Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Walk with me on rocky paths along an algaed-creek

Your off-lead dog leading us

Walk with me shivering on ice carpets

To tres bon restaurants and palaces of art

Walk with me past Middle Age baby Jesus painted gold

Sit with me, in a chair for one, our glassed-over eyes scanning for significance

Your side pressed close to mine, comforting

Sit with me on your porch puffing smoke into the evening air

Your dog dropping slobbered toys on our laps

Sit with me, let’s watch grass grow and wither

Leaves fall and reappear

Ride me, cry out to me with naught to tell me but my name

Ride me, your hips and lips erasing all words mis-written on my page

Ride me to that oblivion where the whole world shoots through us quaking

Delude me, tell me I’m not unimportant, I’m your one

Delude me, let me hope our love endures all nights to come

Delude me, and kiss me when you walk me to the door.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

American Identity Card

I composed the following poem in 2011, frustrated that America backed Israel's efforts to block the declaration of Palestinian statehood. The point of departure is a famous lament by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

Inscribe that I’m American
With a treasury overfull of empty promises
I give borrowed money to your enemies
To buy the truncheons thwacking your knees
My silence highers a concrete wall between your eyes
and your uprooted trees
While bullets rip the flesh of destinies
And fiery ordnance whose solemn syllable decrees
Deceitful vows of vengeances

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


by Gus Ginsburg

Our moon bathes in sunlight
And we admire his scarred handsomeness
When our world with its bills and bickering interposes
Blocking the moon’s view of his beloved
He knows her smile is not for him
His face darkens like a man too-oft defeated
Outshone by every tiny insignificant star

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Translation of my Hebrew Poem

I awoke from a wondrous dream
And found a hair, long and brunette
Asleep on my pillow
A souvenir of evenings of joyful give-and-take
And desire which shook the world
Hewing smiles onto the faces of blushing gods

The thin hair which emanated and fell
Framed affection-bearing eyes
And naughty bitey teeth
And curled lips, aroused
From which flowed words wise and funny
This same hair is a complex universe in itself
A double-helix book, her recipe inscribed

I grasped the hair in my hand
And raised her universe to my lips
And kissed what remained of her
I awoke alone

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

התעוררתי מחלום מופלא

ומצאתי שערה חומה וארוכה

ישנה על פני כרי

מזכרת ערבים מלאים במשא ומתן עליז

ותאווה שהרעידה את העולם

שחצבה חיוכים בפני האלהים הסמוקים

השערה הדקיקה שנבעה ונפלה

מיסגרה עיניים הרוחשות חיבה

ושיניים הנושכות ושובבות

ושפתיים כנופות ומגורות

זרמו מהן מילים מצחיקות וחכמות

ואותה שערה היא תבל מורכבת בעצמה

ספר סליל-כפול ורשום בו מתכונהּ

אחזתי את השערה בידי

והגבתי את תבלהּ לפי

ונשקתי את שנשארה איתי

והתעוררתי ערירי

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I haven't updated lately. I was hoping for some good news regarding publication of Bride of the Golem, but haven't yet received it, though I am still optimistic. In the meantime, I had some very sad news, namely, that the Bride of Ginsburg has had enough of me and wants to divorce. So of late I've been preoccupied with figuring out what to do and where to go next--Haifa and Austin were my top choices--and packing up my library [oh if I only had it all on an e-reader!] and other belongings. So last Friday, against my will, I signed a Get (a Jewish bill of divorce) releasing a woman I still love very dearly from her marriage to me. I don't think I've ever NOT wanted anything so badly in my life. I've come back to Austin for the time being, though Haifa might still be a possibility. I have many pals and loved ones in Texas and they are easing the pain of losing my best friend. I suppose that sounds a bit harsh. We are splitting as amicably as possible, and she's been mostly kind and considerate during this process. Nonetheless, for over a decade and a half, she was my dance partner in crime, travelling companion and a million things more. Although at times I go to pieces about the split up, I am also very grateful to her for fifteen beautiful years. Back in the place I used to call home, things have been surprisingly good. In addition to seeing some of my favorite people, I've had breakfast tacos, several varieties of Shiner and Live Oak beer and Hyde Park fries. I heard an amazing jazz ensemble last night at The Elephant Room. I swam in Barton Springs Pool today--a few of the ladies were swimming and sunbathing topless, and boobs miraculously improve my mood. Tonight I am seeing one of my favorite bands, The Gourds. And soon, very soon, a publisher will say "you are hereby Holy to me with this contract according to the laws of copyright" to The Bride of the Golem. And we'll all dance a hora. GG

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A Charming Story at the Liars' League

One of my favourite things to do here in London is to attend short story readings by professional actors at the Phoenix Pub in Cavendish Square. Last week I especially enjoyed a story by Steve Wasserman of the Short Story Book Club. I am posting a link to the delightful reading of "Kiss-Kill", a story in epistolary form of a seduction. When done well, like i this piece and also Frobisher's chapters in David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas or the chapters narrated by Eunice Park in Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story epistolary storytelling can be quite effective. I've also seen it done badly, but not this time. What makes it work is the strength of the narrative voice Wasserman employs, which is carried well, indeed, enhanced by Cliff Chapman's reading. Why not experience it for yourself? Here's the link:


