March 7, 2017

Jed Myers

JEWISH CEMETERY NIGHT

Those headstones at Mount Carmel, each
must weigh more than a man, and taken
a couple of men a piece to bring down,
one then the next, nearly a hundred,
into the night. This was a team,
I imagine—together they pressed
their shoulders and chests and cheeks
and palms in uncanny brief intimacies
into the names of women and men
who walked the Northeast Philly streets
before these raiders were born. I see
the impression of some part of loving
father remain for minutes embossed
in the pad of flesh under a thumb. Another’s
brow is stamped with the Hebrew letter
aleph that stands for the first of the Ten
Commandments. I hear the men grunt
in unison on the heave after three.

And the gratification, the bonding
these guys, I’m sure they’re young, must be
able to feel, with what they’ve achieved—
what lives have they been leading? Is this
as close to a shared heatedly held
meaning as they can get, faceless
amalgam of the dead under their feet
and available to be blamed? The hugs
these topplers must’ve exchanged, shined
by their sweat in the moonlight. What lives
led to this? That it was just common
hate could uplift them? Don’t they drink
their pints after work in the tavern, cheer
and curse the game over the bar? Doesn’t it
keep their hides secure round their hearts
and their eyes off each other? I think
it’s their secret aloneness does it, down
in that dark dark as the dirt.

Poets Respond
March 7, 2017

[download audio]

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Jed Myers: “We witness a terrifying upsurge in multiple dimensions of us-and-them thinking and associated destructive enactments. Judgments won’t help, but seeking to understand just might. The news of another assault on cemetery headstones can serve as entry into empathic-intuitive exploration.” (website)