II. Waiting for Morning


TWO Eighteen A.M.


A train intrudes into the open house of night,

spilling snatched miles on a track.


Just before city limits,

its long wail pierces the air. . .

         owl’s sharp talons strike; will not let go . . .


Perhaps the multitudes wake and hear this—or

maybe not.


I contemplate my own dream’s unintended

stop, after which


my meandering journey of sleep


—Cynthia Weber Nankee





The Opposite of Nighttime


Awakened by thunder, I lie in the dark

Yet here in the dark I cannot lie.

There was a dream but I can't recall

what  I was doing there at all.

I was in a dream but lightning caught fire

on the hem of the dream and I awoke.

I tried to remember, but no longer tired,

forgot the dream as the thunder spoke:


”What are you doing? Where do you stand

among  all the dreams that by day you planned?

There was a day but you can't recall

what  you did yesterday at all.

Thousands of words in a drift of sand.

Thousands of deeds in a drift of sand.”


The clock ticked its questions, the skies told time.

The stars behind clouds called my bluff, and this rhyme

got twisted up in my blankets. All asunder

went my plans for tomorrow.

          Continued the thunder:


”Your dreams are but dreams, by day or by night.

How is your wrong all that different from right?

Wake up! Go to sleep! It's all the same thing.

You dream you're awake and awake when you dream.

Your days fly by on ego’s wings,

Your days are filled with empty things

Thousands of thoughts in a drift of sand.

Thousands of moments in a drift of sand. ”


I switch on the lamp and Reader's Digest

fills up my mind with American dreams.

At last, determined to get my rest

I turn it off.

It's strange. It seems

that what in the light is easily denied

in the night’s too bright for me to hide:

The only kindness I do that’s kind

is the kindness I do with You in mind,

my only words less false than true

are those I know are heard by You,

the only ground that does not slide

away from my feet like sand on either side

is the ground I walk in search of You.


The hours drag by, but at last—what's this?

The darkness is blowing a goodbye kiss


and now at the window a tentative dawn

is whispering greetings. The stars are gone.


As morning gropes softly with long pale gloves

I linger back to the sleep my heart loves.

and when I awake, curtains lifting on a breeze

inform me the day has arrived.


                      Oh, what a tease

that darkness! How heartless thunder's anger,

scaring me like that

when there was really no danger.

—Sarah Shapiro






white horses jumped

from the black thoughts


in the open window

they rush play

grow in a dream

sharp words

fall into memory


outside the existence


white horses



in infinity

—Anna Banasiak






Google: an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.


I remember winter before we fled,

my bed womb-warm and welcoming,

soft and soothing—a comfortable cocoon

that I snuggled into, wearing night clothes

and thick, warm socks, eyes already closed.

I imagine the quilt top tucked under my chin,

in a room with a door and a window,

a light bulb hanging from the ceiling.


I pull the thin blanket around me

in our plastic tent surrounded by mud,

our home in this horrible refugee camp

so far from my home in Syria.

I shiver, clutch my rag doll,

huddle close to my mother,

shut my ears to the pounding rain,

tent walls flapping in the cold wind,

try to sleep and dream

of that remembered utopia.

Rumi Morkin




Resettlement Blues


I begin me days in Nobbin’s Cove,

Then Smallwood said no thanks.

So I sold me house and moved to town,

Takin’ cod out on the Banks.


Till one day, it was all gone,

And I end up sitting about.

Feeling my days is numbered,

That I’m just set out.


My old punt, no use no more,

Laid up and rotting through.

Spend my days with old ones,

There’s naught a drop to do.


Today, went back to Nobbin’s Cove,

And walked across the place.

Nothing there but weeds,

They’d nary left a trace.


Then, I’s standing by the bay,

A-listening to the sea’s sound.

A-thinking and a-wondering,

How this all came round.

—Tony Reevy




The Slave Ground


This field

is not laded

with Arlington’s

massed markers.


Hemmed in by forest,

the little-used path

waves with uncut grass.


A nest for chiggers.


At the end

of the walk,

matted wildrye,

clover, periwinkle


cover the rocks

marking each place

of free-at-last


—Tony Reevy





Trendy cafe, busy street corner

Polished wood bar

Leather bar stools

Wicker tables

Shelves of foreign liquor

Glass cases of gourmet pastries

Electric sockets between the tables

Large screen high on a wall beside the bar


Middle age couple enter

Holding hands

Sit opposite one another

Reflecting smiles

Open laptops


Mindy Aber Barad



Esau and Jacob


Esau and Jacob,

met after decades,

grey streaking

their beards,

brothers embrace.



old hatred latent,


a shadow

yet indelible.

