Tad Richards


We all die, which is why
she wants to look you over now, though
she won't say it, or anything. Her
silence is scraped together from birds
swarming from lawn to treetop,
or money being measured,
or your mistress, the one who rides
naked at dawn, whose skin is golden.
Hers is pale. Best to go to her.


Dead women come to accept the role of muse.
Brides may flee the altar on a cue from the muse.

Jolted from feckless sleep to a shaky tango,
Some men first call upon a truant muse.

I saw you cutting brightly colored pictures –
Made me think you might be married to a muse.

Freud called for honey, yeast and sour paste,
Not the first to think he could cure a sick muse.

Two weeks incognito in a harem
Can reinvigorate a tongue-tied muse.

Stirred by a painted beauty, a man may
Close the door, and forget he has a muse.

Aroused by a invocation to a muse of fire
Sookie stirs, stretches, says she is not that muse.


There’s the room I keep finding,
the one that had to be there,
whether or not the dimensions
of the house allow for it.
Where else would they have hidden
all this stuff? Blueprints,
maps, chests with false bottoms
charts inked on fabric, my inheritance?

This part is true: one day
a limousine picked me up
and took me up to Harlem,
upper Park Avenue,
deserted but for rats
and broken glass. Halfway
down the block, the limo
pulled up outside a warehouse.
An elevator took me
up to the second floor.
The crates were old and dusty.
Propped on three of them were
a Chagall and two Picassos.
They were real. Later, the limo
dropped me back downtown
in front of my apartment.

I should be grateful that
None of these rooms are empty.
The tower, the long-tressed maiden,
the blind man’s secret cache, the wealth
of Ali Baba, the severed heads.

Copyright © 2013 Tad Richards

Tad Richards’ e-book of poems, Take Five: Poems in 5/4 Time, was issued in March 2013 by eFitzgerald Publishing. His novel, Nick & Jake, came out in 2012 from Arcadia Publishing. Recent poetry publications include Iowa Review, Home Planet News, On Barcelona, Valparaiso Review, Salt River Review—also the anthology Villanelles, edited by Annie Finch and Marie-Elizabeth Mali, and as the exemplars of several forms in Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms, Fourth Edition. His poetry reviews have appeared in Jacket, and his essays on poets and other subjects in various encyclopedias.

His portraits of poets and jazz musicians, as well as other art work, can be found at his website, www.tadrichards.com.
He is president and artistic director of Opus 40 in Saugerties, NY.