Saturday, October 20, 2018

THE FAIRY'S CAVE Part III "Dark Disposition" by Charles A. Swanson

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Dark Disposition,” Part III of The Fairy’s Cave, an epic fantasy narrative poem by Charles A. Swanson.  The poem will be published as a four-part series on successive Fridays in October.  The first installment, “Elf Bolts,” and a biography of the poet were presented on October 5 LINK.  The second installment, “Purple Polka-Dotted Mushrooms,” was presented on October 12 LINK.

"Swoon" Ink on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
The Fairy’s Cave
Charles A. Swanson

III. Dark Disposition

They came again, the little girl, auburn
tresses dancing like sunlit butterflies,
the dark-eyed boy. The fairy-elf watched them,
first dim against the cave mouth’s morning,
then merging with shadows in the grotto.
As Claudius so hungrily hoped, the boy spied
the polka-dotted mushrooms, but he turned away,
not tempted. He continued the words
he was already darting at her. Why was he
speaking crossly? Why was she smiling?
Eat some of the mushrooms, you rude brat,
Claudius willed. His fairy power held both
check and scope—he could not force
the boy, nor lay a hand upon him. Breathe
he could do, and he sent out that breath,
magic like pollen, magic that suggested,
magic that tempted, magic that made
the wartiest toad into a precious gemstone.
Take me up, the mushrooms crooned. No
treacle is half so sweet. The fairy willed:
Eat them. Become so baleful she’ll turn

with loathing from your dark, deep eyes.

Poet’s Notes for “Dark Disposition”:  Whose nature is the more corrupt?  That of the elf, or that of the boy?  Or, perhaps, the darkest mind is that of the girl, who seems to like the boy no matter how rudely he speaks?

The elf, as in many stories, cannot harm directly, but he can tempt.  The charm in this case also would not maim or kill, but it would make the ungracious boy yet more detestable.  Who will be able to stand such an arrogant churl?

Surely, Prince Charming did not win the day by being Prince Hateful?  The fairy has no doubt about the efficacy of his plan.   After all, he does live in a fairy-tale world with fairy-tale endings.

Editor’s Note:  Readers should plan to return to Songs of Eretz Poetry Review next Friday, October 26, for the fourth and final installment of The Fairy’s Cave, “The Bad Boy Effect.”

Thursday, October 18, 2018

"Paleontology" by Terri Lynn Cummings

Terri Lynn Cummings
I wear my father’s hands
hold histories in them 
like drops of water
delicate, easy to lose

Like students hunting fossils
boulders bend their backs 
in the Arbuckle Mountains
wizened Precambrians 

over a billion years old
Below ancient seas 
brachiopods, bryozoans
graptolites and trilobites 

inhabit Oklahoma 
before mankind exists
   I stand and stretch
breathe summer’s green

crunch grit between teeth
wipe arm over brow
watch classmates collect shells 
and imprints of remnants

glance at my feet
Hair snaps awake
Chill chases spine
Eyes hone, again, again

Silence, white as a stone
erases the world
A trilobite, long as my hand— 
the find of a lifetime

Poet’s Notes:  Sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound probe this planet for answers about existence. Our senses translate history, rousing the buried, famous and forgotten. Imagine speaking a person’s name, unheard for the first time in centuries, or reading a poem written on papyrus; playing a children’s game carved on a boulder in ancient Ephesus; placing fingers over fingerprints imprinted inside a Grecian terracotta urn while drawing the urn’s earthen aroma into your lungs. Such power sparks time travel.

In the mid-1970’s, I majored in Anthropology at Oklahoma State University. Naturally, geology and paleontology dazzled my senses. The courses helped me understand the context and dating process of archaeological finds. I devoted as many weekends to archaeological digs as possible, including a summer in Caesarea, Israel. One long weekend, I accompanied sixty or more paleontology students and our professor to the Arbuckle Mountains where I “discovered” (almost stepped on) the trilobitethe largest trilobite recovered in the area until then. I donated it to the university museum.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

"I Can Stop Time" by Ross Balcom

I Can Stop Time
Ross Balcom

The long-awaited messiah
hanged himself in the closet.

The house groaned.

In his bedroom,
the Boy Scout slashed his wrists
with his prize arrowhead.

The old parrot was blind.
He could only repeat,
"Scout's honor: I want to die."

The debutante had coffin breath,
unusual in one so young;
but everyone agreed that death 
had marked her at an early age,
when the shadow of the jump rope
fell on her the wrong way.
(One day, she will wake to find 
her head replaced with a headstone,
and no one will kiss her R. I. P.)

"Let's face it: we're talking 
about the procession of the days and hours,
about time and sorrow and the inevitable death
of everything,"
said the little boy

as I stole his crackers.

Please, God, send us a messiah who can face life
with a winning smile.
You see, our previous messiah
hanged himself with a jump rope
in the closet.

I hide in the house.
Its shadows are mine.

A blank-eyed clown,
escaped from the circus,
stands at the front door. Speaks.
"I can stop time."

Poet's Notes: I was thinking about astrology (as I often do) and spinning the wheel of the Zodiac in my mind. I stopped its spinning and thought, "I can stop time." That was the origin of this poem, which has nothing to do with astrology.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

Dear Contest Participants,

Thank you for rallying and making the 5th annual Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest into a modest success.  I won't kid you--it was looking pretty grim until the last two days when a flood of submissions was received.

Our coveted Duotrope sponsorship brought us little if any additional contestants.  Shouts out to Poets & Writers magazine whose free ad brought in the majority of our contestants, and to our Associate Editor James Rowe who inspired almost two dozen of his (college) students to throw their hats in the ring.

I'll be spending the next several weeks personally responding to every one of the 170 poems still in the reading queue and determining who makes it to the semifinals.  Finalists' Contest Judge Montana Poet Laureate Lowell Jaeger will then sort through the semifinalists to determine the finalists and eventually the first, second, and third place winners to be announced in February 2019.  An additional winner will be selected by the readership for the Readers Choice Award this coming spring.

We raised just enough to pay the winners the maximum honoraria we offered plus enough for Lowell and me to celebrate over hot beverages. While Songs of Eretz will receive little to nothing in terms of money, we are proud that we will be able to recognize and promote the work of four outstanding poets--a first prize winner, second prize winner, third prize winner, and the winner of the Readers Choice Award.  This will certainly further our mission to bring a little more good poetry into the world, and THAT is what Songs of Eretz is all about.

Next year will bring some exciting new changes to Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.  For many years a week-daily mainstream e-zine, we will be going to a monthly, themed format.  In lieu of our annual contests, we will be offering monthly, themed "50-50" contests through Kickstarter (more on this at a later date).  We will also be putting more "review" into the Review by featuring at least one review of a poetry collection with each issue.  And in lieu of soliciting donations, we will be offering fun and exciting patronage options with pathways to earn fabulous Songs of Eretz-themed merch through Patreon (more on this at a later date, too).

Finally, I would like to thank this year's Frequent Contributors for the work they did in promoting the contest and for the quality of their work this year.  There would be no Songs of Eretz without them.

All the best,

Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD

Monday, October 15, 2018





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