Posted by: Stace Johnson
Published on August 23rd, 2016 @ 03:42:00 pm , using 407 words
Category: Commentary

It was 2010 when we lost Leonard "Red" Bird, one of the principals behind RoughRoadReview.com.

In 2014, we lost Keith Keller, a good friend to RRR, and a man whose collected stories of New York, New Jersey, and Togo we published under the Rough Road Press imprint.

In March of 2016, we lost Bill Pearlman, the driving force behind RRR and the creator of most of the content on this site. I renewed the RoughRoadReview.com domain name on his birthday last week.

Rough Road Review was started in 2003 by Bill Pearlman, Dick Hopkins, and webmaster Gary Priester. Dick passed away a few years later, which opened the door for Red to join the team, and I took over the webmaster and hosting duties from Gary in 2008. Eight years later, there are only two of us left in the core group: Contributor Steve Belasco and myself (Stace Johnson, Webmaster and Contributing Editor.) Upon Red's passing, I assumed the financial responsibility for keeping the site running, and will continue to do so.

I've corresponded with Steve Belasco about the future of the site, now that its founding fathers have all passed. We agreed that I will continue to maintain and host Rough Road Review, as well as taking over all editorial duties. Steve will continue to be a welcome contributor to the site when the inspiration hits, and I may consider adding other contributors as needed, depending on the site's future growth.

In addition to those changes, I will be redesigning the site to give it a more modern feel, and also to make it friendlier to poetry. Under the current software package, it is difficult to maintain a poem's intended form, and newer software packages can accommodate poetry more easily. I intend to keep the original vision of RoughRoadReview intact, as stated by Bill Pearlman and Red Bird:

Our mission is to promote greater reverence for life, truth and beauty, and to explore the hopes and fears of our inter-connectedness. In the midst of the mysteries and crises that will continue to challenge our imagination and will, we believe that the written word--in poetry, fiction and commentary--can push back against mankind's dismaying and recurring plunge toward misunderstanding and war. We invite submissions from progressives everywhere.

In correspondence, both Bill and Red often used to close their missives with "Onward!" I can think of no more appropriate way to end this post, so please join me in taking Rough Road Review ...



Posted by: Steve Belasco
Published on April 7th, 2016 @ 10:36:00 pm , using 110 words
Category: Commentary



         A cat

                  probably took him

                  they like to kill that way

                  wait for dark

                  whisper a claw through your blood supply

                  lap up the spillage

                  by dawn it looks clean.

         Your cat

                  likes the dark

                  has the eyes for it

                  and doesn’t say much.

         Wish I could say I warned him but I didn’t.

         Wish I could say I was with him but I wasn’t.

         Wish I could say he misses me but he doesn’t.

         I’ll have to do the missing for us both.

         Sometimes when you get dumped

                  It’s just so long

         But every now and then it’s death.


        Yeah,  a cat

                  probably took him


                  and took him by surprise.

Goodbye Bill

Posted by: Steve Belasco
Published on March 24th, 2016 @ 11:32:00 pm , using 159 words
Category: Commentary

March 24, 2016

Bill Pearlman



            Last night in San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato in Mexico we lost old Bill.  I’d known him since 1958.  Off and on over the years since we’ve spent some good times together.  There were large gaps between our contacts, but it was one of those friendships that didn’t require a lot of contact.  We could be apart for years and just pick up from where we left off.  I was always comfortable with Bill.  We were both just a couple of small town beach boys who went out to explore the world and touch as much of it as we could.  He wrote and he wrote and on Rough Road he posted almost daily.  He was the heart of it.  We’ve seen our last poem from him.  And we’ve seen our last post from him.  Rest old Bill.  Rest old Pearl.  I’ve got to start missing you.  I won’t be alone. 

Steve Belasco


Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on February 20th, 2016 @ 01:06:00 pm , using 106 words
Category: Commentary


‘’A woman unsatisfied must have luxuries. But a woman who loves a man would sleep on a board.

