Ron Mohring

Survivable World: winner of the 2003 Washington Prize and finalist for the Thom Gunn Award in Poetry. I am happy to autograph a copy for you. All copies sold through this link will help fund Seven Kitchens Press.

Review by Grady Harp for Amazon.com:

“Few poets have been able to convey the power of a love story as that that Ron Mohring shares in his gently gripping collection of poems SURVIVABLE WORLD. Though these poems are all connected to the loss of his lover David to AIDS, they refuse to enter the realm of morose, morbid, and synthetically manipulated sobbings. Instead what Mohring has created are captured memories and moments of a life shared as wholly as any two lovers in memory. His poems delineate the struggle with the slow decline of the exodus from the living world in a matter of fact style that allows the reader to observe the complex machinations of the daily routines that accompany disease – the thoughts from the caregiver role as well as the lover’s quiet anguish, watching the one person that has completed his life, slowly, and with both loss of dignity that is real, as well as the loving that makes the coping mechanisms beautiful.””Mohring gives us the memories born before the disease, the shock and ultimate management of reality, the quiet moments of death and goodbyes, and even the post mortem attempts to find life again, alone. In TO HAVE AND TO HOLD he ends his poem with these words: ‘…You’d gone before/ the funeral, before the doctor signed/ you dead, switched off the machine/ bullying your lungs. I would touch your skull – / frontal, parietal, occipital – and mourn what it/ contained, what couldn’t last, knowing/ this receptacle was all that would remain,/ gutted bowl and useless frame kiln-fired, fractured,/ packaged and delivered to my living hands.’

“This miraculous collection of poems will doubtless be a source of comfort to the survivors of this plague, but is should be read by everyone who faces the truths of mortality. There is a generous amount of love in SURVIVABLE WORLD, enough to encourage even the most fragile among us whose vision of death is threatening. In Ron Mohring’s hand life becomes even more treasured. Highly recommended.”

–Grady Harp, December 08

Sample poems:

PGH Airport

It is not the red-faced man
wearing dirty Reeboks and matching Illinois State

T-shirt and shorts. It is not
the man in the lime polo shirt who grabs at his clip-on

pager. It is not the tall man
in the white shirt carrying a Faulkner novel who eyes me frankly

but does not stop to say hello.
Not the small Brazilian man with the black elastic band

wrapped around his head,
the bright wire mouth guard gleaming. Not the loping man

in soft gray cowboy boots
and drooping black felt hat, though he’s passed this spot four times.

Not the man in the leather shop
with heavy silver loops in his ear. Behind a row of video screens

announcing departures,
a pair of muscled legs. It is not the man attached.

It is neither of the mustached ones
in matching Pittsburgh T-shirts, nor the businessman

carrying his metal briefcase.
Not the beared man with his cap turned backward who smiles

as I stare, though for a moment
I think it could be him. The flight attendant with perfect hair,

the Greek man in the cobalt shirt
listening to his headphones, the Asian man in the yellow mesh

tank top, arms and chest fluid, solid:
none will deliver me. The Greek man bites his nails.

White bunches socks.
Mole above his lip. He is so beautiful, I can’t understand

why no one has found him.

Afterlife

After the funeral, after the families disperse,
after the first night alone, and the next,
the first year; after the first man you allow
to touch you, after the tenth, after you let
yourself use the word love with someone else,
after you decide to sell the house
but can’t get around to it, after you forget
the taste of his ashes and grit on your tongue
and it’s easier to say his name, read his diaries,
spend his money, sell his car, fuck
in his bed; after you’ve rolled the platitudes
into little pills and swallowed them all,
and life presents not cruelty but experience,
and his death has become just
another part of you you sometimes ignore,
after that, there is always
your own.

More sample poems: “San Francisco Zoo” and “Inventory” from Diagram 2.1; “Suddenly” from Verse Daily.

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3 thoughts on “Ron Mohring

  1. Helene Kendler

    Hello, Ron,

    I recently received Survivable World, with your lovely message and signature (for which I thank you). I just want to let you know how electrifying these poems are to me. Their bare honesty, the subtleties of love and loss expressed and exposed. That they (you) are so fearless about digging deep into the pit of fearfulness, the dark side of love, the loneliness of grieving, and the refusal of silence. These are beautiful poems, and they ring true. I am so sorry for your loss, but grateful for the craft with which you honor it. I spent eleven years working at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, surrounded by dying friends, colleagues, and the incredible volunteers I was privileged to supervise. The losses too numerous to mention, but each of them always remembered. Your poems, your own personal life journey, and how the epidemic scathed you: I’m sorry it took me so long to find your poems, and very grateful to have them now. You are a great poet.

    Sincerely,
    Helene Kendler

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Indie Spotlight: Seven Kitchens Press

  3. Ted Jean

    Powerful, honest voice, Ron. Your banal elegy hurtfully, helpfully true. I’ll go find one of your books at Powell’s tomorrow.

    Reply

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