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Russell Susumu Endo

About the Poet
Russell Susumu Endo worked in Public Interest law for the City of Philadelphia for many years. Early on, his Russian Jewish Uncle Mike (adopted-by-heart), a painter sent by Dr. Barnes to Europe to study when he was starting out, thought that Russell should become a poet, but worried “what poetry could do to a career.”

Russell began writing poetry the summer he studied for the bar exam after a visit to his uncle in the hospital. A former member of the Free People’s Poetry Workshop of Philadelphia, led by Etheridge Knight (who called Russell “Little Brother”), Russell has also studied with Fleda Brown.

His work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Antioch Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Magazine, and in other journals.

Russell received a Delaware Division of the Arts Established Professional Fellowship in 2011. He resides with his family in Smyrna, Delaware.

Fall 2012 Poems »
Diogenes Learns a Way to Fix His Computer

There are so many things that can go wrong.
This time software made a misdiagnosis
and found a false-positive, deleting an essential
component in a registry resulting in the startup

become stuck in a mobius strip in which
one could neither fully get on board nor leave,
so understanding was easy; the re-installation
with all the missing drivers was not, and beyond

the patience of Diogenes who was normally
a patient man. With panic affecting his sleep,
and his little store of knowledge
both too much and not enough,

causing him to exist at the edge of a metaphorical but
truly frightening precipice—
Diogenes visited a local shop
to learn what competence came with technicians

who seemed always to be out,
while upon the benches, laptops sat
with their innards open, awaiting plugs,
intervention, trouble-shooting and diagnosis

often required by owners’ dark-screened
key board tappings of panic, and when dropped,
as Diogenes learned, computers respond
quicker than one can say, “I take it back.”


Diogenes Dangles Easter Eggs on a Magnolia Tree

Such a magilla of a sight!—Keiko stands on a stepladder,
Kenji stretches with a pole a Rube Goldberg-like
contraption to capture a fishing line loop,
uncoiling it around upper buds of the magnolia tree.

Diogenes watches from indoors the exuberant over-reaching
but soon he is out there too! The wind hints of winter
so you’d think the magnolia tree’d get confused,
plastic eggs dangling like cartoon characters,

colors bobbing in whirling air as buds throb,
readying to burst, soon to overwhelm the vivid
eggs like pendants below their chins—
so Diogenes has just a moment in between,

to applaud a movement of kids up a ladder,
impulse giving rise to the present.



It happened slowly at first; now the intervals unwind like fabric bolts
as we gather our memories of you, folding, unfolding,

laying the comforting linens on the shelves.
Time is ticking in the hallway and with it, the measure of our intervals.

Your face gazing at me as if I were a newborn
in awed recognition, only now our roles are reversed.

The fact that your cognition has diminished
like a car speeding down a steep slope, the gears worn down,

no switchbacks or safety ramps to slow it;
even the simplest mechanism of swallowing broken.

When snow falls intensely, softening the trees,
when the hunger that drives the wolf is a far-off memory.

Breathing quickly, laboring quickly,
your breath begins its rattle.

We ask for recognition and comfort,
but your grip gets harder.

When I chant the wrong Buddhist words
a flick of your eye suggests knowledge—

lights shut off completely, blanket slips away,
new snow covers chill hills under a cool moon.


~ Russell Susumu Endo
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