Friday, May 4, 2018

"Jerusalem" by Terri Lynn Cummings

Editor’s Note:  Frequent Contributor Terri Lynn Cummings, on a leave of absence since December 2017, returns with a haunting yet humorous narrative poem, “Jerusalem”, based on her own real-life experiences. While I am overjoyed to welcome Terri back, I am sad to announce that past Frequent Contributor Kaitlyn Vaughn, who graciously agreed to cover for Terri, could not be convinced to stay. Kaitlyn still has a few more poems in our publishing queue and will remain on the masthead until the last one is featured.

"Souk" Watercolor & Graphite on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
Jerusalem
Terri Lynn Cummings

I arrived in another century
behind old city walls 
where a souk stretched 
its limbs lined with stalls 
filled with carcasses on hooks
brass water pipes
carved camels carrying
salt and pepper shakers
antiquities, real or fake

A pouch of weed
cost one round of sex— 
females preferred, but males
accepted like different
currencies—in the back 
garden with “Uncle” Carmel
draped in white robes, keffiyeh
and with eyes, black… calculating

I purchased water pipes for smokers
shakers for Mother’s kitchen 
keffiyeh for Father 
who drenched it in cold water
donning it before mowing—
rarities in rural American ‘70’s— 
yet I left Carmel on the stoop
shouting at me to return

I never forgot his polite offer

Arabic Words:
Souk: a marketplace
Keffiyeh:  a male’s headscarf that drapes below the neck

Poet’s Notes:  As an Oklahoma State University student studying anthropology, I was chosen to join a small archaeological team. We spent a summer in Caesarea and excavated part of the Hippodrome where Romans held chariot races. For me, this was a dream realized. Fridays and Saturdays were our “weekends” when we traveled the country: Masada, Dead Sea region, Bethlehem, Sea of Galilee, Jericho, and Tel Aviv, to name a few places. Marvelous stories have survived the years, yet my favorite remains Jerusalem and the colorful Uncle Carmel.

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