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Poetry December 2015_1
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Poetry December 2012_3
Poetry December 2012_3
On this page: poems by Zvika Sella, Violet Samir, Rick Black, Tom Berman, Stanley H. Barkan, Ruth Hill, Ursula T. Gibson, Yakov Azriel, Christine DeSimone, Judith Barrington, Patrick Osada, Nan Rush
 
The following works are copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.


Zvika Sella

Zvika Sella completed his studies in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Sciences at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.  He earned his MBA at the University of Chicago, and then continued in advanced studies in Economics, Management, and Sciences at Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as at the University of La Havana, Cuba.  He has served as president and CEO of various high-tech companies, specializing in turnaround and development of rapid growth, and he is now studying towards his Ph.D. degree in Philosophy, in Israel.


Far Away From Home

I think what
I miss the most
Here on this lost
Island is the way you dance
Tango in front of
The fire with those doe
Eyes and shameless
Behinds there in your sane
Land but then
Again my lovely
It is only here where
You can feel the earth
Laughing underneath you every night –
Like black Mama Millita
At the corner of Marcial
Gomez y Serafin Sanchez –
And then later, much later, how heavy
And deep she is falling
Asleep on you
Only here you can

Actually see life -
Like the blind see
Things in the dark -
Moving all around you, stronger than anything,
Loose in the streets, the
Markets, the bars, the wide-open homes, and
Know you cannot escape
Only here is where you begin to understand so
Clearly how desperately different we all are, in
everything; and
How desperately equal,
In everything
Only here you suddenly see for yourself how
Far away are really those who are so
Close to you –
Only, they must have
Known it all along and
Only here you finally learn
It is the love of a girl
That moves the whole world,
Her hopeless little love;
There is nothing else.
Ask anyone.

                
Siego de Avila, Cuba



Violet Samir

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. She has lived in Israel since 1970. Over the years Violet has written poetry but began to do so more intensively when she retired from social work. She does so for the specially deep joy that writing brings. She is only now beginning to take her poems out of "the drawer" and hope that they will find some readers who will enjoy them too.

Violet's poem "A short history of everything sexual" won first prize in the Reuben Rose poetry competition, 2012.


Five Poems for America

In the prequel to this urban fill
stars could be seen.
Some large and bright, some
not, but all of them visible.
If we want them back,
a switch has to be flipped.
It happened once and people
star-gazed. Free ice cream
was handed out. It sounds
like a waste of valuable time.

Language exists to make you
speak. Whichever one is handy.
Speak that one. Get up off the
seat and talk to the person in
the next room using that language.
He might not understand, he may
know only how to type. Ask him
"Will words freeze if never spoken?"
You must show patience. Speak
slowly and with emphasis, take
the speaker buds out of his ears.

Faith can move Adirondacks.
Faiths keep people
from talking to each other.
A disagreement caused one half of
the congregation to get up, load the
church building on to wagons
and move two states west. Amen.
I love this land.

I bought a gun in California
police recommended it.
it is called defense
there are less knife wounds
for pathologists to study
and you can tell
the kind of gun by the bullet.
I am not planning to kill
anyone with it unless
I have to.

people are free
to look after themselves
while dogs eat
no one should interfere.



Walking on canvas

The remains of the day are here
the five o'clock time that sings
in the city. I decide to walk out
into it, past the tree that my
neighbor wishes removed,
because the bird shit
dirties his car, and its roots are
wrinkling the asphalt.
It is Magritte's sky, and one of
his persons comes walking at me
in a blue buttoned shirt paired
with computer under his arm,
bereft of all other accoutrements,
but a cap, peaked unsmiling.
I can't help labelling him,
This is not a human.

Further down on the main road
where Arlozorov and Jabotinski
run parallel into Namir, a mass
of skyscrapers rise, and I think
these two old Zionists are proud
who worked like Moses for a project
still under construction.
Square in the centre of the
sidewalk sits a bathroom scale, alone.
It is almost unbearable to walk by
without weighing myself. I visualize
how Dali would paint it folded
over a wall, with the numbers on its
scale dripping, and I know by this
that he wanted us to smile.

The woman soldier at the bus stop
is smoking with one hip protruding,
the sort of stance that women stand
over the ages, grinding the cartilage.
I want to hug her and tell her not to smoke
or stand like that. One day she will put
a baby there astride the hip and wear
it down some more. I want to tell her
she is hip when standing straight.
But she blows smoke.
I am not her mother.

Outside the museum of art
are fretworks in bronze and steel.
Beside the door, Ben Zadok's tree
whose leaves and branches are of people.
It is past six and an array of art loving cats
wait at the glass entry doors. Feline entry
free on Tuesday? They remind me of my
neighbor for whom every morning
the street cats wait for their daily bread.
Perhaps she feeds here too. A woman inside
with children asks if this is the free afternoon
and the ticket lady frowns in Russian "No".
"This is not New York", I say and we grimace
together at the inaccessibility of art.
As I leave I look long at the lone cypress.
It is not a tree.


Lochinver

Meltdown is here again in the Middle
East. No, not the nuclear kind.
I mean that sticky time of year when thighs
are glue and cannot be unstuck on standing.
When hair falls limp and even the straightest
shows a tendency to curl. The lads drink
at night in the open air under my house
and the humming of the fan too small
a sound to drown them out.

Tired of the clicking of glasses in the dark,
the ping of cell phones, volume of voices swelling
with each pint, my overheated head goes home
to Scotland, takes the high road up out of Lochinver
where in the evening the great craggy mass
of Suilven looms black. The sun twilights the sky
as it leans toward the Atlantic water glimpsed narrow
at the entrance to the loch. In the harbour,
boats are bobbing on the moving tide,
but here, everything is removed, so slow
and quiet with a silence you can cup
between your palms. A desert terebinth
is here become a willow dipping leaves in water



Rick Black

Rick Black is a poet, book artist and photographer who runs Turtle Light Press – a small press dedicated to poetry and fine art photography. He lived in Israel for six years, first studying Hebrew literature at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and subsequently working as a journalist in the Jerusalem bureau of The New York Times. An international prize-winning haiku poet, he has contributed to Before There is Nowhere to Stand (an anthology of poems about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict), had poems nominated for Pushcart awards and authored a handcrafted chapbook, Peace and War: A Collection of Haiku from Israel.


My Daughter’s Bath

     “It’s not only the scent of the soap…”
     My Son Exudes Peace, Yehuda Amichai


When I lean over you
and you are soaping up your hands
and playing with your

little figurines –
that is when I feel the tug
of the gas mask

on my face again
and remember
struggling with it –

“Daddy, Daddy, get down – ”

with its straps,
I mean, because the mask’s
fogging up

and maybe it is gas –

“Daddy, Daddy, get – ”

because
I can not fathom
anyone

trying to gas
me or you, my only child –
“Daddy, Daddy – ”

and yet they did,
and yet they did.


Homeland

And the Lord said,
“Go back into exile, take care of your parents,
your aunts and uncles.”

And so I returned to exile
and he took them
from me.

And now
this is my homeland,
this land

in which they died
and I am left,
longing.


Hands

I worship silently,
in awe,
alone

with the trees of this earth
and the rocks of this earth
and the seeds of this earth.

They are my minyan,
my co-worshippers.
I watch others pass by,
pushing strollers, carrying tallit bags,
wearing yarmulkas.

And I imagine them in shul,
reciting ancient prayers,
their hands uplifted to God.
And yet I would rather be here,
bent prostrate, nurturing
the arugula seedlings
that I sowed.

Hunched over on my knees
in torn jeans and invisible phylacteries,
I worship with them daily,
my weather-beaten hands
digging into the dirt
to clear away
the stones.



Tom Berman

Tom Berman has been a member of Kibbutz Amiad in the Upper Galilee, Israel for over 50 years. He is a scientist and most of his research has been focused on the Sea of Galilee (a.k.a. Lake Kinneret). He grew up in Glasgow, Scotland having arrived there aged 5 from Czechoslovakia with the Kindertransport in 1939. He is married with one wife, one dog, three daughters, seven granddaughters and a grandson. His poetry has been published here and there, now and again. He was Editor in Chief of the annual Voices Israel Anthology from 2003 to 2006. Amazon.com is still trying to dispose of a book of his poems (Shards, a Handful of Verse).


The Dunny at 2 Nithsdale Drive

At my foster aunt’s home
in war-time Glasgow
we lived in a tenement
two flights up the stairs
three rooms and kitchen

Down below in the cellar
was the locked dunny
dark, mysterious, foreboding
forbidden cave of mystery

Who lived there?
Witches and Ogres
Bogies and Badmen!

When the Luftwaffe came a-calling
dropping death as a calling card
they liberated the dunny
from my bad dreams
transforming the fearsome dunny
into a quite uninteresting
and absolutely ordinary
air raid shelter.

