Published Work of Miriam C. Jacobs

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Atlanta Review’s International Publishing Award: Ravine #4, Fall 2017

Atl Review International Award 2017.jpg

Ravine #4 Rebecca

That his seed would become like the stars,
like grains of sand through his son, Isaac,
who cringes still beneath the blade, a means,
he spilled out six sons.
Look, he said, speaking in third person,
come to bed
with your father’s wife, Keturah,
and make your binding as a son,
and raise up seed for your father
in his old age.

It as he who lured me, the patriarch –
acting through a servant –
with bracelets and a nose ring,
with the promise of abundance,
goats and camels.
the promise of flight;
brought me, veiled,
promised me to a weak man, weak as laughter,
forever trusting, forever a tool,
blind to betrayal,
blind to the dark flush of his father’s face;
bought my brother, Laban,
who pats down guests, now, with every embrace,
seeking treasures in the folds of their skin,
gold in their bones,
corrupted by a wedding gift
that came to me –
to be the cutting part.

Now, there is no un-saying what I’ve said,
no un-doing what I’ve done.
My sons are driven,
as their father was driven before them from Beersheba,
one east, the other north.
Their wives are strangers. Strangers.
Alone with the servants and this bleary old man,
who loves too much and will not be consoled,
my father’s generation,
I bend, I fill, I lift, I pour
and long, as ever,
with the longing of a bride
to be away,
to be anywhere else.

“The Human Office,” Amaranth Review, Spring 2017

The Human Office
 
Lift your chin in sunlight,
turn south, leave it behind.
At night, they say, he beats the newborn for crying.
Bound to every person – contracted to chance –
a dark parking lot, keen blade, rough bomb
knotted beneath a bumper –
to those who know you by proximity
asleep, apartment building in flames,
or intimately, sidewalk daughters,
braids swinging under a winter sun,
car behind, swerving, bottoming over a curb,
the fine grain of their skin,
a steel wink.
You carry other people like sharks in a handbag,
risking with every choice the hard slap of betrayal.
Strapped to your hip, they crumble
like that lawn spreader, beat to bits with a mallet,
handprint singing;
duty, or love, become
the pistol he held to your head.
 
 

Three poems – The Galway Review, March 2017

Landscape with scarred trees

A brickyard thrived here once, a factory and farms, families.
Relics from abandoned lives, a disused well, an empty cattle trough,
tacky plastic toys made in 1950s Japan with neither memory nor voice
carry the marks of experience. An image, like an object or a person,
may be made to work. A machine may recognize love.

Once a year, the City comes with trucks to plow down brush,
keep the man-holes clear, put in a new layer of cover on the trails,
tearing at trees, so many marked already by storm, ill-planned trials
at logging, poison ground water. There are survivors, burnt beautiful,
black and gray.

We walk among these mute stories at the pace and pitch of intimates,
our feet dislodging shards of broken tile. This terrain speaks:
leavings of animals, water dredging up for recycle submerged shoes,
lost tires. We speak: what grows here that may be eaten safely, epigrams,
tales of Baltimore.

One time, you discovered a rowboat. Crane-like, silver, the sky behind you,
you find with your camera a world hidden from me. I see you, as you
cannot see yourself. “Ah, Bukowski,” I remind you, a horned tree,
naked now, in autumn, the flesh of its root blushing red as a blood orange.
You laugh, but neither of us knows what to say after that.

__________________________________

The Human Office

Lift your chin in sunlight,
turn south, leave it behind.
At night, they say, he beats the newborn for crying.
Bound to everyone – contracted to chance –
a dark parking lot, keen blade, rough bomb
knotted beneath a bumper –
to those who know you by proximity
asleep, apartment building in flames,
or intimately, sidewalk daughters,
braids swinging under a winter sun,
car behind, swerving, bottoming over a curb,
the fine grain of their skin,
a steel wink.
You carry other people like sharks in a handbag,
risking with every choice the hard slap of betrayal.
Strapped to your hip, they crumble
like that lawn spreader, beat to bits with a mallet,
handprint singing;
duty, or love, become
the pistol he held to your head.
__________________________________

Jacob and Esau

Brothers meet as enemies on the field,
joined by yearning, not prayer,
neither by will; they cast their weapons
to the sands, howl dry-eyed in each other’s arms
with voices of infants, sham lachryma for parity.

Soldiers and traders, tacticians
ever respecting the sword that takes from behind,
they compete for blessings, tarry with strangers;
let love lie fallow, perhaps in twin-talk, subliminal.

Content to barter birthright for a bowl
of lentils, tomorrow’s fulfillment today,
even in the womb their mother’s torment,
what really happens between them
we cannot tell. Is it with justice they remember?

With forgiveness? Shame?
Do messengers pass among shifting piles of earth?
Maybe they square off, square it, not with one another
but with the duality in their own hearts.
Clan tenderness binds them, embracing,
appalled,

hung together by the feet.

Little Grievings, Forage Magazine, March 2017

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