On this page poems by Tirzah Ben-David, Niki Nymark, Michael E. Stone, Margaret Fieland, Mel Goldberg, Miriam Davis, Nancy Scott, Norma West Linder, Ruth Fogelman, Sharon Sulman, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Warren Purkel, Will Mullins, Hannah Amit
The following works are copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.
Tirzah Ben-David was born in 1949 in Liverpool, England, and read English Literature at Cambridge University. After visiting Israel as a kibbutz volunteer she converted to Judaism in 1977 and received rabbinic ordination from Leo Baeck College, London in 1996. She is a member of Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi and visiting rabbi to the Shir Hatzafon Progressive Jewish Community in Copenhagen. Her first book of poetry 'Eighteen Songs of a Nomad Flute' was published in Britain in 1988. Her second book 'Consider the Heroes' was published in Israel in 2005 in a bi-lingual edition by Gvanim, with Hebrew translation by the Israeli poet Oded Peled.
When God comes groping for your heart
And you throw down all your lovers
At his feet
And then forget
I dream you a map of their resting place
In a country where even the clouds starve
And the rivers of Babylon
Are reclaimed by the sea
I have fed you with my own hand
You scratched at autumn
Til the hillsides bled
Unpicked the hidden fault lines of the sky
I tracked you on the wing-tip of despair
But when time sets out for winter
And you slowly raise your head
Then the clocks stop
And the wild geese shudder
Now I dream only in landscapes of snow
Your shadow steps out bravely
A tightrope walker blindfold
In the wind
There's no stopping you now.
You summoned a perfect winter
To spend alone with death
Gently breathing beside the hearth
Her white jaws shut
The secret minefield of the dead
Secured by snow
And every day a closely woven coat
You wear with fortitude
And careless bones you discipline
Held hostage in the ancient light
That outlived colour
And interrogates the dawn
You smile to see that absence
Leaves no shadow
But there are footsteps in the snow
When spring came threatening
With her afterbirth
And rivers spilled against your door
You saw blood in the water
And would not drink it
And would not cross over
Niki Nymark is the author of several chapbooks, including "A Stranger Here Myself". Her work has been published nationally and internationally and has been awarded several prizes.
She is a great-grandmother and most of her grands live in St. Louis, as does she.
I know how I’d like death to be;
on the porch of my daughter’s big old country house
in a rocking chair looking out over the valley at a slow sunset,
her friends playing blue grass; guitar, bass, banjo,
maybe a harmonica, the old stuff from Appalachia,
about lust and heartbreak and love gone wrong,
the dogs at my feet, the rooster chasing hens in the yard,
me winking out like an old firefly.
But at the end, I think it will be
more like learning to dive at camp, standing with my toes
gripping the rough edge of the “Y” pool, kids laughing
and splashing all around me, unaware of the absolute fright
of the moment when I must cradle my head
in my arms, take in a last, deep breath,
and go head first into the water, so suddenly cold,
hair stands up in goose bumps on my arms.
It’s a thing that must be done alone,
no one can hold my hand at the last moment.
Michael E. Stone
Michael Stone was born in England in 1938. His family moved to Australia in 1941, and since 1961 he has lived in Jerusalem with his family.
He has published poems in numerous literary journals and ezines as well as translations of medieval Armenian poetry. His poetry has also been anthologized in a number of collections.
A book of his work, Selected Poems, was published by Cyclamens and Swords Press in 2010. A poetic translation of Adamgirk', a medieval Armenian epic about Adam and Eve in 6,000 lines, appeared with Oxford University Press in 2007. Some of his poems have been translated into Armenian and Italian.
The Naked Window
The window was naked,
no curtain, no blind,
Clear by day, mirror by night,
transformed by light,
that shine in joy, sparkle in love,
in melancholy's dark are
sad, dull, inturned.
In spirit's dark hour, the eyes
reflect self back into itself,
hiding light's source.
Like window glass changed by light
looking out and looking in,
joy and grief.
Worry is a rat gnawing
at the belly, croaking
like a crow cawing
On next door's roof
a pair of black crows
have lived for years.
My belly is a squat for worry,
a perch for anxiety,
a rat's nest.
Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. Her poems and stories have appeared in journals such as Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines, was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011. She is the author of Relocated, Geek Games, Broken Bonds, and Rob's Rebellion published by MuseItUp Publishing and of Sand in the Desert, a collection of science fiction persona poems. A chapbook is due out later this year.
The True Nature of Housework
The clack and clatter
of pots and pans
rattle and ruin the peace.
Sitting under the window,
it sounds like a band
that's quite out of tune.
Will noise never cease?
The gurgle of water
that drips down the drain
says the faucet continues to leak.
The doors on the cupboards
are coming unhinged.
