Friday, May 28, 2010


by Jan Mordenski

Even after darkness closed her eyes 

my mother could crochet. 

Her hands would walk the rows of wool 

turning, bending, to a woolen music.

The dye lots were registered in memory: 

appleskin, chocolate, porcelain pan, 

the stitches remembered like faded rhymes: 

pineapple, sunflower, window pane, shell.

Tied to our lives those past years 

by merely a soft colored yarn, 

she’d sit for hours, her dark lips 

moving as if reciting prayers, 

coaching the sighted hands.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


by Maxine Kumin

Gassing the woodchucks didn't turn out right.
The knockout bomb from the Feed and Grain Exchange
was featured as merciful, quick at the bone
and the case we had against them was airtight,
both exits shoehorned shut with puddingstone,
but they had a sub-sub-basement out of range.

Next morning they turned up again, no worse
for the cyanide than we for our cigarettes
and state-store Scotch, all of us up to scratch.
They brought down the marigolds as a matter of course
and then took over the vegetable patch
nipping the broccoli shoots, beheading the carrots.

The food from our mouths, I said, righteously thrilling
to the feel of the .22, the bullets' neat noses.
I, a lapsed pacifist fallen from grace
puffed with Darwinian pieties for killing,
now drew a bead on the little woodchuck's face.
He died down in the everbearing roses.

Ten minutes later I dropped the mother.She
flipflopped in the air and fell, her needle teeth
still hooked in a leaf of early Swiss chard.
Another baby next.O one-two-three
the murderer inside me rose up hard,
the hawkeye killer came on stage forthwith.

There's one chuck left. Old wily fellow, he keeps
me cocked and ready day after day after day.
All night I hunt his humped-up form.I dream
I sight along the barrel in my sleep.
If only they'd all consented to die unseen
gassed underground the quiet Nazi way.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Sad Children's Song

by Grace Paley

This house is a wreck said the children
when they came home with their children
Your papers are all over the place
The chairs are covered with books
and look brown leaves are piled on the floor under the wondering jews

Your face is a wreck said the children
when they came home with their children
There are lines all over your face
your necks like curious turtles
Why did you let yourself go?
Where are you going without us?

This world is a wreck said the children
When they came home with their children
There are bombs all over the place
There's no water The fields are all poisoned
Why did you leave things like this
Where can we go said the children
what can we say to our children?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Musical Instrument

- Luis Cernuda
Translated by Stephen Kessler

If the Arab musician
Plucks the lute strings
With an eagle quill
To awaken the notes,

What hand plucks
With what bird's quill
The wound in you
That awakens the word?