“I think my poems are all Jewish because they’re all curious, and they’re all petitioning, in one way or another.”
Here, the trees pay their respects, mourn openly,
wear dreadlocks of hanging Spanish moss
sun bleached ash-blue and swaying; in seawind
they become prayer shawls
salted with dust, grief threads of every kind
I’ve never seen the author of Tender Buttons and Three Lives look as she looks in this painting by Picabia from 1937. Her head is small, perched on wide and rounded shoulders draped in brown. Beneath the cloak, a soft blue blouse with a large brooch peeks through. On her face, a sort of “oh well” smirk on thin, taut lips.
In 1974, the year Richard Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment, my father, a man with rabbinic aspirations, was deep in his own pickle, indicted for conspiracy and fraud in the federal summer school lunch program.
My uncle killed a man and was proud of it. / Some guy with a knife came at him in Flatbush / and he knocked the fucker to the ground. / The sidewalk finished the job. // By then he’d survived two wives and / a triple bypass. He carried the plastic tubing in his pocket / and would show it to you, to anyone. / He’d unbutton his shirt right there on the street / to show off the scar.