Thursday, June 30, 2016

FC Knoll Has Two Poems Reprinted & Two More Newly Published

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce that Frequent Contributor Tricia Knoll has had two poems reprinted and two more newly published in other venues. 

"Interview with the Goddess of Silence" is up in the July issue of Verse Virtual. 

A reprint of "The Bread Line" from Knoll's chapbook Urban Wild is up on Flora's Forum, as is "Green Thumb" -- a new poem. 

A reprint of Be Brave, Big Wave from Ocean's Laughter is up on Silver Birch Press's series of summer beach poems. 

Poem of the Day: "Fly Fishing on Blue River" by Ron Wallace

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Fly Fishing on Blue River” by Ron Wallace.  Mr. Wallace is an adjunct professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the author of seven collections of poetry published by TJMF Publishing of Clarksville, Indiana.  Wallace was a three time-finalist in the Oklahoma Book Awards and is a three-time winner of The Oklahoma Writer’s 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.

Fly Fishing on Blue River
By Ron Wallace
For Floyd
Stars and stones
mark the tattered edges of the world.
Two brown trout
are heavy in your wicker creel
and the air is slowly cooling.
          But you’ve moved on,
wading into the sleepy current
mending the line
as the day falls,
fire, lighting on dark ripples
          like a dance of dragonflies
burning Blue River black and yellow,
your fly rod whipping a whispered cast
          into the setting sun
haloing your silhouette,
against the coming of night on the water.
          One more cast,
a hand-tied lure arcs out
from the rocks
through scattered sunset shadows
          and is gone.

Poets Notes:  My big brother loved all fishing, but especially, fly-fishing on Blue River near Tishomingo, Oklahoma. He was twenty years older than I, serving in the Korean War when I was born, but like most big brothers who love their baby brothers, he was always there for me once he was back home.

Floyd lost his battle with lung cancer in October of 2012.  I was heart-broken, but at his service I saw a picture of him fly fishing, just a silhouette on the water as the sun was setting, and the heart of this poem was born. I like to think of him still casting those lures he made, still whipping that line out from his favorite fly rod. I did my best to capture the image I hold of him doing what he loved so much, and I consider this poem my tribute to him and the times we spent together.

Editor’s Note:  I enjoy the poet’s use of alliteration here, as well as the crisp imagery that he creates--a magical moment and a beautiful and fitting elegy. “Fly Fishing on Blue River” was first published in the November/December 2014 edition of Oklahoma Today and was a finalist in the most recent Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Poem of the Day: "Clash on Water and Air" by Sierra July, Frequent Contributor

Clash on Water and Air
Sierra July

A rock skips
A cry breaks
With water’s ripple
The sound resonates

A bird carries it, another
Passing from beak to beak like fruit
Ripe, ceremonious
Lost on two sets of ears

Deaf on the ground

Poet’s Notes: I wrote this imagining two people having an argument in some remote location, where they think no one will hear, and having the sound carry further than they can imagine. Of course, the two won’t know that their words are being passed in birdsong, a language they can’t understand.

FC Knoll Wins Poetry Contest

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce that Frequent Contributor Tricia Knoll's Bleached Prayer Flags is up on Persimmon Tree's summer issue as a contest winner for Western States submissions. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

FC Lee Wins Contest & Has 2 Poems Newly Published

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce that Frequent Contributor Mary Soon Lee has had three poems published in other venues:

"First Lesson" is online at Silver Blade  Silver Blade is edited by Songs of Eretz FC John C. Mannone.

"Further Extracts from the Recollections of Artoch, Senior Advisor to King Xau" is online at Mirror Dance

"The Horse Lord" won the 84th weekly contest at The poem first appeared in Ideomancer and may now be read at

FC Reinhart Has Poems Published & Receives Honors

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce that Frequent Contributor John Reinhart is the 2016 recipient of the Horror Writers Association Dark Poetry Scholarship

Reinhart has three poems in the latest issue of the Scifaikuest print edition and two poems published by the Open Thought Vortex  His poem "shapeshifter," which first appeared in Scifaikuest, has been nominated for a Dwarf Stars Award.

Finally, enjoy Reinhart's interview with Liminoid Magazine, a venue that also featured his work in its previous issue:

Poem of the Day: "mummy" by Ross Balcom, Frequent Contributor

Ross Balcom

by the Nile
I walk

garbed in
centuries' gray

for my soul

the rushes

by the Nile
I weep

ancient prayers

the water

for a face
that is mine

by the Nile
I walk

for a pathway

to the past
and its splendor

the kingdom
of the Sun

by the Nile
I weep

Poet's Notes: This weeping mummy needs a big hug. Let's all give him one.

Monday, June 27, 2016

"Seaside Shadows" by Lauren McBride, Frequent Contributor

Seaside Shadows
Lauren McBride

Striped shadows greet me
on my morning walk -
charcoal lines on glittering sand      
below slatted fences leaning
lazily across seaside dunes.        

