Saturday, December 27, 2014

Morbidity - Eileen Rosensteel


Eileen Rosensteel

It’s not the weight
it’s the hate that will kill you in the end.
Carrying the fat around
may strain your knees and feet
but the shame eats away
at your heart and soul.
Cholesterol in your arteries
hardens the walls
while discrimination
shreds self esteem and respect.
And prejudice stops a life

faster than obesity ever did.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Night Sky

Until you learn about Chanukah
and the lamp that burned
for eight days,
you look at the colors
of lights and wish.

Then you learn
of the Winter Solstice
and DiWali
and other days
other names
that flip the tongue
as the calendar
turns, grows

And then every flame
in the dark
by any other knowing
starts to glow, aligns -
a planet now born
to guide you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Facebook Fail - Try Again

Facebook Fail - Try Again

Frannie Zellman

My Dear Sir,

From my profile
you see
that I have written two novels
on the way to a third.
Have edited, poeted, blogged,
politicked, folksonged,
spent numerous words
on matters great and small
and of insubstantial consequence.

Yet the very first thing
you tell me
as a Facebook Friend
is that I would look great
in suspenders?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice II

Winter Solstice II

Frannie Zellman

Winter Solstice II

Longest night of the year.

We stand near waves.

Meeting for the last time,
we summon up morsels
of courage.

"I understand"
is not what I say.
But my icy left hand
meets your gloved right
as if to acknowledge
what worked.

Clouds scud
over rocks
and find themselves
over land.
The hours pass
in wishing,
as if one right word
could absolve.
I scream silently.
"Have you forgotten?"
But my un-sounds
 arch over the Sound
and fall in.
Your face shuts off,
determined not to relive
or grant leniency.

The cold sinks in.
All around us,
air closes,
pulls night deeper.
Once upon a time
you pulled me back
from a sure fall.

Have you forgotten?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

Frannie Zellman

Winter Solstice

Everything plods
toward the new moon.
When you get up at one PM,
there are only three hours
of light left.
Better to make hot things,
burrow into the house
like a sleeping squirrel
hiding its stash.

If you make a fire,
it burns low 
 sparks will
not catch,
but drift toward flakes,
then ash.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Early Winter Sunset

Early Winter Sunset

Grey day, warm.
We didn't see the sun.
Yet around 4:15 PM
pink strips flanked clouds
then swirled into nuclear light.
The clouds grew thick and dark
above the heart of many colors
each egging on the other
as if red had decided to break
into bright that it hurt to name.

Long after the sky drew to black
You could detonate the light

Monday, December 15, 2014


Frannie Zellman


In those days before the flight
I dreamed the plane crashed 
because I weighed so much.

Yet when I finally boarded 
I felt wings.

I forgot weight, height, breadth,
time, day, month, year.

In sleep, radiance, now become aroma,
suffused what was once my body
and stole over the hidden stars
like the milky breath
of flowers.

On waking, dark.

Suddenly on one side
the plane exploded into sun.

And I, the flyer,
straddled the edge
of night and day

as if I'd been born
to stalk heaven.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Big Fat Bitch

Big Fat Bitch   (From Fat Poets Speak:  Voices of the Fat Poets' Society)

Frannie Zellman

I am not a nice or good fat woman.

I do not have a friendly bone in my body.

I do not cook. I hate playing with babies.

I am not eager to do kindnesses.

I do not pretend sweetness.

I do not give easily or happily of my time or ideas.

I like to shut the windows, bar the door and grab a book.

I do not exercise.  I do not eat healthy foods,
       whatever those are.

I do not have large soft breasts.

I don't have a fluffy yielding belly or round cheeks.

I do not bring home baked bread to gatherings.

I don't do merry.

I walk fast and frown and make angry faces
       at people in my way.

I tend to order in and eat the rest of the pizza for breakfast-

I elbow my way into subways and push thinner passengers

I do not apologize in any way shape or form
        for what or who I am.

