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The Deronda Review

a magazine of poetry and thought

Vol. V No. 2 2014

   Jerusalem center of world

Jerusalem as the Center of the World (Heinrich Bunting)


Poore soule the center of my sinfull earth

and I am at the edge of the West

By center, or eccentric, hard to tell


And though it in the center sit, Yet when

It marked the edge Of one of many circles

About the centre of the silent Word


Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

The horizon’s edge, the flying seacrow, the fragrance

at the center of each flower. Each


Poore soule the center of my sinfull earth

The horizon’s edge, the flying seacrow, the fragrance

About the centre of the silent Word


at the center of each flower. Each

It marked the edge Of one of many circles

By center, or eccentric, hard to tell


Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

and I am at the edge of the West

And though it in the center sit, Yet when

-- Courtney Druz

Sources: William Shakespeare/Sonnet 146; Yehuda HaLevi (trans. Peter Cole)/My Heart is in the East; John Milton/Paradise Lost; John Donne/A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning; Wallace Stevens/Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird; T.S. Eliot/Ash Wednesday; William Butler Yeats/The Second Coming; Walt Whitman/There Was a Child Went Forth; William Carlos Williams/Queen-Anne’s Lace



In This Issue

I. Waking to Everything

II. Multiple Unity

III. Cleaving

IV. That Which Holds

V. Eaten by a Land

VI. Border of an Era

VII. Accelerating

VIII. Meanings that Matter


THE DERONDA REVIEW: Editor: Esther Cameron., Co-editor for Israel: Mindy Aber Barad, POB 7732, Jerusalem 9107. Hard copy $7, subscription $14, back issue $5.


Hayim Abramson     B.B. Adams    C.B. Anderson     Yakov Azriel     Mindy Aber Barad     I. Batsheva     Yaakov ben David     J.E. Bennett     William Beyer     Carol Pearce Bjorlie     Ruth Blumert     Doug Bolling     Robert Cooperman     Zev Davis     Robert Glen Deamer     Courtney Druz     Heather Dubrow     E.P. Fisher   Ruth Fogelman     Bill Freedman    Yaffa Ganz     Lee Goldstein     Leah LJ Gottesman    Calvin Green   KJ Hannah Greenberg   Henry Harlan     Jerry Hauser     Friedrich Hölderlin     Nolen Holzapfel     Judith Issroff     Gretti Izak       Sheila Golburgh Johnson Marilyn E. Johnston     E. Kam-Ron     Stephen Keller     Ruth Kessler     David Kiphen     Sue Tourkin-Komet     Don Kristt      David Lawrence     Devora Levin     Lyn Lifshin     Jack Lovejoy     Katharyn Howd Machan     Constance Rowell Mastores     John Milbury-Steen     Greg Moglia     JB Mulligan      Cynthia Weber Nankee      James P. Nicola      B.Z. Niditch      Andrew H. Oerke    Susan Oleferuk     Charlotte F. Otten      Jared Pearce     Simon Perchik     Cathy Porter     Roberta Pantal Rhodes     Rainer Maria Rilke     Leonard H. Roller     Susan Rosenberg     William Ruleman     Ellin Sarot    Steven Sher     ME Silverman     Larry Smeets     Douglas Stockwell     Michael E. Stone    Sasha Tamar Strelitz Shira Twersky-Cassel     Florence Weinberger     Shoshana Weiss-Kost     Judith Werner     Daniel Williams     Lionel Willis     Virginia Wyler     Gerald Zipper



Since its inception as The Neovictorian/Cochlea in 1996, The Deronda Review has included a Contributors' Exchange of addresses (surface, email, URL) and available books. Contributors' Exchange is now a separate .html file, and includes contributors from vol. 5 no. 1 on.


Shira Twersky’s "The Arrow of Time: After Eden I" and "The Arrow of Time: After Eden II" are from her book Legends of Wandering and Return; Susan Oleferuk’s "Those Who Come to the Garden" is from her book of the same title. Yaffa Ganz’s "Again" was originally published in 1988 in Jewish Action Magazine.


I. Waking to Everything



This promise comes,


slow melts an old white world --

It softens mounds of bitterness.


This promise lives on edges

of green hopes –

where earth soaks up

snow's salted tears.

                                       -- Cynthia Weber Nankee






From our mountain lodge window

we see cars stopped: everyone --

even us, inside -- hushed and stealthy

as wolves, we humans armed,

our cameras' clicks preserving

the beasts, to prove to friends

this world's a place of marvels.

Earlier, our car was one

among many stopped

for a small herd of elk --

their winter coats beginning

to shed, though wind gusted

with mountain ferocity, the peaks

misty with falling snow --

crossing the blacktop: to create

elegant slow-motion sculptures;

all of us staring, frozen

in the amber of their beauty.

                                                     – Robert Cooperman




What I observed in others I have seen

   evolve in myself: fear, black lies,

depression and the pointing of the heart

   before wisdom dies.


It is mid‑spring. Ornamental cherry

   trees sweeten shadows of pale pink

beneath tall redwoods. So the truth slips in

   through a flutter, blink,


before adults obscure the name. The old

   bleeds like a wound into the new,

after shocks chill the spine, invoking fear

   in the young, the few


who can cradle a flame against the dark,

   a star in the silence. Tonight

will be a night of triumph, returned now

   to my old insight


my dreams will flow like eternity through

   the river maze of the gone years,

a hand will soothe the burning until our

   star's shape disappears.

                                                                      -- Calvin Green






And as spring brings nature to life,

So too ‑‑ in the Jewish cycle of life --

Spring signals the rebirth of spirituality,

And the connection with Eretz HaKodesh is renewed


Joy is here with the bright morning sun,

Chasing darkness into the recesses of our memory.

Long, warming days urge the land's treasures to spring forth

Decorating the land with the beauty of reawakening

And filling it bountifully with the largesse of the earth.


Broad swatches of green, linger in our fields,

A legacy of winter rains.

Short trees of almond, orange and lemon

Send brightly colored pallets across the barren sweeps of a vanishing winter

Adding a pungent, sweet aroma to the harmony of rebirth.


Spring is a harbinger of a renewed sense of our peoplehood

The Jewish people, at home in a land of life, 

A land of memories, of hope and joy.

We open our eyes and reach out 

Joy dances invitingly towards us.

It is spring in Israel.


                                     -- Don Kristt, 5771





I've let other obsessions

go, tho they are like

a bit in my mouth

yanking me this way

and that. Her last birth

day in the icy pines,

the trips to the doctors,

all she got dressed

for in those last weeks,

in the blue suit she

didn't want to wear too

often, didn't want to

wear out. I still felt what

could matter was still

ahead tho that year,

summer never came.

Sleeping near her, like

a pajama party she

said, giggling as we

watched tv on an old

scratchy black and white

tv in a room already

underground. Strawberries

glistened. I cut them up

with cream for her in

a blue bowl. From the dark

shadows of pine wedges

of sky were blue. It

was our all May and June


                                               -- Lyn Lifshin






I remember when I sat hunched over my sticker collection,

humming as I fingered each one,


The sweet smelling strawberry sticker, the shiny ballet slippers,

admired and named --


like the stars each night,

counted and called from their hiding places

behind the congealed darkness.


Each is asked:

Do you remember who you are?

You are this one star.

I name you.


And then, they are bright with the knowing.


The streets show me the places I am nameless,

the narrow, leaning alleys and the spaces, like wide waves of sand.

My presence is an echo

caught in the wind with no place to land.


Pushing through the thick air, I imagine the way

sounds could scatter here, and just a name would remain

like a polished star,

bright with the knowing.


Tonight, the sky itself that leans in over my shoulder

and says,

Stick to me,

I name you,


                      -- Devora Levin







In July when safely in summer

unlikely to be thrown by cold winds of change

the world is small

dragon bugs, frail flower and twig sword

the grassy ground a miniature land

and one need never look up

at what crosses the horizon.

                                                    -- Susan Oleferuk







In the silent garden,

Beneath high roof

Of extended maple branches,

A bluebird

Suddenly appears,

With easy flash

Of wing,


On narrow edge

Of green bird bath,

Lingers a moment,


In the cool,

Moving mirror

Of the water.

                        -- William Beyer







Today I've wakened on the porch to everything:

a bussing breeze and a rippling pond and water lilies and

coffee and mm it's good. You see, the mug

I'm using has been glazed with a Monet painting.

And when I sip I bring them to my lips

which makes the coffee taste better, or seem to, anyhow ....


The first time I woke up to water lilies

was in the middle of the lake where Dad and I would fish,

He'd wake me up in pitch black before school

and everything, the boat already on

the car, we'd tied it up the night before

together, and we'd row out for the bass,

better than yellow perch.  I'd doze and wake

again, roused by a ripple or the sun

or a nibble or his voice, surrounded by water lilies

and shimmers and gurgles and trees, so many that I dreamt

I had been drinking them, till I came to,

weekday mornings, till I was ten or so.


One Saturday when I was twelve I went

fishing with Harry.  His mom drove us.  We fished

from shore.  I pointed out the water

lilies yonder, in the middle of the lake,

but they did not surround us, they were something

far away, so he was unimpressed.

We caught a couple of perch too small to keep.


Occasionally, at a park or arboretum,

I will pass by a pond with a wooden bridge

in a Japanese theme, stocked with goldfish or carp,

and stop awhile because of the water lilies

expecting something, never knowing what.

This morning dosing coffee from a mug

I love the way a ten‑year‑old will love

the least important thing, I feel the sun

pop up as if we'd loaded up the boat

and the bait, and I have woken in the middle

of the lake and the lilies, having dozed in the dawn,

and am waiting for a bite, and everything.

                                                                                            -- James B. Nicola






The wind blows gently upon my face

As I watch the leaves dance to the song

Silent and beautiful is Nature's grace

Where all and everything politely belong


Last I was here, it was with her

Our hands touched as did our hearts

Memories now too strong to blur

From my mind never shall they part


We watched as water poured over rock

With spray and droplets catching the light

It was if all else in the world had stopped

A day never giving way to night


Sitting here now among the trees

The wind to me continues to speak

And my memories I hold close to me

Of that day when we both came to be

                                                                    -- Nolen Holzapfel






Lemon yellow delicate wings

of the fritillary   gray brocade

along both edges   one

cobalt eye on each vane

poised impossibly on

fuchsia blossoms of

fireweed with stem so lithe

the weight of a tiny moth

no more than an aspen leaf

nearly bends it to the earth

O where are the sun and moon

where is the universe now?

where are the huge things a

mind can scarcely imagine?


