POETRY PAGE FIVE
COLUMN FIFTY-THREE, NOVEMBER 1, 2000
(Copyright © 2000 Al Aronowitz)
[Have we neglected to tell you that ROBERT KLEIN ENGLER,
who lives in Chicago and New Orleans, holds degrees from the University of
Illinois at Urbana and The University of Chicago Divinity School? He was a department chair for many years at the City Colleges
of Chicago until he was banned by the Chancellor in May of 1997. He now teaches
at Roosevelt University. His poems and stories have appeared in Borderlands,
Hyphen, Christopher Street, The James White Review, American Letters and
Commentary, Kansas Quarterly and many other magazines and journals. He was
the recipient of Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards for his poem, Flower
Festival at Genzano, which appeared in Whetstone and Three Poems
for “Kabbalah,” which appeared in Fish Stories, II.
His books, Medicine Signs and Shore Line, among others, are
available from Alphabeta Press or http://www.amazon.com.
Return to Alexander, a book of sonnets, is available from http://www.iUniverse.com.
To order his new book of sonnets, RETURN TO ALEXANDRIA,
AT MY GRANDMOTHER
stipples the rim of the china cup I bring to my lips.
The old radio,
tuned to Chopin, plays softly from its cove of shadows
near the sofa. Some
pears glow with a ripe blush in their blue bowl set over
a doily. The cat
pads across the floor to pause and look up at me, then
passes on to its
cushion by the bay window. Grandmother offers me a scone
with a gesture that
stammers at the end of its arc like the static from the
antique Zenith. How
her eyes are like my mother’s eyes; something with the
blue of a jewel, or
the sky, or the lake painted topaz over white. The tea
tastes of earth and
of parchment written with lamb’s blood. I listen to
her slow words. She adds
another pearl to the string that winds from one closed
room to another.
Albums of mummy leather pass from hand to hand. “From
a long way off you
remember the shape of love,” she says, “but not its
song.” I look out to the
street where the new world parades with the burden of a
rose. Have you seen
it, rain falling into sunlight? So is the sorrow inside
* * *
THE SCREENS OF SUMMER
than he is used to seeing it, the sun
beats against the roof tops. All along the block,
front doors are open to welcome a breeze.
Down on the corner, a boy taps his baseball bat
against a manhole cover near the curb.
The bat rings like a bell against the dumb
metal, but this time his friends don’t come.
he had some wisdom to offer him besides,
“Once, I played like this, too,” then he would take
the boy’s hand in his and show him the life line
and the heart line they have in common.
How many wait, while others never come?
Still, days of summer wrap the neighborhood
like pearls along the calendar of childhood.
him now in the shade of his upper room
as the full dress of summer trees wave below.
“Only women watch from windows,” say the Arabs.
After the long frown of the river evens to chrome,
he writes about this for the dreaming boys,
as a flock of gulls dips and glides above the dumpster.
Their black eyes are as wide as the hands of hunger.
night slide down to the valley of rain,
or the bubble of a child bursting in the wind of time
with a batted note of wonder are over and done.
Let martyrs rise up to the anonymous clap of bones
wearing flags of new flesh. They did not submit.
Their hapless victory is all the bells declare,
while dews of beauty mist the burning air. ##
STANDS BEFORE THE SCRIBES
breeze comes to brush the hair of his arm.
He shuts his eyes and remembers the caress of a hand
combing his locks and the press of a kiss on his lips.
scribes bend over their scrolls and count the letters.
There is an opening and there is a closing,
the way drama puts a parentheses around life.
snowflakes blow across the face of the moon.
It is so cold his ink hardly runs. Yet he writes:
“Tell them there is a silver chain that hangs
the moon to my heart. This holds me up.
Tell them I seek the boon of love, yet do not find,
For He that sings me sweet so made me blind.” ##
the sparrows fight over a crust
of bread. Hop, hop, hop, peck!
The birds go after a few crumbs next.
Hop, hop, hop, peck!
a stone bench at Tulane,
under the shade of a live oak,
a sophomore with skin smooth and blushing,
asks his teacher, half wise and wrinkled,
with wire rim glasses, “What did the poet
mean when he said, ‘sorrow is a mask?’”
meant the widow and the orphan
are the keystone of the world.”
the Market Cafe down on Decatur,
a woman dances, twirling her small,
sequined umbrella to the music
of the Dixie Ramblers.
Hop, hop, hop, peck! ##
* * *
Western Lands make room for drums and bones.
While Chinese merchants abacus their gain,
Our musty Congress sits and drones and drones
Let’s say Columbus better try again.
The Virgin Mary trods upon The Snake,
But still the greedy banker’s feet are cleft.
soccer moms rush home to scrub and bake?
Those hearts pump ash, there is no fire left.
Enslaved by protein shakes and C. K. joys,
Technique remains our nation’s only end.
The painful beauty of the circuit boys
Is proof that tyranny is on the mend.
Alone and tired, he rides the midnight train,
To read at home, then listens to the rain. ##
ON HIS BIRTHDAY
loves the world and knows he’s wrong for it,
But men at times appear so beautiful
He has to play the wounded hypocrite
And run the race twixt fact and fanciful.
If you had told him that his life would go
From youth to age, he would have said, “No way!”
But who’s alone in this concern, for so
He learns, have other men’s—we go, we stay,
We take, we give, few deeds are black or white.
Just hope for truth, for grace, and heart’s repose.
To see all this you must admit hindsight,
But life is forward lived, and that, who knows?
Perhaps he may find wings—for now he writes—
It is like swimming up to air, to lights. ##
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMN FIFTY-THREE
CLICK HERE TO GET TO INDEX OF COLUMNS
Blacklisted Journalist can be contacted at P.O.Box 964, Elizabeth, NJ 07208-0964
The Blacklisted Journalist's E-Mail Address:
THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST IS A SERVICE MARK OF AL ARONOWITZ