Bella Abzug

By Marilyn Zuckerman

With her megaphone voice
threatening war
if there is not peace,
shouting a president
into banning above
ground bomb tests,
a Medusa of the vocal cords
a Minerva of pacifism
a postmodern Cassandra
cobbled together from an immigrant stew
and a New York mouth,
she stands before Senator Jake Javits
surrounded by cohorts of Amazons
in her bright red
lacquered straw hat
the light shards reflecting off it
dazzled straight into the eyes
of her antagonist
so he, unable to return the lightning
of hers,
ducks his head to scrape gunk
off his shoes.
Shame, she yells,
Think of all the children you are killing.
Outside a policeman on horseback asks,
Why don’t you women go home
take care of your kids
make dinner for the husband?

Once, lying on a bed at the Chelsea hotel,
I heard her voice over the strident traffic
shrieking, No More War!
loud enough for the pledge
to go echoing down 23rd St
cross the Hudson
and settle into the stones
of the Palisades
on the Jersey side.

·     ·     ·

Bella Abzug (1920/1998) was a leading feminist and anti-war activist who helped organize Women Strike for Peace during the Vietnam War. Abzug became a U.S. Congressperson from New York in 1971. In the poem, when she confronts Senator Javits, I was there and was with her when we were trying to get Senator Robert Kennedy nominated for President of the United States and hoped, as well, to end the Vietnam War and thus bring the veterans home.

From my book, In The Ninth Decade, from Red Dragonfly Press.

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84th Birthday, redux

84th Birthday Redux| ©2016

By Marilyn Zuckerman

for those who still love peace and seek it

After all these years
of hoping that things will get better—
so this poem is for every child gunned down,
blown up as they walk down in the streets of their villages,
in Mexico
in Sudan
in the Congo and cities in America—
for every child who goes to bed hungry
for the homeless abroad and in the U.S.A.
for the victims of border wars and those kidnapped by drug
lords or pirates,
renditioned by the state itself
for those sent overseas and those who come back damaged
for the elderly, who now must work until they die
for all the species of birds, animals and plants that will become
extinct in a new, Great Dying
for cities slowly drowned by the rising seas, from glacier melt
and bad levees
for the millions of refugees on the road and in camps that barely
keep alive
for those living in failed states, trying to lead lives of quiet
for the dying of the earth and the terror of nuclear disaster
for those who still love peace and seek it
For those who tell the truth and are murdered for it.

·       ·       ·

This poem was written 8 years ago. Tragically things have not gotten better. Events in Syria and Yemen have deteriorated as in many other places. Many people are worse off than before. The question is: what are we going to do about it?

From my book, In The Ninth Decade, from Red Dragonfly Press. Also published in the anthology, Perfect Dragonfly, from Red Dragonfly Press.

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Ode to Summer

By Marilyn Zuckerman

Rockport MA

Rockport, MA 1996

“…Supper’s ready, everybody come on in
Taste a little of the summer…”
—Greg Brown

This summer becomes all the summers,
a childhood garden
green wooden table and bench
lattice canopy arching overhead,
hung with honeysuckle,
wild flowers tipping in the breeze,
and the sea
this slow green surge slipping like silk
past the rock ledge below,
this calm that ignores
the throng on Bearskin Neck
shouldering each other
off the sidewalk,
moviemakers, who came
for a few weeks
bringing down rain
where there was no rain,
turning night into day,
lighting bonfires along the beaches
even though it was not the Fourth of July,
standing on balconies with cell phones
clasped to their ears
shouting across the summer night
trying to be heard in Malibu
or Santa Monica.

I lean over the rail,
watch children run into the water,
foam frothing around their toes,
scuba divers rising like sea monsters
from the waves,
sea watchers edging the shore.

And behind me
along the path,
these wood shingled houses
bleached grey
surrounded by porches,
trestle tables set out
ready to receive
this doormat sized flounder
stripped of its scales,
sizzling for a few moments
in butter melting in a hot pan
until it is crisp and golden,
covered in dill
clams drenched
in bread crumbs and garlic
rushed in and out of the oven,
the corn, small kernelled
like infant teeth,
picked while still sheathed in dew,
tomatoes fresh from the vine
sliced and drizzled
with basil and olive oil.

I turn, face the shore,
see a flotilla of sailboats
come home,
let twilight end
the slow drowse
of memory.

·    ·    ·

Rockport rowboat

This poem, an homage to the many summers I spent walking (and eating!) along the Atlantic Ocean from Fire Island to Cape Cod, focuses on the town of Rockport, an hour’s drive north of Boston.

Because of pedestrian right of way laws, the town is a walkers paradise where the so-called Atlantic Path allows for a glorious ocean front hike over flat granite rocks that extends for miles around the shoreline in either direction. People who own homes along the way are usually gracious as you pass and often offer greetings even as they enjoy their sunset cocktails or the evening meal on the porch.

Then there is Bearskin Neck, a quaint but not cloying collection of cottages placed at all angles, weathered like sea wrack and jutting out into the harbor, a flourishing artist colony, the Neck is a tourist destination with many restaurants and shops.

As for the film, it was a forgettable Spielberg effort—indeed I don’t remember its name— but enjoyed watching it in progress.

From my book, In the Ninth Decade, Red Dragonfly Press.

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