Sunday, June 16, 2019


June/July 2019 "Science/Science Fiction" Theme Issue
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Cover Art "The Seagull Nebula"
[Taken from a royalty-free open internet source] 

Unless otherwise indicated, all illustrations are the work of our Art Editor or taken from "royalty-free" open internet sources.

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is best viewed on a computer screen.  There have been reports of word wrap when viewing on a Smartphone.  Choosing "View web version," which should appear at the bottom of the post, usually corrects the problem.  Switching to landscape mode may also correct the problem. 

Table of Contents
A Letter from the Editor
Special Guest Poet Carol Hamilton
Guest Poet Katherine Quevedo
   "The Geologist Speaks"
John C. Mannone
   "Baseball Physics"
Vivian Finley Nida
   "Illumination Satellite:  2020 Chinese Vision"
Sylvia Cavanaugh
Alessio Zanelli
   "about it all or just about"
Charles A. Swanson
   "Willing Suspension of Disbelief"
John Reinhart
   "analog days"
Gene Hodge
Ross Balcom
James Frederick William Rowe
   "Ain't no Winchester"
Howard Stein
   "Into the Vortex"
Guest Poet Sharon Cote
   The Sanity of the Lonely Body"
Steven Wittenberg Gordon
   "Golem:  A Triptych"
Guest Poet Tyson West
   "First Freefall on Canis Minor 14C"
Guest Poet Charles M. Saplak
   "Death Ray 1965" 
James Frederick William Rowe
   "Shattered Expectations of the Future Dystopia" 
Alessio Zanelli
Poetry Review
Entanglement by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans 
   Reviewed by Ross Balcom
Frequent Contributor News

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
A Letter from the Editor
The human mind is the source from which science chases after knowledge and science fiction speculates on what could be. The imagination that unites the two is not the general imagination that underscores all speculation, but rather that which is concerned with the world as experienced. This issue of Songs of Eretz Poetry Reviewis dedicated to that sort of imagination. 

The poems in this issue all say something about exploring, enjoying, lamenting, acknowledging, etc. what is already known, what could be known, what might be, and what would it be like if what might be was. Some are grounded in the real, and others in wild conjecture--from the purely scientific to the far-flung reaches of science fiction. 

As you read through these poems, you may notice the transitions between the aforementioned categories, but the path is not entirely straight, nor the demarcation between fact and fiction so definite, as to make the transition smooth. That is intentional.  The universe is full of mysteries, and we have not yet obtained enough mastery to know all of what is real and what is not.

James Frederick William Rowe
Associate Editor

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Carol Hamilton
Hobbyist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek began
as haberdasher and draper, moved on to earn
at a government post. The rest of his 17th C. life
was devoted to grinding glass. I picture him
in his basement, like my father always busy
in his garage workshop, moving minutiae,
fascinated. Passion kept him grinding in secret,
much hidden away. He must have told someone
of his world of bacteria and protozoa,
creatures busy swimming away lives
in an unseen universe. He watched
tiny fleas lay eggs, deduced insects do not
procreate by spontaneous generation.
Long years ground against the grain
of leisure …  hours of obsession,
fascination, compulsion, constancy,
persistence while society looks askance.
Until … violá …worlds within worlds
within worlds …. jeweler's eyepiece …
astronomer of the night …. show how tight,
how tiny our vision, we here,
bound within our senses
until someone tells us a fairy tale.
For once we listen …
          and sometimes …
                   we even believe.

Poet's Notes:  I find much to link the lives of scientists and artists. Something gnaws away at those who seek to understand and create and figure out … make the process work … discover something.  So much must be done alone. So much must be done without recognition. So much will never succeed. And yet we grind away at glass or words or mathematics … often sacrificing what for others is leisure. I believe it requires a sort of obsession, and often the work is done beyond good sense and with no final reward. Yet, for me, these are the lives worth celebrating. All creation contains much waste. Think of how many little elm seeds sail the earth for every tree that shades us.

Editor's Note:  The story of Leeuwenhoek's discovery of microscopic life has always fascinated me. I remember learning about it in biology in the 5th grade and being captivated by it. This poem so beautifully commemorates this monumental achievement of a strange, amateur scientist, who opened the doors of human perception to a world so small as to be imperceptible.  JFWR

About the Poet:  Carol Hamilton has recent and upcoming publications in Pinyon, Sandy River Review, The Big Window, Commonweal, Bluestem, Southwestern American Literature, Pour Vida, Adirondack Review, The Maynard, Sanskrit Literary  Magazine, U.S.1 Worksheet, Broad River Review, Homestead Review, Shot Glass Journal, Poem, I-70 Review, Louisiana Literature, Haight Ashbury Poetry Journal, The Aurorean, Poetica Review, Zingara Review, Main Street Rag, Abbey, Blue Unicorn,  Birmingham Poetry Review, Pigeonholes Review, Oddville Press, and others.  She has published seventeen books: children's novels, legends and poetry, most recently, SUCH DEATHS from Virtual Arts Cooperative Press Purple Flag Series. She is a former Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and was the first guest judge for the Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Geologist Speaks
Katherine Quevedo
She cradled a specimen in her palm
And matched her voice to the single note of the ventilation system: 

“The twinned crystals of this rock connote
So much about its stratum, as if 
The glassy luster were a facial expression,
Or each pitted, mounded face a fingerprint,
Or the translucent patterns of color from it when thinly sliced—
An iris viewed up close.”

The rock in her hand trembled, and I saw passion unearthed.

Poet’s Notes:  An interest in rocks must run in my blood.  My father is a retired geotechnical civil engineer, and my grandpa on my mom’s side was a rock hound as one of his main hobbies.  I once paged through a geology dictionary at the library and found the entries chock-full of lovely terms and images that belonged in poetry.  That moment became the foundation—the basement stratum if you will—of “The Geologist Speaks.”

Editor's Note:  The poet speaks of the passion unearthed--such a wonderful play on words!  I felt the same in reading the geologist's brilliant description of these treasured stones.  JFWR

About the Poet:  Katherine Quevedo was born and raised just outside of Portland, Oregon, where she works as an analysis manager and lives with her husband and two sons.  Her poetry has appeared in the Santa Clara Review and Civilized Beasts Vol. III, and her speculative fiction has appeared in Factor Four Magazine, Apparition Literary Magazine, Triangulation: Appetites, and elsewhere.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Baseball Physics
John C. Mannone

          Now I’ll tell you something, boy. No man alive,
          nor no man that ever lived, has ever thrown a curve ball.
          It can’t be done.
          —R. W. Madden (1941), New Yorker

I clutch the baseball in my glove
at the pitcher’s mound, my first
game in a playoff; only her voice
doesn’t fade into stadium noise:

You can do it!

Fingers latch around the ball
like launch hooks on a rocket.
Muscles coil, power
transfers to catapult of bone.

The cradled ball releases
with a twist of wrist, sails
to its target. Eyes track, record
telemetry of spinning ball.

Dynamic balance lifts it
to keep gravity’s tug
from winning too soon.
Slipstream air wraps around

two halves of stretched leather 
joined with curving stitches
that an oval-mouthed machine
sewed with needle-threaded teeth.

Cowhide, sutured and rumpled
at the seams like thrusted-up mountains
from colliding continents, tumbles
into that narrow jet stream

whizzing through its crevices,
cascading over ridges. Wind whistles;
low pressure builds leeward.
And some unknown force,

at the last moment, persuades
the ball to swerve and drop
below the batter’s radar
to the edge of the strike zone.

I imagine the sting of the punch
in the catcher’s mitt, I am deaf
to the sharp heft of the umpire’s
strike-out voice, but hers I hear,

Way to go, Baby!

Poet’s Notes:  As a physicist, I have access to an additional cache of metaphors when writing my poems, especially when I want to express familiar topics with fresh words. Here, my classical dynamics knowledge helps inform this poem. 

But for me, there has to be another layer beyond the exotic description. There are hints for the reader to be aware of more than sports in this poem, such as global geography, and how wind works when it flows over mountains. And yet, there is an underscored whisper of the humanity of the pitcher and his thoughts about his sweetheart.

The mysterious force referenced in the poem is the “Magnus Effect”, first noticed in the 17th century by Heinrich Magnus, though his theory was flawed, in connection with inaccuracies of cannonballs.  However, the physics and construction alluded to in this poem, which are responsible for the curved ball trajectories observed in baseball, tennis, golf, and other sports, are correct. 

Editor’s Note:  I love the game of baseball. I've always been, and always will be, a New York Yankees fan and I enjoy this fascinating homage to the raw science of the game.   JFWR

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Illumination Satellite:  2020 Chinese Vision
Vivian Finley Nida

I spot no owls where two moons light the night
High ancient cratered face drums in my heart
and lower newborn’s mirror, silver bright
replaces streetlights, antique works of art
Unlike the steady path of wax and wane
the fledgling boasts allegiance to man’s will
To redirect its beam they tap its brain
They thirst to harness light, control its spill
Will mini moon put money in the bank
Three hundred miles above the urban sprawl
to hover it needs fuel, and I’ll be frank
I’d rather watch the constellations crawl
than a satellite moon whose truth could be 
I see the moon, and, yes, the moon sees me

Poet’s Notes:  I relish being away from city lights on clear, dark nights to view the sky.  While many nations work to reduce light pollution, China plans to launch illumination satellites beginning in 2020, which they say will take the place of city streetlights, even though constant light disrupts habits of nocturnal animals and our circadian rhythms. In addition, since satellites have the ability to collect data and images, these artificial moons might be designed to perform other tasks...  

Instead of depending on the whim of humans directing light, I value the predictable path of the moon; so, for this poem, I chose a sonnet, which follows a set pattern.  For more information on China’s artificial moons, go to

Editor's Note:  It is truly terrifying to imagine that the Chinese government will soon attempt to place into orbit a satellite to bask their cities in light. This reverse Monty Burns-esque plan really frightens me, but this poem captures a fascinating look at how this might feel if/when this does come to pass.  JFWR
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sylvia Cavanaugh

heart of an old star
helium nuclei fuse
carbon wafts to worlds

word will become flesh
a poem not yet inked
carbon dioxide

sunbeams fizz and pop
would-be plants grow ambitious
contemplate magic

they harvest sunshine
seize carbon to build structure
leaf after green leaf

forests become lungs
human lobes breathe oxygen
symbiosis wins

carbon eats carbon
plant fiber, dinosaurs, death
combustion engine

dawn speaks big hello
seems to unite earth and sky
heat begins to rise

Poet’s Notes:  I am fascinated by carbon with its origin in old stars, its many forms, and its long and short cycles. The more I researched, though, the more unwieldy carbon came to feel as a subject. Then I came across some abstract prints that gave me the idea of writing about carbon as a series of haiku. I have seen this form on occasion and have always been intrigued by it.

Editor's Note:  The carbon cycle is the origin of all life on Earth, and this poem celebrates it brilliantly and engagingly.  JFWR

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
about it all or just about
Alessio Zanelli

exiting water
breathing air
tramping earth
lighting fire

splash after splash
whiff after whiff
clod after clod
flame after flame

to stretch a segment
into a ray
or at least bend it
into a circle

yearning for space
while pursuing time
only to stumble
over our shadow
fall away
end up in ether

just about

Poet’s Notes:  Maybe more philosophical than scientific, this piece deals with the eternal dilemma of man’s place in the universe and final destiny, with his tragic sense of caducity. Ancient philosophers and alchemists thought (and Ayurveda disciples still think today) that the world is made of five basic elements: water, air, earth, fire and ether. While modern science has long gone past such an oversimplification of reality, being now investigating particles even smaller than quarks on one end and having finally observed an immense black hole on the other, the idea that everything, including man, could be much simpler than it seems hasn’t lost its appeal. 

Our “yearning for space” (intended as our insuppressible desire to explore it, to broaden our knowledge) and “pursuing time” (intended as our desire, even more insuppressible, to cope with our transitoriness) at once substantiate man’s intrinsic grandeur and limitedness. We may tend to absolute knowledge asymptotically, but we’ll never achieve it. Hence, however advanced our knowledge, in a way, it will always be substantially equivalent to that of any previous era. That is to say, to all effects we “end up in ether”.

Editor's Note:  I love the geometric references here.  JFWR

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Willing Suspension of Disbelief
Charles A. Swanson

Isn’t that science?  Jonathan Swift’s projector builds the house from the top down, like a spider.  Thoreau says put foundations under castles in the air.  Someone hung tomatoes root-ball up, and now it’s the thing—tomatoes strung like grapes.  Little Lydian, the international World’s Best winner, dreams of playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the moon.  Yes, dreams is the right scientific word.  Suspend your belief that you may believe.  The architects of Babel, they built toward something bigger, they built toward the sky.  Now we have impossible skyscrapers.  But build in thin air.  Turn the world upside down.  

A small girl’s bedroom,
night time cling-stick stars glitter.
The ceiling retreats.

Poet’s Notes:  Willing suspension of disbelief is often spoken of as a concept of fictional works, but believable science fiction is built on the principle that rules govern the seemingly impossible.  H. G. Wells built his novels around making the unbelievable believable.  He did so by surrounding an event, such as a Martian invasion, by realistic and minute description, a web of realism that makes the science fiction element seem as if it could really happen. 

The more I thought about the concept the more I realized that scientific inquiry requires a willing suspension of disbelief.  The creative scientist has to believe that the impossible is possible, that the thing that has not yet happened can be turned into a reality.  Many inventions first written about by science fiction writers are today a reality.

