Friday, May 25, 2018


Glancing at a column, my grandfather Max
Knew instantly what they’d add up to.
My grandfather Joe could play chess in his head
And once forced the ghost of Paul Morphy
To accept a draw. My brother at ten
Half invented calculus before finding out
Leibniz and
Newton had beaten him to it.
Once, because I missed you greatly,
I discovered a way to square a circle
Which, unfortunately,  I have forgotten.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


Gucko I still see, mostly for coffee
But sometimes for a beer or two.
Fufu, my brother Jean's other imaginary friend
I haven't seen in years. He was always
An elusive sort and contrary. Jean
Inherited him from a friend. I was jealous,
Having then only an imaginary fire truck
And a totem animal, a solemn bear
Who spoke without contractions.
Gucko gave sound advice given his age
Which was about four and a half; Fufu,
Even then, was no one you'd want
To meet beneath a moonless sky.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Max and God walked home from work some nights
Talking about their jobs -- they were in the garment trade –
And my grandmother Esther, a mystery to them both.
The walk was long --12 miles or more from 39th Street
To Snediker Avenue. Two dogs walked with them
Until they crossed Grant Street. A block or so later
A grey and white cat would appear and pretend
He just happened to be going the same way.
Max had gradually stopped being a believer
But never said so, lest he hurt God's feelings.

Monday, May 21, 2018


I'd hired a space for the poem. Its personnel –
The poet William Cowper, Bill Monroe, a raven –
Would arrive later. I thought Monroe, who was ornery,
Might get along with Cowper, who was mad
And also -- for no particular reason -- eternally damned.
I still think that poem might have been good
(There'd have been some slow bluegrass music 
And the raven had agreed to dance a few steps).
Then Cowper got lost on the way, ending somehow
Hunched miserably in a corner of Valhalla, and Monroe
Refused to do a poem co-starring a raven.
The raven took a rain-check and, in the end,
We used God, my grandfather, two dogs and a cat.

Friday, May 18, 2018


Yadwigha in a long dress
Having sent the tiger on his way,
Having eaten the snake's apple,
Having disappointed the moon,
Looks over the painter's shoulder
Waiting her moment
To step from the frame.
Seeing me watching her
From eighty years away,
She shakes her head

Thursday, May 17, 2018


If my grandfather is recalled into being
By some fine watch that wants a maker
Or if a shadow, needing someone to cast it
Causes him to gradually cohere, midstride,
On Second Avenue, he will likely want
His watchmaker's hammer returned. Tell him
I have it hanging on the wall and that
It's willing to go back to work

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


"The poetry of the Darth" the paper says;
A misprint, I suppose, but what if it's not?
What sort of poems would Darth Vader write
And when would he find the time? Not an easy man
To have in your writer’s group: "I find 
Your metric failures disturbing." Still, 
One can’t always be making a billion voices 
Cry out at once and then fall silent. 
Sometimes, one needs to make villainous puns
Or laboriously rework the last four lines
Of a mournful villanelle.