OLD CHORISTERS & Further Poems by E M Schorb

(i.)

OLD CHORISTERS

Singers                                                                                 
of our generation                                                               Look                                                       
are turning up                                                                    from
dead. A serial                                                                     a high bridge, 
killer                                                                                   as highway god,
is injecting                                                                          he drops
them                                                                                    stones on old bones!
with corona                                                                         Even the sap
plus cancer                                                                          of trees is worried
heart disease                                                                        up the trunk
and stroke.                                                                           as the killer
This police                                                                           waits 
silhouette                                                                             for an autumnal 
of the killer                                                                          weariness of
isn’t made                                                                            leaves.                          
of his head                                                                            I am 
and shoulders,                                                                      Time’s agent                                                                    
but of his                                                                              his tool                                                                       
twisted mind,                                                                        he brags.
made                                                                                     Singers  
of a brain                                                                              of our generation
to answer                                                                              think that this
for his crimes                                                                       is a serial crime, 
of torture                                                                              but have 
perpetrated                                                                           no choice                                                                          
on so many                                                                           but to
choristers.                                                                             become ringers
With a rough                                                                         and to pull
cat-tongue                                                                             the ropes
he licked flesh                                                                       and toll
from bones                                                                            the bell.
and made
the others
mercy-kill
to make
amends

 
 
(ii.)
 

THE LETTER, 1942
 
Twenty years . . . years of
l’entre deux guerres . . .
                         T.S. Eliot
 
               I.
 
His mother and father
could not understand
the extreme of his grief,
for his father’s other
son was only half his brother,
and had not existed
in their lives but for letters
and occasional photographs
taken around the world
where the war was, often next
to his Wellington, or by
a field tent, wearing his wings,
a smiling twenty year old
whom he, the child in a yard,
thought must look the way
he himself would look at twenty,
and be a brave pilot
and take up the war
against Hitler and Tojo
in his turn, not knowing
that even wars do not last
forever.  How could the child
be so devastated by the news,
who barely knew of his half
brother’s existence?  How
adults box things up
the child could not know
or believe.  Hard rain.
 

                II.
 
Rivers of rain, as when
you look up through greenhouse
glass on a rainy day, crossed
his green eyes blotting out the blue
dry sky overhead, and
he told the rain of his grief and
he told the blurred, ugly yard
behind the city row house
with its junked, warped
furniture and strata of
ripped linoleum, roses
and geometry, and its wet,
stalking cat along the old spiked
wooden fence, run with rusted wire
meant to throw yourself on, told
the whole world, which was
all the rain of tears
out of his breathless,
heaving chest, narrow
as a chicken’s, out
of his pounding seven year old
heart, and cowlicked hair,
that was trapped by the
four-sidedness of fence
and could not fly with his
grief as his brother the
pilot had flown, whom
he had never known.

 
           III.
 
Let the child race
pointlessly in 
circles, trapped in the 
square yard, and cry
himself out.  The letter
was already over a year
old and smeared with
his father’s few tears,
sad horrible history,
but must be set aside
 
so that life could go
on.  “He’ll get over it.”
“I never thought—” said
his mother.  “No, of course
not,” said his father.
But the yard was sodden
with the child’s grief,
whose head burned with hope
against fact that a mistake
had been made, that this fine
brother was yet to come to him
who had no one, whose
loneliness could not be
surmised by two wise parents,
kept sane by callousing death
and full of the hard world’s rain. 

 
 
(iii.)
 

FROM THE CRIB
 
From the deep recesses of the universe
he woke to find himself
gumming the blue lead paint 
from the top rail of his crib, 
blissfully unaware
of the crack in the Liberty Bell,
or the Liberty Bell itself,
for that matter; Mussolini in Abyssinia, 
Schicklgruber, in Guernica or the Rhineland, 
Tojo in China, 
or any of the problems
of the age into which he had been dropped. 
The lead paint was delicious and maddening,
and would, 
no doubt
make a mad poet of him.
 
He looked around and for the first time 
saw other humanoids (oops, hominoids), 
much bigger, but basically the same.  
They, also, wobbled on two legs, 
holding drinks to their lips,
as he held his empty baby bottle to his. 
One fell back into a faded, flowered 
easy chair, in what seemed,
even to his innocent eyes, 
a flat, shabby and small, 
compared with 
whatever had been before.
 
Years later, photographs would tell him 
who they were.  Someone had taken 
several Kodak snapshots. 
Here was his young Aunt, 
a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl, 
who hookied to the City of Brotherly Love
to help with her new nephew, 
the young Master, her big sister’s first child. 
An older boy would have noticed 
the beginnings of her breasts, 
and that she was a pretty young thing 
with startling blue eyes and 
chestnut waves piled up,
but he was unaware of 
these uplifting attractions.
The woman was his Mother.
Later he would understand
that at that point in her life, made-up 
and Marcelled, people said that she looked
like the actress Mary Astor, except 
for her harlequin-shaped glasses. 
The central figure, the one who had collapsed 
in the armchair, wearing what then he, 
himself not much more than an humunculus, 
would eventually discover—by these presents—
looked like the famous-at-the-time 
Arrow Collar Man. 
 
Well, that was his old man, tall, dark, and 
handsome alcoholic,
Depression-fallen from stocks
and bonds salesman, to selling 
The Book of Knowledge in the territory
assgned him by the publisher.
 
His young Aunt stuck a rubber nipple
in his mouth and quickly
the picture faded and never came back, ’til now.

 
 
(iv.)
 

MY WAR WITH ROACHES


                          Pitt Street, Lower East Side
 

I looked into a half-filled beer bottle
left opened and standing out,
saw six dead roaches floating atop the stale, flat beer.  
I was disappointed.
I could have drunk the stuff.
I had no aversion to warm, stale, flat beer, 
and had learned to put a head on it
by dropping an Alka-Seltzer tablet into it.
But I wasn’t about to drink beer that had
six dead roaches floating in it, 
bodies like boats and legs like oars raised up,
so aimlessly.  
The place was filthy. 
I needed order!
 
I went out, bought roach spray,
sprayed the walls, up and down, 
back and forth, until billowing clouds
of poison were closing on me from every corner.
It was bitter cold out, but I knocked the
cardboard out of the windows
and let the fresh frosty air suck the poison 
out from under my nose.
I blocked the windows again.
I surveyed the carnage.
Roaches of all sizes and shapes were swarming
over the walls, dropping from the cracked ceiling
with small, ticking sounds and 
rocking on their curled, chitinous backs, 
flicking, flailing, their feelers drooping.
 
The kitchen gas range was a stronghold,
a fortress of greasy grooves and baked-in crevices.  
I lit the oven and watched until the top
of the stove glowed red.
Out they came by the swarming hundreds, 
feet burned away, feelers melting 
into kinky hairs.  They ran over the stove 
in desperation, panic, trying to find places 
where they could put their feet.
Expectant mothers, their eggs in chitinous cases 
at their rear ends, struggled with their hindmost legs, 
as with an instinct to save their offspring,
to force or kick the cases loose.
Some had their cases dangling 
by only one side when they leaped 
from the top of the stove.  
As they landed on the floor and tried to crawl,
with their burnt feet, their dragging, kinked feelers, 
with their wings askew, and their dangling, 
thread-hanging egg cases, I sprayed them madly
then trampled, kicked, jumped up and down on them,
only wanting them dead.
I saw a fat, hideous albino roach, 
already like the pale ghost of its dead self, 
leap from the stove.  
I squashed it underfoot and swore 
I could hear its white shell crack and 
spray the pale muck of its insides out: squish! 
When I lifted my shoe it dragged itself, 
like animated pus, into a heap of glittering 
brownish bodies.  Thousands of crooked legs
moved sluggishly—then, here and there, 
with sudden convulsive speed—
over the place where the ghost had gone.
 
