Friday, December 15, 2017

"Evanescence" by Mark Grinyer

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Evanescence” by Mark Grinyer.  Grinyer received a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from the University of California, Riverside. He has a particular interest in the roles of poetry and poets as participants in modern society and in the use of natural scenes and images as vehicles for understanding our place in the modern world.

Grinyer’s poems have been published in:  Samisdat, Green's Magazine, The Kansas Quarterly, The Literary Review, The Spoon River Quarterly, The Pacific Review, Perigee, Cordite, and a number of other magazines.  Finishing Line Press published his first chapbook, “Approaching Poetry,” earlier this year.

Mark Grinyer

the Santa Anas ridge
green and brown beneath
the clouds’ tectonic flow
toward blue sky in the east
enshrouding peaks and sending skeins
of misty gray down canyons
up and out above the talus slopes
above the valley where
thousands of homes on streets,
evangelical churches,
schools and shopping malls
replace what once
were orange groves greening slopes.

Standing in the early morning sun
I’m pumping gas. I watch
as rainbows drift across
the mountains’ face,
pale, evanescent, fading,
then growing bright
as a million tiny raindrops
prism in the light.
They break the morning sunshine
into bands of red, orange and yellow
bright against the slopes
as this last mist of spring turns
to vapor in the heights.

As I watch the rainbows come and go,
a mother and her child approach.
She sees the light as it begins to fade
grabs a hand and says,
“Look, Mom, look, a rainbow!”
Her mother, looking up,
says, “Hurry up, we’re late,”
and bundles both
into her car and off.
I’ve filled my tank,
paid the price.
Now I, too, am off,
ocean-ward to work.

Poet’s Notes:  “Evanescence” begins as an accurate description of what I saw as I was driving to work one spring morning a few years ago. The sun was rising into a blue sky, and the western sky over the Santa Ana Mountains was dark with rain clouds flowing in from the Pacific. The sunlight created rainbows over the mountain slopes and the city of Corona, California where I live.

The scene made me think of the changeability of everything--from the sky to the mountains created by tectonic activity in the American Southwest, to the changes in human habitation that had occurred since I moved to this area as a teenager. City streets, homes, businesses, and churches--with all the appurtenances of civilization, now cover areas that were semi-rural and planted in citrus orchards when I first arrived. 

I wanted to bring this sense of constant change down to the human level.  So, I imagined stopping at a gas station to fill my tank and watching the small human drama of the mother and her little girl coming out of the station, seeing the rainbows and reacting--one with indifference brought on by adulthood and the need to get on with the day’s duties, and the other with the wonder and excitement typical of a young child.  I write poetry at least in part to maintain the childish sense of wonder on my own.  Sadly, I too am forced by the need to support my existence (and my poetry) by working for a living--thus my presence on the freeway driving to Santa Ana for work in the first place.

Editor’s Note:  I really like the imagery in this one and particularly enjoy the employment of the rainbow as a poetic conceit.  The final stanza provides a good moral lesson--to live in the present and not to lose that childlike wonder.  

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Glory" by Terri Lynn Cummings

Terri Lynn Cummings 

Once, a garden, graceful as a maiden
ornamented a palace. Laughter 
braided garlands, breeze whispered 
through trees like a low, winter fire

All surrendered to the slow
autumn burn, clearing land 
for old and new 

Black branches waved sparklers
of leaves—brilliant thatches of
orange, red, yellow dripping
molten onto dull patches of grass

Maple tree dropped large, flat notes
of summer onto a table of earth 
Leaving! they declared, waltzing 

into a grove of oaks multiplying 
nightfall. Shadows stretched one limb
to another in greeting, spoke of fasts
and long, frantic prayers for an early spring

Dogs barked, demanding to be let inside 
Noise raced over night’s cold air
yet stars stayed silent as ancestors

Beyond the garden glimmers home 
Laughter braids garlands
breeze whispers through trees 
like a low, winter fire

All surrenders to the slow 
autumn burn, clearing land
for old and new

Poet’s Notes:  I had looked out the window to this scene. How moving the march from fall to winter and back! The loss of a nephew made this fall particularly poignant—a painful reminder that nothing stays the same except change. Yet, over the years, I learned loss turns to light and dark again, like the seasons. In writing this poem, I looked outward, inward, and outward again. Until I wrote these notes, I had not realized my poem was a metaphor for personal loss.

Editor’s Note:  This will be the last we hear from Terri for a little while.  She has requested and been granted a leave of absence from her Frequent Contributor commitment.  It will be a joy to welcome her back when she is ready. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Farewell John

Editor's Note:  It is with a heavy heart that I must let our readers know that this will be the last poem by John Reinhart as a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor.  I will miss his fatherly yet eclectic poetic voice as I am sure our readers will, too.  And now, please enjoy "Homecoming," John's final poem as an FC. 

John Reinhart

in  her dreams
there are hugs 
& how was it
& welcome back,
we missed you

in  her dreams
the house is warm,
her room unchanged,
her knitting needles
still attached to the hat
for mom

in her dreams
the dog is barking
at the boys
playing football
in the street

in her dreams
the last check sits
uncashed in her purse,
her fresh start
on familiar ground

in her dreams
she is awake,
dreaming sunlight
into a living room
full of family, chatting
in her dreams

Poet's Notes:  Coming home is never quite what we imagine. It's never what we left, never what we are, never again, no matter how much there's no place like home, the ruby slippers never fit again, scuffed from too much road, from too much yellow, from highlighting markers explaining the importance of distance, which can never be undistanced. We stretch back into our beds, familiar paint peeling from the ceiling, same old carpet, a poster smiling back, unchanged.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Poem for Hanukkah by the Editor

Nes Gadol Hayah Sham

A long time ago as is told in the
Great Books of the Maccabees a
Miracle was wrought by God.  It
Happened in the city of Jerusalem.
There the Temple was rededicated.

Poet’s Notes:  This year’s Hanukkah is a particularly special Hanukkah for the Jews, for the Holy City of Jerusalem was recently rededicated in a way.  The recognition by the United States of all of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish State, against all odds, is nothing short of a miracle.  If only my father could have lived to see this day, may his memory be a blessing.

The title of the poem is in Hebrew and means, “A great miracle happened there,” a reference to the dreidel (pictured), the festive four-sided top associated with Hanukkah.  The first letters of each word of the title (Nun, Gimel, Hay, Shin) appear on the dreidel--a secret code to help children remember the meaning of Hanukkah and to fool enemies of the Jews who might have punished them for celebrating Hanukkah during the Diaspora (to them it would appear that the children were just playing with a toy top).  There are no words for “a” or “an” in Hebrew so there would be only the four letters.  Can you find the “secret” message in my poem?

Happy Hanukkah, my friends!  May the holiday bring light into your hearts and homes!
--Shlomo Ben Moshe HaLevi aka Steven Wittenberg Gordon