Wednesday, September 1, 2021




Discontinued American


I’m one of those discontinued Americans.


I was born in the 20th century,

but my mind is in the 19th

and now it’s the 2lst.


I’m one of those discontinued Americans.


I still believe in the Constitution,

the Pledge of Allegiance,

the Statue of Liberty, and

“The Star Spangled Banner.”


Yes, I’m all for multiculturalism,

when it means the mix

of the best of those cultures,

when it means the crossing over

of theirs with ours, ours with theirs.


An accommodation of the highest order.


I don’t believe in getting rid of the English language

to be replaced by the Babel of the many.

Surely they make a lovely mix,

adding to our nation of Immigrants.


But let’s keep the best of the bedrock of America

while accepting the best of the new.


I’m one of those discontinued Americans.


You’ll find me in the antique shops

of SoHo, Chinatown, Little Italy,

in New York, Boston, San Francisco.


I’m still here,

I’m continuing,

and I’m not going away.


First published in the Broom Review #2 (208)


Sheliach Mitzvah


In Jerusalem, he gave me a dollar

to give to a needy man somewhere in New York,

a blessed message that, I’m told, would protect me:

“The messenger of a good deed comes to no harm.”

So I carried it like a live coal in my pocket,

wondering how I would get through airline security.

I fingered it like a worry bead, like a Hindu crystal,

all the long journey from Tel Aviv to New York.

It glowed hot and fiery all the car trip

back to my home in Merrick, Long Island,

And all night long it threatened to burst into flames.

The next morning, I drove into Manhattan,

sought out a truly worthy-looking homeless man,

took out the dollar, stuck it in is hand, glad to be rid of it,

like the flask in the Stevenson tale of “The Bottle Imp.”

As I turned away, I heard a crack, a sound of thunder.

I turned back and there was fire—flames burst

out of the hand of the homeless man!

All the homeless men were burning like the beggars

and cripples and poor in the legend of Vlad Țepeș.

All New York was ablaze.  The world, too, was ending in fire,

while I was frozen, turned to a pillar of ice.


From O Jerusalem by Stanley H. Barkan

with complementary photographs by Ron Agam

(Cross-Cultural Communications, 1996)





After twelve weeks of sheltered in place / quarantined, because of the

Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” now in the form

of Covid -19, the virus borne out of Wuhan, my wife Bebe is suffering

from advanced shpilkes.  Every day she says, “When is this going to end?!

Like all Jewish women, she loves shopping, so much so, that no matter


how bad her back pain is, and she’s shopping, it immediately disappears.

So, now deprived for so long, she cleans out her clothes closet, finds an

old blouse and skirt, doesn’t recall when she wore them before, thus

it’s like a replacement for shopping.  Yesterday, she put on the old/new

blouse and skirt, and went looking for more in the now cleaned-up closet.


For the rest of yesterday, she didn’t seem to be suffering too much from

shpilkes, but, every once in a while, she would cry out, “Dr. Kervorkian,

where are you when I need you?!”  And so it goes when a woman is deprived

of Century 21, Nordstrom’s Off the Rack, Sachs Off Fifth,  and other boutiques.

For now, Bebe’s closet will have to do, a short respite for her shpilkes.


From a new collection in process, Fifteeners,

after the 15-line poems in William Heyen’s Vehicles (2020)




STANLEY H. BARKAN, editor/publisher of Cross-Cultural Communications, which in 2020 is celebrating its 50th Anniversary with 500 books in print, and as many broadsides and postcards and audio-visual productions in 60 languages (ranging from Arabic to Yiddish).  CCC has also hosted numerous literary events throughout the United States and in many parts of the world (Argentina, Bulgaria, Poland, Puerto Rico, Sicily, Wales), at such locations in New York as the International Center, Poets House, the Yale Club, and the Dag Hammerskjöld Auditorium of the United Nations.  His own work has been published in 29 poetry editions, many bilingual, including Armenian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Dutch, Farsi/Persian, Italian, Romanian, Russian, Sicilian, Spanish.   His most recent books are As Still as a Broom, translated into Spanish by Isaac Goldemberg (2018) and Pumpernickel, translated into Farsi/Persian by Sepideh Zamani (2019) (both published by Oyster Bay, NY: New Feral Press), and More Mishpocheh, with illustrative photos and art by the author’s wife, Bebe Barkan (Swansea, Wales: The Seventh Quarry Press, 2018).  Also, in 2017, he was awarded the Homer European Medal of Poetry & Art.   Barkan lives with his wife in Merrick, Long Island, where his son and daughter and five grandchildren also reside.

1 comment :

  1. Love the cosmopolitan attitude expressed in our first poem !