Dueling poems by Josefowitz, Zahn, charm

He Writes, She Writes: A Dialogue of Contrasting Views Written in Verse by Natasha Josefowitz and Irwin Zahn; © 2017 Createspace; ISBN 9781975-785055; 79 pages plus introductory material; $7 on Amazon.

By Donald H. Harrison


Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO – After reading this collaboration by Natasha Josefowitz and Irwin Zahn, three descriptive words came immediately to mind: “charming,” “playful” and “genteel.”

Zahn, a philanthropist who founded the Autosplice electronics company, had attended a presentation on life after retirement by Josefowitz, a retired business consultant, and persuaded her to consult with him concerning how he should order his affairs once he sold his business interests.

Their business arrangement led to a unique personal correspondence in verse, in which he would write a poem, and she would write another poem in response.  They had 35 such exchanges, for a total of 70 “His/Her” Poems, which they say differentiate male thinking from female thinking.

The two poets have different takes on such matters as aging, dieting, everyday sightseeing, loneliness, memories of youth, and pending death.  Nevertheless, I don’t believe the male/ female dichotomy, while there,  is all that pronounced.  In fact, Josefowitz and Zahn are both amiable story tellers, who mix humor and humility with insight.

Without reservation, I can recommend this short book of poems by these two accomplished San Diegans. What was difficult for me was to pick for republication just one set of poems when all 35 sets could be enjoyed.  Eventually, I chose the following couplet because it exemplifies the originality of these two co-authors’ minds.  No doubt other readers would have other favorites!

Neighborhood Fire Hydrant Always Ready


Standing fully alert, always ready!
You felt children jump over you.
Assorted dogs and cats defining their territories.
Through sun, snow and fog, always ready!

You watch those playful children
grow, learn to drive, marry and leave.
Over long years, the neighborhood changed
in different ways, but you’re always ready!

Drivers park illegally next to you.
Street cleaning equipment washed over you.
Teenagers decorated you with spray paints.
Through it all, you were there, always ready!

A long time ago you helped put out a fire.
It saved a family and property as well.
Never rewarded nor praised,
but happy, satisfied, and always ready!

The Drinking Fountain

In parks and hospitals
in museums and office buildings
in theater lobbies
drinking fountains
usually too low
always uncomfortable
bending down to get a mouthful
careful not to touch the spout
in France, where I grew up
there was a metal cup
attached by a chain
to the bowl
the homeless man drank from it
and also the children
my mother used to rinse the cup
before filling it for me
no one worried about germs
perhaps they had not been invented
the water fountains of the world
quenching the world’s thirst

Josefowitz, whose columns appear regularly in San Diego Jewish World, and Zahn will make a joint appearance at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 5,  at Warwick’s book store, 7812 Girard Ave, La Jolla, California 92037.

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

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