On this page: poems by Sabine Huynh, Thilde Fox, Brian Minnick, Hugh Fox, Judy Swanson, Patti Tana, Yakov Azriel, Lyn Lifshin, Moshe Ganan, Michal Mahgereftegh, Carisa Danielle
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Sabine Huynh was born in Saigon in 1972, grew up in Lyon, France, worked and studied in England and the U.S., before moving to Jerusalem with her Israeli husband in 2001. Her home is now in Tel Aviv. She holds a PhD in linguistics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she taught from 2002 to 2008. She was still in primary school when she started writing poetry, and ghostwriting for classmates, in French. . She has two novels in French that are about to be published. Sabine also translates poetry from Hebrew to French: Uri Orlev's Poems from Bergen-Belsen, 1944. Some of her poems and short stories appeared in The Dudley Review, Poetica Magazine and The Jerusalem Post (French edition).
On different time planes
For a week I went to bed
knowing she’d called
forgetting she’d left
her voice in that space
“I’m calling randomly
not knowing the time difference
ignoring where you are.”
When I was ten you bought me a piano
you played it so well
while what I wanted the most
was an old bicycle
like my brothers’.
Did you know that
the dog you got yourself
dressed up and never fed
became my best friend?
Every night I brushed off
from your broken veins and split ends
burning lies, diamonds, and secrets
that tripped me off in my sleep.
Yearning for the Isle of No-Beyond
(Tel Aviv, December 22, 2009. To A. C., in memory of her beloved U. L., 1959-2009)
By the window wrapped
in his thin saffron blanket
that smells like an old book
she reads the unfurling clouds
at times gaily hatched
they tell her of whipped cream
or grey as burnt incense
they speak of her grandma
but when the sun plunges
they darken and set
giving her no comfort
like smoke they loom over
yearning for him she remembers
their luminous life together
when she was his cold light
when he was her orange flame
the rain crashing down suddenly
takes her back to the bank of the Hatzbani
where he studied and slept under a tree
his head rested on Buddhist teachings
had he stayed there he probably
wouldn’t have become a monk
a solitary and stiff body
in which silence grew malignant
but they wouldn’t have met either
in the land of a thousand smiles
hers and his over his hands
at rest together on the red wood
of that sun-drenched table
where among tea cups and a candle
a blue plastic pen lies ready
to write their personal miracle
thunderbolts capture her gaze
like spider veins on his hollow cheeks
they draw cuts into the night sky
deep insights into perfect emptiness.
Waking up together
In the dead of night
from black to blue to white
faint bird notes fall
one by one
from his heart to her hand
thousands of kilometers
of veins capillaries in crumpled bedsheets
they’ve traveled years to get there
a crow caws ahead of the alarm-clock
her bloodflow the ticking
fail to merge together
until his first smile
For hundreds of years she was
cried by mermaids, rolled about
discarded, shipwrecked, lost and broken
smooth outside, hard inside
as hard as a bitter almond
her arsenic coated tongue
spat verses darker than Bukowski’s
but at the end of tides
the seasons glued
her frosty heartbeats together
today she comes rainwashed:
in her sunny throat are dancing
shiny shards of herself
that seed the sand when she speaks.
Thilde Fox was born in Vienna in 1930, came to England in 1938 on the Kindertransport, then to Israel in 1953. Most of her years she lived in Haifa, but is now in Tel Aviv. She began writing poetry when she joined Voices Israel, Haifa group, about 15 years ago, has won some prizes in the Annual Reuben Rose
We were born in Africa.
While others ran around in packs
we lived alone
grazing and thinking.
If there was danger
we learned to call loudly
and grew good ears
that hear over many miles.
We eat all plants,
gnawing them to the roots
so we need little water.
We roamed freely over the veld --
till they caught us
and enslaved us.
We are strong and sturdy
and very foot-sure
so they load us
with wood or food or arms
and take us along narrow paths
where only we can go,
up and down the Alps,
the mountains of Nepal,
the steppes of Russia,
or the dark coal mines
where we pull their carts.
Where there are engines
for the hard work
they load us with fat children
and walk us 100 yards
there and back
there and back all day
on their barren beaches.
