Six poems by Paul Raboff


Poor means no detail
Rises above the whole,

Does not return your preference
Or scale of excellence.

Can you believe the hills
And the sky are the same materials.

You walk through rain and mist
Just as well as sandstone or schist.

Sea restrains earth, earth the sea
Yet embrace in every gulf or bay.

Equal on the balance teeter
Neither humble or superior.

Push him high, pull him low
The same air condenses above, below.

The same elements in varied proportion:
The Periodic Table set with the creation.

The whole tapestry of the female,
More beauty each to each in total.

Dark strands woven on the horizon
Let down the hair of the rain.


The storm clouds
Are pulled apart
By swirling winds,
Clumpy gray, lighter
Around the edges
Like used steel wool
Beginning to shred
Light seeps through.

Some of them still
Keep to their stories
Bound tight in them
To the point of knots
Though court evidence,
Despite resistance,
Loosens a defense
They cannot reclaim.

Who is leading

Who is leading
A school of sardines
This way and that way
Their slanting silver walls
The shifting blocks
Of their broken towers
Drive dispersed
Into the rolling tunnels
Of gaping sharks?

Who is leading
The herds of ruminants
On the now favored Savannas
Their pelt-flexing grace
Tributaries to the rivers
Of slick leaning grasses
Down green canyons
To rain-distilled basins?

Who is leading
The swallow legions
Bounding or suppressed
Waving their banner
Through crackling air
Diving as off a palisade
Into the conic tower
Of a giant cypress night
Inlaid with sunset?

The same teacher in ignominity
Is the mass of humanity
One drink is like another
Out of the human reservoir.
What a hero was our David
To cite a maternity soiled.


Gives the required
Magnetic pull
For happiness
This provided
There is nothing else
In the garden
Provides a pole
In its own pool
Of opposite force
And that it sees
Nothing amiss
In the map of this.

A Long Time

A long time
Since I’ve been
In this neighborhood.
Here’s the house
Where I met my wife,
Disraeli Street.
I hadn’t realized
How much I loved her
Till just now
Seeing it again,
The heart with walls
Of a theatre,
A pitiable short life
And how much
I contributed to that.

Then it hit me
Like an axe
Splitting wood,
The steel flash:
Abraham loved,
Actually loved
The slave girl Hagar
Against his Sarah,
The imperial,
Wife of the covenant
Fully his equal,
Implacably his rival
In clear presentiment.
She died to him
Before she died
Estranged and separated
Who he had more
Than once mortified.
Forcibly cooled.

“Ishmael should live.”
He prayed for
The slave’s unstable son,
For the love of Hagar,
This father of the Jews…
Always the last
To recognize their
Impending disaster.


Life is a shattered glass pane,
Between the pieces, places
We fear to put a foot on 
For falling into spaces.

If we had but the insight…
That we are of loose fragments,
And what maintains our unit
Has the force of magnets

Which field cannot be seen
Yet supports the weight we lean
And will not at all loosen
Our unitary design.

Because it is transparent
This unseeable between
Makes the void apparent
With unknowns we imagine.

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