I am fat and likely to remain so, which poses absolutely
        no problem for me.

I am a bitch and likely to remain so, which also poses
        absolutely no problem for me.

Eat shit, world. And down the rest of your assumptions with it.

I leave no room for you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Lesleigh Owen - Blue

Lesleigh Owen

Beautiful, bountiful, bright blue
Following the sun with your
Gentle head.

In the salty nighttime,
Jupiter smirks a
path through the sunroof
while Van Gogh comets
in chunks of blue.

I remember the night,
stuffed with cottony fog,
when the moon
exploded from behind
indigo mountains,
a UFO intent on domination
and anal probes. We
laughed and
wondered when we could kiss.

And then we did and awakened in
a train station with
hot, blue-gray steam,
padded seats,
and destinations
beautiful in their fairy tale

I wanted.
I wanted to give you
the least carnationy
flower in the world.
I wanted to polish others’ eyes
into gleaming
mirrors that reflect the rolling roundness
of your wavy ocean belly.
I wanted to sip your azure thoughts
eat each fragrant breath.

The moon stains my arm –
blue, with hints of magenta.
The ocean is a sea
of bright blue tears
and I
learned to swim with fat mermaids.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Snow Flurry

Snow Flurry

Not predicted,
each flake first
hit the air
like a cat's kiss:
singular, milky, 

Even when a few more
nosed their way down,
they slipped
instead of eddying,
too slow for grace,
too pointed for cold.

Not even half a minute.

The grass called their bluff
and didn't even 
spin to wet.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

December Full Cold Moon

December Full Cold Moon

The rain stops.
Pulsing over grey clouds,
silver circle flits,
streaks to the top 
of the bowl.
You have to work your head
all the way back.

It hurts, knowing
that rogue month
somewhere sleeping in this bad year
held someone's
last step.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

.Another Unarmed Young Black Man Shot In A Country Held Hostage to the 19th Century

Another Unarmed Young Black Man Shot In A Country Held Hostage to the 19th Century

How many sirens does it take?

Ignore the voices at your peril.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer

In October
when the neighbors' trees
flame to russet
it remains green.

We always wonder
if it will stay this way,
its leaves carrying
last spring
like a song that left.

The trees in other yards
flaunt all shades
of autumn,
then toss in the wind,
losing each last bright streak.

Third week in November:
and they've flown. 

But suddenly 
when we've almost given up
the holdout  tree
starts to melt from
 to soft butter
opens blanket yellow
as clouds stall

Every year
right around Thanksgiving
when the low autumn sun hits,
it fires to unceasing
and uncompromising
yellow gold.

keeping well
into December.

its own 
but welcome 
late harvest.

It never fails
to astound
and we always feel guilty
at exactly the same time
as if our doubt
could have stopped it
from glowing.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014



Red hat.
Green jacket.
Grey shoes.
Make up when
I like.
No make up when
I don't.
Music I choose.
Food I delight in.
People I crave.

Long monologues
on the weather

Not changing
my figure now,
nope, sorry.

I don't have to.

Got a problem with that?

Monday, November 24, 2014



Smoke flies over
streets, the hospital
the cameras
out in flames
This is what 
looks like
sounds like

No one moving
except police

Signs, singing
but too few

Friday, November 14, 2014

Comeuppance: Dad at 89

Comeuppance:  Dad at 89

He finished most of the crossword,
left two rows.
After he left
I corrected "i" to "e."
He came back in two hours,
completed the puzzle.
Eighty nine, and he finished
the sudoku, too,
which I cannot begin to see.

My knowledge fills one or two spaces.
His spans words, numbers
and sciences
I will never retrieve.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014



When the deer came.
The sky was arched with pink streaks
and there was a mist over or between 
grass and leaves.
It was as if crystalline air blew them
into this life,
then wafted them into the hedges.
Confused, they stared at me
as I pushed the door aside
and walked onto the patio.
Two more seconds,
and I wouldn't have seen them.

