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Poetry December 2015_1
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Poetry December 2015_1
On this page poems by Helen Bar-Lev, Breindel Lieba Kasher, Ada Aharoni, Anne Whitehouse, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, CB Follett, Dorit Weisman, Iris Dan, Judith Skillman, Leslie B. Neustadt, Roberta Kanefsky, Elizabeth Forest, Jennifer Lagier

The following works are copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.


Helen Bar-Lev

Helen Bar-Lev was born in New York in 1942. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology, has lived in Israel for 44 years and has held over 90 exhibitions of her landscape paintings, 33 of which were one-woman shows.

Her poems and artwork have appeared in numerous online and print anthologies. Collections: “Cyclamens and Swords and other poems about the land of Israel”, and “The Muse in the Suitcase”, both with Johnmichael Simon, illustrated by Helen. “In Moonlight the Sky Will Slide” with Katherine L. Gordon. “Everything Today”, a not-what-you-expect book of poetry about colours with her colour illustrations, and “Love Letters, the Alphabet Falls In Love with Itself”, are Helen's latest collections.  “Canvas Calendar”, a collection with poems of seven poets from different climate zones, is edited and illustrated by Helen.

Helen was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2013.  She is Assistant to the President of Voices Israel group of poets in English
and Senior Editor of Cyclamens and Swords Publishing.  She lives in Metulla, Israel with her partner Johnmichael Simon.
 www.helenbarlev.com


A Juif in Paris

I walked the east and west of you
your left bank and your right
marveled at your spires and churches,
your boats and bridges
wandered through your Degas’
and Manets and Corots, Morisots, Pissarros
listened to Bizet, Jollivet, Ravel
I sketched you from your cafes
my footsteps are imprinted on every inch of you

But the handwriting was on the walls
of the metro: swastikas and caricatures of me, the Juif,
I hung my art in your galleries
but you threw your scarf around your neck
your nose in the air
and huffed off at the sound of my name
or the shape of my face

You accused me of treason
and banished me to prison
you rounded me up beyond quota and duty
and I left quietly in boxcars
the thousands of me who remained left by plane
to the home that has been mine
since God opened his eyes

And from the other direction came my enemy,
scimitar in one hand, destruction in the other
whom you welcomed with warmth
though he did not sketch your architecture
nor visit your museums
and when he strolled your streets
it was to note the vulnerability of your buildings

You put bombs in his hands
and condemned me for my warnings
and when I protested
you boycotted my oranges and soda water

So today you stroll your boulevards
and concert halls, stadiums and restaurants,
observing the carnage of his gratitude
and weep and wonder if perhaps
you made a mistaken exchange

However that may be
I shall never return


Cousins

We didn’t choose each other,
you and I, through a chance encounter
or a planned introduction

No, Fate threw us together
in our cousinhood
you rescued me one day at the beach
from a naughty wave –
I was little and sputtering –
you, a big four years older,
held me, loved me, back into breathing

I was the first one you told
of your elopement
we loved each other’s children
as though our own

Yes, we did so love each other
into telephones, over oceans;
if I mailed a letter to you in the morning
one from you arrived the same afternoon

Our children now teens,
you came to visit, across that ocean,
removed your wig
I have cancer you said,
returned to your treatment
optimistic

In those days phone calls abroad
were an extravagance
yet an urgency in my heart
prompted me to phone you

I am dying you said
wait for me I begged
and so it was,
I arrived and you died

Last night, searching for a stamp,
I found the last letter you wrote
full of an abundance of that love
unique to us, your voice was there,
your smile, your hug, comforting

Now twenty years too long have gone
like a bullet, a missile, so quick

So young you went
I miss you yet


The Second Amendment

In the USA
if you don’t get your way
if you’re disgruntled
unruffled, undone
get out a gun
and shoot!

If you struggle with your brother
if your boss is a bother
if your wife rejects you
if your kid won’t respect you
if you lose a bet
get out a gun
and shoot!

if your chum is too smug
if there’s a bug in the food
if you’re in a bad mood
if there’s a dispute
if you need a boost
get out a gun
and shoot!

Were your parents cruel?
did you flunk out of school?
were you misunderstood?
do you have a gripe with your family,
a grievance with society?
get out a gun
and shoot!

If the President is too handsome
if the congressman’s too congenial
if the doctor disappoints you
if your lover ignores you
if you’re upset in general
you don’t even need an excuse
get out a gun
and shoot!
 
