INTRODUCTION KLAUS J. GERKEN On the Poetry of Moshe Benarroch and David E. Cowan CONTENTS MOSHE BENARROCH Horses Total eclipse Tiredness Forgetfulness Self Censorship Cancer Marginalized Hit The Road La mère et la mer Under my tongue The man who never saw rain Babel How small is the universe The Poet's Blood Country The Poets Declaration Of Independence A very distant country Mother Moroccan Middle A Jewish Dream A Bird Reads Here The world Sand The Road 7 POEMAS EN ESPA¥OL Mujerme Mas Duro Encuentro Caballos El Yoreh Las Buenas Intenciones Y La Mala Leche El camino mas largo DAVID E. COWAN Winter Crossing: Topeka 1997 Burnt Roses The Natural Order Of Things Christmas Alley Morning Tai Chi At Memorial Park Jaime's Thorns The Pray For Me Lady Infidelity Howl Of The Madwoman Of East Adams Carlos' Garden Bebe's Walk Popeye Dancing In The Rain Audience With The Creator Under The Bridge Papa's Photograph American Anthem Barclay Square POST SCRIPTUM Moshe Benarroch's list of publications David E. Cowan's list of publications
Some (quite young) person wrote me the other day: "Your magazine and your poetry is outdated. It no longer reflects the present. It is no longer 'Hip'." My immediate answer was not printable, but the truth I had to deal with was rather more mundane, but of a truth that present generations, raised on the itinerary or musical flavour of the moment, can hardly comprehend. I answered: "When you have read (and understood) the complete english literature from the Anglo Saxon to the present; when you have done the same of the literature of Egypt, China, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Italy, France and Germany. Let alone India, Japan, and other not so noticeable, but just as relevant literary traditions, then you may understand how time passes, how literature and even music represents a present possibility which history redefines and merges with a greater reality." It is this tradition that drives poetry: future and present. With poetry, music, art, the past is our foundation, no matter how present elements try to break it down. The most revolutionary of movements, surrealism, was based on DADA, and DADA was based on Rimbaud and Malarme's "revolution". But each pretended to break down barriers which really were never there. Poets have a long tradition (from Sappho to Martial; Chaucer... Gay and Browing) of entertaining the present with their verses. But it has never been known ( until the 20th century) that poets have denied their traditions...their foundations. And that is why I introduce the following poets: both, whom will be featured at the prominent Austin, Texas poetry festival: Moshe Benarroch, born in Morocco, of Jewish and spanish heritage, migrated to Jerusalem, where he resides today as one of Israel's most distinguished poets; and, on the other continent, David E. Cowan, who resides in Houston, Texas, and grew up in "an area of Texas known as the Rio Grande Valley, on the border with Mexico". Both of these poets, though worlds apart, share a common denominator: they are substantial in their foundation. Moshe Benarroh's poetry is like a row of marble pillars holding up a temple's massive roof. It is classic in design, and modern in it's intentions. Each line of his poetry is a precise incision into the thoughts, feelings and history of it's author: not just the author's life, but the history of cultures as they merge within him, his family and his relations. In "The Immigrant's Lament", published in Ygdrasil (July 1998), he writes: "Where is my house now "where are the walls where I grew up now "who is in my house now "the house my grandfather built "built every stone in it "the house in which I played with my brother "and run in its corridors "who lives in my house now "Arabs live in my home now "and I "live in an Arab house "the immigrant who lived here "may be writing poems now." He interweaves the past with the present, the political with the personal. He is a cosmopolitan poet who marvels at life and his surrounding. He marvels at the universe: "I keep watching amazed "at how small the universe can be "in my mind. (How small is the universe) He is a poet who both understands and does not understand his role in society. He is a man at peace with himself, but yet, he is not at peace. "I was born too late "in a world too young." (Tiredness) And through all this, he never ceases to question. And he never ceases to answer his own questions, no matter how difficult the truth may be. And he watches the world with precise and critical eyes. In "Horses", where the world is suddenly overrun by out of control equines, he merges the apocalyptic with hope, and then in the same breath rips that hope away in a powerful crescendo of both condemnation and despair. Society has a lot to learn. "and you, in bed, you'll look at me "despaired, waiting for rescue "I will look at you and suddenly "I will become "a red horse." His words have the power of authority. When he speaks, he speaks knowing that he has thought a long time about these things. And he has been clear in his thinking. And finally, after all the questions, the searching, he declares his own utopia. "I am a one man country "I never declare wars "and I do not have territorial claims "from my neighboring countries "I am a country of one man "who gets along with his wife." (Declaration of Independence) David E. Cowan. on the other hand, is a poet of wide open spaces as defined in the more modern American culture. He paints his images with a vast sweep, from the large alienated streets: "shotgun houses, rimmed with iron wrought flowers "circumventing shallow stepped porches "and aluminum armored doors, "line the street on both sides; "outcroppings of old stumps in a cleared field" (Winter Crossing: Topeka 1997) to a very personal memorial to his father: "I have never seen Papa's grave. "I pull into the driveway of the cemetery; "knowing I need to do it; "I plan out my emotions; "how long I will cry; "what I will say to him "as if he could hear me; "how long I will stand in silence; "when I will turn away "and walk slowly to the car." (Burnt Roses) His eyes and ears see hear and record everything with a precision that is breathtaking. He has the ability to draw us into his own world and allow us to build an empathy with it. In Moshe Benarroch's poetry we are drawn into the world of the exiled poet, alienated from all the cultures he has been brought up in, and therefore, forced to create his own culture. Here he we are immersed in a much more familiar world, the world of family and friends, husbands, wives, sisters and brothers. It is a world with more immediate less restricted traditions. A new world. An urban world. Unlike Moshe Benarroch, David E. Cowan, rather than being an exile, is a poet in his own back yard. The contrast is staggering. Both these poets have much to teach us. Moshe Benarroch through his clear concise lines, and his merging of past and future; cultures and traditions. David E. Cowan through his precise observations, where he lets modern american culture speak to us through his own words. And, to return to the beginning. Both these poets build on deep and long traditions. Neither poetry was created in a vacuum. The foundation endures. Moshe Benarroch will be reading at the Austin, Texas Poetry Festival through the 14th and 18th of April 99. Klaus J. Gerken