On the wall was a wooden plaque 
that held sets of false teeth, an exhibit, 
sold by a dental supply firm to dentists.
It belonged to an artist friend who was to use it 
for some arcane artistic purpose 
but who had forgetfully left it here.
I grabbed the plaque from the wall 
and mashed it down atop this horrible mass
of half life.  Then I jumped on it, up and down,
not distinguishing the sound of the breaking teeth 
from the sound of roaches snapping on the stove 
like popcorn.  When I looked down 
there were rolling and bouncing human teeth 
among the slimy dead and still crawling.
Sakyamuni says they will live again.
Needed:  Sneaky Pete, pot, peyote. 

 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Schorb’s work has appeared in Agenda (UK), The American Scholar, The Carolina Quarterly, The Hudson Review, The Southern Review, Stand (UK), The Sewanee Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Poetry Salzburg Review (AU), The Yale Review, and Oxford Poetry (UK), among others.
 
His collection, Murderer’s Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press, and a subsequent collection, Time and Fevers, was the recipient of the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Award for Poetry and also an Eric Hoffer Award.
 
Most recently, his novel R&R a Sex Comedy was awarded the Beverly Hills Book Award for Humor.

 

 

 

Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times at Artvilla.com ; You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author & https://poetrylifeandtimes.com See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)

TANTANKA IYOTAKE. Double Epic Of Sitting Bull. A Poem by EM Schorb.

			
		


	Sioux must have mounts.  Sun-Dreamer,
				greatest of all shaman, advised, Go
				to the horse-rich Crow.
				Up from Mexico,
		stolen by Comanche,
		passed north to Utes, Shoshoni,
	    the best mounts came, finally,
				to the Crow.
	So a hundred Hunkpapa
	went on the warpath, the
				Sioux seeking Crow
	in Yellowstone summer,
	    lariats ready, led by Sitting Bull,
		finding and making off with many a Crow pony.

From French frontiersmen—coup, to touch or to strike the enemy.
	Let aftercomers slay
	him:  you are first in honor because first in the fray.
Slow, who,
	at fourteen, had no other name—he
was considered deliberate, thoughtful,
	not slow—must join the hunting party—
			       but out on the trail,
		so his mother could not try to stop him,
				  would not hold him back and wail
	as if he were riding to his death.  Deliberately,
Slow must be fast, first, must make coup

	Pursued! so that along the
				skyline the rays of rising sun were
				made of long wide rare
				red feathers, each on a spear.
		Crow galloped—Sioux galloped.
		Now Sioux must be intrepid—
	must hold the herd!  Winter Rides,
				the Crow Chief,
	sent Sitting Bull a challenge
	to a duel on the range,
				just chief and chief
	in single combat.  They
	   knelt, aimed, and fired.  Sioux and Crow prayed.  Both sides
	      waited for the white cloud to clear.  Winter Rides was dead,

or die now and be done, for “It is better to lie naked
	than to rot on a high
	scaffold,” an old man who has lived safely, afraid to die,
now naught
	but bent bone and thin loose flesh for the
sun to cook and the crows to eat.  A name
	must be earned.  Let the braves mock his war
			       lust—who cared?—but he
		would have greatness, and he must begin.
				  He will not allow anyone in the
	world to stop him, not mother nor sisters nor mocking braves
	nor even father.  And so he caught

	Sitting Bull’s round shield pierced, the
				sole of his foot penetrated and
				badly mangled, and
				his legendary limp
		acquired for American
		history.  And now a grand
	    chief, famous, mighty, un-
				defeated,
	with his every step, he
	reminds all who see
				how he can spread
	over the prairie the
		Sioux’s high might and exclusive dominion,
		for there were fewer and fewer bison.  These hunting grounds,

and joined his father’s band, saying, of himself and his pony,
	“We are brave and strong, and
	are going too.”  On his father’s face he saw pride, and
“A brave
	is a brave when he proves it,” and Slow
had already killed his first buffalo;
	had touched a dead foe’s face.  He gave Slow
			       his own coup-stick, then
		prayed to the Great Bull Buffalo God
				  to keep Slow safe in the band—
	for who would forgive him Slow’s death?—then willed that Slow be
first to send an enemy to his grave.

	which had once belonged to the
			Crows, Hidastas, Rees, Shoshonis, and
			poor, dying Mandans,
			once many and grand,
		could not keep such numbers.
		The Treaty of Fort Laram
	    -ie, which held the tribes to peace,
			Sitting Bull
	declared, must be broken or
	his people starve, and by
			1864,
	all the chiefs who had signed
	    the Treaty of Fort Laramie with the
		Sioux nation were dead, their tribes driven off and hiding,

Then it was hard riding, to where the bubbling, blood-red water
	of the Missouri river
	turned brown, and there were the Iroquois, taking from the giver,
brothers
	to vultures, stealing their bison—meat,
hoof, and hide—from the hungry Hunkpapa,
	who would ambush the Iroquois but
			       for the gold-painted
		boy, crying, “I am Slow, bravest of the
				  Hunkpapa,” who charged ahead
	of his band to make coup on an isolated Iroquois
hunter, alarming the others.

	afraid to hunt buffalo
				at all, Sitting Bull having triumphed.
				“Chief Sitting Bull fed
				the nation,” Sioux said,
		“on thirty-five thousand
		bison a year.”  “Grandfather,
	my children are hungry,” prayed
				Sitting Bull,
	when taking aim at a great
	bull buffalo, “so I
				must kill you.  It
	is what you were made for.”
	    Then he offered meat to Wakan Tanka,
	   	Double-of-the-Sun, who had given bison their meat.

Now the surprised Iroquois hunters turned in retreat—all but
	one brave, who stopped, turned about,
	and drew his bowstring.  But coup! Slow struck him with a shout,
and fame
	was Slow’s, as other Hunkpapa slew
the unfortunate brave.  Sitting Bull, Slow’s
	great father, felt his pride overfull
			       as the others circled
		his son Slow with raised weapons in salute
				  of his courage in battle.
	He must give some away.  He, Returns-Again, now Sitting Bull,
awarded Slow his honored name. 

Biography

E. M. Schorb attended New York University, where he fell in with a group of actors and became a professional actor. During this time, he attended several top-ranking drama schools, which led to industrial films and eventually into sales and business. He has remained in business on and off ever since, but started writing poetry when he was a teenager and has never stopped. His collection, Time and Fevers, was a 2007 recipient of an Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing and also won the “Writer’s Digest” Award for Self-Published Books in Poetry. An earlier collection, Murderer’s Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press. Other collections include Reflections in a Doubtful I, The Ideologues, The Journey, Manhattan Spleen: Prose Poems, 50 Poems, and The Poor Boy and Other Poems.

Schorb’s work has appeared widely in such journals as The Yale Review, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Chicago Review, The Sewanee Review, The American Scholar, and The Hudson Review.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2000, his novel, Paradise Square, was the winner of the Grand Prize for fiction from the International eBook Award Foundation, and later, A Portable Chaos won the Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction in 2004.

Schorb has received fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the North Carolina Arts Council; grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Carnegie Fund, Robert Rauschenberg & Change, Inc. (for drawings), and The Dramatists Guild, among others. He is a member of the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of America.

