under the bridge

navajo my parents said
we will live on the reservation
but eight years old was not enough
to measure the importance of the move

i didn’t know it should have made
my father’s life less hell
only that my daydreams
and my treasure box
went north
out of familiar walls
green grass and the crab apple tree
to sage brush
and wind.

nine is not enough to know
words like depression and despair
but i lived them there
the trading post and house
surrounded by miles of nothing

the bridge was just a bridge on top
but underneath
the wooden beams dark with creosote
had offered some unschooled talent
a canvas for his fantasies
his brush a piece of chalk

ten was not enough to know
of coupling and such
and the revelation of differences
frightened and intrigued me
the short walk to the bridge
became a daily pilgrimage
to see if some new knowledge
had been inscribed
white lines of passion
on greasy brown boards

when the flash floods came
they washed away
the sodom and gomorrah illustrations
left me with no reason to return
except the packed sand banks
where i went back to being eleven
and carved out a city
for my matchbox cars


Artwork © Ira Joel Haber

Artwork © Ira Joel Haber


j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, and nurse practitioner. His poetry and music reflect the difficulty and joy of human interactions, and often draw inspiration from his decades of experience in healthcare. When he is not writing, composing, or diagnosing, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California.

Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer, photographer and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum and The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Since 2007 His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 160 on line and print magazines. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. He currently teaches art to retired public school teachers at The United Federation of Teachers program in Brooklyn.