They are held in a half inch

of velveteen flight

my slight shadow huge

as a mountain

                              -- Daniel Williams

                                 Lundy Canyon







Nervous wings

Of butterflies,

Pale yellow,

Deep crimson,



Above the seasonal flowers,

Repeated roses,


A dozen petunias,

Border of marigold,


In sunlight,


Within a small,

Silent garden.

                          -- William Beyer






Blackened by summer (branches wizened,

leaves crisped and curled),

the elderberry struggles to survive

its tedium

on a slope of haggled rock.


Yet what at first seems bleak

to the eye of the observer,

who looks, then turns away,

has second thoughts, and looks again --

alert to details, to furtherance of life --

and sees that


weaving spiders have hung

their industry upon the elderberry's

tattered twigs, have

fattened spaces with an ineluctability

of nature at her naturalest --

and sees how


morning birds in this

morning's last-of-summer light

bloom in and out

of what was turned away from --


singing past the edge of things.

Gone. Welcomed back. 

                                           -- Constance Rowell Mastores






The whisper of a southland breeze

Remurmured through autumnal trees,

As hand in hand, with hearts atune,

We walked beneath a harvest moon.


The Pilgrim bridge of weathered stone

Would lead next day to worlds unknown;

But now, our packing set aright,

We crossed it in an amber light.


For this would be our final chance

To dream together and romance,

To fix a picture in our mind

Of half a lifetime left behind:


The woodlands greening in the spring,

When swans return and bluebirds sing;

The hillsides preened in an array

Of wildflowers on a summer day;


The honey‑sweet deliciousness

Of nectar from a cider press;

The golden pumpkins that adorn

A farmstead rife with shocks of com;


The winter stars that wink and glow

From crystal skies on virgin snow;

The distant wailing of a train,

Which haunts the dark like cries of pain.


And though this last of nights would fade

Like footsteps in a cavalcade,

Its spell will leave our lives beguiled

Like tales first told us as a child.

                                                            -- Jack Lovejoy






Look at that dull, dull


No glow

of rose and mauve,

only that endless gray.

A winter dusk.

The kind that says

Hold on if you dare.


Dark oak.

Dark bay.

Still darker shadow.

Frail leaves

pressed against the window.

Your life: fearful and ripening and enormous.


                                                                                   -- Constance Rowell Mastores





Winter light tells her it is safe here

on the rotting hull of the boat upside down

and moored, at the edge of high tide,

to kelp, sand, and ocean debris

said farewell to over and again.

Isn't this what it means to come home?

Sun low in the sky beyond the lagoon;

a black petrel in languid flight

crossing over the water,

its wings curved toward dusk.

Isn't this an image of

what remains to remind

nothing in the world is forever?

Not the solitary woman on the far shore

considering her reverie of broken shelL

Nor the fisherman

slowly reeling in his line.

Not even this boat black spiders hide out in

April through August ‑‑

safe, or not ‑‑

this boat, this abandoned haunt

that echoes wind, rippling water

and scattered light.


Flown into lambent shadow, the petrel

begins its descent;

the fisherman packs up his gear

and heads back. On the far shore,

wakened from her reverie of lost ships

and bleached shell,

the solitary woman reaches out her hand ...

dispenses blessings on the ones returning home.

And on those who do not.

                                               -- Constance Rowell Mastores


*Nostos: homecoming in Greek






Confronted with a storm

I feel infinitesimal.

Snowflakes by the millions

in artistic complications down.


I can touch but a few

and influence none not to fall.

Whether high‑minded or not

the glaring fact is it does not matter.


A tiny fleck of frozen rain

teaches me humility not gloom.

I appreciate His glory on high,

the richness of His will to us below.


Snow becomes slippery ice

and makes me grateful to walk.

My grain of security I owe to Him

who leads me in every twinkle step.


Rain soaks my clothing and brain,

as I muddle through the wind.

Even before I arrive to get dry

I shall recount His miracles today!

                                                              -- Hayim Abramson


*Inspired by an extraordinary snow storm in Bet El and the area at large.





Yesterday we woke and clouds covered the sky

And the wind arose, and we rejoiced, for we thought

That the longed‑for rain would arrive.  But the clouds blew away

And the sun arose, bringing back the dry heat and the fear.


Above the desolate fields the blue sky is so perfect and calm --

Will You cast off what grows and lives, and choose the inanimate?!

What can the speaking being say?  And will You care

For the human soul when the human voice is silent on earth?


We are still crying out to you from dry throats,

Each one will draw their own circle, men and women

And children, and in the soil the mute imprisoned bud

Will add its silent supplication:  have mercy on us!


It is known to us that nature in all the world

Has swerved from its ways, become cruel and grief--stricken.

From afar we heard of killing cold and the giant whirlwind,

And instead of the rain we were struck with a snow that broke tree and roof.


If true that the judgment of earth is rooted in our spirit,

Then show us a path of repair, give us counsel

To sharpen our prayer that it pierce to the source of mercy   

And wickedness flee, and the rains, O the rains come down!

                                                                                                            -- E. Kam-Ron

                                                                                                                28‑29 Shvat 5774                                                                                           (original in Hebrew)




the oak‑gall‑wasp

mortality's sting

cells the air with

a corky gall‑sphere

from a tiny hole

a worm exits to

crawl around its

course again


a day rounded‑out

with its three

holes in time

a losing of the self

in the rocking‑words

mini deaths or births

He's already answered

the prayers

                      -- Yaakov ben David







the desert's virtue lies exposed

below the good-land's forest

green and hiving


the desert's bad-lands

dried to undrinkable water

with deranged heat

grimaced into calcified cliffs


a cloudless azure that sacks all

a compounding

that dissolves and opens

to a higher substance

above particle forces


the asymmetric graviton

The Neshamah

                             -- Yaakov ben David






Three inches of snow in May

wakes us up

from Spring slumber;


once again;

we have received the Torah

in Exile.


As children we may have known,

or not.

But could neither do,

nor go

nor argue.


Years later

when each of us arose

Awent up@

to the Land,

why were the adults

so surprised?

                         -- Mindy Aber Barad





II.  Multiple Unity




A night supplied a myriad

    of crisp unflinching stars

    Bestows a period

               Of special grace

When tourists stepping from their cars

               Find outer space


To be entangled with the inner.

      Mundane divinity

      Vouchsafes both saint and sinner

              The wherewithal

To penetrate, to some degree,

              The glaucous pall


That clouds the humors of the eye.

      As solid as the ground

      Beneath their feet, the sky

            Becomes an altar

Where songs are laid, though neither sound

            Nor vellum psalter


Attends this rite. A secret hymn

      Begets no miracle,

      But briefly lights the dim


That range beyond empirical



Too soon the stellar mood is gone,

       And travelers, dazed and weary,

       Drive off into the dawn


Their close encounters with the Theory

              Of Everything.

                                          -- C.B. Anderson




or, A New Philosophy


The problem with religion

is grown-ups.

They don't see how,

when the dusk settles like a soft grey pet on the tips of trees,

the sky is filled with creatures --

a dragon spewing smoky fire,

a whale slapping its tail against the purpley ocean dome,

spraying salty cloud droplets

against a peacock's pointed beak.


No, they think they are just clouds: cumulous, cirrus, thundery G‑d clouds.

They codify and calculate like meteorologists

without hearts.

But they are blinded by the cataracts of too many nights.


In the playground of heaven,

a cloud is not a cloud;

it is an invitation to play.

                                              -- Devora Levin






I had little sleep last night

the sky so white

I thought it morning

holes in clouds

revealed dark blue

sky lakes

white shores

changed contours

an occasional bright star

floated into

the blueness of sea

                                   -- Susan Rosenberg






I toast thee, Night,

With a brimming cup,

Thy moon is up

And full 

Behold its whine

Within my wine:

A coin in a

Beggar's bowl.

Remain thou rich

With thy silver wealth 

To thee, this health

I sing

Thy coins that fall

Are not for all 

O, but I can

Hear them ring!

                             -- David Kiphen




And God the artist

through each strand of DNA

paints the universe.

                                     -- Douglas Stockwell






Primeval plants anchored in the basin of rich red loam

reach up tendrils to become orange‑barked limbs

of canella cinnamon, squirrels scamper up the trunks,


Fruit bats suck the sweet asparagus berries, poke their dog‑like

faces into the fleshy flowering claws of cactus flowers.


Within the convolute of sepals and whorled rosette cluster

heart shaped leaf coronas of daffodil trumpets twist

sun‑tinted golden petals to adorn the woody base of

the first fragrant pomme suffused with purple in full sunlight.


Was the fruit of the tree of knowledge an apple or a pear

or the whirling cosmos of that dimension which

partaking thereof cast us into the progression of time

where decay and destruction became the mechanism of life.


In Eden, past, present and future was comprehended

and shared with the Creator.


Given Freedom of Choice, we were bound

B like that cat that leaps out of a 8th story window

to catch a passing bird in flight --

to choose curiosity.

‑ ‑ ‑ ‑

Adam and Eve when the first sun set

wept to find themselves in eternal darkness.

The Sabbath sun rose and The Creator spoke,

"You have chosen the material world,

now seek the key to your living soul."


                                                                     -- Shira Twersky‑Cassel





Cast into time, into the orderly disorder of birth and death

the stars, the planets and galaxies emerge from

great explosions into giant suns,

destined to die in smoldering embers and

collapse into themselves.


The arrow of time opened windows

for life to flourish, heat and energy

to grind down and then slip away

to feed other life forms coming into being.


How can we comprehend the birth of the universe

and our coming into being,

when our rationale and wisdom

depend on a morning cup of tea.


And He has allowed us the intellect to grasp

hidden things, to view a red dot at the far end of time

that was a dying sun.


Given us recall, to remember lying down beneath the

thorned wood to embrace radiating aromatic rosette clusters

of goose and whortleberries and each other.


In a time when white‑tailed deer and viper

fed on star‑shaped violet flowers, living in harmony,

and the deep‑throated red and honeyed lotus lilies

sweetened the fragrant waters of Eden.


                                                                       -- Shira Twersky-Cassel






You simply stand there at the dome's great climb

Beside the stained‑glass window's radiant rose

With apple in hand, poised in the apple‑pose,

And guilty, guiltless once and for all time


Of all the offspring that you ever bore

Since, from the radius of Forever's ring,

You strode forth lovingly like spring

Throughout the whole wide world to wage your war.


Ah, you longed to linger in that land

A little longer so that you might heed

The peaceful beasts' good sense and understand,


Yet since you found the man resolved to plod

In strife toward death, you went to serve his need,

And you had hardly yet known God.  

