On this page poems by Ada Aharoni, Adam Fisher, Adelaide B. Shaw, Angelika Quirk, Anuja Ghimire, Art Heifetz, Ashwini Bhasi, Beate Sigriddaughter, Bernice Lever, Breindel Lieba Kasher, Britta R. Kollberg, Carisa Danielle, Carol Nolde, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Carolyn Mary Kleefeld, Catherine Cobb Morocco, Christina Tang-Bernas
The following works are copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. No distribution or reprinting in any form whatsoever without written permission from the authors.
Ada Aharoni, born in Cairo, Egypt as Andree Ada Yadid, is a renowned Israeli poet, novelist, and professor of literature. She has published 29 books to date and her works have been translated into many languages. She is recipient of several prizes and awards, including President Shimon Peres Award, and the Temoignage Prize 2015 (Paris), for her book: NOT IN VAIN. Her latest Poetry Collection: RARE FLOWER, was published by Dignity Press (USA). Professor Aharoni is the Founding President of IFLAC: The International Forum for the Literature and Culture of Peace: www.iflac.com/ada www.iflac.wordpress.com
What Abishag really thought,
blossoming fifteen-year old
lying taut wide-eyed on kingly bed silent
at the side of old King David, was—
"What bad breath he has!"
Father bade me hold my tongue
and go to the King in Jerusalem.
Mother wiped my tears with soft words
said I should be proud to be the chosen one
among all beauties of the land to warm royal bones
but they didn't tell me what breath King David has!
His handmaids taught me how to touch him
how to caress and revive
His courtiers showed me how to smile, how to give life
so that they could live, keep rivals at bay.
They decorated me queen-bride fragrant like mint
brought me trembling to the royal bed,
but I can't touch, can't smile --
The poor King smells like the carcass
of the once noble beloved horse
in our neighbor's field in Shunem.
Before it died, the farmer covered his horse
with a sack to warm his bones back to life --
but the vultures came anyway.
I am the courtiers' and handmaids' sack --
Oh God! What bad breath King David has!
It smothers me, it chokes, his breath
mother, it strangles me, I shall die, O God!
Will it ever stop?
In the morning just after golden dawn --
King David was no more.
The Marriage of Science and Poetry
Mr. Einstein, notable shadkhan,*
Science to Poetry benevolently presented.
For Science it was love at first sight,
but while he persisted the lady held back and desisted.
"Our impulses are parallel," he argued and pleaded,
"Although our methods and tools are divergent,
we both want to probe the actuality of things
to investigate phenomena beyond their surfaces.
We have so much in common! For one thing,
we both use language to communicate."
But, retorted dainty poetry,
"You follow the star of stern objectivity
while I prefer more intimate subjectivity,
you worship the goddess of reason
while I bend at the altar of intuition,
Concrete facts are all you have eyes for
while I dote on tangible essences,
Self is my universe and I am embarked
on a conquest of inner space.
No! Material and spirit will never mix."
This put Science in rather a tight fix.
"The universe inside, and out, is our laboratory,"
he argued scientifically, sending Poetry flying.
"But I need you," he cried distractedly "I can't live without you!"
Then Poetry in her flight arrested, turned,
"Is this a fact or an essence?" asked she.
"I don't know," he answered ruefully,
"Both, I think," he added truthfully.
Then smiling she gave him her hand,
and through the doors of perception
together they intuitively and reasonably went.
* Shadkhan - Marriage Broker (in Hebrew).
Adam Fisher's poems have appeared in a wide variety of publications and won many awards. His three books of poems are: Rooms, Airy Rooms, Dancing Alone, And Enough To Stop The Heart. He was the Poetry Editor of the CCAR Journal (Quarterly Journal of the Central Conference of American Rabbis), from 2006 to 2014.
A woman with a cane
and a man with a walker
slowly make their way
through Berkshire Gardens.
She points her cane at yellow
yarrow, blue campanula,
“Look at that will you,
I wish we could grow them.”
They walk by day lilies
white daisies, Greek
Valerian so sweet
they drip bees.
The couple stops, stone still
smiling as they watch
two white butterflies
flutter over flowers—
dancing across the lawn.