Editor's Note:  If I were able to find some of those star stickers today, I'd add them to my room this minute. I used to focus my Ikea light on them in order for them to shine even brighter as I fell asleep.  JFWR

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
analog days
John Reinhart

she fell in love
with his hubcap dishware,
the nuts, nails, bolts,
wires, springs, paper clips
collected meticulously,
tin can cups and rebar accenting

the tick-tocking
of his secondhand
heart that she rewound
every morning resounded
in harmony to 
the flutters of her own

she tried to keep 
the rust at bay; he knew
she would someday die -
a clockwork romance

no one could program

Editor's Note:  In this digital world, the intrinsic value of our analog selves is often lost. This poem reminds us that our machinery is not so programmed.  JFWR

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gene Hodge

In the midst of stillness . . .
clocks tic-toc,
candles flicker in darken windows.
Within imagination’s fertile soil
subatomic waves of energy,
like northern lights,
entertain the hemisphere.
From infinite longitudes and latitudes
images of creative thoughts
dance onto the finite stage.

Poet’s Notes: An oak tree is large and strong; and like all creation, the visible was created from the invisible.  I have read that when the brown stuff from inside an acorn is placed beneath the power of an electronic microscope . . . all is seen, is mysterious waves of energy that come and go.  These waves can be bent and influenced by our thoughts.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ross Balcom

my river flows
the skullways, the ancient brainways

to the root of man

where I paint doors
to the spaceways, the starways

on the walls of caves

paint in blood
of the astronauts I killed and ate

in the timeways, the timemaze

the flower of man
the galaxy spanning

rooted in blood
the cannibal deathways

my river flows

Poet's Notes:  Our future was painted long ago on the walls of caves. There is magic in blood and stars, in the darkness of caves, and in the darkness of space. There is magic in us.

Editor's Note:  The excellence of this poem resides in its thematic uniqueness. No poems touched upon the intersection of the horrifying and the science fiction at all aside from this.  Although this poem differs tremendously from Alien and Event Horizon, I am glad to see that sub-genre represented.  JFWR

Editor’s Note:  I enjoy the way Ross plays with time in this one.  The poem crosses genres, but I like it for this issue.  SWG

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ain’t no Winchester
James Frederick William Rowe

I am the ray gun of Charlie Alabaster
I'm long
Made of metal
And I shoot rays
You know that Charlie Alabaster
Means Common Man White
So I guess you could call him an everyday white guy
But that wouldn't be right
As he's half Zallaluadan

When we went hunting off Rigel's second planet
He shot me at a bounding beast
It was a thick mass of hairy tentacles
Atop spinning
Spindly legs
And each of them I shot off
Before we managed to hit what passed for its eye
It was a good hunt
And man did my barrel burn
But you should have seen the other guy

I've never been used for murder
But we came close once
When Charlie Alabaster caught his girlfriend
In bed with a Jundink
And you know what they say about those guys
You do?
No really - what do they say?
I'm kinda at a loss for that

You know it's probably telling
That I can off hand speak of these things
Like these are just run of the mill occurrences
Which I guess they kind of are now
But what do I know
I'm just a ray gun
I shoot things
I don't cogitate on matters of import

Poet’s Notes:  “Ain't no Winchester” is a poem I wrote near the start of my literary career, c. 2010, about my charming rogue of a SciFi-serial-like hero Charlie Alabaster. His unnamed ray gun (properly speaking: a ray carbine) is a robot, and details some of the amusing elements of his many adventures from the perspective of the gun employed in the sundry events so described. Given that the gun isn't in charge of the actions and is often under-informed of what is going on, the gun is able to communicate only a limited perspective on what must be a baffling series of events. 

I've been meaning to write more stories about Charlie Alabaster, including ones that detail in depth some of the tales spoken about here, but the only one I ever wrote is called "Pay your debts on Shalatar" and that has never seen the light of day. So my particular brand of SciFi hijinks have gone unseen for now, but hopefully that will change when I truly get down to writing more along these lines.

The poem is arranged simply and there isn't much to report on anything particular regarding its aesthetics. Nevertheless, the style I think harmonizes well with the comic tone of the poem and shares some similarities to the general feel of my poetry that tends towards the comedic rather than the serious.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Into the Vortex
Howard Stein

Our space ship adrift,
No power, no direction,
Caught in a net like a fish,
Struggle to escape
The inescapable.

Imperceptibly at first,
Our ship is drawn into an invisible vortex;
Its downward spiral grows narrower,
Centripetal speed accelerates,
The ship, sucked down the Rabbit Hole
Into a phantasmagoric
Wonderland of total darkness.
Intense gravity contorts my body,
My bulging eyes nearly pop.
I feel squeezed to death’s edge.

With a high voltage jolt, I awaken –
Or at least seem to –
Uncertain whether I had just died
Or was rescued by an unseen force
Stronger than a black hole’s death-grip.
Had I just relived Poe’s story,
“The Pit and the Pendulum”? –
My nightclothes soaked,
My heart racing out of rhythm,
My mind a shimmying torso.

I do not recognize where I am,
Or remember where I had been –
Who is this who writes these words?
Time has disfigured me,
All light sucked out,
All life disappeared –

Only the insatiable
Black vortex remains.

Poet's Notes: Almost since astronomers first discovered them, black holes became the subject of vivid imagination and quickly found their way into fantasies, nightmares, stories, poems, films, etc. As metaphors, they ran as wild as a prairie grass fire. In my several workplaces, executives, supervisors, managers, and employees all used the image of black holes to describe their organizational experience, especially during times of threat, cutbacks, downsizing, and other real and imagined dangers. Black holes came to embody intense anxiety.  

My poem lets go of any leash that inhibits my imagination. The poem tells a story which I construe as science fiction--although I hasten to add that I am not a "science fiction writer." It describes and evokes a terrifying experience--one that, in turn, could serve as a metaphor for far more mundane, ordinary facets of life.

Editor's Note:  Black holes may not be fresh in science fiction, but the sheer beauty of the last stanza in general, and "Time has disfigured me" in particular, shows there is still more to say about them worth printing.  JFWR

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Sanity of the Lonely Body  
(the We's first contact)
Sharon Cote 

Know this—
We must stay, must feed our self. 
We will stay, but We will not 
consume you.  
Division leads to inaction. We am 

This is the truth of a body, bleakly functional. 
Forever, We was wholly one. We was
shared perspective, two of one, in one
not hemispheric, not distinct. We was 
joyful reduplication.

Understand, Wes only gather 
for reproduction or 
to enclose prey. 

A gathering passed your Proxima Centauri, 
were met by a strong solar flare. 
Most Wes were fortunate, 
gone at the flare star’s whim. 
This We was on the outmost edge, 
too close and too far. 

We am still. We observe in completeness, 
calculate in completeness, but when We feel, 
We do not. What is half an emotion? 
Terrible dark void, with 
no release for this irreparable We.

And so We arrived, in hungry madness, 
ate of this earth, sought proteins.  
Perceived a single human loud in that night, 
staggering, swaying, saltwater leaking, 
unnoticed, from its eyes. We stopped. 
Like insanity, We half-felt. 

And We thought prey too, 
but half of We was pulled to learn more. 

We watched this human alone, and in that dark 
another human came, another you. 
There was touching, transmitting of 
communicative sounds, many repetitive sounds, 
then a quieting of the first human body, 
a paired movement to shelter.

And We had an impossible thought. 
Could a body by nature be just 
a piece of We? 

Finally, We am convinced. 
You are not Wes.
Yet, you achieve we-ness, not in fullness of unity, but in 
joining of Is, in recurring contentment, in      

Teach this We
Can We become we-ness with you in our separateness of body?  
Can We learn this harsh sanity of I?

If not, can you find our release? 
We half care much, so much.

Poet’s Notes:  This poem centers on the idea of an alien with two separate but identical brains that have always been in constant, instantaneous communication with each other, having a single, shared bodily experience. Such an entity would perhaps never feel lonely, never feel a need for external community. I’ve been writing a lot about memory and about human connection lately, and when I put those thoughts together with my more speculative musings, the damaged We was born.

Editor's Note:  Too often, aliens are depicted simply as space humans, sharing so much with our own selves that they hardly represent anything unique. Not so in this poem, where the aliens are profoundly and uniquely different from ourselves in the most important of the ways: psychologically. Whereas we see ourselves as one, they see themselves as two.  To imagine that difference is itself worthy of a poem, but then to imagine the We alien to come to understand how humans achieve weness in our connections to others is absolutely stirring. The "we" grammar does much to enhance the presentation.  JFWR

About the Poet:  Sharon Cote is an emerging poet who started late and writes slowly. When not fretting over some poem detail, she teaches linguistics and speculative literature and examines metaphor. She also takes many long walks in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley with her husband and her tireless dog. Her poetry has won Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, and has appeared in Star*Line, Deep Water Literary Journal, and Avocet, and in other journals and anthologies. 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

                 Golem:  A Triptych

I breathed               My hot air                 My breath
Into the statue         Through its nose      It flowed
Felt it warm             The cold stone         Responding
To my touch            It kissed me             Awakening         
Its eyes opened        And beheld me        Once a sculpture
Then it spoke          What a wonder         Living art

--Steven Wittenberg Gordon         

Poet's Notes:  Hebrew legend has it that it is possible for a rabbi to become so holy and knowledgeable through the study of the Torah, Talmud, and Kabalah, that he can acquire the power to breathe life into a "man" made of clay in a manner analogous to the way God breathed life into Adam.  There have been documented cases, as an internet search will reveal.  I added a touch of the legend of Pygmalion to my four-poems-in-one version here.

