YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

June 2001

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken
Production Editor: Pedro Sena
European Editor: Moshe Benarroch
Contributing Editors: Martin Zurla; Rita Stilli; Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp

ISSN 1480-6401



         The Poetry of Rochelle Mass


         Looking for the Source
         February: Kitsilano Beach
         Between the shutter slats
         Waiting for a message
         Summer is in the making
         Home is where you go
         When things happen
         Jerusalem in August
         The New Year
         A reminder
         2 nights and a day
         Like a compass bound for north
         What one man needs
         Send my love to Steven
         The riot has begun
         I know a man
         What people say
         Where's my Home
         The 4th of July
         Like a Hollyhock
         High Noon
         Rising to the Surface
         You ask
         This month
         Holding the earth
         Strawberries from Gaza
         A Place in Africa
         On the train
         Yom Kippur: England
         Vinegar and wet paper bag
         Suddenly I was 16
         A Printer to the King
         Stored Time
         Controlling Memories
         Wiping away the signs
         A Trade
         A trench for five
         Paying respects
         Into a war
         Fresh Asparagus


         Rochellle Mass
            Publishing acknowledgements



   The Poetry of Rochelle Mass

   Rochelle Mass' poetry lives in a constant struggle between opposites. 
   A ping pong of yin and   yang, then and now, there and here, childhood 
   and adulthood, man and woman.   Born in Canada she arrived to Israel 
   in 1973, and has lived, since then, in the Jezreal Valley. She lives  
   in the part of Israel that is most populated by Israeli Arabs (or 
   Palestinians with Israeli citizenship). Many of her poems describe the 
   complicated relationships between Jews and Arabs, from a human point 
   of view. The lack of any political poems or statements leaves the reader 
   in a world where things said and lived are as important as the things 
   not said. This is very far from the TV news, but as Ezra Pound would 
   say, ' this is the real news', ever since the beginning of Zionism.
      Another part of her poetry is childhood, Mass seeks some kind of 
   solace in her father and family, but finally she doesn't find it there, 
   she doesn't find it anywhere. Her poetry just raises  more and more 
   questions. In the short poem "Timing" she writes: "My father/ tuned 
   watches/ fixed broken staffs/ and oiled springs/ replaced cracked dials/ 
   reset wandering hands// I/ run  lost/ and late."
      The image of the father working on the precision of watches is a dear
   image to Mass, and   appears in many of her poems. But she can't cope 
   with her father's precision and she runs lost and late. In her verse 
   she does it, in her poems she is a master of free verse, her breaking 
   of lines and her words are always precise and work like a very fine 
   swiss watch.
      In "Where's my home" a poem published in this issue and part of her
   chapbook by the same title, she describes a man, who is ill, asking his
   wife about the tallis and tefilim. He has lost  most of his memory, and
   doesn't even even know his own home. His wife explains this to him as 
   if he was an infant, and tells him that sometimes the other men come to 
   take him to the  synagogue, when they need him for the minyan (a minimum 
   of ten people needed to have a  complete service of prayers). He has 
   lost his memory and is at the end of his life, but socially and 
   religiously he is still part of the community. Finally he says : "I'm no 
   longer a man", but he still is.
      Between these two conditions of   being and not being   lives Mass'
   poetry;  this tension creates a richness rarely found in our stereotyped 