Oh! a gun is so much fun
easier than a bayonet
cleaner than a knife
don’t think twice
buy more than one,
order an arsenal over the internet
then go on a spree at a university,
a shopping mall, a movie hall
any place at all

The constitution bestows you this freedom,
it is your right, yea, your obligation

No more anonymity 
you’ll be in the media,
on Wikipedia, on TV

What – you’re confused?
you’ve been accused of murder
no problem – plead insanity
In five years you’ll be released
in the meantime write your biography,
a best-seller, guaranteed

The USA, Land of the Free



Breindel Lieba Kasher

Breindel Lieba Kasher’s poetry has been published in Midstream Magazine, New York; Prism: Yeshiva University; David Yellin, Israel; Seventh Quarry Press, Wales; Off the Shelf, Boston; Poetry Superhighway, Los Angeles; Halos, Veils, Shackles, India, Voices, Israel; Deronda Review, Sketchbook, Poetica. Two times honorable mention in the Reuben Rose International Poetry Competition, 2009, 2013, judge for the 2014 Reuben Rose Competition, and Winner of Cyclamens and Swords, 2010. Her work have been translated into German and Polish.


Budapest and Beyond

Mr. Feldman, my driver, and his wife are survivors
4 in the morning Mrs. Feldman boils milk for our coffee
In her kosher kitchen, she worries over her husband
Like a mother of children she could not have
Our papers in order, at the Ukrainian border
Police detain us, as if we are criminals
Mr. Feldman warns me:
Don’t ask questions, give simple answers, don’t look them in the eye
Mother’s Ungvar:
Lilac flowers, chestnut trees, horse and wagons, Gypsies
Shriveled ladies, black kerchiefs, white hens, wooden houses, dirt roads
Everything as it was except, the Jews are gone, all but one
She opens slowly and pulls me in quickly
As if still in hiding, her basement memories
Resurface in Yiddish; she has not spoken since the war
The war took all:
Family, friend’s neighbors, streets, smells, shadows, songs
Her mother’s tongue, echoes, dead and gone, only she lives
With her husband, the man who hid her in the basement
Afternoon turns evening; we hold each other, weeping
It is hard leaving, back to Budapest
The border police break our thermos full of coffee
Mrs. Feldman made that morning


Love Story

When mother left Hungary for America
Her girlfriend told her about this guy
Duvid, from Poland
She said, “ If you meet him
I think you will like him.”
Mother thought it absurd
To meet a stranger
Amongst the millions
In New York City
Mother worked as a translator
In the 42nd street library
So did my father
Duvid, from Poland


Ada Aharoni

Ada Aharoni, born in Cairo, Egypt as Andree Ada Yadid, is a renowned Israeli poet, novelist, and professor of literature. She has published 29 books to date and her works have been translated into many languages. She is recipient of several prizes and awards, including President Shimon Peres Award, and the Temoignage Prize 2015 (Paris), for her book: NOT IN VAIN. Her latest Poetry Collection: RARE FLOWER, was published by Dignity Press (USA). Professor Aharoni is the Founding President of IFLAC: The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace:
 www.iflac.com/ada www.iflac.wordpress.com


Earth Day

We did not know we were all
rooted sunflowers,
with falling seeds
on deadly land-mines--
nuclear waste disposal
in leaking metal cases,
contaminating our groundwater
in our front and back garden,
hidden under the compost pile.
    
We did not know,
because they never told us.
They stole stealthily in the dark
and dumped their radiation                           
in our front and backyard--
without even asking our permission.

They knew we would not give it anyway,
so they carefully covered
the compost pile
with grass clippings
and green leaves, thinking,
those drowsy sunflowers
only turn their heads to the sun,
and will never notice.
    
I'm tired of watching the sunshine
when fire is burning under
my life’s roots.



Anne Whitehouse

Anne Whitehouse is the author of five poetry collections, The Surveyor’s Hand, Blessings and Curses, Bear in Mind, One Sunday Morning, and The Refrain. Her novel, Fall Love, will be appearing in Spanish as Amigos y Amantes later this year. She can be heard reading her story “Cyclist” on The Other Stories here. She was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, and lives in New York City.


The Mask

The walrus ivory is stained dark
from long burial in the earth.
It will never be white again.

The animal face catalyzes
spirits deep within us.

Shadows come alive,
and a night-veiled girl
dances in a circle of light.
Like smoke above a fire,
she sways and dissolves.

Wisdom is in the knot
threaded through the mask,
the braided tassel trembling
on its own, without a touch
of hand or air.


Elegy (For Wendy)

Your expressive brown eyes
with their faint tinge of hurt,

on a blue-and-white island in the Aegean,
on a beach honeycombed with caves,

one summer in your reckless youth—
no clothes but a caftan, a rock for your roof.

Lulled by breezes, rocked by waves,
you danced in the sea, water sparkled on your skin.

In the film that your friend made of you,
you seemed more alive than I will ever be.

There are other films—yours, too—
all the films are now your ghosts.

Of films that took shape from your editing touch,
I am drawn to the Tibetan throat singers,

how they trained their vocal cavities to produce unearthly tones,
like the growl of a bull united with the song of a child.

Watching, listening, I am shaken to the core
by the tantric voice vibrating in rhythm with the universe.



Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Accepted for inclusion in Poets & Writers prestigious list of published poets, multi award-winning novelist and poet Carolyn Howard-Johnson is widely published in journals and anthologies. She is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. One of her poems won the Franklin Christoph poetry prize. She was an instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program for nearly a decade.


Pausing for Poetry in an UNESCO’s
Ancient Village of Japan

Shirakagawa Gokayama


Gassho-style roof
like hands in prayer
supported by oak beams
no nails, lashed together
with ropes, thatched
with tanta grasses
new every fifteen years


The Rules of Japan’s
Mountain Village


Please.
Do not enter our homes
pick vegetables from our gardens
smoke in our town
throw butts in our streets
leave your trash in
Gokayama



CB Follett

CB Follett is the author of 10 books of poems, the most recent QUATREFOIL (2015), and several chapbooks, most recent is the BOXING THE COMPASS series (2014). AT THE TURNING OF THE LIGHT won the 2001 National Poetry Book Award. She is Editor/Publisher and general dogsbody of Arctos Press, was publisher and co-editor (with Susan Terris)of RUNES, a Review of Poetry (2001-2008). Follett has numerous nominations for Pushcart Prizes for individual poems, as well as nine nominations as a individual poet; a Marin Arts Council Grant for Poetry; awards and honors and been widely published both nationally and internationally. Follett was Poet Laureate of Marin County, CA, USA. (2010-2013)


Ode to the Old Mattress

It sagged in the middle, became
a hammock of our bodies.
Had been flipped end to end,
back to front over the years.

So began a series of forays
into the new world of mattresses.
This one would mold to our heft.
This one had extra fluff.
This one had softness/hardness
numbers with dual controls.

But none had the memories of our old mattress:
the frenzy and passion of early marriage.
The exhausted nights of young parents.
The cuddle shape of a child’s nightmare,
the spilled-soup-spot of staying home from school
in the big bed, the dog’s nail-scrapes,
pulled seams, pillow talk growing lower
and slower, the phone call in the night
that raced the blood, the mosquito
splatted against the ticking,
a button missing on the left side, wet stain
from an overage of alcohol, smudgy hair soil
and the double warn-mark of heels,
the cat that dented her spot between my ankles,
the blue mark where it drooled on Moby Dick,
all these are gone now.

New mattress delivered. Tidy and firm.
Clean slate; lost night-journal.
 

Facing the Wind

A wind, howling and rusty, is dropping
the storm into town, like a pull toy on a string.
Even robins hunker in the cypress. The wind
tugs its dark mass full of autumn-browned
leaves, drags twigs from the persimmon

with its last bright globes. The wind and
its crow-clouds has been on this northern flight
from its tropical birth, a chattering bird
of a wind gathering geography in its passage.
We stand defiant out in an open field

and let it come, dare to gather us, welcome
its first harbinger of rain.  We hear
its lusty howl, feel fingers that curl
through our hair, our shirts unbuttoning.
Somewhere a voice calls from the porch.

Somewhere a terrier’s raspy yap.
The wind gathers and diminishes all sounds
into its own basso song – a warning – an alert.
The very air has power to lift us from our feet,
tumbleweeds on a reckless journey, beyond

the calls and growls, past Mr. Bainbridges’
clattering clapboards, in a gathering of fescue
and gravel.  We are our own freight train
picking up speed.  We are the wind’s plaything,
terror of the storm, the exhilaration of the ride. 

Yeehaw
 

Romance and Confusion

Picture this, a little clearing
near a star-studded lake, a soft breeze
and the night opened by a campfire.

It is closing on bedtime, sleeping bag
laid out on a camping mat on a blanket
of fir needles. The man has a guitar

and begins to play. The two of them gazing
at each other, lifting their voices to the top branches,
when suddenly – ready? – a bull moose

floods into the clearing, rack resplendent,
nostrils flaring – the music stops.
Moose stops.  Blinks a time or two,

shakes his rack and goes away. The lovers
take up their tune, fervent and harmonized.
A crash of branches and back charges

the moose, determined, withers aquiver.
Again, of course, the music stops.  The moose
paws the ground, stares fixedly, then turns

and retreats. That was the end of the music.
What would you do? Everyone’s plans for an amorous
evening derailed. Cautiously, the human lovers

climb into their sleeping bag, wrap tightly
around each other. The stars dazzle above.
The moose does not return.



Dorit Weisman

Poet, writer, translator and filmmaker Dorit Weisman is the winner of the Yehuda-Amichi Prize for Poetry and the Prime-Minister Prize for Israeli writers, among other prizes. She has published 9 volumes of poetry, edited an Israeli Social-Protest Women Poetry Anthology, created several documentaries and translated the American poet Charles Bukowski to Hebrew.


Red Giant

I was angry with my husband because
in order to recycle and preserve the planet
he added to the wash
a towel, a sheet, socks and underpants.
The television above the treadmill says
life will end in another 50 billion years
when the sun turns into a red giant.

Time flies. I’d better go back and make up.

*Translated by Lisa Katz


Sestina for a Cashier

Hershey’s chocolate 7290000255903
729000287248 and 7290000135700
peach nectar and Chinese pickles
my daughter is wondering what is she doing
cracked olives 7290000046006
this cash register’s broken, you have to enter everything twice.

This week I worked my shifts twice
I want to go home before three
a large roll an empty bottle times six
turkey breast in marinade 7290002400
a feast this woman is making
a quarter of a chicken and Chinese pickles

Sitting here hours like a Chinese worker
bread and more bread that’s twice
what am I doing what am I doing
another 729000035707 and more 729000035703
72964415 it all looks to me like zero
I’ll go back home at six

That man acts like a child of six
everyone’s taking the Chinese pickles
7290002706724, 7290002660200
Today I’ve seen this woman twice
and this time makes three
and for my husband what am I doing

Hot chocolate and a six pack of beer
with the new wrinkle what am I doing
I’m tired and I see double and triple
Chinese pickles Chinese pickles Chinese pickles
someone else is taking it twice
and inside my head is black and empty

7290002989943, 9290003067540
7290002415107 what is hot pepper doing
7290000046006 twice
7290000047362 times six
7290000457253 again Chinese pickles
7290002871248, 7290000135703

7290000135703 and two times zero
again these Chinese pickles what am I doing
I want to be a girl of six think twice.

*Translated by Lisa Katz



Iris Dan 

Iris Dan was born in Bukowina, Romania, in a family of Holocaust survivors. She grew up bilingual (German and Romanian), then studied Romance languages at the University of Bucharest, graduating with an M.A. in linguistics. She has been living in Israel since 1980. She is married, has a grown daughter, and works (quite happily) as a translator from and into a number of languages. From her (existential and professional) Babel Tower she sees the Mediterranean. She has written poetry for as long as she can remember, in English only. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in the Voices Israel Anthology, Magnapoets, Poetic Portal, Subtletea, Cyclamens and Swords, and Poetic Diversity.


1. Synopsis

Four (Ben A., Ben Z., E and Rabbi A.)
entered the parallel universe, the virtual reality
commonly known as the Garden: the landscape
caused one to die of an ecstasy overdose
the second to be struck by a psychotic attack
the third to reach a conclusion so unconventional
that the use of his name was forever forbidden
and only one Rabbi A. entered in peace
and departed in peace


2. The landscape

Ben A. saw names revealing themselves
and hiding again in the folds of letters
paths of meanings splitting and converging
then foaming and dissolving like waves
leaving no imprint, and nothing more
was left to be understood

Ben Z. looked for the rose and found instead
dog roses and tea roses and cabbage roses
wondered whether "after their kind"
meant rose versus dog or rose versus cabbage
all the birds of the Garden picked at his brain
all the insects buzzed in his ears, and the serpent
approached with a ready explanation

E. bent down to examine a specimen
saw a bud opening, saw a blossom wilting
saw birth and death going on as mindlessly
as in all the gardens he knew, said so,
and because his hand was outstretched
he was cast out for "cutting the plants"

Rabbi A. (so it is claimed)
took no interest in the landscape
but rather in the shaping power,
in the organizing authority
(allegedly residing in a real
or metaphorical tower) –
and his attitude was deemed
highly commendable
 

3. Why four?

An American photographer who years ago
introduced me to Carlos Castaneda
(just imagine the scene: in a confectionery
in a small town in a Communist country
- where nothing but crumbles and dust
of cookies could be found - discussing
psychedelic phenomena) was quite adamant:
never go on a trip alone, always be with friends
who can help you. (Rabbi A. does not appear
to have been the most helpful of friends.)

