Poetry - August, 2013


So here is how it goes

I am walking down
wet and muddy stony
really stony alleys
of the Warsaw cemetery
Jewish that is
just by the ghetto
once here and ever,
reading those stones,
I guess, of the lucky
Jew people and persons
who got to die in their beds
at home or hospital
and from the grave beyond
got someone to put up a marker
with all kinds of words
to fix their life in stone,
and just across the street
on the now rebuilt Polish city
once lived and then
died killed murdered
some 350,000 Jews,
so I along with other
genocide tourists
am looking
for some metaphor or simile
or symbol
that’s it symbol
to lend grasp and mastery
even understanding
by which to memorialize
that I was here
isn’t that what memory
and metaphor are about
not them the murdered past
but me and us
the here for now
and narcissistic,
so this rain is drizzling down on
my ‘take a Ralph
once Lifshitz now Lauren cap
it will keep you dry’
this is great
I got me
and us a metaphor,
it is drizzling rain
what a God gift
God Himself
crying over it all,
that’s me metaphor
it works doesn’t it
it’s raining
God’s tears
but they are all
dead and ash



here you cannot help
remembering King Lear, blind, forsaken
on that hostile, wind-lashed heath
of Hagar crouched beneath a dry shrub
shielding her son’s parched skin
against the mid-day sun’s belligerence
herself against despair

stones grow in the desert
the universe shrinks
prize and priority diminish
desire ebbs to fit uneasily
inside two starkly naked words:

I thirst


Their illegible runes

Very many years ago I dated a roaring alcoholic
Who taught me many things about many things;
Much of what I learned was about me—such as,
For example, that I didn’t have the guts to retire
From what wasn’t even a love affiar. This is sad
To write, even now, but I bet we all learn slowly
In this crucial area, yes? But I learned much else
That was haunting and poignant. Alcoholics, she
Told me, incise a web and welter of scratches on
Their car doors, just by the driver’s side keyhole;
They are always poking haphazardly in the dark
For where the keyhole used to be. You hear lines
Like that, your heart breaks a little for the busted
Parts of us all, you know? Yes, it’s a disease, yes,
It’s a social ill, a terrible one, it’s haunted history,
It’s hammered children, shattered families, stolen
Unimaginable oceans of creativity and joy, killed
Millions of people who might have been stunning
Bolts of light in their own amazing ways. But this
Evening, opening my car door, I think of the poor
Souls thrashing in the dark, desperate for an open
Door, scratching their illegible runes, scribbling a
Sad new alphabet in the bright glitter of their cars.



My brother makes lists of what he needs to live.
He is down to a towel, a small rucksack,
good socks, rice and beans and clementines, and flip-flops
for strange showers. He wants to be a saint
and the holiest travel light. Easier to press close
to God wearing only a thin shirt and holding
a short list of other loves. He worries, sharp-nosed
and sweet, how much to treasure a sturdy hat
or a stack of warm tortillas; he digs his fingers
into the rocky, well-loved home soil. He’ll have to shake it off,
so’s not to be weighed down on his way to heaven.
In this late night during a visit home, our parents
snore tenderly in a distant room. We do not speak of loving
God more than one’s family, though we both know
the rules; we do not speak of knees scarred by prayer.
Loss and revelation both come in whispers: we do not speak.