Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. Leonard Cohen

Friday, October 31, 2014

Sonnet For a Nightingale

I thought I heard the nightingale again
But it was only wind under the eave
I doubt that this cruel night will ever end
Should morning come, will it bring a reprieve?

You didn't leave a message, didn't phone
Your absence rings so loudly I can't hear
The night's the hardest time to be alone
But if I must, be kind and make that clear

If blinded to reality, deceit
may force a nightingale to sing all day
But hear the bitterness within the sweet
Its sorrow the false notes do not allay

You keep me in the dark with silent lies
I sing for you through tears and blinded eyes.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Bits of Inspiration, Nightingale

Saturday, October 25, 2014


You always called me
your little tsouris
I thought it was a term of endearment
Like a lost word,
[it comes] back unbidden *
with your memory

You said you knew
the dark spirits would follow me
because my name was uttered
in your eighth month
 You tried
to love me but
when you looked at me,
you saw the dybbuk
and recoiled

You accused me 
of trying to turn you into a ghost
when I named my doll after you
I didn't know
I was only ten

On your grave today
I placed a stone
I'm still trying, Mother.

* For Ella's prompt, we were instructed to include a line from a ghost poem. I chose "Unbidden" by Rae Armantrout

Poet's Notes: I've made mention of several Jewish words superstitions in this poem:
  • tsouris = heartbreak, worry
  • uttering baby's name during pregnancy will alert evil spirits
  • dybbuk = an evil spirit that possesses the living
  • naming a baby after someone still alive is akin to wishing them dead
  • instead of flowers, Jews place a stone when visiting a grave

submitted for Magpie Tales, Mag 242
and Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Play It Again, Toads #10, Hallows Edge


When I was a child
The line between doubt and belief
was permeable
a meandering current in a stream
between reality and imagination
How I loved to cross that portal,
to lift the veil of certainty
that disguises the world of possibility

We had a ritual:
Winter was best
as dark came early,
before we had to go home for dinner
Sit in a circle
with the board in the middle,
each of our hands resting ever so lightly
on the indicator

At first we thought it a trick
But we pinky swore it was not
The spirit was speaking
We were the conduit

Soon, the game became unnecessary;
We just held a pencil
and it spoke to us
in smoky, graphite

Over time
amorphous scribbles became
Scenes of destruction, fire, slaughter
emerged from our own hands
without our intent
Our feast of fun
became fear, force-fed

I made the decision
to sacrifice the board
and, along with it, the drawings
Sealed in a trash bag to be carried away
with the week's junk mail
and coffee grinds

Belief and doubt battle to this day
Childhood fantasy or
something wicked narrowly avoided
Belief usually wins out.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Get Listed for October
and It's Ma Thing

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Grain of Truth

photo by glitterdarkstar
You pour lies into my waiting cup
I drink them greedily
like an addict
They go down
smooth and warm
They feed
a lack

I know they devour
as they fill
Leave a bigger hole
in my soul

This is how I exist:
empty fullness
full emptiness
Craving more
You always oblige

I hate you
I want more.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Sunday Challenge, In Other Words

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


She wraps herself in sheets
stained with tears and sweat
She has been stripped
of something vital
that she can't quite name
It makes no sense-
She had wished it all away
but still,
there was an undeniable connectedness
She makes the sign of the cross
though she stopped believing long ago
She closes her eyes
feels between her legs
She bleeds
a broken poem.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Open Link Monday
and The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 181

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


photo by songs of light
October is a cruel month
She doles out sunlight
like a petulant child forced to share her candy
Too hot to bundle up
Too cool to strip down
October relishes discomfort
She paints flowers and leaves
the color of dirt
just to remind you
that nothing lives forever.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Words Count With MZ, Personification