IV. Webs of Memory








it's like a thunder clap from nowhere,






it pounds you into a hole you knew nothing about.


                                    * * *


Dvorak left Bohemia;


           homesick in a new world, he went west


to visit transplanted countrymen, found






to tuck in his symphony about going home.

                                                                             Mona Clark






The stone walls, in the gothic evening gloam,

glow; I can see they’ve been blast-cleaned. The chairs

in downstairs lounges have become bright foam.

The dining hall has added an upstairs.

In the common room, our leather tufted Ches-

terfield’s—a sectional! My Steinway grand

is now a spinet Yamaha; I guess

they wanted room for auditors to stand.


Outside, I look up at a certain win-

dow, fourth floor, south side. How I used to try

not to look up and see if he was in,

his bedlamp on, whenever I passed by.

Transfixed, I shudder but cannot move on.

I slap my face. Twice. Then I blink my eyes

in hopes that those semesters will be gone

again. Before they are, I realize


that I am looking at the wrong window,

that this is not that courtyard! In the glow

I was confused. But do I look for it

a thousandth time to see if it is lit

tonight, years after? No, surprisingly:

For you, with friendly ghosts’ emerging faces—

such brightness from such darkness—usher me

to happier-haunted half-familiar places.

                                                                                    James B. Nicola






When I look back

I see the fires we built strewn along the edge of the coast

Embers leave enough light to read by


Salt spray whipped our cheeks 

And tangled our hair into wild snakes


Young poets, we thought we invented coast, the stars

Drunk on the whiskey of wood smoke and sea tang

We were word artists

But we missed the foreground

We trampled old footsteps

Smashed the heart beat out of their leavings

As they carved paths through the forest

That rings beyond the sea.


Now I hear it all

Manic images

rush out of the flames: a composition layered by a desperate artist

Who has only one canvas left

I am determined to cipher the language

Created from worlds that bleed through each other


we stand in the force of the waves

Struggling for balance

Each of us holds a few lines

In a lost manuscript

Stretched out at the ocean's edge

We bind a book with our bodies


Through the din

I hear:






I offer this patchwork prayer 

On the altar of old arrogance

                                     Judy Belsky



The web of memory


The web of memory is a blue-

green tulle studded by glass.

It holds my grandmother

more gently than a spider’s

eggs  as she greets me

decades after the death,



Like a bride, I am enveloped

in layers of foamy cloth,

a sea of hope catching

every shade of rainbow

in its shards.


I swim toward the past

healing my niece

along the way,

rescuing my mother

from the war that

swallowed her youth.


I am not walking

to the chuppa alone:

All my kin are humming

an ancient melody

they forgot to teach me.

Never mind, this is not

the time to learn

new songs.


I need to cry.

All my mistakes

lie before me, all my losses

throb like an aching tooth

while I float forward,

bedecked in blue-green

tulle studded with glass.

                                                         Vera Schwarcz



My Mother’s House


My mother’s house is gone from here

        where I stand not the exact spot which I don’t know

was never told I never asked


but somehow have the village name

        which is hard to say after some syllables

got sheared across borders past Hungary’s eastern edge


became Ukraine the language so roughened the burghers broke pens

        to spell it broke teeth to say it

chained their leaders changed their dances


though paprika and cabbages still reigned

        I’m sure it was near these falling-down hovels she


wedged low in front of a green tall mountain


beside a small river, really a stream so cold

        it kept meat fresh from winter to summer.

I can hardly breathe.  Why this joy when she is long dead?


This marveling.  I know something I never knew before

        and still don’t.

But I am here, and whatever of her she left before she left,


that child, those sisters,

        the brother that went off to war and came home

addled, the orphan she became, that barefoot life,


what it is to live in snow and planting seasons,

        what it is to dig into the earth, milk a cow,

fear soldiers on horses,


drunken neighbors with mouths full of curses,

        that’s still here, I feel it, her fear,

I feel her here.

                                      Florence Weinberger






Again your shadow loose in the attic

as if more light could help

coming for old letters, broken frames


not sure what was torn apart

has healed by now, hidden

as sharp corners though you


still expect the some days

to climb alongside and the height

save them –it’s storage work


later work –Esther and you

on a pony that almost remembers the dust

it carried all the way down.