                                                                    -- Rainer Maria Rilke

                                                                    translated from the German by William Ruleman






Qui ne sait que la vue de chats, de rats,

l'écrasement d'un charbon, etc., emportent

la raison hors des gonds?

-- Pascal


Yes, we are all distraught by sense or thought --

the violence of reason opens an abyss.

No matter how firm the earth on which we stand,

if there's a precipice below, who among us,

however wise, will not draw back in fear?

The sight of a falling ember unhinged Pascal.


And yet, the unity of All, multiple, diverse.

Each of the Thoughts linked to all the others

and reflecting the totality; fragments like rain

pools after a storm: each, though separate,

gathering the constellations in a somber mirror --

the gaze of stars directed upon the waters. 

                                                                            -- Constance Rowell Mastores







 I didn't think

 I was

 A brain open to all winds and wild spirits

 Seized with fears



 In a cell --

 A tattered skeleton --

 Cudgeling itself with  subjects  beyond the clouds


 Sometimes with a  kind of satisfying arrogance --

 Sometimes with an understanding

 That barely managed

 To lay

 An outsize egg

 That would roll out of the nest

                                                         -- Ruth Blumert

                                                             from the Hebrew: E. Kam‑Ron





In every face I see the halo of a fallen saint:

A hidden journey through a valley of grief & despair

Where witness is written in the fabric of knitted brows‑‑

The threads of wisdom from which the universe is woven. 


In every smile, the thin veneer of civilization

Curves around sensuous lips to a twisted, angry mouth;

Agony vanishes into old familiar wounds

And the bruised asylum of infinite sun‑split clouds.


In every mirror, the vision of a murdered god

Wrinkled over the soft, kissed, daydreaming cheek of childhood;

In the pupil of every eye, the inexhaustible

Mystery of laughter confronting burnt cities & barbed wire.


Every hair, a fine distinction between sorrow & glory,

Half spiritual experiment, half heaven's ambition;

Cries of joy are on the tongue of every holy hunger

And a silent hymn uncurling in every stranger's ear!

                                                                                               -- E.P . Fisher






She thinks about swans, the woman reading,

and a tall girl with tangled hair

touching the fur of a silent bear

who will become a prince. Needing


a cup of tea, she rises, moves

to put the kettle on for steeping

good hot black to prevent her sleeping

before the clock strikes twelve. Hooves


of a golden horse keep pace across

her heartbeat as she stirs in milk,

remembering a gown of silk

she wore one summer day.  My loss


is nothing she repeats and then

she pours away the extra water,

waiting for her only daughter,

who, hungry, might come home again.

                                                                      -- Katharyn Howd Machan





I have some salmon salad

with celery and onions,

just the way you like it --

Mother said as I rushed

to catch a plane.


Mother, I haven't time --


It won't take any time at all --


The brown bag now delivered,

Mother kissed me, followed

down the walk to where the taxi

tooted, waved ...


Flying west, I forgot the food;

was wakened somewhere above Ohio

by a steward with a tray of plastic chicken,

changed planes in Denver running every step,

arrived at LAX to find my airbus waiting,

snatched my luggage, dashed

with pounding heart, fell

finally in the only empty seat.


Following the sun as we drove up the coast

I smelled the salmon sandwich, ripe

from body heat and hours of travel.


I drew the package from my pocket

and folded back wax paper.


Every single passenger,

inhaling salmon, onions, kosher pickle,

turned to look with envy,

while I ate quietly

and was replenished.


                                        -- Sheila Golburgh Johnson






I have for you a miniquiz.

You know, of course, who Oprah is.

But do you know who Orpah was?

You don't?  Well, almost no one does.

Now, don't become a history sleuth

to learn who Orpah was.  Read Ruth.


                                                                    -- Henry Harlan






One day an otter orphan in a current

was swept up to a half‑fixed beaver dam.

He came to and met there another youth

engaged in a peculiar sort of play


who had a flat tail and a wife. They weren't

much older than he. AWhy, hello. I am

called Oliver. Could you help me?@ They both

had timber in their mouths. AI've lost my way.@


They grunted ANo,@ but that afternoon they

taught Ollie all they knew of mud and wood.

He loved the work and helping for a day.

When they were done he saw that it was good.


The couple asked him if he'd like to stay

but Ollie was a player, so returned

to his old pointless, artless, happy way,

unchanged by the industrial arts he'd learned.


Years later, though, he swirled upon a dam

again, swept by the current of a thought,

this time, or memory: AIs what I am

what I'm supposed to be, or is there not


some thing I should be doing with my life?@

He thought he heard the beaver and his wife

calling his name. Then in a gush of folly

he swished and plopped again. For he was Ollie.

                                                                                         -- James B. Nicola







The women sat at the dock at sunset

all ages, all strangers

none with a boat

though there may have been boats

some time in their lives

as there were other partings

for as men speak of gains and armies boast territory

the women shared losses and expanded

getting fuller and stronger like sleek seals on rocks.


Some men slipped silently into the water

slim boats like sperm rushing off, sliding away

like other men, in other lives

The women though seemed detached

sensing below the river, swells of the incoming tide

and adjusting their sights like knowing sailors.


I waded in and laughingly fell

the widow rolled out gnarled legs to join me

someone's sister spotted a hawk and the young mother lay on the wood

scratching her lazy belly

her face restful in her own vision of the sky

our voices getting softer, more serene

we were a circlet of swans.

                                                                  -- Susan Oleferuk






Song 2


o high fine pure shy intelligent‑eyed silv'ry‑voiced


Child of the lithe keen hemlock‑darkened far northern streams,

Waking dream,

Hesperides-seeking brave dream,


Beauty-embracing brave dream,

Dreaming Almeda's high beechen Time‑breathing high gods‑keen

Prescient green Island:


Abide by the high keen brave taintless pacing white horses,

Pacing in the distance, pacing in the blue mist --

                                                                                                 -- Robert Glen Deamer







I imagine angels on assem‑

bly lines making it, stacking warehouse shelves

with ingots of the stuff, like Santa's elves,

filling orders as we submit them.


And I think I've seen the fake stuff sold

by counterfeiters, hacks and scabs

who duck into hidden getaway cabs

when a Sunday alarm is tolled.


The Manufacturer could sue

but then it would probably get too dark.

Since He refuses to take out a trademark,

what, in the end, can He do?

                                                     -- James B. Nicola






The reach of tenderness is each; the compass of compassion, all.


Beware the logic of the loveless man.


As colors to the colorblind, is kindness to the cruel.


Cube is substance of a square; circle, shadow of a sphere.


Truth is simile; beauty is metaphor; love is equation.


Those things converge which from the same source flow.


Breathes there soul so shallow no breeze of beauty stirs?


Let not the compass of the mind exceed the heart's circumference.


Paranoia is the maddest form of loneliness.


                                                                              -- B.Z. Niditch





III. Cleavings




To cleave.

To adhere or cling, remain faithful to, 

especially in resistance to a force that draws away.

Also to split or divide,

as by a cutting blow, especially

along a natural line of division,

like the grain of wood.


Where has this word been?


In the flower beds perhaps,

concealed among the lilacs and nasturtiums.

Watching through a window --

now the bedroom,

now the living room or study.

Observing, researching us unnoticed,

as for a project or assignment.

Learning more than a word

or anyone should know.

Or we, in a thousand words,

in all this cleaving silence could have said.

                                                                             -- Bill Freedman







            "I apologize to coincidence for calling it necessity"

                                                ("Under a Certain Little Star," Wislawa Szymborska)


Like seeing you walk towards me on stiletto heels

     in that tight black boat‑neck sweater, rocking

     those astonishing blue green eyes,

Having no idea where you'd be at just that moment

     had I not learned, stumbling on the steadfast pattern

     of your whereabouts and movements over the past

     five weeks, six days, that this was always where you      

     were at just this time.


Like saying, miraculously, just the right four words

    by way of hopeful but embarrassed introduction,

Having no idea what you'd find appealing, childish

     or offensive,

Trusting entirely to intuition, prayer, luck and the

     coincidental overhearing of nineteen introductions

     by assorted eager strangers over the past two months,

     nine days: eighteen failed, one unsettling

     but instructively successful.


Like knowing where to take you that fortuitous first evening,

Knowing nothing of your taste in music or your dining

      preferences but what I'd learned from thirty‑seven friends,

      acquaintances and relatives who, for reasons I cannot      

      explain, even to this day, gave me just that information

      when I interviewed them for a survey about the leisure

      occupations of young women of a certain class I happened

      to be conducting at the time.


Like knowing, somehow, eight years later you'd be leaving,

      when you said, excitedly, you'd met, by odd coincidence,

      precisely where we'd met eight years before, a stranger

      who seemed to know you. 

                                                      -- Bill Freedman







How will I know thee

To see thee for the




"You might just get to know


If you will not insist on speaking



You might attempt to trick me to reveal my


You might attempt to goad me to reveal my



You might query me for my height,

My coloring, my physique.


But, you shall know me by my winter‑green


‑‑ pastel platform sandals ‑‑green ‑‑


And you might just get to know something else,

Somewhere, somehow ‑‑ in‑between.

                                                                    -- Sue Tourkin-Komet







Beautiful is as beautiful doesn't which stands outside itself

Like an aroma around a pear.


It is who you are when I see you from a different slant,

A glance knocking itself against your improbabilities like

A rubber ball on a window.


I slide down you like cognitive dissent,

A relocation of my past attitudes towards you into a new place.


And you become fabulous like the first time I met you

In the Hunter College cafeteria and knew that one day I would find


Your carved beauty looking at me from the other side

Of the totem pole.

                                 -- David Lawrence







Walking past all the ugliness in the world I run into you

At the beautiful corner and know that you are the glow

Beyond the

traffic light.


You are so unusual that I stop and go and watch

You shift gears as you smoke into my universe like

A runaway wheel.


You are so Daytona lovely.


I want to get into a major accident with your chassis,

To roll over with you into the injured audience.

I want to share your accidental drama in the grandstands.

                                                                                                       -- David Lawrence






I looked back at our President and turned into a pillar of salt.


He tried to rock and roll like JC

But his results were bankrupt like Sodom and Gomorrah.


If I didn't vote for him why do you say I have to respect him?


I didn't start the war in Afghanistan.

He did.

Why should I have to think it was a good deal,

Better than Iraq?


I am not voting for myself.

I am not applauding his give‑away speech at Cairo.


The only job I am suited for is to love my wife.

It takes a lot of work when your mind is contrarian,

Your antagonistic compulsions are obsessive.


I pop a lithium.

I see two analysts.


I am learning to hold it all together like a hand in a mud pie.


                                                                                                             -- David Lawrence





Belgium chocolate truffle

Hug of a grandchild

A lovely stranger's smile



But to reach 'joy' ... somehow more

With elation comes a sense of ending

My love comes to our bed

In a white that glimmers


I run my hand through her hair

I see a face that unwinds the years

So this is how she looked at 21

Yet with it the sense of the end


Not a fold of intimacy

Instead this signal

From the sweetest moments

How our grace clings to a parting

                                                                                                                              -- Greg Moglia







Princeling of the forest

dappled like spots of sun on the rich baize ground

the forest concealing, lending its color, a magical spell


Prince of the forest, are you strong yet

to bear your crown and prance and parade your masculine beauty

I think of you

autumn mornings when the rain gusts sharp and the tannin hits deep

and you raise your massive head and step out of the dark trees


Princeling, that day in May

I had nothing to give you

only a human voice, an unpracticed gift

till the imaginative forest lent me its sounds

each note hit the sky and fell to the deepest root

an expression of man's great range

the melody of thought

and the timbre of compassion

missing only from this great opera

the sound of a gun


Gamesman I say

what unfair game do you play

do you not hear the music

does the forest not enchant

can you not hum the player's tune.

                                                                -- Susan Oleferuk







Then [Delilah] said to [Samson], "How can you say, 'I love you,' when your heart is not with me? You Y have not told me where your great strength is."...So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, "A razor has never come to my head ... If  I am shaved, then  my strength  will  leave  me and I shall become weak and be like any other man...."

Judges, 16:15‑17.


Even here

in this windowless world of mine

when the memory

of the Vale of Sorek

reforms in my mind

I am moved to tears.

For it was there

I first met Delilah,

first fell in love.

In Sorek I invited her in

to my sanctum


only to have her,

once past the door

and I unaware,

cast my gift of love to the floor.

She let in foes

who shore off my locks of hair,

dashed out my eyes,

bound me with these chains

and left me to rot

in this Gaza jail.


The hair regrows.

My strength revives.

But even if I could win

back the use of my eyes

the injury she has done

will not heal.

For now I feel

there is no one under heaven

whom I can trust.


Delilah, and Delilah alone,

has led me in

to a dark prison of the soul

out of which I dare not go.


                                                -- Larry Smeets





The objects on hand seemed to eliminate

the space between themselves and us,

so in the chapel's garden the many, at last, was one.

Bushes balleted in sync with our motions,

and flowers wore our emotions on their sleeves.


We had completely become our surroundings,

though don't we always become ourselves

in everything besides ourselves,

for what are we if not all but ourselves

for the most part? What's left is a cubic foot

or two of tissue and bone, plus some issues

about our relationship with the outside world.

So we knew what each thing was going to do,

for there we were, like its transitive verb,

every object part of the one and only subject.


Our peak experience lasted for just seconds.

Then we fell back to ourselves as the garden faded,

though we kept returning to the House of Eros,

hunting for that time‑immune tower that was

more of a chapel than what we had in mind.

Such highs are what the species lives for

though we're easily seduced by sexy ideas

when only love can make humankind kinder.

We have come a short way in a long time.

We have a long way to go in a short time.  

                                                                           -- Andrew H. Oerke







There is a piece of me

it smells of pine and rests on a shelf

of a blue sky mountain

another piece

is hidden in the brush where the stream is wide

and the willow bends

it smells of sweet woodruff and sun


When I forget

where I live

and who I am

I come here

in my dreams swimming, climbing, reaching

and I often glimpse you

smell you, miss you in the cold night air.


                                                                          -- Susan Oleferuk





IV. That Which Holds





I look down the

center of the tangerine

and see the

center, but when

I tear it apart,

all I have

are two parts. It

seems strange

that the center

of anything could

disappear just

by tearing it

apart. Maybe

it was never

there. But I

saw it. I know

what I saw.

A tiny,

dark space

holding it all

together. It

was there


            -- Roberta Pantal Rhodes







                                                                for Dorothy


I envy the potter who taps twice

and centers her work,

while I, after six decades tap,

tapping, have just come round right.


There's no place like Center.

                                                   -- Carol Pearce Bjorlie




the singular beast



What stays in the center of each ring is the same

defining hub, as any note can bring

all of music to bloom, in echo out

to shoreless reaches. Can a hammer ring

upon this anvil, can a forge's flame

redden that crude hunk of steel, and not

imply all other hammers, forges, steel?

A chain of snakes, each tail in its own mouth,

links this to that to every other thing.

A net enmeshes hunter, arrow, game;

a net drapes over that. All bordering

is center, and all rings, braiding, become

a hub, all rims roll up and underneath

to anchor and encircle here and all.

                                                                -- JBMulligan





It's that which holds. It's that which is most

like you or me,

around which spins a dance

of eternity,

of distantly equal parts, so vast


that it holds countless centers tossed

in a surging sea

of cold circumference,

so periphery

and center are married, bedded, blessed


with everywhere a new

beginning, end and course to run, a chance

to once again continue.


It's time that is the center. Or may be.

The spinning ring

of past and future holds

the dizzying

displays of possibility,


the branches of a primal tree,

roots echoing

each twig as it unfolds

the leaves that spring

to catch and cup the light. To see


the pattern is to know

a center runs through time: each moment yields

its being to the flow.


The essence centers everything.

The moment far

from time, that happens always.

A place not near

or distant, but here and there. We bring


an appetite for centering

outside us, are

in time beyond our days,

in places where

we'll never reach ‑ if anything


we're more alive when dead

to thinking meat, and rise to what we praise

of us that is outside.


We snatch at moments that hang in air,

bright and ‑ are gone.

The petals of a flame.

The way is open:

we're stymied by a lack of door.


The moment is a center, pure

and full ‑- the one

that follows is the same

but never can

equal its vanished twin, its other.


The moment must be all

that holds us to the rest, the briefest dream

that binds us to the real.


The here is true (and now), and on

the fulcrum of

a place, the universe

can rest, and if

it shivers and totters, still the lean


is balanced in its shape and motion,

commands belief

in all the other centers.

We might deceive

the desperate, centering self ‑ but then


we'd cut the holy bond

to swelling seas, which are each others' shores,

to all we are, beyond.

                                                                  -- JBMulligan






He is where he is, eternal

He is always there, being, His Self

He is Omnipotent in oblivion

a Selfless Being which is Light

that nothingness means to flesh


But where is there: since hardly

anyone believes anymore?

The question is answered by Light


He is waiting, a Fire in a bush

He is waiting, a Voice in wind no one hears

He is waiting, the Light of the world

while man assumes that he is

(idolizing himself) as if that is

what replaced His waiting


But as actual Light, God is in love

with waiting‑‑if man could only see it.

He is waiting, Light, the center of the universe.


                                                                                     -- J.E. Bennett





Today, the center of the universe quiets, sheathed in cloudy starlight.

(Accepting rides home from rehabilitation centers brings dependence).


Celestial minarets peal prayerful obedience. Fortresses of servitude stay ticking.

(Aided by jar openers, dress sticks, arm extenders, we cripples get by, somehow).


Distant gateways block the view from cubicles, while galaxies shrug theft.

(Days filled with tests, medicines, also nurses, convey awkward therapies).


Once banished from heaven, civilizations tend to gape at their forefathers' ruins.

(We wished to be able-bodied enough to help, but discovered, instead, other wisdoms).


At present, bandits remain hidden in the garb of interstellar peace mongers.

(Making lunch, or flushing toilets, exhausts those of us missing limbs).


                                                                                                                  --KJ Hannah Greenberg







Midway through, the counting lost all sense:

numbers were -- well...words touched and whirled off

and the parquet extended infinitely in all directions.


I found myself alone in an old song

asked to dance by a slow radio wave

from an era where such things were done.


Lines blur where shadows traverse reflections

beneath me on the wood as I step back,

left back, side, slide together, promenade.

                                                                            -- Courtney Druz



*from a sequence of poems on the counting of the omer.  Day 25 is the midpoint of the count.






He stands in the centre

of the circle,

gathers, tries to plug in tentacles

that connect the realm above nature

to this unhappy world in the need

to transcend physicality.


The circumference

of the circle stretches

many times over,

bathed in all the colors

of the spectrum.

The barrage of conflicts,

past disappointments accumulate;

ghosts invoked from previous

lives, other ages, his yearnings

long time forgotten, claim

their place in the circle. 


Inside the busy silence

everything unspoken waits

the chance to express itself,

insists it is important to be


Synapses pop and flare,

he is pressured all the time,

tries to keep his circle steady

as the rich undercurrent of life

sways it. He knows he will be

judged by what he absorbed

from all that whirls around

to make his life a testament

to God's truth and beauty.

                                                 -- Gretti Izak 







I am healing through silence.

Because it is within silence that I can hear and listen to my voice.

Yes. Hear myself think and discover my own inner beauty again,

Without the constant bickering, confusion and torment.

The weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.

To breathe in the morning sunshine and feel peaceful once more.

Daring to step out into the world and regain my footing.

Putting on a spiritual armor of light I protect myself from cockeyed looks.

I learn that self reliance is a virtue.

Grateful for the small acts of kindness of others.

Nature smiles on me as I meditate within the symmetry.

                                                                                                     -- Shoshanah Weiss-Kost






The center of the city is not the Square,

it is not on the map of any part.

The city's center is a thinking heart.

It is the promise that we will be there

for one another, that each has a share

that is not forfeited when troubles start.

All civic courage and all civic art

arise on the foundation of this care.


For where all are for one, each dares to be

for all ‑‑ to do and say as conscience prods.

But where each one serves mean and separate gods,

where selfishness is sole security,

there freedom flags, creative vision dies,

and the city falls, whatever buildings rise.

                                                                            -- Esther Cameron

                                                                                Madison, Wisconsin, 1995






Of the two hives, it's clear where one needn't

Search: in the larger, every cell crammed with honey,

workers carousing on the front porch on this

sticky summer night. Neither hive will


Sting, so we comb the frames of the smaller

for the single point where every face turns,

wings working to pay an obeisance,

and frame after frame comes up dry as hexagons.


The hive won't make it through the winter,

though they do their work, they gather,

they care, they spend little time underperforming,

but without a sense of serving one thing,


It all becomes stingless, flavorless, that hive without

a beauty to adore and for whom to beat‑out their lives.

                                                                                                   -- Jared Pearce






How many visit this garden

and some take away a cutting of this, a snipping of that

a crushing handful, a scent of a fulsome summers day

or like the robin

feast indulgent

luscious cherries

succulent worms

and some watch, cold as stone

gravelly paths ending in thorn

comments on changing buds and coming storm

but one belongs here

beautiful and true

and this garden grows around her.

                                                              -- Susan Oleferuk






Because of wrong directions

 -- or so we thought --

we ended up driving round

the same street time after time,

a convergence of cul-de-sacs,

east and west playing hide

and seek in the black night.


Passing cars like pulsars pressing

from deep space, shivered the metal

skeleton of our car, and those parked

on both sides of the narrow streets echoed

warnings of collusion. Stray cats turned up

and disappeared like ghosts, and we heard

children crying as in an extended living room.


In Tel Aviv you are not supposed to get lost,

syncopated by right-angled planning,

a sea to the west easily keeps one oriented,

relentlessly runs its course of waves

to account for each heartbeat of the city,

noisy, never sleeping, driven by postcard

novelties, light-heartedly accepting all.


This surely was the spell locking us to drive

in circles, perhaps for a while at least, wanting

to forget what lies to the east, those exacting heights

of Jerusalem that belittle all man's right-angled plans,

novelties and certainties.


                                               -- Gretti Izak 





V. Eaten by a Land





Inch plant, creeping plant, sometimes Moses in the basket

or bulrushes, sometimes called "weakly upright,"

sometimes "scrambling," emigrant passed along

(tradition of a sort), now peering from frigid panes,

now dangling in high corners, winding

within houses, lives, our lives,

regardless of dust, scant water, less food, burgeoning,

seeking light while tolerant of shade,

stiff-leaved, yet despite fibrous strength,

at carelessness, even well-intentioned touch, breaking

but as if they cannot die, surviving.

                                                                -- Ellin Sarot


*genus which includes the plant known as "Wandering Jew"







Anyone else would say it was indirect

lighting, the way you came in , no switch, no flame.

Inside was outside, outside was the same

wherever you went for forty years, you trekked,


followed the pillars that protected you along the way

from the shores of the Reed Sea to Plains of Moab camped,

the Enlightenment was always there with the Almighty's stamp

of approval, a testing ground to show you wouldn't stray


from Him, to take the promise to the other side,

stretch the Tabernacle to fill the width and breadth

of the land where you might trod. Confide


in its deepest secrets, gather its bounty provide,

dwell there, abide by that path, take the Words He said

keep the message You brought forever open wide.


                                                                                           -- Zev Davis






My heart drinks milk

My soul honey

Sap pours up

Drips from my leaves

Tall wheat brushes my eye lashes

As I pick crowned fruit

Whose seed-filled blood

Stains all


The road

Heavy with wine

Through walls of beveled rock

Veined with crimson and green

Dry thistles threaten

My skin browns

And I am absorbed


A delicacy

Eaten by a Land of

Grasshoppers and giants

I can no longer say no

And I have nothing further to report


                                                                  -- Mindy Aber Barad






I have gone forth from the country of my birth,

for the last time have heard the robin's song,

seen gold of aconites on new-thawed earth,

for which the bitter winters made us long.

But blackbirds here will whistle in the dawn,

the almond tree console for winter's chill,

gray doves will throb, the hoopoe strut his crown,

and jackals raise their voice in eerie thrill.

And most I pray the Torah's voice will fill

my ears, as daily through the streets I go,

and the land's air instruct me in the will

of the One who gave me life, sustained me so

far, that Israel may absorb my mind

and grant me breathe its freedom unconfined.

                                                                                   -- E. Kam‑Ron







on he'halutz  street in be'ersheva

tall trees with purple blossoms line the way.

newly arrived,  how i wish to know their name.

in each shop i stop.

what's the name of the tree on your walk?

in simple hebrew i say.

but no one knows.


years go by

and no one knows.

could i have asked an expert? perhaps.

to every thing there is a name.


in a tel aviv taxi today

purple blossomed trees pass in a blur.

so i ask,

and he knows!

a 20‑year quest ends

on a  blue sky day


with a singular word

that sounds

like a




                          -- I. Batsheva






Old Yemen, Romania

Woven together with royal threads ‑

 Hybrids hung with pride in the market,

What can I bring you?

The bulging fruit vies for space with

Spicy pickled vegetables,

Is this what you'd like?

Hand‑rolled vine leaves stuffed ‑

Will these fit in my suitcase?

Holy garments for special days ‑

Horns of silver and gold ‑

To announce Messiah's coming.

Will such gifts impress?

                                           -- Mindy Aber Barad







(Megiddo, 2006)


I hear him before I see him

golden‑edged wings printed on the sky,

unmoving above roofless rooms,

the broken forts of Armageddon --


A hawk soaring over us all

eyes a black centipede long as my foot

crawling from the prehistoric

oblivious of time atop this tel,


Twenty-six cities beneath my soles,

Death filed in cabinets of stone,

arranged by layers of time

labeled with pink cyclamen.


Sipping water from a plastic bottle,

I watch sun-burned tourists below

spilling out of a yellow bus, seeking

the beginning of their sorrow.


In the gift shop, Roman glass

green as the sea of Odysseus,

old as the idea of empire,

costs more than bloody sand,


I buy a necklace made of shards

buffed by 2000 years of war.

The hovering bird, I discover

in Birds of Israel -- "Hobby."  

                                                 -- B.B. Adams







Time compressed

past and present laminated.


heavy to bear,

breath burns,

heart bids burst

beneath the burden.


the past

events places

beget the present

future's womb.


then is here is now.

                                    -- Michael E. Stone







upon a visit to the Zippori National Park


And Jerusalem went into hiding

in escape from the Roman eagle's claws

which ripped apart its sanctuary,

scattered its gems.


Its legal body and soul migrated

to a perch aloft a Galilean hilltop,

there, fertile minds etched spoken laws

to affix the code and mingled with pagans

their theatre and baths,

illustrious decors

while remaining adherent to the faith of the Fathers,

a vision of rebirth concealed

-- a pact of silence --

in a Mona Lisa's mosaic glimpse


and the watchful eyes of a full moon

that swore me to secrecy

homeward on the Jordan Valley.

                                                           -- Leah LJ Gottesman







seven faceted stone,


head of the building

cap of the arch

angled to take the pressure

and support the rest


so are we here

eyes see and yet blind

think and yet obtuse

but we can take the pressure


we in the land.


Israel's fate

                          -- Michael E. Stone

                              Shabbat Hannukah 2009







Beyond the eye

of the approaching storm,

center of calm,


behind the veil

of clouds a hundred

miles wide,


pounding to be let in

is the master

come to snare us.

                                -- Steven Sher






with apologies to The Beach Boys


Could we see A-bombs from Iran? Missiles

launched by Hezbollah? Deadly gas

shot from Damascus? Hamas rockets in the south?


Someone let the angel of death into the house

while we were sleeping and none know

how to show him out.


This is the enemy that conspires all around us,

the while claiming that his lies are truth --

and puts a thumb on the scale


when no one's watching so the lies

carry more weight, the abuse

then heaped on us will have just cause.


Someone=s tossed a burning match

among the dry brush and young trees

beside the highway to Jerusalem --


the way the first torch signaled

to the next, spreading quickly hill to hill,

the new month's start as far as Babylon.


Bibi, will you bomb Iran?

Bomb Iran? Bomb Iran?

Ba ba ba ba-bomb Iran

                                                  -- Steven Sher








Go off to Goa

this afternoon

go find indifferent gods

leave the fall‑out shelters

for a pad in the Village

a mythic world

of nirvana

all on your own,

where are your kings

except in cards

your great judges

on revelation thrones

your royal lines

of poets, priests and prophets?

They are entombed in scrolls of parchment.

Don't you have time

to understand the text

it's all backwards to you,

and your pierced ears

cannot hear me

banish you from

the House of Israel.

                                    -- B.Z. Niditch







"We have become a taunt to our neighbors, a scorn and mockery to those around us." (Psalm 79:4)


I hear the anti‑Semites swear all wars

     Are started by the Jews; I hear their scorn

     And mockery, how every shirt is torn

By Jewish usury, how Jewish jaws

Have slowly chewed their flesh, how Jewish claws

     Will slash the unsuspecting eye.  They mourn

     The gems they claim we stole and now adorn

The snouts of Jewish piglets, sows and boars.


I hear the lewd obscenities they use

     Against us, Lord, as if we drank their sweat

          Or poisoned all their wells.  O help me fight

Their hatred, God, their hatred of the Jews,

     Not with revenge's fire, but with light; let

          A Jewish dawn extinguish hatred's night. 

                                                                                    --Yakov Azriel






The wolves are gathering round, dear Lord,

the wolves are gathering round.

Again your sons to ravage, kill

to crush into the ground.

Why do you hide, dear Lord?

Come forth,

stretch out your mighty hand.

How can you stand

to hear the cries

of anguish from your Land?


Enough enough the wolves have drunk

the blood of slaughtered sheep.

Come forth dear God

and shepherd be.

Thy flock is long sore weak.

Your covenant carved

in stars and sand

in heart, in mind, on flesh.

A promise made

You won't forsake,

a Godly kiss, caress.


Make haste dear Lord,

the day grows dim.

The wolves are gathering round again.

The hour is late,

the night was long,

the dove, the deer, the sheep stood strong.

But test them not again dear Lord.

They walked through fire, were flayed by sword,

but now they tire. They seek respite,

Yet still they follow, still they fight.


Until the sword turns into plow,

Dear Lord, we do proclaim,

We'll hold aloft your banner,

stay faithful to your Name.

Your Land defend,

your enemies fight,

your children guard with prayers and might,

until the time when dawn's clear light

replaces darkness, ends the night.


But has the time not come, dear Lord?

Your children all await your word.

Reveal, dear God

the morning star,

the dawn's pure glow,

the fresh new day.

The night was long, the time has come.

Hallow Your Name.

Proclaim Your song.

                                                                                                               -- Yaffa Ganz





"I see it, but not now, I behold it, but not soon ..." (Numbers 24:17)

"I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; although he tarries, nonetheless, I wait for him day by day."

-- from the "Ani Ma'amin" ("I Believe"), a formulation written in the fifteenth century

of the Thirteen Principles of Jewish Faith according to R. Moses Maimonides (1135‑1204)


Although he tarries, leaving us to grieve

     Our brother's death and dig our sister's grave

     With broken shovels in a darkened cave,

The Messiah will come one day, I believe.

