Friday, January 29, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Readers Auxiliary Meeting #17” by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Readers Auxiliary Meeting #17” by Mary Soon Lee, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week’s Poet of the Week.  A biography of Ms. Lee may be found in our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” section.

Readers Auxiliary Meeting #17
Mary Soon Lee

"Before we begin," said Victoria,
"How many of you read past “Fellowship
to the end of The Lord of the Rings?"
(and they all had).

     "Only once through?"
     Gary asked Cristina,
     because she is the one
     who reads fastest,
     which is fortunate,
     because she is also the one
     with three young children.

     "This month: once," said Cristina
     (but she first read the book
     when she was ten, and read it again
     when she was ten, and read it again
     when she was ten, and the funny part
     is that tonight is her first chance
     to discuss it).

"It is a truth universally acknowledged,"
said Victoria, "that Tolkien's world-building
is masterful, but many criticize his characterization.
I disagree. He doesn't need to tell me
about Sam's childhood to make me like Sam."

     "It was because of Sam,"
     said Cristina, "that I liked Frodo
     the first time,
     because Sam loved him.
     But now I like Frodo
     for himself --
     when he said to Gl√≥in
     that he would rather see Bilbo--"

"--than all the towers and palaces
in the world," said Victoria. "Yes."

     "I liked Frodo," said Kate,
     "because he's like me.
     He messed up. He was unhappy.
     But I hated Arwen,
     because she's perfect."

     "I loved Arwen," said Gary,
     "because she is perfect."

     "I loved Arwen," said Harold,
     "because she is sad.
     It's all sad,
     the whole book.
     I think Tolkien
     must have been sad
     when he wrote it--"

"--for thirteen years?" said Victoria.
"He started in 1936, and didn't finish
until 1949--"

     "--while he wrote," said Cristina.
     "Maybe he put his sadness
     into his writing.
     But I wish it were longer.
     I could read it forever."

     "Try _The Silmarillion_," said Liz,
     "it took me a whole summer
     and it felt like forever."

     (Cristina didn't say she finished
     _The Silmarillion_ in a week, when she was twelve,
     because Liz was right:
     that week had seemed peculiarly long,
     and she would have given up,
     several times, except that
     Tolkien wrote it.)

"Apart from Arwen," said Victoria,
"was there anything you disliked?"

     Pause.

     "Well," said Kate,
     "I expect I ought to have liked the poems,
     but I didn't.
     I don't like poetry."

"I expect I ought NOT to have liked the poems,
because they weren't inscrutable enough,"
said Victoria, "but I liked them very much.
Perhaps because I am older than most of you,
I particularly liked Bilbo's poem in Rivendell,
'I sit beside the fire and think--'"

     "--yes!" said Cristina,
     "'in every wood in every spring--'"

"'--there is a different green,'"
said Victoria.  "Yes. Exactly."

     The cuckoo clock on the wall
     chirped eight times
     and Cristina told it in her heart
     to stop,
     to let there be time
     to discuss every chapter,
     every poem, every character
     with Victoria
     (and the others, but Victoria most)
     before Antonio came to pick her up,
     and then let time stop again
     so she could tell him everything
     she doesn't have time to say,
     and stop again
     so the children
     could stay in her arms
     longer,
     and never to come
     to nine o'clock
     or the Grey Havens
     or any ending.


Poet's Notes:  When I have free time, my favorite way to spend it is reading. Although I have never belonged to a reading club, writing about one lets me revisit some of my oldest and best friends, such as The Lord of the Rings.

Editor's Note:  I would LOVE to be in that reading club!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Searching for Mr. Lemur” by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Searching for Mr. Lemur” by Mary Soon Lee, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week’s Poet of the Week.  A biography of Ms. Lee may be found in our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” section.

Searching for Mr. Lemur
Mary Soon Lee

At the zoo,
three weeks after you left,
the tiger wouldn't even look at me
as he paced the perimeter of his cage.
I tried telling him
to lie down, relax,
that there's only extinction beyond,
but no matter how large the enclosure
he can never forget the walls.
     
I mentioned the sea lions,
partying playfully in their pool,
but he said he preferred
his own company.
Swans, I pointed out,
never feel a need
to get away from each other,
their longest flights
taken together.
The tiger didn't deign to reply,
but the notice by his cage
said that males walk out on their mates
after a week. Or less.

