Here Today Gone Gemara

For Michael Wex


“Carpe verbum”


Oh go on, just look these words up and down
like an Orchard Street tailor.


May meaning burst like the tzimtzum


And there always be an eruv over your head.
and an ervah --


you look as hot as a herring.


May you be blessed with poor assimilation
And suffer from enigma


As the wise always say, what good is writing it only once?
Like, what does one shoe give you?
A limp.


You should be ashamed in your far neck


have no no pep in your schlep, no tardis in your PaRDeS,
have salt in your corners, in your eyes; may they
crawl out of your head


She’s got as many brains as a church has a mezuzah.
No furniture in her attic.
But a big backyard.


You think meaning is just gonna rise itself, like a golem?
What do I look like, a canaanite slave?


Oh just come look
into my fat palimpsest --
but I’m not keeping my top buttons open. 


You think you’ve got troubles, don’t knock me a teakettle.


I’m deaf as a bedbug, and screaming into the sky.


Go on, just hit me with the short end of the shtick.


What, you’re gonna shmear me with poor man’s jam?
Pee on my back and tell me it’s raining?
Look at the ceiling through my hair?


Just wash your myth out with some kosher soap


and give it to me baby as hot and slow as a cholent.


Kiss me like a mezuzah. Light my menorah.


Hey, I like those lines. Are they going my way?


All repurposed like hand me down panties


Stuff my mouth with letters, like the Wall on a shpritzy day


For, the sign upon your doorposts say


Sleep faster, we need the pillows
Sleep slower, I could use your dreams.




This is nothing more than a piece of diffused affect.


But from it whole towns could be erected.


Thankfully one can’t fill a torn sack.


The tongue is the pen of the ear.


An idea with connections is still self-conscious.


Thistle sticks to clothes as dis-ease to the poem.


Two things cannot be hidden: meaning and coughing


To every answer you can find a new question.
To every song you can find an old tune.
So spread your mamaloshen
under the khaki moon.


For, as I always say, to make a poem is easier than to read one.


Too much modesty is half conceit.


With a split tongue anything is possible.


And if the stanzas of swirling prosody grow with their feet


climb with crooked feet  --


You can grow corn on the ceiling
But you can’t make cheesecakes out of snow.




As the wise conceptualist always says,
the smoothest way is full of loans


But, you can’t squeeze blood out of wet news.


No lock on that myth


For truth lives like a beggar
surfacing like a popup on a homepage


while the letters swallow up the head with the screen


May you write ten books, each book with ten poems, each poem with ten lines and you should roll from one line to the other
and palimpsests should grow on your tongue


May your thinking be as twisted as a challah


Well this is as helpful as cupping a corpse


Sometimes I feel like some shprintz who’s just rinsed her blintz
with the word still in my mouth


The ploy is the patter of the man
So, stay healthy, you can kill yourself later




If these words were a stick
you could lean on them
If these words were a bridge
I’d be afraid to put them in your mouth


Look, if this poem had wheels, it would be a wagon


And i care like a cat cares it’s Wednesday


I admit – some of these lines stink like an outhouse in the cholera, sprinkled with a side of plague


Did I swallow an umbrella?


Sometimes, it’s easier to get a drunkard off the ground --


Yiddish Blues for the new millennium:


They call it stormy Monday,
Thursday’s just as bad
Siri’s not responding
My GPS’s lead me to Riyadh



So just read like you’re swimming with an axe


And see it with your own ears



Adeena Karasick

Adeena Karasick is a New York based Canadian poet, performer, cultural theorist and media artist and the author of eight books of poetry and poetics. Most recently is Checking In (Talonbooks, 2018) and Salomé: Woman of Valor (University of Padova Press, Italy, 2017), the libretto for her Spoken Word opera co-created with Grammy award winning composer, Frank London. She teaches Literature and Critical Theory for the Humanities and Media Studies Dept. at Pratt Institute, is Poetry Editor for Explorations in Media Ecology, 2018 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award recipient and winner of the 2016 Voce Donna Italia award for her contributions to feminist thinking. 


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, July 4, 2018 - 10:39