On this page: poems by Luke M. Armstrong, Olga Kuminova, Deepa Kylasam Iyer, Shawn Edrei, Breindel Lieba Kasher, MJD Algera, Lui Hong-ping, Violet Samir, Walter Ruhlmann, Paul Raboff, Susan Rosenberg
The following works are copyright © 2011. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.
Luke M. Armstrong
In 2007, after finishing degrees in Philosophy and English at La Pontificada Universidad, Chile, Luke Maguire Armstrong spent 10 months backpacking from Chile to Alaska. He made it as far as Guatemala where he has been the director of the educational development organization Nuestros Ahijados. The program works to educate 4,000 orphaned and abandoned children so they can break the vicious cycle of generational poverty. His book of "poetry and fun" iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About is available on Amazon.com.
Tonight, She Named a Star
The smoke seduced her like
Her silks once seduced him.
Tonight, she named a star—
A faint light between branches.
Listless she lay in a mist-dusted meadow
Looking off into charismatic cosmos.
A few mosquitoes fed from her and she let them drink
Knowing that they too needed the gift of life.
Soon it would be fall, that most nostalgic of seasons
When the whole world wears the colors that
Pave the way towards the winter.
Spring, she thought, is winter forgiving.
Fall is summer forgetting.
Who directs an orchestra of crickets?
Who reminds the darkness to fill itself with longing?
As one flew hurriedly by, she thought, bats are people too.
Bats are people who live every night like their last.
She took a final drag and the whole world was her ashtray.
Why not beauty? Why not bliss? Why not be blessed?
Why not be bathed in a baptism of belonging
To something that belongs to you?
Poetry for the Dead
The person I want most to read this is dead.
I should have known that you would die before
My poetry started to say something.
She would have liked this poem
But she also would have worried
That any praise would cause me to
Believe I was anywhere near the
Superior level of her soaring verses.
She was territorial like that.
Her biggest mistake was that she was
A poet who wanted to be accepted
By poets—so sad—so savage—so solitary.
Those are the most dangerous poets.
These are the poets who plant themselves
On the cold steel tracks to
Face a charging train and
Expect it not to rip the body.
Like the cancer that ripped through her body,
She would have found a grammatical error
Somewhere in this poem. Even if it was there for
Poetic panache. She would have seen it as a
Mistake, as another reason I was not near her level.
Neither of us believe that you exist on some other-sided world
where this nothing will mean something to no one.
But I do believe in the parts of you that you put in me. I
believe they are still here, soaking up the oxygen
that you left behind for me.
This is for that part of me. Let us breath the air of the world she left us.
She died a poet. And I think you finally found some happiness.
I think most of us do. I hope all of us will.
Olga Kuminova teaches literature and academic writing in English at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel. Like many others, came to Israel from the former Soviet Union in the early 90s. After several years of writing poetry in Russian, switched to writing mostly in English, having never considered publication in either language. These poems have been submitted for publication after repeated suggestions by their addressee to do so. So you see, I've acted on them!
A necklace to wear to work
Let me collect your touches on a string
To keep them safe against the stream of time,
To come alive with each returning spring.
Touching my bag’s long fringe of leather string;
A handshake, broken till some other time;
Let me collect your touches on a string.
The wild arm-wrestling episode, to bring
Some stir into the sterile office clime.
My arm gave in too soon, the weaker spring.
Your eye-touch is an even stronger thing,
Sometimes a burn that ends a long stairs climb.
Let me collect your touches on a string.
I want these beads to stay with me and cling
And light my cheek with frivolous sublime,
As if I lived in an eternal spring.
May their light touch be warm and never sting,
Those written and those remembered not in rhyme.
Let me collect your touches on a string,
And have some water from this drunken spring
Friday Morning Manu Chao
All morning long
my mind is loaded with the crumbling weight
of things I wanted to say to you
All morning long
I drive on errands with Manu Chao’s Esperanza
Playing on in my car,
saluting your windows.
Denia Denia, Denia Algeria
Denia Denia, Denia el-jazair…
Unexpected things draw tears from my eyes,
like an old worn-out Mazda that has collapsed
in a grey industrial backstreet
with its muzzle down into the dust,
having hopelessly sprained its right front wheel.
A few young Arab guys
crowd around it,
like round a dying camel.
Hey Bobby Mahley
Sing something good to me-oh
Dis wohld go crazy
It’s an emehgency…
The dust of the unplanted lawns is wet
with the tide of La Marea.
It turns my breath into sea-wind
that the sun raises up when it goes down.
Si tu eres mi carnal
Déjame ser tu ranchito
Si tu eres mi nopal…
A vortex opens in the direction of south-west
so I can slip into my favorite kind of eternity,
the illusory eternity of love.
Deepa Kylasam Iyer
Deepa Kylasam Iyer is a writer and a published poet based in the beautiful town of Pondicherry in the southern coast of India. She has published in four continents including Asia, America, Africa and Europe and her poem ‘Tryst with Destiny’ was included in the anthology of poems ‘Journeys’ that was released at Birmingham Book Fair in October 2010. She was the winner of CIPE International Essay Competition 2010. She is the Editor of the web-magazine PIO INDIANS and she blogs at www.franciskuriakose.blogspot.com
She met my eyes-
her face, an insurmountable mount
broke into a thousand sand dunes.
Tears streamed down;
safely through the cracks
of the earthen visage.
Her eyes, once a pair of hazelnuts
now starving moons,
were folding their light.
Her cavernous smile
the sparse vegetation of her mouth.
like a warm geyser waiting to spring.
Her shallow breaths
sang a tune of their own,
like reeds in an evening breeze.
Her hair danced
like lugubrious casuarinas
to the slightest provocation.
Her warm bosom
where I once hid
my fears and tears
was dry and stony.
She is so expansive-
that she has hid Time
in the secret layers of her depth
and stoops under its weight.
Shawn Edrei is an American-born graduate of Tel-Aviv University. After completing his MA in English, he briefly considered changing his name to “Master Shawn” before deciding it sounded like something you’d use to cook vegetables. His poetic inspirations include Dorothy Parker, Paul Violi, Meyrav Koren-Kuik and Karen Alkalay-Gut.
For a moment
I was sure I’d seen him:
in all his serenity
meditating before the fountain
at the heart of Russell Square.
Then he frowned
and smacked his iPod
and my atheism was restored.
Breindel 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.
The hall, tiled floors
Leading to the stairs,
The endless climb
To the 5th floor where I live
And beyond, the roof door,
Locked with an iron hook,
Check it, make sure
Robbers wont get in, or
Tiptoe down the fire escape,
Slip in a window,
Take anything portable,
And the police,
They don’t come
When you call
They say, “sure, sure,
We’ll be there, ”
But they wont.
Frank drove a cab.
After too many muggings,
He burnt his license.
That same night,
On the landing
Of our building,
Someone was waiting
With a knife.
But the last robber
Cleaned out his apartment,
He even ate the fruit
And left the pits
On the table….
The scene opens
Down a long hall,
Dark green walls,
Under a bare bulb,
Dead men shuffle.
On the left, a shaky table.
Lucky Strikes, a portable radio.
The attendant bends his head,
Drops between her legs,
She crosses over.
In this insane asylum
Light falls on the father,
She waits, as if back stage
While he lectures to the emptiness
Exposing excruciating hopelessness
The attendant shouts “Pop
Say hello to your daughter.”
Agony clocks in
Between the bringing and
Taking him back
To the den
With the other dead men,
And all those gory details,
Pea soup nails
The jingle, the way a steel door locks,
The way the scene opens,
Down a long hall,
Dark green walls,
Under a bare bulb,
Dead men shuffle.
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.
Batman: The Rise of Senryu
Arkham memento –
a cobwebbed cuckoo clock
drives you batty
This bare limbed tree
in Arkham, think of all
the strait jackets to fill
You should see Robin
when he drinks … once, in costume
he dyed his hair green
the last time he drank
he painted half his face –
flipped a coin, gun ready
in Gotham, the Joker is
the only one tanned
They sat across each other
two costumed freaks
by wilderness, cat and mouse
smoking, playing chess
Your death was thorny –
tracing a rose in the snow
upon your breast
Flip side of the coin –
the thing about chaos is
that it’s fair
Alfred draws a bath
a claw-footed bathtub
on the shower stall
Liu Hong-ping is a Chinese poet whose CV includes teaching English, interpreting and translating English and French, and marketing management in an international environment. She was born in Chongqing City, majored in English at Sichuan International Studies University and has lived in France for several years.
Lost in the Mountain City
Through a multitude of years
the city's contours
have grown into today's folds
of overlapping tiers of mountains.
Its hills have become
countless barriers to our love,
but like a river's water
my love for you is boundless.
I wish the stream from my heart
spreads through the ridges,
across the roofs crowned with stars,
and assumes the forms of innumerable years.
Blended into streaky clouds
You are torn by the wind
into sodden shreds
You’ve slid across my land
stretching out hands
to clasp the tail of winged love
in the sea of light
I’ve bagged nothing
Your flame is from the sun
as your desolation’s from the moon
shedding colourful tints
upon my life’s journey
You are the bird in the air
driving our cramped limbs to travel
You are the wolf in open bush
hiding in our rational sense
I’ve lost you for good
as you’ve never appeared
You are restless in my body
no glimpse of your real face
is unreasoned and unsettled
Like frolicsome phantoms from sky
in time of genesis
with yellow bolts of lightning
Fires claimed to come in
with blasts of thunders shoot
in a spectacle of burning
You steamed a hundred miles
and ignorant plants
in your rampaging inferno
They struggled with doomed looks
from smouldering wreckages
People picked up fireseeds
with a beauty beyond earthly beauty
Your light and heat
come from another world
— a mixed blessing
Violet Samir was born and educated in Scotland and England completing her first degree in English and French Literature in 1962. She then took graduate degrees in Social Work and worked in London where she met her Israeli husband. With him she travelled frequently to the United States and has lived in Israel since 1970.
