March 18-24, 2002: David Gershator and Jack Conway

week of March 18-24, 2002

David Gershator and Jack Conway


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David Gershator

Bio (auto)

I was born on Mt Carmel I didn’t want to write some of these poems, but they came off the headlines and forced themselves on me Part of a grieving process for a native land .a land exploding with broken promises My previous work includes a translation of Garcia Lorca’s letters (New Directions Press), poetry and reviews in Home Planet News, The Caribbean Writer, etc, and several chapbooks including Elijah’s Child (Cross Cultural Communications Press) and children’s books, the most recent–Moon Rooster (Cavendish)

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by David Gershator and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Intifada Poems

Write your poems
I’ll write mine
I’ll dig my graves
you dig yours
you can’t bury
your biggest lies
I can’t bury
my oldest myths
you’ll ignore my poems
I’ll ignore your poems
after a while we’ll hear
the sound
of too many shovels
the sound of my shovel
and the sound of yours
sound the same
shovels talk
the same language

we can follow the shovels
into the hole

The Guest
In the Empty

There are two empty seats
in class today
we were going to discuss
peace now or later
or never
or in our dreams

there are two empty seats
in class today
I’ve crossed out two names
on the attendance sheet
I won’t call the roll
I know the names by heart

there are two empty seats–
Good morning Mr Jihad
salaam aleikoum
you’re a permanent member
of the class now

take a seat
take two seats
the class is yours

The Parts
Of a Suicide

You could have been
someone’s savior
giving the gift of life
to some human being
some life-loving person
on a waiting list
hoping to live on
with a donor’s
heart, liver, kidney
but no, you chose to be
a shaheed a martyr
a sacrificial lamb
sent by old men
some say
you were brainwashed
a poor hopeless case
manipulated by heavenly
promises of heaven
into leaving your mangled
young body
head right here
feet and legs there
guts all over
meat and bones and blood
good for nothing but flies
maggots and putrefaction
what’s the point?
I hold your head Mr Shaheed
in a plastic shopping bag
and ask you point blank
to your lifeless face
still recognizable
still human
brother, what’s the point
you must have had a brain
what happened to it?
it’s splattered all over
like a mushroom pizza
is that what a brain is for?
you could have been a savior
in a city of saviors
but you blew it —
who gets the bag
with your head in it?

For a Daughter

Half the night is over
and my daughter’s missing

she went to a party by the sea
a surprise party
a birthday near the beach

I heard too many Sabbath sirens
whipping blaring wailing
a far cry from Sabbath hymns

and the radio radio radio always the radio
making sleep an impossible dream

hear the birds? it’s daybreak
and my daughter’s still not home

if someone comes to my door
it won’t be my daughter .

Kibbutz Cousin

Baruch, my sleepless cousin
is in charge of fish ponds
on the Sharon

he calls the fish by name
he knows what lies
beneath the surface

he’s at peace with the crane
standing on one leg in the shallows:
he’s willing to share

like the crane he’s not interested
in meditations or reflections
he’s only interested in what lies beneath

he starts work at three a.m
he shrugs his shoulders
at the chill before dawn

he shrugs off the big questions
he knows what he knows
and he knows his fish

Isaac’s Claim

Sacrificial goats
if they’re lucky

take to the hills
and escape

the same hills
took me
long ago

the high places
of false prophets

the altars of true

so many
high places

so many

I was hidden
by the hills
long ago

I got away
from my father
who came after me
with a knife

Jack Conway

Bio (auto)

Jack Conway’s newest book, Life Sentences: Poems was published in 2002 by North Country Press His poems have been published in The Norton Anthology of Light Verse, Russell Baker, ed ; Yankee; The Best Magazine Poetry of 1996, Dave Perkins, ed ; Amelia; The Arvon Foundation International Poetry Anthology, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, eds ; The New Renaissance; Wavelength; Poetry Motel, Penumbra, Eclipse , The Hiram Poetry Review and The Raven Chronicles He is the author of the poetry chapbooks, One Horse Universe, published in 1992 by Patriot Press in Boston, Massachusetts and The Winter City: Eighteen Poems, published in 1984 by New Place Press Writing as J North Conway, he is the author of American Literacy: Fifty Books that Define Our Culture and Ourselves published in 1994 by William Morrow, New York; From Coup To Nuts: A Revolutionary Cookbook, (1987), Quinlan Press, Boston; and three books published by Covered Bridge Press: New England Women of Substance: Fifteen Who Made a Difference (1996); New England Visionaries: Twelve Who Changed the World (1998) and New England Shipwrecks (2000) His freelance work has appeared in a variety of magazines and journals including Yankee, Cape Cod Life, The Christian Science Monitor, The Providence Journal Sunday Magazine, The Worcester Sunday Telegram , The Old Farmer’s Almanac and The Encyclopedia of New England Culture, published by Yale University Press He has an undergraduate degree from Roger Williams College in Bristol, Rhode Island and a Masters’ degree from Vermont College He is a former adjunct professor at Boston University and Fisher College

The following work is Copyright © 2002, and owned by Jack Conway and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

I Found American Literature’s Wallet

I found American Literature’s wallet last night in the parking lot of
the supermarket, lying on the wet pavement Seeing I was driving cab
on the Mid-town graveyard shift and had a couplet waiting to be
picked up, heading for the amphimacer,  I didn’t have time to fool
around I picked it up and looked around but American Literature was
long gone I knew it belonged to American Literature because there
was a license inside-poetic, I might add There were a stack of
buffalo bills that didn’t belong to me I presumed they belonged to
EE I nosed around inside and found a lottery ticket belonging to
Shirley and some credit slips; for flowers — roses Faulkner bought
and chrysanthemums Johnny Steinbeck sent There was a triple A
card for Jack, who was still on the road and a train ticket for the
5:48 that Cheever bought There were a couple of business cards in
there too-lawn care for Walt and a dating service for Emily D There
were directions-for Bobby Frost, “Go left at the fork,” one said and
a lay-away slip for William Carlos for one red wheel barrel There was
a reminder to Mark — “Don’t forget the whitewash ” And a merit
badge, red, belonging to Steve Crane There was a used matchbook
from some bar, “A Clean Well-Lighted Place,” belonging to Ernie There were instructions on how to build a fire for Jackie London and a
bait and tackle shop receipt for Herman There was a recipe for beans
for Gwendolyn and reservations for Carson at The Sad Caf&Mac195;© There
some lyrics for J.D -“When a body meets a body,” it read And a
doctor’s appointment for Edgar’s heart There was a notice from the
dog officer to Allen G , ordering him to stop all the howling There was
a warranty for Sylvia’s gas stove and a mortgage application for
Thoreau — a single family place by the lake There was a salesman’s
phone number for Artie and the fire department’s emergency
telephone number for Jimmy Baldwin I’m telling you the thing was
packed Yes, I found American Literature’s wallet last night in the
parking lot of the supermarket lying on the wet pavement And I went
through it What was I supposed to do? The Wolfe’s were at the door,
baby Turn it into some gum-snapping, teenage, check-out chick with
an I.Q of a potted plant? Give it back to the store manager who was
preoccupied with the clean-up in aisle nine? I could go looking for
American Literature myself if I knew where to start And what do you
suppose would happen when I found American Literature? What would
I say? “Excuse me, but I think you lost this Is there a reward?” I’d
probably just get blamed I could hear American Literature singing, “
O’ thank you very much I looked for it everywhere,” and then after a
careful inspection, claiming something was missing “There was a whole
new genre in here What happened to it?” Then of course, there might
be a reward “O’ thank you for returning my wallet and as a small
token of my deep appreciation here’s a Pulitzer prize ” I could use one
of them I could put an ad in the paper Lost and found “If you lost
your wallet and can identify the contents please call ” But suppose
American History lost their wallet too What would I do? “Yes I lost
my wallet,” America History would say “I had the entire Civil War
inside ” So I stood there blank, versed as I was in such things Now
please don’t take this personificationally, but you’d think American
Literature would be more careful I figured I ode American Literature
something It was completely out of character for me and my meter
was running I didn’t want to play around, so I plotted to take a novel
approach and well, to make a long story, short I dropped it off in the
library’s night deposit box where I knew they would put it to good
use Oh I want to submit I want to submit to you, baby I would sing the body electric too, if the rates hadn’ gone up Later that night, I was pulled over by the police for running a
stanza Now, how’s that for some poetic justice, pal.

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