Tuesday, May 10, 2016

3 Poems from Leslie Gerber

photo of Leslie Gerber (not current)

Like Her

Someone who looks like her
is in the bed at night,
at the table in the morning,
walks with the dogs,
but doesn’t talk like her,
doesn’t wash her face,
knows me as a shadow.

Someone who sounds like her
may answer the phone
but doesn’t know what to say,
when asked her name
cannot respond,
mixes up the dogs’ names,
sometimes with mine.

Someone who moves like her
sometimes opens the door
but doesn’t know old neighbors,
cringes at the sight
of the postman,
looks at the mail
as if it were a meteorite.

Someone who feels like her
reacts to a hug
by hardening
and then doesn’t feel like her.
Retreats from water.
Wants more clothes
to protect her from touch.

Someone who looks like her
was once the sun
and now sleeps on the dark side
of the moon.
When she wakes, she watches
pages from her book
as they float off into space.

(from my book “Lies of the Poets”)


One day in 2005
I gave names to everything in the gym.

The first treadmill was Spencer,
the second Spencer Jr.
One bicycle was Armstrong–
for Neil, not Lance!
The next one was Sadie.
The big barbell weights were Marx Brothers,
the small ones Andrews Sisters.

When I had finished this task I took the list outside.
I had not noticed before
that the sky was so blue it made my eyes tear,
the clouds so white they looked like angels.

As I burned my list
so my ancestors could read it
I reflected on the damage I did to the air,
the ashes seeking to destroy the lungs of birds.
I resolved to stop driving one day a week
and to breathe as little as possible.

A moth came to me in my dreams that night
to thank me for my resolutions.
She apologized that all the butterflies were busy
but she was as white as the clouds.

Latvian Sprats

A small round can of tiny fish
with a transparent plastic top.
Sprats, it said in large type
but I had to search for the country: Latvia.

The fish were soft and tasty
with crunchy tails.
They came from Latvia, which has a city,
Riga, and nothing else I know

so I closed my eyes and looked hard
and saw a small girl in dirty clothes
lying awake on a cot in a dark room
shivering with cold and hunger.

Outside the room a wild boar
paced impatiently on a threadbare rug
its eyes green fire
its jaws steaming.

I opened my eyes and saw
the girl had the face of my children.
I was about to rush to her
but she whispered,

Do not come. If you were here
you would see so many in the streets
you would shrivel into ugly dust.

Stay home and buy more fish
so that my father can have work
and give me the bread.

Buy cans and leave them on the street.
Then, when someone takes one
follow her home and give her your money.

Then the image faded
and I could not remember
where I had bought the fish.

(new work)
Leslie Gerber (more current)

Leslie Gerber was born in Brooklyn in 1943. In 1964 he married a 
family of a woman and three small girls. After 5 years as a book 
cataloger at the Strand Book Store, he moved to Ulster County and 
started a mail order classical record business, Parnassus, which 
operated until 2008. He still publishes classical music CDs and DVDs. 
Despite a B.A. in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College, he did mostly 
music criticism and only a little creative writing until he started 
writing poetry in 1999. He now lives quietly in Woodstock with his wife 
of 31 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment