Saturday, April 25, 2020

Tiferet Journal

I've often said in workshops and at Carriage House readings that one of poetry's unique functions is to bring people together and to tell us that we're not alone. During this challenging and frightening time, when Covid-19 is a threat to all of us, those words take on special meaning. We may be sheltering in place, staying home, and practicing social distancing, but poetry can still bring us together. Perhaps now more than ever, as we read one another's words, experience each other's feelings, and see the natural world through each other's eyes, poetry will give sound to the silence and light to the darkness we currently share.
Thanks to the generosity of publisher/editor-in-chief Donna Baier Stein, 
the spring/summer 2020 issue of Tiferet Journal 
is now available in a format that's free of charge and accessible to everyone!
I'm happy to share Tiferet with you
—its poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art—
while we stay home and shelter in place (alone together)! 
Just click on the link below, sit back, and enjoy. 
I send all of you my sincerest best wishes.
Please stay safe and be well!

Samples from Tiferet (spring/summer 2020):  

After Babel
     By Jessica deKoninck

There is a common language
I cannot master; though it was
my first. English came second.
I do not know the nouns of this
language or its syntax. I cannot
conjugate its verbs. But rivers speak it,
as do bones and bottles left
for recycling, the geese in the lake,
screen doors, peach trees,
ambulances, trolley cars and kettles.
It is there in the static of stars.
But I remain dumb.
If I could speak this tongue,
if I had its vocabulary, if I knew
its tune, I could tell you,
and you would understand.

Hands: A Love Poem
     By Deborah La Veglia

I fell in love with you, when I saw your hands—
Hands that do things.
The veins that move through them,
Remind me of my grandfather’s hands:
The kind of hands that rub Vicks on your
Back when you’re sick.
The kind of hands that change flat tires for friends,
That paint houses and fix plumbing.
The veins are so beautiful.
I imagine they lead to your soul.
I wish I could trace them with my fingers,
Touch you lightly,
So lightly,
But you’re a stranger to me.
I don’t even know your name.

The River
     By Elaine Koplow
 She sits on the bank
where small stones punctuate
the surface in front of her,
and the river ripples
gently at her feet.
Here the forest waits
while the river crosses,
tall trunks reflected
in its flow.
This is a place
where grief and love come
together.  She comes here to watch.
She comes here because.
She comes in the morning
when dreams of before
dissolve with the light
and she wakes
to the thinness of things
around her.
She comes in the evening
after the din of distraction
and the business of living
have concealed all thought.
She comes here to listen.
This is a place
where knowledge fails—
and she comes here
to the river
for the answer.

You Left Me Your Legacy, Love 
     By Peter Cooley

This drawer of multicolored socks, all scored
with painters, Chagall’s couple mid-air,
Van Gogh’s cypresses churning, Cezanne’s
sheened apples, so I can walk in wonder
every step. You left me my kind of belief,
art’s pretense of immortality, an eternity
daily reflection of your faith in heaven.
But why does Seurat’s pointillism afternoon
resist a mate unless it’s “Echo of A Scream”?
This woman like a mermaid staring back
while I slip Matisse on my left foot,
now my right, crossing my legs, she’ll be here
all day, when I sit down, presence of you.
Eternity of instants, that immortality.

Roadside Memorials           
     By Cheryl Vargas
On the way to Michigan, billboards, road signs, all the water bottles, the lonely shoe.

Radio set at 106.7—vocals, karaoke style. No microphone necessary. I cruise along Route 80 at 58 miles per hour, dusty sunbeams reflect on my sunglasses (rims that Elton John would approve).

White crosses, so many crosses. Angels and angels and angels. Weather-beaten memorials: deflated balloons, faded stuffed animals, plastic flowers. Names inscribed, rainbow colors pay homage. Markers positioned where loved ones died.

Life ends without permission; moves forward the same way.

                                      Photo After Icarus by Bob Fiorellino

                                               All Copyright © 2020 by Tiferet Press. All rights reserved.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Prompt #351 – Pets During the Pandemic

If There Is Such a Thing

(After Woman by a Window Feeding Her Dog by Mary Cassatt)

If there is such a thing as forever, I will be here by this high window, this dog beside me, this sun on our faces. Everything important will spread out beneath us: gazebo and fountain. Each will be held in its own moment of beauty like the Yorkshire Terriers whose pictures hang on my kitchen wall: three no longer with me and this one who chews his rope giraffe to pieces with no regrets, no sentimental attachment—the chew worth whatever loss it incurs. Informed by his own spirit, he sees in things only things and wants nothing more than his leash and long walks, a game of throw the ball. He needs nothing more than to sleep on the floor between my feet or curled in the right angle my arm and elbow make when I hold him—the happiness he was made for.

If only forever were a choice we could make, I would choose this dog’s world (and my place in it)—absolute innocence—no other life to plan for but this. Nothing but this: love without reservation—his world and mine as it ought to be and, in this moment, is. 

(From Wind Over Stones, Welcome Rain Publishers, 
Copyright © 2019. All Rights reserved.)

The poem above, from my new book, was published online today. 

It was written for my Yorkie, Chaucer, a couple of years ago. Reading it again, made me think about people and their pets, animals in shelters who need homes during the pandemic, and what people are doing to help them.
During this ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there are international orders to practice strict social distancing and to shelter in place as the best ways to stop the virus from spreading. For those of us who have pets, that means we’re sheltering in place with our dogs, cats, and other finned, furred, and feathered babies. A great comfort for all, especially for families with children and for those who live alone.

On the up side, I recently heard that animal shelters have seen more dogs and cats being fostered and adopted than usual. In fact, I learned a few days ago that Myra, a neighbor and friend, has adopted a handsome little guy they named Otis. Otis joins Myra's family and their much-loved previous rescue, Dorothy.

“People talk about having more time on their hands, wanting a distraction and to do some tangible good,” said Tamela Terry, president of Maryland’s Humane Society of Prince George’s County, located just outside Washington DC, which has seen just such a spike. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), an estimated 6.5 million dogs and cats nationwide enter animal shelters every year. Nearly 1.5 million are euthanized. Foster programs run by the ASPCA in New York City and Los Angeles have now experienced a nearly 70% increase in animals being fostered, according to the Daily Beast.

It’s not all good news for animals, though. It’s been reported, “although the Humane Society of the US called on states to declare shelters essential services, many rescues have had to shut down. Social distancing protocols, including bans on public gatherings where adoption campaigns are often held, have forced others to limit public access. In recent weeks, many have also made online appeals for help in taking care of animals because their owners have fallen sick.”

I know a recent prompt here on the blog dealt with animals, but I thought this might be a good time to revisit the idea and to write about pets specifically in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. If you don’t have a pet, maybe you can write more generally about the current situation and what it means for pets in shelters. These are stressful times for all of us—for many animals as well.

Stay safe and well, dear readers!
Practice social distancing and stay home if you can!

And, please,
if you’re in a position to bring a shelter pet into your heart and home,
this is a good time to consider it!