Saturday, January 16, 2016

Charlotte Russe

Charlotte Russe

To the memories of my mom, Millicent Kant (1928-2014) and my grandmother, Helen Glaser (1900-1988)

"You have to eat
the cake," my grandma
said, her version of
stern, which was not stern
by most standards
of the stern-loving world.

"I will," my mom
would promise,
her beautiful hazel eyes
preening and glowing
as they embraced
the prospect
of a Charlotte Russe
with its deeply alluring
whipped cream top
and its mostly embarrassing
thin layer of cake underneath

Which she wouldn't finish anyway
and my grandma would grumble
and finish it eventually

and the next time she would say
to my mom yet again:
"You have to eat the cake."

And my mom would promise,
her eyes bright with minor
as they embraced the window
of the bakery
on Lydig Avenue
and the dancing food heaven of whipped cream

Monday, October 26, 2015

Chinese Cookies

Chinese Cookies

New York Chinese cookies:
studies in flour and chocolate heaven,
not those thin almond things.

Last Friday
I took the Riverline
to New Jersey Transit.

As I ordered Chinese cookies
and black-and-whites
at Zaro's in Newark Station,
my grandmother's
voice and hands
took the boxes
and carried them with us
all the way back.

She took the 2 train.

I took New Jersey Transit.

She bought them
at the big bakery
a block away.

I traveled ninety miles.

Together we escorted
the boxes back
and forward in time
and made sure
that no cookies broke.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Bronx Upon a Time

The Bronx Upon a Time

Six story buildings
with gently
weathered brick
the cracks
which give kids a way to
learn the math
of sidewalks.
Women stand
and chat.
Their baby
snare passersby
who smile.
Cooking smells beckon.

No one is ashamed
to be seen.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Choosing Up For Dreams

Choosing Up for Dreams

Imagine ten kids
who, instead of choosing
for softball or hoops,
put their fingers out
for dreams

one gets boat
owner and swimming
with small town

another gets stockbroker
with wrap around window

another gets electronic
engineer with house
in quiet boring suburb

yet another gets prison
for thirty years
after killing her abuser

and you wish that they
could choose again
just to see if they'd get
something better

but by then the fingers
are clenched in again
and the world sails along
until someone wishes it flat

and dreams squish
pancake style
along with doubts
and possibles

and someone
we can't imagine yet
crows in flat language
"I told you so."

Friday, October 2, 2015


Charms To the memory of my grandma, Helen Glaser (1900-1988) Little sweet squares in bright colors resembling flavors before Lifesavers You bought them in Olinsky's around the corner when you bought chocolate kisses obviously for us, the kids, but my mom and dad liked both The floors still had hay stalks on them and an appetizing counter You took a number and waited Neighbors talked and shrank the world to four streets They made politics with their hands I grew happy

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Crack In Time

Crack In Time Looking up to people: not all it's cracked up to be So much better to revere trees or sky or birds At least they don't throw unexpected temper tantrums or a third finger Ever seen a tree make fun of denim skirts? Ever seen sky unfriend? Crack crack Human shell may break into small flecks like Humpty But it's how birds get born Looking down Looking across Easy as saints Until they crack up Crackdown is just as bad

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Fires of Autumn

The Fires of Autumn (To the Memory of My Mother - Millicent Kant (1928-2014) When autumn came to the Parkway, it was as if the trees decided to play with the warmest colors they could find and sent them to unsettle everyone who lived there into dancing on the most unsettling air it could supply. In my Rosh Hashanah dreams you sang, matching your high notes to your scarf as if they became colors that already knew northern autumn. We were supposed to be sober and think. But when you sang I could feel nothing but love that pretended to be sad but lilted in tones tinged the deepest of burning orange. Day shortened, but burned and trembled all the higher, like God vanishing in the holiest of flames, if one decided to believe.