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.
The Big Melt
Attribute of Mercy:
Forgiving betrayal and rebellion
After the big snow. Mid-morning.
East side of house.
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
Gravity would do the rest.
Shrug it off,
wet and harmless
onto the ground.
The Morning After
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,
And then there was the dingy mess
in the suicide lane on a street nearby.
Rank rag. Scrap. Damp heap.
Black and white matted fur.
Somehow still breathing.
wondering if there was an end to resilience.
Coffee and Chassidus in the Garden
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
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.