Next time, I'll pick a lemur guy
instead of a tiger guy,
someone who ends arguments
by curling his tail around me
and falling asleep on my shoulder.

Poet's Notes:  The woman narrating the poem is fictitious, but the zoo and animal details are based on the nearby Pittsburgh Zoo.  I am particularly fond of the lemurs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Midsummer's Day” by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Midsummer's Day” by Mary Soon Lee, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week’s Poet of the Week.  A biography of Ms. Lee may be found in our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” section.

Midsummer's Day
Mary Soon Lee

Across the meadowland,
the remnants of Donal's army
faced the remnants of Xau's army,
both armies allied against the demons,
but ready to fight each other
if the demons ever fell.

Bees clung to the purple clover;
butterflies swayed on the grass stems,
but the soldiers stayed in their tents.

Midsummer's Day,
but there would be no bonfires,
no celebration.
The demon fire, the burnt towns
had marked them all.

A messenger came to Donal's tent.
"Your Majesty, a package from King Xau."

Donal opened the long, heavy bundle:
bamboo, colored silks, paper, string.
"What is this?"

"String," said the messenger. "Paper--"

"--I can fucking see that. What's it for?"

The messenger, prudently, said nothing.

"Get out," said Donal.
He tossed the bundle to Rose, his woman,
who started fiddling with the silks.

Donal left the tent,
stretched,
looked across the grass
to Xau's encampment.
A scrap of purple rose into the air.

Donal squinted:
a kite, a fucking kite.
Xau had to be fucking kidding
if he thought Donal
was going to fly a kite.

The purple diamond climbed higher.
Donal's sentries shouted,
more animated than they'd been in weeks.
Other soldiers looked out of their tents,
saw the kite, came outside.

"Fuck," said Donal to nobody.
He went back into his tent.
"Rose, have you ever made a fucking kite?"

"A kite?" said Rose.

*

Across the meadow,
King Xau listened to his personal guards
quarreling over whose turn it was
to control the kite.

He went back into his tent
where six of his captains were waiting,
handed them each a bundle of bamboo,
paper, silk, string.

"Try your hardest," he said.
"The unit whose kite performs best
will be off latrine duty for two weeks."

Xau went back outside,
sat cross-legged on the grass
and wrote to his wife about kites,
and the bees sucking on the clover,
and the overcooked rice he'd had for lunch,
all the small things
that would not alarm her.

As the long day wore on
more kites dipped and rose
on the skittish breeze.
At dusk, they held a contest,
the breeze no more than a whisper
so that most kites plummeted ignominiously.

Two boys, one from Meqing, one from Innis,
unable to speak each other's language,
between them crafted a wolf head
from leftover scraps of paper.
The wolf head darted and soared
ten full minutes.

Afterward, Xau presented each boy
with a tiny jade horse.
As they thanked him,
he tried not to think
how young they looked.

*

Two hundred years later,
when Xau and Donal and their soldiers
were long buried,
their deeds reduced to song,
the children of Innis and of Meqing
flew kites each Midsummer's Day.


Poet's Notes:  This is part of "The Sign of the Dragon," my epic fantasy in verse. Set during a bleak section of the tale, this poem is meant as a diversion for both the soldiers and the reader. More poems from "The Sign of the Dragon" may be read at www.thesignofthedragon.com.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Poem of the Day: “O CAT!” by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “O CAT!” by Mary Soon Lee, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week’s Poet of the Week.  A biography of Ms. Lee may be found in our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” section.

O CAT!
Mary Soon Lee

The car needs an oil change,
but that is irrelevant.
Your cat mat needs to be washed,
which is a serious matter.
     
The exhibition about crane flies
at the Carnegie Museum
is of no concern to you.
Your mouse is wedged under the sofa,
which is an emergency.
     
The destabilization of a foreign country:
neither here nor there --
or, more correctly, decidedly not here,
not in your house, not on your street,
and hence quite beside the point.

The melting of polar ice: not pertinent.
The keyboard cluttering your desk: an insult.
Your chin turned toward my hand
so that I might stroke it: 
imperative that action is taken at once.

The supernova in M101?
A topic of monumental insignificance.
The death of our own sun
in six billion years? Yawn.

The assertion that the yogurt
is not yours: preposterous.
The further claim that the chicken
is not yours: vile heresy.

The delay in your supper time: contemptible.
Recent allegations that you are portly
and should diet:
monstrous, insolent, outrageous lies.

Poet's Notes:  I have two cats, and this poem contains elements from both of them.  One of them likes to lie on my desk (his desk?), sometimes making it difficult for me to reach my keyboard and write.

Editor’s Note:  Even a dog person such as I can appreciate the humorous elements in this one.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Grandmothers” by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Grandmothers” by Mary Soon Lee, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week’s Poet of the Week.  A biography of Ms. Lee may be found in our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” section.

Grandmothers
Mary Soon Lee

In between mopping my floors
and scrubbing my sinks,
in snatches of conversation
thrown from one week to the next,
she told me about her children,
grown up now,
and I heard the love there,
the kind that never goes,
and the break in her voice
as she told me her granddaughter
was moving away,
taking a joy that made her life richer
than the people whose houses she cleaned.
     
In between tidying her classroom
and preparing for next school year,
the kindergarten teacher
told me her grandson was leaving
and said her heart was breaking,
as mine does when I think of grandmothers:
that yearning to hug,
and all the gifts
my mother sent to my son,
all the little things she saved
because she thought he would like them,
and I so heedless
because I didn't realize
time would stop.
That I would stand in my basement,
fingering toys,
trying to remember which ones came from her,
as though holding onto those things
would bring her back.

Poet's Notes:  My mother died when my son was one year eight months old.  She had given him so many things in that time, including clothes she had knitted, books, and an old rocking horse that she cleaned up for him. It is a continuing sadness to me that they didn't have more time together.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Seven Months” by Kaitlyn Frazier, Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Seven Months” by Kaitlyn Frazier, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week's Poet of the Week. A biography of Ms. Frazier may be found under our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” heading.

Seven Months
Kaitlyn Frazier

The first month was difficult, Charlie;
Mawmaw April rode with me to the clinic
The test said positive, and I panicked.
Later, I went to your daddy’s trailer to show him the pink paper,
At the time, we weren’t together.
He wrinkled his forehead and rubbed his brow
Laid the paper back upon the table.
After a bit of awkward silence,
I left him and the paper on the table.
At first he tried to keep in touch,
And asked about you all the time.
Even invited us over for supper,
We were friends there for a while.
The fifth month was the month for your ultrasound,
We found out you were a girl.
Daddy was working out of town,
But a few weeks later, he never went back,
Forgot about our girl.
He said he loved us, Charlie, and would help all he could,
But love was something he never really understood.
Now it’s the seventh month
And you’re growing so fast.
It’s hard to remember and look upon the past.
Daddy still doesn’t work
And hasn’t asked after you in a while.
He’d rather party or go to a bar
Than talk about his child.
I offered to let him help with a car seat
And your ultrasound in 4d,
But when it came time to pay,
He ignored me throughout the days.
So, now I’m struggling, Charlie,
I don’t know what to do.
I want him to be a part of your life,
But only if it will be good for you.
I keep hoping he will change
And be the daddy he needs to be
But the closer your time comes
The further away he seems.
I hope that with whatever I choose
You won’t hate me but love me instead
For all I wanted to do
Was make sure you had happy dreams
And thoughts that ran through your head.
You will never see this, I will make sure,
All you need to know about daddy
Are good things not poor.
I know he loves you as I do
Maybe just in a different way.
So don’t ever feel like
You are less than what you are
But only perfect.
There are many people who love you already.
Pawpaw, Mawmaw, Uncle Bubba, Aunt Morgan
To name a few.
If you could, just remember, Charlie,
We adore you.

Poet's Notes: This is a letter to my daughter, Charlie.  As much as I dislike her father right now, there is no way in this world that I would tell her bad things about him. This is the toughest situation I have ever been in, because with everything I do, I influence her life. I know way too many single mothers nowadays, and it’s extremely sad.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Rose of Sharon” by Kaitlyn Frazier, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Rose of Sharon” by Kaitlyn Frazier, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week's Poet of the Week. A biography of Ms. Frazier may be found under our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” heading.

Rose of Sharon
Kaitlyn Frazier

Away on a farm there lived a miller,
He tended his cattle and garden.
His lady’s flowers were most peculiar,
That they were as flawless as a maiden.
Illustrious and grand, they grew throughout fall,
And even in winter, they never ceased.
Daisies, tansies, snap dragons, she had all,
They radiated an odd kind of peace.

