Thursday, December 24, 2009

He Sank his Teeth into his Soup

He sank his teeth into the soup;
it tasted rich but wasn’t what he needed,
wasn’t what he wanted,
he needed steak or a sharp carrot stick
to bite into, to chew,

incisors cutting, tongue lashing,
molars grinding it down
until the tough words, sentences,
hitting the anxious palate
were analyzed and shaken, blended, swallowed
with a gulp; it’s then
down go ideas
such smooth ideas,
each one so simple in its cocktail blend
so right, so heady.

He needed that participation,
not pap served in a golden bowl
and sipped, so civil, with a spoon.

His teeth and tongue are still alive
and must be keen like eyes and ears
and sharpened by a critic’s sting.

He sank his teeth into his soup
and said politely, this tastes great,
but all the time he longed for steak
with mustard, pepper, and a knife
to spear each word and then attack
the cook or critic pouring
dry Champagne.

LRH 3.19.09

Ancestral Voices

My Californian Sukkah down below is filled with youthful voices,
while I up here watch shimmering olive leaves and lie
basking in diaspora sun
reading about my grandfathers:
prisoners of the Pale, the pious,
Cabbalists, Maskilim, Bundists,
Capitalists, Zionists, dreamers,
Kibbutzniks, fighters, well-diggers,

My sons and daughters downstairs with their eager voices
Approach my impasse as I must have done,
As once my grandparents set their sights on Zion,
Forsaking history and prayer, taking up arms and hoes,
Tools of head and hand,
Purse and persuasion, hearts hardened to their foes,
With Jews’ determination,
Calling it miracles.

10.9.06 Ch. H’M Sukkot.

Monday, December 7, 2009



“This is for you, “ he said, “keep it. It’ll bring you luck.”
“Well, thanks,” she replied, ‘it’s very nice. But surely you know by now I’m not superstitious?”
“Yes, yes of course, but keep it anyway. You never know. And it’s wonderful, isn’t it? Look!”
She picked up the little ivory and examined it between her fingers.
“It’s very strange,” she said, “ and he’s rather ugly, don’t you think?”
“Look at all the detail,” he said.
The tiny figure squinted at her as though there were pupils between the minutely carved eyelids. A wispy beard, an amused grin and hundreds of wrinkles under a smooth hood. A silken gown, all of ivory, flowed over his kneeling figure, and a pair of delicate slippers peeped out behind, along with a whiskered mouse.
“Even if it were twice, ten times, bigger, it would be a miracle,” he said.
“Hmm. Yes… He grows on you for sure. Well, thank you. I’ll put him on my desk at home. I’ll call him Bud.”


“What’s that ugly little thing on your desk?” asked Ann.
“He’s not a thing. He’s Bud, and he brings me luck.”
“Bud? Since when have you been superstitious? No – don’t tell me. It’s that weird new boyfriend of yours – Sam.”
“Dan. Daniel Lyons.”
“Oh yes, Daniel in the lion’s den. Daniel in the fiery furnace. Mum says he’s queer in the head.”
“Well, Mum’s wrong. And get out of my room.”


“Ann tells me Daniel gave you another present, dear. Tell me…. Is he getting serious?”
“Oh Mum. He’s just a friend. He wanted to wish me luck for my exams, that’s all.”
“Well I wouldn’t accept gifts from him if I were you. After his terrible experiences you’ll lead him up the garden path, and he wants you up the altar. I know that type – very intense.”
“He’s not intense, he’s mystical. And don’t tell me what to do. I can look after myself.”


“My darling, my beloved, all I wish to know is will you ever love me.”
“Daniel, I can’t answer you now. I’ve never loved anyone. Maybe I never will. There’s something in you I can’t relate to… Maybe it’s all you’ve been through that’s made you so different…”
“It’s true I’ll never forget the past, but you’ll come to understand me… my love, don’t let me go through life without you.”
“Daniel, we’re both young, yet you’re as old as the hills. You’re trapped in the claws of death for ever.”
“No, no, you’ll soon understand – I’m not trapped at all – I escaped, didn’t I? I scuttled away like a little mouse from a big cat. Look! Here I am!”
“Yes, yes, you escaped physically, but mentally you’re scorched. Nine degree burns I would say. And your brain is still burning.”
“It’s not my brain, I tell you it’s my heart. Marry me.”
“Marry you, Daniel? I don’t even know you now. Here, I’m stroking your face and it feels as smooth as a block of marble; think how distant you’ll become in time!”
“Look into my eyes. We’ll see the future together.”
“What will you be like when you’re old, Daniel?”
“Wrinkled, eternally amused. For you, as firm as a rock.”
“Maybe I’ve seen you somewhere before.”


“Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue.”
“Ann, I’ve got everything! Let’s go!”
“New gown, borrowed sash, blue earrings, something old is missing. Are you hiding something?”
“That’s my secret!”
“A ring? No. Some keepsake I’m sure. Something to bring you luck, you need it, marrying on the chance you’ll love him someday. Ah! I know what it is! Well, it’ll never work you know. Fire can’t burn stone.”
“We’ll see, little sister, we’ll see.”


May 1989

Dorothy's Song

I’m spending all the weekend on the farm
with my Aunt Em, the only parent in my world,
she’s good to me
she’s like a mother
mother that I never had to teach me love.
But all day long I hear: “Go milk the cows!
Go feed the pigs! ” Across the muddy yard
the chickens hurry clucking to their chicks
and teach them love-love! I want to shrink
and be a yellow chick and scurry chirping “Love! ”

I’m on the farm and all I want to do
is take my bucket to the well and fill it,
then I’ll sit and watch the weeds grow through the cracks.
They peep out in the rain and tiny flowers
bloom on their tips, and I’m the only one
who sees them - like I was an angel
making them grow. Then I see the pigeons
flocking on the roof, and then I hear the sheep
baaing to their lambs and soon I smell
the dirt under my boots. It’s rich and so I go
to milk the cow. The cowshed’s dark and dry.
I put my hands upon her udder, feeling it
swell and shrink and quick the milk comes squirting
into the bucket by my boots.
Aunt Em yells, “Dorothy, you done? ”
and I keep quiet as a mouse,
hoping she’ll come and look for me
like a mother would.

There’s one guy on the farm who watches me.
He’s tall and steely but I see
he’s got no heart. If only he had one
he’d love me and I wouldn’t miss my mother.
The tractor screeches to a stop outside the barn.
I have to find some oil to stop the rust,
but just for now I’ll give him some fresh milk,
then maybe he will pick me up and kiss me
just like I kissed that chick who chirped “Love Love! ”

March 6 2005