Fiction/Poetry

From Works and Days (loads 9 and 10)

By Paul Raboff with illustrations by Joakim Lloyd Raboff

Load 9

You don’t understand.
I can’t be happy
Until I can do
Things for you.

The two of us
Walking,
United in recognizing
Our city.

Being together
We become
One lease
To see.

I pronounce us
Reconciled.
So what if…

Ah, petals
On the floor
Blown in
During the night
From the veranda.
Touched, I leave them.

If I could
Present our
Contradictions
In exhibition…

I gained involuntarily
A girl and a car
For my senior year.
Three years later
I involuntarily
Jettisoned both.

Mexico
Was flying blind
Into green fronds.
There was another
Inevitable master
Waiting.

My friend is right.
Corporate Israel exiled
Is Christ
In condemnation phase,
Or at least his symbol.
But in resurrection
It will also be
In a phase.

Here in Israel
I haven’t
Caught up
To my life yet.

We share
The territories
Of hierarchy
And public law.
To violate them
Destitutes the inner
Territories also.

I cannot accept
The hegemony
Of most
Temporal institutions
As truthful.

I used to share
The presence
Of the Friday night
Beer guzzlers and winos,
On the Saturday dawn
Live bait barges
Fishing the coasts
Off Santa Monica.
Sadly, they were
In no condition
To share their knowledge.

The simplest human
I ever knew,
Malcom H.,  anchored
Our relay team.
Before races
He called for
Team prayer.
I was lock-jawed
And humiliated.
He improved
Every race.
Not till the end,
When I learned
How to relax and run,
Did I begin to catch him.
But I did learn
To recognize faith,
If not understand it.

Someone borrowed
A family car
And we told
Our families
We would fish
Near San Diego
To excuse
Our visiting the girls
In Tijuana.
On the way back
We realized
We had no fishes,
Remedied by stopping
At a Ralph’s market.
The family was thrilled
At my catch
That evening.
They would
Have been more thrilled
At what I
Didn’t catch.

Our politics here
Is groups
Of human nubs
Collected to parties
Sitting dull-pated.

Am I redefining
The filibuster.

This is the miracle.
The same fruit yearly
The same trees dangle
And do not vary.

Defending their bastions
With walls of sameness
The privileged genes
Allow no intrusions.

I am the true stock
But abundantly lopped.
Invited to partake…
Graft to the lop chopped.

Load 10

No plot, no theme,
No narrative,
Just the momentum
Of days: history.

You won’t know
Until you’ve
Done it.

Lebanon,
A quagmire
Of patriarchies.

Some of us
Will have answers,
Some of us
Will recognize
Those with answers.

This endless poem
Could only
Be written
In old age
…..too bad.

Paula, a fount
Of decent outrage
And good sense.
If she would only
Get up and walk
Into scripture.

James within
Banks and banks
Of mourners
Feeding a stream
Of magma.

Do something
Thinking you’ll
Be forgiven…
You won’t,
And it dishonors
The forgiver.

Be grateful.
Try and know
For what
For it to work.

This democracy
Without consensus:
Grains of sand
Spread over a floor.

There is no time
Here where something
Is indivisible.

What do you
Expect?
The earth itself
Is in eruption.

In any case,
Truth
Is indefinable.

What do people
Look like
Coming back
To a corporate whole
Under the head
Of who brings them.

Speed
Beyond meaning.

Since it’s
All been
Accomplished,
There is already
Peace.

Trying to map
This map.

I am writing you
In the corral
Of the words
Already spoken.

1940
In our house
In Atlantic City
He came in singing
“The new hit”
“I Don’t Want
To Set The World
On Fire.”

Service men, service men,
Weekends in our house
All the uniforms
All the ranks unranked.

When you owned
Drug store counters
You always had food
Even in rationing:
Weekends, servicemen.

We should only
Have learned
Our school lessons
Like we knew
The models
Of fighter planes.

And I got
The gift
Of a shock-proof
Wrist watch
From a Marine
Going to
The Pacific.

A Minerva watch,
Black face,
Luminous numerals,
A good way
To learn
Mythology.

The one gold star
Hanging in a window
Of an Episcopal family’s
So trim house.

The scent
Of maples,
Chestnuts, oaks,
Leaf conflagrations
In the crowns
Then in piles
Pushed heaven
Out of the way.

Are those
I’m grateful
To today
Different
From those
I remember
With gratitude?

Nothing like
Memories
Baked by time
To bring out
Their true flavor.

Swimming against the stream
Keep your gills wide open
Flushing your air system,
Extracting oxygen.

Balanced still by your fins,
You rest in the current
One clear liquid strand
With others, for you meant.

I’m playing
A real game
Against a phantom.

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