   Looking for the Source
   Time-stops, she called what she did.
   This was doing something important, stopping time. Sheets
   floated in acids, birthing figures into existence.  It's the wet pictures
   she remembers, the movement as it roams from below
   as it convolutes
   He blows nervousness into her shoulder when he lifts her dress.
   The other women fade into other time, other rooms. Air is heavy
   as he comes toward her.  She prepares for his weight, his shape
   feels between water and sky.  Remembers stones and flowers and
   for just a second, the dream where she lost her legs.
   Then he empties.  She was his field of wild rice, tall corn
   fat tomatoes.  He pummeled her, told her who she was, but
   sometimes he just takes from her.  Sometimes she follows him
   memorizes his hand, his eyes.  She tries. It's a slow ride into her body.
   She remembers planning her death.  In water, deep in, never rising
   no more sky.  But he's taking her to better now.  Don't cut me in half
   she pleads.  It's night. The cold stays round them till they push at it.
   Cover themselves with each other.  She is tired, moves back to her self
   can only see what she didn't know about him, the way
   he shook his hand,  how his lip twisted.  She waited
   like a cat under his leg, like slippers.
   There was a pattern here:  she - fragments, phrases.
   He - open doors, thrusting her ahead.
   I went to a lady healer this morning, he tells her, to get peace.
   Here, he says, placing his hand on his chest, too much pain, wild pain,
   he says waving the flat hand back and forth.
   The healer touched my neck, held my shoulder, steadying me.
   She was pushing me into weeds, swamps, marshlands.
   I shook like a weather vane, spun round myself
   I left
   ran out.
   His coughing woke her, he was rolled over himself on the sofa
   she walked round till her hands were damp, flashing, snapping
   rolling the focus.  Leaned over to the contours
   of his cheek, arm, down to his ankle.
   When she dropped the pages into the acid bath, the shadows blurred
   then became exact.  Finally, there he was, she had locked him in
   closed a fence round his pain, simmered him down.
   He looked like an iris felled by heat
   a heavy boot or
   an anxious dog.  He lay still - the way he wanted the healer to make him,
   like the iris when it was unaware of being otherwise.
   Didn't look ambitious
   almost looked discarded
   left in a dusty place.
   She refocused the camera, tried to think him out
   get at his totality, moved over him again, frame after frame.
   He would always be bigger than her,  but with the lens she reduced,
   minimized, so that he could fit her.  When the images moved up
   into the page his face was stained with a splash of light.
   She hadn't seen it
   would look for the source
   every time she came back.
   February:  Kitsilano Beach
   The sand isn't dusty yet, shells shine with winter, barnacles
   shift light.  The sea stays deep and thick.  Doesn't reach the sky
   like in summer.  I raise my collar, stare to hear the waves
   pound the beach - knead like bread, till I feel the land
   under each smack.  I watch a man pulled by three dogs.
   They cluster, the man takes out a pipe, turns.  The dogs
   hold together, then suddenly spring toward the sea, swarm
   at the edge.
   The sea is hard and flat, then softens.
   The man stands at the water's edge, impatient to tug them back
   bends into his pipe.
   The dogs scratch the logs, warning me, I hear.
   I gather my jacket round my waist.
   Once in February,  years ago, I saw leafless chestnut trees
   cover the hillside near Pietra Santa, drank Grappa.  The clear stuff
   burned the chill, settled into my chest.  Now I stiffen, hold on
   so nothing will collapse
   care about dreams that crack.
   Lavender and rosemary crawl up the mountain where I live.
   The sun slides down my shoulder this morning;  I am overdressed
   for winds that sweep in from the desert.  Even though
   its barely April,  summer's on the road.  Tips of plants
   show brittle that will, in a month or so, work down
   to the root.
   The sun will not pass from here.
   The garden swells bloated and jellied.
   Rains wheeze
   freight new growth with greens
   I've never seen before.
   Winds shred
   and slash.
   Days hesitate to start, close fast.
   Time is different then,
   stores me like baggage
   to be claimed.
   My bones rattle in blues and blacks
   I splinter.
   I need you to mark the boundaries
   so winter can't go
   beyond its time.
   Between the shutter slats
   The gap between night and day is frail, hardly there at all.
   There are only a few clear moments when day
   moves into night.  Not really a matter of time -
   the space is so transparent.
   I read about a man who planned his death, then on a mountain road
   where wild birds confirm space, he turned to living.
   It's been a long time since I had dark plans when spaces overlapped
   didn't leave me air nor light.  I used to think I knew enough
   but I'm shocked into knowing what I didn't know
   the way cold blasts when a door opens - like that man
   on the steep road.
   Today the day warms as it rounds to noon. At the turn of warming
   I think of how another man's hair rolled against his neck
   began slowly like words leaving a pen.  I felt pretty
   wanted to stay.
   There are mangoes now, avocados and pears.  The rain
   has started again, hits the top of the hedge, then slaps the window.
   Smells of summer are cleared away
   then night comes, scratching.
   I think of radishes bulging red, know that bland men
   do not brood nor baffle like the cold shuffling by my bed.
   I measure myself,
   match up pictures.
   Want to save things,  get lost in details.  Stay away
   from days that bring the same thing again
   shake off memories
   going the wrong way.
   Night covers me with a tight lid.  I fall between the shutter slats
   plugged into a moving space where
   everything is equal
   but never the same.
   Waiting for a message
   Trees help you see slices of sky between
   branches, point to things you could never
   reach, help you watch the growing
   happen, watch blossoms burst
   then dry, see shade
   twist to the pace of the sun,
