Two Poems for Abe Osheroff

June 17, 2011
By

Martín Espada with Abe Osheroff. Photo by Richard Bermack.

Like a Word That Somersaults Through the Air

for Abe Osheroff, 1915-2008

His life begins with the rain, and the soggy cushions
of a couch left by the landlord to die on a Brooklyn sidewalk
in the year 1930. His life begins at age fifteen, Abe
the high school wrestler straining the cords in his neck
to lift the couch with the other boys back through the doorway
of a tenement in Brownsville. His life begins with a woman
who could not pay the rent staring dumbstruck on the corner
at the miracle of eviction evicted, the landlord a lord no more,
her sons and daughters trailing in a procession after the sofa.
His life begins with the cop who arrives on the corner
waving a revolver, the gun Abe snatches away to toss
across the pavement, squinting into the face of his first arrest.
His life begins with a cop’s revolver bouncing off the asphalt,
like a word that somersaults through the air and cannot be unsaid.

His life begins with the cop who arrives on the corner
waving a revolver, the gun Abe snatches away to toss
across the pavement, squinting into the face of his first arrest.
His life begins with a cop’s revolver bouncing off the asphalt,
like a word that somersaults through the air and cannot be unsaid.

How to Read Ezra Pound

At the poets’ panel,
after an hour of poets
debating Ezra Pound,
Abe the Lincoln veteran,
remembering
the Spanish Civil War,
raised his hand and said:
If I knew
that a fascist
was a great poet,
I’d shoot him
anyway

These poems are published with permission of the author from a new volume of poetry, The Trouble Ball (Norton Books, 2011).

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