Will eyes detect his shadow, ears perceive

     The echo of his name?  Will mourners shave

     Their beards one day, believing he can save

Adam's daughters and all the sons of Eve?


Soon the Messiah will arrive -- he must! --

     And when he does, he'll teach us how to play

                  With hissing snakes whose fangs no longer bite,

With serpents that have ceased to eat the dust

     Of sin; in faithfulness he'll bring, one day,

          Fresh fruit from Eden's tree of life and light.

                                                                                         -- Yakov Azriel







"And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to distinguish between the day and the night; and they shall be for signs and appointed times, for days and years."  (Genesis 1:14)


In the race of time, the sprinter was the sun

Which quickly sped through days, but lost the race;

When night appeared, it was the moon that won.


How bright the dawn, when the sun began to run

With confidence, ability and grace;

In the race of time, the sprinter was the sun.


But the sun, which lit up worlds all stars should shun,

Reduced his speed and waned without a trace;

When night appeared, it was the moon that won.


As hosts of stars declared the race was done,

The moon of Jerusalem reached first place;

In the race of time, the sprinter was the sun.


The stars took threads they earlier had spun

And hid the moon behind a veil of lace;

When night appeared, it was the moon that won.


"Bring light," the stars command, "when there is none,

And at the end of days, reveal your face."

In the race of time, the sprinter was the sun;

When night appeared, it was the moon that won.

                                                                                        -- Yakov Azriel







VI.  Border of an Era





We're camped beside the border of an era,

But whether it's a new one or the old

We can't be sure. In either case, we stand

Upon the rim of an immense caldera

That threatens parcels of developed land

For miles around. Our lives are bought and sold


For tarnished Lincoln pennies on the dollar,

And yet our coin is stamped: IN GOD WE TRUST.

The times are named for trends in art or science

Or in religion, though the Roman collar

Meant nothing to the prehistoric Mayans,

Whose calendar bespoke the moth and rust


Of sharp disjunctures at the end of time.

A novelist emplaces arcs of terror

If only to ensure his stories sell,

While we who count our syllables and rhyme

Say nothing of the creatures straight from hell,

But scribble in the margin of our error.

                                                                       -- C.B. Anderson





On the new century's threshold --

unmapped exile of time and place --

she remembered a distant window in another

country, where the gray houses would come to offer their

looming shadows at the night-shrouded market-

square for an awed child's soul to choose from,

when a horse's hooves played such dark music on

'the snow-hushed cobblestones and the ethereal

light of gas street-lamps illumined such

infinite loneliness, punctuated only by

an occasional church bell tolling,

that she wished to go back to that severed

omniscient talking horse-head and that

barefoot goose girl on the black-and-

white pasture of her fairy tale book-

for that other mystery,

which spoke not in silence but words,

and knew nothing of passing time.

                                                               -- Ruth Kessler







"Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches to the stars."  Gen. 11:4


I was born where the ancient ruins wait,

an oval mound of rubble no one tends,

and yet they named its desert town "God's Gate."


I was the lonely one of all my friends.

There was a shadow in me, cold and blasted,

my kin who clung too tight to life could sense.


While mother begged, sometimes for days I fasted,

then went at dusk to climb old temple walls

and beat my back with branches while pain lasted.


They did not speak, those spirits of the temples,

but garments rustled, footfalls went by me,

as if of many people wearing sandals.


I knew I was a stem upon their tree,

roots growing through this slender slice of cloud

called life that scuds across the distant sky.


My town was in a siege by Nimrod's brood.

From nightly vigil I trailed on dawn's skirt

to find my household in a pool of blood.


Such sudden tragedies seem hardly worth

the effort. I had no will to bury kin,

my heart's blood drained with theirs into the earth.


As though struck mad beneath the burning sun,

I sat upon the mound, and when night set

moved on to ruined stairs I'd never seen.


They rose up to a crumbling parapet

and I stood nowhere, on that starry ledge --

beneath my foot, a small stone amulet.


The stone grew warm and seemed to hum a pledge

of holy cities: hard to understand

from whence came such a dream of pilgrimage.


A vision rose before me. I saw grand

arches tiled with birds, a glistening portal

of creatures gone to sea that once loved land.


I knelt and sipped from that dream courtyard pool,

sleeping at last as though I had drunk wine,

while buzzards wheeled above me in a circle.


The gatekeeper believed they were a scry

to nurse me back to health; his wife was kind.

They sold me, when recovered, to a scribe


so I could read to him as he went blind,

while watching at the royal library,

where no one ever came. I didn't mind.


I was thirteen. I learned the seventy

first languages heard in the Babel tower

and cures for which the ills had passed away.


At last, the old man died. It was my hour

to serve the sacred books. I found Truth's name --

a passion more acute than love of power.


Then, traveling as if on wings, there came

four holy letters quicker than light or space,

remembered as if wrapped in bluish flame.


The Name anoints and scatters without trace.

To it I will return when I have died,

waxing and waning on time's silver tide.

                                                                          -- Judith Werner





"And Cain knew his wife, who conceived and gave birth to Enoch.  And he [Cain] built a city, and he named the city after his son, Enoch." (Genesis 4:17)


Each night above the wheat fields on the plain,

The amber lights of Enoch's city blazed,

And woke exhausted, beaten serfs who gazed

As distant topaz glittered on their grain.

And come the dawn, in temples built by Cain,

Proud priests enrobed in jeweled vestments praised 

The gods that blessed their city and had raised

Their merchant‑kings on high, to rule and reign.


Yet all their gold was stolen from the poor

Who in back-alleys starved and cried for crumbs,

While in rank gutters trickled beggars-blood.

But now behold the city's courts of law,

Mansions, markets, theaters, coliseums --

All buried under waves of Noah's flood.

                                                                         --Yakov Azriel







Treading carefully, down we go, a picture frame,

a president, Kennedy, saints and sinners, worry beads,

a pile of rubble where the earth recedes,

objects scattered about this abscess, we come


a president, Kennedy, saints and sinners, worry beads

play out their archeological stories, recommends

objects scattered about this abscess, we come

to gather up what's left, that we might spread . . .


play out their archeological stories, recommend

the wisdom of what happened, off to send

to gather up what's left that we might spread

the lore, their vital statistics, all about them,


play out their archeological stories, recommend,

a pile of rubble where the earth recedes,

the lore, their vital statistics, all about them

treading carefully, down we go, a picture frame.

                                                                                        -- Zev Davis






In a lodging house long antiquated,

Where I dwelt for some tumbledown years,

The fixtures were quaint and outdated;

The wainscoting, archways, and piers

Old-fashioned and still decorated

With fretwork and glass chandeliers.


In the resident parlor one morning,

A magical sunbeam burst through

The crystalline prisms adorning

A fanlight that colored the view;

And the world came alive without warning

With glints opalescent in hue.


With shimmers of bright efflorescence,

Revealing the light of the sky

In veils of divine iridescence,

Which brought for a moment nearby

A hint of the mystic quintessence

Sublime in the powers on high.

                                                         -- Jack Lovejoy






Grey day awaiting brown man in green

Woman standing beside yellow cab,

A proud confident look in her eye

Recalling a Silver Star clipping

Commending his saving some buddies,

Extolling the American way

Of brotherhood fighting together.

Hero Home.


Window droplets, kaleidoscope view,

Usher the way to the neighborhood

Where boards and posters mark the old path

To the sixth floor where they shared it all,

Before the Man took him away

From top‑heavy table on holey floor,

Community toilet and kitchen.

Hero Home.

                                                       -- Stephen Keller







Noah doesn't dream about beans

& tall wheat reaching for wind & sun.

Not anymore.


When he's not busy

collecting wood,

he stands on a corner, cup

of change at his feet.


He holds a gopher wood sign,

sometimes warning about dying & doom,

sometimes he asks for help

to build his pet project

on the abandoned downtown lot.


Nobody stops.

No one listens.


Every Sabbath, he stands the required distance

from the synagogue, shouts

until his throat burns

for water: 


learn what is drowning between

your mouth & God's ear,

feel holy when the ark opens,

know the history of suffering, when it will suffice,

learn to chant like the sea breaking

against rocky shores,

know all about absence, that the dream means more

than marrying a nice Jewish doctor.


For his final sermon,

he finds a bullhorn,

forgets his usual rant about rain,

speaks his own modern commandment

to listen to our water dreams,

that they're loose shutters swinging

outside a window, open ajar,

an echo of the breath

before birds fly.

                             -- ME Silverman






The words they shout are boldly printed down

within a thousand hues and pages spooled

from daily scripts to gloss of fashioned gown

each written phrase is hemmed and finely tooled.


And shows reblare their call to waiting ear

of nature harmed and victims hurt by greed

now dually wept in every flowing tear

in how to feel for families left in need.


But countless rants just fill a grander cause

to praise the voice above the aching child

as forest bleeds and growing hunger gnaw

the loud elite have righteous anger riled.


Yet actions speak without the death of trees

and helping hands can soothe the voiceless pleas.

                                                                                          -- Douglas Stockwell






At a red light where I idled, stopped,

a tap on the window, luckily rolled up,

a tap like a battering ram, a sudden blur

like lion in the eye of an antelope!


It was a wretch not waving evening news--

papers for sale, as happens at this corner

where the magician guy makes change before

the red light changes. He was waving roses,


it wasn't easy to see were red in the dark.

It was Valentine's Day at night, for love,

and he was hawking roses, was stuck with roses!

The desperate bearer under a burden of


symbols of affection waited under

the ticking of the light from red to go,

when red would again be lost in an awful pulse

of offer and be refused ha-ha repulsed.


Ferociously polite, he practically stood

begging holding roses in tin cup,

trying to buy some warmth for his apartment,

paying for heat and rent, not eaten up


by boredom of the world towards the cold

in which he lived, I figured, so unloved

he needed merely a smile of change out-doled

to keep the fiction that he felt approved,


and if you didn't buy (I bought) a flower,

it would hurt him, he was so unsure.

There went I but for the grace of Love

reminding me remember: help the poor.

                                                                         -- John Milbury-Steen






Dressed in black he seems           

                        from several blocks away to teeter

down the still, dark streets

stretching to dawn, balances

large shopping bags                   

in blood‑drained hands,

weighted like a scale --              

bags stuffed with plastic tubs,

challot and wine to lift the poor --

this master of restoring hope.       

                                                         -- Steven Sher





Mind you, I wouldn't be caught dead in pink,

and cute is a four-letter word,

yet sometimes prettiness croons to me,

about as energetic as a coconut cake,

but as irresistible too.


