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My Works

How The Other Half Lives

New poems. 42 pages, perfect bound. Including poems from our trip to my family castle outside Prague. I got to see the dungeon! And how the other half lives.

Wild Dreams of Reality

Described by Richard Ford in the following jacket blurb: "The almost, but not quite innocent directness of Ratch's savvy little novel is irresistable to me. I read it in a sitting. I'm glad real writers still want to write books this way."

Oakley Hall said of it: "Jerry Ratch's novel of low jinks in Berkeley goes off like a packet of Chinese firecrackers and never stops popping."

"I could see it like a movie in my mind."

A Body Divided: a memoir about growing up with Polio.

Now available from the author. $18.00 signed copy.
The story of a one-armed boy becoming a man in a two-fisted world. Also from

"A gritty and valiant story...I would be glad to recommend it." -- Lawrence Ferlinghetti


"Much more solid content than the rationalizing wimps that fill up the couch on Oprah's show. A literate and inspiring memoir that stands well above the usual marketplace driven drivel. Recommended."

-- Tony Crowell, review


For all of you who enjoy Jerry Ratch's work, may I suggest ...........
by Kentucky Sunshine

"For anyone who enjoys reading Jerry's work, I strongly suggest you purchase 'A BODY DIVIDED'. This was the first of my purchases of his work. It was worth more than the money. This is "Jerry's" story. True to life. Bigger than life in a lot of ways.
He was just a young boy when Polio tried to take his life. He writes about his struggles. The changes it made in his life as a boy, how his family reacted, and how his friends treated him. And what it was like becoming a man.

I laughed. I cried. I was shocked a time or two. And I learned more than he will ever know.

If you really want a good read and you want to know the man behind the scene ..... purchase 'A Body Divided'."

-- Sue Black


RE: 'A Body Divided' by Jerry Ratch

"I have just finished reading ‘A Body Divided' by Jerry Ratch. I would highly recommend this book to everyone.

It's a classic story of living life with perseverance, courage, and a wonderful sense of humor. Don't take my word for it. Buy it-Read it."

-- Alan Rogers


Special one-of-a-kind book hand-printed on the Sombres Reptiles vandercook proof press in 1982. Stunning graphics. Only 130 copies, 25 bound in boards and hand sewn.

Puppet X

Written long before Gen X or the Language Poets came into prominence. Described by Poetry Flash in 1974 as "a stunningly powerful, single long poem... a perfect match in the poem between form and content - the isolation of particular words and images, the broken quality of the poem as it unfolds on the page, matches well the listless, isolated lives he portays; and yet even such a life deserves its epic - even the dead have their songs. Puppet X is a book that opens areas painful to face; yet it also has its smothered laughter, jokes in the face of death. Clearly a fine book."


from a review in PoetryFlash:

"This well-designed book with drawings ... integrated into the text is a fine collection of terse lyrics by the author of Puppet X and Clown Birth. The book is notable also for Ratch's ability to blend myths from Egyptian and ancient African sources in order to produce not a scholarly hodge-podge of erudition, but poetry which is unique and modern in its sensibility. Ratch can see his use of myth with humor, assuming the persona of a tomb-robber: "They were looking for tomb-robbers/ & I was one..." The theme of the book is basically that of death and rebirth, and for this the mythical back-drop of Egypt, with its fertility god Osiris (also associated with creativity) is particularly appropriate. The final poems in the text suggest the death of the physical Egyptian empire, and the permanence of the creative spirit.

Whose soul
do you have?

How many are

There are several
running from death,

whom you might know.

Ratch's sense of image is precise and deeply sensory here, as he imaginatively brings to life the figures in an ancient fresco:

Our skin
moistened with oils,

each of us shining
as we turned,
emitting little

rivers of light.

All in all, this is Jerry Ratch's best written and best produced book of poetry so far, and, indeed, one of the better books to come out of the Berkeley writing community in some time.

-- PoetryFlash

Hot Weather: Poems Selected and New

from a review in Contact II by Robin Kay Willoughby:

"Ratch is a poet the way David Bowie is a musician: it's obvious that Ratch's text resembles Bowie's lyrics (e.g.: " airplane, a very high,/ serious airplane," ..."rainy mouse/ in the year 3000/ after the logical wars"), but less obvious how they both continuously reveal the terror in their business. Far from "parsimonious," Ratch is most lavish with the richness of his lean poems - the few words per piece that he hands us are so intellectually and spiritually nourishing! - satisfying and shocking at once, like brown rice with a salt-plum on the side, as in this, from "Osiris":

so it was
the soul that was
called back

in that sudden
beating of wings

said Run
but my heart
was not there

said Run
but my heart was
in the way

Chaucer Marginalia

Written after discovering the tangy gutter language next to the text of Chaucer's poems, translated from the Middle English by the editors of the Norton Anthology. How could you not make poems from this juicy material?

Lenin's Paintings

sample (last entry):

Everybody was dressed in paper. By the end of the day there was a long line of people waiting for new clothing since what they had on was torn to shreds during the day. Their uniforms hanging from their bodies. They all looked unwrapped. Paper smocks, paper dresses, paper hats.

I had walked by something that snagged my dress and it had literally been torn off me. I had to swathe it back around my body and hold a corner of it tucked under my arm while we went on through the rest of the tour.

And it was in this manner that we passed by Lenin's body lying in state. They had never put him in the ground. He was in perfect shape as if he were still breathing and in good health. He was simply asleep.


A series of poems based on Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modern paintings.

After Anselm Kiefer Painting

The damaged sky is not more black than your hair,
Ashen tonight and floating over the land in blackened
Smoke, where the furrows run with milk light
Or snow, blue and white, and the world-ash floats.

Your patient body sleeps and the white paint
Rises with your breath where the breast sleeps in its
Pool of on-going light. Your hair is the dark shadow
Of all our hair as you exit the land tonight with
Sleep. And lead rises from your back to draw you
Out of this trickle of life inside your body, rising
Slowly as your breast rises and falls, rises and falls.

Only the straw that adds actuality to contempt
Draws you back as the flame will, drawing you back
With its hunger.