Monday, April 8, 2013

Yermiyahu Ahron Taub- Three Poems

Breakfast In the Basement (With Bureaucrats)
For Greg Marcangelo
Here we huddle against the silhouettes of trees
slicing whitely into the almost-royal blue wall
that evoke somehow the scene in Tarkovsky’s debut
of Masha and the soldier in the forest the light the cold
and Masha’s hunger and terror and courage the kiss above the trench
that cannot be lost in the gunfire and muck
for the young Master willed it just so and so it shall ever be
Here we huddle in the basement without window
the only light the fluorescent one humming above
to break first bread before the day of processing
and assembling and piecing and foraging order from chaos
guardians of treasure as they assure us but merely to skim creativity
to take stock and categorize forbidden to linger
for this is not a mid-summer porch by a lake in the mountains
and there is no iced raspberry lemonade in hand
Here we revel in the latest words and images of the weekly
still in print after these many years
one of the few surviving bastions of wit and panache and
commitment to investigation and reflection
an oasis in the din of demagoguery that you and I dissect at length
for we marvel at the extent of its reach at the regularity of its release
at the precariousness of our victories of long ago
And just as the word flair and ads for subdued sparkles can’t efface
its combativeness so here we are insisting over scrambled
eggs and gruel on the marriage of elegance and liberation on good and
glamour before rising to face our backlogs grateful that the taxpayers
still sustain this work we love and so here we are dreaming of gems
unearthed that will flay the creep of tedium as Masha envelopes us
in her enigmatic embrace as the weapons of war are arrayed just so
by the bureaucrats there they are across the river
Your father wanted to call you
after his maiden aunt Milkah Pesl,
who entered the home one evening without fanfare
(after his mother ran off with that good-for-nothing
to caper under the big top) and stayed
to bathe and feed and heed and teach him his letters
and a way of being good in the world,
while his father sat in the rocking chair by the window,
never rocking, rarely rising, simply staring
at the drawn drapes as if his wife
was hiding coquettishly in their folds.
Only I would have none of it, not because of his aunt,
who I remember chiefly for her taciturnity,
her lips pursed and her bosom, disquieting in its unsentimentality.
Rather, I insisted on naming you, our so long-awaited cherub,
after the city beyond dream,
with its melange of architectural marvels,
cultures in confabulation,
the poets composing on national and other themes,
who honed their craft in its garrets and cafes,
the artists who strolled down its steps
long before film history was forged there,
the city where the future of our people
was re-imagined in parlors and salons.
A revolution has to begin somewhere, as you have learned.
Has there ever been such ardor?
Even now, after the rupture, beneath the coat of kitsch,
you can still see traces of it.
Know that this will ever be your essence.
You have the tools to orchestrate the sublime into fruition.
Tell your father that Milkah Pesl would have come to understand,
Tell him our family might yet be whole
if he could only see.  Tell him this, Odessa my love.
On Being a Minorities Poet
Your poems are too gay
 Your poems are too universal
Your poems are too sexual
Your poems are too squeamish
Your poems are too Jewish
Your poems are too assimilationist
Your poems are too religious
                        Your poems are too worldly
Your poems are too Yiddish-y
            Your poems are too translated
Your poems are too accessible
Your poems are too elusive
Your poems are too ornate
            Your poems are too austere
Your poems are too emotional
Your poems are too intellectual
Your poems are too political
            Your poems are too decadent
Your poems are too scandalous
Your poems are too tame
Your poems are too self-absorbed
Your poems are too socially aware
Your poems are too heavy
Your poems are too blithe
Your poems are too flat
Your poems are too sparkly
Your poems are too narrative
Your poems are too character-driven
Your poems are too dialectic
            Your poems are too polyphonic
                        Your poems are too dissonant
                                    Your poems are too smooth
Your poems lack variety
Your poems lack cohesion
Your poems are too monochromatic
Your poems are too gaudy
Your poems are too old-fashioned
Your poems are too experimental
Your poems are too prose-y
Your poems are too …
No, what I really want to say is this:
Have you considered writing short stories?
Biographical Statement

Yermiyahu Ahron Taub is the author of three volumes of poetry, Uncle Feygele (Plain View Press, 2011), What Stillness Illuminated/Vos shtilkayt hot baloykhtn (Parlor Press, 2008; Free Verse Editions series), and The Insatiable Psalm (Wind River Press, 2005).  He was honored by the Museum of Jewish Heritage as one of New York ’s best emerging Jewish artists.  One of his poems was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and two were nominated for the Best of the Net award.  Please visit his web site at

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