On this page: poems by Vivien Jones, Carol Frith, Vincent Berquez, Yakov Azriel, Thilde Fox, Ruth Sabath Rosenthal, Roy Runds, Rochelle Mass, Ricky Rapoport Friesem, P.S. Cottier, Sandra Sturtz Hauss, Ruth Fogelman, Peter Branson, Peggy Landsman, Pauline Le Bel, Patti Tana
Vivien Jones lives on the north Solway shore in Scotland. She is a semi-professional early musician along with her husband, Richard. Her short stories and poetry have been widely published and broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and Radio Scotland – her first themed collection of short stories, Perfect 10, was published in September 2009 by Pewter Rose Press.
Her first poetry collection – About Time,Too - will be published in autumn 2010 by Indigo Dreams Press. www.vivienjones.info
Hour Glass Rapture
She stands, little harpsichord hands round
a bundle of harpsichord books,
head slightly cocked, eyes locked on a bow
coaxing sound from a string.
A five hundred year old tune warms her body to syrup,
she pours herself onto a seat and sighs.
He squints at a 1960s screen,
(The Shads, swinging their stiff English hips,
the voice of a Fender, a thrill in the heart,
the shock of good vibrations)
an undersized schoolboy’s rapture
ignited in respectable surroundings,
in deep love forever.
‘May I…?’ She asks, reaching out,
Astride the viol, she plucks the strings,
whispering their tuning, unfamiliar.
He hands her a bow, underhand grip;
not knowing how, she makes her move ;
the gut string sings.
He trains to make, he teaches, he plays,
he grows and flows through folk and blues,
everyday music every day.
Sunday morning, 1970s, two minutes of radio
carves out a cave in his repertoire.
David Munrow versus Little Feat
He cobbles a viol.
Tallis’ Canon; one faltering finger
fighting a mind that knows Bach.
‘Again, again.’ She is hard on herself,
not forgiving a broken sequence.
Slowly, a sound comes that closes her eyes,
when the harmony starts, she weeps.
Mean tone, mean seduction.
Her Bach, his Jaco Pastorius are equidistant,
each has nurtured his own,
She is nineteen; he is sixty.
The sand flows, the glass turns again.
All Yews Blues In 2009 Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is 50 years old
Woke up this century,
germination so slow,
a single poison seed
wrapped in a scarlet aril,
shat by a bird to lie still
for a year or more.
Then the freeze,
the cracking husk,
back to back cotyledons
reaching for the light;
and all that time.
Woke up this morning,
session in mind, nine hours
in two days to germinate
a music haiku, pared down,
to brave essentials,
my jazz fevered fingertips
slowed, in seeking
the mood of now.
I kind of feel
this may be a moment
that is a birth.
A yew, a meditation in wood,
can live three thousand years.
1959 – fifty years of cool,
Fifty – just a babe.
With her husband, Laverne, Carol Frith co-edits the journal Ekphrasis. Her chapbooks are from Medicinal Purposes, Bacchae Press, Palanquin Press & Finishing Line, and a full-length collection recently released from David Robert Books. Her poetry has appeared in Seattle Review, Cyclamens and Swords, POEM, Atlanta Review, Rattle, Rhino, Poetry Kanto, The MacGuffin, Willow, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Asheville Poetry Review, Clackamas, Smartish Pace, Cutbank, Chariton Review, Switched-On Gutenberg and others.
(after Dufy’s “The Orchestra”)
Inside himself, each player is a shell:
bass drums, snare drums, cymbals, gong.
Remember the allegro or the quick.
Random numbers; take the second movement
slowly. French horn, trombone, tuba.
Inside himself, each player is a shell,
streaming little notes – sonata form, a weep
of sound. Dufy – his bi-chromatic tonals
remembering allegro or the quick.
Viola, violin, and double bass. Minuets
that build like sunflowers in their tangled notes.
Inside himself, each player is a shell.
Trio, ternary, violoncello. Chairs in
a jumble, pushed back – perhaps for a dance?
Remember the allegro. Dance it quick.
Sonata: piccolo, and oboe, English horn
and clarinet. Bassoon. Think back to trumpets.
Inside himself, each player is a shell
remembering allegro and the quick.
So how shall I imagine suffering?
Let’s see. I’ll try it a capella, right—
note by single note, perhaps—a night
bird learning how to best forget to sing.
No. That won’t teach me anything.
I’m practicing, so tell me, is fading light
the best way to imagine suffering?
It’s dark, and always a capella, right?
Sing for me a moment, please. Bring
me past this melancholy. Something bright—
or something dark. I’m sick of “never quite.”
You tell me birds do not forget to sing,
so how will I remember suffering?
Tonight, it’s a capella. Is that right?
Song for D.G.
I don’t believe in ghosts, my friend. The way
that time is quiet—that’s the way that I
remember you. Did I just hear you say
you loved a somber Andalusian sky,
wrung out with rain clouds in the spring?
I don’t believe in ghosts, my friend,
and I’m not sure just what it was I heard.
But now I seem to hear guitars…
Do you remember? Do I hear guitars?
Flamenco always did inflect your dreams.
A low fog hangs about the eaves tonight.
I don’t believe in ghosts, my friend.
About that gypsy song—a traveler’s
melody—the one you used to sing…
Did I just hear you sing it?
It was complex, too long. I almost had
forgotten it. I thought I never would.
I don’t believe in ghosts, my friend.
Did I just hear you singing?
Unseal your Hand
A Romany woman, her hair in a rainbow scarf:
she will sing you a canto, she’ll sing you a stone.
A woman of a certain age with bangles and a shawl,
she stood in Venice once before the Ducal Palace,
a hundred years ago. She stands before you now,
a Romany woman, her hair in a rainbow scarf.
Open your palm to her. She will read a fortune—
anyone’s fortune you wish. Unseal your hand
to this woman of a certain age in bangle bracelets.
Her power is innocent. She knows what will not
happen to you. Do you want to listen to her song,
this Romany woman, her hair in a rainbow scarf?
She has every word by heart. Do not fear to
cross her palm with silver. She’ll sing to you,
this ageless woman bangled with bracelets.
She has never been beautiful, but the future is
in her eyes, and they are dark as deep water, the eyes
of this Romany woman, her hair in a scarf, her
bangles bright—this rainbow woman of uncertain age.
Vincent Berquez is a London based artist/poet. He has published in Britain, Europe, America and New Zealand. He was requested to write a Tribute as part of ‘Poems to the American People’ for the Hastings International Poetry Festival for 9/11, read by the mayor of New York at the podium. He has also been commissioned to write a eulogy by the son of Chief Albert Nwanzi Okoluko, the Ogimma Obi of Ogwashi-Uku to commemorate the death of his father. He has been a judge many times, including for Manifold Magazine and had work read as part of Manifold Voices at Waltham Abbey. He has recited many times, including at The Troubadour and the Pitshanger Poets, in London. In 2006 his name was put forward with the Forward Prize for Literature. He recently was awarded a prize with Decanto Magazine. He is now a member of London Voices who meet monthly in London, United Kingdom.
Sibelius symphony number eight.
On his lips he sounded nature's
cry, nature's sinewy sigh
and gripped in encapsulation
its voices in dots and dashes.
His work swept the oceans
searching for ringing melodies,
the cosmos dancing in rhythm
through its internal magnetism.
Sounds from the milky way
readily formed within him,
carbon from the core twinkling,
vibrating, the many strings flying
in rich tones, in its resurrection
when death looked imminent
awoke when barely conscious.
He took the new and ancient
and slanted the nucleus
of his vivid expression
into the pool of swirling
And when the structure
when the monument was built,
the music gasping for
the air of existence,
for the universe to burst
he burnt the lot
and fell inward, into silence,
where his voice lived only
for his wife and children.
He sat down quietly
and never again lifted
his psyche to varnish sound
with brilliant shimmers.
Yakov Azriel was born in New York City and came to live in Israel at the age of 21. He has published four 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 140 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.
Haikus For Joseph's Ladder
"And he [Jacob] dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, whose top reaches the heavens; and behold, angels of God ascend and descend on it." (Genesis 28:12)
On Jacob's ladder,
Bands of euphonic angels
Quaver on each rung
As notes of music
That first ascend, then descend
On a score's black staves
To be played slowly
In symphony orchestras
On flutes and oboes,
On drums and cymbals,
On violins and cellos,
On horns and trombones.
On Jacob's ladder,
Choruses of angels chant
Psalms of thanksgiving;
Their bass voices fall,
Then rise as countertenor
Till soprano reigns.
Under his ladder,
Jacob hears angels ascend
And descend in him.
