Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Looking Back" by Sierra July, Frequent Contributor

Looking Back
Sierra July

For years he'd held on to
A child's book from his past

Cover cracked, pages yellowed and scribbled
It opened tired, with a sour breath,
His eyes misted as he looked, saw it new
Grandpa's wrinkled hands turning the pages
Fun adlibbed dialogue teasing his ears.
It's old and simple, far from the best but . . .

Once closed, the book rested
Back on his favorites shelf

Poet's Notes: How easily I could give my favorite song or book or movie as a teen, and how hard it is even to give a top ten now.  Sentimentality can play a part in favoritism, but that isn't a bad thing. My favorites are more numerous, flowery, and meaningful now, and I'm sure they'll keep changing, while old ones rest in my heart. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

"The Written Word" by Terri Lynn Cummings, Frequent Contributor

The Written Word
Terri Lynn Cummings

He stuck a pencil behind his ear
lead blunted from words on paper chains
that weighed more than iron 

She reads   mixes his sentences 
with flour and salt until yeasty aroma 
lures her from a life of secret sleet 

then drifts into his realm
held forth like communion
Yet   how do words bear life 

They cannot stroll through a story unread
though bang their fists when called on
Lungs demand the labor of language

all splinter   spark   and ash of it 
Voices resurrect dried pen   barren page
until   at last 

sparrows commune within tall grass abbeys
autumn paints with molten tears
books thicken the marrow of bones 

and ears 
to their light

Poet’s Notes:  I am awed by the power of the written word, no matter if the words be plain or intricate. They may drown in description or sing like birds, yet when inspired they halt the planet from its spin. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

"flight" by Ross Balcom, Frequent Contributor


in the tower

a prisoner
of heights forlorn

your spells

your magic 

your dreams
of flight


birds painted
on the walls

of Never

--Ross Balcom

Poet's Notes: I wrote this poem after perusing a book of bird paintings. There is nothing worse than being imprisoned, literally or figuratively. If necessary, kill to be free. 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

FC Cummings To Give Poetry Reading

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce that Frequent Contributor Terri Lynn Cummings will be offering a poetry reading on Sunday, May 21 at 2:00 PM at The Depot in Norman, Oklahoma.  More information about the venue and event may be found here https://www.facebook.com/pg/PASNorman/about/?ref=page_internal.

"Ever and Anon this Way with Shades" by James Frederick William Rowe, Frequent Contributor

Ever and Anon this Way with Shades
James Frederick William Rowe

What beats 
What beats 
In my brother's breast? 
At night he holds me to his breast 
And I can hear naught but the ticking  
Of the clock throughout the night   

By day      
By day       
He ignores my cries        
He walks abroad and ignores my cries 
And though all my fears are mounting    
I cannot gain his mind at all      

What song         
What song         
Will he sing today?          
Returning he will sing today       
And though I know not this tune          
He sweetly will till eventide          

I used
I used
To play the lute
With my brother I'd play the lute
And now it but gathers dust
I forget to pluck its strings?

He holds me near
At night once more he holds me near
And now I fear the clock's ticking
For I know it foretells my doom

I am
I am
A memory
Alone and lost, a memory
And as the lute no longer played
The strings will sound no more

I fade
I fade
With every moment
In his heart with every moment
And as the days and seasons pass
I soon shall be forgotten

It is 
It is
This way with shades
Ever and anon, this way with shades
And now I see my fate designed
I await annihilation

Poet’s Notes:  This poem is about a pair of musician brothers, one of whom has died and now exists as a shade whose existence seems to depend on his brother's recollection of his life. He fears, and rightfully so, that with time he will be forgotten, and when he is forgotten that he will no longer exist. That is why he is a "shade", a term I take to imply the spiritual state of said beings whose ghostly essences are unstable and liable to dissolution, as in the Homer's depiction of the afterlife. I thought this suited a poem about a ghost's trepidation over his fate, and indeed there is always a sense that ghosts are sad beings to begin with, given that they are no longer part of the world of which they no doubt wish they could once again be a part. 