Now,when twilight begins,
I look for them to crash
through the lines,
but the sky and sun stay
calm and free of magic.
I keep staring.
I have forgotten how to hope.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thinking About Rain

Thinking About Rain

At night we
Chose the lake.
Waves churned
Scuttlebutt breezes,
Made us restless,
As if they knew
About the rain.
Then the sky dried up
And curls of mist
Rose, creating quiet cold
And my need
To touch your hand
Without speaking.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thinking About Raining

Thinking About Raining

Not color to color
or line to line
but stone to
not quite drops
the slowness
of breath
like water

Thinking About Raining

Almost tired.
Trees go still.
Sound stops.
Easy to imagine
that grey
will slink
into sighs

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mr. Cardinal Hides

Mr. Cardinal Hides

The cardinal hid today.
A year ago
He came to the patio door
When I was standing just inside
And proceeded to dance
And display
As if I were a female cardinal.
But today I heard his chirrup
In one of the neighbor’s trees.
I could not see him.
When I fixed on the tree
He was in
With my ears,
I saw, amid shades of paler
And orange red,
A deep uncompromising red
Which in a month’s time
Would be a leaf
But which now, shocking
The reds around it,
Didn’t move with the wind.
Then I knew him,
But didn’t move or smile
Or call.
He was after all in hiding
And probably thought
By the stillness in which
He sat,
That nothing could see him.
I was not about to shatter
His illusions
Of camouflage.
I just hope that
Some other fauna,
Less charmed than this human,
Didn’t try to take a bite or nip
At the one leaf
That didn’t move

With the wind.

Friday, October 3, 2014



I don’t know if there are seasons
When the flesh of a tall heavy
Dark haired woman of 60
Is more delectable.
Usually the mosquitoes menace
In summer,
Stick tiny stingers.
Soft thigh flesh bitten
Sings of a meal
Well taken.
This time, however,
Not until October
Did my friends
Choose to feast.
Perhaps they are going
For the vampire look –
Teeth raised, incisors poised,
Victim alluringly terrified.
The only problem is
That they are mosquitoes,
Not bats,
And thus their ability to stun
Is limited.
They can only generate pink
Not blood lines of fear,
And their most evil looks
Are lost on bigger life forms.

But remember, would-be beasties,
The thrill of your mosquito lifetimes
Begins and ends well south
Of the throat
And itches its target
So much more successfully.

Try again next summer,
When you don’t have to live up
To movie clichés of fear
And need not imitate their drama.
Don’t laze until autumn.

Burnish those points.
Bare your weapons.
I, your meal, will be waiting.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To Charlotte Bronte

To Charlotte Bronte

You wrote my favorite book.
But would you have liked me -
tall, heavy, dark-haired
Like the painting of Cleopatra
That you scorned,
With eyes dark as coals
And something of a temper?
I would have loved to write
In tiny letters, as you did:
Spare, carefully inked in.
But my handwriting, when legible,
Tends to flourish-ridden and grand.

I visited both Haworth and Brussels,
Your home and your nemesis.
The wind screamed wonderfully
In Haworth, and shivered
Through less-than-heated rooms.
But I had a wonderful cream tea
In  town.

In Brussels
The plaque with your name
Had been removed,
But the map still showed
The school.
Now a film center,
It still bore the marks
Of the garden,
The forbidden alley
And the spy casement.
As I stood there,
The school swam
Like a bottled genie
Into the terrace
And vanquished the film center.
I could hear whispers and laughter
In French and Flemish
And see you as you wrote
In loneliness, pride and longing
To the brilliant, cynical professeur
Who broke your heart.

Rain flew down in gusts.
One hundred fifty years
hence, and the park
was still wide-pathed
and quiet.
The church you prayed in
Still echoed your words:
“Mon pere, je suis Protestante.”

I, a Jew, repeated them
As if to summon you.
What would you have thought?
Would the exchange
Have ended in friendship?
Or would you have looked,
Sneered and walked on?

