Content

Issue 14

Poetry: Yermiyahu Ahron Taub

Ephemera

The tails of your snores tickle the nipples of the constellations.
Your shaved head gleams against the pillow,
a lone discernible character on a rain-drenched rice paper scroll.
Your massive arms enfold me,
perhaps for protection,
perhaps against flight.
Will I ever know?
My tongue wanders between the tendrils of your pelt,
as I unearth the landmarks of your day—
the spoken word in the bodega,
Dunkin’ Doughnuts hazelnut coffee,
and most prominently,
your habitual South Indian take-out.
Your pistol winks flirtatiously on a distant chair.
I stir,
harden as your grip tightens.
Is kissing permitted? How about a cuddle then?

The stars embark on their retreat,
oblivious to my protestation.
Dawn’s menace presses against the curtains.
The phrase “Stay away, Day!” stomps
through my torpor like a right-wing protest chant.
Your fingers trace a path to their favorite vacation spots.
Then you are arisen, a rhapsody of black into blue.
Soon, the running water; later, the foggy glass—
the lanyard of dread, inevitability, and song.
Now suddenly you are alongside,
pulling on the polyester pants that suit you so.
A leather jacket materializes.
Before the slap on my ass,
against the vista of improbably flocked wallpaper,
I consider to ask:
May we visit, some day, even some night,
in a place other than this?

How the Peeping Tom Came To Remember

The staircase is indeed graceful,
delicately forging a sense of anticipation.
No one will be pushed down it over a will contested.
Diamonds and other gems flash in subdued settings.
Women are clad in gowns of hushed hues
in fabric cut in simple, sumptuous lines.
Here and there—a flash whirls by,
a socially sanctioned splotch of madcap.

Men cradle their companions’ elbows proudly,
nodding at the right moments and to the right people.
There are no beads of perspiration here.
Perhaps it is the air conditioning,
purring inaudibly, orchestrating its alchemy.
Or perhaps it is the sense of entitlement borne with breeze:
Of course we are fabulous.
Until proven otherwise, we will assume the same of you.

Without any apparent signal the movement slows
and then ceases altogether.
Individuals ascend to the podium to declaim their
word concoctions to eyes willed unblinking
and (finally occasionally) sagging heads.
Here and there,
a gilded coiffure is fingered and reassembled,
flowered fans flutter.

As he peers through the window in the door,
having somehow eluded the bouncer,
the words from a long-ago note, bordered too in gilt,
flutter across a pastry puff (at least that) snatched
from a platter whisked along by a waiter:
“Your words too could (almost) be recited in polite society.
But with a few ill-advised phrases,
with an insistence on filth, you ruin it all.”