Winter, New York City, 1893
after Israel Kasovich
The kettle rattles in an East Side kitchen
where I look out among rooftops and listen:
Coaches' bells, their tempered cries, wail up
to belittle grandmother's staccato and slur
of her accordian. Where once a kaiserman and troika slipped
over tundra, now a peddler with his pushcart bears into
the golden streets: How many versts will he walk
through frozen memory?—for Little Pereshtchepina has fallen
and all the wheat is gone. Like borscht boiling
the uprooting came quick; the village was left behind.
It is strange here, this cold mixture heating slowly
as the beets cook down the old world.
I can almost make out woodsmoke, the granary,
the dawn steppes, tracks trailing away....
Ash Wednesday, New Orleans
In my northern childhood—the precious moments'
porcelain faces, falsehoods stored in china cabinets beside
plastic-coated sofas, urns, photos
of matriarchs and saints, though no dreadlocked jesus—
my delinquent hometown:
Stories where some of the kids sacrificed cats
next to the highway
in the only rugged terrain left in that world.
Most of us went to the beach, nine miles south,
a couple of us swam in the runoff ditch
with the rats and pesticides.
Bubonic silt grazed our thighs.
Today, at dawn I rise, a man in a red necktie
chosen to match my eye-whites;
but I watched the Carnival closedown
and this morning I swallowed the whole body
of the RTA's exhaust at the I-10's mouth.
I pedaled past the thousands
of shimmering hong kong beads. No one,
nothing parted the way on this wretched day.
Adam Peltz lives with his wife Ashley Miner and their cats in New Orleans. His publishing credits include work in A Bad Penny, Literary Magazine Review, NOLAFugees, and Platte Valley Review. contact