– Michael E. Stone





The earth opened and he came to me in an iron

chariot drawn by a team of stallions black

as crude oil and breathing sulfur; at his heart

a tiny golden arrow. He offered me a narcissus

with a hundred dazzling petals that breathed

a sweetness as cloying as decay. I went with him

because he placed his hand on the small

of my back and I felt the tread of honey bees.


The place he took me to—dark as my shut eyes,

where I ate bitter seed and became ripe,

and from which my mother could not take me

wholly back, though she wept, walked the earth,

made bearded ears of barley wither, the blasted flowers

drop—is called by some men hell and others love.

—Constance Rowell Mastores




From the window of THE expectations, the longings of hungry mothers are sent forth


Through the window of the expectations I look down

Push them away from me to the wind

The bars cut them into slices

And they grow smaller.

Only love even if you press it through the bars like a hard-boiled egg

Does not get chopped or lopped

Like an umbilical cord which the children don't want to be tied to anymore


—Tirtsa Posklinsky Shehory

translated by Esther Cameron





Twice in her last week  

my mother,  

that screaming,  



creature in my life  

who drove me  

more than once  

to yearn for suicide,  

moved her hand,   

I did not know why,  

towards me.  

The hand that slapped,  

which gave concussion,   

and forced down vomit,  

reached to me.  

I watched wondering,  

what would she do?  

To my surprise

she held my hand   


with more affection     

than I’d ever known.

I cried.  

Despite her actions  

she did care—


then she died.

—Duane L. Herrmann







All those who are in pain are now shrinking themselves

Closing themselves up against the storm outside

Inside the house they are alone

Trying to feel less pain

To pour out the ache

To squeeze one more drop of it out of themselves

As if there could be an end to it as if it could be finished

All those struck by toxemia, scorched by panic

Are drawing the curtains

Depriving themselves of dawns

Wrapping themselves in darkness

Stammering and swallowing stuffing it down

As though if they fill themselves with enough of it

There would be an end

And maybe we'd finally have peace

And the moments of stillness in the eye of the storm would get longer

All those in pain are waiting for morning

As if it'll be the Messiah coming at last

As if there is a Messiah


As if someone will bring them a bouquet at the end of the show.

—Tirtsa Posklinsky

translated by Esther Cameron






Among the sharks that swim

In the ocean of language

Hides a little fish whose name is ”love.”

With his life he blocks from the world

The next deluge.

—Ronny Someck

Translated by Esther Cameron




Something’s Not Right


You have the feeling that something’s not right.

We made a wrong turn somewhere back there.

If we could step back we might see the light.


I guess you could say that we’ve lost sight

of what’s important and who we are.

You have the feeling that something’s not right.


Once we had dreams; we knew what was right.

We knew where to look for a guiding star.

If we could step back we might see the light.


The world’s upside down: day’s become night.

If there’s a way forward, it’s no longer clear.

You have the feeling that something’s not right.


Some are determined to rely on might,

but endless wars won’t clear the air.

If we could step back we might see the light.

We can’t let ourselves get mired in spite.

We can’t live our lives based on our fears.

You have the feeling that something’s not right.

If we could step back we might see the light.

—Ed Meek




Waiting for Orpheus


Loneliness smothers soft

a shawl, a shell of window glass

a few steps here and there

to the chair

and it grows in the night

mold leaving a dullness century old on shoes and eyes

in the afternoon hours

a hole


There are silhouettes of trees blackened on the hills under dark skies

skeletal buildings sagging over a tired river

cement plants holding out lost arms

I am patterned here, placed as firmly as the concrete blocks

molded in the clay and rubble where stunted sumac fights for its share

I am waiting for Orpheus

sleek and brown

I met him once

when I was young.

—Susan Oleferuk






When I could see again

The rose

Beside the road



I knew I had returned to myself,

And like a sorrowful bird

Which at the touch of the sun

Flaps its wings once more,

I strode along the path of the yellow rose

Once more ready to soar, to soar

Into the golden heart of life.

                               —Ruth Gilead

                               translated by Esther Cameron





Saturday morning, cleaning house,

the sun streaming in.


I find it tucked away, in the back of

a shelf of dusty old books.


Slowly releasing it from its place,

it falls open to the precise page.


There lies the white rose pressed flat, now

browning from a time almost forgotten.


Memories flood back to that day, I can still

picture your face smiling at me with green eyes.


You surprised me with my favorite flower.

The first of many to come.


I carefully tucked it away to preserve

for forever, well, at least for today.


Too many years have passed, and the

young hand that first held that rose is

now wrinkled with age.


But with just a single touch of that token of

love, I am once again young and alive.

—Ann Christine Tabaka






Let's do an exercise

Let's speak, me and you,

About what shines


Forget the exercise

Just about what shines

Just me and you

Without speaking

Just let it shine

Shefi Rosenzweig

translated by Esther Cameron







The heart agrees

To put its fear to bed

To stroke it and lay it down to sleep outside

The heart agrees to make bubbles with its fear in the water

The heart believes that abundance is not limited.