PRIZE-WINNING BOOKS
BY E.M. SCHORB
Books available at Amazon.com
_______________________________________

Dates and Dreams, Writer’s Digest International Self-
Published Book Award for Poetry, First Prize

Paradise Square, International eBook Award
Foundation, Grand Prize, Fiction, Frankfurt Book Fair

A Portable Chaos, The Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction,
First Prize

Murderer’s Day, Verna Emery Poetry Prize, Purdue
University Press

Time and Fevers, The Eric Hoffer Award for Poetry
and Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book
Award for Poetry, each First Prize

and recent finalist in the International Book Awards 2020 again
Muddling Through, a Gallimaufry of Light Verse, Prose Poems, Short Plays, Songs, and Cartoons
Hill House New York 978-0-578-60136-6

 
 
 
 
 
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times at Artvilla.com ; his publications include
 
All the Babble of the Souk , Cartoon Molecules, Next Arrivals and Moon Selected Audio Textual Poems, collected poems, as well as translation of Guadalupe Grande´s La llave de niebla, as Key of Mist and the recently published Tesserae , a translation of Carmen Crespo´s Teselas.
 
You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)

Emanations from the Penumbra Collected Poems by EM Schorb Reviewed at PLT

Emanations front cover only Cover Painting “O Carib Isle” by the Author – ISBN: 978-0-692-03402-6
 
Editor’s Note: A short while ago EM Schorb contacted me for the address of a mutual friend, whose address he’d mislaid. Remembering i’d published a sonnet of his here in 2013, that later appeared in an anthology of sonnets Phoenix Rises from the Ashes, i promptly requested another contribution from him. One thing led to another and he kindly sent me a copy of his latest collection of poems.
 
Emanations from the Penumbra. Schorb is a prize winning poet having gained recognition and awards several times over ( see below in his bio), so it was with some trepidation i approached this work with the intention of presenting it at our PLT (Poetry Life & Times ) site. It opens with a quote Penumbra: The “Gray area where logic and principle falter” Hmm – it is in fact a corpus of poems, two hundred pages of them, written by a writer poet, – by that i mean, a person who writes extensively and writes poetry as well. Schorb has an excellent, polished and sophisticated technique in whatever manner he approaches a poetic theme and in Penumbra these are many and varied emanations. He is of course a writer/artist who hails from the USA and he covers widely from its socio historico background, everything from workers rights, the broken war hero to the persecution of blacks by whites. P196. Part 6. titled the same as the name of the collection, starts -/ Poets of my generation are turning up dead. A serial killer is injecting them with cancer heart disease and stroke / and ends / My generation think that this is a serial crime, but have no choice but to pull the ropes and toll the bell / Wow go figure – but as much as there is pessimism and cynicism, there are as many shades of mood together with a host of erudite literary reference ranging from Empson, Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound to Aristotle and Donne to name but a few. The fact that during the time i received and was reading this work, i also happened at the same time to be reading the classic Paterson by William Carlos Williams, i couldn’t help but find similarities and the recognition how a modern poet like Schorb has emerged out of the influences of such a great work in contemporary North American Literature. Carlos Williams set a trend for commentary on the mundane and current affairs in the city, whilst expanding into pure lyricalism, – and this is what happens in Schorb’s work, at least as i experienced it. In particular, i found a quote in Paterson, which Carlos Williams had seized upon, which i thought was entirely applicable to Schorb’s work in Emanations, i quote it here, {recognizing the harmony which subsists between crabbed verses and the distorted subjects with which they dealt – the vices and perversions of humanity, as well as their agreement with the snarling spirit of the satirist. Deformed verse was suited to deformed morality} – Studies of the Greek Poets, John Addington Symonds Vol: 1 P284. I could go on, the pathos of love, nihilism, spirituality are all covered by the poet and often brought out via descriptions of small scenic events like theater clips crafted into a free and flowing verse where the poet is speaking as often as not through another’s voice or persona – though sometimes we find self depreciation as in The Last Word at the end of Part 4. P121. / Edwin Makepeace Thackery Schorb / Wrote many words into his books /…./ Was quite mistaken in all he did /…/ What is the truth? Oh who knows? / Say this: He drank and had to go! / Lets hope he’s not gone forever and comes back. It’s impossible really to select favorites from such a ranging work but i liked especially The Isle of Langerhans P79. Written in vertical inter- facing columns, it makes the reader work hard at reading it and i think that’s important in modern poetry, why should poetry be made easy for the reader to read, it’s the struggle that counts. And here we present at PLT the particular poem Schorb has selected Because P169/70…/ the unicorn is an ungulate because they say so /… Robin Ouzman Hislop