Simon Perchik





In her old age my mother

started passing out the heirlooms


with the items we claimed placed

in their sacred niche glowing


under the spotlight of our wonder

a slight haze of anxiety


settling around each one

                                                      Mark Rhoads



The Vestibule of Heaven


My mother stood as tall as her body

would let her, pushing down on her cane

lifting her head above the flood of disquiet,

stepping up to a higher plain, the solid ground

striding past the sentry at the gates of grief

past the memorials to failure entering

into sovereign treaty with the unknown

gods seated in garish niches along her path


she said to us I want to die

with an I’m-going-to-peel-potatoes tone

It was as though she had taken her seat

in the vestibule of heaven

her wrinkled hands folded in her lap

                                                                           Mark Rhoads





We begin our late afternoon stroll;

approach the wisteria that twines

about the arbor in full bloom. I marvel

at its scent, its beauty, and want to linger.

She continues down the gravel path.


A young buck, horns covered

in new velvet, steps its delicate way

across the lawn. I whisper his presence

in her ear. A quick look, a quick

dismissal, her mind in latent flight.


I stay my passage; watch the way

he lifts his antlered head to feed

upon the leaves of weeping cherry,

flowers shed just weeks ago.

There falls a final shadow on the day.


I am so alone. What once we

shared—that stillness overwhelmed

by sense and pleasure—is on the brink

of an ending. I, too, like the faintest

wind, begin to shift and slip away.

                                                                   Constance Rowell Mastores




the evening ritual:


to my mother


down the purpled carpets

past the potted palms

and wicker chairs

we shuffle, bodies bent,

with eyes that yearn

to see our dead.


a few more empty places

at the tables.

those who stumble back

into the past

no longer dine with us.

yet we who still remember

find scant solace

in the shrimp bisque

or the quiche.


after pecan pie,

the last aide gone,

we huddle in our beds


embraced by night alone


though memory transports us

to the threshold

of  those little worlds once ours,

we cannot yet cross over

to the faces, voices, dreams

always beyond our reach.


stranded on the dry shore

of the present,

we sense the gray mist drawing near

and pull the covers tighter.

                                                                                                   Michele Levy



Lost Brother SearcH


Hours vanish across the horizon

making day again.

Last night it rained and we

traveled the distant country

of ourselves

searching for John, that

missing part of us,

the best no doubt.


What is it to witness the road

running always behind taking away

the best blood of us,

the quick words that told

us ourselves better than

we could.


We who lived within your

promises of laughter and the

good place,

brother alive and offering

his arms and history

to each of us whatever



How is it this world spreading

the obscene myth of early death,

telling of the breaking apart

of words in the mind

the spirit.


We refuse to believe that.

We choose faith over

dearth of such acceptance

keeping the search going

where gravestone and shroud

don’t follow.


Words making of flattened sky

and newly dug soil not loss

but the necessary voice.

                                                            Doug Bolling



Taking Leave



Ocean mounts its long surge below


a moon’s passion of wave


                                of long distance mating,


          miracle of motion, perdurance,



past and present merging and not


         I have witnessed you Alyssa


         you in your searchings     your knowings of


                                                          spaces  of times


                                                                        a plenitude


You have become my horizon


here where tide and memory carry me




I have seen you make poems from the sea


have attended as you unworded me piece by piece


                     all the broken nouns      the flown apart grammars


            love is this you saying


            an opening to all the     silences


            the hiddenness where once


                                           a fever ruled


  and now you are gone into   the sea forever


  and now I stand on the edge of shore


               and wave as if to choose


                                       one or the other.


Doug Bolling






healing angel


our first child --

may his memory be a blessing --


lived nine lunar and solar weeks

and two days


wonder and loss

beginnings and endlessness


only God seeing the whole horizon.

                                                                      Felice Miryam Kahn Zisken




Found dreams


in a container by the doorway

I find dreams

on my way back from a year of grief.

my real self

unburied under shelves of lives

I find the teenager yearning, not understanding

the yuppie mother with the best behaved children,

outspoken, confident.


handles to drawers unopened,

old scraps past their sell-by date




one drawer at a time

I defy these doors and layers

I keep that container open

my dreams unfolded

waving like signal flags

do not hide me away again

I hold them tight

                                                       Mindy Aber Barad



Danse Légère


Come on, you ghosts,

you pallid faces—you, who without

pity come dripping in your hair

from sleep—come on, pop me one,

smack on the kisser, dare to make me

believe. Haunt me in the hallways

with your fluttering, see-through vision,

tap me on the shoulder, whisper

in my ear the beauty of innuendos…

Yes, thank you, thank you very much.

That will help to mend

the cleavage between earth and heaven.

Now twirl me around as if you loved me—

that’s it—nice and slow.

Do that cute little dip you taught me once.

Dance with me. Then let go.

                                                                      Constance Rowell Mastores