Monday, September 14, 2020

FALL 2020 "POLITICS" ISSUE


FALL 2020 "POLITICS" ISSUE
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Editor-in-Chief
Steven Wittenberg Gordon
Art Editor
Jason Artemus Gordon 
 Associate Editor
James Frederick William Rowe 
Assistant Editor
Terri Lynn Cummings 
 Frequent Contributors 
Ross Balcom, Gene Hodge, John C. Mannone, Karla Linn Merrifield, 
Vivian Finley Nida, Howard Stein, Charles A. Swanson, Tyson West, & Alessio Zanelli
Biographies of our editorial staff & frequent contributors may be found in the "Our Staff" page 


Unless otherwise indicated, all illustrations are the work of our Art Editor or taken from "royalty-free" open internet sources.
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Table of Contents
A Letter from the Editor
Poetry  
Howard Stein
"Linguistics Lesson, or, Making a List and Checking It Twice" 
Karla Linn Merrifield
"Despite Being Unarmed Is Shot Dead"
James Frederick William Rowe
"Pulling Down the Mask"
Shlomo ben Moshe HaLevi
"Good for the Hood?"
Steven Wittenberg Gordon
"The Best Offense"
Terri Lynn Cummings
"Public Memorials"
"The Tree of Liberty Speaks"
Guest Poet Elka-Hannah bat Zvi 
"Oasis"
Alessio Zanelli
"Kyoto"
"About Colors"
Charles A. Swanson
"The Stick Figure Family Under Threat"
John C. Mannone
"Democratic Socialism"
"The American Eagle"
Gene Hodge 
"Gun Control"
Vivian Finley Nida 
"Nation of Immigrants" 
     Poetry Review
Karla Linn Merrifield
Lyrics of Mature Hearts, Edited by Bob McNeil
Frequent Contributor News
Forthcoming


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A Letter from the Editor


The intention of the Songs of Eretz Poetry Review Politics issue is to leverage the gentle art of poetry in order to elevate the level of debate and discourse between what has become essentially two groups of people with diametrically opposed points of view on the direction that the world should be heading--two groups that have stopped listening to each other and that view each other with dangerous contempt.  The small number of poems that made the cut for this issue represent many different points of view on many controversial topics, but all of them have the following in common--they are well-written and often clever, thought-provoking, and supported by source material. 

Readers should find some poems that resonate with their political beliefs and some that most definitely do not.  However, regarding the latter, readers will have the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of those who do not share their particular points of view, and that understanding may lead to a productive dialogue between people who are currently not even on speaking terms.  And that is the ultimate purpose of political poetry, as I see it.

Shalom,
Steven Wittenberg Gordon
Editor-in-Chief 

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Poetry



Linguistics Lesson, or, Making a List and Checking It Twice
Howard Stein
“. . . I shall go on writing. That is my heroism.  I will bear witness, precise witness.”
“It’s not the big things that are important to me, but the everyday life of tyranny which gets forgotten. A thousand mosquito bites are worse than a blow to the head. I observe, note down the mosquito bites.”
--Victor Klemperer. I Will Bear Witness: 1942-1945, A Diary of the Nazi Years. Random House/ The Modern Library, New York, 2001, p. 61 & pp. 307-308.

Whispers, shouts,
In language supposed to be
Foreign to this place,
Excluded and banished –

        Totalitarianism
        Fascism
        Terrorism
        Anti-Semitism
        White Nationalism
        Racism
        George Orwell’s 1984 Newspeak

Accompanying these, are

        Straggling lines of fleeing refugees,
                Called “invaders,” rapists, and drug smugglers
        No longer human beings and members of “huddled masses,”
                But insects and viruses
        New laws that codify hate
        Cleansing government raids and seizures
        Children locked in cages “like animals”
        Families separated and infants lost to the bureaucracy
        Massive barriers
                Made of steel
                Of hardened hearts    
        Expulsions
        Deportations
        Disappearances
Targets on their backs
       
You can’t make it up –
But still you wonder if you
Are imagining things.
You think of the "power of words,"
But then feel the fist punch
Of “Words of Power,”
Where truth is fake and fake is truth,
And “Speak Truth to Power”
Turns into “Speak Power to Truth,”
Reality is what Our Leader
And his Base say it is,
Loyally “reported” by Fox News and AM Radio

We are beaten numb and weary
By daily news on TV, radio,
Newspapers, Internet, social media,
Presidential tweets,
Government pronouncements,
And Our Leader’s
Reality-altering Newspeak

State Terror has succeeded
Beyond the right’s fondest hopes.
We have installed them in the inner spaces:    

The idea of white nationalists
As domestic terrorists
Is a cruel fiction;
Only Muslims, Hispanics, Socialists,
Democrats are – none of these
Us, but Them.
Projection rules us
By day and by night.

Drops of water,
One by one,
Upon a rock,
Imperceptibly wear it down,
Make a hollow
Where there had been
Solid stone.
Even a rock can
Become exhausted.

