Barry Spacks:
Three Poems

Brimming Bowl

A rabbi may not even touch
a woman's hand.
Blessings, but maybe, with female beauty,
YHWH went too far?

Sex-energy, primal force,
no wonder the world will rush to control it,
create well-behaved
Black Stars.

True lovers say: here, take my eyes,
own them already, already yours,
useless now for anything 
but gazing upon you.

Young persons, are you wise enough
briefly to console one another?
(Let this question float away
like a note in a bottle).

Days and darkness.
Water in a sieve.
I want to be a brimming bowl
for the parched and weary. 

A Poem Entitled "Sometimes"

Sometimes I lose the word "dialectic,"
but after a struggle I get it back.

Sometimes I think of lush lives not shared
with Sally, Portia, God-bearing women.

Sometimes I sniff for the attar of glory,
but often that quest proves untenable.

At last I'm the grandfather out in the garden
quietly watching the children at play.

Often I sense a new bud stirring
deep in the heart of a full-blown rose.   


The Scholars
I study the scholars rapt in their books in the lamp light,
lost in their research, jotting sudden notes
their faces lit by bronze lamps on the long narrow tables,
the library filled with a massive quiet of knowing.

I want to own every detail of what they’re reading,
memorize names and dates, hold anecdotes
word for word for the mouth of the mind to savor
as I walk again some brutal, lonely road.


Known mainly as a poet/teacher, Barry Spacks has brought out various novels, stories, three poetry-reading CDs and ten poetry collections while teaching literature and writing at M.I.T. & U C Santa Barbara. His most recent book of poems, FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY, appeared from Cherry Grove in August, 2008. Over the years his poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review and hundreds of other journals.

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