WHEAT

Oriana Ivy 

              for the people of the village of Ponikła 

 

Tassels flow through my hand,
beads of grain roll against
the husk of my palm.
I lean to the lost

 

fire of the weeds:
the blue flame
of cornflowers,
papery mouths of poppies.

 

A rooster’s few
drawn-out notes
journey in the echo.
I stand shoulder-deep

 

in blond light.
Wind holds me,
then lets me go.

 

A farmer halts his horse,
points at me with his whip:
Black hair, strong head.
You will never go crazy.

 

*

 

I am the harvest now.
Sheaf by sheaf,
sky holds me,
then lets me go.

 

 

Oriana Ivy was born in Poland and came to the United States when she was 17. Her poems, essays, book reviews, and translations from modern Polish poetry have been published in Poetry, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry 1992, Nimrod, New Letters, The Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Black Warrior, Wisconsin Review, Prairie Schooner, Spoon River Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals and anthologies. A former journalist and community college instructor, she teaches poetry workshops. She lives in San Diego.

 

 

ASHES AND DIAMONDS

Oriana Ivy

 

                         When our life is ashes, it will not
                         Be ashes through and through –
                         For under the ash will remain
                         A starry diamond.
                                   ~ Cyprian Norwid

 

 

You were born under an unlucky star,
the fake Gypsy said
at the half-price
reading of my palms.
The windowsill was lit
by Jesus with a light bulb heart.
Do you believe in God?
the Gypsy pressed.

Earlier that year, I turned down
three gorgeous young men.
How could I reach the heights
unless I sublimated my libido?

 

But where was it, this new Life in Art?
I was drowning in a maelstrom
of erotic fantasies. In the end
I threw myself at an alcoholic
Vietnam veteran, the comet of his
ponytail the flag of Mr. Wrong.

 

In the quiet of my appeased body,
I could see the oleanders again,
starry scatter of poisonous blossoms.
I could smell the iodine ocean.
You don’t even know what love is,
the Gypsy wailed. But perhaps I did.

 

First thing in job-shattered morning,
I’d reach for a book that slept
with me under the pillow.
That was my real love life;
my youth, between weeping.
My star the color of ash.
Yet underneath that death,
immortal diamond.

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                               Oriana Ivy – please see author’s full biography in her additional works or on the Author’s Page.

¿Qué sucede en este mundo? What Happens in this World

Pietro Grieco

 

¿Qué sucede en este mundo?

 

Las abejas están desapareciendo
Del aire de la primavera.

 

Los pájaros con el corazón
Quebrado caen del cielo.

 

Los peces de a miles salen del mar
Para depositar sus cuerpos clamando una
misericordia de ojos abiertos sobre las riberas.

 

¿Y los humanos? ¿Qué sucede con
Los humanos?
¿Te refieres a esos ciegos
cadáveres que caminan?

 

What happens in this world?

 

Bees are vanishing
From the air of spring.

 

Birds with broken hearts
are falling from the sky.

 

Fish are coming out of water
And deposit their bodies on the shore
Claiming mercy with big open eyes.

 

And what is going on with humans?
You mean those walking
Corpses who lost their eyes…

 

 

Pietro Grieco is Doctor of Divinity, has an OBD in Administration Sciences, and a Master of Arts in Literature and Writing.  He taught at the Buenos Aires University and Belgrano University in Argentina, and  at the California State University San Marcos, CA.  Mr. Grieco wrote academic essays, poetry and seven books. Some of his articles on spirituality have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

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.

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.”

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