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Delaware Poetry Review

Dan Vera

And I who am not Jewish,
Am befriended this night,
Made warm by strangers,
Fed at a common table,
Allowed to trip my tongue
Pronouncing millennial old
Sacred prayers over the bitter
and the sweet.

And now returning home,
The moon,
Like a plate awaiting charoset,
Like matzoh floating in the bluest soup of sky,
shines her brightest lamp down on me.

And like this night's Haggadah
I am made to connect the old with the new.
So as the plague of frogs reminded us
of an ecology without frogs,
The Military Drive I ride upon
reminds me of the pestilence of this misbegotten war we are in.

This moon too shines over Baghdad,
Casting her light over the bitter and the bittersweet.

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I will tell you why she rarely ventured from her house.
It happened like this:

One day she took the train to Boston,
Made her way to the darkened room,
Put her name down in cursive script
and waited her turn.

Poets before her stood and rhymed,
Followed a meter tight and expected,
Outdoing one another in a monotonous clip.

When they read her name aloud
She made her way to the stage
Straightened the papers in her hands –
Pages and envelopes, the backs of grocery bills

She closed her eyes for a minute,
Took a breath, and began

From her mouth perfect words exploded
Intact formulas of light and darkness
She dared to rhyme with worlds like cochineal
and described the skies like diadem
Obscurely worded incantations filled the room
With an alchemy that made the very molecules quake

The solitary words she handled in her
upstairs room with keen precision
Came rumbling out to make
the electric lights flicker.

40 members of the audience
were treated for hypertension
20 year old dark haired beauties found their heads
had turned a Moses White.

Her second poem erased the memory of every cell phone
In the nightclub,
And by the fourth line of the sixth verse
The grandmother in the upstairs apartment
Had been cured of her rheumatism.

The papers reported the power outages
The area hospitals taxed their emergency generators
And sirens were heard to wail through the night.

Quietly she made her way to the exit.
Walked to the terminal and right back to Amherst.
She never left her room again.
And never read such syllables aloud.

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About the Poet

Dan Vera is editor of the Gay culture journal White Crane, co-founder of VRZHU Press, founder of Brookland Area Writers & Artists, and a member of the Triangle Artists Group. His poetry has appeared in Shaping Sanctuary, DC Poets Against The War, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and Pacifica's nationally broadcast Peace Watch program. He lives in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC.