Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

Cop Julie and The Lost Jewish Cemetery…by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Cops,Humor,Jewish Themes,Love and Romance,Poetry & Prose,Wisconsin stories — Bob at 10:49 pm on Friday, January 20, 2017

So, new guy in a new town

I joined a poet’s group

Nice woman there figures out

That Passover

is possibly my holiday

Clever woman

 

Then she leans over to me

And whispers:

 

“There’s this tiny Jewish cemetery

In a little town near here

And their steel entrance sign

With its big Jewish star

Collapsed on the ground

In the mud

Makes me feel bad

It’s not right

Maybe you can fix it”

 

I backed up from her whisper

A righteous Christian

If ever there was one

Does she think I somehow

Have…magic powers

Able to lift steel girders

With a wink and a prayer??

Still, worth finding out

Worth seeing if a

“Mitzvah”

A good deed

Can be done

Don’t need a burning bush

To get the message

Not this time

 

On a cold January day

I begin traveling on

Small country roads

Seeking a fallen star

Where the town’s

Jews are gone

Yet the dead still remain

 

But it’s a big state

With muddy back roads

Spreading out like spider veins

On a drunk’s nose

Forests and valleys

Cows and horses

And they don’t talk

To strangers from

Outa town

Soon,

I’m not exactly up a creek

But near one

 

Time to call the Cavalry

Cavalry?

Local cops

Speak politely

and

They’ll help a stranger

Every time

I have the numbers of

Forty small town

Police stations

On my cell phone

Including

This quiet town

Where people like me

Used to be

 

I punch some buttons

Phone picks up

A voice says:

“Officer Julie here

Can I help you?”

 

I pause

 

Her voice is

Young and lovely

Only six words

But she’s captured me

Without firing a shot

I forget why I called

She asks again:

“Officer Julie here

Can I help you?”

 

I return to Earth

And answer:

“Ah, yes, ma’am

I mean…Officer Julie

Nothing wrong

But I’m lost

Will you help me?”

 

It’s a Sunday morning

In a Christian state

Roads are empty

Churches are full

and

Cop Julie has time

On her soft hands

I hear her exhale

And say:

“Sure, mister

What’s the problem?”

 

I tell her I’m lost

Not sure how to ask her

For help finding

Lost dead Jews

And their fallen sign

Why should she care?

Has she ever met one?

I mean a living one?

 

So, I tell her

And she laughs

A musical thing

Her voice relaxes

In my mind

I can see her

Red lips

Spread wide in a smile

I misjudged her

 

She says:

“Oh, sure, Mr…?

I say:

Just call me Bob”

 

And she does

Telling me that

Why yes

She knows exactly

Where is the

Not exactly

“lost”

Cemetery of the Jews

 

To her, that is

I think to myself

 

An odd moment

Of course

This lovely voice

Knows all the

Woods and streams

Farms and saloons

Where worn tractor tire

Swings for children

Hanging from Oak trees

Where old Silas Jones lives

When found drunk

Again

Sleeping on a bench

On another Saturday night

 

Sweet Cop Julie

Knows

And guides me

Down this hill

Up that dale

Round the shuttered

Movie Theater

With black letters

Still hanging off the

Faded white marquee

Like broken teeth

 

Her voice light

Like a flower in my mind

“Watch out”

She warns me

For that

Big crack in the road

After you cross

The tracks”

 

So we ride along

Together

Me ambling the streets in my

Twenty -year-old car

Cop Julie riding

Shotgun

With me

Over my cell phone

In her small country town

Every country mile

Of the way

 

Cop Julie

Are your eyes blue

I wonder?

My own

Biblically

Brown eyes

Blinking

In the sunlight

 

Then she tells me to

Pull over

Past Lutheran Church

Across from the Catholic Church

And down the street from

The Presbyterians

Because

The entrance to

The Lost Cemetery of the Jews

Is hiding

Quite logically, to me

 

Behind

A rusted out Chevrolet

And

A closed down

Texaco gas station

With its

Single skinny pump

 

I want to hug

The ethereal

Cop Julie

For helping this

Wandering Israelite

Find the sad

Forgotten cemetery

Its sign lying in the mud

Two seven branched

Menorahs on either end

It’s large

Star of David

Smack in the middle

 

Was I sent to her?

Or she sent to me?

Can’t be just chance

Mysterious ways??

 

Bet Cop Julie’s

Pretty

Bet her gun juts out

From her nice

Small town hips

Ain’t nothin’

The Lady Cops

Can do about that

And they should not

 

I thank her

I bless her

I think maybe

I can find a way

To fix this thing

 

Then

With a twinkle in my old heart

I imagine asking

Cop Julie:

So, exactly

Where’s her police station?

What’s her shift?

Does she drive a patrol car?

 

And maybe

I’ll drive over there

Speed up

A little too fast

Just when I see her sitting

In her black and white

Squad car

A single

Old fashioned

Blue light

Atop her cop car’s hood

 

And she’ll turn it on

Pull me over

And say:

“Mister, where’s the fire?

45 in a 30 mile zone?”

Then sternly ask me

For my

License and registration

Hear me say

“Of course

Officer Julie”

Then see her pretty blue eyes

Look up and light up

 

When she recognizes

My old voice

From our nice time

Together

Then she’ll smile

A big

Small town smile

And she’ll say:

 

“Oh, it’s you!

“Go on

“Get outa here!”

 

And look way too cute

For me to leave her

But I would

Watching her in

My dusty

Rear view mirror

 

 

                                                                           

 

A FEW DAYS LATER, AN UNEXPECTED POSTSCRIPT

 

Despite the romantic nature of my poem, I was significantly disturbed by the pathetic situation of a neglected Jewish cemetery in rural America. Maybe seeing that in Europe wouldn’t surprise me, but not here. No God, not here.I decided to do something about it. I think a lot of things can get set in motion by one person deciding to do something about it. Like when a guy proposes to his girl, he is setting the stage for grandchildren.

 

I tracked down the owner of the cemetery, whom it turns out I already knew, a Rabbi Hillel (not his real name) but not in that context. I expressed my irritation and he told me that a company that was doing some work on the grounds of the obscure cemetery accidentally knocked the sign off of the top of two tall brick pillars, approx. last November 2016.

 

A person in Rabbi Hillel’s congregation told the Rabbi about it back then, then Rabbi Hillel contacted the company that did the damage and they agreed to take responsibility for what happened to the sign, and would repair it by December 8th, or more than six weeks ago. I should mention the Rabbi is a kind, generous and very busy man with many people to look after, sometimes in stressful situations. A year ago, I was one of those people.

 

When I mentioned this discrepancy to him between the repair work promised and the repair work not done, he was, oh…disenchanted. Maybe not as much as Moses was wearily coming down from Mt. Sinai after forty days up there in the clouds burdened with those two heavy stone tablets in his arms with the newly minted Ten Commandments written upon them, only to find his six hundred thousand followers–recently freed from slavery in Egypt after four hundred years–decided to create and worship a golden calf in his absence. Didn’t work out well for many of them.

 

But regardless, busy Rabbi Hillel called the company, possibly suggested Biblical retribution might be coming their way—the earth suddenly opening up and swallowing their big construction trucks—or perhaps something a little less disturbing. Don’t know. Rabbis don’t gossip. Whatever he may have said, another person from my own synagogue who had read my January 20, 2017 poem about Cop Julie, and knew about my concern, called me this morning, January 25th, to tell me the sign with the big Jewish Star in the center of it was back up!

 

Damn!

 

Five days.

 

Of course, the entire Earth was supposed to have been created in six days, so perhaps, indirectly, causing the resurrection of a twenty foot long steel sign to be replaced atop two tall pillars only took a whisper from The Ruler of The Universe. But to mere mortals, such a whisper might be more like a hurricane. I guess that company that knocked down the sign took the hint. Wise move.

 

Finally, in a last reference to Cop Julie, I did go to where she works, left a note of appreciation to both her and her Chief of Police so he knows how nice his cops are to strangers. I hope Cop Julie decides to take a ride down to that cemetery some sunny morning to take a look at what was healed because of her assistance to me less than a week ago. Now that would be a happy ending to this unexpected story.

A blessing on everybody’s head in this story.

Shalom!

6 Comments »

Comment by Don Larson

January 21, 2017 @ 12:47 pm

Hi Bob,

I enjoyed the poem very much. Another of your life’s unexpected journeys.

It reminded me of one of my digital art images with a story, “Unknown Certainties”:
http://www.timeoutofmind.com/bryce/_UnknownCertainties.html

Warmest regards,

Don

Comment by Brad Dechter

January 23, 2017 @ 9:21 am

So did you fix the sign- or was it too big, and therefore a dead issue?

Comment by Ron Sanders

January 25, 2017 @ 2:00 pm

I am the manager of the cemetery in the poem. The cemetery entrance pillars and arch were knocked down by a truck. The pillars and the arch (the one with the stars as depicted in the poem) has been reinstalled and everything is back to normal. So, for the record, the “stars” are again in their place closer to the heavens, there are, in fact, living Jews in Kenosha, along with a thriving congregation for them to enjoy and, thanks to officer Julie and her colleagues (not to mention the trucking company’s insurance policy), Jews in Kenosha, whether above or below ground, are at peace.

Comment by Don Larson

January 25, 2017 @ 4:00 pm

Cool, You’re a Saint!

Don

Comment by Bill Skeens

January 25, 2017 @ 4:26 pm

Well Done Bob and Officer Julie!

Always enjoy your journeys on the backroads of life.

All my best,
Bill Skeens

Comment by David Griesemer

February 4, 2017 @ 9:15 am

I wondered how recent traumas would effect Bob’s writing. Would it stop altogether? Happily I see his art is undiminished. Which only confirms how authentic it always was.

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