Saturday, February 28, 2015

This Side of Paradise

This Side of Paradise

To the memory of Leonard Nimoy and Mr. Spock

Frannie Zellman

When the spores burst from pods,
no one would compete.
Songs flowed into petals
before they had names.
You flowered into love.

For a shocking change,
you didn't count days
or calculate suns
or ratios of the probable.

You brooked no measure
of what might be
or what became
or what would.

And for a very short time
shorter than that of an earth rain,
you were happy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015



If viruses continued to evolve,
would they develop a language?
Would Virusese become
the new virus Esperanto,
invented to unite diverse viruses?
Or would there be several dialects
or spinoffs?
Would viruses one day translate
into English or Spanish or Mandarin?
Would people learn to speak Virusese,
and with the correct accent?

And most pertinent:
What would viruses call themselves
in their own language?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015



On this summer night,
anything seems possible.
Warmth rises,
doesn't pall.
Buildings soar,
but enfold our park.
When the music starts,
you can imagine
the shadows of buildings
giving birth not to sound,
but to colors
which appear,
like trace elements,
then leave
when the music ends.

Dvorak wrote this symphony
in New York,
So, like New York,
it rises on crowds
and arranges
the sky.
He shook hands
with porters, drivers,
duchesses, freed slaves,
musicians in thrall
to a city.
He said it waited
for Czech folk songs,
but you can hear
the strains of New York
and the South
so present
that they almost pledge
their allegiance (without god, then).

Like New York,
it preens, yells,
then almost vanishes
into cafe smoke.
Then, as if to confound,
it flies into a dance,
as if it knew the Rockettes
before they appeared.

The last notes sweep
trees, roofs and air.
No stars, but the clouds
drift and reveal a moon
blurring into shapes
of city monsters,
the kind that menace,
then leave for the subway.

We will leave soon.
We too will rush
into imitation dark
that flies to all
the familiar stations.
Like Dvorak,
who walked where we walk,
but did not know underground,
we head into streets ending
in lights blinking faster
than any stars.

When he was homesick,
he looked for Prague.
but instead found 59th Street.

One day we will visit Prague
and look for New York.

How many rivers
did he find
until the Vitava
became the Hudson?

How many lights
will blinker on and off
for us
until the East River
into a Czech day
and pretends
to be home?

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Olive Tree

The Olive Tree

loves poor parched soil,
doesn't flame to orange or red,
stays soft green,
takes five years to bloom.
When old,
it gnarls into bent
but hale bark shapes,
its branches still bouncing
with sweet ovals.

Oil fresh from the press.
Sweet on bread,
heaven on tomatoes.

L'khayim! (L'chaim!)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Towards a New Internationale

Toward a New Internationale

Hey, India, Saudi Arabia,
Czech Republic and South
and North Korea!

Pleased that you like our poems.

Or were you just hoping
that I'd feature pictures
of glorious fat women
that you're forbidden to like
or admit that you like
in your own nation-worlds?

Thursday, February 19, 2015



Last night
an ex stormed my dream.
He wore a cowboy hat
and his usual sour expression,
bordering on paranoid.
He told me
that we had to write an article.
But friends of ours
kept drifting in and out
of the room,
as well as men
in various phases
of western chic.
The friends assured me
that I could take my time,
while the not-very-wild west
contingent lounged,
thumbs sticking
out of their jeans.
My ex grew more and more annoyed,
the cowboy drifters lurched
from jeans to various cows,
and the friends danced
through various years.

I woke confused,with a headache,
and immensely relieved.

So much for catharsis.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015



Soft yet firm
the green of ferns
or the yellow green
of your favorite spring

from the fridge:
runs to nutty

steam cooked:
slight bitter
bites toward sweet
and lush

And I am not loath
to admit
that in my store
of asparagusiana
tastes and sensations

there is even a time
when I like them..

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Bridge

The Bridge

The bridge spanned a river
you could see the roads 
leading up to it
spiderlike, the approaches
ran through marshes
and landfill.

To ride 
to wait 
for a way to cross
was no better than prayer
if you couldn't drive.

And yet, drawn up
so innocuously
as to be seen
from one angle only
was a boat
that could be sped
with one tall oar
if you were willing
to use one arm
and float backwards.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Pandora Gets A Non-Driver's ID

Pandora Gets A Non-Driver's ID

So much easier
to get a non-driver's ID
if you pretend
that you were never married
that your life is a box
with no strange memes
no emotional quirks
not even hope

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Geese

The Geese

Perhaps the warm day
made them restless,
or pushed them
to pretend
that it was spring.
They whooshed over the house
from one direction,
then buzzed it again
from another.
Perhaps one of them
remembered a river
or creek
which had yielded
particularly tasty grass
or worms
and the house was en route.
Perhaps another was restless,
and twerking (goosing?) humans
helped her believe
that the air would still lift her
in March,

Perhaps a third one
found pleasure
in throwing her wings
into the sky
and skimming a roof
where no one told her
to go.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Perfect Winter's Day

A Perfect Winter's Day

little or no wind
sky limitless blue
temperature of 34
or so
branches so bare
and high
they touch

Thursday, February 5, 2015



When they play four notes,
oil stands up
as if it were licorice.

When the dolphin
stands up,
she is hearing
four notes
we cannot imagine.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Pyracantha Berries

Pyracantha Berries  (With Thanks to Robin Enos for Explaining the Robin(s) Gathering on the Lawn)

There was one drunk on the top of the roof
and one buzzed on the bottom.
Others were reeling from side to side
and fluttering over adjacent lawns.
There was even one who seemed
to be offering toasts
(and I mean "toasts," not "toast")
and explaining the meaning(s) of life
to his neighbors.
I was probably too late,
but I'm sure there was a bet placed
on who could chow down the quickest
on the most  red stairways to heaven.

And the best thing is
that there were no robin patrols
telling them to move along
or get in the car
or threatening
to call their parents.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Wedding Snapshots: Bronx, 1953

Wedding Snapshots: Bronx, 1953

To my dad and my late mom on what would have been their 62nd wedding anniversary

Young, slightly plump bride,
beautiful in her glow.
Groom is smiling, a bit sheepish;
he's had one too many.

In this one
the bride's cousin, all of 12,
sneaks into the bride's sequestered room
with a cocktail.
"You look as if you need it," she says.

Later, after the wedding march:
Relatives gather.
Champagne talks.
The moms survey their guests.

Grand Concourse on a winter's night.
Snow moon lingers.