On this page: poems by Jim Bennet, Michael E. Stone, Rena Lee, Andrea Moriah, Jerry Breger, Eva Eliav, Breindel Kasher, Helen Kasher, Richard Doiron, Jeff Seffinga, Roberta Tracy, Zarin Thomson
The following works are copyright © 2010. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.
Jim Bennett lives near Liverpool in the UK and is the author of 63 books. His poetry collections include; Drums at New Brighton (Lifestyle 1999), Down in Liverpool (CD), (Long Neck 2001), The Man Who Tried to Hug Clouds (Bluechrome 2004 reprinted 2006), Larkhill (Searle Publishing 2009). Jim taught Creative Writing at the University of Liverpool and now tours throughout the year giving readings and performances of his work.
He has won many awards for his writing and performance including 3 DADAFest awards. He is also managing editor of ww.poetrykit.org one of the worlds most successful internet sites for poets.
Blake’s walking stick
the knob of the walking stick
shaped into a claw
clutches a wooden egg
it has no leg or body
no idea what sort of creature
or if the egg is for food
or being protected
the carver might have known
perhaps set a
chicken or egg paradox
it joined the hand
that polished it
through woodland paths
and clouded hillside
an electric connection
that sparked the muse to life
winter in the wood
it's still winter in the wood
traces of last nights snow
hang on in the shade
and everything has that
slow sleepy feeling even the
shadows freeze you as you walk
on bare branches
hunched against the icy wind
and an owl waits for moonrise
down in the meadow earlier
I saw that things are changing
the tips of shoots are showing
the first signs of new growth
birds in courtship displays
flew low and fast across
the football field
but this evening there is only me
across the fields
among darkening clouds
the first lights show in Liverpool
and in Wales the mountains catch
the last red light of the sun
daybreak and I am looking for a metaphor
outside everything begins
the way a building begins
light cracking across the horizon
begins like a life with its
not like a building at all
more like a child - a baby
held towel wrapped in your arms
but not like that either
first light is hazing
the horizon like a ghost
down on the lane
under the wheels of cars
that crawl on their tired way
to Chester and work
it begins like you - eyes opening
yes that’s it
it begins like you - eyes opening
mouth turning up into a smile
as you catch me watching
Charlie ran through Eastham woods today
past the Victorian Bear pit
past the fountains
past the foundations of a wooden
it's a bit like Timeteam came
scraped the top off
left the past exposed
rapped in the roots of trees
ready to be sniffed at
when the sun shone
later we sat
alongside Manchester Ship Canal
watched the gulls
dip and slip through
cracks in the sky
counted the planes
in and out
and smiled at pied wagtails
in front of us
the Mersey flowed
from the hills beyond Manchester
and out into the Irish Sea
to mix and mix
and become part
of the waters of the world
Michael E. Stone
Michael Stone was born in England in 1938. His family moved to Australia in 1941, where he received his schooling. Michael was awarded academic degrees in Australia and at Harvard University. He holds an earned Doctor of Letters degree from the University of Melbourne. Michael lives in Jerusalem with his family, writes and publishes original poetry as well as translating. His translation of Adamgirk', a medieval epic about Adam and Eve in 6,000 lines, was published by Oxford University Press.
garnered from many sources and
left to marinate in my mind,
make a pattern,
not by rigorous deduction,
not by reasoned inference,
mind's kaleidoscope turns,
patterned pieces slip, fall and form
a new perception.
The winter sun is cool,
the car drips dawn dew,
pines shine lighter green,
and the air is clear.
summer’s hot heaviness,
short sleeves and sandals,
her illness, her pain.
She returns to herself,
to me and to us.
grazed by death’s gaze
I’ll go elsewhere
It was far too short,
that lunch in a Greek restaurant,
when you ate spinach pie,
that you really didn't like much
because of the garlic.
Do you not like the taste of garlic,
Or how it might make you taste?
It is said to be good for impotence,
but for you that is irrelevant,
and for me it makes no difference.
