poems

When God Blinks

When God Blinks*

“taken from records kept by Nazi’s at the Death Camps”

I

In A Jewish Home in Poland, 1942

It is I Moishe, hiding under the stairs. Those men
they search the house. Bruce, whom I told to stay
hidden no matter what, is only five and did not
listen. He has crept out from under the stairs,
a young boy, his tears are enough to show
me that, for him, the game has gone on
long enough. One man, a German who
worked at their medical clinic has
taken Bruce by the arm, walking
him away like one would do
with bad boys, takes out
his gun and presses it
cold and deadly to
my brother’s neck,
fires it, then
I, Moishe,
ten years
old, I cry
out with
tears.

II

I Search For Jews, Poland 1942

You ask how I could do this, do these deeds
every day? Take for example the young
Jew, you say only a boy, just five years
old. But little boys grow up to be Jews,
men of strange clothes and habits, it
only looks like a boy, but it is less
than human, so I take it by the
arm, walk the Jew away from
the stairs, take the gun
out, press the barrel
to the Jew’s neck,
fire once, wipe
the blood
from my
gun.

III

The Jewish Gravedigger, Lomazy, Poland 1942

The heat is oppressive on this day in Lomazy.
I dig this giant pit with others while my wife
and son wait, guarded by Germans on the
athletic field, where we once ran and
played. The Germans have brought
us all out and they stand and walk
about, posturing and posing for
photos. I know they mean to
kill us, but perhaps if I dig
this grave for my friends
and relatives they will
let me and my family
live. Perhaps if I dig
they won’t kill us
all. I will pray
as I dig that
God will
not let
this
be.

IV

The Jews In The Pit, Lomazy Poland 1942

The damned Ukrainians have become too drunk to shoot
straight so now the lot of shooting the filthy Jews in
the pit has fallen to us. We have been ordered to
climb down into the pit where the Jews lay with
heads shattered like melons by those bullets
of the Hiwis, some of them still thrashing
about because the drunken bastards
have not shot well. We’re too good
to climb about in the blood and the
muck. We have decided to make
the Jews just climb in and stand
against each wall inside the pit
while we stand on opposite
sides and kill them with
our crossfire. Every
half-hour we will
change and give
our comrades
a turn to
kill the
Jews.

V

The Old Man’s Prayer

Dear God, I am old and have served well, I have kept
the Sabbath and the High Holy Days, fasted on Yom
Kippur, eaten unleavened bread on Pesach, why do
you make me run under a gauntlet of German
clubs to a pit dug by my sons where I will be
forced to lie face down on my brethren,
fellow Jews dead or screaming, to have
the cold gun placed to the back
of my head. Maybe to
die well, Lord,
that is all I
can ask.
Amen.

*First published in Jewish Affairs, Winter 1999. “After The Holocaust” Print Media Association of South Africa

Cane, Step, Cane

for Mary Esther, A resurrection

She walks on the beach
alone, a solitary walk. The cane
is in her right hand. She bends

close to the water, picks something
out of the sand. She is out of
my clear vision now, blurred

with my glasses off, I still know
it is her. The cane is a part
of her. It was a part of

her mother too. Sometimes
when she walks ahead of me
I can see her mother

appear suddenly, then she
becomes my wife again, yet something
has shifted, in time, this place

is new for the both of us. In the
villages of Viet Nam family members
die, but they never leave. I stare

out at the ocean. There are
shadows on the water, spirits
walk the beach, step, cane, step.

Breaking The Piano


For Princess Diana, R.I.P.

Things don’t always break
up as easy as anticipated. The metal,
the metal springs at the heart
of it cause all the trouble. Or the wood,
or the keys, not the hammer or
the instrument of destruction. Killing
what we don’t want anymore, or killing
what we want so much, even the
photographers keep a record of the
dying of the music. Running

her to ground in a tunnel
screaming fly motorcycles or sledgehammers
in the underground of some unknown
cellar, things never break up like
we thought they would. How many
to build a piano, how long, how
many to build a kingdom, the keys
of ivory will not play this
tune. A piano song

for the princess, just this piano,
sledgehammers on ivory, this is
how we break, not easy but
hard under the earth, dark tunnels
dark basements dark minds. No one
knew this was coming, not the piano,
for her it was all a surprise, the crash
is the last tune she plays. The sound
of it will ring in dark places forever
long after it is gone. Memory

plays the heart like a hammer, this
is how we play the piano. Hard,
in the dark place, wanting it we break
it down into shatters, then carry
the pieces off into places, put them
in memories where the dust
falls like snow.

By The Throat

“for my mother, who was still alive”

My addiction has me by the throat
in the neck of my mind. Do crime,
do crime, it says, get some money.
My therapist tells me that’s the voice
of my father. What I want to know
is why the fuck is he walking
around in my head? I’d like to stick
a gun in my ear, pull the trigger,
blow him out the other ear
but the bullet will take me
instead. I can see him smiling
right now, sitting with his dumb
bimbo bitch by the side of the pool
at the condo. I have to remember
what the truth is, the truth is
it’s all in my head, when I take
heroin the voice shuts up for a while
but the shouting really begins
when the dope wears off. Then my
addiction has me by the throat, but
this time I’ll stick my finger down
my throat, gag that mother-fucker
right up, puke his punked piss-ass
onto the sidewalk and walk on
down the road like he was never there.
Wear him off like the dope that he is.

An Average Day in an American Court

There were 38 people in court
for failure to insure, unregistered
vehicle, false plates. Economic
crimes. At one point a person
stood in front of the judge on a
revise and revoke. Means to have
your sentence reduced on the grounds
it was unfair. He had a dump
truck for a lawyer. That’s a prison
term for public defender. You

figure it out. The guy, in cuffs
before the judge, asked, “Your
honour, I would like to speak
with my attorney before we proceed.
I haven’t had a chance to talk
with him yet.” The judge, turned
to the attorney and asked, “Would
you like to speak with your client?”
The dump truck

replied, “Why would I want to?”
There were 38 people in court
for failure to insure, unregistered
vehicle, false plates. Economic crimes.

It was like a stage
show. Everyone knew their parts.
We were told to be there promptly
at 9AM. At 10:20 the judge strolled
in. Every bench filled with people
waiting. The court personnel doing
the dance of the powerful in front
of the American
peasants. Preening their badges,
rattling papers like sabers, the judge
in black robes like a medieval priest
chanting the litany of oppression. They
made over 20,000 dollars in fines in one
mourning. The judge

will retire to his back
room for lunch, lift his robes high over his
varicosed veined legs, expose his miniature
penis and do a slow dance for the American
people in front of a shuttered window. He knows

the system is in default. It does not matter.
The clerk of the court comes in, tells
the judge it is time to return
to the courtroom. The judge smiles, points
to his penis and, as the clerk
gets to his knees, the judge says,

“Let them wait.”

What Would You Do For A Fix?

 

And she asked me
“What would you do for a fix?”

I thought for a few moments.

I was this kind of addict.

For a fix
I would steal from my mother’s purse
For a fix
I would take my sister’s coin collection
For a fix
I would desert my children
For a fix
I would spend years in prison
For a fix
I would risk hepatitis
For a fix
I would shoot toilet water
For a fix
I would draw up puddle water on the street
For a fix
I would steal from my relatives and friends
For a fix
I would break into places to steal
For a fix
I would drive a car with no brakes
crash into other cars and injure people
For a fix
I would drive hundreds of miles every day
on bad roads
in blizzard conditions
For a fix
I would slide into an oncoming car in
a snowstorm
bounce it into a parked car
then see the dope man up the street
leave the accident scene to get the
dope
and then stop nearby to shoot it
while the police closed in
For a fix
I would steal my parent’s car
For a fix
I would spend the rent money
For a fix I would spend the money meant
to feed my family
For a fix
I would fuck old men up the ass
For a fix
I would sleep with people that I did
not care for
For a fix
I would take the money out of the pocket
of an unconscious man on the street
For a fix
I would sell dangerous drugs to novices
For a fix
I would break a promise to you
For a fix
I would tell you anything
and I did.

When my dog was killed
I got high
When my girlfriend had an abortion
I got high
When I went to a movie
I got high
When the sun was shining
I got high
When it rained
I got high
When it snowed
I got high
When I went to prison
I got high
When I was set free
I got high
When my wife left
I got high
When I fell in love again
I got high
When she said,”If you ever get high
again, I’ll leave.”
I got high
When she left
I got high
When the probation officer said, “If you come
up dirty
on your urine test, you’ll go back to prison,”
I got high
When I went back to prison for a dirty urine
I got high
When it was time to go to school
I got high
When I was kicked out of school
I got high
When I felt sad
I got high
When I was happy
I got high
When I couldn’t tell you how I felt
I got high
When I didn’t want to get high
I got high
When I got married
I got high
When I moved to the country to get away
from drugs
I got high
When I moved back to the city so I could get drugs
I got high
When I found out that I was losing entire days
in memory
I got high
When I remembered what it was that I had
done while I was high
I got high.

In the beginning I got high because I liked it.
In the end I got high because it was all I had
left.
In the beginning I got high because I could fuck
For hours.
In the end I got high because I could not fuck
at all.
In the beginning I got high with my friends.
In the end I got high alone.
In the beginning I got high so I could dance.
In the end I got high and thought I would
never dance again.
In the beginning it was dancing dreams on the
walls of my mind.
In the end the rooms were dark and lonely; the
dreams were dead.
In the beginning I thought I had found a better
way of life.
In the end I got high and had no life at all.
In the beginning I got high because I was searching
for the way.
In the end I got high because I was searching
for the way out.
In the beginning I got high because I wanted to
open up.
In the end I got high because I wanted to
shut down.
In the beginning I would get high to get closer
to you.
In the end I was afraid of you and you wanted
nothing to do with me.

In the end it was like this.
If I was to approach the devil to sell my soul
for a fix,
(I would have done this had I known how)
old Lucifer would have laughed at me and said,
“How can you sell me what you have already
lost to heroin?”

I am convinced of this.
If Lucifer was to shoot heroin
he would trade all the provinces of hell for
one more fix.

I won’t get hooked.
I can stop anytime I want to.
This will be the last time.
God, if you get me out of this I’ll never do it
again.
I promise.
No, no, this time I really mean it.
Honest.

“What would you do for a fix?” she asked.
I looked at her, smiled and said,”For a fix-
I would do anything.”

Reprinted from Spare Change, Boston / Reprinted from Real Change, Seattle.

In this gripping collection, Heroin’s Harbour, Goldfinger offers us an intimate look at the world of drug addiction, as the “body, soul, and mind [are] interlocked in heroin hypnosis.” Told in three parts, as the protagonist descends into the deeper grip of addiction, he wonders “what decision was it…that made it too late to turn back.” The euphoria of the high is followed by a cascade of loss, betrayal, jail, armed robbery, near death experiences, broken relationships, terrifying bouts of withdrawal, arrest warrants, drug dealing, and death of loved ones. Even when he vows to quit, he is haunted by his addiction as he describes “the junk called to me and it knew my name” and falls back into the “dance with the poison dust of incoherent dreams.” As the drugs, like reptiles, slither into the corners of his mind, he knows that even after years of being clean, he will never be totally free. Click the book cover on the left if your are intresting in buying… THANKS 

Where I Live

Dark hawken figures walken on my skies
target my mind broken weight full freight
train rakes needlepoint on my back track
eyes not even open like a baby rat that

smells the cheese vomited by red dead
mother twitching outside the dole hole
this was the night the toad was crucified
died screaming forgiveness from the tips

of its lips saying, “even the reptiles need
gods of a sort and how do you know what,”
since I work in the place where hell meets
the crack in the pipe; where the needle

sticks in the cement of my veins; where
my mind burns on the hot tar in Central
Square; where my heart busts through
the windows of your whore soul; that’s

where I live motherfucker; come to
my place anytime; don’t leave your
illusions at the door; we’ve all paid
dues in hell for opiate dream scream

with your mouth so wide open the
devil can creep in. Get down on your
knees to the one hanging on the cross;
even our sins are victims of their own.

