rg cantalupo is a poet, playwright, filmmaker, novelist, and director. His work has been published widely in literary journals in the United States, England, and Australia.
He graduated from UC Santa Cruz where he studied under such luminaries as George Hitchcock, editor of Kayak, Gregory Bateson, and Norman O. Brown, and received his MFA in Poetry and Non-Fiction from Vermont College of the Fine Arts.
His books of poetry include Involving Residence, No Thanks, Walking Water On Earth, The Art of Naming, Remembrances, and The Endurance: Journey To Worlds End, (a lyric novel).
He is also the author of You Don’t Know Me, (a five book young adult series), The Light Where Shadows End, and The Shadows In Which We Rise, memoirs, American Patriot, Surviving Covid, and a number of plays and stage adaptations including the musical versions of The Giving Tree and Where The Wild Things Are. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Stages in Santa Monica, a performing arts center.
He served in the 25th Infantry Division as an RTO, radio operator, for an infantry company from 1968-69 and received three purple hearts and a Bronze Star with a Combat V for Valor Under Fire.
His books can be purchased through New World Publishers or through the author at email@example.com.
Links to YouTube Videos of RG Cantalupo's poetry:
A SAMPLE POEM
Baby San wanted horses
mostly, Mustangs and
Appaloosas, a small ranch
outside Tucson with a good
woman and a few sons.
Devil wanted his girlfriend
to take this morning’s letter
back, for it to be the way
it was that last night
when she called out his name—
”Demond!”—Demond, the name
he had before he left The
World. I wanted to finish
school and write about
our days here, this day
and the ones before, us
simmering Spaghetti C’s
over heat tabs and drinking
our six free beers in the bunker’s
dusty shade, the crackle of
green bullets igniting the air
outside—far away now as we
sat and drank and lied and
killed the day, each of us
wanting what we knew
we couldn’t have, till it was
time to go and one by one
we stood up and stepped
through the blinding doorway,
and disappeared into the light.
ABOUT REMEMBRANCES (2022)
The poet provided the following description about his new book Remembrances (4/29/2022): "Some memories never die. Some memories are indelibly imprinted on our lives—moments of love, moments of overwhelming grief, of terror, of intense pain, of breathtaking happiness. And some moments change our lives forever. This is a book of such moments, remembered as best I can, shared in the only way I know. They are the moments that make up the story of my life."
Here are a few excerpts from the book:
“If I could fill this body that each day ferries me through this world with only the moments I love, these would be among them. For my life isn’t like a boat, or a river, but these memories I carry inside me as I tread upstream or downstream toward tomorrow—these remembrances I cherish more than the traumatic ones that each day I must endeavor to forget.”
From “Prisoner of War”
“The night terrors ended—one night, or maybe over many nights—bleeding out till there was nothing left but fragments like the shrapnel that kept rising to the surface of my skin. Even the names—Lonny, Devil, Spike, Lee—faded into echoes, and then were gone.
I pressed them onto rice paper at The Wall once, and put them between the pages of a book like dead flowers, but they’re gone too, lost, along with the book, sometime during the days when I kept moving to forget where I’d been.”
From “Listening Post, December 23rd, 1968”
“Out here, gazing up at a trillion flickering stars, I could be anyone.
I could be who I was ten months ago, lying under a sycamore in Monterey, Janice snuggled beside me, just us, us and the stars, and the moon.
But no, I’m here, my head pressed against a rice paddy dike, my face blackened, my eyes staring through a starlight scope.
And the universe is so much smaller. It barely reaches beyond the rubber trees around Trang Bang, or our perimeter of claymore mines.”
From The Second Time I Got Wounded”
“—and so, I stood and watched and commanded my frozen body to move, to stop shaking, to take that last step beyond my fear and go into the fire—until it was finally over, the rockets no longer falling, the explosions ended, the ground silent, and all that was left were the moans for “Medic! Medic!”—my body fearless now, my legs unfrozen, the last step into darkness taken—and I ran, ran to the same pit where two weeks later I would stand as another rocket spiraled down, exploding a few feet away, hurling me up into the air, lifting me so high my soul looked down upon me as I lay bleeding, moaning “Medic! Medic!” and praying someone would come…”
“One afternoon, her fingers touched mine as they moved over the gauze near my heart, and I clasped them in a lover’s embrace, just for a moment, one quick moment, and gone.
When I left a few weeks later for a hospital in Japan, her eyes moistened as her sad hand waved goodbye.
Every now and then I still see her, her deep, brown eyes studying mine,as I gritted through her pain and my own.
I saved the letters I wrote in Yokohama.
I never knew where to send them.”
“I could’ve gone to jail for life to save a life, instead of pulling the trigger for death. Because there was no reason really, no justification for being there, for invading, or searching, or destroying their lives.
But I didn’t.
I made a choice.
And so, I ask for forgiveness. Not from some indifferent God, nor the blue sky, nor these white walls, nor this heart that beats like a mantra every day inside me.
But from my friend Teresa, from her and her family, and all the Vietnamese I’ve known…”