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Poetry December 2015_1
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On this page: poems by Elizabeth Claverie, Eva M. Schlesinger, Hannah Amit, Ina Perlmuter, Irene Mitchell, Iris Dan, Janice Canerdy, Jennifer Lagier, Jessica Goody, Joan Gerstein, Joann Leslie, John B. Lee, John J. Brugaletta, Katherine L. Gordon, Kenneth P. Gurney, Gretti Izak

The following works are copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.

Elizabeth Claverie

Elizabeth teaches middle schoolers near San Francisco the fine craft of writing, among other language arts subjects. She keeps chickens and occasionally plays the cello. An avid fan of the outdoors, she has hiked across Spain twice. Her work has appeared in America Magazine, Echoes Literary Journal and Sugar Mule.

me and leonardo

we think on that
side of our brains
writing backwards
on mirrors, glass, walls
suspended in thin spider webs
we draw the same
face over and over until
we are tired of it
draw san sebastian eight times
write countless lists
detailing what the hanged wore
on the day of their death
chew well, taking no medicine
shunning wantonness and
paying attention to diet
we look at bugs, stars, hairs on arms
drawing the details of everything
sketching love, hunger, sadness
in cornerstones of arches
in arches of feet.

if there is no love there,
what then?

why have I not yet jumped off the bridge

because I have already been to the edge,
peered over and imagined it all

the flight pattern of flabby heavy arms
flapping outstretched trying to catch an updraft
the twisting of legs, trying to turn it all around
the changing of my mind less than ½ way into the fall
the horror that I couldn’t turn back
then the splat,
the sound of breaking bone
the shattering of my skull, my brains
my wonderful brains, oozing out for all to see
the gawking passer-bys wondering about my life
screaming and themselves imagining their own demise.

then I remembered a little childhood song:
“the bear went over the mountain
the bear went over the mountain
the bear went over the mountain
to see what he could see…..”
and realized I had simply lost touch with that.

and that I could get myself out of whatever hole
I got myself dragged into.

I hold on because I want to see what is on the
other side of the mountain.
I hold on because I am curious george
I hold on because curiosity killed the cat
satisfaction brought it back.

how will I age? what will I look like? how long
will my ears go? how droopy will my eyelids get?
will my arm flabs save me?
will I stoop and lose my senses and need a walker and
diapers? who will care for me?

I do not hang on for my friends, my family, my children, my grandchildren.

I hang on because I am nosey.

Eva M. Schlesinger

Eva M. Schlesinger ( is the author of the chapbooks, Remembering the Walker and Wheelchair: poems of grief and healing (Finishing Line Press, 2008), View From My Banilla Vanilla Villa (dancing girl press, 2010), and Ode 2 Codes & Codfish (dancing girl press, 2013). Her poetry has received the Literal Latte Food Verse Award and she has been a finalist in the Writer’s Digest’s Red Heart-Black Heart Contest and the 2014 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Competition. She has also completed a young adult novel, Aleph.

Tricks Her Father Taught Her

She had an antiques store of antics
Tricks her father taught her
A breadstick she played like the flute
How to talk on the banana phone

A breadstick she played like the flute
Olive slices she balanced on her nose like a seal
How to talk on the banana phone
Blow the straw wrapper across the table

Rhymes, songs, and jokes
Knock, knock, who’s there?
Blow the straw wrapper across the table
Can you wiggle your ears?

Knock, knock, who’s there?
Stick out your tongue and touch your nose
Can you wiggle your ears?
Wear your folded napkin like a crown

Stick out your tongue and touch your nose
Sing and dance
Wear your folded napkin like a crown
Play the puppy game: woof woof

Sing and dance
Play, giggle, be silly
Tricks her father taught her
She had an antiques store of antics

Hannah Amit

Hannah Amit has lived in Israel since 1974.  She has authored several collections of poetry, a novel and is published in anthologies in Israel and abroad. She presently works as an educator and as a hasbara writer for a humanitarian aid organization based in Jerusalem. She is the Mother of five adult children.

New Comer

He’s smoky gray
Like something arising
From an autumn field
Or a prolonged slumber.

He’s well-behaved
Doesn’t jump on counters,
Has no front claws with which to fray
Substances or nerves.

He uses the box
Almost apologetically,
Covers all things unsavory
Carefully and discreetly.

He’s old but likes to play,
Eats politely - is not at all
The demanding epicure,
Purrs easily, but isn’t a pest.

As night deepens
And I sometimes awaken,
He doesn’t stir
From the end of the bed.

Paws folded neatly
Beneath his chest
He studies me
With enormous, silent eyes.

Does he know I’ve heard,
He does in moles and birds  
Enjoys martial arts -  

Or that I too am watching him,
Our new companion,
Who’s yet conducting himself
Like a perfect guest?

A Poem That’s Light

When you said “light,”
Did you mean the One
In whom there is no darkness
Who turns the shadows of death to dawn?
Did you mean Pleiades and Orion
Or something along the lines of a snack
A joke to make you laugh,
Three bits of swan's down drifting
The moon dipping into midnight seas
Or brightness opposing winter grays
As in May advancing?
Were you speaking of wisdom, truth,
Separations of black, white,
Day versus night, rainbows
Or simply, how in April twilight
Angels on Old City walls go dancing?
A joke to make you laugh,
Three bits of swan's down drifting
The moon dipping into midnight seas
Or brightness opposing winter grays
As in May advancing?
Where you speaking of wisdom, truth,
Separations of black, white,
Day versus night, rainbows
Or simply, how in April twilight
Angels on Old City walls go dancing?

Ina Perlmuter

Ina G. Perlmuter was born in Boston and spent her early years in Quincy Ma. As a dyslexic she struggled with school but at age fifty found a voice writing poetry. Her writing has appeared in Bina Magazine, Voices Israel, ISPS, anthologies and periodicals. 

An Odd, Very Odd Couple

Salt and pepper freshly permed
hoops dangling from plump lobes
bangles hug her ample neck
printed moomoo and silver hush puppies
aid her swiggling hips maneuver
behind the café table
her pierced nose companion
in unbecoming body shirt
grimy toes n’ flip flops
noisily scuffles to the table
from his many pocketed shorts
come an array of keys and gadgets
the mark of today’s semi adults
these he deposits on their table

He retrieves a mocha frappachino
crowned with whipped cream and
dazzling amount of chocolate sprinkles
this he presents with royal flourish
in front of ms. swiggle hips
and clears space on the table
for his grande’ice coffee
the green straw grazes his long oily hair
and he sits down legs akimbo

who are they, this odd couple
so different in age
so little repartee
save for the showing of ipod
and telephone wizardry and
she the clever latch on a bangle

they finish
he gallantly readjusts his chair
easing the table enough
for her to reshimmy out
and I hear him say
“hey Gram you're cool let’s do this again”
she smiles and plants a kiss on his cheek
and out they go

Irene Mitchell

Irene Mitchell, a long-time teacher of writing in New York, is the author of A Study of Extremes in Six Suites (Cherry Grove Collections, 2012), and Sea Wind on the White Pillow (Axes Mundi Press, 2009). Formerly poetry editor of Hudson River Art Journal, Mitchell serves as poetry contest juror, and facilitator of poetry workshops.

At Pachelbel Farm

Ondine, Palisade, Quasar
and others
(who’s counting?)
come running
all of a color
cows of brawn and sheen
and sublime largess

come running
when is heard
the scoop into the grain
the grain into the trough

whereupon, all of a copper brown
they come running
Bountiful, Charlemagne, Monsoon
and others
and that, in cow terms,
is what it means to be alive.

A Clean Slate

The plain white wall: no disturbance,
no tears, no dallying.

Flushed from alluvial clay and washed.

Seeded at the frost line and sprung.

A bare white wall suggests such beginnings.
We shall press for more.

First, tie up your sleeve.
Then, buckle your shoe.

There will be no come-uppance
when A outshines B.

We do not grieve betterment.
Just keep the vernacular clean.

Iris Dan 

Iris Dan was born in Bukowina, Romania, in a family of Holocaust survivors. She grew up bilingual (German and Romanian), then studied Romance languages at the University of Bucharest, graduating with an M.A. in linguistics. She has been living in Israel since 1980. She is married, has a grown daughter, and works (quite happily) as a translator from and into a number of languages. From her (existential and professional) Babel Tower she sees the Mediterranean. She has written poetry for as long as she can remember, never publishing any, in English only. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in the Voices Israel Anthology, Magnapoets, Poetic Portal, Subtletea, and Poetic Diversity. 

Snapshot on the way to Stara Fuzina

It was the autumn crocuses
that I wanted to catch
their poisonous yellowish blue
but as I’m a poor photographer
who knows nothing
about focus and zoom

hardly any crocuses
can be seen in this snapshot
but instead this elderly woman
advancing smartly
with two mountain sticks

clothes quite distinct
despite the blurriness
- limp jeans, cheap sneakers -
water bottle, flat sandwich
in her knapsack pockets

taking in the field and the flowers
leaving farther and farther behind
her family down by the bridge
as she walks upslope
to the village of Stara Fuzina

stick after stick
leg after leg
she advances

Janice Canerdy

Janice Canerdy is a retired high-school English teacher from Potts Camp, Mississippi,who cares for her grandchildren while their parents work. She has been writing since early childhood. Her poems have appeared in various anthologies and journals/magazines, including The Lyric, Bitterroot,The Road Not Taken, The Mississippi Poetry Society Journal (2012 and 2013), Lucid Rhythms, and Encore (2011), the journal of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.

The Dungeon

I implore you! Cast me not into that
damp, dreaded dungeon--one of
many to be hurled into its murky,
stifling depths on this night when
Nature is infuriated with mankind,
threatening to destroy us with her
torrential rain, lightning spears,
and gale-force winds. Why must I
be the first morsel tossed
into the hungry jaws of the wide-
mouthed monster--the first sacrifice
forced into its wicked, cavernous
throat? What heinous, unforgiven
sin condemns me, rendering me first?
I beseech you! Plunge me not in!

Let me be more direct.
I'll take my chances on getting struck
by lightning while being blown away
before I'll get in that storm cellar.

Midnight Tryst

She flees the marriage bed so many nights
to satisfy base urges while he sleeps.
Undoubtedly, he knows not that she fights
voracious appetites and often keeps
a rendezvous with kitchen's sweet delights.

Jennifer Lagier

Jennifer Lagier’s seven books are: Coyote Dream Cantos, Where We Grew Up, Second-Class Citizen, The Mangia Syndrome, Fishing for Portents, Agent Provocateur, and Hookup With Chinaski.  She taught with California Poets in the Schools and is now a retired college librarian/instructor, member of the Italian American Writers Association, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Rockford Writers Guild and helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Visit her website at:


Your mother says
she’s the only woman
in her community
with two daughters
and six sons-in-law.

You are an embarrassment
with your temporary addresses,
suspicious political inclinations,
odd dietary habits,
come and go lovers.

She’s ashamed
you failed as a farmwife.
couldn’t keep
a good secretarial job
for over 30 years, like her.

You are condemned to
live alone, never have children,
waste your life
surrounded by grubby artists
and slackers.

Every night she phones to criticize
and recite your offenses,
leave you with earful of admonitions,
obligations and a migraine
or worse.

Jessica Goody

Jessica Goody’s work has appeared in the anthologies Timepieces, Seasons of Change, Poetry By Moonlight; The Sun Magazine, and the blogs Getting Along with Grief, Addictive Fiction, Riot Grrl Online, and Poetica Magazine.

Ode to Maiya

You sit at the top of the stairs, willing a person to come home.
When the door bursts open you spin frantically, delighted.
It is worth leaving just to receive your ecstatic homecoming.
You meet us at the door, dancing around our feet,
Unwilling to wait for us to take off our coats
or set down groceries before you anoint us with kisses.

You perch on armrests and seat rims, unaware
that the seat of a couch is where one is supposed to sit.
You prefer the curve and rise of them.
Surrounded by your adored humans,
Aloft on a soft cushion,
The sunlight striping the carpet, you emit
A shuddering sigh of pure contentment.
Your shiny dark eyes are limpid
as you beg for table tidbits.
You eat like no other dog, a vegetarian from birth.
You prefer seaweed, rice, fruit slices, a noodle picked
From a plate of pasta, and slurped so that the sauce flies
and stains your fuzzy chin.

Bath time is playtime, as far as you are concerned.
You curl up in the dry tub like a rodent in its burrow,
and wait for one with opposable thumbs to man the taps.
A person showering, blinded by dripping shampoo,
will fail to notice you sneaking past the plastic curtain
Until they feel your form at their ankles.

Once soaked, you squirm from fluffy towels,
preferring to dry yourself
by rolling around on a freshly-made bed.
You consider it a gift, wet spots on sheets and blankets-
who wouldn’t want to sleep in a puddle?
You are a loafer, a lounger, a lap dog,
Apathetic to all sporting activities.
When a ball is thrown, Coco runs madly, joyfully,
down the hallway outfield. You roll your eyes and wonder
why she chases these round missiles with such delight.

You are pure poodle, but not quite all dog.
Sometimes you resemble an otter dog-paddling a bath,
Your fur sometimes blonde, sometimes white,
fleece, your cheerful skip that of
A lamb gamboling in a carpeted field.

You adore riding in the car, taking flight.
In your mind you are Amelia Earhart,
a daring aviatrix in a leather helmet.
Your tongue lolls from your grin.
Your eyes are closed in delight,
your ears blown back from the open window.