     *Dunny is a basement in colloquial Glaswegian


Returning

Sometimes
you can almost come back
to native places
that you once loved well

Certain street corners,
a tree standing untouched
by an altered building,
a row of old familiar shops
by a new parking lot,
the view of a field
now hedged with houses,
a road with a turning
that wasn’t there before
and yet you still can say,
“I have returned”

But you cannot
truly return to people
that you once knew,
they are gone
even though
they bear the names
of fifteen or fifty years ago

People erode like river banks
until they cave in
at the last,
crumble and are washed away



Stanley H. Barkan

Stanley H. Barkan, editor/publisher of Cross-Cultural Communications, while celebrating its 40th anniversary with 400 titles in 50 different languages, on November 5, 2011, he received The Paterson Literary Review Award for “Lifetime Service to Literature.” The poems in this issue are from his forthcoming chapbook, China Poems.


Wushan

Like Gibellina in Sicily,
Wushan on the Yangtze is slated for destruction.
Gibellina fell to the wrath of Nature—
her ancient stones shattered by earthquakes.
But Wushan is doomed by the desire for Progress.
“The Project” has precedence.
The biggest dam in the world will flood the town—
over the tops of its terraced hills, huts, and pagodas.
Then, where once sampans and black-awning boats
fished for just enough to sustain the day—
floating over the shadows of the alleyways,
the market stalls, the monuments to ancestors—
the ghost of Wushan under water will look up
and watch the passing cruise ships of Progress.


Centers

The belltower in Xi’an
is not for ringing warnings
nor for calling the faithful to prayer.
Like the stone on the Temple Mount
in Jerusalem, hallowed
by Jew and Muslim as a mark,
it is a symbol of the core of earth.
Here in the Middle Kingdom,
the belltower, for these people,
is the very center of the center.
It sits on the dragon’s back, keeping it
down in the underground stream.
For, when it moves, like Tantalus
under Etna (so thought the ancient Greeks),
the earth quakes & splits and avalanches rumble.
Everywhere egocentrics seem to think of themselves
as the center of their conception of the world,
just as the geocentrics, before Copernicus
and Galileo, thought earth to be the center
of the Universe, Man the apple of God’s eye.
But let’s keep the dragon down—
don’t disturb the Turtle on whose back
sits the earth of Native Americans.
Praise belltowers, stones, volcanoes, turtles,
as centerpoints in myth & magic & mystic lore
of who and what and where and why we are.
As the Chinese say, pay your respects,
give deference to all the gods—”Just in case!”



Ruth Hill

Ruth Hill was born and educated in upstate New York, and traveled North America extensively. She is a Design Engineer, dedicated tutor, and enjoys spoken word. Her poetry appears in Apollo’s Lyre, Decanto, Level 4, Little Red Tree, Litchfield Review, New Millennium Writings, Ocean Magazine, Poets for Human Rights, Reach of Song, Rose & Thorn, Song of the San Joaquin, and many more. ruthhill@joiedevivregardens.ca.



Blown Away

A leaf tumbles on a sidewalk, blown backward.
So I am helpless against the wind.
Hometown, like a lover torn away for war,
found a whore, and never came back again.
Waiting decades, that’s how I love you.
Hands beckon like a mermaid in seaweed.
Like a child in a wagon, spirited away.
Like a dog fallen from a lorry,
looking for his owner, forlorn forever.
At least a refugee is glad to be alive.
Those that stayed ― marriage of convenience —
they never loved you.
Mighty, the chestnut tree that calls me.
Silent now, the red cardinal who used to whistle.
Cold the creek, which once ran warm ‘round my feet,
minnows eating bread crumbs from my toes.
It’s windy here: the leaf blows further every day.
Every time I try to return, something gets in my way.



Saranac Lake

It is a magnificent thing
to be among the high hills
where whip-poor-wills sing,
and maples reach down
like mothers’ arms to hold you,
bold you up to the sky, where
you rock on wind’s lullaby.
Sun slant and shadow gant
radiate as well, all the greens
shimmer shiny, then dull,
as clouds pass over.
Fragrance after rain, refrain
of wood nymphs, shamrocks
glam rocks, and trilliums thrill.
From tree to branch darts
entrance of sweet piccolos,
lovers of louvers of leaves,
who sing loudly and proudly,
though mating but once a year.
Day and night they sing,
and sing forever, so long
as their children carry their song.
Bring the painting nearer;
it seems to me I am there again,
Saranac Lake, serenade lake,
serene lake, scenic lake,
under a time-lapse spinning sky,
soft green vistas, perfumes and
symphonies remembered.


*gant: local Six Nations slang sometimes meaning “passive”, “dull”, “mute”, or “mindless”, like a shadow



The Nasty Things I Like

When a little boy needs a bath
When a cat is having kittens
When the compost pile is working
Manure

When hounds bay loudly
When mucky babies kick and coo
Chicken poop on morning eggs
Wet dog

Homemade berry jam stains
Thistle burrs on all the jeans
Loud punk rock
Text message from college



West Winfield

In the western world of memory,
Mister thumps his blue tick tail,
Pumpkin licks her orange kittens,
Coon Dog howls his mournful wail.

Midnight birch goes in the cookstove,
coal will hold the heat all night.
Morning babies, puppies, kittens
sleep on warm hearth: what a sight!



Were You There, and Did You Do?

You never saw my gramma snap her kitchen towel,
crumbs and moisture flying in the butter,
doing the flat-foot floogie with the floy floy
backwards across the floor
in her sagging support stockings and sensible shoes,
hanging the last pan on a nail behind the door,
happy her chores were finally done,
so she could watch the polka bubbles,
James Arness, Little Joe, and Ed.
You never smelled the cherry tobacco
curling through Grampa’s stinky beard,
your head tucked into his flannel bathrobe
with Hershey’s in the pockets,
gold belt braided with tassels like a king.
You never found a place always welcoming
on his bony knees or rickety rocker.
You never heard my uncle singing alto
in the high-ceilinged bedroom,
competing with Gramma’s many fed birds.
Or saw the other in full Captain’s dress
singing tenor in the all-men’s army choir.
You never felt the red flowers on the wall,
a chenille luxury, or slept on a taffeta quilt.
The carpet was hotel striped;
secrets were scrawled in lipstick
and toothpaste under the sink.
Grampa built the icebox, cupboards, and bins.
And did you taste the turkey, dinners for eleven,
gravy made from scratch, and sweet potato pie?
Bet you never fell asleep
with ginger ale in your nose,
hypnotized by a chicken-pecking clock,
under your cousin’s paint-by-number ducks.
Did you churn the buttermilk,
pull the taffy with us,
five women laughing to learn “the twist,”
too risqué to show the men?
Did you put in time to teach the coon cat
to open the door and answer the phone?
Did you color all the greeting cards
in the secretary drawer?
Well, were you there, and did you do?



Ursula T. Gibson

Ursula T. Gibson was born in Munich, Germany, in 1930. The family came to the United States (Chicago) in 1934, where her father received an appointment at the University of Chicago Medical School. In 1943, the family moved to California. Ursula went to school in Los Angeles, and eventually met a teacher who encouraged her poetry writing. She has written more than 250 poems about half of which have seen publication and some of which have won prizes in various poetry contests.


The earth is waiting to go to sleep

The earth is waiting to go to sleep
for Winter is coming.
The trees have dropped their leaves;
the flowers have stopped their blooming;
the sky contains dark clouds,
and rain falls steadily in California
We live in an area where snow is rare,
but Chicago taught me snow
when I was younger. I know about
toes that burn and fingers that tingle.
I know about putting on galoshes,
and wrapping myself in several coats
just to stay somewhat warm.
I know about red fingers and red noses.
I know about ice puddles and
freezing rain. I know, too, the thrill
of skating and the glory of skiing,
and I'll get through this winter on
memories of what I've done,
because at eighty-one years,
you don't do them any more.




Yakov Azriel

Yakov Azriel came to Israel from New York when he was 21. He has published four full-length books of poetry in the United States: Threads From A Coat Of Many Colors: Poems on Genesis (2005), In The Shadow Of A Burning Bush: Poems on Exodus (2008), Beads For The Messiah's Bride: Poems on Leviticus (2009), and Swimming In Moses' Well: Poems of Numbers (2011), all published by Time Being Books, a literary press that specializes in poetry. Over 200 of his poems have been published in journals in the USA, the UK and Israel, and his poems have won fifteen awards in international poetry competitions, as well as two fellowships from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.


Homeless

Is there a place where I can sleep tonight?
Is there a pillow for my head? Is there
An outstretched hand that's willing to take care
Of me before the darkness starts to bite
My wobbly sun and gobble up the light
I've managed to retain? I'm glad to share
The dreams I haven't lost which persevere
Like prayers my father taught me to recite.

