Daily April poem: in a family member's voice
Daily April poem: about Elijah the prophet

Daily April poem: à la New York school



It's the twenty-first of April (and
the same in Nisan, though
more than three thousand years separate
the Gregorian calendar from the Jewish one)
also the seventh day of Passover, sixth
day of the Omer, Patriot's Day though
only in Massachusetts, Marathon Monday
though only in Boston, city
of duck boats and blooming tulip magnolias,
Charlie cards and the neon CITGO sign,
where I first closed my eyes in rapture
over creamy North End cannoli,
hint of pistachio on the tip of my tongue.

What kind of New York School poem
mentions Boston? Do I betray
the cramped Lower East Side apartment
where my immigrant grandparents
settled with my mother, younger then
than my son is now? But they set out
for McKinney and Temple, Texas towns
not known for their bagels, though
in the big city of San Antonio
thirty years later someone would sell
"Shalom Y'all" trivets painted
in the Guadalajaran style. They missed
subways, pastrami piled on Jewish rye.

Me, I'd give my eyeteeth for a decent taco --
carnitas with fresh cilantro and red onion,
or Panchitos' chilaquiles with cheese
beside creamy refritos and fried potatoes
each perfectly crisp coin yielding
to pillowy interior -- though
I'm not sure what eyeteeth are, whether
I'd need them to eat the meal in question.
Some day like Wil Wheaton I'll tweet
"New York, I am in you" on my iPhone
and watch my son's eyes grow wide
at the sight of more cars and taxis
than he's ever imagined in his rural life.

But it's not my Jerusalem, the city
into which one ascends as though in a dream.
Even Jerusalem isn't my Jerusalem sometimes.
Am I the quintessential Diasporan, discontent?
No: give me a cat and a sunbeam, a few
crumbs from a Pesach almond cake
and a keyboard to write a poem on
and I'm happy as a clam at high tide --
a treif metaphor, odd from a rabbi
but I contain multitudes, like the crowds
lining the marathon route today
three hours to my east, in the city
of Irish pubs and Fenway, Boston strong.

Today's prompt at NaPoWriMo invited the writing of a poem in the style of the New York School of poets. They linked to Thom Donovan's recipe for doing so. His list features 23 items to consider including; I think I managed about half of them. 

I'm a big fan of the New York School, ever since studying with David Lehman at Bennington (and reviewing his book The Last Avant-Garde, about the New York School, fof Pif) so I had a blast with this prompt.