On this page: poems by Maude Larke, Michael E. Stone, Mindy Aber Barad, MJD Algera, Neal Whitman, Patricia Har-Even, Patrick Osada, Zvi Sesling, Paul Hostovsky, Paul Raboff, Rena Lee
The following works are copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.
Maude Larke has returned to writing after years in universities, analyzing others’ work, and to classical music as an ardent amateur. She has been published in Bird’s Eye reView, the Syracuse Cultural Workers’ Women Artists Datebook, Naugatuck River Review, Oberon, Doorknobs and Bodypaint, the Society of Southwestern Authors, Flowers & Vortexes, and The Story Teller.
From an Emptier Shore
never losing words,
gleamed its bright phrases
in the grayness
minus weighty thoughts
and felt only the need
stone is soothing
taking in the heat of anguish
and holding it
long after I have gone
somewhere between the sharp
and the cancelation, the black and the white
finger three and recalcitrant finger four
the tart wedge thrusts in;
a neighbor’s ineptitude
the weather in Stockholm
the path is lost
the spaces become dyslexic
and my neck puts itself in its clamp
the only solution found so far – a repeated
“where is it? where is it? where is it ?” –
the lamest of stopgaps
in the multiple gaps
of sudden doors
impossible to make a weight to keep hinges unworn
as what is present is already extreme
and sobbing for jettisoning
and subsequent straightening of vertebrae
to make of the time of music a space
like a ten-year-old’s imagined heaven
where she can stare at green until it becomes
and not move once
to slip back into paths
where not even heaven glinted
where whirling black allowed for dervish chant
and music held only itself and its silences and breaths
and the only thing sudden was subito
to subside, to lose, and in that way to imbibe
dig the well
follow the lines
fill between them
fold in the flapping edges
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.
Links and Letters
Land links, mobile links,
satellite links, email links,
internet links, fax links.
round the world now, now, now!
here to there at once, once, once!
wonder upon digital wonder.
not ink on paper,
this modern writing,
monitor glowing and
pixel on pixel off.
Not actually seeing people
in the flesh,
even on Skype links there’s
no breath, no touch,
no real eyes to see,
no smell and no taste.
By the senses we learn other people.
The new links are so swift
there’s no time for imagination
which used to envelope a letter
(the scented note, the dried flower)
the very handwriting that spoke
by its slant and shape,
form and care.
No reading a hundred times,
no writing with pounding heart
word squeezed out after word,
and no waiting an eternity,
for the postman tomorrow.
Quicker, not necessarily better or richer.
Wood’s grain shows nature’s growth,
layers of rings mark years past.
Their lines, colours, whirls and patterns,
hide modest beneath bark's bumps.
Lustrous smooth polished wood,
is velvet beneath eye's caress. If you
plane heedless across the grain
you deface its deep hiddenness.
Live life's line along the grain,
warming and smooth and deep.
Chase not gold against life’s flow
down the path to the land of death.
Clear and Cut
The morning was clear and cut,
Cold, and the air chimed,
Tingling, quite clear to the ear,
The crystal sun in the blue.
Sharp winter chill,
Buildings cut out with razor blades,
Straight edges, sharp.
Each tree separate,
Cypress and pine stand.
My eyes dazzled
by the eastern sun.
Mindy Aber Barad
Mindy Aber Barad moved to Israel in 1977, has a BA from Washington University (St. Louis), and an LLB from Hebrew University. Her poetry, stories, book reviews and essays have been published in Poetica, Wild Plum, Current Accounts, the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Press, CyclamensandSwords.com and other publications both on and off line. Mindy is the Israeli co-editor of The Deronda Review.
Festival of Freedom
the table is set
with silver and fine china
we are no longer slaves
the door is open
waiting for Elijah the Prophet
and sip our wine
to usher in Messiah…
Close the door!
There’s a curfew!
we may not play in the backyard
“come in children
it’s getting late”
of anxious parents
shift right, then left, right
Why is it
that on that night
so long ago
they ate in haste
while on this night
we take our time
although we want to flee?
Should we put blood
on our door posts so the riots
will pass over us?
How can we welcome in the poor
to share with us
the bread of affliction,
but slam the door in Messiah’s face?
Can we keep out the meanness
and still share?
in homes yet unleavened.
elbow almond trees
push the pomegranates
the grafts unwillingly
and usurp what little water is left
while struggling saplings -
the ancient stone walls
to quench a thirst
of thousands of years
in bags of soil
beside the road
any gust of passing hatred
where are the olive saplings
that surround me at table?
where are the stone walls for shade?
how does the shaded area become a rigid border?
since when are plants and trees
anything more than?
I have paid a price for the night air
I swing my arms
But they are not free
They are burdened under an invisible weight
The heavy price of death
Freedom should be fun?
Loss of spouse
Loss of balance
I have lost my share
Clasped to my lungs
Reluctant to escape
Into the night air
MJD Algera was born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada on February 14, 1986, and currently resides in Hamilton, Ontario. He started writing at age 17, and since then his work has appeared in several literary magazines in North America, online and in print. Three of his poems have been shortlisted for national contests. He is a graduate of McMaster University, and in 2009, he earned a certificate in Creative Writing. He continues to remain active in the arts community by volunteering at literary festivals such as grit LIT, and was a former member of the Tower Poetry Society.
He is currently pursuing a career in “Teaching the Adult Learner”. His first chapbook, “Outskirts” is now available for purchase on www.cyclamensandswords.com
His poetry isn’t like him at all: its unapologetic, tends to run red lights and isn’t afraid to undress in public.
On My Mother at Age Seventy
When I was a kid
you showed me the world and its kaleidoscopic hills:
for instance, you taught reading comprehension
and on Canadian winter nights while I played house
with a shovel and pail, you would kneel at the kitchen door
scrawling I heart U on the frost;
whenever my Christmas Spirit was shucked bitterly from the cold,
a candy cane, like a barber striped pole twirled in a pool
of Nestle decadence.
I’ll never forget the day you said, “You feel less of a parent
when you lose your own.”
The workforce bereaved you of your spirit:
like any tired parent
you fashioned a mask of rouge and elasticity,
a dramatic bust of John Henry. You cast your hammer
to the metal works of baking industrialized goods;
your back pressed to a Costco freezer, you bear witness
to your Krispy Kreams being wasted on frugal bottom feeders.
Nowadays, you sit in the dark
drinking cold coffee
in a bathrobe stained with cigarette burns.
You go to the top shelf with your word choice.
“Dainty is what dainty does.”
Those words I tell you, rang true as the day
I came upstairs to find the bathroom lights on, door gaping,
I winced to find you on the toilet,
winding wads of paper
round your hand, “Praying to God,” you say while flushing,
“to pass the time.”
On My Dog’s Reaction to Her Winter Coat
Your resolve was dead on human, you standing Revolutionary quiet
legs cemented as I pulled you from under the kitchen table
it was mere moments beforehand,
you were zigzagging around my feet as I dressed
satisfied, I withdrew your bundled garb
from the hall closet. You scurry away. I spring a trap
and lasso you into your polyester netting, careful
in tucking away your folds, harnessing the Velcro
straps round your belly.
I mean to tell your pleading baby browns,
it’s for your own good. It’ll protect you
from the cold. Trust me, its girlfriend recommended.
If you were human, I wouldn’t dare tell you
my half amusement when I watch you walk
like a bleating bagpipe composing a dirge (perhaps a homesick
longing for Syracuse, New York … a state of emergency
911 call to the Baskervilles?) nor dare I speak of any conception
of buying booties to match.
Your whines tune to a whistle
reserved for my ears only: ‘The Food Guy has bad taste in women.
Down with Avon
down with the whole feminist movement.’
Your resolve gels like puzzle pieces.
We know nothing of the cold or of what’s chic,
but I should wildly guess
should you ever EVER
Evvvvvvvvvveeeer see that Avon lady
again, you’ll take a bite out of her fun parts
faster than she can draw
the blade assigned to kill fashion.
Neal Whitman lives in Pacific Grove, California. He loves to collaborate with his wife, Elaine, pairing his poetry with her photography in the Japanese haiga form and combining her Native American flute with his poetry in public recitals to raise money for not-for-profit organizations.
William Carlos Williams after Office Hours
Jim Beam in lab jar and tuna sandwich
No where else to go, no one to call
Now free from the work of the day
One sees most by candlelight
When one sees so little
My dark friend is back
Patricia Har-Even lived in Carmiel and Rehovot 1968-75, went back to UK in 1975 with third son and third degree electrical burns due to careless combination of live socket, wet duster and wet hand. Physic teachers please note. She spent the next 33 years earning a boring but lucrative living in various UK offices, whilst longing for Zion and retirement. She achieved this apotheosis in 2008 and is now considering an MA in Creative Writing course at Bar-Ilan University.
Tentative, resolved, approaching me in fierce decision and necessity
You pressed your mouth to my skin and my bones –
I was, primarily, grateful;
Secondly, fascinated by your fingernails, cut especially for me.
Incompatible generations illuminated with
Life-enhancing lust; you are
Alarmingly adored. I clearly appreciate you are also
No novice at this.
Waiting for rain
I am walking in a dry, clean autumn wind, thinking of you –
Let the rain come quickly, let the wet days come soon in the hills,
To love is an abstraction, an abstract verb that implies
We will meet and we’ll part before winter arrives.
Next time you’re in charge;
I’m not sure how I’ll feel,
You can do as you want –
I’m not there, it’s not real;
Not in my head
And not in my heart –
It’s your turn to do what is right on your part.
An unusual couple,
Really quite rare –
So this is our bargain,
And I’ll play fair:
I’ll give you nurture and loving care;
Next time you’re in charge,
Next time you’ll be free,
As the fact of the matter is this, you see,
You are an incarnated archangel to me.
Patrick B. Osada is a retired Headteacher living in Warfield, Berkshire, England. He works as an editor, writes reviews of poetry for magazines and is a member of the Management Team for SOUTH Poetry Magazine.
His first collection, Close to the Edge was published in 1996 & won the prestigious Rosemary Arthur Award.
His second collection, Short Stories: Suburban Lives, and his last volume, Rough Music, have been published in England by Bluechrome.
His current collection, Choosing the Route, has been published in England by Indigo Dreams Publishing.
Patrick’s work has been widely published in magazines, anthologies and on the internet. His poetry has been broadcast on national & local radio and translated into several European languages.
Leafing through the daily news,
I stopped at an obituary.
The photo showed a sparkling girl -
Carefully groomed and beautiful -
As she had looked in '65.
Immediately, in my mind's eye,
I saw her as she used to be
Performing with a well known band :
Zeitgeist for a while. Shooting star,
Consumed by her short brush with fame,
She'd disappeared by '69 :
Burnt out - only her name remained
The feature outlined her success :
Hit records and her earning power;
Her lovers and her fall came next -
It ended telling how she died :
On Welfare in a lonely room.
About her voice - her greatest gift -
The item contained not one word,
Confusing with rock's hype and trash
A talent that was Christ inspired.
It was her voice I recognized
When walking one cold afternoon
Outside a church in London town,
Only a month before she died.
She sang of beauty and of grace
With fine control and clarity,
Even a simple well known hymn
Commanded all her mastery.
Excited - like a teenage fan -
I crept into the darkened nave
Attracted by the style and range
That made her voice unique.
She was alone - sang for herself -
The altar steps seemed like her stage
Where she was trying to arrange
A tall display of flowers.
Unseen, I watched her as she worked -
It was a shock to see just how
Her looks and figure had both gone,
Her hair so greasy and unkempt,
Her face was lived in like her clothes.
I listened as her voice sang on
Unchanged despite the passing years,
Transfixed she held me for so long
Until church dust caused me to sneeze.
She stopped mid note and turned to me,
So angry that I should be there,
I coughed and muttered,"Lovely flowers,"
And stumbled out into the air.
I closed the door with my chance gone
To tell her what she'd meant to me :
How I'd been listening down the years
To worn L.P.s of all her songs.
Although I waited in the cold
Outside the church as lights came on,
She didn't sing another note
And left before I knew she'd gone.
The Public Misery Of This Animal's Death
The public misery of this animal's death.
Glazed eyed his glassy stare, curved posture
Echoes sleep, but he's not chosen to lie here
Beneath this tree; his was adventure
Found across that narrow strip of asphalt road –
He would not elect for such a public place to rest.
He didn't live long – no time for glories
We'd hoped with him to share : the falling snow,
A first sharp frost, holidays away.
Watching him mature and grow : our expectation.
Instead (how savage the irony) moving
Him from the dusty verge to my waiting Renault.
