“Featured Poet of the Week” (9/11/19) – R. M. Engelhardt


RM Engelhardt photoM. Engelhardt is a poet, writer, author, and minister, who lives in upstate New York. Over the last 25 years, R. M. Engelhardt has been published in such magazines as Thunder Sandwich, Rusty Truck, Writers’ Resist, Dry Land Lit, Hobo Camp Review, Cajun Mutt Press, The Outlaw Poetry Network & many others. His new book Dark Lands, published by Whiskey City Press, is available on Amazon.


The Interview

Fishbowl: So, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started writing poetry.

RM: Strangely enough I started writing poetry when I was about 15. I was one of those “hermit kinda kids” who read a lot: Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, The Biography of Jim Morrison, etc. This led to discovering the writing of other poets like Rimbaud & Baudelaire, William Blake, and Tennyson. I used to write and draw in detention. (Ummmmm …. Because I hurt my knee and couldn’t take gym.)


Fishbowl: How would you describe your style of writing? Where does it come from?

RM: Much of my writing comes from living day-to-day and in the moment. A passing thought, a reaction to the news, the world and other people. These days much of it comes from dreams, my inner beliefs, and even a bit of sadness upon seeing what’s happening around the world.


Fishbowl: What are you reading right now?

RM: Jeff Weddle’s A Puncher’s Chance. Poetry. Also, The History of Magic by Levi.


Fishbowl: So, shameless self-promotion time. What projects do you have going on right now?

RM: A lot! My new book of poems Dark Lands has just been released thru Whiskey City Press and is available on Lulu and, soon, Amazon. I’m amazed at how supportive the poetry community is and it’s getting some really great reviews by such people as Steve Kilbey (of the band, The Church), as well as from a lot of poets out there like Hex ‘m Jai, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, and a couple of others. I’m setting up book release events with live music, such as industrial bands, and at a few quiet places as a featured poet as well. A few articles are coming out and I’m recreating the poetry open mic that I run in upstate Troy, NY and bringing it to a new venue called “The Berlin”. It’s called “The Troy Poetry Mission”.


Fishbowl: Any social media links you would like to share so our readers can connect and learn more about you and your work?

RM: Sure. Thanx.




Fishbowl: So, tell us a bit about your featured poems.

RM: Moments of passing thoughts. Some more interesting or disturbing than others.


 Fishbowl: Let’s take a look at the pieces.

RME: Sounds good!




Poetry isn’t the story of everything


It’s whistling in the dark and

waiting for an answer


That never comes




Above all

Mr. Aldeous Roach

Was a survivor


Of the great house

Spraying of 2017


The sinkwater flood

Of 18


And the battle

With Mr. Spider


A handsome

Insect today

He leaves

Behind several

Wives & 5000

Children near his

Home in the small ceiling

Community of



Well known

For his wit &

Humor & jokes

About humans


He died

Crossing the

Bathroom floor

When suddenly

And without

Warning was

Hideously crushed

By a giant shoe


Aldeous would

Have been three

Years old this







On the bus

Coming home

From work

I’m on my phone

Looking for a

Wi-Fi signal


None available

No connection



Suddenly I

Find “GOD”



But his connection

Is weak and

I’m not allowed

To use or sign on

To his network



Which upsets

Me just a little bit


But I don’t think

It was him




No one on

The bus had

Sandals or a



In January




So how does the poet


Say it?


Trench-coat the backward flow of the time within


Us yet living in the ever-present ever knowing NOW.


Yeah, poetry’s a lot like that sometimes.


Mere words more than memory’s clutch


Or screwing verses


In the dark.





The dead song


From the grasp


Of Gods






Correct all the wrongs


With one single line


Tear down all walls


With love.



Which you must




Like hate










See manual on living a life


Half life Any life



And write.





Capture fragments


Of all things lost, long forgotten


In linear timeline


And devour


Like prey


And burn


Without remorse





Remember all


Recollect & instigate


Exploit Whitman


And rape language











Love with heart


But fuck with soul


For an eternity


Avoiding clichés



So how does the poet


Say it?



