Of Looking Glasses

Kristen Scott

 

I would drink the drink of strychnine

to push the hurt of you out of my mind

 

I never knew that look before

I never knew   orange

blossoms departed from your eyes

 

oh, to look at me in such venomous

strikes  –

I never thought to see that through

the roses of mine

 

could Shakespeare have written

such a fantastical ending

to a wide-eyed passion?

 

ah, the glorious dying from love

the fables and witchery of wonder

secret potions, eyes of newt, and

fairy dust.

 

but, alas, our love wasn’t born through the

looking glass – I just never knew

 

until now.

 

 

Kristen Scott- see author’s bio in additional works and on author’s page.

ABSURDITIES IN THE HOUSE OF THE DYING

CV Will

 

 I
Good intentions abound
in the house of the dying
at times they could kill

II
The living are too involved
in life to understand dying
until it is too late

III
Visitor talk to each other
never saying a word
to the people living in the house

IV
How is your husband?
He is dying.
But how is he?

 

 

CV Willplease see author’s full bio in additional works and on the Author’s page.

 

 

 

OJAS DE MIEL/HONEY EYES

CV Will with Adolpho Vasquez

 

OJAS DE MIEL

La luz en la sombra
de mis noche
Su ojas fuego ambar
Recuerdo quemado
con su luz in mi memoria
Aun en noches sin luna.

 

HONEY EYES

Light in my night’s shadow
your eyes burn amber
in memory
even on moonless nights.

 

 

C. V. Will is transplanted native of the Midwest who returned to creative writing pursuits after years of writing formal reports.  Will’s poetry has appeared on-line in Today’s Alternative News, The Muse Apprentice and …. and has been published in a number of anthologies.  Will was a founding member of several writers organizations in the San Diego area and enjoys an active association with the Maui Live Poets Society.  CV practices writing and tai chi when and where able.  Recent poems were written in the International Terminal at LAX circa 3 AM.  A favorite poem was written in a bar in Ensenada, MX with one of the waiters who assisted in writing the Spanish translation of the poem as CV and a friend drank far too many margaritas.

 

New Moon

CV Will

 

Tonight is a black well we toss our coins in
with wishes for quiet passage
our hearts beat back terrible fear

We remember days in the sun, garden plans,
our jacaranda journeys for your sketches
the long drives in spring, the seeds planted

The stars shine bright without the moon
we still follow the mysteries we live
clocks tick away and echo through the dark

The wind ruffles by outside, it cannot move
the stars or the absent moon, but it moves us
unseen toward some unknown place where
we must go–a place where no shadows are made

We are so tired in our different ways
but are so very much the same in our needs
to release to sleep–to dream deep into the well of this night.

 

 

C. V. Will is transplanted native of the Midwest who returned to creative writing pursuits after years of writing formal reports.  Will’s poetry has appeared on-line in Today’s Alternative News, The Muse Apprentice and has been published in a number of anthologies.  Will was a founding member of several writers organizations in the San Diego area and enjoys an active association with the Maui Live Poets Society.  CV practices writing and tai chi when and where able. 

THE DREAM

C V Will

 

I wake
this dream
I dreamed before

I am an angry
child who
leaves the house
of childhood
to walk or to run
around in the night

But in the dream
it is daylight
and my father
is on a ladder
reaching for the head
of a black snake

I try to warn him
it is a cobra
He ignores me
or does not hear
the warning

This is the third
time I’ve dreamed
the dream I think

In life my father
is dying
so I know
this dream is about
transformation

I see my father
struggling with the black
snake, his balance
on the ladder precarious
between heaven and earth

He does not hear me
and cannot see me wake
He is in the dream of dying

I am awake in night rain
thousands of miles
and years from home
where I understand
the dream

I taste the change
in the wind, I
hear the cadence
of rain on the roof

I am still
angry at
old abandoning
he left me alone
near the iris beds
in the side yard

Awake I write in the dark
and know change
is coming and I am
too old to run away now

I don’t think I was the one
who ran away from home

 

 

C. V. Will is transplanted native of the Midwest who returned to creative writing pursuits after years of writing formal reports.  Will’s poetry has appeared on-line in Today’s Alternative News, The Muse Apprentice and …. has been published in a number of anthologies.  Will was a founding member of several writers organizations in the San Diego area and enjoys an active association with the Maui Live Poets Society.  CV practices writing and tai chi when and where able.  Recent poems were written in the International Terminal at LAX circa 3 AM.  A favorite poem was written in a bar in Ensenada, MX with one of the waiters who assisted in writing the Spanish translation of the poem as CV and a friend drank far too many margaritas.

Consecration

Olga Garcia

                      after a photo in a Tijuana  newspaper
 

 

in the wasteland, over a flattened plastic garbage bag as altar for their consecration, the two heads face each other.

someone puts invisible tape on their eyelids to hold open their eyes,
grooms their hair and in vain, closes their mouths.

All this Holy Coliseum for their debutant photo on Tijuana’s front page!
           
listen to their inner demons invoke their ruptured scrotums,
their severed necks and beer bellies.

listen to the hissing of Santa Muerte* in the strangled breath.

 

*Holy Death: the custom of worshipping death derived from the Aztecs and still practiced in Mexican culture. Recently, this custom has gained popularity with criminal gangs and drug cartels. 

 

 

Olga Garcia was born and raised in Torreón, México. A Physics and Mathematics major, she writes poetry in English and Spanish. Her work has been published in local and international anthologies.A member of the Advisory Board of San Diego Writers Ink, she lives seven minutes away from the Tijuana-San Diego border.

 

 

 

MY GRANDFATHER CHANGES HIS LAST NAME

Kate Harding

 

At the Grand Canyon Red Rock Motel
he signs  the register.  The shiny Buick out front
my grandmother holding the picnic basket
boiled chicken, she glances at the paper,
the familiar handwriting, the blue ink.
“Mr. and Mrs. Taylor! Am I some floozie?
You have to write a different name? Taylor?”
She tells the clerk, “We are married forty years.”
Grandpa  says nothing, steps out for the valise.
Polished shoes, a tuft of thin blond hair
slicked back  under the Panama hat,
his purple shirt looks like an orchid
in the Arizona  heat.

In the hot motel room, they sit on twin beds.
Whir of the fan the only sound. She unpins
her long hair. “One of your practical jokes?”
My grandfather, the lawyer says,
“Taylor is now our legal name.”
She sighs, thinking about engraved flatware,
cloth napkins, tea towels, the Hs she sewed
on percale sheets and pillowcases.
“I’ve been Mrs. Herman since I was a girl.
What about your brothers and sister?
Who goes and changes his own family name?”
His jacket and tie still on, he sits stiffly.
She is already down to her pink corset.

”Meshugener,” she mutters.
She has never called him a name
directly before. Plenty, “Blitz Krieg,”
“the dictator” out of his hearing.
He opens the paper he bought in Kingman,
Senator Joe McCarthy with his wide forehead
and dark eyebrows glares at him in black and white.
She studies her husband as if he were a rare
eggshell brocade she has never seen before.
The bump on his head, a wound from a rock
thrown by a Jew-hating soldier in Russia years ago
shines in the dim motel light.

