from Works and Days

By Paul Raboff,

with Illustrations by Joakim Lloyd Raboff

Load 3

What’s the difference?
A long productive life
Or a kid being shot
Landing at Normandy?

The longer it lasts
Unresolved the more
It looks like a curse.

I’m stamping these things
Into clay
So I won’t need
To write poems.

There’s tragedy
Amongst us,  close.
What’s the address
Of assisted death.

Running for all
The Shabbat purchases.
How thin the ice.

Poor Pascal stuck
With such an inventory
Of thoughts.

Everyone’s alternative:
“Let’s get married again.”

Nothing to do?
Dangerous territory…
Calling up a prophet.

The old weather-beaten
Stained sign
Over the Vatican:
“We Got It Right.”

The Hassid who said,
Being ridiculed
For attempts at righteousness,
“You do what you can.”

Don’t you get it?
This world
Is God’s confession.

Talking to a God
Who failed.
It’s the only God
We have.

“Go out, tell the people.”
“But l’ve got nothing to wear.”
“Wear some kind of robe.”

Not convinced?
Only such beauty
As to bring you
To your knees.

Before the truth
About myself.

I expect to finish
This day.
How foolish.

The Rabbis reaching out
To bless you
With the claws
Of rigor mortis.

My think tank
Has an infinite m.m. shell.

These high school kids
God has calluses
On his ear drums
But wouldn’t
Be anywhere else.

The doctor, comforting.
“You have the same thing
Dr. Freud had,
And he had 35  operations.”

Why does all this
Near-Eastern music
Sound like whining?

A prophet?
Someone in the end
Has to back up
Your promissory notes.

Load Four

James Merrill,
The Ouija Board,
Cheating on Truth.

The old men
At the cafe
Drinking, reading.
I feel justified.
And if I can write a line…

This guy’s showing off
For his parents
With the waitress.
Their boy, their boy.

I realize
I’m tipping big
For smiles.

Did you realize
The Kingdom of Heaven
Has already
Planted its seeds?
Here we are.

He doesn’t come
To appointments.
If I take someone else
He’ll let me know
He’s hurt.

These Oriental  pumpkins
On two legs
Floating through the halls…
A cook, but I need
Also a computer expert.

She claims to be
An intellectual.
Should I ask her

She asks me
How I am
In gummy English.
I was better.

All this condemnation
Of academia…
Don’t you abandon
Polluted sites?

Are we paying
Their taxes
For all this noise,
The public school.

We know you’re here
Damn it.

Israel dragged
The shtetl
In with it.

Is your liberty frightening?
After all you’re not a bird.
But you can be an angel.

The Chair Of Moral Philosophy,
Sitting the most immoral.

She is the invisible
Pole of my life.
Everything acted
To or against her.

The penitence
I need
Is frightening.

Into the pit
Of diminishment,
May it be shallow.

When you
Are crooked
You can’t get
Anything straight.

These young kids
At the cafe…
If they only knew
What they were
Standing before
Wouldn’t stand for it.

My tailor working
For Sarah Netanyahu,
“I can adjust.”

I am engaged
In the reclamation
Of my past.

When mankind
Gets together
Be sure
God is left out.

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