Two of My Latest Published Poems

Following up on my last post—Three Poems to be Published—I can now post two of them, below. (Once a magazine comes out, the rights revert back to the author). The first is from the magazine Constellations; the second, from the British magazine Seaside Gothic.

The One-Time Grandma

Was only four
the one time ever
she came to see me

brought me a truck
filled with hard candy
doors opened, tires rolled

just this one gauzy image—
her abundant, smiling face
craning down to me

a face that held a theater
I couldn’t know
of cobwebs and cold corners

of unpainted pain in triplicate
and difficult wishes boiling in pots
on an ancient stove

ears that held the screaming
of her sister being raped
over and over
by a mob of men

and of distant death
and death too close
at the hands of thugs and militias

hate, rape, thievery and murder
in the pogrom of 1905
as it had been for Jews
for millenniums

What Happened When We Emerged from the Ocean, Anyway

What happened when we 
emerged from the ocean, anyway
returned from eternity
and the Moses shores

Reborn in the Jersey lights— 
the high sheen of industrial
blood and glitzy sin

Here on the boardwalk
where kids fly across lit towers
and lizard eyes spy from wild rides

The wooden coaster tattoos 
the horizon like a snake goddess,
great wheels topple to the music
of clatter and screams

A cavalcade of plush figures,
necklace of chance stands and fry huts,
where lunatic visages frame dark portals 
with invitations to cheap seduction 

Ghosts of Freud and Coney Island
yet watch from the grandstands
play Fascination with Madame Twisto 
and the Mule-Faced Boy

Ten-wheelers tear the ancient sands
flowers show from the boxes
of jeweled motels where Jews
and Italians once shared radio songs 
of Rosemary Clooney and Johnnie Ray

Three Poems to be Published

Recently, a number of my poems have appeared or are forthcoming in highly-regarded literary magazines, including Constellations (The One-Time Grandma), the British magazine Seaside Gothic (What Happened When We Emerged from the Ocean, Anyway), and Slipstream (An Accidental Song for the Sacred and the Profane).

While I don’t have the rights to reprint most of these poems at this time, I think the stories behind them make for good reading, nonetheless.

The stories behind two of these titles surround my experiences as a four- or five-year-old boy.

In The One-Time Grandma, I recall sitting on the floor at age four with this gauzy image of my father’s mother craning down to greet me, offering a toy truck with wheels that rolled, filled with hard candies. Mysteriously, it was the only time she visited us. I never did learn why.

In An Accidental Song for the Sacred and the Profane, I’m playing in the little backyard of our two-story house in the Bronx, surrounded by brick apartment buildings. It’s a warm day in spring when I notice this beautiful woman in a diaphanous nightgown slowly brushing her long red hair at an open second-floor window, not 30 feet from me. What was a boy of five to make of such a sight? At the same time, an old Jewish man is davening at an open second floor window of another apartment building. When such a devout man is davening, he rocks to and fro while singing prayers, “nasal strains rising and falling and rising again.” Thus, An Accidental Song for the Sacred and the Profane.

In addition, I’ll post the entire poem What Happened When We Emerged from the Ocean, Anyway in a few days.