Lost and Found
"For the needy shall not be forgotten forever, nor shall the hope of the poor be eternally lost."
I lost the violin my father bought;
I lost my sister's silver flute; I lost
My brother's golden horn, which I had tossed
Aside; I lost the songs my mother taught.
I lost a galaxy of stars I thought
I'd always see; I lost the winter's frost
And summer's heat; I lost a ring that cost
A thousand crowns; I lost the dreams I sought.
You find me, God, as lost as night, without
A compass or the map that Moses drew,
Without a sky above my head or ground
Beneath my feet, without the strength to shout
For help in finding paths that lead to You,
A path like one that Abraham had found.
O God, You find the violin I lost;
You find the missing flute and horn; You find
My mother's music-sheets with every kind
Of song she sang; You find the dreams I tossed
Away in tears; You find the ring that cost
Me all my prayers, and stars that realigned
In constellations hidden from the mind;
You find the summer's heat and winter's frost.
I lost You, so I thought, and life without
Your Presence meant the dreams I dreamt of You
Were gone forever, buried in the ground.
But no! Although it's true I cannot shout
Your name nor read the map that Moses drew
In blazing ink, I wear the ring You found.
A Fifty-Fifty Chance
"They who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who goes crying while carrying the measure of seed shall come rejoicing carrying his sheaves." (Psalms 126:5-6)
Does God exist, you ask? We have to weigh
The evidence, though reason won't explain
His providence when witnessing the pain
And suffering we witness every day.
Yet choreographers believe; they say
There's music in the world, and ample rain
Descending from the heavens, causing grain
To grow and ripen while musicians play.
Does God exist, you ask? Does truth? Or love?
Or hope? It's hard to gather every sheaf
Of grain, but there's a fifty-fifty chance
We'll harvest faith. It's all a question of
An orchestra and sickles of belief;
Behold the reapers — can we join their dance?
"… and it came to pass, when the musician played, the hand of the Lord touched him." (II Kings 3:15)
I lost an orchestra.
I lost the silver trumpet my grandfather bequeathed me for my Bar-Mitzvah,
The trumpet on which I practiced every day.
I lost Rashi's violin,
The Rambam's flute,
The clarinet the Baal-Shem-Tov used to play.
I lost the music-stand
Bezalel built from acacia wood.
I lost notes, clefs, staffs, bars, keys, scales.
I lost pitch and tone.
All that remains is a melody
That burst forth, at times, from my memory,
A melody from the orchestra I once knew.
And when the melody plays,
I get down on my knees, bow down
And prostrate myself on the ground,
Like a pilgrim in the Temple
When the High Priest pronounced
The unpronounceable name of God.
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 Competitions and has had poems published in various venues. Besides her six grandchildren, Poetry and Trollope are her main interests.
Where do the notes live before you catch them?
Do they hide behind the skies
till you pluck them down and toss them out again
like catherine wheels bursting into sound?
Do you marshall them in sober rows,
obedient to your pen,
till they scatter like shooting stars,
trails of music singing through the heavens
for God to gather in
and send back to you
for His delight?
When you put away your pages
do they storm your pillow
and tease your sleep
till you wake enchanted
and sing again?
Below the raised stick
the notes wait in frenzied struggle
who will be called
to burst out in great sound
to crash through the ceiling
and soar into heaven where all music meets
who will hover
by the pursed lip
the arched finger
to follow the great ones into glory
who will sink into silence.
Ruth Sabath Rosenthal
Ruth Sabath Rosenthal is a poet residing in NYC and Long Island, NY with her husband of over 30 years. Having started writing poetry in 1999, she continuously enjoys the poetry workshops, readings and events NYC offers non-stop. Ruth has been published in various journals, including: Birmingham Poetry Review, Connecticut Review, Creations Magazine, Ibbetson Street, Jabberwock Review, Mobius-The Poetry Magazine, Pacific Review and Poetica. She's also published in a number of anthologies, including: "Home"- Eden Waters Press, "primal sanities! a Tribute to Walt Whitman" - Allbook Books, "Songs of Seasoned Women" - Quadrasoul Inc., "Voices Israel 2007, 2008" and "Writing Outside the Lines"- Long Island Sound Press. On October 15th (Ruth's birthday) 2006, her poem "on yet another birthday" was nominated for a Pushcart prize by Ibbetson Street. For more about Ruth, visit her website: www.ruthsabathrosenthal.moonfruit.com
3rd Ave. and 85th St., NYC
Waves of "Mood Indigo"
drew me into
a well dressed crowd ushered
in a hush bursting
with flowers leading
to a stiff in elegant tux
and pleated shirt starched
as his expression.
(yes in the flesh)
laid to rest
where I paid last respects
on the cross-town bus
and the A' train
then dug my 8-tracks
up and jived
with the jazz man
into wee hours of night.
a good day
for us to start up
put on hold
& my wish for harmony
stronger than ever
stronger than ever
love — sentiment
as the drum
we beat dumb
day upon day
Roy Runds was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1944; came to Israel in 1972. He has been writing poetry steadily since 1983 and is the author of two books of poetry, with a third in preparation. His poems have been published in Israel, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. He works as a free-lance editor and proofreader.
The compact disc is artificially perfect,
But the old 78s, 45s and 33s,
with their homely hi-fi, stereo sound,
are more warmly familiar.
I’m lost in the steely city of
cds, pelephones, pentium computers.
All that glitters is not glamourous.
I love to wander in my well-worn tracks.
I’m a square and proud of it!
Squawk! Scratch! Screech!
I hate writing music,
But I’ve made a statement –
I’ve expressed something!
Bach is too boring
Beethoven too square
Schubert too syrupy
Mozart too, too – MUSICAL!
Wagner reached the right pitch of hysteria
But didn’t sustain it.
Squawk! Scratch! Screech!
I’m in the vanguard.
I’ll now hatch and ratchet
A symphony of
Squawking, scratching, screeching
Which I’ll call COMPOST
For Carnegie Hall.
Canadian born, my husband and I and our two young daughters moved to Israel in 1973.
After living in Kibbutz Beit HaShita in the Jezre'el Valley for 25 years, we now live in Gan Ner, a little community crawling up the western flank of the Gilboa mountains in the same valley.
Three poetry collections, the most recent,The Startled Land (Wind River Press) Belmont Street, (prose) to appear later this year (Wind River Press).
Twice Pushcart nominee
Twice shortlisted by the BBC for a radio play and prose
1st and 2nd prize and honorable mentions in Reuben Rose Poetry competition
A rose out of somebody’s garden
Danny had a straw hat with a wide brim, just like my Zaida Moishe
when days were bright in the Winnipeg sun. I have pictures
of my grandfather in that hat - once under a leafy oak, another time
with the neighbor’s dog. Danny, taller and thinner
than my Grandfather, tilted his hat to the side and whistled.
This was our first date. I wore a purple dress with buttons all the way
to the hem, a nice color for summer, since it lightened up in the sun.
Danny, tipped his hat and suddenly hung over the door
of the phone booth by the drugstore. People looked at him, then at me.
I couldn’t understand why he was jumping around like that.
All that was missing was a cane to twirl. I bit my lip, then all of a sudden
my elbows started to itch. That’s what happens when I’m nervous.
Then Danny leaned into somebody’s front yard. Before I knew it
he had snapped off a pink rose and was bowing. I was so busy
scratching my elbows, I couldn’t respond.
Mamie, I’d walk a hundred miles he sang, then
pulled off his hat so fast he almost swept the pavement
For one of your smiles he continued. I took the rose from him and
he burst into April showers bring flowers that bloom in May.
I’d never been out with a guy who sang in public.
My Grandfather had a great voice, but he only sang in the synagogue or
at the dinner table on Friday night. Danny was holding his hands up
on either side of his face purring
Mamie, Mamie I’d walk a hundred miles.
Suddenly he grabbed my arm, kissed me full on the lips and
began warbling Swannee, dragging out the e-e-s. Before I knew it
I sang How I love you, how I love you!
I’d never done anything like that before, but then
no guy had ever picked me a rose
out of somebody’s garden
and sung to me
like Al Jolson.
Baptism doesn’t happen when you’re afraid
Last week at the lake as I changed into my swim suit
sounds came from the bushes by the side. Big brown men
rose out of the water to catch trembling women who fell
back against their bodies then were led up steps to others
who wrapped them in heavy arms
and wide towels.
The strumming grew louder. Praise and Glory they sang
swaying in prayer. We’re from Honolulu, said a man
whose skin was browner than mine ever gets in the
solid heat of summer. We are here to praise the Lord
tell him of our love. This is God’s land, this place is Holy
God-Bless sister, he hummed and raised a hand so wide
I wanted to reach up and hold, but moved instead
into the cold water.
Psalms followed me back and forth as I piled
one length over the other. Each time I raised my head
Praise and Heaven came over me. Each time
I finished a length I felt - There is a God.
The bronzed folks from Honolulu
brought the spirit of another place with them.
Don’t think we’ll come again, said the man.
Israel’s too dangerous -
for some this is their first time
Baptism doesn’t work when you’re afraid.
You’ve got to be open for the Lord
joyful in your heart.
He picked up a drum
as the last of the sisters
stepped out of the water.
The people of Honolulu are afraid of
what we live with every day.
Ricky Rapoport Friesem
Ricky Rapoport Friesem is a poet, filmmaker, and former Head of the Weizmann Institute's PR Dept. She has also written two cook books: Fruits of the Earth (Adama Books, 1985) and Joy of Israel (Steimatzky,1976). Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Moment, Lilith, Jewish Daily Forward. Her collection,
(Parentheses) won 1st Prize in Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards. Her second collection, Laissez-Passer, was published in 2009.
Dance the Dance
The young men,
they pulse with tango
strut the tango, plunge the tango
smolder tango, burn with tango
The young girls,
they preen to tango
flirt to tango, tease with tango
dip to tango, flutter
they long to tango
bend with tango, yield to tango
melt to tango, give and give
The old men,
they dream the tango
strain to tango, grab the tango
hold the tango, clutch it
for dear life.
they all dance the tango
pant with tango, pent up tango
passion tango, dance the dance
Buenos Aires, October 2007
A Night at the Opera
Where the used-to-be professor
And the used-to-be assessor
Mingle with the old director
Of the now defunct Art Center
And the used-to-be great actor
Joins the used-to-be top tailor
Chatting with a well-known banker
Once the keeper of our treasure
Who ignores the famous actress
Used-to-be the banker’s mistress
She’s gone gray and overdresses
But her figure’s still impressive
Bong! the bell rings, time to enter
Take their places in the center
Check their programs, stop the banter
Faust or Carmen? Doesn’t matter
Soon the used-to-be’s grow weary
Yawn and nod, their eyes get bleary
When the curtain drops, believe me
They’ll be clapping, loud and clearly.
First a lone leaf
stirs and trembles
sends a tremor to another
leaf by leaf the birch awakens
rustles to arouse its neighbors
tree by tree the forest quickens
leaves dip-dancing with abandon
branches crackling swaying wildly
white trunks bending low and creaking
in a swelling winter chorus under the north wind's baton.
Russia, October 2006
P.S. Cottier lives in Canberra, Australia, and has two books published by Ginninderra Press: a book of short stories called A Quiet Day and The Glass Violin, a poetry collection. She loves jazz and writes frequently for the Australian improvised music journal Extempore. She was a prize winner in the inaugural Australian Tango Poetry competition, although she can't dance at all. After writing a PhD on animals in Dickens at the Australian National University, she swore she would stick to writing short poems and stories forever after.
Occasionally she blogs athttp://pscottier.com/
An oud's music doesn't break silence
so much as suggest an alternative to it;
a thicker air, a deep grey blanketing of
folded chance. It is a smothering in smoke,
but it doesn't choke, it glides, seamless, fret-less
into grateful lungs of expectant ears;
they become the silk purses of proverb.
Chubby belly is pregnant with depth;
resonance its eternal neonate. The oud
is heaven; add a bass, and its music floats
in the mid distance, indecipherable code
of perfection, hinting at liquid gold hidden
behind velvet caress of string-made screen.
Sandra Sturtz Hauss
Sandra's work has been published in journals and by Blue Mountain Arts, Inc. She is a retired teacher of gifted/talented third graders and enjoys reading, word games, writing, theater, and classical concerts. She lives in New York with her husband and two cherished cats.
Making Music Inspired by Magritte’s Discovering Fire
I discovered the fire in my soul
And I was liberated, exhilarated
As my songs spilled out,
A voice I didn’t know existed filled the air
And softly, you accompanied me;
Time passed --
My voice and I grew stronger, more resonant,
My songs became more profound,
Their meanings exotic and elusive,
But, like always, you accompanied me;
Like the fire needs oxygen, I needed you
As my own voice grew weaker
And my songs became personal, less political,
Yours was the inspired instrument they sought,
And still, you accompanied me;
Now my voice is stilled,
The years have drowned out my melodies,
The once-dulcet tones have grown raspy,
As the flame dies, just a humming sound emerges
And so, softly, I will accompany you.
