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)

Life and Opinions of Doctor BOP the Burnt-Out-Prof. Collected Poems by EM Schorb. Reviewed by Robin Ouzman Hislop

 
Excerpt from
Life and Opinions of Doctor BOP

 
A poem is a posit, an assertion, an act,
and in action we forget fear: respite
in creation, the maker takes a stand, in making,
but is it a stand no better than gimmick-makers make?
Well, poetry possesses the virtue of being a record,
at least, and you can date a poem, if you wish,
thus giving it the merit of a worldly fact
contained in a system of time, which, admittedly,
is a system which is perhaps pseudo-fact itself,
or will become so as matter completes its withdrawal
upon itself to revisit its beginnings in a black hole in space;
and yet, until then, something like a fact,
a fact in the sense that Sherlock Holmes is almost real
and lives in Baker Street in a fictional series
in a real world that may exist only in a dream
that is being dreamed elsewhere, perhaps—dare I say—
by Yahweh; and so poetry becomes an actual little stab
and, poets hope, rip in the black sheet
that covers the deserted, haunted mansion.
 
 
Reviewed at:
 
Amazon.co.uk Life and Opinions of Doctor BOP the Burnt-Out-Prof and Other Poems . See also Amazon.com
 
Amazon.co.uk Emanations from the Penumbra Poems EM Schorb See also: Amazon.com
 
Review of
Life and Opinions of Doctor BOP
by
Robin Ouzman Hislop (Editor of PLT)
 
 
Many poets often turn to playwrites, more so than the other way about, and undoubtedly, imo, EM Schorb’s early background in theater has led to his latest theme in poetics “Life and Opinions of Doctor BOP ( the Burnt – Out – Prof and other Poems)”. In fact, it seems to me, the entire text hovers between sketches, vignettes, and biographic autobiographical narration in the first person. As a European, but one who has followed, as well, with keen interest North Amercan academia in poetics. As much as philosophy, related to cosomology and evolutionary concerns in the new sciences. It comes as an edifying experience to be introduced to the home grown frantics of North American Campus life, or insomuch, the affect it has had on our character in question, Doctor BOP. Actually, in the reading of the first part of this three part volume, a practically epic poem consisting of some seventeen pages, I was strangely reminded of the later short story writings of JD Salinger’s depiction of University life as an undergraduate English lecturer. He was in fact, as he describes himself, a rather reclusive English lecturer. And one of his passages springs vividly to mind, as he mentions in a more or less autobiographical narration, how as a now muchly graying and aging professor, he hastily makes himself scarce, the moment a group or anything like of under 40’s looms on his horizon, (on the Campus). A far cry from the days of Catcher in the Rye, perhaps we might encounter our Doctor BOP, as Schorb portrays him, as having travelled a somewhat similar way, perhaps a universal way of all burnt-out-profs. At least for the birth of our Doctor BOP, as he emerges from the Yiddish community, where due to a series of social phenomena peculiar to North American modern history, he finds himself born into the world of academia at midriff with his family’s origin, social background and status. Here Schorb brings his own background knowledge of Yiddish custom and vocabulary into full play in all its richness, in the first part of the central theme to the work. It is but one of the literary treats he devises. The whole text is replete with a classical apotheosis, religious epitomes, literary analogues and philosophical allusions, all of which abound in the head of Doctor BOP, as he makes his final but defiant bow before the world. The poems obviously are tragico/comico, there is satire, irony, bitterness, humour and kindness blended together with eruditeness. The text is littered with phrases in Latin, Greek, Yiddish, Spanish, we even have augenblick (in the blink of an eye, or in the moment) for Hamlet in German, and of course, Orator fit, poeta nascitur, poeta nascitur, non fit. (A speaker is made, a poet is born, not made). According to Doctor BOP, who quotes extensively from bibliographies of writers past and present and salutes us in the final part of the first part with vaya con Dios, my Darlings. Doctor BOP makes a delightful read, which the two latter parts of this small volume only serve to embed, and is well worth the buy, if only to raise the dust from our minds to reminisce over our studious years and the host of miscellenious trivia that is the heritage of our race in all its travail – a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more – to coin yet another allusion.
 
 
 
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

 
 
 
 
 
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times his publications include All the Babble of the Souk and Cartoon Molecules collected poems and Key of Mist the recently published Tesserae translations from Spanish poets Guadalupe Grande and Carmen Crespo visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author. See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds) and his latest Collected Poems Volume at Next-Arrivals