MOSHE BENARROCH Horses ~~~~~~ And they will come running galloping galloping gray black blue horses forgotten horses horses from all the centuries will come to crush everything they see women men and children and donkeys and foxes and dogs and cats Come they will Come horses and more horses and nobody will be able to stop them not atomic bombs nor gases nor chemicals nor viruses they will be the strongest horses that ever existed horses that recall all the injustices made and to be made and the man will ask Why in my time Why in my house Why my family and my children and nobody will be able to answer the blue horses, the celestial horses those will be the worst destroying 200 story buildings destroying tanks and planes blowing them apart and the president will calm and the specialists will analyze and the televisions will speak but nothing will help more and more horses will come out of nowhere horses appearing suddenly in front of people walking on the streets and you, in bed, you'll look at me despaired, waiting for rescue I will look at you and suddenly I will become a red horse.
Total eclipse ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sometimes she is a memory sometimes a line of a poem met her in a total eclipse thousands years ago left her when the sun left the moon her dark-skinned breast and her deep big eyes her Djerbian beauty her Parisian sensuality she's in Paris now if you see her she has forgotten me well into her marriage her travel agency work but I touched her breasts when I couldn't penetrate her her breast when they were young before they did mother I knew them before her husband did if you see her she may say she doesn't remember if you asked me any day I would have said a surprised who but now she's lines of poetry breasts full of metaphors eyes lighting my letters like poetry forever she is the love that never was.
Tiredness ~~~~~~~~~ This tiredness is going through the teeth tiredness all over my bones generations of tiredness tiredness from so much future I was born so old that I never was young so old that I was never healthy never had teeth wishing to bite this world wishing to wallow all this meat these pastries coming with so many pesticides I was born too late in a world too young.
Forgetfulness ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As a good plate forgotten deep in the freezer that someone took out at the right moment as if the meat was waiting to be eaten in this precise day in which the smoke is converted into pure mountains air thanks to that forgetfulness.
Self Censorship ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Poet now that you can say whatever you want that nobody is going to incarcerate you that nobody is going to kill you what are you waiting for? or maybe you have nothing left to say why are you escaping within meanless metaphors of superfluous images? why do you get lost in the words and lose the meaning? Who is censoring you? are you censoring yourself to get a prize to be seen in t.v. to be honored so you can be forgotten.
Cancer ~~~~~~ I am afraid to have Cancer afraid of writing on this fear afraid of having Cancer because I am afraid afraid of the fact that not even this fear can save me.
Marginalized ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Reading Ten marginal Cuban poets I see that nine of them were in favor of the revolution until they became anti-revolutionaries and became great poets with very little freedom some exiled others destroyed If I make a revolution one day I will learn from Castro and kill all and I mean all those which are in my favor and end the revolution and all the fucking revolutionaries that one day become anti-revolutionary and then a poet like me in a chilly day in Jerusalem in a rotten and Democratic office between one accounting work and another will be able to read some poets who wrote good poems in wheel chairs in jails in exile with their own blood and to enjoy such good poetry. Long live the revolution the anti-revolution Castro and ContraCastro!
Hit The Road ~~~~~~~~~~~~ They told you take the baton head for the road graze with the roses this is not your house leave your home this is not your house They told you kill the horses destroy the towers demolish the floor take the sandals and kiss the road They told you this is not your land this is not your country this is not your religion this is not your people you are not you and the branches of the tree were weeping because a huge branch was not letting them grow.
La mère et la mer ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The sea is the mother the water the uterus the waves our caress the sea is the mother the matter of the world the sea not the land the mother the lonely waves one by one gives us life until they tire us and take our lives wave after wave life after life we disappear while the sea remains.
Under my tongue ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My mother tongue is Spanish My country's tongue is Hebrew My lover tongue is French My poem tongue is English You may think I am happy to live in all this languages I can never decide how to talk or where to walk and what is the language of my T-shirt or how should I speak to the mirror you may think that I am lucky having rich people's troubles
The man who never saw rain ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ When he saw it the warmest summer of the century he thought that the skies were crying so he started to cry himself he felt pity for God whose creation has been destroyed his tears melted with the rain until they reached the soil and the ocean his tears were not in vain a young woman came to him kissed him on the cheek took him by the hand to her home offered him a vegetable soup and alleviated him for his life without tears.
