i’ve been tryin’ to build up my Twitter feed (because it’s de rigeur for a journalist in 2014, apparently), but in lieu of too many microupdates about my life (which is not that exciting) i’ve been experimenting with micropoetry - trying to fit poems into 140 characters is something of a delicious challenge!
i’ve written 4 in the last 2 days, so here they are:
He sits like a Rodin
Cramped with effort of thought, reading.
I wait. Cracks open in me,
They were my intent.”
Ash, pine, and oak
All far away in the city.
Dense buildings shift at the root
And sway til the tar cracks in the street.”
Sand presses into glass, then shards again.
In a month of rain
I couldn’t put them together.
Some things are close as they can be
in the palm of your hand.”
"In bed, the drear thing
pulled me down.
It was the waiting I felt.
Letting time ravel itself
like a rope, & drop.”
Poem for 2 Film Stills
The last time I saw her she was quiet
between three paintings,
still as a frame
between a Trinity’s clasped hands.
a de Kooning woman,
with a blood-bright color or two.
I thought I saw her again
in another museum, in a dark room
full of videoed stars and fantail fish,
and my throat cramped around her name,
catching the sound in close. The stranger’s jaw
wasn’t hers, the glasses’ frames
too tight at the head
the shoulders too broad
and besides, she’s dead—
But love of the dead doesn’t cease. It keeps
in the dark jar of the heart.
It flows in to the absent shape,
keeping the form, restless
and still, it is
the way the light is.
A body’s been given to me—what shall I do with it,
so singular, and so mine?
For the joy of living quietly, and breathing,
To whom, tell me, shall I give my thanks?
I am the gardener, and I am the flower;
I am not alone in the prison of this world.
My warm breath is already fixed
on the glass of eternity.
A pattern is fixed on it,
Unrecognizable in recent days.
Let the moments flow on their turbid way—
The dear pattern will not be stricken out.
A Poem for the 2,000 Chickens That Died of Heat Exhaustion in Boro Park this Wednesday
I don’t feel any particular sympathy for you chickens
most of the time, my love begins
and ends at the scrumptious yellow marbling
under your skin, but
nothing should die of thirst
and unseasonable heat
in a stacked cage on the sidewalk
in New York City
you never got the chance to die for our sins
(at least formally,
rotated thrice with a grip on the wing tendons
and buoyed by the ritual of purgation),
while the clutter & paraphernelia of prayer
was elsewhere assembled indoors,
thousands of prayer books with thin thin pages
and fragrant white hung in plastic sheaths to keep
spotless for the holiday
Why You Shouldn’t Learn Too Much Torah on Yom Kippur
A little is all right,
A little, just to whet
your appetite for the ridgeless
tedium of prayer,
A verse or two to strengthen your arm
for its concussive impact above the rib bones
Too much and one might
get distracted from the process of repentance
leaning down to flip
to the next verse, the next chapter,
you might lick your arid lips
and wet the pad of your thumb, to turn the page
Twelve years and two days ago, I celebrated my bat mitzvah, on September 9, 2001. It was big and fancy, in a tent in my backyard; everything was purple, including the purple skirt-suits Sarah Lavin and I wore, somewhat mysteriously, and we had sushi and a glassblower. I came to school that week still buoyed by the experience of the massive party at least nominally in my honor, the gold early-September sun through the unturned trees, etc. And then Tuesday morning, when “terrorist attack” was on everyone’s lips, we watched piped-in news from a Spanish TV channel on the ancient TV we all gathered around at school, which only echoed, through fuzz, the ominous plume of smoke we could see drifting up outside our school windows. As much as anything in my life ever had, and even at that age, it felt as if the two events were connected: the one epitomizing some buoyant, carefree prior era in which life floated along in a lavender haze; and the new era, full of perilous uncertainty, in which crossing the George Washington Bridge took hours, in which just getting home felt like a necessary safety that I could no longer take for granted.
Meet Yoel Weisshaus. Yoel, a Chasidish Jew who grew up in a Yiddish speaking home in Brooklyn, attended Yeshiva at an early age. Yoel is a peasant with chutzpa known for suing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey over its controversial toll hikes, at prices that exceed twofold what one earns per hour under the minimum wage. Yoel is talented and drafts his own pleadings because he cannot afford an attorney, his case is still ongoing. He freelances in sales of American made braidings and ribbons for local garments and hat manufactures. Yoel has an accent because English is not his first language, but he is still striving to learn English writing.
Today’s theme: Going to the Doctor.
Jews Make Jokes:
A Jew goes to the doctor.
—Doctor, will I live?, he asks.
—But what’s the point?, the doctor answers.
Ukrainian With a Smile:
A patient goes to the doctor with a jar of urine.
"Doctor, I have bad test results, what do I do?"
The doctor takes the jar in hand, looks at it under the light, and suddenly takes a mouthful of urine and spits it into the patient’s face. The patient screams, and the doctor says:
"Your urine is excellent, my friend, but you’ve got to work on your nerves."
This may be the darkest joke I’ve ever read. The backstory on this is that millions of people died in Ukraine in 1932-33 [and many more in subsequent famines but that’s the infamous one] thanks to Stalin’s harvest quotas and the zeal of the Communist bureaucracy in collecting them, thereby leaving the peasants to starve. GREAT PUNCHLINE!! Anyway, this is the best joke about farm collectivization in rural Soviet Ukraine you’ll hear all day.
In a small Ukrainian village, red commissars were heading the surplus appropriation committee.
“So, you little bitches, are you sad to lose your cow to the revolution?”
“No, Mr. Officer, we are not sad.”
“And your horse, you kulak beasts, you don’t regret losing it to the revolution?”
“No, Mr. Officer, we don’t regret it.”
“And your pig, you malformations, don’t you regret losing it to the revolution?”
“No, Mr. Officer, we do not regret it.”
“And what about your chicken, you whores, you don’t regret losing it to the revolution?”
“We regret losing the chicken.”
“What can we say, Mr. Officer… we don’t have a cow, or a horse, or a pig…”
Sometimes you can tell the most about a culture by what it’s willing (and unwilling) to joke about. You can read more about the ‘32-33 famine in Ukraine, otherwise known as “Holodomor” (or “Hunger-Death”), here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor