Two Poems by Robert Sward


Heavenly Sex

1. The Law

Opens a bottle of schnapps. “Writer, schmyter,
you’re unemployed.
Unemployed people must make love
at least once a day.
Talmud says:
      A laborer, twice a week; a mule driver
once a week; a camel driver,
once a month. It’s the law.
      This is heavenly sex. Say a blessing—
pray— ‘Blessed art thou, O Lord our God…’
Ba-ruch a-ta…
For your spouse and for your seed.
What is it with you?
I need to explain how to bring a soul into the world?”

2. The Blessing

“Listen:
The soul is the Lord’s candle.
So you say a blessing. And you sing to her—your wife:
Strength and honor are her clothing, you sing.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom, you sing.
Her children arise up and call her blessed, you sing.
Rabbi says if knowing a woman were not holy,
     it would not be called ‘knowing.’
So, after a good Shabbes meal—
linen tablecloth, blessed spices,
braided loaves of challah,
           a goblet of wine…
Thirty-nine things you cannot do on the Sabbath,
but you can eat. You can drink. You can schtupp.
Make one another happy.
It’s the law.”

The Podiarist Pronounces On His Son's Divorce

"The time for sorry is past.
When a Jew gets divorced, even the altar sheds tears.
  Rabbi says.
Look at these X-rays, perfect daughter.
Her feet we can fix. This is not a problem.
  Perfect little girl,
  just a little knock-kneed.
My God, this is your daughter, a daughter
you’re leaving! Five thousand steps a day women take.
Fifty thousand miles in a lifetime. Where will that take her?
  And where will you be?
Other people He created from the feet up
  and at the end they get a brain.
But you it’s the other way around—and He forgot the feet.
All these years, all these years, and you got nothing on the ground.
In this life there are two things, son:
  Children and money,
and in that order. What else?
Ach, so leave, leave if leaving is what you’re going to do.
You’re not going anywhere.
Truth is, you’re not going anywhere anyway."

Robert Sward