On this page: poems by Art Heifetz, Bob Zagunda, Breindel Lieba Kasher, Carisa Danielle, d.n. simmers, David Fraser, Eira Needham, Elhanan ben-Avraham, Gretti Izak, Hanoch Guy
The following works are copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.
Art Heifetz teaches ESL to refugees in Richmond, Virginia. He has had nearly 70 poems published in Israel, Australia, Argentina, the US, France, and Canada. You can see his work at polishedbrasspoems.com
When I found you
on a beach in Fiji,
you’d floated up from depths
where even avid divers
could not reach you.
Through years of ebb and tide
kept you hidden
from all predators.
Seen from above
your undulating pattern
blended with the deep
while from below
your perfect whiteness faded
into sunlit seas .
Like the Argonauts
for whom you’re named
you propelled yourself
with perfect ease
pumping in and pumping out
and dined but once a month
on small crustaceans
within easy reach.
Cloistered in your chambered shell,
you were a world
How I envied
your splendid isolation.
What incalculable bliss
to withdraw into
a pearlescent shell,
close off the opening
and sink one hundred metres deep.
Then I remembered that
for drowning sailors
the darkness of the sea
can also be a shroud,
and I’m not ready for the grave.
I want to sleep but not forever.
I like the anonymity of night
but even more
the sunlight dancing
on the surface of the sea.
I crave solitude
but even more
my lover’s healing touch.
Waiting for Daybreak
Curled up like a new leaf
poised to spring open,
I don’t dare budge
lest I find you spirited away
like last night’s muddled dreams.
Glued to your side,
my hand pressed against
the small of your back,
I wait for daybreak
to suffuse the room
with its warm, even glow.
You’re wearing a tweety-bird T-shirt,
a washrag draped across your eyes
in hostage style,
your knees propped up
by three large pillows
in preparation for
the accouchement or the seraglio.
Your full lips part to form
the perfect oval
of a carnivorous plant
about to swallow its prey.
Our little boy i.e. the dog,
is sprawled across the love seat,
his handsome boxer head
sunk down between two cushions,
emitting squeals of agitation
as his hind legs pedal
in endless pursuit of squirrels.
Leaving gravity behind,
he flies from tree to tree.
Slowly, hard edges are defined
and the symphony of
early morning sounds begins,
the plumbing groans,
the carillon at the Baptist church
produces a stirring rendition of
the garbage truck clanks its doors,
and at the stroke of seven,
the dog appears at our bedside,
licking our hands
and demanding to be let out.
We exchange a final hug and rise.
Half the teachers at the Lycee Mixte in Beja,
were called Jean-something
When his girlfriend broke with him,
Jean-Pierre fell into a funk so deep,
they clamped him in a stretcher
and shipped him to a rest home in Toulouse.
By contrast, his friend, the oh-so-dry Jean-Paul,
viewed love with one raised brow
as a delicious farce.
It was Jean-Claude,
the unshaved Belgian artist
with penetrating eyes,
who drove me to my rendezvous in Tunis.
He was living at an isolated farm
with Bruno’s sultry wife,
their ménage a trois
downgraded to a paltry deux
when Bruno left for France.
My face shared the pallor
of Jean-Claude’s sleek green Morgan
As it hurtled at Mach speed
through the burnt sienna hills,
tires squealing like stuck pigs at every curve,
my knuckles white against the bottom of the seat
as I tried to keep my lunch.
At the Hotel Suisse,
the desk clerk handed me the key to 23
with its small bidet
tucked behind an oritental screen.
I found her stretched out on the bed
in her new black lingerie,
her corduroys and sweater
folded neatly on a chair.
I bent down and kissed each lid.
“Bonjour, petite chatte,” I said,
and she replied, “Bonjour, grand ours,”
rubbing her eyes like the feline she was.
Bob Zagunda is a Canadian Poet and Author of Short Stories. His novel: The Keeper of Shadows was released in 2011.
Atop the slate-glass tor
Of Dornoch Firth
Where the lull of evermore
Beats an incessant pulse
Beneath the silk-taut swell
Of November’s curse
With the courageous swagger
Of fools and kings
And the mighty heave
Of thirteen oars
They slipwayed loose
From Odin’s shores
A tress of moon-pale hair
And pearl deep eyes
Sorcery of lightning
Stoked foreboding skies
A hunger waited
With outstretched arms
The North Sea roared
And the West Wind howled
A rig of sails
Caught dragon’s breath
As would be thunderers
Cast fathom to fate
November bares her icy charms
An angry sky blasts loose
A twirling tempest tosses
The deadly North Sea’s noose
As a pouted lip of shale
Tumbles from its perch
Land Ho the helmsman cried
While fire licked from mast to nest
Sails collapsed and the port side caved
A mile from the Gaelic Coast
His hapless crew surrendered
To the clasp of a churning host
Through the swirling mists of eternity
An immortal enchantress waits
With the chilling reach of November arms
For a phantom ship and a Viking wraith
Trapped between the realms in search
Of the face he fears and loves the most
A wage of fire in her gaze
The clash of thunder in the waves
For a moment frozen out of time
Two lost souls drawn side by side
Where sky and sea embrace the shore
Forever twined…….forever more
Breindle Lieba Kasher
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.
Another bad dream
Time can not
The tilt of
Where fish fed
Carisa is a college student living in Portland, OR, majoring in English and also studying French and psychology. Reading and writing are her passions in life, though she currently waits tables to survive.
Slipping into déjà vû
like a tattered robe
thrown on in haste
when contortions of reality
and the senselessness of sleep
still invade the brain.
Slipping into déjà vû
like a dress that used to fit.
Something seems wrong,
something stunning stains your day:
a ruthless confusion
with the seduction of
though painted over in unappetizing shades.
d.n. simmers is an on line editor of Fine Lines. He will be in the upcoming issue of Poetry Salzburg, Austria. He also will be in Homestead Review and Blue Pacific
and is in current issues of Nerve Cowboy, Nomad's Choir, Storyteller and is in Emerge 2012, the 125 Anniversary of Vancouver by subterrain.
Blue & the Street
“ Blue balloons poured out over
the foul street.”
Alley clubs. Blues out with a mist
Fog on Saturday nights. With yellow.
Street lights as demons on the prowl.
They could be misfit cardboard box dwellers.
Drunks pissing on the layered brick walls.
Black with stains and strangled moss.
Sounds twisted. Echoed. A few hands
reaching under dresses. In the shadows.
A moan that tangled with the music.
Bounced against doors. Opening and closing.
In the noise flecked clubs.
Snow would fall. People would complain about the cold.
Go inside where the jazz kept them warm. With
drinks and blues.
A full moon helped to keep the creatures up on the hills.
Cities filled with dark hope. Early pain of
Growing. Getting old.
“ Afraid I saw that unstill brightness”
The Dream of the Rood
A wooden sword would play with the field.
Afternoons. Kites flying overhead.
Clouds swarmed against a sun. In the cold morning.
Then spread across the sky. Towards
a sea of afternoons.
A new storm pushes them back inland. Laid
on more darkness. Slick rain.
A silver fleck of snow drifted down.
Ground began to harden. Kites left.
Coffee holders with them too.
As the afternoon began to snow. Hard.
Grass filled up into white.
Wine set aside and the
iron shovels came out.
Noises of sparks against stone.
Spreading wasted linen into a cold
“ But on his ferry ride across the Styx
his gaze into the current did not waver.”
So many quick glances. Something.
Not seen before or after. Baked images.
The photographs in the brain carries
a basket or a piece of cloth.
Wrapped around the neck
as a scarf
So many things taken into the
deep crevices. Learning to
know what is true and false.
So many times a smile is returned.
Not without thinking how much the face
reminds. Of another time. A different
Face. Eyes shining.
So many wishes. A moment was repeated.
So that it could be done again but differently.
Lighter with more pressure on what
makes the seconds.
So precise and precious.
“ Strained and marred,
stricken with shame.”
The Dream of the Rood
Inside winds. Come gently. A voice.
Calls again. Against frames. Eyesight.
Against the beginning of a day. When it goes
Away. The last black curtains.
Next to the start there is a word. Two. They
sit as birds, on the wire of thought. Hot and steamy.
Nothing simple. Nothing new. Nothing red.
Just sits there. Moves as the wind begins.
A javelin day. A spear spreading. A
Nothing of this earth.
Begins. Continues. Into the soul of night.
David Fraser lives in Nanoose Bay, on Vancouver Island. He is the founder and editor of Ascent Aspirations Magazine, www.ascentaspirations.ca since 1997. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Rocksalt, An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry. He has published four collections of poetry, Going to the Well (2004), Running Down the Wind (2007), No Way Easy, 2010, and Caught in My Throat ,2011 and a collection of short fiction, Dark Side of the Billboard (2006). In addition David has co-authored with Naomi Beth Wakan, On Poetry, an inspirational book on poetics and poetry. To keep out of trouble he helps develop Nanaimo's spoken-word series, WordStorm. www.wordstorm.ca. In October 2009 and 2010 he participated in Random Acts of Poetry, a national poetry program that brings poetry to the streets of Canada. David is a full member of the League of Canadian Poets.
Wishes After Death
Should he ask for two copper coins to pay his fare,
for vultures with soft beaks to gently rip his flesh away,
or sensitive worms to eat his rotting meat,
flames to burn late into the night to leave him
bits of bone and ash, where maybe a phoenix might emerge.
Should he ask for a favorite tree to grip his corpse with its roots,
for a granite stone, polished, to stand high above the others,
or a simple limestone piece to weather in the wind and rain,
and over time host a spread of lichen. Should he
wonder about the soft quiet void that might await,
or the waiting for a new wailing pair of lungs.
Waiting for the Bus
He’s watched the old ones waiting for the bus.
They sit bundled on the bench beside the bus stop sign.
They came with walkers, some with canes,
others stepped up jaunty, talking to themselves.
They all waited, not all together, but in two’s and three’s
on different days, mostly when the sun was out,
warm upon their skin, but some came to the bench
when the sky had gathered clouds, and when
the wind talked of rain. It was enough for them to wait
within themselves for the bus that never came,
and their attendants at the residence,
the nursing home, came to them
when it was time for tea, and distracted
them from the bus that had failed to come.
Trying Too Hard
He went with her beneath the ground
down the corridors of the Paris Métro,
took the subway to Place Pigalle, but on the way
the train car with just the two of them until
a tall man entered and started loud bird calls,
high chirps, whistles as in an aviary. It was then
she became frightened, if not before when they’d
stepped out of Gare de l'Ouest and trundled
suitcases to the nearest hotel, all ripped apart
for renovations, concrete walls, cement dust
from grinding, so once outside at Pigalle
above ground, with the birdman still whistling below,
the streets a little greasy from the rain, the light
casting shadows on the hookers on the sidewalks,
and Moulin Rouge somewhat dark and in the past,
no cancan music to maybe invite her in and the long
walk up to Montmartre to gaze at the city of lights—
all this not unfolding as he’s scripted it winding through
Place du Tertre, the paintings and the painters
pretending art after dark and the little café,
a glass of wine, waiter hitting the corner
of the table with his hip every time he passed,
spilling the contents on the table cloth.
Somehow it didn’t work, but he didn’t know
then that it never would.
Eira Needham Lives in Birmingham UK with her husband and Dalmatian Max. She began writing poetry when her youngest son left home for university, leaving her with empty nest syndrome. Since then she has been published in print and online and her poetry is eclectic. Recent acceptances for publication are The Shine Journal, The Linnet's Wings and she will be Featured Writer in WestWard Quarterly's Spring Edition.
Sing to Me
Cradle me --
in your warm arms I’ll inhale
the fragrance of your skin,
against each other’s cheeks.
Sing to me --
lift me with your spirit
in rousing hymns;
soothe me with lullabies,
swaying until I rest.
I’m growing old, Mam
yet that little girl lingers,
longing for the solace
of your embrace.
When sleeplessly tired
I ache for the lilting
timbre of your voice.
I stir from languor hearing swallows trill
in distant wetland reeds. In reverie
I rest beneath our old magnolia tree
as nascent buds emerge. Though east winds chill,
the eye of heaven warms, rainfall sustains
dispersed autumnal seeds of marigolds
and primulas. I watch them grow, unfold
their petals to embroider my terrains.
Forsythia blooms against the kitchen wall;
nearby two blue tits nest inside their box
above a frill of evening scented stocks.
Entwined with life, I answer Gaia’s call
to turn away from winter’s shadows, leap
into the light, as earth awakes from sleep.
They met in dunes behind the bay;
seduced by warmth she cast away
her scant bikini top to bare
her virgin skin. Long fingers played
on tender breasts; as beach grass swayed
she bathed in his caress. She'll wear
a gown today when tests uncover
melanoma from her lover.
Rhythm of Life
When prelude plays crescendo rousing earth,
one farmer wakes to tend new lambs, then ploughs
his barley fields where mice have given birth
in scrub beneath horse chestnut's gravid boughs.
Light showers suckle buttercup bouquets.
A rainbow weaves through mama’s lullaby;
I fly away with bluebirds while she sways
me, lids becoming heavy hush-a-bye.
I leap awake, sap surging through young veins,
perplexed by urges launching my debut
to full-fledged days. Hip-hopping through terrains
where cannabis and poppies splash their hue,
ear-splitting heavy metal captivates
me. Distant strains beguile me to explore
beyond my tribal nest and relocate;
uplifted by a buoyant gust -- I soar.
