Days 1-14

"30 POEMS IN 30 DAYS" DAILY POETRY BLOG FOR SEPTEMBER, 2020: A FUNDRAISER FOR THE ITHACA SANCTUARY ALLIANCE LAUNCHED BY TIKKUN V'OR (THE ITHACA REFORM TEMPLE   

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(IF you have discretionary income, please feel invited to contribute at the site above; in any case, please enjoy the poems of today and every previous day of September.)

SEPT 14


It's Simple                          Susan Eschbach

 

I send my Black sons 

into the world

with so much love

it should be that simple

 

weapon publicly murdering

      driven deluded in his unformed pre-frontal lobe

      fundraisers' fervor fuels value-added to his hate

an officer knocks an old man

                 head to concrete

                shoots seven bullets

                  into a Black back

                kills daughters sons small children

                  without watching,, and no compunction?

 

I send my Black sons 

into the world

with so much love

it should be that simple

 

 

Ventilator           FRAN MARKOVER

 

                       In the small country hospital, my mother

                         breathes with the only ventilator.

                         I had promised no extraordinary measures.

                         With no doctors on call weekends and the

                         nurse unable to sign, the respiratory therapist

                         tells me, “You know if we remove the mask,

                         your mother will die.“ I want to shout yes,

                         that’s the point. I listen to sucking sounds,

                         unearthly rhythm, watch oxygen levels

                         drop whenever mother pulls at the device

                         abrading her nose. She points to the mask

                         with her arthritic middle finger. Points to

                         me, good daughter, little girl never wanting

                         to leave her without answers, some breath

                         of fresh air, to not leave her with a vacuum.

                      

 


VISITING THE WIND             Susan Weitz

 

The wind woke me up
in the middle of a dream.
I followed it into
the tops of the trees
where we howled and danced,
chased owls and bats,
and batted the clouds.
All my possessions,
my schedules, my walls,
lost their significance.
I had forgotten
how to be young,
how to play till you’re tired
and sleep till you’re not.
Who knows where we’re going?
When you next hear the wind,
listen for my voice.
    



AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL . . .   Daphne Sola

 

There used to be a flower garden, perhaps one too many on this multi-gardened property. But in time, energy diminishes, so now the grassy slope simply runs off into the weeds, . . .  Which  has a pejorative sound, not really deserved, since the asters and Joe pyeweed stand proud, and flying above their heads are the brash and rampant goldenrods.

 

Books at hand, I find the generic name for goldenrod is soldago, and I love the way, just by the sound, it calls up the indomitable spirit of those plumed yellow heads.

I also learned that these autumn blooming wildflowers prrovide much-needed carbohydrates to the creatures who visit them.

 

I take comfort in knowing that, having lost my delphinium and roses, I am providing nourishment for butterflies, birds and small animals stocking up for a long flight or for a cold and barren winter.

 

Needless to say, i no longer refer to the garden at the bottom of the hill, as abandoned.

 

 

Patterns        Carol Whitlow

 

Last night at the Ceilidh

We whirled in patterns of do-si-do and Petronella

(no clapping said Katie, though it helps some remember their place)

And that new one, what fun, the Bokay, whirling

in groups of 3 and 4 counterclockwise around one another

And back to our place

Caught in the moment of pure whimsy and not knowing where we were

But knowing we would end up

Where we need to be

Home

To welcome a new person to visit

And whirl.

 

Oh I miss my old waltz partner who led so well.

Why did I miss the lead of a new move and he had to chastise me

But I can waltz I wanted to tell him

With Dick I can waltz step around the floor and fancy turns

Hands lifted like a garden arbor

Was he forgiving or was he thinking

‘I missed a good waltz with a good partner I made the wrong choice’

And will he ever waltz with me again?

Is there more to life than waltzing

Or waltzing correctly

Or waltzing fancily

Sometimes it seems not

No matter how my skirt flares like flower petals when I am turned.

 

We were a living garden, a garden of dancers, with

A birdsong of flute, fiddle and keyboard

And Ted on his bodrhan, a heartbeat

O to live and dance in a garden

To be one of the living colors

To create these patterns

And let go

To let go

And just be

What a delight it was

The Ceilidh.

 

 

Sin título                                Santiago Rodriguez

 

Y esta fantasía del final de los tiempos, de que el mundo se está acabando casi desde que empezó... ¿por qué ahora sí es verdad?

 

¿Y cuántas veces se nos habrá acabado el mundo?

 

Y ahora que se acabe el mundo, ¿qué es lo que va a empezar?

 

Un mundo nuevo no suena mal.

 

 

Holmes’ Nautilus

 

by Martin Bidney

 

the fives and threes keep growing to a final six

 

            “Build thou more stately chambers, O my soul,

                                    As the swift seasons roll!

            Let each new mansion, nobler than the last,

            Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast

                                    Till thou at length art free,

Leaving thine outworn shell by life’s unresting sea.”

 

            I wrote that down from memory, just now.

                                    Resounding, ’twould allow

            My joy in swift renewal to return –

            Inquiring, too, what teaching new I’d learn

                                    Rethinking childhood lore:

How wonderful the rushing! splash! and Ocean roar!

 

            A big and troubling thought arrived at last:

                                    What good’s a mansion vast

            If it from heaven still would “shut” you “out”?

            The stellar Endless how to scan, O Scout,

                                    While at a roof you gaze –

A horizontal wall precluding numen-rays?

 

            Why raise a jail that cannot set you free

                                    To hail Eternity?

            A ceiling’s never nobler than the sky

            Where we our coessential Being high

                                    May readily descry

And view the Supraluminous, the primal why.

 

 

BEDTIME PRAYER     Joanna Green

Oh sweet Morpheus

Beloved teach me your

Magical language

Dive me into dark waters

Another world each night

Swirl me down deeper

Shape shifting until

I am the vast hollowness

Of an empty train station

Traveling among the stars and

Crying their tears

 


Understand?            Rob Scott

 

You dream with your eyes closed.

 

When your eyes are opened,

 

you understand.



McCoy Tyner          DAVID REGENSPAN

 

It almost beats you up

The left hand

Of McCoy Tyner,

Pounding and thrusting its fourths

While the right hand flits and flies

Jumping across octaves

Like a deer prancing in a field of thorns.

 

He is dead now.  I saw him

When I was a high school boy

Playing in our band room, making the grand

Piano sway on its wheels.  I did not know

Then who he was, that he played A Love Supreme

With Coltrane and Jones and Garrison, I only knew

That he carried me, and I needed to be carried,

In a flood stronger than rivers,

Deeper than grief.

 

Live! his music said from within my veins.  Take

Your fear and tuck it under your arm.

Walk. 

 


Ode to Allen Ginsburg             Barbara Regenspan

 

Oh, Allen Ginsburg, you lucky dog—it had not all fallen apart yet—

militarization, materialism, with martial law creeping in

all still mutable; for your times, you might have exaggerated.

 

A mother’s mental illness fed your art; your own mind was toolable—

crazy when a prison sentence loomed—saner than all surrounds in

that quest to pull poetry out of romance enough to stir in politics.

 

I’m jealous; your father drowned in Emily Dickinson—a kind of floating depth

kept you conscious of the nurture in the air, too easily deflated by the solids

you abhorred, protected by a positive force—the Beats.

 

Jealous too, of that belonging—without a bullying internet to enhance

the smears, while your brilliance kept you this side of sane—able

to find the avocado in human flesh and vice versa,  

 

when rent in Greenwich village was cheap; your dump had cachet—especially

for us who live with all you feared materialized—locking us into artless sanity.


SEPT 13  Note from your blogger: This week, and for Reform Jews, last night, Selichot,* (meaning forgiveness, or more literally “to say sorry”) ushered in the Jewish High Holiday season featuring Rosh Hashanah (New Year’s) then the ten days of repentance when we seek forgiveness directly from the people we have hurt, and then Yom Kippur, (the day of repentance/atonement) when we ask forgiveness directly of God.  This blog will not be refreshed with new poems on Saturday, September 19 nor Monday, September 28 in honor of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.


13 Fine Times with Riley, Poe, and You

 

by Martin Bidney

 

bouncy trochaic eights

/x  /x  /x  /x  /x  /x  /x  /

 

“When the frost is on the pumpkin and the fodder’s in the shock”

I with memory enlivened like to take a mental walk.

I’m a ten-year-old. October, Mrs. Wildrick had proclaimed,

Would in Hoosierland (hooray!) be “Month of Whitcomb Riley” named.

 

“Once upon a midnight dreary, as I pondered weak and” worn,

Came the long-familiar amble of a guy who tried to mourn,

Yet despite the saddened gabble of the nevermore-y moan,

I could hear the jaunty jangle of the thought, “I’m not alone!”

 

“Now come along boys and listen to my tale,

And I’ll tellya ’bout my troubles on the Old Chisholm Trail…”

If you’re ever in decline, and a panacea seek,

Write a line of jokey trochee. You’ll be fine in a week!

 

[Optional Coda

 

“Come a ti yi yippy yippy yay, yippy yay,

         Come a ti yi yippy yippy yay.”]

 

PORTENT             Joanna Green

 

in the cracks between dreams

you can see the shape of

something

that lies in wait

 

the goldenrod reigns

magnificent

until the sun passes behind cloud

and you can hear the whisperings

of dread

 

what is this

why

 

do you come for me                     

on this fine morning?

 

 

NIGHT               Susan Weitz


The stars returned to the sky tonight
 following a vacation in the clouds.
A choir of insects welcomed them;
 moths flexed to catch their sparks.
It looked to me like a million cars
 had hit the highway,
and there was Mars, low on the horizon,
 directing traffic.
It must be hard on the stars,
 night after night,
hearing what we call each other,
watching our souls extinguish.
It’s painful, too, at the altitude
 of the grass, the height of a horse
or human.
May we furlough with you,
 the flakes of heaven?
Our home, this Ouroboros,
 has swallowed its own light.

 


Awe              Fran Markover

 

Nights, I’d watch Uncle Julius. How he’d bob up and down, hum, flail his arms, mumble in an

 

undecipherable language. Julius with his long white beard, few teeth, faded black yarmulke.

 

He lived in the attic like the loneliest poet, looking out the window at stars, shadowy cornfields,

 

chicken coops. To my four year old self, this must be god, scary, ancient, unknowable.

 

God a singer who wailed strange lyrics up past ceilings. When I listened carefully, I could

 

discern some of them: Sh’ma, Y’Israel, Adonai. Sometimes, Julius would jump from his seat

 

and I’d take cover behind the biggest chair. God was a dancer, too, a dancer who wore a white

 

cloth with fringes like a curtain around his shoulders. As if loss and suffering, brothers and

 

sisters could be hidden and protected behind that worn shawl. A god included at the dining room

 

table, one who ate sardines and honey cake. And this is how I came to learn the unknowable,

 

from this dark old man, robed in moonlight. Something in him, in us, that nods yes, something

 

larger than old age and senility, than hushed stories of villages on fire, or lost babies. That if we

 

looked out from our narrow rooms, or peeked into everyday kitchens, if we were quiet as angels,

 

we might witness our elders, the people around our circle, close their tired eyes, seeing

 

something, conjuring something from a great, great distance.

 

 

 

It is coming                Susan Eschbach

   up on midnight

   selichot* stars brilliant

   in tonight’s darkness

no clouds blur

our vision could be clear

    can I let it?

    can I breathe deep enough

             reflect enough

             find stillness within

                            or beyond

            to rethink

                 re imagine

                 revisit and renew

my beliefs in spirit

my obligations to community

          diving into that word, what even is it

                       who of us do we name

                       what do I mean by all who did I forget or despise

my stewardship of ferns, sparrows, beetles

my participation in making life matter

             in protecting joy

                   in embracing laughter

                        in growing strong minds

this poem a prayer

a moment of be not do

so hard to just be

           


Canzone in Blue, Then Bluer     Vievee Francis on behalf of Carol Whitlow

 

There wasn’t music as much as there was

terror so the music became as much a

part of the terror as the terror it-

self the swell of the arpeggio building

and breaking, building and breaking, upon the

shores of you. Your shores washed slowly away but

not slowly enough, you feel it, every grain

of sand a note going under, bluing the 

body, granular and wet. This has happened

before. You were not special. You belonged to

no group of any more particular concern

than another. But the music has become

you. The hurt coming out, from your open mouth, could

open a grave. Let every done-wrong hain’t throw

its head back and groan. Not done-wrong as in some-

body loved left, somebody is always left,

but someone who deserved to live as much as

anyone else who died by another’s hands

or neglect or the indifference of someone

who cared less or just not about you. And you sang

like you cried until the music of leaving,

of long-gone became you. Does it matter how

many strings? It only takes one to make this

music. But let’s say it was the sound of

a choir that accompanied the run of

blood down a leg. Let’s say a violin sped

its notes down the side of a neck, a tirade

of pricks. Or a high C from a voice thrown sharp

as the pieces of skull a bullet through the

head would leave. Or the river, the river rush-

ing cold and rock-bottomed, with its own furious

song carries you with it, sings you right over

the falls. That is when terror is not blue but bluer,

blue, as capillaries bursting from an eye,

blue as the vein under this razor, blue as

the skin beat so far it breaks into song, a

song like this. I’ve sung this so many times dear

my voice has almost given way, and I’m so scared.

 

 

Copyright © 2018 by Vievee Francis, from Asheville Poetry Review



Granite              DAVID REGENSPAN

 

In a house in a room

In a bowl on the floor,

The rocks worn round and smooth.

I hold one in my hand,

This token of the sea’s long fingers

rubbing, caressing.

I think of Maine,

Its seasons heavy

With snows, with red leaves, with phlox and lupines.

My warm flesh against cool stone,

For I moment I am

Sea and granite, flower and flesh.

And then I am gone

And then I am back.

I return the rock,

Breathe long and deep, lack

Nothing, lack everything.

 

 

How Will We Celebrate the Birthday of the World (this year)?     Barbara Regenspan

 

At the Slichot service* last night, the subject was the broken tablets, and whether they made it to the ark.   I tried to get Mel Brooks and the “oops” out of my mind, “The History of the World Part One’s” comic respite we needed when only mean-ness trickled down from Reagan’s reign.  

 

In our breakout room a young couple with two small children re-met one another for the first time all day, so the tablets really entered as a clean slate, and I slowed forward movement by confusing Mel Brooks with Monty Python, misremembering “The Life of Brian.” 

 

The question, I guess, is how much of the mind’s old garble we bring to each new iteration of self and how much of the old is transmutable.   I inserted in the chat my own poetic wisdom, cribbed from Freud, that has never gotten the attention it deserved, I complained in a previous

 

poem:  “Everything is built on the rubble of ancient cities,” but my timing was off and the service moved on.  (Ancient Rome is model for the mind, Freud claimed, repeatedly rebuilt on the rubble from the last fire, barbarian invasion, earthquake.) 

 

Translation for us:  How many times and how successfully have you rebuilt your mind after your own personal fire, barbarian invasion, or earthquake?  And are you ready to give it another try during this High Holiday season and the new year it ushers in?

 

Judging by my own performance, ancient instances of personal obliteration, real or imagined, have taken shape as monuments in my mind; matter cannot be created or destroyed, so their rubble returns as old made new, like in the detergent commercials of my childhood.   

 

The confederate monuments are coming down, and what will get made of the rubble in the mind and the park, and what new construction will we add or not?

 

At a seminar awhile back my Protestant colleagues agreed with Peter Gay that Freud did not need to be Jewish, and I had a great hysterical laugh.  They thought I had lost my mind.


SEPT 12

Grandchild                  David Regenspan

 

It started with doubt

Strolling among the fluted pillars

 

Of hope’s little temple, muted

fears and fantasies

 

Of a life joined to another.

I like her, he said.

 

I asked her name.

Don’t jinx it, he exclaimed,

 

I just met her at a party;

I hardly

 

Know her.  It took weeks

Before the name of the beloved

 

Was uttered, months more

Before the flag was planted,

 

The territory shored up,

The name of ‘couple’ moored

 

To a suddenly supple land.

He moved in with her, and

 

It continued with doubt: should two

Become three?  Baby--

 

That was the word that was at last uttered,

First muttered under the breath,

 

On a stroll in hope’s little temple.

Then allowed its breadth

 

It grew to possibility.  Then there was the trying.

Then the news flying

 

Like a startled bird: pregnant.  Owning

The hope, the body growing, the thought: no longer two.

 

Then the message arrives: the head is crowning.

Then you.

 

 

WANTS AND WAVING GRASSES           DAPHNE SOLA

 

In the early morning

we wanted a pond

and wished away the marshy ground

where water wanting to flow

            was trapped into stillness

by rampant grasses and broad-leaved weeds

that themselves wished to be a dream

            of thin foliage and pendant flowers.

 

Soon the morning mist began to rise

            and our wish became so strong

we welcomed a bulldozer

            and the man in a peaked hat

who shoveled his way through the green

            and tangled mass

and spread over high flat banks

            the mangled grass

to fade and die.

 

In the heat of day,

the pond we wanted came into being

as though it had always wished

            to be there

the stirred mud sank

            and the water was so clear

I could see my hand

            submerged in it.

 

But the day grows long

we have what we wanted

and as evening shadows lengthen

            across depths and shallows

I want to slow their descent.

 

The pond, once so transparent,

            is showing its age.

There is no way to wish away the silt

            that creeps steadily down

            a farm-cropped hill

or the islands of new grass that rise

            like continents in the wished-for pond.

 

It’s been a day-long struggle to

             keep relentless change at bay

but struggle has its own rewards

            and, in the end,

we would not want it

            any other way.

 



Jean  
    Carol Whitlow

She throws a lifeline

A lure of fascinating ideas, inspiration

How can I help but pause

From my obsessions

And allow my own thoughts to

Wander off

What if?  And I could . . .

And How about …

I have forgotten the thrill of my

Precarious position on the cliff over

The void at the edge

Of overwhelm

I have found a path back into the land of the living

And so many destinations to map out I haven’t the time to dwell on

Failures. 


THE ROAD            Susan Weitz


Nunatsiavut means ‘Our Beautiful Land’
 in the ancient Inuktitut language
  that we never got to hear
   because the road
    ended.
Halfway up the coast of Labrador,
 35 degrees in July,
ice floes in the cobalt water,
 polar bears only recently migrated
  for the summer.
Ten years later the road would start
 to inch its way northward
  from the red sand.
For now, the ‘highway ends here’ sign
 and a guidebook describing
the nine-day roundtrip mail-boat ride
 to Nain, the Inuit,
or Labradormiut,
  village.
We hadn’t budgeted
 that kind of time,
  had to turn back.
It haunts us, this thing
  we didn’t do,
even though we declined
 an offer of seal-flipper pie
back in Newfoundland.
In Montreal, on our way home,
we bought a walrus,
 soapstone, with ivory tusks,
  made in the village
   we never got to see
 because the road
   ended.

 

(Blog-poster’s note: Maybe it’s unfair to assume that many of us lack background in 19th century romantic poetry, but it helps to appreciate the elegant craft of Martin’s poem to read the poem, “To a Water Fowl” by William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)  https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/51861/to-a-waterfowl)



Bryant’s Waterfowl

 

by Martin Bidney

 

a sandwiching of threes and fives

 

                        He who from zone to zone

Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight

On the long way that I must tread alone

                        Will lead my steps aright.

 

                        Quite otherwise I chant:

“You are unknown – unknown your shaper, too.

Imaginings upon a throne I view

                        As poet-hierophant.

 

                        Self-changing center I

Horizon my circumference might call,

Which every moment alters. After all,

                        ’Tis wider than the sky.

 

 


Sin Título  V            Santiago Rodriguez

 

A mí me encanta decir "que Dios te bendiga" y "quiera Dios", aunque no crea en él.

 

Porque no importa.

 

¿Qué importa si creo en él o no?

 

¿Cuánto podría importarle a Dios?

 

Si un mortal cree en el o no, a Dios le da igual, creo yo.

 

Pero decirlo igual nos da la oportunidad de hacer sentir mejor a los que creen en Dios.

 

Bendito sea Dios pues, y ojalá y exista.

 

Y ojalá que no.

 

Porque si hizo este mundo, ¿Qué clase de Dios sería?

 

Uno muy cabron, en mi opinión.

 

Que Dios nos salve de Dios.



                                From the Fountain of Praise         Fran Markover

                             and Its Temple of Privilege

 

                       I held a toy gun, played cops and robbers

                     I climbed up a dark stairwell

                     I explored the construction site, touched the unfinished

                     I bird-watched in the public park

                     I jaywalked

                     I shoplifted $10 worth of lipstick with a friend, 5th grade

                     I dimmed my headlights

                     I put a pill bottle into my pocket

                     I sat on the passenger side

                     I strolled home holding a bag of chips and a cold drink

                     I jogged

                     I napped in the parking lot

                     I slept on my couch, breathing

                    

 

     *The Fountain of Praise in Houston was the church of George Floyd’s funeral

 

 

In the evening                Susan Eschbach

 

in the evening house

devices now powered down

distressors at bay

 

haiku may be the

only way to stop the noise

everyone be still

 

complex syllables

broken  finally to   calm

I breathe silent prayer

 


Whatever it takes       Joanna Green

 

Cigarettes ambien booze or benzos

Maybe just a beer each night

 

To each her own

 

Or watching working sleeping

Whatever it takes

 

Or takes you

 

Where you need to go

Some place else

 

Not here

Not now

 

Hell no

 


Within the air’s reach         Barbara Regenspan

 

My David writes about the baby to the baby

tracking a trajectory of moves toward

conception and beyond where everything

starts “within the air’s reach,” a phrase

I borrowed from a September 11 poem

of yesterday on a more exalted blog

where the reference was not the reach

for air happening in you and me as I write

and you read, but rather  the reaching

before the contact with pavement of

bodies flying in the sky to avoid a more felt

end of breath.

 

In these days of existential dread, the work

of living includes the capacity to keep the baby

and the pavement in the separate worlds

needed to protect sanity where the baby

requires a normalcy that must be reconceived

despite our doubts that the air’s reach

has enough of the pure energy of matter unrealized

and hopeful in its lack of expression as something

that took the fundamentals on a wrong trajectory.



Is There an After-Life?                   Rob Scott

 

I don’t know

 

I’m not sure

 

 

But I think

 

This is it.

 

SEPT 11

 (in honor of the wildfires)

 

Sequoias                    SUSAN ESCHBACH

 

gifting us with lessons

of their survival

 

thick bark layered against

   the destruction of fire

burn wounds

    pour flaming life

    into their soil

 

they rise from

rain   sun   wind   ash

orange trunk, green canopy forests

 

thousands of years

 

I lean into their furrows

held be great girth

and towering care

 

                            

Daphne's E-mail       DAPHNE SOLA


I have been faithless, totally distracted  by this journey into the mountains. There are strange physical demands, . Steep stairs dark interiors and the discovery that I am lame at multitasking in alien surroundings, something I had prided myself on when every wall and window spoke in a known language. It is unkind of me to be unhappy in the Adirondack mountains, so much praise carpeted my approach.

At least I have found a more defined appraisal of myself. I have always known that I had a need for space around me, now I have a better measure of how much. My flesh is  not quiet on my bones when threatened by walls and walls of beautiful trees.

With effort, I grant the beauty, . . .but I want to go home.     



Evangeline

by

Martin Bidney

 

Here is the forest primeval; the murmuring pines and the hemlocks

Cradled me kindly in childhood, who dreamt what was granted to happen:

“Element wealth has embodied what now through the sleeper conveying,

We, to the wind-breath attentive engendering strength of expression,

Tell what you’ll hear in your ganglia, ramified arteries carmine.”

 

Aye, the dactylic hexameter, Longfellow-aided, you taught me,

Bringing the tone of Achilles in underworld grave lamentation,

Lauding Ulysses audacious who rivaled the song of the sirens,

Painting Aeneas yet haunted, bewailed of Queen Dido abandoned,

Finding the grandeur of atoms concrescent, divergent, Lucretian.

 

                                

                            Breath, Wind, Spirit        FRAN MARKOVER

                               (after a Covid 19 Test)

 

                     I stare at the old oak in the yard, solitary

                     breadth in soughing wind and cutting rain,

 

                     leaves, palsied hands above a rooted under-

                     growth. I think of my foundation: backbone

 

                     prevailing in spite of wounds and scars from

                     fallings, how I’ve weathered through mom’s

 

                     hospice, shawled her when she gasped for air,

                     shouldered siblings during melancholic storms.

 

                     What a privilege to remain upright during the

                     years, still, rising as elder, to share the same

 

                     sky and stars, same darkened clouds with all

                     that live: house spider on my sill, forget-me-

 

                     nots bluing June fields, a mouse set free from

                     my cat’s jaw. A hope: as thunder ceases,

 

                     orioles, cardinals, grosbeaks return, recolor

                     the oaken boughs, the downy tapping wood

 

                     holding a history ringed with age, vital with

                     hidden pulse. That the day’s deluge, the light  

 

                     and dark infuse roots, trunk, crown, seep into

                     the foliage. The alchemy: gentle breath.   

                     


Sin título  IV                                Santiago Rodriguez

 

No quiero agobiarte. El mundo hace ya eso bastante. Así que del mundo no te quiero hablar.

 

O sí, bueno... del mundo quizás.

 

De una catarina a la orilla de un barranco viendo como ha llegado al fin del mundo, que después de eso solo hay mar.

 

Una catarina que dice "no mames, soy bien chingona, mira a dónde vine a dar".

 

Y vuela.


NOW                    Susan Weitz


The list of all the things
 I meant to do
  should have done
   or wanted to
 is lost in the line of trees
 that’s receding into
  this morning’s somber clouds.
The bluejay on the chimney
 won’t help me find it.
“Eat now,” he says,
 attacking a seed.
“Lists are for later.”
But a nuthatch angling in
 on a vertical wind
 reminds me,
“It is always now,
 always now.”



September 11            Joanna  Green

Nineteen years later
The air is chill
Sky a thickened gray
The kind of day
That invites sorrow

Unlike the day that split the world
Split history before and after
Stole the rose colored glasses
I still can’t find

That day is brilliant
Azure gold
I am in a copy shop
Doing something important
I think like all the others
Until the TV catches our eyes

What we see is impossible
On such a blue sky day
We stop breathing
Transfixed

We watch the tiny speck against the blue
Then the billowing smoke
Hear the voices of confusion
And disbelief

And still the sun shines on
As if in blessing
The jeweled air so crisp
So energized with possibility
You couldn’t dream up such

Perfection



Zebra    By Carol Whitlow

 

My favorite zebra photo from a cherished African safari

greets me each day on my laptop homepage.

The zebra’s head and shoulders are prominent:

long soft curve of his black nose,

thick fuzzy white ears,

warlike headdress of a mane framing his head and neck,

keen white and brownish black stripes.

 

I wanted to show Mom the videos from my daughter’s wedding,

the wedding Mom could not attend due to ill health, Dad’s death, her dementia.

 I turned the laptop on and she saw the zebra.

“What is that animal?” she asked with curiosity. “It looks like a horse.”



 (AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL  PROSE PIECE)           DAVID REGENSPAN


My earliest memory consisted of an ascent to the hill country, the northwest border of my childhood world.  My father attached a wooden open trailer to our ancient car the summer after I turned three, and off we went to a bungalow colony in some part of the Catskills—where exactly I do not know.  What I most recall about the trip was a box turtle my grandfather had apparently found; for a joke he shoved it near my face.  At some point the turtle was released into a shallow stream and I seem to recall watching it sit there, stunned perhaps by its ordeal.

           From our house in Northern New Jersey, if you looked toward the horizon and squinted, you could just make out the beginnings of the hills, the foothills of the foothills of those Catskills of my turtle.  I seem to recall starting in that direction when I was a bit older, with feelings that I suppose could be called wistful for lack of a better word.  Perhaps it was that trip I was taken on when I was three, or perhaps the hills were some kind of Jungian symbol for me, but they seemed to represent the end of the known world and the start of a world I wished to know.  Hills by their nature both hide and reveal.  They block the view of the landscape behind them, yet from their tops one can see for miles.  They thus suggest both mystery and vision, dreams and realities.

           It is no accident, then, that my adult years were spent northwest of my childhood, in the hills of upstate New York and beyond.



Yoga        


Barbara Regenspan

 

Leave what you know

Let the unknown frontier

tug from your center

and pull outwards

in all directions.

 

Bend with the rakia,

the ancient Hebrews’

dome of the heavens

and stretch your

play dough likeness

 

until you and the heavens

learn the sameness

of your substance.

Then print the book

of air from your

 

template to teach

the lost souls

to live well.

Everything that matters

is already here.

 

 

SEPT 10

Conversations Overheard            Rob Scott

 

The phone here never stops ringing.

Can you bring me something in a moment?

The sky was on blue alert.

The meadows almost bled to death.

 

What happens when something is new?

The trees just stand there.

The rocking chair is one.

The rocks have fallen down again. The rocks are two.

 

Last night didn’t even last all night.

When can we get take-out now?

The moon is up. Don’t ruin it.

The seance needed more insight.

 

A melting candle still sends a spark.

My eyes wanted more to see around.

I’m not as down as I used to be.

Don’t sugar coat it. Tell me nothing.

 

The pastor doesn’t like his new car.

The pink one will have to do.

Some signs mark a way to living.

Am I correct in thinking you know?

 

I left my glasses in the car wash.

See? 95 was a better year.

Did you know your living room well?

The Persian rug was on standby.    

 

The raindrops need adjusting.

The record player turns on itself.

Not everything belongs in the same world.

What was the last thing I ever said?


Legacy                Joanna Green


What sadness where   we live

In worlds apart

Disjoint     unrecognizeable each

By each      what sadness you

Hold like a talisman     I would

Run away from 

Feel not sad       what sadness

Binds you each to each      to brethren

To the ancestors I run away from

Forgetting them    into my own ambitions

What sadness       mine of disappointed smallnesses

Yours

A ribbon of grief stretching   

From beginning to       end reflecting   

Joy shore to shore light     to dark

That would make us      all

Whole




CAVEAT EDITOR                     Susan Weitz


When operating on a poem,
reflect before you slice
and disinfect your scalpel
lest you poison paradise.


Each word’s a vital organ,
each line, anatomy.
Use caution when you exercise
your dire authority


for, beating underneath your hand,
petitioning to survive,
a fragile bird is quivering,
exquisite and alive.

                                          

 Origins                 Barbara Regenspan


(The poet Galway Kinnell, who died in 2014, saw the bud’s potential in a beauty that might need to be retaught.   Apparently, St. Francis was able to do this with a pig.  Right now we wonder if it can be done with a country.)


A poet sites St. Francis on self-blessing—

a core of beauty is the bud that blossoms,

he conceives—even a sow flowers,

when re-taught its loveliness.

 

Did a U.S. bud believe in its flowering

as democracy blessed at conception—

or are we deceived?    Was it trampled

too thoroughly at inception?

 



THE LEANING TREE                    Daphne Sola

(In the Adirondack mountains)

I am in a new place
I open my eyes in the morning
To nothing remembered.
Somewhere the sun shines brightly
But here the light is faint and trapped
In a wall of trees
A patch here
A patch there
Ray's never reaching the bed of darkness
On the forest floor.

But there is clear sight through the 
boles of trees
Bare, stripped of leaves to head height
By four-footed
Sure-footed animals
Perhaps a doe picking her way through the gloom
More cautious than chipmunks and squirrels
Skirmishing for territory.

Time has slowed, and I have the leisure
To contemplate a tree
Leaning at an angle that denies certainty.
How long before it drops, lies prone and rots?
A loss to the pride of uprights it has left behind
A feast for the spores and fungi ready to work the magic of disappearance.

A week has passed
And I no longer miss
The newspapers
The highway
The dance floor.
Change happens
Unbidden
To me
To the forest
To the leaning tree.


                                              Penny Social         FRAN MARKOVER

 

                      Once a month, I’d wear my best dress and head for

                          the temple to place my numbers into cups. Treats

                          were plentiful: combs, key chains, quilted pot holders,

 

                          aprons sewn by women of the congregation. The

                          knick knacks so enticing but I spent my extra tickets

                          for big prizes: coupons for Bessie’s Sweet Shoppe,

 

                          or the jackpot I coveted and won:  a free cut n curl

                          at Bev’s Shear Magic on Main Street. My hair teased

                          and lacquered into a page boy like Natalie Wood’s.

 

                          But what I recall most was the tingling, the sweat

                          before the winner of each treasure was announced.

                          Rosie, head of the Sunshine Ladies, stepped up

 

                          to the bimah, pontificating about the tchotchkes

                          on tables, praising participants who let go of well-

                          earned pennies and dimes: like Izzy Needleman,

 

                          the tailor, leaving zippers and patches at his shop

                          to bid for trinkets or Herbie, smoking his cigars, the

                          rings forming little O’s, relieved to be far from the

 

                          cow barns. Children stopped fidgeting, adults leaned

                          closer toward Rosie, her eyes widening as she yelled

                          to the crowd   and    the   winner   is….

                     

 

 

                                 *tchotchkes means “knick knacks” or baubles in Yiddish




The Lyptozoic Age            



Susan Eschbach

 

Eucalyptus fronds,

   slender, bend from

   a glass vase

at once elegant and prehistoric

dusty leaf plates

    across a dinosaur's back

 

Eucalyptosaurus reaches

    out of the vase

    winding her way, at once

    extinct and alive,

    to wildflowers

         placed so thoughtfully

         in a pottery pitcher

Green plateleaves

    taste sweet nectar,

    memories of life before

         tar pits and ice

Scent so subtle

     making re-entry

     to this flower age

     invisible to scientists and dinosticians

 

Eucalyptosaurus watches

     as I write,

     grins that I have noticed

     her secret return

    

 

Me senté y me puse a pensar en qué pensar...     Santiago Rodriguez


Me suena absurdo eso de ponerse a pensar en qué pensar, pero lo hacemos todos a veces. Aunque traten de engañarme, lo sé. Aunque algunos no lo admitan, lo tenemos en común. O al menos yo simplemente me rehúso a creer otra cosa. No me cabe en la cabeza. No puedo imaginar que haya alguien allá afuera que siempre sepa en qué pensar, o no necesariamente que lo sepa pero que no se de a la tarea se ponerse a pensar en qué pensar ahora.


Algún tipo que nunca vio una hoja en blanco, quizás.


Qué cabron, no?



Indigo              Carol Whitlow

 

Sometimes a thing happens

So extraordinary, a color, so vivid, vestige of another world,

A small bird, just sitting there as if so ordinary

And small, it was quite small but not tiny

Just under-stated, as if to say

You get this much of this color, but not too much,

and not only a gem’s worth, either,

Enough for you to say:

“now’s there’s a color right out of a dream.”

Have I just crossed over?

 

It’s clade is called Passerina,  which sounds like

passing through, but actually

Means it has toes for perching, which you do have to do,

after all, If you are passing through on a long journey,

you need a brief respite

For body and soul.

 

If this is a real bird and my real life,

can this life have a few surprises left,

for anyone really?

Anyone willing to look and notice

something just a little different

And so so very beautiful?

And then it flew off, I don’t know where, or if it will return,

Perhaps it’s just passing through to another woods

Or to another person’s dream.

I’ll call it my soul bird, it perches in my heart and

sings when I am in need of

Extraordinary joy, from somewhere, over there,

Either another woods or another, a dream world,

I now know how to access that joy, little colored bird,

Not so little really, in fact,

So very, very important to me. 




#10 Longfellow    Martin Bidney


           “For a boy’s will is the wind’s will,

And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

           For a song’s thrall is in joy’s thrill

As the cutter to his Gordian knots.

 

           Let us “Nay!” say to what Fate plots

And the maelstrom let the brave sails fill!

           When a man faces the cast lots,

They a glad Inspire! Infire! can’t still.


Teaneck, New Jersey 1969-71                            DAVID REGENSPAN

 

           Textbooks with the added required covers so that they stayed clean when you gave them back at the end of the year.  You bought the covers at any dime store with your choice of color or pattern.  Textbooks that, in an era before backpacks, weighed as heavy under your arm as a load of new caught fish.  Mr. Moore, who found our poetry to be ‘poignant’.  Miss Condari, former nun, who found literature to be ‘evocative.’  The doors of the high school: the black kids’ door with graffiti penned on its walls, e.g. ‘we are forty million strong.’  The tough Irish and Italian kids’ door, aka the greasers, with their leather jackets.  The everybody else’s door for the Protestant and Jewish kids, with nothing special.  The summer I discovered smoking weed and hash in a small hotel in the Catskills, then continued the habit in Teaneck until I got panic attacks and stopped.  How the hash tasted, sickly sweet in the back of your throat.  Sitting on the hall floor with Judy Spiegel finding stuff to complain about.  Judy Spiegel’s frizzy dark blond hair that cascaded over her shoulders.  Walking home with Peter Goldman who said ‘You know how you can tell an optimist?  When he falls off the Empire State Building and passes the fortieth floor he says ‘well nothing bad’s happened yet.’  Peter’s strange house by the river and his many pet mice.  Sherry Belman and her mother who collected orchids. 

The bus into Manhattan that first cost thirty-five cents then cost fifty-five cents.  Growing hair well past my ears.  A denim jacket with a peace sign bleached into it.  The Mobilization to End the War with Phil Ochs singing in Central Park, Manhattan.  The Moratorium to End the War in Hackensack.  The view of the distant hills of northwest New Jersey and the need to get out, get out, get out.


SEPT 9

 

School Bus Memories #1           Joanna Green

From across the grassy oval punctuated by a flagpole with its

Red white and blue drooping in the still air

I see myself sitting in the fourth yellow school bus

In a line of eight parked along the curving drive of the

Elementary school whose name I forget.

Not the Woodland School, where

I must have been a humble first grader.

Why else would I have been so terrified

Having been told by my big sister,

Not the biggest sister but the one just two years older

And therefore, possibly, more interested in tormenting me,

That if my teacher found out I’d drawn a picture of a penis

I would find it on display above the front door when I

Came to school the next day?

No it’s the other school and I am in fourth grade

And confused. We are going home early,

The President of the United States

Having just been

Shot.

Inside the bus it is hot and we speak in whispers.

 

                                                           

Life at full stop                Santiago Rodriguez

Nada que hacer al respecto.


Estamos todos esperando a Godot, atrapados en una obra de Becket.

Se nos revuelve ayer con hoy.

Se nos revuelve mañana también.

Y así no sabemos si las semanas son meses,
o si los meses son años,
o cuánto tiempo llevamos
esperando a Godot.

Por lo pronto nosotros seguimos esperando...

Living life at full stop.



A NIGHT AT THE OPERA                  Susan Weitz


Scene: a castle courtyard.
The lamps whisper, “Evening.”
Characters assemble, lords and ladies,
encumbered by a tragic plot
and Renaissance attire.
No one moves except an Asian beauty
in red and black,
who glides across the stage
like an omen.
Now the orchestra issues
its own warning:
cymbals, brass, strings mourning
in a minor key.
On a single sustained chord,
the crowd breathes
and the story,
in the shape of a song,
begins.



Yes              Susan Eschbach

 

How do we make this work for children?

I don't know

what about the adults

wait , this will be an option?

Can I do it this way?

I can’t    I wont    I don't know how

Why is this much screen time ok? for 6year olds? 8?

can you?

will you?

I need help

no one should learn like this

It'll be fun, let's try!

No, we cant, we don’t know

I knew yesterday

really

you might know tomorrow

 

Everyday our metric for planning

is written on tectonic plates

or dust

or in lung infection, fear, panic

 

Come let's do this

We can

Can we?

I dont know

We will teach each other

 

By the end of this long day with teachers

prepping for children

it is late, dark

the Big Dipper walks me through

my northside neighborhood

Cassiopeia sits over east hill

peepers crickets cicadas more pleasant

than the cacophony of 

COVID school

 

Tomorrow 

we will know more

?                         

                         

                                        Cape Cod                                    Martin Bidney

 

(some people call ‘em sonnets)

 

Shore is a morgue, and no flattery ìn it;

           Ranker and wilder no desert you’ll see.

Crab and a horse-shoe, and clam – in a minute!

           Never you’ll guess what you get from the sea.