How long it’s been since I last rested in
A proper home, how long since someone said
"Good night," "sweet dreams." It's windy on the street
And sometimes rains all night; how long it's been
Since I last slept upon a proper bed.
Please show me, God, Your blanket and Your sheet.


The Night Of Wrath

I couldn't find a key, so I remained
Outdoors all night and had to hide behind
The house my father built; I couldn't find
Its awning, so I shivered as it rained.
I couldn't find a chair, for I disdained
The furniture my father had designed;
I couldn't find a lamp, for I was blind
To all the light my father's house contained.

But worst of all, I couldn't find a path
To You, my God, I couldn't find the map
My father used, which pointed out a way
For men like me to overcome Your wrath,
O Lord — a way across the angry gap
That separates my night from lucid day.


Bat-Melech — The King's Daughter
           "A psalm, a song, for the Sabbath day." (Psalm 92:1)

Although six older brothers leave each day
For school, the youngest child, the daughter, stays
At home, a palace by the sea. She plays
With heirlooms that her father stored away
For her, and her alone — a great array
Of tiny porcelain animals that graze
Together as a porcelain donkey brays,
While porcelain ponies shake their manes and neigh.

Ceramic leopards feed with lustrous sheep
And glossy goats; translucent lions eat
With fragile cows beneath the beach's trees.
And while a yellow porcelain snake may creep
Between her toes, it cannot bite her feet
As echoes of her laughter cover seas.


The Other Side

I
Our origin was from the royal side,
The side in which the princess reigns, decides
Which sailing ships belong to her, and guides
Her boats between the narrows, terrified
But whole, until they reach her port. But pride
Usurped our helmless vessel, pulled by tides
We can't control, and so our boat collides
With boulders which the ocean waters hide.

The royal side. There must be routes which lead
From here to there, from this side of the sea
To where the princess rules, to where she sees
Her fleet returning home. The princess freed
Her sailors from their doubts; can we be free
As well and watch our frenzied hubris freeze?

II
Our exile started from the other side
In which the princess doesn't reign. She hides
From crashing wave along our surf, for tides
We can't control or understand divide
The world in two: one half is sanctified
By songs the princess sings when she resides
In castles by the sea; one half provides
Wild tempest winds by which we were exiled.

The other side. There must be routes which lead
To royal islands far across the sea,
Whose coastlines we once knew. The princess sees
The banner of our ship; can we be freed
From hubris of the other side, and flee
To palm trees bowing in a gentle breeze?



Christine DeSimone

Christine DeSimone is a fourth-generation Californian and she practices law in San Francisco. Her poems have appeared in over 30 journals, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, Zyzzyva, and Verse Daily, among others.


Dear Landlord

You can drive towards the Pacific
but the avenues don’t end, it is always the hour

the ambulances never quit, always the staccato dots
of an argument in Czech, someone roasting garlic

in the caves of this building when I check the sleeping phone.
My childhood sulks at the window,

considers the lichened shingles on facing houses, looks for
a word that cannot be spelled. The slovenly turn

of day and day gathers sweet emptiness, the sound
shadows make when I empty the shades. Taxis’ muted

jangles on the road. Plates chattering in the sink.
Across the street, there is a plaque: Dashiell Hammett

wrote three novels here. I do not have a plaque.
I eat too many pistachios and read the upstairs music that stays up

all night, grinding its red and blue. I chew apart
the cushions for hibernation money.

The stars and stars burn for miles,
as that long arc of sky squeezes a restless fist.

Urbanites, like junkies, find other ways to decay.
Always this building climbs the hills, always with strangers

who sit unspeaking with microwaved trays,
their bodies bright against a flickering wall.




Judith Barrington

Judith Barrington is the author of three volumes of poetry including Horses and the Human Soul, and two chapbooks including Postcard from the Bottom of the Sea. Her Lifesaving: A Memoir won the Lambda Book Award and her Writing the Memoir: From Truth to Art is a bestseller in the USA, Germany, and Australia. She is on the faculty of the University of Alaska’s MFA program.


“Domestic Terrorist”

I trust them to run from me, necks arched in a full
swan’s S
—wild ones destined for dog-food cans,

crammed together, nipping, humping up half-bucks,
too tightly packed to let fly with unshod hoofs.

