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Friday, March 30, 2012

ELEANORE KOSYDAR

Mysteries of a Fossil Feather

What bird
were you
of this delicate feather
and how did you die?

When did you live,
over what land fly—
where nest,
and under what skies?

Did you once alight, alive
upon this rock
where now a single feather
lies ossified?

Was your flight
adart with flits and dips,
or a long, smooth glide
of finely tuned wingtips?

Were you blue
with white-tipped wings,
did you warble,
did you sing?

Were you tiny or large
or merely a wisp
of angel dust and stars?

Eleanore Kosydar


Note: This poem was written in response to Feather
Fossil #2, a painting by Cora Brittan in the
Carnegie Gallery

Friday, March 23, 2012

MARTHA MESHBERG

Oh, Precious Love... 

 
Oh, Precious Love...

Is hatred
so deep a pain
that it will never
know love again?

Where are
the bright innocent,
loving and trusting eyes,
of the dear nappy headed child
I once knew?

How you push me
scornfully and remotely
away-

what can I ever say or do
that you will not receive
as just another form
of targeted bigotry?

So disgusting
am I
to your cynical
outraged and angry eyes.

I am helplessly at a loss.

There is nothing I can do...
to satisfy the rage
flaming within you, save
allowing you
to pull the wings off
this broken hearted fly, then
squish me and my
"patronizing love"
into nothing
but a moist spot
on the pavement...

Save, laying down my life
in nothingness before you...
which would be in your view,
"much too easy".

All I know is that
we once loved each other,
here, in our colorless hearts.

Here, where once
mutual tears blended
in a compassionate and human
life-giving, salty surging sea...

Is it so wrong of me
to continue longing
for your precious
lost love

and racial unity?

Martha Meshberg
Copyright ©2002

Sunday, March 18, 2012

JOHN STILES

I became very good at shutting people out

by John Stiles

I became very good at shutting people out, sitting
In a park writing on the back of a Euronews ‘do not call’ list,
ignoring people around me, but not really ignoring.
Not really.

On a day I didn’t show at work, stopped by the security
guard at the British Library, is that a pen?
“Leave that on the ledge, you can purchase a pencil
at the desk for 36 p.”

Young students look up from their laptops, ipads, ipods,
Wired-up with headphones, ready to take on the world.

That tension, just boiling. At least you are not
Funneling through the gates at Liverpool Street on the train from Shenfield
 Eyeing the female fine inspectors from Eastern Europe –
Who have their eyes on you, too.

‘Touched by madness’ read a bit in The Guardian
about the death of Lucien Freud. You look at the guard
and think she’d be fun to drink with
but actually you’d rather vault the gates and run.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

KAREN SHENFELD

Yom Kippur


Five thousand seven hundred and fifty.
My father bends like a willow over his book.

Whispers the N’Sahne Tokef,
Closed fist beating the door of his chest.

He takes neither food nor water.
Waits for the third star.

Again I sit beside him in the seat reserved
For the wife who doesn’t believe.

Answer nothing when he asks if he looks
The age of an old man who looks it.

How many ages since he pulled a sleigh
Through snow, hauling chickens to slaughter.

Paid town toughs a nickel. Rode his bicycle
On the Sabbath. Learned to lie.

Grain elevators are tall as onion domes.
The Ford parts prairie wheat like a sea.

Morning, he opens the shop on a street
With no name. Sells chlib, maslo. Learns

Who to trust. Who not. He listens to
The Philco the German discarded, tired of war.

It is ages since Isaac’s blood pressure rose,
Ronia broke her hip, Irving collapsed at the table.

Who by fire? Who by water? Who by sword?
Who by beast? We count time by the rotations

Of a silver moon. Again it is the tenth of Tishrai.
My father is dressed in white, wears slippers

On his feet. He declares all his vows
Unspoken. Confesses to the sins of a nation.

Wants to believe in mercy.




Editors Note:  Karen has graciously allowed me to publish her poem on Yom Kippur.  For those readers who may not be familiar with Jewish holy days, I shall attempt to share my little bit of knowledge, thanks to my friends who are Jewish. 


Yom Kippur means the Day of Atonement and is, in fact, the holiest day of the Jewish year.  On this day, God is believed to decide who is going to live and who is going to die in the coming year.  He will either seal your name into the Book of Life or the Book of Death.  On Yom Kippur, you have one last chance to settle your affairs with God and to seek atonement for your sins. During the Ten Days of Awe preceding the holy day, you are also counseled to ask forgiveness from people you may have hurt, or sinned against, during the past year.  

Traditional Jewish people remain in synagogue throughout the day of Yom Kippur and undertake a 25-hour fast, in which they do not eat or drink even a drop of water. They recite prayers of atonement together as a community, prayers that speak of "we", rather than "I".  These prayers mention sins against God, as well as sins involving other people, such as violence, fraud, breach of trust, contempt, and hard-heartedness.  On Yom Kippur, Jewish people also pledge to donate to charity as a means of redemption. 