The old woman hooks her
cane over his walker, he
holds onto her, laughing.
They dance a few steps.
Down on the floating dock
a little girl, pink sneakers,
tries her luck fishing.
When she catches one
her big brother coaches,
“Reel it in slowly. I said slowly, dummy.
That’s it. Keep going.”
He reaches down, grabs the line
and pulls the flopping fish
onto the dock. She backs away,
“You take care of it.”
“Don’t be such wimp.”
He takes out the hook and puts
the fish in a bucket, goes back
to the car to get a soda.
She watches him walk out of sight,
reaches down, grabs the fish
and throws it back.
Adelaide B. Shaw
Adelaide B. Shaw lives in Millbrook, NY. She writes short fiction, Japanese style poetry and free verse and has been published widely. Her award winning collection of haiku, An Unknown Road and a collection of her published stories, Potpourri Vol. 1, are available on Amazon Kindle. Her blogs are: www.adelaide-whitepetals.blogspot.com and www.adelaidewritewritewrite.blogspot.com
a haiku sequence
wipe the sky gray
the lingering echo
the smell of wet ashes
in the fireplace
a blast of wind
banging the gate shut–
a creeping dampness
we drink cinnamon tea
in china cups
a shared peace
between rolls of thunder
waiting out the rain
Angelika Quirk's poems have appeared in the New York Quarterly, Iodine, Songbirds, A Wising Up Anthology, Marin Poetry Center Anthologies and others. Her book of poems “After Sirens” was published in 2011 (Conflux Press) and deals with the story of her family during and after WWII. Her second book “Of Ruins and Rumors” is a collection of poems ranging far and wide in both subject matter and style (Tamalpais Press, 2015).
He Was an Artiste
His fingers painted
rose petals and scarlet moons
onto her ready skin.
He stretched the canvas
of her face into a Madonna smile
and mixed ochre with magenta skies.
She hung on his wall
and waited patiently.
Tender strokes of the brush
matted her skin,
and his palette knife
filled in what he thought
was his: her nipples,
her hips, her heart.
But when the tertiary hues
dripped down her neck,
she left her portraiture,
unhinged her shoulders
She rubbed off his signature,
the shady contours
of his eyes, his name,
and breathing in the scent
of daffodils, she squeezed
through the hole in the picket fence
and escaped to the open field.
Anuja Ghimire is a native of Kathmandu, Nepal. Her poetry is published in Red River Review, Words Like Rain, Glass, Clay, Ishaan Literary Review, The Rainbow Journal, La.Lit Literary Magazine, Stone Path Review, the MOON Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, The New Verse News, Zest Literary Magazine, Euonia Review, Shot Glass Journal, and Constellations. Some of her published writing can be found in http://saffronandsymmetry.tumblr.com. She lives in Dallas with her husband and two little girls and writes poems.
My mother massages my baby with warm mustard oil
Her aching back almost touches the fire
The C arched over her grandchild
My baby coos on the blanket on top of the rug on top of the carpet
My mother calls the once-white-with-blue-stripes-receiving-cloth a rag
The crackles and the splatter also sneak up on the diaper bag
And I, too, have given the earth a daughter
A few sparkles have already marked the walls
Like the kohl with which my mother makes
Two new moons on my baby’s eyelids
My baby does not know
That with every inch she grows
She pulls the day my mother leaves
Closer to the fireplace
Art Heifetz has had nearly 200 poems published in 13 countries. He teaches ESL to refugees in Richmond Va, where he lives with his Nicaraguan wife. He won second place in the Reuben Rose competition in Israel. See polishedbrasspoems.com.
Nina’s Five Husbands
The trouble was
they were too horny.
The trouble was
they were too gay.
The trouble was
they gambled madly.
The trouble was
they passed away.
The lawyer couldn't resist
a pair of shapely legs
and fathered children by the maids.
The designer ran off to Buenos Aires
with his handsome friend.
in need of ready cash,
put the house up as collateral
for his gambling debts.
twenty years her senior,
clutched his chest
and collapsed in the garden
like a deflated doll.
