3.  When to Flee

 How We Leave Spain


we flee at night

we board a ship

my father worries about old Lateen sails

and worn clinker-built hulls

are they sea worthy?

was he duped?


there are so many people on board

I am afraid we will sink

afraid they will overtake us

afraid they will take Father

afraid they will torture him

he has already told us if he is caught

we are never

never to

bow down to idols

I rehearse refusal

even under a whip


the ship sails despite rotten hulls

G-d navigates

He gently tacks the old triangular sail against the current

He skims us past the Spanish Armada

who have orders to shoot


stars look down

and speak in a language we have not yet learned



on the ship

my father studies Going Out of Egypt

written by the Abarbanel earlier this year when he flees

Spain for Naples

Naples for Corfu

father lays its maps over our voyage

he reads three maps

one bleeds through the other




                          Judy Belsky



A Life Without Terror


I live near the ocean so I’ll know when to flee,

where to go, not north, not over the hill—

I can already see ruby licks of fire—not


through those roads wrenched from rocks

that slept intact through the earliest embers

but could melt if severely tested;


you’ll find me standing below my fragile

home, ankles cold and white in the shallows

just where the sea’s lurch sputters out, praying


the flames won’t reach.  After all, there are

seas of sand between us.  At my back, a horizon

free of hazard.  I want to live without dread


or terror, with the advent of whales,

with reliable tides and pelican vision, with

dolphin happiness and the gull sitting softly


beside me in its pocket of sand unblinking

like yesterday.  I could not catch its eye

but sat nearby, the waves gently lapping,


my grandson reading a book, just sun

                                                                            Florence Weinberger



the crow                                                                                       


the crow sits on the building site

does he know it’s a building site

will he fly away in the morning

when the men come to work?

                                                          Lois Michal Unger





They drift away,

float into the ether--

helium balloons, gone forever,

out of reach,

never to be held again.


The brown one

was my favorite;

I held on to it

longer than the others.


One mistake,

it slipped out of my hands.

I tried to catch it,

but I was too late.

                                 J.J. Rogers




Jail Birds


I wonder why they won't leave.

The fence cannot control them;

they could fly right over,

but they don't.



they eat bread from my hand.


Even the ones who

manage to clear the fence

always come back.


I suppose it is easier

to eat free bread than to

forage for your own.

There is comfort

in being fed, sheltered.

                                            J.J. Rogers



GOOD NITE                                      


You checked out

while I'm still climbing autobus stairs


once I took four seconals

you thought it was funny


now you said goodbye

shut the door

to a world

that was a disappointment

a sign do not disturb

a bottle of pills


Good nite good nite

                                              Lois Michal Unger April 2011




AT THAT MOMENT OF LEAVING                                           


at that moment of leaving

when you read a magazine

as if it would go on                          


be back again

and I knew


you wouldn’t

it wouldn’t


I wanted to hold that moment

keep that moment

I had to let go and

say goodbye

                             Lois Michal Unger





Discarded by that haughty intellect

Which now defines you as its outstretched wings

Define the eagle’s silent flight— direct

In its simplicity as thought that springs

Unchallenged to your mind, and carries you

Above the throes of ordinary life;

Yet I in my simplicity renew

That right that led us to this parting strife:

What skies you soar, what things you see from your

Exalted provenance, I cannot know

From here, nor how without you I’ll endure

This life that you, disdainful, see below

You. Think then what you will of what I feel;

Emotion, and not thought, makes my life real.

                                                                                           Frank Salvidio





Other countries are out there.

I am not bolted to America

as this one is or that one is.

I can catch a flight,

be in Canada inside the hour.

Or be in Mexico in maybe four.

I'm not condemned to this street,

this town, this state, this anything.

The ocean at my door is nothing.

My loving you doesn't prevent me crossing it.

Sure I can't speak French or German

like a native

but who wants to be a native anyhow.

My passport's in order.

I've money for the plane, the hotel.

I could be a Scottish fishing village,

a Moroccan bazaar,

a Japanese theme park...

that's what you have here,

a guy with the potential

for being somewhere else.

You think that without stakes in the ground,

there is no ground,

that where you are

is where you have to be.

You call my name

but no louder than Helsinki

calls my name.

You make a home for me.

But I look at a map

and see no homes.

                                       John Grey




He said “you are

the great love

of my life”

and left again

for another month.

                                     Lois Michael Unger




Rough Flight


The weather in the

                living room is bad,

drenching mockery,

                claps of ridicule,

derision, and contempt.


My insides are

                icing up from

the cold stares

                I’m getting,

flaps are stuck

                saying sorry.


Shouldn’t have

                called you lame

when you told me

                to get a life,

should have just

                thought it.


Body’s shaking,

                big mouth’s buckled,

clemency gauge

                reading zero.


Looks like a 

                rough landing with

a long layover

                for repairs before

we can fly again.

                                 Martin H. Levinson



Bird in the attic 


 Her wings brush the pane

as if she knows by instinct

that confinement is a dream,

from which wings alone my awaken.


She flutters up and down the pane

searching for answers in the light

as if a mere entreaty

could shatter an invisible wall.


Now she weaves the huddled space

and slams the pane till her beak turns red.

She cries out in fear against this

encroaching fate, this finite doom.


I tug and pull and yank until

the old window opens with

an ancient shriek, and she is free, while

my heart flutters madly in its prison.

                                                                              Sean Lause



The Wings of Love


Where can I fly? Be free?

Do I want to fly… or do I wish to flee?

To get away? Escape?

Or do I merely wish to sit and rest,

To hear the quiet voices inside myself?

Or perhaps I just want to sit and be.

To inhale the scent of newly mown grass

And watch the wind flow through the trees.

To listen to the song of  birds,

the clicking of crickets on a summer night,

the coo of pigeons on the roof,

the pitter-patter of rain or thunder in the sky.

But pardon me…. I must fly…. 

Inside. To answer the insistent cry

of a downy miracle

                demanding my presence

                                and embrace.



                                    Yaffa Ganz






time’s arrow. Heart’s a moving target—

So far (years photons take to reach nearest stars)

what doesn’t bother salvia has missed me.


May time’s archer shoot me with small change.

(And if he has quick work to do, may the wonder-taker fell

me before those I love.)  Mortality, Salvador Dali


no longer fears you and his oeuvre never did.

I do.  (You forgot the adverb still, or that timely phrase,

but not for long.)  It doesn’t seem to bother buttons,


Betelgeuse, snails, weeds, ambergris, redwoods

or those who listen: Not-I inside isn’t ready to fly,

isn’t ready to die; even in darkness O sings.

                                                                                  Thomas Dorsett




Been grounded so long seems like flight


Seventeen hours since spine injections,

placid pitter-patter of rain drops on our

A-frame nest’s wooden bedroom roof,

gossamer comforter on top, warm flossy

mattress pad underneath, silky smooth

guardian angel next to me, waking before

dawn without torment; wounded skeleton

feels almost normal for 1st time in months.


Holding walking stick then not using it,

I rise on two feet for morning ablutions,

carefully dispatch what have become

formidable stairs, press otherwise-set

Mr. Coffee to On, actually pet the cat

before bending gently to fill kibble dish

(deferring clean water to purring mistress),

perch on downy ergonomic computer rig.


A fledgling phoenix at repose, I can now

manage my own organic steel-cut oatmeal

& blueberries before considering how to

tackle vexing pent-up business stuff though

only after taking a few motionless minutes

to contemplate kneeshipsswings (potentially

+ vertebrae) that remain anything but feathers

covering an ossified wattled endangered body. 

                                                                                          Gerard Sarnat



Not Tonight


Not tonight, the aides say, not tonight.

His rattle has stilled

and the battle won’t build

till he’s ready to fall from great heights.


Not tonight, the aides say, wait a bit.

Draw close, watch his chest, hear his breath.

(Yes, it’s drawn-out, this vigil with death.)

You’re welcome to lie here, or sit.


Not tonight, the aides say, but quite soon.

He has emptied his mind,

all his senses are blind,

he is circling back toward the womb.


Not tonight, Dad, I say, not tonight.

Here’s a legend you told once to me

about herons, of gulls soaring free,

of the heightened awareness of flight.


Not tonight, the aides say, not tonight.

Listen up and you’ll learn something true

about him, ambiguity, you,

and death’s failure to set all things right.

                                                                                Catherine Wald