My review of Shrapnel Maps, by Philip Metres, is now available to read on the New York Journal of Books website. Read it here
I am pleased to announce that my poem, “From Rechavia,” has won 2nd place in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award for 2019. & here it is:
From Rechavia ©bruce arlen wasserman, no publication without author permission
There is a scent somewhere here between hay / & the must of pressed grapes & balsam / & the cats that shake themselves through the bins / & the moist of winter runoff & what passes for ice / in Jerusalem that erodes all 48 steps to my flat / & the one bold feral cat who sidled all the way / to the door before vanishing like a magician’s hat / & why are there no screens in Jerusalem & why / do the doors face walls of stone the same stone / that lines the streets & alleyways & the tiled / havens for dud shemesh tanks white as misfits / of clusters of footprints on the moon / there seems to be a pattern to the ups & the / downs of the hills & the streets climb to make / ancient off-angled passages to places like / the Kotel & the footfalls of the oldest alleys & / the pockmarks where they missed or hit in former wars / like the heart-rock I found near my grandfather’s grave / leaving time on my fingers & chalk as a remnant / like snail gloss these things say soul differently / than James Brown imagining low stone inscriptions / & there is more to give it all up for in the memories / of a child than the fan of palm leaves setting a border / for my garden & the kumquat & the tangerine trees / comparing tiny fruits & the way the lemon looks on / in the tartness of the breeze but the pomegranate sways / its seeds in an undertone like hot breath after a quickone / & these things I think took place upon the stones laid when / Rechavia was rural & bordered by farms & the monastery / where the Romans cut the cross & the slog of that walk that /must have been truly painful & why do fallen leaves never chase / the winds & why is dirt undisturbed as if sanctity is beyond / what’s already known & why is the doormat always backwards / as a tribute or a view to a future pretending to be past or / the list of the lost repeated in an ancient mother tongue? / I pay at the post office in a guttural I can barely comprehend / from the consonants in my throat & I realize I still can’t /say my name right & my immigrant state is more real than / the 5,779 ways to count the years to devolve from a snake / & all the incense burned in the desert made the air / a little sweeter & the day I arrived with three bags & / my guitar a stranger stopped to help me roll them up / the street then shook my hand & the sweetness of one / day’s travel ended like a blues riff & the lack of assurance / let my notes flow into the Jerusalem wind & the voices / inside the Souk are just enough to roll along the centuries of stones like the backs of rushing rivers / or the dates I bought that taste like caramel dipped / in honey then burned & the hummus like an evening spent / dreaming of something tearing my heart out & when I am / forced to give it all away these travels & my struggles / slowly fade like early rain like water’s rising to mist a world / away from here & one thing I have discovered is how to have / Hebrew dreams after the DMV & the gifting of beggars / as all charity speaks Hebrew & anything I lack feels fuller / in Hebrew & this is where I’ve learned yom tov & this / is where I understand bevakasha means you’re welcome / as well as please& I ease into some sense of letters & / this is where worries of never knowing the feeling of shalom /finally give guttural breath to the sounds inside my name.
I am pleased to announce that my poem, “What to Do While Waiting in Boston,” has been published in the beautifully assembled Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review issue recently released. Click the link to read it.
My review of Erica Dawson’s groundbreaking long poem, When Rap Spoke Straight to God is now at New York Journal of Books. Click to read it.
I am honored to tell you that my poem, “Louisiana Life,” is out in the current, beautiful issue of the FREDERICKSBURG LITERARY AND ART REVIEW, Pages 78-79. Click to read it.
I am happy to say that my poem, “Louisiana Life,” will appear in the Spring/Summer 2018 edition of the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. The poem, which tracks the history of life in Louisiana through a unique lens, is well matched in its new publication home. Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review is a beautiful, well-curated journal. Here is their link: Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review.
I just got word that my short story, “The Almost Living,” was selected as a semi-finalist for the Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers by the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry.
No book has more to say about our times than W.S. Merwin’s, The Lice. I was honored to have the opportunity to review the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition, published by Copper Canyon Press, for the New York Journal of Books. Here is an excerpt of the review:
In this fiftieth anniversary edition, there exists the opportunity to access Merwin’s writings created in such tumultuous times, yet along with the reading of this volume is the eerie sense that his poems are particularly suited to the current condition of our world. So well-matched, in fact, that someone not familiar with the background of The Lice will see the poems’ statements as relevant to the unfolding of the political and socioeconomic dynamics that daily are unveiled across the media, worldwide. Look at the second stanza of Merwin’s poem, “The Last One”:
Well they cut everything because why not.
Everything was theirs because they thought so.
It fell into its shadows and they took both away.
Some to have some for burning.
Click here to read the review at NYJB.
“What is clear… is that the accepted, often imitated and venerated Route 66 of narrative verse need not fear finding deviation from the well-traveled path. In fact, the lyrical approach that is evident in Perillo’s poetry makes a more potent narrative because it travels so far from the route.” Read the entire review here at the New York Journal of Books site.
“Tomás Morín is a writer who understands time. He parcels it, plays with it, takes it down to its microscopic focus, reassembles it and his work sings to it in a way that is distinguished, telling, unique,” writes Bruce Arlen Wasserman, poet and book critic, in his recent review of Morín’s new book published by Copper Canyon Press. Click here to read the review.