American Poet: R. Bremner



R. Bremner has written of incense, peppermints, and the color of time since the 1970s, in such venues as The High Window, International Poetry Review, Poets Online, Jerry Jazz Musician, Paterson Literary Review  and 1979’s Passaic Review (alongside Allen Ginsberg). Ron has published eight books of poetry, including Hungry Words (Alien Buddha Press), and thirteen eBooks. He has thrice won honors in the Allen Ginsberg awards. He features in many spots, including New York’s Bowery Poetry Club.Ron lives with his beautiful sociologist wife, son, and dog Ariel in wonderful Northeast New Jersey.



‘Although I wrote my first poem at the seashore when twelve years old, I wrote exclusively (very bad) fiction until my mid-twenties, when an apocalypse of poetry struck, aided by poverty and failed relationships. As a taxicab driver, many opportunities and occasions for poems were happening all around, so fast that I could hardly keep up.

As I entered my career of computer programming for the airlines, my exposures to different stimuli increased, as did my poetry. Most of what I wrote in those days were responses to the worlds around me, the beauty and ugliness of it all. Later my poetry became more introspective. I have been aided greatly by my associations with the Red Wheelbarrow Poets, the Brownstone Poets, and the West Orange workshops, which have given me new insights into writing and into myself. I have since tried my hand at many variations. I put out a book of Absurdism, a chapbook of erasures, a chapbook of ekphrasis, and other books of “just plain poems”.

I thank The High Window for giving me this chance to reach out to more of you.’ [RB]


R. Bremner: Six Poems

(for Jean Ray)

The swivel of your smile turned men to stone.
But it was not snakes in your hair,
it was the twang in your eyes and the tangle of your lips
that damaged so many irreparably.
Nightblack hair coiled like a cobra about to strike.
Yes, Cinnamon Girl, you California Cowgirl in the Sand,
who migrated east and traipsed the gritty Greenwich Village sidewalks
with your many conquests trailing behind,
waiting to fall at your feet at the snap of your finger cymbals.

Did you enjoy your Royalty?
The Queen of Thompson Street, your subjects prostrate before you!

I heard you once, at the Phil Ochs Memorial Concert in 1976.
You strapped on your Stratocaster and rolled the place
with an electrifying version of “Small Circle of Friends”.
All the great performers that day –
Tim Hardin, Melanie, Pete Seeger, Odetta, and a dozen more –
They all wanted ‘Small Circle’
But who could refuse Queen Medusa?

I wish I had known you
in your Medusa days
but then
I’d be a pillar of stone now.

Note: Neil Young’s songs ‘Cinnamon Girl’ and ‘Cowgirl in the Sand’ were written about Jean Ray, half of the folksinging duo Jim and Jean. Phil Ochs slept on her couch on Thompson Street for several months. She was a major character (made to look like a major bitch) in the movie Inside Llewyn Davis. She mesmerized just about every straight male in the West Village in the 1960s.


She wore a raspberry beret,
Hermosa Beach, Spring 1986
#37, 19th Street, side beach view
Four apartments in an old
but sturdy two-story
white block building.
She had the place beneath mine
apt. sale, her roommate moving out
I bought a toaster, and fell for her then and there
I gave her some sappy line about
not knowing such a beautiful lady lived
just downstairs
“What a day! I not only sold a toaster,
I got a wonderful compliment as well!”
She was my first stewardess
I wasn’t her first writer
I wrote computer programs for Continental Airlines
and prose and poetry late at night
She flew for United.
Without her roommate she felt empty
But she hated nightlife, loved KCRW
We spent the night lounging on the couch
with KCRW
The Cool and the Crazy
Michael Ochs’ Archives Alive
And Joe Frank’s miserable monotone adventures
So it went for weeks
She didn’t cook
I didn’t cook
It was eggs and sandwiches all week
It was Miguel’s Burrito House for Saturday lunch
And riding in her little red corvette up to
El Segundo to
The Red Onion for Sunday dinner
always wearing her raspberry beret
Then back to the beach house
for more KCRW
I wasn’t her first writer but
she was my first and last stewardess
till the transfer came up
Paris, and more money too
She couldn’t say no
Goodbye, LAX
“You can come out and see me —
you work for Continental…
and I’ll come to LAX once a month”
She drove away in her
little red corvette
wearing that raspberry beret
and I quit Continental in a week
Hello NYC and Citibank
Goodbye KCRW
Goodbye The Cool and the Crazy
Goodbye Michael Ochs’ Archives Alive
Joe Frank’s monotone followed me east
but the raspberry beret didn’t

but, years later
if Prince’s music is playing
I can almost
reach out and touch that beret
and the woman wearing it.

JOE FRANK,  1938-2018

Joe Frank was
the color of vodka-and-tonic.
the taste of dry tamarind.
the feel of old leather.
the smell of boiling water.
the sound of footsteps in the rain.

Joe Frank died today
and all these devices
go with him
to that sardonic place
from whence he came.
goodbye, Joe Frank.
I will miss you
on the rebound of a séance
on a wet Wednesday afternoon
when the tide is low
and the taste in my mouth
is as bitter
as yesterday’s coffee.

Note: Joe Frank was an American writer and radio performer known best for his philosophical, humorous, surrealist, and often absurd monologues and radio dramas.)


In Paterson, at Blimpies
sit Aristotle and Descartes
at a plastic table
in plastic chairs
watching through the blue plate glass
for their bus to Fair Lawn
while outside in the slush mess
stands a huddle of shiverers
waiting too.
And “Aw, shuddup!” says Aristotle.
“NO, you shuddup!” says Descartes.
They giggle frantically in
appreciation of each other’s wit.
Meanwhile at the back table
sits Sigmund Freud carefully
tempering his coffee with cream,
studying intensely the play
being acted out before him
while Holden Caulfield sweeps the floor.
And “Aw, shuddup!” says Aristotle.
“NO, you shuddup!” says Descartes.
After many shuddups
the Fair Lawn bus arrives.
Aristotle and Descartes
guffaw frantically, fraternally
as they charge through Blimpies door
while Sigmund, unsmiling still,
sips his weak brew
and outside the cream pours onto the bus
and inside Holden sweeps Blimpies floor.


heard it on the street today
eddie o’s back in town
lock up your women, lock up your booze
lock up your mind if you want to stay sane
the world may go to hell in a handbasket
senile boobies may be elected president
but when eddie o’s back in town again
there’s a whole new galaxy to watch implode
just be sure you’re in a different universe.

if ed stops by in his Irish wool sweaters
with several of your best friends’ wives on his arm
just feed him Courvoisier, pat him on the head
threaten to inform Boston cops that he’s here
don’t discuss Camus, or Sartre, or Nietzsche,
Plath, or Pound, or Eliot, or Frost,
just point him to the train that’s headed for Hoboken
singing That’s Life as he’s booted out the door
promise to read every one of The Proteus Poems
and find him a publisher who won’t charge him much


Smoke rings like rumors
and dreams like stale cigarettes
in a cracked ashtray left behind
at the old apartment.

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