I clearly hear
the kitchen door squeak.
The plates he just washed
he'll plunk down with a plop,
creating a crack or a chip.
The dishwasher door
is still open, I know
and I'll bet there's a plate
sitting poised on the lip.
The silver's all tarnished
and needs to be wiped
with pink polish and a clean rag
It's been just the same
for the last month at least.
It looks like a pile
from a rag picker's bag.
I gaze, contemplating
the peaceful blue lake
and try not to think of the mess.
I'm grinding my teeth,
and I can't seem to rest.
I'm going inside;
then I won't have to guess.
My Chinny Chin Chin
The big bad wolf was a woman
with too much facial hair.
She hated the fat pigs,
so pink, so smooth skinned,
who stared and whispered
about her awful whiskers.
Finally she ate them
simply to shut them up.
Mel Goldberg taught literature and writing in California, Illinois, and Arizona and was selected as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher to teach for one year at Stanground College in Cambridgeshire, England. He studied Irish poetry at Cambridge in evenings and weekends.
Mel has published two novels and a book of short detective stories, as well as a book of poetry and two books of haiku (one in English and Spanish). His most recent publication is an anthology of short stories with three other writers
His writing has been published on line and in print in The United Kingdom, The United States, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia.
A Very Short History Of The World
Jews still wait for the Messiah
To usher in the age of peace.
Christians say He’s come already
And only wait for their release.
Muslims teach, in every mosque,
That Allah (merciful is He)
Will open men’s eyes to the truth -
But some kill those who disagree.
Whoever may be right, we live
Upon one earth, it’s all we know.
And all maintain, “We do not hate
The others,” and for proof, they show
Their ancient, sacred, holy books,
Which they claim guide their very breath.
And some look forward to the time
When they achieve a martyr’s death.
Deluded by adherents’ zeal
Each says the others lack clear sight,
Contending if they understood,
They never would dispute who’s right.
Four thousand years have now passed by
Since Rome and Greece penned history.
Puck said it all when he declared
“What fools these mortals be.”
The Pig Who Wanted To Be A Jew
One morning Pig sat up in bed
He’d had his dream anew
To all the animals he said,
“I want to be a Jew.”
All creatures came to have their say,
The donkeys first to bray,
“What makes you think,” they said in scorn,
“That you can get your way?”
Ram trotted up and shook his horns
“I once became the life
That saved young Isaac, the first born
When Avram raised his knife.
I was the sacred sacrifice
In place of Isaac’s price.
My horn’s the shofar blown to say
Atonement must suffice.
Pig felt chagrined and walked away.
Lamb said, “We gave salvation.”
She sneered at Pig and shook her ears.
“We saved the Hebrew nation.
They smeared our blood upon their doors.
We’re God’s conspirators.”
Pig felt great sadness for each one
of all his ancestors.
“Then Pharaoh lost his first-born son
And set the Hebrews free.
To wander in the desert sun
Each one a refugee.”
Though Pig was sad he was not glum
He cried, “I won’t succumb
To scorn. I will pursue my quest.
A Jew I will become.”
Then Goat said, “That’s a fool’s request.
While I must carry sin,
You have done nothing to be blessed
So Jews may all begin
A year with spirits fresh and clean
And every soul serene.”
Then Pig let out a heart-felt sob.
“I wish I’d never been.
Why do I have no sacred job?
It really isn’t fair.
I do not wish to be a snob
But what good is my prayer?”
A somber God heard Pig complain.
“You’re needed just like rain
In my beloved eternal plan.
Your loss would be a stain.
Although I placed you in the ban
Your place is most significant
Wherever you may be.
You serve to constantly remind
All Jews that they may find
A code for living in Torah
And work to help mankind.”
Then Pig stood tall, puffed out his chest.
He had his task to do.
He had a purpose, he was blessed.
Now finally he knew
All creatures have a place. His fate
Was to communicate
That every living thing has worth -
Some serve, some validate.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut while her father was a graduate student at Yale University, Miriam Davis moved at age 10 to the Detroit area in Michigan, where her father still lives. During her college years she did a Junior Year Abroad at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and about a year and a half later converted to Judaism. She made Aliyah with her husband and children in 1981 and have lived in Nazareth Illit since then. She has 4 children and 15 grandchildren all living in Israel.
Over the years she has followed interests in social sciences and the arts – music, literature and drawing – recently renewing her interest in poetry.
Bus Terminal – Haifa
In the distance a primordial forest
Of concrete poles, branches extended,
Vines looped from one to the next.
Pairs of stumpy concrete dinosaur legs
Hold up a concrete reptilian body overhead.
The tail slopes down away into the dark.
A double row of lit rectangles
Glides through the darkened landscape
Beyond the legs, under the tail.