For those interested in  learning more about Yom Kippur, please go to the following website:

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holiday4.html


It may be interesting for some of our readers to see the similarities between the Christian Lent, the Jewish Yom Kippur and the Muslim Ramadhan.  All of them stress a closer relationship to God, fasting or giving up certain things, and the observance of many different types of rituals  associated with these holy days. It is a time, in all three religions, where people reflect upon their lives, study the Scriptures and vow to do better, with the help of Almighty God.

Thank you Karen for sharing your wonderful poem about your dear father who has left this sphere of existence.  Thank you Ellen Jaffe, for some additional information. It is much appreciated by me.

Friday, March 9, 2012

STELLA MAZUR PREDA

Night Shadows

A sudden breeze
disrupts the stillness of the night.
Branches sweep against each other
silhouettes
clinging, dancing
in the eerie glow of moonlight.
Whispering
they grasp and clutch at each other,
swirling, swaying
faster and faster
as the rhythm of the wind
grows stronger and stronger.
Night shadows !

Against the darkened sky
loom the spectres of the night:
screeching, howling,
wildly seeking one another,
reaching into depths of darkness
they embrace.
Night shadows!

As suddenly as it began,
the performance abruptly ends.
Night is once again
cloaked in stillness!


Stella Mazur Preda















Over the past few years, Stella Mazur Preda's poetry has appeared in a variety of literary journals and anthologies, both Canadian and American.  Her poem My Mother's Kitchen was purchased by Penguin Books, New York and published in an anthology entitled In My Mother's Kitchen, which was released in May 2006.  Stella's first book of poetry, Butterfly Dreams, was published in 2003.  She has been a featured reader at Hamilton's LiT LiVe reading series and The Raven's Calling reading series in Cambridge.

Stella is a member of the Cambridge Writers Collective, the Canada Cuba Literary Alliance, The Ontario Poetry Society, Canadian Poetry Association, as well as an active member and past-president of the Tower Poetry Society, Canada's oldest ongoing poetry group.  Stella is owner and publisher at Serengeti Press, a small press publishing company.  Her second poetry book, the Fourth Dimension, will be released in the spring of 2012.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

IRVING LAYTON

Irving Layton's centenary will be celebrated in Niagara-on-the-Lake on March 12, and at Harbourfront in Toronto on March 14.

Hammered Out #8 published this tribute in 2006, the year he died.

Raging Bull: Irving Layton, 1912 - 2006
 
There are occasions when the poem writes you. The energy within yourself becomes externalized and takes over and you merely become the instrument for the externalization of your own psyche.*
*Irving Layton, in "Click! Another Poem Is Born", Sunday Star, May 4, 1980.

Irving Layton is dead. The man who claimed equality with "that unscaleable pinnacle of excellence" that is Shakespeare in a flourish of bravado worthy of one of Jack McClelland’s best marketing ploys, who kept company with Dionysus and Apollo, and who counted Jesus as his brother, is dead.

From childhood when his parents’ home was trashed by neighbouring toughs acting out their parents’ prejudices in a country which professed religious freedom and was governed by Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, whose advisor once told him "One Jew is one too many"; in a city where Anglos and French-Canadians and Jews found their battleground not on the plains of Abraham but in the streets; Layton’s rage was born.

No wonder that his poetry illuminates polarities, or that his defiant voice, unassailable in its certainty, is as suited to a prophet as to a poet. His targets were complacency, oppression, hypocrisy. "It’s not enough to have the energy to create. You also must have the energy to fight the opposition to your creativity, because society is not really interested in creativity," he told reporter Deborah Shackleton in 1980.

Though his last decade was confounded in a fog of Alzheimer’s and "the lousiness of growing old", that is not how I remember him. Long ago, I attended a reading he gave in the hall of a Hamilton synagogue, at which he asked the audience if anyone had a favourite poem. I was going to ask for "Keine Lazarovitch 1870-1959", a perfect poem about his dead mother, but opted for the often anthologized "Birth of Tragedy" instead. He smiled, obviously glad that someone had recognized what he considered to be a masterpiece of poetic genius that would immortalize him.

To alter a phrase, Whatever else, his poetry is passion. Like Dylan Thomas, he wrote of love as a driving life force. Like Henry Miller, he wrote of sex as an urgent scream in a Puritanical darkness. And perhaps like his friend Leonard Cohen, he wrote of "the beastliness of men" as a familiar hound at his heels. He would not be silenced, and he would not let us sleep.

Perhaps his tormented childhood on the streets of Montreal put the acerbic wit into his pen. Perhaps his mother bequeathed to him her ferocity, and lifted his eyes to beauty. Perhaps, as a Jew, he could be the best witness to our humanity and inhumanity. And for all his effrontery and his enormous personality, his wonderful energy embraced us.

There is no death in all the land,
I heard my voice cry;
And brought my hand down on the butterfly
And felt the rock move beneath my hand.
- Irving Layton, "Butterfly on Rock"


Author:  David Haskins



Editor's Note:  This article was written by a writer friend of mine to honour Irving Layton.