If they are considerate
we work hard,
if they hurry us
we kick and bite,
then they beat us
and we kick and bite again.
They jeer at our long ears
mock our voice
use our name for insults.
They have forgotten
how Dionysus embraced us,
Queens bathed in our milk,
mobs waved palms before us
on our way up to Jerusalem,
and once we saw an Angel
who let us answer them
in their own words.
They talk too much.
They are clumsy and brutal.
They will not endure.
Hush beloved, don’t you cry
My body’s warm, I’ll hold you tight
And I will sing our lullaby.
Here together still we lie
We’ll put the shadows out of sight
Hush beloved, don’t you cry.
We’ll be at ease, we won’t ask why
A hug, a kiss, our evening rite
And I will sing our lullaby.
A little cough, a little sigh
Take a sip, one small bite
Hush beloved don’t you cry.
Soon the darkness will pass by
The doctors aren’t always right
And I will sing our lullaby.
Now you’re clean and softly dry
The pills will last you through the night
Hush beloved don’t you cry
And I will sing our lullaby.
Brian Minnick lives and works in Austin, Texas as a professional classical singer and writer. His works can be seen in various local publications.
I am a complex city
and I yearn for those who are content to live in
stone cottages where trees provide shade and
candles mark the passage of time.
I live in a closet under the stairs
and I only come out at night
naked and hungry for knowledge
and that salami sandwich I know
I ate last week.
My courthouse is corrupt
there is a drug war raging that the
heads of state legitimize as the human condition.
I see them sneak past the street of my
torn down churches smoking a cigarette and
counting little blue and white pills.
My scientists have explored the ocean depths,
only to find that angels stay submerged
for a reason.
My astronauts have explored the far reaches
of the universe, only to miss
the comfort of dreams.
Someday my hospitals will give up
and hide with their bandages that tore through
so much skin.
Today they unveil the cure for insomnia
tonight I lie awake and write poetry.
I see the faces of my children and watch them
seeking and pulling empty wheelchairs across
the street. Only once in a while does a driver
not see them.
The homeless, living in cardboard mansions,
walk with ferocity as the city lights strobe
their insane runway. And I cheer for them
because what else can I do?
I am a complex city.
The velvet bride,
drunk in Midnight’s sting,
yawns and welcomes eager hands.
The cold wind groom
alights in shadows, sirens blazing
and soon our
bride will be reflected on the moon.
Was it Beauty’s brush
or Fate’s dark arrow
who, in cigarette breath,
led aggression near?
Or simply Love
on an endless quest for
the one to
pay the rent?
We fantasize her final thoughts,
a bouquet of ruby tears
thrown and caught by canine sight.
And yet, no thought could
have stained her mind for
Amid the chaos of the night,
a silver dagger’s kiss,
her final sight.
Dream a Melody so firm
that Earth and Sky begin to form.
Then Harmony to crack the Stone
and Rain to heal it's saddened soul.
Hum the Song to bring forth Roots
and Wind to someday cool its leaves.
Hum louder and the Birds will learn
and Insects, less, and yet immortal.
Sing the Song and Man will Build,
will Worship, and Die.
Then be the Song and the Universe
will soon know who you are.
Music as your eternal Soul
shall guide new Worlds to discover their own.
Hugh Fox just hit 76, has105 books published, mostly poetry. His most recent poetry book is The Collected Poetry of Hugh Fox, 540 pages, just out from World Audience. The next one to appear in La Paix/Peace from Higganum Hill Press. Born in Chicago, B.A. and M.A. from Loyola U., Ph.D. in American Lit from U. of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Has taught for years in Venezuela, Mexico, Brazil, etc., married to Peruvian Lucia Ungaro de Sevallos for years, now married to Brazilian Maria Bernadete Costa.
Why always in Japan, especially around
Teriyaki-Sushi time, am I overcome with
a sense of time/life not passing, the faces
and screens, fans, bowls, a forever-dad with
two forever-daughters and wife, continuity
going back to In the Beginning, as if my old,
fifty years dead, pal at Loyola in L.A., Frank
Miyake, would knock on the door and I
wouldn’t be at all suprised.
Brahms' Double Concerto for Violin and Cello
Follow the violin/cello into the green hills,
follow the river around its bends and rapids,
then flattened out again, follow the legs and
the skirts, eyes into the baronessian luxury
of the Now with no second thoughts about
wherefroms and wheretos, just the ankle-aesthetics
that lead up to not just an ecstatic moment
of where-the-rivers meet gluttony but
forever-afterness of quakeless serenity.
R. Strauss’ Madchenblumen/Flower Women Opus 22
Kornblumen, Mohnblumen, Epheu, Wasserrose/
Cornflowers, Poppies, Ivy, Waterlilies,
Walking through the blackboards and laptop
screens, byteless for at least one lifetime, just
rivers, allergysneezes, sore-knees, chocolate-
covered raisins, breeze-caressed bird-watching/
listening, hearing her pull into the driveway,
smelling the squash and Teriyaki salmon, historyless,
future- and past-less in the unadulterated
Moment Actual / Present Moment.
Two piano sonatas, spiriting through
dawn get-ups and goodbyes into shared
teriyaki, goose-bump, exotic wrap lunches
and at 5:01 she reappears and there’s my
carrot-sweet potato-salmon miraculous
dinner, persimmon-pineapple slush desert,
and then in the long-light months an hour
out in Mother Earth’s womb/at her tits,
reborning and revivifying, maybe a little
Noel Coward, Eugene O’Neill, Shakespeare
theater or some dual-pianoing, celloing,
violining, symphonying into darkness, home,
the Frankenstein World News, a little banana
and milk and knockout pills
a kiss for as long as our not-breathing will allow
us, her room, my room, a kind of hypnotic-
nightmare death until we dawn back into each
* Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos, K.448.
A retired paralegal, Judy Swanson has been writing music lyrics all her life and performed professionally for more than 15 years. She has been attending the InnerVisions poetry workshop in Windsor, Connecticut since the fall of 2006. Judy is also an artist who is represented by galleries in Bloomfield and Old Lyme, Connecticut, and she enjoys writing children’s stories. She has been published in the Poet’s Cove section of the Monhegan Island Commons website and in two editions of Poet’s Ink. Additionally, her poetry and artwork were featured in the third issue (February 2009) of Cyclamens and Swords and more of her poetry was published in the August and December 2009 editions of Cyclamens and Swords.
While she sleeps,
he comes to her without warning,
smiles, tries to hold her,
caress her, convince her
to accept his love.
She tosses, turns,
rejects his advances.
the sparks between them
could have ignited
a raging inferno of passion.
Somehow she knew
what might be
a perfect love at first glance
could become imperfect over time.
He came from a life of wealth,
blood lines, education.
She came from poverty,
He wore Armani, Gucci,
his pen poised to record billable time.
She dressed in tie-dye, sandals,
a guitar slung over her shoulder.
He sat in a leather chair
behind polished teakwood.
She sat on a wooden stool,
serenading bar flies.
She believed he was destined
to become even more
successful than he was,
walked away, chose not
to let him know her feelings.
His family found
the ideal woman,
a person who would complement
his life of entitlement.
A restless ghost, he stalks her.
Every now and then,
for more than 30 years,
he’s come to her
through his dreams,
Women have a common bond —
could it be the menses?
We also talk a lot about
bringing men to their senses.
The wisest of us know
it just won't ever be,
so we should accept the fact
there’s me, and then there's he.
While we often define our lives
by people whom we love,
maybe it’s good to think sometimes
we're just a cut above.
Patti Tana is Professor of English at Nassau Community College and the author of seven poetry collections. She is the editor of the anthology Songs of Seasoned Women and associate editor of the Long Island Quarterly. The Walt Whitman Birthplace selected her Long Island Poet of the Year 2009. Visit Patti at www.pattitana.com to listen to her read her poems.
He Thinks I’m an Apple
and he’s hungry, I thought
as he leaned in the open
window of my car.
He had filled the tank and cleaned the windshield
by coating the glass with froth
then wiping it off with long strokes
that washed over me in waves.
When I smiled, he stuck his head in the window
his mouth open wide enough to swallow me
red cheeks and all
right down to the star in my core.