Behind a translucent screen
A glow worm loops around
Switching an accordion tail.
Clumps of ants cluster
Around sign poles here and there
Awaiting their caterpillar rides.
Dawn - stone buildings
Reflect golden light
Against purple sky
Silence – the city
Stretches cat paws
Out over hilltop pillows
Grasping last wisps of night air.
Can we believe, in this silence
That last night
The cats fought bitterly
Tearing apart the fabric of life
Whose shreds now hang
On neighborhood clotheslines.
For more than a decade, Scott has been managing editor of U.S.1 Worksheets, journal of the U.S.1 Poets’ Cooperative in New Jersey. Author of eight books of poetry, her work has also been published in journals such as Poet Lore, Witness, Mudfish, The Ledge, Journal of New Jersey Poets, Slant, Verse Wisconsin, and Cyclamens and Swords. Her most recent books: Running Down Broken Cement (Main Street Rag, 2014) contains poetry inspired by eighteen years as a social worker for the State of New Jersey and The Owl Prince (Aldrich Press, 2015) is a collection of re-imagined fairy tales. www.nancyscott.net.
Dad offered to bring Grandma Becky by car
to see our new fifteen-room home in the suburbs,
but she insisted on taking the train.
The old woman stepped onto the platform
in a threadbare black coat and remodeled felt hat
stuck with a pheasant feather.
In her hand a doll’s cardboard suitcase.
Ma, where’s the wool coat and Samsonite I gave you?
Dad said as he greeted her with a hug.
Grandma shrugged. What do I need new for?
I gave the warm coat to Clara for her cousin
who arrived from Kiev with nothing
and Albert takes the bag to his new job in Ohio.
How many bedrooms? Grandma asked
after she refused a tour of the house.
Six, Dad said.
Why so many for just you and Molly and the kids?
Dad explained, One’s for the maid…
What you need a live-in for? Molly should care
for the children. Otherwise they get problems.
Neither the roast nor baked potatoes prepared
for dinner agreed with Grandma’s palate.
Don’t bother with me, she insisted.
Then she railed on about what the house cost—
fancy furniture, chandeliers…
Your father delivered soda pop bottles ten,
twelve hours a day to put you through college.
Now you spend money like there’s no tomorrow.
When Dad told her he’d legally changed his name
from Samuel R to Richard S, Grandma bristled.
Ma, nobody calls me Sam anymore, Dad pleaded.
She got up from the table, marched over
to my fifty-year-old father, and cuffed his ear.
You’ve even outgrown your name? her voice shrill.
What for, Sammy? To impress the big shots?
Norma West Linder
Norma West Linder is a member of TWUC, T.O.P.S., and WITS. She’s a novelist, poet, and short story writer. Her latest poetry collection, Two paths through the Seasons(with James Deahl) was published in Israel by Cyclamens and Swords Publishing. A children’s book, The Pastel Planet is being published by Hidden Brook Press.
In his shiny black Chevy
and tight black jeans
his high-necked sweater
and low-down desires
he parks next door
to the singles dance
sprays his breath
and goes hunting.
She’s in a pink dress
that hangs down at the back
easy to cut her
out of the pack
easy to see
she’s been wounded.
He’ll eat his fill
after the kill
then go back
to his home
in the suburbs
back to his wife
and the teenaged son
he’s teaching to use a rifle.
Ruth Fogelman was born in England and has lived in Jerusalem’s Old City for most of her life. She is the author of three books. Her poems, articles, short stories and photography have appeared in anthologies and various publications in Israel, USA and India. Ruth holds a Masters Degree from the Creative Writing Program of Bar Ilan University and leads the Pri Hadash Women’s Writing Workshop in Jerusalem.
Visit her website at http://jerusalemlives.weebly.com
Two loves of my life:
colorful, dangling earrings
and milk chocolate.
Though I’ve developed an allergy
to milk chocolate,
this dark temptress
still attempts to lure me,
touch me, take me,
just one square.
If I succumb,
unaware, I’ll eat the whole bar.
Earrings blink at me,
We’re just what you want
to wear today, look –
we match your colors,
and my hand stretches out,
clips them on my ears
and I walk an inch taller.
Two loves of my life –
I turn my back on one.
Sharon Sulman was born and bred in Yorkshire. She studied French and Spanish at Cambridge University, where her love of literature deepened. Her own artistic creations, and those of others, have always been signposts and sources of insight, and she went on to study Fine Art at UWTSD in Wales, where she incorporated her poetry into visual art installations. Dance is an abiding passion and a cornerstone of her creative process. Whether the focus is dance, discussion or learning of any kind, her life is enriched by working on projects, which seek to enable people to make empowering choices and to facilitate a growing awareness of the planet on which we all live. firstname.lastname@example.org
Because I asked
Soft and shifting and circling
underground sounds like drops of mud
thud and echo and I don’t know what
and ring out and creep in my ears,
I answer with murmuring running
buds of noise
not a conversation like I have had
yesterday I found
on the ground
in the street
on the concrete
of a café,
I put them in water
She sent them
This is a conversation delicate
and different to any
I have had before
It does no good to spin it,
as if a thing is understood
when it turns.
Movement is not a title,
any more than I can know
an end to circling.
When the stars turn, we see
shapes at the water’s edge
and words arise
from the mouth
of your breathing
that comfort the doves
tucked amongst attic beams.
But who spins the stars?
If not the child in the hallway
who always stands by the open door
and ushers in the dawn.
Sukrita Paul Kumar
Sukrita Paul Kumar is a noted poet and critic, and she has published several collections of poems as well as many critical books. An invited poet at the prestigious International Writing Programme (Iowa) and a poet-in-residence in Hong Kong, China, she is a former Fellow of the IIAS, Shimla. At present, she holds a prestigious Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at Cluster Innovation Centre at University of Delhi, She is also a translator and has held exhibitions of her paintings.
(Inspired by poems hanging over and around the master pagoda near Hanoi, Vietnam)
nine times over
the word nothingness
and yet again
in the twenty-word poem
by the master monk
the dragon, they say,
descends into the sea
searching for meaning
and spewing jewels
jewels that become rocks
with stalactites piercing into
bellies of rocks
columns of light rise
dressed in stunning colours
in step with gods
all in all,
adding to nothingness
and making meaning
what is real?
image of the bird
fluttering in the sky
or the one still
in the gushing river
the wavy moon
in the water
or the one above
that is steady
the tortoises in there
are still eyes on the dragon’s head
in absolute alertness
basho’s frogs leaping
in old ponds
of the mountains in the rear
on a body that is
half man, half woman
in the master pagoda
Brahma, the Hindu god,
-creator of the universe, of mind
and of intellect-
is fair and just
all the year round
in and out
of the wings of theatre
the master puppeteer
unlocked and sunned
once a year,
sits behind bars
in cold storage
the invisible strings
pulled back and forth
over the corners
of Buddha’s eyes
dew drops on leaves
the men in robes
are poets here
Warren Purkel has been a clinical psychologist for twenty-five years. He has strong interests in areas that include creativity, spirituality, and playfulness. This is all reflected on his website,
The Playful Page (www.theplayfulpage.com). Warren resides
in the Chicago area, where he participates in a Dream Group that has met for over fifteen years. He does not have any pets, but does share his place with a friendly ghost.
an odd combo
worthy of further study:
your frown with a kiss
one day past New Year’s
only the skins of snowmen
on the front lawn
The boy who enjoyed comic books
is now a seasoned veteran of the
Cosmic Wars –
I know their secret identities
I’ve seen all the movies, in 3-D
and I still have a soft spot for Batgirl.
Will Mullins is a screenwriter and poet. His poetry has appeared in Half Tones to Jubilee, RE:AL the Journal of Liberal Arts, Riverwind, and Limestone. He resides with his wife and daughter in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The gray evening comes sweetly, softly,
rousing my heart with its walking stick.
Squirrels crouch on aching tendons,
nearby danger bringing a flicker to their tails.
The humming bird pinches my ears
with its foreign buzzing.
It is inverted lethargy,
The evening chill shuffles along.
A child is heard in the distance.
Beneath honey-weighted branches,
spurred on by psyche’s beams,
I enter a welcome embrace
with dear friend Simplicity,
the dawn entwining
my searching heart
The ground behind me quivers,
still absorbing the effort
of my passing, and
an oath from the eager throat
of a lingering spirit
rises from awakened dust….
Or nothing ever
Hannah Amit has lived in Israel since 1974. She has authored four collections of poetry, a novel and is published in anthologies in Israel and abroad. Since 2001 she has worked as an editor and journalist combating foreign media bias on behalf of the Jewish state. She has raised five children in Israel and considers them to be her finest poems.
Put on your yellow slicker
When the vicar comes to town
With his high, bald eyes
And his wicker-basket frown.
When his nose begins to flicker
As he looks you up and down,
And he’s reaching for a sticker;
One that’s stained and smutty-brown,
Just move a little quicker
While he fumbles with his gown
Don’t let him lick one to you,
Hop and giggle, be a clown.
No cause to dicker tit-for-tat
When he picks up mud and aims
Be it clay – or even thicker,
You can give a secret snicker;
You’ve got on your yellow slicker
With no buttons – just a zipper
And a great floppy hat
To guard your brains.