Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2010-08-31.

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Material Information

Title:
Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2010-08-31.
Physical Description:
Book
Language:
english
Creator:
Pinkas, Lee
Publisher:
University of Florida
Place of Publication:
Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date:

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Master's ( M.F.A.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Creative Writing, English
Committee Chair:
Logan, William
Committee Members:
Wade, Sidney E.
Hofmann, Michael

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre:
Creative Writing thesis, M.F.A.
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )

Notes

Statement of Responsibility:
by Lee Pinkas.
Thesis:
Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2008.
General Note:
Adviser: Logan, William.

Record Information

Source Institution:
UFRGP
Rights Management:
Applicable rights reserved.
Embargo Date:
8/31/2010
Classification:
lcc - LD1780 2008
System ID:
UFE0022318:00001


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He Stole My Sleep

his fledgling* heart

and let me sleep

and handed me his heart giftwrapped

every whiskey-bearing boy betrays us

if not I will be his scapegoat


My Lord change his cheating heart

make him desire me again

he swore against You my Lord

he betrayed me and in this manner

please forgive his error


*In Hebrew, this word shares the root, GZL, with the word for thief, thereby creating a pun that
suggests the betrayer is not only young, but a thief of the speaker' s heart.











Emily Dickinson on Sanibel Island


Had I known such white light, such clear expanse,
the circumference between smallness
and infinity, my brain
might have bowed to the horizon, not contained it.


I'd have tied small tags to each new shrub, and then to the shells,
their Tyrian beauty not known to me in Amherst,
where I was a mouse.
I wore a corset all that time, sat as erect as my pen.


Beyond the wren, the chestnut bur, I would have had my way
down the coast in an open carriage; but, once there,
stooping to collect the broken shards,
would I have felt the need to wear a dress so white?































SHMUJEL HANAGID TRANSLATIONS









We Were Here First


Stinking and shock-maned, Baderman
returns to Diamond's doorway
not to apologize, but to ask
if he can use the shower.

The poor j erk looks as though
he' d slicked himself with linseed oil.
She shrugs and leaves the door aj ar.
He slinks to the corner of the studio.

Undressing--still intact at fifty, yes-
he looks west to a new building
close to the river, where a sign hangs
across three windows: LOFT SPACE, DUMBO.

Baderman knows that' s the next place
young men will go flocking with easels
and Castro hats cocked just so,
carrying Guevara posters and trust funds.

Ill-bedazzled Diamond tries to paint;
she thinks how Guston did it or Twombly.
Surely neither had a former hot-shot
needy painter boyfriend on his hands.

The hallway dweller passes by, tips his beret
towards disheveled Diamond, who sighs
just when the texture starts to look
like Helen's face. She names the painting Eden.










Posing as Ophelia in a Claw-Foot Tub


I lie and I am field,
so still the bluej ays

beak my elbow,
a shadow of columbine

across my breast. The oil
lamps are out beneath this tub.

The man who paints me
dead will dig my grave.

I'll go as she did, no older
than nineteen, picking

stones to drown herself in a crown
of pansies, clutching fennel.









Constitution


This atrium is a folio unfolded;
its four spines

form the veins of Andalusia
in my constitution, recast history,

rebolt it to accommodate this stray vacationer
as native. I would be an olive strainer,

bondswoman to the gnarl,
and harnesser of hills,

not a cordial curtseyer,
not a commonplace to the doves

in Caliphatel arches.










The Abandonment or Two Friends,


Henri de Toulouse-Lautree


Our windblown Adelaide has lost the wires

that hold the petals of her orchid-mind.


Into three doughy chins she tucks her face,

gnats fluttering behind her closed eyelids.


She can no longer stand the tallow lamps,
the falsely gilded Eixtures, crooked drawers,


armoires filled with blankets stitched with scenes:

ships departing seaports, people waving.


The bourgeois ride down Ambroise in sleek clothes
to see the Lumieres' first picture move on screen;


poor Adelaide's head sinks into the bed.
She cries, "Oh, Griselda, you remind me


of farmlan2d." To pretend is to forget.
All we can see is fair Griselda's back,


her muted umber chignon fastened low,
her frilly negligee worn tight. Her arm


dissolves into the mystery of the scene
or in between her best friend's sallow legs.










Inventory


You've left our yellow town,
left outlines on the walls from the picture frames
you pulled away.

When I try to recall your face,
I see only a Picasso of eyes,
your mouth, your crooked nose.

We all fuck here
in pairs, in threes,
but each of us alone.

We split our thumbs
in our gardens and strain to feel
the glory we knew at twelve.

We are bound by a single yellow hair
so fine, it may break at any time;
and no one would even know.

As we grow older, losing the ability
to distinguish between certain sounds,
the young seem so damn young.










