There was only one person who had

 “straightened him out.”

Now, the glittering gold leaf mirror is draped

in white linen, a candelabra lit, a minyan

assembled for kadddish with an improvised

tenth man, a Baptist neighbor.


He shuffles from bench to bench sniffling

in slipper’d feet in seven days that never end.

Embraced by guests bearing sublimely scented

bouquets of freesia, lilies and mimosa,

they arrive laden with trays of gravelox,

ratatouille, gorgonzola with emerald

green grapes, rugelach and honeycake.


Withered by grief he hunches over, an imploding

conch, head drooping like a wilted daffodil.

With the strength of a gnat, his heart pumps feebly

like a sludge-filled motor with worn out rings.

Looking around the room he weeps for young women

with cheeks rosy as pomegranates who should be as lovely

as flowers but are too zaftig to be sexy.

Mitzvah seeking mourners groan a lamenting chorus

of “Vos iz gevehn iz gevehn,” palsied hands unable

to bring a shaking cup of tea to their lips.

A  kindergarten friend no longer remembers his name.


Agonizing about what more he could have done for her

he dreads fending for himself, frazzled by a gnawing hunger

for her presence, alone as a lone black crow on a leafless

branch squawking into the starless night air.


Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St. Leonia, N.J. 07605