Sunday, June 7, 2020

Monument Valley, a poem


Tonight I just wanted to sleep alone
each touch of skin and furtive blanket movement

nails across the blackboard 
of my sleep.

Sometimes I pray because I don’t know what else to do
then drive myself crazy till sunset.

[ read the rest ]

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

There Is Always a Graffiti Maker


This is part of a story I've been writing for, yikes, way longer than it should have taken me. If you want, you can read from the beginning, or just start here.


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In Flagstaff we checked the mileage, realized Albuquerque was only four and a half hours away. That was basically less than 2 movies. That was a tiny slice of our days. We had the longest days, didn’t we?, especially waking up early, the sun shoving through the sheer curtains in the motel room, having forgotten to smush the normal curtains closed.

Not that it mattered, because Joey kept us on schedule anyway. Joey was our matron, our den mother, our sheep dog and our shepherd and our team coach all in one: landing on top of me in the morning, then bounding over to Elyse’s bed, slopping his tongue over our faces and digging his nose into our armpits and reminding us in great amounts of glorious slobbery slime that it was time for his morning walk.

I loved walking Joey. He was no higher than my waist, but strong, always with a determination and a clear direction. Later that year, in summer, once I had made it to the East Coast and moved in with an Orthodox aspiring hip-hop DJ in a warehouse deep in Hasidic Williamsburg, I would learn from rendezvouses with kids in pizza places and kosher markets that Hasidic kids, by and large, dreaded dogs. The families had so many kids that there was no money to have pets, and no space. It puzzled me so, since the only way I managed to get up in time for morning prayers was Joey. Caring for a dog was so much like being a religious Jew: this constant presence, nagging but righteously demanding, diverting your attention away from the ego and reminding you of the miracle of Creation and the demands of a higher power.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Beauty of Being Disappointing



Last night we were one week and five days into the seven-week, seven-day cycle of counting the omer, our contemporary verbal gesture toward the ancient pentecostal offering of a sheaf of ripe grain with a sacrifice immediately following the commencement of the grain harvest and the First Fruits festival (that smart-sounding text lifted unapologetically from Wikipedia).

Anyway, if you don’t know: each night, starting on the second night of Passover, going till the eve of the Feast of Weeks, we count, out loud, the number of the night. Each one represents a combination of kabbalistic emanations. Each one can heal a different part of your soul. And the theory is, after 49 days, you’ll heal your whole self. And each night, as long as you haven’t missed a day, you say a blessing.

[ read the rest on Hevria ]

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

It's a Whole Spiel launch party!

Hey! My story "Find the River" is about to be published in the collection It's a Whole Spiel, alongside luminaries like Alex London and David Levithan and Mayim Bialik. Hopefully I'll be able to share an excerpt soon! But if you're around NYC on Sept. 17, you can hear a whole bunch of us get out our pre-Tishrei rage at Books of Wonder. It's free!


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Sweater Dog

This is Madcap Review #10, and herewith are two poems of mine that are published therein.

Sweater Dog Brings Himself Joy

The happiest tiny dogis kicking up dirt in his sweater
His paws don’t scratch much grassbut tiny shitlike flakes snow all over


The only mess he can makeso delightfully constipated
Here's the poem on their site. It really happened! One morning I was walking to work and this enormously tiny weiner dog was frolicking in the freshly unsnowed grass, kicking it up all over the place. It felt like he couldn't get it out and was just using the dirt as a substitute to make him feel better about himself. The owner wasn't looking at all. The dog stopped and looked straight at me. I think we shared a moment. I hope he felt better about himself.
They also published another poem of mine, My Jesus Fear. Really, you might want to just go and read the whole dang issue, which has a weirdly labyrinthine clickthrough pattern and is really strange and enjoyable, and has a great deal of good, freaky art.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

All hail Zuby Nehty, guardians of Weird Music forever 🤘

Today I wrote about the odyssey of the second (and first) times I saw Zuby Nehty, one of my favorite bands. In the story, I describe them as "Operation Ivy meets They Might Be Giants," which I realize is a bit of an insider name-drop. (I try to avoid mentioning too many obscure bands, unless of course I'm writing about them, since some reviewers complained when Goldbergs came out that I was too punk-rock with my band knowledge. But here, I think it's ok.)

This happened almost 20 years ago, and I'm startled I remember this much. As with all nonfiction, I'm nervous that it means more to me than it ever could mean to anyone else. But that's why I'm sharing it, I guess. Here's how I found out about Zuby Nehty, and part of why I love them so much.

A Concert at the End of Prague

For a year I lived in Prague. I was living deep in the middle of my own thoughts, desperately wanting to find my own inner Kafka, kind of suspecting that even Kafka didn’t really want to find his inner Kafka. Eastern Europe appealed to me, part because of its historical Judaism, part because it was just so damn vampiric.
I signed up for a study-abroad program — because my American school didn’t have a program available in the country, I enrolled directly in the Czech foreign-student program. Several students from another program were on my flight, a more lavish American program, staying in dorms that faintly resembled hotel rooms. We were housed in the more modest Czech student dorms, a fake-wooden-paneled Communist affair with mattresses stuffed with sawdust and a single receptionist posted at the door — the same blank-faced woman sat there, day and night — who did not know, or steadfastly refused, to speak English.
We were a motley crew: a handful of Americans, one or two representatives from an assortment of European countries, and several Finns. Weirdly, they all were Czechophiliacs, knowledgeable in both the country’s history and its contemporary culture, as though a whole gang of the coolest kids in Helsinki’s premier art school all climbed on a plane one day and, to their mutual surprise, found that they’d all bought tickets for the same place. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A bissel Shtisel for your morning

I have a new poem on Hevria and I hope you like it. Without overtly intending to, it covers my 3 big themes: the human relationship with the Divine, imposter syndrome, and public transportation.



In the exiled world, Jews have
phone calls and Facebook to keep up
with yontifs and life events

In New York I come up empty. A funeral across
Boro Park, streets shut off, Hasidim rend clothes
and scream to Shomayim. In Manhattan

I heard nothing. I davened mincha
between meetings, prayed to my food and
nobody caught it but me and G-d.

[ keep reading ]

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