None of them could
hold a candle to her collie,
(a present from her son)
who trotted after her
on long walks in the woods,
warmed her bed on winter nights,
watched for her at evening time
from the upstairs window,
his tail ticking like a metronome
as she turned the lock.
She called him Alegria
for all the joy he gave her.
Her friends referred to him as
Nina's Number Five,
the most loving,
the most faithful of them all,
the only one who was fixed,
the only one who barked
and defecated outside.
Ashwini Bhasi is a bioinformatician living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She analyzes DNA sequences for disease-causing mutations during the workday and writes poetry at nights and weekends. Her poetry focuses among other things, on the mind-body connection of chronic pain, memories of growing up in India and the duality of her experiences as a scientific data analyst and a poet.
While we wait
Our silence clotting
on the knife’s edge
with the fish scales
still left shining
Unreal if this mist
will clear away someday
and whether our breath
will float again
like tendrils in the air.
But things will go on
as usual my darling
and we will grow old.
That, we can count on.
So go ahead debone that fish
and I'll get back
to washing these dishes
in the sink.
Beate Sigriddaughter, www.sigriddaughter.com, is star stuff currently coherent in Silver City, New Mexico, Land of Enchantment. Her work has received four Pushcart Prize nominations and won three poetry awards. Her novel Audrey: A Book of Love is available from ELJ Publications.
Horned lizard, young
with her flat worried mouth
reminds me how
I hear, and get, the
But deep within me
is an ancient fear
that loving myself
simply won't count.
And God, valiantly
invoked for all purpose
love turns out
to be too distant
Would you please
dance with me, if only
just a little?
Like a Prince
I have acted like a prince much
of my life, never mind my gender.
I removed your obstacles as others
kill dragons. And when I came down
from the mountain, still covered in sweat
and mist and dragon blood and the sweet
sense of triumph, you, like a princess, had
a haircut appointment with Pierre
at eleven forty-five and it just wouldn't do
to offend him by making a change. I watched
you choose sun block and count French fries,
and I think I will go back up the mountain
and find another dragon. Maybe
this one I will feed and tame.
Bernice Lever, now retired to Bowen Island, BC, was a founder/editor of WAVES, literary magazine from 1972-1987 and has published ten books of poetry, (Red Letter Day, Black Moss, 2014), a teaching CD: The Colour of Words, and short prose. She belongs to the Canadian Authors Association, League of Canadian Poets, Federation of BC Writers and other groups. She has read poems, (some were prize winners), across Canada, USA and on 4 other continents, and won five Lifetime Achievement awards. She still gets “high” on words. www.colourofwords.com
Learning to Sing in 6 Weeks!
Dolores was as optimistic as Heaven;
she accepted those of any age,
even silent vocal cords
with her rhythmic slogans:
“If you can speak, you can sing.”
Dolores slim as Twiggy, spread yoga sheets,
cajoling us prone
for breathing exercises,
lung expansions, torso twists ,
lying beside partners sans shoes
as she crooned,
“Now gasp, now moan, now howl.”
It’s hard to dash with dignity, escape
an exercise mat in a community hall.
Dolores coaxed us upright
to cup our hands around a note;
she declared it C or F - a flat or sharp,
a handful of sound, all similar to me.
Dolores who can sing 4 octaves,
whatever they are, yet her brochure boasted?
Her open bowl hands passed
a lovely, long vowel, we - one by one -
gulped and spewed around our awed
Dolores beamed as I managed
full alto - ‘Mia More’ sincere
enough to make the receiving male
blush, lose his voice
as our finger tips nearly touched;
the only sound I ever truly sang -
not a high head soprano voice
but a hot belly one.
We had fun.
Breindel Lieba Kasher
Breindel Lieba Kasher’s poetry has been published in Midstream Magazine, New York; Prism: Yeshiva University; David Yellin, Israel; Seventh Quarry Press, Wales; Off the Shelf, Boston; Poetry Superhighway, Los Angeles; Halos, Veils, Shackles, India, Voices, Israel; Deronda Review, Sketchbook, Poetica. Two time winner of the Reuben Rose International Poetry Competition, 2009, 2013, judge for the 2014 Reuben Rose Competition, and Winner of Cyclamens and Swords, 2010. Her work have been translated into German and Polish.
