Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Poem of the Day: “Cities of the Plain” by M. E. Lerman

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Cities of the Plain” by M. E. Lerman.  Mr. Lerman is an editor by day, poet by night, and so spends his life entirely ensconced in words. A writer of both religious and horror works, he can be found in publications as diverse as Poetica Magazine and the Jewish Literary Journal, Danse Macabre, and HelloHorror, and the British Fantasy Society Journal. He is a proud Marylander, and his blog can be found at thenewgodofhellfire.wordpress.com.

Cities of the Plain
M. E. Lerman

You sip your flowerless tea through your balaclava and ask me
  At gunpoint
Will I vote for freedom    friendly enough I’ve known you all your life, Myhalo,
But now you look like all the rest   child-fathers of the
Last century’s soil-blinded peasants and rust-coughing cogs
       The snake knows what’s best for the mice

Comrade cobra you’ll   strike   like the martyrs whose names your father forgot
 Bodies still rotting   salt in the earth
A republic of skeletons buried in the field  yielded only bitter harvest
Flowerless   as you drink your casual tea

Chernobyl is 500 miles away
 But it was Pompeii
And you smoke cigarettes in its sunburned shadow
 Even here
                  today

To whom do  you  pray?

Now you  — St. Michael in your balaclava — 
Load Elijah’s chariot with your Calvinist ballots
    predestined  sealed with the fire you call “independence”
But you cannot be liberated from God

Poet’s Notes:  This was written during the “popular referendums” for Donetsk and Luhansk’s autonomy from Ukraine, back when I expected something resembling an end to the conflict. I was reminded of Francisco Franco saying “I am responsible only to God and history” but got the impression that to the militants, it was only history to which they felt responsible, and a history written by a biased interpreter at that. In that sense, it is indeed a continuation of that region’s history. Perhaps the battle for liberty is rarely glorious, but has it ever seemed so bleak as for those in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, voting themselves into no-man’s-land?


Editor’s Note:  I like the sardonic tone and political message.  The internal line and end-line rhymes are nicely done, and there are several memorable metaphors.  The poet’s word choices are interesting and result in equally interesting imagery.  Overall, I find this to be an avant garde, well-constructed, moving piece.

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