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Peter Ludwin’s writing influences are multiple and varied. His long association with American folk music is one. A sense of music, rhythm and vividness of focus is important to him in terms of what he tries to incorporate into his writing. Certainly the natural world, especially those parts of it that manifest immense space, is another major influence. It has for Peter a definite spiritual dimension.

Some of the instructors Peter has worked under include Mark Doty, Cornelius Eady, Forrest Gander, C.D. Wright, Alastair Reid, Marjorie Agosin, Alfred Corn and X.J. Kennedy. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, most prominently The Antitam Review, Chaminade Literary Review, Coal City Review, Illya's Honey, Karumu, Hurricane Review, Lullwater Review, Midwest Quarterly, Permafrost, Raven Chronicles, Lake Effect, Small Pond Magazine of Literature, South Carolina Review, South Dakota Review and Whiskey Island Magazine.


From up here I could summon wolves
to circle my sleeping bag, I could
call down the moon on my tongue.

The sun on the red cliffs behind me,
the stream roaring through rabbitbrush
while cottonwoods dance in the wind—

these tell me, like the handwriting
that condemned Belshazzar, that I
have been judged and found wanting.

I must stay here, in mind if not in body.
I must cultivate the heart of a whisper,
of the artichoke buried in spines.

It’s late in the harvest season,
and I must gather enough of me up
to make it through the winter.



Opening the motel room door,
    he remembers the Mediterranean:
        whitewash and pastel, the cry

of a gull
    catching an updraft
        over tiled roofs.

Something breaks inside him then,
    corresponding to the door,
        something like a membrane

or a shell
    he’s split apart,
        a shroud, a carapace.

Guitars and crooked streets,
    dolor of fog
        on forlorn silent mornings—

all these take him there,
    where even the stony ground,
        the poor, resistant soil,

seemed to grow
    a pervasive joy
        like oregano.

At Daphni, outside Athens,
    a wine festival
        pre-saged the coming dance:

marble ruins
    suggesting more
        than inert rock.

fluted columns of desire
    blending with bazoukis,
        tavernas, basil

sprinkled on tomato.
    And in the Parthenon,
        old spirits unwilling,

unable to leave.
    He members the Mediterranean.
        He remembers being born.



What really got them in the end—
those women who didn’t make it,
who withered and blew away
in the open—was the wind.
Space, yes, and distance,
too, from neighbors,
a piano back in Boston.

But above all, the wind.

In pained letters
you hear it
shriek hysteria from sod huts,
unutterable loneliness that boiled
up off the horizon
and sucked dry their desire
as it flattened the stubborn grasses.

You turn then to photographs
that confirm
the contents of the letters:
bony wives in plain black dresses,
prematurely undone, adrift,
betrayal like accusation
leaking from rudderless eyes.

The wind. Even as it scoured
the skin it flayed the soul,
that raked, pitted shell.
And how like the Indians,
appearing, disappearing,
no fixed location,
not event a purpose one could name.

The Cheyenne, at home
with the wind from birth,
had no pianos.

































© 2005 Peter Ludwin

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