Friday, October 30, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Night Fishing” by Rie Sheridan Rose

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Night Fishing” by Rie Sheridan Rose.  Ms. Rose has authored five chapbooks of poetry.  In addition to previous appearances in Songs of Eretz, her poems have been published in Penumbra, Illumen, The Voices Project, and Wolf Willow, as well as in numerous anthologies. She is also a lyricist, having provided the words for many of the songs on Don’t Go Drinking with Hobbits by Marc Gunn.

Night Fishing
Rie Sheridan Rose

Cast a line into the sea—
“Hey, baby, come here often...?”
Wait with bated breath
to see if anyone takes the lure.

Tug gently to set the hook—
“You are way too pretty for this dive...”
Give a little illusion of freedom
with disinterest.

Pay out more line to tire the catch—
“Oh, no. I hardly ever come to this
side of town. I was supposed to
meet a friend.”

Reel in your prize—
just a night’s fun or a forever trophy?
Who can say...?
But if it doesn’t work out,
you can always throw her

Poet's Notes:  This poem was a little out of my comfort zone, having been originally written for a market that I would not have tried if I hadn't been pushing myself to do exactly that--get out of my usual form and subject matter. I decided to look at life from the other side for a change

Editor’s Note:  I enjoy the nicely executed conceit here with its splash of irony and interesting blend of funny and sad.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Laura Belle” by Kaitlyn Frazier

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Laura Belle” by Kaitlyn Frazier. Ms. Frazier is a nineteen-year-old mother and sophomore at Northwest-Shoals Community College where she aspires to be an English major. She was born and raised in Florence, Alabama and graduated from Central High School. Her senior year, she was awarded an honorable mention in the North Alabama Renaissance Sonnet Writing Contest for her poem, ‘Old One,’ and this same poem was published in the Lauderdale County literary magazine Sweet Inspirations. In addition to twice before appearing in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, Ms. Frazier’s work has been published in: Belle Reve Literary Journal, Belleville Park Pages, Corner Club Press, and Poetry Pacific.

Laura Belle

Kaitlyn Frazier

Merrily, she waited in the quaint dell,
Merrily, she heard the distant marriage knell.

Quickly, he ran through the forested vale,
Quickly on his way to meet his Laura Belle.

Merrily, she sat with hands folded o’er,
Merrily, pressed lips of patience implored.

Quickly, he stumbled en route to his Belle,
Quickly, he often fell for his Laura Belle.

Merrily, she daydreamed of garlands of greens,
Merrily, twist’d in her tresses between.

Quickly, he faulter’d as to where he should lead,
Quickly, lead his Belle where to be freed.

Merrily, she sat idle with happiness to come,
Merrily, unaware of her love’s flighty run.

Quickly, the curs’ cries carried o’er the dale,
Quickly, his efforts at last stumbled and fell.

Curiously, she strained to hear what was near,
Curiously, she wandered if ‘twere her darling dear.

Slowly, but harshly his limbs were bound tight,
Slowly, he was pulled to feet upright.

Curiously, she walked near the edge of the dell,
Curiously, she followed her love from o’er the vale.

Slowly, the hooves clomped from which he was led,
Slowly, he followed without a word said.

Curiously, she followed the party to a halt,
Curiously, she gazed on the gallows blade vault.

Slowly, he approached the jaws open wide,
Slowly, he looked upon his love and cried:

Dear, I am not whom ye thot me to be,
I am the product and bane of infamy.
For years I have courted gambling and guns,
‘tis why I found it high time to run.
Never did I mean to shame you,
For you were the reason my needed attempt,
To pay off my bounty and my sins repent.
Alas, now I am utterly lost,
And thy pain was the wretched cost.
Dear, Belle, I love thee so sweet,
And I’ll continue ‘til in heav’n we meet.

Sadly, she sank to her knees,
Sadly, she heeded her loves tender pleas.

Slowly, he followed suit with head asunder the blade,
Slowly, he studied her wrenched white face.

Sadly, she wept with lover’s remorse,
Sadly, she moaned for his soul’s bitter course.

Quickly, the blade sliced through,
Quickly, the blade sliced bone and sinew.

Sadly, she keened with grief and despair,
Sadly, she vowed to follow him there.

Slowly, the sounding ring of the doleful kirk-knell,
Slowly, it followed his poor soul to hell.

Sadly, her soul was a victim of grief,
Sadly, her death was comforting and brief.

Slowly, the knell now rings double-time,
Sadly, for two souls, it must now chime. 

Poet’s Notes: Laura Belle was written during a period in which I was deeply immersed in an early Romantic poetry book, and, as Dr. Gordon correctly surmised, I was reading Wordsworth at the time. I was fascinated with the early ballads and how rhythmic and melodic they sounded when read aloud. I was also reading Thomas Hardy at the time; I am a huge fan of both his poems and novels with Tess of the d’Urbervilles being my all-time favorite. 

When writing "Laura Belle", I was going for an anaphoric sort of poem as one might find in a sonnet written by Shakespeare, but I did not hesitate to swap a word that has a similar meaning or sound to avoid being boring or redundant. I noticed that Wordsworth, Hardy, and Shakespeare focused on the characters and also on the scenes and settings in which their characters interacted; I tried to incorporate their styles and techniques into my own. 

Editor’s Note: This one does remind me of Wordsworth more than a little--a classic, epic poem about the lives of common men and women. I like the way that the poet did not insist on hard rhymes throughout, using assonance or consonance instead when choosing the right word called for it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Indian Paintbrushes" by Ron Wallace

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present another poem by Ron Wallace, “Indian Paintbrushes.”  A brief poet bio may be found here:

Indian Paintbrushes
Ron Wallace

Flowers grow
          flickers of orange fire
dancing on green fields under Oklahoma skies.
Like weeds
          they hold to the worst terrain
and spread everywhere.

They beautify discarded Coors cans
and swarm beneath barbed wire
          filling empty cattle pastures,
piercing coyote bones
taken by the grass
on land where, long ago,
Choctaw and Chickasaw hunted.

as a boy,
I worked the roots of a handful loose
          from the rocky soil
across the gravel road,
running in front of my house
and brought them to my mother’s flower beds.

With all the care a ten year old could muster,
I replanted the fire
between the petunias and the four o’clocks.
But there
          among the tame flowers
                              they perished.

“They grow wild;
that’s just how some things are meant to be,”
Momma said
as she watered her carefully tended garden
in the summer heat of Oklahoma.

But always
          without fail,
before she’d go back inside,
she would walk over to the edge of our yard
and look across the dusty road
          at the fiery red-orange blanket,
                    burning in the last light of day.

Poet’s Notes:  "Indian Paintbrushes" was inspired by a true story. My mother deeply loved all flowers, the wild and the tame ones. As a boy, I actually did bring some Indian Paintbrush flowers from a field and attempt a transplant in her flower beds, and she did tell me some flowers are meant to be wild to soothe my disappointment when the flowers failed to grow there. It would be years later before I realized the universal wisdom of her words. I never see a field of those beautiful flowers that I don't think of her; for that matter I never see a flower growing anywhere that I don't think of her. She was a huge inspiration for me growing up. I think I was one of her "wild things" that she loved.

Editor’s Note:  I like the poet’s use of color here, as well as the wisdom of the speaker's mother.  The story of the little boy reminded me of my childhood--a nice bit of nostalgia. TJMF Publishing in Clarksville, Indiana published “Indian Paintbrushes” in a similar form in I Come from Cowboys in October 2008.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Eastside Boys, We Ran” by Ron Wallace

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Eastside Boys, We Ran” by Ron Wallace.  Mr. Wallace is an Oklahoma native of Scots-Irish, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Osage ancestry and is the author of seven volumes of poetry published by TJMF Publishing of Clarksville, Indiana. He is a three-time finalist in the Oklahoma Book Awards and a three-time winner of the Oklahoma Writers Federation Best Book of Poetry Award. His work has been recently featured in: Oklahoma Today, The Long Islander, Concho River Review, cybersoleil journal, Cobalt, Red Earth Review, Dragon Poets Review, Sugar Mule, Cross-timbers, Gris-Gris, Oklahoma Poems and Their Poets, and a number of other magazines and anthologies. For copies of his books, please visit

Eastside Boys, We Ran
Ron Wallace
Eastside boys, we ran;
we ran straight up Southeast Second
          to Mississippi to Texas to Alabama and Arkansas,
over the Santa Fe tracks to the stop sign on East Main.
We ran down gravel roads
that cut across our neighborhood, and past the old cemetery.
We rolled under barbed wire into pasture grass
with no roads to follow
          we ran.

We ran from George Washington Elementary
          to Roy Child’s Grocery Store;
we ran the bases and then back home
to widowed mothers and to moms who made us cookies
          to fathers who drank too much,
and dads who taught us how to cast a fishing line
          we ran.

We ran from poverty that stalked its prey
on our side of the tracks,
from pasts that trapped us in seines like minnows
in a shallow creek.
We ran from ghosts and self-fulfilling prophecies,
but never once from a fight.

We ran into the record books,
and we ran into the law,
          to God, the Army and college
                    we ran into the world and into our lives;
we ran.

Eastside boys, we ran
          some of us are running still,
running out of time and out of space,
but running all the same into the fire and out of the flames
of a long-gone neighborhood.
We run
          we run
                    faster than the rest.

Poet’s Notes:  "Eastside Boys, We Ran" is largely autobiographical. I was born the son of a cop in a small Oklahoma town, Durant, and raised on the wrong side of those tracks in the poem. And my friends and I did run. We covered the ground in daily adventures not realizing for years why many of our roads were dirt and gravel and those across the tracks were paved. We had to be better than the rest to rise, so we ran on into lives of wide variety; some of us rose above the confinements of the poor, but most succumbed to it in one form or another.

