Ariel Resnikoff: From the 'YINGLOSSIA' series, a work in progress

[Author’s Note: My compositional method in these poems stretches across/between a number of different languages & engages (mis)translation as its key modality. This is writing that traverses Yiddish, Hebrew, & Aramaic (among other) grammars, syntaxes, & lexicons, taking English as its temporary “host” while performing perpetual inflectional slippages, often through interlingual punning & fusion slangs. – AR]


y i n g l o s s i a “ p r o l o g u e ”


                                                        he is talking nonsense

                                                                                              is he bewildered? [lit. taboo]

he eats as if​ recuperating from sickness
                                                             he is making a mess
he eats like a horse
he is thick-headed in fog

                       he is squirming in horseradish

                                               perhaps he has a cold? [lit. malaria (ague) is all he gets]

he has nothing

                        he has nothing at all [lit. an itch or boil]
                                                                                            only, s​trange p​ractices
odd ways
                 no say [lit. power]

                                               a man who criticizes non-​existence​ [lit. climbs up walls]
he creeps like a bed-bug

                                     doesn’t know where to look

                                                                                   he is blind [lit. rhetorical]

ruins the language               

                                   the violent stutterer                                   

                     talks into the world

he talks into sickness                                                                                                             

                                     talks into restlessness [lit. pins or needles]

                                                                 he is only good for fowl sacrifice [lit. worthless]

he shd go to hell

                                 he shd meet w/ korach’s death [lit. the earth swallow him]

                                                                                                 he is a shame to our children

he is nothing at all


**out of which the following plan occurred [lit. standing on one leg]


                                it never happened!                                              

                                                              he never was [lit. speaking in tongues]            there still is

                    as in: it is not worth a knock of earth   

                                                                 as in: it is very cheap [lit. impossibly expensive] the nonsense speech [lit. deformed tongue]

                                                                       cd be

                                                                                      it doesn’t matter

it is not becoming [lit. doesn’t fit]

                                                       it fits like a slap in the face

                                                                      it is the voice of a false-messiah [lit. sarcasm] it hurts me

                 he appears to me

                                               he is fainting [lit. emptied]

nothing will help

                             it will help like blood-cupping on a corpse

                                                                                                 it will do

it will have to

                       will it heal in time for the wedding?

                                                                                 it must

 no matter

                  let us eat & be healthy



y i n g l o s s i a “ f i r s t s p e e c h ”


praise god! thanks & pray. recite the 18 benedictions. vo den (cut-off [lit: what else])? no sweat. god [lit. the name] respects the humble somebody — does he? berates the evil-ones (may they choke on their tongues [lit. languages]). the real article is a bargain for hire. the chew-among-chews. for rent or (re)lease. it pleases me, see? my heart told me so, see? i predicted it, see? likewise: keep it moving! don't bother me [lit. don’t throw a hook around my nose]! **a stutterer was seen as a scatterbrain, confuser, & somehow also a conniver, twister, self-promoter, not to be trusted [lit. jew]. human dung was attributed to [lit. the inferior merchandise] now we talk excessively or not at all. a groan, maybe, even, a disparaging sigh … cld be … lies on the square & still talking non-sense



y i n g l o s s i a “ f r i e n d l y f a c e ”


friendly face. a familiar face. 

like a hot bath. like a bowl of chopped meat.

stop banging on my head [lit. bargaining w/ my sanity]

the gargling solution shld be

fresh breath? o, that it shld come true!  who bringeth forth bread from the earth, etc.

to the common people, for a bargain say, not only to do business

but for heartache, see? sweetheart (singing) my heart’s love

is a pit in the earth …

listen: you can shake-stammer

in impending fire

from stuffed cabbage to stuffed cabbage to

stuffed (holebshes/holishkes/holubtshe) depending on


& so I made a mistake. so the words abrade. so what?

i’ve been called worse than debauchee

many times before, a caine-raiser

carouser, mad man, mongrel, kyke –



 y i n g l o s s i a “ m i n c h a ”

for Anne Tardos


in praise & submission to a baby-son [yiddishism (derisive)] — let us prepare ​the tools for extraction [lit. from tongues]. if the fever is of a jewish head — is it a shaygetsluck?  There’s no evil eye, either way, as they say (tu-tu), the canary keep away. single men of marriageable age [lit. little birds] crippled into misfits for a spoiled lap of milk, narrowly achieved [lit. hardly lived to see] the transformation of soars into sacrifice (slang [lit. false-messianism]). raw groats (a mess-up [lit. mix-up of]) & cooked groats w/ broad noodles at a kosher boarding-house-cafeteria in the far-reaches of the Bronx [lit. a lively Russian dance, usually to sexual cause (i.e., of ‘blind mixing’)]. an amulet [lit. charm, (from german, “kind-bet-tzettel”)] worn at birth, containing psalm 121: di nomen fun melokhim [lit. names of angels] — envision of god in labor, & after, old & young, eating plates of stuffed derma (in flour & onion, salt, feffer & shmaltz, (to keep them in skins) — the ticklish little prigs (technically, talkative little jews [lit. fruitless idle questions)]: not in “reality,” so to say [lit. “as if it were” (pronounced ver)], round dumplings made of groat-meal cooked-up in pork-belly stew & tied at the corners in “bakers handkerchiefs.” dumplings filled w/ potatoes & livers, kidneys & barley at a kosher boarding-house-cafeteria on grand concourse: a petulant excitability by a gad-about gang of jews gathers about — “he had been perfect [lit. legitimate] before the cross-eyed sickness took!” first in small pockets of dough filled w/ meat & curd-cheese, the magic-worker, trickster, phony casper milquetoast corrupts the root-canals of the pure jewish jaw. a virus of the tongue & teeth [lit. cheek & mouth]. how does it infect?


**in force of false laughter & aguish [lit. idling], the loafer lox-addict stutterer stumbles out of the afternoon prayer-hall, wreathing in false thanks & praise: “may we fan forever the shekhina embers”! [lit. blessed is the vessel as it breaks]



y i n g l o s s i a “ b l e s s e d a r e w e ”


go away! go hump w/ the whales (peddle yr fish elsewhere [lit. whistle at a leviathan]).

go to hell! [lit. may you choke on yr tongue] shit in the ocean.  spill yr guts.

spill yr guts against the city hall.

spill yr guts against the synagogue [lit. house-of-entry]

that you shd threaten the “holy geese” upon entering (& don’t frighten me [lit. you little non-native jew of galicia])! 

someone hollers: go frig yrself  …

the same to you! [hebraism, lit. big deal … (derisive)]

quite well, huh? tho it doesn’t work-out the way we planned. there is no “complete man”

to bribe, see? blessed are we, w/ children & all (in fractured English [lit. utter

misery]) we are chopped-in w/ the herring & vodka [lit. minced]


y i n g l o s s i a “ c o m m o n s e n s e ”


what a … ! what kind of a … ! what’s it matter to you, huh? now don’t get excited [lit. burst into flame]. it stinks — what’r you talking? smack smack (gently said) wd you keep quiet (shouted), quiet, I said, shutup!! there’s the professional (professorial) type who makes a living from it, gathering the pious sheep, berating the irreligious (who “flout” the sacred law. “beautiful as the seven worlds,” (belles lettres, & w/ a hearty laugh [lit. half-sarcastically]). the wig at the wedding she wore ever after (a watchword greeting, beadle at the shtibl quoting old policeman’s slang: “it had a been a brothel whorehouse (before) mix of  wool & linen!”now you oughta be ashamed of yrself [lit. to the bottom of yr throat]. the prettier ones they bury [lit. this one is an ugly one]. & gather pleasure, the little nothings for a “messenger drunkard” — non-jewish [lit. impious or wild one]. if to skin one: a hag-mare worthless one [lit. mischievous child]. an apoplectic wreck. where the customer is king [Americanism], a snake can also be a shrew clumsy bungler, drag, poor luckless sponger, butter-fingered shmock



y i n g l o s s i a “ p a r v e n u ”


so now, get rid of it:

alas for alack, woe unto whom?

either too much or too little [lit. a wallop or a toot]

“dear me!” (imitatingly — parvenu!

cut it short [lit. w/out intro(duction)]

conceited & peevish

sulky & stuffed in a puffy shirt


& sputtered as confused

little pups [lit. overly made-up]

“the rich are too stuffed-up

to photograph [lit. stuffed in dead birds]

& drunk

me bothersome hanger-on

cursing in 





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 wandering. from a distant foreign words melted into a mouth, then confusion, absent-minded wild ecstatic repetition: not the one you were expecting, but like a 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]


[N.B. A more complete version of Resnikoff’s Yinglossia will soon appear in Lou Rowan’s Golden Handcuffs Review.]