Mizmor L'David Anthology 


Poetica Magazine
                                           Contemporary Jewish Writing

Alan Toltzis is the author of two full-length poetry collections—49 Aspects of Human Emotion (Poetica Publishing)), and The Last Commandment (Poetica Publishing)—and a micro-chapbook, Nature Lesson (La Suvida Press). A two-time Pushcart nominee, he has published in numerous print and online journals including, Plainsong, Grey Sparrow, The Wax Paper, Hummingbird, and Black Bough Poetry. Alan serves as an Editor for the Mizmor Poetry Anthology. Find him online at alantoltzis.com and follow him @ToltzisAlan.

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The Big Melt
Alan Toltzis

The 11th Attribute of Mercy:

Forgiving betrayal and rebellion

After the big snow. Mid-morning.

East side of house.

Ice daggered.


Gleaming and transparent,

it changed the sun’s path

while lessening itself, giving

Mercy a lesson in forgiveness.

She wanted to quiet iniquity

the same way.

Shrink it down to size.

A trifle. A grace note. An aside.

Melt sin until their last shiver

liquefied, dangling.

Gravity would do the rest.

Shrug it off,

wet and harmless

onto the ground.

The Morning After
Alan Toltzis

The 2nd Attribute of Mercy:

Showing compassion after someone has sinned

After the winds

when the shuddering almost lifted

the house off its foundation, Mercy

surveyed the backyard.

The sycamore was more fragile than she expected.

The backyard could have been mistaken

for a graveyard:

Tattered. Vandalized. Overturned.

With a scattering of frail bones, molars, stray feathers.

What interested her more

were blank shreds, scrolls, and scraps

torn from the trunk and limbs of eucalyptus trees.

She was certain some would construe:

blank pages of unwritten stories,

epithets, curses, or prophesies,

fragrantly magical.

And then there was the dingy mess

in the suicide lane on a street nearby.

Beaten down:

Rank rag. Scrap. Damp heap.

Black and white matted fur.

Somehow still breathing.

Mercy smiled,

wondering if there was an end to resilience.

Coffee and Chassidus in the Garden
Alan Toltzis

This is not an ordinary place.

         -Targum Onkelos on Genesis 28:17

Soon after sunrise

when the light is good,

the air dry and cool,

I learn over Zoom.

Sometimes, I focus.

Sometimes, I drift.

Friday morning, the sky

glows eternally white

beyond the tile roof’s

scalloped edge.

On my screen, I stare

at bougainvillea behind me.

No beginning or end,

thin and thorny branches

weave through a thicket of figs,

a crown of papery red petals trembles

in this unordinary place,

as I devise another question.