NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD NAME, M/DD Express %26 Inspire Development %26 Publication

Judy Halebsky

All She Did Was __________ My Hand

Or The Thermodynamics of Unfinished Love Poems
after Dean Rader

Between her milk skin and the way the air splits

between her pursed lips and a June blue dusk

she wants ground rules

count: beer settles to the temperature of air

count: energy can change forms

count: you, milk skin, meet me on the roof

1. between the two of us energy is neither created nor spent

unless of course gravity can take down bridges

dissemble kitchens

my other half at a bus stop in Nebraska

traveling east then north

note: add something in here about monogamy and what is does to us

2. I confuse inertia with entropy, but thank God for the internet

inertia – resistance to change

entropy – resistance to spiritual change

note: this statement has not been peer reviewed

or disambiguated

entropy – heat moves into colder spaces, we call this chaos

it's happening all the time

she wants ground rules

which involves talking

which is something I was hoping to avoid

I call her voice mail and ask: who is Hegel?

she says, A = A

an affair needs this kind of mystery

we climb the metal ladder

up onto the flat roof of the gym

I put her cold hands under my shirt

count: 13 as lucky, 7 as something else

she says, it takes energy to break the rules

count: stop talking

count: milk skin, dumpling hips, attic room

count: the spaces

3. when her chilled hands touch me

it's not the cold coming into my body that I feel

it's the heat leaving

Motel 6

Basho left Edo walking

a monk came to California

to give a talk and someone asked him, where do you live?

he said motel 6

he meant, motel 6

he said haiku isn't 5-7-5

it's two images that crash together

to make a third

trying not to keep layers between him and the wind

he slept at the side of the road


Basho wrote haiku at parties   to the host   to say thank you

to say goodbye                                           (my mom believes in education

as a kind of religion            (so I had to keep going to school

(even though I've told her it's a big waste of my time)))

we had a valentine's day reading where the theme was bitterness      we

read Margaret Atwood's poem, you fit into me         which is kind of like a

haiku            except it has a first person and third person        which

people say there isn't in haiku     like a hook into an eye                  but

that's kind of misleading    in Japanese the I-s and You-s are implied

which is different than absent    a fish book        an open eye


when the monk said motel 6

he meant motel 6

he meant under the branches of a tree

along the side of the road

he meant night is only so long

he meant start at zero

he meant now

he meant we rest where we can

Sitting Beside Adrienne Rich at the Yehuda Amichai Reading, Berkeley 1998

I remember the years without poems

silenced by marriage

that you swam back from

some wreck, some daughter-in-law

the poems dense and tightly sealed

at twenty-two, I could barely open them


on the way to the reading

Chana's talking about Amichai's next book

he won't let it out of his hands she says

it's as if he thinks it's his last

Amichai reading in Hebrew

Chana reading her translation

white underwear

hanging on a clothesline

under the blue Jerusalem sky

a man asks Chana,

but the blue and the white, like the flag of Israel

where, where's that image?

she holds up her hands

widening the space of nothing but air

between her fingers and her palms

as if to say this is how much we hold


I sat beside you that night

hearing the same poems

breathing the same air

I introduced myself to you

as if to a stranger

as if we had never met

they say in a wreck we don't know which way to swim

they say to follow air bubbles to the surface

I was not cutting cake in a white dress

I was not kept in any house or any room

shoes, eyeliner, the hold of his hands

the hull of a sunken ship, the metal cask, the vining sea kelp

we breathe oxygen at any depth

we must come up in stages so our bodies can reorient

all this takes time, years

the skin on my hands ages

anchor, seaweed, north wind

I list with the current

it was his last book

I only thought the woman beside me was Adrienne Rich

I shook her hand and she was flattered

she liked the idea

Judy Halebsky received the 2011 Sixteen Rivers Press Poets-Under-Forty Chapbook Contest for Space/Gap/Interval/Distance. Her book of poems, Sky=Empty, won the New Issues Poetry Prize and was a finalist for the California Book Award. Her new collection is forthcoming from New Issues Press in 2014. Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, she studied art and literature in Japan for years on fellowships from the Japanese Ministry of Culture. With a collective of Tokyo poets, she edits and translates the bilingual poetry journal Eki Mae. She lives in San Francisco and teaches at Dominican University of California.

— posted June 2013

© 1972-2021 Poetry Flash. All rights reserved.  |