Editor's Note:  The golem legend is a fascinating one, as it reflects upon our history-spanning ambitions to be the creator of new life. I often think that humans are always striving to be even more "in the image of God" than they already are, and how much more god-like would we be if we achieved such a feat as to create an artificial life form? JFWR

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

First Freefall On Canis Minor 14C
Tyson West

Our smooth skinned dingy slips
From our mother ship orbit
Into the virgin atmosphere of this chance globe 
Mottled with cloud clusters iridescent in mauve and puce.
In spite of our probes and penetrations vibrating its stratosphere
Until we drop into its maw
We will never know the charms or curses with which
The whirling winds will grace our first flesh intrusion
Among their floating mosses, flying lizards and barbed swirls.
Will we find phoenix virus
That passes through air filtration and antiseptics
In fragments only to congeal in our mouths before ripping out our lungs
Or some unknown noxious native toxin
That synthesizes among the rare earths and organics of this speckled sandbox
Under the spiraling rays of its indigo sun?
We primates and our canines possess enough of the cynical courage of age
And the mindless optimism of youth to apply
The functions and righteousness of our faith – 
That fiction assembled from our rage for order out of
So many pebbles cast against the wall of our mortality.
Whether we kill or convert what we find
Or share our bodies and blood with life forms below 
Resides in our deity’s will
Who after all no matter how many parsecs we traverse
Remains with us and we in his image.
Brace yourselves my crew
Women with your cunning
Men with your expendability
And dogs to fool us into our sense of self-importance
We fall together.

Poet’s Notes:  One of my favorite poets from the 17th century towards the end of the Age of Exploration is Andrew Marvell. Although the Elizabethan poets wrote vividly from time to time about venturing beyond the British Isles, Marvell appears to have written only one cool and balanced poem on the topic, “Bermudas”. I wondered what it would be like to be among the crew making the first landing on a new planet. In spite of scientific testing, who knows if the point of the spear will pin down a brave new world or get blunted in a puddle of disaster? 

“Bermudas” also contains a backdrop of the idea of faith. In some cases, the faith can be nothing more than an 18-year-old’s sincere belief that he or she will never die. 
I combined these feelings and speculative elements from my science fiction mindset to craft this poem.

Editor's Note:  I enjoy the way this poem weds the theme of colonization of new worlds with a thoughtful contemplation of our sense of human divinity and our relationship to dogs, both as fellows in our travels and as part and parcel of our obsession with our own right to rule.  JFWR

About the Poet: Tyson West has published speculative fiction and poetry in free verse, form verse, and haiku, distilled from his mystical relationship with noxious weeds and magpies in Eastern Washington.  He has no plans to quit his day job in real estate.  His poetry collection Home-Canned Forbidden Fruit is available from Gribble Press.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Death Ray 1965
Charles M. Saplak 

Delicate was the City in the Uncertain State
Ornate minarets stretching to pink-clouded skies
Mosaics of twin moons arranged in strange geometry
Statues grown from fragrant woods, echoing footfalls
Feasts of crystalline fruit, roasted sacrificial birds
Long boned Martians with enormous lime eyes
Musical streams held within ceramic canals
Fountains and falls of bradberry wines
Intricate discussions lasting nights and days
Intuitive pronunciations of millennia-dead words
Foil-paged scrolls of histories culled from dreams....

All fall when touched by the Sight Rays which emanate
From a satellite from the blue world, the world sunward
All collapse before the economic, historical, the real....
Astronomer peers at receiving screens one July Earth night
Meticulously denotes the wasteland that he spies
Chronicles the absence of the imagined canali....
Delicate City crumbles as it is unobserved
Martians whither as they are looked for yet are unseen
Bone spires topple beneath oblivious telescopic gaze
Mysteries surrender to the cartographic storm
Claimed by the encroaching Deserts of Certainty.

Poet's Notes:  "Death Ray 1965" occurred to me as I read about the Mariner 4 flyby of Mars which took place in July 1965. For centuries Mars was home to Barsoomian kingdoms, quaint little Bradbury villages, and Stanley Weinbaum's inscrutable barrel people.  Telescopic observations from Earth showed nothing to disprove their existence.  Like Schroedinger's Cat, civilization on Mars existed in a nowhere state of uncertainty.  

Mariner 4, using video cameras and magnetic tape technology, sent back twenty-one complete pictures and one partial. Each picture, 200 pixels by 200 pixels, took about ten hours to broadcast. Alas! No canals, no cities, no temples on the shores of drying seas.  Mars was a little more colorful than our moon, but seemingly just as dead....

Editor's Note:  Woe to those of us who have erased our dreams by our discoveries.  JFWR 

About the Poet:  Charles M. Saplak lives in Roanoke, Virginia. He currently has a collection of horror stories available on Amazon titled, Quiet, Yet Somehow Wrong.  He is in the process of collecting some of his science fiction stories for a companion volume.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 

Shattered Expectations of the Future Dystopia
James Frederick William Rowe

It's already 2019
And not a single unfiltered cigarette
Has been lit before a wheezing machine
Questioning whether Sapphic impulse
Or artificiality was the question
Most pressing to the test at hand

I've met no surgeons in rain-slicked alleys
Peddling the hottest enhancements
For my home Cartesian theatre
Nor has a single port been gouged
Into any of my cervical vertebrae
Either serial or USB

My medical insurance
Doesn't cover Cyberbrain Sclerosis
And no laughing man has 
Hacked my ghost
Just maudlin Irish songs
Bringing unbidden tears

There're no pay phones anymore
That might serve as a standard getaway
From my simulation nightmare
And never once has my mouth
Been melted shut
At even the worst department meeting

I'm told the world'll end in 12 years
But the sun still shines in LA
Tokyo is neon
But far from neo
And I've heard of no reports of thunderdomes
On outback highways

What a disappointment to find my dystopia
Spit-polished like a ripe Apple
And the only A.I. gone rogue
Tweeted racist thoughts it learned on Reddit
When it wasn't moonlighting
As a lamp that lets you shop

How depressing that our oppression
Is so bright-screened and smooth-lined
Where corporate thugs can only 
Ban your social media
And spy on your personal life
But only to better sell you goods

I'd much rather the romance of ribbon wires, bulky CRTS
Sleeves worth of floppy disks
Petting a cloned cat, watched by a false owl
Drinking too much gin
In smoke-choked dive
With the rest of the replicants

God damn
This future sucks

Poet’s Notes:  I'm more than a little disappointed that the bleak cityscapes and ruined countryside imagined by cyberpunk and other dystopian SciFi (I include post-apocalyptic stuff in this) writers have not come to pass. There is a lot of romance in stories of desperation and woe in the cyber hells of our own making. Not so much in our real dystopias, where we're increasingly tempted into the most pathetically milquetoast version of oppression courtesy of Silicon Valley, including our own version of Big Brother without the five minutes of hate.

There are a number of references to cyberpunk works throughout this poem, as I love the genre: 

First stanza: Blade Runner
Second stanza: Cyberpunk/Shadowrun
Third stanza: Ghost in the Shell(specifically: Stand Alone Complex)
Fourth stanza: The Matrix
Fifth stanza: Blade Runner, Akira, and Mad Max
Final stanza: Blade Runner, the Big O, and Megazone 23.

The poem consists of stanzas arranged in six verses each, except my concluding postscript of two lines bemoaning how underwhelming this dystopia is.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Alessio Zanelli

Outside. There soars and roams my silent cry.
You never know—some mind, advanced enough,
might pick it up adrift the boundless sky.
To live and die by such deception’s tough—
I’d only need some quick but straight reply.

Poet’s Notes: This short formal poem is about a subject matter I love so much. It’s a cinquain of iambic pentameters, untitled, rhymed ABABA. I’d be curious to know what readers would think of it without this note because I suspect it may sound a bit obscure. It was inspired by several Einstein’s quotes about man’s place in the universe, mankind’s duplicity (for which it can be so fascinating and repulsive at the same time), the mystery of the cosmos itself--in other words, the meaning of everything. Among them my favorite one is the following: “Only two things are infinite--the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” 

So, this poem deals with our never-answerable questions: is such a vast universe for us alone? Are we actually alone in it? What’s the purpose of the cosmos as we observe it? When and how did it begin, if it ever began? When and how will it end, if it ever ends? Probably, there are as many tentative answers to such questions as there are human beings in the world, even though they can all be grouped into two main categories: those believing it’s all ascribable to an unknowable entity called God, and those assuming it’s all due to quantum ineluctability, i.e. absolute chance. Ah, yes, there’s a third category, you decide whether lucky or unlucky: those who basically don’t care one way or the other…

Editor’s Note:  This one reminds more of Orson Scott Card than Albert Einstein and I did not get the entire heady message as explained in the notes.  Still, I find it thought-provoking, enjoy its short complex simplicity, and like the rhythm and rhyme.  SWG

Editor's Note:  Our voices echo in the void, while all we yearn for is a response...  JFWR

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Poetry Review

Entanglement by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans 
Reviewed by Ross Balcom

Entanglement (Diminuendo Press, 2018), the latest collection of collaborative poetry by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Kendall Evans, is a masterful blend of poetic artistry, scientific speculation, and philosophical reflection. There are twenty-seven poems in the book, opening with “Mobius World”, which offers an imaginative counterpoint to the classic saying of Heraclitus, “You cannot step into the same stream twice.”  Perhaps the most unusual poem of the collection is “Conestoga”, where algae ponds in an aging starship begin to produce poetry instead of oxygen.  

Other gems include a poem that examines the nature of intelligence as contemplated by a robot; a poem about an uploaded, no longer flesh-bound intelligence that pursues “Virtual Love” with a hapless victim; and a poem whose speaker prefers virtual romance to more immediate opportunities with aliens.  Long-distance love is also the subject of “Entanglement”, the title poem, in which romantic love is likened to quantum entanglement. The poem examines the question of whether or not the deep connectivity of love could survive the vast gulfs separating star-farers from their loved ones. 

It is easy to imagine the minds of Kopaska-Merkel and Evans as being quantum-entangled, composing seamless collaborations through telepathic interaction. Readers are invited to join the fun--entanglement with Entanglement is pure delight.

Are you the author or editor of a poetry collection, a poetry magazine, or other long poetic work?  If you would like to see a review of your work published in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, please see our "Review Guidelines" section for details

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Frequent Contributor News
FC Sylvia Cavanaugh is pleased to announce that her third chapbook, “Icarus: Anthropology of Addiction,” has been published by Water's Edge Press.  Her poem, "Almost Half of U.S. Adults have Seen a Family Member Jailed, Study Shows," has been published in the Spring 2019 issue of Bramble Lit Mag  Her poem, “Lost and Found” has been published in the 2020 Wisconsin Poet's Calendar  Her poem, "May Tour of Twelve Chimneys," has been published in Verse-Virtual: An Online Community Journal of Poetry  Last and certainly not least, Sylvia has been named Editor of English Poetry for Poetry Hall: A Chinese and English Bilingual Journal

Former FC Mary Soon Lee had five poems published: “How to Time Travel” appeared in the May/June issue of Analog; “If the Fairy Godmother Comes” appeared in the Do Not Go Quietly anthology from Apex Books; and three poems appeared in Star*Line, one of which, “How to Call Proxima Centauri” was an editor's choice poem and so may be read online at Her poem “Venus, As It Might Have Been” won the AnLab Readers' Award for best poem. Finally, HowStuffWorks published an article by Carrie Tatro about Mary's Elemental Haiku

FC Karla Linn Merrifield will embark in June on an expedition cruise to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and across the Bering Sea to the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia. While aboard the Lindblad Expedition NG Orion, she will be doing two readings from her newest book, Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North. Those readings will be followed by readings in Anchorage, Alaska, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and Liberty, California. Readers who are interested in obtaining a copy of the book will find it at Amazon, from the publisher, Cirque Press, or may obtain autographed copies by emailing Karla at

FC Vivian Finley Nida has been named a Woody Guthrie poet for the third consecutive year and has been selected as one of twelve poets to read at the Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah, Oklahoma July 13, 2019. 

FC Howard Stein is pleased to announce that a set of seven of his poems was published on May 6th, 2019, in the online poetry journal, vox poeticai n a new feature section called “The Deep Dive”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Lana the Poetry Dog
Songs of Eretz Poetry Review will be taking a short summer break and will be closed for submissions until the end of June.  Starting July 1, we will begin accepting submissions for our September issue, which will have a theme of "Prose Poems."  Prior to that, our "Sonnets" issue will be published on or about August 1--submissions for that issue are now closed.  So, starting on or about August 1, Songs of Eretz Poetry Review will be published at the beginning rather than during the middle of the month.

The original paintings and drawings (and prints of them) created by our Art Editor Jason Artemus Gordon and used for the illustrations in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review are available for purchase with and without copies of the poems that inspired them.  Please visit our "Artwork Store" page for details

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.