Guest Post by the Poet Jake Marmer: Six Poems from the “Old Country Cycle”


Same Ass but View Sideways

mirrors of fat,

circle fatefully

evading the spoon

“let me tell”

“exactly the type of a girl”

“that’s alright, that’s not what gentile women

love us for”

“though one day they remind you

who – “

yes yes, this world, etc.:

Pushkin, Mandelshtam, the radio

in these pants?

what you know

is every buttock

in this town, tapped each one lovingly

on public transportation

with your bags of groceries

the provider!

already, a real man! “they” spend their dough

drinking but we:  invite relatives and talk, talk

we talk how we eat, in

circles, blowing

Public Bathhouse

Age 5, first time in the public bathhouse

I thought everyone’s penis

looked like a miniature accordion

“usage”         “music”

explained my grandfather

Like Water off the Goose


with a pocket full of sunflower seeds

spitting shells by the goal

why am I always a goalie

because you don’t run as fast

because falling is your calling

“wise-men sit at the gate”

from behind the stadium’s trees, the beaten

gold of the church, still the center of the city –

so much for the “opium”

path to the bridge over a thinning, rotting river

Tzarina Elizaveta fortified the shores against nomadic elements

a few rusted ships

on Hanukkah you get a rubel

another year of missed shots and offsides –

hope for things


happening is the closest you come to intuiting


before you read somewhere people do that

you get dreamy

you get smacked

with a ball on your face


Assimilation: After the First Decade

I admit I enjoy being held

on hold



bold complaints

replacement ivory/sand colored shoelaces

priority mail

have been a loyal customer

some ancient being

                  holding a hose, opens

its mouth, gold-toothed


my aunt’s friend worked at the meat factory

that cooked up secret kalbasas, salamis, cured meats

inaccessible to general public

and because there were eyes

and ears everywhere, on the phone, with my aunt,

the friend used code:

“I have what’s hurting

your husband”

(meaning, liver –)

and a meeting would be arranged

my uncle’s

liver must have swelled every time with signified’s burden –

professor of Marxist philosophy

in our provincial university –

when he heard a joke he liked

instead of laughing, he’d make a pained smile and say:

“so is that how it is?”


roses in the mouth

of a three headed trout

happy birthday




happy absence

& double-stamped passport

squashed final apricots

loneliness, squashed

in the stomach

under air-

plane food

& sodas and victory

I’m not my age

not my nationality   my ancestors

made biiig mistakes

rode the wrong


in the wrong direction


ensure sur-

vival vaval viva


lots of words on the t-shirt I wasn’t planning

on changing so often as I

changing, scrambling signals, I

“called a suburban, k?”

“do you know what the word ‘humongous’ means?”

and shame & glory & terror & poverty

happy new ritual   happy one-time


Jake Marmer is the author of Jazz Talmud (Sheep Meadow Press) and has recently released a Jazz and Spoken-Word Poetry CD entitled Hermeneutic Stomp.   Marmer maintains a blog entitled Jake Marmer’s Bob Apocalypse: Poetry, Philosophy, Existential Rants.  For more on his work, take a look at the blog entries Schlemiel Theory has posted blog on his recent poetry-CD.

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