Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A Patchwork of Blogger Snippets

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I've just written this free-form poem, a composite of lines and phrases that I've extracted from my e-mail messages to fellow bloggers, and their e-mail messages to me. Each phrase is a different color, and I've just thrown them together to make some kind of (weird in its own way) sense.

Online with Bloggers

My chair was biting into my back and the pain was radiating into my skull.
A very surreal experience -- sequined shirt and all!
Sweet dreams.

Keep up your writing, don't give up! Good things almost always come from good people.
It's almost like a secret society - we are understated in some ways and have a secret story life inside us, wanting to share it, but only when it's 'right'. Sometimes in spite of words of wisdom from others.
How many people is it worth writing for?
Is the content so strong (which I suspect that it is) that the form is intrinsically compelling?
Anyway, I haven't quite figured out what I think about the form...

I have a tendency to repeat phrases that work.
I have a tendency to repeat phrases that work.
I have a tendency to repeat phrases that work.

Kind regards.

Poetry in Motion

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The following are poems that I had published last year in Parchment, an annual Canadian-Jewish literary journal. It is an honor to be included in this journal, as well as being given the opportunity to read my work at the book's launch, held in conjunction with Toronto's Jewish Book Fair.

This journal attracts well-known Canadian Jewish authors, poets, playwrights and essayists, and to find my name and work among theirs is a "kavod" for me.

To top that, I have been in the company of a special poet in this book, both last year and two years earlier, when both our poetry was included and we were both asked to read at the launch. This special poet is my now-nineteen-year-old niece, my brother's daughter. When her work was included in the book in 2002, she was the youngest ever to submit and be included in the book. Last year, she was away for the reading, and her maternal grandmother read my niece's poem. Both the delivery and the piece were very beautiful.

Yesterday I submitted to Parchment a couple of poems I wrote earlier this year. I hope that a few months from now, I can share them with you as being "published" poems.

In the meantime, read these; they are glances into the Israel I remember from my stay between October 1983-March 1984.

Remembered Vignettes


a stroke of ice-blue eye shadow here,
another stroke there.
sweep that pale peach blush up,
then draw it down.
light pink across the lower lover’s lips –
dab a cotton puff.
and another.

herzliya sunset over a windswept beach.


atop a girls’ religious seminary
high in the land of Sefad
a sign proclaims:

inside the cold stone building
girls are huddled in a central hall,
grouped around an ancient-looking black telephone,
giggling, talking excitedly among themselves.
one girl holds the receiver to her ear,
waiting and listening.

“she’s on hold for a blessing from the rebbe,”
is explained to me when i cast a curious look.

suddenly a motion of hands waving. a hush.
“amen. thank you. goodbye.”
a collective smile.

“i got a blessing! i got a blessing!
the rebbe gave his blessings for a good shidduch!”
an impromptu hora is danced.
these future brides without their grooms.


such bare walls.
an old, chipped wooden wardrobe.
two single cots.
negelwasser basins wait patiently below each.

a naked bulb hangs low overhead.
accentuating, illuminating –
forgot to turn off the light before sundown.

no shabbos goys here.

i sleep a restless sleep.


climbing the darkened stairway
up to the fifth floor
on a friday night
i ponder the situation.
i, an outsider, have been invited
to be a guest at this stranger’s apartment.
perhaps not a stranger…?
perhaps, rather, a peer from days gone by,
i’ve been told.

i enter the apartment and blink with the
sudden brightness.
the room comes into focus.
a shabbos table
bedecked with white linen cloth, silverware
and fine china.
at one end sit two large round challahs
and a wine bottle
accompanied by a platter of gefilte fish and
dish of pink horseradish.

am i the shabbos queen, after all?


i look from where this booming voice has come
and see a robust man
seated at the other end of the table.
black beard blending with black jacket
and black hat askew on his head.

that face i don’t recognize,
but that voice i know.

and i am once again in a crowded,
fifth-grade schoolyard during recess…

“can i have some of your fritos?” you ask.

Play It Again, Pearl

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I've been blogging since early December, and once in a while, I think a replay of an earlier post is in order. Because I posted about my youngest child just before this post, I'll keep with that theme and present you (latecomers perhaps to Pearlies of Wisdom) with this post from last December.

Sit back, relax, put up your feet and start reading.

And if there's any way for you to track down and hear the referenced song (perhaps by going to Amy Sky's Web page), do so. The lyrics, as well as Amy's beautiful, mournful singing, stir the soul.