Zvi A. Sesling has published poetry in numerous magazines both in print and online in the United States, Great Britain, New Zealand, Canada and Israel. Among the publications are: Ibbetson St., Midstream, Poetica,The Deronda Review, Voices Israel, Saranac Review, New Delta Review, Plainsong, Asphodel, Haz Mat Review, Istanbul Literary Review, The Chaffin Journal, Ship of Fools, Chiron Review, Poetry Monthly Interational, Matrix, The Tower and Main Street Rag. He was awarded Third Place (2004) and First Prize (2007) in the Reuben Rose International Poetry Competition and was a finalist in the 2009 Cervena Barva Press Chapbook Contest. In 2008 he was selected to read his poetry at New England/Pen “Discovery” by Boston Poet Laureate Sam Cornish. He was a featured reader in the 2010 Jewish Poetry Festival in Brookline, MA. His poems have been published in the U.S., Canada, England, Israel and New Zealand. He is a regular reviewer for the Boston Small Press and Poetry Scene and he edits the Muddy River Poetry Review. He is author of King of the Jungle, (Ibbetson St., 2010) and a chapbook Across Stones of Bad Dream (Cervena Barva, 2011) and a second full length poetry book, Fire Tongue (Cervena Barva) is scheduled for 2011.
Night Brings Sorrow
Rain dances slowly on windows
birds hide wherever they can
umbrellas open like mushrooms
windshield wipers hum a dull tune
Not much cash in the register
too little to steal, no 20s or 10s
change jangles with each opening
then register closes
Another chapter ends unhappily
the bride waiting, the groom drunk
shoes are in the bathroom sink
her tiara on a chair
Night brings sorrow to the lonely
the cat stays under the bed
the dog is let out alone
day ends it all again
The swell of night rises with the tide
washes day from the mind
brings new thoughts, nightmares
keepers of flame
in a kiss of anger
like a romance
covered with a blanket
smothered in a city hotel
now a recluse seeks
the life of day
waits for new dreams
Paul Hostovsky is the author of three books of poetry and seven poetry chapbooks. His poems have won a Pushcart Prize and been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer’s Almanac, and Best of the Net. To read more of his work, visit his website: www.paulhostovsky.com
When you’re in pain
pleasure in nothing
you can call it,
the thinness of it,
down into the kitchen
where a few dirty dishes
that aren’t yours
wait in the sink,
and you begin
water on your wrists,
smelling soap, the clean
in the dish rack,
As if the book were more important
than the man
with the flatbed and the winch
from the Triple A
backing up his truck
with that backing-up-truck sound
into a position that
resembled the way the females of some species
will offer themselves sexually to the males,
she went back to reading
and didn’t see him hit the lever
that extended the flatbed out,
or the other lever that tilted it
down to the ground at just the right pitch
that allowed her car to mount it
when it was ready—
but it wasn’t ready because
he hadn’t gotten down yet on his knees
so you could see his butt-crack
(which she didn’t see because
she was reading)
to look for a good place underneath
to attach the hooks and chains
at the end of the cable which the winch
paid out like a fishing net
and would haul back in
with her car attached,
like a catch,
like a big fish mounting a bigger fish,
which may or may not have resembled
the mating habits of fish,
when he hit the third and final lever,
the one in the middle with the red handle
which would have made her wonder
what that one did
if she had been looking,
but she wasn’t looking and it’s no wonder
because she was reading,
because the book was more important
than the man.
The Untied Stales
of America, my daughter
has written over the map
of the lower forty-eight
a little carelessly,
transposing two letters,
forgetting to cross one t,
the map itself colored in
a little sloppily, dark crayon
spilling in from Canada
and bleeding into Mexico.
And how perfect is that?
Paul Raboff began publishing poetry in the nineteen-fifties in various “Beat” journals where Ginsberg, Corso and Snyder appeared. Unlike the Beats, however, it wasn’t enough for him to appropriate mystical language and terminology to leverage his poetry. He actually did have a real and convincing mystical experience that changed his outlook and sent him to Israel where he has lived since. Paul has published in the best journals accepting poetry in English in Israel and later was chosen to be among the English-language poets in Israel represented in Avon Books’ (New York) anthology of modern Jewish Poetry: “Voices in the Ark.” In 1990, a Swiss publisher, Éditions Ouverture (Lausanne) published in French, “Parce que je l’ai desiré”, a selection of his poetry in translation and in 1998, Gefen Books (Jerusalem) published “From Baal to Ashtoreth.”