 
BECAUSE
 
in the port-cities they have found everything out and
Aristotle-like have put everything into categories
and the unicorn is an ungulate because they say so
because the fine-print of the unreligious sun says we circle it
it is not for us but we for it because the moon hit us
and bounced off instead of was born of our first spin
because the ninth planet is an invading comet caught
and because there is no now and there never has been
 
because we look upon ourselves in savannas past
knuckling to water because we see the white lemming’s hole
in the snow smashed down by hooves and hear its pitiful
chirp of counter-aggression because the avalanche
indifferently buries the contested world of the snow
valley because stars die because we believe in facts
and because the deluge led to the ark because because
and because we bury our dead and dig up their bones
 
because the unsoundness of our judgments lead to sound
judgment and because facts are facts and we must reckon
and because the sea is cruel and because time flies
because the wind blows down our houses and because
we remember the snow hare and the hawk because
because the dove is taken in air by the eagle
and because space is either empty or full of dark matter
because galaxies hold for a long time their pinwheel-shapes
 
because time and space are curved and we can blow ourselves up
and because we blow ourselves up constantly and because
it makes us wonder because doesn’t it mean something
because we are riding a mud-ball through space because
we were born here and because we have categories and
because we dig up our bones and dogs dig our bones up
and because we are not even safe in pyramids because
we dig ourselves up and look upon our own bones
 

 
Biography
E. M. Schorb attended New York University, where he fell in with a group of actors and became a professional actor. During this time, he attended several top-ranking drama schools, which led to industrial films and eventually into sales and business. He has remained in business on and off ever since, but started writing poetry when he was a teenager and has never stopped. His collection, Time and Fevers, was a 2007 recipient of an Eric Hoffer Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing and also won the “Writer’s Digest” Award for Self-Published Books in Poetry. An earlier collection, Murderer’s Day, was awarded the Verna Emery Poetry Prize and published by Purdue University Press. Other collections include Reflections in a Doubtful I, The Ideologues, The Journey, Manhattan Spleen: Prose Poems, 50 Poems, and The Poor Boy and Other Poems.
 
Schorb’s work has appeared widely in such journals as The Yale Review, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Chicago Review, The Sewanee Review, The American Scholar, and The Hudson Review.

 
At the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2000, his novel, Paradise Square, was the winner of the Grand Prize for fiction from the International eBook Award Foundation, and later, A Portable Chaos won the Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction in 2004.

 
Schorb has received fellowships from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and the North Carolina Arts Council; grants from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, the Carnegie Fund, Robert Rauschenberg & Change, Inc. (for drawings), and The Dramatists Guild, among others. He is a member of the Academy of American Poets, and the Poetry Society of America.

 
PRIZE-WINNING BOOKS
BY E.M. SCHORB
Books available at Amazon.com
_______________________________________
 
Dates and Dreams, Writer’s Digest International Self-
Published Book Award for Poetry, First Prize
 
Paradise Square, International eBook Award
Foundation, Grand Prize, Fiction, Frankfurt Book Fair
 
A Portable Chaos, The Eric Hoffer Award for Fiction,
First Prize
 
Murderer’s Day, Verna Emery Poetry Prize, Purdue
University Press
 

Time and Fevers, The Eric Hoffer Award for Poetry
and Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book
Award for Poetry, each First Prize

 
 
Amazon.com Author Robin Ouzman Hislop
Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop