My Rap Sheet is Long

Poems Selected 1995-2018
By Orin Domenico


Orin Domenico has been writing poetry for almost thirty years but My Rap Sheet Is Long is his first full-length book to date. He borrows Gil Scott Heron’s term “bluesologist” to describe his work and his process. Indeed, Domenico is heavily influenced by the blues, as well as jazz, and often plays with the tropes and forms found in the “Great American Song Book,” in the cries, laments, Devil-on-my-trail hollers and shouts that make up the music, but he does this while creating his own “diction,” as he puts it.

He is equally indebted to Allen Ginsberg, Robert Bly, and William Yeats, but that debt is not the limit to Domenico’s range. Each of these different sources are the ingredients that he uses to develop a unique vocabulary of images and sounds. With this vocabulary, he works through the long history of his personal life, as well as the transformations in American society he has witnessed since the 1960s.


Available for purchase at The Cafe Domenico or ADD TO CART ︎

Interview of Orin Domenico by Allen Guy Wilcox for Time’s Arrow Literature.

“This readable and beckoning collection of poesy by Orin Domenico trembles with trust, angst, thanatopsis, and worry, yet is certain in its voyage of mixing of his radical/progressive life experience with appreciation of his own remarkable history. Orin Domenico walks the talk, and talks the Walk, singing and chanting the worth of the down-trodden in the murk and muck and mayhem of modern and not-so-modern living... A fine, readable collection is MY RAP SHEET IS LONG. Get it, and take the time to read and study it.” Ed Sanders

The Poet, Ordered to Write a Poem, Listens to Children Waiting for the Bus

The children waiting for the yellow buses
are loud today caught as they are in the sway
of energies they do not comprehend
nor are inclined to further investigate
locked up as they are in the world of
headphones, smart phones and homes
dominated by television chatter where
words careen from speakers and tongues
to fall and shatter on the cold concrete
unimpeded in their descent by inquisitive
ears or by the soul’s need to ponder their
deeper resonance. Who in the electronic
playpen in which they are confined will
take the time to teach them the wonder
of words the way they tunnel like worms
into the warm loam of the soul, titillating,
conjugating, fornicating freely within the
safe realm of the imagination where
insurgency and liberation are conceived?
Who will grab them by their ears and
let them hear the way words can pirouette
upon the tongue, spin out from pursed lips
to whisper or explode gentle or violent
in the barren air between the palate where
they are formed and the hungry ears that
receive them, the way the sonic syllables
play off one another, to dance, prance,
chant, enchant, rant and pant in the
endless erotic interplay of sound with
meaning? What mercurial thief will help
them release words from their current
confinement to the vernacular flatland
of information and the abstract wasteland
of academic blather, for words if given a
choice would rather frolic once again in
the poetic, cave-wall-painting world of
connotation from which they came
abandoning the lame land of denotation
the simple game of point and name so
devoid of deeper knowing? Who will teach
them that the tongue is the ultimate tool
of love, the servant of ear and eye the
seducer who released from its corporate
shackles might lead you and me back to that
myth-laden land where a dragon lies upon
the mound of gold needed for our ransom?

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