My Poem, “From Rechavia,” wins Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award for 2019, 2nd Place

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.                                                                           

About Bruce Arlen Wasserman

Bruce Arlen Wasserman assembled his first poetry manuscript with a typewriter on the kitchen table when he was seventeen, farmed and worked as a blacksmith, drove a tractor-trailer in college, edited professional journals, wrote as a freelance journalist and is a dentist. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, was a semi-finalist for the Francine Ringold Awards for New Writers, a semi-finalist for the Proverse Prize and won the Anna Davidson Rosenberg 2019 Poetry Award. He writes poetry and fiction. His book, THE BROKEN NIGHT, was published by Finishing Line Press in July, 2022. Bruce received an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is a literary critic for the New York Journal of Books. His writing has been published in the Proverse Poetry Prize Anthology, The Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review, The River Heron Review, Kindred Literary Magazine, the Broad River Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, High Shelf Literary Magazine, Wild Roof Journal and the Washington Independent Review of Books. Beyond writing, he creates visual art as a potter at Bruce Arlen Wasserman Studio, where he draws from the reservoir of poetry and his experience in working iron and wood, correlating a continued exploration of language, function and esoteric form.
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