In the quiet you can hear
the living beat, the rhythm,
the thump of night's heart.
The dark but not silent world
shifts gear into night.
In the forest jackals howl
wild dogs bark.
Here a great moth
buzzes at the screen.
Night sight changes,
cats' eyes glow, but we,
we scarcely see but shapes.
Rena Lee is the penname of Rena Kofman poet and writer, a retired Professor of Hebrew from the City University of New York, and the author of eleven books in Hebrew, six of which are poetry. A seventh comprehensive volume of poems is due to be published in Israel shortly. Her work appeared (in both Hebrew and English) in many magazines, anthologies, scholarly journals, etc For more details, listings, awards, reviews of her writings and samples thereof, please visit her internet site www.renalee.net
A bed on nine legs
My beloved made our bed
with his own two hands.
To the lumberyard he went
and brought two sturdy wooden doors -
once trees growing forests away
from each other -
and joined them in wedlock.
The plank he then raised
from the floor,
to stand - as is common - on four.
But this bed wanted more…
So he kept adding legs, one-by-one,
first a fifth, then a sixth,
and so on and on,
until with the ninth
his labor ended
giving birth to our bed.
Now he proceeded to throw
a foam-rubber mattress,
on the hard top,
then a neat, sun-smelling sheet,
then himself -
thus turning a mere platform bed
into some sort of cathedral.
On its nine legs there's no telling
how carried away one may get,
nor is there a way to estimate
the knots one makes
in the foam-rubber ocean.
Others may wish for bed of roses,
but I (knock on wood)
am grateful for mine.
Besides, what can be more inspiring
than the Nine?
And when in darkness
I lie awake and wonder,
what is there for me in store,
my beloved already appears to know
"Remember me,” he whispers softly,
"I’m the guy next door,
'love thy neighbor’,
'love thy neighbor’…”
Andrea Moriah was born and raised in the great Midwest of the United States and now lives in the rolling hills outside of Jerusalem with her husband, Avner, a painter (and their dogs MeJulie and Blue). They have two grown sons, Nir and Tal, and a daughter Michal, who is a commander in the Israel Defense Forces.
Grandma switches on the black-and-white
adjusts the rabbit ears with the tinfoil
oys herself into the cloth-backed armchair
like a Yogi doing the Utkatasana pose,
only holding a dishtowel.
She lifts her stocking-clad feet up on the hassock.
Sweat and nylon smell that to this day makes me think of bunions.
It's Friday evening and time to watch Rawhide
brought to you by the only two things a real man needs:
Rapid Shave shaving cream and Marlboros.
There he is – Rowdy Yates – on his never ending cattle drive
As the opening credits music reaches its crescendo
Grandma tilts back her head
and lets out a Yiddish yodel
schmaltz-curdling in its intensity:
What does Grandma know about the Wild West?
The wretched East I know she knows;
having fled it at age 18
in the dirty hull of a passenger ship
dancing, as she tells it, across the ocean
in her long unwashed skirts
and her high-stepping shoes.
So ecstatic to get out of the shtetl.
Later saving penny against penny
during the Big Depression
as my grandfather the tailor
did piece work for bubkas
she saved up for a red brick cape house,
in Cleveland, no less,
already too small for her four children.
She planted red rose bushes in her flower beds.
Bought wrought-iron garden chairs so schleppin' heavy
they left grooves wherever you set them down.
Her grandchildren took her to see "Fiddler on the Roof"
Thought she'd like it.
"Feh!" Who wants to see a movie about the Old Country?
"What can you tell us about the Old Country Grandma?"
"My mother," she said,
"could feed a family of ten for a week on one chicken."
"Is that all?"
She looks at us as if we should already know.
Of course, that's all.
"This is the Golden Medina, mamelah.
Here and nowhere else."
Do you think our father Abraham was right
when he banished Ishmael to the desert
only to have the boy come
skulking around the perimeter
eying his flocks,
coveting his ass?
