Two Poems by Jacqueline Osherow

Published May 19, 2010, issue of May 28, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Love Song to That Performance Poet, My Mother

Mom! Guess what? I didn’t inherit nothing —

Okay, so maybe I didn’t get your face,

your generosity, your perfect kindness.

That was you in my kitchen this very morning

when Magda refused breakfast (a tad rudely)

and I offered her a nice glass of grapefruit juice

and — it won’t surprise you — she said yes!

Oh lure of the specific! Living poetry!


How you, after dinner, every single night

would offer me a nice piece of fruit

and I would every single night decline.

But you persisted: How about a nectarine?


An apple? A bunch of grapes? A pear? A plum?

And damned if I didn’t take one every time.

—Jacqueline Osherow


Villanelle on the Oldest Known Piece of Writing

There’s a real chance I have it wrong,

the oldest known language written down:

All the songs have already been sung

It sounds apocryphal, but so enticing:

Akkadian? Sumerian? On stone.

There’s a real chance I have it wrong.

Still, it would absolve my noiseless tongue

or at least offer some commiseration

if all the songs have already been sung.

Perhaps it’s why so many bells are rung:

every hour on the hour, a carillon

(I suppose there’s a chance I have it wrong)

helps the air articulate its longing

(The air is longing? I’m not alone? )

for all its songs, already sung.

But why, if I’ve known this all along,

do I keep waiting here, my heart wide open?

There’s a real chance I have it wrong.

All the songs have already been sung.

—Jacqueline Osherow


Jacqueline Osherow’s sixth collection of poems, “Whitethorn,” is forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press in 2011.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.