Voices Israel Poetry

Group of Poets in English

Poetry By The Sea 2014

Poems from the workshop


Rivulets Of Rain

The switching tail of the season
Has caught some riders unprepared
In their summer wear.
With sandals and umbrella I hop
Over puddles, skip between drops.

Rivulets of rain
In thin transparent ribbons
Slip down the windowpane.
The soaked landscape slides
Past the bus window.
Tousled treetops shake off  showers.
Succulent green shoots of grass
Encouraged by the rain
Challenge the coming dry season.

He who sends the wind
Brings down the rain
And gives sustenance to all.
But isn't this the time for dew?
Thankfully I clip the grass growing anew
To provide my rabbits' breakfast.
Directions In The Wind

The sail is taut, the boat leans away from the wind.
Sitting out on the side I lean back to keep an even keel.
Glancing at the ribbon streaming in the breeze
I judge direction.

Hand on the tiller I turn, ready about and hard alee.
Now we tack to starboard, next we tack to port,
Stubbornly shifting against the wind.
Where do I want to go?
If instead I run before the wind, where will I end?
Tracks In The Sand

From the terrace at night I watch white crests of foam
Glimmer on the black sea, glide into shore.

At morning the bottle green sea sports the same foam crests.
Cliff edges raked by wind comb their hair in long strands.
Rocks sprout from the sand and water.
Did they fall there centuries ago to be worked by wind and water?

Tracks in the sand tell the tale of who has been before me:
Three-toed bird tracks, large-clawed dog paws,
Dune buggies and bicycles, sport and beach shoes, bare feet.

In overlapping scallops waves sculpt the sand,
Leaving a landscape of ridges,
Wiping the slate clean for new imprints.
Forbidden Fun

My playmate said
Come along, I'll show you my church,
We'll go in and play.

We all went around the block and down the road to the corner.
There St. Sebastian's stood, stolid brick walls,
Gold cross atop the steeple.

Sneaking into the side door, she led us up to the balcony.
Inside, light and airy, white walls, wood railings.
At the front of the choir loft the organ perched.
Gleefully we plunked our childish tones on the keys.

Suddenly a nun rushed out below with scolding face:
What are you all doing here? Get out!
Panicked we stumbled down the steps
And ran out the way we came.
I (Don't) Believe

My children's Morrocan friends all said
"It's bad luck to put shoes under your bed.
And while you're at it, please don't flip them over
'Cause upside down shoes are the worst luck ever."

My friends at work said "Don't put your purse on the floor.
You know your money will go running out the door."
I suppose my money's going to run away
in the shoes I left under my bed today!

Some believe the Rebbe is the Messiah,
While others claim that Jesus holds that crown.
And there were those who held by Shabtai Zvi
But I don't think any of them should own
The right to that name.   Messiah's not here yet,
But I'm too busy coping with my life to fret.
I need to live the best life that I can and not to count
On some magician that will come to bail me out!



The film’s ribbon moves
And shows she cried and laughed
The agony of the party and the dress
How the pulse jumped by the gate.

She is pleased she said nothing
Did anybody noticed that at all?
Her shoulders tremble
When she thought about it again.

Oh! Young confusion so trite
Even the purse-losing skit
Yet she suffered at her lost
Even if you do not think of doom.

Know that the broad river
Carries undercurrents and tows
Just as the common ground
Mysteriously covers stories past.


Out Of Nowhere

I was there just long enough
for the lamps to go out, and then
amid the darkness , a flame, a spin,
a sudden flash across the room, rough

sharp sparks flash about me. I saw
what I never knew could be,
minisicule particles magnified, free
of complications, no excess, raw

data. My eyes detected where
it began, with the flip of a switch
instinctive, instructive, the rules . .. before

anything began, it started off, there,
far away, a supersonic pitch,
enlightening everything everywhere

Inside Open Space

This space
where all things
connect and flow here
atomic particles

impetus growing
playing and shining through
This air

loud and clear
resounds does undoes,
joins, separates where
all things

inside the
inner ear, repeats
what it hears and touches
the edge

back onto
a field of conscience
all the things . It passes

and ever,
transforms and takes
on different shapes, glows,

comes close
each surface it finds
fills up with happiness

flows across enters
into my being, now
I am

heart and mind
together meanders
on a path that calls me
to be.

He Bought It To Bless

I saw on a photo
from before, at the side
a cluster of grapes spills over

at the walls and insdie t
the wine pours into the cup
so far away . . . repeated

where I was. I conjecture,
fills my mind. Must have been,
time jumps back. He waits alone

picks it out, at the shop, yes
that one, don't forget to send
the telegram, then get to

the registry, the rabbi, friends. . .
at the railway station, a restaurant,
a klezmer. After that a home

me, perhaps no, enough for a life
of his, shared, some of mine. Then
to plant offspring, the same

branches—to grow upon these roots,
a five year old, mine, now with hers,
the cup in two, in disrepair

together, again on a table
another set of hands, another voice
revives what became to start again.


I never learned to walk on stilts,
fly a plane, build monuments
kept to small, retained the sense
of where I was. As windmills tilt

into in the wind, fill up like tents,
protect myself before they wilt.
I never learned to walk on stilts
fly a plane, or build monuments.

Safe on the ground, held up by my will
to walk on paths calling for chance
discoveries, something, facts blend, recompense
with solutions, save new ideas, still
I never learned to walk on stilts,
fly a plane, or build monuments.

Before My Eyes

I lift the brush from the table top,
dip it, thick ink drips over the page,
the eyes connect, images engage,
my hands follows patterns, as I stop

dip it, thick ink drips over the page,
place the water where it drops,
my hands follow the patterns. I stop—
Hokusai over my shoulder, the sage.

Place the water where it drops
as the brush strokes to the image,
Hokusai over my shoulder, the sage,
then me, I add a little dollop

as the brush strokes to the image.
The eyes connect, images engage
then me, I add a little dollop--
I lift the brush from the table top


A New Day’s Dawning
(for Naomi)

Barefoot on wet sand,
at one with sea and sky,
bonding with a fellow traveler
on life’s complex journey.
Eagerly we reveal who we are
sharing glimpses of our days.

Inspired, I sing to the waves
my prayer of thanks
for the new day’s dawning,
for the love of my partner
the gift of my children
and the words on my pen.


Once I Was A Child

What I did and did not remember

Big brother home from war
Far across the Indian Oceon.
He brought me a doll dainty and exquisite
With dark plaits and embroidered dress.

I carried her to every place,
Would not move without my doll
Until the day of loss and separation
How I wept and wailed that day.

Waiting in the London Tube
Wind roaring dryly through the tunnels
Heralds the approaching train
Crescendo of wheels and engines
Terrified I cover my ears to ease the pain

Train stopped, we stepped into the carriage
Perched on seats so soft and plush
Wheels turn, train moves,
 Where is my Indian doll?
How I wept and wailed that day
And I cannot remember her name

Seeing And Believing

I see the other in this life
Freedom of dress and prayer and speech
Sharing family joy
In labour wards and city malls

I see the need for time and space
When to say no to a misinformed child
While choosing a gift for his birthday
To say no to all demands and have a quiet writing day at home

I believe that the worst of crime is to steal from the poor,
Food from the hungry
I believe that the worse of crime is to neglect a child
Or start a war

I see the home, clean and warm
To do today the tasks listed for tomorrow
Remember to say my prayers lest disaster fall upon us
And keep the soup pot boiling


Freedom of the beach
After days of war
Running on the sand
Shouting with the wind

Freedom of the beach
Far from shelter`s walls
Smells of raw dust brick
And spiders spinning webs

Freedom of the beach,
Waves roaring ebb and flow
Pebbles hard beneath the feet
Salt smell of sea and sand

Freedom of the beach
After nightly drone of planes,
Bombs crashing to the ground
Destroying homes and life

Freedom of the beach
Rock pools and scuttling crabs
Freed of barbed wire barriers
Peace of sun on sea

First Impressions

Infant floating in the water
Soft light in mother`s womb
Moving limbs to mother`s heartbeat
Eyes opening to soft shadow

Thrust out into the buzzing world
Out of Eden to confusion
Bright lights flashing, loud voices booming
Pain of taking first breath of life

Softness of the mother`s belly
Eyes open to the face of love,
Mouth opens to milky sweetness
Eyes close to blessed sleep



On the fifth night of November 
The world war broke out
We did not have any fireworks  *
We got the Blitz instead

They gave us the makings of an Anderson shelter
To protect us from the bombs
The family turned out in the back garden
To dig the requisite hole

Assemble the steel components
And cover it over with earth
We put in some bunks and a table
And the communal chamber pot

* 5th November is Guy Fawkes night in England with bonfires and fireworks to commemorate the Gunpowder Plot when Guy Fawkes planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament.


More Durable Than Bronze*

(Prof. Stephen Sher's presentation)

With my heart I learned
the rhythms of Latin poetry.
I knew Latin poetry by heart
long before I could understand it
I also knew Latin prosody
could vanquish death

Here I am again choking -
the snakes of whooping cough
tighter and tighter
circling my chest
their hissing tongues
lashing my throat

Here I am again
catching my father's knees
here I am lifted up
taking refuge
in the blue of his shirt

He who couldn't sing
walked the room with me
scanning his music:
the Latin poetry
he had learned as a boy

Slowly the cough subsided
and I was in place
higher than the pyramids
safe in a love
that neither the furious winds
nor the years could erode

nor even my foolishness.
I am not entirely dead.
Father, I still know by heart
the first lines of Ode XXX,
Book 3 by Horace.

 * In the first line of a famous ode, Horace compares his poetic legacy to a monument more durable than bronze, higher than the pyramids and impervious to the elements and to time.


(Prof. Mike Lieblers presentation)

perhaps this would be the true change
to understand that we are all the same
the tree can heal you as effectively
as your physician; the dog
can teach you things as valuable
as can your professor, your confessor
your guru; there are moments
when you are able to see this

and perhaps that it is not about love
only about this infinite care
this awareness that everything
is as feeling, as hurting as you are

the towel that you now fold
delighting in its fresh softness
is like the Turin shroud –
bearing the imprint
of the soul of the weaver

of the soul of the cotton
from which it is made
of the souls of the fish
poisoned by the suds
of the washing machine

Dust of Memory

(Prof. Mike Liebler's presentation)

my first day at school
is drowned in a cloud of dust
who brought me there
who abandoned me there
I cannot remember

I see a melee of kids
a tangle of snakes
knotted together
a swarthy big-mouthed girl
breaking out of the knot
like a drunken warrior

did I see the chestnut shell
before it pierced my face?
did the other kids laugh?
school I understood was not
about reading and writing


(Prof. Mike Liebler's presentation)

I first and foremost
believe in doubting and questioning
although I believe
with no questioning at all
that migratory birds
are more reliable than airplanes

I don't believe I know
what hides under all my masks
on the other hand I believe
that if one by one
I removed these masks
I wouldn't get to myself

I believe that masks, like bras
are indispensable accessories
for presenting oneself in society
I cannot believe what ugly bras
what ridiculous masks
some people choose to wear

and what platitudes can be put in a poem.



Sitting by the sea
Blue Bay        the sky       the water
Listening    Haunted      Music
of a different kind     Instruments
Calming     Sweeps worries away
Just now high pitched violins
His voice starts rambling     doesn’t leave me alone
Quiet     Allow peace
Too much stimulus
Now it’s just the music
Thinking of romance     of love
Where am I?     Why here?
I choose to be elsewhere
But I can’t get up and leave
my life     here now    Persevere
Which choice to choose
Staying is a choice
I do not choose


Eagle Poem
session lead by Mike Lieber

Written during a background of Native American music, while Mike also
walked around reciting a poem/narration as a secondary background.

The hills call, 
            echo their silence
                        with just a whisper of life
hidden behind the rocks
            lying in their shadows
                        lengthening as hours elapse

A  cloud passes overhead
            covering life’s moments
as the sun falls, slowly
until nearing its sleep
it rushes into bed.

It will awaken for another day
            the hills will still be there
unless and until an upsurge of
will change the features of those still hills
into a new era
a new aeon of
life after death.

Things I remember, Things I do not remember

I was the lion tamer’s assistant at the circus.

I just had to jump over the bar after the lion, but failed to wait and hear the lion tamer give the signal for me and jumped before the lion.

I was wearing a lion suit.

Suddenly, in the middle of my jump, I heard the soft patter of the lion following me.
I landed, rolling over as I was supposed to and immediately turned round to face the lion, grimaced violently with a roar.
Boy, did he get a fright!

The lion tamer rushed over with his baton and smote the lion.
He missed, and hit my elbow, which cracked.
The safety guy outside the cage shot his anesthetic gun, missed the lion and grazed me instead.
 I immediately fell asleep.

They called the ambulance that was on call outside the big tent, and the whole audience burst into loud claps of applause. They thought it was all part of the act!

The circus manager and tamer put a variation of the event as a permanent part of the lion act.
I did not return to that circus!


Pink Curlers

Bubble-gum pink plastic coils,
mid-size and crowning,
with golden hair rolled to exactitude,
each strand in place,
rows parted as if by ruler,
like manicured hedgerows,
affixed with bobby pins
and topped with a pink net
tied at the nape of the neck.

This was Liz -
her name whizzing by my ear
like a streak of glitter,
glamorous and sophisticated.

I was fourteen and thought her stunning,
with her bright blue eyes, clear complexion
and impeccable rolling technique.
She obviously had a date that night.

The older sister of a classmate, encountered
with her mother and sister at Pergament’s
department store, she exuded seventeen-year-old
beauty in all its pink-curlered perfection.
Even my mother was impressed with her
graciousness and rollers in meticulous array:
“Why don’t you do your hair like that?!”

What a gleaming moment for Liz,
with everything coming together:
the anticipated date; the shiny, still-wet
hair rolled with such precision, parted
like gridlines, as if engineered,
for the perfect sleek blonde flip;
the sparkling eyes and skin;
the girlish finesse.

I have wondered, these decades since,
if her life had summed to the promise
of that pink curlered moment.

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