This poem is about characters that have lived a long time ago, hence my use of the terms "eventide" and "lute". Eventide is a fairly archaic term, and the lute went out of favor by 1800. I imagine this poem takes place sometime in the 17th century, which would correspond well with a time when the lute was still a common instrument, eventide a term in common use, and clocks (which are referenced) found in homes. Obviously, I intended that it should have a feeling of the past but I have kept it ambiguous as to exactly when.

I also feel the poem’s setting melds well with the structure I conceived for it, a format is of my own creation. It follows these rules:

1. Each stanza is 7 verses long.
2. The first two verses are two syllables long and are repeated. 
3. The third and fourth verses are related to one another, with the third verse being repeated, or at least partially incorporated, into the fourth verse.
4. The 5th verse is longest and the concluding word is rhymed with a single-word 6th verse.
5. The 7th verse concludes the stanza and continues from the single-word 6th verse.

Concerning the meter, I am a little loose aside from the restraints explicitly mentioned but I attempt to keep the length of the verses relatively uniform, with some deviation. 

I have used this format for other poems and am obviously pretty pleased with it. I think it gives a song like quality that suits the theme of this specific poem and gives a sense of desperation to the narrative voice. I really like how musical each stanza sounds to me, especially with the pause in the single-word rhyme that precedes the ending verse. 

The poem concludes with the hope for continued existence being lost. The dead brother resigns himself to being a fading memory that will in time be forgotten. This really goes hand in hand with the unused lute gathering dust, and "the strings will sound no more". Though he wishes to be remembered, he will not be, and in time the melody of his life will no longer be heard.  

Editor’s Note:  This is one of the best from James that I have ever published--and as James’ best are quite good, that is saying something!  Even though Poe did not use James’ unique and lyrical poetic form, I think he would have approved.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Orrery" by Simon Constam

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Orrery” by Simon Constam.  Constam hitchhiked around the world at eighteen, something he describes as probably his “most formative experience.” He worked for a publisher for a couple of years then owned a small bookstore in British Columbia for a long stretch. Today, he has a small sales consulting business. 

Constam wrote poetry as a young man but gave it up after just a few years, put off by the growing influence of academia. One day in his middle fifties, thirty-eight years after he’d given up, he returned to poetry. Constam has had a few poems published in online magazines and is looking for the right publisher for a complete collection of poetry as well as a poetry chapbook.

Simon Constam

If I go outside and it happens to be
a cold, clear night, 
I take an hour there
but I still damn the cover of dirty light
that obscures the stars.

And then I say nothing when I’m back inside.
Everyone is sitting around watching football.
No one asks me where I’ve been.  
My bride is feigning interest in the game,
giving me the stare when I pass between
our guests and the 60-inch television. 

Time is wasting away.
She is going to be beautiful for only so long.
That’s true, isn’t it?
I think you know what I mean.
Love thinks time is obscene.  

As like or not, I know what love is.
She enters and leaves.  I don’t know
enough of what she thinks of me.
We never mention it, and I am and she’s
holding too fast to the idea we brought with us.
And even though it’s a neutral darkness,
it’s still the kind from which you can't be saved.

And then they’re gone.
And she turns to me
sympathetic, and yes
of all the versions of her,
the one that softens into love
is unclear tonight.
She has it, I assume, at her fingertips
but perhaps not. She goes upstairs.

I’d follow, but she hasn’t asked me to,
so I pause at the window by the back door
to imagine the planets in their places
revolving at the speed they’ve been given
seeming to move closer to one another,
as often as not, appearing to
have absolutely nothing to do with each other. 

Poet’s Notes:  I was married for thirty-eight years. The breakup of the marriage came in big part because the calm devolution towards disinterest and unfeeling became too much for both of us. Also, not coincidentally, I had started to write again, which you may read, I suppose, as self-examination. Late in life beginnings can be pretty silly but they can also be incredibly profound. The jury is still out on which of those two roads I am travelling. 

