First Fruits

 

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.

Limestone

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. 

He rumbles.

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.

Tupelo Press

Honorable Mention, Poetry Project

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

of Auschwitz.

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

 

Family History

 

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

Three poems appear on String Poet.

Black Ice won Honorable Mention in the 2014 poetry contest judged by David Yezzi.

Janet R. Kirchheimer – String Poet