It was the fifties
On rue de la Peltrie
The street of gingerbread houses
And bad spells.
I played hockey in the street
And wore a sailor boy suit
And you always had your foot
On the gas.
You were mobile,
An Independent Woman
Before this became fashionable.
O Mother
I hardly knew you
Beyond the hysteria and mental chaos.
I imagine you were making cancer inside you
As you cooked us liver and fried onion
For supper.
Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.
I realize now how
you needed to step  beyond
the housewife dance you did so
You should have joined the circus
and taken me with you.
I would be standing
around  watching you prepare for your freak show.
You are donning your make-up in the mirror
And our eyes meet there
but forever.
That would be a memory worth keeping.
But, no
It was all about you in crisis
Or in bed howling
From a chemotherapy reaction,
The picture of Jewish misfortune.
Why couldn’t you have been  Anglo Saxon
with airy eyes and  a tight sphincter?
Dear mother,
You were all spunk and
Girdle fat.
My friends thought you smart
When you paraded your caring side
At Steinberg’s.
Did you ever get around to killing anyone
with that cucumber you  carried?
I turned out fine.  Thank you. I have the scars to show it.
And I see you in everyone who wears a skirt.
There is even a picture of us beside me now
that I gaze at occasionally
And wonder who was that sunny boy
Once upon a time,
He must have been quite the
So, you see,
I have never let you walk away from me.
I carry you like a portable radio
That punctures my inner ear
Through girlfriends and Emergency rooms
Your admonition
Has prevailed to stop any accidents.
I owe my life to you, mother.
You were once “mumsykins” to me,
I remember that.


20 responses

  1. Dark and intriguing.

  2. Made me tear up a bit thinking about my momsy.

  3. Alan Lafrance | Reply

    Très touchant, Ron

  4. Clyde David Jones | Reply

    I really like your poem. Nice.

  5. WOW what an incredible poem.Beautifulxx

  6. Wonderfully put. I could picture everything so clearly. I think it spoke to me more than reading it as a short story.

  7. Poetry & Other Parts | Reply

    Oh gosh, what an excellent balance of regret and humor…your line breaks are so well done too; they allow me to keep up with the pace of remembering without tripping up. Great find for me too, as I’ve been working on a poem the last few days that involves an “O, Father”…trying to figure out how to make this crucial line work without scaring the reader away…so thanks for the example:)

  8. Beautiful and so-so truthful poem! It made me think of my mom. “I have never let you walk away from me…” How true. My mother died two decades ago, but I think of her every single day. Thank you for this poem.

  9. Love the poem. Your mother and my mother must have gone to the same school for mothers. Here’s a poem I wrote about her, wondering if she learned her mothering skills from the Nazis who ran the concentration camps she was in:

    The Evil that Men Do

    My mother is not God
    not the blessed virgin
    not some saint you pray to
    when all else in life fails
    and you’re hanging on to hope
    like you hang onto the hand
    of a dying loved one
    who is breathing her last.

    My mother has a heart
    of concrete or hardened clay—
    a golem heart. She will tell you
    you are stupid if you buy
    smoked fish and not fresh,
    beat you with a broom
    if you disobey her or are awake
    when she comes from working
    the third shift at the factory.

    She was born in a hard time.
    At nineteen she came home
    to her dead, the bodies
    of her mother, her sister,
    and the baby in the blanket.
    At twenty, things happened
    that she still won’t talk of.

    What she tells me is the usual
    camp shit—eating beets
    and rotten potatoes,
    wearing frozen shoes
    that left her a cripple,
    the cold nights, and the fear.

    Maybe she learned it there
    in the labor camps—
    How to cut herself loose
    from you with a slap
    or an ugly name like whore
    Or asshole or stupid shit.

    I’ve seen her take my father—
    stupid from work and drink—
    [no stanza break]
    and pull him from the chair
    and kick him while he cried:
    “Please, Tessha, dear God.”

    She forgives the Nazis
    for teaching her this discipline
    but she can’t forgive my dad,
    my sister Danusha or me.

    We breathe too easy.

  10. that was our time, I remember it well. (bicycle rides..stuff) me outside and you on you on inside of those days. you expressed it so very well. hope to see you some day soon.

  11. Many thanks for using some time to create “Ron Kozloff”.
    Many thanks again -Angeles

  12. Beautiful poem, very poignant and powerful…

  13. I think the hardest thing to do is to write a poem about mothers, your mother anyone’s mother, with out falling into mockish sentimentality. Bravo you managed to be emotionally evocative,, honest , and loving without a single hallmark moment.

  14. Captured rawness! Will keep reading, digesting, savouring . . .

  15. Thanks for sharing. The words were very touching. I never knew what it was like to have a mother but yours sounded so kind. Thanks for sharing your words with me about you’re mom.

  16. Ruthi Postow | Reply

    Luckily for me, I discovered your blog on Twitter. I enjoy your poetry and your photographs are beautiful. I’ve added you to my blogroll.

  17. This is energetic and I got right into it: being shiny and all the arrows pointing up. I enjoyed reading this poem very much.


  18. Perfect, Ron. No rest for me, The temptation to find relief negates the possibility.

  19. hi man.. blog is very nice.. I found everything I’m looking for .. I loved this blog .. I wish continued success …[] Admin to http://bedavamaclinklerin.blogspot.com%5B%5D

  20. Hello and good day, Ron,
    I am pleased to nominate you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Please check out post > http://wp.me/p1YE83-gL
    All good wishes, Eric:-)

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