On my trips I went alone. No ecstasy
or mescaline for me, just love and pain.
On more than one occasion I died
and often I went mad and all too often
I was lost. Once or twice I was dead
and mad and heretical at the same time
but since I seemed to be doing my job
so efficiently and making such sense
when I opened my mouth, I must
have come out in one piece.


4. The place

Some say (Jacques Derrida would agree)
they went to no Garden. Because there is no Garden
and because every Garden and every garden
and everything else is a text that will necessarily
deconstruct itself,  just like a web unravels

You sit at the loom, and into the unyielding
unforgiving warp you try to weave in
your own weft. You may lose your life or your mind
or your faith. You may even lose your fingerprints.
It doesn't always help to look for the Webmaster.



Judith Skillman

Judith Skillman’s new book is House of Burnt Offerings, from Pleasure Boat Studio. Her work has appeared in Seneca Review, The Southern Review, Tampa Review, Prairie Schooner, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Poetry, and many other journals and anthologies. Her awards include a Eric Mathieu King Fund grant from the Academy of American Poets. Currently she works on manuscript review: www.judithskillman.com


Taunted

Out past the poorest shacks,
where tricycle and fuel can sit together,
and chairs fold back into no one’s throne,
I walked away, into the insect sounds.
They sweep up my past,
poor as that, and an ironing board
where the isosceles triangle lived.
I walked without you.

Near the river a pair of birds—
brightly-colored male,
female neutral to better camouflage
her young—and I remembered little wheels
turning a circle of seasons, hand-me-down clothes,
madras, cigar smoke rings,
the magical realism of childhood.

Out past the edge of town,
where doubt intersects
with luck, and the barrel’s bottom—
scraped back to wood, echoes—
I picked a few ragged wildflowers,
longed for the poppy
well-bred, on a schedule.

In my ears your words still ring.
The hammer of wear hits its nail. 
I’ll come back for more of the same,
even as these dwellers
off Broadway and Main
return tonight to eat the leftovers
from off-white plates.
Dull knife, fork with bent tines—
these things you’ve done,
they stay with me like objects
collected over the years.



Leslie B. Neustadt

Leslie B. Neustadt’s work has been published in a wide variety of magazines, journals and anthologies. She published her first book of poetry, Bearing Fruit, in 2014. She donates the entire proceeds of her book to not-for-profits supporting a number of causes, including expressive arts programs such as the Institute for Poetic Medicine.


Jaguar Eludes Her

Unvarnished, she bears
the mark of the sun.
Her pupils catch light.
She lives in a wild place
between jungle and sea.
She tends orchards of cocoa trees.
Prunes their branches,
harvests their sweetmeats.
Belize is not a place
for domestic animals.
Boas could swallow them whole.
Jaguars and jacarandas
her only neighbors,
they keep to themselves.
Once a year, she leaves
to be nourished in a circle of women.
Renewed, she re-roots herself
as she tends her trees.


The Soothing Blue of Her

I wasn't ready to lose her.
I hadn't had a chance to rebel,
to find my own way
in the safety of her presence.
To be enveloped
in the soothing blue of her
even as I rejected her
worry and tears.
I wanted to be fierce
as a tiger, not a doe
frozen in headlights.
I didn't want to be stuck
in the marsh of her marriage,
worn down slick as river stone.
But I wasn't ready to lose her.

I fondle her delicate bone
china teacup. Slide my fingers
around the handle of her
tarnished silver tea pot.
I can scarcely remember
the sound of her voice.
Scarcely remember the way
she brushed my brown curls,
buttoned the back of my
blue organdy dress.
Some days, I find her in the mirror,
circling under my eyes. Feel her
breathlessness in my lungs.
I am still not ready to lose her.



Roberta Kanefsky

Roberta Kanefsky worked in the film industry as a script supervisor. She taught Native American children in New Mexico. She has traveled in Europe, Israel, and China. She has published a book of poetry Where Words Go.


