poems

 

The Siddur in Our Kitchen

My Saba’s prayer book 

idles on a pedestal 

of magazines and opened mail, 

receipts and peanut crumbs, 

its borders, embroidered, 

a mantlepiece for 

yesterday things. 

 

It reclines against routine, 

drapes a holy face 

over coupon clippings—

 

And I see my Saba in its binds. 

Hear his humming 

swell from the pages, pressed closed.

His scar, a crease in the spine.

His smile glints in the cross-stitching.

 

And he soaks his perch with his prayers, 

my grandfather on our kitchen table.

Melting Snow

When pearl turns invisible, 

its glisten reduced to translucence

and alabaster drips 

through the porch cracks. 

Dims the wooden boards 

during its downfall. 

 

Does it bring with it splinters, 

the manifest brilliance? 

Does it soak its route 

and gather trinkets,

chilled remembrances

of grounds which it stood upon? 

 

Patches downsize 

under the morning. 

Silver layers strip,

its droplets

hung beneath the shade 

of the porch’s underboards. 

 

Another manifest—

Sharp in its being, 

a jagged snapshot, for now.

On Recovery

I will be okay.

 

My mother gifted me 

her mantra, her syrup reprise—

Saccharine coats my fatigue, 

my thoughts and slow steps, 

candied by her mantra. 

 

I will be okay.

 

My heels soak its words, 

toes submerge between its honeyed spaces.

Knees, immoble—

I am forced to breathe, 

and I breathe its sweetness. 

 

I will be okay. 

 

“Lean into corners,” Ma tells me, 

“and cushion their peppered crevices 

with syrup.”

 

“Taste the sharpness

bitter at the base of your throat, 

but taste first the syrup, 

my mantra’s sweetness.”

 

I will be okay. 

I will be okay.

On a Poem

I matchmake my meaning. 

Words coalesce and

test their phrases, 

taste pronunciation,

bite their tongue on slanted rhymes—

Blood dyes my meaning. 

 

Note their mingling, my words—

curious, ambiguous.

 

Clasping over em-dashes, 

forging a single expression. 

Dissusable semantics. 

A construction unique to their form. 

 

Their verse question until written 

declarative,

intangible until printed—

and even. 

Scribbles threaten longevity,

page tears corrupt sense 

of being, 

fragile art. 

 

Thrive in your drafts, 

jotted existence.

Find meaning in your deletion

if you don’t make it past 

 

this rough couplet

this rushed conclusion. 

On Wearing Glasses

Outside these ridges, there is blur. 

 

Wisped irresolution, unfocused wonderings—

Prints of unknown things

fuse in my periphery, 

rim my sight with inquiries, 

a halo of curious colors

a glance from distinction. 

 

Remain sideways from foresight. 

Encircle me in cloudy palettes, 

questions and catechisms. 

 

Let me daydream in fog, 

eye roll from focus—

a prescribed perspective—

and muse in my blindness, 

the mud crusting my eyes. 

 

This blur, a visceral framework. 

A constellation—I sketch in obscurity. 

Form shapes from the smears,

on canvas of cloud tufts. 

 

My lens, a crutch. 

Prosthetic. It bends beneath 

the weight of my imaginings. 

On the Armless Statue on my Living Room Counter

She leans, 

hip juts in clay skirts, 

a cloth cast, wrapped. Glazed domestication. 

 

Her waist pinched in naked air, 

goosebumps smoothed by artist hands 

and oven heat.

Hair pleated. Braided permanence. 

 

And her eyes cast down, 

and she always remembers her 

Missing. 

 

Phantom elbows bend,

shadow fingers mingle at the torso. 

Raise lilies for her motion, in memory. 

 

Her reminiscing, an apparition. 

Her imaginings, a coy thing. 

Envision what was, 

her fantasies. Haunt her. 

 

Stone dreams 

of fingers twitching, 

arthritic pain, 

palms pricked by lily stems

and sharp leaves, gripping.

On Faces and Frames

His nose blurs 

from this side of the pane. 

 

Fingertip smudges blot fine lines, 

swipe detail sideways, 

sweep across oval beige

that begs my eyes for clarity. 

 

On seeing an emblem—

an unconceived sketch. 

Nameless by distance

and fingertip prints, 

by steps, uncounted, from car door

to coffee shop. This pane, a film.

 

I fill his face with my stories.

A name into his nose’s bridge,

a wife across his bottom lip, 

purpose in his jagged jawline—

his blur, a wanting canvas. 

 

Framed, made real. 

This pane, a gallery. 

Blur eclipses behind a car door, closing. 

Stories rev with his engine.

 

Leave me to witness 

a streetside exhibit, 

anonymous things. 

On The Leaves Outside My Window

Yellow carpet foliage. 

Papyrus trills matted with rainfall, 

pressed by stepping sneaker soles

and ironed by baby carriage wheels. 

 

Ruffles lift with the wind, 

catch its rush under loose edges, 

bend to wistful provocations of flight. 

 

But these leaves hold their ground. 

Steadfast, stubborn like concrete. 

Mark their sidewalk space 

and weave Autumn rugs 

from curbside to doorframe. 

 

Here, a blanket to catch our footfalls. 

Frail threads pile to cushion our heels, 

cradle the weight of our hurry

as we grind our boots into its permanence—

Its life, a temporary thing. 

 

A welcome matt for cooler days. 

These leaves invite our stepping

until winter crawls too close

to warrant welcome strolls. 

An Ode To Instability

Here’s to unstable grounds—

When the soil slopes sideways, 

sudden shifts, tectonic shock

from still terrain—

Your toes dig for traction 

but shaky Earth is numb

to balance in your feet. 

 

Here’s to this shaky Earth—

To quivers from its rocky core, 

to quakes that question your kneecaps, 

to ruptures that threaten your spine straight. 

 

Shockwaves emanate 

bristles up your back, 

call veteran hairs

across your arms. 

Imprint the Earth’s sideways into your normal. 

 

Here’s to the caves and the crevises, 

the potholes and the mudslides. 

Here’s to facing the unforeseen slopes, 

to scaling the motion 

from one peak down 

to new unstable ground. 

 

Stillness is in moments.

Let these fields condition your feet

to ride eruptions

up 

your next moment’s peak. 

9/24

/2019

Kitchen mornings lulled into overcast. 

Gaping windows welcome Autumn—come. 

Sit stoolside, crisping leaves. Wet your lips

and sip the silence of a sleeping home. 

 

Find solace beside last night’s dishes, still

caked with lemon crumble, crusting. Rest for work. 

Motion will come. Rest now. 

Crisp in our quiet—

 

A young boy rustles sheets upstairs, dreaming

pancake batter, firewood, crunching leaves.

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