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December 1, 2010 / johnoliversimon

Tesla Rose 32 3/4 Months: L’Hadlik

Tesla Rose in a circle at pre-sc hool: photo Kia Simon

Mostly this blog is selfless, as should be. I try to point my candle at neglected poets (Edward Smith, d.a. levy, Donald Schenker, Rebecca Parfitt, Charles Potts) and at people I’ve taken the trouble to translate (Gonzalo Rojas, Alberto Blanco, Jorge Fernández Granados, soon Eduardo Milán) or unblocked via blogvoice unpacking into review (Bracho by Gander, Huerta by Scahfer, Aridjis by McWhirter). Or I’ve pirated my deep manuscript for snippets of journeys south of the border in South America.

But sometimes ya just gotta self-publish.

This one is about the fire in a child’s words, about my granddaughter singing the blessing.

Long story short I have to move my business email, which could send a longer list from Mail to Entourage, and I will probably have to copy all my 72 granddaughter poem listserv folks one by one through a grid, that or cut them in batches on Mail, so meanwhile I’ll post them here in cyberspace and mention it there as I send batches. Some of my faithful list are buddies back to high school, some are luddites in terms of blogs vs. emails. I myself in fact have never owned a cellphone, have never texted or received a text. Hopefully all will be resolved before it is dissolved. Meanwhile I’ll post this granddaughter poem,  number 135, in a sequence or book or sputter, uneven, what the hay.

What’s amazing is how my family is becoming Jewish …again, I guess you’d have to say, like a liquid spirit or morphed g ene down through the wrong side of all three of my non-observant German (or Alsatian) Jewish daddies, and now out to the world again through my dear daughter Kiakima, who with her brilliant good-guy husband J.D., has joined a temple, and through the light of my life, my granddaughter Tesla Rose (32 3/4 months) who goes to pre-school at the shul. The grandparents, we have a bake sale Friday, don’t forget. Which for me brings up complicated attitudes about being sort of but not exactly Jewish and my ostensible daddy Bunny who wasn’t (my mother Frances confessed on her deathbed in 1991) my father, may he lie in peace, or John, the kindly stand-up guy whom she married and was always there and loved poetry, may he lie in peace, or the brilliant romantic smoke addict fast-driving doctor who made a deal with her for his seed, may he rest in peace. May she rest in peace.

I have to confess that this poem is number 135 of an outmoded system pilng up almost three years of work with Tesla Rose as my muse. I’vce written one poem already making amends to her for doing so before any age of consent. The poems are all addressed to Tesla Rose, dated with her months, and they are all in eleven-syllable lines, which I misunderstand in my own gringo way out of Spanish, que así sea. What I’ll have to do soon is wrestle the 135-page mss. into 60-page or even 25-page lengths for contests, and my listserv has been invaluable over span of years, an appreciative and often questioning audience, what performing artist could ask for more. But now Tesla Rose knows more Hebrew than she remembers Spanish from her used to be nanny. And the poems are written keeping about eight generations in mind.




We light a candle when you stay for dinner.

You sing the prayer, ranging up “elohenu,”

then tell me, apropos of less than nothing,

“the fire is in your heart —” maybe some text

Rabbi Mommy gleaned to read to you

out of centuries of scholars in shtetls

debating burning strands of Hebrew letters ,

taught last, maybe, to my three daddies’ daddies,

which Mommy gathers, open-armed, reclaiming.

I tell this story over too many times

before I can feel it glowing in my chest.

11/24/10                           N224.103-104

rev 11/27/10                     N225.10-11

typed 12/1/10


The code at the bottom means that I originally wrote this poem on November 24, 2010, on pages 103-104 of my 224th blue notebook (National 43-517, gotta order another dozen), in a series dating back to 1973. That notebook has marsh with Japanese irises purple by a dusk canal. The poem was revised three days later on pages 10-11 of my 225th blue notebook, which has a bird’s eye view of the sunny Pacific Coast, golden sunset glow, highway, cars, beach, waders and sand, circa 1925. Both these cards originally from Becky. Finally retyped it today hoy el primero December 1 deciembre. Casi ya nos despedimos del año dos mil diez, fíjate. The typed version is the third draft; sometimes these poems run as many as eight drafts.


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