She thinks of the stories she heard, her husband
taught himself English  while driving a bus,
the book in his lap,  eye  on the road,
how proud he was to follow Teddy  Roosevelt
up San Juan hill, how he always stopped  to salute
the statue of the soldier at  the Veterans Cemetery.
He loves this country that gave him his freedom.

Sweat, which he calls perspiration dripping
down his neck he  sat bent all summer
over the McCarthy  hearings
as if he were sitting shive.

“Meshugener,” she whispers again.
“You think the fat Senator is after you.”
She frees a chicken leg from its wax paper
and hands it  to my grandfather,
his hat still on his lap.

 

 

                                            

Kate Harding is a Pushcart Prize nominee in both fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Contemporary World Literature: Journal for the Arts, Poetry International,  Perigee, Today’s Alternative News  and the San Diego Poetry Annual. New work will be forthcoming in The Hummingbird Review.
                                                                                                        

HOLLYHOCKS

Kate Harding

 

Three days after my mother died,
her hollyhocks tumbled down
under their own weight. My father had
disappeared. I had eaten the last
of her meatloaf wrapped in wax paper.

She had waved me out of her kitchen.
“No need to learn to cook. You’ll be
a professor.” She ground her own meat,
the red strings wriggling like worms.

Though I only had my learner’s permit
I drove her old Plymouth to the store.

There were whole aisles in Safeway she
never went down. That first day I bought
Bird’s Eye frozen broccoli and macaroni
and cheese.

The mothers of my friends gossiped about me,
told their daughters, “Stay away from her.
Who knows what’s going on in that house?
Parties. Boys.”

There were no parties. No boys. Nights,
I was so lonesome I would call the Time
and a lady would say it is now three oh three.
I made JELLO and Swanson’s turkey dinners.

I asked the gym teacher, perky Miss Butler,
a woman whom a month before I would never
have talked to, about salads. Miss Butler coached

the  Sergeantnettes,  a girls’ marching drill team.
She told me she had polio as a child. I tucked
that away. People could survive all sorts of things.
She said, “Wash the lettuce first.”

I fried hamburger meat, flames jumping
wildly under the iron skillet. A month later,
my father reappeared, moved us to a dingy
apartment across town.

Nights, I would sit in my mother’s car.
in front of our old house. The new owner,
a gardener, staked my mother’s hollyhocks.
I couldn’t see the pale pink, ruby, and yellow
flowers in the dark. But I knew they were there.

 

 

Kate Harding is a Pushcart Prize nominee in both fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Contemporary World Literature: Journal for the Arts, Poetry International,  Perigee, Today’s Alternative News  and the San Diego Poetry Annual. New work will be forthcoming in The Hummingbird Review.
 

At the Party (for Saad, In Memoriam)

Olga Garcia

 

 
no one knows the color of my panties
their blues a camouflaged secret

basmati with cardamon and saffron
–an erotic dance in my nostrils–

Arabic   English   Spanish  
mingle around the kebab.
mint   grape leaves   and   baklava  
thrash away my despair

an oasis of jasmine and orange blossoms
ravished by a golden cooked light
as we are introduced

his hand ignites the Lilith in me
his neck   an offering of psalms to kiss
his mouth   an act of honey and sweet almonds
the Song of Songs   a tunic on me as i hear his voice

fate——his sensual eyes on me!

 

 

Olga Garcia was born and raised in Torreón, México. A Physics and Mathematics major, she writes poetry in English and Spanish. Her work has been published in local and international anthologies.A member of the Advisory Board of San Diego Writers Ink, she lives seven minutes away from the Tijuana-San Diego border.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deluded

Kristen Scott

 

at sixteen I swallowed

ten Tylenol – the robin

egg blue ones,

with a fifth of Lord Calvert.

a painting of Jesus by

Palestinian shores

pushed me out the front door –

seeking adventure,    rowing

 my own delusional boat –

 

on 10th street I caught fish,

reeled them into my

501’s.   I decided to throw

them back on Bonair

and, so,  St. Paul sent me out

to the Sea of Galilee,

surrounded by MALE apostles

and that infamous prostitute –

Ah, Mary,      the one no one likes

to mention, not a prostitute

but BELOVED

FEMALE

AN APOSTLE –

 

Mary, I followed you from

sea to shining tomb,

awaiting the resurrection –

Instead, I got my stomach

pumped and a lecture from

my Philippine doctor.

my mother just wondered

why it was so hard to raise a girl. 
 
 
 
 

 please see author’s full bio in additional works and on author’s page.

Goodbye

Lisa Suhair Majaj

 

Always knew it would come back
to haunt me. It was war, time was short,
 
the truck was leaving, and with it my hope
of safe passage from that besieged city.
 
She was in another place, phone lines
down, no time to search her out.
 
I had to flee. And so I did. I knew
the spool of time would never
 
rewind, that there would be no
going back; that with that leaving,
 
I would lose my chance to find her
before the bombs exploded–
 
her home destroyed, her brother burned,
her eyes torn to darkness.
 
Where is she now? Would she
remember me if I found her?
 
And if I kissed her cheeks three times,
Lebanese style, and called her habibti,
 
hayati, would she speak to me,
smile? Or would she turn away,
 
her life so changed, her griefs so far from mine
that there would be  no point in saying, even, goodbye?

 

 

Lisa Suhair Majaj is the author of Geographies of Light, winner of the Del Sol Press Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in over fifty journals and anthologies worldwide. She is also co-editor of three collections of critical essays: Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers; Intersections: Gender, Nation and Community in Arab Women’s Novels, and Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist. She lives in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Knowing How to Die

Lisa Suhair Majaj

 

I’ve owned it forever, a dark seed,
one of those possessions you know
you’ll need one day, but till then
 
shove to the back of your mind,
ignore.  It permeated my being
from the moment I pushed down the birth canal
 
into life-light, and before, from that first eruption
of synchronicity, cells multiplying madly
deep in my mother’s womb-nest
 
where I swam, nine months, practicing for life.
Once born, there was so much to do.
I learned how to breathe, how to suckle—
 
my mothers’ chest a savannah, her nipple
an oasis – and from there the whole world
waited.  Oh, the busyness of life!
 
But that death-knowledge
slumbers, imprinted in my bones
like a birthright:

original, indelible,
the one thing in life
I won’t have to earn.

 

 

Lisa Suhair Majaj is the author of Geographies of Light, winner of the Del Sol Press Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in over fifty journals and anthologies worldwide. She is also co-editor of three collections of critical essays: Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers; Intersections: Gender, Nation and Community in Arab Women’s Novels, and Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist. She lives in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Primal Touch

Lisa Suhair Majaj

 

My newborn’s skin was so satiny to the touch
I worried my hangnails would catch and rip her.
I bent my face to her downy head, touching my lips
to the soft curve of her skull, bones soft
and unmolded, hair wispy and damp,  the odor of birth
still emanating from her as if from a new-baked loaf,
musty and sweet. I could have spent forever
with my lips pressed to her infant flesh, but hunger
had other agendas. Her wail pierced my body,
sent electric cramps through my still-open womb,
milk sparking through my nipple, as her toothless gums
clamped down and pulled, tugging milk fiercely
from my deepest core, flooding us both with the essence
of life. It’s the primal touch we don’t remember
that shapes us.  The first time my daughter opens herself
to another’s caress, will her body recall that first flooding of love,
light touch of lips and hands,  life-force expanding in a milky rush
as I drew her body to my body and gave suck?

