Ariel Resnikoff

from 'YINGLOSSIA' forthcoming in 'Unnatural Bird Migrator'

[Scheduled for publication July 2020 by the Operating System, for which pre-orders are available here. Posted here as a major event in our poetry. (J.R.)]


Y I N G L O S S I A / / B E H I N D T H E S C H O L A


for Pierre Joris


**quick quickly, the beggar watchman elijah cuts young mens’ pious at an all-time low: “now
cut it short!”

have you finished the dirty work?

pins in needles in his toe, (a spanking-new proverb preaching another wretched thing:
                  just think how it reflects

on the religious

democrazy! the very rich [lit. stone rich] strong & brave, shitting sorrel grass

 soup — piece-pits in a leafy green stew (yiddishism,

idiomatic for those inclined to heretics: “one who becomes dumb like a piece of wood”
[lit. loses speech])

 — tell the children (‘s children! some fool. a bit of piece tricks the smaller bits toward quiet death. prideful sweet-cakes in skin-thin dough rolled-up

in blue cheese & rotted beef: w/ push-shove vulgarism: vilde khaye [lit. wild beast] behind the schola in a snored aside:

a bent new year !         it’s gone — it doesn’t matter. the sour cream’s always all ready & sour. finally (pronounced phew)! listen — hold on — how’s this



Y I N G L O S S I A / /  S E C O N D S P E E C H

the flavor — a good taste, really — is that so? toches oyfn tish [lit. ass on the grass] well certainly & each w/ small cakes dipped in ham-baked-cheese carried under 7 rectangular prayer-shawls btwn the study hall’s walls. the complete deluxe treasury of  chewish law — commandments i study at yr feet. naïve, simple minded: a feeble big nose — big deal! but in a language of rags ... 


**during the ceremony of casting off of sins (crumbs of stale bread into a stream) the father papa daddy-dear or tateniu:  my dear impossibly costly one — y’re simply unattainable [lit. the moon on a plate]. a dullard bethrothal we put up (or shut up) [lit. ass on the grass] day-to-day good-for-nothing dead-starved & drunk



Y I N G L O S S I A / / A C U T E P A I N


for Jerome Rothenberg


a cute pain, usually appearing as oi vai zmir [lit. woah is me] — the stuff & nonsense air, so you say [lit. know from what]. in crawling ache [slang, lit. wandering jew] & never stopped to itch. but whom are you kidding? [lit. what’s the joke?] & whom are you you fooling? [lit. who’re you fucking over (this time)?] when I eat my anti-semites, i’ll chew them out myself. they’re jews like me. i’m hell on earth to them. gaping as a pit [lit. where the devil sits to say his mourning prayers]; get killed! they recite (in communal prayer); drop dead! get lost! go choke

on yrself

... who knows? who cd’ve believed? to be ruined as such [lit. inf(l)ected ]. how’s business? how’s tricks? what’s yr name, huh? what’s yr mother’s name? how come? how much? (a wild one) . . .you want? what else? what’s it matter (to me), huh? what’r you talking my head off? watch out! [lit. to throw one’s eye at]  what a sober carries on his lung, a drunk struts- but what’s the difference? capable of [lit. what’s on his tongue] & all in the cards, but what’s the trick? [lit. what’s cooking?] a “wound of bologna” [lit fried sausage-cheese-noodle] or vyzso [slavic, lit. fool] named for Haman’s youngest son.**the jews vooz [lit. boo] the dybuk tongue away & when sleeping, later cut it out. photographs of the tongue are posted on the study hall’s walls to mark the day


Y I N G L O S S I A / / S E C O N D B U R I A L

be happy! [lit. a shapely phrase] to be at pains to make sense amid non-sense [lit. in many tongues at once] — excuse me? — y’re all set!  [lit. back on the horse & keep riding]

blessed among an ashkenazi [lit. accent] recalling the dead — a mama zelig punch, bang — pow ! [yiddishism, thru sexual taboo] in sparing a miserly uncouth & fake [lit. slobbish] fate makes unruly whirring [lit. can’t stop talking] & doesn’t shut its mouth. the sinner [lit. he who tempts fate] sweet talks atop a pile of pins & bristly sticks  plotting our sins in 7-day-mourning postures [lit. a sitting widow] patient as a shapely phrase. let it burn & may god help [lit may god prevent] but i haven’t got the faintest idea what. so onions grow from his navel — so what? let it be. o.k.? that’s it. let it be.  if it (you) shd be so [lit. well said]. good luck & be quiet. you shd live so [lit. in such silence]. you shd swell up like a mountain [lit. lie in the earth]. **they place him in the ground. don’t worry,  slob! dear son. my darling daughter



Y I N G L O S S I A / / G O A D & N E E D L E


un-qualified & un-called for [lit. god forbid! (an old-world deprecation to ward off evil)] — against pesty (im)possibilities [lit. little (mis)fortunes] or tragedies bore a born-loser’s luck [lit. a jew’s luck] haggart bust. butter-me-up, huh? racketeerer-seer, huh? god forbid! you shd goad & needle it —


Y I N G L O S S I A / / I M P U R E B O N E

good for nothing — worth nothing — starved [lit. dead hungry] day-to-day contrary to the dietary laws — forbidden foods, impure or unprepared [lit. improvisatory] (applied also to the Sabbatean writings) in the posterior rectum [lit. buttocks-ass, a backward variant on toches] or “house of worship”. the pashkeviln [lit. wheat-paste posters] coating the study hall’s walls: THE JEW WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY THE JEWISH LAW IS AN IMPURE BONE. r e a d i t & s e e ( t h e ) evil inclinations [lit. those who crave pig’s feed] are no-thing but an-other ratty snot rag [yiddishism, sarcastically], decrepit worn out no-body. said some-body to no-body “it’d be better to fornicate w/ one-self than to birth such a body.”

said  a bum ne’er-do-well faker I was — mistaken for a petty-Paul & overdressed in wretched rags wanderings. from a distant foreign words melted into a mouth, then confusion, absent-minded, wild ecstatic repetition: not the one you were expecting, but like sweet carrot pie [slang, lit. fuss over nothing] in disgrace & humiliation hang the words on tho unwanted, for better or worse. “do me a favor & don’t do me any favors !” the confusion agitation roister bositerer is not just an ornamental swan but at the fringes of language hanging-on; & its costly dear, too much, for such & such [lit. bodily soars]



Y I N G L O S S I A / / A N Y H O L I D A Y


spoke a coarse loud-mouth gossip: description of a man w/ indistinguishable lineage

— a dis-connected [lit. disjointed] who threatens by idiosyncrasy [lit. someone else’s]

the other’s (brand of cigarette — the moocher smokes ... his other lung’s black gaggy blabbermouth pedigree is of a jewish head but ... in the demon tongue ... managing a rusty mourner’s prayer [sung, lit. “may god remember him”]. for festive holiday-ish sharp (referring to the tools) cd be. ... any holy day [pronounced yontev, lit. a good day] or verse or re-naming of the dead were possessed to do justice & fairness, integrity ... but for a buffoon! [lit. wild beast] strong built w/ sturdy bones & “sickly tongue,” a “scampi tale” nose. beats the alter; we shall teach the spirits a lesson! let them leave us to our god! the spirits are nothing to do w/ — but the bodies


About the Book:

Unnatural Bird Migrator stitches together disparate filaments of diasporic language as a living quilt of translational refuse, a patchwork-art gleaned and assembled from the pieces of writing and speech we are quite literally taught to forget. UNBM traverses the semi-permeable borders between doubling and tripling mother tongues in exile, looping these languages through one another and back again in the form of a highly adaptive poetic boomerang that returns from the “other side” of the linguistic threshold already changed. This translinguistic praxis explores writing as a mode of perpetual displacement, translating language in wide spirals outward to the farthest edges of the sonic/semantic divide, while gleaning materials for a poetics from even the minutest residues left behind. Resnikoff’s compositional method engages by (mis)translation in/to​ Yiddish-, Hebrew-, Aramaic- and Akkadian- adapted​ sonic/semantic properties in​ grammar, syntax, and lexicon, taking English as its temporary “host” while performing perpetual inflectional slippages — interlingual punning and fusion-slangs — as much as the “host” can absorb. The dybbuk (Yiddish: spirit-possessor), which the author’s Jewish-Ashkenazi ancestors believed to inhabit the body of the wild stutterer, mad person, heretic, or “akher” [lit. other], becomes the peripheral focus​ of this poetry, as Resnikoff reimagines the ways in which such a “possession” by language itself might manifest in the ​“odd” practices of the poet, translator and Jew. The word “odd” here functions in deliberate echo of the terms against which Sabbatean stigma was first transcribed in seventeenth-century Palestine: “for the odd practices of a false messiah.”


Advance Praise for Unnatural Bird Migrator:

Ariel Resnikoff's Unnatural Bird Migrator ignites immediacy. It cast spells. Indeed one’s cells feel subsumed by primordial realia having nothing in common with the plagiarized density that purports to signify experience  reduced as it is to  secular equation by lucre. Resnikoff’s UNBM roams via the telepathy of “wonder.” As readers we begin to gather experience that articulates a plane suffused by magnificence, by the voice of the uncanny. This being language that allows us to crystallize fever, to excavate hunches via the mathematics of power. 

— Will Alexander


Ariel Resnikoff is a poet, scholar, translator, editor, and educator. His most recent works include the chapbooks Ten-Four: Poems, Translations, Variations (The Operating System, 2015), with Jerome Rothenberg, and Between Shades (Materialist Press, 2014). His writing has been translated into Russian, French, Spanish and German, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Jacket2, Golden Handcuffs Review, Full Stop Quarterly, Tinge Magazine, The Wolf Magazine for Poetry and Schreibheft, Zeitschrift für Literatur. With Stephen Ross, he is at work on the first critical bilingual edition of Mikhl Likht’s modernist Yiddish long poem, “Processions,” and with Lilach Lachman and Gabriel Levin, he is translating into English the collected writings of the translingual-Hebrew poet, Avot Yeshurun. Ariel is a reviews editor at Jacket2 and a founding editor of the journal and print-archive Supplement, copublished by the Materialist Press, Kelly Writers House and the Creative Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught courses on multilingual diasporic literatures at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (UPenn) and at BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change. In 2019, he completed his PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Pennsylvania with a dissertation entitled “Home Tongue Earthquake: The Radical Afterlives of Yiddishland,” and he is currently a Posen Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Secular Jewish Poetics and Pedagogy. Ariel lives on Alameda Island in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, the artist and landscape architect Rivka Weinstock. Unnatural Bird Migrator, (The Operating System, 2020) which the poet Jake Marmer has described as “deep Ashkenazi Voodoo” is his first full-length poetry collection.


[N.B. These poems initially came out in Golden Handcuffs Review in a 2017 issue in homage to Louis Zukofsky.]