Sample Poems

At the high school, one girl
says to another, Dude,
which is a problem of gender,
I only give head to get head,
which is a problem of justice,
a song and a dance sung and danced
by women I’m sure they never saw
in the Virginia Slims ads from the 70s
who had me fooled that We’ve come
a long way, baby, as long as
the answer I got about sex
from my mother, her potato slicer
stunned into a stillness so terrifying
I gave up and walked out
and into a time two decades later
when my friend said, With your hand
make the sign for “okay”
and into the hole slide his shaft
and with the fingers
nestle his balls, and I said,
Who’s going to nestle my balls,
who’s going to make a hole
where my frailty can hide,
which is the song and dance
of both justice and gender
I’m noticing more girls perform
with their bracelets, you know,
the ones twelve year-olds wear,
the pink and orange ones
like candy around their little wrists
saying how far they’ll go
so everyone knows in advance,
so it’s clear, where everyone stands
when we’re singing and where
when we’re dancing
so we don’t mix up
who’s doing who
and for what.
Two Weeks
That’s how much time they give you
to bribe the hall of records
for the papers you bribe the foreman to sign,
swearing you know nothing
and owe nothing—no loans, no debts
before you bribe a woman to sell your pots and pans,
plates, plants, rugs, and record player, so you can
bribe a dentist and a doctor
to ensure you’re fit—for travel? for freedom?
Who knows, but if not, another bribe
—and another and another before
you ask a friend to ask a friend
to meet you for the last time
on a busy corner where you say
that that moment is the last they’ll see you
because tomorrow you’re boarding a train
that lets Jews, and only Jews, leave
and, God willing, they’ll go next.
And you say this covering your mouth
so no one overhears, so no one
will arrest your friend for being friends
with someone like you, both of you
now holding hands or wiping a cheek
or petting the other’s hair.