Offcourse Literary Journal
ISSN 1556-4975 

Two Poems, by Nanette Rayman Rivera.

what i wanted to say to Death

I wanted to say, Death, baby—
as my father might've said to me,
If you leave out the 5th glass of wine to that Elijah —you could for me—
at our Seder my mother, Rona Lee,  harrumphed, hated
waste— see, I'm from a tamarack-thrust family
at the end of a tote-that-barge mule,
and cooped up with a hankering for Sysiphus' real feelings
where mothers with donkey eyes give daughters much tsores
in how-not-to-let-your-face-go-to-your-head though she's a jealous and
avenging G-d, and fathers, tied up in body-bags of married,
cram their mouths lee-wayed with bagels & lox & Winstons taste good.

Beside me, my Jose has blessed me
with no bruises, speaks in his Spanish-Hebrew lilt,
anxiously kneading an egg-white Cross in his hand - Aleinu
as Ajeinu and I tried to lay my hands on his
but the wait is killing me like the weight
of the wait at some TempPositions office.
27 years from the last real job, when I'd eaten frosting
alone in a cabbage-rose wallpapered rooming house
popping a bottle of Tylenol, and I kept thinking,
Be'vakasha —
בבקשה, G-d, no weigh-in, no questions about why I did it,
recalling stories about some embryonic golem's omnipresent entry point —  is that me?
To become god is merely to be free on this earth—
This is so not the place, I guess, to quote Camus.
For I've just missed the cross-point, the tipping over the garden to the boardwalk skyline.
Days dressed and undressed in orchids, apples and commandments
forgotten:  I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.  And so—

Death sprung me.  I waited chain-link-side for Jose
like one of those Caged women digesting a smoke
who, with the patience of a biceped lifer in the exercise yard,
silhouettes the big —house catafalque el muro,
hoping Death ends the rock's rolling back down.
I go back home, supposedly happy that Jose is safe.
Returning for one last look-see, I found
it all flicked over, a cock-eyed billboard. The air clanked shut —
like me if an eensy turn had been taken with my middle finger pointed at Saturn.
The woman who looked just like me
was gentle, said, You can't go back;
fate rules. I was not grateful
for the dew-lagoon in her voice, like crushed ice chips in mouths hooked
up to IVs, the new rain on hyacinth in crack pipes, the crushed apple and almond,
sorrow-wafers on arid tongue, tears after years—
Hurry! I can't wait to take it fast
into my residue.


L'cha Dodi*


In the tawny bend and break of sunlight
he is more than gorgeous
as he opens his mouth: out fall moons.
from my long earth-numb sleep—
a fragrance sweet as compost
stabbing as torrential downpour
as he torch-sings L'Cha Dodi, palms skyward.
Toward the roomy cupolas
my new heart climbs
believing the air.
What is more veracious
than a woman who wakes up,
bounded by love-notes to G-d,
so embedded in a pure
azure wisdom of herself
and Sabbath's
decorative primal face.

*L'Cha Dodi —love song to the Sabbath as a bride



Nanette Rayman Rivera, two-time Pushcart Nominee for non-fiction and poetry, is the author of the poetry collection, Project: Butterflies by Foothills Publishing and the chapbook, alegrias, by Lopside Press.  She is the first winner of the Glass Woman Prize for non-fiction and has poetry on Best of the Net 2007.  Her story, Puhi Paka, was best of issue in Greensilk Journal.  Other publications include The Worcester Review, Carousel, Carve, The Berkeley Fiction Review, ditch, Prick of the Spindle, The Wilderness Review, Pebble Lake Review, Mannequin Envy, Dirty Napkin, MiPOesias, Pedestal, Lily, Wheelhouse, Stirring, Snow Monkey, Wicked Alice, Tipton Poetry Journal, Dragonfire, Arsenic Lobster, Three Candles, Velvet Avalanche Anthology, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, Red River Review, Flashquake, A Little Poetry, DMQ Review, Her Circle, grasslimb, Barnwood, and Chantarelle's Notebook.  She is shopping her memoir around to agents, a true story of what really goes on in the New York City's homeless, welfare, food stamp and public housing system.  She graduated from The New School University.

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