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Sample Poems by David Weiss


Biological Clock

At some point during my dad's birth
on March 5, 1943 at Beth Israel
Hospital in Brooklyn, his dad executes
a Nazi POW on March 6 in Medenine,
Tunisia while his platoon mates watch,
Erwin Johannes Eugen "Desert Fox" Rommel,
Germany's Robert E. Lee, a mile away,
unable to get comfortable in his hammock
as three privates watch the Kasserine Pass
and, in his sleep, my infant dad waves
his arms like a flamboyant conductor.

As Grandpa looks at the freshly dead Nazi,
then away, his platoon mates watch, nod,
shake his hand, two years before Sherman
leaves Hiroshima, Nagasaki with eleven
children, the amelioration of perpetual hell
their only inheritance, peopleless streets
livid with fire hoisting itself up onto
the clay rooves to watch the oilfields
and works explode, the three privates
droning "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
from Company B" perfectly, yet again.

Dad's spindly body follows his head to
Grandma's nipple, The enemy writes Erwin
to Lucie is already abandoning the town
by sea , Sherman writes Ellen The concerns
of command are breaking me , and one private
hands Grandpa, who's been in a fugue through
the congratulations, a letter from his brother
Bernie, laid up at Beth Israel, about Natalie
the attending nurse, someone else's fianc'ee.
Grandpa laughs and laughs as he reads,
the privates watch the Mediterranean Sea
48 miles away at Gabes, imagine the gasp
and slosh of water against rocks, pilings,
an oystercatcher prising with its broad red bill,
so don't notice the caravan idling downhill,
Dad, his mom, and paternal grandma's taxi
rolling from Beth Israel past Rommel
to the Bensonhurst apartment, whose fifth
floor sliding glass doors view a footprintless

snowfield and two men chasing each other,
laughingly, across Flatbush as Rommel
laughs and laughs remembering the Italian
dilemma at the Battles of the Isonzo: To cross
the river the Italians had to cover the Austro-
Hungarians in the mountains, but to cover
them the Italians had to first cross the river.
Dad bewitches the two women like a campfire,
Grandpa and two others replace the privates.

World Map Shower Curtain

Do people talk and eat
at the same time in Tunisia?
I don't like to talk when I eat,
though often watch TV while
talking to friends and family
on the phone. A family's been
attacked with a tank. Obviously
some Tunisians talk and eat
at the same time, but how many?
What are they like otherwise?
I try to focus on my pierogi
but my right shoulder pain's
detracting from my experience.
I was Skyping with my mom
when she said, "Did you just
roll your eyes?" Then my old
girlfriend Elisabeth called so I
mixed uh-huhs, yeast, olive oil,
flour, salt, and sugar into dough
for the next half-hour. We hung
up and I was glad we'd talked.
When we were dating we used
to break up all the time, and she
once wrote me We may not grow
old together but can still grow up.



The May or May Not Blues

Chrysippus is dead of laughter after watching his
drunk donkey attempt to eat figs.
How bored would you have to be to laugh that hard?
I laugh a lot each year
I deliver pizza, but his eyeless partial marble bust
in the Louvre looks dour and infers more. As he
gasped for breath,
Chrysippus realized that Iamblichus was right, that
"magnitude one"
was a contradiction in terms and trains could exist.
Shadows smoked cigarettes, got coffees, took ten-
minute naps.
Because the donkey doesn't use his tongue for words,
he can't lift it up
to the roof of his mouth. What if every tree in the
orchard blooms, bears fruit?
What is it like to live in the Louvre? The partial
marble bust's left
eyebrow is cocked like Eartha Kitt's as I walk across
the lawn.
It's hard to know how to handle things. The donkey
drank two bowls of wine.


Rain Follows the Plow

Just off the sidewalk along the Bosporus River
guts breach the turbot's skin, trickle down Asia's

chin before tacking Mediterranean: black night,
no land in sight, cardsharps in burning dinghies

all-in as the keels collateral to the salty bottom,
dogs tied to brakeless semis, moons proctoring

the gamblers' deaths as the Bosporus' wavelets
and currents cuddle past the cat hunched over

the turbot, bungalows asnore under Brick's arm.
When Minnesota Fats' guts breach his bellyskin

his mates catapult him over the city wall, another,
another until an unlit lighter drifts through utter

darkness and the palace gate breaches Bosporans
down Mt. Mithridates to Italy, through the dark

park just off the sidewalk where two little boys
debate if the cat's dick has thorns: moon, village

fluoresce the turbot's scales-child's personality
being born-the Bosporans run to the Caucasus

where Butch Cassidy ties nine priests to cypresses,
demands they stand and deliver for the breachers

while he waltzes their wives, who bludgeon him,
free their men, leave. Turbot sheens the cat's teeth.

Mt. Nebo Blues

God, you know me face to face.
Your condition of possibility is a trace,
a road to somewhere bombed
into how many words, but would
that I could be there to receive the largesse.
God, you know me face to face.

You and I could still arrive in the old way
and work in through each other.
The first condition of your possibility is a trace
in which all the guests sit close in glory and peace,
but the tissue of my view is complicated and dense,
like a blown-up road to somewhere.

I'm screaming because I'm on the bottom of a foot
that's quoting itself to me!
God, you know me face to face
but are setting me on a glass tabletop,
screaming on a road to somewhere
like a trace of a possibility of a possibility.