Yoni Hammer-Kossoy

Spotlight: Lift / After the Rain / Caveat Emptor


Up here
even a slim wind
sets the outstretched
jib singing, but
that doesn’t bother
me any more than
the crane’s height
or cab’s close
quarters. The way
my son tells it,
you’d think I lift
a hundred tons
on my back
every day and build
those buildings
with my bare
hands. I say no,
it’s like any job,
hard hours broken
by bouts of stress,
and I don’t know
why the words
come out sharp
as they do, any more
than I could explain
the catch of breath
early morning
when a low sky
goes crimson,
and crows call
below my feet,
or name the sense
of tight-rope balance
that might happen,
mid-shift, when
construction site
suddenly becomes
circus dance.
I can point
in every direction
to apartments
I’ve helped raise,
yet when a project ends,
and I’m on the ground,
it’s always
the disappointments
I strain to stack away
like overloaded
pallets of cement.

After the Rain

If I were keeping score
the way we did when I was a kid
on an index card my dad taped
to a kitchen cabinet door
and marked presumed & confirmed
with squat black tallies
for all the dead things
our inside-out cat left
as casual offerings of love
then the pomegranate tree’s leaves
I find one damp December morning
strewn like golden feathers
across the backyard grass
would count as one point
while the tree itself shaken
bare to the bone save a few
forgotten husks of fruit
would count as three.

Caveat Emptor

Displayed on a patch of worn velvet,
the egg is bigger than any egg
you’ve ever seen,
heavier than a full-grown
chicken and must be held gingerly
with both hands
like the start of an idea.

But don’t let the salesman
see that quicksilver wonder,
and when he promises
a gourmet dinner
if it’s boiled for an hour
or better yet, a chance to hatch an ostrich
if incubated for six weeks,
you would be wise to consider
the merits of a fast, empty-handed exit.

For this is no curly-haired puppy
to be housebroken in a cardboard box
but a modern-day dinosaur
that will grow a foot more each month
until you’re forced to turn your bedroom
into a cage with a wire fence door
and the shutters mostly down
to keep away the neighbors.

He will peck with curiosity
at all things shiny, like your watch
or wedding ring, and get spooked
by sudden movement including you
bringing breakfast and dinner.

He will hiss and never sing,
rage at your kids
with his feather-duster wings,
want to run on those backward legs
and broken ballerina toes
but have nowhere to go.

He will learn to hate you,
and you will hate
the glossy black mirror
of his prehistoric eye,
until this shared knot splits
like a rotten peach pit
and you drag him to the street
and walk away not caring
if he is hit by a bus or rescued
away to the zoo.

If only to feel relief
and not just regret
for the first time in a year
when you go back inside
to broken-shell silence.

yoni_hammer_kossoy - photo_ResizedOriginally born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Yoni Hammer-Kossoy has been living in Israel with his family for almost twenty years. His work has recently appeared in Unbroken, Pidgeonholes, and the Hermeneutic Chaos Journal, and you can connect with him on Twitter @whichofawind.