How do I approach the mute?
Why he’s just a boy!

Frozen there on his boy’s bed,
two televisions for eyes.

What should I say?
Should I ask pointed questions

or speak softly in reassuring

Do you even know?
Maybe I should ask someone else.

Do you have experience in such things?
Surely it wasn’t the same kind of thing.


I will just go over and hope
he responds.

If not, nothing lost, right?

Oh what a strange thing to have to do.
No, I can’t.

His stillness is too unnerving.
He’s so thin!

Have you noticed? Is he really breathing?
I remember him though.

Just a few years ago.
You wouldn’t pick him out from any

group of boys his age. Is he heavy?
How would you even know?

There seems to be something heavy
about him.

Why hasn’t anyone tried to move him?
Does he eat? How often? Do you even care?

Okay, I’m going.
I can see that it must be done.

It’s funny though.

When I was little I would often sit
so still in front of my mother’s little

set everyone would become concerned.
Did I like the attention? I don’t know.

liked the shows. Why?

They didn’t make fun of my weight for one
thing. But no, they were funny.

They had life to them. Yes, my family
were characters in their own right.

But I guess they began to bore me. They
grew predictable, they weren’t all that

complicated you know.
Well they were,

but not in a fun way. What? Oh yeah,
the boy. Did I call him a mute?

I’m sorry.
There used to be a man who walked up

and down the neighborhood.
That’s all he did.

He had a real goofy smile on his face
all the time, and he never

said anything. He just walked and walked.

What was his name? He had one obviously,
but they called him a mute.

When I first heard that I thought it was
strange. The word, the word was strange.

Him I just thought part of the world. I
wonder if this is what he was like

as a boy. It’s sad. It really is.

Maybe I should tell that story to him.
To the boy.

Maybe, you know, he could know there are
others like him?

But who would want to be like that?
You think he already knows that?

Is that what made him freeze up like this.

When everybody tried to get me to move
from in front of the television

they screamed. They were afraid
and I knew it. How did I know?

some things you just know.
Even as a little girl I knew.

It seemed, it seemed like they were
screaming at someone else.

Isn’t that funny. Not funny funny,
but weird. Who were they screaming at?

Did they think I would turn out like Memmy?
That was his name! Memmy! Who?

Yeah, the guy, the guy that roamed the
neighborhood. His jacket was always

dirty. He drooled a lot too. Oh how funny

that I should remember all this now.
But this boy is no Memmy. He’s a smart kid.

At least I thought he was. No…Memmy
had crazy parents. No one knew them. Me?

Everyone knew my parents! So wait,
what was everyone afraid of when they were

yelling at me? Ah, who cares. It’s done.
What’s done is done.

I’m going to talk to the boy now.
He hasn’t moved at all in all this time!

How is that even possible? You know,
sometimes I feel like that.

I mean not like that, but like I don’t
want to move. Like I want the whole world

to go away, and if I don’t move it will.
What was that? Yeah, maybe.

But when I was a girl I loved those shows
so much! Now, there’s not so much to love.

Just for things to go away is enough.
What happened to this boy?

Does he have such trouble that he becomes
like this? It’s different.

He has no hair on his face.
Memmy always had a shadow of a beard.

Not real scruffy, just dirty like.
But this boy has a nice face. Nice and clean.

Mine was pudgy. I was a little pudgette.
I had always been a little heavy.

My mother? I don’t know but she was
heavy too. And my father little.

A little red haired guy with glasses.
Yes. Always. Wait, why are we talking

about this? No, I’m not avoiding talking
to him. Can he even hear what people say?

What do other people say?
It can’t have done much, look at him!

Okay, I’m going to just say something quick.
Maybe he doesn’t like to be

bothered. Maybe that would help.
You know, knowing people want to

help but not really bother.
Who, Memmy? Who bothered Memmy? Who

wanted to? He was disgusting. He
was…you know I think my brother

knew him. No? Yeah well I don’t talk
about him too much. He’s an asshole.

Yup! Red hair too but alway skinny. Not
too skinny, like athletic skinny. He

loved basketball. Or he was good at it,
I know that. He loved being an asshole!

Who, my brother? No. Who remembers what
he said to me. He was so much older, I

barely saw him. To my mother, that’s who
for sure. I think I used to see this boy

playing sports. Yes. He was wild,
really wild. But really realy cute.

His mother? She used to scream the shit
out of him. No, no one.

Who’s going to say anything, the kid was
an animal. And now look,

he’s not even a person. When I first saw
him I had like a, you know like a flash.

Where I saw the boy playing. But this one
seems so different, it’s like I forgot it

right away.

A Rusiyeh Is Coming

A Rusiyeh is coming
in bubbe’s knish
slim prayers are smiling
against morning fish

The Moshiach is coming
in marketplace pans
all set to sizzle
in bialy soft hands

The Rebbe is coming
in Shloymele’s hair
good thing his peyes
are corn light and fair

The Toyrah is coming
my chazan keeps slipping
our gabbi is drenched
the bima keeps dripping

The loshn is coming
with allemann feeling
telling tales of shlimazls
in a poor house appealing

And this warfare did come
in life’s humble breathe
in denial of nature
in disruption of Death

Where I Am

Where I am? in A haven today,
art along these silent shoes,
books by my halls,

Where am I? in A haven today,
music on the clock-radio
dust, sleeping street
of a sleeping view.

Where am I? in A haven today,
coloring in my family’s
lyric, small heart
of a consistent thump.

Where I am? in A haven today,
winds eat away at
windows I close,
open them up myself.