A Literary Magazine in Support of the Jewish Community

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Two Poems by Dick Westheimer

There Can Be No Blackberries Without Blood

       Then you shall sound the horn loud…on the Day of Judgement,

       Rosh Hashanah, you shall have the shofar sounded throughout

       your land.

               —Leviticus 25:9 (para)


       …merely being there means something.

               —John Ashbery, "Some Trees"

This year, I forgot the holiday. I had no round challah,

no crisp apples dipped in honey, no old Artie sounding

the shofar, no glad-hands at the door of shul, or rabbinic tales


of Isaac born and bound, the ram slain in his place. I even

neglected making amends with wronged friends.


So, what did I do instead? I wrote a poem, picked

a small bucket of blackberries, drew blood doing so.


It’s easy to forget we’re hurtling through space. Neither the planet

nor we return to the same place. But rituals do come around

with or without me. Lovers leave, mothers die, leaves fall


and there it is: an innocent ram was slaughtered

so I could hear Artie blast the horn. And, yes, I do


miss the honey dripping from my lips and remember,

that the chances to ask for forgiveness are few.

Eve After Eating the Apple

I remember that bite like waking from

dope-dosed dream of Eden


where I walked naked as a snake—

in a place heavy with the heat of the hims


who made the rules, the weight of snakes

serpenting from trees, the incurious critters


who’d stare at each other not knowing what

to eat, what was food and what was friend.


In my pulsing recesses, uterine and gravid

I knew all had to change,


the promise to all the creatures was false:

that they could thrive on every fruit


that fell from the trees. The beasts

with carnassial teeth were hungry


for flesh, the ones with hands were eying

for things to grab, the penised ones


would show their potency, would howl

at their own arousal, come


closer and closer to me in that fever. So

I climbed the knowledge tree, ate the one thing


forbidden me, awoke anew to the to the detuned

orchestra of parrots and panthers. An emerald


hummingbird flitted to my ear, whispered to me

in her own language. I looked up, grabbed


a corner of the fabric of that place, turned it inside out

and wore it as a splendid dress that fit like clematis


vines twining a trellis of my making, like

a womb fits a fetus, like water fits a river.

Dick Westheimer

Dick Westheimer lives in rural southwest Ohio. He is a Rattle Poetry Prize finalist. His poems have recently appeared in Whale Road Review, Innisfree Journal, Gyroscope Review, Banyan Review, Rattle, Ritual Well, One Art, and Cutthroat. His chapbook, A Sword in Both Hands, Poems Responding to Russia’s War on Ukraine, was published by SheilaNaGig. More can be found at www.dickwestheimer.com.



Dick Westheimer