A tall man with a sign
Sat on the steps.
He needed money.
I palmed a five-franc bill
Into his hat,
And wondered
If you would have done
The same.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pressed Flower

Pressed Flower                Frannie Zellman  

To the memory of my mother, Millicent Eunice Kant (1928-2014)

A paper cut out
Of gold in your hair,
With a white sash
And white silk scarf.
At six, you are a daisy.
You dance around the pole
And sing.
You forget the eye condition
They can’t cure.

When you are thirteen,
You skim the stage
In toe shoes, smiling magic
Into the hall.
You forget
That you're not dancer-thin.

When you are sixteen,
Your voice floats an aria
Onto the record.
Even Italian cannot capture
its fluid sweetness.
You sing and play by ear.

When you are twenty,
Fifteen men ask you out.
You smile and toss out
Words to amuse.
Instead you captivate -
More interesting than
Dewey and Russell.

You are a bouquet of flowers,
The sound of swift laughter,
Sun on the parkway.
But they tell you
the next performance schedule:
marriage, children.

Why couldn’t they have just let you play?

Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Undress a Fat Woman

Kathy Barron is surely one of the mistresses/masters of fat erotic poetry, so I can only follow quietly in her footsteps :)

If your eyes
know how to undress a fat woman
how to  love the  flesh
that ripples under her arms
and slips over her belly
how to play under her pants
and grab hold of the rounded hips,
how to limn the hair like small feathers,
how to tease
in thought
the soft moistness
and oh so satisfying wet curves
that glisten when your mouth sweeps them,

then you are allowed
to let your fingers
your stare

A Wish

During the last two weeks before she slipped into semi-consciousness, my mom voiced the desire to go outside. Because she could not sit, I was afraid that she might -we might- hurt her, even badly. At least my rational side kept telling me that it was impossible.

Another side kept arguing that it just might be within the realm of possibility...

And I have reproached myself every day since she passed on.

A Wish

I thought
if we wrapped you up
in sheets and blankets
as you sailed down
in the chair,
you would hardly
feel you were sitting
at all

you would simply
greet the motion
of the oiled wheels
as part of what you'd
known hundreds of times
before your body
refused to flex

And some inner magic
would lead you
not to feel pain
as we propelled you
into the second chair
and wheeled you
first onto the porch
then into the backyard

where your always-friends
the cardinals
would hail you
with their dry chirrup
and the blue jays
would grind out
the harsh croak
that signalled their presence.

But before we could ease you out,
you flew to another place
inside the bedroom
and prepared
to seek another sky

now you arrive
every time i walk
in the yard
as I know all too well
what I could not bring you
before you left

Forgive me
if you can.
Be with me

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Terminally Fashionable Ms. I

Ms. I
thin as a fashionable rail
not a hair out of place
not a button loose
not a thread frayed
not a heel worn
reels back on her feet
when confronted
with the ineffable sight
and sound and touch
of a fat student
who wishes to hug her
in thanks.

Ms. I
looks down her nose
almost wrinkles it
almost gapes
almost blanches
not quite believing
her oh so trim limbs
and fashionably spectacled

Ms. I
takes one fashionably small
step back
to let the student know
the full extent
of her oh so fashionable

Ms. I
takes one fashionably short
because breathing longer and louder
would be hopelessly uncouth.

Ms. I
lets her fashionably spectacled
glaze over just  slightly
as her pursed mouth yields
a wordless reproach
and her skin crawls
just a smidgen.

How did I ever let her in my class again?
her adeptly fashionable mind rages,
but not too far.

To meet one's anger and show it
is so so uncouth
that it stands the risk
of exposing the owner
as terminally


Monday, September 8, 2014

Last of the Line

What I will probably do is launch a separate blog to write about my mom and our family. Meanwhile..

Last of the Line

I only understood
Long after they’d left
Long after I could have
Asked them the questions
That would have joined the stories.

