Voices Israel Poetry

Group of Poets in English

From the Voices Anthology 2009

The editors of the anthology apologize to poets whose poems were omitted or printed with errors. Please click here to read these poems.

The editors also apologize to Jane Medved whose name was listed incorrectly as Joan in the bio section, the poets listed by page number section, and on both her poems which are on pages 151and 152 of the anthology.


Stopping Time - by Sheryl Abbey

Each time we write, we violate nature with a small, silent weapon:
the pause.
We stop, sometimes just for a minute,
to notice, consider or describe,
but the planet spins on undeterred, or maybe, amused.
The universe is uninterested in the time-stopping attempts of humans:
photography, archeology, the study of history.
It forges ahead, concealing, burying, repeating what it has done before.
Yet this we crave:
to suspend a moment in this cell-splitting, tectonic-shifting,
cloud-rearranging world
to feel like we really are here.


The Sad Poem - by Lisa Aigen

I read a poem today
and wept.
It spoke in black and white:
Beardsley in iambic pentameter.
To cheer myself
I brewed a dark red tea,
sat next to you in your old yellow robe.
I need the nuances
between the lines.
The gray bird sitting on the windowsill,
bright shadow of his wings
dancing on the kitchen wall.
My amber pool of English Breakfast
in eggshell porcelain,
next to your earthenware mug of coffee.
The way the door slams
when you come home,
the liquid love in our setter’s eyes
the metronome pace of the cat’s tail
on the piano.
I need you there to share
a sad poem.


Aging with the Tiles - by Tom Berman

Square tiles
set across
a kitchen floor
the daily criss-cross
of our passing tread
the years
have taken toll
on tiles
and tenants
by now
we are
as cracked
and chipped
as any of these
old gray tiles
just as square


The Poet to Her Colleague - by Esther Cameron

Come sit with me and be my friend
And we'll tell stories without end
From far and near, from books and life,
Interweaving without strife.

The dreams I've dreamed, the lands I've known,
Why should you not call your own?
The friends you've had, both false and true,
Shall I not know them all through you?

Let the unenlightened talk of spite
And envy among those who write!
The faster shall our friendship grow,
The livelier shall our verses go.

Two's company, three's company,
Six constitute a poets' bee,
Ten, a council of the wise --
No end to what we might devise!

And whether all eggs or few may hatch,
This present good at least we'll catch,
If (as our favoring signs portend)
You'll sit with me and be my friend.


There is a Day - by Ellen Jaffe

There is a day, in morning sunshine or driving rain,
when you realize spells
won’t keep you safe, after all,
that your heart will still break
let in both dark and light
when you discover which rules to break,
and which to keep – not because they are rules,
but because they are yours.
There is a day when writing a poem
is working in the garden,
watching sparrows dart from tree to tree,
or holding someone you love,
and when words (despite the irony
of making these lines)
take a rest for a while
in the hollow of the soul
around the body of the world.


Eve and Sappho - by Sharon Neeman

Old, graying gold, in glorious love they lie
Entwined and shameless, glowing in the sun,
Casting but one amused and lazy eye
On awkward me, and then not even one.
Their lips strew kisses in each other's hair;
Their wrinkled hands move deftly to caress;
Their throats release on the exultant air
The wondering sighs they will no more suppress.
I meant no trespass; now I turn away
From their green garden, suddenly in tears
To see them seize the last late hours of day
And spin the waning sunlight into years...
I close the gate. Their laughter, long and sweet,
Pursues me like a blessing up the street.


On the Red light - by Patrick Osada

The consummate professional :
Chatting, to put me at my ease.
Gently he helps me to prepare :
Attentive - then deftly prompting,
Questioning - polishing my speech.

And I feel fine : with thoughts marshalled,
My favourite phrases practised , checked,
I’m eloquent and in control.

“I think we’re ready now,” he says,
“We’re rolling when the red light shows.”

And on the red light thoughts escape,
Eloquence evaporates as
I become a stuttering wreck -
Tongue almost tied….
        Always on the

Red light it’s the same : confidence
Withers, lines are fluffed, the simplest
Truth stays lodged in my dry throat.
Always at these times I need my best -
Instead, thick tongued, I croak, whisper
All of life’s most important lines
Like….”I love you, love you, love you.”


Still Life - by Reena Ribalow

Edja in her pale rooms, divesting herself:
the walls tinted like the inside of shells
(tender and untouched).
Her shelves are ordered,
her counters stripped and wiped.
Refrigerator shelves glitter steel and light:
milk, yogurt, eggs incarnate white.

Cards crowd the kitchen wall,
mute voices calling her to Nadja’s wedding,
Eva’s party, the banquet honoring someone.
The telephone is dumb,
the couch sealed in plastic,
as if no one lived here,
as if already the shrouding had begun.

She sits on the floor,
around her scattered photographs:
pieces of a puzzle
that will never make a whole.

Here is Soraleh,
her face (that clever moon)
shadowed by the hat that never suited her:
Rosa, who died of diphtheria
before they knew how fortunate she was:
Max, lover of Chopin
and the red-haired girl
who scorched his heart like flame,
Max, who married Anna in the end
and burned with her to bone:
and the cousins,
all the green-eyed children.

Edja in her pale rooms,
going through pictures,
divests herself.
She travels lightly,
emptying herself day by day,
for the journey home.


A Small Gift - by Johnmichael Simon

If you’re like me you’ll know I’m calling
five minutes before the phone rings,
or you’ll open a book
left on a shelf and find that quote
you were trying to remember five minutes ago

If you’re like me, five minutes after
you round the corner thinking of someone
you’ll find him sitting there in a coffee shop
reading his newspaper and if you’re like me

You can’t bend spoons or levitate or anything
like that; perhaps you’re lying on your stomach
concentrating, watching a fish as it slips
between the fronds and moss of some shaded bend
in a stream, wondering if it will find a wriggler there
and that afternoon you find your old history book
and laugh at how you underlined the words
Diet of Worms

Or you get this craving for an out-of-season banana
and your niece calls from Australia—she’s just got a new
yellow canary and guess what she’s calling it

And if you’re like me every once in a while you’ll try
to figure it out, how sometimes you see the world
like two partly overlapping pages or two identical trains
going from here to somewhere, one five minutes in front,
but it’s not something you can figure out at all

So here we are, you and I and I don’t know how many others,
thinkers, poets, busy mothers, waitresses, postmen, just
ordinary folk, opening a book, answering the phone,
sitting in a café, wishing every so often

We could see a little further, understand a little more,
but most of the time just accepting this tiny gift
with a smile of recognition just five minutes
after we receive it

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