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Table of Contents A Riddle

1

Fish: An Observation

2

A Scale

3

The Chill That Shows Life

4

The Undead Earth

5

Cries and Laughter

6

While My Parents Were Talking About College

7

Ice and Dirt

8

Paralysis

9

Along Bridge Street

10

April 15, 2012

12


A Riddle It is old, stretched, scratched But it carries those scratches proudly Each crack and each pop of it settling into place are battle scars It is the unsung It holds what it has been given The clinch is eternal It was young once The hide was oiled, fresh When unlatched, the lips would part smoothly From Dust to Rust From Bound to Settled From a swung light reflected on a shoulder to the shadows What now is thin and curved in has once bulged out The secrets packed to the brim But gone now, deflated, only filled by ideas and consciousness It is both unique and a unit No one sells the memories, but they sell the experience Meaningful, eloquent, but still merchandise And it is mundane, ordinary, prosaic The straps still hang loosely It has seen no great thing, except life It is a Bag

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Fish: An Observation Three drops Three drops of blood The fish lay dead on the waxed brown paper It shines over such dullness Once free and wet Reptilian eyes Humanoid lips Lips hiding teeth that reveled in the pursuit of prey Fins that move in the water as the sails of a Junk move in the wind And each ridged scale holds the picture of a shell A fan that a woman might hold that reminds her of home And the fish changes It is no longer the four letter fish A word so swift it swims and wriggles as the shhh pulls out its tail It becomes more than the idea With fishfishfishfish until it becomes meaningless Fish is the grey-blue slightly bloated briny muscle with two eyes with guts black and red like a war torn swamp spears lay in the chest, protecting and containing a world a war lay inside It truly can never die as long as its legacy its body continues With such a world inside With such a life outside All that spilled was three drops

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A Scale To travel far Into the maw And of wind flaring with Footsteps Drifting with pompous Thespians The throat, low with more Trees, with bees And ease of peace Charcoal, Charcoal, Charcoal Juniper, hops, and beer Drunk in the sight of numb With light of life to celebrate Tonight

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The Chill that Shows Life Steam billows from a broken pipe in a scar in the dirt blocked by strips of plastic that warn Grass, sprinkled like hay on fresh dirt lives and dances, clinging to the spaces no one steps on and threatens to cross the Mason–Dixon Line into asphalt Hills hide slumbering giants underneath which wake when clouds pass over and wonder as trees do when they look skyward Clouds of silk flow freely towards each other strong winds blow them across the sky winds that bite color from air A metal grate in the grass says, “this is a found area” mankind has made their claim so we can cast our shadows from fluorescent bulbs onto tiles In winter there are only objects the horizon holds no life except those who can forever shine green A chill is in the air while students play a game of “Spot the Detail” and I get my coat

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The Undead Earth Spring is a rave But gaze out upon the land in winter And watch it change with the bass of light Yelling wooooooOOOOOOOO And self control shatters into bright colors Of the lone yellow dandelion And the hornet’s nest of bees The trill of life to ward off death Masking inhibitions with sunset petals Carving hieroglyphics onto trees Spring is a dare Arriving just in time To melt snow And regrow Warming the cold earth Like the Necronomicon warms a cold corpse Life must start again, but now? When the sun changes keys When leaves turn to dirt When clouds are photoshopped against the sky Its time to step outside But spring tricks us Like a wolf wearing sheep’s wool Changing when we don’t want to Like Anansi, weaving a web of lies And growing a garden of sorrows But it doesn’t feel like spring yet And I’m not a poet when I’m cold

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Cries and Laughter He cries crudely The sniveling groucher eating his last meal And the mint of his mat stands in the soapsuds When a cow sought to moan a moo. And he clenches his chest and yells “Howard” A pencil drips into the Nile And I smell the bagels brought freely from the market My, oh my, to see the bay Light brought in but upon a fray Singing that there is no work today Singing, no work today Blackened sight, indeed too soon For there was no rising of the moon Men tear at hair And eat their voices While workers sing Dancing along the bay No work today No work today I know the men (They sing and fight and fuck like beasts) Monsters, they call each other Their spirit dyed pink By the great and healing leech See the schoolboys with their schoolbooks And glasses that try to push their noses to their chin Reflecting on the slumbering sludge of the summer And Carl Jung sits drawing upon his dreams The wind howls as I remember While I wait behind the candlelight windows Breathing in the steam that flows like milk from a porcelain cup of tea Expecting an urgent call And we shiver at the cold And at the bread with the mold And at the cobwebs standing in the halls Of deserted houses on deserted streets Calling to us to insert our feet (The spelling and grammar check is complete) Glass that tints the world from purple to black Kicks my sigh into saying “I see!” And lets it settle into the meaning, “I believe!” For I can suggest a future that is to exist for me And when they hear it, they whisper, “Flee”

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While My Parents Were Talking About College While my parents were talking about college, I thought about how they would live without me Not how could they live But what they would do Or rather, wouldn’t do They wouldn’t have to take turns to wake up at 7 every morning to see me out They wouldn’t have to be at home when I came home They wouldn’t have to tell me to keep doing my work But then I realized for a second what it meant for them That they would be sending both sons from their house That home would not mean the same thing I understood the immensity of the situation Of not only sending their child away But sending a part of themselves Their eyes, nose, mouth, arms Which they have slapped on the name of their family And a personal name A being who has been honed for the real world for about 18 years or so A smiling, blue-eyed, handsome thing They have fed, taught, and learned from Given a shoulder to cry on, and a shoulder to bleed on Taught to fight Taught to write Taught to laugh Taught to do laundry Yelled at Worried over And hope that effort is enough to give direction to this mass of possibility So they will be able to stand securely. I see their hands Like their parents hands Which my hands will one day become. What must it feel like To know that one day these beings will leave And discover what they will do When, as concrete people Cemented from their cloud of imagination, They raise beings Of their own

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Ice and Dirt I was once a tugboat captain Shouting orders that moved iron many times my size Many times my boat’s size Many times my imagination’s size I once led a mission To pull a boat out of a bay Covered in ice. We cut through that ice like paper. I stood at the prow And I imagined walking through the ice Breaking each shard apart with my abdomen As my feet tread along the ocean floor Through the syrup of water which could not solidify Or the floor of the ocean was a sidewalk of New York On which A puddle Froze Over. I was once a fair trade farmer With a strong right hand and a strong right handMan We would watch the sun set behind the trees as we tilled the earth Once when we were planting the seeds I feel asleep between the dirt mounds. I watched the sun set over the mountains of soil And I saw an ant waving with his antennae Like a man waves and howls at the sky Crying to his god for a challenge Screaming, I’m not done with you yet And for a second He felt bigger Then the ships I pulled When I was a captain

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Paralysis I could not move Like a man On a canoeing trip Helping to save a half-drowned friend Who capsized The man flips the hull And drags it atop his boat To drain it, upside down The drowning friend climbs onto the unturned boat And the man yells at him to get off And yells And yells And yells Yet the friend persists While the canoe slides back into the water While his boat tips into the water And before his lips plunge into the water The man becomes overwhelmed He realizes he can do no more That his words make very little difference That his actions are meaningless And with nothing else he can do He laughs I could not move Like a man Constructing a tower that leans against the sky And he sees the dust covered masses As they walk along a leaning steel beam Which sways and cracks Which only the man notices Behind a pane of glass With a breath held And he wants to warn, and scream, and wave his arms But he can only watch until the beam breaks And it falls And falls And falls And falls

And the man behind the glass is mute I could not move Like a man In a dark room With a candle that only casts shadows A blind angel whispers hunger as it gropes along the rocks From far away Comes the sound of a bell tolling And tolling And tolling And tolling And the man’s lips say, “too soon, too soon” And the candle flickers once more

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Along Bridge Street The train rocks back and forth until it is swallowed whole by darkness And we pass by short columns Holding up the entire weight of the city Every time I pass those columns I think When the world is blocked from view For just one second And the empty trains Would then be full By whatever fills them between the moments that we see And the ads that scream “EAT” Would instead say “MALINGER” or “DECAY” The buildings that hide more than they show Explode with the guts of metal pipes And torn insulation But the marble still holds These gods These New York Gods With eyes of broken windows Like the euphoria from shattered dreams They are man, women, cigarettes The scum that sticks to the sidewalk With the white hot grip Of a man whose only possessions Are the bottle in his left hand And the clothes on his back The sound that bounces within jagged steel walls Walks the staircase To achieve a height enough to laugh To hold your breath To jump To watch the theater of the street Through a cinema screen While men sing “Down By the River Side” A clatter of coins “Thank You” The earth is a fruit And we each are just the peel We build bridges Tunnels Thrift stores !

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But when we are pulled back We expose the pure fruit Or the worm eaten core Thin steel wings Inches from my face But no more likely to move hundreds of tons of rock Than the ohh ahh cars flying over the river Do they ask the same questions? Why this? Why here? Is this beauty? Are they all humbled? Or can the burn of the question Be treated with amazement and icy hot? Is the river just another blue tarp There to be peeled back? Or the cities of cranes There to remind us of where and when we are? And is life just short enough To justify a bride with sneakers? Or ice cream with dinner?

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April 15, 2012 The ride up is silent, each of us a stranger Each of us with bad news I watch a husband and a wife hold hands They go to the seventh floor We go to the fourth I have heard (from somewhere) that the human soul after death waits For forty days and forty nights before latching onto a body Perhaps that’s why When I turned the wrong way, I saw women preparing to be mothers And I turned around and walked to hospice They say that heaven is obscure for the Jews But I know that he isn’t living beyond the clouds But in all of us Sitting at a table, cutting carrots Pointing out the boats that anchor in the middle of the Hudson River Arguing with us at dinner as to the cause of the light That blinks On the top of the Palisades They say that I have his hair (though there’s nothing wrong with being bald) And I hope I have his energy Like when he dived onto his wedding bed and broke it in half But as I walk into the room, All I can hear is his sharp breaths. I hold his hand, And recite, as if it was made for this moment planned for this purpose “Let us go then, you and I When the evening is spread out against the sky…” -Writing started at 10:05 PM, thirty five minutes after the death of Irving Eiferman

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Yeesh.  

A Collection of Poetry

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