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the deep dive

The Deep Dive is vox poetica‘s newest feature, in which poets take a closer look at the world around them by exploring a theme, an image, or a historic or current event and writing about it at length. To inquire about submitting to the Deep Dive series, email with the subject line DEEP DIVE.

In this edition of “The Deep Dive,” we pair artwork and poems by KJ Hannah Greenberg and Nancy Ramsey. Both women are artists and poets, and more examples of their collaboration are available here, here, here, here, here, and here

City Ginko by KJ Hannah Greenberg

City Ginko by KJ Hannah Greenberg

City Ginkgo
By Nancy Ramsey

Able to grow on
Our limited resources—
Water, space and air.

Compelled by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Compelled by KJ Hannah Greenberg

By Nancy Ramsey

To tell you
What she knows,
Who said what,
Which one offended.
Compulsed to vomit
Each thought,
Every feeling,
All the words swirling
In her deranged head.

August by KJ Hannah Greenberg

August by KJ Hannah Greenberg

By Nancy Ramsey

The forest smelled of animal today.
Humidity drawing out the stench
Of every living thing,
Dying thing.
Every decaying thing
Melded together,
The animalistic funk
Of summer woods.

Prescribed Circumstances by Nancy Ramsey

Prescribed Circumstances by Nancy Ramsey

Prescribed Circumstances
By KJ Hannah Greenberg

Under prescribed circumstances, the universe unraveled me, fixed
Triumphs as small, while validating the totality of evolution (sway
Employs all available mises toward the end of stopping campaigns.)

Behind bars, I dream of feeding large rations of starfruit to captains,
Anticipating the fruit’s oxalic acid or the superiors’ habitual quaffing
Might successful produce a downfall; every nemesis has weaknesses.

Battles measuring faithfulness, precipitously blossom after governors
Stop coping with collective oddities, cease snapping fingers at enemy
Resources, stop wasting installations of men, land, money, education.

Sans additional ways of dissipating lingering pain, falling asleep in
One’s drink becomes an opportunity to understand commanders of
Star faring vessels, to empathize with aliens of baser, weirder kinds.

Accordingly, aspirants to elevated commission, intergalactic squads,
Inspired by both four and two-footed varieties of lizards, epitomize
Murder as an especially vicious, sensible, prescribed circumstance.

Given that exigency, outlanders shame voiced interests, sophomoric
Fancies. They toss enough jewels into galactic holes to restore faith
In human activities, produce mislaid synchronization, give comfort.

Not citizens, not rioters, rather, visitor-staffed competitive lotteries
Keep our emphasis on contrasting premises attractive in their dark,
Or grotesque landscapes of genocide and of conventional massacres.

After all, staying up late to watch wildebeest graze on promotories,
To take tea, to buy a book’s automated edition, or to engage lawful
Double-dealers, engenders virtuous interaction’s visceral moments.

Quincunx by Nancy Ramsey

Quincunx by Nancy Ramsey

By KJ Hannah Greenberg

There were five helpings of shashuka in your dish,
All dotted with cheese and layered with onions.

When I closed my eyes, I could envision your sibs;
The boys, the girl, and the one most uncertain.

Dice and roses level shapes. Hearts, too, insist
That basic geometries remain respected.

Maybe later, when you’re a grandma, you’ll
Recall your spouse’s unwelcome to me.

The Pattern in the Keris Blade by Nancy Ramsey

The Pattern in the Keris Blade by Nancy Ramsey

The Pattern in the Keris Blade
By KJ Hannah Greenberg

Holy City pamor offers no furrowed benevolence.
Welded wrought iron and nickel repeatedly marry
Skin, muscle, sinew, blood, marking pain’s union,
Also death. Acid etches no glamour except motifs
Sodden with righteous persons’ essences, dreams.

At times, it’s quiet sanctity vs. sinister, peripetatic
Occupants. Ultimately, sandstone walls safeguard
Even miscreants conveying knife-wrought murder.
In spite of our pledge to The Creator, our phronesis,
Long generations of cousins demand our extinction.

Independent of dear Jerusalem’s golden bulwarks,
Chiefly, beyond her ramparts, bitter ale swallowed
Proves fidelity to diaspora’s propaedeutic dictates
(Charity collectors’ qualified honesty feels “taxing”
Because people seek diversions instead of virtue.)

While outsized sums are customarily sent via email,
Bounteous donations bestowed by hand may shock.
Equally, many publics presenting “official verifies”
Slough significant portions of fortune, yet continue
Discounting our heart of hearts, keep shirking Zion.

A dissimilar sentiment, not some paramount luck,
Characterizes sunlight, shuns treif, keeps Shabbat.
We oughtn’t circumvent dwelling in Eretz Yisrael.
Aliyah’s imperative. Living abroad doesn’t dispel
Mitzvot, just complicates ways we actualize them.

Our Torah, our faith, can’t exist as syncretic ends
Despite obsequious villains’ scrim-hidden, fleshy
Means’ arguments. Evil disregards how slaughter
Re-claims courage in alleyways. Eternally, Anti-
Semitism, Israel bashing, ruck up shared potency.