Rise, My Friend


The glasses are filled
it' s not in my heart to drink alone

and a youth rises to pour a glass
in order to empty the barrel

the bow of the fawn-youth upon the violin

the land in our eyes a maiden playing
the skies a battalion resting at night


a deep slumber upon those shy of wine
to be lifted by fruit and almond

and a youth
runs and labors

his palm shepherds words

the world's a dancer
and opposite each man's tent a bonfire









I remember Andalucia


We walked the alleys clutching botellons
of liquor. More pressing than the graffiti
of No a la guerra was that the dollar
was almost even with the Euro.
Young boys on their motos sped about,
girlfriends behind them, holding their waists;
and the churches breathed incense onto the street,
speaking of a world darker than the one we knew.
We thought, provincial, the way these people
believed--the lottery
was the biggest industry after cured pork.
A man in uniform looked into his hat,
a pinup of Jesus pressed inside.
In Granada, some still spat on the graves
of Ferdinand and Isabella. The gypsies
dressed like American punk rockers;
and, in Seville, drunk on Agua de Sevilla-
"Ariba, abajo, a centro, a dentro!"
-we walked home barefoot so our heels
would not get stuck in the uneven streets.
In the Alcazar, we learned of the poet king Al'Mutamid
who brought almond blossoms to his love
when she missed her snowy home. We walked
under Califatel arches the Moor had shaped,
saw the zocolo, the atria split in four,
so much of it adorned with Hebrew words
the Jew had placed to mark a golden age.
In a tiny souvenir shop in Cordoba, we asked
where the Jews were. "We're all Jews," the owner said, smiling.
Over miles of patchwork fields, we drove:
Lebrija, Cadiz, Marbella, Ronda. Turbines lined
the highways in all of Andalucia, trying to harness
Tarifa' s famous winds. One of us j oked,
"The mills are probably spinning the wrong way here."
O, Espafia, we lamented, each time there was a lapse
in efficiency, time and commerce an afterthought.
Afternoons spent by the Guadilquivir,
we grew to love the provincial ways,
which meant the first, second, and third generation
walked, elbows linked, to church.
During Semana Santa we j oined them,
finally understanding.
In that eerie celebration, untouched,
we were waiting to be born.










Directions for the Lost









My Hair Went White


In my head lies a fountain

my lovers lay in wait for my blood

they walked away from my love

they hold my soul who weigh every act of love

they left me and sparked the flints of my heart

which went white as my lovers grew distant


and my eyes draw its tears

and they ambushed my blood

and will write that they hate me

generous with hatred mendicants of love

the flames stood up on my hair

and will turn to ash again as they near










Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts

DIRECTIONS FOR THE LOST

By

Lee Pinkas

August 2008

Chair: William Logan
Maj or Deparment: Creative Writing

These poems represent my efforts to experiment in different styles, voices, and forms. I

think of the word directions, from the title, as a number of directions at one' s disposal, rather

than a set of directions. The title poem, "Directions For The Lost," points to the absurdity of

trying to place instructions for life in neat little boxes that can be followed logically by a set of

arrows, even while acknowledging the human need to connect and compartmentalize.

The last section of the thesis features five translations of poems by Shmuel HaNagid, who

lived in Spain from 933-1056. The 11Ith century was a golden age of Muslim and Jewish culture

in Spain, perhaps the only time those cultures can be said to have coexisted in prolonged

harmony. Shmuel HaNagid was a Talmudic scholar, grammarian, philologist, poet, warlord,

statesman, spice shop owner, and tax collector. HaNagid finished his days in Granada as the

assistant vizier to the Islamic king.

Though HaNagid wrote poems in Hebrew, a liturgical language at the time, the poetry is

heavily informed by Arabic poetic traditions. In the Hebrew originals, HaNagid's poetry exhibits

masterful feats of rhythm and rhyme. These qualities combined with HaNagid' s penchant for

pun, biblical allusion, unique syntax, and the fact that he wrote so long ago, have all posed









Words of a Lover


I will wander like a stranger
on the perfumed hill where you passed.

I will crouch and place
my cheeks into your footprints.

I am punished for you.
Ploughmen plow my back
with long furrows.

Surely people have already learned
there is no beauty like you
in the land of the Lord.

Why paint your black eye
with blue eye-shadow?

Your lips are redder than the nut
with which you paint them.










BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Lee Felice Pinkas was born in Manhattan in 1982.










Burial


I pulled in to the funeral from a wedding.
Eight blackbirds startled from a tree
flew like a scarf. Sanctified and magnified,
we chanted, then unsucked our shoes
from mud and left it for the dead.









DIRECTIONS FOR THE LOST


By

LEE FELICE PINKAS















A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF FINE ARTS

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2008










Will You Marry Me, Emily Dickinson?


For l am sick of love

Your cheeks are beautiful ir it rows of jewels,



We will make you gold earrings studdedal ithr silver.

see the vineyards ofEngedi,



Open to me, my sister, my love,

1a your love better than wine.



daughters ofJerusalem,

I charge you-


and I can fit into your white white dress.

and I will French Braid your hair.



We'll drive recklessly through cornfields,

our engine outpacing Death.



I don't care if your hair' s no longer bold,

Let' s fly past the girls I know,



and laugh that their white dresses--

will be worn only once.





































O 2008 Lee Felice Pinkas










Masada


Tiny as wasps, the Romans
planted garrisons
on the soil below us,
sandpiles built by children.
I stabbed my wife and children
towards my heart.
Their bodies slid down like the wasted
breath of lambs. We were not spared
by Abraham's god. Lord,
let them not
wander this desert like thirsty camels.
Let me not
be the man who must run
upon his own blade.












On days the heaviness was so thick
it was like swimming through velvet,
you wished Lake Cayuga
had frozen you under its mirror
so you could watch the skaters through it.

Outside, the sycamores grow beards;
the sunsets glow so fiercely, their fuchsia buckles
the glaciers. I remember you'd show up,
piano-deprived, grey-eyed, and chattering,
wrapped in the quilt sewn by your mad grandmother.

Why did you shave off your eyebrows?
Is it cold in the hospital, where they've
taken your shoelaces? Come east again.
I've set my keyboard on the vanity for you.
We used to call it pianity, remember?

I'll put it by the window, facing the lake's shores,
zippered in by ice. I'll sing against your chords
and we'll pretend the cats that dart in your peripheries
are make-believe. Even indoors, your cold breath
will remind you that you're not invisible.


In Response










Preparing the Dead


I. Wash the body in the ceremonial bath

In the blackbird season, we lined up to shovel.
I thought of your hands' delicate providence,
the shapes they carved that saved you in the war.
We died so many times, losing you became mundane;
when I found you, cocked like chicken bones
and wild-eyed, I couldn't tell if you were me or I was you.


II. Dress the body in linen

Send your ghost to help me light your yahrtzeit.
My hand shakes; the match tinks against the glass.
I need my brother's steady hands, those that built
my children's cradles, carved fluted trout,
traced a vineyard' s row of crosses
into the rotted workbench wood.


III. Place earth from Jerusalem upon the body

I cry as the man I've never known.
I wear your sportcoats (your bottoms too tight)
and look at my thick wrists, the narrow sleeves.
I watch myself in the mirror and see your eye inside my blue
one in the mirror. Were our mother' s the same shade?
Remember how she ruled over us, a Polish Athena?


IV. Cover the body

Brother, you should have waited for me; now your body is eaten through
and wedged between cement slabs, your grave
smaller than our narrow wartime beds.
I'll make my journey soon. I hope you are building
a giant ark for us in the underworld, using pegs to bind the wood,
never nails. Use the cedarwood and make it sturdy.





PAGE 1

1 DIRECTIONS FOR THE LOST By LEE FELICE PINKAS A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2008

PAGE 2

2 2008 Lee Felice Pinkas

PAGE 3

3 To my mothers parents, Martin and Helen Gruenfeld, with lots of love.

PAGE 4

4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank m y thesis director, William Logan, whose organization, punctuality, and incisive criticism stood in for my own this past year. Th ank you to my readers, Sidney Wade and Michael Hofmann. Sidney, your warmth and patience were crucial during my first workshop at the University of Florida. Michael, your editing in stincts are irreplaceable. I thank Avraham Balaban for helping me with my Hebrew translations. And thank you to Jill Ciment and Todd HasakLowy. Thank you to my family: Abba for carrying my first published poem in your shirt pocket when I was in forth grade, Mom, Edan, Jamie, Gram, Gramps, and Safta. Thank you to my girl friends: Lesley, Chani, Arielle, and Kate. Thank you to Zach Sussman for being such a great reader and to Zachary Cotler for showing me so much. And thank you to my peers here at the MFA @ FLA. You have all been wonderful readers and friends. Special thanks to Hayden Draper for our never-ending conversation, Meg Franklin for tons of fun, and Chris Sha nnon for endless g-chat banter.

PAGE 5

5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ............................................................................................................... 4ABSTRACT ...................................................................................................................... ...............6 CHAP TEr 1 CONSTITUTION .................................................................................................................. ...8Directions for the Lost ..............................................................................................................9Constitution .................................................................................................................. ...........10I remember Andalucia .......................................................................................................... ..11Preparing the Dead ............................................................................................................ .....12Week in the Woods ............................................................................................................. ....13In Extremis ..............................................................................................................................14In Response .............................................................................................................................15Home .......................................................................................................................... .............16To Whom Will We Turn? .......................................................................................................17Inventory ..................................................................................................................... ............18This Moment ...........................................................................................................................19Burial ......................................................................................................................................202 FIGURES ....................................................................................................................... .........21Magritte from a Virtual Estuary ............................................................................................. 22Posing as Ophelia in a Claw-Foot Tub ................................................................................... 23Emily Dickinson on Sanibel Island ........................................................................................ 24Will You Marry Me, Emily Dickinson? ................................................................................. 25Philosophers Queue ...............................................................................................................26The Fractal Geometry of Nature ............................................................................................. 27The Abandonment or Two Friends ........................................................................................ 28Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec .....................................................................................................28We Were Here First ............................................................................................................ ....29The Cadets Fought ............................................................................................................. .....30Masada ....................................................................................................................................313 SHMUEL HANAGID TRANSLATIONS ............................................................................. 32My Hair Went White ............................................................................................................ ..33He Stole My Sleep ..................................................................................................................34Rise, My Friend ......................................................................................................................35Words of a Lover .............................................................................................................. ......36To One Who Leaves ............................................................................................................. ..37BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .........................................................................................................38

