- Poems by Ivan Silverberg

Two Poems by Ivan Silverberg

The Day Nicky Lived Forever

The day we dragged sixteen

Playful little sons a bitches

To the spot where a thing never dies

We found each other on our verges –

You with your reasons

And me with my scars.

You had the autistic child

Me, Nicky, the leukemia patient,

Doll-faced and miniature

And falling out of breath

As we trudged into the late-September sun

Each of us

Toting an oblong cucumber

As we waded like ibises through

The Volo Bogs of Western Illinois –

Feeling the alkaline bite

In our thighs and calves,


But knowing that we would all grow

To be six feet or more

Once puberty hit.

Mrs. S, S for science teacher

Or squat or space cadet,

We only guessed

She told us in questions –

Why is the bog full of acid?

Why do things never break down?

How does a tree drink a swamp dry?

We dropped our vegetables in

Beside animal carcasses, drift wood,

Medicine bottles, the Trib dated from before

I could read it.

It was the day of never-ending noon.

We smelled the stench

Of the dead but never gone.

You pulled the leaches off your legs

Like noodles off the wall

And looked at me,

Nicky now sitting patiently

On my shoulders,

The eleven year old

who would never grow another inch

the eleven year old dying man

patiently crocheting with purple fingers

the entire horizon out of his ball of yarn.


The Draining

Running on Yom Kippur

Against my better sense,

The black sparrows pass over me

Into the bleeding pink gash of the horizon

Away or toward

The mecca, the hymning half-dead Mecca

Blighting the cool remains of the day.

I rest easy

In spreading my legs

Over six slow miles –

The prairie and marshlands

Reek of mildew and milk

And I cross through a pack of black hatters

Streaming across the barren zoning plots

Like black ants carrying

Their load of crumbs,

Homes are going up

And the corn hacked down.

Wicker baskets lay at the crotches

Of cornrow like fallen hats.

I no longer feel the warmth

Of deprivation

and wish I did,

As I feel the poison spider

Crawl up my calf and thigh,

The rooftops in the distance


And the Jews

Starting to swagger,

Drunk with hunger,

Tossing like sure flames

And I give myself up to the elements –

Breathe in the autumn leafburn

And hear the foot steps

Coming to a slow,


                                             And yet perfectly drained.

These and other poems by Ivan Silverberg were created by experience living and working in Italy. There, he found himself surrounded by peculiar people, situations, landscapes, curiosities, and revelations. Currently he is a teaching assistant at a Chicago-land school for children with special needs. Ivan plans to pursue graduate study in the field of education beginning next Fall. However, "Italy, to me, will always remain an inspiration and a place to which I will eagerly return."

Ivan has published poetry in Indiana University’s Fusion Literary Magazine as well as the University of Illinois’ Montage Literary Magazine.

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