As a teenager, like so many others of our narrow minded, obsessed gender, I imagined myself a great lothario, girls on the edge of womanhood lining up for my attention.
The absurdity of that dream was lost on me and my peers, testosterone drowning it in a sea of hormones, and we were oblivious to the real obstacle always right in front of us, that we imagined love and sex in the first person only.
Now that youth and even middle age are behind me I still try to recall when I realized that love requires the second person singular, and my pleasure is complete only when my partner’s is as well.
We sat in the cramped kitchen huddled around the stove the open oven door spreading a faint warmth that barely slid through the winter chill. The bare bulb in the ceiling strained and flickered fighting to hold as the generators were shut down, and darkness enveloped our small world. The sky was lit by the flares and the odor of exploding shells seeped through the towel sealed windows covered in the tattered bedsheets too thin to afford warmth. Ibrahim had been gone two weeks sneaking out of the city to join his brothers in Gorazde or Tuzla, or wherever it was that they were struggling to save what little was left. We huddled under the small table and dreamed of the taste of fresh bread, or even pork. In the morning he would run among the craters in the streets in search of the convoy and the handouts, which we would raven as the sun set over our war torn hell.
First published in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. XXX, No. 1 & 2, 2006
In my dreams I wandered the alleys of Lisbon searching for a familiar face, and many came close, but no man stopped me and asked if I was, by chance his son, for he dreamed I was what a son of his would look like.
Now I have no need to wander for I know he is in a military cemetery in Burlington, New Jersey, and I doubt he had any idea in life he had another son, or a daughter in Italy, for weekends were quickly passed when you had to be back at the base by midnight on Sunday.
Stevie and I were probably eight sitting on the front stoop of our flat, he the only one in third grade smaller than me. There was no snow to be seen, none in the sky, none on the frozen and still patchy lawn, just the wind of an always cold December day. Christmas is coming, I said aren’t you excited, with all the gifts. Stevie smiled, they’re always great but maybe this year I’ll finally meet Santa. I laughed, lacking the heart to shatter an infantile dream. Do you buy into the sled and reindeer thing, or does he come more by way of magic. Of course it’s the sled, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had some pretty good jet engines. And you think he comes down the chimney I asked. We don’t have one, you know that so he must use a back window, the one where I broke the lock last summer when we were spies. He looked momentarily sad, you don’t have anything like Santa, although you get lots of neat gifts, just not all at once. At least eight, most years more but you’re right we have no Santa, but we have something even better. Better how, what could be better? Each year at Passover, Elijah comes in during our Seder I don’t see him but we have to open the door for him during dinner. Does he bring you anything? He’s not like that, he just comes all old and bearded, and before you can even see him he’s gone again, probably next door at the Goldstein’s or maybe with Larry Finkel, though his mom can’t cook very well. So what’s he do, this Elijah? Not much, I admitted, but he does have a drinking problem.
First Published in Friends & Friendship Vol. 1, The Poet, 2021
The ghosts of my birth parents blow into my dreams as so many white sheets torn from the clothesline by gale winds, fly over me, at once angels and vultures carrying off memories created from the clay of surmise and wishful thinking.
I invite their visits, frail branches to which to cling in the storms of growing age, beginnings tenuous anchors to hold against time, knowing the battle cannot be won, but take joy in skirmishes not to be diminished by an ultimate failure I have long come to accept.
There are nights when the song of a single cricket can pull you away from sleep. She says that she has heard that not all Angels have wings and neither of them is sure how you would know if you met a bodhisattva. He searches the mail every day, for a letter from unknown birth parents but none of the credit cards he ought to carry offers to rebate his dreams. Each night they lie back pressed to back and slip into dreams. She records hers in the journal she keeps with the pen, by the bed. He struggles to recall his and places what shards he can in the burlap sack of his memory.
First Published in Where Beach Meets Ocean, The Block Island Poetry Project, 2013