legal profession allows me to regularly exercise and improve many areas of my writing skills. For example, I write logically when explaining case law, creatively when organizing and telling a story using facts, and persuasively when making an argument. Often, the styles mix in order to create the best final product, which I usually consider to be a work of art in and of itself.


3. What inspired this work?

“Seashore Lullaby” was inspired by Cape May, New Jersey and Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “Annabelle Lee,” which is tied with “The Raven” for my favorite poem of all time. I’ve been going down to Cape May and Wildwood since I was an infant, and the Jersey Shore is a special place for me. The other inspirations for the poem came from prior relationships, and the fact I generally love writing dark, nature-oriented poems and exploring metaphors. In this instance, I wanted to write something related to the beach. I wrote the poem after waking up one morning in April coming out of a few days of frustrating writer’s block. I remember being quite ill with headache, cough, and hoarse throat at the time.

The Garden Girl” came to me while pulling an all-nighter in my office after watching the movie Dead Poet’s Society and playing Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” on repeat until the poem was complete. 

4. What writers or artists inspire you and your work?
The two greatest sources of my writing inspiration have always been Edgar Allan Poe and Robert Frost. I love the dark eloquence of Poe and the natural imagery of Frost. Their passion for exploring the theories underlying strong writing is particularly impressive. Lastly, I am also inspired by art honoring God, such as the work of Michelangelo and Johann Sebastian Bach, among others.

5. Where can we find your recent or future work?

A live performance is the best way to experience my work as my poetry is meant to come to life during performance. Several of my poems were published in print only and are likely difficult to find these days. For the adventure seeker, you could search for the 2006 issue of The Podium published at Rutgers University to find my first published poem. 

6. What would you advise those interested in becoming published writers?

I would first advise writers to receive rejection without taking it personally. Literature is quite subjective and, in my opinion, many publishers and magazines have a specific type of work in mind as they review submissions. Even if a writer’s work is quite good, it may be rejected because it is simply not what the publishers are looking for at that time. Beyond that, I suggest performing publicly and networking with other writers. We never know where others will be one day and if people remember us and admire our work, they could easily end up supporting us in the future. To me, there is a major disconnect between the type of literature being published and the type of literature the public desires. Publishers like Oscilloscope have an exciting opportunity to lead a literary renaissance by publishing content that connects with the general public.