Babel ~~~~~ Seems like a thousand years ago we met and had the same discussions somewhere in Spain These discords seem to go forever seem to have been born with us and look like they'll never die Even if the world is destroyed even then in the air our words will go on discussing themselves words without the need of voices words without people fighting forever, unable to understand each other.
How small is the universe ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Today the universe is very small I can hold it in my hand caress it if I want destroy it if I want play with the stars like a juggler play with the planets with humankind with aliens instead I keep watching amazed at how small the universe can be in my mind.
The Poet's Blood ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Oh people I have walked your cities but you have not listened You talked to me of Mercy I have cried in your streets And I have shred my clothes apart I have torn my skin apart but you have not seen my blood You were drinking your wine inside your houses talking about God, Atheism and Justice Oh people I have walked your sidewalks unshold till my feet were flesh till there was no more blood still you couldn't touch my pain and my joy still you didn't hear my silence.
Country ~~~~~~~ I asked Morocco to be my country and it was not my country and I asked Spain to be my country and it no longer was I asked Israel to be be my country and still it was not my country I asked exile to be my country. I wanted the Hebrew language to be my country but it did not return my love I wanted Spanish to be my country and it was not granted I pleaded the birds for directions they spoke to me of clouds talked to my Moroccan grandfathers and they spoke to me of Spain talked with them about Spain they answered me Jerusalem spoke of Jerusalem they talked about the shrine spoke about the shrine they talked about Lucena spoke about Lucena They answered: Granada. I sat them altogether in one table and asked them where is my country A big silence exploded and with that silence I walk the streets seeking another silence.
The Poets ~~~~~~~~~ They no longer censure us no longer they kill us no longer they put us in the jail there's no need we censure ourselves we carry the censorship in our brain We are not dead but we live in caves and nobody sees the light of the sun they don't give a damn they know very well that no one reads us that poetry has died even if the poets are alive.
Declaration Of Independence ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I am a one man country in my country I tolerate everything my country is lay and religious fundamentalist and liberal I make elections whenever I want and step the frontier without any problem I am not represented in the UN so I don't cause troubles to anybody in my country I am the prime minister and the eternal immigrant my frontiers go with me wherever I go and my government does not ask for money I am a one man country I never declare wars and I do not have territorial claims from my neighboring countries I am a country of one man who gets along with his wife.
A very distant country ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I come from a very distant country and I have this to say: I am very tired my tongue is dry when I speak I don't understand what I say when I am quiet I hear voices asking me to speak for them I come from a very distant country one in which the trees were still green my father lost his home when he was fourteen years old my father disappeared when I was six years old I am so tired that even my sandals need a bed so please do not ask me to work pity me if you let me rest I will tell you the most beautiful tales the tales of my country, please let me rest rest rest....
Mother ~~~~~~ 1. Where are we going Mother? We are going to our country to our land. Where is our country Mother? I can not say its name it is forbidden. Is our country far away? At the other side of the sea, son. The trip is it long? Two thousand years long three weeks on the roads five hours of plane. And the children in that country, how are they? All Jews, like you. And How am I? 2. Have we arrived yet, Mother? Years ago, son. Because mother, I do not see that we have arrived these are not Jews like me. This are your people, this is your country. But, mother, I do not see the trees of my childhood and the peoples' words seem very strange. 'Esto es lo que hay'. (This is all there is to be.) But you promised me we were going to our country and this is not my country this are not my people these are not my Jews. You can leave it. Where to, mother? In my hometown neither my double nor my shade lives anymore my children were born here and even they look like strangers to me my woman is from another country she doesn't know our traditions my languages are all different from the human languages I do not have where to return I have no country I have no people and this journey doesn't end there is no way to finish it, I am forever stuck in that four in the morning The last smell of coffee with milk in the coffee-pot leaving toward Ceuta and seeing Algeciras from the sea Remaining forever in that nocturnal trip that never sees the light of day and no matter how I try I am a foreigner here in this homeland that you longed for so long now that you say to me mother that I can go to Spain with my enlarged tribe that I should head toward another exile another place that became exile like Israel, Jerusalem, Tetuan, Lucena all our homelands become exiles.
Moroccan ~~~~~~~~ I always had the feeling that the reasons for which I was published in Israeli magazines were extraneous they needed a Moroccan a sefardi to see themselves as liberals but they never understood anything of what I was saying convinced that if I am speaking about Morocco I am not speaking about the world.
Middle ~~~~~~ In the middle of the hustle in the middle of the commerce in the middle of life she sat there the left-handed poetess in the middle of her twenties writing immature poems rhyming with the same word in the middle of the crazy race in the middle of the day everybody out to drink coffee in the middle of work and in all of this madness she sat long black hair concentrated on her full notebook lightening the insanity showing people their running is useless that they are in the middle of nothing.
A Jewish Dream ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I dreamed an atomic bomb fell in tel aviv and there was of course a big mess and many dead and then people discovered that the jews are not sensible to radioactivity because of the circumcision and because it is done on the eighth day and not after months or years and then everybody understood that Abraham was a genius and a great expert of nuclear physics.