He’s hungry, I thought,
and he thinks I’m an apple.
Like old childhood friends who find themselves
at an airport in the middle of the country
waiting for a plane grounded
because of weather, we are together
in my dream as we always are
At first the airport seems to have many rooms
conference rooms and restaurants and
even a small theater where we are
nestled in the dark, heat rising as always
until the children look back and giggle
It was always too hot when I was with you
hot and wet and hard to breathe
but now we appear at the counter
of flight times and delays and cancellations
wondering how long the weather will keep us
together in this unworldly suspension
The airport that had seemed so large
now compressed to this one counter
where frantic travelers demand and plead
with frazzled clerks in blue uniforms
lifting their eyes to the sky
While you and I calmly look in each other’s eyes
not caring if it is ice on the wings
or storms somewhere far away
or high winds that keep us together
On the Cusp
Suddenly crisp September air
sends me back to the taste of grapes
Mother and I sampled as we walked
the long driveway lined with vines
for our New Year visit to the Kessler sisters.
Judith had straight gray hair and large glasses
to see the notes for our weekly piano lessons
while Esther floated through rooms and gardens
smiling beneath a tangle of blond curls.
September sun dappling the stony driveway
through the vines, the contrast of warm days
with blanket nights, ripened the sweet, fat Concords
that squished between my teeth and
slid down my throat, tingling my lips and mouth
with that once-a-year taste.
September was always my new year.
The end of summer and the start of school. New
shoes, clean notebooks, and the opening
of the big book, the Book of Life
where God would inscribe
who shall live and who shall die.
And three years in a row someone did die
dancing in the synagogue
after breaking the Yom Kippur fast.
I thought dancing on the cusp
was a good way to go, but the congregation voted
for a quiet ceremony with honey and challah
where people would nod and embrace
wishing a sweet new year.
Then one September I walked with my mother
down the long driveway lined with vines
and found Judith sitting on a wood crate
instead of the piano bench where she had sat
so many patient hours.
Her sister had died, though it seemed to me
she was in another room or in the garden
breathing in the taste of September.
Yakov Azriel was born in New York City and came to live in Israel at the age of 21. He has published three books of poetry in the USA: Threads From A Coat Of Many Colors: Poems On Genesis (2005), In The Shadow Of A Burning Bush: Poems On Exodus (2008) and Beads for the Messiah's Bride: Poems on Leviticus (2009), all published by Time Being Books. Over 130 of his poems have been published in journals in the USA, the UK and Israel, and his poems have won twelve awards in international poetry competitions, as well as two fellowships from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.
"He (Israel) crouches, he lies down like a lion and a panther; who shall arouse him? Blessed are those who bless you, cursed are those who curse you." (Numbers 24:9).
Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped — add year to year, let the holidays come around." (Isaiah 29:1)
Fire was a gift to the lion.
From the Eternal Flame, a spark
Flashed out and penetrated the lion's eye
And from his eye, his heart
Where the spark ignited stacks of dry hay piled there;
Thick slabs of ice around the heart melted,
Allowing it to beat again.
The spark ascended to his mind, kindling bundles of straw;
The mind's stove baked showbread once more
And from its chimney, a pillar of cloud arose.
The spark descended to the lion's paw
Which received not burns, but a radiance;
Everything it touched, glowed.
The spark passed to the lion's throat;
A blaze burst forth when the lion roared,
And in his roar, a voice.
And this voice was light
And this voice was a star
And this voice was an eternal flame.
Fire is a gift from the lion.
Delilah, After Samson's Death
"And he [Samson] told her [Delilah] his heart's secret; he said to her, 'No razor has ever touched my head, for I have been a nazirite unto God since my mother's womb — if my hair should be shorn, my strength will desert me and I will become weak, like any other man.' When Delilah saw that he had revealed his heart's secret, she sent for and called the officers of the Philistines, 'Come immediately for he has revealed his heart's secret.' And the officers of the Philistines came, bringing with them the money [for her payment]." (Judges 16:17-18).
Write this down.
The man I loved
Write this down.
The man I loved
Was a good man.
A gentle man.
Others saw only his strength,
The large, taut biceps on his arms,
His massive shoulders.