Oldie’s Golden Notes
Well, I was born in forty four when big bands made the scene
So nursery rhymes and children’s songs sustained me til’ a teen,
Then I discovered rock ‘n’ roll, and like some maniac
I hit the Brooklyn Paramount, ‘Miss Rocky’ all in black;
Our on-air king was Alan Freed, and Dick Clark walked the beat,
Then Elvis got us all shook up, that hound dog was in heat;
Love was a many splendored thing, and as our hormones raged,
We rocked around the clock until the world became space aged;
The sixties brought those Englishmen, four Beatles that were hairy
But I preferred to play guitar like Peter, Paul and Mary,
My heroine was Joan Baez, Pete Seeger was my hero
And I strummed through the decade like some modern-era Nero;
The seventies lit up my life, I loved those Brothers Gibb,
I raised a son then got divorced, thank God for women’s lib,
I tied a yellow ribbon ‘round that metaphoric tree
And discoed to the hustle like some sex-crazed chimpanzee;
The eighties were just dizzying, I got a little tipsy
For I starred in some local shows like Company and Gypsy,
I sang them all, ‘bout endless love and ladies out to lunch
Then started to get physical with George, my honeybunch;
I also loved the classics, and I got so immersed
I wore out Mozart’s 40th and then the 41st;
The nineties were eclectic, tastes from Beethoven to hip hop,
My hit parade had surely done an acrobatic flip flop,
Madonna, Brahms and Manilow, Dvorak and Celine,
And just a tad of gangsta rap ‘cause those were just obscene;
Most recently the decade with two thousand one to ten
Subscriptions to the New York Phil., the opera now and then,
The years have been inclusive, from Patti Page to Michael,
My music tastes revolving in a never-ending cycle,
But now I’ll tune to QXR for CD’s much less taxing,
I’m much too old for lyrics, so that station’s more relaxing;
It truly makes me giggle, though, those rap songs teens embolden
Will years from now be thought of as the oldies that are golden!
Ruth Fogelman, a long-time resident of Jerusalem’s Old City, is the winner of the Reuben Rose Poetry Competition, 2006 and commended winner of the John Reid Traditional Poetry Competition, 2007. Ruth’s first full poetry collection, Cradled in God’s Arms, was released in 2009. Ruth is author of Within the Walls of Jerusalem - A Personal Perspective. Her poems, articles, short stories and photography have appeared in anthologies and various publications in Israel, the USA and India. Ruth leads the Pri Hadash Women’s Writing Workshop in Jerusalem and holds a Masters Degree from the Creative Writing Program of Bar Ilan University. Her chapbook, Jerusalem Awaking, will appear later this year.
Variations on a Purple Theme
The soothing sound of purple notes
in the background,
the soft strumming of a guitar.
Dark lilac bass flows to Middle C,
a pale lavender Top C,
purple tunes carry in the breeze.
The scent of the guitar’s chords
lift lilting melodies higher and higher
like jacaranda blossom brushing the sky.
Slow at first, then faster, faster
we dance in a purple circle
in time with the pulsating drum.
Dum-as-tak, dum-as-tak, dum-rak-as dum,
right foot leads, down on the floor,
violet beat, dum on the drum.
With the music we gather speed, our bodies
extensions of our feet and we --
the throbbing beat.
She Dipped Her Pen
She dipped her pen in clouds and wrote of flying on gull’s wings
across oceans, of pink and purple schooners in the sky,
of long-horned ibex leaping in the wilderness, of kings
and queens in castles built of gold and pearl, of princesses who sigh.
She dipped her pen in oceans and wrote of clarinets and flutes
whose shadows dance on the City walls, with people milling round,
of nightingales that sing their song in trees whose roots
delve underground, and of a poet’s voice that does not make a sound.
She dipped her pen in shadows hovering in the night
that spurt smoke-breathing dragons, serpents and black bears.
She wrote of roaming jackals, bats and owls soaring in moonlight,
and of a butterfly, fresh from her cocoon, whispering morning prayers.
I love to daydream as I
skip down the steps and watch the morning star glow.
I hum a niggun without knowing why.
I enjoy baking brownies and strawberry pie,
kneading challah, braiding the dough.