PAGE 6

6 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts DIRECTIONS FOR THE LOST By Lee Pinkas August 2008 Chair: William Logan Major Deparment: Creative Writing These poems represent my efforts to experiment in different styles, voices, and forms. I think of the word directions, from the title, as a number of directions at ones disposal, rather than a set of directions. The title poem, Directions For The Lost points to the absurdity of trying to place instructions for life in neat little boxes that can be followed logically by a set of arrows, even while acknowledging the human need to connect and compartmentalize. The last section of the thesis features five translations of poems by Shmuel HaNagid, who lived in Spain from 933-1056. The 11th century was a golden age of Muslim and Jewish culture in Spain, perhaps the only time those cultures can be said to have coexisted in prolonged harmony. Shmuel HaNagid was a Talmudic scholar grammarian, philologist, poet, warlord, statesman, spice shop owner, and tax collector. HaNagid finished his days in Granada as the assistant vizier to the Islamic king. Though HaNagid wrote poems in Hebrew, a liturgical language at the time, the poetry is heavily informed by Arabic poetic traditions. In the Hebrew originals, HaNagids poetry exhibits masterful feats of rhythm and rhyme. These qua lities combined with HaNagids penchant for pun, biblical allusion, unique synt ax, and the fact that he wrot e so long ago, have all posed

PAGE 7

7 considerable challenges. The English poems cannot stand in for their Hebrew originals, but in translating, I try to prioritize the aspects of each poem that are the most impressive to me.

PAGE 8

8 CONSTITUTION

PAGE 9

9 Directions for the Lost

PAGE 10

10 Constitution This atrium is a folio unfolded; its four spines form the veins of Andalusia in my constitution, recast history, rebolt it to accommodate this stray vacationer as native. I would be an olive strainer, bondswoman to the gnarl, and harnesser of hills, not a cordial curtseyer, not a commonplace to the doves in Caliphatel arches.

PAGE 11

11 I remember Andalucia We walked the alleys clu tching botellons of liquor. More pressi ng than the graffiti of No a la guerra was that the dollar was almost even with the Euro. Young boys on their motos sped about, girlfriends behind th em, holding their waists; and the churches breathed incense onto the street, speaking of a world darker than the one we knew. We thought, provincial the way these people believedthe lottery was the biggest industry after cured pork. A man in uniform looked into his hat, a pinup of Jesus pressed inside. In Granada, some still spat on the graves of Ferdinand and Isabella. The gypsies dressed like American punk rockers; and, in Seville, drunk on Agua de Sevilla Ariba, abajo, a centro, a dentro we walked home barefoot so our heels would not get stuck in the uneven streets. In the Alcazar, we learned of the poet king AlMutamid who brought almond blossoms to his love when she missed her snowy home. We walked under Califatel arches the Moor had shaped, saw the zocolo, the atria split in four, so much of it adorned with Hebrew words the Jew had placed to mark a golden age. In a tiny souvenir shop in Cordoba, we asked where the Jews were. Were all Jews, the owner said, smiling. Over miles of patchwork fields, we drove: Lebrija, Cadiz, Marbella, Ronda. Turbines lined the highways in all of Andalucia, trying to harness Tarifas famous winds. One of us joked, The mills are probably spinning the wrong way here. O, Espaa, we lamented, each time there was a lapse in efficiency, time and commerce an afterthought. Afternoons spent by the Guadilquivir, we grew to love the provincial ways, which meant the first, second, and third generation walked, elbows linked, to church. During Semana Santa we joined them, finally understanding. In that eerie celebration, untouched, we were waiting to be born.

PAGE 12

12 Preparing the Dead I. W ash the body in the ceremonial bath In the blackbird season, we lined up to shovel. I thought of your hands delicate providence, the shapes they carved that saved you in the war. We died so many times, losing you became mundane; when I found you, cocked like chicken bones and wild-eyed, I couldnt tell if you were me or I was you. II. Dress the body in linen Send your ghost to help me light your yahrtzeit My hand shakes; the match ti nks against the glass. I need my brothers steady hands, those that built my childrens cradles, carved fluted trout, traced a vineyards row of crosses into the rotted workbench wood. III. Place earth from Jerusalem upon the body I cry as the man Ive never known. I wear your sportcoats (your bottoms too tight) and look at my thick wris ts, the narrow sleeves. I watch myself in the mirror and see your eye inside my blue one in the mirror. Were our mothers the same shade? Remember how she ruled over us, a Polish Athena? IV. Cover the body Brother, you should have waited for me; now your body is eaten through and wedged between cement slabs, your grave smaller than our narrow wartime beds. Ill make my journey soon. I hope you are building a giant ark for us in the underwor ld, using pegs to bind the wood, never nails. Use the cedarwood and make it sturdy.

PAGE 13

13 Week in the Woods Mornings, I watched you line your eyes, a diva freshening at interm ezzo. Temperature dropping in Polands backwoods, we sang only at half-mast in tandem with the ignorant birds. On the third morning, you washed your patterned underwear in the river, madwoman doing laundry in the middle of a war. You ran your fingers through my hair. Am I not still alive? And even if they kill me, I must look fine when they find my body. The forest, I realized, was the first time Id seen you without heels. I still wear the only piece you didnt sell for food the engagement band from Franek, engraved with the hotels insignia. You hid your secrets from my unfledged ears. One night, I tried to die. You were in town bartering your fathers watch for food. I ran until two red-faced me n caught me by my braid. They grunted that I no longer had a mother. Let her go, one said. Theyll all be killed soon. I turned around that night and lived. Ive kept my eyes open so that you could sleep, as you never seemed to in the woods.

