Word Poetry

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Sample Poems by Judy Katz-Levine


The Everything Saint

Often I would say the truth, the extraordinary dream of driving with my mother to a grape arbor reminds me of this. I was told as a child to be honest. So when I lied, my father would say "Honesty is the best policy." A crow over the telephone pole is talking to me now, caws. This text is about coffee in the afternoon, a day of solitude. Very seldom would I tell lies. I would cartwheel in the afternoon, hum a show tune. The everything saint would be there, quiet, a lemon cake for a gift.

In the dream of my cousins in New Jersey I was writing a parable about a tree. I wrote it very rapidly, but I can't remember it now. Then I told a stranger, a woman, about our childhood - how the cousins went to the pool together, did everything together, had sleepovers. And there was the everything saint, my grandmother Rose, who presided over the family with quiet grace, and played piano for us, sunrise sunset.

The everything saint watched us jump on the beds. We made igloos in three foot snow, walked across McClellan Avenue. Played with the puppy that never trained, and with our wild dog who was so nervous.


Twilight Song

in every small way there is a shaking of the head. and another hand shakes too. the way the light disappears, dusting a stranger. and another cup of tea trembles originating from who knows where or when. these parables oscillate from one mind to another. we receive a call and we begin to think that there is something wild in the clown of the dusk...


Moon Song

in this world there are many avocados. They are like moons, plums and radishes. Leaves of mustard. Stars in windows. In this world there are many meadows in faces, lips in footsteps, the ocean rises, the starfish congregate. In this world there are many of us. We watch the particulars of change and we watch each others' faces for the least moment of distance, the rare moment of integrity.


Noticing

I, who notice things, cicada shells, dusk. Eyes gathering into a glance. Who notice the scars on a woman's back. Your DNA spiraling into a stellar map. Child skipping stones in a merengue rhythm. The lake that became an eye and I noticed the dragonfly on your arm. You found a warm spot in the waters. Noticed that cantor picking Wild Susans before a party. I'm the one who notices a vaudeville aside about chopped liver. Noticed the friend named 121, after a psalm. Noticed she was alive, now she's gone. A partner in psychological thinking - a stroke made her fall like an oak. And I went to the funeral and noticed how almost no one was there. So this is the story of noticing her husband weeping, and no wheat. Because he can't eat that wheat.