30 December 2008

We Never Buried Her

The rabbi told me, I drop everything for a funeral.
It must be within 24 hours.
No one forgives a rabbi who doesn’t show up for a funeral.

For the family,
Saying kaddish after the burial,
For seven days,
Or thirty days,
On each yahrtzeit,
It’s the most you can do for a person.
A kindness she can never repay.
A kindness you do expecting nothing.

But we didn’t bury her.
And a funeral,
We didn’t do that, either.
She is on my aunt’s mantel.
In some kind of vessel.
In ashes.

In nine years I have often forgotten her yahrtzeit,
So I make sure to say kaddish for her
On our birthday.


We didn’t bury her.
And a funeral,
We didn’t do that, either.
She is on the mantel,
In some kind of vessel.

In nine years I have often forgotten her yahrtzeit,
So I make sure to say kaddish for her
On our birthday.

When One Equals Thirteen

Thirteen at a table, a bad omen.
Last Suppers,
The harbinger of good tidings,
The number of God
Aleph, chet, daled
When one equals thirteen.

The Day of the Dead

We never buried her.
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now;
the news does not tell the story of the living.
It is the stories of the dead,
and the not-yet died.
Human nature?
A rabbi once told me, you drop everything for a funeral.
Even a bris is less imminent.
Funeral within 24 hours of the death,
but a bris on the 8th day –
the day of miracles.
People don’t forgive a rabbi who doesn’t show up for the funeral.
Burying people, saying kaddish.
It is the most you can do for a person.
It is the kindness she can never repay,
the kindness you do expecting nothing.
But we didn’t bury her.
She is on my aunt’s mantel.
In ashes.

Good Times Bar, Jerusalem

gulps of biting juice and
i saw moss green

What is this
O.J. and vodka
You were thirsty

I am still thirsty and I just drank my lips numb
i actually meant thirsty
i spread my toes for balance


The guy didn’t rape me you know, he just tried
there must have been pictures of naked women or
maybe cowboys in outer space
on the wall behind my head
There are no actual marks on my body but
I think the police believe me

the glass door was all swagger and bravado
closed - open
open - closed - open
closed - open

Where are they going
To find him and kick his ass
she sounded more IDF than bartender

they don’t know what he looks like
the counter was grey
the sky was blue
alone again and
I’m still thirsty

purple-brown eyes touched my face
the room-warm water slid down colorless
i walked myself home.


If I could get it written,
the pages would fly,
but now it’s getting early
and someone is coming.

I’m on my knees.
Not to pray.
I’m on my way up.

I was lying there in the dirt in the broken day,
wanting to hit the road.
Thinking of going places I’d never been
where nothing really belongs to me
but will.

It is still me behind the wheel,
driving myself out of the beds I made.
Never wanted shotgun.

Nothing but pavement ahead.
I’ll eat the highway.

I’ve come to touch you.
You planned the streets to make a crossroads for me.
Weighted to loan prayers and reasons,
I could almost hear the promises break.
Where do I go to see my own perspective.

Salt, dice, sacrificial fire.
It doesn’t matter in the end whether the eye is of God or man.
I can’t keep getting back what you keep taking away.

I’m not sure I really meant it.I was just playing some stupid game some stupid kids made up,
and you were just talking to yourself anyway.

Troubles fill my pockets.
My hands are empty.

I’ll never get it all down, there is too much to write.

Climbing under the barbed wire fence, by the river,
I toss what I have aside, and it swallows you whole.

it’s not about names

once I was still more flame than ember
laying here
not watching
whisper breath
almost still air
all glow
and shadow
music of memory in an ice storm
fingers of thoughts
like sheets washed to softness
skin water-warm
behind my view
a cloud full of rain
a canyon of darkness
a star of skies.


The blooming water,
champagne of the desert,
reaches up.
Melting fingers caress sighing sole,
smooth heel and calf,
surround knee,
embrace thigh,
reach and welcome
into concealment
pelvis, abdomen, ribcage,
breasts, sternum, arms, throat,
shoulders, neck, hands.
Hair floating,
she guides the head back to rest in her.
Face upturned
seeing the watery sky
through lidded eyes.
Surfacing to
filling with breath.
Eternal quest for the mystical union
of divine and soul.

Making T'Shuvah for Lying

It can't be called swimming, what
you were doing inside me
tossed about in the warm, dark, salty sea
of my body
over the cold, hard Atlantic.
"Mommy," you chided me,
"you didn't ask if I wanted to go."
I almost jumped from sleep
but the scratchy, stale, slate
wrinkled against my face
reminded me I didn't have a parachute and
reading the card in the seat pocket wasn't
the same as being prepared.

I was two voices.

I recognized you.
Already you had something to say.
Too many words for one lifetime.
I hugged you close and
leaned back like driftwood.

My pills felt at home in a trash bin at Heathrow.
I chose
a pharmacy
in the shadow
of St. Paul's Cathedral as
the alto, baritone, and bass choir sang of female

I carried it around in my pack like a promise
before its abandonment in the bathroom of a Scottish pub
the night I turned 30
and my period started three weeks late
and I bought a whisky-flavored condom I'd never use either.

I waited for my baggage to come around on the carousel at MSP.
I thought I was, and then I obviously wasn't. So no worries, right?
I stepped forward and roughly swung the pack - heaved it over a shoulder.
How do you feel? He directed me toward the doors.
I didn't move.
It's not what I want right now. Life is complicated enough.

He kissed my lips a drop-ff good-bye, and they kissed him back while
I watched the rain drip through the air.
Pressing seven days through the foil
I barely let him touch me.

It's only t'shuvah if I tell the whole truth.


back to back
we can stand up
if we lean on
each other

Happy Mother’s Day

My breasts ache when babies cry.

I’ve heard it is written somewhere in the Talmud
that a mother wants to nourish her child
even more than a child wants to nurse.

I believe it.

Not knowing how to ask,
or what to ask for,
babies are born into mothers’ arms
bundles of want and need, desire and expectation, hope and demand.
Mothers are asked to satisfy enough to give security and trust,
and leave wanting enough to give reach and dream.

My breasts ache when babies cry.
My arms are empty.

cain had a twin sister

i saw her
my mind full of male voices

her finger tips anxious
in my palm

with our feet
one step and then another
we’ll write our own damn garden.