Monday, August 31, 2015


Unveiling I wanted to stay with you after I put the stone on your monument, but I was expected to leave with my dad, and it would have shocked everyone there if I had said, "I'll take buses and trains back, so go without me." So I looked all around and visited you through each year that you were with me and added all the years to the words on the monument, with the sentence, present in supposedly non-authentic Jewish texts: "We'll meet again." Not goodbye, then, but good new life and years. Come when you're ready.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Leading Through (On the Occasion of My Mother's Unveiling - 8/30/2015)

Leading Through (On the Occasion of My Mother's Unveiling - 8/30/2015) On the cover of the program for your unveiling, I stapled a photo of Pelham Parkway where it meets Wallace Avenue on the esplanade. The funny thing is that in Letter, instead of arriving as a photograph, it branched into some kind of modern impressionism in which tan became red, the shadows mellowed to green and the air between blanched to sheer white. It made Pelham Parkway look like Psalm 23. Then I realized that this is indeed where you might rest and that you were here would always be here with me and I thanked Letter format for blending two times and places and for joining us once again.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Bronx Elevated Train Stations - 1

Built in the 1900's through 1920's, Bronx elevated IRT Stations were serious about trains flying over track far above the ground. They featured massive tan bricks over light tan cement, and columns like those of an aqueduct. At the time subways seemed to rocket through their underground Manhattan lairs, then shoot up at Jackson Ave. through thick air to become els in light and messy sparkle. Even now, between West Farms and 180th, the 2 train, now an el, still curves to reveal buildings, streets and other trains, as well as people, at angles and panoramas as wide as shock. It's as if you see ten miles and two centuries revealed in kaleidoscopic mini-drama and all the shades of ground and sky you can encompass and possibly some that you can't. Then, at 180th, many tracks come together and trains glide straight in. If you get off to change, you can feel the Zoo not far off and all sorts of old quiet in stations never completely demolished that give unexpected pleasures in wood.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back to Me

Back to Me To the memory of my grandmother, Helen Glaser (March 15, 1900 - March 3, 1988) All the rainy nights bring you back, Nothing has changed. I miss the fierceness of your love And I miss without stopping the finest glance in the world and I miss your clarity of heart, more beautiful than the best lies, and more thoughtful than any beauty.

The 10 Commandments and Shavuos

The 10 Commandments and Shavuos (According to Mel Brooks, 15, but one tablet broke.) The great granddaughter of the Muscover Rebbe could tell you what the holiday Shavuos meant and why she didn't believe in it. "God wrote and spoke Hebrew?"she said. "Or any other languages?" I would add that belief systems adduced a god-voice when they wanted to own power and point up truths: outpourings of culture, campfire legends. My grandma would grimace, then turn cheese blintzes in the pan. "This is my truth," she would say. "We eat dairy on Shavuos." The blintzes were crisp outside, melting inside. In my grandma's kitchen was the land of milk and honey. This was my truth. I wanted no other.

From Pelham Parkway Esplanade

From Pelham Parkway Esplanade I sit on a bench on the esplanade. It's summer, and the drowsy life of green too green and dried grass fans out. All the times I spent here slide in order, like a powerpoint. and even before, as if I'd been hypnotized like Bridey Murphy: Mom sitting with friends, flirting outrageously. Mom here with beaux (I love that old-fashioned syllable.) Great grandma with friends. Grandma and grandpa with neighbors. Then it's the dawn of my time, and I'm in a carriage. I'm older, being hit by a neighbor's boy. Older yet, in patent leather. Then it's onto Son of Sam and quiet as my dear friend guides us away in case horror obtrudes. And now. after they've all gone, I'm the last one in the bus. I flow back. Like Edelweis, the benches are glad to see me. And even missing all the people in my photo album doesn't hurt quite as much.