A Bird Reads ~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the transition of the seasons when the gallant wind blows a bird sits and reads the whole torah a bird sits and reads all the prophet's words a bird sits and reads the chronicles of the world a bird sits and reads and praises the creator of the world and people pass and watch and say hey beautiful bird beautiful bird who reads their whole hearts.
Here ~~~~ in these streets the angel who walked before me helped me walk prevented me from falling saved me when I had a car accident in the head near the synagogue in the head of the year here in these streets so empty from me I cried for the first time I smiled for the first time and from here I traveled everywhere now I came back seeking understanding from the houses, the streets, the sidewalks, the people.
The world ~~~~~~~~~ the world is becoming more and more like a family discussing to death the heritage of a few houses while outside there is an earthquake.
Sand ~~~~ it took me twenty years to learn to cry in Hebrew then my words became mild as a stone whose secret has been revealed by the rain that it was made of sand.
The Road ~~~~~~~~ the road gets longer as the city of our dreams gets closer.
7 POEMAS EN ESPAÑOL ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ MUJERME ~~~~~~~ Mujer me penetras como la ola penetra la arena me abrazas y desapareces vuelves pero eres una nueva ola diferente me mojas para dejarme seco y de noche son las tormentas los maremotos me pregunto si es amor o guerra después viene el descanso días de poniente, sin olas me seco esperando que vengas otra vez, hola ola.
Mas Duro ~~~~~~~~ Es un amor maduro no una ilusión pasajera lo hemos destruido ya mil veces y mil y una vez se vuelve a levantar primera mujer destinados desde antes de nacer a la edad de cuarenta días es una amor maduro un amor cada día mas duro cada pared que rompemos fortalece las fundaciones.
ENCUENTRO ~~~~~~~~~ Si vienes un viernes antes del Shabbatt y me dices lo que quiero oir y me cuentas cuentos de los nuestros si vienes y no estoy en casa ese mismo día después de esperarte tanto de añorarte tanto si has venido ya muchas veces siempre el día que no estoy y me llamas por teléfono cuando estoy hablando es porque nuestro encuentro es imposible porque el tiempo es lo que nos separa te ame en el siglo doce tu me amaste en el veinte.
CABALLOS ~~~~~~~~ Y vendrán vendrán corriendo cabalgando caballos azules negros grises caballos olvidados caballos de todos los siglos vendrán a aplastar cuanto vean todo hombres mujeres y niños y burros y zorros y perros y gatos Vendrán mas y mas caballos y nadie podrá pararlos ni bombas atómicas ni gases ni química ni virus serán los caballos mas fuertes que existieron caballos que recuerdan todas las injusticias hechas y por hacer y el hombre se preguntara porque en mi tiempo porque mi casa porque mi familia y mis hijos y nadie podrá responder los caballos azules, los caballos celestes esos serán los peores acabaran con inmuebles de 200 pisos destruirán tanques y aviones soplando sobre ellos y el presidente calmara y los especialistas analizaran y los televisores hablaran pero nada ayudara vendrán mas y mas caballos de ningún lado caballos que aparecen de pronto en frente de gente andando por las calles y tu, en la cama, me miraras desesperada, esperando mi rescate te mirare y de pronto me convertiré en caballo rojo.
El Yoreh ~~~~~~~~ Yoreh en hebreo es 'Primera lluvia.' Todo pasará en octubre Después del Yoreh es un año nuevo Todo pasará en octubre Ganaré un premio mis poemas serán tan buenos que las mujeres se desmayarán en octubre después de la primera lluvia mi esposa me amara y mis hijos serán bellos en octubre gotas de lluvia se convertirán en oro en mis manos todo pasara en octubre Ganaré la lotería la polución desaparecerá y descubriremos que el siglo veinte fue solo un sueño y podremos ver la luz del sol en octubre la luz sera hermosa.
Las Buenas Intenciones Y La Mala Leche ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Te roban tu memoria con buenas intenciones despues te dicen que no tienes historia que eres primitivo quieren que su pasado sea el tuyo para poder imponerte un presente que no entiendes cuando empiezas a acordarte intentan ayudarte te dicen que estas locos y hasta tu ya no sabes si es memoria o imaginación sucesos o televisión ellos tampoco saben pero tienen miedo de tus memorias son la prueba de su represión.
