Week of July 26 - August 1, 1999
Libby Hart, Elisha Porat and Mudcrow
BECOME A POET OF THE WEEK
by e-mailing a few of your shorter pieces or one long piece to me
ALONG WITH a bio of any reasonable length. (Include what city you live in)
It's fun, it's easy, it's free. Impress your friends. Impress your mother.
Send to: POTW@PoetrySuperHighway.com
I have been orbiting the Sun since 1971 and live in Melbourne,
Australia. Since 1995 my work has appeared in a variety of Australian
literary magazines, including "Mattoid," "ars poetica," "Centoria,"
"Australian Multicultural Review," "New England Review," "Small
Packages" and "Tamba."
I have also been published in several electronic magazines such as "Word Salad" (USA), "Cyber Oasis" (USA), "BeeHive" (USA), "Niederngasse" (Switzerland) and "Road of Shadows" (USA).
The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Libby Hart and may not be distributed or reprinted in any formwhatsover without written permission from the author.
Rebecca's Hands, 1923
(a photograph by the American photographer, Paul Strand)
Carved deep in my flesh landscape
time passes slowly,
the turning over of hands,
movement in slow motion
inside a quiet womb of darkness.
My pale skin is luminous,
8 fingers and 2 thumbs
boxed within an aged photograph,
amputated from the body.
I can read these lines as if they
were pages from a book:
a statement of life, love and finally death.
An epic tale within a map of skin,
an expressway for fate;
my lifelines, bloodlines, carved in flesh.
a mother's nurturing hand,
a lover's tender touch
A blindman's Braille,
a worker's busy fingers
and the touch of a pen,
these are the minefields of palmistry
sewn into a pair of hands.
(Previously published in "Australian Multicultural Book Review")
Under a legacy of mud
the buried are cradled by a vocabulary of lies,
between clay and busy worms the dead
speak an alien tongue, the language of genocide.
Their assassins walk free, without conscience or shadow,
yet the evidence is there -
clumps of hair,
and bullet shells.
Their families wait for information, each day
you will find their mothers in the street,
searching when a bus arrives;
wives asking questions with anxious faces.
Cherished photographs of sons and lovers
are plucked from bosoms - Have you seen this man?
Waiting for news each day,
they carry the burden of hope.
(*** Sanski Most is located just outside of Sarajevo. This piece was written just after the war and was previously published in "Spindrift Magazine")
Each heated word
is pushed screaming
from angry mouths
the movement of lip reading
I am here
between two people who walk their lines
ready to fire.
I am here
walking their room of words.
(Previously published in "Obscure Realms")
The Japanese Wrap Things So Well
is my heart
in seven layers
like the skin
of my body
in indigo paper
fibre of linen
and tied with vine.
(Previously published in "New England Review")
Sadovy-Kudrinsky Street, Moscow
(for Anton Chekhov)
The Russian alphabet is perfect for these hands
which hold this felt hat
fingers curling around it, casually
you possess the hands of a doctor
the heart of a writer
each has the bitter softness of knowledge.
I imagine the air
was fragrant with spring
when this photograph was taken.
The Chekhov family
out in the yard with friends.
Brothers dressed in pinstripe
sweet Miss Lesov in childish grin,
all knowing and unknowing.
Your father, looming large
in the background.
What strikes me most
is your hair,
dark as coffee
away from a face
which holds a private smile
for the photographer
who gives directions.
For Hebrew readers, fiction and poetry:
Elisha Porat, a 1996 winner of Israel's Prime Minister's Prize for Literature, has published more than a dozen volumes of fiction and poetry, in Hebrew, since 1973. His works have appeared in translation in Israel, the United States, Canada and England. Mr. Porat was born in 1938 to a "pioneer" family in Petah Tikva, Israel. In the early 1930's his parents were among the founders of Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, where Mr. porat was raised and still makes his home. Mr. Porat was drafted into Israeli Army in 1956, served in a frontline reconnaissance unit and fought the Six Day war in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973. A short story by him -- On the Road to Beirut is also posted at Ariga. As a lifelong member of his Kibbutz, Mr. Porat has worked as a farmer as well as a writer. Mr. Porat currently performs editorial duties for several literary journals.
The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Elisha Porat and may not be distributed or reprinted in any formwhatsover without written permission from the author.
A Haunted Poet
(to the memory of Abba Kovner
translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keler)
Years he smoked, burned, inhaled
filthy butts that wrecked his lungs
muscus, cough and pain.
He didn't cry he didn't shout,
he only groaned in private,
and in whispers dictated notes
to those bending over his bed.
The sound of chimes and bells
interrupted the silence of his last nights
always alerting his heart's flight:
He didn't save from the fires
a loving mother chasing
after him, clinging as he walks,
as if he were a baby again,
holding her ashes
on his last day.
The Lost Son
(translated from Hebrew by Asher Harris)
He came back, but he came like a stranger.
He came back, looked about and did not
Recall, for to him, all appeared estranged:
The house, the yard, the narrow lane.
Their memory sliced through his heart,
Cut, and he who survived and was favoured
Came back; and he who had sworn back there
That nothing would be forget, estranged though it be:
A dirt path, and the barren field and the ditch
At the edge, and the lemon tree with its bitter fruit.
He felt that his absence was almost ordained:
To come back at last, to come like a stranger
With a shadowy memory that was not estranged,
And an unravelled thread of burning desire
That will never more be made whole.
(translated from the Hebrew by Riva Rubin)
Strange soft snow descends
on the slopes of Jebel-El-Kebir,
chill and silent it falls
on dogouts and vehicles
armored on the screens of memory.
Astray in me in the damp haze
forgotten comrades call
whose lives once touched my life
now grown distant beyond the roads
the roadblocks the rolling hardare.
Once, among them, I saw
such a pure white suddenly crushed;
minced and ploughed under and rearing up
and then subsiding silently absorbing
rent veins an reddening stain.
(translated from the Hebrew by Seymour Mayne)
On Memorial Day I make my way up
to the small military cemetery.
In the northwestern corner
we've placed a grey basalt rock
and facing the southern corner --
a blanching chunk of chalk.
And between under the loose sand
our red loam
spreads itself all around.
And when the loudspeaker booms out
the memorial prayer
I close my eyes
and see those three colors
descend before me and disappear
into the encroaching shadow of the stones.
The mudcrow is an English poet living in Thetford, Norfolk, England. He is unpublished, has posted poetry on various web-sites, and is possibly mad.
The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Mudcrow and may not be distributed or reprinted in any formwhatsover without written permission from the author.
Not Bloody Daffodils
Not more bloody daffodils.
The thought of them now makes me ill.
Yellow roses are mightily fine.
Winter pansy's and dandelion wine.
Asters flowering under a Summer sun.
Peony's in pinkness can also be fun.
The glory of Spring and a little snowdrop.
A sea of sunflowers is never a flop.
Tulips in bloom in a wooden clog.
Even ivy snaking over a rotten log.
Rose petals scattered over satin sheets.
Is an image I find that cannot be beat.
But "budding" Wordsworths' please take note.
Not bloody daffodils or flowery quotes!