   birds tear at unwilling seeds.
   Trees take the eye to where it is,
   where it was, then
   over to distant hills, far-away blue
   of other places and
   times, long ago.
   A tree is a lens,
   a viewfinder, a window.
   I wait below for
   a message of
   what is to yet to come.
   Summer is in the making
   Desert winds blew in thick and dry
   from the deserts of Arabia, mixed ions
   and emotions into a soup thick with confusion.
   Dust covered every surface in my home
   sepia on cups, tables,  photographs. Then rains
   came from the corner of the skies, slashed
   at the grit.  Summer is in the making.
   A divided entry.  It fades, then resolves again.
   Today I walked up the hill to the clinic to
   have the doctor tell me why pain rolls over
   my shoulder. Just before the grocery store, before
   I crossed the street, I fell, hands down.
   My knee sizzled, jeans tore.  My shoulder
   hummed with new rhythm. When I came home
   a fresh cup of coffee
   spilt over the other leg.
   Somehow it all comes together,
   summer in the making and my body
   asking for care.  I move round the rim of it,
   go from one tangle of flesh
   to another.  The pain opens and closes
   seems calculated and cunning.
   Shouldn't be ignored.
   Worth defending.
   My body seems pulling away
   separating, looking past me.
   While summer is in the making,
   ions and emotions simmer.
   Home is where you go
   Clouds flat as English dinner plates hang in the slick sky.
   Still wrapped in British wool, my boots are marked where snow
   crept over the sole, where ice licked the pavement.
   The light is blinding as I look at the Alps.  The snow
   looks necessary there, settled in buttermilk.  The sky
   starched and scalding.  I turn away as coffee is served,
   a small muffin, mint wafers also.
   The man across the aisle laughs -  ragged, rum-filled.
   I push the window shade higher, yank the blanket
   to my shoulders.
   On the screen - a woman says:
   I've never lived in a place that doesn't have wheels, now I want
   a place with a patio, overlooking the sea - a table
   with an umbrella, drink chocolate milk as the sun goes down.
   Home is where you go when you fall  she says.
   No one can tell you how to get there.
   The sky bleeds white, points to the shore, then steadies.
   Tel Aviv is bathed in noon, shades of citrus;  tops of trees
   are where they should be. Cars twitch along.
   The ground crunches.
   Blue slips away to let the runway in.
   Dry bushes mark highways on land
   waiting for rain.
   When things happen
   The sweat of summer has been wiped away,
   winter has come to rescue, yet seems to assault.
   Shirts have sleeves now,  the bed was layered first
   with a shawl, now the quilt.
   I think of soup-making since the air has thinned,
   lost the texture of honey.  I fill these cooler days
   as if I'm doing it for the first time.
   Late afternoon the day falls before I turn on the lights.
   I wonder how much of summer will stay through winter
   as I move sandals aside, bring woolen things down.
   I know I have to let the heat drop away like torn paper
   scatter like coins.
   The burn of summer makes a slow exit
   as the cooler air sucks in.  Greens in my garden return,
   stretch after the first thick rain.
   This morning I felt a gentle, clean wind from the Gilboa,
   but soon it will smack my window.
   I unfold a new sweater, put it over my shoulders
   remember how I used to save clothes for a special time.
   When I was eight I saved my winter coat,
   didn't wear it till I was ten, then
   couldn't button it.
   Now I know that things happen
   when they happen
   like the pling-plank of popping corn.
   My father
   tuned watches
   fixed broken staffs
   and oiled springs
   replaced cracked dials
   reset wandering hands
   run lost
   and late
   Jerusalem in August
   I saw a Squill lily in my friend's garden.
   It pushed out of the summer earth amongst
   frayed weeds and twisted ferns
   above zinnias and asters
   that were brown and bent.
   In Jerusalem the changing of the seasons
   has been marked
   even though the sun is still perched
   high and stern
   even though the New Year
   is a full month away.
   In our part of the valley
   there is no sign of change.
   The new year
   Emptiness surprises me as I leave one room
   move slowly in the new house to the upper floor
   then rooms below.  Disappointment hangs sticky
   like honey for the New Year's cake.
   The greening of this house was my hope.
   I prepared defense for the Atonement Day
   The neighbor built a Succah between pecan trees
   covered  with date palms and
   taped his granddaughter's
   drawings to the walls.
   The Succah  he says  is for Jews
   searching for the promised land.
   Refugees  he adds  and survivors.
   Jews disappear and reappear  he says
   adjusting the palms so they will filter stars.
   Jews dream and yearn that's what Jews are.
   He pats the roof.
   Good time to be in a new house  he says.
   Three ferns are dropping leaves over the marble stairs.
   The greening of this house in the New Year
   was my hope.
   I wonder:  Can a person atone for ferns?
   When it is half dark
   I stay nowhere - winter-trapped
   my head's in a shawl.
   All I can do is think of wood drifted
   into shapes I used to bring home
   put near shells on the sill,
   try to find
   what I'd never seen before.
   Late today the light lowered and
   rounded into dull tones then
   snapped shut.
   The sun is losing heat, not like before
   when it wiped the front of my house
   leaving surfaces
   flat and final.
   A reminder
   A winter tide rubs markings from the sand.  I watch
   waves collapse, erase the past.  Pools form into
   hungry pockets, suck me in.
   The sand is combed, smoothed.  Completely
   flattened now, the shore is strange.
   I feel the loss, it splays my toes
   threatening my ankles.
   I'm bound to a place I dreamed for once,
   want to ride on
   but am bolted to the shore.
   The outside pulls into dark when
   the sun rolls down.  I watch
   the sky hit the sea.   Night
   loosens my feet.
   I pull out one then the other.  The air
   is thin as I turn away.
   This day, a reminder of something solid
   in my world
   made uncertain.


   2 nights and a day
   They walked into black corners of empty roads
   long after the moon had turned up, till the sun
   startled the sky.  Then they twisted the lock,
   pulled heavy curtains into one spread, rolled
   into each other, using words not heard before.
   The day moved by, slipped away.  Their laughter
   trembled, then silence scorched the room.  The day
   grew old, the skies rounded.  The sun fell once again.
   Another night stretched
   ahead like an open window.
   Like a compass bound for north
   Some men walk with thick thighs
   and flat feet, growl commands.
   They take what they want
   with yellowed hands,
   stare down their prey
   with dull eyes.
   Some men walk with soft steps
   meeting lovers on the way
   offer warmth
   like a compass bound for north.
   I want a man who will stroke
   my neck
   shake doubts from
   my lips
   place jewels on
   my eyes.
   What one man needs
   He had to be up with the sun feeding fish and threshing
   wheat.  When the sun curled over the hill he was forced
   into days.  To seed and trim, repair and build.  The days
   were long, too bright, too wide.   He needed
   narrow corridors with the moon as witness,  when
   shadows swing out, lurch.  He honors spirits that know
   the dark, when secrets soar. The sun disciplined him
   the moon allowed him freedom.  One harsh,  the other
   forgiving.  A rock kicked out of place
   he crawls out of the damp saucer of earth when
   dusk falls.  Wipes the day from his hands
   walks into the muddy hours.
   Send my love to Steven
   I was walking with a man to a coffee shop on a side street  when    a large
   woman in a brown blouse stopped right in front of him adjusted her hat and
   said:  How are you, Mike?  Haven't seen you in years and years and
   as the man tried to remember her name she said Steven!  How is he?  Haven't
   seen him in years. The man answered: you know him and the woman in the brown
   blouse asked Still painting I guess? and the man answered
   Yes, but not working any more than before.  You know Steven.  The woman took
   off her hat and put her basket down and said  Steven never liked to work,
   didn't like children, calendars, nor watches.  The man pointed toward the
   street where
   we were to turn left to the coffee shop, looked at his watch and said: Good
   to see you, Eva.   And she said   I knew you'd remember my name and sort of
   shouted as she put on her hat and picked up her basket  Send my love, okay?
   And the man said Sure, my wife will appreciate it.  Eva turned `er back and
   walked the other way.  She's been married twice since Steven, four children,
   three from the second, one with the third  the man told me when suddenly we
   heard her shout
   I mean, my love to Steven, okay? The man waved in her direction.  He never
   loved her  he said as we walked into the coffee shop  everyone  knew that,
   yet after all these years she still sends him her love.
   The riot has begun
   It started days ago when desert winds left the garden brittle.
   I watch leaves turn in like shells, twist
   shadows over my yard as the heat presses on.
   I wonder if people make their own weather.
   In the winery, we lean toward the wine merchant
   who says as if a secret:
   this is wine for spring, it's that light.
   I watch my glass fill with sun, feel more bound
   to the earth, my throat turns slippery.
   People need to incite their spirit, I think
   looking at my friend, who reaches for a year-old Merlot
   as the liquid slips past my tongue.
   I watch him close eyes, test.
   Somehow I know more about how the world is classified
   by watching this man.
   I want to trust the process, go slowly enough
   to follow it.
   Don't want to destroy the mystery
   by explaining too much.
   I wait for evening, for the street light to bring
   the shadows in, make my coffee cup or reading chair
   into something so large it stops being
   what it was before.  I move past the lines of my life
   when that happens.
   I know a man
   I know a man who is
   the earth of summer -
   stubborn, dry and flat.
   Not rich enough
   to nourish
   not fleshy enough
   to wrap
   round willing roots
   not deep enough
   to hold a tree
   while it reaches
   toward the sky.
   What people say
   The papers said:  Attempted murder of ex-wife, then suicide
   Police officers said:  Enough ammunition in his home to destroy the
   The Kibbutz said:  An artist-carpenter who torched the bed he made for his
   The ex-wife said:   He was strict and controlling even in the good times
   The Army Commander said:  My tank gunner, he saved my life
   The neighbors said:  Erratic, kind
   His friends said:  Loyal, obsessed
   Where's my home?
   the man asks his wife
   of 65 years
   Is this where I live?
   You've been away for some time
   she answers softly
   This is your home now
   What is this place?  he asks
   This is where you live now
   she touches his hand
   Whose things are these?
   Your tallis, tefillin
   the kipah your father gave you
   Why do I need them?
   You are a man she says to her husband
   a Jewish man
   Sometimes they take me and those things to another place
   to the shule to pray with other men she tells him
   I should stay here he says lowering his head
   When they need another man they come for you
   she says
   Why me? he asks, his hands shake
   Because a man is a man
   that's the Jewish way
   she explains
   I'm no longer a man
   he says
   to his wife
   The 4th of July
   The mystery hour releases balloons
   as light as drifting paper.
   Cousins, aunts, fathers.  The Fourth of July.
   Summer is a mass of flickering stars striped
   bright red-white-and-blue.  Houses are vulnerable and warm,
    life unburied.  It's a straw-angel night.
   Strange uncles, beloved grandfathers, mothers
   breathe in fragile air, remember pear-shaped
   memories of hands, lovely fingers.
   Fireworks, the final moment, then wondrous sleep,
   softly comes to the front lawn,
   to the porch.
   A woman counts loaves of bread, places tomatoes
   near the window.   Fog, lifted by the wind,
   shoulders the mountain.  White sheets change
   into sails, ring the branches of the lemon tree.
   The land is hard
   cracks like words.
   The woman hears blossoms turning thin;
   she bows to the dignity of change, breaks a loaf,
   places two parts on the table.
   A kiss of sustenance, she whispers.
   There is nothing else to say.
   Like a hollyhock forced to the ground
   A man in a striped shirt and a woman in
   black shorts walked out of a cafe on a side street.
   He ordered coffee thick with milk for both,
   she filled a plate with cinnamon swirls and
   triangles filled with cheese.  They talked till the
   coffee cooled then walked back into the sun.
   He pulled a vine from between pebbles and broken
   earth, handed it to her.  Like hollyhocks forced
   to the ground, he said.  She smiled, replied:  same color
   as a blouse I once had.  He whispered something by
   her cheek as they walked.  The flowers shriveled as
   she watched him move into the traffic.
   High noon
   High noon beats
   when you have loved me.
   I am lowered
   into the gorge
   washed of all others.
   I wait for the shy dawn
   to make way
   for the next high noon.
   Rising to the surface
   My body
   loving has
   it all away.
   You ask
   You ask me how loving comes
   leans, learns, spreads
   till it binds
   till both are crushed into a space that
   lets in only hymns
   and wild birds bringing berries.
   You ask me how loving stays
   circles till your skirts
   scatter, your breasts
   turn light,
   your thighs seek
   what you remember.
   You ask me how I loved your father
   but want to know how
   you can love.  I give you
   nutmeg for your hair, ribbons
   at your waist and
   cream your lips.
   Moving like a tango,  loving
   steps and strides
   returns breathless.


   This month
   Like trains re-tracked, governments have been replaced, left and
   right changed places.  Black-clothed missionaries serving God
   threaten to tip the political scales to what they know to be His will.
   Tomatoes redden on my window, beginning to blush.   Heat lies low
   forces me to water plants.  I watch the leaves dance.
   An Arab client invites me to his house in a village above Afula
   tells me proudly that Arafat's adviser has been appointed to our
   new government's Security Council.  Someone startles me
   with x-rays of torn knee tissues sent through electronic mail.
   Deer sprint across our friend's yard at the foot of the Kumi Hills and
   cotton is plumping along the highway replacing sunflowers that were
   stalked in steady rows just a month ago.  I wait for first rains
   to wash down the olives, so we can take them to the press.
   The New Year preoccupies me with more questions than answers.
   Hope surfaces,  convincing me
   it must come from within, spread evenly
   till it fits me as I want to be held.  I taste possibilities
   like medicine, catalogue what I can.
   The house faced east.  The architect intended fresh light,
   the first stream of morning.  He placed long, wide windows
   in the kitchen wall, was sure facing east would bring her
   the spirit of Jerusalem, David's wisdom.
   For her, east was keffiya'd* men at road blocks unloading
   chairs and carpets with plump women who squatted,
   staring at their feet till officials ordered them to move on -
   green and white license plates eventually fading
   in the dust.
   She heard the muezzin from the village of Sandalah, just
   over the hill, whining first prayers, watched Jenin, further east
   over the green line, fill the horizon with new homes and
   brooding intentions.
   *head scarves, often red./black checkered fabric, sometimes white -
    traditionally worn by Arab men.
   Holding the earth
   A sharp wind brings Golan voices down
   into the valley where I can hear them.  Sounds
   like a rockslide, coarse scrub of grain and
   the spiral of fissures.  A frantic undertow.
   The voices want no change, want
   to keep their place in that massive reach of land.
   In the early years, groups of children, my daughters too,
   were trucked up there to clear rocks and boulders
   smooth the surface into a welcoming place.
   Pears and apples are picked now through fall and winter
   brought south to local markets.
   The trees are woods, throw shadows
   dark as grief.
   Crops and cattle are rooted there.
   Soldiers have fallen keeping that place safe.
   Golan voices spike questions
   hurl them at anyone who'll listen.
   People there seem to be lying low
   like leaves coming down,
   animals at bay
   waiting for the chase, stirring trouble
   holding the earth.
   Strawberries from Gaza
   Empty boxes fall
   picked up
   twist and
   pull to the floor
   I  pick one up
   another drops
   then another
   I place each lost square
   back into the jumbled cycle.
   Who can join the boxes
   place them together
   in a firm carton
   with loops at each side
   so I can grip the weight?
   Who can fill it with potatoes
   or strawberries from
   A place in Africa
   It was the sort of night that freezes strawberries.
   Things often come as invasions, I thought, upheavals
   like this - like losing a whole field.  Yet, the crop
   when it's there, is enjoyed as a fact, as evident.
   The loss is grieved, I think, more than the act celebrated.
   Real invasion is, I know, more than a field of strawberries,
   more like my friend Layah struggling again
   with cancer clumps
   now moved from her lung to her brain.
   I tell Layah about the strawberries.
   There's what to learn from nature, from the land, from
   animals, says Layah,
   I just read, I tell her, that in some places
   foxes meet in circles, yelp in measured tones.
   There's a message there, she says.
   She pulls up her scarf to show me a
   black  woolen band stretched round her ears.
   So poorly heated here.
   We locals believe the heat of summer burns all year long.
   Sometimes the day never warms things up.
   You look well today, I tell her.  I'm scared.
   It's crazy to tell her that
   but I'm hopeful  -  so I lie,
   she deserves better.
   She gets up slowly, stumbles.
   See?  I can't move like I want, but still, I'd like
   to take another trip before.
   I've heard there's a place in Africa
   where the horizon curls up.
   I'd like to see that.
   On the train
   I take my place across from a sleeping man with
   a huge belly. As the train pulls out of  Benyamina
   his knees press against mine.  He spits, and rattles
   like rocks shuffled against the tracks.
   The snores burst then stumble.   He rearranges
   his shoulders,  pulls at his shirt.
   After Kfar Yehoshua, a red-headed soldier places
   a tefillin box on his forehead.
   Soldier girls sleep in every row.
   At Hadera I give me seat to a man with crutches,
   I stand in the aisle, my case between my ankles
   legs supporting the project of the day.
   A pale woman gets on at Netanya, unfolds a map
   on the train table, bends over, concentrates
   looks for something others know.
   The soldier by the window takes off his beret, twists
   the black ribbon, motions to another.
   Bronze wings over his shirt pocket tilt
   He speaks about maneuvers and dates,  his hand slips down
   to his crotch as the other soldier refers to time and location.
   Across the aisle a man folds his jacket into a pillow, packs
   re-packs it, puts his head down.  The girl beside me talks to a girl
   beside him, says she has decided not to return to university
   until the explosions end.
   You're not going to live anymore?  She is asked
   Live, she answers, but not study.
   After the University stop, I find an empty seat, hold up the book
   on 'Fathers' I'm reading to block the MacDonald's dinner
   the fat man has placed on the table.
   The smell of cold french fries rises as he squeezes
   mayo and ketchup into clumps, drags the orange drink
   through the straw and bites into the double burger.
   Wrappings cover the table, onion rings leave stains.
   I raise my book higher.
   As Tel Aviv Central is announced, he rumbles
   low as wind,  wipes his mouth with his sleeve.
   Leans forward then fills the aisle, moves towards the exit.
   Tel Aviv blares harsh and rude.
   The fat man has prepared me.
   Yom Kippur, England
   The top news that day was 'Kevin Keegan, resigns'.
   Mom, says my daughter,  he's the football coach.
   England lost to Germany 1-0.  Strategy wasn't good.
   Sounds like she understands the situation
   like she cares.
   That news stayed at the top all week
   even though Milosevic is out, and a new democratic regime
   has come to Yugoslavia,
   even though Ariel Sharon walked on the Temple Mount.
   Narrow mention was given to Israeli front-line reservists
   ordered to get their things ready
   leave their phones open
   their radios on.
   The Chief Rabbi, small type declared, gave permission
   for all security personnel to ignore
   the 25 hour Yom Kippur fast.
   And three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped in Lebanon,
   marking Yom Kippur 2000.
   A courier service truck passes us advertising:
   It's not a promise if its not delivered.
   I think of Arafat promising in Washington
   then in Paris,
   then in Sharm-a-Sheikh,
   then Washington again.
   At lunch the waitress, says, a Baptist, I am.
   After asking where I'm from, adds firmly:
   The Lord will never take Israel away -
   written in the Bible, it is.
   That's a real promise, I think.


