Seventh & Idaho by Nathaniel Gutman

Seventh & Idaho

Nothing spectacular, what grabbed my attention,
just unusual, because it was genuine,
the thank you smile and nod of the cyclist
who crossed when I stopped at the four-way
Santa Monica intersection.

Seventy, I’d say, white hair, slender, big blue eyes,
a Van Dyck portrait, take off the fur gown, millstone collar,
not the arrogant type, a humble, generous man,
a face to remember.

Wonder what he does for a living, where he lives,
his wife, what is she like, his children, grandchildren.

He looks at the oncoming truck when
he’s thrown off his bike,
falling, limber, down the asphalt,
a pool of dark, thick blood
spreads from under his
still, peaceful face.

*

Nathaniel Gutman is a filmmaker who has directed and/or written over 30 theatrical/TV movies and documentaries internationally, including award-winning Children’s Island (BBC, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel), Witness in the Warzone (with Christopher Walken), Linda (from the novella by John D. MacDonald; with Virginia Madsen). His poetry has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Tiferet Journal, Pangyrus, LitMag, Constellations, The American Journal of Poetry.

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Chiaroscuro by Nathaniel Gutman

Chiaroscuro

Mother. Weimar-style hat, face veil.
Grandfather, moustache, cigarette, papillon tie.

They pose like silent movie stars,
radiant in noir, golden-age lighting,
sepia portraits on large cotton rag sheets,
frosted silk flaps on top.
Life will never end, right?

Mother derides nostalgia: Want the photos?
Cousin David, the cardiologist, took them.

She digs out a snapshot on smaller, matte paper:
Mother, laughing, in a Tel Aviv café,
white shirt, khakis, sunglasses.
David. On a visit, 1936.

Flat, he complained, no contrast, no chiaroscuro.
Middle Eastern sun. Unforgiving blaze.

She puts them back in the worn leather folder: Here, take them.

Cousin David is gone, she says: Gone back home, to Berlin.

Gone back home, to Berlin, he couldn’t find himself here.
Gone back home, to Berlin, he loved so much.
Gone back home to Berlin and hanged himself.

*

Nathaniel Gutman is a filmmaker who has directed and/or written over 30 theatrical/TV movies and documentaries internationally, including award-winning Children’s Island (BBC, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel), Witness in the Warzone (with Christopher Walken), Linda (from the novella by John D. MacDonald; with Virginia Madsen). His poetry has appeared in The New York Quarterly, Tiferet Journal, Pangyrus, LitMag, Constellations, The American Journal of Poetry.