Here we stand in the center of the maelstrom
somewhere along the ancient spite route
in the choking dust and rancid heat
sweating fear and spewing hate
Toe to toe
War mask to war mask
Fright-haired and red-mouthed
We can see the whites of each other's eyes.
Engaged in the crudest commerce
Your eye for my tooth
My anger for your rage
Your insult for my injury
My sacrifice for your martyrdom
Your son for my son
My rock for your stone
Your rock for my stone
Your rock; my stone
Rock for stone
I'm downloading music
for my trip to the hereafter,
a sweet-wise blend of jazz –
simple piano, guitar
percussion, sax and bass.
Got my shades
black turtle-neck sweater
tight-ass blue jeans and boots.
No. No, wait!
Maybe some blues for the road.
Pain sharply pitched
as a tightly-tuned harp string
as flour sifted through a muslin sieve
Bruising on my hands and arms
Dark scars on my legs
Swelling in my cheeks
And shadows under my eyes
These are the marks of my battle with death
and my private pride
I gaze at them and protect them
I bathe them in fragrant lotion
God marvels at his perfect creation
and I, flawless, marvel back
Dr. Jerry Breger is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of South Carolina. He retired in 1993 after holding faculty positions at several universities since 1956. During his years at USC, he taught management and economics and served as director of the Bureau of Urban and Regional Affairs and the Center for Economic Education. Dr. Breger has been involved in synagogue work and Jewish affairs throughout his career.
The man that once I thought I would be
Is not the man I became;
He was a vision of youthful dreams,
Of power and fortune and fame.
He was a captain of industry,
Challenging earth and sea and skies;
The far horizons were his to rule,
And all the world his prize.
He was the envy of mighty men,
The zenith of strength and success,
The endless joys of victory,
Were his to claim and possess.
For years I strived to be that man,
But I was made of common clay;
The dreams of youth were not to be,
I stand among the crowd today.
I ponder now the ageless query;
If I could would I change my fate;
Would I remain a passing nomad,
Or choose to be that man so great?
To be that man who knows not burdens,
Who knows not desperation or fear,
Who never whispered hopeless prayers,
Or shed a silent tear.
No, I would not be that man
Who never touched humility
For this was mine in life to do,
And this is more than dreams to me.
That soft gooey plastic ball
Stuck to the ceiling,
But threatened to fall,
And it did
When she said “fiddlesticks.”
Then she laughed aloud
And clapped her hands,
And grabbed that gooey blob again,
And flung it high with all her might;
It stuck to the ceiling,
A messy sight,
But it started to fall,
A bit at a time;
When it looked just right,
She called it down;
The best of tricks,
With the magic word, “fiddlesticks.”
She did it once more,
And squealed with joy,
A little girl with a gooey toy;
With long blonde hair and bright blue eyes,
Maybe five or even six,
She ruled the world
A nurse appeared
And called her name;
No longer could she play the game;
Mommy and Daddy held her near;
Surgery filled their hearts with fear,
A dreadful fear she tried to fix
With a hug and a kiss,
Eva Eliav grew up in Toronto, Canada and now lives in Israel. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in a number of magazines, including Room of One’s Own, Natural Bridge, Stand, Flashquake, Quality Women’s Fiction, Horizon Review, New Horizons, The Enchanted Conversation, The Apple Valley Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Cyclamens and Swords, Voices Israel and ARC Israel. Her work also appears in “Tel Aviv Stories”, an anthology of English writing in Israel. She was a winner in the Glimmertrain June 2009 “Best Start” competition. Her other interests include painting, films, and finding the perfect frappuccino. Eva Eliav is married and has a daughter.
a dove intrudes
into the hostile country
a dove intrudes
delicate as a shell
like veins of rock
near the Dead Sea
mauve turquoise pink
a long nightmare
where doves crumble
where every lovely thing
in mid flight
plummets like water
harden into salt
beside the Dead Sea
let the moment unfurl
as frost unfurls
or as the wings
of pelicans and swans
like pale fists
of winter sunlight
fatten on kindness
the road unfurls
in its place
in its time
as we walk
through the fields
as if through water
the fire has blistered
cool and heal
like a dark tongue
licks every seed
Breindel Lieba Kasher is a published poet and a documentary film maker. As an independent film maker, she traveled through out Eastern Europe for over a decade, recording the last fragments of Jewish life, quickly fading. From her work she wrote three books and conducted countless interviews. Her latest work in progress is a new book of poetry entitled, Portrait Paintings. She lives in Israel, near Jerusalem.
An Old Pair of Shoes
Who knows where he goes, when he leaves.
An old pair of shoes waits at the door.
Bad habits die slow. Poison waits
For takers, no worry, they always show.
She dons her apron,
Peels potatoes, carrots, a hand full of barley,
A watched pot never boils.
He will come eventually, drunk, dejected, expecting,
We go around in circles, we can’t help it.
Midnight in Budapest
Midnight in Budapest,
loud music spills out
from a sleazy bar called,
“The Cat.” Red lights blink
on a blindfolded goddess
carved into the building,
hovering, unflinching angel
with a cold stone smile.
She never comes undone,
silent, blind, dumb
as she was when
Jews were rounded up
on these streets
No Moon Tonight
No moon tonight,
The radio says rain,
The house undresses,
The door unhinges,
From deep within.
Winter, Moving into Spring
this spring day drugged me.
open the windows
dust my bedding
put up laundry
my poetry is somewhere
floating under a winter candle.
Helen Kasher was born in Hungary in l911, into a family of ultra orthodox Skvare Hassidim. She was the renegade of the family. Landing in America at the age of 22, she became an activist, fighting for civil rights, worker’s rights, and women’s rights. She married a Yiddish writer from Poland and had two children. Throughout her whole life, she wrote poetry.
My father is a bent old man
His beard is white, his smile wan
But I remember father when
Young and supple like a reed
He forced me to accept his creed.
Father was a zealot.
When father’s beard was flaming red
His word was law, and oft he said:
“You shall not covet love unwed,
From alien corn shy away
And woman must her man obey.”
Father was a puritan.
When father’s beard was turning grey
I loved him much but could not stay
For he was steel and I but clay
I left him for a sack of dreams
A song or two, or so it seems.
Father was a patriarch.
Now father’s beard is snowy white
He looks as any old man might
And just the other summer night
One was walking past my gate
I ran to him ”O father, wait".
Father was a stranger.
Weep for Me Mother
Weep for me mother, mother mine
weep for me in the evening hush,
in the soft silence of solitude
when pain becomes a pattern,
speak to me in gentle words.
Weep for me at the crest of day
when dreams are dead and pride is old,
touch my face with gentle hands
speak to me in gentle tones.
“I sent you forth to ride a cloud
and whip the wind to mark your path,
yet well I know the ashen taste
of windswept glory on my breath.”
“Go forth again to seek a love
with marigold and roses red.”
At Evening Tide
At evening tide
like waves of the sea
my love is washed
from shore to shore.
At evening tide
the sea is grey,
and the air is hushed
the waves are mute
the surging sea
enfolds the sky
as lovers do
and bids the stars
to greet the night.
At evening tide
my love is bare,
a fragile shell
on a distant shore
in a lustrous dream
the sun drenched beach
and the singing sea
at evening tide.
Oh Great Giver
Oh Great Giver
Nourisher of meager joy
And abundant human sorrow,
Life, before your portals I creep,
My proud head, resting deep in the dust
That sifts the agony and hope,
Of your many, many worshippers,
Mother of Spring,
Harbinger of happier tomorrows,
Flood my veins with music,
(From the memory of drumbeats
To the promise of the psalmist)
Seal my eyes with the purple of a sunburst,
Wax my ears with the laughter of my children,
So be it,
Oh blessed spirit, damned, unyielding power,
Raise me from the dust,
And take me, hold me, love me,
Love me for a single mortal minute,
Richard Doiron, 63, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. Poetry in print forty years. Author of seventeen books, including two novels and two biographical works. Associate editor of Sonnetto Poesia and Canadian Zen Haiku. Profiled in Poetry Life & Times, Britain. Work read at United Nations. Last major achievement: first-place winner in World Poetry John Keats Celebration competition, Vancouver, British Columbia.