I love to daydream as I
fold tee-shirts and my husband’s striped tie,
or look out the window at a grey-winged crow.
I hum a niggun without knowing why.
I hang laundry on the line to dry,
and hear my neighbor practice the cello.
I love to daydream as I
walk down the street, watch birds roaming the sky
and see the light playing with shadow.
I hum a niggun without knowing why.
At the end of a day, I love to lie
in my hammock, rocking to and fro.
I love to daydream as I
hum a niggun without knowing why.
(niggun, Hebrew for melody)
Peter Branson lives in Rode Heath, a village in South Cheshire. A former English teacher and lecturer, he now organises writing workshops. Until recently he was “Writer-in-residence” for the “All Write” project run by Stoke-on-Trent Central Libraries.
Over the last five years he has had work published, or accepted for publication, by many mainstream poetry journals in Britain, USA, Canada, EIRE, Australia and New Zealand, including Acumen, Ambit, Envoi, Magma, The London Magazine, Iota, 14, Fire, The Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Nottingham, Pulsar, Red Ink, The Recusant, South, Writing Magazine, The New Writer, Crannog, The Raintown Review, The Able Muse and Other Poetry.
His first collection, “The Accidental Tourist”, was published in May 2008. A second collection was published at the beginning of this year by Caparison Press for ‘The Recusant’. More recently a pamphlet has been issued (May 7th) by ‘Silkworms Ink’. A third collection has been accepted for publication by Salmon Press, EIRE.
Hurrah me boys for freedom
Luke Kelly, folk singer: 1940-1984
“And hurrah! me boys, for freedom;
‘tis the rising of the moon.”
(From ‘The Rising of the Moon’ by John Keegan Carey)
The awesome present of your voice: outside
the angry guttur of a power saw;
slowly the copper beech across the way
is layered to the floor. The Council say
it’s wormed inside and dangerous, mindful
of recent winter storms when branches tore.
Blank arc of sky, I loved that rich red down,
cool stillness of its crown of quiet shade.
Looked worth another hundred years and more
but cankered in the core it had to fall.
Feral red hair, rash beard and navvy looks,
you work each song as though it is your last;
a wild wood-kerne, veins cabling from your neck
as unequivocal as gelignite.
Beneath a rover’s weather-battened face
and dancing tongue, you charm tired simple tunes,
breathe text to life transporting minds and souls.
Unglazed by sophistry you clarify
what’s right, inspire us with pure energy,
complexity resolved to black and white.
Banjo divining like a Thompson gun,
you cast our doubts and forge an attitude:
raw undirected anger driven straight
inside the heat of things; fuse life and art
in perfect symmetry that’s understood.
The heroes you revered died sound, culled long
before their time. This tree, now a mere graze
of dust upon the ground — like you, inside,
the incubus had gorged and thrived; too brief
that span between the two great mysteries.
Peggy Landsman's work has been published in many online and print literary journals and anthologies (including a previous issue of Cyclamens and Swords). She has two books out—a poetry chapbook, To-wit To-woo (FootHills Publishing), and, under the pen name Samantha Rhodes, a contemporary romance novel, Passion's Professor (Midnight Showcase). She lives in South Florida where she swims in the warm Atlantic Ocean every chance she gets. You can visit her website at http://peggylandsman.com/
One o'Clock, Two o'Clock, Three o'Clock, Rock!
Multiplyin' and dividin'
Whistlin' a tune by Haydn
Now take Haydn to the nth
That's where Mozart will commence
Divide Beethoven by Chopin
Schubert's the quotient we understand
Bach is prime, can't be divided
Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Albinoni
Baroque around the clock!
A cocky señora from Cuba
Plays plastic guitar and brass tuba.
She makes her six strings
Do magical things
Then blows her own horn out her tuba.
Pearse Murray was born in Dublin, Ireland. He was trained as an architect and has worked in Ireland, England and USA. He has a number of poems published in Anthologies such as Tree Magic, Voices Israel, Miriam Lindbergh Poems for Peace 2002, 2004, Mizmour L’David, Volume 1: The Shoah Grandparents (forthcoming) and on line journals Poetica Magazine and Cyclamens & Swords. He lives in Albany, New York.
Scarlet Tanager Gift
Do you have to scram, seasonal friend
and return to your tropical canopy?
Now compelled to revisit your gift,
I stroke six strings, sussurando,
at the base of these northern oaks
-- ancestral home of yours, Piranga Olivacea!
