Hunterdon Poets Workshop: Bob Rosenbloom


When I went sight-seeing, I couldn’t

get over how much the eroded rock

looked like layers of corned beef

and pastrami, the redder rock, the meat,

the paler, in-between, outcroppings,

layers of fat my mother made a point

of asking me to ask the guys at the deli counter

to cut. It should never have been an issue.

Sometimes they did. Other times, they didn’t.

My mother would let me know how I did each trip.

They took advantage of you, she sometimes said.

Of course, I could barely reach across

the counter by the hot dogs and knishes

up front to hand the guy the money

and get back the list my parents gave me.

This was a case of Jew screwing Jew.

We were hungry, willing victims.

This happened just about every week.

My wife and I walked the Southern Rim.

The weather-beaten, time-worn rock

just hung there like a photo.

Next to the fencing which kept most people

from acting like fools and walking out on ledges,

there were small desert trees and bushes,

like sprigs of parsley topping off potato salad.

When I told my parents I thought I was an atheist,

they said the world will always

remind me I’m a Jew.

It turns out, they were right.

(First published in LIPS Magazine)

About the Author

Bob Rosenbloom lives in Bound Brook with his family. His poems have appeared in US 1 Poets CooperativeLIPSTiferetPaterson Literary ReviewEdison Literary Review. He’s a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. In another life, as they say, he was a stand-up comedian.

About the Hunterdon Poets Workshop

“It is necessary to any originality to have the courage to be an amateur.” ~Wallace Stevens

“Imagination is the instrument of compassion.” ~Zbigniew Herbert

The Hunterdon Poets Workshop is a monthly (September-May) Sunday afternoon gathering of published and emerging writers in our community. Our dialogue on poetry crosses generations and cultures, as participants range in age from the early 20s to the mid-90s. Many bring drafts of poems to share or come for a poetry prompt. The workshop size is limited to eight, and members are always thoughtful and encouraging. It’s a privilege for me to help nurture the voices of talented poets and writers in our Workshop.

Vasiliki Katsarou, Instructor