poetry quarterly

10th anniversary


Michael Blumenthal



It is better
than leaving your wife or your nagging lover
could ever be.

It is better than anything
you have ever bought, better
than the best nights of sex in your life,
even better than quitting your job.

As you open your door to reclaim your feet
from the hungry clutch, you know
you are on to something: You are suddenly
a drowning man whose last stride has found
the ocean floor, a vagabond with a roof
over his head for the first time.

Around you, mothers curse red lights,
men in wide ties are reduced to a hilarious impotence.
All the revving in the world will not move them,
all their stalled money cannot buy rain.

And there you are,
Toyota-less and dancing to the Cadillac pace
of sure movement. Johnny Travolta Fred Astaire
by God the world is beautiful and glass-less
and the Shah of Iran too is stalled in some Siberia
with his billions and his quiet wife, and all the oil
wells in the world will not lead him from his private Rosslyn.

If you go anywhere, dear Shah,
you must learn to trust your feet again,
I call to him from my clean and snow-swept escalator
to the nation's capital, and move on—

a ribbon whirling between the stalled cars
on these beautiful bridges,
calling Goodbye Exxon
Goodbye gas-line anti-freeze

Goodbye you ugly Detroit.


Michael Blumenthal graduated from the Cornell Law School with a J.D. degree in 1974, after studying philosophy and economics at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He lived in Washington, DC from 1974 to 1983. His seventh book of poems, And, was published by BOA Editions in May, 2009. In addition to poetry, he has published a memoir, All My Mothers and Fathers, a novel, Weinstock Among The Dying, winner of Hadassah Magazine's Harold U. Ribelow Prize for the best work of Jewish fiction and recently re-issued in paperback, and a collection of essays about Central Europe, When History Enters the House. He is a translator from the German, French and Hungarian. Formerly Director of Creative Writing at Harvard, Blumenthal currently holds the Copenhaver Visiting Chair of Law at The University of West Virginia College of Law.


Published in Volume 11, Number 4, Fall 2010.