DHL (letter to Murry, 1913)

Turn mind completely off.
No channel rearranged,
no clause surrendered.
The open space, the sea,
the shimmering innuendo

No rigid rationalist aspires
to the sudden revelation,
the unconscious dreamscape
the reunion of the unknown
and what befalls the living

Amazing, palpable
ripe configuration of woman,
an actress who wants me
& I move across her
perfectly configured form,
at last circumferenced
and yielded to me, every
bit given and loved,
loved the feel of legs,
arms, body a fullness



Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on November 7th, 2015 @ 08:27:00 am , using 1343 words
Category: Fiction/Memoir

A story by David Stea

In November 2016 Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. While he received few votes in the Northeast and Pacific Coast, and barely carried the Midwest and Mountain States, he did get the overwhelming majority of the votes cast in the former Confederate States of America, enough to swing the electoral college and assure his election.
Elated and energized by his victory, the new President lost no time in putting his ideas into action. By the beginning of the New Year, 2017, he was well on the way to assembling his Cabinet. Sarah Palin, given her expertise on Russia, was his clear choice for Secretary of State, with the proviso that Dick Cheney be recalled from retirement as a special consultant.
President Trump wanted to reward those who had competed for the Republican nomination. A new Cabinet position was created: Secretary of Migration, Immigration, and Naturalization, for which he first considered Ted Cruz, then selected Jeb Bush as the logical choice because of his position on “anchor babies” (Bush’s first order of business was to examine the need to amend or repeal the 14th Amendment of the Constitution). Ben Carson was chosen as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (a Cabinet position from which the words “education” and “welfare” were subsequently deleted), and James “Jim” Inhofe, who had once stated that climate change was a hoax, as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Economic Growth (formerly Secretary of the Environment). Other positions remained to be filled.
Ted Cruz became Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Rand Paul the Director of the Office of Management and the Budget. Upon hearing of his selection, Paul was heard walking out whistling the tune of Groucho Marx’s song “I’m against it”.
In his early months in office President Trump outlined major priorities for his inaugural year in office. First on the agenda was applying the “domino theory” to the Middle East: Trump stated that Representative Alan Grayson had used the term. He proposed adding Grayson to his team until a member of his Staff informed him that Grayson was a Democrat -- also, that Grayson was in fact opposed to applying the domino theory to the Middle East.
The second and third items on his agenda were concerned with undocumented immigrants and finishing the Wall on the southern border of the USA. The fourth was to stay in touch with his electorate by resurrecting Franklin Roosevelt’s “fireside chats”, which he proposed to present monthly on Fox News. The first chat, on the possibility of moving the National Capital from Washington to Atlantic City, was cancelled.
In early February Donald Trump politely informed Mexico’s President, on Facebook, that Mexico was to pay for the Wall, to which he received no reply. Two weeks later a one-word message appeared: “NUTS” – reminiscent of the Battle of the Bulge. President Trump was astonished and offended that Mexico would refuse an order by the world’s only major power. He was about to ask the Secretary of Defense what to do about the possibility of an invasion to force compliance when he was informed by another member of his Staff as there was no Secretary of Defense since he had not yet filled that Cabinet position.
As an alternative, knowing how important corn was to Mexico, he demanded at Congress impose an embargo upon the export of corn to Mexico, in order to force payment for the Wall. This was passed by the Republican Congress, but backfired when Mexican peasants, who had earlier been impoverished by the now-illegal importation of corn, began to grow maize once again, improving the general health of the population
