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Bert Meyers

Gently, Gently

We, too, began with joy.

Then, sickness came;

then, poverty.

We were poor, so poor,

our children were our only friends.

Gently, gently,

through anger and pain,

love justified itself,

like the nails in the house

during a storm.

Somehow, we created hope,

reliable drum

in the shadow's wrist;

a tuning fork

on the sidewalk of dreams.

At night, I was the one

who became a cello,

strung with all our roads,

where memory hums

to itself like a tire.

And you, mad as a clarinet

where the street divides;

a city of raindrops in a bush;

the slow honey that drips

from the sky's old ladle…

the reason I'm frightened of death.

I swear by the wings

love spreads at my waist,

that I'll carry your tune

until my tired strings break.

Pencil Sharpener

     It has no arms or legs, this tiny nude; yet grip

it by the waist, then stir its hips: a dry leaf multiplies,

a cold motor starts in the wood.

     Revived, still shivering, the pencil sheds itself—

and there's a butterfly, teeth, the fragments of a



No one spoke to the sunflowers,

those antique microphones

in the vacant lot.

So, they hung their heads

and, slowly, fell apart.

To My Enemies

I'm still here, in a skin

thinner than a dybbuk's raincoat;

strange as the birds who scrounge,

those stubborn pumps

that bring up nothing…

Maddened by you

for whom the cash register,

with its clerical bells,

is a national church;

you, whose instant smile

cracks the earth at my feet…

May your wife go to paradise

with the garbage man,

your prick hang like a shoelace,

your balls become raisins,

hair grow on the whites of your eyes

and your eyelashes turn

into lawn mowers

that cut from nine to five…

Man is a skin disease

that covers the earth.

The stars are antibodies

approaching, your president

is a tsetse-fly…

The Gilder

     The Shop, weakened by dust, was closing its eyes.

The saw stopped like an ambulance. A breeze made of

turpentine still hung around his hands.

     Outside, the walls in the alley were gold leaf

fluttering on their frames; clouds, retired housepainters,

relaxed in the sky.

     A little cello began to throb in his throat.

     Suddenly, he saw the sun overturn like a truckload

of oranges at the end of a street—its light scatter and

roll through the windows on a hill.

     What's that got to do with Wittgenstein, or how we

live? voices shouted in his head.

     Nothing…nothing at all.

Poems from In a Dybbuk's Raincoat: Collected Poems, Bert Meyers, University of New Mexico Press, 2007; published by permission of the Estate of Bert Meyers.

— posted June 2013

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