Secrets in Language
 
I loved to sit and watch Grandmom cook.
Her movements were slow, measured
with occasional outbursts of beating brisket
into tenderness on a well floured board.
I wanted to ask her how she cooked the noodle kugel
that filled my mouth with marvel
made my tongue full of languages.
I was too shy and when she did share
it was never with a youngster and it was in Yiddish.
 
I knew those shushing s’s and hard ch’s were arcane wisdom
if they could change the simple things in her cupboard
into her chicken, salmon croquettes
Oh god, her knishes.
 
Yiddish was how my parents talked about sex.
A touch of their foreheads together,
a low conversation, cuddling not too close -
the children were near.
And then loving husky chuckles
told me Yiddish was a wild ride down consonants
that coupled long into the night.
 
At the Yiddish theater
Mom reneged on her promise to paraphrase.
She was laughing too hard at wives
complaining about corsets and cousins
guests for the holidays
husbands, braggarts and brothers-in-laws
celebrating Purim in profane ways.
 
Translation wasn’t required.
It was the music that knit my bones.


A Day in Maryland

We take a scenic bypass
through towns along roads
just the one house thick
with signs selling a little bit of fall
in knitted golden shawls
in russet colored jams
while she talks about getting older.

She speaks less of the trials
of being ninety six
as she watches
morning rays turn clouds
as shapeless as uncultured smoke
into loving wedding dancers.

She lessens her complaints
of her body wearing down
as she looks at a pond's smooth surface
chiseled by the sun into
a mosaic of cupping,
helping hands.

She is silenced by the trees
whose colors she can't name
as if time's momentum
had given it all colors
bleaching her sight
to allow her
a hint of eternity.

Something has shifted.
Time is full of light.



Elizabeth Forest

Elizabeth Forest is an 18-year-old synaesthete. She likes to participate in all sorts of terrifying behaviour, for example indulging in the arts and sciences and attempting to incur minimal injuries in the surrounding population whilst focusing on transporting interlocking hexagons (and the odd pentagon) across fields.
Feedback is very welcome.

Elizabeth has a few poems over on
http://hereyesweremountains.blogspot.co.uk/


And I, stupidly, reached out my hand
Palm up, fingertips poised, to you.
And I, foolishly, reached through my mind,
Fought all the words, the colours, the lines.
And I, naively, bared my soul,
Raw and aching to your warm breath.
And I, madly, showed my heart,
The secrets and feelings I hid in the dark.

And you, silently, without a word,
Took all my paper secrets and hid them away.
And you, serenely, like a careless child,
Swept past and thought you'd pretend a while.
And you, secretly, behind the eyes that you showed
Slowly, like trust; well, you didn't feel at all:
And you, quietly, in your pale head
Of fairytales and lies; you watched as I bled.



I love you grey and orange,
Brown earth and bonfire sparks
In those dark nights
Whispering to sleep
Breathing words

I miss you red and blue,
A gash in my front
Green-hearted jealousy
Watching you walk past
Faraway smiles

I hate you pale and yellow
Creamy scones and jam
Your head, your hair,
When you would turn up
Unexpectedly

I forgave you colours
Clear like crystal and sugar
Too many, too much, too fast
But it seems like forever
Goodbye

And it hurts



Jennifer Lagier

Jennifer Lagier has published ten books of poetry and internationally in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Her latest book, Where We Grew Up, has just been published by FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal and misfitmagazine. Jennifer helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Web site: http://jlagier.net


MEarth Habitat
     Carmel Valley, September 2015

Turn left at cucumber vine teepee,
pass scarlet sorghum,
step over chickenwire rabbit fence,
discover September’s garden.

Here is the final resting place
of spent summer zinnias.
Nasturtiums spill from a wood pile,
bracket fading lavender, marigold fodder.

Admire the orange jumble
of harvested pumpkins,
tiny Tom Thumb squash arrayed
between swollen Halloween cousins.

Seek coolness among blackberries,
near metal bird bath impaled
upon peg leg spindle
under cover of willows.

Against a backdrop of cosmos,
droopy sunflowers, rusty yarrow,
ragged blackbirds, cottontail bunnies,
an endless concert of dove calls.


Dawn Over Monterey Bay

Sunrise hangs above tranquil bay,
streaks mist-muddled horizon,
placid cove, with intense, solar flare.

Fog shreds drift inland,
diffuse swollen ball
of ascending platinum light.

Below Hopkins Marine Lab,
a grumpy elephant seal guards
his recumbent harem, velvety pups.

Autumn morning slowly unfolds.
I wander waking Cannery Row,
coffee mug in hand, as wildlife stirs.