Two Poems after Marc Chagall


Travis Cebula





après Le Juif et la chevre



What is the use of a goat

using the color of the Moon

on its own initiative.  But the moonshadow

mirrors a goat’s

growth, then.  the sky’s face

emerges from darkness,

and so on.  like the bow of heaven.

the arched bridge

and the Rabbi’s ear.

the farmer did not notice his own absence.

in his hole, the farmer was too busy

intending black kites to the sky

in the form of seeds.  a winter

emptiness rutted the field.

over a meal of scattered handfuls Goat asked,

If you deride

My new tent so, how then will the good Rabbi

pitch his blue Temple?

something to steal clouds

from the wind, perhaps?

Goat black skipping whispered.

Black, a proposal.

Why not create your own temple

from fabric sacks like a kite?





après La Thora sur le dos



the Scientist stories onward

While his beard grows.

to fill this small village—

to fill this void, this

village in the shade he employs

the giant and the Saintly

Box of life.  and Yes.  hypothesis or prophesy, it will

work.  The Holy box tilts

above the village, and the village is filled

to spilling with history—

with icons and threatening.

Uncertain doom in a cupboard on the wall.  Brown.

But the scientist relies on wrinkles

as a panacea against death and writers—

so written and written in stories,

they are, the people in the tiny

village.  immune as authors, then.  so that when

He gets tired—

and ultimately even God certainly


When autumn stripes Heaven’s back

with just Thunder he will sleep and

the little ones

will have to dance their best

without guidance or music.

How do you weave blankets of dust

furniture and the

Pious victims of stupidity?

stones claim they will be remembered.

Thus, they will be someday

when he remembers that he wrote their names in a history

and each with a different pen.









Travis Cebula is the author of six full-length collections of poetry, including Dangerous Things to Please a Girl, a sequence of Parisian poetry, and The Sublimation of Frederick Eckert, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press.  He is also a joyful member of the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris, France.