Drifting into autumn's cool repose,
beneath the copper beech's russet blends
a lento tempo comforts me to doze.
I stir -- as waltzing foliage descends,
acacias casting veils for simple dress.
When primrose borders wilt in disarray
I catch the bloom as dog days evanesce --
take heed of alterations with dismay.
The alder nods to downtime's bleak advance,
it's willow tit laments, as nature plays
diminuendo. Tumbling flakes enhance
the stark reality of life’s malaise.
Will memories become immersed in mist,
my dignity purloined as health degrades?
Bone-chilled I'm lulled to slumber, spirit kissed
by welkin light, as my finale fades.
Hoarfrost departs with winter's solemn dirge
as worms and woodlice cultivate the ground.
Quiescent creatures stir while shoots emerge
and swallows trill where wetland reeds abound.
Remaining scions thrive to generate
a myriad of branchlets on our tree.
As seasons shift, their rhythms modulate
in time with life's legato melody.
Elhanan ben-Avraham is a painter, illustrator, poet and writer living in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.
The difference between alive and a lie is a V,
V is Victorious, Vibrant and Vivacious,
between love and lose is S,
S is Sad, Senseless and Selfish,
between love and loathe is ATH,
ATH is ATHeist, ATHeroma, and ATHlete’s Foot,
between good and God is an O,
O is Omniscient, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent,
between God and dog is a reversal,
both ways spelling faithful,
but driving in reverse will not reverse
the second law of thermodynamics.
Gretti Izak was born in Bulgaria. After graduating from London University, she studied History of Art in Italy and in England. She has worked as teacher, painter, head of a multi-language translation program and editor. She has published five books of poetry and a collection of short stories. Gretti lives in Jerusalem.
"The Asteroid Toutatis
Almost Crashed into Earth"
Colossal asteroids running orbits
between Jupiter and Mars
keep me company.
this is one way of describing
the dangerous ovoid path of Venus:
the case history of a woman and
her dialogues, quarrelsome and hopeless
with an aging body.
For the eternal life were I to choose
one lover to love forever, it would be
Orpheus, who descended to Hades
for love of Eurydice
his love unconditional
singing the fragrance of bouquets
that linger in a room, the scent
of a woman’s body when young,
when skin was soft
and sown like flowers
Most Precious Jewelry
In the casket a radiant shimmer
of gold and silver, multi-hued
small cubes of mosaics that yield
the full deep colours of the spectrum.
I trusted the toothless old man
who sold them to me by the Bosphorus,
cheating me of big money. Uprooted
they were, that's what he said, from
the famous dome of the Haggia Sofia.
Young as I was, the hypnotic glare
of Byzantium in my eyes, I needed the lie.
What other lies do rubies and sapphires,
the gems and jewellery kept locked in a safe,
insinuate into our lives? Is keeping tresses
of children’s hair in hand-embroidered
silk sachets a safeguard to sanity?
A milk tooth, elaborately gold-framed
as pendant, graces my neck and flushes
my cheeks with pleasure, perhaps more
than any gem offered by a lover.
Mourning still -
why, I ask, the passage
of years, the contentment of the now,
the joys and blessings of a good life,
should have brought closure.
Insensible and defiant as a child’s
tantrum, the pain still festers.
In the sound of a woman’s voice,
which I don’t recognize as my own,
a memory how she dared not weep,
for if she did, there’d be no way to stop.
Inhabiting the gentle terrain of womanhood
stands a wild passionate core, hard-hitting, harsh,
protesting, death-questioning, resisting to be consoled.
Imagining the fragile bones of a child in my arms,
I nurture the wound that does not heal, noting how
the blue angel of consolation denies opening her gates,
my rebelliousness considered ungodly.
Hanoch Guy spent his childhood among cacti and citrus groves in Israel He is a widely published bilingual poet in Hebrew and English. Hanoch is the author of "The road to Timbuktu/Travel poems" and "Terra Treblinka;Holocaust poems".
He teaches Hebrew and Jewish literature at Temple University specializing in literature of the Holocaust.
There are Bedouin graves
in the middle of dust clouds.
A fenceless graveyard,
uneven white stones, no inscriptions..
Only the Sheik Abu-Muamar’s blessings,
two or three bushes eaten
to the ground by sheep.
The dead do not complain,
they are content to leave their bones where they belong
and so are the sheep.
Only the wind raises spidery dust whirlpools,
graying the hazy sun.
A few Bedouin graves in the middle of nowhere,
a little mound,
the borderline of the Abu-Muamar
and Abu-Rbaia tribes,
who never had a neighbors’ feud
over this graveyard.