 

 

please see author’s full bio in additional works and in the Author’s Page.

Finding Your Group

Lisa Suhair Majaj

 

My daughter, proud spiny-pet owner
votes for a prickle of hedgehogs.
My husband, the spear-gun fisherman,
stands firm for a shiver of sharks.
My sister, cat lover, chimes in for
a chine of polecats, while my mother-in-law,
an inveterate chef, dithers between  a bouquet
of pheasants and a wrack of rabbits.
Me, I’ll settle for a storytelling of ravens –
like the ones over there, perched on the carob tree branch
that leans over the cliff (wrinkled sea
far below), tossing tales between them
like popcorn, weaving strands of story
into their nests–bright bits of ribbon and floss
to amuse the chicks. I watch them
 preen their raven-black feathers and strut:
tellers of tall tales, lovers of small
shiny objects, birds of a feather together.
I love how they embellish the plot, enjoy the side-bars,
and, when they reach the end,  caw raucously,
laughing at their own bad jokes.

 

 

Lisa Suhair Majaj is the author of Geographies of Light, winner of the Del Sol Press Poetry Prize. Her poems and essays have appeared in over fifty journals and anthologies worldwide. She is also co-editor of three collections of critical essays: Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers; Intersections: Gender, Nation and Community in Arab Women’s Novels, and Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist. She lives in Nicosia, Cyprus.

My Father’s Garden

Marian Haddad

 

is full of weeds now –
I am okay with that – as a matter of fact –
I am stunned by their grace – their appearance since
May – I came to say Sabah il khayr –
 

to kiss the forehead of a father
one late Sunday morning – and they
took me
by surprise – and me gasping . . .
deep –  almost smiling . . . standing there,
by the bay
window bringing in
droves of light . . .
 

There they were –
what we call weeds –
but they were florid and high
in their stance . . . and the richest,
green – little yellow buds peeking
their heads . . . between what seemed
fields of gathering
fern . . . I was amazed
at the fecundity of forms . . .
of grass
of bright yellow
happenings. Our field
was near-covered
with them.
 

My father walked in to see
what all my great commotion
was about – he smiled, shyly,
almost ashamed . . . and said,
 

Badnah nik’lah-on –
“We need to pull them out.”
 

The man he was would never have
allowed such rampant things –
But I said, “No, Baba!”  “These
are beautiful.”  He looked and tried to see,
and I think he may have agreed
after the looking –
 

Two, maybe three feet of feathery
growth – and what seems a field
of small wild flowers
at the tips of stems . . . bright –
the color of sun –
and just enough space
between them
for wind to play
and breezes to sway
stems  . . . perhaps
 

his field has been
so dry for so long –
that they remind me
of his kept garden
that curled around our house
 

The grass was always there
and watered – as if we
expected it to be –
us running
through our busy days –
I assume we never thought
of how it stayed – Father
watering, placing the hose,
curled like a gardensnake
among grass – perhaps
that is why our lawn
was never as evenly colored
as the neighbors’ yards –
 

he would shift – after so long,
the placement of the coiled hose
to dryer spots, rotate,
every so often, the fielding
of water –
 

and so, naturally,
there were some yellow
spots and tufts of grass
that water
did not reach.  But there was always
 

grass . . . and the bricks and rocks
he’d use to build low circles around the trees
he’d plant – we saw them bud and grow –
yield his proud fruit – always asking the guests
if they’d like to see
the garden,
explaining proudly,
pointing each one out . . . and the naming began:
 

–          apricot, fig, plum

–          mish-mosh, teen, khokhh
 

and the grapevines that crawled
along the stone
fence – so high, grapeleaves covered
the wall – and the grapes, hanging heavy
in their descending bodies
along the periphery
of our place –
 

and then
the daly  – the place he built
with chicken-wire and wood –
holding the vines up –
 

training them
to grow
this way . . . or that . . .
 

it was what others might call
a coop . . . we’d enter this large
sub-garden through a fence that unlatched –
chicken-wire high above us
and all around
to keep
the birds out  – to protect
the grapes – not pecked at

Father would walk slowly
amid the daly, raise his arms high up
to pick the pickable ones –
 

And I’d follow him
and put them in
a deep, long tray
until it was full –

arms heavy with fruit
and overflowing . . .
 

Picking grapes
in my father’s proud yard.

 

* first published on Rawi Website, and appears in the latest collection of Marian Haddad’s, WILDFLOWER. STONE. (Pecan Grove Press 2011) . . . to order an autographed copy, contact Marian Haddad at haddadmarian@aol.com

 

for author’s complete bio please see additional works in the SPRING ISSUE.  Haddad’s full bio may also be viewed on her “Author’s Page.”

For Naomi Shihab Nye

Marian Haddad

Granddaughter
of Sitti Khadra,
I did not know you
until I picked
your book off a shelf
over fifteen years ago. 
 

It’s there I first read
about your yellow glove,
a red suitcase, your Uncle
Mohammad and the broom-
maker in Palestine,
the way you made it seem
he was a master
of this one lost art,

 

how he woke up
and began to weave
the seam around the straw,
stitched it into place,
taking such care,
as if it were something
his own wife would wear.
 

The way I saw your name
and it rang clear,
 something in it meant
you were quite like me. 
 

A name—how we relate
to people from our lands,
though I still
have mine, but you
do not
have yours. 
Syria is still
on the map,
and last month
it resonated loud
and clear, your Palestine
has been
erased
from the map
on my friend’s
wall.
 

For some reason, it was then,
I began to study
where every country lay,
and something in me sought
the places of my race,
 

and I began to see
the space between
Syria and Lebanon,
and how it was O.K.—
the separate countries
that they made,
allowed the other
to exist;

 

 I looked for Jordan,
Yemen, The United
Arab Emirates. 
Morocco and El Jazayer,
Berber countries first,
how they embraced
the same language
our grandfathers
spoke, but they, still
able to keep
their own identities.

 

I saw Israel
and thought,
Our neighbors, a part of us,
our space.  A cup of sugar please.
 

And for a moment I forgot
a strange happening.  I began to look
and look for one
country
I once had to name
on an old map.
 

My eye began to scan
the crevices in-between,
and a panic began
to stir somehow
inside the brain.

 

Unable to find
this one lost patch
of land, what color
was it then?
 

And the next second
it came to me.  The way
it’s been erased.

 

Oh, yes.  I cannot even place
my finger atop
it’s geographical brow,
the hump it might have made
under a braille hand
on the raised surface
of a sky blue globe.
 

It then made strange sense
to me, why I couldn’t find it
between it’s cluster
of neighboring spots.
 

I was appalled to think
someone had buried it
while I wasn’t looking
straight, and that I didn’t go
to this one funeral
they must have had
somewhere
to mourn their dead.

 

We hear so often
on the news, a story
somehow far away,
and we
forget to place
this one reality
in our own
dark book,

 

until something wakes us
into shock, and me pointing
my fleshy finger
on a land I once knew
existed there, cancelled
out.  What about Sandy,
and Paul, my brother’s friend,
his father’s father came
from there, her grandfather left it
for L.A., and now,
there is no finding it
again.  The place from which
they stemmed
has blown up, city
of smoke, and the houses
they once villaged in,
 

playing the nigh and the durbuk,
villages where weddings took,
and church bells rang,
or the call to prayer
in a mosque,
 

the children
playing with sticks
in thin alleys
between houses,
the women
baking the sej
and picking mint
out of
their own
small yards.

 

* first published in SCHERHERAZADE’S LEGACY, Ed. Susan Muaddi Darraj 
and RADIO TAHRIR via Barbara Nimri Aziz.

 

Marian Haddad, MFA is a Pushcart-nominated poet, writer, manuscript and publishing consultant, private writing mentor, visiting writer, lecturer and creative workshop instructor.  Her collection of poems, Wildflower. Stone., (Pecan Grove Press, 2011), is the press’s first hardback. Yusef Komunyakaa states that this collection, “…celebrates the observable mysteries of daily existence … these poems have dropped all disguises, and each rides the pure joy of music.  There are superb leaps and silences that deftly highlight the monumental in simple things.” 

Haddad’s chapbook, Saturn Falling Down, was published in (2003). Her full-length collection, Somewhere between Mexico and a River Called Home (Pecan Grove Press, 2004) approaches its fifth printing. Her poems, essays, reviews, and articles have been published in various literary journals and anthologies within the United States and Belgium and have been invited for publication in the Middle East. 

Haddad has taught creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake and Northwest Vista College, and International Literature and American Literature at St. Mary’s University.  Her works in progress include a collection of essays about growing up Arab American in a Mexican American border town.  She writes a blog for the San Antonio Express News

 

 

Correction Jounieh, Lebanon

Marian Haddad

 

Actually, nobody was screaming.
Not that I saw.        I saw the boy,
 
quiet bird, shaking, eyes wide
open. And next to him, the old.
 
One is three. The other, eighty-three,
or more. The older man sits, coiled
 
on a mattress, wheezing into
a mask. Wheezing into          
 
himself. The heavy breath,
weighty in its travel
 
to the lungs and from them. 
Thin, frail, white-haired man.
 
His wife stands, quiet, up against
a wall.  She does not speak
but stares straight         at him, and he
is bent over his thin and folded body,
this body, heavy with his breathing.            
She           is not crying,               she      
 
is not moving.  A stone could not lie         
this still. Fear closes the mouth.      
 
Nobody is speaking. The boy. The man.
His wife.                   But behind them
the chorus of chaos –
people bringing in bodies –
And outside the flames.

 

please see Marian Haddad’s full biographical information in her additional works in the SPRING ISSUE, and on her Author’s page.

* first published in Bat City Review

Passion

David Kherdian

 

Long after leaving the neighborhood,
first on the road, before the draft
into Kentucky army barracks,
then to Mt. Fuji and mountain maneuvers
with other drafted recruits
desperate with longing for home—

Until Aunt Helen’s packages began
to arrive, regular as duty,
to be shared with others on
long guard duty nights.

Then I began to write, answering
letters from home, a former girlfriend
also on duty, her own:
who would never know what she had
awakened in me, and from which lifetime,
nor could I have guessed then how it would end.

 

 

 

David Kherdian is the author of 69 books: poetry, novels, biographies, memoirs, anthologies, bibliographies, retellings, translations, and children’s books (many illustrated by his Caldecott award winning wife, Nonny Hogrogian), which include a narrative biography of the Buddha, a retelling of the Asian classic Monkey,10 poetry anthologies, including his major groundbreaking anthology: Settling America: Fourteen Ethnic American Poets; Forgotten Bread: Armenian American Writers of the First Generation. His biography of his mother’s childhood and survival of the Armenian genocide, The Road From Home, was a Newbery Honor book, among other awards and prizes, and was nominated for the American Book Award. Kherdian’s forthcoming book is titled, Gatherings: From the Selected Writings of David Kherdian.

The Life of Poetry

David Kherdian

 

Any biography must be divided into two parts; the years prior to 16, which are unconscious, or consciousness opening, and the years after 16, which are invented. We believe what we say, especially when we write what we claim is the truth. Aside from writing, what I have done since that age of 16 is irrelevant, no matter how damaging it may have been, and supposedly real on that account. It is my early  life that concerns me, but it is very nearly impossible to talk about this life except perhaps as art, because that is the dimension it most nearly approximates. What we know as growing children is instinctive and inseparable from our ecology, because we are controlled then by sun and tides, and our moods are more animal than human. The delicate thread then was not the dichotomy between fantasy and reality, family and solitary wandering, but my own unknowable relation to the sun and plants, and the mysterious upstream movement of fish (that I followed with such rapture and attention as to become fish myself), that determined the flow and current of my own life. This is the world we forfeit when we acquire adulthood, and this is the world of the unconscious that only children and artists know about. And it is as an artist that I am returning to what was once mine by birthright.Therefore, I have no biography worth telling as exterior event, and I will not tell that biography until it becomes the equivalent of and moves parallel to my own created life, which is poetry. I find in my writing that I gain the future by reclaiming and making whole the past. Only poetry can do this for me, because only through poetry can I achieve a working relationship with my unconscious, which gives shapes and forms to periods lived in chaos and ignorance. It takes years to understand an experience and a lifetime to know who we are. Therefore, in this true sense, all of  my writing is autobiographical because my own story, when truly told, becomes everyone’s.

 

 

David Kherdian is the author of 69 books: poetry, novels, biographies, memoirs, anthologies, bibliographies, retellings, translations, and children’s books (many illustrated by his Caldecott award winning wife, Nonny Hogrogian), which include a narrative biography of the Buddha, a retelling of the Asian classic Monkey,10 poetry anthologies, including his major groundbreaking anthology: Settling America: Fourteen Ethnic American Poets; Forgotten Bread: Armenian American Writers of the First Generation. His biography of his mother’s childhood and survival of the Armenian genocide, The Road From Home, was a Newbery Honor book, among other awards and prizes, and was nominated for the American Book Award. Kherdian’s forthcoming book is titled, Gatherings: From the Selected Writings of David Kherdian.

 

 

 

The Lyre

Dorianne Laux

 

They say Nero fiddled while Rome burned, though
 of course there were no fiddles, and the violin
was still curled like a secret inside the trees, waiting to be
cesareaned by Amati, carved from ebony, maple and spruce,
the most famous and oldest among them, the most
pristine, being “Le Messie” or the “Salabue”
made by Antonio Stradivari in 1717, and never used,
hung like a cadaver in the Ashmolean Museum.
 

