Stranded: Poem by John Macker

Stranded by John Macker

for Gary Snyder

It’s 3:28 p.m., I’m just another writer at a snowed-in
airport between teaching gigs waiting for the jet to de-ice
and take me to somewhere in the Upper Midwest.
At this moment, some of the dead in here are still breathing,
I’ve been elected president of this last bar in the terminal
and the polar express is taking no prisoners. Our ipads
are beaming us up, some reservation for the harshest climate on
mother earth has been made for me in my absence.
Absinthe is one of the magic words I repeat for complete
strangers until they realize I write verse in America. I try to
tell the children high on lack of sleep and adrenaline,
they’re going nowhere fast. Like a carnivore, I rip to
shreds snippets of conversation I’ve overheard like:
everything that happens in Milwaukee stays in Milwaukee
until it happens here. I smile to myself: that was a good one
and fire up a celebratory joint until I’m told by two lone
gun men to extinguish all smoking materials, fasten my
illegal smile and recall the last airport poem I read where the
poet wrote: most of my work, such as it is, is done.
Well, Gary, easy for you to say. I look out onto a frozen
silent wasteland that was once the tarmac: my loitering
has become a sacrament; my stillness, the void.

Poem by Leroy Quintana

Although I’ve anthologized his work, I was unfamiliar with the poems about Vietnam.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/vietnam-five-poems-about-vietnam/

Armed Forces Recruitment Day
Albuquerque High School, 1962

After the Navy,
the Air Force, and
the Army,
Sgt. Castillo,
the Marine Corps
recruiter,
got a standing ovation
when he walked up
to the microphone
and said proudly
that unlike
the rest, all
he could promise
was a pack,
a rifle, and
a damned hard time.
Except for that,
he was the biggest
of liars.

Poem by Marietta Leis

Studio 2020

Sunlit and ready
Linda Ronstadt singing
her talent oozing
over my space

Outside quiet and still
with spring tentative
and virus stirring
amongst the wind

Me, lackadaisical
with exhibits canceled
and deadlines obscured
and inactivity seductive

By habit I’m here
years of discipline
and passion and purpose
quelled but not forgotten

I pick up brush
I smell the paint
I feel the wood
and my hand responds

Another afternoon passes
with focus and work
gratefully my art
has saved my spirit again

Maybe contributing also
to some peace for a
world in need
and silence to my fears

Take A Note: Poem by Miriam Sagan

This started out as prose–one of my off the cuff blog posts that I enjoy if I can get to the heart of something. However, it wasn’t working and just felt too clunky. Revised into a poem–and sharing it here. I’ll never know exactly why certain things work better in poetry or in prose–a matter of rhythm maybe–but I enjoy the process.

Take A Note

I’m asleep,
which is fine by me.
However, I’m concerned
about whether or not
you are actually dead.
I try and figure it out.
You must be dead,
because I saw your corpse.
Because the coroner
released your body for cremation.
But I’m unsure,
because, well,
it seems we’ve had
coffee together
several times
since you died.
In cafes.
It hasn’t been
pleasant,
because you persist
in telling me
that even though you are alive
you don’t love me any more
and are breaking up with me.

The main reason
I’m upset by this is that—
my story has changed.
It’s no longer the story
I’m committed to,
that you loved me
and died.

When I wake up
my second husband
offers me hot cereal,
and a bunch of copy editing notes.
My grand daughter,
actually she is yours too
but you’ll never know it,
sleeps on my knee
under a red and blue quilt.
She’s picked the batten
out of worn spot.
I like that in a baby.

Please don’t tell me
how Buddhism and physics
agree—there is no “you.”
Say what you will,
but I’m under the quilt too,
wondering if it
will snow again.

Childhood of A Good Person: Poem by Miriam Sagan

old fruit tree
propped on a crutch
like a legless veteran

drunk
in a doorway

on the temple grounds
line of stone buddhas
expressions
weathered out

I try
to not just be
a tourist—-offer coins
in the box
but pass the beggar
anyway

I can’t tell
if I had the childhood
of a good person
or a less good one
but please
don’t trouble yourself
too much
after all
I’ve come this far
on my own
already.