For me after years of carrying a chip on my shoulder, I grew to see how that upbringing made me into the man I had become, how the near poverty for me and absolute poverty of others shaped my world views and drove me to be better and care for those who tried to rise but did not. I am proud that in my little town, still with boundaries delineated by those same tracks like many other small towns, I can't read my work without this poem being requested by someone in the audience.

Editor’s Note:  I enjoy the rhythm of this poem--song-like, complete with a refrain--and the way the metaphors enhance the gritty sentiment of the theme.  TJMF Publishing of Clarksville, Indiana published “Eastside Boys” in Cowboys and Cantos December 2013.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Black Feathers” by Loretta Diane Walker

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Black Feathers” by Loretta Diane Walker.  Ms. Walker is an elementary music teacher from Odessa, Texas.  She has taught at Reagan Academic Magnet for thirty-two years and was voted Teacher of the Year in 2001. She has a BME from Texas Tech University and an MA in Education from The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.  A two-time Pushcart nominee, Ms. Walker was elected as the 2014 “Statesman in the Arts” by the Odessa’s Heritage Council.  

Ms. Walker has published two collections of poetry. Her manuscript Word Ghetto won the 2011 Bluelight Press Book Award.  Her work has appeared in many prestigious publications, including: Ashbury Literary Journal, The Texas Observer, Orbis International Journal, San Pedro River Review, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, Perception Literary Magazine, and Connecticut River Review.

Black Feathers
Loretta Diane Walker

Winter has ripped away the pecan trees’ disguise
exposing every muscle and sinew,
blemish and crack,
vulnerable to the wind’s strong lust for power.
It could snap its wooden tendons with one heavy sigh.

And what of our vulnerability?
How we cling to anonymity, fear transparency,
for others to see us in our humanness,
or for things old and broken to surface, spill out
from behind walls of insecurity.

Once I told a secret.
I know the blow of rejection, the crush of words,
shame rising from my countenance
like steam from an iron.

On this winter’s dusk,
clouds make a gray skirt around the moon’s fat bottom.
Over the pecan trees’ bald head,
a wave of black feathers ripples
across a rain colored sky.
The cold’s icy knuckles brush my face—
batter grackles’ wings, flapping, squawking
as though their out of tune melody will heat the air.

My hands are two brown rafts floating
in the warmth of my pockets when I see them—
two teenagers talking with their thumbs,
pressing buttons on cell phones,
swift, staccato, sure like the rain,
their voices drowning.

Poet’s Notes: I love the naked, raw beauty of trees in the winter. Each branch is a sculpture of vulnerability--a testament there is strength in transparency.

I used to live across the street from our mall. One chilly and cloudy winter afternoon, I braved the weather and walked over to relieve myself from cabin fever. Grackles were extremely vocal this particular afternoon. It was as if they were warning me. In Odessa, a cloudy sky does not necessarily mean rain. However, during my walk over it started to pour. Inside, I walked behind two teenagers. They walked side-by-side texting rapidly. The whole while I was behind them, they did not look at or speak to each other. 

Editor’s Note:  “Black Feathers” was first published in The Texas Poetry Calendar  in 2011.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Dear Poetry Contest Participants,

The Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest of 2015 is closed.  On behalf of Songs of Eretz, I wish to extend my deepest gratitude to all participants for your support.  Your participation was crucial to the continuation of Songs of Eretz and its mission, as it is our only fund-raising event.

There are many poetry contests out there.  Some I will admit (reluctantly) more prestigious than ours.  I also recognize that the twenty dollar entry fee is not a paltry sum to any and is perhaps even a mild hardship to many.  Still, you entered the contest, some of you multiple times, sending in your best work.  At the least, in exchange for your support, you received a personal poem-by-poem critique.  With any luck and a good share of talent, you received a chance for publication, as all semi-finalists and above are offered publication in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.

One of you will receive recognition as a Songs of Eretz Poetry Award winner and a one thousand dollar cash prize.  All of you knew (or should have known) before entering the contest that the chance of being declared that winner would be quite slim.  So, I can only conclude that the driving force for entering the contest was not the slim chance of winning some money.  No.  What motivated you was a desire to support Songs of Eretz and its mission.  That so many felt that desire this year is truly humbling.

Kindest regards,


Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD

PS:  Many, many last-minute entries were received.  Each and every one of those will receive the same careful consideration as the earlier entries and may expect a response some time in the next thirty days.

Sunday, October 11, 2015



The Winner Will Receive a

Special Guest Judge Former Oklahoma Poet Laureate Carol Hamilton 

Find out more about Carol Hamilton here and by enjoying her feature as the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review Poet of the Month for August 2015.

Friday, October 2, 2015




The Winner Will Receive a

Special Guest Judge Former Oklahoma Poet Laureate Carol Hamilton 

Find out more about Carol Hamilton here and by enjoying her feature as the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review Poet of the Month for August 2015.