Franz Kafka would find
A familiar world here,
Everywhere he encountered his
Torture apparatus
From In the Penal Colony.
The Apparatus inscribes
Greatness into the backs
Of all the souls it executes.
The machine’s needles
Can etch anyone it suspects
Of failing to make American white again.

Even two plus two
No longer equal four;
Nothing much adds up
Anymore.
No difference, too, between
The seven days of the week:
Long named Monday, Tuesday,
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday,
Saturday, Sunday,
Every day has become None Day.
The Great Leader now rules time.

We no longer live in fear;
Each day we Live The Fear.
It is a living Presence
Who dwells among us,
Stalks and occupies
Our cells and our souls.
We are its subjects.

 
Refs:   Chua, A. & Rubenfeld, J. (2018). “The threat of tribalism.” The Atlantic. Vol. 322, 3 October 2018
Lupton, R., Myers, W. & Thornton, J. (2017); “Republicans are the party of ideological inconsistency.” Washington Post, 2 October, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/
Allcorn, S. & Stein, H. (2017). “The post-factual world of the 2016 American presidential election: The good, the bad, and the deplorable.” The Journal of Psychohistory, 44 (4): 310-18
Hochschild, A. (2018). Strangers in their own land: Anger and mourning on the American right.  [Kindle Edition]. New York: The New Press
Allcorn, Seth. (2020). “Cultures of Grievance: Creating Polarization from Chosen Traumas.” The Journal of Psychohistory.  48(1) Summer 2020: 24-40
Allcorn, Seth and Stein, Howard F. (2018). “Donald Trump, Empty Vessel and Sum of all Projections.” The Journal of Psychohistory.  46(1)Summer 2018: 2-16;
Stein, Howard F. and Allcorn, Seth. (2018). “A Fateful Convergence
Animosity Toward Obamacare, Hatred of Obama, the Rise of Donald Trump, and Overt Racism in America.”  The Journal of Psychohistory.  45(4) Spring 2018: 234-243
Allcorn, Seth. (2020). “Sentience In Contemporary Conservative American Politics.” The Journal of Psychohistory.  47(4) Spring 2020: 276-292

Poet’s Notes:  Poetry is a special way of language.  As we near the November 2020 US national election, it is also worth paying close attention to the language of our times. This poem attempts to evoke the linguistic atmosphere in which the election will take place. The euphemisms and disparaging language of President Trump and his close circle demarcate a carefully guarded boundary between “us” and “them,” human beings and people imagined and treated as less than human, those who are inside and those who are outside. 

For me, the familiar has become bizarre; the bizarre has become familiar. My stream of conscious, almost dream-like, way of thought in this poem, tries to paint a canvas of what it is like to live in these eerie times and prepare to vote.
 
Editor's Note:  Stein does a nice job demonstrating how word choices used in tweets and interviews may hurt others, inflame, dismay, and seed fear within the public arena.  TLC 


Editor’s Note:  Supporters of President Trump would certainly take issue with just about everything that Howard says and cites in his poem.  However, I would hope that even the most die-hard Trump supporters would have to admit, however grudgingly, that Howard expresses, what they would see as, his partisan platitudes with surprising poetic elegance, and, while they may find the sources he cites to be hopelessly biased (he is even so bold as to cite himself!), he does at least cite sources. 

Howard’s poem is important for die-hard Trump supporters to contemplate, because the poem gives such readers the opportunity to understand the state of mind of their opposition.  Apparently, it is a state of abject fear and loathing.  That toxic mixture of fear and hatred may be absurd and unfounded to supporters of Trump, but it is palpably real to Howard, and, by extension, his fellow liberals.

To the extent that Howard’s poem represents the true feelings of his fellow liberals, it is unlikely that facts, logic, science, objectivity, or any verbal arguments--however poetic they may be--will ever be able to overcome such raw and visceral emotion.  Only through love, a stronger emotion than fear and hatred, will the two sides ever be able to agree to agree to disagree and work together toward the good of all.  This will only come about when liberals such as Howard choose to love our country more than they hate and fear Trump and his supporters.  I believe there is such a path.  Perhaps publishing Howard’s poem is a first step.  SWG

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EDITOR’S WARNING:  THE FOLLOWING POEM CONTAINS GRAPHIC LANGUAGE THAT MANY READERS MAY FIND DISTURBING.  SWG

Despite Being Unarmed Is Shot Dead
Karla Linn Merrifield

School’s already been cancelled for tomorrow.                     
MO Gov. Nixon (D) is speed-dialing his riot allies                           
preachers, National Guard personnel, his cronies                  
in the FPD in advance, aiming to cloak hate in disguises

(velvet cloth robes, camouflage cotton fatigues, Keflar® vests).       
Once again, well-armed Cracker team’s nigger trigger happy,                      
grinning already, frothing to flame the flaring rage of hoodied protesters;
they’re geared up in billy clubs, blacky; tear gas, blacky, rubber bullets, blacky—

and the live ammo of supremacism on demand.                    
On video posted on YouTube we’ll all be able to Google it, see                  
if you will, the assault on the ghetto they refer to as Gangland;
see, if you can, the white sheets and burning crosses— see their glee

when the twitching coon’s 12-shot pistol-lynched until he croaks at last.                
You gonna make something of it, sister?  C’mon, kiss my lethal ass. 