Become human



As the light passes


Through the window


That is you




Outstretched along

The roadsides of

The dark American

Night the highway

Signs mark all the

Destinations – places

Dreams we’ll never see


Small towns


Full of strangers

Drifters in the

Wake of dust factories

And department stores

Buildings boarded up

Where life once stood

Alive with children & ballparks

Barbecues under the

Summer skies Christmas

Trees once lit up now all withered

And unremarkable full

Of ghosts & memory &

Cemeteries full of weeds

Where the dead


Say nothing




With closed signs

Five and dimes

Their owners long

Gone since

After the fall


Where an old church

Still remains

Where hope

Once refused

To leave


This was life

Your paradise

A thousand-fold

Swept across the

Land before the





Reminiscent of

Pompeii sitting

Outdoors in old

Rocking chairs

The bodies of

Their neighbors left

In isle five


They never

Saw it coming


Nobody ever does

Even with warnings

Even with signs

Denials threats


As somewhere

Else another small

Town another civilization

Is being built


Another dream


Which shall

Also end someday


The exact

Same way


Fishbowl: “Process” holds a certain interest for me, I must say, and not just because I have a penchant for poems about poetry. It resonates in terms of my own process for writing verse, as well (or at least how I interpret it).  One can do their best to covey a moment or emotion and feel pretty good about it, wonderful even; however, the “itch” never feels completely scratched once the piece is completed. Do your completed poems ever feel really finished? If not, what’s missing?

RM: In my view, the poem is never finished. We stop on a line where we feel the moment ends but, actually, it never does. I have old trunks (Yes, trunks!) full of journals, napkins and unfinished poems that I never gave up on. What’s missing? The time to finish them.


Fishbowl: “The Ominous Fate of Mr. Roach”, while delightfully amusing, seems to carry with it a foreboding narrative about all of us ‘underdogs’ out here just trying to carve out our little sliver of proverbial “pie” and the cruel of life. What inspired this piece?    

RM: Mr. Roach is actually based on a centipede that crossed … well almost crossed my bathroom floor one early morning. Endings for many beings are actually cruel. It made me think about what that little guy had perhaps left behind. Then, I cleaned off my shoe and wrote the poem in my courtyard. Some days I honestly believe that Edward Gorey is using me as a channeling tool!


Fishbowl: “Oblivion” is a really special piece, flooding my brain with flashes from Dust Bowl days gone by and The Great Depression. Sadly, the dwindling of “small-town America” is a very real thing today, proving—yet again—that entropy (and capitalism) will always get its due. The inevitability of such ruin is what is particularly striking, making me wonder if this “wound” (per se) is one dealt by us or something bigger outside ourselves—spiritual (though “American night” leads me to lean more towards the former). What is the philosophy of this piece?

RM: “The inevitability of such ruin…” That’s the perfect sentence, David.

The irony of the poem is in the images it conjures. Many will see the past. Many will see the depression era or a ghost town, but the disturbing part is that it’s how one may see (or imagine) rural areas of suburban America looking in fifty years. The poem isn’t past but a vision, a glance into our dystopian future.


Fishbowl: What is next for R. M. Engelhardt? 

RM: Other than having a cup of coffee and another smoke? More interworking with other poets, music, artists, and spending more time traveling with my wife. Eventually? Perhaps even a move to New Mexico.


Fishbowl: Great! Any parting thoughts? Advice for aspiring writers out there?

RM: Just keep writing, keep sending out your work. Believe in your own ideas and authentic voice and don’t even waste your breath on critics. Mr. Roach was a critic and looked what happened to him!


Fishbowl: Last question… What would you want the epitaph on your gravestone to say?


Here lies R.M.

He Smoked A Lot

One thought on ““Featured Poet of the Week” (9/11/19) – R. M. Engelhardt


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