Saturday Dec 02

FriedmanJeffrey Jeff Friedman’s fifth collection of poetry, Working in Flour, will be published by Carnegie Mellon UP in early 2011. His poems, mini stories, and translations have appeared in many literary magazines, including American Poetry Review, Poetry, 5 AM, Margie, Agni Online, Poetry International, Prairie Schooner, Antioch Review, Quick Fiction, Nighttrain, and The New Republic. His book of translations, Two Gardens: Modern Hebrew Poems of the Bible, has been accepted for publication by Wolfson Press.



Noah’s Last Note

Let’s not forget the greased pig,
how fast he gobbled down the dogs
and took off into the tall weeds
where the wedding went up in smoke.
Let’s not forget Basia, her singed
frock falling into the puddle at her feet
as the chimp cartwheeled from branch to branch,
pollen coating his fur as the kites stole
dolls out of the cribs—a thousand dolls
with pudgy faces floating over our blue avenues—
as the serendipitous surrenders gave way
to the oven bird’s mockery, and overabundant
ovaries delivered their eggs promptly
at 11 before the haze set in, before the bees
went on a rampage, and sunflowers lost their heads,
before the azaleas were born, before the stags flew
out of the stagnant pools, before the frogs
forged a new alliance with the snakes
and honey oozed from all our sullen places,
before the bankers absconded with the vaults,
before the wizened patriarchs sold off
cemetery plots of cyber space, before
all the books became bits
and fish bloated in underwater camps,
before the doves betrayed us with their white wings,
before the dolls began exploding
while waves roses higher and higher—
the ark sailing blind into the blaze.

Wheels on Fire

“Make it go away,” she said.  I kissed her forehead, her skin clammy. I turned over my hat, pulling out a thousand silk scarves, all different colors, and tossing them in the air, where they floated. Out of the hat flew a white dove, landing on Julia’s lap. She lifted it toward her face, barely able to hold up her arms.  The dove disappeared, a single white feather clinging to her palms.
Next, two puppets tangoed in mid-air, ending their dance with a kiss. A Spanish Flamenco guitar player arose from the shadows and played, as a gypsy woman in a red dress took the stage. She raised her arms, pounding her feet and clicking the castanets in her hands, taunting the darkness.  Now Julia laughed aloud but the pain started again and tears streamed down her face. I brought her a glass of water and another pill, which she had difficulty swallowing. Then the water became hot brandy with a little nutmeg. “Sip this.”
I set in motion four small fiery wheels, spinning like little worlds. Julia smiled and wrapped herself in the afghan as she sat on the couch. She was frail and tired looking, but her brown eyes still had a spark in them. A blue smoke rose from the fiery wheels. The air grew warm, though Julia shivered. With my index finger, I caused the wheels to revolve in a circle like a flaming carousel. “It’s beautiful,” Julia whispered. When she coughed, I waved my hand until the flames went out, the wheels dissolving into blue smoke, the blue smoke vanishing into my handkerchief.

New Tape of Bin Laden

I should have ended on this—
the door closing, a last
note sounded, a shadow,
dust in the corner, the greasy
parrot singing my praises.
I should have let it go with a wisecrack,
a sardonic grin for you
to mull over while the room
shook and the chimes clanged
and the windows awoke to the grisly light,
voles running for cover,
while CNN played a new
tape of Bin Laden
and the President winked at the press,
announcing the success
rate of his war on evil. I should have
let go, salt to the wind,
mud in your eye…