Please join us for the launch of the latest book in our Jewish Poetry Project imprint – What Remains: Selected Poems by David Curzon. The poet is going to be introduced by Sandee Brawarsky, and the event will also feature readings by Stuart Klawans, Sharon Dolin and David Roskies.
Curzon writes about his youth in Australia, of love and relationships, his encounters with Asian and Near Eastern art and artifacts, and meditations on ancient texts from many cultures.
The free Zoom event presented by Ansche Chesed starts at 7:30 PM Eastern on Thursday, November 4 2021, and you can register here.
Below we provide a small sample of Curzon’s wide-ranging work, with three poems –
The Days of the Years of Your Life (Genesis 47:8)
How many are the days of the years of thy life?
Was Pharaoh asking Jacob how many days
remained in vivid memory out of all his years?
Had Jacob answered he could have recalled
the wedding night when Leah was in his bed;
the day he saw the blood-stained coat of Joseph;
the night he was alone and wrestled with a man
on the bank of the Jabbok River at its ford.
And in The Prelude, Wordsworth gives moment to
the “spots of time” when nature spoke to him;
and Wyatt recalls a loose gown falling from
lovely shoulders; and for Kamienska there was
a path with patches of sunlight on which she ran
when she was six, that stayed until the end.
Condemned to die
what would I savor
in the cell of the self
as last things?
Imprisoned with me
as icons to ponder
I’d want only objects
created with the aid
of blind nature’s
a rock chosen
by wind and water
on several faces,
of all design,
a primordial hardness
and the network of crazing
in an ancient pot;
and one with
permitted to trickle.
Five Careers in the Middle Kingdom (translated titles are circa 2000 B.C.E.)
“I aspire of course to be Overlord of Every Pre-eminent Office
but would, if offered, consider Overseer of All Heaven Gives
and Earth Creates and the Inundation Brings, but I
will not be fobbed off with Maintainer of the Moon
or some similar trivial juridical position.
Overseer of All Tribute? It’s a possibility.”
“I insinuated into the palace as
Great Chamberlain of the Children, which
(let me whisper this) is just a transition.
When the kids come into their own I won’t
be held back by lack of family.
Overseer of the Repast, or perhaps Overseer
of the Offering, is the logical next step,
which, I believe, would even serve
to get me Guardian of the Herds of the Gods,
or Overseer of the Six Courts of Law.”
“For the time being I am a scribe
but I’m impatient to make the move
to Steward in the future. I’m sick of sitting,
scribbling on shards. I harbor hopes
for Steward of the Storehouse, or Steward of
the Two Jars – I am among the few
who comprehend the import of this position.
I suppose I could live with, though,
Steward Who Reckons Goats.”
“I started out as a Fattener of Fowl
but soon flew to become one
of the Embalmers of Anubis, who gives gifts.
Then, with Anubis behind me, I grew
to be a Carrier of the Libation Jar.
Complain? It’s been a great career.”
“I was a Washerman of the Temple and slept
content. At the end I was given permission –
how many, for heaven’s sake,
can ever aspire to anything like this? –
to wash the walls, and the floor itself,
of the inner room where the God walks.”