Joel Moskowitz


I don't want to lose

waking up to the steady hush of early rush hour traffic
as light enters my room, streaks a wall,
and makes my water bottle glow like a firefly.
And I don't want to lose glancing out
at our neighbors' breakfast nook,
glimpsing someone reading
something good in the news.

Don't ever want to lose lemonade,
and how I'm never satisfied
drinking just one cold swallow
out of the small etched glass
that once held a memorial candle.
I don't want to lose Great Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary,
millions of water lilies swaying in the wetlands and sunlight.
Don't want to lose sad piano tunes rising
from the apartment below. An occasional missed
note proves it's not a recording.

What about thunderstorms?
A bouquet of cream peonies.
Brazilian fish stew. Warm challah.
Another baklava dripping honey.
Don't want to lose dancing alone
as a large-stepping rooster in my kitchen at night,
letting go, Oh, letting go!––
reaching high as if to touch the ceiling.

 

 

 

Instructions to My Wife for My Burial

Bear me to Bottomless Pond
on a sturdy plank of exterior plywood,
walking while at the same time singing Chorshat ha'Ekaliptus,
one of the saddest songs we know.
It's in your range and you can knock it home,
the high refrain stunning birds
as you pull me, and the board quietly rumbles
over pebbles and dirt and whatnot.

Bring our serving spoon we bought in Pittsfsield,
with the smooth melamine handle,
the silver worn down on the scooping end
because the utensil has a vintage feel
and is our common memento.

At Bottomless Pond the broom moss
grows in plush domes like pillows.
Highbush blueberries drop their fruit
onto the ground.

Dig through the casserole of roots.
Lower me in.
Let the hole have me.
Spoon the mud.

Cover with a layer of crumbs.

Place the plywood down
on top of the old dock of rotting
timbers with gaps between them
through which the shallows' gleaming
makes you feel like falling,
the best place
where the sun can reach a cold back.

 

 

 

To Death

Dress my father in a doctor's tunic
fringed like his prayer shawl,
so he can fly on house calls. He'll want
to give booster shots, heal all the children,
because when I was small, he was a doctor.

Or, if he becomes a businessman
as he did in my youth, hand him a phone
to call his lawyers at all hours.
Provide Post-it notes, paperclips, Manila folders,
pens, so he can write memos to himself,

and a big suitcase to carry it all on vacations,
which you should mandate,
as Mom did, a cruise every other year,
"for the marriage."

As for his love of Jerusalem,
he won't stop talking about it,
dancing with Messianic fervor.
Have ice water to cool his ecstasy,

which was even hotter in his prime.
If you had tried to take him then,
he would have outwitted you. But later,
when he stubbornly stored coins in his mouth,
you were gentle when he was near you.

Bring him into Bubbe's kitchen,
promise he'll never go hungry again,
seat him next to Uncle Menachem
so they can play jacks.

But if they start arguing about Socialism,
distract them with a whole smoked Leviathan,
which Dad will debone greasily,
needing a finger bowl.

Give him, from the folds
of his youth, his floppy old mitt,
which he also wore when pitching to me.
He likes to hold and look at
and punch the dark soft leather.

 

 

Post Card

Today
I received a post card
from my father.

Usually he phones me.

It was thin
like a remnant of soap
between us when my hands were small.

But the card:
one face was blank.
Turn it over,
and the message said:

"Poet,
Abandon your pen.
Hoist a hammer.
Rebuild the ramps of Jerusalem,
for the Messiah is sure to land any day now
if you but continue my important work."

My voice addressed air.

"Is that you Dad?––
or Popeye smoking a corn cob pipe
and singing I yam what I yam on my birthdays?"

He would hold up a can of spinach,
make as if to beat up Brutus,
and say he lived in a garbage can.

I loved that part.

But I misted the card.

Then I peeled one face
from the other.

Then I burned both faces,
and smoke wafted to the sky.

 

 

 

Joel Moskowitz is an artist and retired picture framer who lives with his wife and cat
in Sudbury, Massachusetts. His poems have appeared​ in J Journal, Midstream,
Naugatuck River Review, The Healing Muse, MuddyRiverPoetryReview.com, BostonPoetryMagazine.com and Soul-Lit.com. He is a First Prize winner
of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire National Contest.