Summer Night Music

Summer Night Music The music is different on summer nights; it makes you want. You don't even know the shapes want will assume and the music could even be coming from your own window from a device you've known all your years and yet you'll feel there's something want is inspiring that you would scream or fly up or unbecome to capture and yet you don't know you cannot know and you will never know just what it is, cannot name one syllable of it or the time it encases which is just as well because by now the music has stopped teasing and become pretty well timeless and unshaped and the night to which it belongs, a hazy summer night has uncurled into smells of far off thunder and something you hardly recognize as day.

City Quiet

City Quiet To my mom, in memory Your favorite summer sound was that of the cicadas and locusts skricking at night. Coming home from a dance or party you'd stop and listen. On the Parkway late pairs of lovers sat on the far benches happily alone. The 2 train lurched to a stop with its trademark screech. All around, city quiet, not silence, but many sounds that should not have been but somehow ended up emitting harmony.

City Island

City Island Johnny's versus Tony's. Both hug the end of the Island. We go to Johnny's. We eat our fried sole, some of the fries, most of the coleslaw. Then we take the leftover french fries and put them on the ground. That's all. Within three seconds they're gone. The gulls strut about, their gullets full. They stay near the spot in case the miracle repeats. We watch them for a few, then head out. The Sound flows in us, unseen, for the rest of the day.

To The Dear One Who Came With Me To Pelham Parkway

To The Dear One Who Came With Me To Pelham Parkway On the same bench my mom, grandmother and great-grandmother sat, 70 years ago. (My grandfather didn't have time.) Old, blessed men and young ones played chess on the same stone inlaid sets. The stone benches still sparkled their metal bits in the sun. "This is nice," you said. "Yes," I agreed. The train screeched into the el station as it had for ninety years. My mind fashioned images such welcome ghosts to beckon before those who sat now in their place. I was a fool for leaving for staying and I hated missing what was and was not so much the same. Thank you for being with me

Frannie's Bed and Breakfast on Muliner

Frannie's Bed and Breakfast on Muliner I'd serve bagels with lox, cream cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers and slices of onion (someone else would peel the onion). Sour pickles. Whitefish, herring. Cheese danish, breakfast buns. Fresh squeezed orange juice. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate. New York Times in print to spread over the table in sections. Then I'd take guests to sit on the Parkway. Later, we'd take the train all the way to Queens and then the 44 bus back so they could sparkle into rivers of light over the Whitestone. To bed, removing cabbage rose cotton spreads on white cotton sheets. Parkway traffic would splay shadow monsters on the walls until 2 AM. Good night. Sleep very tight. No bedbugs. Open window. Wind from the trees. A short flight back. No seat belts. Just mind-years.

The War is Over/Not

The War Is Over/Not You sit on parkway chairs with friends and boyfriends. The war is over. I and an almost friend with benefits stroll the gracious parkway esplanade then read that Son of Sam shoots couples. The war has begun.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Train For Us

A Train For Us

First three notes
of "There's a Place for Us"
from West Side Story
shriek from the 2 train
when it pulls out
of each station.

I wouldn't swear
for certain
that Leonard Bernstein knew.

But hell,
he rode the subway enough.



I still see them
in their chairs
on the sidewalk
No one minds.
In casual summer clothes,
they unfurl
the state of the city,
the country, the planet
but always return
to the Bronx.

Mrs. Resnick's son
moved to Florida.
Something with medical law.
The Anastasios' daughter
went, of all places,
to Utah.
"Is that still in the USA?"
one of the ladies jokes.

The Zoo now costs
ten dollars.
Once it was free.
Most of them
save with care.
There's a bargain
at Olinsky's:
chicken for 70 cents
a pound.

The massive stonework
near the building
somehow protects them,
even though
they're outside it.
Down through years,
their New York voices
rise in a circle
of raucous, happy sound.

Like a talisman
wrought from words,
not Commandments,
they keep me
even now
from a void
worse than harm.

Happy Place in the Rain

Happy Place in the Rain

In the chair
of 1950's brocade,
curled up
near the window
in the rain,
looking at the
deeper colors
of bricks
of the building
across the street
and its leering
that provided
unexpected comfort
as they stared back.