Merrifield, Karla Linn. The Kent Years, Vol. 72. 2014, p.109.
Merrifield, Karla Linn. The Brockport Years, Vol. 13. 2020, p. 69.

Poet’s Notes: In these days of the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve been trying to remember all the black lives that have been lost along the way across the country over many, many years of relentless racism and horrific and senseless lives lost, believing every black life matters. I want to honor each one. This poem is a beginning.

Editor’s Note:  This is a powerful, unapologetic piece, much grittier than Karla’s usual verse.  Notice the way Karla leverages racial slurs to drive her points home even harder.  This choice of language, while graphic, is not gratuitous.  On the contrary, in the context of her poem, such language is essential, which is why I left it intact.  SWG

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Pulling Down the Mask
James Frederick William Rowe

It is not a good thing to lie
Let me tell of Fauci, lately deified
Hailed Aesculapius, mild god of healing
Better Apollo, lord of medicine, yet bearer of plague
For when a new infection descended, but at the time
When its embers had yet to ignite the dry tinder
Which once lit would soon engulf all in conflagration
And be not readily extinguished thereafter
Proclaimed in deceit that a mask was of no avail
That only doctors need make use of covering
That the public may roam free of such a burden
With his companion general spreading the lie
The deaths of all whose lungs drown
Hang heavy round his neck
Though now obscured by the garlands that have been heaped
Upon this idol fattened by the sacrifice of victims
One by one fed
To the fire of fever

 

Poet’s Notes:  When the pandemic was still in its infancy, Fauci and Surgeon General Adams decided it would be best to lie to the public by advising that masks were useless for the general public, because they wanted to assure that doctors had sufficient protection at a time when masks were in short supply, despite the fact that the public could have made use of homemade masks, scarves, bandanas, etc, all which would have provided reasonable protection from the disease.  Had masks, makeshift or otherwise, been recommended early on, the spread of the virus would have been slowed or perhaps even stopped.  Now, even with social distancing, quarantines, masks, etc., the virus is running wild.

Moreover, the deception served to undermine public faith in masks. When those in authority tell us one thing, only to reverse that position, our confidence in their claims is shaken. It galls me to see men who were complicit in government deceit be hailed as heroes, when they are not heroes, but villains.

This poem came to me quickly and is filled with references to Greek mythology, reflecting how much Fauci and Adams have been heralded by so many in terms usually reserved for holy figures. The near religious veneration of these men is absolutely absurd, and it is exactly this type of idolatry that I find despicable, when the facts do not support the apotheosis; indeed, it is dangerous to apotheosize even great men, for great men are still men, flawed in so many ways that they are bound to disappoint us.

Editor’s Note:  Through his clever and lyric use of Greek mythology, James gives the subject a larger-than-life epic quality, exactly what the subject deserves.  SWG

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Good for the Hood?
Shlomo ben Moshe HaLevi

How about (un)Planned Parenthood?
Should we be funding it?
For ill or for good,
Let’s consider what’s under it.

Margaret Sanger, the ’Hood’s founder,
Could put Nazis to shame!
A white supremacist--no flounder,
Targeted Negroes by name,

And with our black brothers
The infirm and the poor
And so many “others”
All to make the whites “pure”.

A coincidence not
Is that PP locations
Are where mostly blacks dot
Our nation of nations.

Just how many blacks died
Since Roe v Wade
In the dark genocide
That Ms. M. Sanger made?

Twenty million black babies!
Did I hear you gasp loudly?
Treated much worse than scabies--
Exterminated and proudly.

So view the proportion
Really cut through the chatter--
When it comes to abortion
Do black lives really matter?
 
Poet’s Notes:  Twenty million black babies have been legally aborted since Roe v Wade was decided in 1973, making abortion the leading cause of death among African Americans.  Blacks make up 13% of US population but account for 33% of abortions.  Government funding of Planned Parenthood, which is supported by the Democratic Party and, ironically, by many liberal black politicians and other African American leaders, is a form of institutional racism.
 

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The Best Offense
Steven Wittenberg Gordon

Freedom of speech once began
where polite and civil speech ended.
One used to say if one was offended,
“While I disagree with what you say, my friend,
your right to say it, I will defend it.”

Now where perceived offense begins,
freedom of speech seems to end.
Neither side will bend,
and the words that seem to offend
grow more numerous without end.

There used to be no penalty
for true words spoken or penned.
Now one can lose celebrity,
face threats and destruction of property,
and lawsuits without end.

There now is little free speech left
in the country that invented it,
and few will risk being bereft 
of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor
to stand up and defend it.


Poet’s Notes:  These days, with everyone being offended by everything, one has to watch what one says in a country whose citizens were once proud to be able to say anything they wanted.  Now, saying the wrong thing to the wrong person or in the wrong place or at the wrong time may result in getting ostracized, fired, or even “cancelled”.  That is not the America that I once knew and loved.  What happened to tolerance?  What happened to turning the other cheek?  What happened to appreciating and leveraging our diversity of opinions?  What happened to the benefit of the doubt?  What happened to redemption and second chances?  Most of all, what happened to our sense of humor?

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Public Memorials
Terri Lynn Cummings

Marble, cement, bronze
Statues highlight history
Time strikes, context lost
Collective strife expunges
Voices shout, Parity Now


 

Poet’s Notes:  Educated as an anthropologist, I’ve often wondered what (if any) formal standards exist for the selection and removal of statues (and symbols) in United States’ public areas. What are the guidelines? Who makes the decisions?

Until now, only those in positions of power held authority, which is no longer suitable. Now that this issue is at the forefront of news, a democratized process for standards, reviewed over set time periods, is vital for a healthy, culturally diverse society and its descendants.

Editor’s Note:  This is a nicely constructed tanka.  I enjoy the way it poses a question rather than offering an answer--a question we should ponder as a nation.  SWG


The Tree of Liberty Speaks
Terri Lynn Cummings

Though I lack the wit and wisdom
of those who elect politicians
I rise from this republic
which is no less beautiful
for its murky roots

Mountains separate the plains
without equality in mind
yet lives settle, unsettle—
debates permissible
and no less beautiful

Humans arrive
at the same ravine, disband
walk out of step
follow different paths
one no less beautiful than another

They lean on me
I was never meant to stand
for anything other than democracy
No matter the season
I am no less beautiful

Clouds shake hands or storm vacant air
resemble a tree or something improbable
change powering through
the rise and fall of leaders—
sunrise no less beautiful than sunset

Poet’s Notes:  I wanted this poem to offer something positive to consider. Originally, I wrote it without identifying the speaker. Once I understood it was the Liberty Tree, it all came together.

Colonists in Boston staged the first defiant act against British government at what became known as the Liberty Tree in 1765. The famous elm became a rallying point for colonial resistance. For more information, go to https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/story-behind-forgotten-symbol-american-revolution-liberty-tree-180959162/.

In the third stanza, first line, I chose the word Humans over People due to the racial bias of some signatory parties of the Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution, and Bill of Rights. For more information, go to https://scholarlycommons.law.case.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4617&context=caselrev.

Editor’s Note:  I like the positive, non-partisan message here.  SWG

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"The outbreak has temporarily shifted the two sides from squabbling over the ‘deal of the century’ to cooperating against the ‘pandemic of the century,’ though bitter political differences continue to cause tensions."

Oasis
Elka-Hannah bat Zvi

under the blue Bedouin draping
hanging like stalactites
in an underground cave of metal slats
my Arab car wash brims with
noise  wetness   shadowy figures
in skinny jeans, I sit on a once elegant
now patched soft brown leather sofa
previewing the screening of Israel in my mind

lean dark-eyed Arab men
jump  twist  turn-about-and-around
out of   into cars   jeeps   vans   pick-ups
hold hoses barely under control
spewing out from vehicles
sand  earth  grime  jet power
creating waterfalls c a s c a d I n g
ersatz Icelandic wonderlands
pools gather at my sneakers
tease my ankles with flash flooding dangers
cool spray foam bathes my eyelids
glides along my cheeks

I have known these men for years
fathers  sons   nephews  uncles
smile  greet me offering sweet dark
thick coffee from cracked delicate chinaware
pass me photos on cell phones
of children entering school
teenagers sporting trim pants
stylish haircuts  daughters as brides
my hosts raise their fingertips as dancers
sing songs of light--send gentle kisses heavenward
from lips which harden tight suddenly
if they sense, though rare, insult  derision

they inquire why I have been
so long in coming to them
almost a year’s gone by
they missed me--feel glad I am back
I tell them about my hurt knee
do not mention the knife intifada
from that same time which anyway
would have kept me distant from them

I am ashamed
in this welcoming warm tent
to realize my faith in them is fragile
as Irish Belleek pottery vases
impossible to hear in this Israel in my mind
“occupation” “honor killing” ”terror”
“hate” sounded over the din--sips of
 sweet coffee  photos  droplets of water

day by day we share this our land
I imagine they would protect me with their lives
I would not shortchange them ever for anything
my car gleams
we bless each other
I drive away
promising to return soon
                  make a turn out of the village
                    open the window
                      reach my hand down
                         stroke the dust
                            settling over the sheen 
 

Poet’s Notes:  Sometimes a good line, “everyone needs a safe place,” “would Sarah taste luxuriously tangy,” or a dream brings forth a poem. In the instance of "Oasis", I was occupying myself with an ordinary, not at all out of the routine task, when suddenly, without warning, lightning or thunder, I found myself in an orchestra seat at the Metropolitan Opera House watching, let’s say Aida. The stage’s breadth, depth, a profusion of characters, opulent settings were everywhere apparent.
 
"Oasis" overflows with people, objects, and happenings, which appear before the speaker as she waits to retrieve her sparkling clean car. Once my brain imagined the site of my Arab car wash as a Bedouin tent, it seemed possible that Carmen would enter stage front, right, at any moment.

