Three Poems by Asher Reich

BOMB 68 Summer 1999
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New York Live Arts presents

Marjani Forte
Nov 15-19


Requiem to a Dog in Rain

A winter-haunted sky.
Icicles like stalagmites on the ground.
The highway slippery as an eel.
Injuries of rain
and a dog in a puddle at the side of the road.

Sounds of Bach blast from the radio. Oh, God Almighty.
One hand on the wheel and with the other I search in my pocket
to find the name of the place: “Stickdorf.”
Cars zoom by honking
nervously. Potholes.

The car hops like a harried frog.
Another hour’s drive to Stickdorf.
The rain keeps falling.
Death embraces the dog.
Cars continue to honk.

 

New York: First Swim

As usual, as in the beginning, it all began with water.

Max Ernst’s blind swimmer
rose from the river, drenched with longing

for his life on land, fleeing every
abyss of his time, as if absconding
his eternal waters. I watched as his centrifugal

body shook off plutonium in the water. I also saw
how the water thirsted for your mouth recoiling from it.
The entire island ran like a rumor. You, too,

ran. Your spirit, too, changed seasons
like the green nakedness of Central Park
which changed colors into autumn. Later,
we crossed the wailing Hudson to Jersey,
to the frozen future of the American dream.


New York: Second Swim

Through a lit tunnel, under the river,
we went back to Manhattan. The island was

wrapped in silver clouds. There we lost
the sounds of bread, far from the land of honey.
There your stomach couldn’t tolerate the sugary

load of the city’s pies.
In Macy’s you threw up. In Alexander’s I bought
a pair of woolen long johns and got a long erection.
We felt such glass-lusts as tall

as the Twin Towers.
My face in the clouds was like an autumnal
sun in the Atlantic sky.
The eyeballs of my eyeballs filmed everything.

The tourist blood in us whirled delight, and still
craves soothing moments with books at Rizzoli’s.
Like the bears in the commercial you and I
flowed with the human stream of the Marathon.
At night we strolled with Eliot’s cats
and all your fears were thoroughly eroded.


Translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keller.

Tsipi Keller’s short fiction and poetry translations have been widely published. She is the recipient of a NEA Translation Fellowship, an Armand G. Erpf award from the Translation Center at Columbia University, and a CAPS and NYFA awards in Fiction. Her translation of Dan Pagis’s posthumous collection, Last Poems, was published by the Quarterly Review of Literature (1993), and her novels, The Prophet of Tenth Street (1995) and Leverage (1997), were published in Israel by Sifriat Poalim.

Asher Reich has published ten volumes of poetry, short stories, and a novel. His Selected Poems (1986) have been translated into French and German and won the Berstein Prize from the Federation of Israeli Publishers. His other awards include: the Anne Frank Poetry Award, the Akum Award (Writers Guild of Israel), and the Prime Minister Award. Reich lives in Tel Aviv where he is the editor of Moznaim.

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Originally published in

BOMB 68, Summer 1999

Featuring interviews with Robert Altman, Ida Applebroog, Chuck D, Alvaro Siza, Joseph Chaikin, Peter Campus, Robert Pinksky, and Maryse Conde. 

Read the issue
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