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Mel BrakE Press has a liberal submission policy, and will accept poetry manuscripts (not books) for its next publication cycle, the Spring of 2018.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Poetry Collection of Sy Roth

Sunday Morning Rye-Wound
By Sy Roth

Sunday mornings,

Garden City wraps around the corner.

In tow, Mother shleps me to George’s Bakery,

sweet smell of baked goods shoving its odors

Up the street and into my nose

typewriter staccato bread slicer clacking for the famished,

Readies another rye, pimpled with caraway seeds

one, I would eventually tuck under my arm,

smothering its warmth.

Line extends beyond the stationery store,

Five stores down.

We snail our way to the front of the line

watching George-happy recipients

hie their breads and cakes home

protecting them like a cache of Chanukah gelt.

Inside the door, mother orders me to

“get our number”.

Numbers are vital.

Gelda, behind the counter,

moves each along with a rod poke,

loudly announces “customer 28, customer 28”!

Customer 28 responds “here”, and moves forward.

Gelda slices his rye punctiliously,

Pulls the red and white string from a ceiling container,

Wraps his cake into a box,

Until our number, 31, is called.

“Number 31,” Gelda calls in a scratchy tremolo.

Mother pokes me to answer.

I found no voice in the brouhaha.

Ticket held tightly like a knife in my fist.

Number invisible.

Silence reigns in me,

Turtle’s head hidden in my hard shell.

All wait for a response.


My voice, to be heard first?

Visibility on a white steed.

Mother who taught me invisibility

pushes me- announce, she barks.

Even the rye could not induce me into the arena of men.

George’s lions roared me into silence.

Here!” mother proclaims, glares.

Red-faced shuffle to the counter.

At home, the rye, no longer the same

Sunday, a mirage, a steamy memory,

Mother clucks,

“Perhaps invisibility is better.”

She shmeered her slice of rye sadly,

butter like viscous concrete over its surface.

He swallowed his shame instead.


By Sy Roth

Watch the houses that house them.

Observe the curtains rustle in the windows.

See shuttered windows.

Hear whispered breath uttered in shadows

Lese majesty on any truth.

Don’t confront them.

Lock the sibilant susurrations of lies—

It did not happen--

Away behind solid doors,

Sturdy, metal doors,

Solder them closed

Nightly, truth taps at the walls,

Plays a pince-nez tune in a darkened cell.

Beats away at the darkening noon,

Behind tightly shut eyes

Imagines truth out and about

Prancing sprite in a verdant forest.

Deny them exit from their hidey-holes,

He won’t let them out of their empty rooms.

Darkling memories button Away--

Like flies buzzing around death,

Emily’s world of circling secrets

Locked in the ink of memories.

Trained night clown whose

smiling face does not reveal him.

Unbending lips may not bend

into a smile, corners curled intersect an intersection of

Unspoken words in his silent world.

Not here,

Spirits whimper.

Not here.

Let them be still

Behind the drapes

Behind the windows

In an airless world with their

Secrets maintained.

A Discourse between Thinkers

By Sy Roth

Gandhi sits cross-legged at the feet of Einstein.

Diapered, pampered by his rectitude.

Oversized eyes lost behind his glasses.

Gandhi speaks first while Einstein draws on his pipe:

So Einstein, Mr. Genius,

what is it that you do?


I trace realities from broken lines that illuminate the heavens.

You think me brilliant, Ghandi?

A genius, I could create this?

with a Jackie Mason shrug.

No, we are merely interpreters,

puzzle-masters reconstructing the nothing,

DaVincis envisioning something from bread trails

left helter-skelter in well-worn footpaths

trod by a million other dopes like me.

I chew the crumbs hungrily, spit them out in masticated mash

for others to nourish their curiosities.

Einstein, another long draw on his  pipe, exhalation of puffs of smoke:

Gandhi, you think I created this?

I, the great conductor?

A Jackie Mason finger poked in the eye of the air.

Think again, pal, not me

there must be a band leader swishing his baton,

Benny Goodman maintaining universal rhythms.

Would we be here without one?

Gandhi scribbles every word:

So Einstein, now that you have gobbled the crumbs, chewed them,

explained what others have failed to see,

found a universe in the merest of particles,

how do you lead your life?

Einstein thinks, ruffles his white mane,

sadness echoes in his response—


…as if everything is a miracle housed

in a boardinghouse of atoms,

woefully awaiting collision with others.

Gandhi, momentary pause,  thinks:

What is it I do here in my diaper at the feet of Einstein?

I think I collide silently with others.

Einstein crosses his legs,

waits for the next question, smoke drifts in Morse from his lips.

Einstein believes its all relative.

Gandhi resists speechlessly.

Even the Dark Night Sings the Shiva Song

By Sy Roth

Even the dark night sings the shiva song.

Rain patters a soft refrain against the roof.

The windows weep in long mascara-running drips.

Inside they gather round the cakes

Fill their mouths to bursting with macadamia nuts

And Russell Stover chocolates.

Black strip of cloth,

neon sign attached to her bodice,

she whispers about the room

vodka, Xanax and memories anesthetized.

The guests laugh and nod knowingly

staving off their own demise.

Her Bette Davis eyes follow their movements

until the last door slams shut

and they shuffle out into the rainy evening.

Waxen image of life remains behind.

Light resides instead in the cliff-hanging photos,

Her red hair, wind blown above canyon rims,

Where darkness replaces the light

and sorrow stretches taut as a drum head over her reality.

The Wallflower

By Sy Roth

A beauteous garland of flowers, they declare,

Surrounds the garden

Dresses it in colorful saris.

All speak of their pulchritude,

ignoring the others.

But Lacy-leafed ferns,

chided children of the forest floor,

wait in the soil, bide their time,

an artist’s monochromatic palette.

Their exiled faces crammed

into overcrowded trains of resplendent flora,

searching for their own earth pockets to plow.

Obdurate roots sprout legs in the moist soil,

their flags unfurl in whipping spring winds

a verdigris sea pushing their popinjay neighbors aside

trumpeting their independence.

Like Alfalfa’s cowlick,

mint green leaves emerge erect fans

delicately curlicued arms,

supplicants genuflecting to the heavens

embracing their freedom.

They elbow the others into corners,

their terran-flagged territory anointed.

Nomenclature doesn’t truly matter.

Just a Sargasso Sea of whispering leaves

dominate the landscape.

Slow motion time cameras watch them blanket the others,

their colors canopied beneath their green swatches.

The others listen for the new sounds of the garden,

delicate breezes borne in their swaying arms.

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