It was April 20th, 2010 when the oil began pumping
into the Gulf of Mexico.  We watched the news
on our flat screens and ipads.  We watched
ripe beds of kelp wash up on the beige sand,
the gloved hands scrubbing the blackened beaks
of pelicans, that collapsible bird that’s been around
for 30 thousand years.  We watched the last
great buckets of grey shrimp poured and weighed
 

like grain, and the faces of fishermen give way.
We saw the trawlers head out, dragging
their long booms, capturing little acres of oil,
we saw the sheen, like an old silver mirror,
we saw fire on the water– it was so real
we could almost smell the sweet black plumes.
Some of us sang.  Some of us stood racked
with fear.  Most of us went about the business
 

of our day, discussing the price of gas, buying
lottery tickets at the supermarket, a bag of chips. 
Mostly, we didn’t think about it.  Who could? 
Because it was so deep under the water, out of view. 
It’s not like the city itself was burning or even
the forest around the city. Therefore we woke
and worked or looked for work, so many of us
out of work by then, and after work we walked
 

to the park with our children and friends, barbequed
through the long weekend, Memorial Day, the day
we once set aside to commemorate the Union dead
in the Civil War, though now we try not to think of it
as the Civil War because it’s too confusing-
The Greys, The Blues.  Just the war dead in general
was how we took care of that.  If this was the end
of the world as we knew it, we didn’t know it.
 

We were a large country, a country that ran on luck,
and the year had been both unseasonably warm
and unreasonably cool.  We didn’t know
what to do.  But yes, some of us sang.

 

 

Dorianne Laux’s most recent books are The Book of Men and Facts about the Moon (W.W. Norton), recipient of the Oregon Book Award. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry, and Smoke from BOA Editions, as well as Superman: The Chapbook and Dark Charms, both from Red Dragonfly Press.  Her poems have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Romanian, Dutch, Afrikkans and Brazilian Portuguese.  Her selected works, In a Room with a Rag in my Hand, have been translated into Arabic by Camel/Kalima Press, 2009. She teaches poetry at North Carolina State University.

First appeared in Orion Magazine.

FACTS ABOUT THE MOON

Dorianne Laux

 

The moon is backing away from us
an inch and a half each year.  That means
if you’re like me and were born
around fifty years ago, the moon
was a full six feet closer to the earth.
What’s a person supposed to do?
I feel the gray cloud of consternation
travel across my face.  I begin thinking
about the moon-lit past, how if you go back
far enough you can imagine the breathtaking
hugeness of the moon, prehistoric
solar eclipses when the moon covered the sun
so completely there was no corona, only
a darkness we had no word for. 
And future eclipses will look like this: the moon
a small black pupil in the eye of the sun.
But these are bald facts. 
What bothers me most is that someday
the moon will spiral right out of orbit
and all land-based life will die.
The moon keeps the oceans from swallowing
the shores, keeps the electromagnetic fields
in check at the polar ends of the earth.
And please, don’t tell me
what I already know, that it won’t happen
for a long time.  I don’t care.  I’m afraid
of what will happen to the moon. 
Forget us.  We don’t deserve the moon.
Maybe we once did but not now
after all we’ve done.  These nights
I harbor a secret pity for the moon, rolling
around alone in space without
her milky planet, her only love, a mother
who’s lost a child, a bad child,
a greedy child or maybe a grown boy
who’s murdered and raped, a mother
can’t help it, she loves that boy
anyway, and in spite of herself
she misses him, and if you sit beside her
on the padded hospital bench
outside the door to his room you can’t not
take her hand, listen to her while she
weeps, telling you how sweet he was,
how blue his eyes, and you know she’s only
romanticizing, that she’s conveniently
forgotten the bruises and booze,
the stolen car, the day he ripped
phones from the walls, and you want
to slap her back to sanity, remind her
of the truth: he was a leech, a fuck-up,
a little shit, and you almost do
until she lifts her pale puffy face, her eyes
two craters, and then you can’t help it
either, you know love when you see it,
you can feel it’s lunar strength, its brutal pull. 

 

Dorianne Laux – From her forthcoming book, Facts About the Moon.  Please see author’s complete biographical information in her additional works for SPRING, 2011 and, on the Author’s Page. 

 

 

A Bit of A Pout

Imen Bennani

 

I am here with the Viscaria,
left the Hyacinth behind,

brought Petunia instead
 

Do you hear the leaves growling?
the stigma gritting its teeth?

 

 Let me undo my hair…
remove this diamante slide,
release those tresses…
throw those golden rose pins and flower grips on the floor!

like a little spoiled girl
when contended with

 

Let me linger for a while with this pout
I need it to shape my serene smile afterwards

 

 

Imen Bennani

Imen Bennani

is a Tunisian teacher and scholar. She graduated from the faculty of Arts of Sousse (Tunisia) where she worked as assistant and taught English Literature. Imen Bennani made her MA on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and is currently preparing her PhD on contemporary Arab American Poetry. She now works as researcher at CEREDICREC (The Center for Research and Studies in the Dialogue of Cultures and Comparative Religions), Sousse, Tunisia. Her fields of interest include American Literature, Arab Literature, and Literary translation.

 

 

THREADS

Imen Bennani

 

Threads, threads
the bobbins in the heads
Am doubting the beginnings
dreading the ends
shall I drink up love’s cup to the dregs?
Here I am standing
with the white thread
waiting
for dawn to break, to
tell me: “you are right”

would I break the fast
at sunset in that sea
with love dates and glasses of ecstasy?
Or pledge eternal abstinence and see?
Threads, threads,
the black ones and the reds
Emily Dickinson’s ‘yarn of pearl’
or Hafiz’ smiling faces at the deathbeds?
Should Ariadne have supplied Thesus with the thread?
left deserted on the island
found dead
threads, threads
and mine with God cut–
I miss Him so
need to quickly make a knot
and climb to Him
follow the thread
threads, threads,
would my mouth smell of smoke
and my lips taste wine?
Would there be traces
of squeezed grapes?
Methinks I’d want God to check my mouth
then smile and say,   

 “I am satisfied”

 

 

Imen Bennani is a Tunisian teacher and scholar. She graduated from the faculty of Arts of Sousse (Tunisia) where she worked as assistant and taught English Literature. Imen Bennani made her MA on the poetry of Emily Dickinson and is currently preparing her PhD on contemporary Arab American Poetry. She now works as researcher at CEREDICREC (The Center for Research and Studies in the Dialogue of Cultures and Comparative Religions), Sousse, Tunisia. Her fields of interest include American Literature, Arab Literature, and Literary translation.

 

 

 

 

 

THE DOWNTOWN OASIS

Helene Pilibosian

 

My disbelief tunneled in the ground
like a found fixture
as an oasis peered at me.
Yet my surroundings bloomed green,
and buildings grew tall as infinite hats.
I tried not to ask why.
 
The only dryness there paid
the debt of occasional doubt
to the tax officers.
The world indeed alternated
between light and dark
in mood and reason.
 
Let not the mirage
of dresses of satin
on the stun gun of models
become only a deception.
The glow has proved necessary
to our civilized stance
 
where naturalists
see a pond for egrets,
not wanting to note absence,
where financiers
finalize trade agreements
across the international board,
 
where nutritionists
give people vitamins
to arrange sustenance.
This world consists
of continents in the blend
of constant community.
 

 

Helene Pilibosian

Helene Pilibosian’s poetry has appeared in such magazines as The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Louisiana Literature, The Hollins Critic, North American Review, Seattle Review, Ellipsis, Weber: The Contemporary West, Poetry Salzburg Review, Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies as well as many anthologies. She has published the books Carvings from an Heirloom: Oral History Poems, the Writer’s Digest award-winning At Quarter Past Reality: New and Selected Poems and History’s Twists: The Armenians (honorable mention). Helene’s early work has been cited in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature.  She holds a degree in humanities from Harvard University. She is the current head of Ohan Press, a private bilingual micropress.

