January 08

B’rachot: A Catalog and Three Friends

Patty Seyburn

for Sydney

One for grass (field of sighs).
One, perfect pitch (voice’s veil).
Clocks (sun’s ascent, demise) –
you name it: blessed, wholesale.

One for bringing me to this day
should not be repeated for the same
event but once in thirty days –
attrition by repetition

when I always thought
the strategy of prayer, accretion.
Since you cannot form the sounds
for the soul’s return to the body,

I will – including your thanks
for middle and index fingers,
which sate you until the hunger says,
cry out, in perfect pitch – innate to infants.
All: cry out. (How loud the finches!
A regular Friar’s Club meeting. A ten-hen party.)

I have told you that birds say “chirp” and “tweet” –
please understand, I am a poor translator,
living off one flat ear while the other
berates the past in triple-meter,

counterpoint of Cossacks on horseback,
fields of conscience underfoot.
I am incapable even of mimicking
you mimicking me,

and so we wait for the lift
in Babel’s lobby: our speech will never
grow less confounded
than on this day – yom zeh – today,
to which we have been brought.
(The why I do not know.)

Three Friends

i. Interpret This

Butler and baker, both dreamed:
one of the vine, one of bread.
One filled up the Pharoah’s cup.
One whose crumbs the birds devoured.
You will be restored, I told
the man whose night sang of wine.
The other hanged. The birds supped.

I told the Pharoah: only
God interprets dream. I hope
you’re on good terms
, he winked. Fat
kine and full corn mean plenty.
Withered ears, of having none:
famine. Boom, bust
. No one blinked.
Once, I dreamed I was the sun.

ii. The Butler’s Quandary

Pity the baker his head
now separate from his torso
and served up tartar to birds,
hanged from the terebinth tree.
If I seem hard, it’s that I
wonder: does dream instruct fate,
or from fate take its cruel cues?

And pity poor Joseph, stuck
in jail for being too good-
looking. I forgot about
him, the good turn he did me.
Now that Pharoah’s dreams of kine
and corn keep us up at night,
should I let Joe save the day?

iii. The Baker’s Lament

My specialty was angel-
food cake: harder than it looks.
Inside each, I baked a small
angel: difficult to find,
unless you know their grottos
and habits. They like to scratch
the noses off our idols.

Of course, my source was bound to
dry up – and so, my pastries.
Jailed, I met a guy who sifts
signs and symbols. I told him
of the seven loaves atop
my head and saw his fallen
face. Aw, say it ain’t so, Joe.



Patty Seyburn is a frequently published poet, author of Mechanical Cluster and Diasporadic Poems, and Co-Editor of Pool.