Spring 2006

Volume 1, Issue 1





I lean on the windowsill
to bite a cloud as it passes by.

Now, I feel the city on my breath,
taste its pungent odor,

its hard edges of steel,
chrome mirrors of sunlight,

the rough ledges of its
architecture skipping over

my tongue. In the stark
relentless realism of a business

day, I hunt like an animal
the long tail of adventure.

I want to grab it, swing it
around in the air, like

King Kong in Manhattan,
everything toy and miniature.



On the Border of Brighton Beach


The snaking rumble of Manhattan
limps through me, the end
of the line one highway
away, where cars rush to the air-
port, to the outer sections
of a multichambered heart.

I’m accustomed to the play
of steel against iron, tracks
stepping to the rhythms of big
city. Within this high-
rise, Russian and Jewish children
of America reside, their jumbled
words only half caught up
in the language of homogenized
states. Between the footfalls of
heritage, a hodgepodge of
mixed ancestries altering the landscape
as it rolls out the country,
the indecipherable
lexicon revising itself
in need, each hand
a brethren, each glance holding
clues to meaning.





I am pulling my yellow band
over Brooklyn, where the hospital
and high-rise buildings post
signs in Russian. I am catching
the city light as it spits
out the soot history
toils in, sunlight gleaming
in the window of a bakery,
on the black rim
of a Hassidic Jew’s hat,
the Hanukkah menorah
six days lit and strung
to the top of a Chevy
while Jewish men and boys
dance in the landscaped
park of a mini strip mall,
their faces white
as pancake powder.
I am chewing on a latke
the baker Samuel handed me
for free, folded
in a white napkin
like a present, his yarmulke
the round reminder
of belief that does not stray.
I am standing over Brooklyn,
recalling my grandfather,
from Kiev, strolling the boardwalk
with a rolled Pravda
under his arm. I have taken
the width of this borough
in my grasp
and am stretching it,
feeling its strength.
I am at home, the wide
borough of a country relaxing
in a natural reflex.



Readying for the Sabbath

for Dennis

Your grandmother
sprawled the “Forward”
on the kitchen floor
to keep it unsoiled
for the Sabbath,

walked on words.
Morsels fell
into the lines of print,

her linoleum
plate clean –
down on her knees
for the Friday scrubbing.

She would not
shave her head
or wear a wig

but boiled soup chicken
with torn parsley, hand-sliced
carrots, potatoes; spooned
honey into cake batter; and
crisscrossed challah dough
to rise into clouds of air.



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© 2006 Americana: The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture