Paul Lieber

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to be published in 2018
by What Books Press

Chemical Tendencies

poems by Paul Lieber
on sale now from
Tebot Bach Press





Mike the director blames
Gilbert, and Leo will never
work with Gerald again, while
Gerald fixes his wig for an hour
and sighs about everything
but particularly complains
that Jack hits him too hard
in their kidding around
fight scene. Leo used to blame
Clarence, thought he would sink
the ship while Clarence
mocks Gerald, and both
he and Leo bet which inanity
Gerald will say when he returns
to the dressing room after
Act one. Steven thinks Clarence
is a horrible actor though Leo
argues he is improving.
Jack is homophobic
so detests Gilbert who sings
show tunes backstage though
the play we are performing
is serious and everyone
watches out for Tanya who
is capable of ripping your balls
off on stage but is well behaved
but secretly complains to Dorothy,
the producer, about Mike.
Mike asks me to stand by him
when the shit flies, while
Stuart, the other producer
wants to fire Tanya, but Dorothy
believes in her. Stuart
loves me and gives me free tickets
but I can’t tell Gilbert, Leo
Tanya, Gerald, Steven or Clarence.
The Times hates the play but
likes me, Steven and Leo
so the show closes even though
Joanne Woodward loves it
and everyone except for Gerald.              

Poemeleon  the Humor Issue
“Chemcial Tendencies” 
Tebot Bach Press





It’s a mingling of the dead with
scrambled eggs and hash browns.

A way to arrange the clutter of a mind.
The civil wars at rest.  We’re at

the edge of a continent. Back in heaven.
The counter I sip at has been leaned

on for decades and the wooden booths
alongside windows alongside

the Pacific could make me weep
for booths, counters, for when the train

stopped here, for when there was a train.
Oh please, spare us eulogies to diners,

luncheonettes, to collectables. Here’s
a framed copy of an old sailboat

with the white crust of a wave, and
no wind to move it, no, no winds in here. 

Tulips next to a chess set, next to sugar.
Photos of what was and never was.

There’s the Palisades in mud a thousand
years ago.  A “Royal Air Force,” sign and one

for “Bigger Hill.”  Renaissance style copies
of sketches with renaissance garb among

pseudo-antiques.  These gargoyles, oils, and
a wall lit with easily forgotten sayings

create a forest from pawn shops where I
wouldn’t buy a thing, but I lose myself in

this labyrinth the way I can lose myself
in a broken woman.  I climb four brick stairs

to the stained glass chandeliers where
checkered floors bounce off a poster,

“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, ”by the late Tennessee
Williams, staring a dead, Paul Newman, at odds

with a dead, Elizabeth Taylor. Listen to the surf
creep to the counter.  A street lamp is a stud

with a French flag wrapped around it,
like a scarf, like my dead uncle Jack,

adorned with an ascot, ready
to light up the room.


The Moth  Issue #16






She calls from the nursing home
to tell me she’s at the cemetery,
visiting her father, and wants

to go to the Grand Concourse
and it’s easy to yearn
for the apartment that overlooked

Yankee Stadium, overlooked
that green deception,
the possibility of extra innings,

but she’s stuck in this morbid cemetery
or hospital prison so we meander
through beds and tombstones.

Yesterday she taught arts and crafts in Paraguay,
wanted my dad to come by
and sure I’d like a few words with him,

chat about the Great Depression,
the parallels to today.  We can discuss
insanity, the context, how today it’s cool to say,

I love you.  He’ll preach that communism
in the 30’s was the choice of a thinking man.
I’ll agree and break the news

that electric shock is back in fashion. 
Mom visits Elizabeth now,
an old friend in Florida and wants me to hail a cab.

We could all ride to Rego Park,
order those fresh sesame bagels,
but now she’s angry for locking her

in this God-forsaken-place and
how did I get the office number
anyway? I tell her I know

all her thoughts
and fancy dance steps. I tell her
I know all her numbers.                         

Published in     “Beyond the Lyric Moment”                           




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