WHEN IT RAINS IN LOS ANGELES
Isaac E. Ronch
Translated from the Yiddish by Marvin S. Zuckerman

When it rains in Los Angeles,
The sky falls to earth
And its blue turns grey, and "hey!" 
A little wind blows, 
And the skyscrapers tremble, 
The encircling hills hide,
The Pacific disappears--
When it rains in Los Angeles

The many-branched banana tree
Becomes a frayed willow twig, 
And the blood-red poinsettias
Hang their heads in shame.
The familiar bird-of-paradise
Opens its throat, thirsty.
My! The things that happen
When it rains in Los Angeles.

The palm-tips whisper in their need. 
Sacrifices are brought to the Moloch rain: 
Carob-pods, olives, wild berries, mandarins
Lie strewn about on slippery sidewalks.
A person dares not risk his being,
And stares out through shut, dewy windows,
Shuddering, like the green leaves outside.
Solitary cars splash about, chastened, 
Like stray dogs whose punishment it is
To draw themselves over wet, dreary roads--
When it rains in Los Angeles.

 

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MARVIN ZUCKERMAN. Born in the Bronx to Yiddish-speaking garment workers from Poland. Long-time Chair of English Department at LA Valley College; retired as Dean of Academic Affairs. Seven books published and numerous articles. Translator from Yiddish to English, latest, a memoir, published, Purdue University Press, 2016.