   Vinegar and wet paper bag
   They spill white vinegar over the fries at the beach,
   it falls through the spaces, settles at the bottom.  The salt
   stays on top like the fluff of
   first snow.  I had just turned eight.  I got a nickel for
   chips every Saturday, then I'd sit on a log, facing the
   sea,  vinegar all over my arm, sometimes way
   past the elbow.  I liked how it kept the smell of chips
   and brown bag with me as long as I wanted, even when
   I went to the edge of the water
   looking for shells.  Didn't care if they were cracked just
   had to be real different. Flat, dark or almost completely
   closed. I liked the way the vinegar smell
   got all over my shells, even inside, stayed there till I took
   them home and put them on the shelf near my bed.  I'd smell
   vinegar and wet paper bag for most of the week.
   Suddenly I was 16
   It was September in Eilat at Pini's ice cream place.  Three kids
   sat round a stone table that stood on a thick cement leg,  two boys
   and a girl had finished thick cones and drinks.
   When the dark haired boy laid his coke bottle on its circular side
   so it looked like a woman in bed, spun it, catching it each time
   so it stopped facing the girl who grabbed her mouth
   with one hand
   and her shirt in a bunch with the other
   each time he started the spinning
   and each time he stopped it after a few mad cycles
   so it pointed at her.
   The bottle dervished at the boy's twist and the girl blinked
   and grabbed her mouth and shirt at least a dozen times.
   The second boy moaned as the spinner racked up his points.
   I ate my vanilla ice cream with a spoon from a plastic cup and
   finished a bottle of mineral water watching the spinner
   prove his claim on the stunned girl. Suddenly
   he stopped the flaying bottle, grabbed it by the neck
   and smashed it on the table - covering the girl's chest
   with shards that bristled with the lights
   from Pini's counter.
   I sat at a table many years earlier when my father
   came raging up the steps, shoved the door so it slammed
   against the kitchen counter, linking his rage
   to a day
   another night
   and years passed.
   I sat head down hiding from the arguments he fired
   loaded and re-loaded
   at my Mother.
   As suddenly as that boy had slammed the bottle down on Pini's table
   my father grabbed the Nescafe jar and slammed it down
   in front of where I sat head down and scared.  I didn't see his hand
   grab the bottle's waist but I felt the spray of shards over my head
   and the coffee grinds stifle the air.
   The coffee and glass swung round me.
   I sat as muted as the girl, when the boy said to Pini
   this bottle's cracked
   and my father ordered  clean up the mess
   I was 16 just like that girl at Pini's ice cream place in Eilat.
   That September, suddenly I was 16.
   Printer to the King
   There was only one press at the printing shop I visited
   last week but pages were pulled and smoothed through
   rollers,  ink flowed where text would be, levers rose
   then fell.  The smell of ink rises from the belly of the press
   same as at my Uncle Harold's years ago.  He was printer
   to the King, then the Queen,  published laws and legislation
   for the government of Canada.  When I was a child I loved
   the sound, the speed, how the letters turned into sentences.
   Uncle Harold would have the typeset man cut out my name -
   one silver letter after the other -  give me piles of paper in any
   color, whatever size I wanted.  He'd tell the man in the back to
   glue the colors into a pad.  Whatever I wanted.   Once he told me
   how it all began,  when he was 8 someone brought him a
   printing set with rubber letters, an ink pad, and white paper.
   I lifted the black letters he said, turned each one onto the pad,
   spellt out my name.  His company became one of the largest
   in Canada.  His dream took him into a building with presses
   operated by computers and lasers, a librarian who filed all
   the publications.   But now he doesn't speak to his wife,  or
   his daughters - doesn't seem to know who they are.  Annoyed
   by their attention, he doesn't like when they touch him.  He smiles
   sometimes,  tries to get up when the girl comes in the afternoon.
   Reaches out to her and she puts his pipe in his hand, touches
   his head, smiles at the boy my uncle is now.
   Last week I was at a printing shop near Jerusalem with only
   one press but pages were pulled and smoothed through rollers.
   Levers rose and fell, ink flowed,  letters became sentences.
   It wasn't the King's printer but then Uncle Harold isn't either.
   Stored time
   Sometimes I want to feel thin and flat
   not thick and full of flesh
   like a fish throbbing for the pond.
   I want to be transparent
   fill a corner of a cave
   dark with the stench of stored time
   till my daughters grow up
   till their father becomes
   the man I'm looking for.
   I'll tell my daughters and
   their father stories
   about the cave and how
   sunshine is like a basket of bronze
   that coming home is
   like a wedding.
   This is home, I'm home
   I'll scream
   I'm blessed in such a home.
   My route is feverish heights to
   disordered depths
   then home once more.
   Controlling memories
   I want to pick the apples from the tree behind my daughter's house,
   make apple sauce, at least gather the fallen for salad.
   I watch them roll into the grass, bird-pocked like grieving pomegranates.
   They're not worth the trouble, my daughter says.
   Leaves shingle the grass with crusty shapes.
   I slide over, paddle along.
   The swooshing hugs my shoes as I think of apple pies, clear jelly.
   At her cafe, my daughter bakes cornmeal muffins
   with rosemary and red pepper to be served with vegetable chili.
   By mid-morning she's made apple tarts, but from apples
   the grocer sends me  she says  mine are not good quality.
   That afternoon I go with my father to 8th Avenue, where we lived
   when I was a child.  I look for the tree that spread over most of the yard.