President Trump next began to take action to move eleven million undocumented immigrants and their children south of the border. He generously donated his private plane to accomplish the task, but was informed that even using larger planes, accommodating 100 of these illegals on each flight, it would take 110,000 flights to accomplish this task, or about 1200 flights a day, amounting to about one flight per minute, every 24 hours, over the proposed three-month period.
The idea of air evacuation was dropped in favor of using bulldozers to facilitate evacuation on land. Dick Cheney, special consultant to the Department of State (called “Lon Cheney” by some wags), had been elevated to Secretary of Defense. He proposed that a consortium headed by Halliburton and Bechtel (cooperating with General Motors and Chrysler) could manufacture in short order 100,000 bulldozers to accomplish the task.
The first production run of bulldozers was ready in early April, to be deployed in South Texas, but it proved difficult to locate undocumented aliens, since they did not register their addresses. But additional forces were seconded to the Department of Homeland Security, and by mid-May they had managed to round up about 100,000 of them in South Texas.
Unfortunately instead of fleeing across the border in the wake of the bulldozers, these recalcitrants simply locked arms and sat down. They just wouldn’t move. When asked why they said that even if they wanted to move toward the border, which they didn’t, the Mexican government had callously denied them entry.
The weather was getting hot. Many local folks began to aid the potential deportees by supply them with food, water, and even tents. Soon, tent cities began to spring up along the Texas-Mexican border. Enfuriated, Rick Perry, new head of the Department of Homeland Security, immediately tripled the number of border control officers and ordered them to remove the tents and those who had donated them. When this proved an onerous and difficult task, military troops were recalled from the token force in Iraq and put to work preventing food and water being provided to the illegals and their children, and breaking up sympathetic demonstrations.
Meanwhile, back in the Middle East, the reduction in troop numbers had scarcely been noticed, as most of Iraq and Syria were now under the control of ISIS. Cheney suggested to President Trump that bombing raids were in order, but Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel said that more ground forces would be needed to defeat ISIS, which meant that the long-dormant draft would have to be reinstated. As in the time of America’s Civil War (now officially labeled, courtesy of Bobby Jindal, “the War of Northern Aggression”) there were draft riots in New York and other cities. Secretary Perry then sent the National Guard to these cities to put down the terrorists, as they came to be called. With so many domestic terrorists, Perry was able to ask, and receive from Congress, additional funds for Homeland Security.
President Trump, to his credit, saved the day. In July, to ameliorate the near-catastrophic border problem, he issued an executive order offering amnesty to the undocumented immigrants camped along the border if they would volunteer for military service in the Middle East. Believing (mistakenly, as it turned out) that the heat over there couldn’t be any worse than a summer in south Texas, many took advantage of this generous offer, leaving their children behind. The number of tents was thus reduced, and the few adults who remained then had the task of taking care of all the children. A chain-link fence was built around each of the tent cities, converting it into a concentration camp, or, as Homeland Security called it, resurrecting a term from a half-century earlier, a “strategic hamlet” In this way, inmates, called “residents”, were prevented from returning to their previous residences elsewhere in the USA.
In the end, it was nature that solved the problem. Fierce hurricanes lashed the border regions, obliterating many of the strategic hamlets and their inhabitants. As the possibility of climate change impacts had been refuted (even to utter the words was illegal in Florida, parts of which were submerged under three feet of water) no preparations had been made and floods inundated the rest of the area. President Trump took advantage of the event and the consequent reduction in the population of illegals to don a flak jacket and declare “mission accomplished!”