El camino mas largo ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Querido amigo creo que todavía no te has dado cuenta la fama del poeta es un cuento chino no creas que por que has vendido diez mil o veinte mil libros que porque hayas recibido premios o porque te invitan a festivales o a la tele que tu poesía ha ganado el combate empieza unos veinte años despues de la muerte y algunos lo empezaron famosos otros desconocidos y tampoco es que se acabe a los cuarenta y el que gana el combate es el que ha engendrado poemas que saben luchar por si mismos sin la ayuda del poeta poemas que cambian cada mes según el lector o el medio ambiente, asi que es un combate en el que nunca sabrás si ganaste. Preparate para el camino. Mas largo no puede ser. Copyright (c) by Moshe Benarroch
DAVID E. COWAN Winter Crossing: Topeka 1997 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ the horn of the Santa Fe Chief lingers in the crisp air, an audio phonic pastel gently clacking on the long, black rails on Fourth Street the snow has graduated from its innocence into a demon of salted sludge; shotgun houses, rimmed with iron wrought flowers circumventing shallow stepped porches and aluminum armored doors, line the street on both sides; outcroppings of old stumps in a cleared field gray splattered doves an orchestration of soft sighs huddle along the base of bared trees as if sculpted on the exposed roots two rows of fogged cars silver trails of melted snow on their windshields their exhausts choking on the brittle cold wait as the stripped-armed wooden sentry adorned with flashing helmet deliberately exercises the duties of its office at the intersection icicles rattle on broken pavement shaken by the movement of grain cars clicking in cadence as they pass the guarded crossing vapors rise from the nostrils of the cars, some snorting impatiently the clatter fades like a dying wind into a faint whisper the sentry stiffly salutes allowing the procession of glazed, glistening vehicles to move forward, they seem to stretch before rising and entering the asphalt convergence the coos of the doves supplants the prattle of the boxcars; a change of paintings on a wall a bundled man turns onto the street walking a red dog on a green leash both puffing bursts of vapor their feet disturbing the encrusted walk.
Burnt Roses ~~~~~~~~~~~ There was a stillness in the lights of the candles; the red one, that the priest said showed Jesus was near, stagnant in the faint rise of incense, roses and smoke; two white vases of yellow lilies, an afterthought donation from the ladies club left over from an earlier mass, added symmetry to the display. The half lid was raised with an unseen arm; his stiff upper torso like a fossil exposed in rock by a stinging wind. Mama lined us up in single file; my new Christmas clip on tie pinching the folds of my skin; she smoothed my hair before I walked up to the coffin. I took my turn in line focused on the lines in his face chiseled now in blue gray stone painted with flesh tone. I did not cry or shirk; I look then move on allowing my sisters their turn my eyes watering from the overbearing smell growing with the smoldering scent. ******** you could see the nerves surfacing in the palsy shake of his hands as he fumbled with the coins in his shirt pocket dropping them on the large dining table some falling flat, some spinning before spilling over. He had that look again; his slicked--back hair raised to a point over his scalp; his sharp brown eyes recessed in small sockets clinging to a reddened nose. He pushed the coins to me instructing me to get one pack of Lucky's with a nickel for myself. I hurried along the front walk as he watched me from the broke porch door tripping on a foot scraper shaped like a dull blade; losing the coins in the grass. Papa screamed at me as I sat crying near an anthill desperately searching for the lost money; I recovered only half; I sat crying on the brown patch as Papa came toward me still angry, not listening to my pleas-- I cannot recall the resolution of this quandary. It is a puff of old incense rising above his box. ******** the elevator jolted as it began to move slowly my brothers laughed at my apprehension of the novelty of riding the wood laden car; the doors slide open slowly to the corridor of Papa's office; a door with a name. Papa lifted me with strong hands onto his lap and pointed to the rising revelry on the street below. It is only three floors; but the people all seem so small and harmless; toy horses strutting behind play soldiers carrying tiny banners and flags. The height does not bother me, safe in Papa's arms, squeezing me as he talks about past parades and crowds; safely distant from his office window. ******* I cannot bear the smell of incense; I know its purpose; it cannot cover the smell of the dead. ******* Ms. Colunga called me into her office with little Katie; a special treat; we would wait for Mama to pick us up at her house. We wait through reruns of Howdie Doodie and Rifleman; past the news; into the dark and Mercury Theater. Each time we ask when Mama is to come we are treated with cookies and soda. We fall asleep on mats with small square pillows with white covers. The next day Mama comes in a friend's car and we get to skip school; she mentions Papa in passing; we shake our heads as if we understand; then ask about Papa ; Mama's tears slip onto her cheeks on the drive home. ****** Kennedy was shot in November; Papa died in January; I was six and used to confuse the dates. I thought Papa died with Kennedy; a PT Boat hero I would look at Kennedy's picture from a 1963 almanac and think of Papa; Papa had been too old for the war Mama told me and I had the dates wrong. She would smile and run her fingers through my hair; I always cry when I see film footage of the white horses pulling his coffin and little John John saluting his father. I wanted to salute Papa too, but he had no horses to pull him ******** Mama doesn't let me see the burial. I go home with Katie to play with new toys from the neighbors. I argue but she wins. I sulk over a stuffed bear missing an eye; the smell of the day still in my clothes. My sisters tell me to be quiet and stop being ungrateful when I complain about the eye. Everything seems imperfect; glass smudged with fingerprints from over handling. ****** I have never seen Papa's grave. I pull into the driveway of the cemetery; knowing I need to do it; I plan out my emotions; how long I will cry; what I will say to him as if he could hear me; how long I will stand in silence; when I will turn away and walk slowly to the car. My car always stops reverses and moves down the street passing the always open black gates; a faint hint of burning roses rising in my car.
The Natural Order Of Things ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Carl's father first saw him, walking down by the old creek the Corps had carved around to create Beuscher Lake; clover and lichen spreading from the brief sides of the twisting canal to the edge of the water, slowly filling in the hole. We could see him jump back as if something had intruded on his morning constitutional; he ran back toward us, something in the grass ran away from him. Carl's father gathered his tribe: his four sons, myself and a neighbor's husband; a thin man with round glasses and a neatly pressed oxford. We reconnoitered near the creek bed, complimenting each other on the tread marks from our sneakers imprinting the dew-soaked ground. "He's in the brush pile," someone said. We soft-stepped toward the mound of gray logs covered with fungus and twigs; thinking its existence was somehow natural, part of the order of things; unaware of the chain scars on the wood, and the cries of uncertain loons circling for a place to land on the emerging lake. The neighbor took a lighter to a twig poking it into the scrub; the heat and light began to rise against the early wind; the snake sought its escape. We heard the rattle as it moved in the heart-shaped green leaves of the clover; almost graceful. We were ancient hunters, grabbing for broken branches like pulling the bones from a bleached carcass, and beat on the ground. The snake did not recoil or seek retribution for the blows; it just kept running, until finally a lucky blow on the skull ended its flight. Carl's dad got out an oversized pickle jar, like those the cafeteria ladies take home to store their sewing scraps; coiling it into the glass; its flattened, sneering mouth resting on folds of broken skin. "It's a good thing we killed it," he said, holding up the diamond scaled fangs, "you never know who it might have hurt." We nodded in agreement, trying to stoke the futile flames, of a smoking stub of wood in a ring of rocks, as a light, but steady drizzle began to wet our clothes; another contribution to the half-born lake; a group of white loons swimming uncomfortably in the shallow water.
Christmas Alley ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In the alley next to sweating cans and tied paperboard the smudged gamins form their line of fidgeting motion; their bellies fed with anticipation of the opening of the horizontal accordion door to the back entrance of the store. They push on each other, vying for the first places for the first choices; the younger ones who try to crawl between their legs are pushed down and forced to the back. The familiar unlocking of the padlocks and chains from behind the galvanized barrier dissolves the brief hints of order; hands extend out as if reaching for the tether of a safety ring thrown from a safer shore. The man behind the door grunts as he waves away the wall of tatters and worn shoes with a glowing cigar; a rapier holding back a hydra-headed beast. The throng thickens as the lucky ones in front are handed the boxes of broken-faced dolls, triggerless guns, and armless soldiers; each recipient clutching their prize tightly as they pull away from the prying hands of the pack. The shelves empty, the man screams at the empty stragglers like a pack of dogs being shooed away from eating the trash, releasing the door in their faces; the swath of a dull blade
Morning Tai Chi At Memorial Park ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ occidental blossoms on concrete synchronized to the wind lotus, tiger, crane time-lapsed petals unfold to ancient faces of placidity fluid in step and gesture morning joggers straggle like tired dogs pause in pant at the oddity of the blooms and move on, sniffing the wind as they run
Jaime's Thorns ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jaime's face would be unflinching as the mocking words came flowing from the lettered sweaters lined in the hall, the smiles of those once smiling now denying his humanity, not quite knowing their meaning or the purpose of his ignominy; gold crossed breasts would brush against him in jeering solicitation bringing convulsions of jests as he would run from this temptation to the classroom for shelter. Jaime would gather the burden of all his books on his shoulder in a satchel running in the corridor hoping to escape his tormentors until he reached the swinging doors of the late afternoon bus only to find his Pilate waiting on the front seat. Jaime would sing to Jesus in the choir tears running on his face as he contemplated the crown implanted in his Savior's hair not noticing the legion of his condemners in blue and gray suits acting as ushers escorting the bronzed plate down the rows of pews.
The Pray For Me Lady ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ an old dried leaf slowly pushed on by the wind, she walks, paper bag of nickels clutched in her hand. She's crazy momma says, but she likes to give nickels to the boys and girls who run up behind like dogs begging for meat. She hands out a shiny coin with her brown, shrunken hands, bands of dried beef held together with the black tattered cloth of her sleeve. She'd make each of us promise to pray for her as if she was bartering for her soul. We'd take the money and run down the street, planning out which candies we could buy with our new wealth, forgetting the promise of interceding on behalf of her salvation, telling ourselves that if God won't listen to her, he won't listen to us.
Infidelity ~~~~~~~~~~ like glass shattering on the hard floor of an empty room the admission echoes throughout the household within minutes the green trimmed lawn with its finely tailored edges and contoured hedges is littered with the remnants of a broken union shoes, half-torn pictures, coats and records are strewn on the dirt and concrete like the rotting bodies of a newly discovered atrocity above the screams of hate that shriek through the air like the clashing of birds of prey a single fair-haired child sits quietly in the dark crying as his guardian angel turns away
Howl Of The Madwoman Of East Adams ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Through the sweatened dark she howls not a lost wolf but a lost soul her scream hangs in the heat from a single light in the lean-to rowhouse across the street we shudder in the former quiet of the black and white glow of the television watching a puppet mouse run up the sleeve of a black haired man; lying on the bare linoleum; the only coolness in the house. The howl clings to the hot air like the smell of old grease frying fish; there is no sanctuary from its scraping, grating presence; we inhale it like an irritant released from a punctured tankcar at a derailment; until it muffles in a choking, garbled whine stifled by the blunted, deliberate sound of wood on bone; the sudden vacuum is filled with silence sucked in from an unknown space; which lingers, like the quiet of a spinning coin taking its last rotation before revealing its face; an escalating siren breaks the pause; there will be no more howls.