I saw Marian
At the mental hospital
Who she was visiting
We did not speak
No one meets here
A shock of blue
Across the room
Her eye white flutters
A dead bell signals
Do not enter
Britta R. Kollberg
Britta R. Kollberg, born 1966 in Berlin, studied poetry in the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar Ilan University, graduating in 2014. She has worked as a graduate mathematician in East Germany, and in education, advocacy, and social services for more than twenty years after the fall of the Berlin wall.
Oh, to have three lovely daughters
girlish duchesses given to silver and rubies;
the older ones adoring their
force over powerful husbands,
the youngest in love with her own intellect—
giving me salt where she knows
I need sentiment,
sprinkling a grain of her sophistication
where I long for a flood of mindless sweet words
Woe, to forget my scepter and silver hair
and ask the question of a young bride:
Do you love me? How much? For ever?
My fist trembles under my robe
Oh me, to have daughters strong as stone,
all I ever wanted—
true and worthy of my name
Don’t touch the invincible!
Only he knows
the hidden gap
to push your spear through
into his throat—
Don't seek out the unprotectable,
he wears a girl’s dress,
an armor of friendship and rage beyond death,
a skin hard like a nymph’s, his baby heel almost not rough enough. The Styx rinsed him inside out. And so:
Don’t touch the invincible!
He is full of scars
He trembles at whispers
His wrath shakes his lover’s
wandering fingertips off his blue chest—
Don't disturb the invulnerable:
Cover your breath
when you near him. Then clutch
his memoirs, drag them like garments of power
and loss to your war camp.
Don’t love the unshakable.
He knows before he kills he’ll die next
and none of his dresses or armors or skins gird you tight
enough in his tent – a price of honor, a bride of war,
a girl finally washing the widow's weeds off his chest.
Carisa Danielle was born in Reno and currently resides in Portland, OR, working on a writing degree and learning about the indie publishing injury. She is in love with books.
It’s not a grand romance, and
nothing that begins like this can last,
especially when it goes this fast.
No, it’s not a grand romance.
It’s not the stuff of books, there are no
gardens, no glances, no fleeting looks.
There are no sly smiles, no barbs, no hooks.
No, it’s not the stuff of books.
It’s not a grand romance,
it’s not the stuff of books --
it’s not predictable,
it’s something else.
Stalked and Haunted
All ghosts should stay dead.
They should not haunt me in rage
nor occupy my tranquil days.
But my ghosts refuse to die. Instead
there is dirt in their hair.
Despite death they thrive, and, oh, they rise.
Worms have eaten their eyes,
yet eyeless still they stare.
All ghosts should stay dead
as our lost love, spirit-like, a mere
shadow of something that used to be real.
Let it die quietly then. Let the eulogy stay unread.
Instead hurtle it heavenward into the stars,
and leave me with my scars.
Carol Nolde has had work published in Cyclamens and Swords, Ekphrasis, Blueline, California State Poetry Quarterly, Hellas, and The MacGuffin, among others. Her poetry was anthologized in Knowing Stones: Poems of Exotic Places, in the second edition of Love Is Ageless-Stories About Alzheimer’s Disease, and in Child of my Child. Her chapbook Comfort in Stone was recently published by Finishing Line Press.
Then and Now
With My Grandmother
June found them on their knees. They had to creep
across the field careful not to crush
the berry carpet, ripe, red, lush.
The child soon learned the pressure to keep
between thumb and forefinger to free
the tiny berry, not lose its essence in a gush.
She matched her grandmother’s rhythm, no rush.
Patience, she saw, is the way to reap
and slowly the empty pail will fill.
Even time seemed to creep in the hush of heat,
a canopy that hung over the flat, still field.
A bell might sound from a cow nearly asleep
in shade of fencerow trees. In sun
held by their work, woman and child were one.
With My Granddaughter
She looks at me in question, presses a blueberry
against her lips. I smile and nod my head.
We work our way around the bush: the very
bottom hers, the top mine. A thread
unravels. I am led into a labyrinth
where a child and her grandmother still live.
