Ancestry Prose Poem

I am a Russian Jew. I uncovered the truth and now the truth knows not what to do with me. A human wrestling with identity. For two generations my family never knew. I am a Russian Jew. At least an eighth of me, and I’m only alive due to secrecy. Relatively prosperous in Philadelphia a century after Wolf Cherashefsky and Minnie Novakolsky escaped pogroms in an unforgiving Empire. Two betrothed teenagers fleeing across the Atlantic Ocean on one last leg of a millennia of diaspora. From the Ukraine to Arkhangelsk to Liverpool to New York to Philadelphia to flee home to find a home to escape violence to encounter peace. I am a Russian Jew. According to the Federal Census a descendant of cabinet makers who spoke Yiddish in the household. Great grandson of refugees who swore an oath disavowing the Czar and pledging allegiance to America. Another Empire in all but name. And yet Wolf and Minnie survived here. That is why I’m alive. I am a Russian Jew.

Irish Poetry Reading

irishreading

Notes from February of 2015

“a letter you never wrote”

(Philadelphia, PA, 2/15)

 

a letter you never wrote

to a person who never

was / could it be

that you’re random splintered

pavement squares

and if the manufactured gravel

comes apart can you feel it

in any time period?

give me a color

and I will

paint her imaginary

coffin with it

in time you’ll

still abide by

these arbitrary

stipulations

since then

the poison

has changed

but not the pain

this is no code –

 

“spontaneous memory”

(2/15)

 

I am not the one

to tell you how long

I’ve had to let

the water simmer

even though I’ve put

the pot

on I don’t know

how long it takes

for everything that ever

happened and never happened

which is most significant

who says it would be worse?

and yet that’s all meaningless

now what isn’t can’t

be symbolized

and yet we try

 

these words are only

morsels of what could be

if only we could properly

listen to our minds

it’s like the wind

and it isn’t

this book is a vessel

like ourselves

the temperature

is a sign like language

on her shoes lie

rain drops and

my eyes are anchors

no longer tethered

and so they wait

at the bottom

of her heart

but only for a moment

as I see the sky

I can’t see the sky

and so we sit

with iron / sideways blushing

 

you’ve gotten too good

at saying what you

never mean and

the letters look tangled

yes there are so many

trees around us

that no longer exist

and did you know

we twitch while

shifting thru time

so that our ancestors

wouldn’t break their

sturdy bones?

how fragile we are now

and yet we destroy

everything we touch

so says the dirt under our feet

so say sorry to the dirt underneath

your nails

why do we love

the color blue anyway?

 

amorphous furniture

for the blind

pipes crafted for human

consumption

 

“the mutations within these words”

(2/15)

 

I’m sure this will be

rewritten the mutations

within these words

 

when programmers

delete forms

we poets need

 

is when we will

become

obsolete

 

“humanity within” [first draft]

(Camden, NJ, 2/15)

 

how do you find hope

for humanity within

just one man seen

from a distance

passing at 60mph

a black man holding the hand

of his son no more than three years old

among the decaying

ruins of a city

how if it was just him alone

judgement

would deem him

a criminal  of some kind

but no

the child may have been

a figment

of my imagination

I see myself standing there

holding the hand

of an invisible no imaginary

boy my own and I die

inside

“philadelphia psychosis”

(2/15)

 

the story

of pedophiles descending

upon the working class

neighborhoods

of old men following

backpacked children down

neglected sidewalks

“isn’t worth”

(2/15)

 

I don’t want to hear my own heart beat

by the time I find a pen

this isn’t worth writing

 

“in 2011”

(2/15)

 

I sat in a dark room

in the suburbs

w/ the weather channel

on 24 hours a day

spent wasting

away

haiku

Atlantic Ocean

water destroys and preserves

Earth’s mighty desolation

feb6