Friday, September 4, 2009

David Berman (the "Silver Jew") and Rauan Klassnik (Me): High School Poetry -- A Tale (as always) of Two Cities

David Berman (poet and lead singer of the "Silver Jews") went to high school with me. He was a year ahead of me. Taller than me (I think). We talked a few times. We were together on the Greenhill 1985 Quiz Bowl team. Along with Melinda Menzer and Kyle Rovinsky. On the way down to our 2nd round competition we drank some beers. (Melinda didn't.) We lost badly. This guy named "Ali" answered nearly every question. O, well.

David Berman (the "Silver Jew" and Rauan Klassnik (born and raised Jewish and not denying it) both had poems in Greenhill's 1985 Literary Journal: Montage.

That copy of "Montage" is on my desk now. David Berman has two poems in it: "A Prayer" and "Blue Screams." I have one: "My Little Brother."

Here (in its entirety) is David Berman's "Prayer"


A Prayer

Within the parentheses of my gleeful sarcasm,
it reads,
I’m sorry.
And when I’m speaking within my parentheses
I find
real truths I give to you
while trying to uphold false ones simultaneously.
And it all made me think of the time in your automobile,
when the cold, gray silence came through the windows.
Dead, we stared—sad.
Tears frozen within lids.
Words frozen within parentheses.

And here are two sections (it's a 7-section poem) from "Blue Screams"

(Section I)

…Blue screams smash my window
To be old
To be made of rotting wood
I’ll stand under those shuddering mouths until the pain is everything
and everything is blue...
feeding the meaning of life in small portions
they make me sick
expelling the time-honoured prejudices
and decadent philosophies on the bathroom floor.
Always emptiness of soul leads me back to the food of ignorance
no choices exist...
fatmen are knocking on my bedroom door--- better not open it
Wonder if that means I'm not a child anymore?


(Section VII)

Three eggs on a formica table
one for father mother child
Incorporated religion for breakfast
eating the father son and holy ghost
spoonfed dogma
"Mother I don't feel well"
"Finish your food son"
Forcing poison into a mind breaking free
"Mother I think I'm gonna be sick"
"Eat your food or be punished son"
"Honor thy father and mother for it is right that you should"
"Oh go to hell"
I'd like to curl up like an embryo and swim around in father's soup...
She lives on tree-lined street
with striped carpets
and she never gets sick
her yellow haired daughters take toast to school
It seemed a palace of contentment
until my dog threw up all over
their lives...


In 1985 David Berman knew how to write.

On the other hand, I, Rauan Klassnik, wrote this:


My Little Brother


He looks at the soft inviting grass,
and wants to run and play in it.
I look at the same grass,
and view it in a different light.
Noticing how wild and high it grows,
I swear obscene things, my little brother hasn't heard,
as I know it must be mowed,
and I am the family mower.
I despise the sun and rain,
which give life to rampant growth,
and when the winter months come,
and the grass is short and hard,
unreceptive to the little one's playful touch,
I become elated beyond description,
yet wearily wait for the messengers of spring,
and swear again, when those birds return,
singing the eternal ode to nature,
and watch my brother, filled with happiness,
playing in the grass.

1 comment:

Reb said...

You know Rauan, some of us are just late bloomers. No shame in that.