Wham Wham Wham

Wham Wham Wham

In memory of Justin Ronchetti, one more victim

He tried to drive away, twenty-one years
always running from his shadow
but it was holding onto his shoulders
from the inside; he tried to drive

away; it was the cage he was running
from; it was always hard to run when
you’re already in the cage; he tried to drive

away. He didn’t ask the cop to jump
onto his car. But the cop jumped
on his car; he chose to do it. What’s

a junkie to do? He was just trying to run;
that’s what junkies do; but this cop
jumped onto the hood of his car; the blue

gang are always trying to be heroes. But the
junkie tried to drive away; that’s what junkies do.
The cop was holding on for dear life; he didn’t think,
he didn’t think it was going to go down like this,

he thought the junkie was going to stop. Junkies
run; that’s what they do best. So the cop screamed
“Stop, Stop!’ and pulled out his gun and said, “Don’t

make me do it, don’t make me shoot!” like it was
the junkie’s finger on the trigger, but all the junkie
wanted to do was run, so he hit the gas and the cop

freaked out. He pulled the trigger wham wham wham
and glass metal blood; nobody thought it would go down
like this. All the junkie wanted to do was run; he’d been

running all his life, just from the pain of being
alive. He tried to drive away; all he wanted to do was drive
but the cop but the cop jumped on the car thought

he could make him stop but it was scary, too scary
just hanging on to the hood of a car, the hood
of a car that wouldn’t stop moving but it wasn’t

the car moving made him shoot; it wasn’t the junkie
behind the wheel of the car that made him shoot; the
junkie was just trying to get away when the cop screamed,

“Don’t make me shoot!” But the finger, it was the finger of
the hand, the finger of the hand of the cop who was scared
because he didn’t think it would go down like this

that pulled the trigger, pulled the trigger, blew the
junkie’s face all apart splattered blood all over the car, he
was just driving the car, all he wanted to do was run

pulled the trigger, pulled the trigger, pulled the trigger,
what was he thinking when the bullet drove through
the windshield into his mind bringing with it the

shards of glass sharper than the memories that drove
him to run; memories of bits of broken glass; he tried
to drive away; wham wham wham; all his life . . .

**printed originally in Poiesis, A Journal of the Arts & Communication, Volume 8, 2006

One Of The Tough Guys

R.I.P. Bill “Casey” Case

The forest all around us
as we smoked the joint
back in the way back

and Casey was yelling
into the ether, “Yahoo,
Mountain Dew” because

he was a mountain man
born into the wrong time.
Too late, too late the birds

sang; they knew he was out
of time. Casey was a big
man, muscled to the core,

worked as a house painter
when he worked, drank like
thirsty ground no matter

what bar he was in. “you don’t
tug on superman’s cape, you don’t
piss into the wind,” but he could

and did. If you stepped on his
toes at the bar, he would put
you through the window, if there

was one; flagged from every bar
with a window he was. There
were other tales of Casey

I could tell you; he messed with
the devil drugs; do I have to
name them? We were in

my car, his strong arm on the
back of the seat, probing with
the needle to find the elusive

vein; the police parked down
the street and we all scattered
like the wind; Casey was gone

and now he’s really gone. Casey
was older than me; wasn’t afraid
of anything. But when age catches

up and the scars of the old life
take their toll; who can blame him
for deciding to opt out? Swollen with

Hep-C, with warrants to send him to
steel and stone for six months in
the heat of Florida with a body

that he could no longer control and
a mind that knew the truth. No one
can cast the stone unless you were

in his soul to feel his pain. So he
took it upon himself to decide his
fate and when the police came to

take him away, Casey was already gone
and no one could bring him back
unless God gave him another chance

in a new body, in a new place, in
a new time, raised up by new spirits.