Sunday, January 15, 2012

On Returning to Austin for a week

I arrived at the Austin airport, turned the radio to Ko-op 91.7, and was serenaded by the legendary Don Walser (z"l) yodeling like God's favorite angel, welcoming me home. I'm very lucky to have heard him play back in the 1990s, his audience a mix of his family, traditional country western enthusiasts, and tattooed & pierced alternative people. He walked table to table at Jovita's greeting those who came out to see him. In 1994, I watched him with pride as he and Jimmie Dale Gilmore opened for Johnny Cash at the Erwin Center.

What else can I report? I'm making a concentrated effort to arrange a ketubah signing for Bride of the Golem. Will pass along the good news when it is confirmed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Erinna Mettler's Starlings Revisited

Several months ago at a Liars League event in London, I won a review copy of Erinna Mettler's Starlings. This novel is a set of craftily interwoven stories taking place in Brighton, each chapter following a character. I found it a compelling read--I finished it in two or three days, largely because I enjoyed it and wanted to see what happened next.

I especially enjoyed that the author took risks--narrating one incident from two points of view, and presenting one chapter as a manuscript of a short story, and we're not sure whether we should view this particular chapter in the story as a "real" and thinly veiled account of something which happened to her, or if it is an original work of fiction by the character in the chapter. Fiction within fiction, or a clever new narrative device. In addition to the cleverness of the narrative, and the intricacy of the plot, the characters in this set of stories are well-developed and masterfully depicted.

Mettler is a VERY talented new writer.

The publisher is Revenge Ink. I noted that my review copy was full of typographical errors--numerous instances of hard returns improperly dissecting paragraphs, quotation marks turned the wrong way, and several other errors, which were more than a little distracting. The author informed me that the copy I have is merely a review copy and that these were cleaned up in the final printing. How times have changed for the publishing industry! Twenty years ago, I worked as a proofreader for a small press, and if we had printed a review copy with a quarter of that number of typos, I'd have been fired immediately. I was holding off posting my review until I'd seen the proper printed version of Mettler's Starlings, so that I could verify her claim. Which leads me to problem number 2: Whenever I happen to walk into Daunt or Waterstones or Foyle's or even the public library, I've checked to see if they have a copy of the book, so I can compare it to the review copy, but I've not seen the book anywhere. Which leads me to lament Revenge Ink's distributive capabilities. I hope with her next novel, Mettler signs on with a proper publisher which will give her the editorial attention and the distribution she very richly deserves. I'd truly hate to see this gem of a book linger in obscurity. Mettler is too good a writer to remain unknown and unread.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Short Stories of note

I think the majority of people--at least those who can afford to do so--like to watch certain movies more than once. This is why DVDs sell so well, for repeat viewings. I'm no different, though we don't own very many DVDs.

I never reread novels, as life is short, and there are so many out there I want to read before I draw my last breath. I do sometimes reread short stories I enjoyed. Here are some I have experienced and enjoyed more than once:

1) Allison Amend's "The People You Know Best" in her collection Things that Pass for Love.

2) Shalom Auslander's "Bobo the Self-Hating Chimp," "Somebody Up There Likes You," and "God is a Big Happy Chicken," in his book Beware of God. When I taught Hebrew school at a Reform Synagogue a few years ago, I even had my students read "God is a Big Happy Chicken" --a slightly bowdlerized version of it (minus the cussing and sexual reference) to illustrate the point that there's beauty in the traditions even if the students found parts of the Torah spurious and objectionable.

3) Franz Kafka's "The Bucket Rider".

4) Agnon's "That Tzaddiq's Etrog," "To Father's House," and "At the Outset of the Day." Best read in the original Hebrew to see his unparalleled use of language. I only have one of these in the Hebrew at present, so I know what I'm buying the next time I visit Steimatzky's.

5) Etgar Keret's אף אחד לא מבין את הקוואנטים in צנורות, translated into English as "Quanta" in The Girl on the Fridge. Keret's story על ערכו התזונתי של החלום (translated as "On the Nutritional Value of Dreams") is my absolute favourite short story. Keret is even more superbly and surreally imaginative than Kafka and Agnon.

6) Miranda July's "This Person" in Nobody Belongs Here More Than You.

7) Ingeborg Bachmann's "Undine Goes." I've blathered about this story before. I think it would make a supreme oratorio for a single soprano, and I hope someday a composer more skilled than myself will match its poetic eloquence with rich musical accompaniment.

8)Borges' "Library of Babel," "The Secret Miracle," and "Averroes' Search." His stories are for those who love history, literature, and the history of knowledge.

9) Jonathan Lethem's "Access Fantasy."

I've recently encountered a few remarkable short stories in Best British Short Stories 2011. I especially enjoyed "Love Silk Food" by Leone Ross and "So Much Time in a Life" by Heather Leach. I look forward to reading more of their work.