Portzamparc's crystalline skyscraper

makes glass cutting edge again:

Its angles play alto saxophone.

Aalto's buildings embrace but never, heaven forbid, cuddle.

Renzo Piano sure doesn't suffer prettiness gladly.

And Tange -- but OK, having established my credentials,

I'll get to the point: I like Lutyens too.

He coats his buildings in the sepia of memory,

he serves hot chocolate and oatmeal cookies to edgy questions,

while his buildings spontaneously generate sheepdogs

who flop in front of them.

A cottage industry of nostalgia.


Twachtman, plump with prettiness for most of his career,

once, just once, went magically matte,

after drinking enough sake to sober himself.

But while I'm into this confessional mode,

I'll even tell you I love PreRaphaelite paintings.

Dante created a whole new circle

for people who turn chiaroscuro into Technicolor.

And yet -- skip the balsamic vinegar,

pass me the Rossetti instead.

                                                     -- Heather Dubrow







You've been here before.

You go undercover now below surface

while others rise, ride over for their spotlight

at the top of the wheel. Now she strives


to please patrons, co-workers, bosses,

in ceaseless over-thinking (something you've lost,

thank seasons). But passing her

on the clock there's the same blind tears


same inner focus melting

in vigilant self-judgment, hopes hitting against

what is stealing the perception of others

that seldom can be changed from the under side.


I would embrace her, but that would not be my place

in this world of jurists. She must fight

her own struggle. I go undercover. Wait

an hour, touch a hand to her straight shoulder


offer a smile and tea. She hasn't

left off crying at her desk softly pulling

together, her stats, her status, the fight, no flight. Something

you would've pondered alone


in the stall of a corporate bathroom.

There's nothing you can do.

Take tea with me? Yes! and sitting more erect

she fishes out the strongest and the blackest.

                                                                                 --Marilyn E. Johnston






Go under, lovely sun, they thought

   Very little of you, they knew you, holy one, not,

        For without toil and silently you rose

            Over a people for ever toiling.


You rise and set friendily for me, O Light!

   And well my eyes perceive you, glorious one!

        For godlike, silent reverence learned I

              When Diotima healed my feeling.


O Thou, Heaven's herald! how I listened to thee!

    To thee, Diotima! beloved! how these eyes

         Looked up, shining and thanking,

              From thee to the golden day. Then purled


More livingly the brooks, the dark earth's blossoms

      Breathed lovingly on me,

          And smiling over silver clouds

                Aether bowed down bestowing his blessing.

                                                                                                 -- Friedrich Hölderlin

Translated from the German by Robert Glen Deamer






Like Gibbon threading through the ruins of Rome,

Dumas on some Sicilian mountainside,

Like Byron on a sunlit isle of Greece,

I wander through a dry and dusty place

And think what was, and then what might have been.

                                                                                                 -- Leonard H. Roller





VII. Accelerating




The same erratic pounding

means I am my mother's

son: same chugging

chest, same straining

squeezebox tightly wound.


This devoted heart

constructs a world

of urgency -- a constant

mother, my motor

and my mooring --


the while plodding on

from thump to thump,

emphatic flap to flop

and rest, and echoes

her footsteps' return.

                                      -- Steven Sher





The attendant buzzes us in (never have we had

such a welcome), twenty wheelchairs wait

patiently for us to open the door

wide enough and long enough to manage

an escape outside "The Living Center."


They find each moment longer than their

drawn-out lives-hours and weeks and months

and years and ages now stranded on islands

of e ndless days. An old, old woman lifts her hand

as we pass by, and when you clasp it


(you a stranger), her smile embraces you,

the room around her loses its homesick smell.

Who does she think you are? Like Jacob

wrestling with the angel at Peniel, she will not

let you go, until you kiss her, and then she sinks


                   Into the comfort

                                                 of a lost



 -- Charlotte F. Otten



Walk on Down the Hall: A Meditation on The End


~Inspired by a Kabbalist, meditative practice. Dedicated to la familia Farji y mi Mama.


1. like a frog on a lily pad, sitting contemplatively

    ("dreaming back thru life, Your time – and mine accelerating")

2. oh, cruel and causeless life

             (yitgal v’yidka ––they were not ready)

3. the birds’ chirpchirpchirp > the mechanical whirring of the pool-pump motor

4. rooftops like that at 34th st stir up sweet memories

    (when they were here)

5. did they hear Black running after them?

    (quickly catching up as always)

6. the constant whirwhirwhir soothes me, but the orange/yellow sounds of the sun's

           rays interrupts these thoughts

7. and also, the sun's yellow/orange rays exhilarate me

    (faintly whispered, "you breath in the Nile")

8. ¡rumination energizes and intensifies everything again!

9. bend + sit = easy

    (ultimately, he1 couldn’t bear it

    and he2 was spritely…but then he jumped)

10. he1 catapulted me into the air ::splash::

     (playing The Little Mermaid)

11. in my heart, i know that one day – chus v’chalila, pe pe pe – we'll all be with he1 and


12. shema Israel, HaShem Elokeynu, HaShem echad

      ("strange now to think of you, gone")

13. it plays with my hair and dries the tears off my cheeks

      ("work of the Merciful Lord of Poetry")

14. the awesome Blue soars – expansive, boundless

      (there they are)

15. to their female soulmates, a meditation on the End

      (chirp chirpchirp chirp chirpchirp chirp (it's them))

-- Sasha Tamar Strelitz




I contract into my 4 cubits

and expand with each day.

From the aperture in my ark the world appears

more tranquil than before.

I've gotten used to moving less,

breathing less.

This is my life for the time being,

aureoled with a film of resignation.

One can see a lot with closed eyes:

it would take innumerable nights to describe the abundance.

Human voices from other nights still echo here –

they grow fainter, as I do.

                                               -- Ruth Blumert

                                                   translated from the Hebrew by E. Kam-Ron





What is the last fading image on your retina

glaring light flicked away by the haughty surgeon

the overall dark heaved into final suppression

a mad truck roaring down on your soft vulnerable flesh

sparks flying off the water like liberated demons

grasping for your sight

the weighty sky submerging into the green heaving sea

the blank-faced soldier rushing at you with gargantuan bayonet

fearing his own demise made a victim of your honed weapon

the unswerving bullet heading for your nose

child staring up at you in wonder

terrorist's bomb exploding in your face

a red-hot blanket flung over you and your world

the passing parade of lost moments

the montage of long-lost lover faces

your tear-begrimed eyes

your sweet goodbye kiss

your sad wondrous eyes.

                                              -- Gerald Zipper






I knew it would be one

of the last times, that

the extras she bought

to leave in my house

would be too soon

for her but never if

she thought it. Often

at my house in May

for her birthday or

Mother's Day, my

uncle called to

remind her of the

date, as if she would

not know. Shadows

of the light flicker in

the laundry room

where nothing could

catch, blackening

parts of the room

like the graphite

darkening names in

her address book

she already had a

good start on

                          -- Lyn Lifshin





He wants to remember

the same place

rows of vases

with tulips

a walled in keyboard

with a musical score


unfinished letters

on the desk,

a flask

without wine,

yet everything

is soulless

with only a few regrets

for the silent past

to connect the puzzles

on the gaming table,

you dream of warmth

the sea and sunlight

walking with

your partner

with the shadowed face

not knowing

what mortal

expects to be here

without a watch

in the last hours

now absent.

                      -- B.Z. Niditch






Emptied drawers scratch closed

hunger for folded clothes

Now smoothed into boxes




The bottom row groans as the room fills.


Sounds echo as I snatch at his old shirts

The ones that should have been given away

I race to get them to the thrift shop

Before the Heirs stomp into the house

Their hunger and thirst clamor for attention.


I crave some extra time

Some space in my mind

The courage to grab a decision

To jump up on the ramparts

And defend our future

From the threatening past

Their desire to include every scrap

Everything he once touched or wore

-- a shrine --

the whole house could convert

if I let them.

                          -- Mindy Aber Barad






The cupboards

Aligned in perfect order

Your measurements

On target

Stacked dishes

Behind the oak colored mask

Built by hands

Calloused in fear


I can feel the explanations

On my skin

The same skin you bruised

In the name of discipline

In the name of all you knew

                                                   -- Cathy Porter







I translated my parents' Yiddish biblically --

God doesn't strike us with two rods --

though sticks is more precise.


God's wrath softened by Talmudic solace, e.g.

I was myopic, but I had good hair.


That seemed fair, I thought, in the way

adolescents think, though I already knew

their siblings in Europe had been turned to ash.


After I learn about the things growing wild

in my husband's body, I wait for the good news.


Will it be benign gratitude,

each day made holy by the sun's rising?


Will I set aside distraction, turn

like a sunflower only in his direction?


If there's a scale, a thousand poems of mine

won't outweigh the theft of time.


Still, I will stand on it,

because there's no other place to stand,


and I will stack up on the other side

small stones of syllables, shards of our days.

                                                                                 -- Florence Weinberger





Speak to God, the rabbi suggests.

Spend some time every day speaking to God.

Tell God everything.

Cheaper than analysis.


I thought God already knew everything.

The rabbi must have something else in mind,

maybe guidelines to inner trials and sentencing

when I'm smitten with remorse.


I've written hard-bitten poems about my father.

I called my mother when she least expected it,

as if her sanity was my enemy; I forget who taught me

how to throw down spikes on the way to forbearance.


Then there's the matter of figuring out if forgiveness

annuls the past or anneals it. And what good would it do,

they've passed. This is how I distract myself, instead of

engaging my heart's marrow, day by day, like the rabbi said.

                                                                                                             -- Florence Weinberger






Just before dusk, a light supremely

ardent, festive, yet sad, discharges

beauty upon iridescent feathers,

as the vast body of a wild tom turkey,

its black beard dangling, floats above

the slow, stately rhythm of its step

and gradually dissolves into the under-

brush. How, with words, to hold

a covenant with this world in its brevity,

where the radiant and incongruous combine,

then vanish into darkness? What to make

of this short and narrow season, so fervent

in it embrace, so frail in its lasting?

Brittle beauty, grant me one more hour.

– Constance Rowell Mastores





Young ones dawdle, while the old folks rush from town

to crowd the hearth. Aunt Ida rests alone,

slouched in her chair, reviewing family funerals.

A wearied matriarch, decades in this house

she'd ladled soup, darned socks, and sat for pictures,

new babies nestled in her lap each year --


grandchild after child and just this year

the first great-grandchild cradles in the town

where she was born. It is a puzzling picture,

this seasoned wife becoming widow, alone

among her closest kin. Her sturdy house

feels warped today, unhinged by Uncle's funeral.


