Poetry by Neil Silberblatt


The strawberries do not put up much of a fight
as I make my incision
and smoothly cut away the offending stem.
They do not struggle or squirm
or even wince in anticipatory pain.

There is some strawberry blood
spilled, but it is sweet
and does not detract from the overall
smoothness of the operation.

I was not there when they sliced into you
the first time
to remove a growth then
no larger than a strawberry.
It could not have been so smooth.
The scar silently bears witness to that.

Afterwards, though, you were as forgiving
and sweet
as the berries which,
like you,
calmly await the knife’s next blow.


A Bowl of Red (for Vernon)

You spoke that day of heat,
the way the Inuit speak of snow
with reverence and fear,
not in celsius or fahrenheit,
but in scoville units.

A good bowl of red demands cayenne
you insisted, and lots of it
as though a bowl of red has ever demanded anything
but a cold glass with a nice foam.

We debated as to whether red or white - or any -
beans should be used, and which peppers,
as though debating matters of great import,
not recalling which side I advanced in this great debate
other more pressing matters having arisen
or fallen.

You spoke of fire,
as a man well acquainted with heat
not on the skin, but on the tongue.
As it turns out, you were scared of neither.

That morning, after you raced inside the melting towers,
another heat embraced you
kissing you full on the mouth.
In truth, a bowl of red can make do without cayenne
or beans or peppers.
It demands only a cook with a taste for fire,
and will wait patiently on the stove until he returns.


Neil Silberblatt’s poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in various journals, including Poetica Magazine, The Otter, The Aurorean, Two Bridges Review, Verse Wisconsin, Naugatuck River Review, Chantarelle’s Notebook, and The Good Men Project. His work has been included in the anthology, Confluencia in the Valley: The First Five Years of Converging with Words (Naugatuck Valley Community College, 2013); and in University of Connecticut’s Teacher-Writer magazine. He has published two poetry collections: So Far, So Good (2012), and Present Tense (2013). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and one of his poems received Honorable Mention in the 2nd Annual OuterMost Poetry Contest (2014), judged by Marge Piercy. Neil is the founder of Voices of Poetry - which has presented poetry events, featuring distinguished poets & writers, at various venues throughout CT, NYC and Cape Cod - and host of the Poets Corner program on WOMR/WFMR (out of Provincetown, MA), for which he has interviewed acclaimed poets both on and off the Cape. This past fall, he taught a three-part class on the Poetry of War - from Troy to Afghanistan as part of the Lifetime Learning Program at Snow Library in Orleans, MA. 

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