Prizewinning Poetry

Two first place poems from the winner of the Lev Leytzan poetry slam. 

Winners of the poetry slam are pictured with judges Shira Vickar-Fox from Fresh Ink For Teens and Jodie Maoz from The Jewish Press. Pictured starting third from the left is Chayala Nachum, Sara Raizel Jedwab, Adiel Bandari, Calev Sanders and Neal Goldberg, founder and executive director of Lev Leytzan. Courtesy of Lev Leytzan. 

Editor’s Note: Lev Leytzan is a Long Island-based nonprofit focusing on medical and therapeutic clowning. Lev Leytzan works locally and internationally with volunteer and professional medical clowns to bring joy and happiness to individuals in a variety of settings experiencing hardship and pain. The subject of the poetry slam was visiting the sick.

Dressed To Impress

I dress to impress
upon this little girl
the magnitude of her bravery

I draw a too-wide smile on my face
to mimic the one she puts on display
when her family comes to visit

I paint my face white
to copy her pale complexion
as she camouflages herself
in the jungle of bleached hospital sheets
to protect herself from another coughing attack

I wear the big awkward shoes
to imitate the bigger pair
she fills herself
as she steps up to the plate
every time she is served a knuckle sandwich
which is the reason I wear the big red nose
to emulate the bloody one
she gets every time she’s knocked out
but wakes up from the anesthesia
and chooses to take another breath

The Life of a Man

* The first stanza is a quote from Ernest Hemingway

“Every man’s life ends the same way.
It is only the details of how he lived and
how he died
that distinguishes one man from another.”

It is only the details of how he lived and
not the end result
that distinguishes one man from another
in this preoccupied with product society

it is not the end result of
how he died
in this preoccupied with product society
since every man’s life ends the same

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