Carlos' Garden ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ encased within a broken fence, discarded remnants of life: dark mounds of fire ants scale the sides of a rusting bathtub, half covered with Johnson grass; an old washing machine, its top open like the gaping mouth of a dead trout, holds up a pile of broken shingles and rotted wood; a rusted box springs is almost hidden in the spurs and wild sunflowers, like the bleached bones of a large cat who found a good place to die. on a cracking, concrete porch, Carlos sits, in a corroding white metal chair, his sunken eyes glaring at his domain.
Bebe's Walk ~~~~~~~~~~~ Bebe's head jerks up and down as his feet land flat on the sidewalk; his hands, elevated to his chest, dangle from the wrist, useless. We see him moving slowly down the walk, his body splotched with shifting shadow and light from the palm fronds pushed and pulled by the wind. We stop our play to judge his direction. When Bebe sees us he charges, howling and raising his limp hands into the air; we run screaming into the street from this beast. As we run, we hear a different sound; crying and whimpers, and see his crumpled form felled by an uneven edge of concrete. We stop and gloat at his demise as he whines. A gray haired woman comes out of an iron gate behind him, and holds Bebe as his tears flow, sobbing into the comfort of her breast. She stares at us with cold hate, as he shakes in her arms, cursing at us for his pain. We regroup, and move on to another place to play.
Popeye Dancing In The Rain ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Popeye dances on the granite groins in the rain; his rubber soles worn to his skin. The white foam is his reluctant partner pirouetting in sequence with his steps. As he spins, there is a flash of red from the Marlborough box in the torn pocket of his Salvation Army shirt. Popeye laughs at the climbing thunderheads; churning and growling at his defiance of their presence; cock-winged gulls hang overhead, hoping for food. (the children call him Popeye because of his stubbled face and his stories of being a sailor in the Orient trading silk sheets and padded mattresses for cardboard and concrete. Popeye waltzes as the lines of brake lights and angry horns pass relentlessly on the Seawall boulevard; ignoring his final dip with his partner, as his footing is lost on the smooth rock, and he again sails out to sea.
Audience With The Creator ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A black seal sat upon a gray rock disparaging the truth of the sea; the sea rose up in anger, its foamy palm slapping the furred sassing mouth, knocking the seal into the green-brown brine; its rock-torn hide leaking scent to the saw-toothed scavengers who claim lineage from the seeds of the salty main. The sea laughed in amusement as it scraped the rock clean of the memory of the heretic; then lay in calm as another flippered shadow climbed up and demanded an audience with the foam.
Under The Bridge ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ cardboard walls, with shredded terry cloth doors, block out a stinging wind; two children with stringy hair, play with a skinny dog; a mother, her face hard edged with angular lines like chiseled marble, divides three soft apples into four portions; a man in spotted brown pants with mix-matched shoes lies next to her snoring; the job section of the classifieds covering his head.
Papa's Photograph ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ this stranger is common to me; I know him by his absence. His wrinkle-free, white suit and black tie, pressed with straight creases parallel to his posture; his hair oiled back in perfect lines; his tight lips and focused gaze broadcast a demand to acknowledge the power of his presence. God, he was beautiful; but the photo is a lie. His right hand extends out behind him to hide a cigarette he could not put down; the slight puffiness of his eyes a souvenir of an earlier dalliance with a black labeled bottle; and under the tailored, finely pressed suit covering his pale skin, a nest of carcinoma ants builds their home, while their queen lays egg after egg at the center of the mound.
American Anthem ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I have traveled the pitted miles of melting asphalt overlaid on rows of peeling houses with cardboard windows; adorned with grandmothers in white gowns and pink slippers rocking in rusting metal chairs, as if waiting. I have warmed my bare feet on their fraying braided rings of ancient rugs stretched across cold wooden floors of their parlors; the smell of rubbing alcohol loitering in the room. I have seen the youths of these cross-patched neighborhoods riding on the amber waves of their veins, their pain rising with the tide of the needle in their skin; their faces turning red, then white, then blue. I have seen that early light of dawn etched on the shadows of alleys hidden by a carefree moon, transforming the glittering neon streets into dingy avenues of stacked cases of half-empty beers dripping on the walk onto the cardboard forms snoring in the subway stairs. I have slept in the doorways of the finest of establishments, my face against etched glass and the disapproving glance of the night watchman; my hands and feet wrapped in gray cloth discarded at the Goodwill drop; my blanket yesterdays NASDAQ quotes neatly layered over my sweat-soured pants and shirt. I have sat in the puddles of the colonias waiting on the open pit to rise in flame as papa skewers the tire-scarred skinless carcass of an old jackrabbit too slow to cross the road; while my sister feasts on the green mud soaking our skin. I have stood on Coit Hill, breathless from the climb as black limousines pull into the circle to watch the red dusk, my skin tight on my failing frame; avoiding the glances of the plush children emerging from the cars pointing at the skinny man with the sores on his face. I have watched the ramparts of the Galveston Sea Wall while hauling in a net of stinging shrimp, my skin fouled with the smell of dead life, staring at the young girls in pink and red thongs lying prone on unfolded chairs, charring their skin. I have seen the rockets red glare in Centennial Park, as the common tools of labor, shredded the crowd into a ring of blood; while a band played on, the five-ringed flags still there. I have seen the burnt stalks in dry rows being pulled by men with dirty dripping brows, the skin on their hands broken and torn from the fine edges of the crackling, crumbling leaves; their stomachs aching from the fear of the coming winter. I have seen the homes of the brave men, crumpled in wheeled-chairs, their medals pinned to their shirts, as their wavering hands lightly touch their faces in salute to the raising of the morning flag; their raspy voices restating their pledge. I have seen the land of the free men; their spangled flag draped over them, as blackened widows stagger to their boxes laying down one last rose before the silver platform of belts and wheels affixes them to the earth.
