Poem of the Paper Bird
My paper bird is white as a dove.
My paper bird is graceful as a crane,
with its long paper neck and pointed beak.
My paper bird has sight like a hawk,
and could give you a scratch:
a stinging paper cut.
My paper bird has a song,
beautiful as a nightingale’s,
written on each of its paper wings.
My paper bird has no iron-barred cage.
I keep my paper bird on my kitchen table
next to my paper rose.
(First appeared in the 2011 Montreal International Poetry Prize Longlist Anthology)
The Spirit Goes On Thinking
My spirit thinks like a steady clock
that never has to be wound.
It continues thinking, doesn’t stop
when illness drowns my mind in clouds.
I no longer fear its musings gone,
aware that such meditations do go on,
ripple through some spiritual current
like an orphaned boat on water.
Before any symptom lessens
poems may arrive on shore
full of references
to an intricate, long-developed
school of thought,
volumes of tractates,
I have a long scroll in my soul
of thoughts I am unable to find
with my mind--a journal
my spirit is writing all the time.
These words just now arriving
follow an entry on that scroll
written days and days and days ago
as my sprit went on ticking.
(First appeared in Poetry East)
Forthcoming in One Sentence Poems
One Sentence Poems, March 2017
Poetica Magazine, Fall 2016
Valparaiso Poetry Review, Volume XVII, Number 2, Spring/Summer 2016
Story Magazine; Migrations Issue, Spring 2016
-"Vilna" and "In Yemin Moshe"
New South; Issue 8.1; Spring 2015
-"The Spirit Goes On Thinking"
Prairie Schooner; Fall 2012
-"Poem of the Paper Bird"
2011 Montreal International Poetry Prize Longlist Anthology
2011 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize for "Over Jerusalem"
Listen to me recite some of my favorite poems on soundcloud:
On Cape Cod
Shivering on this sandbar, I wait for my father
to notice the late hour: time to come
with the blow-up crocodile, the blow-up boat--
Time to take me back from here
where I’m stuck, held yet far off,
like the kites in the air,
and even if he carries me with my arms tight around him,
a film of salt and water will be between our skin
as the blow-up boat glides along empty in the sea.
(First appeared in Prairie Schooner)
There was that strange scent both times I went:
almost unpleasant, kept me recalling
that blood once ran through the cobblestone streets
yet it was tender like grass in the rain.
Each time I arrived amid plenty of rain,
but I’m certain the days lasted longer
the first time, the first summer,
just as that month seemed longer
than when I went anywhere
again for a month, bled into the months
and the years I walked down after
those white evenings in summer.
(First appeared in New South)
Language I learned en la escuela primaria,
en una programa bilingüe, language of homework
and a terrifying third grade teacher, language I feared
forgotten after every summer.
Language of nearly none of my ancestors,
except those fleeing Sephardim,
who dispersed in all directions
and, I’ve read, through all Ashkenazim.
Language once purged, still so Catholic
school seemed parochial by mistake,
as if my native English needn’t be selective,
purged of Jew-you-down and good Christian praise.
Language that feels so American,
not the Russian, the German, the Polish
my grandparents’ parents fled Europe fluent in
and shed, keeping only Yiddish.
Language that confused my English pronunciation,
loosened my accent, further cultivated in me
the seeds of a rootless cosmopolitan,
even here, in the Land of the Free…(First appeared in Poetica Magazine)