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My poems

In 1986, I was honoured with the Nancy P. Schnader poetry award from the Academy of American Poets. Here you can read some of my poems.

American Landscape

He arrived at the house

at 4:30 in the afternoon

parked his car

made sure he had

the keys in his pocket

and strolled toward

the back of the house

where he knew she would be waiting.

It was green,

the world was green that day

for it was the beginning of June,

her favorite season.

He went up the stone steps

listening to the music

of the swaying trees,

the breeze on the grass

the heavenly smell

of the gardenias.

He found her sitting by the lemon tree,

her breasts were lemons,

her small face turned sunward,

her frail profile evaporating slowly,

lazily, the way years went over her

as if not to disturb her tranquillity.

He walked toward her,

her smile was warming him already,

her face was a sun

he was caught, trapped in her aura,

he took her hand,

kissed her on the left cheek

and she kissed the air next to his ear

with a small smacking sound

she was wearing white pants

and a white jacket, very old,

almost yellow now

and very rock-n-roll like her heart.


                                                           Stonybrook, New York



This man never talks

He’s still on fire

He’s not burning away

He’s burning into white smoke

He goes straight up

Above the roofs

And there he talks                                               

In shapes.


This woman never stops

Talking talking talking

She squints and tries to see

Something behind the sea

She sees nothing

There is nothing

Behind the sea

So she’s talking talking talking.


There are no children here.


Eve has taken

The animals of the world

Into her house.

They are her pets.

She licks the mice

She licks them clean

Like a good mother,

She hangs the bats

Upside down

From the ceiling.

The dogs howl and bite

The cats are wound

Round Adam’s hairy leg.

“They are beasts,” he says

He covers his head with ash

He regrets it all

He misses paradise.

Eve is happy.

Birth of the Poet

It was serene

        and there were dreams

                  and all the Time

waited by my side.

        The dreams knew

                  The Time knew –

                              my mother –

My mother was a big balloon

         Soft inside

                   hard outside like a shell.

I remembered

         and started to the end.

Light and screams

         then with a long wail

I died.


After my divorce

I spent five years

in the company of a large ginger cat.

He slept on my pillow

next to my head.

He purred all night long.

I stretched my hand out at night

and he was always there.

If I cried

he just purred harder.

The day I moved away

I gave him to a friend.

He is a great cat, she said.

I know, I said.

For Timothy

Boy in haste

making paper boats

with short, plump fingers

tongue drawn sharp over the teeth

boy, boy in haste

hurry, hurry up

make your paper boats

to cross the paper sea

right over to the other side.

Me and my Knee

Who would have thought

that the stubborn girl

with the straw hat

her ribbon flying in the salty breeze

by the ocean

her laughter

summoning little grey birds

in the garden of old

lost now for good

that she

would end up in this 

series of rooms

dragging her right leg behind her --

Where the hat now

and where the ribbon 

where the mother's hand 

and where the voice 

sweetened by memories of honey 

on the bread of childhood

I live with my knee

as if it were a lover

his cruel touch

harbinger of the end of all things.

Pain in the crust of the bone

every fibre, every hidden 

nerve, every tendon.

More constant than eternal love

more devoted than most

a true companion

in this series of rooms.

And yet the wound is elsewhere. 

Wild Beasts

The wild beasts at the circus

the wild beasts at the zoo

the wild beasts in your heart –

don’t tame them

please don’t.

The shattering light wakes me up.

I shine in my white bed

that is dark underneath.

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