By midday, while
others bunch in tight circles
beneath beach umbrellas,
I prefer to wade
in the warm, shallow bay
below an old wooden bridge
where mussels, barnacles,
crabs and sea stars
cling to rough pilings
and the sun cannot find me

until I emerge to squish
through mud for horseshoe crabs,
before racing back
to the outer beach
to ride chilly rushing waves.

Exhausted come evening,
my shadow stretches tall
and drags behind
as I trudge home
with a few cherished
seashells and countless
precious memories.

Poet's Notes: As a child, summer vacation meant a trip to New England to visit relatives and always included at least one day at the beach riding waves and exploring mud flats or tide pools. And so began my love of the ocean, which probably led to my youthful years as a competitive swimmer and my master's degree in marine zoology. At some point, my family discovered the wide beaches and warm blissful waves along the Georgia coast, but my early memories all involve the skin-numbing waters of New England.  I let the changing shadows of a day guide this poem inspired by one of my favorite beaches, Duxbury in Massachusetts (pictured).

Friday, June 24, 2016

"Stem" by Anne Carly Abad, Frequent Contributor

Anne Carly Abad

Stay away from strangers.
Didn't you claim me as your own flesh
under that stained light
the scent of plumeria, a spell
fortifying already-binding incantations?

Yes, my good qualities
may be as undifferentiated
as a mundane cell
but for our own good
listen: there is a reason why
the body rejects that
which isn't its own.

Don't harvest pieces of me
in the wake of my failures--
the scalpel of regret and secret yearnings
leaves unseen scars despite its gentleness--

take away enough
and you will cultivate me too well
in another.
I will be the body foreign.
Imagine how it is
to lose to my better likeness

Poet's Notes:  While browsing my newsfeed, I watched a video about how organs can be "bleached" with a special detergent. Be it a pig's heart or a human's, the replacement becomes viable because its original cells can be replaced with new ones, thus "reprogramming" the original to work as someone else's organ. It makes you realize how we're not so unique after all--that even a pig can take the place of even the most vital parts of ourselves and not be noticed by our own bodies.

Editor's Note:  While a literal interpretation of this piece is interesting, I find a metaphoric interpretation even more so.  Romantic love only succeeds when lovers accept each other's attractive and unattractive qualities, whether those qualities be physical or psychological/emotional.  Picking away the "unattractive" qualities leads to depersonalization, boredom, and ultimately a failed relationship.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Her Death Came So Fast" by Tricia Knoll, Frequent Contributor

Her Death Came So Fast
Tricia Knoll

She was dead before I knew
she was unwell, ill.
I’d left out an owed apology.
There is always time.

She was feeling ill, unwell
just at the point she’d fallen in love.
Because there is always time,
this new man made it easier for me.

Just at the point she fell in love,
she started walking with a smile.
How easy this new man made it for me.
I stayed home, digging in my dirt.

She started walking with a smile
as if she’d forgotten all we’d said.
I stayed home, digging in the dirt
without thanking her for sympathy.

I hoped she’d forgotten all I’d said
too raw, too close that truth.
Without acknowledging her listening,
she knew more than I wanted out

too raw, too exposed to truth.
Now there is her memorial to plan.
I don’t know what she wanted. 
I wash my garden hands. 

Now there is a memorial to plan –
she was dead before I knew.
I volunteered to help her family.
There is always time.

Poet’s Notes:  This is a pantoum written after the death of one of my friends a few years ago. I think pantoums' repetitive lines carry the weight of grief and regret. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Skinshed" by James Frederick William Rowe, Frequent Contributor

James Frederick William Rowe


There is enmity between you and me
I want to swallow your slithering
For you so easily
Shed your skin
Becoming new
When we find it so hard to change

I, too, want fresh flesh

Poet’s Notes:  This poem came to me on the subway, and I wrote it in about thirty seconds. I nearly missed my stop, as I had to pull out my notebook. I think I finished it when I was in the station, pressed up against the tile wall.

I had the image of a man swallowing a snake down his throat flash in my mind, like one might swallow a live fish. I connected this to the symbolism that the snake renews itself with its shedding skin--that it becomes "renewed" by this process and becomes something fresh. By swallowing the snake, one would take the snake's power.  Of course, we also shed our skin, but it is a gradual process, so it isn't so much a resurrection as the snake's experience. In this way, the snake serves effectively as a "totem" of resurrection, incorporated into the self through the consumption and incorporation of its flesh.

I think all of us could appreciate the idea of becoming something new and find ourselves realizing how hard that it is. I am not, in general, dissatisfied with my life, but even I have wanted to change things at times.

Lastly, there is an oblique reference to Genesis 3:15 with the notion of enmity between the serpent and me. This reference was not supposed to hark back to the meaning of that passage, though, as the enmity as revealed is one of envy over the snake's ability to change, which we do not so readily possess.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"Things with Feathers" by John C. Mannone, Frequent Contributor

Things with Feathers
John C. Mannone

Grief is a vulture
            wings spread over dead flesh
                        by the roadside          
No, Grief is the carrion
            choking the vulture

Hope is a dove
            perched on the windowsill
                        of your heart
No, Hope is your heart
            taking flight toward the sun

Faith is a sparrow
            that cannot see in the glare
No, Faith is the air
            that lifts the sparrow up
                        and doesn’t let it fall

Love is an eagle
            soaring into silence of wind               
No, Love is a song-bird’s song
            faithfully singing hope
                        in the face of grief

Poet’s Notes: This poem arose from a teaching opportunity this past summer when I gave a craft lecture to some motivated elementary school kids in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The workshop focused on several ways on how to deal with abstractions.

I recalled Percival Shelley who would personify abstractions; he would capitalize their names (like Death). I wanted to subvert that idea and use animalification instead of personification, and in particular, birds (for part of the concretization of the abstractions). Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Hope is a Thing with Feathers,” gelled the approach for me. Hers opens like this:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

But when I think of hope, it is almost always bundled with two other beautiful abstractions: faith and charity. Therefore, I felt compelled to work them all into the poem. However, I wanted to do much more than give an example; I wanted to say something that needed to be said. To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, you don't write because you want to say something; you write because you have something to say.

The power of the trinity of faith, hope, and charity is not so much that the words eliminate grief, but is rather their ability to supplant it. So enters Grief, another abstraction, into the poem as an antithesis. Now, the poem in effect is much like a psalm or proverb—the contrasting responses forming a kind of song.

The cascading structure comes from having read Mary Oliver, who favors that structure for her nature poetry.

Monday, June 20, 2016

"At the Swinging Door of the Pub" by Tricia Knoll, Frequent Contributor

At the Swinging Door of the Pub
Tricia Knoll

I looked up expecting moon
and there was a swaying power line.

I looked to the power line for a squirrel
and saw two black high-tops dangling by shoestrings.

I looked at the shoes and hoped it was an omen
that you would walk back in.

The boy at the bus shelter said dangling shoes
was an our-turf gang symbol.

Another said drug sales nearby.
I saw only two wet sneakers.

My life, lonely barefoot-bereft
in front of a bar.

Poet's Notes: This poem is mostly fiction, although I always notice those pairs of shoes caught on shoestrings on wires that cross major arterials in Portland. Then I thought of how many of us wait for certain shoes on certain feet to come through the door.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day Special Feature: "A Day in April" by Sierra July

A Day in April
Sierra July

Snow fell, one day in April
Lungs stilled, hearts quivered and froze
On what should have been
A warm day in spring.

Poet’s Notes: This is a sad and personal piece written to recall how I and the rest of my family felt when my dad passed away last year. As the poem states, it was a day in April and, though I didn’t think it at the time, that day was a contrast to spring’s image of growth and birth; thus I had to write about it.

Editor’s Note:  While Father’s Day is a source of joy to me as a father, it is tinged with sorrow to me as a son whose own father has been dead for many years.  As my father also died “one day in April,” I am personally moved by Ms. July’s brief but touching elegy.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Special Feature: A Pair of Poems by Johnny Clarke

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “A Father & a Son” and “We Are Falling” by Johnny Clarke.  Mr. Clarke was institutionalized and diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic in 2013.  He is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at Fairfield University.

A Father & a Son
Johnny Clarke

At moonrise,
my father carries me to the cliffs.
His arms are like two white ropes
that ships use to moor.

He holds me against his chest,
his blood beats back the cold.
The sting of his breath shrouds me
in the smell of Irish whiskey.

My father stands above the sea,
the wind pounds into us like waves
& the wings of blackened clouds
extinguish all the stars.

He too is erased.
I am standing on the cliffs alone
listening to the water,
the sound of lonely rock.

Poet’s Notes: This poem is about my relationship with my father.  It is about becoming a man in his absence.

Editor’s Note:  Clarke captures a haunting moment here.  I find the sudden change in imagery in the final stanza from the father holding the son to the son standing alone to be a nice surprise.  I also like the way that the poem hints at a tragic back-story, and how it makes me want to know more about that back-story.

* * * * *

We Are Falling
Johnny Clarke

We are falling.

We are falling like the last leaf of autumn onto dark soil -
             with our wedding rings hanging
as heavy as headstones on our
We are falling into darkness, into a permanent midnight of silence -
              as we sit together at the dinner table,
sharing a meal
but not exchanging a word.
We are falling across long years (years of liquor, winter & suspicion) -
& by sleeping in separate beds
we often do not sleep at all. 

We are falling.

We are falling like drops of blood out of a time-gashed palm -
while our bodies age like dying trees
& it becomes a chore to say good morning, 

              & impossible to say what’s wrong?

Poet's Notes:  A poem inspired by my parents' relationship.  As my father's alcoholism worsened, distance grew between my mother and father.  I borrowed from their situation and added from my own experience with lovers and grief. 

Editor’s Note:  Clarke uses refrain well here, especially since "falling" and "failing" differ by only a single letter.  His metaphors are well done, enhancing the crisp imagery.  Sadly, I am sure that the universal theme will resonate with many readers.