PAGE 14

14 In Extremis I wanted to write an el egy the size of m y palm, containing the stinger you pulled from my finger, the string that slipped out from your waist the spring we met, the mini-nudes you sketched of me, their pencil faded out. I understand you finished eight whiskeys, then stalked the city with your drawing pad. You climbed the bullet-train, tripped over your shoe, your ha nd flying up to the main wire. You were always one to climb for a view. Once, we kissed on a building's edge, your foot propped on a pigeon spike. You said we were only a bird's shadow passing over the city. I often pictured you with fire, but in control of it, Prometheus, not scoured by its tongues, your limbs charred to the bone. I believe your heart has a generator. The chambers of mine would have collapsed while yours continued to pump. Let me visit, if only just to prove my dreams wrong, if only to let us say we ve often acted small. Does your skin look hot, pocked to house a family of spiders, your muscles cored?

PAGE 15

15 In Response On days the heaviness w as so thick it was like swimming through velvet, you wished Lake Cayuga had frozen you under its mirror so you could watch the skaters through it. Outside, the sycamores grow beards; the sunsets glow so fierce ly, their fuchsia buckles the glaciers. I remember youd show up, piano-deprived, grey-eyed, and chattering, wrapped in the quilt sewn by your mad grandmother. Why did you shave off your eyebrows? Is it cold in the hospital, where theyve taken your shoelaces? Come east again. Ive set my keyboard on the vanity for you. We used to call it pianity, remember? Ill put it by the window, faci ng the lakes shores, zippered in by ice. Ill sing against your chords and well pretend the cats that dart in your peripheries are make-believe. Even indoors, your cold breath will remind you that youre not invisible.

PAGE 16

16 Home In the white-out Michigan days you used to walk alone through icy pipelines and imagine those on the brink of death by ice tearing off their pants in a final reverie of warmth. You miss feeling small in snow and claim your brain only works below freezing. In this shit-hot suburb of our minds, where angels dont dare trespass and animals sit baffled in their lairs, well squint through the tropics flora and pretendrain falling through the streetlight s halo, white blossoms on the windshield we see snow.

PAGE 17

17 To Whom Will We Turn? Gossiping ladies, burdened with prescriptions and your little lives, how did you carry groceries up so m any flights? Who were you if not your childrens keepers? And now, where do you live? You were once married to the walk-ups. From the iron-girdered streets, where we are all moved about too quickly, to whom will we turn? The plaster crumbles in our fingers and ye sterdays forgotten bathtub is todays new avant-garde.

PAGE 18

18 Inventory Youve left our yellow town, left outlines on the walls fr om the picture frames you pulled away. When I try to recall your face, I see only a Picasso of eyes, your mouth, your crooked nose. We all fuck here in pairs, in threes, but each of us alone. We split our thumbs in our gardens and strain to feel the glory we knew at twelve. We are bound by a single yellow hair so fine, it may break at any time; and no one would even know. As we grow older, losing the ability to distinguish between certain sounds, the young seem so damn young.

PAGE 19

19 This Moment Have you ever picked a fresh fig from a tree, slid your nail down the center of its velvet bulb, and tasted m emory? You are riding in a backseat down an open road in spring, head against the window, friends debating up front. Sunset in your eyes, you realize that this moment and this sky cannot last, that the friendship cannot withstand their differences. Youll remember the moment when the ground went orange, the golden hour of film before the old lady died, before the heroine came home to see her life, a bag of cocaine, split and scattered. You knew then, that the moment would later stir nostalgia, or aoranza as they say in Spanish.

PAGE 20

20 Burial I pulled in to the funeral from a wedding. Eight blackbirds startled from a tree flew like a scarf. Sanctified and magnified we chanted, then unsucked our shoes from mud and left it for the dead.

PAGE 21

21 FIGURES

PAGE 22

22 Magritte from a Virtual Estuary This is and is not a river. White cranes glow twinned in the water. Ill cut their shapes like window s from my sheet. Through the foliage, a tiny grenadine girl sips flowers. Im told she doesnt exist. Id like to cast her as the skyish dryad morphing into cypress, bark for legs, chest of cloud. I turn seaward, where a triple-masted ship composed of cyan waves glides across the day. From the coast, granite lovershuman legs, fish for heads whistle at the vessel. The day becomes a face, the island comes unmoored. My body falls into that gourd, my head.

PAGE 23

23 Posing as Ophelia in a Claw-Foot Tub I lie and I am field, so still the bluejays beak m y elbow, a shadow of columbine across my breast. The oil lamps are out beneath this tub. The man who paints me dead will dig my grave. Ill go as she did, no older than nineteen, picking stones to drown herself in a crown of pansies, clutching fennel.

PAGE 24

24 Emily Dickinson on Sanibel Island Had I known such white light, such clear expanse, the circum ference between smallness and infinity, my brain might have bowed to the horizon, not contained it. Id have tied small tags to each ne w shrub, and then to the shells, their Tyrian beauty not k nown to me in Amherst, where I was a mouse. I wore a corset all that time, sat as erect as my pen. Beyond the wren, the chestnut bur, I would have had my way down the coast in an open carriage; but, once there, stooping to collect the broken shards, would I have felt the need to wear a dress so white?

PAGE 25

25 Will You Marry Me, Emily Dickinson? For I am sick of love and I can fit into your white white dress. Your cheeks are beautiful with rows of jewels, and I will French Braid your hair. We will make you gold earrings studded with silver. Well drive recklessly through cornfields, see the vineyards of Engedi, our engine outpacing Death. Open to me, my sister, my love, I dont care if your ha irs no longer bold, your love better than wine. Lets fly past the girls I know, daughters of Jerusalem, and laugh that their white dresses I charge you will be worn only once.

PAGE 26

26 Philosophers Queue Acheron denies us twiceness, s aid Heraclites during his descent. In Hades, dead philosophers are banging on the riverbanks for a return to make revisions.

PAGE 27

27 The Fractal Geometry of Nature Most emphatically, I do not consider the fractal point of view as a panacea Benoit Mandelbrot Father of fractals, we were foolish to expect a light-show from you, hoping your speech would fold upon itself and mimic patterns too complex for Euclid. You swallowed your words, hunched as one whos spent too long with microscopes. Tired of being dilettantes, yet wedded to that fate, and tired of waking up each morning under winters dark table, we watched the screen behind you limn the few hairs on your head. We had read enough pop science to know that as you spok e of self-similarity, of patterns that repeated, your own internal clockwork was rusting. Fractal from the Latin fractus more aptly described your weakened eyes, your mutinous cells. Soon your name would be only text, certain and printed beside a snowflake.

PAGE 28

28 The Abandonment or T wo Friends Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Our windblown Adelaide has lost the wires that hold the petals of her orchid-m ind. Into three doughy chins she tucks her face, gnats fluttering behind her closed eyelids. She can no longer stand the tallow lamps, the falsely gilded fixtures, crooked drawers, armoires filled with blanke ts stitched with scenes: ships departing seaports, people waving. The bourgeois ride down Ambroise in sleek clothes to see the Lumires first picture move on screen; poor Adelaides head sinks into the bed. She cries, Oh, Griselda, you remind me of farmland. To pretend is to forget. All we can see is fair Griseldas back, her muted umber chignon fastened low, her frilly nglige worn tight. Her arm dissolves into the mystery of the scene or in between her best friends sallow legs.

PAGE 29

29 We Were Here First Stinking and shock-m aned, Baderman returns to Diamonds doorway not to apologize, but to ask if he can use the shower. The poor jerk looks as though hed slicked himself with linseed oil. She shrugs and leaves the door ajar. He slinks to the corner of the studio. Undressingstill intact at fifty, yes he looks west to a new building close to the river, where a sign hangs across three windows: LOFT SPACE, DUMBO. Baderman knows thats the next place young men will go flocking with easels and Castro hats cocked just so, carrying Guevara posters and trust funds. Ill-bedazzled Diamond tries to paint; she thinks how Guston did it or Twombly. Surely neither had a former hot-shot needy painter boyfri end on his hands. The hallway dweller passes by, tips his beret towards disheveled Diamond, who sighs just when the textur e starts to look like Helens face. She names the painting Eden

PAGE 30

30 The Cadets Fought I honestly believe that if the Ba ttalion had not have been there and had not have acted the gallant part they did, there would have been another tale to tell. Porter Johnson Memoirs Civil War Battle of New Market, May 15, 1864 Dear Henry, Im nearly blind now, but I can picture the day against my skulls back wall. We halted at a fence, beyond which lay an orchard. As we stripped, I heard little zips beside the stone wall. We crossed a ravine and then a soft wheat field whose mud sucked off our shoes. Colonel Shipp ordered us to mark time and dress the line. When the bullets hit, I saw him, right in front of me, bereft of pigment, the sweat standing on his face in great drops. He was not enjoying himself. The bravest are those whom (though faint hearted) pride still holds true to duty and to honor. When I was hit, my gun flew over my head like a branch wrested violently from the tree that held it. I never knew its trigger again. Two crackers and a lovenote in my breast pocket eased the bullets path and saved my life. When my left arm was shot, I thought blown off, I looked to find it still attached, black as used firewood. I found a basement filled with shirkers but grew ashamed of their unwounded bodies and left to see what had become of the boys. In my footsteps wake, death made a river. Whoever says the cadets pretended to fight, did not see my men made into mesh with bulletholes.

PAGE 31

31 Masada Tiny as wasps, the Romans planted garrisons on the soil below us, sandpiles bu ilt by children. I stabbed my wife and children towards my heart. Their bodies slid down like the wasted breath of lambs. We were not spared by Abrahams god. Lord, let them not wander this desert like thirsty camels. Let me not be the man who must run upon his own blade.

PAGE 32

32 SHMUEL HANAGID TRANSLATIONS

PAGE 33

33 My Hair Went White In my head lies a fountain and my eyes draw its tears my lovers lay in wait for my blood and they ambushed my blood they walked away from my love and will write that they hate me they hold my soul who weigh every act of love generous with hatred mendicants of love they left me and sparked the flints of my heart the flames stood up on my hair which went white as my lovers grew distant and will turn to ash again as they near

PAGE 34

34 He Stole My Sleep My Lord change his cheating heart his fledgling* heart make him desire me again and let me sleep he swore against You my Lord and handed me his heart giftwrapped he betrayed me and in this manner every whiskey-bearing boy betrays us please forgive his error if not I will be his scapegoat *In Hebrew, this word shares the root, GZL, with the word for thief, thereby creating a pun that suggests the betrayer is not only young, but a thief of the sp eakers heart.