Omer Poem by Ya’el Chaikind

A NEW SIGHT

Tell me your secrets
darkness, open
your guarded gates

and let me glimpse
behind the towering fears
and boogeymen

who haunt my daydreams,
cloud my vision
so that I might watch

my life through a lens
freed of rainbows
or the glittering sun

on a summer pond,
instead, show me how black
is the perfect

backdrop to reflect
the stars mirrored in the retina
of our souls.

Ya’el Chaikind
4.12.18

Omer Day 13:
Yesod Shebe Gevurah
Foundation within Strength, Boundaries, and Discernment

Sex Trade and A Very Small Earthquake: Poem by Miriam Sagan

Just published in https://sheilanagigblog.com/volume-2-3-spring-2018-the-poets/miriam-sagan/
Click to read more!

Sex Trade and a Very Small Earthquake

at 1am it woke me
more the house moving
than the earth itself
loud noise
screens rattling

on the way to the grocery store
my son-in-law and I
saw a long line of silent men
looking like a queue for bread
standing outside a tiny door
advertising women
and the price

this is just
a few feet from
from the fish stall,
more than sixty years and half a world
away
from my cautious worried
life as a woman
where one wrong turn
leads to dangerous DANGER
slippage

now old
I’m sleeping
beneath my drying clothes
pink sweater
which is another body
fluttering at the window shade
and swaying
like a gull
that looks down
on islands
and sees the ocean floor
tremble

New Pantoum–Hot off the Press!–by Joan Logghe

Joan Logghe wrote this yesterday in a high school class I was teaching. She came to intro me and stayed to write. Enjoy!

First World Worst Case Scenarios

Back on antidepressants in the first world
I sing “Placido Domingo” in my sleep
Last night I dreamed an apocalyptic triptych
All my dreams somehow sing opera

I sing “Placido Domingo” in my sleep
I advise chopping jalapenos
In all my dreams somebody is singing opera
Various cases of worst case scenarios

I am still chopping jalapenos
This is not a Jewish thing to do
rather various verses of worst case scenarios
I remain optimistic with high cholesterol

That is not a Jewish thing to do.
I drink a green drink, eat egg salad
I remain optimistic despite high cholesterol
Growing old is not a drag yet

I drink a green drink, eat eggs scrambled
It couldn’t get any sweeter that you
Getting old is not a drag yet
even though the Rolling Stones think so

It couldn’t get any sweeter than this
Last night I dreamed an apocalyptic triptych
Especially the Rolling Stones look weathered
Back on antidepressants in the first world

Columbus, Ohio. Poem & Images Miriam Sagan

Finally On Our Own

river roll
under James Wright
bridges

freight train
crossing
in a dead language
I couldn’t begin
to claim kinship

confluence
of this
and something else

remnant
column
of a deteriorated
neo-classicism

an invisible
watershed, or wellspring
mid-western     manners

what you wanted
was simply an insert
in an industrial scape

praise or curse
so far from the deserts
of my
     awakening

wind, lead
coverlet, shroud
not everyone
lying down
     was dead
some were
     in the bathtub

some were dreaming

on the dotted line
a nameless bird
flew
from here to there
unaware
of the horizon.

What The Water Took: 7 Torahs And A Piano by Miriam Sagan

I wrote this during a visit to New Orleans, about five years after Katrina. I’m posting it here, for the Gulf in general. Also, in the strange synergy that poems sometimes have, Rosh Hashana is approaching. And my Beit Midrash group is starting up for fall–soon to be discussing Jacob wrestling.

What The Water Took: 7 Torahs And A Piano

torah of morning
of noon
of dusk
of midnight
of moonrise
of daytime gibbous moon
flood water

torah of terror
of anarchy
of forgiveness
fire in the water
a dog
a child
bent street signs

torah which unrolls
the story of Noah
an ark
a dove
a raven
streets as rivers
leviathan

a house
your house
a house
caught in a tree
the army corps of engineers
a pumping station
a levee

torah of glass bottles
dangling blue glass hands
a message
SOS
hope
despair
a twisted menorah

torah of brass bands
coronets and horns
twisted shofar
blowing not air
but water
clarinet set with rubies now mute
torah of the broken flute

torah of Jacob
wrestling with the angel
who cheats to win
God’s lie, the rainbow sign
(no more water
the fire next time)
words float away

and the piano of glass
of sand, strings plucked
by fish
how the water took even
our idea of land
and in drowned sleep
spirit moved on the face of this deep.