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.