Poem Therapy: Self-Portrait - Ira Sadoff

Self Portrait
Ira Sadoff
I sniff after the sparrow and the spaniel, flitting around,
barking, digging up the dirt: how could I not be
at one with them? But I'm a spendthrift too, rummaging about

old sport coats, selecting a style, a clash of styles—
in a private moment trying to decide who I am today by trying on
something discarded, something nobody treasured—

I think I want everyone and everything to be loved so much
I get dour, chastising, dark, and sometimes hate
so much I can't go for a stroll without recycling the moment

they dropped acid on my palm, the thousand ways I could ease
their demise—dipping them into a river of invective
that seems futile and enticing—whether it’s the Secretary of State

or a species of white shirts and thin black ties who exude smugness,
who quote from the bible as if it were the Bible. It's like having an affair—
they all end badly, don't they?—thereby the passion flies out of me

like an open window in February: take the heat, world,
disperse it before I undress another thought.
Of all the poems I've written, these five come closest to being a self-portrait. I do not mean autobiographical. There's a difference.

Karma Will Cut You to Ribbons

go back to that sightless fish swimming
inside the cave of the body
toward the dark-haired girl
her virgin skin shimmering
in the kitchen's ambient moonlight
metal ringing in her ears
knives falling from the rocking table
like reverberating echoes pinging
through the cave's recesses
to the waxed linoleum floor

go back to the girl looking to the doorway
her shadow self standing at the threshold
a slow hiss lifting in her coiling tresses


A problem you have been avoiding since the day
you were born, will resurface today. It is the residue
of a past life. You have a restless spirit which twists
inside your skin like a snake. The planets have aligned
themselves against you and will continue until the Saturn
Uranus opposition has run its course. Do not attempt to exchange
the cards you have been dealt today, as this will only foster
disappointment and despair. Your deepest desire
is to run blindly into battle, armed only with the sharp
elbow of your erection. A lightening strike of clarity
will reveal the truth of your current situation. There
is a tendency to yield to nostalgia, dwelling on the past
when you clothed yourself in the blood of the living
and the dead. Focus on the present.

Driving to Mercury

We shred ribbons of highway
stretching across the planet's surface
under the watchful eyes of the stars
the car's headlights illuminating our path

I am strapped into the driver seat
hands holding the steering wheel loosely
heading toward that dark horizon
pulled by its gleaming iron core

My dog is curled in the passenger seat
whimpering in his dreams
He is unaware the smallest planet
of the solar system
is expecting our arrival

I know we must hurry into the distance
to win the race with the swift
footed messenger's flight across the heavens
before he disappears
once again in the morning light

Shekel of Tyre

looking at a dead man's mouth,
what is the use of god
or money unspent?

give me hunger,
greed to be alive

give me silver,
the betrayer's coin,
holy and inviolable,
coin enough for a slave
or a life

107 names for woman

amazon, chick, shorty, bunny, dentata, mlf, chica,
sheila, angel, meshugeneh, box, diva, poon, babe,
minga, broad, twinkie, kvinde, mother, chiquita,
ma'am, vamp, klip, rumy, bird, kobieta, flange,
puma, donna, bimbo, hoss, trim, mahala, queen,
zena, lumberjack, mamma, boiler, ripper, aurat,
yak, booty, shiksa, lady, shrew, wahine, bombshell,
strumpet, mujer, lass, senora, animal, hottie, crone,
frau, wench, cherry, flapper, tomato, beauty, hussy,
female, lady, mistress, madame, vija, dame, doll,
whore, mom, fox, bitch, pigeon, cronk, belle, skirt,
hoochie, cougar, goddess, broad, dame, tart, butch,
madam, pussy, rat, doll, twist, dish, gal, betty, frail,
bag, ditz, femme, imra, mulher, fish, witch, nainen,
beaver, mummy, bint, dame, hag, gynaika, womb,

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