"Transgressions," "Kaddish in Bones: Yahad in Unum," and "Sallow Surge Rising Manhattan"


 Père Baudelaire, you flaneur, as only a man can be ––and flaneur, word
            for a man of the streets– how would you see
                        a woman walking as if a flaneur,
                                    a woman walking streets, street walker –
                                                a man may wander, may wonder at the night,
                                                            and a woman?

Why is she out alone?  Imagine. But imagine too, the candle––
            and the dark

Imagine the old poet’s window, an old woman LED lit, the street LED lit,
            exterior merging into interior, a vast lack of dark,
                        the poet
                        walking without stars in
                                    indiscriminate light.



Kaddish in Bones:  Yahad in Unum  

                                                                                                –––for Fr. Patrick Desbois


It is true what the priest discovered.  I have heard others tell of it. The bones of Jews have been ground into the road to the green cemetery tended for the SS graves. They fill holes in the airplane tarmac. They lie enclosed in a cellar, never opened. Some scream at the priest to stay away from their tomato patches. The modern house at the end of the dismal village belongs to the man who offered succor to fleeing Jews, only to smother them in the night for the gold in their teeth. 20,000 were shot or bludgeoned in view of the schoolhouse. Children were requisitioned to walk the planks to flatten the people thrown into the pits alive, covered in lye or sand, so the next layer would be smooth. The pits breathed for three days. Silence surrounds it.  Forests have grown up. Cows are grazed over them. People keep chickens there. Geologists will find a layer of bones under the soil. Everywhere. Ukraine. Lithuania. Baltic to the Black Sea. Serial killers are not ashamed. Terror is the first weapon. Predators use the news to paralyze their victims. Strategies are devised to destroy compassion. This is the other weapon. The priest is trying to teach us what he learned. He is trying to warn us. It is about impunity. It is still happening. We would rather sleep at night.



Sallow Surge Rising Manhattan

the storm’s a seethe, a beat, a roil
a merge of ocean heave and ice

interiors turn inside out and walls
become a vent

for sea slick of oils and ocean
salted wires; the Hudson

renders tide over unfortified shore,
the Battery’s a water-wound of  

earth spun to surge-wiped islands,
fire-purged structures;

streets turn to churning canals,
Sandy-stricken, day and night and day follow

pontoon hopes for rescue filled with after
if ever or never to wonder who

will be among the fortunate
and who the dark geographer to chart

river and sea beneath the granite
schist and glacial till, and wonder too

what shape the tides will take
within the subways south of 38th?



Martha Jackson Kaplan

Martha Jackson Kaplan is a Pushcart nominated poet and flash fiction writer who lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She has a passion for history, a sense of place, and language itself. She has published both in print and online and has won awards from Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. You can find her flash fiction at Bending Genres II, an essay in Bramble V (online and in print), and is thrilled to be published again with Unlikely Stories Mark V. More about her can be found at MarthaKaplanPoet.com.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Monday, July 2, 2018 - 11:21