One day she approached her flowers in rows,
But fear suddenly turned to her heart to stone.
For her flowers danced a jig of death throes,
No disease nor weather were her flow’rs prone.

Wailing with grief she ran to her husband,
Although comfort in him, she did not find.
“You love those flowers more than me, Sharon,
For these flowers would you me the same pine?”

Aghast, she ran a hand through his red hair,
“Why not tell me of these feelings sooner?
My love for you is more than the flowers fair,
Dear, look at me,” she said with fervor.

“My lady, I love you more than you know,
Never would I take away your flowers,
Yet, I’m happy your flowers cease to grow,
For the flow’rs possessed an odd kind of pow’r.”

They lived favorably for the rest of their days,
Without a petal to stand in their way.
Her husband received her absolute praise,
‘Til quietly in their fresh graves they lay.


Poet’s Notes: A few morals can be taken from this poem; one being that a person can neglect what is really important when being distracted by something that is beautiful but detrimental to his/her well-being in reality. Also, I use red hair to describe almost every guy in my poems because my brother has the prettiest red hair. Ever.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Taunted and tainted” by Kaitlyn Frazier, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Taunted and tainted” by Kaitlyn Frazier, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week's Poet of the Week. A biography of Ms. Frazier may be found under our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” heading.

Taunted and tainted
Kaitlyn Frazier

Taunted and tainted
I hasten away
Bested and wretched
I rush from the fray.

Honed in on and caged
I was led astray
Young and yet aged
I can’t find my way.

Pining bouts of grief
Allow no relief
Oftentimes I weep
Farewell to sweet sleep.

Forever I’ll rue the day
He chanced by my way.


Poet's Notes: Obviously this is a breakup poem, but I hate sappiness just as much as the next person, so I thought it wise to keep it short and sweet. Life changes so swiftly that I can’t even seem to remember who this was about.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Poem of the Day: “The Yellow Monk” by Kaitlyn Frazier, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “The Yellow Monk” by Kaitlyn Frazier, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week's Poet of the Week. A biography of Ms. Frazier may be found under our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” heading.

The Yellow Monk
Kaitlyn Frazier

Hum-diddy-dum
He sings with a strum
He sings all the live-long day
O’ swing-swinging he sways to the ringing
Of the chapel bells dinning through May.

Bee-biddly-bang
He shrieked with a clang
He shrieks all the curs’d-long day
O’ sweep-sweeping he cowers from the beating
Of the friar’s steel-clad and glist’ning brace.

Fo-fabbly-flop
He sighed with a drop
His heart with a drop after the battle-born day
O’ swipe-swiping comes the maid all a-piping
With her horn brimmed with bright’ning
And her rosy and ruddy, ripe face.

Pip-cah-roo
He motioned for Ruth
He motioned for the town wench fair
O’ wink-winking he slipped her a note and farthing
A note and farthing to board a boat.

For this young fellow
Grew quite tired of being yellow
And yielding to his master’s tough stroke
So, he took his young Ruth
Whom he’d known since his youth
To hale land afar and sever this yoke.

Lo, he did not understand
Religion knows not sea nor strand
Therefore, they were constantly followed
Followed by his monk’s-cap and band.

Guilt consumed the poor fellow
Who wanted no more to be yellow
But was now more yellow than before
For, to jump ship with a whore
Who was the lowest of born
Was in the worst way
His downfall and ill-fate to be sure.
Long story short
His life was of the same: short.

Leedle-lee-lum
He said with a jump
He said with a jump no turning
O’ float-floating his cloak is a’flowing
‘round his body like the most angelic of gowns.

