Tuesday, March 20, 2018

“MRI” by Sara Backer

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “MRI” by Sara Backer.  Backer is the author of two chapbooks, “Bicycle Lotus”, which won the Turtle Island Poetry Award, and “Scavenger Hunt” coming soon from Dancing Girl Press. She's currently pursuing an MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her online writing is posted on her website, www.sarabacker.com/publications.

Sara Backer

I am the log the river shakes downstream.
The helmsman turns on pulsing disco
and mechanical rowers chant pins and needles,

pins and needles. I’m 100% sure those are the words
until they become friends in need and friends in need and
into the chute I’m sent.

The periscope mirror above my face
to ease claustrophobia doesn’t fool my mind.
I sense the lethal weight of magnets

closing round my brain. I churn with the noise
that will transform secrets of my dark tissue
into silent psychedelic imagery.

I become lumber run through the mill,
hammered, sawed, planed, and drilled,
bolted and drilled again, vibration after vibration

in a chilled room with a useless sheet
tossed over my legs—
a preview of my own autopsy?

A wet prick of dye announces Act II.
An intercom voice asks are you all right?
I say yes despite numb fingers, dizziness

of holding still, breathing minutes away through—pins
and needles, friends in need and—this construction project
of me somewhere between alive and dead.

Poet’s Notes:  Perhaps because I lived in Japan for three years, I'm always interested in the dynamic of opposites in Eastern poetry. A brain MRI is a loud and tactile hour-long ordeal for the patient that results in a silent image that doctors can see and understand in seconds--and find beauty in it. I hoped to show the way our brains try to fill in for us when our senses are deprived or when we are deprived of information. 

Editor’s Note:  Backer has nicely poetically captured the experience many have during an MRI.  The poetic conceit works well, and the stanza about the sheet is especially powerful. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

“Le suicide” by Ashley Valente

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Le suicide” by Ashley Valente in her publishing debut.  Valente has honed her craft through years of study at the University of La Verne.  She specializes in short stories and poems and is a classic film buff.

Le suicide
Ashley Valente

Fine stone cold turkey
The cut of a searing hot blade

Surrendering identity
Le fin de vie

on the wrist
where there est non vermillion mouth 

Depression emotion
Fear madness

to call you mad

N’est pas? 

in your 
own villa 

Self hatred 

it smells strongly of money
metallic, like blood 

Marked violence

drips into your eyes
blind to everything but 

Le désir à 

where her stomach is 
hard and willing 
for you to swim lower

Life stolen
Pour quoi? L’argent? 
Le mensonge de soi
Is the worst
Rope of all 
Ça va? Non. 
No modern man 

Lives well inside

Poet's Notes:  The 1967 film Diaboliquement Votre inspired “Le suicide”. An amnesiac, played by international sex symbol Alain Delon (pictured), is being systematically brainwashed by his supposed wife and best friend, who are both urging him toward suicide. The left oriented stanzas touch on sex as an addiction, the right oriented stanza on monetary greed, before the two sides converge in the final stanza. In addition, the left oriented stanzas may be read together as a stand-alone poem. 

Editor’s Note:  I particularly appreciate the thirteenth stanza, where the erotic and death begin to combine and then come together beautifully in the final stanza.  The first line works on many levels--visceral, as metaphor for drug addiction, as metaphor for stimulated flesh--a strong beginning to a haunting piece.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Standings for the Songs of Eretz Readers Choice Award Contest So Far

First place:  "Autismville" by Melinda Coppola

Second place:  "7 a.m." by Melinda Coppola

Tied for third place:  "Deceptive Cadence" by Carol Kner & "The Great Escape" by Yoni Hammer-Kossoy

Tied for fifth place:  "Passing On" by Carol Kner & "When I Am Old" by Tim Amsden

Seventh (last) place:  "The Poet Says This Is How You Should See" by Melinda Coppola.

Voting continues for two more weeks (until midnight CST March 31).  If you have not already voted, send your pick for your favorite poem to Editor@SongsOfEretz.com.  See http://www.songsoferetz.com/2018/02/announcing-1st-annual-songs-of-eretz.html for more information about the contest. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

"Toads Abounding" by Ross Balcom

Toads Abounding
Ross Balcom

"All Hail!" Ink and Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
a black candle

mouth a prayer
to the Toad

let the heath
run wild

with warty weirdness

toads abounding,
toads abounding

dance naked
with them

this hour
of abandon

is yours
croak, croak, croak

with wanton weirdness

toads abounding,
toads abounding

lumpy children
of Luna

noisome numbers

join them,
midnight mage

in your wild weirdness

toads abounding,
toads abounding...

All hail the Toad!

Poet's Notes:  I am a lover of toads. I embrace and lick them in my dreams. This poem is dedicated to every toad, from the toad in the road to the Toad on the throne.

Editor’s Note:  I toadally love this one! 

Artist's Note: This piece went a different direction than I expected, but I think that is appropriate for the subject matter. All glory to the Hypno Toad!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

“Temptation” by Sylvia Cavanaugh

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Temptation” by Sylvia Cavanaugh. Originally from Pennsylvania, Cavanaugh has an M.S. in Urban Planning from the University of Wisconsin.  She teaches high school African and Asian cultural studies and advises break-dancers and poets. She and her students are actively involved in the Sheboygan chapter of 100,000 Poets for Change. 

Cavanaugh’s poems have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies.  She is a contributing editor for Verse-Virtual: An Online Community Journal of Poetry. Finishing Lines Press published her chapbook, Staring Through My Eyes. A second chapbook, Angular Embrace, is forthcoming in April 2018 from Kelsay Books. You can find more of Cavanaugh’s poetry at sylviacavanaugh.com.

Sylvia Cavanaugh

Paralyzed by food
"Reverse Birth" Ink on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
the garter snake
helpless and limp
lies by the side
of summer’s dirt trail

the enormous impossibility
of swallowing that frog
like childbirth
in reverse

if eating were that traumatic
let’s face it
I could slink
cold-blooded cool
past untold bounty
pizza, pasta, even chocolate

I might have the time
to find a woman 
and spill my secret plot

Poet’s Notes:  I was walking along a dirt trail to Lake Michigan and saw a garter snake off to the side. It was limp and helpless but grasses obscured its head. At first, it appeared that the snake had suffered an injury, but upon closer examination, I found that it was working a frog through its jaws. It looked painful and rendered the snake completely helpless. I moved the snake further away from the trail so that it wouldn’t be stepped on. It was shocking to see how traumatic the act of eating could be.

Editor’s Note:  This one is filled with goodies!  I especially like the image created by the brilliant metaphor of giving birth in reverse, a concept of which Neil Gaiman would approve (ref:  American Gods).  The wicked idea of slinking past the delicious food followed by the Genesis reference produced an involuntary "wow!" from me.