When I am hungry
for you to be hungry
I mention Yevtusheshko.
Your mouth forms a perfect o,
newborn with the milk of forgetting.
I open your hand and write the words
Ravine of Jews
turning in the yellow air.
Grotto of plucked eyes,
where the poet,
made from a bouquet of foreskins,
soused his nakedness
with the trampled wine of Odessa: Today I am as old in years as all the Jewish people.
In our flat in the Bronx,
you carried him from room to room
like the Tent of Meeting,
floorboards black as a ravine
in the Ukraine,
or a mind,
split old boot in winter.
Monday Night Football With Mom
I am watching the Chicago Bears
on Monday Night Football.
Mom bursts into the room,
where numbered men are being chased,
wrestled to the ground.
Walter Payton is being gang tackled. Is that man from Poland? Sit down. Walter’s getting up, see? There’s a break in the action.
An Amtrack train is approaching a dark station. Where are they taking him?
Why doesn’t anyone do something?
You carried your bag of sins:
a wedge of moldy rye,
a poppy bagel with the mote your dentures made.
You asked me where the river was.
You forgot it was Rosh Hashanah,
but you remembered the river,
the Jewish river of Andre Breton
where for the new year
sins masquerade as sacrificial bread,
whining to have their old lives back.
Every day you were thrown like the bread.
I stopped trying to catch you
when your emptiness bent my arms
into a wet sizzle of air
untouched by God.
Walking together, the space between us
was the space between the bread and the river
that neither of us could find.