Two Poems by David Bleiman
Reward for Finder
Like a shmeer without a bagel,
like a gherkin in a pickle,
like a herring for the chopper,
like barmitzvahs without fressers,
like a fish without gefilte,
like a Seder served on Skype,
like a yidl who forgot to wander…
I have lost my Yiddish somewhere,
in the shtetl or the suburbs,
Hotzenplotz or Finchley Central;
I put out some nosh to tempt it,
I stick notices on lamp posts‒
Looks Jewish, answers to ‘haimish’‒
but it’s having a long shlof.
All I hear’s a distant grating,
like a gargle full of gravel,
like the generations turning,
like the consonants are singing,
like an old familiar scream
sticks and stifles in a dream,
rasping wordless in my throat.
Tonight we rhyme dead fathers,
we get on better with them now,
reason their words with wiser ears,
bearing their weight of expectation
on backs that have carried a child.
The angry colours of the past
fade into muted hues
with which come love.
Our fathers fail to give it back,
what was done before must suffice.
We lift the corners of the turf,
brush off a mossy stone,
reveal those well-worn chiselled words:
The telephone has two ends‒
you didn’t call, it’s too late now.
Preparing for his biggest case,
the QC polishes his speech,
his father, in the shmatte trade,
is proud, so proud that all he says is:
Son, you didn’t think to shine your shoes?
We sit at work in slippers now,
we’d buy our suits in halves
and, if we could, we’d hug our sons
and say the things our fathers never could‒
but, if we could, we would.
About the Author
David Bleiman is an Edinburgh poet writing in English, Scots, Spanish and the part-excavated, largely reimagined Scots-Yiddish dialect, which won him the Sangschaw Prize 2020 for The Trebbler’s Tale. His first pamphlet, This Kilt of Many Colours (Dempsey & Windle, 2021) is a multilingual celebration of mixed and multiple identities. Gathering Light: A Cramond Causeway (Dempsey & Windle, 2022) scopes the world and the stars from a muddy foothold in a suburb at the edge of sea and sky. Coming to poetry in his sixties, David has published 100 poems in journals and anthologies and had success in competitions. Ten poems for children are on the Dirigible Balloon ezine.
Fressers greedy eaters
Gefilte fish stuffed fish
Hotzenplotz back of beyond
Seder Passover meal
Shlof a sleep
Shtetl small town
Yidl a Jew
Detail from quite peculiar: oh yum, bagels!, 2009 (CC).