They ask to be told, but I can only write
And thread them inexpertly,
Like a reluctant tailor’s apprentice:

Great grandma in May Day parades,
Great grandpa making Prohibition wine,
Grandpa at HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee)
 not naming names,
Grandma helping the evicted
back inside.

Will a city embrace them
like some kind friend
or recite them,
Like Kaddish,
And score them with voice
Into hereafter,
Dreams written
Into memory
By the last of the line?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Opera     (To the Memory of My Mother)

You left your body
before you died.
I could feel you,
a slight coolness
softness in the ether.

I was so glad
that you could fly up
and poise yourself
above your thin
tired little arms.

First you swam
past lights
then to the window.
You stopped
near the closet,
then turned
and floated
the wall.

Before you left,
you came back
one more time
and glued your eyes
into mine
to say, "Always."

As you passed,

your voice,
now released,
ranged into trees,
into the night-borne
dark blue sky
and climbed free

over early autumn stars,

Monday, September 1, 2014



She sleeps
stops sleeping,

she belongs to me
belongs to all

she is
will have been

Thursday, August 28, 2014



When they blossom
Into full flower,
Roses flow in circle
Like notes of two full chords
Played together, then separately
Then together again
By sections of an orchestra
That sing off one by one
Until the solo flute
Tosses off
three hurtfully
Perfect high notes
Bright as petals

In rain.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Talking Fire

Talking Fire

If I just touched it, he said,
No one would get hurt.
I told him he had best go
To the Combat Zone.
He said he didn’t have the money.
Surely, I told him, he could find
More expert handling.
I talked till we reached a busy street.
He said, “There are too many people
Here. Good bye.”

When I reached what was then home,
I sprawled face down
In my clothes.

Too tired to cry, I blessed my strength
And talking fire.

Too glad and angry to sleep,
I tried not to feel sorry
For the life form
That did not succeed
In shaming me.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Today the cardinal teased.
Mrs. Cardinal heard him.
She sat on a lower branch
and responded in measure.
His metallic chups echoed
from the highest tree.
Not seeing him, I sent my eyes
around and past and yon.
At times he verged on descent,
but found another high branch.
I stood another minute,
then went back in.
As I shut the door, he dipped down.
I felt his chup swooping
and knew he had perched
on the lower branch.
His red flew past
blurred as dreams,
bright as closure.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cardinal Rule

Cardinal Rule                    Frannie Zellman

The male cardinal played tag with me today.
He sang in one tree, then another.
Then he flew away, only to fly back
And pose a question in sound flight.
How can a short chirp appear
to change trees in mid-voice?

The female cardinal flew over,
then settled in a lower tree.
I saw her sitting, waiting,
not overly upset or unwound
by my presence.
Perhaps she knew
what her spouse needed to learn:
That one human on the ground
Is worth several in a tree.

Friday, August 8, 2014

At the Kolomey Station

At the Kolomey Station - Translation by Martha Birnbaum. Original in Yiddish, by Itsik Manger: Oyf der stantsye Kolomey

Every time I walk on or near Pelham Parkway Station in the Bronx, I think of this poem, even though I knew my grandparents well for more than 30 years. But when I walk there, I cannot rid myself of the thought that somehow, they are there to greet me.


At the Kolomey Station
(translated by Martha Birnbaum)

oyf der stantsye Kolomey
tsvishn a gantser eyde,
shteyen gehoykert shotns tsvey,
mayn bobe un mayn zeyde.

zogt der zeyde: «Sheyndl, du herst
– un zayne oygn brenen –
undzer eynikl kumt tsu gast,
vi azoy veln mir im derkenen?

vayl ven Khave hot zayn vig gevigt
zenen mir shoyn beyde gelegn
unter di grozn, untern vint
oyf yener zayt fun di vegn.»

shmeykhlt di bobe, in ire hent
tsitert a bintl blumen –
brumt der zeyde: «beheyme, tsu vos
hostu dos mitgenumen?»

zogt di bobe: «kh'hob, Itsik kroyn,
di blumen in feld opgerisn,
s'iz a mode bay hayntike layt
azoy a gast tsu bagrisn.»

zey shvaygn. s'shrayt a lokomotiv
«tsi kumt er? tsi vet er kumen?»
un in der bobes dare hent
tsitert dos bintl blumen.