--David Stea

THREE POEMS by Bill Pearlman

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on October 20th, 2015 @ 07:38:00 am , using 441 words
Category: Poetry


She stands midway between his
death and future. They cannot
begin the parting, until a
serene consummation is complete.
She wants to attend a theatrical
but the museum is closeby.
He is naked but must dress
in fine greenery to accompany her.
The others seem to be going as well.
The car they arrived in is parked & open
and the way back to the center
will have to assume a taxi;
‘No me bouche,’ she says, meaning no kiss
for that has only stretched his melancholy.
His unnerving passion was always too much
for her, and though she succumbed,
knew the heat was mired in the transitory,
not the enduring. That they loved she knew,
but it was never going to last.
And so their love would involve retreat
and he would mix his possessions
with his old best friend’s who too
had his memories in cardboard boxes.

Hope had hammered thin their expectations
and now the formula supposed survival
not fit or actionable, but purely
a destiny of selves once driven to love
but now uncertain how to endure
such wayward manifestation. Seeming
inertia had found its way ahead
of all desire and the question of living
would have to be simple, under duress
while still attending the Open.



He imagines he is not brave enough
to disentangle his maneuvers, his hopes
that saw through such dormancy & fire.
Round a thousand bends, over the bluffs
of such a vast landscape of heroics,
quick flights, berserk turmoil and ends
that did not regard the means
as anything but shameless dancing—
Now down through all the gaping ceremony,
one hedging toward easy withdrawal, another
game to reach the summit, exhausted
but giving it every ounce of energy—

Entered by god what would not charm anyone,
yet knowing triumph would be its best reward
the peak of Everest there to be taken,
just a few steps more and what victory



The woman is all salmon and you love her
deeply. She’s discovered on an island
where the paintings must be enhanced
with your own burnished feeling.
The old books include a first
of a tattered Kesey Cuckoo’s Nest.
She wonders if she needs to clean up
or is the pure worldly pink flesh
enough in any state. She provides
and is willing to be all. She finds
the coffee shop with a companion
and soon you will show her the boat.
Will this be enough you wonder
and you have to let yourself go
for this is the opportunity you’ve
long prepared for, wanted with a zest
goes beyond mere dreaming.

Bill Pearlman

Pope Francis in the Americas

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on September 26th, 2015 @ 05:50:00 pm , using 129 words
Category: Commentary

Pope Francis' visit to Cuba and the US has brought into the perception of many of us something unique in modern life. A vision of what some sort of spiritual power can do to ignite a remembrance of things outside time & allowing a force field to concur with our own needs. He has invigorated a sense of a world community of love. And no matter there will be critics, what his presence has done is determined not by ideology but by the numinous elementals of coincidence of an actual person and the times which he has entered, a vast experience of caring for us all. I am grateful for this gift; Francis is a true force for the good of mankind and should be celebrated as such. Onward.

Stephen Rodefer 1940-2015

Posted by: Bill Pearlman
Published on August 23rd, 2015 @ 04:44:00 pm , using 365 words
Category: Commentary

Very dear old friend, poet Steve Rodefer died in Paris a few days back. I got a message from his son Benjamin late last night, and Ben and Felix, another of Steve's sons, were on their way to Paris. Steve and I shared lots of great times in New Mexico and Berkeley. He was an editor, a poet, a great lover of women, and he was an important part of my generation. We started a literary magazine, Fervent Valley, in 1972, along with Larry & Lenore Goodell, and Charlie Vermont.

Below is an in memoriam from Geoffrey Young who published some of Steve's good works when he ran The Figures Press. I think of Steve with great fondness and news of his death at 74 kept me remembering so many times together from 1967 when we both arrived in New Mexico until his later years in the Bay Area. He moved to Paris sometime in the last ten years, and we corresponded occasionally, but there was always a deep camaraderie between us and we both loved the power of poetry to move the soul.

Stephen Rodefer

A poet who got his great work written and published by various small presses; a man who gave readings, taught many a younger poet in various universities; fathered four sons; a friend who lived in Albuquerque, Berkeley, Brooklyn, and Paris, Stephen Rodefer died alone in Paris, August 2015, a few months shy of his 75th birthday.

From his earliest days at SUNY Buffalo as a student of Creeley and Olson,
Rodefer knew his calling, and kept his eyes on the prize. Without making a big deal of it, he kept writing, exploring the lyric, putting his hand to a translation of Villon into idiomatic American; stretching out in the long form in Four Lectures; addressing the prose poem with complex wit in Passing Duration; and in the year 2000 he published Mon Canard, pushing sense, puns, and meaning to the sonic brink.

His collected poems, CALL IT THOUGHT, came out in 2008 from Carcanet, UK. (Steve spent some important time in Cambridge, England and was embraced by many British poets.)

He will be missed by all of us who knew and loved him.

--Geoffrey Young

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