Barclay Square ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There are no more nightingales in Barclay Square; only brown leaves and still air. Children do not play at its iron gates; the old ones just sit and wait, their black canes lying on the floor; motor coaches pull up with the tour, taking photographs of the emptiness, to send home to the relatives. Copyright (c)by David E. Cowan
Moshe Benarroch's list of publications: The Immigrant's Lament (1994, poetry, Yaron Golan, editor, Hebrew) The Coming Book (1997, prose, Yaron Golan, editor, Hebrew) The Bread And the Dream (1998, poetry, Haneshama, Hebrew) Moben's Poems (1998, poetry, Ygdrasil Press, English) The Poetry Of The End Of The World (1999, poetry, Yaron Golan, editor, Hebrew) coming very soon: Benshawen (1999, Novel, Bimat Kedem Lesifrut, Hebrew) Esquina en Tetuan (1999, poetry, Esquio, editor, Spanish) David E. Cowan's list of publications: David Cowan has published in RealPoetik, Peng Poets, The River, AtOnline, Wired Hearts, Eclectica Magazine, The Bri-dge (1996-1998), Poetic Voices, My Father's Shoes (1997) Ceteris Paribus, Cosmic Debris (the Debris Field), Advent (Seattle), Sam Houston Literary Review (now known as the Texas Literary Review), Phoebe, Re: Artes, RiversEdge, Droplet Journal, Ultimate Cease Fire (Australia).
Come one, come all! Welcome to Newsgroup alt.centipede. Established just for writers, poets, artists, and anyone who is creative. A place for anyone to participate in, to share their poems, and learn from all. A place to share *your* dreams, and philosophies. Even a chance to be published in a magazine. The original Centipede Network was created on May 16, 1993. Created because there were no other networks dedicated to such an audience, and with the help of Klaus Gerken, Centipede soon started to grow, and become active on many world-wide Bulletin Board Systems. We consider Centipede to be a Public Network; however, its a specialized network, dealing with any type of creative thinking. Therefore, that makes us something quite exotic, since most nets are very general and have various topics, not of interest to a writer--which is where Centipede steps in! No more fuss. A writer can now access, without phasing out any more conferences, since the whole net pertains to the writer's interests. This means that Centipede has all the active topics that any creative user seeks. And if we don't, then one shall be created. Feel free to drop by and take a look at newsgroup alt.centipede
Ygdrasil is committed to making literature available, and uses the Internet as the main distribution channel. On the Net you can find all of Ygdrasil including the magazines and collections. You can find Ygdrasil on the Internet at: * WEB: http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken/ * FTP: ftp://ftp.synapse.net/~kgerken/ * USENET: releases announced in rec.arts.poems, alt.zines and alt.centipede * EMAIL: send email to email@example.com and tell us what version and method you'd like. We have two versions, an uncompressed 7-bit universal ASCII and an 8-bit MS-DOS lineart-enchanced version. These can be sent plaintext, uuencoded, or as a MIME-attachment.
. 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 All books are on disk and cost $10.00 each. Checks should be made out to the respective authors and orders will be forwarded by Ygdrasil Press. YGDRASIL MAGAZINE may also be ordered from the same address: $5.00 an issue to cover disk and mailing costs, also specify computer type (IBM or Mac), as well as disk size and density. Allow 2 weeks for delivery. Note that YGDRASIL MAGAZINE is free when downloaded from Ygdrasil's World-Wide Web site at http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken.
All poems copyrighted by their respective authors. Any reproduction of these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is prohibited. YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts - Copyright (c) 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 & 1998 by Klaus J. Gerken. The official version of this magazine is available on Ygdrasil's World-Wide Web site http://users.synapse.net/~kgerken. No other version shall be deemed "authorized" unless downloaded from there. Distribution is allowed and encouraged as long as the issue is unchanged. All checks should be made out to: YGDRASIL PRESS COMMENTS * Klaus Gerken, Chief Editor - for general messages and ASCII text submissions. Use Klaus' address for commentary on Ygdrasil and its contents: firstname.lastname@example.org * Pedro Sena, Production Editor - for submissions of anything that's not plain ASCII text (ie. archives, GIFs, wordprocessored files, etc) in any standard DOS, Mac or Unix format, commentary on Ygdrasil's format, distribution, usability and access: email@example.com We'd love to hear from you! Or mailed with a self addressed stamped envelope, to: