Saturday, February 26, 2011

Neta

My feet remember
the stones of Jerusalem
walking in Summer
my sandals in hand
down Yoel Solomon
up the midrechov
& coffee from Bonker's
in Kikar Tzion

sitting at tables
outside The Village Green
singing old songs
'til three a.m.

My feet remember
the grass in the gan
Independence Park
& sticky green plums

& I remember you wrapping my
red jacket 'round your waist
one cold October night
when you'd gotten your period
a hotel clerk let us
clean up in the bathroom
even though we were "freakim"
in from off the street

I remember "the moon"
& those muggy bored nights
bumming cigarettes
from the American Yeshiva kids

& I remember that morning
I was racing to work
at a quarter to eight
and that terrible call
asking me if I was
sitting down

Averno

Peeling a sale price sticker from a book
a book by the poet, Louise Gl├╝ck
a book of poesies
a book of used-to-bes
a book of wonders like
small volcanic seas

Such a pity though, at 5.98
that this wonderful book
should meet such a fate :
the book "bargain bin"
in the Empire State!

Friday, February 25, 2011

10/98: Working as a Tour Guide in Jerusalem

Walking atop the walls of old Jerusalem:

_____"This is the Damascus Gate
______and this— this is the Jaffa
______and if you look to your left
__________you'll see
______the Tower of David

______"The Western Wall's
_________down that way
_______as well as the
_______Dome of the Rock
_______and there⎯ _where you see
_________that arch,
_______that we call The Hurva"

Each measured step
the young Germans took
was light, reverential,
as if they felt
they were walking on glass
and carried in their backpacks
like stones,
their grandparents' sins.

Friday, February 18, 2011

R.O.Z. pt. i (2/18/11: Union Sq. South)

The quiet rushing—
beneath the sidewalk vendors calling
beyond the waves of cellphone talking
past footfall percussion and sneaker shuffle
under car honks bus hydrolics subway rumble

The quiet rushing
The city's breath
The river of Zen

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What am I
this spirit /mind
These eyes to see
these ears to hear
this skin to touch
Experience collected?
or even for its own sake—
What am I
shoes worn
things seen
places been
people known
unimportant
everything
I am

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The desk at which I read and write is simple,
just a low table, 8 or 9 inches off the floor.
On it, are a few favorite books:
Richard Wright’s “Haiku”, Lu Chi's "Wen Fu" and “The Poems of T’ao Ch’ien”
at the moment, also coffee, pen and notebook
and a clipping in a teacup for company.

I sit before my desk on a cushion on the floor
and thinking of nothing special, I realize
how easily it can all be taken apart:
the books can be repatriated to the shelf
the teacup clipping to a sunlit sill, even
the table neatly folded into the closet.

How easily death breaks down the things we build.
O, crooked stick! my
aching back, how will you help
me from my cushion?
Quietly I lie here wide awake
covers to my chin against the
open window cold
watch you as you swallow pills, strip
off your purple sleepshirt
now naked in the blue becoming
yellow morning light

Monday, February 14, 2011

2/14/11: Kerhonkson, Samsonville Rd.

roadside brown brush scrub
brown hawk lifts a snake
slick and black
a meal on the fly

Sunday, February 13, 2011

T.V.
switched on
on a
quiet
morning
is a
boisterous stranger
invading the apartment.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On reading Lu Chi's "The Art of Writing"

Now that the stalks
have been brought from the fields
Now that the chaff
has been stripped from the grain
Now that the grain
has been ground on the mill
The bread has been baked
and the meal has been eaten
Now that stomachs are full
and eyes shut in sleep on the
sated faces of my contented family
I'll return to my fields
plant new seeds

What's the use after all
in leaning on my plow?

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Mother’s Stick Sutra

I dreamed that I’d gone
to my parents’ house, the
house I’d grown up in

to get the walking stick
I’d carved for my mom
at some point many
many years ago

But when I got there, the
stick was hollowed—
Termites buzzed in it
and it it was weak—
wouldn’t support me
now when I needed it.

The past will not neces-
sarily support
the present

The present will not neces-
sarily support
the future

The stick had been fine
for whom it'd been made
& when I'd made it, but

The past is a memory
Now it was useless

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Shop windows
hawking pastels
force Spring into
Winter mind

Firm denial
of the now
Slow rain
icicle branches
glass trees
cast rainbows

Soon it will be Spring.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Jazz

Slick sidewalk foot fall music
high heeled taps
or smooth sole slide
tap tap scuff slide tap scuff tap
there's jazz in these streets
On stepping outside
the first of today
a blast of cold snow
hits my face

I smile at the joke
and miss my hat.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Rucksack

Notebook
and pen
Chopsticks
and spoon
Water bottle
Prayer beads
Book of poems
Plum:

Sacred things

2/1/11: M102 Bus

Passing your stop
at 5:32, I was
disappointed to see
you didn't get on.

2/1/11: Bookstore

You sniff the air
for a hint of her
fifteen seconds
after she's passed—
a fresh stack of books
cradled in her arms.