THE DOG DAYS

Helene Pilibosian

The dog days of summer
ushered the ride of a request
for the wild roller coaster
with shouts blurring features
and fingers sprawling on sprawl.
It was what we had left.
 
We threw alphabets to the stars
still hidden by daylight.
It was ABC for me
and ayp, pen, kim for you,
the English-Armenian combination
that had made us a team.
 
They explained water beliefs:
tears of pond,
incentive of rivers,
ocean trips with tips for carriers.
I asked which ocean you liked best,
including those at the equatorial belt.
 
You answered the one
without any mosquito bites,
though mosquitoes left you alone
after the initial malaria.
Yet the cinnamon spice
and lemonade favored our taste.
 
Or perhaps the strength
of coffee or pastis encouraged
the Lebanese or the French,
the machinations of Italian ice,
the popular ballads of the time
or time itself.
 
Amazement stitched us like rags,
bumping against so many spots
on the Mediterranean coast.
We were stubborn wood
like the mahogany of our tables
because we were not alone.
 

 

Helene Pilibosian’s poetry has appeared in such magazines as The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Louisiana Literature, The Hollins Critic, North American Review, Seattle Review, Ellipsis, Weber: The Contemporary West, Poetry Salzburg Review, Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies as well as many anthologies. She has published the books Carvings from an Heirloom: Oral History Poems, the Writer’s Digest award-winning At Quarter Past Reality: New and Selected Poems and History’s Twists: The Armenians (honorable mention). Helene’s early work has been cited in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature.  She holds a degree in humanities from Harvard University. She is the current head of Ohan Press, a private bilingual micropress.

Her Garden

Eve Lyons

 

She comes to me

so anxious she is

unable to finish her sentences

scared by the official looking letters

she cannot read

from the IRS, Social Security,

lawyers, Mass Health.  She is not

stupid.  Thanks to NPR

she is better informed

about the world

than most Americans.

She makes less

than seven thousand

a year and works a little

on the side

even though her body

cannot really take the work

she does, and she

is too ashamed

to let her children know

she cannot read

too proud

to seek help.  She would rather

muddle along

in her perpetual confusion

and fear

than admit what

many have already figured out. 

This world is not friendly

for those

who will never know

this poem. 

“A book is like a garden

carried in the pocket,”

or so the Chinese proverb goes

but her pocket

is already full

and her garden is full of weeds

which don’t need watering

 

 

Eve Lyons is a poet, fiction writer, and playwright who is living in Boston, MA. She has published in Fireweed,  Labyrinth,  Concho River Review, Barbaric Yawp, Women’s Words,  Woven, Sapphic Ink, Texas Observer, Houston Literary Review, Word Riot, protestpoems, and two different anthologies

DREAM: THE CITY: Bagdad, 2008

Veronica Golos


Who am I that I sit here at this door?
In my dream, there is a long alley, a place I learn Want.

The city is a mirror. Inside my reflection, old men are on fire—
Flaming like red kaffiyahs.

Litter ignites into funeral flares; the bread of the dead is baking.
Above the moans of children, soldiers warm their hands.

Avenues widen into downpour, detours unfold, flower into cemeteries.
Into this narrow place, two rivers clash.

Am I the one covered with brine, smelling of tides?
Or am I the stone, lifted like a flag?

 


Veronica Golos

Veronica Golos won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize (Story Line Press) for A Bell Buried Deep. In her newest book, Vocabulary of Silence, (Red Hen Press, Feb. 2010) are powerfully wrought poems that witness and respond to the continued wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza—a mirror in which we see and hear the names of war’s dead, their ghosts, and ourselves. Most recently, her poems have been or about to be published in Drunken Boat, Pedestal, Pemmican, Press 1, Bridges, Squaw Valley Review, Meridians, and other presses.


VOCABULARY OF SILENCE

Veronica Golos

 

i.
Love, what is your other name?
Who rides the red horse, the one that is smoke?
Who tramples the fields where words are tinder?

What makes us? I want it to be Love.

Come near
the naked man. A hood—over his head.  His hands—tied behind him.

How to utter it?
What word could open my jaw?

          Tanks bullets drones  air-strikes  starvation sanctions  structural
          adjustment
programming  poisoned land  police truncheons torture harsh
          up  collective
punishment   cigarette burning    water-boarding

My tongue splits.

ii.
From the Red Sea, from its salt water, in its warm shallow shoals,

…Behold!
Here are my good…dead
        rising!

They rise between river and river, between sword and sword.
They rise between the hour of song and the hour of work
          between the echo and its saying. They rise inside
          the cup-shaped hollow of pelvis—they rise and ripen and never grow old:

          Mohammad  Omar  Jawad  Ali  Selma  Madia  Fatima  Suhad  Hussein
          Ahmed
Salam  Azad   Aysha   Maysoon   Nuhad   Faisal  Raad  Zaid  Widad
          Nuha  Haifaa
Amal  Kifah  Souad  Fallujah  Ramadi  Diyala    Basra     Gaza

iii
My day is a froth out of which the dead rise,
these particular dead, the ones who come every morning in the middle of prayer.
They cushion my knees and follow my hand movements.
They are residue in all that I drink.

I place my forehead to the floor. 
I fumble with the lyric, move my finger as a blind person

along its calligraphy. 
It is written: I am cause—and comfort.




Veronica Golos won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize (Story Line Press) for A Bell Buried Deep. In her newest book, Vocabulary of Silence, (Red Hen Press, Feb. 2010) are powerfully wrought poems that witness and respond to the continued wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza—a mirror in which we see and hear the names of war’s dead, their ghosts, and ourselves. Most recently, her poems have been or about to be published in Drunken Boat, Pedestal, Pemmican, Press 1, Bridges, Squaw Valley Review, Meridians, and other presses.


Deadline

Eve Lyons

 

It is spring

everyone is breeding:

Two co-workers,

the hawks in a building

on Fresh Pond Highway,

the geese in the Chestnut Hill reservoir,

and Phoebe, the hummingbird in California

everyone’s watching on the internet.

It seems everyone is breeding

except me. 

When I was twelve

I played M.A.S.H.

tried to predict

the essential things in life:

Who I’d marry,

what kind of car I’d own,

what kind of house I’d live in,

where I’d live,

how many children I’d have.

I remember being so sure

I’d have kids

by the time I was twenty-eight,

I remember thinking twenty-eight

seemed so far away

so very old.

I’m nine years past

my expiration date

and counting.

 

 

Photo by J.L. WOODWARD

Eve Lyons is a poet, fiction writer, and playwright who is living in Boston, MA. She has published in Fireweed,  Labyrinth,  Concho River Review, Barbaric Yawp, Women’s Words,  Woven, Sapphic Ink, Texas Observer, Houston Literary Review, Word Riot, protestpoems, and two different anthologies.  

Drifting Off, East North East

Beau Boudreaux

 

I’m the one
inside the crowded bistro

reading alone
with an untouched martini

a young woman in floral dress
pedals by

and there’s a boy cross-legged
at the trolley stop fumbling papers

why close the sculpture garden at night…
I’ve never been to Boston

Baltimore or Philly—
the window, people sip
 

outside the coffeeshop
form a patio

may be too much
with myself

like a cheap shot
of tequila after many rounds with friends

is not last year, but a decade
when I sat for the first time

through a matinee
sunshine cooking car seats

a shock sitting into
like biting a lemon

  

 

 

Beau Boudreaux

Beau Boudreaux is a poet and professor in Continuing Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans.  His poems have recently appeared in Antioch Review, Cream City Review, and Margie

Brazilian

Beau  Boudreaux

 

She leans in                                                       toward my ear

 

overwhelmed   awash                                     shock of perfume

 

zoo stench, sniffing                                          an old Easter lily

 

no, I really do                                                   I admire the cut of her

 

hemline, zebra skin                                          bangs on the brow

 

oh  commando                                                   Ms. Orlando

 

information I don’t need                                 a cheat, she’s the only one

 

smoking, cocktailed                                          touching my arm.

 

 

Beau Boudreaux is a poet and professor in Continuing Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans.  His poems have recently appeared in Antioch Review, Cream City Review, and Margie.

 

today i do such simple things

jim saliba

 

i get up

i take a hot steamy shower

wash away the night

i do not run out of water

the water does not bypass my home

on the way

up the hill

to my neighbors

the water runs into my house

washes over my skin

and drips into my open mouth

today i walk downtown to mail an express letter

no one stops me

no one asks me for a pass

i walk to work

no barricades block me

and if i wanted to go and buy a used car

and if i had a son

and i wanted to take my son

to look at

and maybe buy

a used car

i would not worry

we would go and look

at the car

i would not have to search for a concrete barrel

for us to hide behind

i would not have to stop the bullets

with no weapons nothing only my hand

reaching up and waving and shouting

the child the child

to stop them

before they shoot my son

and kill him

i would not worry

because today no one questions

my right to live on this land

we would go and see the car

and if we wanted

we would buy the car

and drive home

today i do such simple things

although today is yom kippur

no one locks me in my house

or barricades my street

i get up and go to work

i earn money to pay rent and buy food

and soap

and postage for the letter

i work on computers

no one questions my religion

or my ethnicity for my job

i do not have to work as a waiter or a builder

but if i chose to work as a waiter or a builder

or on computers

i could work today

no matter whose religious holiday it is

today they would not close my street

or lock me in my neighborhood

because today no one claims

a 3000 year old text makes it right

to throw me out of my home

to take away my land

to say there go to Canada

let the Canadians take you in

nobody questions my right to work

and to shower

and to eat

and to look at

and even to buy

a used cab

today i do such simple things

i hear the birds sing in the tree outside my window

i take a hot steamy shower

my neighbors up the hill do not take all the water for themselves

so i have water to wash and to drink today

i walk downtown and go to work

and if i want

i will go

to look at

and maybe buy

a used car

and if i had a son

i would take him

and i would not worry

my son would not press into my side

to hide from the bullets

and they would not shoot him in his belly

and he would not

die

 

* “this poem is about the death of mohammed al-dura, the 12 year old
palestinian boy who was photographed crouching beside his father,
moments before the boy was shot dead by israeli soldiers, at the
netzarim junction in gaza”  – jim saliba

first appeared in the Texas Observer

 

jim saliba – A descendant of turn-of-the-century Lebanese immigrants and rural Southern farmers, jim saliba grew up in Tennessee and Georgia. He studied drama at Stanford University and studied and taught poetry with June Jordan and her Poetry for the People program at the University of California at Berkeley. jim has constructed and directed performances in austria and california and is the artistic director of h e l p : human elemental laboratory of performance.

Call To Prayer

Shadab Zeest Hashmi

 

In a city hillocked and covered
with cherry blossoms
this time of the year
the runner
carrying the message of war
has reached

before
bales of cotton

Caravans bringing sugar and rice

 

The elders in their white gowns
have been moved
from their perch in the mosque

A cloud of quiet departs

The women are busying themselves
with salves
with feeding the horses that will carry
their men

The next call for prayer
will be made in full armor
 

Arrows threading the men’s bodies
will be removed during prayer

 

 

SHADAB ZEEST HASHMI

Shadab Zeest Hashmi’s poetry has appeared in various publications including Poetry International, Hubbub, New millenium Writings, Nimrod and  The Bitter Oleander. Her work has also been published online in The Courtland Review as well as other places. She is the author of the newly released book of poems The Baker of Tarifa.

 

 

Afterward what Remains

Marge Piercy

 

What marks does a marriage leave
when one of them has gone
into another entanglement?
 
A bottle of wine chosen, forgotten.
A old cat dying slowly of kidney
failure.  Some books no longer
 
valued, music of another decade
they used to dance to, back
when dancing was together.
 
A green wool sweater abandoned
in the corner of a closet.  Railroad
tie steps they buried in the hillside.
 
Trees they planted now taller
than the house. A mask, a wooden
necklace from foreign travels. 
 
Pain eroding like a dying pond
from the edges but still deep
enough in the center to drown.

  

  

  

 

 

MARGE PIERCY

Marge Piercy has published 18 poetry collections including Colors Passing Through Us, What Are Big Girls Made Of?, The Art of Blessing the Day, and most recently The Crooked Inheritance, all from Knopf.  She has written seventeen novels, most recently Sex Wars from Morrow/Harper Collins, who published her memoir, Sleeping with Cats.  Two of her earlier novels, Vida and Dance the Eagle to Sleep are being reprinted by PM Press in 2011. In March, Knopf published a second volume of Marge’s selected poems, The Hunger Moon. 

 

 

 

A Republic of Cats

Marge Piercy

 

Nobody rules.  They all
take turns.  I can never
tell who will chase who
playing war over the couch
 
and chairs, round and
round again until suddenly
they stop as if a whistle
blew in their heads.
 
Five of them, aged fifteen
to two.  Who will curl
together making one cushion
of patchwork fur?  Who
 
will painstakingly lick
a friend, washing for
an hour.  Who will growl
at their friend of last hour?
 
The one rule is where each
sleeps at night, their spot
in the bed and with whom.
It is written in bone.

 

 

Marge Piercy has published 18 poetry collections including Colors Passing Through Us, What Are Big Girls Made Of?, The Art of Blessing the Day, and most recently The Crooked Inheritance, all from Knopf.  She has written seventeen novels, most recently Sex Wars from Morrow/Harper Collins, who published her memoir, Sleeping with Cats.  Two of her earlier novels, Vida and Dance the Eagle to Sleep are being reprinted by PM Press in 2011. In March, Knopf published a second volume of Marge’s selected poems, The Hunger Moon. 

It All Begins Again

Marge Piercy

 

The first teasing of spring–
how hope almost hurts.
We have been snowbound
walled in with ice grey
 
as aging hair. Cold attacked
the walls and roof, gnawed
at the foundation.  Nipped
our faces and hands,
 
a hungry fox with too
sharp teeth.  Now brave
towers of green thrust
from buried bulbs, up
 
through half frozen earth
through paper bag leaves,
through leaves turning dark
with rot, up to the sun
 
that lays its yellow belly
on my arm like a lazy cat.
Sap rises along my
spine sweet as the juice
 
flowing in the cambium
layer of the sugar maples.
Though it freeze and thaw
and freeze again, something
 
wet and shaggy is loosed
to roam with frisky skunks
seeking mates. Slowly,
slowly I begin to uncoil.

 

 

Marge Piercy has published 18 poetry collections including Colors Passing Through Us, What Are Big Girls Made Of?, The Art of Blessing the Day, and most recently The Crooked Inheritance, all from Knopf.  She has written seventeen novels, most recently Sex Wars from Morrow/Harper Collins, who published her memoir, Sleeping with Cats.  Two of her earlier novels, Vida and Dance the Eagle to Sleep are being reprinted by PM Press in 2011. In March, Knopf published a second volume of Marge’s selected poems, The Hunger Moon. 

 

 

 

How I Learned About Courage

Marge Piercy

 

In one corner of our livingroom
just 11 by 12, a cabinet radio
loomed.  I’d run home from school
and then turn it on to Terry
and the Pirates, Jack Armstrong
All American Boy.  There was
never then a kick-ass woman
although on Terry, the Dragon
Lady smoldered with menace.
I liked her but wasn’t supposed to.
 
I would close the wooden doors
on me, secluded with adventure
I preferred to the playground
fights I couldn’t avoid, dirty
Jew, four-eyed squinty freak.
Preferred to the neighbors’
beatings, loud quarrels, breaking
dishes, slow deaths from cancer.
fast from factory mishaps. Rape
of a classmate.  Her disgrace.
 
Broadcast dangers always came
out right in the end.  Serials
funded by breakfast cereal
fed my addiction in the cave
of radio as adrenalin flooded
my childish brain.  Years later
how many times I risked my life
for a cause, jumping barricades.
gassed, crossing borders clan-
destinely, become the hero who
crawled into my small pink ears.

 

 

MARGE PIERCY

Marge Piercy has published 18 poetry collections including Colors Passing Through Us, What Are Big Girls Made Of?, The Art of Blessing the Day, and most recently The Crooked Inheritance, all from Knopf.  She has written seventeen novels, most recently Sex Wars from Morrow/Harper Collins, who published her memoir, Sleeping with Cats.  Two of her earlier novels, Vida and Dance the Eagle to Sleep are being reprinted by PM Press in 2011. In March, Knopf published a second volume of Marge’s selected poems, The Hunger Moon. 

If the Planet Were Covered with Wildflowers

Lahab Assef Al-Jundi(لهب عاصف الجندي)

 

If the planet were covered with wildflowers,
and someone dies a cruel death in China,
all the blooms would disappear.
A space of darkness would fill their place.
A time of sorrow.

Have you ever drank from eternity’s cup?
Eternity has never tasted so good.
 

Why would I wake up with a  wildflower-
covered world, death in China, and eternity?
Only my dreaming-self knows!
 

All poetry is assembled from letters of an alphabet.
All these diverse faces are two eyes, two lips and a nose.
Everything we ever knew or will know
can be told with ones and zeros.
You still think creation is that complicated?
 

My heart is covered with wildflowers.
I think I will go back to sleep and grow some more.
This world could render me arid with blowing winds
if I did not drink and drink,
 

Pour thunderstorms of blue grief…

 

 

 

إذا كان كوكبنا مغطى بالأزهار البريه

 

 

إذا كان كوكبنا مغطى بالأزهار البريه،
وماتَ أحدُّ بقسوة في الصين،
تختفي كل الزهور.
وَيملأ فضاءٌ من الظلمة مكانهم.
وقتٌ للحزن.

هل سبق لك أن شربت من كأس الخلود؟
طعم الخلود أطيب من أي وقت مضى.
لماذا أستيقظ والأزهار البرية

تغطي العالم، وموتٌ في الصين، والخلود؟

فقط…  ذاتي الحالمه تعرف.

 
كلُ الشعر مكونٌ من أحرف أبجدية.
كلُ الوجوه المتنوعة…عينان وشفتان وأنف.
كلُ شيء عرفناه أو سنعرفه
يمكن أن يُروى بالآحاد والأصفار.
مازلتَ تعتقد أن الخلق عملية معقده؟

قلبي مغطى بالأزهار البرية.
أظن أني سأعود للنوم وأزرع أكثر.
سيجعلني هذا العالم قاحلاً مع هبوب الريح
إذا لم أشرب وأشرب،

وأُسكب عواصف رعدية من الحزن الأزرق…
 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Melanie Rush Davis

 

Lahab Assef Al Jundi (لهب عاصف الجندي) was born, and grew up, in Damascus, Syria.  He published his first collection A Long Way in 1985. Assef’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary publications, and many Anthologies including: In These Latitudes, Ten Contemporary Poets, edited by Robert Bonazzi, Inclined to Speak, An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry, edited by Hayan Charara, and Between Heaven and Texas, edited by Naomi Shihab Nye. He currently resides in San Antonio, Texas, with wife Sara and two cockatiels Yoda and Princes.

 

Against Will

Kim Myong-sun
 Translation by Don Mee Choi

 

Korea, I cut my final tie with you

If I fall over into a ditch

or spill blood in the fields

go ahead, kick my dead body

If that is not enough

later when someone like me is born again

abuse her as much as you can

Then we’ll part forever

hating each other

This vicious place! Vicious place!

 

 

Don Mee Choi was born in S. Korea and came to the U.S. as a student in
1981. She studied art at the California Institute of the Arts. Her
poems have appeared in The Asian Pacific American Journal, Hawaii
Pacific Review, disorient journalzine, and Gargoyle. She lives in
Seattle and translates poetry of several contemporary Korean women
poets. Her translations will appear this year in the fall issues of
Arts & Letters: Journal of Contemporary Culture and Luna.

Kim Myong-sun (1896-1951). She was a pioneer poet/writer of modern
Korea. Her story, “Suspicious Girl,” is considered to be the first
modern story published by a Korean woman. She was also the first
woman poet/writer to question traditional Korean womne’s roles in her
works.

 

SPEAK

Faiz Ahmed Faiz with Translation by Shadab Zeest Hashmi

 

Speak out
for your lips are not slaves
Speak out
for your tongue is yours yet
And body strong yet
Speak out
     Your life
        is still yours

At the blacksmith’s
How swift the flame
          how red the iron
Locks are slackening their jaws
Fetters are dropping to the ground
Speak out
This meager time is enough
Before death snatches your body
                                              your tongue
 

Speak
For truth is alive yet
Speak
        Speak your heart out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAIZ AHMED FAIZ

Faiz Ahmed Faiz was one of the greatest of Pakistani poets in the 20th century. He spent his life as a writer working for the good of Pakistan and its people, often being so critical of the  prevailing governments that he was imprisoned for many years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadab Zeest Hashmi’s poetry has appeared in various publications including Poetry International, Hubbub, New Millenuem Writings, Nimrod and  The Bitter Oleander. Her work has also been published online in The Courtland Review as well as other places. She is the author of the newly released book of poems The Baker of Tarifa.