Deaf Child at Play

There’s this simple yellow street sign planted into cement

that’s diamond shaped and decades old. The paint’s chipped

and post rusted. It states: DEAF CHILD AT PLAY.

There’s a ghost of a child on this block

on Westfield Avenue in Camden. A street lined

with abandoned businesses and boarded up houses.

There’s the phantom toddler who plays with a ball

by itself in the center of the street.

Cars pass by, the drivers unaware that down the hill

there’s the vacant schoolyard in a neighborhood

where so many dreams have died along with their bearers

who will never be recorded, sufferings annihilated by time.

There’s the pain separated from the body

and minds floating through space.

The sign is still there in spite of the deaf child being a dead child.

There it is, alone at play for eternity on the border of reality.

An ambiguous figure. A toddler with a long blouse and bowl cut.

There is the figure entrenched in distance.

The city knows the sign must still stand to warn motorists

not to kill the invisible child. The child can’t hear even if they’re ethereal.

There is the pulse of the street and the ability to bear witness

to every personal tragedy regardless of how major or minor.

Four corners abandoned. The center filled with traffic.

There is the traffic of brain matter released as energy

into a place anyone can see, but cannot comprehend.

To a space no ship can reach. To a time where no machine can travel.

There is the street that can be stood on, but not understood.

At least not until you’re dead yourself

then that deaf child will be visible.

There is where the living will be phantoms

and the city that looks dead in life will resurrect

from the thoughts of a dead deaf child at play.

There you will know why the dreams of the dead still touch the living

as if those that are alive are stiff bodies in a morgue.

There is the reason why the city must warn the living not to harm the dead.

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.

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


since then

the poison

has changed

but not the pain

this is no code –


“spontaneous memory”



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



“the mutations within these words”



I’m sure this will be

rewritten the mutations

within these words


when programmers

delete forms

we poets need


is when we will




“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


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


“philadelphia psychosis”



the story

of pedophiles descending

upon the working class


of old men following

backpacked children down

neglected sidewalks

“isn’t worth”



I don’t want to hear my own heart beat

by the time I find a pen

this isn’t worth writing


“in 2011”



I sat in a dark room

in the suburbs

w/ the weather channel

on 24 hours a day

spent wasting



Atlantic Ocean

water destroys and preserves

Earth’s mighty desolation


pollen covers cars

and even sticks onto clothes

springtime takes revenge


the splendor of sight

our sun rises once again

in spite of darkness


from the rocky shores

of Western Ireland they fled

my thin ancestors


mother passed away

from this world a year ago

today by the sea


the sunken treasure

of waking up to mom’s voice

singing while cleaning


the aloe plant hugs

the wall as its leaves reach

for the window


imagine the sound

of fog – envision the sight

of our sun’s full warmth