First edition | poetry

First Edition features new original works by Northern California Jewish writers. Appearing the first issue of each month, it includes a poem and an excerpt from a novel or short story.


Lunch with Saul Bellow

by murray silverstein

“So,” I say, “Saul, how is love lavished, anyway?”

“Sideways,” says Bellow, “preferring the sneak attack.”

“And why is it lavished?” “Easy,” says Saul, “to keep

hate company, slogging its way to the heart, the heart

by way of the noggin.” “And love itself is spun

from what?” I ask. “Stars,” says Bellow, “and suns

that light the forms of love are metaphors for meta-love.”

“Whoa!” I say, “slow down.” “Dante,” says Bellow.

“Ahh, but love and brains are housed,” I say

“in sagging and flagging bodies. “Joke,” says Bellow,

“Knock-knock.” “Who’s there?” I bite. “Soul,”

says Saul. “Okay,” I say, “Soul who?” “See,” he says

like I’m taking his class, “Not what, not where, but who,

Soul Whoo … ” And the doves in the trees whisper, hoo-hoo-cooo.

“Listen,” says Bellow, draining his glass, “Build a house

of stories, tangled with other stories — Augie begat

the Rain King for Humboldt’s Gift.” I stare

at his empty glass — he’s dead. “Despair is for dopes,”

he says, “sadness but the marrow of the want bone.”

Hoo-coo, chime the doves, the invisible doves, hoo-hoo-cooo. n


Murray Silverstein’s new collection, “Master of Leaves,” was published last month by Sixteen Rivers Press. His first book of poems, “Any Old Wolf,” received the 2007 Independent Publisher medal for poetry. His poems have recently appeared in “Chapter & Verse, Poems of Jewish Identity.” A practicing architect, he lives in Oakland.

Works may be submitted to fiction editor Ilana DeBare at [email protected] or poetry editor Joan Gelfand at [email protected] Fiction excerpts may run up to 2,500 words, but only 800 words will appear in the print edition, with the rest appearing online. All prose and poetry published to date can be viewed at