This poem came about one night when we had family over, and I had no interest whatsoever in sitting around watching a football game. It was one of those moments when alienation starts slowly and spreads to all nearby relationships. Contemplation of the stars and planets has also always led me to a feeling of alienation, and that also snuck into the poem.

Editor’s Note:  The title sets the tone for this interesting and moving piece, leading to a well-executed poetic conceit.  The best part of the poem for me is the twist on the worn out metaphor of comparing a lover to the celestial bodies--in this poem, the comparison is not one of beauty but of isolation, the heavenly objects revolving around each other but never touching, just as the speaker and the wife in the poem do.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Once Again, FCs Heavily Represented in Star*Line

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to announce that three of our Frequent Contributors have multiple poems in the latest edition (Spring 2017, #40.2) of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.

Mary Soon Lee has two poems in the journal: "The Dark Equations", and "Advice to a Six-Year-Old".  The latter is an editor's choice poem and may be read online here:   http://sfpoetry.com/sl/edchoice/40.2-4.html.

John Reinhart has three: “another world”, “neighbors howl monthly”, and “when the dragon’s tastes changed”.  In addition, in her “Stealth SF” column, Denise Dumars features his poem "shifting for love", previously published in Crannog Magazine.

Finally, count two for Lauren McBride: "humans achieve biological immortality", and "23rd-century ebooks".

"Twice Startled; Never Bitten" by Lauren McBride, Frequent Contributor

Twice Startled; Never Bitten
Lauren McBride

The day I stepped 
on a centipede
and felt its multitude                                           
of little legs wriggling
under the arch
of my bare foot,
I never imagined 
I could utter a sound
that high-pitched -

nor did I imagine                                      
that I could run
all the way up the hill
in my heavy yard boots
to find my husband                                                   
until the day
I nearly weed-eated
a copperhead.

Poet's Notes: Both stories are true. Both happened in southeast Texas. Encounters with the poisonous are rare, but always memorable. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Special Feature: "For Jason" by the Editor

Editor's Note: My son, Jason, received his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Fine Arts from the Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) in Columbus, Ohio on May 13.  The following is the poem that I composed for him to mark the occasion; (I'm sure he would rather have been given the keys to a new car, but alas).  While written specifically for my son, I believe that the poem will resonate with any college graduate, especially recent grads and those with degrees in arts and letters.

The illustration, Fairy Garden, was painted by Jason this year as part of his senior thesis project.  It was chosen to be displayed on the CCAD campus by the faculty of CCAD as an example of one of "the best of the best of CCAD's artists and designers."  Find out more about the artist here:  http://www.jasonartgo.com/about-contact.

For Jason
         Upon his graduation from the
Columbus College of Art & Design

You were always an artist
from the imaginative finger
paintings you created before
you could even talk to the
amazing oils, watercolors,
and sculptures you create now. 
Your degree may mark
you as a professional fine artist
(or as a fine professional artist)
in the world of your artistic peers
and by some who peer at your work
but it will be the exertion of your mind
and hands that shall define you. 
The only piece of paper that matters
is that upon which you make your mark 
and the only judge that matters is
Be proud of what you create
or keep working until you are
and the world will eventually
share that pride with you.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Butterfly" by Patrick Theron Erickson

Songs of Eretz Poetry Review is pleased to present “Butterfly” by Patrick Theron Erickson.  Erickson’s work has appeared in: Grey Sparrow Journal, Cobalt Review, and Burningword Literary Journal, and most recently in: Right Hand Pointing, Tipton Poetry Journal, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Danse Macabre.  He is a retired parish pastor and a resident of Garland, Texas just south of Duck Creek.

Patrick Theron Erickson

What is this thing
with painted wings
and scalloped edges

that lights on a succulent
with tufted two-fisted blossoms

and folds up its wings
like aircraft stowed
on an aircraft carrier
in heavy seas

and pivots and swivels
on its perch
high in the crows nest
on high winds
like a steeple cock

and unlike
a steeple cock
flies off the handle
at random

to small craft warnings

but not immune?

Poet’s Notes:  I was observing a monarch butterfly negotiating a succulent in my backyard one breezy fall day and was struck by the following: its fragility and awkwardness, small body and oversized wings challenged by the wind, and its determination to stay the course and ride out the gusts.  Isn’t it amazing that so awkward and fragile a creature can negotiate a 5,000-mile round-trip migration each year and, more mysterious still, that its offspring will hibernate in the same trees in which their parents overwinter without ever having been there?

Editor’s Note:  Erickson uses rhyme, assonance, consonance, and alliteration judiciously and elegantly, adding just the right amount of polish and sparkle to his poem.    The entire poem is one long question, inviting the reader to contemplate the meaning of the piece.  I also enjoy the nautical and aviation metaphors here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"Breathing Poetry" by John C. Mannone, Frequent Contributor

Breathing Poetry 
Fill your paper
with the breathings
of your heart.
—William Wordsworth
She said she’s hoping
to learn how to write
poetry by osmosis.

I said conjure the words
within your open mind
from its convolutions
and recesses to the tips
of your lips, then deeply,
deeply breathe them in
through your skin until 
your pen can feel its
quiver in the inkwell
of your heart. Slowly
exhale those words
on paper as if grisaille.
Color every stroke. Do
not miss the dotted i’s
and swiftly crossed t’s. 
When all those words
are read, then breathe
them in again—the ink
—for another dose of air.
--John C. Mannone
Poet’s Notes: Many of the ars poetica poems show the frustration of writing or even analyzing a poem (see Billy Collins’ poem, “Introduction to Poetry”). Even Robert Frost said a poem is what’s lost in the translation. So here’s a different type—one that lifts up the process. Hopefully it will inspire you to write instead of providing reasons not to.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"Lost" by Mary Soon Lee, Frequent Contributor

Mary Soon Lee 

Each night, we travel a few leagues further
into the book in which I once lost myself,
or so some long-ago observer might have said
as I read it for the sixth or seventh or eighth time,
a solitary child who lost herself in books,
and this book most of all.

Your company is grand; you may well be
the best companion I have taken on this journey,
but I was never lonely when I read alone.
I walked behind Sam and Strider,
Gandalf and Gimli and Gollum, 
with Tolkien's hand upon my shoulder.  

This is not where I was lost,
but where I found myself.

Poet's Notes:  "The Lord of the Rings" is probably my favorite book. I first read it when I was nine years old, and re-read it many times as I was growing up. I read it aloud to my mother one summer; read it aloud​, years later, to my husband; read it to my first child, and then to my second child. It is one of those books that has become part of me.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"Heavy Burden" by Sierra July, Frequent Contributor

Heavy Burden

When her skin grew too heavy
She shed it off
Particles of tax and doubt
Grains of regret
Whisked into space at the brush
Of her fingers

--Sierra July

Poet's Notes: Picturing how snakes shed their skin, and thinking of how crabs leave their old shells behind for bigger, greater ones, I thought it would be neat if humans could do the same. Instead of making it literally about losing skin, changing clothes, or moving house, I wrote about easily releasing burdens with the whisk of a hand. I didn't state anywhere in the poem that the 'she' mentioned is human though, since I thought it would be just as interesting if a reader interpreted the subject as a space alien or some other creature with fingers. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

"Fall and Rise" by Terri Lynn Cummings, Frequent Contributor

Fall and Rise
Terri Lynn Cummings 

Autumn    and leaves
ripen like melons

release Mother’s hand
rustle the wind’s long tresses

Color rivers
the forest floor

widens the seams
of a dying kingdom

Winter buries jewels
like an old love

under lace of frost
wants us to follow

in his slurred skin
and quaking limb   

aimless and pure
on the path to spring

and an infinite bed
of surrender

Poet’s Notes:  During fall, I had the pleasure of visiting Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri (pictured). Hiking trails abound in the Ozark Mountain paradise. With pen and pad in hand, I strolled down a tree-canopied lane filled with jeweled leaves--the inspiration for this poem.