Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"under the hood" by John Reinhart, Frequent Contributor

under the hood
John Reinhart

a mallet, a screwdriver,
hose clamps, a pencil -
mighty enough to keep the car running,

keep humanity engaged -
nostalgic already for life
throbbing under the hood

little yellow Datsun
with a stripe, I remember
never speeding

watching our Volvo drive away,
stunted by multiple strokes, blind
and paralyzed down the driver's side

Subaru hatchback suffered asthma,
the wheezing cleared with a pencil
down the throat

1980 Toyota Carolla only died
on me once, in rush hour, in the middle of five lanes,
but climbed the Continental Divide, steadily

1989 GMC Sierra 1500, dirt cheap, slowed down
really well, 1983 Volkswagen Quantum Turbo, soft touch,
heavy drinker, pinnacle of poise, the 1981 Mercedes diesel tank

when we arrived late from the snow, my son
said, Papa took the long way so we could hit every light
to stop and clear the windshield

in their check engines light innocence, I wonder
if my children will ever feel the palpitating heart
under the hood that keeps the plates spinning

Poet's Notes:  I have never had a car payment, which might say something about my financial conservatism, or it might say something about the cars I've owned. Dismantling the naïveté of modern existence where every problem is solved for a price, I work to keep my hands dirty. Human ingenuity goes to bed. And sleeps. Landfills full of broken bits praying for mending in a divided, divisive world separated by chasms not even the rope bridge of San Luis Rey might span. Unless we let it. Unless we weave those damn ropes ourselves. Ink stained palms, oil on new pants, mud caked onto shoes. Calluses cracked as sweat runs in steams in dry gullies of $9.95 replacement parts.

Monday, January 30, 2017

"He Loved to Play" by Lauren McBride, Frequent Contributor

He Loved to Play
Lauren McBride

His hands lay drumming on stiff white sheets.
Not drumming, she realized when she arrived
at his bedside, breathless and rushed.

"We had to restrain him," the orderly was saying.
"His tap-tapping was bothering the other patients."
"I came as soon as I heard," she protested, watching his hands.

"Not drumming," she said. "He’s playing piano."
Grabbing one hand, she kissed his brow.
He smiled, fingers flying.

"Release him," she commanded, and fixed fierce eyes
on the orderly until he obeyed.
Then she took both hands in hers and counted -

123, 123 A waltz danced from his fingers
across her palms. Music he loved to play
before sickness came and slowly erased his mind.

3/4, 6/8, 4/4 rhythmic recitals
racing in cut time
slowing . . . stopping . . .

He was gone,
leaving her memories -
and music clutched in her hands.

Poet’s Notes:  When I saw a prompt to write about music and math, I was intrigued. From my years in band, I knew that music and math go hand and hand. So what to write? Since music speaks so intimately to the soul, I invented a story about someone who has only his music left.

Friday, January 27, 2017

"Do You Believe in Ghosts?" by John C. Mannone, Frequent Contributor

Do You Believe in Ghosts?
John C. Mannone

Are they ectoplasmic goo leaking from some
inter-dimensional seismic rift? It’s nature’s fault,
its consciousness conjuring an electric you.

Maybe they’re altered states of ethereal madness
or manic illusions of disembodied schizoid voices.
Who ya gonna call? Aykroyd yells,

the local exorcist or psychobabble-ist?
Perhaps Ghostbusters, Incorporated
to capture the un-corporated (hardly holy),

but a few are Marvelous-comic spooks:
friendly slap-stickin’ slimy green blobs
or airhead sheets with lashless Lulu eyes

and whitewashed smiles with oval mouths
that blurt the boos, without the blues.
Best therapy yet

from a static screen. Electromagnetic bliss
of white noise hiss—electrons rastering
without a trace, the ghastly ghostly images.

Are they the departed that lurk
in theater balconies—the type B shadows? Perhaps
they’re ionized anomalies in plasma physics labs,

or balled-up sheets of charge, a lightning
falling from the thunderclouds
as glowing goblins of the dark

or rivulets of rain condensed from vapors
snaking from Medusa’s head

on the belt of Perseus, along with Algol,
the star of ghouls, rolling in its light,
shimmering the summer midnight.

Did they appear from pages long possessed
with Greek mythology or Babylon astrology
and roam the gypsy skies? I suspect

the only real ghosts are those in closets
with the skeletons, occasionally rattled
and ready to haunt you.

Poet’s Notes: “Do You Believe in Ghosts?” was a fun poem to write. Its fast paced rhythms sustain the tension in the poem, which tries to “define” the ghosts. This poem also serves as an example of how a cliché at the end of the poem (skeletons in the closet) can be finessed with syntax and the turn of the line.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

"All the Best" by John C. Mannone, Frequent Contributor

All the Best
John C. Mannone
            After John Prine

Love is like a Christmas card
full of glitter, tinsel and stars
in my eyes, and that beautiful
tree sparkling red and silver
bulbs from its boughs. Love is
like those presents under there,
wrapped up tight, hidden inside
the box, covered with glistening
paper and fancy bows. Yesterday,
the mailman delivered Christmas
cards sent from you, a plain Jane
envelope stamped not from the
North Pole, but rather from the
law firm of Curtis, Klein & Borg.

Poet’s Notes:  Christmas isn’t always the happiest time for some. The poem takes its title from a song written and performed by John Prine on being handed a divorce for a Christmas present from his former wife. A sonnet-like form was chosen for the irony since sonnets originally were love themed. A YouTube connection https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzw3-Qyp4c0 and some of the lyrics:

I guess that love is like a Christmas card
You decorate a tree you throw it in the yard.
It decays and dies, and the snowmen melt.
Well I once knew love. I knew how love felt.
Yeah, I knew love, love knew me,
and when I walked love walked with me,
and I got no hate, and I got no pride.
Well I got so much love that I cannot hide
I got so much love that I cannot hide.

Editor’s Note:  I like this poem, especially its ironically sonnet-like form.  The set up to the tragic ending is perfectly executed, and the use of enjambment is simply marvelous.  John originally submitted this one in response to my call for Christmas-themed poems for 2016.  I decided to delay its publication until well into January 2017 as I was looking for a more uplifting message for the season for Songs of Eretz.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Security Blanket" by Sierra July, Frequent Contributor

Security Blanket
Sierra July

She spun a blanket out of dark
Plastered it with stars and moon,
Small planets, creamy galaxies
Satellites, spacecraft or two

At night she spread her creation
And paid it no more mind
Because she had a greater thrill
Marveling at the faces that gazed
Up at her work instead

Poet's Notes: While to some night can seem a frightening time, and often rightly so, I find peace looking up at the night sky. Thinking of the expression "blanket of night," I wrote this poem based on a fantasy: Mother Nature weaving stars, moon, and other celestial bodies (and some man-made space occupants for fun) into the black.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

FC Lee Has 4 Poems Published

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce that Frequent Contributor Mary Soon Lee has had four more of her poems published recently in other venues.  The first three of those listed are part of The Sign of the Dragon, the story of King Xau http://www.thesignofthedragon.com.

"Kingship" is in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Fantasy &Science Fiction.

"Respect" is online in Polu Texni http://www.polutexni.com/?p=1316.

"The Imperial War: Onset" is online in Grievous Angel, http://www.urbanfantasist.com/grievous-angel/three-poets-four-new-poems.

"Preschool 2050" is in Eye to the Telescope #23, just before a poem by fellow FC John Reinhart:  http://www.eyetothetelescope.com/archives/023issue.html.

"Nooks and Crannies" by Sylvia Cavanaugh

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present "Nooks and Crannies" by Sylvia Cavanaugh.  Ms. 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. Her poems have appeared in: An Arial Anthology, Gyroscope Review, The Journal of Creative Geography, Midwest Review, Stoneboat Literary Journal, and elsewhere.  She is a contributing editor for Verse-Virtual: An Online Community Journal of Poetry.  Finishing Lines Press published her chapbook, Staring Through My Eyes.  Ms. Cavanaugh is originally from Pennsylvania.

Nooks and Crannies
Sylvia Cavanaugh

I always wanted a house with an attic
full of nooks and crannies
to find something hidden
to find my mother
in an old print play dress
with careful smocking
or a whole village
that a model train could circle
to find my father before he enlisted
before all the paucity of now
these smooth plaster walls
can contain

Poet’s Notes:  I think of houses as being metaphors for the mind.  I also feel that parents sometimes hold back information at which children can only guess.  As adults we need a little personal and private space for our thoughts and memories.  In this poem I tried to bring these ideas together in the concept of a small modern house that feels too blank, as the child may feel she does not really know her parents.

