Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Twelve Days of Christmoose by the Editor, Part 7 of 12

The Great Rescue

‘Twas at the height of Winter’s frigid reign
Upon the twilight hour of the day
That a gorilla raised his windowpane,
And that gorilla was our good Atay,
To let the icy breeze the staleness chase
Out of the air within his dwelling place.

The draft soon did the freshness quite restore
Within the air inside his forest hall
But then the ape found he could not ignore
The chill that with the freshness came withal.
So to his window back the ape did go
When of a sudden through it floated snow.

“Alas, another storm has just begun,”
Thought Atay as he did the window close.
“I will to my bedchamber swiftly run
And through this winter tempest sweetly doze.”
So our gorilla to his bed did make
And not until the morning did he wake.

And when the sleeping simian did rise
It was quite dark inside his home, he found,
For through the night the snow poured from the skies
Until a dozen feet lay ‘pon the ground.
Thus Atay’s window was all covered quite
By a great pile of crystal snowy white.

Editor's Note:  Find out what happens to Atay the Ape in tomorrow's special edition of Songs of Eretz Poetry Review!

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: A Year in “Review” by the Editor

Dear Friends of Eretz,

What a wonderful year 2016 was for Songs of Eretz!  The Poetry Review logged 68,000 views--that’s over 1,300 per week, shattering last year’s record of 52,000 views.  The site also reached another milestone, surpassing 200,000 total views!  Just over 250 poems were published, including twenty-four composed by poets whose submissions were unsolicited.  Also, seventeen books of poetry were reviewed--giving the “review” of the Poetry Review a whole new layer of meaning.

2016 also saw the full implementation of our Frequent Contributor program with a core/corps of handpicked up-and-coming poets submitting their best work for publication on a regular schedule.  Songs of Eretz is proud to have provided a steady platform for these exceptional poets.  We plan to continue this successful program indefinitely.

This year’s Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest--our only fundraising event--was an unqualified triumph, thanks to the dozens of loyal supporters of our mission.  Former Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam Goldberg did an outstanding job as Guest Judge, providing personal feedback to the winner and all finalists.  I personally enjoyed reading and providing individual feedback for the hundreds of poems that were submitted but did not envy Caryn the task of choosing the winner--there were so many beautiful poems.  Look for the finalist poems to be published in the first half of 2017 and for the winning poem to be published in January.

This year also saw another paid publishing opportunity offered by Songs of Eretz--the first annual Editor’s Choice Award.  This award is given by the Editor to the poet whose poem published in the previous year “moved him the most.” All poems by poets other than FCs are automatically eligible--there is no entry fee.  The contest raised enough funds to grant this year’s winner a fifty-dollar prize with an additional fifty dollars set aside for the prize in the coming year.

Speaking of the coming year, the contest took in enough to allow Songs of Eretz to begin to offer an honorarium of five dollars each for thirty unsolicited poems that will be accepted for publication in 2017.  Becoming a self sustaining paying poetry venue has been a primary goal of Songs of Eretz for a long time--a goal we are proud to have accomplished with the devoted support of many Friends of Eretz.  We have no doubt that this achievement will attract more poets of quality and refinement to our cause.  Equally exciting, we are pleased and honored to announce that the Guest Judge for the Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest in the coming year will be the current Poet Laureate of Kansas, Eric McHenry.  Eric is an associate professor of English at Washburn University in Topeka whose work as a poet has achieved national recognition.  So, as spectacular as 2016 was for Songs of Eretz, I have no doubt that 2017 will be even more magnificent.

All the best for a happy New Year,
Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD

The Sixth Day of Christmoose by the Editor, Part 6 of 12

The while our goodly moose stared at the sky
With hair all on its ends and mouth agape.
Then after a most long and heavy sigh
Did through his moosey mouth so soft escape,
Upon the moose’s face there spread a smile
As the young boy and ape watched all the while.

“Oh that was fun and most assuredly,”
Said Adirondack once his voice he found.
“My doubts about this storm do curĂ©d be.
How glad am I there’s snow upon the ground.
Let’s back unto the mountain quickly run
So that we may repeat our snowy fun!”

And this they did, and did, and did, and did,
Each ride a full unique and varied sort.
Some slowly slalomed, some straight slickly slid
All thanks to Atay’s skill at this fine sport.
And thus our trio did enjoy their game
And only thought to stop when twilight came.

“Alas!  The sun is setting in the west,”
Atay the ape observed to moose and boy.
“Methinks that now it would be for the best
To cease our sliding that we so enjoy
And to young Jason’s happy home retire
Before the red sun’s rays do quite expire.”

And so to Jason’s house the three did go
And in the welcome warmth within its walls,
They cozy made themselves out of the snow,
Each wrapped in one of Jason’s wooly shawls.
And after cocoa hot and cider mulled,
Moose, ape, and boy to sleep were softly lulled.

Editor's Note:  Thus ends "A Fall of Snow."  Another adventure of young Jason and his friends will begin in tomorrow's special edition of Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Six Poems by FC McBride Are Published

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce that Frequent Contributor Lauren McBride had six poems recently published in other venues.  Four of the poems appear in Grievous Angel; "Modestree" appears in Flora's Forum; and "early frost" appears in tinywords:

The Fifth Day of Christmoose by the Editor, Part 5 of 12

But as they neared the bank, their speed decreased,
And our young moose did open up his eyes,
For Atay had the braking lever squeezed,
And soon excited shouts gave way to sighs.
As Atay with great skill the sleigh did slow,
‘Twas clear they would not hit the bank of snow.

And when at last the sleigh its motion stopped,
And the sweet jingle of the sleigh bells ceased,
The moose upon the snow beside them dropped,
And Atay from his hand the brake released.
The boy, whose arms around the ape he’d flung,
Still for a little to him tightly clung.

At last, young Jason did let go his grip
And flopped beside the moose upon the snow.
“Oh, my!  That was a most exciting trip!”
The boy exclaimed.  “How fast we three did go!
And look how far!  My house is miles away.
What think you, moose?  And you, my good Atay?”

“‘Twas simply grand!  A thrilling, ripping ride!”
The ape opined to his excited friend.
“A brilliant notion, building this great slide.
I must say I enjoyed it to the end.
Were’t not for that great bank of snowy flake
I never would have thought to use the brake.”

Editor's Note:  The adventures of the boy and his friends will continue in tomorrow's edition of Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

FC Reinhart Has Three Poems Published

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce that Frequent Contributor John Reinhart has recently had three poems published in other venues.

“The Butterflies of Traxl IV” is one of only fifteen poems selected out of 1,200 poems submitted for the speculative issue of Pedestal Magazine

“Arson with a Smile” appears along with an audio recording in Silverblade, where fellow Frequent Contributor John Mannone happens to be the editor.

“at the edge” appears in Post Card Poems & Prose Magazine

The Fourth Day of Christmoose by the Editor, Part 4 of 12

And so, Atay the jingling bells removed
And to the sleigh did make them fast attached.
When it was clear both boy and moose approved,
The ape upon his back the boy dispatched,
And bounded up the snowy mountain track
With Jason hanging on a-piggyback.

The moose, the while, so not to be outdone,
Did pull the sleigh upon the piled snows
And to the summit dashed at such a run
That beat he our gorilla by a nose.
Then ‘pon the sleigh our moose and ape did sit
With Jason in between them snuggly fit.

“Now let’s be off,” said Atay with a grunt.
“Yes!  Let’s!” cried Jason with excited voice.
“So hasty you’d not be were you in front,”
The moose intoned.  “Too late!  You have no choice!”
Exclaimed the ape.  Then with a mighty push
He heaved them off the summit with a whoosh.

“Whoa, whoa!” all three then shouted as they plunged,
“Look out!” they also yelled as down they flew,
As to the right and left our trio lunged
Avoiding trees, and rocks, and boulders too,
A snow bank of a sudden ‘fore them loomed.
The moose then closed his eyes and thought them doomed.

Editor's Note:  Are our heroes doomed?  Find out in tomorrow's edition of Songs of Eretz Poetry Review!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Third Day of Christmoose by the Editor, Part 3 of 12

Atay was now most thoroughly awake.
He bounded up and at a goodly pace
Did in direction of young Jason’s make
The while the merry moose did give him chase.
Then after sev’ral minutes they did go
They came upon young Jason in the snow.

“Halloo, halloo, halloo!” exclaimed the pair
Of the young master’s lively lifelong friends.
“Mmf, mmf!” the boy replied, for scarf was there
Around his face with bells sewed on the ends.
His mittened hands could not the scarf remove,
But soon the ape’s hands did his state improve.

“Atay and Adirondack!  Welcome sight!
On such a sorry day as we now see.
I knew that if I wished with all my might
My faithful forest friends would come to me.
Atay, what shall we do in all this snow?
If you’ve ideas, please put me in the know.”

“Ideas have I indeed, young Jason.  Hark!
The snow is not so bad as it may seem.
If used correctly, it can be a lark.
Now watch as I unfold my snowy scheme!”
Then the gorilla ‘gan to move the snow
And by and by a mountain there did grow.

“Oh, wow!” both boy and moose exclaimed as one.
For there before them was a wondrous sight!
Atay had engineered a mound of fun
A good three stories towering in height!
“We lack one thing to make our game complete:
A shining sleigh ‘pon which ourselves to seat.”

“Fear not!” exclaimed the moose to his good friends.
“My reindeer cousin gave to me a sleigh.
I’ll go and fetch it whilst Atay attends
To his great snowy mountainous display.”
Off in a blink the merry moose did go,
And in a wink returned with sleigh in tow.

“A lovely sight!” our ape then did exclaim.
“‘Tis almost right for my impressive plan.”
“‘Tis almost right?  Why do you it defame?”
The moose did ask.  “I thought you’d be a fan!”
“Remember now these words that Atay tells:
A sleigh is not a sleigh without sleigh bells.”

“Alas!” then sighed the moose with some chagrin.
“You are, of course, quite right, Atay the Ape.
But can we still our merriment begin,
Or are we in a fix with no escape?”
The moose, as in defeat, his antlers slumped,
When Jason to his feet at once he jumped.

“The bells upon my scarf could be employed
For sleigh bells!  Could they not, my furry friends?
And in such fashion better be enjoyed
Than are they now upon my scarf’s long ends.”
“That’s brilliant!” cried the ape all full of glee.
“‘Tis obvious you’re taking after me.”

Editor's Note:  The adventures of Atay the Ape, Adirondack the Moose, and Jason the Human Boy will continue in tomorrow's edition of Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Second Day of Christmoose by the Editor, Part 2 of 12

“About your nap, I must apologize,
For normally I know when it you take,
But the sweet sun is blotted from the skies.
This storm!  Impossible how it doth make
For me to understand the time of day
As you taught me of time to tell the way.

“I’ve come to ask you what is to be done
Now that the snow has covered all the ground?
I’d planned to jump in leaves from noon ‘till one,
But now there are no leaves here to be found.
I am a moose befuddled and confused
And at a loss how now to be amused.”

For moose, you see, have but a single aim:
They live to party and themselves divert.
For to a moose, to live is but a game
And ev’ry meal is but a big dessert.
So you must see young Adirondack’s plight
And his high hope the ape would set things right.

And so, the ape of mindly might began
To stroke his chin with one large, furry hand,
While pondering as only wise ones can
How to amuse a moose on snowy land?
Then after sev’ral moments of deep thought
The ape found the solution that he sought.

“I know what we must do, my antlered friend,
As an alternative to leafy whims.
Your disenchantment is about to end,
For I, Atay the Ape, the Lord of Sims,
Know what to do.  The snow can be quite fun,
But first we must to Jason’s swiftly run.”

Editor’s Note:  The story of the moose and ape will continue in tomorrow’s edition of Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

"Santa Is Just for Children" by John C. Mannone, Frequent Contributor

Santa Is Just for Children
John C. Mannone

Santa’s bag bulges with gifts
as he shimmies down the chimney
(he always makes a way) to give
to children their desires.

I see Jesus in a Santa suit, Kris
and Christ have similar names.
One’s wearing a bright red suit,
the other poured Himself out—
the color of love. He gives
to all of us just what we need:
from a bottomless bag of toys
or from a bottomless basket of
fresh bread & cedar smoked fishes,
as we learn about the true gifts,
the beatitudes—fruits of the Spirit.

We are the children of a God
who sates our hearts when we
love and obey Him. Children should
honor and respect their parents.
Give back to mom and dad… to Him,
but you can’t out give the Creator.

Leave Santa some cookies and milk.
Our “Santa” has already left us His
bread, broken  for us; wine, poured.

We are the children who believe
in the magic of Christmas,
indeed, we must be as children
to come to the Christmas party
to where Santa lives, way up
in the north pole—all of heaven
revolves around the north pole.
And the stars are angels singing:

            You better watch out,
            you better not cry,
            you better be good,
            I’m telling you why,
            Santa Claus is coming
            to town.

Watch, be vigilant. No one knows
the hour He will come, whether in
a reindeer sled from the east or
in Ezekiel’s chariot with a team
of white stallions thundering the clouds.

Poet’s Notes: The song title and lyrics inspired this poem but in a different context. "Santa Claus got Stuck in my Chimney" (recorded by Harlem Diva, the young Ella Fitzgerald on Decca records in 1929). The bulging bag of toys being the cause got me thinking about the bulging nets of fish of the fishermen-disciples in the gospel. That prompted me to attempt a comparison between two gift-givers: Santa and the One in the Scriptures. The poem braided those comparisons. It should make for a subject of interesting discussion. 

The First Day of Christmoose by the Editor

As a special holiday gift, perhaps more to me than to my readers (judge as ye will), beginning today and over the next twelve days I am going to offer a serialized version of two long poems taken from my unpublished collection, Tales of Atay the Ape.  I originally composed these poems for my then six-year-old son, Jason, now in his twenties, with the same idea that A. A. Milne had in mind for his little boy Christopher Robin. 

Alas, the same thing that happened to Milne happened to me, as revealed in Milne’s introduction to Now We Are Six.  Young Jason was too busy actually living his fantasy adventure life at the time to be interested in long-winded, anachronistic poetry about him and his plush toy companions composed by his professorial father.  So, these poems, which I think are rather good if I do say so, have languished away sad and unpublished for the better part of two decades. 

However, now that I am the editor of a successful online poetry journal, I have the opportunity to share these poems, if not with my young son, then with the world.  And so, without further ado, I bring you the first installment of the Twelve Days of Christmoose.

A Fall of Snow

It was upon a quiet autumn day
That Winter, the usurper, tried to take
A moon before its proper time, and play
Upon the ground with ice and snowy flake
That a young moose did wonder at the sight
Of winter snow before its season right.

“Whatever shall I do?” he thought aloud.
“For ready am I not for winter yet.”
Such quantities of white from the snow cloud
Were making our young moose a bit upset.
“I must away from all this snow and ice
And ask the wise gorilla for advice.”

So from the maple grove the moose did trot
And through the apple orchard he did go
Until he reached the solitary spot
Where lived the wise gorilla even so.
Then gently with his antlers he did drum
Upon the door of his sagacious chum.

Abruptly our young moose did hear a snorch
That issued from the simian’s abode.
Then through the door and out onto his porch
The Solomonic ape did quite explode.
Then seeing who was there, he gave a smile
And sat upon the floor to rest a while.

“What brings you, Adirondack, my old friend,
On such a day as this—all ice and snow?
I thought I’d nap then wake to find the end
Of this cold winter wind that now doth blow.
My nap, alas!  You just have ruined right—
But glad am I to see you, my friend, quite.”

Editor’s Note:  The story of the moose and ape will continue in tomorrow’s edition of Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A Chanukah Poem by the Editor

By Shmuel ben Moshe Ha-Levi

And Simon the Maccabee stormed into the Holy Temple
disregarding the warning that there might be hidden danger
so eager was he to reclaim the sacred site and symbol for his people. 
What he saw made him prostrate himself with grief,
tears flowing from his hawk-like eyes
as a mighty wail of anguish exploded from his lips, 
“It is better that Judah and my three other brothers
died in the rebellion so they would not have to behold this sacrilege.”
For all of the Temple furniture was broken,
the walls and floors were covered with filth,
and the holy altar dripped with the blood of pigs. 

Then the Chief Levite Priest comforted Simon saying,
“Simon, what once belonged to the Lord
may be rededicated and belong again. 
I and my fellow priests will make it so.”

“I do not see how it can be done,” said Simon,
“but I will leave the task to you my dear friend and counselor,
for there is nothing here that a Hammer might restore.” 

And so the Levite Priests cleansed the Holy Temple
and brought forth the hallowed menorah
and put it back in its rightful place. 
In a hidden corner of the inner sanctuary
the priests discovered a flask of consecrated oil
by some miracle undefiled by the enemy--
enough to last for a single night. 
But lo, Almighty God waved His Hand
and the oil burned for eight whole days! 
Thus did God signify that the Holy Temple
had been redeemed, that the Jewish people were saved,
and that all whom would descend from
these brave Hebrews would one day be born.

Poet's Notes:  Simon the Maccabee aka "the Hammer" was the only one of five brothers (including the mighty and better known Judah) who led and survived the Jewish rebellion that liberated Israel from the Hellenist oppressors.  Had the Maccabees lost, the Jews surely would have been annihilated at that time, 164 years before the birth of the most famous Jew since Moses.  Happy Chanukah my friends!

PS:  I used my Hebrew name as my byline for this one.  It seemed appropriate.  Learn more about the story of Chanukah here: