April 10-16, 2000: Rachel Barenblat and Julie Ruble

week of April 10-16, 2000

Rachel Barenblat and Julie Ruble

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Rachel Barenblat

Bio (auto)

Rachel Barenblat lives and writes in Lanesboro, MA She is editor of The Women’s Times, a pair of monthly newspapers; she is also Poetry Acquisitions Editor at Pif Magazine Her first chapbook, “the skies here,” was published by Pecan Grove Press (San Antonio) in 1995 Her poems have appeared in The Portland Review, The Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, Confrontation and Flyway, among others; she also has poems in Mad River Press’s “Holding True: An Anthology of Berkshire Poets” and Fusion Press’s “The Best of Pif Magazine Off-Line
When not writing, she enjoys baking bread, singing alto, doing yoga and playing with her cat She can be found online at http://www.rachelbarenblat.com.

The following work is Copyright © 2000, and owned by Rachel Barenblat and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Uncle Bill

Once the sages stayed awake
discussing bitter herbs,
paschal lamb, unleavened bread
My uncle might have been one Four hours from pulling in our chairs
to Barton’s kosher chocolates,

four-and-a-half with singing,
“the hills like young lambs,”
metered like Mother Goose
His children read perfect Hebrew,
I chanted transliterations
my mother typed on an index card
But none of us would eat the fish
that shimmered on our plates:
we got the run of the Dallas house,

upended sofas, lifted cushions,
the piano bench We never stopped
to think where an adult would hide


“My father was never sober “
That’s how you start We’re sitting

on Grace, near the fence,
recent geraniums proof of survivors
Kept a jug hidden in the basement Filled a cup half with soda,

made excuses to descend,
returned, cup lidded and full
“As if,” you said, “he really fooled
anyone ” Once your grandmother

pissed in his bottle Did he drink it anyway?

We laugh The truth is: he drank
at breakfast, mowing the lawn
We start walking home I leave a pebble by her stone.

Like the Negev

Texas doesn’t have the Mediterranean
but any native knows the similarities The sabra is prickly on the outside,
sweet on the inside, like cactus fruit Texas has cactus, and we’re also
not short on attitude
Variations: Israeli ranchers are
Bedouins living in corrugated metal
and black plastic, moving goats
and sheep through Judaean desert,
not big men with Rolex watches
and Lucchese boots
But the sky is the same, and the rocks:
I grew up surrounded by Jerusalem stone No wonder Zionism was innate Every palm, fig, banana tree
reminded my parents of kibbutz fields
rising like soldiers across the Negev.

Mother Psalm

Happy is the woman who follows her mother’s teaching
.who knows she shouldn’t stick her hands in her pockets
.and doesn’t mix black with brown or silver with gold She is like a mountain laurel planted beside streams of water,
.bringing perfume to the air
.successful in all her endeavors
Not so the rebellious daughters with hairy underarms;
.rather, they are like the weeds
.we hire yard men to get rid of Therefore the rebellious will not be invited
.to any of the right parties For appearance is how we show respect to others
.and those whose nails are unkempt are sending the wrong message
.and their way is doomed.

Miami Kichel

The Brookline deli calls them
Miami kichel and I guess
to their clientele that’s what
they are, little cakes from
the Spanish-inflected world
to which old people retire

but I know they’re buñuelos
cinnamon-sugar grit sticking
the fingers of my childhood
together, crisp circles crunching
in my mouth like the sound
of my Spanish name

Julie Ruble

Bio (auto)

i’m julie ruble i’m from charlotte, north carolina i am particularly afraid of dumbwaiters and crowds i’m not at all widely published, nor am i cool
The following work is Copyright © 2000, and owned by Julie Ruble and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

106 degrees on the belt, and this is how it feels after

michael wood is at the end of his driveway,
lighting sparklers and throwing them on
the pavement street smells like the ocean in
the dark crackles around the horizon and
deep sea diving (like orlando smoke and pink
motels, like cubans looking down through their toes
at the dirt: it’s just dirt) he strikes another match,
tattoos the stick–like incense–with the flame

and it falls he didn’t look up when the car drove past.

piedmont radiation

he said i’m bleeding i said that’s okay
glazed we walked over asphalt (hot asphalt)
in golden glare was it sunset or
sunrise or just pollution?
i stood with my fingers
in chain links: watching a train
go by from charlotte: cattle cars,
carrying marked Jews and all
the little black girls in frilly
blind me.  blind me,
like you hypnotize mercy and instill
a crazy into it witnesses poured water over
her, some hot baptism,
and the grass was parched,
like her screams i said the morphine dies they looked at me like the little girls
we all were, and ran like lightning,
trying to beat the grave
but we all fall; i’m not Jewish
melina walked in tiptoes in the bathroom,
she told me about her dying babies and
i sympathized; we walked the halls like
zombies i took out slow motion and
we sat in the parking lot, i talked about
heaven but nobody heard down here, we speak
in hushed tones: melina went to play with some
boys; play with a few
the trains screamed, in my head,
but it was low i said the morphine
dies, and they protested, they rose
against me: said the world worked
as it was supposed to and i said
blind me! like i’m tired and piedmont
isn’t pretty like i’m so tired and
i’m burning, burning, like your
slow guitar feedback
i run away from the brick; watch melina
behind me, smile at the boys i run into
pornographic city pawn shops and try my best
to restore the ruby ring: my evil twin
sucks off my tribulations i slap the
repercussions off of her ugly, ugly face and i run God help me run higher but
the morphine dies!

no substance, she screams i said make me anything;
wrap ANYTHING around me, through me i pray but it
doesn’t fly; and i cry my heart is good, i promise heavier than your feathers and all your magic spells;
magic morphine deep denial, melina laughs and flutters
her eyelashes and runs me through with no backward glance
as her narcotic’s riding high i’d die for almost anything

suffocating under flourescent sun, (blind me!) i got
down on my hands and knees and felt all through the glass
for my ruby ring, i looked all through the glass for
my doll baby, my prize for waiting i’m looking to the
sun for my prize for waiting
the trains run through with marked Jews and frilly
church dresses, i get down on my hands and knees and
pray but it doesn’t fly, and i’m burning, starving,
lost melina doesn’t see me drowning in gold heat, she laughs and
i struggle to scream her attention. 

mercy, be sweet, blind me! make me come,
make me tumble until i don’t know where i am i get down on my hands and knees and beg for
more of the city, they pour water all over me
and the boiling kills everything skewed, i ran
into a tall, tall man and he said

watch it, little girl watch where you’re going
watch it, little girl you don’t know what you’re doing this time (blind me!)

i yelled, said the morphine dies!
he looked at me vicious and said watch it, little girl you don’t know the pain.

and jamie wouldn’t eat her dinner
0 used to be kids
run out of beer and fall
down by fences finger child abuse and
pretend we’d go away if
your car wasn’t such
a gasguzzler
1 you are my little one if you’re tired if you’re hungry
2 farming 101
we ain’t blending in he stands at the foot
of the bed, pulls his shirt
off, his jeans it’s dark
out over fields and he holds me;
i tell him i
threw all our dreams away
the big drawer full of them except the hogs, i
tell him we still got the hogs
(there was a time when dreams meant
more to us than mortgages; there was a time
when we were going to name our little girl
savannah and hogs weren’t pretty)

he smells like grass, worrylines
creeping through bigtoughman. 
i intercept him the mailbox fell off
its post today and
we ain’t got nothin no more
but the hogs tell him we still got
the hogs (i intercept
him, struggling to maintain
a tired erection tell him
we don’t have to tonight
(if you’re tired if you’re hungry ) and
he cries while it softens,
says he ain’t got nothin )
he turns over and pretends he’s asleep
but i hear the groan of the bed at
fourthirty when he gets up to make sure
he’s still got his kids;
his hogs, stuck securely on
his cardboard this-ain’t-what-i-had-in-mind
moviescreen hey, i
see right through you
3 if you’re tired if you need more if you’re done here if you’re scared if you’re angry,

if it’s me if it’s time if it’s the color of wyoming hey
if it’s here,

if it’s never going to end
we don’t have to tonight
4 he came in the shower in the morning just to prove he could it was angry,
exploding, still tired, against slippery
walls i heard him punch the shower curtain i heard him hit his knees when
it was over.



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