Editor's Note:  Liked this one?  Enjoy another lovely poem by Ms. Cavanaugh here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2015/11/poem-of-day-fort-of-blankets-by-sylvia.html

Monday, January 23, 2017

"The Question of Travel Chit Chat" by Carol Hamilton

Former Oklahoma Poet Laureate Carol Hamilton was the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review Poet of the Month for August 2015 http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2015/08/songs-of-eretz-poetry-review-poet-of.html and the guest judge for the 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest.  She has recent and upcoming publications in: Pontiac Review, Sanskrit Literary-Arts Magazine, Poet Lore, Limestone, Louisiana Literature, Off The Coast, Palaver, San Pedro River Review, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Hubbub, Blue Unicorn, Abbey, Main Street Rag, Two Cities Review, Poem, Tipton Poetry Review, and others. She has published seventeen books, most recently, Such Deaths from the Visual Arts Cooperative Press in Chicago.

The Question of Travel Chit Chat
Carol Hamilton    

The poet mused that perhaps
on better acquaintance
the stranger across from him
in the train carriage
she busy reading
might prove the true soulmate
moreso than the one waiting
at journey’s end

I can only assume
this imaginative traveler
keeps a firm grip
on his wise choice not to dare
a vault over the social barriers
In his state of pitiful caution

he has assured himself
a pleasant trip
with a predictable arrival
   …  illusions intact.

Poet’s Notes:  Whether or not to strike up a conversation with the new neighbor on a train or a plane.... The imagined lives we live as we visit new places, perhaps wondering how different our lives might have been if...if...if....  Imagination fuels the poet’s life, and certainly this poetic musing of another stirred my remembrance of travel fantasies. It is such fun to try out possibilities for one’s unlived lives. Then again, how can we not help but suspect that we might not just take our own selves along with us even into those charming dream worlds?

Friday, January 20, 2017

"January bills" by Lauren McBride, Frequent Contributor

January bills - still
using Christmas

--Lauren McBride

Poet’s Notes:  This hay(na)ku was inspired by the yearly irony of having leftover Christmas stamps to post the holiday bills that come due in January.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Undecorating" by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor

Mary Soon Lee

Small hands reached past me,
tugging ornaments from the tree:
gold balls, snowmen, two furry sheep,
a star made from popsicle sticks.
The tree emptied of ornament,
we hauled it outside,
dumped it in the snow.
We swept the floor together,
clearing needles,
fragments of tinsel,
and then my helpers fled.

I stood in the bare space
where the tree had been,
nothing left of the old year
and all its bustle,
and it is not that time
rushed by too fast,
but that we crammed it full,
and I want to sweep
long empty hours
through the new year,
weeks with spaces and pauses,
and a day when I ask my daughter
for the first time
in her four-year-old life:
Lucy, shall we bake a cake today?

Poet's Notes: My daughter Lucy is now twelve years old, and my son William is a high school senior. Nonetheless, they both helped decorate the tree last year. We hung up the ornaments, including the two furry sheep plus several decorations they made when they were little. These days a star that my son printed on a 3D printer tops our tree! Both of my children are now taller than I am.

N.B. Sometimes I write a poem and do little to revise it. This is not one of those poems. I wrote the first draft nearly eight years ago and revised it several times since then, gradually paring it down.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"the blood of cardinals" by Ross Balcom, Frequent Contributor

the blood of cardinals
Ross Balcom

the blood
of cardinals

a Hoosier sunset

          we all die
          on the same altar

          our blood
          flows together

the red birds

cardinals flock
to my heart

          let's all die

          I'll go first

(the cardinal
cut its own throat

with a song)

Poet's Notes: The cardinal is the state bird of Indiana. The image of its striking red plumage triggers in me associations of sunsets, blood, and blood sacrifice; hence, this poem. With every poem, the poet should spill his blood. This is the key to the renewal of life and creation. So sayeth this Hoosier. I cut my own throat with a poem.