Aunt Ida saw to grievous duties -- the funeral

home, a shovelful of dirt, the year

of Kaddish prayer -- all rituals in the house

of mourning for Uncle, beloved judge in town.

We knew the story -- how orphaned and alone,

he’d worked his way through law school, always picturing


himself in chambers. Indeed he looked the picture

of success mere weeks before his funeral:

a final portrait in which he stands alone

in stately robes next to his bench, the year

of his appointment on the wall, and town

hall seen through courtroom windows. He kept his house


and books arranged in order, and hoped the house

of God was set for him. Though not a picture

of well-being, his wife gives solace to townspeople

come to pay respect, but the funeral

defeats Aunt Ida. Her well known grit, year

in, year out, falters from being alone


without the Judge. There is no peace alone

for her, no place as mistress of the house.

She foresees despair her consort in the years

ahead – an unfamiliar family picture --

and her step is heavy, slow, funereal.

She feels a burden, even to the town.


Aunt Ida dreams alone, a woeful picture.

Her house is now the family’s, and her funeral

This coming year will not surprise the town.

                                                                                -- Virginia Wyler






                            for my mother a"h




you sit before me. Each

day I call out "come back" to more

of you.




Shall I

ever forgive

the spring for coming late

this year, when she who loved it could

not wait?




We came

into this world

for love, for company,

and perhaps for these partings most

of all.




If you've

gone to the world

that is yours, the work of

your hands -- surely it is a world

of light.




This is

the eleventh

Prelude. It says

how very sweet this life is and

how brief.

                     -- E. Kam-Ron




Holding on to the others this hillside

knows what it is to live alone

all these years falling off-center


though you no longer follow

still back away till your hands

and the dirt once it's empty


both weigh the same -- a small stone

can even things out

the way this casket on each end


leans toward shoreline, smells

from a sky unable to take root

or balance the Earth, half


with no one to talk to, half

just by moving closer -- what you trim

floats off as that embrace all stone


is born with, covered

till nothing moves inside

except the lowering that drains forever.

                                                                       -- Simon Perchik





On the hillside of stones

those who live below ask only

for light.


Their unseen voices lift from earth,

from our innermost terrain,

little echoes that have lived

in us and become us

over and over.


And we the surface treaders, we

walk among them offering our frail

words as though these might become

that answering light.


And we know we have failed them,

those whose seed became us

that we might walk in light

even among shadow.


So that standing here we fall dumb

having only hands with which

to touch these stones that own


us, that become the voice

of what is to be to the

end of our lives.

                              -- Doug Bolling




a birthday poem for Rabbi Dr. Zvi Faier zts"l


There go the dancers, round and round and round,

One holding in his arms, with strength of joy,

The scroll on which his thread of life is wound,

Another hoists a little girl or boy

Onto his shoulder, who will doubtless hold

Among their earliest memories this ride

Through many turns, until they grow as old

As the bent man who trudges by their side.

I think of you, who now have left the dance,

Whose voice no longer swells the Torah's song,

Yet who are present in the furtherance

Of that which fired your mind and kept you strong

And holds you now within that day which gives

An everlasting birth to all that lives.

                                                                  -- E. Kam-Ron





VIII. Meanings that Matter




in grammar, syntax, usage, style:

what's required, what must be done

to shape our language into sentences

(perhaps of an essay, perhaps of a poem)

eloquent and elegant to carry

meaning that matters through blue sky

after a storm has torn the heavens

and we need our most sacred watchful eye.

                                                                              -- Katharyn Howd Machan






We become despoiled. Sometimes

Not even a word remains,

Becoming a trap in snow

Where the whole wilderness rhymes

With nothing and coldness reigns

In a world buried in woe.


But a word's a funny thing.

Like a blackened stump's green shoots

Adorning its wooded grave,

Our longing sprouts every spring,

For the Earth retains the roots

Of the meaning we still crave.


Forests we worshiped once:

Now take your well-earned rest

Under this quilt of words.

Your marvelous jeweled crowns

Honored the tongues of the blessed

Who now sound just like birds.

                                                          -- Lionel Willis





A descent into the cave

Of the poem,

Or when it has been written at a place

With momentary slippage,

A place associated with the sense

Of a person beside himself,

Or of people aside themselves,

To one availing of only half of his own diction,

And the other half after the fact.

                                                          -- Lee Goldstein






This is a map, of a kind, of England.

Castles stud the fields,

the battlements prettily etched,

the chases and parks marked by lines of bushy trees,

with drawings of hart and bristling boar—

but it does not tell you which way is north.

It would be useful to know where the bridges are,

the distances between them. It would be useful

to know how far you are from the sea.


But then, England, I am told, is always

remaking herself, her cliffs eroding,

her sandbanks drifting,

springs bubbling up in dead ground.

So perhaps this map is only meant

as a poetic approximation.

Then why is there no Avalon, no inked figure

of King Arthur. No sword in the stone.


Then what does endure?

Shall my unsent letters to Cicero endure?

I find them more amusing than my sonnets.

Or the unsent letters I wrote to Homer?

Who possibly never even existed.

Will this map I am now considering

still be in use in 1374?


Yet for all its vagueness, I like this map.

The way it dreams off the mind,

the way the landscapes regroup themselves while I sleep,

and even the histories that trail me --

the faces of the dead fading into other faces --

Gilgamesh, Hector, Roland...

The storm has softened,

the visor of war lifted.


In the quiet of my study,

I begin work on yet another

beautifully useless poem.

Between one dip of the pen

and the next,

time passes.

                           -- Constance Rowell Mastores






Grilled cheese sandwich Slice of pickle
Bread pudding and coffee

At the hospital with a Poor Clare poet-nun
from the psychiatric ward

Spoke of saints and other poets
How they lived and why

And how compelling their intensity


                   Noted that each was like a poem

                   (and a simple poem) I interjected.


She turned her head and gazed at me
But why should they be simple poems?


Because here (I answered) no poem or person
can remain a complicated thing for very long

And she said


                  You are wrong        About poems       And this place


She had forgotten ... that I was a psychiatrist

Perhaps you may some day become intense

Remain that way for longer than it takes

to sketch a lyric poem

Remain              Remain                intense without



What a poet you might then become
And they could put you in a room with
padded walls Right next to mine

                                                              -- Jerry Hauser






"Even while you sleep among the campfires, the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver, its pinions with shining gold," Psalm 68:13


Once I was lost, a dove in foreign lands

of olives from black earth, dates from red sands.

The desert sun that singed my plumes to night

flamed within my heart in secret light.


You caught me, put a black dove in your cage,

imprisoned love that knew no time or age.

I navigated floods behind the bars,

an eon's journey in a glimpse of stars.


I flew so far within, at such a height,

my raven cloak of mourning molted white.

Once I was blind, and now I've found release,

to nestle winged freedom in your peace.


Once I was Noah's raven in a land

where ornamental gods of stone still stand.

Now I'm a white dove, winging back through space,

surrendering my olive branch of grace.

                                                                       -- Judith Werner





All the myths

I came to know,

Nor Dad

Did even care,

Bestow themselves

To poetry --

His Science unaware;

All the math

My father knew

Nor ever

Did I learn,


Itself each

Numbered page

Of poetry I turn.

                                -- David Kiphen






                     All the tragedies we can imagine return in the end

                     to the one and only tragedy, the passage of time.

                                                                                   -- Simone Weil


You say you now make verse who aimed at art?

Verse is not easy. You spent your youth in hard

pursuit of its subtle knowledge, while others said

to forget the dead and embrace the newest fashion.

Yet, facing disillusion, you counteracted

in exclusions, considering in meter and rhyme

the one and only tragedy: the passage of time.


Do not desert good sense and skill, though others

prefer the ambitious boys whose big lines swell

with spiritual noise or flaunt a presumptuous

innocence. Fierce impersonal forms have moved

your pen; and, at times, a wise indifference.

                                                                                 -- Constance Rowell Mastores






drunk from the plenty cup

prodigious profligate poet producer


moonstruck sun dazzled word player

followed his bouncing ball umpteen ways

imaginatively copulated word startups

breeding couplets koans free forms

pranced pondered prodded pricked polished

sighed sounded soared leapt heavenward

juggled gurgling throbbing skilled ambitious


quickstepping jitterbugging waltzing

freely floating

running racing fast as thought can reach

versifying essaying inspired

plucky, perhaps in parts puerile,

pretentious in the not pejorative positive striving sense,


neither perfect nor not perfect. polished,

breathing in words

exhaling poetic prayers

exaltant exuberant

assiduously attentive to his life's purposeful self imposition

ambitious transforming essays to poetic prayer forms

conjuring torrents of penned paper craft

floating flotillas of spaceships shimmering

rainbow hued strident or pastel subtle

honey toned honed

voluptuous extravagant

or shrunken word-wise waste not precise poetics

sounding shells horns trumpets tinkling stalagtitic drippings

soaring sinking erupting energy radiant against inertia

frothy flotsom algoid wavering or sediment solid

Hay'im jests in earnest gestes,

tinkers words

dances His words

inspired inspiring

facing eternity's absolute

inhuman silence

                                                                                                 -- Judith Issroff


                Aran Islands Poetry Festival 1999

Two thousand years of stone and stone and stone:
these walls a circle in a circle, high

atop an ancient island, clouds of bone

above deep flowered grass, in Celtic sky.

We listen to the poets share their words

in Irish, English, English, Irish, lines

as intricate as thunder warning birds

that freest flight is more than wings from vines.
Wind stiffens; how can we hold to this place
of shared commitment? History has torn

us into separate truths beside the face

of justice, even though new poems are born.

And yet, hope makes a marriage in this day:
time-touched, here joined, we stay and stay and stay.

                                           – Katharyn Howd Machan




Circles dance under grapevines in the breeze,

dancers in white garments, borrowed robes,

singing rondeaux under grapevines,

dancing to drum beats with the song of birds.


Circles dance up the hills, up to Jerusalem,

up to the Mountain of Myrrh, through the seven gates,

down the narrow alleys, along the tunneled ways,

holding hands, for in their dance they are complete.


And on the Mountain of Myrrh

Forgiveness and Truth hold hands with Peace

and with joy they dance

in the center of the circle dance.

                            -- Ruth Fogelman




Let’s dance to celebrate life

in infinite circles of kindness.

Our hearts keep the beat

to the swing of joy.


Bracelets swirl

on smiling acquaintances.

Dancers hold and turn

sharing love in tune.

                  -- Hayim Abramson







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