Rich Yurman, Poet 1937-2021

Rich grew up in Manhattan and Queens and was delighted to make his home far from those environs. Since graduating M.I.T. and Boston U. and leaving the East, teaching creative writing and algebra he lived in Seattle, Honolulu, and for many years San Francisco, finally retiring to Oakland to continue activism and volunteer work. When asked the typical question “so what do you do?” he answered “I’m a poet”. Many of his poems are firmly rooted in the New York of his childhood, living with his parents and grandparents in Forest Hills. He leaves behind a loving partner, family, friends, students and colleagues who miss him greatly.

The Beauty Part

Chicken feet
What the butcher
should have thrown
like feathers and
the heads with beaks

Nails, yellow bumpy skin
and gristle
a little fat

My grandmother
boiled them
neatly sucked on the toes

‘Don’t be foolish
Try one’
she offered
‘It’s the beauty part’







Secon Avenyuh

He counted it carefully

5¢ for the bus, 5 for the subway

25 a haircut, 10 tip

a dollar matjes herring

5¢ the subway back, 5¢ the bus


Why carry extra


He could go to the corner barber

but they charged a dollar

He bent his head down

Only a crown of white hair

over the ears


‘All I need’s a trim—

 Anyways on Secon Avenyuh

and nowhere else can you

get such herring’

even if the trip took all day


He had lots of time