Richard Jeffrey Newman
Richard Jeffrey Newman has published two books of poetry, Words for What Those Men Have Done (Guernica Editions 2017) and The Silence of Men (CavanKerry Press 2006), as well as a chapbook, For My Son, A Kind of Prayer (Ghostbird Press 2016). In addition, he has co-translated three books of classical Persian poetry, most recently The Teller of Tales: Stories from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (Junction Press 2011). Newman is on the executive board of Newtown Literary a Queens-based literary non-profit and curates the First Tuesdays reading series in Jackson Heights, New York. He is Professor of English at Nassau Community College. His website is www.richardjnewman.com.
The failed dishonesty you call your lust
lives in the hollow carved out by your guilt.
Edges bleed where other edges meet them.
This battlefield is not without its charms,
till memory insists and meaning forms.
You need to know; you cannot condescend.
the limits you can test. Remove the mask.
Make yourself what love obliterates.
What matters once you’ve claimed that way as yours,
and walked that bitter mile through the dust,
and pierced the veil, and mastered your disgust,
is pulling all the corpses from the rift.
In terms of confronting the man’s racism, of course, that question doesn’t really matter, but it nonetheless put me in mind of how easy it is for Jews, white or of color, to pass as not-Jewish until we either self-identify or are outed—a term I am using purposefully, since there are still places in the world, including the hallowed halls of American academia, where it is not always safe to be known publicly as a Jew.
Danielle took my hand in hers,
“I can feel them,” she whispered,
then dressed in a silence
I did not know how to break