Friday, March 23, 2018

"I Grow Content" by Lauren McBride

I Grow Content
Lauren McBride

I hold aloft bare branches - 
"Seasons" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
black lace against blue sky
beneath a warming sun.
Invigorated, I grow fuzzy
and break out in pale green.
People notice and smile,
and speak of spring.

Steadily I fill out,
balancing limbs laden 
with breeze-catching leaves
hiding my naked form.
People come to rest beneath.
I rustle and wave 
in bright sunshine

before my lush crown                                                
changes color and grows thin
with each gust of wind.
People come to see
and take pictures 
or gather my lost leaves.

In chilly air, my balding 
branches turn white
and grow heavy with snow.
I feel stiff and cold 
down to my roots.
Few come to visit.

I stand silent, waiting
until a warm wind blows,
bringing youth and vigor 
back to my veins. My boughs 
leaf out green again.
Both taller and wider this year,
many can rest in my shade. 
I grow content.

Poet's Notes:  This poem gives voice to a tree that enjoys sharing its gifts with people. I used "grow" in the title and last line for its double meaning, and employed an age-related extended metaphor for the changing seasons. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

"Harold's Samaritan" by Mary Soon Lee

Harold's Samaritan
Mary Soon Lee
"Stranger" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
Maybe you saw him on the bus
reading the latest Harry Bosch novel
and said, "That's a great book!"
and he looked up at you
before his awkwardness
caught up with him
and burst out "I love it."

And though you didn't ask his name
or suggest a cup of coffee,
that gesture hoisted him
out of his muddied descent into gloom.

So that, later that day,
when he read the signs
on the laundromat notice board,
he scrabbled in his pockets for a pen
to jot down the phone number
of the monthly book club,
the book club he'll thank
for changing his life.

He won't remember you,
you won't remember him.

Poet's Notes:  This is a poem about an invented character of mine, Harold, who features in a number of poems about an imaginary book club. Prior to joining the book club, Harold is a lonely, gloomy man. The book club brings him friendship. The poem is also about how our interactions with strangers can have unseen ramifications, small acts of kindness rippling outward. One of the poems about the book club was previously published in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“Your Repose” by Melinda Coppola

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Your Repose” by Melinda Coppola.  Coppola has been writing in some form for nearly five decades.  Her work has been published in several magazines, books, and periodicals including I Come from the World, Harpur Palate, Kaleidoscope, The Autism Perspective, Spirit First, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Welcome Home, and Celebrations. An artist, yoga teacher, and mother to an amazing daughter with special needs, she enjoys infusing the work of her heart with her voice as a poet.

Your Repose
Melinda Coppola

"Escape" Watercolor on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
The dream stage, when the eyes dance 
beneath closed lids,
that which we know as REM,
is also named paradoxical sleep,
because the body rests while the mind
is quite awake.

I wonder if your soul 
checks herself in mirrors
as you slumber, if she
scrolls Facebook, idly clicking Likes 
with her ethereal fingers, 
as if these tiny dreamland acts,
things your days do not contain,
could change a lifetime’s course.

You, who walk the waking world
following all the rules you know,
making up some you don’t,
doing everything in order,
trying to make sense of the chaos,

You who count duplicates;
numbers on license plates, 
yellow cars in a lot,
who checks and rechecks
the solid fences of her world:
I will have a treat, 
You’re a girl,
You will have girl hair when we leave,
Two sides, cheek bink,
Mommy will you fix it

I want to think you are free in sleep,
different, unconstrained,
that anxiety and compulsion,
autism and obsessions
can’t follow you 
when you fly to that misty realm.

I want to think 
you can have this respite every night,
relief from all the voices, and fears,
the tensions,  demands,
that there is no standard 
of normal in dreamland,
or, if there is, you define it,
you abide
quite comfortably there.

Poets Notes:  I often wish I could be inside my developmentally disabled daughter’s brain. The mystery of her inner landscape intrigues me as much as the mystical realm of sleep and dreams. This poem was conceived from my loving curiosity about the nighttime journeys of her mind and soul.

Editor’s Note:  The gradual turn that begins in the third stanza is nicely done, perfectly setting up the reader for the narrative of the autistic girl in her dream world.  The heartfelt wish at the close of the poem takes my breath away.  

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,

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.