   The apples were a bit sour, I remember, green with a red slash on the side.
   The yard looked too large; the tree wasn't there.
   Another was in the very same place, a sapling
   with wrinkled, pleated fruit.  They're plums, I see, when I come close.
   Hadn't been picked, hanging heavy from each limb.
   Things have changed,  said my father.  The back porch has a place to sit
   The front steps seem wider  I add as we turn to the car.
   Want to talk about the tree but my father has already shut the door.
   The radio is blaring.
   I remembered the tree as clearly as the shape of my father's back
   as he shoveled coal into the furnace by the basement window
   while mother dug in the earth, pulled out lettuce for dinner.
   I'm trying to hold onto something of that home, that time.
   But I need to keep those memories under control, loosen their grip.
   I'm straining to let go, yet afraid that if I do
   there'll be nothing left of me.
   Wiping away the signs
   My father bought a cottage, but not for summering,  for renting
   to others who came to rest among the cedars beside the lake. At the
   beginning of the season my parents  would bring me and my sisters, work for
   a week to repair the ravages of winter, replace broken glass,  return
   shingles to the roof, fix the stair-boards.  Get the place ready for summer
   fun, then take us home to the city, making sure,  from there,  that each
   tenant passed the key to the next.
   At the end of August, we'd go again.  The colors had changed.  Greens
   flattened,  but the heat still slapped my face.  Hard to believe that summer
   didn't burn there all year long.   This time my folks repaired the ravages
   of summer. They'd send us to the beach.  I played with my sisters till
   mother came with lunch.  She'd sit for a while, her feet in the water.  Cold
   chicken and potato salad tasted different at the lake, store-bought cookies
   had coconut ground so fine it was hardly there.
   My husband tells me how he summered with his family at Winnipeg Beach.  They
   rented a cottage for the month, no repairs, no seasonal damage, no sloppy
   tenants, just fun.  He went to the roller rink in the evenings, a chance to
   be with girls, he said.  Cultus Lake also had a rink, but I couldn't skate.
   I pressed up against the fence, watched boys take girls into the swinging
   crowd.  I'd find a couple that looked like they could skate forever;  watch
   till I was dizzy, my fingers in the spaces of the fence.
   Time wrapped around the rink.
   One girl came every night.  As soon as she fastened her skates a boy would
   lean towards her.  She was born pretty.  My feet throbbed,  hands itched -
   the pale part of me stared.  Sometimes I stayed till the rink closed, my
   parents on the porch drinking tea when I came back,  the music twisting in
   me.  I wanted to be a skater, a pretty girl, propped up by a boy who would
   hold me the way a young tree is staked, I would be beautiful, I believed,
   because he'd reached for me.
   Back in the city I'd plan how I would be next summer,
   but those plans got treaded like a car moving over snow.
   The impossible tangled up in me.
   I know what is possible now.
   As clear as instructions for Campbell's soup,
   I know that anything can happen.
   A Trade
   Tracks clung to the grating
   hard and quiet droppings
   waiting obediently
   like pine logs dry and unable.  Flies
   droned, fanning the bitter stench
   that labeled the house.
   Pale children
   snapped marbles by the curb
   saliva on their chins.  The sun
   strained through oak leaves.
   Potatoes rotted.  I hated that place
   reminded me of the backyard
   of an old man I called
   the witch's husband.
   I  never looked over the fence
   just held my nose
   as I walked by on my way home
   from school.  I was in grade two
   not old enough
   to know I could take another route.
   By grade three I walked on 7th
   one block over.
   I found a bush with white luscious roses
   that turned to me.
   Older now I traded the old man's smell
   for the scent of dreams.
   Paying my respects
   In a bitter rain, I crowded up with other wet visitors
   to enter Shakespeare's house.  I pass a display of shoes
   from that time, no right or left, the guide points out.
   Leather uppers and metal platform lowers.
   Good for a day like this, he chuckles.
   My shoes have softened in the rain, wet seeps into the carpet.
   The house stayed dry, I hear, with Oak from the forest of Arden
   and stone from Wilmcote.
   I lean forward, see writing fragments
   a 1594 edition of Venus and Adonis
   hear the man in front say:
   Shakespeare couldn't spell.
   He took part in his own plays
   the guide says,  there was no full manuscript,
   each actor received his own part with
   stage instructions.
   I go toward a window with shriveled frame, move
   closer, see Thomas Carlyle, 1800 scratched below, then
   Walter Scott.   Keats in the center
   Hardy marked in the right hand corner.
   Damp and chilled, I join the procession - pay my respects,
   think of my own writing, how I forget
   most of what I've written once it's on the page.
   Only remember what needs to stay.
   In the rain again, in the rose garden, a Noblean
   wide as a chrysanthemum and a short Tuscany bloom
   withstand the wind.  Hazlenuts, surfacing the yard
   curve under foot.
   Fresh Asparagus
   She'd fill a pot up with water, salt it, put it on the flame
   but not for cabbage.
   She'd stand fresh asparagus branches or let artichokes
   hit the bottom
   or seafood come to a quick roll.  She'd toss in linguine strands
   or ravioli pads, but never
   cabbage.  The smell takes her to her grandmother's stories
   of the camps when
   cabbage black with worms was handed out like truffles.
   Cabbage is dull, she'd say
   but really meant too stoked with sadness.
   I should have
   had more children.
   A daughter in this dry land
   is hardly a birthing
   hardly a son
   hardly a soldier
   a male with a gun

   All Poems Copyright (c) 2001 Rochelle Mass



   Publishing acknowledgements:
   Some of the poems have been published in:
   The Jerusalem Review, Women's Studies Quarterly, Midstream, Alternatives,
   Kimera, Voices, Taproot, Determinations South, Kibbutz Trends, Dybbuk of
   Delight, IAWE Anthology  and the web: Poetry Magazine,  Girlswrite, 
   Poetry Life & Times.
   Timing - Reuben Rose Poetry Competition, 2nd prize
   "Where's my Home" and "Timing " appeared in Where's my Home?, poems by
   Rochelle Mass, published by Premier Poets Series, Rhode Island. USA.


A New Age: The Centipede Network Of Artists, Poets, & Writers
An Informational Journey Into A Creative Echonet [9310]
(C) CopyRight "I Write, Therefore, I Develop" By Paul Lauda

       Welcome to Newsgroup alt.centipede. Established 
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       Even a chance to be published in a magazine.

       The original Centipede Network was created on May 16, 1993. 
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       We consider Centipede to be a Public Network; however, its a
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  . REMEMBERY: EPYLLION IN ANAMNESIS (1996), poems by Michael R. Collings

  . DYNASTY (1968), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE WIZARD EXPLODED SONGBOOK (1969), songs by KJ Gerken
  . STREETS (1971), Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . BLOODLETTING (1972) poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . ACTS (1972) a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . RITES (1974), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FULL BLACK Q (1975), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . ONE NEW FLASH OF LIGHT (1976), a play by KJ Gerken
  . THE BLACKED-OUT MIRROR (1979), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . JOURNEY (1981), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . LADIES (1983), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FRAGMENTS OF A BRIEF ENCOUNTER (1984), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE BREAKING OF DESIRE (1986), poems by KJ Gerken
  . FURTHER SONGS (1986), songs by KJ Gerken
  . POEMS OF DESTRUCTION (1988), poems by KJ Gerken
  . THE AFFLICTED (1991), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . DIAMOND DOGS (1992), poems by KJ Gerken
  . KILLING FIELD (1992), a poem by KJ Gerken
  . BARDO (1994-1995), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . FURTHER EVIDENCES (1995-1996) Poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . CALIBAN'S ESCAPE AND OTHER POEMS (1996), by Klaus J. Gerken 
  . CALIBAN'S DREAM (1996-1997), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE LAST OLD MAN (1997), a novel by Klaus J. Gerken
  . WILL I EVER REMEMBER YOU? (1997), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . SONGS FOR THE LEGION (1998), song-poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . REALITY OR DREAM? (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . APRIL VIOLATIONS (1998), poems by Klaus J. Gerken
  . THE VOICE OF HUNGER (1998), a poem by Klaus J. Gerken

  . SHACKLED TO THE STONE, by Albrecht Haushofer - translated by JR Wesdorp

  . MZ-DMZ (1988), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . DARK SIDE (1991), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . STEEL REIGNS & STILL RAINS (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . BLATANT VANITY (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ALIENATION OF AFFECTION (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . LIVING LIFE AT FACE VALUE (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HATRED BLURRED (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . CHOKING ON THE ASHES OF A RUNAWAY (1993), ramblings by I. Koshevoy
  . BORROWED FEELINGS BUYING TIME (1993), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HARD ACT TO SWALLOW (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . HALL OF MIRRORS (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy
  . ARTIFICIAL BUOYANCY (1994), ramblings by Igal Koshevoy

  . THE POETRY OF PEDRO SENA, poems by Pedro Sena
  . THE FILM REVIEWS, by Pedro Sena
  . THE SHORT STORIES, by Pedro Sena
  . INCANTATIONS, by Pedro Sena

  . POEMS (1970), poems by Franz Zorn

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