Two poems by Karen Greenbaum-Maya

In Exchange

August, Munich

Heat floats up off sidewalks
wide enough for troop movements.
Eiskaffe buzz lets me go blank.
After two tall ones, I can’t think.
The soft whipped cream schlags me
into a smoky stupor.
So hot, starlings wilt in the grass.
My shoelaces slip slack, then free.
Trash stench hits me at dawn at ten paces.
How can this work?  Why ask the question?
What blocks me now is not all mine.
A building I don’t see
holds an office I can’t find.
Summer dresses are in German.
Cygnets are gray-skinned German law students.
Cars honk in German, it’s my turf.
Cap-gun consonants eat up E for einsam, not Engel.
Trees caged in parks
shade the odd man jerking off
shade angry old women.

Sonnenizio from a Pawnee song

Over the line where the sky meets the earth:  Pleiades!
Overwhelmed and drunk on stars, we return to find
a brown bear skulking over by the garbage cans,
drawn over by sun-ripened smells
swirling low after the day is over.
Pick-up is at least a week overdue.
Our headlights sweep over him,
not a big one, scarcely over 600 pounds,
and he looks us over.  The set of his solid head,
paws on the hips, he’s cool, nothing overheated
about him:  What do you mean, ‘move over’?
Why shouldn’t he pick over our garbage,
our leftovers, nothing we wanted any more?
We inch over to the cabin, burst through the door.

About the author

Karen Greenbaum-Maya is a retired clinical psychologist in California. In another life, she was a German Lit major, read poetry for credit, and lived…

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Issue 15 · June 2012

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