Joan Gerstein

Joan Gerstein began writing poetry in elementary school, but it has only been since she retired as an educator and psychotherapist that she has had time to hone her craft. Born in NY, Joni has lived in California since 1969 and brings her experiences from both coasts to her writing. In addition to writing and editing, Joan creates one of a kind mosaic and fabric art.

Lessons from My Mother

My mother told me, Stay with your own kind.
We Jews think alike; we’re all of one mind.
But those limitations I could not abide.
I had my own values; I had my pride.

So among the many choices of Jews in town,
a Catholic and Protestant is what I found
to be my best friends forever and ever.
They were smart, loyal, extremely clever.

The girls were not snobs and put on no airs
unlike Jewish princesses with teased hair.
They cared not for status in the right crowd.
Though Mother pressured me I would not be cowed.

Birds of a feather flock together, she’d state.
Without Jewish friends you don’t have the bait
to find a Jewish husband which you must do
and keep our lineage pure and true.

But Mother, I said, I’m only thirteen.
It doesn’t matter now with whom I am seen.
Then she got perfectly serious and blunt:
You’re never too young to be on the hunt.

A doctor, a lawyer, an Indian chief,
as long as he’s Jewish; now don’t give me grief.
But grief was hers with pain and many tears
while I dated Irishmen for twenty years.

You never listen, my mother told me,
Poor and Christian is what you’ll turn out to be.
But when I heard my biological clock tick
I turned to a Jewish service to have a pick.

I found me a man good, kind and true
and together a baby boy we grew
with lineage that goes back to Moses.
Thus my history with Gentile guys closes.

Home Invasion

Little black specks were easy to ignore
when first seen on the counter and the floor.
But as they multiplied I had to surmise
Nature had gifted me mice as a prize
for my slovenly housekeeping.

I soon discovered they were everywhere-
under the sink, in a drawer, on a chair.
For penance I scrubbed and scoured my house.
Then went about to catch each evil mouse
with language suitable for bleeping.

In suspicious corners I lodged the traps.
My hungry rodents needed no roadmaps
to a counter where I placed some peaches.
I’d show the vermin what stealing teaches:
death when they do their nocturnal creeping.

In the morning I found two little mice
stuck to my rodent catching device.
In horror I saw what my hands had done.
Removing these animals was no fun.
It actually set my eyes to weeping.

I had to leave those remaining mice free,
keep them in one location I could see.
So near their hole I will carefully set
tasty treats they can easily get,
my belated offer of peacekeeping.

Joann Leslie

Joann Leslie lives in a hamlet in Upstate NY with her husband, their shepadoodle and a calico. Together they have five near adult children.  Joann has been writing for as long as she can remember, (she swears by it as therapy!) but is only just beginning to venture into the world. When she isn’t writing Joann spends her time with her family, gardening, sewing, traveling and enjoying the outdoors with much time spent behind her camera lens.

Private Dancers

I went but for a moment,
to the garden,
I really was just passing through
Until my eyes befell
upon what strangely felt like-
a very private moment.
There by the low stone wall,
two towering irises
stood in courting pose.
One seemed to bow to the other,
getting in return-
a shy, graceful curtsy.
His midnight velvet tails,
and her golden skirts
fluttering together and apart.
I silently watched
in stunned amazement-
their private dancing.
In the gentlest breeze,
they moved as one
in a love struck waltz.
As the air changed it’s tempo-
so did they, their lovely dress
twirling about in a tango.
Their music slowed, the air had stilled-
I could almost hear their panting laughter
pausing on the dance floor
awaiting the breeze’s next song.
I slipped away quietly-    

John B. Lee

A frequent contributor to Cyclamen and Swords, John B. Lee is Poet Laureate of the city of Brantford in perpetuity and Poet Laureate of Norfolk County (2011-2014).  His work has appeared internationally in over five hundred publications and he is the recipient of close to one hundred prestigious international awards for his writing.  The most recent of his published books includes Let Us Be Silent Here, a book of poems inspired by his time in Israel and Jordan, In This We Hear the Light, an ekprhastic project with poems by Lee and photographs by Tai Grove inspired by travels in Cuba, DOING IT! writing the perfect poem, a book of essays on writing, and Window Fishing: the night we caught Beatlemania, a book of poems, essays, anecdotes and short fictions inspired by the cultural impact of the Beatles on writing by authors from around the world, selected and edited by John B. Lee.  He lives in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada.

In the Bounty of a Sock Drawer

in the 1950s
it had been said of husbands
that a man
might measure the quality of wifely love
by the bounty of his sock drawer
pulled open onto the spill
and billow
of warm and well-laundered
masculine hosiery
the black-ankle beauty
of nylon, the cross-hatched
argyle, the double-heeled
cotton, the long-calved
virgin-wool, darned in
lamplight with neat-needled
close work
so the holes blink shut
and the wear-away-from-walking
dims like a scar
from a sutured wound
oh there, see
the housewife’s busy
handiwork, see there
the duty that mends
the genders

well, as for me
I am lucky in love
though my sock drawer
breaks the heart
that wants warm feet
and though
I rarely find a matching pair
I’m no one’s fool
and find my evidence


The Three Phases

first the baby boy
comes crawling
arm and hip
arm and hip
like a wide-shouldered pug
hands flat-slapping
the floor
spanking linoleum
with his open palms
making a purposeful impression
with the vaporous heat
vanishing in his wake
intent on getting there
feeling the joy
of movement
he stands          and comes on
strong, legs akimbo
like an old farmer
waddling, the furrow’s hero, he rocks
as he steps and then steps
and then steps, then
he spies
The Times
left lying flat on the floor by his father
sits with a diaper-thump
like the sound of a sleeper
punching a pillow
he picks up the pen
holds it erect
a thin implement with the ramrod posture
of a military martinet
pushes the point
pretending to do
the crossword
not yet one year old, he
mimics his dad
puzzling the print
with black ink
“you doing the crossword,
his pop says
and the little lad looks up smiling
draws a crooked line
he’s thinking
outside of the box

John J. Brugaletta

John J. Brugaletta is a former professor of Shakespeare and other worthies. He now lives at the northern end of California with his wife and labrador retriever, where he watches people and other animals and writes about them.

What I Did Last Summer

Ate worms
Caught fish
Got backlash
Lassoed a bear
Got killed

Ate breakfast
Saw gong with a win
Sat with Louisa M
Kissed her
Got her home late

Went to confession
Kissed her some more
Lost a tooth
Got 2 dollars
Needed more

Played shortstop
Put 2 guys out
Home and first
Cussed at supper
Went to confession

Married Louisa
Had 17 kids
Flew an airliner
Got rich
Got old

Katherine L. Gordon

Katherine L. Gordon is a rural Ontario poet enjoying an international connection to contemporary poetry through her books, anthologies and reviews.  Her latest work can be found in Quern, Serengeti Press, 2013, and Telling Lies, Cyclamens and Swords Publishing, 2013.


Fat Tuesday
followed by lean Lent,
the ashes of Wednesday
dry in our mouth,
we should give up winter
for forty days, wear shorts
flowers in our hair,
penitence enough
for all the frozen months,
Pluto keeps Proserpina
the Earth will not bloom
we have run out of winter clothes
and sense that war is coming,
our abbreviated uniforms will
confuse the enemy away
though no one wins
in the New Ice Age.
Is there a psalm for this?

Kenneth P. Gurney

Kenneth P. Gurney lives in Albuquerque, NM, USA with his beloved Dianne.  He emcees the Adobe Walls open mic at Page One Books and is the founding editor of the Adobe Walls anthology of NM poets.  His latest collection of poems is Curvature of a Fluid Spine.


A sad night of cello.
No other instrument
bows the crystalline constellations.
No voice intrudes.

Shut the pages
of an uninspired novel
with its red dot
twenty-five-cent sticker.

The house smells
of pinion and ailanthus smoke,
of the remnants of green chili stew,
of two dogs in need of a bath.

Outside the world chokes
in the grip of an arctic snap
and it is a wonder
any sparrows survive the night.

Gretti Izak

Gretti Izak was born in Bulgaria. After graduating from London University, she studied History of Art in Italy and in England. She has worked as teacher, painter, head of a multi-language translation program and editor. She has published five books of poetry and a collection of short stories. Gretti lives in Jerusalem.

Love Song

Were he to hear
what the cats hear
with great acuity
in a range of sound
that is inaudible
to humans,
would he hear how
like a cloud I am
sweeping low to touch
the silver in his hair,
the silent inner lining
of his thoughts.

Forget please, what the world
knows of the self
   love not being a cloud -
the world eats disastrously
into life with practicalities.

Outside a robin is singing
light-heartedly complex
harmonies charged
with meaning.

I stand at the open window
and see how the clouds
blend with delicate throbs
of white into the far distant hills
and dissolve the sadness in the air.

The Desire

To put in order
all that I shall
leave behind,
the way my mother
sorted out her Paris
lingerie, the tresses
of children set between
embossed perfumed paper,
a ripened woman sated
with sunlight in no need
of further adventure.

Yet for me, though dulled
with age, the precious
lighthearted stirring within

persists, faithful as a lover
who never ceases to court
my heart, constant like
the turn-screw of an
old-fashioned wine-press -

the desire to be
continually astounded by life
in this wondrous universe.