The taste and tone of the poem emerges from the steaming, thick, dark, sweet coffee being served. Moods dark and sweet are present in each image and line; they create the poem’s paradox and tension.

When I returned home from what I had witnessed, I wrote out a kind of movie script, say Tarus Bulba, of a film I might have just seen on the huge screen of Radio City Music Hall. I first called the poem, “the Israel in my mind”; I knew right away it was the Israel of my hope and fear.

"Oasis" portrays realities on the ground as well as visions of what may, or may never, be fully realized. I wanted the poem to have the look and feel of something beautiful, rugged and fragile, wondrous to hold that might smash to pieces on a concrete floor.
I asked myself, once I had completed the writing, if the poem related too many details. I came to see that I desired "Oasis" to express a full measure of Israel’s sensual, practical, and surreal qualities. My Arab car wash is the nexus of redemption, however defined, and the dust of the earth.

Editor’s Note:  This poem is beautifully written and works in a literal as well as metaphorical sense.  I find the reference most interesting, as there has been little to no coverage of the topic in the United States.  I especially enjoy this poem, as it is one of only a few that contains even a ray of optimism or hope.  SWG

About the Poet:  Elka-Hannah bat Zvi’s writings, formerly bylined, Joanne Jackson Yelenik, have appeared in Adanna, the Moon, Arc, Voices Israel, and various anthologies. Whenever opportunities arise again to teach, she does so with the same passion for literature and history that marked her style in the classroom for over thirty-five years. Her garden and the nearby Judean Hills are favorite locales for writing, tea, and contemplation. 

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Kyoto
Alessio Zanelli

The world's still turning. Faster. Upside down.
The Geishas keep on gaiting round Gion.
The headlines keep on blotting paper sheets.
The heat. Tornados. Landslides. Floodings. Droughts.
The timer's ticking. Treaties. Thunberg. Trump.


Poet’s Notes:  This poem is a blank-verse cinquain.

Editor’s Note:  I enjoy the relentless rhythm of this piece.  SWG



About Colors
Alessio Zanelli

White is a byproduct of black.
Science says that.

It's simply evolution.
Lasting 8,000 years.
White can be good or bad.
Black can be good or bad.
 
Any color can be good or bad.
We all should come to terms with that.
Color ain't the issue.
Humanity is.
Acceptance of whatever color is.
Will you consent to that?
 
Either white or black?
Or any other color?
It all comes down to "will you be good or bad?"
Remember.
Lasting 8,000 years.
It's simply evolution.
Science says that.
White is a byproduct of black.


Poet’s Notes:  I wrote this poem in March 2019, long before the recent, sad events that aroused disorder and violence across the US. Actually, it bears no connection with any specific event. Rather, it originates from a scientific truth, to then assume a socio-political value, aspiring to subvert one of the main assumptions on which racial prejudice still rests.

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The Stick Figure Family Under Threat
Charles A. Swanson
           
Curiosity Sends Jim to His Computer
            --“Family Stick Figure Decal Car Window Sticker
            $1.49 per Figure!!!” – recent ad on eBay

He searches the Internet, googling
images.  What he’s seen
seems ironic—the childlike family,
a simple group of sticks

made into dad, mom, children
on the back of an SUV,
but in this case, being blown up,
blown to smithereens.

At the red light, right before his car,
on the proverbial
soccer mom vehicle, a nuclear
family disintegrated.

So he searches.  “No one cares about
your stick figure family!”
over and over—with cars impaling,
dinosaurs snacking,

ninjas in black masks wielding swords,
zombies eating babies,
Jason chasing, the chainsaw revving up.
Or our own inflictions:

Families with mom or dad missing,
“Position open.”
Families with the vilest beginnings,
He sneers like a rapist,

“Making my family,” she, bent over
helpless.  Is this dad?
Is mom a victim?  Jim shakes his head
as he scrolls down the page.

He sees another, dad and mom,
normal (maybe?), daughter
leg around a pole, selling herself,
son sold, crashing on drugs.

He searches, discovers he can buy
his own stick figure unit,
choose for tender familial feelings,
or choose for freaking fear.

Poet’s Notes:  During these days of COVID-19, the family is under new kinds of threat.  Domestic abuse is on the rise because of quarantines, as reported by a quick search on the Internet.  One such article explaining the rise of domestic violence can be found in an article by Macien Stanley in Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/making-sense-chaos/202005/why-the-increase-in-domestic-violence-during-covid-19.  In the article, Stanley notes the surprise of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that abuse and quarantine would go hand-in-hand, but Stanley argues that the rise in domestic violence is predictable.   

I suggest that the potential for domestic violence can be seen on the back windows of vehicles on the highway.  Just google images of stick figure family decals, and you’ll see artwork of violence and abuse https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=stick%20figure%20family%20decals&qs=n&form=QBIRMH&sp=-1&pq=stick%20figure%20family%20decals&sc=5-26&cvid=EF71F9E2F1B946048B4A9052DB8D61C9&first=1&scenario=ImageBasicHover.  Our families are fractured. 

Certainly, domestic violence is not strictly a Republican or Democratic issue, though the response to families and family structures becomes politically charged.  Now, the debate centers around the re-opening of schools, with teachers in areas such as Pinellas County, Florida, rallying to keep schools closed https://www.msn.com/en-us/video/peopleandplaces/pinellas-teachers-rally-to-keep-schools-closed-as-covid-19-cases-climb/vi-BB16JANi.  As administrators and teachers attempt to create and refine plans for education, parents are struggling with decisions about what to do with their children.  How will they juggle work, child-care, and child instruction?  The problem becomes even more difficult to solve in rural spaces where the Internet is not readily available, and impoverished homes where no laptop or stand-alone computer exists.

I have long thought that our push toward families where both parents go to work leaves us with a terribly enormous unanswered question: What will we do with the children?  Parents have had to solve this question through creative means, but they have to be even more resourceful in these days as their traditional support systems, such as public schooling, fail to provide coherent answers.

As we see the stick figure family under threat (no matter how dark one’s sense of humor), we see the living American family under threat as well.  I find it hard to laugh.

Editor’s Note:  Charles masterfully takes an important issue and through his poetry evokes an emotional response in the reader.  At the same time, his citations show he is coming from not just a place of feelings but of unfortunate facts.  SWG

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Democratic Socialism
John C. Mannone

The crossword puzzle clue
for 4-Down inked in the pulp
paper was uninvited guests at a picnic.
“Ants” filled in the spaces
between the donuts on the table
under the black sweet gum tree.

They beat the buzz of flies
and yellow jackets (preoccupied
with an open 7-Up can).

But some insects
might teach us something
about social behavior.
At least they share, the truth
of it as a good for all
which doesn’t bug everyone
except those that don’t have
any nectar left.

When the bees run out
of food and the greedy drones
diminish all reserves, the hive
settles in for the winter
to conserve but the sad truth is
that many will still die.

Poet’s Notes: I find the term Democratic Socialism an oxymoron, since it is built on two contradictory concepts or ideologies http://www.coastalview.com/opinion/democratic-socialism-is-an-oxymoron/article_88cf7566-6d37-11e9-b677-bb2181222b11.html. This metaphorical poem tries to elucidate that. Even among the social insects, actions that are meant for the good of all are still disastrous for many individuals. There are opportunities to abuse power/economics in both capitalism and communism, and everything in between, because of human nature.

The lines, “But some insects/might teach us something/about social behavior”, allude to an old concept.  For example, in “Ants Are Communists as Hell,” Oscar Schwartz discusses a 1923 study by Swiss scientist Auguste-Henri Forel, an outspoken socialist, called, “The Social World of Ants Compared with That of Man”, where the world of ants is a model for human societies defined by mutual regard, communal distribution of labor, and selfless hard work https://theoutline.com/post/5974/ants-helping-each-other-survive-and-thrive?zd=1&zi=2gvfdglv. This communal notion is referenced in the lines, “At least they share, the truth/of it as a good for all”, yet this altruism had perplexed Darwin.  Francis L. W. Ratnieks and Heikki Helanterä discuss this in “The evolution of extreme altruism and inequality in insect societies”. Ironically, such societies evolved with remarkable inequality https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781879/. In the poem, I cite such an imbalance with the lines, “When the bees run out/of food and the greedy drones/diminish all reserves.”  In the “Battle of the Drones,” Karl von Frisch alerts us to Wilhelm Busch, a German poet, who referred to the drones as lazy, stupid, fat, and greedy https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-social-insects-1968157.

Editor’s Note:  John develops an excellent poetic conceit here to drive home his points demonstrating how democratic socialism is an “oxymoron”.   SWG
 
 

The American Eagle
John C. Mannone

The eagle once had landed
on the Moon, and on the Earth
from the majesty of blue skies
with its white clouds and red
sunsets, it soared as high as
dignity and as fierce as hope
with a snake in its talons—
that viper will no longer
spit venom into the world,
but there are many serpents
in a world that’s turned
monochrome under canvas
cloth mask of a carnival tent
where skies morphed to viral
gray, and the great eagle,
to a dark shadow.

Yet despite new ways of living
in a black and white world,
it still perches on top of a green
dollar bill.


Poet’s Notes:  In these times of change, everything that we embrace, and that the American eagle represents, is threatened. Yet, there is a certain irony of the eagle on our printed money, which drives so many things, even our own economic promise or demise, especially in the context of the globalized dollar. Politicians have further divided this great nation, reducing everything to black and white.

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Gun Control
Gene Hodge

There was only one gun
in our house while growing up.
Dad’s 22, single shot rifle
hidden beneath his bed.
Us kids knew where it rested,
but none went near it—
we knew the danger.
He never hunted,
and only took it out
late one night
when a thug threatened the family.

That was gun control . . .
Simple . . . to respect
and to protect.

