Thursday, April 22, 2004

Lament for Len Sanazaro

Today I rose without prompting from my alarm clock
and brewed coffee ahead of schedule
trying to find a bent corner of time

for you to page through unnoticed
and return to your friends,
sit here with me listening

to birds belt out their chorus
as though there weren't anything else
in the world that mattered.

But it really wasn't spring
when you went
to the basement

as winter receded
from its own frostline
licking ice as it melted

with a long red tongue,
or maybe it was spring
that exposed its gums.

Nothing had a strong grip.
You had a tradition to live up to,
a father who did,

and a brother who almost committed suicide.
Then there was Sylvia
whom you worshipped,

and your lover whose boxes of books
caught your fall,
and who knew before any of us.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Letter to Mordecai
It was one of the holy of holies, not to be discussed,
the possibility of appearing traitorous to your own people
who had grounds enough to believe you were not to be taken lightly
after a brick had slipped off the roof of a building
and landed on the head of a cop.

You were doing what you always did, one of the Mordecai brothers fighting the class war in America,
but who knows if any of it is true, pieces of dust filtered
through a light tunnel of years, with the bundled saga of how you were forced
to ride the rails and ended up in Cleveland, Ohio, and once you came home kept it zipped up.
It was okay to talk politics. Those were the terms.

I listened to you around the dinner table when we visited Aunt Clara in her Westchester County house
whom you wrote about in your letters to your wife my mother, Olga, her stuck-up sister
who hardly drove to the Bronx because she and her husband, Jack, were worried
about their car parked outside being broken into; but we always went there
and you were polite at their table and blotted your mouth with a napkin,
and listened to Aunt Clara describe her work with Hadassah,
and Uncle Jack a Shriner or Knight of Columbus or one of those orders so he could get more business,
and let them talk about planting trees along a boulevard in Jerusalem,
making the Holy Land into a Suburbia; azaelas and rose bushes
grew in their backyard, gladiola, flaming torches.

You were the peace-keeper of my mother's heart, my mother who took us in the car
on get lost rides half-hoping we'd never be able to find our way back,
maybe drive up a moss-covered ramp and do it all over again,
three tasks, pulls on a lever; for the first few hours it was custard
and chicken-in-a-basket, until we drove back down the interstate, passing
Aunt Clara's house to where our dreams settled on the second floor of a walk-up.

I wanted you to go for it, but you were the bottom man,
holding up pyramids of acrobats above your head. Other people
depended upon you and so you found a balance
between what you wanted and what you could live with,
and like you, I rest on that fulcrum, always your cautious daughter.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Melt Down
I dropped my heart inside a glass,
but my love was not there to drink with me.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Spring Break
We walk down to the sea because all roads in this cypress land
lead down to the sea, a path lined with Pacific Coast Iris
starting to dry out in the early age of their blossoming

as the steady soldiers of our feet kick stones in our wake
announcing an arrival to whomever will listen, the wind, the sun
impervious to talk of family or current affairs;

it's all the same thing when we come down to it, stare
along the rolling breast of ocean for the rest of the afternoon
to remember something we both knew

when there was nothing better to do than spend
an entire day gulping water in one end and out the other.
Silly cells. We really got good at it.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Passover 2004
Lashanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim!

Next year I don't want to be in Jerusalem
because why would I choose to be in a land
of war and death where children
blow themselves up because they have no future?

Next year I don't want to be in Jerusalem
because I don't understand why the Israeli government
continues to sacrifice the interests of its own people
at every checkpoint.

Next year I don't want to be in Jerusalem
because I can't continue telling a story about renewal
when I only see a land filled with shredded skin
and bulldozed olive trees.

Next year I don't want to be in Jerusalem
because how can I pretend this isn't happening
like some media cover-up that's come to occupy
my heart with its lies?

Next year I only want to be in Jerusalem with you
to fill an extra cup of wine at the table
for our Palestinian brothers and sisters,
so we may share the stories of those who died
so we may all set ourselves free from our fear and hatred.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

At the Gym
Hair conditioner in my palm
reminds me of when we use to have sex.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Mall Moment
Buddha sits in the Rite Aid lot
beneath the 1-Hour Photo Sign,
a parking attendant of the garden variety

directing traffic around flats of wisteria, jasmine,
fescue, geranium, ground ivy, his round belly,
as I sit in my car listening to KPFA report

the real evening news,
while that stone cold Buddha
pulls out a dollar bill from his ear, and laughs.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Daylight Savings Time
I hope some day you’ll know why jasmine climbs outside the front door,
or why an empty stretch of beach runs through your blood. Until then,
I cannot pretend we're not related. You're my son.
Tonight I'll set the clocks forward, and the days will grow stems.