Author: Max Cavitch

Paul Celan and Ukraine

Paul Celan, “Schwarze Flocken” (c. 1944) translated, with a prefatory note, by Max Cavitch   With Ukraine on the front page, I feel my shadowy Russian-Jewish forbears looking over my shoulder each day, as I read stories of Moscow’s mad and murderous grab for a neo-Soviet regime. In the early years of the previous century, in some shtetl along the Dnipro River north of Kyiv, my paternal great-uncle and namesake decided it was time to flee both his tyrannical father and the bloody late-imperial pogroms. Once in the U.S., he facilitated the emigration of other family members—among them, eventually,...

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Road Umbrage

    Something about her car or the way she was driving must have caught my attention. I could see her plainly, behind the wheel: blond and pale-skinned, she was wearing a copper colored pea coat with the collar turned up. I was maybe fifty feet away, on the sidewalk, heading toward the intersection as she approached it from the opposite direction. Her light was turning red, and I watched her try to pull up into the narrow space between the curb and a larger blue sedan. The front corner of the sedan had edged just a foot or...

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Life on the Delaware; or, Comings and Goings in the Riparian Zone

The first image in this somewhat meandering (in the picturesque, river-like sense!) photo-essay depicts the spot—more or less—where over 1,000,000 people first set foot on U.S. soil. It’s at the present tip of what’s known as Pier 53, just over a mile south of my apartment in the city’s historic district. The number 53 suggests something of the scale of the old port of Philadelphia, which consisted of a dense, comb-like network of piers reaching out from Philadelphia’s riverbank into the heavily trafficked waters of the Delaware River. The tip of Pier 53, Philadelphia PA. Photo © Max Cavitch....

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Where You Still Need a Dashboard Radio

  There’s a feud of channels in these hills, vestigial, spare, like an old man’s thatches, tangling at the dial’s end with scratches of impotent invective. Warring wills interrupted by valleys of silence, exhaustion. Territories don’t apply these days. Precincts are infinite as sky when warbling waves of sound skirt every fence. I’ve driven home before, one hand on wheel, fingers scanning vague alarms, devotions; clearly tuning in depends on motion. The knob sticks; ads, sermons, songs, chatter feel all wrong. I turn again. It takes me through a hundred miles, this locking on to you. —Max...

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Driving By

DRIVING BY a mandated-vocabulary poem based on a car-financing ad furnished by Maggie Robbins But thanks for driving and not looking too surprised. You’ve considered what one makes of a possibility that time and a lease provided. At home, looking at yourself, you can see why it’s just not right to be a couple now. A home is an extremely attractive but limited thing. You’ve been downright generous with your cars (your expensive cars)—even authorized credit for a new corporation. But never one authorized dealer in affordable information. So you looked at a new program of leasing, at different...

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