Samson [poem] by Mark Elber

I draw strength from the inflamed sun, from the slain gods strewn in the fields of stubble and stone
I am more than blind muscle and will, insatiable loins, iron
More than a hirsute chest Delilah would caress with one hand as she cradled my longing with the other

My pious parents cast my childhood at the feet of the angels of fertility who forbade me wine
But I fondle the unpicked fruit of vineyards with its bittersweet bouquet, afraid of God’s voice in the garden
Delilah presses grapes with her intoxicating thighs

She clutches my hair—midnight rivulets
My beard an amulet
My legs pillars to implacable heaven

Oxen shudder at my footfalls
Shrubs incinerate

I charge from the hilltops, Philistines scatter below
My hands wrench the cries from their throats
Choke their war chants

Carrying off Delilah who crowns my victory
I breach the walls, nearly dying of delight.


Image of 1930s Switchboard Operator

[Refer: This poem put the editors in mind of Stephen Dunn’s poem “The Affair.”]

Image by Luke Jones

Mark Elber grew up in New York City.  Did his undergraduate work in philosophy at U. of Penn. and graduate studies in the field of Jewish mysticism mostly at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and then back at Penn.  Been writing since his early teens.  Published poems in Mudfish, Home Planet News, The Sierra Nevada College Review, Minetta Review, Arc, and Slow Motion among others.  Won a few prizes including Undergraduate Poetry Prize at Penn and Beat Museum Poet of the Year 2007.  Residencies at Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Lake, and Arad Arts Project.  Wrote songs for 20 years and fronted a band for five of them.  Author of The Everything Kabbalah Book.  Lives in Fall River, Massachusetts where he is the rabbi at Temple Beth El.