I leave my aroma, strong enough to put out the lights or clear a room, to Cassie, my vegan lover, who can use it to protect her patch of vegetables and plants. I leave a pile of hair to my pillow, to the many dust bunnies leaping from room to room, to the finches looking for fur to line their nests. I leave all my best insults to Sri Lanka, formerly Louis, who has stolen most of them anyway and used them on me. I leave all my complaints and problems to Ellie, so she will never run out of problems or complaints. I leave my tears to my sister of the dry eyes, to the dying clouds that no longer bring rain, to the merciless gods that tear away our roots. I leave half of my dirt and garbage bags to the bear, who pillages my dumpster, the other half to the compost heap. Please wrap my heart up and fly it on ice to the tin man or woman who needs it the most. Please plant my seeds in a billion warm vaginas. Please deliver a small portion of my ashes once a month through direct deposit to some deserving soul, and let the bees carry my pollen in swarms. I leave my bones as the building blocks of the Third Temple. What have I forgotten? Oh yes, and always set a place for me at the table and leave the door open. When you least expect it, I’ll be back for dinner.
The snake disguised as Satan handed Eve the fruit of the forbidden tree. “Eat this,” he said, “and you’ll know everything.” Her breasts sore from bug bites and her shoulders sunburned, she was ready to listen to reason. “How can I be sure you’re really Satan,” she asked. The snake coiled around the tree, opened his fanged mouth. “You’re a snake, she said, “not Satan.” “Satan comes in many forms,” he replied. She bit into the fruit, as Adam emerged from the foliage. Now she could see God hovering in the mist, floating in the swarms of insects, showering over everything like rays of sun. Now she knew that she was naked in a garden and could hear a voice walking in the heat of the afternoon. Sap oozed from the trunks of trees. Sweat dripped from leaves and needles. Flowers breathed noxious fumes. Now she could see that there was no snake, no Satan, only God testing her and Adam. She covered herself with a garment of leaves, swatting insects away from her body. “Give me the apple,” Adam said. “First kill the snake,” she replied, “and then we’ll talk.”
We executed one king because of his murderous ways—dead bodies piled up in the streets as if there had been another plague. We executed another king because he taxed us into oblivion, then took our homes and accounts, our passwords opening into empty cyber space. We executed another king because he turned our daughters into concubines and our sons into slaves. And we executed another king because, we couldn’t raise enough livestock, couldn’t harvest enough vegetables and grain to satisfy his greed and gluttony. Now no one wanted to be king, so we decided we would all be kings.
We took over the palace and the stores. We held parades in our honor. We issued decrees and created new laws to sustain us. Soon the killing, plundering, and pillaging resumed. Then we executed ourselves.
Jeff Friedman’s seventh book—a collection of prose poems, fables and mini tales—is forthcoming from Plume Editions/MadHat Press. His poems, mini stories and translations have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, New England Review, The Antioch Review, Poetry International, Plume, Hotel Amerika, Flash Fiction Funny, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Agni Online, The New Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish Poets, New Flash Fiction Review, The New Republic and numerous other literary magazines. Dzvinia Orlowsky’s and his translation of Memorials by Polish Poet Mieczslaw Jastrun was published by Lavender Ink/Dialogos in August 2014. Friedman and Orlowsky were awarded an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship for 2016. Nati Zohar and Friedman’s book of translations Two Gardens: Modern Hebrew Poems of the Bible, was recently published by Singing Bone Press.