Poetry From Past Issues

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HOLIDAY POEM              for David and Phillis Gershator

Make your own holiday, I want to say
forget the scolding billboards      the feverish malls
the glittery tinsel      the hard and soft machines       the guilt.
Forget Santa Claus in his red suit
(it was blue in Yugoslavia,
a country that has fallen off the map).
Forget the gross national product      forget Wall Street
     the rising market.
Make your own bread rise in your oven.
Make up new recipes.

Make your own candles, I want to exhort
Make those bees work overtime!
The past glimmers seductively      that happy safe radiant place
where snow wrapped the village in angelhair
and Grandma's cranberries winked like rubies.
They own it now      the conglomerates      the CEO's      the dream dealers.
They sell it back to us in bits and pieces.

They've downsized our fantasies.
They want us all wrapped snugly in electric blankets
dreaming the same-colored dream
while the locked-out people, who can't afford dreams,
play with matches down the street.

Perhaps I shouldn't say a word.
I'm a stranger in this culture.
In the milltown, the stores dazzled us each December.
Red electric bells sang on every corner.
Mothers and neighbors swung through the streets
gathering, gathering
Lionel trains      toasters      perfume      doll furniture      bedroom suites.
(My tether the radical worked overtime
offering, offering
smiling, accepting greetings for a day he had no part in,
coming home exhausted after all the bells winked out
We lit small candles      made pancakes      hung stockings
Santa Claus, my mother allowed      but no Christ child      no pagan tree.
We weren't extremists.)

My mother the 30's radical
trapped in the 50's in a house too small
for alt her talents-even her talent for sorrow-
to/d me, "Don't buy me a holiday card.
Why make tiye card company richer?"
I thought of making my own      pulled out paints
too messy      too lazy       too undextrous      I grew discouraged.
Hallmark could do it better! I
gave nothing at ail those years.

But this year, in the diminishing 90's
when all the old hopeful flames have guttered out,
as the century melts down like a candle
     to a small hard nub,
when too many of us are locked out of our stories
in this dark cold overworked tunnel of time,
I want to give something back to the universe:

I want to be politically correct
(or incorrect, depending on your viewpoint).

I want to say, Let's make a feast,
a feast of candles      a feast of languages
Let's celebrate each other's Gods
(and dreams and histories). Lef s sit down and listen.
Let's do Christmas      Hanukah      Kwanzaa       solstice
Let's invite Buddhists      Muslims      Hindus
     secular humanists      anarchists      Gnostics.
Late December is a needy time. But
we don't need the solace of bought objects.
We need each other's light.

                Enid Dame


"RobertOh Faber... is a Pythoness of deepest
insight/awareness. If you think that's some
kind of snake, use your dictionary" * Will Inman

The pythoness was placed in a box and lowered
into the earth.
Apollo came by, stared a moment into the hole
and went his way.
After speaking a few words that were God's and a
            few that were the pythoness's
we returned to our ships and sailed away
under grimly uncertain skies.

                Donald Lev
   *Pythoness: Awoman who practicies divination.
    A priestess of Apollo



When Verdi was at work composing,
living up the street from La Scala,
the road was strewn with hay
so he wouldn't be disturbed
by the horses' hoofs
beating a counter-tempo against his heart.

When Tony moved into the new neighborhood
he found little trust on the home made streets.
They put down glass so the street lights,
after a hard freezing rain,
would shine up rainbows at all the windows,
including Tony's, and cars would drive by. .

               Barry Wallenstein

Sometimes, there's
so little nourishing
understanding in all
the pantries of the night,
when you wake from
a bad dream with
horror movies in your head
and all the stupid,
superstitious talk of ghosts
as if they were real
there in your bed,
when they are only
in your head
stuffed with guilt
beneath the quaking
        Danela Gioseffi

Young Wolof speaking men display
bright orange, brown and green gowns
for Brooklyn prayer~the mosque Albanian.
Their men preserve gray, peasant wool.
Shoes are placed on shelves and anger dies.

Television dies. City walks let men
quick and clever hawk slit skirts or leather
amid stealth and chaos, sigh sigh sigh.
Cicadas bigger than spoonfuls sing
hymns from maples. Sleek cicada
killers fly and cicadas die.

Blame none. Leave the dead behind.
Sky could freeze, soon,
Albanian and Gambian breaths together.
Roses die, tones of voices offered
above beads held by a human order.

               Nathan Whiting
"Does the Secret Mind Whisper?"
--Bob Kaufman

It left me with trembling legs
and a mind like
               a pile of house timbers
                                      stacked in the wrong lot.

My magnolia tree!
my best friend
             right out back
                            by the raked white sand
                            of my garden

My tree was dead! My darling pearl of life!

The secret mind no longer
whispered through the axions of wonder.

Was I Gone?

There are at least two types of Gone
Beat Gone & Grim Gone

and now I'm like a warped plank in that sinister erasure
I read about once in a Victor Hugo story
a man betrapped in a sink-mire
on a long wide beach

I am the guy whose legs tremble
on the edge of the ward

I'm Gone. Gone to the place
where the Lake can't be crossed

I need help. But this is not a cartoon.
And there is no cartouche
containing any of the necessary words

Well, maybe "Argh!"

and the words of Sartre
"We are alone, with no excuses."

Dope won't help. Tight shoes won't help.
The poems of Rilke won't help.

Help! won't help

There is no secret mind revealing
aught about aught
or thought about thought

in the sprayed X zone of
                               Total Gone

from which I can never recover.

Therefore I am.

               Ed Sanders

Created on ... September 27, 2007