The poems which compose this collection are what I call poetry of landscapes, or geographical poems. Yet, as you well know, geography can also be mapping the mind, the life, the existence-s of anyone around. This is where the feelings triggered by these territories led the poet: the observation of the self. I was born in Normandy, France and have been travelling a lot and living in foreign countries and remote places: Bath, Manchester, the Indian Ocean. I settled in centre eastern France in June 2012, and I realised there had been a cycle in this long journey, that I had run away from a place (Normandy) because I found it an excruciating place to live in and felt as if suffocating, it had become my fetters; just to find myself in the same kind of place, twenty-years later, and in a role I quite despised at the time. What other way is there, then, than to travel and map the self, just to escape differently and farther, even if that means losing one's mind?
Some poems lean toward the lyrical, some toward the narrative. On one page an elegy, on another an acrostic. A trio of prose poems turns up. One poem, The Horizon of the Poplar Trees, is bilingual. Running Cows delights with humor. You never can tell who or what will show up on the next page.
Throughout Crossing Puddles if we must journey toward our painful understanding, we do so in the soothing company of the weatherman who is also the man who paints landscapes. We experience a sense of wonder for the fog of Normandy, the cold and damp of the Center Eastern French winter. Not surprisingly, but certainly pleasingly, the man in all his iterations is firmly rooted in French soil. Indeed, the organizing principle of the book is a tour de France with sections titled Nantes, Normandy and Bresse.
Taken together, climate and geography become beauty’s antidote for
“those whose life has gone too thin” (Mamie).
I also think RUHLMANN intends for us to find relief in his lush botanical milieus. Poet as imp would have us meet the “Messy Messiah, moss in the missing mass (Making Zoran Come). Poet as shaman would have us worship trees.
Karla Linn MERRIFIELD, from the foreword to Crossing Puddles
As an artist of any stripe, it remains a constant duty to one’s vocation to keep questioning, researching, and refining one’s identity. RUHLMANN's Crossing Puddles pays homage to this courageous and ongoing process.
Marie LECRIVAIN, Al-Khemia Poetica, 2015
As its title suggests, Walter Ruhlmann’s Crossing Puddles is a moist, wet and sometimes drenched book. It’s sticky with fluids, supple with organicity, non-cosmetic – and, above all, funky. I mean “funky” in three senses of the term: the olfactory, the depressive and the existentialist a la philosopher Cornel West, who thinks of “funk” as “wrestling with the wounds, the scars, the bruises, as well as the creative responses to wounds, scars, and bruises.” Really, relatively few writers dare to scrape the underside of things, to plumb the profane as much as the sacred, and to pull back humanity’s foreskin to expose its shmegma.
David HERRLE, Subtle Tea, 2016
Another Day Out
Decreasing the days from now,
revolution has its own way.
The sparrow flies towards its night,
wings covered with milky dust,
eyes opened wide,
crystal meth falls with its tears.
Clouds cover the landscape,
softly driven from the west;
winds erupt and blow them out;
the rain, the storm have gone astray.
no minds are known
and there are
none left undone.
Forty thousand specks of dust and we count down
stones falling from the wall
the signal has been shown
the other side is our salvation – what salvation are you expecting?
The finding took longer than expected
the caterpillar and the spider mated in the dewy cobweb.
What way out can one find from this?
The green prints, foot steps on the dark soil,
on the other side of the garden
where the dragonfly landed yesterday
to meet the sprites hiding under the hedge row.
What Hides in the Bathroom Drawer
Could there be anything wrong
when night comes?
Or when left alone in the dark
I visit the moister parts of myself.
I mentioned it to her lately.
I could see she was annoyed,
Should I lie and keep smiling
when I feel it all comes back?
This darkness invades my head,
it mingles with all my cells,
the whiteness of my brains only blurred by blood
in the veins and arteries:
small rivulets encircling neuralgias.
They all become full of coal dust
black & white,
A pale moon invades the room.
Ogres crash in and gulp me down,
flesh and bones.
Big Bad Wolf and Beelzebub
dance together and collide,
they mate and they come.
They give birth in unison
to a devastating son.
He whispers close to my ear
filling my skull with strange sounds
that cannot be erased by songs,
or the birds, fluttering.
Paperback - 71 pages - black & white - 10€ - £12 - $15 from the printer's website
From the author via Paypal with the mail address wruhlmann [at] laposte [dot] net