I use a chisel.
I prefer to chop
With carbon steel
The edge bright
From the graze
At the narrow strike,
Not a cutting disc,
Not a grinder
Making a dusty haze.
I like to chip
And leave it there.
It's great to honor
The shafted structure
Bedded in rock.
Takes the weight,
Stands up straight,
Won't buckle or slant.
Caves and vaults
Will never shake.
As I work -
Then as it likes
Or as it faults
Let those parts drop
Which are weak.
Perhaps not classic,
Not even civil,
But I can trust
What will keep
Standing and resist.
Rendering Caesar's coin to Caesar
You see the coin's mutably stamped face,
Great Caesar enlarging like an ulcer.
The coin accommodates the increase
Spreading the landscape of empire
Then astounds taxpayers to seize
Ridges and hollows which mint the sore
Of some rutted financial disease.
Nothing grows through the sealed silver.
Streams flash by, fluted and lustrous
With metal grains. You cannot drink water;
And build with silver bricks? At what price?
Caesar invades every natural feature.
The whole land is one coined excise.
What? Render Caesar a superscripture
Which covers now what is all his specie?
Rena Lee, penname of Rena Kofman, is poet and writer, a retired Professor of Hebrew from the City University of New York, and the author of twelve books in Hebrew. Her work appeared (in both Hebrew and English) in many magazines, anthologies, scholarly journals, etc. Her chapbook “Captive of Jerusalem: Song of Shulamite” is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.
For more information please visit her internet site www.renalee.net
The picture stays so deeply engraved
in my mind that floods of years
will not wash it off.
Somewhere sometime I’ll never cease to be
that little girl in pinafore and pigtails watching
Mamma about to light Shabbat candles.
Her palms spread in front of her like wings
of a bird preparing to fly, her face aglow.
There’s special festive stillness in the air,
as if the entire world is becharmed with
the promise of Shabbat. Sweet smells of vanilla
and cinnamon drift from the kitchen to tell me
Mamma has baked my favorite cookies.
The table, set with china and silverware,
wine for Kiddush, and two challa loaves
bespeaks anticipation -
And listening to the flutter of arriving
Shabbat angels, I hear the footsteps of Papa,
humming drumming from the stairway,
as he hurries home on Shabbat Eve -
And even today, after light-years as well as
many years of darkness - sitting for Shabbat dinner
at our table that returned to its small dimensions
when the children left -
I can still hear Papa’s footsteps
in my heartbeats marching back and forth,
back and forth, as if in effort to mitigate,
at least somewhat, the inequities of time.
It was in the pile ready to be given away,
among the clothes Mamma used to wear
now demoted to simply: Used Clothes.
It was lying there terribly missing its buddy,
(Who can tell the intimacy between a body
and its wear?)
She often had it on, her beloved dress.
I remember her clad in it on Shabbat’s eve,
the daisies and anemones printed around
its hem winking at the carnations in the vase.
It’s a miracle how –
in spite of frequent laundering –
these flowers have retained their freshness,
their colors strong and vivid.
stuck among other used clothes in the bundle,
on face of the wrinkled worn-out dress,
they seem still to flourish as daisies chase
anemones in a dance round the hem –
Yet, as I observe this circle of flowers,
all I can see is the hollow heart of a wreath -
Childhood lives in the moment.
Quite oblivious of itself it’s snatched
by adults who store it in drawers of memory.
This is how the adulteration of childhood begins.
Childhood lives in the moment,
and the moment is quick to go.
Unable ever to retrieve it.
you may get only glimpses from a distance.
Like a painting, which in order to observe well
one must take a few steps back –
You attempt clinging to it by your stare,
but it eludes you. As a child who
skips backwards while still facing you,
it continues to retreat getting smaller and
smaller until it completely disappears -
As if it were some alley
in one of Utrillo’s paintings –
Though childhood exists no more,
the sensation thereof stays.
A sensation of nonstop anticipation.
One eagerly expects something.
Then it comes and goes leaving
the anticipation behind,
like a lingering scent
after its carrier has passed.
Though childhood exists no more,
the sensation thereof stays.
For something must remain -
Say, an unquenched yearning
an indestructible pain -