Letter to David Shapiro, 6/29/65

Joe Ceravolo in Washington Square Park, April 1964. Photo by Rosemary Ceravolo.

June 29, 1965

Dear David,

I was so glad to get your letter. We never did meet at Weequahic Park for lunch but they’ll be other times for that. I used to go to the park every day and write. Each day I’d write a few lines of what I thought was a complete poem. Then I put them all together and called it The Green Lake Is Awake.

Anita is crying now. Paul is sleeping and Rosemary is getting ready for bed. She has it pretty rough being with them all day long. We seldom get out. Sunday we went to the movies of 8th St. N.Y. and saw The Red Desert by Antonioni. It’s a beautiful film about a woman or women in general, and how they are so confused in this world or the anti-nature world that man trys [sic] to make for himself. Sometimes it’s such an unnatural world where none of his real feelings come through. On the way out of the movie we met Ted Berrigan going in. He is publishing my long poem and it will probably be out next month. Rosemary made a beautiful cover for it. It’s called FITS OF DAWN. I’m starting to get nervous and excited about it.

I read your poems a number of times. Of the three little ones I liked “What do you say, bank named for a cripple” etc. best. Of the long one part I I liked better than part II. In fact I found something nice in all of them but sometimes a line or word brought me down and I couldn’t get with the reality that you must have felt. What I mean is at the sacrifice of making it a sure poem, you may have taken something from it. What I felt most was Part I.

I think I’m obsessed with reality, I don’t mean realism but that sense of reality, like “I’m really here and I feel it” even though I can’t explain it. Something like that. Which everyone feels and you recognize it when you see it in a poem.

As for my own poetry, I haven’t been writing much at all. Maybe it’s working inside me but who knows. Sometimes I think maybe I’ve done the best I could and everything [cut off in photocopy] through my head. I go to the clinic at 9:00 pm on tuesday night and talk to my psychiatrist for an hour. Many unsettled things. Who wants to transmit my neurosis to my children? or hold back love to my wife? I’ve had needed to go for a long time and finally I’ve done it.

I just can’t wait for my vacation. We are going down the shore. The Jersey shore is so beautiful. We went to North Wildwood last year and that water and sand and us playing in the sand is on my brain.

Tell me about where you are. Is Julie with you? I hope she’s all right. That was a pretty big experience she went through; and you too.

A Music & art form. It sounds great. Or is it — not as good as it sounds. That word I obliterated was “boring.” I didn’t want to give you any ideas. But I can’t really imagine it.


1. Newark reservoirs are very low. Everyone is walking around dirty. 
2. Paul is always dirty but gets a bath every night and a shower.
3. Every time the weather is really hot the fish in the lake keep jumping out and you think you saw something but it was real. 
4. Rosemary is almost finished with therapy. Her husband is just starting. 
5. No amount of wisdom or learning can make a person live in the present. He just has to live. 
6. The west does not understand the east. 
7. Nor does the east             “            the west.
8. They are both the same — naked.
9. Poetry is a flock of geese flying out of formation being in formation.
10. This news is bullshit. But it was real?

Regards to Julie. Love from Rosemary.




Sending you some poems. They are in John Perreault’s new magazine called Elephant. I’ll ask John to send you a copy when I see him. If I had an envelope I’d send you my copy but I want to get this letter off early in the morning.

*Send me more poems. If you don’t want criticism just write “NO CRITICISM” just like “HANDLE WITH CARE.” Besides, criticism can be boring and I like to read poems more than I like to criticize them.