Sometime since May you have been singing
soft-sharp trills and moody murmurs
your unutterable, unscorable tones
as you flit about in loft-leaf layers.
I cannot parrot your ditties
-- nor could Dvorak.
But I know at my concert in October
you will sing the guitar in my heart
as you flame-flash pass my body today
as freedom beats its own
The mad magic that is music
on the onslaught of a dawn birdsong
The waters lapping over hard stones
The swash murmurings of a Baltic shore
The soft voice of an old woman’s lips
A child’s questioning voice
The squawk of the blue heron
The thrust of a whale for air
A rusty hill town, Tuscan perhaps,
children bouncing a ball
The rustle of red in autumn leaves
The wind’s battering of a door
The echo in Canterbury Cathedral
All the Jazz at Tanglewood
The distant rhythms of a train
The ship safe into harbour
Winter’s silent snow
And bewildering time in rhythms of space
And listen to the music of creation again
Sing, sing with the birds
In their fuss, let it rip
From dawn to dusk
Put a smile in its gust
Lung-deep to lips
Alive, alive for it
Must fill that lust
As we will be long enough
Time in Four Colored Movements
From the white of Winter’s largo
Its sound absorbing snows, to
the snow melting waters in the
green-coat dressings of Spring’s adagio,
the easy evening red of Summer’s andante,
a spent fullness of its own, to
Autumn’s vivace falling into gold
-- a coloring coda to the year
as earth nods to the sun
with an orbital gravital tilt,
we pass through the lilting time of our hours,
Pauline Le Bel
Pauline Le Bel is a successful writer of plays and screenplays (an Emmy nomination and a CableACE Award for The Song Spinner) an award-wining novelist and has recently had two papers published in scientific publications, including one on the powerful effect of music on the brain. She is also a singer/songwriter with 4 CDs of original songs – in English and French, her mother tongue. She has recently decided to “go public” with the poems she has been writing over the past many years.
they pry open
the locked door
dance into the shadows
await the muse
they recreate the world
from 88 keys 6 strings
two vocal cords
they speak what’s left unsaid
sing the deep aria
that wakens the soul
find the gift in the wound
the blessing in the curse
they let their hearts break
once twice a hundred times
mend them with silvery tones
that ring against the dark
so they can be heard and
having run out of the
bandages of easy answers
they live with the questions
they offer us no hope
of a perfect world
no maps no models
no systems for self-improvement
but sound and word and zest
to provoke and nourish
and sustain us
just as we are.
my vocal cords
it’s a drawing
of your vocal cords
and I peer into
the pastel colours
sharply edged in black
I find a shrew
in a black sea
ah yes, he knows my songs
seeded in silence
birthed in the shadows
they escape into the light
They ask me why I sing so loud
Why I wail like a wild thing
And cause the soles of their feet to quiver
Let me explain
You see at first the sound is barely there
A seed, a bud, a stirring in my belly
Captured in time
Something apart from me
Given to me
In exchange for I know not what
It grows in the dark
Vibrating in the void
It pushes from my body
In some primal act of re-creation
Until it is free
Until I am free of it
The small wise people of Africa
Sing to make the land happy
So the land will continue to look after them
I sing to the forest, loudly do I sing
So the trees can hear me
Above the sounds of bulldozers and chainsaws
As a child I sang sweetly
I intoned the Kyries
The Aves the Amens
They told me I sang like an angel
In that musty chapel
These days I sing outside
I invoke the ravens
I summon the tree frog
Let the Earth know I care
Let the grief flow
From the hollows
Of my remembering.
Patti Tana is Professor of English at Nassau Community College and the author of seven poetry collections. “Dancing in the Attic” will appear in Any Given Day, forthcoming next year from Whittier Publications. 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. To listen to her poems, visit Patti at http://www.pattitana.com
Dancing in the Attic
the hot breath of desire begins
in the back of your throat
and though you try to catch it
it spreads down your breasts
makes you spread your lips
in a smile and you smile
when desire finds your thighs
lodges between your legs and
you wonder how far you can go
how far that fire can make you go
so you go to the attic and turn on
the music turn on the rhythms
in your body and dance in the sky
toss your limbs like branches
in the hot Santa Ana winds
let your body glow with desire
let it flow let it flow
through your veins to every fiber
of your skin of your brain
let it rain let it rain let it rain