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Translation of Light by Ruhama Veltfort

Excerpt from Translation of Light

Web-based chapbook, published June 2010
www.echapbook.com/poems/veltfort


Brooklyn, 1963

for Rinaldo Olff

The sky was brown with smog over Eastern Parkway
We sat in the bay window waiting
We watched cardboard Jews in long coats and Davy Crockett hats
We waited for Steppenwolf Harry and his jar of amphetamine
You were small like me I stuck my eyes
To your dark face.

Another day on Eastern Parkway
Disaster drug deal weekend, all burned, $600,
Nicky ripped off and almost killed.
Everyone but you and me did opium and crashed
We took the VW and went to Riis Park
Your ten cent store glasses cracked and falling
Off your sweet face
I was trembling with speed and desire
March morning sand snow cold.
You read me your life: Upstate farm big family
Your Cherokee mother that Rockwell painted
Your father, black in his wheelchair, the last Arawak
Left with his stories of Guyana, and you
High school roadhouse runaway
Drunk and in the brig in Guantanamo and Tripoli
Living with your sister in Bedford Stuyvesant
Shooting delight and riding subways.

Years later on another coast
Nicky gets ten to life: Federal rap
Where is his thin Flatbush wife, and you?
I heard you were driving a truck in Binghamton
Another survivor, imagining reunions
On a planet as rich and distant as that Brooklyn.

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