Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine

Miles Liss

The headstone on my father’s grave,

which I haven’t seen in years,
once saved my life when I offered
his dead bones a prayer to end my madness.

At the Wailing Wall, 14-years-old,
I wrote a prayer for God to look
after my father’s soul—inserted it
between the cracks in the stones,
with so many other prayers.

I planted a tree in the hills of
Jerusalem for him. I hope it
grew and is living a full life—
such as he never knew.

I’m old enough to have been
my father’s father.

Sometimes I’m low, like a rabbit’s
shadow hiding under desert stones.
There’s nothing that can bring me
out. I have to sit and hope for the
sun to revive me once again.

Survivors (Old Miami Beach)

The Holocaust survivors played shuffleboard

in the park and danced under the bandshell

by the ocean to 1940’s big band jazz.

They twirled each other and we watched

their joyful movements. They were another tribe.

One that lived with us, but separate.

In their colorful hats and beach sandals,

they sat in folding chairs and gazed

out at the Atlantic—mild and green

with tiny whitecaps on the distant waves.

Every once in a while, I’d see the numbers

on their arms, faded green tattoos unevenly marked

for erasure. But Hitler’s death camps

had fallen away and now they were just

trying to live. The blue skies swam in ecstasy

for a sliver of time in old Miami Beach,

while we played baseball in summer leagues,

learning what it meant to be American.