 

Dogs in their packs will be ranging, and lately

           Crows gleaned the pittance the ebbing had left –

Carcasses, human and animal, stately

           Up on a shelf, are of nothing bereft.

 

Rotting and bleaching, by waves and the light-heat,

           Each in a sand-bed is tucked by the tide.

Naked is Nature. Let element light-greet

           Sea-gulls a-wheeling in spray where they glide.

 

I, Henry David, give thanks for your night-tweet!

           Martin, our art – let it ever abide!


--

                                            

                                  Witness                                      Fran Markover

 

                        If one is quiet, if there’s been enough warmth, rain, mud,

                        the log a haven from squirrels, they appear early spring:

 

                        the yellow spotted salamanders. What a gift to witness

                        their travels toward ephemeral pools to breed, the same

 

                        waters where they’ve been hatched. And the wonders:

                        mating rituals by tangled beds of buttercups and trillium.

 

                        Or the magic: losing one’s leg or part of one’s head, then

                        to slowly re-grow what’s missing. What’s it like to finesse

 

                        a small wet world in such a lithe manner. They journey

                        en masse, a soft silent army emerging, muscling to and

 

                        from underbellies of forest, their bodies ebony, designed

                        and painted with iridescent suns, the artist unknowable.                      

                        


RONDELAY SANS RÊGLES         Daphne Sola

(After reading Marianne Moore)

 

What do I do

when a great poet has said it all

and left me with a tongue

emaciated

intertwined thoughts

hanging heavy in the air

yesterday’s washing

on the line?

 

Who am I

turned wordless?

I can walk and swim and climb

yet my senses tumble down

a tamed animal

supine and quivering

stroked and scratched

soothed and raked

by the shiny pointed nails

of another’s sublime gift.

 

But Who I Am

has temerity

I cling to being that animal

and in a thousand years

brought down to a thousand hours

the bristly hair on my back

becomes down

my smitten brain will flower

my cold hands grip a pen

 

and Who I Am

writes a river of words

revelations of nascent power

which, at least,

on first draft,

will be pleasing to me.

 



IN BLACK AND WHITE          Rob Scott

The photograph isn’t what was photographed, it’s something else.

-- Garry Winogrand

 

I sit on a bench

On the shore

Of a small lake

Where I have come to

Awake in the morning

And compose myself

A shot for my camera

 

To take without

A sound I rise

And hear what is

In the silence within

My mind perceives

The scrim of waves

Beating gently against

 

The rocks and the rocks

Themselves turn into

Waves and stir my mind

Until the photograph

I take becomes shorthand

For what I have seen

And what I have not

 

The Handoff                                       David Regenspan

 

My old high school friend Judith lives in Los Angeles.  We communicate once or twice weekly via Skype, that strange new method of seeing and hearing another human being who is not really there.  I use a tablet computer when I speak to my friend, which means that I hold her in my hands as we speak.  It is a literal experiencing of the phrase “a conversation that has weight.”

 

“I put Gracie down,” you said to me last night as, in this instance, I tried to balance my tablet precariously upright against a napkin holder.  Gracie was the friendly black cat that Judith had for almost nineteen years.  The animal was ailing for some time; it came as no surprise that she had to be put down.  My friend had the sort of look of sorrow people have when they lose an animal.  Not a total sorrow, more like a hesitant sorrow, a sorrow played with a flute instead of a harsh trumpet.  A sorrow that sheepishly seeks permission to express itself, as if to say, this is a world full of death.  Dare I add my sorrow of the loss of a pet to a world already full of the deaths of human beings?

 

This is, of course, now a time of human death from a new virus for which human bodies have no immunity.  And this time of contagion and pandemic is what colored Judith’s experience of Gracie’s final visit to the vet.  For the duration of the virus, no person other than staff was to be allowed into the veterinary clinic.  Animals had to be handed off in the parking lot, whether in a carrier or on a leash.  In Judith’s case, she handed off Gracie in her cat carrier.  After a while, an empty carrier was handed back to her.  It was as if she made her animal disappear.

 

All of our conversations now have weight.  The weight of a cat carrier being handed across a void.  The weight of computers and tablets and phones broadcasting phantom faces and voices.  All of us can now disappear.  Our conversations are mere images and sounds that can be canceled with the click of a mouse or the touch of a button.  Real weight, the weight of a hand shaken or a body embraced, is no longer there.

 

This era of the virus will be remembered in many different ways.  I suspect that, years from now, one of the first images that will come to my mind is the image of that empty cat carrier being handed over in a parking lot.  It will enter my thoughts softly, almost silent, like the sound of an animal breathing it final breath.

 

Poetry and Air Quality           Barbara Regenspan

 

In those days, forgiveness was in the air: between my children, between some heads of state, between my black and white students.  All over the WEB it was presented as the theme of applied American Buddhism.   A rabbi explained on NPR how his work on forgiveness led to his alliance with Palestinian resistance to the military occupation.  A young woman in class said she now understood that she had to forgive her crack-addicted mother for abandoning her child, this student.

 

Understand it was me breathing in forgiveness because I had figured out an arrangement of the right words that engaged me more than my rage.  Then, I came up for air, and it turned out that the children, the leaders, the American Buddhists, the rabbi and the young woman had changed its quality ever so slightly with the forgiveness-infected molecules of their own exhalation.



SEPT 8


The man in the blue kayak    Carol Whitlow

 

I approached the shore slowly

  giving him time to push off -

  there was clicking and snapping

And I thought: A fisherman?  His rods ‘n reels ‘n fishing toys -

But a kayak doesn’t have much room for toys

    or trophies.

Then I thought:  A photographer?  His tripods, lenses, filters,

   waterproof bags -

A kayak is good for stealthy approaches

  on turtles sunning or geese preening

  or barely submerged tree root sculptures.

 

He was still strapping in as I glided to shore -

A broad-chested man with silver waves on his head

And a trimmed silver beard,

He spoke New Joi-sey, which is a surprise

  this being rural upstate New York.

He told me he had 9 kayaks,

  once had a Walden Vista like mine

  knew the company had gone out of business.

I told him about the time I got caught in a strainer on Fall Creek,

  the Vista being too long for strong currents.

And he told me about ocean kayaking

And needing one you can roll in and get out of, that won’t fill with water.

And he told me about tossing this blue one

  down a steep slope, on a rope,

  it being tough and trustworthy –

Then he climbed down after it to

   do the reservoir.

We laughed at the audacity.

And he told me how he thought he’d die

  when he was caught between wind-swept waves

And perpendicular big-ship wake

And he in his little kayak not knowing

  which way to roll.

And he told me he had multiple sclerosis as he strapped

  his leg braces on the blue kayak

  with neat little black Velcro woven tabs.

And we said “Enjoy the afternoon”.

 

Since then he has been paddling

   around my mind -

His tough resilience, his rolling with the waves,

And how he trusts his body and his spirit to prevail.

I want a kayak like that.

 


Fossil                          David Regenspan

 

An unremarkable moment,

A bit of sea floor:

Brachiopod, crinoid, coral, bryozoa,

Bits and pieces of animal

Mashed into bottom mud,

Nothing to notice.

This was half a billion years ago.

Now it is shale, a rock in a cabinet.

Time makes no sense,

The moments that slide out of existence:

The first step, the first kiss, the first child.

 

 

Todo lo puedo echar a perder               Santiago Rodriguez

 

 

Estoy tratando de pensar en algo lindo.

 

¿Has visto en internet las cabras que se asustan o se emocionan y se desmayan?

 

O en una tortilla de harina con mantequilla.

 

O el señor de la tiendita que a todos trata bien.

 

O, al menos eso es lo que me ha tocado ver.

 

Seguramente lo estoy reduciendo a los ratitos en que me ha tocado verlo, pero es una persona completa, como tú y como yo, con sus problemas. ¿Y tal vez no trata bien a todos?

 

Tal vez.

 

¿Ya ves? Todo lo puedo echar a perder.

 

Tortillas de harina con mantequilla pues, pensemos en eso mejor, en vez de empezar a imaginar qué cosas no tan buenas habrá hecho o no el señor de la tiendita.

 

 

Diving In              Fran Markover

 

Sarah, 6 years old, plunges into the lake with her uncle.

She’s fearless unlike how I was: scaredy cat at her age.

 

We’re at the Seaside Inn : a child’s paradise: pebbly

beach, long dock, acrobatic barn swallows. There’s

 

Annie, Sarah’s playmate, in a red plastic tube pulled

by her father in his ski-mobile. She shrieks, sprayed by

 

foamy clouds, her arms like wings. On shore, Jonathan

sifts through sand for fossils. He unearths trilobites,

 

brachiopods and a lucky stone. No ancient coral, so far!

Barb, another first grader, builds stone cairns reflecting

 

glimmers of sun: mini- Stonehenges. She leaves her mark

for us landlubbers. All the while Sarah continues leaps

 

off the dock into the murky waters. “I love that there’s

no sharks,” she hollers into the gentle winds, her mother

 

tensing with each of her child’s belly flops. She whispers,

“What are children for, if not to jump-start one’s heart.”

 


All of it                         Susan Eschbach

 

Early September air

  cool moving in

    clears the heat

       creates a wind

catches me up

tosses me back

   to eight

   to wild yearning

       a heart burst wide open

          for a bike a tree a girl

    flying   climbing   leaping

in love

arms flung

wanting the world

    the wonder and wow of it

School soon

   clatter and clutter

   thrill and fear

 wanting to devour all of it

all

As light faded

  dusk moved us to calm

     into the house

       to wash

         to read

           to sleep

Something of a magnificence then

Felt it just now

  

 


What Does the Wind Say?    Susan Weitz

 

It’s arguing with the aspens.

   About what?

The usual, I think: Who’s strongest.

   And who IS strongest?

The wind, of course.

   Why the wind?

Well, it bends the aspen
 till it scrapes the earth.

   But doesn’t the aspen unbend
    when the wind is spent?
    Isn’t it cleverer than the wind,
   visiting its grounded neighbors
    while the wind tires itself,
  since, like a shark, it has to move
    to stay alive?

Oh—

   Oh, what?

I think I hear the wind’s words now.

   So, what does the wind say?

“Hello, you’re lovely, forgive me,
   goodbye.”

 


Interference Again          Barbara Regenspan

 

“I think my idealism has caught up to my grief”

I said to the therapist in the dream, in a moment

of revelation that’s gone now.

I know we both thought I was there—finally—

after all these years of something to figure out,

 

and in the precious moments of awakening

it was going to make a difference—

a reinvention of the wheel that would work

this time—a forward movement that would not fail—

the tweak we had missed while changing the focus—

admiring the mountain, and lifting the baby—

 

a circumvention of power used wrong,

unraveling all the bad that had ever transpired—

 leaving one giant circle of us, all holding hands

and smiling, even the cultures who find

eye contact rude.  (It’s okay just this once.)

 

Then, the flash of polished cotton fabric

featuring those puffy children whose hands

touch in zig-zag, colors different but primary,

all the same size and shape, all the smiles alike,

 

hanging on the cinder block wall between classrooms

where my reading group was “robins”

and I wouldn’t be an “eagle” until grad school,

and people would notice the too-great effort that got me there

and the buried grief beneath the idealism.

 

When reality creeps back, Anna Freud

issues the reminder: “All education is interference,”

unlike in the dreamworld, where knowledge floats

and is grabbable for lucky moments

that sometimes produce poems.

 

 

Ed, Walt, and Em

 

another fun fourteener

by

Martin Bidney

 

“Thoughts on Ed? Well, despair is a thing I deplore,

           So I try to forget ‘nevermore’ –

Yet, whenever I think about Annabel Lee,

           There’s that lonely old moan of the sea…”

 

“Death and Mother and Sleep, and the Stars – what a sweep!

           But the ocean herself seemed to weep –

Let me ask you then, Walt, are you thinking of Ed

           While you write of the living-and-dead?”

 

“Don’t forget about me,” chimed in Emily. “He

           And I too like to sing of the sea.

It desired to consume me! How quickly I turned

           To the town! Quite a lesson we’d learned –

 

I’m referring to me and the dog I had brought –

           But I – cannot – quite – finish – my thought



Restraint      Joanna Green

 

This morning it occurs to me

To write a poem about

Wiping my ass

 

As it occurs to me

Sometimes

To jump off a cliff

 

I consider it

And decline

 

For now


Ghostly No More      Rob Scott

 

Moonlight invites being bodiless,

Softening the ground on which we walk.

 

Our days are ruled by rationality.

Now’s the chance to strike out on our own.

 

The waxing light covers the shadow

Domes of weeping willows in the dark.

 

An eclipse would doom us. Down

By the water’s edge, one is solitary,

 

Miraculous in the hours to come,

A kind of exhaustion peels off

 

Our skins set loose by the tide.

This is the nudge; the moment come.

 

And so, we step off an inner shore,

The puzzle of life behind us,

 

Mischief is the accelerant, go

Anonymous to the parade of souls.

 



The man in the blue kayak   by Carol Whitlow

 

I approached the shore slowly

  giving him time to push off -

  there was clicking and snapping

And I thought: A fisherman?  His rods ‘n reels ‘n fishing toys -

But a kayak doesn’t have much room for toys

    or trophies.

Then I thought:  A photographer?  His tripods, lenses, filters,

   waterproof bags -

A kayak is good for stealthy approaches

  on turtles sunning or geese preening

  or barely submerged tree root sculptures.

 

He was still strapping in as I glided to shore -

A broad-chested man with silver waves on his head

And a trimmed silver beard,

He spoke New Joi-sey, which is a surprise

  this being rural upstate New York.

He told me he had 9 kayaks,

  once had a Walden Vista like mine

  knew the company had gone out of business.

I told him about the time I got caught in a strainer on Fall Creek,

  the Vista being too long for strong currents.

And he told me about ocean kayaking

And needing one you can roll in and get out of, that won’t fill with water.

And he told me about tossing this blue one

  down a steep slope, on a rope,

  it being tough and trustworthy –

Then he climbed down after it to

   do the reservoir.

We laughed at the audacity.

And he told me how he thought he’d die

  when he was caught between wind-swept waves

And perpendicular big-ship wake

And he in his little kayak not knowing

  which way to roll.

And he told me he had multiple sclerosis as he strapped

  his leg braces on the blue kayak

  with neat little black Velcro woven tabs.

And we said “Enjoy the afternoon”.

 

Since then he has been paddling

   around my mind -

His tough resilience, his rolling with the waves,

And how he trusts his body and his spirit to prevail.

I want a kayak like that.

 

I AM NOT ROOTED . . .   Daphne Sola

In one spot
Mobility is my birthright 
I can walk through my house
And by turning my head
See trees through every window
Where they stand rooted
In the land I call mine.
I honor them
Embrace them
And have the power to order them
Cut down
But in truth
So fugitive
This is not my land
They are not my trees .   .
Threats notwithstanding . . .
And my trees will not weep
For me

When  I have gone.

 

 


SEPT 7

PUNDITRY              Joanna Green


10

Can you believe

We have never seen

            No one has ever

                                    Can he get away with

9 Not technically a crime

Challenging norms 

               What can I do about

This is the most disturbing

                                    8 What do you think this means for

                        Not since the civil war

                                                                        Who is going to stop

How can people 7

                        No one is above the law

            What remedy do we

                                                                                  The rule of law 6

                                    What if there is violence              

There is no guarantee that

                                                                        Highly unusual for

                        5 Possibly more fragile than

                                                                                    I’m beginning to feel like              

Above 4 the rule of law

                                                No one is above the rule of law

            No one is the rule of law 3

                                                                                                                        No rule of law

                                    People to get into the streets

                      2 It may be too late for

            1 This could be the

0



Psalm for the Caretaker         Fran Markover

 

                             Mornings, he pulls weeds at the cemetery.

 

                          Here, he’s close to his parents, to the baby sister he never met,

 

                          her grave found when he divined it by holding a metal rod.

 

                          He pushes a rusty mower by the rows, nodding at names,

 

                          carved cherubs, flags waving like wings. He tips his cap

 

                          to the men who taught him to pitch fastballs, offers thanks

 

                          to the church ladies who latticed rhubarb pies with trickles

 

                          of honey for the bereaved. In August heat, he’s sweat

 

                          and muscle, grass clippings flying onto the buttercups.

 

                          It’s a blessing: the quiet, the solitary birds perching on stone,

 

                          wind on his face like gentle souls passing. Here, he’s a good son

 

                          tending to his family as if they’re rocking on the porch on an

 

                          ordinary Sunday, nodding as he hoses the garden, gathers

 

                          plump tomatoes for supper, plucks a melon for dessert, parents

 

                          asking if he could pick lilies from the field. As if his mother’s

 

                          small still voice rises from the ground or from the kitchen,

 

                          saying “Oh, my god! I’ll be darned, those flowers, I’ll be tickled.

 

                          Give them grandma’s vase, some water so they’ll last…..”

                         

 


Advice from a rock              Carol Whitlow 


Forever is not such a long time.

I have been other forms – gas, liquid,

What are a few chips off my solid form?

Early on, there was too much heat, too much excitement.

Slowing down is good.

 

Do you know what Patience is?

It is being what is needed now

And then – be what is needed then.

Why try to be a form that cannot be

Sustained?

I know I will survive –

   therein lies my strength, my beauty. 





GOOGLE DIRECTIONS                    Rob Scott

 

Head out

 

By going L on TIME

 

Go around the bend

 

Until U hit SPACE

 

 

Drive on SPACE until U

 

Meet at the crossroads

 

Of almost EVERYTHING

 

Go until U stop at NOTHING

 

 

 

Then turn R

 

Which should bring U

 

Back to TIME again

 

Go to the end of TIME.

 

 

 

There U are!

 

To reverse direction(s)

 

Start again but instead

 

Go R on TIME

 

 


Sin título   III      Santiago Rodriguez

 

Mi abuelito nunca daba gracias antes de comer. Siempre se esperaba hasta el final. No le gustaba dar las gracias a Dios por adelantado.

 

"¿Qué tal si se me atora algo y ahí quedo asfixiado?"

 

Es una de esas cosas que siempre me gustaron de mi abuelo.

 

Una fe pragmática, dentro de lo que cabe.




I AM LOOKING FOR A PEG . . .       DAPHNE SOLA

 

to hang my hat on . . .

perhaps not hard enough . . .

not a peg to be found

strange wish

since I am one who never wears a hat

and has never worn one

 

always searching for the real

in a jungle of intangibles

more likely to luxuriate in a tumble of hair

brash and bare-headed

I seek no cover

wear no glove

 

but savor each ridge of a crustaceous earth

all the while knowing it to be unheeding

yet, I hope, a little kind

and will tear my skin

with its roughness

only by accident.

 

I am sometimes foolish

and think how often

that has led to newness

the taste of spice

in what should have been

my daily fare.

 

When I hear cries hidden by the crest

of a hill

some pitiable

some joyful

I wear no hat, no body-armor

but I have to find out

 

what . . .who . . .why?

 

Just give me a minute

to take off my shoes

and dig my toes into bare earth

 

before I join the party.

 

7 Em and Walt

a fun fourteener


Martin Bidney

 

“Wondrous weather – it’s better than anyone thought!

Arms enfolded, it’s time we were starting a jig!

You can leave ’em right here – the big hats you have brought:

Let us paint the town blue, and let’s do it up big!

 

And to capture the smiles – we’ll do photos, okay?

Walt, the waves in your beard go with Emily’s hair!

It is straight, that is true, but the strands gone astray

Made me think of the sand, and the sea-salty air!”

 

“I’d been writing of ‘parting,’ but – gee! – you’ve an art,

With that fiddle of yours, and that Irish-type flair,

That is making me restive, unsettled, and more…”

 

“Em is right! Brooklyn Ferry can barely compare!

Peter Doyle came to mind, with that fiddle-tune there!

I am dancing – can’t help it! – the world is our shore!”



Poetry?                                SUSAN ESCHBACH

What if no poem

   writes itself tonight

I told myself

   30, one a day, like a vitamin

it’s good for me    write

    and let it go

Let it go…it a poem

                  it an insight

                        a wish

                           desire

                                sweet moment

legoprincessking was easy

Tonight I feel…..

     old

thin skin

   gouged by enthusiastic paws

left foot

   bunion   red   sore   ugly

and what about kegels

Is this

     oversharing

     overwhining

     overwhelming my own

9 year old boyself

    who cares about

           woodsmoke

           matches

            maple

           mud

Why do I not feel….

         wise?

Is this a poem?


LABYRINTH                             Susan Weitz

 

From here to there,
 from then to now,
  from you to me,
   the path is anything
    but straight.

The shortest distance
 between this and that
  is a labyrinth--
  a narrow, twisted path
   where each new curve
    is unexpected,
     invisible,
      and no easier from any
       point of entry,
        even though we each think
      ours is the most
        obscure.

Most of us are fretting
 over turns and turnarounds
 and whether we’ve
   lost our way,
 but it occurs
  to a few
  that at some point
   the labyrinth ends--
   and what then?
What then?



(With apologies to L-M M)            ANDI PEARSON

I am so throwin’ away my.       bra
I am so throwin’ away my.       bra
You know it really doesn’t matter
There’re No illusions left to shatter
I am so throwin’ away my.         bra


State of Hope and Disaster           David Regenspan

 

My friend in L.A. calls California the State of Disaster;

She says that it was one hundred fifteen degrees yesterday

And besides, the state is burning up.  What hope is there?

 

I don’t know about hope.  Louisiana is flooded

By a super hurricane, Iowa ruined by a storm;

They say this is the world now.  Fire and wind and water.

 

Hope doesn’t enter into it, I guess.  Especially

When, a hundred years from now, the coasts

Will be underwater.  What does one then do?

 

Do?  Right now we watch the leaves of autumn turn,

Making trees look like a child’s drawings in red and yellow.

And look, the blue heron lands in the creek.  The crow calls his demands.

 

Not good enough.  But then, what’s good enough?

 

To keep a crooked faith in this torn-up world.

 


For Whom Is It?              Barbara Regenspan

 

If the personal is political, we’re in more trouble and less trouble than we thought.    Oh, really, how is that?  Make up your mind: more trouble or less trouble.  I need clarity.

 

Clarity is “Borgen” now on Netflix: It’s all compromise and what you can get away with.  Who is the opposition from whom we get away?   Is it white supremacists?  Is it science deniers?  

 

Is it the ones who hope for disaster as the ultimate drama?  Kind of takes your mind off things.   What things?  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to check how bad the disaster is.  

 

The fires, the floods, the losses in shot protesters?   Am I courting disaster?   Am I loving disaster?   Disaster is always worse than I am—that’s its advantage.

 

I hold the center writing letters, meditating.  Police abolition is not the center, but it might be what survival requires.   Survival when and until when?  It will all end someday. 

 

The sun will burn out.   We don’t live forever.  Some days I can’t believe how totally gone my old dead friends are.   Their poems only archived.  Their struggles with weight ridiculous. 

 

And it was 115 degrees in LA yesterday.  It was beautiful in Ithaca, here where I live.  68 in the morning and 73 by 4 pm.  Perfect!   I walked with a friend at 6:30.  Still beautiful, even through masks.  And we kept saying:


This is life.  This is where we need to be—what we need to be doing.

 Up here in Cornell’s miles of arboreta.   Who maintains them?  Are they essential workers or well-paid regulars inside the higher ed bubble, 


inside western tradition, which I secretly love and even defend at faculty meetings when some colleagues are down on Freud, down on Marx.  Get them talking to each other; it’s a quality conversation.

 

What about the streets, the protests—being an ally?   I’ll write a letter later.  Now I need yoga.   Yoga teachers need support.  They are getting doubts during this pandemic.  It’s a disaster.

 

I need a flexible back to write my letters—to offer my arguments on e-mail.   I don’t do social media.   Does anybody read them?  Excuse me.   I don’t do social media.

 

Too much is written to provoke reaction and anxiety.   Your letters—who are they for—

Do you mean, “For whom are they?”   This is a poem.  Nobody will read it.  


SEPT 6:

FLIGHT                          Susan Weitz


Today, a feather’s left for me
as small as half my hand.
It’s painted like a chickadee
and softer than a frond.


It might have caught the wind and spun
in pinwheels from the floor,
but patiently it sat beneath
the feeder by my door.


Whoever owned it may return.
If so, I hope that he
will leave this small memento
of the infinite with me.



This is how you do it                 Carol Mae Whitlow

 

This is how you do it:

You wake up to the dawn and stretch your hands skyward.

You appreciate the day as it unfolds, as the light brightens,

You listen to the voices of brothers and sisters worldwide,

You tune in, tune up, search out,

You become one of those voices, speak up,

     Speak out, speak clearly,

Or sing, or write, and publish your words where they can be found

Or join with others – a march, a demonstration,

Get arrested at the lunch counter.

 

You knit pink hats, you put them on tree branches,

You knit a pink hat as large as your car

You paint a mural of pink hats,

You offer a class of doll-making with pink hats.

 

You get their attention

You answer their questions

You teach the world that didn’t know

That hadn’t heard

That wakes up wanting

 

This is how you do it – give them a souvenir, a pink hat,

   A doll with a pink hat (or a green one),

   A prayer doll,

   A prayer shawl,

   Prayer beads,

   Prayer flags,

   Prayer wheels

 

Help them see and feel what it is

To allow yourself to hope

To transform imagination into

   A color, a shape, a word, a gesture,

To transform a dream into reality.

 

This is how you do it

Appreciate the day, its gifts, as it

Colors the western sky

And quietens into stars and

Moon beams

Deep remembering in dreams. 



Whitman

 

Martin Bidney

 

“Walt, the weather’s getting odder…

         Summer, fall? Let’s take a stroll.”

         “Sure, I’ll go. I’m ‘on a roll.’”

“‘Helpless to a red marauder?’”

 

“We-e-ll… but now I’m feeling stronger.

         Big adventurer – that’s me!

         Want to spot what’s there to see.

Can’t take boredom any longer,

 

Need to walk on leaves of grass.”

         “Blades?” “A little too aggressive…

         Gentleness I find impressive –

Loafe, and sense a shadow pass…

 

Emily! I saw you coming! –

Think the fall is here to stay?”

         “Certain slant of light, I’d say –

Plus, I hear a distant drumming….”

 

Blue rock                      Susan Eschbach                                          


Centuries old,

 from cold creek beds

 by old forges  incinerating Pennsylvania pine,

blazing until iron melts away from

 limestone and pours into liquid winter,

hardens to blue.

As though the

   brilliant sky

     in the lake

            becomes crystal

As though our

      brightest dreams,

       with fire, are emboldened.

 

Tree    fire    water

   Blu

 

                             

                        During the time of Covid, I bless the names    Fran Markover

 

                                                 in honor of Chris “King” Garcia

                        

                            

                              I hold onto words grandmother brought from the old country:

                             one lives as long as one is remembered. And in early morning

 

                             I begin a long country walk by the lake, recite names of the dead.

                             Pray for their families facing empty chairs.  I start with A

 

                             Aadhvi Aya, the text she read in hospice from her daughter,

                              “I need my mommy. Come back.” Come back, Tom Blackwell,

 

                             whose photographs embued the inanimate with new light.

                             I wish divine sparks for Ed Ciocca, fireman buried by collegial

 

                             first responders, sea of blue caps, dress uniforms, baby blue

                             surgical masks. I send sorrow to Wogene Debele who birthed

 

                             a baby boy she never met. Recite names of Holocaust survivors

                             Lillian Eckstein and Margret Feldman, outliving viruses of hate,

 

                             but not Covid, fathoming in a deep way, how love liberates.

                             Love to Annie Glenn, astronaut’s wife, lost in our vast cosmos.

 

                             Love to Skylar Herbert, 5 years old, who loved stuffed animals,

                             grandma’s dog, princess costumes. I say life well lived

 

                             to Aracelli Buendia Ilagan, nurse, mission: serving patients

                             for 3 decades, dying alone. Say it’s fine to rest, Anick Jesdanun,

 

                             his record 83 marathons and Kim King-Smith, EKG tech who

                             measured our hearts. With a heavy one, I grieve Jay-Natalie

 

                             La Santa, 5 months old, wearing a rose-gold dress with sparkly

                             roses for her funeral, the outfit sewn for her father’s

 

                             firemen’s graduation. I send hallelujahs for prison chaplain

                             Rufus McClendon, Jr. His sermon: every inmate is created in

 

                             God’s image. I honor the luminosity of Guillermina Narango

                             who blew out 90 years’ worth of candles. Honor our ever-

 

                             lasting ties to each other, the black belt draped over the

                             urn of Karate Master Teriyuki Okazaki, expert in circular moves  

 

                             and steady breath. Lost from our circle, Janice Prescel, founder

                             of Helping Hands Food Pantry, member of a sister temple.

 

                             May her name live as blessing.  May there be final whistles

                             for Omar Quintana, whose passion was scored on soccer fields. 

 

                             Final bows for conductor Joel Revzen, who led an Opera’s

                             orchestra. I imagine his Puccini’s Butterfly flitting heaven-

 

                             ward. Conjure the karaoke of Alvin Simmons, janitor, who lip-

                             synced to Luther Vandross. Perhaps he offers “Endless Love,”

 

                             in celestial hallways to the Teplays, wed for 53 years, dying

                             within an hour of each other. I hope for divine high-fives, for

 

                             teammates to cheer Bill Underwood, Little League Coach. His

                             guidance: Show up. Treat others fairly. Do your best. I whisper

 

                             the name Sandra Santos-Vizcaino, as if as if I’m in her third

                             grade classroom, PS 9, Brooklyn. Celebrate Robert Washington,

 

                             devoted dad who drove his daughter’s cat 11 hours in his car

                             to be with her. I thank Marny Xiang, school board chair, fighter

 

                             for diversity as refugee from South East Asia. And deep in the

                             forest, beyond the lake, a woodpecker taps for vets Michael Yun,

 

                             builder of memorials for the Korean War and Daniel Zane,

                             WWII survivor, who dashed across fields to save another soldier.

 

                             His last battle ending two days after his wife of 7 decades

                             died. And as I finish my walk, the lake shrouded in mist, I picture

 

                             a funereal curtain, how all the names rise together. A soft rain

                             falls: decrescendo for a dirge.

                             


Rock and Roll               Joanna Green

 

Get this: Child of the happy 50’s suburbs

            With a full-time mom and family dinners every night, homework by the

            fireplace, music lessons for all 5 kids and college too, a limitless future, faith

            in the goodness of humanity, the arc bending towards justice...

Now finds herself in shock, sliding

            Down the steep backside of progress, tumbling towards history’s gutter,

            straightened teeth now broken, spitting the grit of the oppressed.

            Ready to Rock and Roll.



biblical criticism                    David Regenspan

 

emptiness of emptiness said the preacher

emptiness of emptiness all is empty

thus said King Solomon in Ecclesiastes except

saying that Solomon indeed wrote it is an empty claim

seeing that Ecclesiastes is part of the Wisdom Literature

and therefore Greek influenced and therefore

written much later in time than the time

of a Hebrew king who filled an empty spot on a mountain

with a temple and then claimed that the empty room within it

was the Holy of Holies filled with God but emptiness

is all you get in that room

if Mount Sinai was empty and the desert was empty

because they say that if half a million people really did come out of Egypt

and cross that desert

something of their passage would mark that desert today

but there is nothing it is empty apart from

the tracks of the Bedouins and ibex

the margins of my Bible are empty I make no comment

but the shelf is not empty

the book is there

and that will have to be enough



It’s Not A Poem Yet, But Maybe It Has Potential     Barbara Regenspan

 

“Everything cobbles itself on the rubble of ancient cities,”

I paraphrased poetically from Freud, a long time ago

but it never got the attention I had hoped for, and

I keep inserting it here and there, waiting for a contest

judged by someone who secretly loves me.

 

This morning it came to mind again during the funeral

on Zoom of a dear friend’s father.  He had clearly

done everything, despite Jewish quotas, and as a famous

pediatric surgeon, had saved the lives of children.

A nephew spoke of people accosting him on the street

to thank him for saving their lives.  At first the nephew

said, “and he didn’t even remember who they were

when I asked,” and then, thought better, and with a

telling smile, added, “but usually he did.”

 

Neither of my parents ever forgot a life they had saved.

He could be cruel.  She kept too much hidden; I doubt

that I really knew her.  In the balance of knowing their

trials, and knowing their joys, I learned more of the former,

while my dead friend’s father, apparently never complained.

 

I do; but I have learned to lead with kindness and say what’s

on my mind; you probably know me if you know me.  The

standards were not that high, you could say, but the setting

required work at self-preservation.  Is it a greater gift to be born

from greatness, or to cobble from rubble what you can?

 

 

SEPT 5:


                                                                                            Fran Markover

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                     Coming Home

 

 

                                                 

                                                  After I tried to shovel in the hollow,   

                                                  after my young brother’s funeral,

                                                  I watch the black ant, let him pass.

                                                  The morsel it carries twice his size.

                                                  The ant struggling toward his nest

                                                  deep in darkened cracks of the wall.

                                                  What he carries left for the others.

 








GRIEF        Rob Scott

 

A tree bends

 

         In the night

 

Moonlight falling

 

         On its branches




Mundo Nuevo y Viejo a la vez              Benseslao Castillo.


Cada dia a dia ahora es diferente, pues estamos en un mundo nuevo pero viejo a la vez. Muchas cosas que en nuestro mundo ahora son nuevas nos gustaría que fueran viejas y las otras que son viejas desearíamos que fuesen nuevas otra vez.
Sera que acaso aun podrá ser peor?
O quizá surja algo nuevo y grandioso dando soluciones a millares y millares de dilemas que son como una tormenta de arena.
Mientras tanto el maravilloso mundo de los soñadores permanecerán latentes e inquietos por hacer saber su pensar que a veses surge sin querer.



Jeweled morning        Carol Whitlow

 

Purple morning glory blossom

Kisses green tomato twins.

Red cardinal sings for joy

Two whistles  - 4 twists,

Finches announce themselves in gay twitters and crescendos

As they flit amongst the branches

In their yellow coats.

Locust song, cricket chirp,

Final summer concert

That leaves my ear

Aching all winter for just a taste of memory

Of the world alive with all beings.

 

Cool September morning -

Raindrops like diamonds

sparkle on tips of leaves,

Cold nights turn dogwood into

A tree of emeralds, rubies, amber.

I awake to the oblique autumn light

Of glorious dawn.

However fleeting, these warm colors

Set my heart ablaze.

 

Those of us whose hearts

Are hemorrhaging love

Where does it go?

What does it become?

Do we run dry?

Do we refill at a spring somewhere?

Does it change us?



The Jewish Cemetery at Willard              David Regenspan

 

It is twice forgotten:

A former cemetery

At a former hospital for the insane.

In a meadow on a hill

The crazy dead are buried, unmarked

Except by a metal spike bearing a number,

Names going unremembered,

So that the families would not be shamed.

At one end of the meadow are the Jews.

Once, their special corner was overgrown with bushes and briers,

Their presence announced by a simple metal arch

That read: The Jewish Cemetery at Willard,

The arch itself nearly covered by jungle.

I liked it then.  The Jews

Were the forgotten of the forgotten,

No one even remembering

Who made the arch, or why they bothered.

Some years ago the Jewish land was cleared,

A new sign erected in clear letters—this

By a congregation that needed a project.

The sign was made, the prayers were said,

And the crazy Jewish dead

Left alone once more.

I think of visiting and never do, thinking

That the foxes and coyotes are visitors enough,

Their sniffings and their howls

Memorial enough.

 


In Liberia           Gail Holst-Warhaft

 

In Liberia before the war

women opened the windows

when they cooked and added basil

so the smell would be stronger

and people passing by

would know they were welcome.

 

No-one opens the windows

when they cook any more.

That’s how you know

things have changed says Jackie

wrapped in her grey sweater

         against the spring cold.

 

She doesn’t mention darker things

         that happened outside the window.

For her it’s all said

         in the kitchen. Her mother counting

cups of rice, the basil

         unpicked in its pot.

 

 

 

RESILIENCE        Rob Scott

 

 

         X

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ob – serve                                                                                                                back

 

                   the low-ly 

 

ping pong ball

 

                                                                                   

                        #######

 

 

      & its ability

 

 

                                                                                               to bounce

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                                                                                                    X

 

 

LegoPrincessKing              Susan Eschbach

 

You be the King.

Here.

   I hold the Legoperson

   In the pink ballgown

   This is the king?

Yes, of course.

Join your wife in this.

   The Frozen lego castle?

Yes

Wait! We stay outside, oh,

We just got a text

The virus is over. Now

we go inside.

   And this is the king?

Yes, go in to sleep under the

Frozen staircase

    OK

Here are her pajamas.

   OK

Who holds more hope for us

Than a five year old?

    

  

On Having Left Maui But Never Really        Joanna Green


Soft... This morning air, wet and gilded

By sun after last night’s voluptuous rains

The hills lie languorous, stretched against sky

Caressed by such strange warm wind, unfamiliar

To this northern here and now but bone deep

In memory:  the trade winds of Maui

The inexplicable solace in their force and flow

The magic – stop – the daily awe

Given up for steadier? things - jobs, schools...

I glide on bicycle through the luminous breeze

Slide between worlds, shifting landscapes

Of sight and memory, of yearning

And accepting, dreaming myself home to

Anywhere, everywhere



PLANS                               Susan Weitz

 

I planted seeds
 and weeds grew,
  grateful for a home.
I heard the wind sing
 as it blew the birch tree down.
Today’s tenuous clouds
 are transports for tomorrow’s rain.
    Why make plans?
Our disappointment
 is somebody’s joy.
Let’s admire the clean and granular snow
 even though we were wishing for
  chrysanthemums.

 

I’ve been telling…

 

Martin Bidney

 

I’ve been telling of Emily, squirrels and more,

But it’s only the start of the sweet we’ve in store

With our anapest horses of Brandenburg Three:

Hear them stamping and snorting? Their glory adore!

 

Are you psyched for some travel? Then listen to me:

Lazy writers today are too prosy. But we

Have been lent from the Heaven the red and the gold

That the birds had predicted, with scriptural glee!

 

Why be diffident, timid? The holy are bold!

Every day novel psalm hath our story extolled!

And the place where we dwell is the work of the Lord!

And the worthiest thought we in mirth may unfold!

 

We were just resurrected – the waker’s reward:

Come and zither with me to a Dorian chord!

They’ll be never alone who are lured by our lore:

On the pinions of hymn had our speare-shaker soared.



Education          Barbara Regenspan

 

We were hippies and

Sarah did things in her own time,

but she begged to go to Ben’s daycare

with the Inuit mural behind the Tastee Freeze.

 

“I’m sorry, Barbara,” said Mrs. Fleming,

director of Children’s Hours, while  

3-year-old Sarah, holding my hand,

practiced her skip on the carpet.

 

“We don’t take children in diapers.”

 

Out on the parking lot, Sarah stops

suddenly, yanking back my arm,

frees her own, bends down, untapes

her diaper, and heaves it

into the Tastee Freeze trash bin.

 

“I don’t wear diapers.  I’m potty-trained

now,” Sarah says.

And so she was. 

 

Thirty years later, I marvel at the certainty—

the discipline of a three-year-old who knows

what’s worth the trade-offs, and puts her faith

in brother, art, and school.

 

 

SEPT 4:


The Kind of Dreams We Are Having Now     Joanna Green

 

Nancy Pelosi and I walk along a rural road.

A newscaster follows, skirting mailboxes,

A large crumb on her face which she flicks away

As, no doubt, a voice in her invisible earbuds

Instructs.

 

Even Pelosi has begun to panic.

She turns around, looks up the road and down.

We are like a school of fish only now

Sensing the net that closes in around us.

 

But November 3rd is coming!

Someone shouts.

 

We were all such fools.

 



(for Poppers)     Susan  Eschbach

 

Small

  sleek

    brindled

yet

  a muscled beast

you

   yank and pull

    stop and sniff

Squirrels tease

Cats taunt

  you try tracking

yet

  you lose each time

  no match for their guile

We walk stop pull

  my shoulder socket loosens

Nightly I wait 

  to bag your shit

  bag to the bin

leashed we are

 

This poem is not 

poignant

This slice of life

not profound

It is composed along the sidewalk

 

                         

                                Baby Sister           Fran Markover                        

 

                      

                

                    Once, I held the ocean, a seashell to my ear,

                    the dead whispering their breathy pearls.

                    I remember this between headstones

                    as we tiptoe near the dark of your nursery.

                    Do you rest beyond anonymous weeds, quivers

                    of crocuses for comfort, a neighbor robin

                    celebrating his worm? What rock-a-bye world

                    receives you in its blanket? Distant geese

                    muscle into homecoming ribbons. You asleep,

                    chartless, tucked beneath deep tender folds

                    of earth. We, the living, divining the daffodils.

                   

 

Santiago Rodriguez shares his inspiration:  Eleanor Goldfield

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84pfzLg97eU



SEPTEMBER                             Susan Weitz

Everything looks better against a blue sky, said
  some landscape painter, somewhere,
and this September afternoon agrees.
Nodding also are the trees, exceptionally green
 aside from a few foreboding boughs.
How the sky’s canvas stretches, and across it
 Cirrus and Nimbus, Greek gods of disguise,
   try out their poses,
while their baby brother Cumulus pretends
 he’s a mighty mountain, mischievously rising,
   then melting into the wooded hills.
This is the first of my farewells,
 to the cryptic chipmunk sniffing for seeds,
  to the caress of Mother Air
   over the cooling loam,
     to all the golden, flitting, singing things,
        to this gentle world.
    


#4 Jocular Sonnet


Martin Bidney

 

With a jocular sonnet, good times you’ll enjoy.

Jocoserious, tragi-comedic – a toy,

To arise in a bubble with speed and expand

To a world at the touch of your magical hand!

 

No, I haven’t forgotten the tragical part –

Yet – momentous the moment! so lighten your heart,

For I hear it outside – the applause of the trees

For the storm that uproarious energy frees!

 

Let a multivociferous antiphon choir

In your sonnet reply to the cry of desire!

’Twas predicted by squirrels in lines I had writ;

Friendly Emily winked at me, thinking of it…

 

For the simmer of summer a something of cool –

And a brisking of skill with our worldening tool!



Fighting Conch          David Regenspan

 

It is lovely, but not too much so,

Spiked yet rounded,

Brown yet streaked,

 

Not large and proud like the conchs that are blown

Like trumpets.  The bodiless shell

Is all I have of it, found on a Florida beach

 

Sitting tame as if in a shell shop.  I am told

It gets its name because the living snail

Flails like the tail of a dog

 

When picked up, a tactic meant

To cause a gull or curious human

To drop it in surprise.  Is this fighting

 

Or a con job?  Did the animal my shell contained

Lose a battle or merely fade away?

It is not my job to care, merely bear

 

Witness.  The shell is cool in my fingers,

Modest on its shelf, but hard

As anything must be to stay in the world.




THE BEE-KEEPER                    Daphne Sola

 

My father loved bees and

it was the one thing I loved about him.

He moved among them

pulling out trays, brushing them off his sleeves,

always holding with them a gravelly conversation.

He was shrouded in netting - - but carelessly - -

all his trust in the close relationship

he had with his charges

and the bees never disappointed,

they only stung the neighbors.

 

Away from his bees and roses

my father was a fierce man,

burly, gruff and at the least displeasure

quite capable of striking

his wife and two daughters

The elder girl finally left home

suffused with an anger that never abated

and a few years later,

I followed,

but I could not bear that my father

would never see either one of us again

so I visited from time to time.

 

Though we knew the worth of those visits

I remember cool, tenuous relations

with me trying to quell my fearful skin,

but it grew easier over the years

because I knew

each time I took my leave,

when my mother’s back was turned,

my father would thrust into my hand

a jar of honey for my long-absent sister,

“Och, take this,” he would say,

“I know she will be wanting it”. 

 

1. TO MY HUNGRY CATS      Rob Scott

It’s all there.
But if it isn’t

Well, then,
That’s all there is.


2. AND THAT

This all there is
This is all there
This is all
This is
This


That’s all there is for now!


A poem or a prayer . . .    Carol Whitlow

 

A poem for police-people

And communities they care for

And children with cancer

And parents whose journalist son was beheaded

And refugees with no food or water

And farmers with no water

And cows who need water

And crops that need water

And those who are flooded or capsized or drowning

In sorrows and debts and don’t forget

Disease with no cure

And death

When it comes

May we have the courage to face the life

That is still here

Needing water of hope and

Farmers who care

Needing people and police and journalists and governments who

Care for the people of the land

And who care for the land

If we are to survive.



Nothing is Simple Anymore       Barbara Regenspan

 

Can I breathe it away?

Was Iyengar right?

Inhale to the shoulder blade joint?

 

When the pain goes, the trouble goes?

First Breath—then Extension—then Space—

Precision—Truth—and finally—God?

 

Ann Douglas was dying of alcoholism

when she wrote of the girls who abandoned Marx

for medical men and preachers.

 

After recovery, when she finally took on the academy,

she did it in Vogue!  “You can talk about kinky stuff

up there, but not God,” she wrote.

 

I kid you not; it was the issue that featured the comeback of red—

Avoiding writing, I tried on lipstick at Boscov’s.

 

Now searching for the facts and God—wondering what’s worth practice—

I wish red lipstick still held allure.


SEPT 3:

SELF IN REVERIE             Daphne Sola

 

A long reach to the mirror of self

     even with effort  

it’s almost out of grasp

     or we would wish it so

 

and a long walk to the pool

     of terrifying clarity

where we might look down

     and view an un-rippled  reflection.

 

We see and do not see, hampered,

     with one blind eye

but learn to live with doubt

     and wavering outlines.

 

As the mirror tips over and sinks in the pool

     in comfort can we turn away.

With only a fleeting time

     it’s touch-and-go

 

a snatched-at feint for me say,

`We don’t need it.

     Let it drown!’

Surely the gods would have it so’.

                                                                                                        


Night Reading         Susan Eschbach

 

Girl Waits with Gun

Queer Heroes

Eloquent Rage

Everything Geography

Unapologetic

 

I browse the first five,

a pile of thirty, tilting

all wait to join in the read

a delight of anticipation

that first page turn

breathe and dive

wondering what I will already love

in the first lines

 

How do I lean across and

pluck one

Eyes closed?

an internal review of

        energy

        focus

        interest

        attitude

check

This evening

I choose the largest font.



                               Sin Título III                Santiago Rodriguez

 

 

No tengo un boleto de avión que me lleve lejos,

o de tren, barco, o autobús.

Tampoco un lugar a dónde ir.

Ni nada que hacer cuando llegue.

Pero sí que quiero ir.

Quién sabe a dónde...

 


Emily’s Room         Fran Markover

 

                 It’s simpler than I pictured, her writing desk

                      smaller than expected. I imagine the comfort

 

                    she felt with the familiar as she looked out of

                    her window: the hay fields of Amherst, bells

 

                    resounding from the nearby chapel. The older

                    I become, the more I understand Emily’s

 

                    isolation, the quietude her failing eyesight,

                    deaths of friends, mother’s illness, civil wars

 

                    that beset country and loved ones. She must

                    have treasured companionship from books

 

                    and bright petals. From her plain wood chair,

                    she witnessed a world from a window’s pane,

 

                    reading her lawns for birds and wild herbs

                    as if perusing pages of Thoreau, emulating his

 

                    wanderings with each pen stroke. She called

                    her writings: singing. I conjure this: a typical

 

                    afternoon, the poet dressed all in white, her

                    dog, lone audience, as she recites first drafts.

 

                    She postures herself as chorister attuned to

                    discord and harmony, awe of the ordinary:

 

                    neighbor robin with his hapless worm, a choir

                    of spring peepers, sunlight on wild violets,  

 

                    her back yard, her blank pages becoming full

                    of sacred pauses, of unexpected dashes.  

 


CURRIED              Susan Weitz

Ripples of heat,
undulant, unsettling,
seized me today,
independent of the weather:
invaders from the south,
visitors from a volatile planet
or a pepper plant.
In the kitchen I diced chilies,
immersed mustard seeds
in searing oil;
mixed the C spices--
coriander, cumin, curry leaf--
and simmered split peas until,
between warmth in and warmth out,
an equilibrium settled,
a sunset,
a deep and yogic breath.
When the repairman arrived,
inhaling with his eyebrows,

he fanned his face.


Let us Learn (for Katy).      Carol Whitlow

 

Let the children master their miniature worlds

Let each toy teach the child

How to play with grace and joy

Let the children learn

 

Let each book reach into an imaginary world

Let the light of ideas burn bright

Let the young person reach up

Feet on the ground head in the clouds

Let the children learn

 

Let life shout in joy

Let life wail in sorrow

Let the parents and the children

   Comfort one another

Let us learn how

 

Let us learn how to fix the broken toys

Let us help repair the broken hearts

Let us light-en dark days

Let us find words that comfort

Let us find silence that heals

Let us give and receive grace. 

 


as memory is a memory stick                David Regenspan

 

or joy is from subscriptions made

or truth is from a Facebook page

--long enough and just so long

will honesty please the talking heads

and nourishment come from plastic bags.

 

as mothers suckle metal babes

and children learn from silicon chips

and tigers hunt a parking space

--long enough and just so long

will love a coffee filter fill

and hunger eat a cigarette.

 

Voices        Joanna Green

 

It’s time to find

To reimagine voice

What is it what is possible

In these times in any times

To motivate uplift create inspire

What can be spoken what

Can be heard what happens in the

Twixt and tween to

Move minds and

Mountains

 

Bellowing fear rapes the quiet morning

What good is my voice among thundering lies

That terrorize deceive discourage kill

 

I cannot instruct cajole command

Only ask for help: We are our higher power

 

Do you remember

The Whos Down in Whoville

Joined hands across their tiny land

Lifted a thousand voices up

As one


#3 Emily Tells Me…

by

Martin Bidney

 

“I adored the cute squirrels you cleverly showed –

         Now it’s time we were hitting the road!

I’ve a super-sabbatical here, as you’ve heard,

         And it’s heaven, I give you my word.

 

If Lavinia weren’t such a wonderful cook,

         I would really not know where to look.

And when watching dear Austin and Mabel cavort

         I’ve been taught a great deal about sport!

 

When that Higginson – Wentworth – whatever the name –

         Went away, quite a triumph I’d claim.

Just a bump on a log – or a spot on a wall –

Little spring did he feel in the fall.

 

You’re more fun, though, by far; you decidedly are –

         Shall we harness our fate to a star?”



New Hope for Cannibalism                           Barbara Regenspan

 

Look, Saturn already ate his son, so don’t act like you haven’t mused on it.  Me, I’ve got my own command center to enter—people whose power I want to sour, leaders whose demands I want remanded to a certain deserving source to change the course through tour de force without remorse the creation of new resource all spun of jealousy; hell it’s like a spell foretold thee.

 

All it requires is to hold a space in between an open-ness to new taste and a willingness to waste what can’t be digested.  Get them all to let go.  Then hold on with nuance, open to truants from the rules made by old fools.  It’s time for the new insane to play their game.  Barron, I’ve heard an old man’s flesh tastes like chicken.

 

 

SEPT 2:


 

                                                  SLOW              Fran Markover

                                             NO   WAKE

 

                      The weathered sign reminds meslow my pace. After all,

                          it’s Sunday dawn and the cathedral of tree tops gives shelter.

 

                          Minus the walkers, bicyclists, skateboarders, it’s quiet.

                          Even the seagulls sleep, lined on the pier a feathery fence.

 

                          Cicadas serenade: trills like clock-ticks. I loop around Cayuga

                          Inlet, its still pristine waters, grateful for this parkland once

 

                          harvested by the Haudenosaunee. I imagine they gathered

                          by these quaking aspens under Full Sturgeon Moon. Imagine

 

                          they mourned late summer leaves, dying heart shapes that

                          blanketed yellowed fields. What festivals honored hawks,

 

                          turtles, wolves? Today the lone osprey mother flies in and

                          out of her light pole nest, feeding the fledglings. And above

 

                          sun-parched milkweed, a monarch closes and opens her wings

                          as if she lets out August heat for flight southward. I rest

 

                          on a bench, partake in the only ceremony I can conjure:

                          closing my eyes, giving thanks for the weeping willows. I offer

 

                          prayers for the lost: mink, muskrat, a bald eagle’s swoop, all

                          the beaver lodges, their dams.   

                       

                         


IN SUMMER . . .                  Daphne Sola

 

I had the habit of wading into the pond

to deal with the algae,

a pond we had dug out of a swamp,

that was resistantly shallow

with bedrock at only three feet

which encouraged the growth of weeds

and plumed grasses.

 

It was, in my eyes, a ring of green

which other people called algae

but I knew they were wrong

it was not rot, it was renewal

and there was no convincing them

that when I stepped in and down

it was not slimy,

what surrounded me up to my knees

were green plants

an exuberance of nature

seizing every opportunity

to leap into life.

 

It was tough going as I pushed forward

and finally threw my gatherings

up on the banks

and my children never shared my enthusiasm

for this soaking-wet clean-up.

They would bemoan,

`Where’s mom? Is she in the pond again?’

I’ll admit I probably did not look my best

in my mud-streaked, tendrilled cut-offs

but when the UPS man caught me

in pond-clearing mode

their humiliation was complete

 

My beloved chore was enhanced, however,

when a wisehead farmer told me

that I had done only half the job,

I should gather up the dried detritus

and handily use it as fertilizer.

In this new learning game

I did not hesitate to follow his advice.

 

    

FINCHES                       Susan Weitz


The finches like to gather
before, or after, dark,
their appetites atwitter
while crows on treetops bark.

Admire the crows in theory,
intelligent and sleek,
cooperatively raiding
the feeders of the meek.

Through winter they’ll be with us,
black feathers on white snow.
Many a humble haiku
sings portraits of the crow.

And so would I, if I were young
but years, like finches, flown
have wed me to ephemera:
the swift, the sweet, the gone.



Cleaning              Rob Scott

 

I see the smudge of mud

On the outside of the kitchen

Window above the sink.

 

It has been there for days.

Even the rain can’t wash it away.

I notice it when I do

 

The dishes. Especially when

I do the dishes! Running the

Tap water until it’s nice and hot.

 

I take off my watch and put it on

The shelf. I sink my hands into the water

And rest them on the bottom

 

For a few minutes

In a deep sudsy sea.

While the rest of me stays

 

Good and dry. When I am done,

I leave room for my fixation

And steal a glance before I leave the room.



Sin Título II      SANTIAGO RODRIGUEZ

Voy a abrir una cerveza y esperar que pase la pandemia.

No tengo mucho más que hacer. Sobre todo cuando ya se acaba el día.

Cuando ya me aburrí de aburrirme y me pongo a aburrirme un poco más.

Voy a abrir una cerveza y esperar que pase la pandemia... y una más



On writing this early poem for people who love me     Joanna Green
and will forgive its imperfection I hope


Put that thing down! I tell myself

Again. Times up for bad news, weather,

Email, all manner of rabbithole.

 

Pressing the two buttons resolutely, a little sadly,

I power off. Look up from my writing chair across

The terrace. Feel the September breeze

Still soft and warm.

 

I feel the pressure of your eyes on my halting fingers.

I tell them... just go on.

 

The pen scratches. The squirrel

Chides me from the maple tree.

Scolds? Or is “Chivvies” the better word?

I pick up my phone to look it up.

Blank, it cannot help me.

 


One hundred days        David Regenspan

 

You still live as a body

From a body,

Eating only what flows

From your mother’s breasts,

Seeing only what goes on

Right before your eyes.

You do not know

You from not-you,

Whether your toes are yours

Or your mother’s

Or the world’s.

You can lie alone only so long

Before you cry out to be held

Because you do not trust your body,

Do not know of its substance.

Your Chinese grandparents celebrate

Your one hundredth day

As a beginning of:

Seeing, smelling, smiling.

But the hundred days are also an ending

Of womb yet not-womb,

Body yet not-body,

Arms and legs

That belong to no one in particular.

This time soon to go

And never come again

Except perhaps in the moment before death,

Maybe one hundred years from now,

When the infant comes

To call you home.

 


Fountain of Youth   by Carol Whitlow

 

Remember Ponce de Leon?

Such youthful vitality

To travel so far

To find adventure

In pursuit of his own immortality.

 

Didn’t they all find it

In a country where they could survive and live on 

Through generations . . .

Here he is alive in me

400 years later.

I get it –

That desire to wake up

Each day and feel alive

And surprised by

A New World

 

I look for it each day

And often discover it

In the most familiar places. 



Sonnet on Saving a Chair       Barbara Regenspan

 

When that millipede waddled

towards the nicked plate

of glossy blue paint on the porch,

I—planning to restore

historic beauty to the spindled chair

rescued from the trash pile on Tioga—

thought of us souls seeking refuge

in this season of disturbed balance.  

 

As my leggy diplopoda swerved from the thick

midnight lake—conjuring toddlers whose   

flashed grins predict tumble—

I recalled that death, too, can hold

promise—while my eye caught the blue tip

of the one thousandth leg.

 


#2 Speeding Up

by

Martin Bidney

 

Emily Dickinson galloped along;

Smiling and glad, she was singing a song:

“Staying inside is so dull. What I need

Has to be travel, with plenty of speed!

 

Sitting around, and with nothing to do?

What good is that? Take a traveler’s view!

Ribbon and hat – how they flutter and gleam!

Rapidly prancing – a traveler’s dream!

 

Poetry comes and I’m loving the sound! –

Look at how fast we can cover the ground!”

Emily shouts, and she’s laughing out loud:

“Poetry’s fun! I can write it! I’m proud!”

 

Emily Dickinson, Emily D.,

You are the poet forever, for me!

 



Now                           Susan Eschbach

The sun,

warm on my ear

like a slow kiss in

chill air,

cuts it’s autumn angle

through

cold blue sky

to burn

the poplars golden,

like a child with a

lens

angles the sun

to burn

the page.

 

 

SEPT 1: 


AN ERASURE POEM  *                         Rob Scott

 

My Version

 

Call It Love, Spring Madness

 

Chance encounter,

Observe willows,

Pansies on a street.

 

Let this in,

Strong, persistent root.

Name the first

 

Wind that caressed

Unshared kisses.

Call the earth

 

Bursting too long,

Trembling for the plough.

Blood chant

 

Anthems to arrival,

Our lips silent,

Uncommitted.

 

 

 The Original  (*Note that through a process of "erasure" our poet, Rob Scott, derived the poem above, "My Version" from this poem by Pauli Murray)

 

Without Name

By Pauli Murray

 

Call it neither love nor spring madness,

Nor chance encounter nor quest ended,

Observe it casually as pussy willows

Or pushcart pansies on a city street.

Let this seed growing in us

Granite-strong with persistent root

Be without name, or call it the first

Warm wind that caressed your cheek

And traded unshared kisses between us.

Call it the elemental earth

Bursting the clasp of too-long winter

And trembling for the plough-blade.

 

Let our blood chant it

And our flesh sing anthems to its arrival,

But our lips shall be silent, uncommitted.

 



Wait!       Susan Eschbach


Today’s the promise

   30 days and 30 poems?

Eventually I send a dove

   seeking prose?

Now I make public

  these nightly

  insights of soul?

What, Noah, was I thinking?

 

Well, refugees, for one

safety, sanctuary

two by two if possible, let’s

get everyone to dry land

 

Our words a

singular plank

in our collective bridge



Six Mile Creek         David Regenspan

 

I picked a rock from Six Mile Creek, brown siltstone

Like all the other rocks, as dull as mud.

I guess I liked the feel of it: a size

To serve as weapon or as paperweight,

Or a rough-skinned token of my belonging

To water, tree and fish, chipmunk and hawk.

Something told me to drop the rock.  It slapped

Against a larger stone and broke in two.

There, inside a half, a clam lay open

To sunlight after many million years.

I held it to my eye; it was delicate,

Ribbed like a fan held by a dancer.  I

Had broken time open, disturbed an ancient sea,

Uncovered a vanished beauty.  Was it now my right

To place it on a shelf, congratulate

Myself, claim I owned it?  Or should I

Place it among the other stones of the creek,

Pretend I did not see a crack in time.



 

Confirmation         Carol Whitlow

 

How can I leave

When the ghosts of my past

Are in the bones of the house

And the roots of the trees?

 

They surround me and infuse me

With comfort and confirmation.

Did I not bear you and care for you 

And you now for me?

Who will know me if I go?

 

O to have a home

To be a woman of the kitchen and the garden 

To hang the sheets flapping in the wild breeze

To push the swing and swing the cradle and sing the day

To enfold the night around all that is home and is loved

To love the arrivals and the departures 

How could I ever leave this place of the essence of life itself?

Of sanctification?

How could I find comfort in a facsimile?


MUDLILY     Susan Weitz

Why do our mothers
  grasp our elbows
   yanking our small and
    yearning selves
  from the ecstatic muck
   of the marsh
  where mottled frogs give
 cigar-box banjo serenades
  against the squish and
    plop
  of bottom-feeding flatfish?
What being, living close
  to the grass
   as children do
  could be obedient as a hound
 without first sniffing the
     youthful grass
  or caressing
    the divine squelch,
     the universe
       that is,
        in this moment,

           mud?



WHAT DAILY I READ . . .  Daphne Sola

 

in the newspapers

makes my mood  . . .

in English, `heavy',

in Spanish, `pesado',

there's no escape

both words pull me down

I sense weight without worth

    

so I turn for comfort

to James Joyce’s Dubliners

and join them at the bar,

their brogued feet on the ground

voices thick with wit,

where, in fashion

both cavalier and respectful

they discuss church and priests,

which, after all,

are the center of life,

their life, at any rate.

 

I lift my glass, . . .

I’ll have whatever you’re having, . . .

and already my spirits

are headed for the moon.

 


Sin título     Santiago Rodriguez


Mi abuelito está cansado y débil.

Pienso en todas las cosas horribles que el tiempo nos hace.


Fluye incontrolable: rápido lento.




Poem a Day Project #1: Introduction to Poetry

Martin Bidney

 

Two squirrels playing tag – they made me smile.

The course of nature is a force of play!

I thank you, squirrel-kids! My gift today

Was perfect joy in watching you awhile.

 

And ONE, and TWO, and THREE, and FOUR, and FIVE.

You like the way the poet beats the drum?

More marvel-happy times are coming from

The chanting. Beating heart – you are ALIVE!

 

And listen to the beauty of the rhymes:

They always guarantee the best of times.

The sky is gray. Prefer to turn it blue?

 

Behold! we did it – color coming through!

Dear Poetry – I’m loving you so much,

I’m liking every key my fingers touch!

 


In the Garden with Emily Dickinson

          Fran Markover

 

 

We wander, two poets, on fragrant paths.

She rustles like a flower, ruffled piqué,

upswept ribbons, white bonnet, whispers

cherry pie to the heliotrope she pinches.

I thank her for baby’s breath and hyacinth

in the nosegay, her note after my brother’s

funeral, unable are the loved to die. Ask─

how one ever writes well of hope or death.

Emily sighs, tugs a dandelion from yarrow

for the herbarium, points toward a hickory,

an orange flash almost hidden in boughs─

a 4:30 caroler, the oriole who sings before

neighbors awaken, sings, when morning’s

light reveals poet, early bird, inflorescence.

 

 

Isaias, 8-4-20   Joanna Green

 

“God is my salvation” pours

A steady rain this August day

Soaking the parched ground.

The crisping lawns sigh,

The worms in their multitudes

Arise to give thanks and

Feed robins.

The roots of all things

Sing Halleluya.

 

How thankless to slide

Into grief on such a day.

To fall from summer’s sunny grace,

To lie listless and congealed,

Pressed under suffocating waters

Inside and out.

Breathing through a narrow tube

Feeling my way along dark passages,

So familiar, almost

Comforting.

 

When it’s over we breathe deeply.

The garden is lit with cucumbers and weeds.

A sistreline shimmer of crickets

Glazes the air.

 

              

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT         Yvonne Fisher    

Vote like your life depends on it

Vote like you are saving your mother’s life

Vote like it is a sacrament

Vote like it matters deeply

Vote like you can’t stomach four more years

Vote like you are saving Democracy

Vote like you care about crimes against humanity

Vote for all those who died unnecessarily from Corona Virus

Vote like you must free children in detention camps

Vote like Black Lives Matter

Vote like Latino/a lives matter

Vote like Indigenous lives matter

Vote like the environment matters

Vote like you are saving the earth

Vote like there’s a dictator perched around the corner

Vote like you can’t stand unmarked armed federal troops in your streets

Vote like you are getting tear gassed

Vote like you can’t breathe

Vote like there is a knee on your neck

Vote like you can’t stand the treason and corruption

Vote to dismantle white supremacy

Vote like you envision a better world to come

Vote like the idiocracy must end

Vote like you want healthcare for everyone

Vote like: man woman person camera TV buffoonery must stop

Vote for disability rights

Vote for women

Vote for Queer rights, Trans rights

Vote for working people’s rights

Vote to end poverty, Vote for the poor

Vote to save seniors, the Elders, the Elders

Vote like you’re trying to save the Post Office

Vote like you’re trying to save Democracy

Vote for the endangered species

Vote for all the suffering animals

Vote like you are endangered too

Vote for wetlands, oceans, lakes

Vote for Yosemite and all State and National parks

Vote like 150,000 people are dying unnecessarily

Vote like you want the government to have a plan

Vote like you are powerful

Vote like it’s an honor

Vote like your vote counts

Vote like we must defeat him

Vote like lives depend on you

Vote like it’s your duty

Vote like your soul is leading the way

Vote like we are creating a whole new country

Vote like the whole world is watching

Vote like it really matters

Vote like it’s life or death

Vote like it’s for your children

Vote like you want the good guys to win

Vote like we’re all depending on you

Vote to begin a new day

Don’t let them suppress you

Don’t let them disenfranchise you

Vote early, vote absentee, vote by mail

Stand in line if you must, keep going

Vote however you can, you are not alone

Reach out for help, vote together, vote from your heart

Vote like you are the Sun, vote like you are the light

Vote for your future, vote for your children

Vote for 7 generations,

Vote for us all

Vote.


Message on a Wall     Barbara Regenspan

 

This morning the light brought company—

a stripey, rollicking thing invading the

floor and spackling one wall with braille

while I considered your invitation

to something that leaped over blindness—

bringing attention to the unseen.

 

Help me in this time of need where

basic wants eclipse this poet’s

longing—where revelation is shamed

against the can of beans nobody wants

anyway, where impending chaos dwarfs

the certain chorus naming what is basic.



3-4-1 
1.                              Andi Pearson
Give some space
wash your hands
don't show your face
mask your cough
don't give off
droplets of Covid

2.
Leash for the pet
face wearing a mask
no vaccine as yet
children don't even ask
they play - it's what kids do

3. 
Large black dots and squiggle on green
a comma, a period, exclamation?
Moving now - not what they seem

pasture punctuation

 


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