«dos eynikl, zogt men, iz–u-va!
a vazhner knaker in gramen,
in zayne gramen tsitert un veynt
di neshome fun zayn mamen.»

di bobe dreyt avek dem kop
mit epes ibergenumen.
di bobe veynt, in ire hent
tsitert dos bintl blumen...

At the Kolomey station
in a large gathering,
stand two stooped shadows
my grandma and my grandpa.

Grandpa speaks: “Sheyndl, - you hear -
- and his eyes are burning -
our grandson is coming to visit,
how will we ever recognize him?

When Chava rocked his cradle
both of us were already lying
under the earth, under the wind
on the other side of the road.”

Grandma smiled, in her hand
trembled a bouquet of flowers –
Grumbles grandpa: “You ox, why
did you bring those along?”

Grandma says: “Itsik, my treasure,
I plucked the flowers in the field,
It’s a custom in today’s world
to greet a guest like this.”

They were silent. The train cries
“Is it coming? Will it come?”
And in grandma’s thin hand
the bouquet of flowers trembled.

“Our grandson, they say, is –a splendid boy!
a  wonderful poet,
in his poems trembles and cries
the soul of his mother.”

Grandma turns her head
overcome by some emotion.
She cries, in her hands
trembles the little bouquet…

אױף דער סטאַנציע קאָלאָמײ
צװישן אַ גאַנצער עדה,
שטײען געהױקערט שאָטנס צװײ,
מײַן באָבע און מײַן זײדע.

זאָגט דער זײדע: «שײנדל, דו הערסט
– און זײַנע אױגן ברענען –
אונדזער אײניקל קומט צו גאַסט,
װי אַזױ װעלן מיר אים דערקענען?

װײַל װען כאַװע האָט זײַן װיג געװיגט
זענען מיר שױן בײדע געלעגן
אונטער די גראָזן, אונטערן װינט
אױף יענער זײַט פֿון די װעגן.»

שמײכלט די באָבע, אין אירע הענט
ציטערט אַ בינטל בלומען –
ברומט דער זײדע: «בהמה, צו װאָס
האָסטו דאָס מיטגענומען?»

זאָגט די באָבע: «כ'האָב, איציק קרױן,
די בלומען אין פֿעלד אָפּגעריסן,
ס'איז אַ מאָדע בײַ הײַנטיקע לײַט
אַזױ אַ גאַסט צו באַגריסן.»

זײ שװײַגן. ס'שרײַט אַ לאָקאָמאָטיװ
«צי קומט ער? צי װעט ער קומען?»
און אין דער באָבעס דאַרע הענט
ציטערט דאָס בינטל בלומען.

«דאָס אײניקל, זאָגט מען, איז – או־װאַ!
אַ װאַזשנער קנאַקער אין גראַמען,
אין זײַנע גראַמען ציטערט און װײנט
די נשמה פֿון זײַן מאַמען.»

די באָבע דרײט אַװעק דעם קאָפּ
מיט עפּעס איבערגענומען.
די באָבע װײנט, אין אירע הענט
ציטערט דאָס בינטל בלומען...

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Song to Sky - Eileen Rosensteel

Eileen Rosensteel

Song to Sky (from Fat Poets Speak 2:  Living and Loving Fatly, Pearlsong Press, 2014)

Eileen Rosensteel

Song to Sky

Let me be the mountain to your sky.
I will ground you, hold you steady.
Blow where you need,
I will be here.
Massive, unmovable
You who are the holder of
          sun and moon
          steady and shifting.
I am the earth
          fertile and rocky
          stretching up to meet you.
The sky may never know the depths of me.
The way down roots of rock.
As I will not fly the forever arch of atmosphere.
But where we meet,
in the juicy middle
there will be life.