I trust them to flee the corral on moonless nights
when I slide back the poles and whisper to them and wait:

the nearest spill out sideways, startled
to find the fence of their compound breached;

then muffled snorts and messages on the breath
huff through the tangled mass of horseflesh,

ears come forward, mud-caked heads lift high:
duns and greys, skewbalds and bays, mares

with tottering foals, a sway-backed roan,
surge like a tide and funnel through the strait,

bursting a couple of spans each side of the gap.
I trust them to scent the fragrant pastures of home.


     Note: First line taken from “Credo” by Maxine Kumin (Looking for Luck: WW Norton)



Patrick Osada

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.


Lament For Gloucester

Transformed in only forty years!
The fading dowager I’d known
Who lounged close by the Severn’s side
Has almost vanished, lost to time.
And in her place, near by-pass roads,
In cheap shell-suit and thrift shop dross,
A sad bag lady stops to squat.

Once famed for parliament of kings,
The place that changed the Civil War,
Finds infamy through recent sons :
A terrorist, depraved Fred West.
So where has England’s Glory gone?
The cachet of a market town
Where shoppers came from miles around
By coach from Wales and the South West.

Lost heritage is what we find –
A cheapness and a dumbing-down –
The old Guildhall become a bank,
A row of Tudor buildings gone,
Blackfriars lost beneath used tyres,
The place to view the Eastgate walls
Is perch for dossers, dead-eyed kids.

And so the City’s face has changed :
The nip and tuck of poor design
Creates a mess of many styles
Largely bereft of charm or age.
Above it all Cathedral towers
Watching new suburbs stretch towards
Blue hills : engulfing countryside.



From The Family Album

Flanked by large carcasses and cuts,
forbears pose stiffly for the lens
below my Mother’s maiden name
emblazoned on their butcher’s shop.

The sign says, Lapington & Son –
his mutton chops beside the beef;
her bonnet, apron pristine white –
but of the son there is no sign.

Life in a bottle brought him down,
this black sheep who soon got the chop –
his birthright lost, a fortune gone,
the shop sold off by maiden aunts.

They, in their turn, gave all away
to feed the dogs at Battersea,
ensuring devil’s progeny
would not receive life on a plate.


Out Of The Kitchen

In the kitchen, redundant and unused,
cookery books still line the dusty shelves.
Your prized mixer’s not stirred a cake in years
and carers microwave your lunch at twelve.

Tidying your larder, clearing the jam
of tins and jars that we have found too late,
I discover your hoard of bottled plums,
now out of reach…and sight…and mind…and date.

Red-gold of autumn, captured in those jars
remind me of an afternoon of rain :
baskets of Blaisdons, saucepans on the stove…
A pleasure you will never take again.

   Note: Blaisdons are a type of superior plum grown in Gloucestershire, England



Nan Rush

Nan Rush is a poet and musician who has been published in Rolling Stone, Poets On, Yet Another Small Magazine, Thirteen, Rambunctious Review and Nebo. Most recently, her poetry sequence “I Dress in Red” was published in the memoir anthology Impact. She has completed a short non-fiction book on her family, a fantasy novel, and is working on a memoir.


The Pump

You, mother,
were born in a
large country home
that’s since burned down,
leaving certain places
where grass won’t grow,
and a manhole covering
the old well.

When we visit another
large country home,
I see you’re moved,
and when you try to speak of
the reminders it brings,
tears well up
and your throat grows tight
as we walk through
the flowering garden.

Then I point out the pump
(remembering Gram’s)
and you walk to it
transfixed.
The pail’s there beside it,
ready;
your arm aches,
remembers;
you reach out
and pump,
stopping precisely
when the water
kisses the lip
of the pail.
But a few drops
come still
from the mouth
of the pump,
crying
for a home.



Moving

I) Packing

I’m forced to look at things now,
to sort and stack
and throw away.
The days spent living here
will fall away like dominoes
when I move,
black & white dots
under someone else’s feet.

But now I must look on top shelves,
back shelves,
in corners of closets
piled with dust & debris,
discarding what I don’t need,
keeping only essentials.
The one I lived with here
is still in this place I’m leaving,
still in my closets, filling old boxes,
and when I’m gone,
our shadows will
hang in the hall,
holding each other up
with dusty hands.


II) Jenny

She’s known only this place,
learned everything here,
watched her parents love, live,
and leave,
blew her light into the dark
corners of these high cracked
ceilings.
Will the witch she saw
in her window at night
cry an old woman’s tears
when she’s gone?


111) Settling In

It’s been a week now.
The endless boxes have been cleared,
the chaos rearranged.
Everything here is mine
but me,
the stranger.