Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Everything (for Eleanor) and other poems – Burt Rashbaum

Feb 11, 2022 | Poetry | 4 comments

Everything
(for Eleanor)
If we’d lived 100
               years ago
we’d meet
in the 
              sparkling cafes
of 
     eastern Europe

share
     a pastry

and sip our 
     bitter brews

argue over the news-

paper
      the crises in the capital
the meaning

of love
of loss
of life

raise a ruckus
               curse G-d
laugh
     at nothing and

everything.

Then hug and 
smooch
      goodnight
and off we’d

go back
        to our
feathered

beds in
the shtetl.
__
The Inability to Concentrate
(brain fog)
        g
        r
T  h    i    s
        d    o     e      s      n      ‘       t
                          e
                          n
                          s
m       a      k          e

crossword clues are clueless
sentences are ropes of words
mysterious with punctuation

Paragraphs remain clean
rectangles  only.  Shapes
revealing    no   meaning.

Reading is impossible
concentration confounds.

fever and headache
form a curtain
certain to disguise
the mystery of definition

synonyms dissolve
verbs stop cold
adjectives describe nothing
nouns are not persons
places or things.

Daily I scan my
puzzles, am
puzzled by articles
I know are about
something.

Daily the grid
evokes only puzzlement.

My book can only
kill spiders.

It’s a measure of
the virus
reconciling
weakening
succumbing
to my antibodies
saving my
body. I know when
I finally begin
to decipher, to
understand, my 
return has commenced.

One day I fill two
little white boxes
with letters. Later
twelve words with a
tiny dot at 
the end tells me
something I didn’t
know. I remember
the story I am reading.
I am reading a story.
I am reading.

This makes me cry.
I am healing.
__
Whales
You loved our songs.
named us by our flukes,
watched entranced as we
                           danced on the waves
but we knew
                           we were still
endangered. Unprotected by 
                           those
who could protect us.

                           We are so much alike.

We suckle our young.

We breathe air.

We sing.

                   It’s too late. We know this.

Our calves often can’t see the sun
through a new continent
                                    of plastic.

Our songs have changed but you don’t notice.

We have heard your protests to
                                      end war
and violence. We breach as a cheer
                                    but know
we are finally finished, so in protest
we will beach ourselves
                              and stink up your
beaches, rotting hulks of sadness
for you to deal with,
to chop us up and
cart us away, wondering why. Why, you ask, why?

                                 This is our
protest.

            Our young cannot see the sun.

            Our world is too polluted.

            Our young cannot see the sun.

This is what we must do.

Enough. Enough.

                                 Goodbye.
__
Death: You
Death:
you old instigator,
arbiter, referee,
I know that when
we dance
and I finally
fall into your arms
then
I’ll be free,

I don’t fear you,
as I did when young
and know I’ve died
a thousand deaths
through centuries
and so what’s
one more,

whether chalk-white
from all my blood
down the drain,
or the wrinkled hands
of age reaching
for one more thread of
hope,
or the horror of
disease
and pain,

there are those
who’ll cry
and others who
will curse my choice,
with stifled screams
shattered dreams
and ragged voice,

but Death,
we’ve got a date –
it’s more than a wish,
and more than fate,
I know you’ll be on
time, you always are,
I hope it’s I
who won’t be late.
__

The Indifferent Sun
                                                                                                                                                           (for Ann)
The indifferent sun doesn’t
care if clouds separate its light.
What shines on the face,
radiates, comes
from within.

The wind whips
its stinging rebuke,
ignorant of our very
existence.  Cracks
in the lake ice almost
spell something, hieroglyphs
hundreds of meters
long.

Love is not
dependent on
the weather.  Elements
argue and scream
on the desolate winter
landscape, yet the heart
beats heat all the way
to our extremities. 

Below the surface,
asleep, spring
dreams of flowers,
and colors of a
sunrise bursting
like pomegranate juice
expanding into a
glass of mango nectar.

The vectors of our lives
twist and turn,
braiding the steps
we take with others,
the love that comes
we pass
along, while

the shapes
of the clouds
dance and stretch,
elastic,
in the forever sky.
__

Burt Rashbaum’s publications are Of the Carousel (The Poet’s Press, 2019), and Blue Pedals (Editura Pim, 2015). His work has appeared in XY Files (Sherman Asher Publishing, 1997), The Cento (Red Hen Press, 2011), Art in the Time of Covid-19 (San Fedele Press, 2020), Meet Cute Press #2, Caesura(2021), A 21st Century Plague: Poetry from a Pandemic (University Professors Press, 2021), Typeslash Review (2021), and American Writers Review: Turmoil and Recovery (San Fedele Press, 2021).

4 Comments

  1. doris cultraro

    Your poems speak to me too, on many levels.

    Reply
  2. Scott Harrison

    These are moving thoughts and poems. Thanks Burt for sharing them.

    Reply
  3. Evan Cantor

    Love the poems! You are >my< lyricist!

    Reply
  4. Darin

    Beautiful

    Reply

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