You sing us to many tunes

You sing out of key with splendid authenticity

You change tones so often it's funny.

We two float at ease before the Creator

Diving transparent

You crack up

The good can go on for ever

We two are spoiled

And not at anyone's expense

And not bound in gratitude

We're a song of gratitude

Shefi Rosenzweig

translated by Esther Cameron




The Dance of Life


Pointing fingers is the dance

my child created when just three

Scott Joplin was his inspiration

Dave’s dance of life delighted me


I talk to strangers all the time

They dance their lives for me to see

They laugh and cry as if old  friends

and then become a part of me


And every time I go to swim

someone leaving passes by

We always smile at one another

I say hello, they say goodbye


Hello to life, goodbye to life

It makes me feel that all is right

                                          —Katherine H. Burkman





Fragrant Garden of Melancholy


I was always the one who

Encouraged perky persistence

Of Joy,

Pleading for all moods to

Smile for the camera while I

Handed out cheery dispositions

With my collection of

Utopic rose-colored glasses.


But one day I found a friend

Who wore her disposition for gloom and doom

Like a line from one of Keats’s Odes.

When I looked at her I ignored

Smudgy rings around the moon

And instead turned my head towards the sun

While offering her my rosy lenses.

She refused false perfection and

Invited me to visit sadness seated

On the cloudy charm of melancholy.

I hesitated, tried to armor myself

With fragrances of rainbows and sunny mornings,

Then finally took the plunge into her inner world.

I felt immense awe and respect walking through the

Fragrant garden of melancholy,

Open to the mingling scents of

Wistfulness, reflection, and

Windowsills sprinkled with

Wilted roses and tears.


And I finally understood that it really is ok

To experience sadness fully within Utopia

In order to feel authentic joy and

Just get on with life.

Heather Gelb






Sometimes on the calloused path

She knows it's hers

If she just makes a very little effort

She'll crack the bindings of faces

If she just unwinds the shroud of skin

Perhaps the rules have changed


But it's hers:

Firefly that bursts into light

Nightingale that sings


Doe that stretches her neck over pure waters


She is everything

She is everyone

She is nothing

No one sees

But it is hers

Yudit Shahar





A Letter to Shoe


     Botswana guide introduced you with a wink. I loved your name.  Remember that fire-bright morning, Shoe? Can see full lips break over your white teeth. Hear language-clicks, your tongue flapping inside smiling mouth. Left eyelid scorched blue-grey closed on your dark-chocolate face. I wanted to put my head inside your mouth to catch every precious sound, every feeling.


Shoe clicks old story

on terrace, dark face aglow

savannah spills out


     Last night we watched ”The Gods Must be Crazy.” The main character looks so much like you I began to believe in Bushman. That your people lived with Nothing like that which surrounds me.  

     But your abundant Nothing, Shoe. An African pink-yellow dawn feisty with animals. Nests swing from acacias like intricate baskets. Rhythms and incomprehensible sounds pulse in golden grasses. The river draws a great arch through your home. You drink rainwater caught in curl of leaves. Evening air releases acrid scents trapped by hot days. Your sunsets are night-blooming fauna in shades of rose and red.


Faint song of lone bird

flutes from distant acacia

does she have a mate?


     I giggle now, remember as you pick your teeth with frightful thorn from Umbrella bush, sit on your haunches, arms stretched over knobby knees, churning a stick into another, smell rises of smoke from rubbed dried grass. The beginnings of fire.


Everything you touch

is a sacred miracle

even the silence


   I retrace our adventure yarn that early African morning. Mountains race like a tidal wave away from open plain. A light rain licks me muddy wet. Remember when the sun appears, the acrid smell of sage rushes into our faces? We listen to stinging song of grasshoppers. You hum as if you are related.

    Wizened like a prophet you are, Shoe. I feel you were taking me back to first bright bone of consciousness, your earliest recollection, trying to teach me something that will take years to comprehend. I will remember your wrinkled bark face worn away by weather and patience, yet with a baby smile like an opened piano. I love your name, Shoe. I will repeat it like a mantra conjuring joy.  


On some blessed days

in those awakened moments

I will sing your name

Marianne Lyon




To Say Desert

             For Yehuda Amichai


Your silent hand

sketched for me

a desert oasis

green on green.

As with communicating vessels

hand touches hand

through your eyes passed

to me

the greatness of the word

and the wonder

of the burning bush.


 —Erez Biton

translated by Felice Miryam Kahn Zisken


(On a ride with Yehuda Amichai, returning to Jerusalem from a joint reading in Arad, Erez Biton asked Amichai to describe the essence of the desert. Amichai held Biton’s hand and was silent for a few minutes. Biton then said, Now I understand.”)