You listen to the thump
the dirt makes as you
spade it on to more dirt while
you till the garden by hand because
the Roto-tiller is broken and
you push the spade in the ground
with your foot, turn a clod of dirt
over and lay it diagonally in front of you,
working your way across the garden,
in rows, left to right, then right to left,
so you don’t step in the dirt
that’s already been spaded, and you realize
you still have to hoe and rake
the soil before you can even plant
any seeds, and then you’ll have to water
the seeds each day and care for the plants
as each breaks through the soil, stretching
towards the sun, and you’ll worry that
there will be too much rain or too little,
and you’ll fret over the eggplant
in the southern corner of the garden
that keeps losing its leaves, and your heart
will overflow as the crops begin to come in,
and you’ll rush to the house to show anyone
who is there the first of the tomatoes that seemed
to have suddenly ripened in the noonday sun,
and you will begin to wonder if this is why
Cain did not give God the first of his fruits,
when he made an offering, why he brought
the poorer quality fruits, why he wanted to keep
those first fruits for himself.
The Geometry of Poetry
You know how it is, you leave your workshop, and x comes into your head and you have to write about it, but y keeps popping up too and no matter how you try, y won’t go away and you try to turn y into x and now you feel like you’re back in 10th grade geometry, trying to prove something like angle a = angle b, and you can’t remember any of the theorems, and you think using a ruler would just be a whole lot simpler, but the teacher won’t pass you if you do that, and y is still getting you off the point of x, and you wish you had a tape recorder because the thoughts are coming so fast, but you’re walking up Columbus Avenue, and it’s ten o’clock at night and all the stationery stores are closed, and you’re six blocks from your fourth-floor walk-up, and you’ll never make it back to your apartment without forgetting most of the words, when you spot a Starbucks and go in, find a table, but not one near the window so you won’t get distracted, and you need to start writing immediately so you take off your hat and gloves, but leave on your coat and knapsack, sit down and try to get back to x, but there’s y popping his head in, “hey, what about me – I’m far more interesting than x,” so you give in and start to write about y and then y tells you that he would never say such a thing, and you tell him that you’re the one writing, but y says that this is his reputation on the line, and you realize that you’re in the middle of Starbucks arguing with a letter of the alphabet, but this is New York City, and no one is paying attention to you anyway, so you stick to your guns and tell y to keep his big mouth shut, and you try again, but now you can’t remember what you were trying to write about in the first place, and x and y aren’t speaking to you anymore, and you’re hot because you’ve still got your coat on and your back hurts from your knapsack, and you realize your poem isn’t going anywhere, so you get on line, order a double cappuccino and head home.
Poemeleon, Nominated for a Pushcart Prize
Lover’s Errata, See pg. 73
This is what he fells me.
He’s never been with anyone so errata,
how he bloves all the blings I do to whim.
That’s the vermouth.
He says hell be there forever.
I coo the girl fling, mold on.
And there he flows, out of my wife.
I still steal his touch, his misses,
want to fall him, come up with any season.
He left his thanks in the hamper,
his iplod in my fish tank.
I want to bring them clover to him.
Take me whack.
I want you lack.
This is what I drink.
I’m just a tool for love
as the song throws,
a drool, a ghoul,
a pool for blove.
Honorable Mention, Poetry Project
The doctor comes in, introduces himself,
asks questions about my health (good),
recent illnesses (none), operations
(tonsils removed when I was four), maternal
grandparents (grandmother died at ninety-two from old age,
grandfather died at sixty-six from a heart attack),
paternal grandparents (died before I was born).
The doctor says it is important for my medical history
to know how they died.
So I tell him they died in Auschwitz.
He has no more questions and tells me
to undress for the physical exam.
How to Spot One of Us
In Oma Kirchheimer’s Hand
In Gothic script
on paper now so brittle–
almost sixty years old–
it falls apart at the touch.
Meine lieben Kinder!, my beloved
children, she writes
to the ones
who made it to America,
and I cannot read any further.
I know how it will end.
How to Spot One of Us
My Father’s Sister
In an old black-and-white photograph
Ruth looked just like Dorothy
with long, dark braids
and a small black dog on her lap.
But it was not Kansas, and
she could not click her heels
three times and go home.
She did not own
a pair of ruby slippers,
and the yellow brick road
did not lead to the gates
of the Emerald City.
It led to the gates
How to Spot One of Us