I saw his fingers
Tender as they stroked my eyes,
As they stroked my wind, my cloud, my sky,
As he inscribed out names together
In the sand
Before the storm.
Others saw him burn fields of ripe grain
With torches of foxtails.
I saw him light a slender candle
To give me light in the growing dusk,
Light to my star,
Light to my moon,
Light to a dream I didn't know that I had dreamt.
Others saw him kill a lion.
Others saw him wield a donkey's jawbone
As a sword.
I saw him give life
To my whispers, life to my shadow,
Life to a prayer I didn't know I prayed,
Life to the echo of a song I didn't know I sang.
Of all the many men I've known,
He alone never became a drunkard,
Never beat a woman,
Never slapped my face.
He spoke to me in a quiet voice.
He looked at me with quiet eyes.
Out of the strong
Came forth sweetness.
His hair was long.
His life was short.
The man I loved
I threw away his life.
Write this down.
“The leper, who has been infected, — his clothes shall be rent, his hair shall be left disheveled, and he shall cover over his upper lip; and he shall call out, ‘Impure! Impure!’ As long as he is infected, he shall be impure; he shall dwell alone, outside the camp of his residence.” (Leviticus 13:45-46)
I’ve caught it.
— Not as lethal as AIDS,
Not as common as the common cold —
But I’m infected
With the virus
Of writing poetry.
I wake up in the middle of the night
Or early morning before dawn
Sweating with words, images, ideas
That bombard my brain, compelling me to rise,
Sit at my desk
And after I finish, I walk around for hours in a daze,
A sleepwalker, a zombie,
Oblivious to my little boy crying or my wife’s conversation
As my mind debates within itself,
Re-editing, changing line-breaks or the order of stanzas, pondering
Which words need to be deleted or added.
Or maybe just leave the damn poem alone?
When did I acquire the virus?
What or who infected me?
Or is it genetic, a kind of inherited hemophilia,
Encoded in a recessive gene?
The virus of writing poetry
At times makes me feverish
When it lodges in the brain.
Or is it the heart?
There are weeks of dormancy,
Sometimes even months;
But then the virus always revives, attacking savagely,
Not letting me breathe.
Is this virus incurable,
A chronic disease with bouts of acute severity?
If only there were some kind of penicillin
I could take for ten days and be rid of it.
But antibiotics are impotent against viruses.
And there’s no vaccination, either.
My greatest fear: does this viral infection
Deteriorate, invariably and inevitably,
Will I, egocentric and autistic,
Cut myself off from the outer world?
Will my clothes be rent, my hair left disheveled,
Condemned to dwell alone,
Beyond the pale
In a selfish self-imposed exile,
Shut off from my family
(Yet poetry, like prophecy, is a fire burning in your bones
And though you try to extinguish the flames, the heat, the blaze, the light,
For if you put out the fire, you would freeze to death
From the ice within).
Which leads me to the main point:
Do not come too close.
Maybe stop reading
Because, who knows,
The virus of writing poetry might very well be
Moshe Ganan is now 78 years old and feels he is born every day anew. He was born in Budapest, came to Israel 1947 (through Germany, U.N.R.RA. camps, Cyprus). Fought in the Palmach. He studied for his B.A at the English Department of the Hebrew University, where he took later also his degrees of M.A. (in Hebrew, Comparative and German Literature (1996-2006). He has two children, a boy (32) and a girl, (27). He has written ten books and publishes poetry, short stories, critiques in many Hebrew Literary newspapers.
Mester utca 42*
My green house is in ruins. As such,
Remembered, never mind:
It won’t amount to much.
Not a heavy loss:
You’ll find another:
A grave, still greener.
Moss grows on it, and grass.
*In Hungary, Budapest. We lived there, but left for a yellow-starred slum. My late grandmother's. Should have inherited it, but got instead 72 shekel as recompensation for its being appropriated by the state and before its undergoing demolition.
On the bus
The motor, the loose windows in their frames
The noise of the street, the murmuring voices,
All the turbulent phenomenon of the noisy street
Contribute to create this spherical
music, music of no Place or Time.
The mind floats amid colorful rags of memories,
Amidst the waves, moved by the winds,
Catching some strolling-by ideas from the
Foam and froth,
Trying to rearrange them between unfixed
Points of time,
Trying to appoint them a point of departure
A point of destination.
An outcast from the warm inside
Of the mellifluous, soporific womb of the bus
You step down the stairs and meet the rushing
Solid good reality of the earth,
Rising towards you, (and, for a last and lost minute
- While stepping down, your head is still far above -)
The land springs towards your seven-mile-jumping-boot
And the people with their everyday faces
Come and go and you mingle in the crowd
Between them on the hard pavement of solid
Lyn Lifshin has written more than 125 books and edited 4 anthologies of women writers. Her poems have appeared in most poetry and literary magazines in the U.S.A, and her work has been included in virtually every major anthology of recent writing by women. She has given more than 700 readings across the U.S.A. and has appeared at Dartmouth and Skidmore colleges, Cornell University, the Shakespeare Library, Whitney Museum, and Huntington Library. Lyn Lifshin has also taught poetry and prose writing for many years at universities, colleges and high schools, and has been Poet in Residence at the University of Rochester, Antioch, and Colorado Mountain College. Winner of numerous awards including the Jack Kerouac Award for her book Kiss The Skin Off, Lyn is the subject of the documentary film Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. For her absolute dedication to the small presses which first published her, and for managing to survive on her own apart from any major publishing house or academic institution, Lifshin has earned the distinction "Queen of the Small Presses." She has been praised by Robert Frost, Ken Kesey and Richard Eberhart, and Ed Sanders has seen her as "a modern Emily Dickinson."
Champlain, Branbury, The Lakes At Night
always women in the
dark on porches talking
as if in blackness their
secrets would be safe.
Cigarettes glowed like
Water slapped the
deck. Night flowers
full of things with wings,
something you almost
feel like the fingers
of a boy moving, as if
by accident, under
sheer nylon and felt
in the dark movie house
as the chase gets louder,
there and not there,
that maybe never was.
The mothers whispered
about a knife, blood.
Then, they were laughing
the way you sail out of
a dark movie theater
into wild light as if no
thing that happened
wild cat in the
wood pile, deer
you can’t see.
I drift with
the poem you
sent into an
fish so old
they have no
eyes. If I
shut my eyes
I hear the
When I touch
the chair I hear
were wild in its
leaves when there
were red flowers
in its branches
Milky summer nights,
the men stay waiting, First National Corner
where the traffic light used to be, wait
as they have all June evenings of their lives.
Lilac moss and lily of the valley
sprout in the cooling air as
Miss Damon, never late for thirty years,
hurries to unlock the library, still
hoping for a sudden man to spring tall from the
locked dark of mysterious card catalogues to
come brightening her long dusty shelves.
And halfway to dark
boys with vacation bicycles
whistle flat stones over the bridge,
longing for secret places where
rocks are blossoming girls with damp thighs.
Then nine o’clock falls thick on lonely books
and all the unclaimed fingers and
as men move home through bluemetal light,
the Congregational Church bells
ringing as always four minutes late,
the first hayload of summer rumbles through
town and all the people shut their eyes
dreaming a wish
one minute, the sun was out, it was fall.
Geraniums under a quilt last night, a
blotch of red opening.
On the front step what looked like lint
has small pink claws and feet.
Next the sky was the color of lead.
Geraniums under a quilt last night
like a child you’ve tucked in
or a body wrapped in the earth under leaves.
In the swirl of sudden snow, what
was left of the headless fur blows west
Like a child you’ve tucked in
whatever was living, a just born
squirrel I suppose, hardly a living thing
except for feet.
In fifteen minutes, the light came
back, cars stopped sliding
Whatever was living. Or just born
must have felt the wild snow was a warning.
I thought of the lover wrapped in dark
cloth and left in the leaves while, not knowing,
I took a ballet class. The geraniums
are still under a blue quilt this Tuesday.
One minute the sun was out, it was fall
Michal Mahgerefteh was born in Israel and has lived in Virginia since 1986.