Over the years she has written poetry but began to do so more intensively when she retired from Social Work. She is only now beginning to take them out of "the drawer" and hopes that they will find some readers who will enoy them too.
reading that earth warming has thinned
the mass of glaciers by 3.4 per cent in sixty years.
a frown takes me to that niggling worry place
where I try to figure if my home will be under
water when the Atlantic pours its excess ice melt
into my small sea.
would it help if I ride my bicycle in Tel Aviv,
and stop drinking coffee, if I exchange clothes
with friends, give away my car and appliances
give poems as presents, no trips abroad
if I do all this will it save a glacier?
scrolling down some more I see the words
Perito Moreno and remember that this glacier
remains stable in spite of us all
not giving a gram away more than it absorbs
in the Andes, advancing each year until
a heavy mass of land impedes its progress
and it ruptures into the lake.
I stood in awe before its blue wall of ice
and saw just a meter away three
little boys aged five gathered around
the merits of a small red car, discuss
its finer points in French.
Intimations of an Inevitable End
It might have been the day that the upper left molar fell out,
Or when my right kneecap creaked like a broken hinge
after a one hour drive to Jerusalem. Could it have been
the second time that I tore leg muscles after waltzing round the house
with my daughter to "I feel pretty", and collapsing in a faint on the floor so
convincing that she thought I'd had a heart attack, and I stayed home for two weeks,
because the heel seemed to have detached itself from the rest of
the leg and was taking its time about getting together again. If
the truth be known we also had a new computer and I wanted to
practice literacy skills, so I wasn't in any hurry to get back
to work. The fact that my elder daughter could even think that I
was in cardiac arrest affected me more than the pain of snapped
muscles, and it must be here that the realization of deterioration
set off its insistent and unsolicited whispering.
Perhaps acquiring the magnifying mirror was what finally did it
That damned mirror sprinkled wrinkles all over my face in the
morning when I got up, and I thought, "Whose face is that?" and
went rushing all over the house to find a vision of myself
in keeping with that picture of me at thirty six after two kids and
a ten week stint at Weight Watchers. So I put on West Side
Story and listen to "I feel pretty", no waltzing, just sulking and
swearing myself shitless at the darkening future.
Walter Ruhlmann was born in 1974 in France. He currently lives in Mamoudzou, Mayotte where he works as an English teacher. He has been publishing mgversion2>datura (ex-Mauvaise graine) for fifteen years. Walter is the author of several poetry chapbooks and e books in French and English and has published poems in various printed and electronic publications world wide. He co-edited and translated poems for the bilingual free verse and form section for the anniversary issue of Magnapoets in January 2011. His blog:
She is a black beauty
- they say black is beautiful; don't they?
Who are they anyway
to be so certain of such a prejudicial
she is a black beauty
and knows it perfectly
and uses it
who brought her here
in his canoe
with many others like her
- or not.
the police took her
to bring her back on
to the island
she was born.
Nothing at all except the clothes
she had on her
when she wandered
in the forest
along the road
She said she would come back as soon as
she could find a way
Faster than expected
and embarked on a canoe
that should have crossed the canal, alas!
Chaïma saw the mangrove
If I could make it all sublime
I would say let's go to Moya.
The twin beaches set on the land
on the other side –
Nyambo Titi –
where the genesis of Mayotte
is at your fingers' reach.
The semi moons, the half craters
where the ocean splashes
and white horses come like sheers.
The turtles land there
to lay their eggs
in the womb of this white sandy shelter
coral dust inside chalk walls
like a circus
an amphitheatre staging the ether.
Behind this ageless place
the full crater
Dziani Zaha –
Lake Dziani –
where the browns of the land mingle
with various shades of blues and greens
up the sky
down left the stagnant water
down right the ocean and the horizon
ochre soil all around.
where quietness is at rest
only disturbed twice a day
by the air-planes taking
on & off.
Magpies and dogs may feast
on chelonian offspring.
Where – at last –
anyone can find solace
and dream this island
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.”
It has matted down the garden,
Stalks, a thickly gridded prison,
Rooting legs wherever it inches,
Climbing over cypress, hunches,
Cinching lilac roots at their bases,
Flooding provinces of the vine.
Whoever planted it back then
Lacked what gardeners learn to expect:
That a minor decorative act
With this thing that looked so tender,
So easy to train and direct
Starts a serial grown-up strangler.
Susan Rosenberg, now in her mid-eighties, began writing poetry as a child. Her work was unpublished until a decade ago when she joined Voices Israel. Now, her poems appear regularly in anthologies and journals and she received honorable mentions in two international poetry competitions. She also writes short stories one of which appears in this issue.
Too Much! Too Fast!
a royal wedding
the shedding of blood
each awesome sequence
presented in detail
as morning comes
brings a new day
of photos and text
and all that comes next
but I’m still concerned