August Poetry Submissions: Unknown


By Josef Z. Kahn, Efrat Malachi, Jacob Jablonka, & Sophia Baradarian

Each month, the YU Observer sends a call to YU students for poetry submissions following a specific theme. This month, the theme was ‘Unknown’, and we are featuring Zippy Spanjer’s piece, ‘who knows’ However, the poems below are other submissions of honorable mention.

By Efrat Malachi

Knowing the much

grasping the little

The clock’s a crutch

its ticks go brittle


Tells of a “when”

no sign of a “what”

Anti man’s ken

missing the real putt


Makes one believe

learning is losing

A “known” meets eve

when “un” is rising


The unknown shines

passing through the years

As time confines

filling it with fears


Why so shallow?

rushing to know lots

While still hollow

like bows without knots


As the depth lends

the clock strikes midnight

True knowing scends

to a grateful height


For grasping the little “un” floods a sea so great

While the much “known” always flows to an empty strait

Burrowed Deep, They Dream in Silence
By Jacob Jablonka

Where are the words that will not come?
When I see them fluttering by on petals adrift, I hear nothing.
When they whisper from the crevasses of my mind, I do not see them.

Magicicada is a genus of cicadas that populates North America. Sometimes called periodical cicadas, they are notable both for their abnormal lifespans of either thirteen or seventeen years, and the synchronicity with which entire broods emerge during those prime years.

Sometimes, when I look at a page, all I see is white. Absence in void.
Sometimes, when I look at the page, the words pour out.
Sometimes, I look inside.

After emerging from the ground, members of the Magicicada broods live for only a few short weeks. During this time, male cicadas sing using exoskeletal membranes called tymbals. Humans have no such structures.

Somewhere between stomach and spine, betwixt tooth and tongue, they lie.
They lie because they fear, I fear.
The words that matter will not come.

There are multiple theories for why Magicicada appear at such distant and precise intervals. Some entomologists posit that they do so in order to avoid competing for resources with different broods; others claim that it is a means through which to evade predation. None of them consider how long it takes to compose a chorus.

Burrowed deep, they dream in silence.

Un Own
By Josef Z. Kahn

What do I know in
This world of odd proportions
Arbitrary lines

Property of Me
There cannot be something free
All land is banded

A being asserts
Its will on a neutral plane
Boundaries are formed

This is mine and this
Is yours and this is his and
This is hers and this-

Who, then, claims the sky
The stars, the seas, galaxies
Pricing nebulae

Expanding space, flee!
Faster than light, it leaves us
And for good reason

We, who own nothing
Entitle ourselves to an
Unchained universe

I wish we could break
These tethers of possession
That possess us so

Regrettably, this
World of odd proportions is
Owned by someone else

By Sophia Baradarian

The unapologetic snap
sizzle of
sun-bleached photos
seared in the candle’s flame.
You turn them over
flip, swish,
switch, repeat,
deciding which to keep.
Until you know every touch and corner.
Until you’ve palmed sepia cheeks
and auburn curls.
Until the names and places
where you’d held them meld,
melt on your tongue,
tumble and fuse
with the age-old blues
which take bitty
bites of the sounds and
sights they’ve
savagely left behind to
swallow you entire.
There you sit,
bottle of bitter wine in hand
and rummaging through,
if only to
down the remaining dregs
of a fading
dimpled smile.
Or to pluck what’s
left of the dying
times when tinny
tines forked plump
cubes of watermelon
into mooching
little mouths
by the pool.
You’ve given up,
a creature hunted,
haunted by a past
which has yet to pass.
Not knowing whether to
caress or
crumple the tattered square
displaying three
picturesque children
hugging the skirts
of a long lost wife.
A long lost life.Burn it or
turn it
between worn
fingers, still you’ll
find its eager
edge will slice
through any callus.

Do you want to see your writing published? The theme for September’s poetry submissions is “Epiphany.” Send all submissions to by September 18.

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Photo source: Aliza Leichter