 

Editor’s Note:  Regardless of where one stands on the gun control debate, one should always stand for proper science.  Both sides would do well to read the article that Gene cites here.

I will now comment on Gene’s choice of the word “thug” in the last line of the first stanza.  As used here, Gene uses the most common definition, which is “a violent criminal” https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-e&q=thug+definition.  He certainly does not mean “thug” in the black counterculture slang sense--if he did, his poem would not have appeared in Songs of EretzSWG

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Nation of Immigrants
Vivian Finley Nida

Each year a million immigrants do stay
Their wave starts far away and surges here
Five years, no benefits are sent their way
but when it comes to life, the mission’s clear
All hospitals must offer urgent care
If pregnant, WIC takes care of pre and post
Emergencies leave Medicaid to bear
This costs about two billion for the host
but immigrants pay tax, America
four hundred billion dollars, so admired
A trillion spent—good moral character
As business owners, seven million hired
America remains the land of free
and immigrants extend prosperity
 

Poet’s Notes:  Naturalized citizens are not entitled to federal benefits for the first five years of their citizenship; however, they still pay taxes.  Many own businesses.  According to Pew Research Foundation, about 44 million immigrants live in America, 13.6% of the population. While immigrants pay more in taxes than they use in benefits, the survey also found that about a fourth of Americans view them as a financial burden (while 62% believe they strengthen the country with their talents and work ethic) https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/06/17/key-findings-about-u-s-immigrants/

Editor’s Note:  Our "Sonnet Queen’s" Shakespearean sonnet is impeccable as usual, and Vivian expertly leverages the form to get her points across to the reader.  Her references reinforce her thesis and make for interesting reading as well.
 
I chose to end the Poetry section with this poem to remind readers that, just as this one issue of Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is made of many diverse poems, so too are these United States of America and by extension all of Eretz made up of many good people with many points of view.  Out of many, one--e pluribus unumSWG

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Poetry Review

Lyrics of Mature Hearts, Edited by Bob McNeil
Reviewed by Karla Linn Merrifield

To hell with ageism, which has worsened with so many other aspects of our society during the https://www.blogger.com/null COVID Era! We’re alive, we’re human, and we love until the day we die.

Lyrics of Mature Hearts, edited by Bob McNeil (2019 Gordon P. Bois, Espanola, Ontario, Canada, 59 pages) is an anthology that candidly deals with adulthood, full of uplifting, noble, and poignant poems that are deeply human and genuine, written by seniors whose entire bodies, entire existences, are “mature.”  Readers will find thirty-four poems in five sections from twenty-six diverse poets in the most-at-risk demographic who dare to write about the love.  I am proud that one of my own poems appears within its pages.

This is truly an anthology that strums and plucks its way into the reader’s heart.  “Silence screams like sirens on a shady Saturday night.” Sssssssss! The alliteration works! The line is from C. Liegh McInnis’ “House of Silence.” C. Liegh’s long-lined poem has a sestina feel to it; it rolls through you.

Who isn’t craving a good, long hug from a friend these days, especially if you have no spouse or children at home? So the three words, “Just hold me,” thump the heart. I greatly admire Jean Parrish’s poem, “Just hold me,” a poem of utter simplicity whose title is that poem’s closing line. I don’t know where she lives or how she’s spent her life to date, but her bio in Lyrics tells me she’s been a poetry lover since grammar school.  She writes poetry as therapy, as so many of us do.

I wish I could give you a taste of every poem and acquaint you, albeit briefly, with all the poets, but I will complete this sampler with a line from my poem, “The Caretaker”--“dementia leaves no trace.” The poem reflects a lesson learned when I was caring for my beloved husband in his dying days. He’s been gone nigh on three years now but alive in my heart. The poem is a tribute to his struggles with that debilitating disease.

I encourage you to obtain this big-hearted anthology and sit with it over a cuppa, a stein, or a martini glass, and savor the hope brought to you by big-hearted editor Bob McNeil.  Lyrics of Mature Hearts is available in paperback for $9.99 and for free viewing on Kindle; purchases via Amazon may be made here https://www.amazon.com/Lyrics-Mature-Hearts-Poetry-Anthology/dp/1708365354/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Lyrics+of+Mature+Hearts&qid=1591121879&sr=8-1.


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Frequent Contributor News

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce 
the following publications by current and former Frequent Contributors.

FC Ross Balcom
Ross’ poem, "Jenkin", appeared in Spectral Realms #13 (Summer 2020).

Assistant Editor Terri Lynn Cummings
Terri’s poem, “Alone,” appeared on August 15, 2020, in Issue XXI of High Shelf Press.

Former FC Mary Soon Lee
Mary’s poem, "A Quartet of Alphabetic Babbles," appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, July/August 2020.

Her short story, "Redemption," appeared in Fireside Quarterly, Summer 2020, https://firesidefiction.com/redemption.

Her poem, "Dear Arithmetic," appeared in Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 10, Issue 2, July 2020 https://scholarship.claremont.edu/jhm/vol10/iss2/29/. 

Her poem, "How to Stop Being a Star," appeared in Uppagus #41, August 2020, https://uppagus.com/poems/soon-lee-stop/.  Her poem, "How to Observe the Horsehead Nebula," appeared in Uppagus #40, June 2020 https://uppagus.com/poems/soon-lee-observe/.

Two of her poems, "How to Time Travel", and "How to Notice a Dark Nebula," were anthologized in the 2020 Dwarf Stars Anthology.  Three of her poems, "Champion", and "Museums of Earth", and "What Phoenixes Read", appeared in Star*Line #43.3, Summer 2020.  Her poem, "Shapeshifter", appeared in Eye to the Telescope #37, July 2020.

Finally, her short story, "Catastrophe", appeared in Frozen Wavelets #3, June 2020 https://frozenwavelets.com/issue-2-2/catastrophe-by-mary-soon-lee/.

Former FC Lauren McBride
Lauren, our former “Queen of Short Form Poems”, has two articles, "The Not So Simple Cinquain" and "Hay(na)ku/Sci(na)ku - Six Word Poetry," included in Minimalism: A Handbook of Minimalist Genre Poetic Forms edited by Teri Santitoro, Hiraeth Publishing https://www.hiraethsffh.com/product-page/minimalism-a-handbook-of-minimalist-genre-poetic-forms.  Lauren also had four poems in Scifaikuest, August 2020, two in the print issue and two online at https://www.hiraethsffh.com/scifaikuest-online-august-2020.

Her poem, "New Earth's Many Moons", was included in the 2020 Dwarf Stars Anthology.  Her poem, "still learning", appeared in Star*Line, 43.1, Summer 2020.

Lauren’s 100-word short story, "Essentially the Best Deal Ever", earned an Honorable Mention in Drabble Harvest #15.

Her poem, "Off We Go", appeared in Spaceports & Spidersilk, June 2020.

Finally, her poem, "A Planet's Complaint", appeared in Abyss & Apex, 75, Summer 2020. https://www.abyssapexzine.com/2020/06/a-planets-complaint/.

FC Karla Linn Merrifield
Karla’s sonnet, “Six Bells (3 A.M.)”, appeared in Tipton Poetry Review

Anti-Heroin Chic published her “Sestina for a Gunslinger”, and “The Metric I Use Is Knopfler’s ’61 Strat.”

Finally, Mason Street Review published her poem, “Moving in the Direction of Normal.”

FC Howard Stein
Howard’s poetry collection, Presence--Poems from Ghost Ranch (Santa Fe, NM, Terra Nova Books, Golden Word Books imprint), was published in June.  Several of the poems in it were originally published in Songs of Eretz Poetry Review.  Also in June, Howard published another book, co-authored with his long-time friend, colleague, and co-author Seth Allcorn, entitled, The Psychodynamics of Toxic Organizations: Applied Poetry, Stories, and Analysis (Routledge, UK).  Both books are available at Amazon.com.  A poem, also co-authored with Seth Allcorn, "River of Snow", was published in the August 2020 issue of AWEN (Issue 109).

Two of Howard’s poems, "Refugees", and "Unclaimed," were published in June in the poetry book, What They Bring: The Poetry of Migration and Immigration, edited by Irene Willis and Jim Haba (New York, International Psychoanalytic Books).

FC Alessio Zanelli
Alessio’s poem, "Season of Women", was published in the 2020 edition of Artemis (Floyd, VA) http://www.artemisjournal.org/store/.

Another of his poems appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of California Quarterly (Vol. 46, No. 1).

Mediterranean Poetry published two of his poems https://www.odyssey.pm/.
Two more poems of his were published in Red Earth Review, Vol. VIII, 2020 https://www.okcu.edu/artsci/departments/english/redearthmfa/red-earth-review/.

A poem of his appeared in the latest issue of Blueline http://bluelineadkmagazine.org/.




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Lana the Poetry Dog

Forthcoming


Songs of Eretz Poetry Review will open again for submissions from October 25 - November 15, 2020 for our winter edition, which will be published in mid-December 2020.  Our Associate Editor, James Frederick William Rowe, will be the lead editor for the issue.  The theme of our winter issue will be "spring".  Let that sink in for a bit.

A spring-themed winter issue?  As much as winter is to be enjoyed and celebrated for its light in the darkness and warmth in the coldness, and for its stark if often monochromatic beauty, deep in our hearts during winter, we long for the colorful rebirth that comes with spring.  The intention of our fourth quarter issue will be to bring a little bit of the spirit of spring into winter, in the same way that the devout Jews attempt to bring a little bit of the spirit of the Sabbath into the mundane days of the week--a havdalah for the season.

The issue will feature Alessio Zanelli, easily the most world-famous and prolific poet ever to grace the pages of Songs of Eretz with his beautiful poetry, and it will be the last time that Alessio will appear in Songs of Eretz as a Frequent Contributor.  It has been a privilege to have this Italian poet, for whom English is a second language, as a Frequent Contributor for the past three years.  Fans and followers of his work will not want to miss this special tribute to this fine poet.








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 query Editor@SongsOfEretz.com for details.









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