I am the spring before you, the lifeblood
of the earth itself gushing out with the promise
of tomorrow...inclined to my many likenesses
forces joined cutting through the stone...
such a driving force...
I am the rain that falls and fashions
the mountain, the valley, and the plain,
the thrust behind all things that sprout,
inclined and entrenched at the root of it all...
I am transport, playground, settlement, sustenance,
power wielded in the harness of my essence,
part and parcel of ritual and rite, a quenching
when you thirst, your cooling in the noonday sun...
I am the blood coursing through your veins,
defined therefore your penchant for my presence,
the roar and rage of me music to your ears...
I am that from which you cannot part,
that which allows for the flooding of tears,
for your feet to get wet in your daring.
And I am the ripple effect from your caretaking
as well as from your misguidedness.
In the end, I am you and you are me, the river that
I've been, the river that I am, the river that I will be.
Eloquent Beyond Words
Comes a day he shall write no poems.
That day he shall divest himself
of his leaden frame, rise up in mist
and take up with the cloud.
Later, conditions just so, he shall
come down as rain.
Later still, the sun having warmed
him sufficiently, he shall take up
with the richness of the soil.
From his earth self a garden
shall begin to sprout.
Soon enough thereafter the wind
shall speak in his stead.
That day he shall write no poems.
That day the elements shall be
eloquent beyond words.
Jeff Seffinga was born in the Netherlands but came to Canada as a young boy. He has been writing poetry since the mid-1960s. Over the years he has published nine collections of his work with different publishers, been included in a number of anthologies, and won several prizes for his poetry. He once operated his own publishing company and recently worked as the editor for Serengeti Press. He is editor-in-chief of Tower Poetry, the biannual publication from the Tower Poetry Society, and administrates the Acorn-Plantos Award for People's Poetry, an annual book award. He lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
anne-marie in grade three
was the softest girl in the schoolyard
embarrassed by taunting boys and their dares
I ran up to her and kissed her
its execution was meant to be
swift as a snake striking
the way a falcon stoops and grabs
her lips were moving soft and warm
so slow on mine
even without the clutch and snatch of passion
my body trembled
and my mind stood still
endless that moment before I turned and ran
left her a royal personage among
her hand half-raised and not one sign
of rejection or disgust
there and then
my life became a quest
for the blessings of beautiful ladies
Heron: Foot in Cold Water
Even now you present yourself to the world
standing erect and motionless
as noontime surrounds you
but today the questions arise
why at this time why at this place?
A fallen-down tree trunk
long stripped bare
lying in shallow water
among stones and shale.
No reeds growing,
no green to hide the edible bits
flashing silver in diffusing sunlight.
Does the cold water on your feet
cancel the noon sun heat
on your neck feathers,
the dusky slim pack of your back?
My heated face demands
a taste of the breeze
carrying some of the coolness
of the lake water memory,
come to caress my skin
and the soaking hide of my back,
then to withdraw
bearing the heat of perspiration
and leaving dryness.
I long for sunless shade to stop the burning.
How in the deadly heat
do you stand still
and still stand so alive.
Red on Black
strokes of crimson on your black
I want to hold close to
when the looming moon
first leaps up from the line
to fly a favorite course
in that heat of black and red
I would hold you
the skin and all that within you lives
is born of tropic shimmer
and a mirror sea deep
how now could this
the tentative hand of one man
slide the lines and grab vain
at your swells so waterful
so marveling in weight
yes I have heard the musical word
interpreted whispered spices
refused to barter time for money
sat in the sun without expectations
and smiled one pain away
so you in red on black can be
as me one blue on gold
not by the whats but by the hows
never by promise about the coming
but holding firm
your back toward the rising sun you stand
unclad knee-deep in strands of mist
the new light rising illumines tousled hair
the naked stone of the facing hillside
in the day’s first glimmer your pale buttocks
glow solid and golden as apples
you lie curled tight into yourself asleep
deep in voluminous folds of a scarlet robe
from the hollow between your elbows and thighs
the white cat stares over the rise of your ribs
flaming eyes and teeth so tight the portrait
intense behind your pointing finger
close, goddamnit, these seeping eyes …
photographs produce no tears
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in suburban Lakewood, Roberta Tracy began writing on staff at a greeting card company. Marriage, raising three sons, and a career in nonprofit management followed. She has managed programs serving chronically ill, homeless, unemployed, and frail elderly populations and currently directs an adult day care center in Oakland, California. Besides newsletters and grant proposals, she has written poetry, some of which has been published in local anthologies, and completed four children’s books, one of which is being adapted into a play. Although currently focused on writing a full-length adult novel, winning second prize in the Cyclamen and Swords 2009 contest rekindled her interest in poetry.
Where do you go
behind opalescent eyes
when life needs
and you only own pastels?
Do you dig in dirt
for mud pie recipes
and the perfect proportion
of earth to water . . .
Do you sort through die-cast soldiers
aligning them in perfect rows
before the heavy-lidded
box slams shut,
toppling perfect warriors . . .
Knowing you can’t right them,
do you crouch in closets
filled with cast-off clothes -
shirts and skirts from brighter days
ill-fitting now, but oh how calico
brings thoughts of home and mother
standing in the kitchen
humming Toora Loora
as cream turns into butter.
Singing softly with her,
do you pick at threads you wear
unwinding skeins until
the raiment is no more
than a line that
something . . .
Or do you weave the fiber
at the meaning of the moment
in the smiles of the remaining?
(dedicated to all female job seekers of a certain age)
When the blush upon your youthful cheeks
Has turned from rose to pale
And the wiggle in your walking
Is ignored by every male
When your face has been so lifted that
The doctor says “No more!”
And that perky pair of C-cups
Is descending toward the floor
When dimples deepen into lines
And wrinkles web your face
And your brain is drained of all recall
For person, time and place
When you reach the gates of heaven
As Gabriel sounds his horn
And ask to add designer wings
To the power suit you’ve worn …
You’ll hand your application
To St. Peter at the gate
He’ll want me to review it
And I won’t hesitate
I’ll take you to my office,
With its corner cloud-topped view,
And as you’ve said to me today
I shall say unto you:
Your résumé’s impressive,
Your skills are broad, indeed,
But your knowledge and experience
Don’t meet our current need.
So good luck with your search - you know?
I hear they’re hiring down below.
Zarin Thomson was born in Cape Town, South Africa and has been writing on and off since 1982. His web site is www.lulu.com/Zb. Zarin has been involved with the service industry for 20 years and is currently running the Cock&tail Guild on facebook.
the plotting of symbols
a figure created by the diagonal of a square
ideas perpetuating upon branches
the middle ages
structure of the pyramid
overwhelming realization of the effect
of the tree of life
hermes & the hands of diocletian
the golden age
subject to justified osiris
in the eye of the body above
the miracle of small things
i thought of the morning
having sat down with music
a melody my cousin played
a dream of years
the air full of jokes
who would write them down in our country?
a father; a son and then the devils book
two events that glimpsed in childhood
i believed and accepted,
then to prove when i was happy
like a slow disturbed summer
the date on a letter touching earth
with shadow and light
let her know of a drink refused
let her know of a line from a song
she’s tall, slender
‘i’ll be yours’ she said
a gift of love that cannot be denied
like the girl who denied me her love; i accept
a dim mirror and an awaiting bed
i possess her
image in my lips