PAGE 35

35 Rise, My Friend The glasses are filled a deep slumber upon those shy of wine its not in my heart to drink alone to be lifted by fruit and almond and a youth rises to pour a glass and a youth in order to empty the barrel runs and labors the bow of the fawn-youth upon the vio lin his palm shepherds words the land in our eyes a maiden playing the worlds a dancer the skies a battalion resting at night and opposite each mans tent a bonfire

PAGE 36

36 Words of a Lover I will wande r like a stranger on the perfumed hill where you passed. I will crouch and place my cheeks into your footprints. I am punished for you. Ploughmen plow my back with long furrows. Surely people have already learned there is no beauty like you in the land of the Lord. Why paint your black eye with blue eye-shadow? Your lips are redder than the nut with which you paint them.

PAGE 37

37 To One Who Leaves Slow m y hearts not made of iron I cant endure my lovers anger. My wound doctor is it fatal? My pain whisperer is it eternal? Drink the milk and wine from my lips the Song of Songs is on my lips. And return the favors of my wine and milk. Send your hand deliv er my heart in your iron palm and hold back the hands of strangers who send for me.

PAGE 38

38 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Lee Felice Pinkas was b orn in Manhattan in 1982.








The Fractal Geometry of Nature


"Most emphatically, I do not consider
the fractal point of view as a panacea"
-Benoit Mandelbrot

Father of fractals, we were foolish
to expect a light-show from you,

hoping your speech would fold upon itself
and mimic patterns too complex for Euclid.

You swallowed your words, hunched
as one who's spent too long with microscopes.

Tired of being dilettantes, yet wedded to that fate,
and tired of waking up each morning

under winter' s dark table, we watched the screen
behind you limn the few hairs on your head.

We had read enough pop science
to know that as you spoke of self-similarity,

of patterns that repeated,
your own internal clockwork was rusting.

Fractal, from the Latin fractus,
more aptly described

your weakened eyes,
your mutinous cells.

Soon your name would be only text,
certain and printed beside a snowflake.









This Moment


Have you ever picked a fresh fig from a tree,
slid your nail down the center of its velvet
bulb, and tasted memory?

You are riding in a backseat down an open road
in spring, head against the window,
friends debating up front.

Sunset in your eyes, you realize
that this moment and this sky cannot last,
that the friendship cannot withstand their differences.

You'll remember the moment when the ground went orange,
the golden hour of film before the old lady died,
before the heroine came home to see

her life, a bag of cocaine, split and scattered.
You knew then, that the moment would
later stir nostalgia, or aioranza, as they say in Spanish.










Philosophers' Queue


Acheron denies us
twiceness, said

Heraclites
during his

descent. In Hades,
dead philosophers

are banging on
the riverbanks

for a return
to make revisions.












TABLE OF CONTENTS


page


ACKNOWLEDGMENT S .............. ...............4.....


AB S TRAC T ......_ ................. ............_........6


CHAPTEr


1 CONSTITUTION ................. ...............8.................


Directions for the Lost ................. ...............9................
C on stituti on ................. ...............10................
I remember Andalucia ................. ...............11................

Preparing the Dead .............. ...............12....
Week in the Woods............... ...............13.
In Extrem is ................. ...............14......... ......

In Response ........_................. ..........._..........1
H om e............... ..... ..... .. ...........1
To Whom Will We Turn? ........_................ ........._._ .......1

Inventory ................ ...............18......... ......
This Moment............... ...............19.
B urial .............. ...............20....


2 FIGURE S................. ...............21......... .....


Magritte from a Virtual Estuary .............. ...............22....
Posing as Ophelia in a Claw-Foot Tub .............. ...............23....

Emily Dickinson on Sanibel Island .............. ...............24....
Will You Marry Me, Emily Dickinson? ............. ...............25.....
Philosophers' Queue ................. ...............26......__. .....
The Fractal Geometry of Nature............... ...............27
The Abandonment or Two Friends, .............. ...............28....
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec ................. ...............28........... ....
We Were Here First ................. ...............29................
The Cadets Fought ................. ...............3.. 0......... ....
M asada a ................ ...............3.. 1..............


3 SHMUJEL HANAGID TRANSLATIONS .............. ...............32....


My Hair Went White .............. ...............33....
He Stole My Sleep ............. ..... __ ...............34..

Rise, M y Friend .............. ...............35....
Words of a Lover ............. ..... ._ ...............36..
To One Who Leaves .............. ...............37....


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............. ..... __ ...............38...









Week in the Woods


Mornings, I watched you line your eyes,
a diva freshening at intermezzo.
Temperature dropping in Poland's backwoods,
we sang only at half-mast
in tandem with the ignorant birds.

On the third morning, you washed
your patterned underwear in the river,
madwoman doing laundry in the middle of a war.
You ran your fingers through my hair. Am I not still alive ?
And even if they kill me, I must look fine
when they find my body. The forest, I realized,
was the first time I'd seen you without heels.

I still wear the only piece you didn't sell for food--
the engagement band from Franek,
engraved with the hotel's insignia.
You hid your secrets from my unfledged ears.

One night, I tried to die. You were in town
bartering your father' s watch for food.
I ran until two red-faced men caught me by my braid.
They grunted that I no longer had a mother.
Let her go, one said. They 'll all be killed soon.

I turned around that night and lived.
I've kept my eyes open so that you could sleep,
as you never seemed to in the woods.










