Zygmunt Frankel


Rhymed Poems

It's the end of the 20th century, and you like to think of yourself as a modern poet, but there's always this nostalgia for a rhymed poem, the remembrance of what some past magicians have done with it, and, what the hell, it's not the worst temptation you can be led into.


He goes through dust and dew,
through heat and cold;
he is not always a Jew;
not always old.

Sometimes there is a song,
sometimes a warning;
and sighs that fly by night,
and smiles that catch light in the morning.

And on and on he goes, eternal farer,
while years roll by,
looking for lusher lands and ladies fairer
under a bluer sky.


There is good food and wine and conversation
and books and travel to exotic places
and human rights, health care, and education,
and women with generous bodies and mean faces.

There are good films and entertaining plays
and poetry and music and the arts
mysterious evenings and exciting days
and women with sweet voices and black hearts.

Cockerels at dawn and the song of the lark,
well laid-out gardens, tastefully furnished rooms,
and sights by day and good bars after dark,
and gracious ladies who travel at night on brooms.

"Lord, it is time; the summer was quite long."

It is raining. I can't find my last year's umbrella.
The house-arrest is on, and the moisture affects one's brain.
My shoes are smudged with mud ranging from black to yellow.
The cat is also downcast. Let it rain.

Let it rain. There has been too much heat and sun;
Vacationers have been sunburnt, and the farmers complain.
What was at first a good thing isn't fun
anymore; let it rain.

Let it rain; the God who created the sun also created water,
forever changing from ice to liquid to vapor to liquid again.
This summer's been going on for the past four months and a quarter;
It is enough for one summer. Let it rain.

Let it rain. The rain has been noted by poets;
Baudelaire, and Rilke, and, of course, Verlaine.
There are worse things than rain; there are the Serbs and the Croats,
and terrorists everywhere; let it rain.


I have a little bedroom,
and, by the bed, a table,
and, on the table, your picture,
and, through your picture, a dart.

I have a little kitchen,
and, in the kitchen, an ice box,
and, in the ice box, an ice cube,
and, in the ice cube, my heart.


I would go to Japan or China and live in a paper house,
and have a small pond with goldfish, and, in the kitchen, a mouse,
and paint pictures of cranes and rushes with bamboo-handled brushes and ink,
and fly kites in the brisk autumn weather, and live in silence, and think.

The next poem was written to order. I got a phone call from a lady who was active in Women's Lib and was organizing a poetry evening. As most participating poets would also be members of Women's Lib, she was afraid that the evening was going to be excruciatingly boring, and invited me to read - if necessary, write - something to cheer things up. I told her that, as the Tel-Aviv cafe where the reading was to take place was right on the bank of the Yarkon river, I was reluctant to be found floating there the next morning with a knife handle protruding from my back, but she reassured me that it was not one of those Women's Libs, so I wrote it. (It worked.)


Beautiful young girls
full of grace
who make this world
a better place,

Here is a poet
with a sad mug
asking no more
than just a fuck

Weary of life
though still quite young,
half bird of paradise,
half skunk

So lofty-looking
you'd never guess
his thoughts are mostly
under your dress.

You could fit in
if so you choose
between his masturbation
and his Muse

For this young poet
can write verse
sometimes tender
and sometimes terse,

In suffering
and tears begotten,
sometimes immortal,
and sometimes rotten.

You won't be always
rosy and warm;
memento mori;
remember the worm.

Consider how
everything goes
with last summer's flowers
and last winter's snows.

Yet you might manage
through his arts
to go on living
in men's hearts

for ages
after you are gone
under the ground
and all alone.

Now wouldn't that
be rather nice?
And is a fuck
such a high price?

Look, there he goes
like a wet hen;
girls, won't you let him
now and then?

Another one in a similar mood was written for Karen after she told me about the shocking experience when she and her husband called on a friend in his office a quarter of an hour early. He opened the door somewhat breathless and disheveled with a couple of buttons undone, while his secretary, in a similar condition, was replacing a word processor on the desk. Karen is not only a lecturer in poetry at Tel-Aviv University and a beautiful mother of two teenagers, but also a fine poet with a number of daring erotic poems to her credit, (one of which proclaims lovemaking to be not only the best activity one can engage in but also the safest; "anything else you take a chance") , so I was rather surprised by her reaction.

Karen, Karen, for God's sake,
open your eyes and awake.
This is the world we live in,
full of lechery and sin.

Ever since it all began,
with a woman and a man,
and a serpent and a fruit,
secretaries have been screwed.

There's a time and there's a place
for bedroom nights and office days,
for marital and secret lives,
for secretaries and for wives.

A little kissing and caressing
brings extra spice to word processing,
and an office screw a day
keeps the heart attack away.

Two consenting adults lusting;
Karen, what's so flabbergasting?
When you think of such a dalliance,
better his secretary than his clients.

An office desk and a drawn blind,
a phone book under her behind,
and may hell spit its deadliest ointment
on all those early for their appointment.

With your brains and your degree,
Karen, Karen, can't you see?
Karen, snap out of your trance;

Anything else you take a chance.

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1997 Zygmunt Frankel - All Rights Reserved.
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