Once the empty pail had daunted me, no hint
that it would overflow. The day outlives
the hours spent in the sunfilled field,
stored like a jar of garnet in secret dark,
the scent of strawberries in sun, sealed.
On a morning when frost rimes tree bark,
we will tap our rich store,
savor a sweetness we had not known before.
He’d left the house without her.
Probably by now halfway home,
she thought so when she reached the street
they always took for their return
barely breaking stride she decided
to reverse their route.
Like a film on rewind
the houses, trees, fences flicked
by in new order. She hadn’t noticed
the gradual decline of what was now an uphill climb.
Then she saw him. Was it joy she felt
just knowing his blue jacket moved toward her?
Expectant, as the night in the supermarket when
the bent frame and white hair ahead
said it was her father, long dead.
She’d hurried toward the retreating back until
at the aisle’s end he turned.
Then she’d feared she would cry out her loss.
Now her steps quickened as her eyes embraced
the blue advancing figure and as they met
she turned, fell into pace beside him.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson coauthored multi award-winning Celebration Series of Chapbooks with Magdalena Ball, http://howtodoitfrugally.com/poetry_books.htm. She was named Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by members of the California Legislature and advocates for authors (including poets!) with her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including The Frugal Book Promoter (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo) and The Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditor).
Touching One Another
inspired by a photo of Cassini, turning its power panels
in space, animated trash seeking new surprises
like wasted sycamore leaves in rain and wind
the dwarf woman, a species of her own
dug from Indonesian layers, a brain
the size of grapefruit. did she think like me?
my cross-town friend sits by her pool, pencil, pad,
text and paperback. I know her there surely
as if she were digitally coded
a sandstone scribe sits cross-legged in a Cairo museum
his other self’s eyes alive, waiting for millenniums to inscribe
his message where I can know it
Greek school girls incised in red clay, on a kaskis.
they, on their way to school, nymphs
in gowns blown by a breath, holding hands.
imagine them, a time when boys were taught the arts of war,
girls to tend the hearth, tools to learn their caring role
a case one holds in her hand and stylus the other.
Einstein changes science forever, a spun glass halo around his head,
I the benefactor know that something has left the body
—aunts, fathers, grandfathers—when it dies
force into force, mass into mass, we touch one another
not in the next life but here, here when—if
there is a when—we allow ourselves to know.
Carolyn Mary Kleefeld
Born in England, poet, prose-writer, and visual artist Carolyn Mary Kleefeld grew up in Southern California and studied art and psychology at UCLA. The author of nineteen books, she currently resides, studies, writes, and paints in Big Sur, California. Her writing has been translated into Romanian, Korean, Japanese, Italian, Sicilian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, and Braille and has been required reading at universities internationally. Carolyn’s art appears worldwide in galleries, museums, and private collections. www.alchemyoracle.com
You are the Daemon’s quill,
ignited by unseen fire.
Disguised as a human,
you stride through
the fleshy jungle of life.
Picadors of ignorance,
still unreached or washed,
hurl fists of rocks,
trying to trespass
your coyote’s cross.
Through the trees and
across black waters
your fire travels fast.
To love you
like a maiden raw
is my calling,
heart pierced to
the sea’s mast.
Two can know together
more than the laughing crowd.
You are my soul’s comrade
and we walk a sea of glass.
Our Invisible Selves
When you love me,
I become two, or
is it three, entities.
I become you, intact,
singular and steady
and then me,
flowing as a waterfall
into you, your vessel.
I climb inside you
and there I can rest
for a while.
And in our merging,
we birth yet another;
and this other is
ourselves recreated– invisibly so.
When you are not with me,
I become more androgynous
and experiment on my own,
like a grown up child
without parents or even self.
And my being
re-grows its wings,
again and again with
some unrecognizable faith
that I’ll be more whole
with the next rebirth,
the next separation,
the next merging, and
recreation of our invisible selves.
Catherine Cobb Morocco
Catherine Cobb Morocco grew up South Dakota. In a land of hunting and marching bands, her academic parents stressed music, art and a broad worldview. Her first book is Moon without Craters or Shadows (Aldrich 2014). "Son's Story" from that volume won the Dana Foundation prize for poetry about the brain. Her poems appear in The Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The Sow's Ear Poetry Review, Salamander, CALYX, and Poet Lore. She is author of two professional books on using writing to teach for deep understanding.
The Smallest Teal
Duck caller. He blew it, sounding like a steer let go.
But doesn't stop to tell me names of ducks he shoots—
the shining green-neck with a black-ring necklace.
Library book says Mallard. I want to tell him,
"Father I know Ring Teal—blue bill, the horny feet
are pink. Red wings." Anyone could love a teal.
Judy says our father woke her in pitch dark.
Spread a tarp behind the cattail blind, invisible
from men and guns. She's older so she got to go.
Stay low, he hissed. Keep still. A river-lapping,
glow of cigarette cupped in a glove.
She shivered on the muck and roots, she says.
Silence. High honking. Bam Blast Splash
Heaved over the blind, a duck plopped on her tarp
Blast Blast A pile of ducks bled by her hair.
She dreamed of being in bed. I dream of Father
in his Sears and Roebuck waders,
wet-wool smells of scorching on our radiator.
Where does he hide the shotgun?
His other secret, what he does with knives
and scrapers in the basement. Through a crack
we watch him hold a duck and slice down
from the neck. Pull out gizzard, heart, and other
things. When he plucks the feathers, soft
green-gold, Father's gentle as the prince, lifting
his lady's cape. It's mounding on the floor.
Poor naked. Without eyes or paddle feet
Don't mind digging pellets out of burn holes
at the table, with my thumbnail. But I hate finding
dog teeth marks on the bones. Duck drops
into reeds, Chessy leaps on it and Crunch.
Wrong genes, Father says about his caramel dog.
He finds my old rag doll in a basement heap. Pitches her
across the lawn, her plaid dress flying. Go Chess, girl.
If only he would show me something over and over
the way he teaches her to wrap the soft skin of her lips
around her teeth and carry my doll to him.
Wild roasting smells—my big sisters and I tramp
through the door from skating in a storm.
It's not the usual Sunday roast. He won't say
what burned red marks on his finger. Crystals
click on window panes. He lifts golden bodies
from the oven—secret kill he stashed away all fall.
A duck for each of us. Examines them as though
they're goblets excavated from a tomb. Looking for
buck shot that will ping our Sunday plates. I stand
beside him. Lick one fingertip and touch a breast.
Spit spatters. "I want this one. The smallest Teal.
The prettiest. This one." Want his eyes at me.
Christina Tang-Bernas spent a year absorbing intriguing ideas in her travels around the world. Now, she lives in Los Angeles with her extroverted husband and introverted cat. Her work has appeared in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Still Points Arts Quarterly, Dark Matter Journal, and WomenArts Quarterly Journal. Find out more at christinatangbernas.com.
My Love For You
My love for you resides not
in my heart but
in the aches down my arm lingering
in sour-sore knuckles
and hot pulses of my fingertips
It dwells within stomach muscles
My love for you is written
in invisible bruises wrought
by invisible fingers clenched
around my throat
It is inked in the streak of blush seeping
across my cheeks
in sticky-salt tear trails
sweat searing bitter
in my eyes
My love for you isn’t spoken so much as heard
in breaths floating past my lips
birthed from stuttering lungs
in the hiss of my thigh
sliding against yours
It is found in the perpetual midnight
behind my eyelids
white flashes of light
evoked by your voice
My love for you resides not
in my heart but
I say nothing as you lay
your sleep-soft face
You shift against me, murmur my name
beneath early-morning light
In another universe, another version of you
wakes me with lazy kisses instead
the you who stepped from the restaurant
last night with your left foot splitting
from the you stepping out with your right
As you hooked your arm around my shoulders
beneath the streetlamps’ guttering glare
the me who smiled into your eyes split
from the me who leaned against
the line of your body
infinite me-copies and you-copies
moving through infinite copies of the universe
And my chest aches for the universes
where the me-copies never meet the you-copies
Those who live too far away
who pass by without recognition
who simply don’t exist
because of their parent-copies’ decisions
in infinite iterations
I pull you closer, your skin beneath mine
familiar configurations of bone and muscle
ignoring that me-copy
who left in search of breakfast
because she lost this moment with you