This time, instead of my usually cogent blather, I offer three poems I wrote during the past three years. They answer the questions my readers ask most often: 1) How did you get to America?; 2) How was it being young in the 20th century?; and 3) What the heck is poetry anyway?
Thank you, Andrei.
HOW I GOT TO AMERICA
for Kris, who really knows
I swam over a barbed wire fence.
There was a hair curtain & I scaled it.
Then we closed the window.
A rabbi hid me in his black skirt.
A priest lent me a cassock.
I dressed in a cow skin & munched near the border:
when the bull came I ran like hell.
They traded me for a couple of spies.
I got a pass-key to the Western World.
I made a fake ceiling in the Bucharest-Vienna Express
& curled in there with two of my best friends
& a bar of chocolate. The train went to Athens
instead & we died.
I wrote a letter to the President of America
& he sent Jimmy Carter to get me
with a diplomatic pouch just big enough
if I curled up real tight.
There was a little war in the southern Carpathians
and some of us were catapulted into Yugoslavia.
I married an extremely rich traveler
looking for her roots in my neighborhood.
At about 10 PM on January 1965
I got inside the transistor radio and surfed
the Voice of America to Detroit.
I wrapped my hand around the handle
of my broom and said the magic words:
take me to the highs, save me from the lows!
But how I really got to America
only Kris knows.
Have 20th century
hangover in change
jars good American
change while paper
of one million per
size fills the empty
dreams of Romanians
with numbers not much
else certainly not
sausages on a grill
with new wine in love
in let's say 1965
when nothing not even
communism could stop
the sap from overcoming
the ballyhooed and now
I had a youth once
I was very good at it
That nervous energy
is called poetry
when you can't stand
either still or the world
it's that groove
even half asleep
because the pharmacy
of control the chemical
frame around the window
of liberty is stealing
away half the energy
even then the nervous
is still poetry
in full bloom
the window open
you crawl through
to get to the bar
and to the girls
is really open to poetry
so this year go there