Her work has been published in many literary magazines including Mima'amakim,
Potpourri, Women in Judaism Contemporary Writing, The Poetry Society of Virginia
80th Anniversary Anthology, and The Jew Blue Yorker. Michal's debut collection,
In My Bustan, is scheduled for publication by The San Francisco Bay Press, late
2008. Michal is also an accomplished artist with works exhibited in New York,
Virginia and New Orleans. Micha's collage series, Dreams: The Collage Impulse,
is currently a solo show exhibited at The Phillips Arts Gallery in Virginia Beach,
Virginia, through october 2008. Michal can be reached at www.michalmahgerefteh.com
Henna Artist, Marrakesh 2007
in the center market square of Djema el Fna
among all male fabric merchants a single woman
sits on a low stool stone mortar in her hands
pounding chopped henna into fine green powder
she looks at our group with a bubbling smile
beautiful ladies lucky tattoos only dollars
I follow her hand gesture and sit on a rolled rug
and lean against large baskets of dry couscous
she stuffs a wad of tobacco leaves in her mouth
takes a deep breath and in a flowing rhythm starts
drawing Berber designs framing nails and fingers
fish for prosperity lion’s paw for strength
as the cool paste touches my skin I travel back
to my engagement night when the women escorted
the new bride into the mikveh ululating as her
palms and feet covered in a thick paste of red henna
on this day blessed sunshine strikes mortar walls
climbing vines I sip a gentle past fresh mint in a
hot green tea shkr thank you she says flushing
red cheeks and a single gold tooth zwine beautiful
Carisa Danielle is a college student living in California, majoring in English and also studying French and psychology. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and she also loves to read. Up till now she has only been published in tiny university magazines.
My Ghosts have names,
they were real people once.
Now they’re just remnants
of ex-loves and lost friends
and the faces of people I pass in the street.
My Ghosts are montages of people I meet,
they seep into my dreams.
Their clamor makes it impossible to sleep.
My Ghosts have names,
their every pair of eyes has a soul behind,
and histories vast with wasted time.
My Ghosts mock my endeavors,
annihilate every event --
all things that seem to proceed
with such importance
wilt in comparison to the wasteland
of my Ghosts’ collective years.
My Ghosts have names,
but I will not speak them
nor stir their ashes to give them life.
Others carry their Ghosts proudly like purses,
collect the past like aged photographs,
but not me, I fumble with mine,
try to hide them in the corners of fake smiles.
They cling to my feet
I fumble throughout my day.
My Ghosts will not die.
My Ghosts have names.
They were real people once,
that’s why I can never look them in the eye,
why their memories still pervade my dreams.
If my Ghosts had no names,
were instead anonymous faces
with no plans, no passion, no past,
they would cease to haunt me, but
my Ghosts stink like burned bridges
and they dismantle me molecule by molecule.
One day there will be nothing left of me
On Opening a Newspaper
Release me from the doom on the radio
and the panic parading across my TV;
Release me from all that vulgar hyperbole
that scrapes the extremes,
that scrapes my elbows and knees while I’m crawling
through the broadcast madness that passes as
Release me from the excess of business execs
who walk down my street side-by-side with
men who live in tents and other unabashed displays of poverty.
Release me from the news media
preening their feathers
in response to human tragedy.
Release me, Oh,
Release me --
Find me a better planet to inhabit,
or at least turn off the TV.
The Day I Didn’t Disappear
My family thought I’d disappeared,
my existence smeared like a watercolor painting,
but nobody ever disappears.
Nobody ever disappears!
It’s a fear I’ve always had,
my mindless molecules clinging to wayward currents of air,
Yes, nobody ever really disappears,
Even after all your years and consciousness
is lost to death, your atoms break down
to feed other living things, and your mistakes
pile high, alive, they never die.
But I’ve always wanted to disappear:
To annihilate my associations, perceptions and tastes,
instead of the lingering anxiety of being alive,
to only own the time that I waste.
So one day I hopped on a bus,
and nobody I knew has seen me since.
I left the cold of my childhood
for warmer climes, but I never sent a postcard.
I don’t know why.
I never sent a postcard. What would I write?
That the tedium of being alive
wasn’t just confined to my old life,
that nobody ever really escapes
the quiet anxiety of our everyday lives
or our collective human fears,
That nobody ever really disappears?