The Cadets Fought


"I honestly believe that if the Battalion had not have been there
and had not have acted the gallant part they did,
there would have been another tale to tell."
-Porter Johnson Memoirs
Civil War Battle of ... I Market, May 15, 1864

Dear Henry,
I'm nearly blind now, but I can picture
the day against my skull's back wall.

We halted at a fence, beyond which lay
an orchard. As we stripped, I heard little zips
beside the stone wall. We crossed
a ravine and then a soft wheat Hield
whose mud sucked off our shoes.

Colonel Shipp ordered us to mark time
and dress the line. When the bullets hit,
I saw him, right in front of me, bereft of pigment,
the sweat standing on his face in great drops.
He was not enjoying himself.

The bravest are those whom (though faint hearted)
pride still holds true to duty and to honor.
When I was hit, my gun flew over my head
like a branch wrested violently from the tree that held it.
I never knew its trigger again.

Two crackers and a lovenote in my breast pocket
eased the bullet' s path and saved my life.
When my left arm was shot, I thought
blown off, I looked to Eind it
still attached, black as used firewood.

I found a basement filled with shirkers
but grew ashamed of their unwounded bodies
and left to see what had become of the boys.
In my footstep's wake, death made a river.
Whoever says the cadets pretended to Eight,
did not see my men made into mesh with bulletholes.






























FIGURES









In2 Extremis


I wanted to write an elegy the size of my palm,
containing the stinger you pulled from my finger,
the string that slipped out from your waist the spring we met,
the mini-nudes you sketched of me, their pencil faded out.

I understand you finished eight whiskeys, then stalked the city
with your drawing pad. You climbed the bullet-train,
tripped over your shoe, your hand flying up to the main wire.

You were always one to climb for a view. Once, we kissed
on a building's edge, your foot propped on a pigeon spike.
You said we were only a bird's shadow passing over the city.

I often pictured you with fire, but in control of it, Prometheus,
not scoured by its tongues, your limbs charred to the bone.
I believe your heart has a generator. The chambers
of mine would have collapsed while yours continued to pump.

Let me visit, if only just to prove my dreams wrong,
if only to let us say we've often acted small.
Does your skin look hot, pocked to house
a family of spiders, your muscles cored?









To Whom Will We Turn?


Gossiping ladies,
burdened with prescriptions and your little lives,
how did you carry groceries up so many flights?

Who were you
if not your children' keepers? And now, where do you live?
You were once married to the walk-ups.

From the iron-girdered streets,
where we are all moved about too quickly,
to whom will we turn?

The plaster crumbles
in our fingers and yesterday's forgotten
bathtub is today's new avant-garde.









To One Who Leaves


Slow my heart' s not made of iron

My wound doctor is it fatal?

Drink the milk and wine from my lips

And return the favors

Send your hand

and hold back the hands


I can't endure my lover's anger.

My pain whi sperer is it eternal?

the Song of Songs is on my lips.

of my wine and milk.

deliver my heart in your iron palm

of strangers who send for me.









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I thank my thesis director, William Logan, whose organization, punctuality, and incisive

criticism stood in for my own this past year. Thank you to my readers, Sidney Wade and Michael

Hofmann. Sidney, your warmth and patience were crucial during my first workshop at the

University of Florida. Michael, your editing instincts are irreplaceable. I thank Avraham Balaban

for helping me with my Hebrew translations. And thank you to Jill Ciment and Todd Hasak-

Lowy.

Thank you to my family: Abba for carrying my first published poem in your shirt pocket

when I was in forth grade, Mom, Edan, Jamie, Gram, Gramps, and Safta. Thank you to my girl

friends: Lesley, Chani, Arielle, and Kate. Thank you to Zach Sussman for being such a great

reader and to Zachary Cotler for showing me so much.

And thank you to my peers here at the MFA @ FLA. You have all been wonderful readers

and friends. Special thanks to Hayden Draper for our never-ending conversation, Meg Franklin

for tons of fun, and Chris Shannon for endless g-chat banter.






























CONSTITUTION









considerable challenges. The English poems cannot stand in for their Hebrew originals, but in

translating, I try to prioritize the aspects of each poem that are the most impressive to me.










Magritte from a Virtual Estuary


This is and is not a river.
White cranes glow
twinned in the water.

I'll cut their shapes
like windows from my sheet.

Through the foliage,
a tiny grenadine girl sips flowers.
I'm told she doesn't exist.

I'd like to cast her
as the skyish dryad morphing
into cypress, bark for legs, chest of cloud.

I turn seaward, where a triple-masted
ship composed of cyan waves
glides across the day.

From the coast,
granite lovers--human legs, fish for heads-
whistle at the vessel.

The day becomes a face,
the island comes unmoored.
My body falls into that gourd, my head.





























To my mother' s parents, Martin and Helen Gruenfeld, with lots of love.










Home


In the white-out Michigan
days you used to walk
alone through icy pipelines
and imagine those
on the brink of death by ice
tearing off their pants
in a final reverie of warmth.
You miss feeling small in snow
and claim your brain only works
below freezing.

In this shit-hot
suburb of our minds,
where angels don't dare trespass
and animals sit baffled
in their lairs,
we'll squint through
the tropics' flora
and pretend--rain falling
through the streetlight's halo, white
blossoms on the windshield-
we see snow.