Poet's Notes: I had fun with this one; I love rhyming poems that get stuck in your head and have a sing-song vibe to them. The Canterbury Tales played a role in the crafting of “The Yellow Monk”. Throughout the Tales, almost every character is imperfect; if you’ll notice, the friar beats the monk, when the friar is supposed to be a godly man and wears a glist’ning brace which he is not supposed to have according to the oaths he took when he became a friar. The monk runs from his religion with his floosy just because he was scared of the friar, and he also swore oaths. I also portrayed the harlot as a maiden at first to keep the theme of the false characters. In the sixth stanza, I used monk’s-cap to portray the ugly monk haircut they wore, and the band stands for the holy necklaces they wore. I feel like some irony becomes more prevalent in the seventh stanza when he realizes his actions has made him even more of a pansy than he was before, and I describe his cloak as being angelic.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Age of Correction” by Kaitlyn Frazier, Frequent Contributor & Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Age of Correction” by Kaitlyn Frazier, a Songs of Eretz Frequent Contributor and this week's Poet of the Week. A biography of Ms. Frazier may be found under our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” heading.

Age of Correction
Kaitlyn Frazier

We seek for the truth
For the night’s far and long
For the Age of Correction is almost upon
We’ll force out the Unworthy
And repair our old throne
With our wits and our zeal
We will begin to atone.

Out with evil, the murd’rer of peace
By the hour of thy death
We will shout then we’ll cease
We’re the kindred of Spirits
And we cry all our days
And when Heavenward signals
Each one of us prays.

Poet's Notes:  This piece was influenced by a video game that I play all the time known as Skyrim; it’s the only game I really enjoy, because it has the whole medieval fantasy theme going on with dragons, forts, bards, lutes, armor, and weaponry. This reminds me of something one of the bards might sing in an inn.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Postage Paid” by James Frederick William Rowe, Frequent Contributor and Poet of the Week

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Postage Paid” by James Frederick William Rowe, Frequent Contributor and this week’s Poet of the Week.  A biography of the poet may be found in our “About Our Editor & Frequent Contributors” section.

Postage Paid
James Frederick William Rowe

The hologram jumped rainbows
Like the Jack from the rhyme
Nimbly
Quickly
But his name was Roy G. Biv
Not Jack
And he was equally in those prismatic threads 
Like a strange spider's web
That emerged
That danced
From out the base
Themselves a rainbow
Of shifting sparkles, of strands of light

The hologram came ready set
Glued
Affixed
Upon a stamp
And it was on a letter hand-written by a boy
Whom years ago had joined an estranged parent
To colonize the stars
They were both merely children then
Brother and sister
He the elder – she the younger
But now she's old
And he's still a boy
Beholding strange stars she cannot see

Poet’s Notes:  “Postage Paid” is a poem that I had initially written about four years ago, but which I have now added to and altered in order to fit a slightly expanded aesthetic vision.  This poem is divided into two stanzas of thirteen verses a piece. The first stanza is fixated on the image of a holographic stamp, the second on the story behind it, namely that of a young boy who joined an estranged (from the perspective of his sister) parent to colonize the stars and has retained his youth owing to the relativistic effects of his voyage. The child's letter, sent back to his sister years later, reaches her only when she is old—having become the "older sister" for she did not participate in the voyage to the stars.

The fixation on the stamp serves two purposes. First, it is to focus on the idea of a letter, as letters have always been the means that we have communicated to each other over long distances and with great delay in the receipt. Secondly, the childishness of the holographic image of a rainbow-jumping figure is further used to cement the theme of his boyhood versus her age.

My inspiration is rooted in something I have often pondered if my pessimistic fears are right for our prospects for future space exploration. If we do not achieve a means to break the speed of light, any future colonization of the stars shall render humanity broken in a way entirely unique in our history. We will lose all connection to one another as we pass far beyond the practical means to retain a unified identity as mankind due to the sheer distance, and time involved, in even communicating with one another. This poem takes this idea and brings it down to the level of a family torn through the process of celestial colonization. I believe the idea of a sister grown older than her elder brother to be monstrous and cruel, and one that underscores the yawning gulf of time and space (space-time?) between them.

A further theme I incorporated is that she has spent her entire life without her elder brother, and only now, as distant from him as she ever was ("beholding strange stars she cannot see"), does she hear from him at all. In a sense, this is not entirely unlike when one happens upon a note or letter written by a dead loved one, save that for her it as if her past was still alive and capable of speaking to her, given that it is coming from her still young brother, despite the fact that she has aged so many years. The strangeness of this sort of communication returns to that same theme of the true warping of our relations that would follow from such future expansion into space. 

Though it may be necessary for our future survival, if we should have to engage in such colonization, the depth of human misery could be unfathomable. It truly will involve a profound cost far above the trillions of dollars necessary to fund such a program.