Sunday, December 20, 2015

Extreme Scheme Cooking

Extreme Scheme Cooking

Fold the fact in fear–flood the lines-lure the
old, the young and the all in-between spreads in
vicious bytes of hate –light, and burn to taste -
crease recipe in a malevolent page of history 
in the making - save on a shelf for a later era -
or -
stop stewing, brewing, cooking, looking for
fear, smell the proverbial roses and look - at the
sea and sky, mountain and meadow, and when
the blood dries and the streets are swept clean -
gather children about you - 
and  dance 
until doves

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In the drum

In the drum 

drum – drum – drum
power-voice the
drum – drum – drum
spin the web of non-
think until the thread
breaks and into the
tail-spin spun insist 
of salvations-scream-
the sturm-drang drum 
shall fall silent as acid 
rain and blinking away
blind no more – 
all shall see 
a new day

as one

Friday, December 11, 2015


Girls in Plum Sweaters and others….
Poems by Pearl Ketover Prilik


            Many of the poems in this collection are written from the perspective of a child.  Children are far more reliable “reporters” of experience than adults
whose experience is colored by a spectrum of social and personal expectations, injunctions, objectives, dreams and nightmares.  In a manner of speaking children are the true poets of this world in which we live a they have often not yet confined their interpretation of the whirl of life into a sequential
linear “logical” narrative.  One could go on, but in addition to this explanation is the simple fact that many poems simply ‘arrive’ as it were in the voice of a child.  For this I am simply grateful and look no further for explanation.

 Other poems in this collection are told from the perspective of those who have stifled voices or in the more hopeful handful, those who have joyfully discovered freedom in one way or another.  Finally, as is perhaps the indulgence and/or inspiration of many poets there are a few poems that spring from the font of love and loss, and the existential continuing wonder
about this spinning blue marble we all share and that which lies in the rustle of the wind. 

                                                                        --   pearl ketover prilik

Poems for Reading  

1.      Title Page
2.      Introduction
3.      Poems for Reading
5.      I don’t write poems for reading out loud….
6.     Girls in Plum Sweaters
7.      The Ketchup Wars
8.      A Single Line
9.     Master of the Street
10.  red fields
11.  Nature Boy*
12.  ……
13.  My Character Kaitlin
14.  Happy Birthday to My Father 
15.  ……
16.  …..
17.  Little Girl at Night 
18. Since you split my lip
19.  seven year old vow
20.  Gas Station Boy
21.  That night
22.  Lunchtable language
23.  Golly Miss Motley
24.  On the Border of Fatherhood
25. The Happy Mom
26.  After the screaming stopped
27.  …..
28.  Fierce Little Sister
29.  Dare Devil
30.  Graphic Family Film Night
31. Rich kids 
32. Serengeti Plain
33. Summer People
34.  Daisy in the morning – an elephant tale
35.  ….
36.  Bubby’s Kristallnacht Cup
37.  ….
38.  Change
39.  For All Girls Who Ached For Moors and Men
41.  Return to Lumina
42.  Pay Attention
43.  The Staircase
44.  After the rain...
45.  The butcher's son-in- law
48.  Extended obnoxious
49.  Never Again?
50.  Since the soldiers left
51.  Shift Ten
52.  Visit? Or?
54.  Little Lady in A Cheery Place
55.  My Violet

I don’t write poems for reading out loud….   (1) 

I don’t write poems for reading out loud
Maybe at best a whisper in a bedroom some-
where in a tumbled bed-sheet -past
No, I don’t write poems for reading out loud
When I think of those kinds of poems I think
Of Maya and Langston and Martin Luther
Kings and Queens all – and I don’t have that
kind of voice but my voice starts jiving in my
head and the rhythms start coming in different
angles and I can feel the tone but it’s counter-felt
Or is it? –
Cause I don’t write poems for reading out loud
Actually truth is - I don’t write poems – much at all -
they just float in – and I write them down -
pretty them up on paper – prefer to get them
published in one of those literary journals
or maybe a book - ideally on parchment –
lyrical - lilting- language -sprinkled heavy on
hyphens – spaces – skipped lines meant to be
read - I don’t write poems for reading out loud
I write poems for reading –
I want my words read
Read - by one reader’s voice –
Want my words spilling
into the brooks and eddies of another’s experience,
another’s imagination – swirling in the sound of that
that familiar self-voice rumbling, rearranging –
reconfiguring – drawing deep down the echoing
chambers of their special sense of things –
until a picture is born
with no interruptions –
not a solitary intrusion
especially not from me.

Girls in Plum Sweaters (2)

what can girls in plum sweaters
be expected to know of loss
as they pass the shovel among friends
unorated letters on pretty stationary drift
in the wind - as earth hard-hits the coffin
inside- sweatered pruning friend on white satin
outside –they - fresh as dropped stitches
from a single skein of yarn
creating a forever hole
in matching plum sweaters,
dirt under fingernails
cold wind in their fresh washed hair

The Ketchup Wars (3)

Whooping warriors of bloodless pretend wars
we ran, mugging fierce faces at each other as
we fell, graceless as bowling pins in faked suffering
the kind seen in the silence of marble chilled cinemas

The kind of ketchup killing -

where rugged men rode ranges of firing rifles
stuffed with celluloid splendor of grace and always
always lived to ride home with clean hands
to some sweet lady holding her hair off her face
and their cows safe in the fence she had fixed

A Single Line (4) 

Each morning for eight weeks
She stood in front of the bath-
room mirror– door barred for
privacy and mouthed her line
until it flowed like honey from
seven-year-old lips – perfectly
pronounced, “sticky sweetness”
as written for Pooh the Bear
until the evening arrived and
she stepped forward on stage
footlights brightly shining on
sitting in the dark …
and her lips clamped together
stuck in silence.

My Character Kaitlin (5) 

She came on the edge of April
in the corner of the living room
near the front door and window
blonde tousled curls, dimpled
hands held over her silent giggle-
she had those china blue eyes
of baby-dolls and fairytales -
in the corner of the living room 
in a pale yellow sundress
thin with play – short on her plump 
sun-kissed-thighs –
She loved  peanut butter sandwiches cut
in perfect triangles –
She loved running in
the green field barefoot
toward the forest - though
she was told not to-
She was simply
Kaitlin –
She was four. Murder-raped 
and left - for parents to find -
For me to know - alive -
in the corner of the living room -
She asked nothing of me -
I've given her nothing much in return - 
an armful of poems-two unclear novels
She asks nothing- expects everything -
-her sundress, still pretty, her curls still 
tousled - so close 
I can count each crescent moon of 
each pink fingernail - all these years 
later -new grass, sunshine and earth 
floating on the edge of April -holding 
My Kaitlin, my would be character -
living - raped and murdered child,
who left me with herself- 
her story already written 
in the ungraspable 

Happy Birthday to My Father  (6) 
(with deepest thanks and apologies to Walt Whitman the father of poetry in my heart*)

I sing the song of my father
every particle of my being
today infused with him as
though he stands beside me
and has never left – though
he did vanish one hot
August morning - sunlight
burning through white
coverlets – though I felt
His heart beat three times
One – Two– Three
under my palm and
then stop – he did not die

I sing the song of my father
Who left with black hair
glinted with silver in his
Sixtieth year – slipped from
any coil mortal or otherwise
but for the coil that holds my
heart pounding my soul still –

I sing the song of my father
He turned my head to
the first cloud in my first
sky - to the wind in the shimmer
of sun filigreed leaves to the
sea rippling – as he drifted sand
through fingers and we sat
Together watching a tiny flag
on the top of a curlicued
Castle tilt and fall into the
Onrushing tide.

I sing the song of my father
In the eyes of all who work hard
and deserve respect and those
who cannot find work through
limitation or exclusion. In the
wonder of all that sprang natural
and all that rose from the mind
of men and women –
I sing
The song of my father who turned
my face to cobalt and burnt sienna
the shock of turpentine on a clear
a blank canvas holding all

I sing the song of my father
in the crabs that poked from
the mud on the day on the pier
while he painted and the sun
began to slip below gilding all
In that silent sacred place to
Which he granted me entrance.

I sing the song of my father – to
sun brown muscle – rippling ribs
To the taste of salt on his flesh
As he carried me close and safe
in herculean arms
far out
Into the sea.

I sing the song of my father
to that crinkle nose secret
smile he passed to my mother
as they sang from song-sheets
To his eyes closed in ecstasy as
Music shook the walls around
and I peeked from my own
encouraged experience to see
A tear trailing at crescendo

I sing the song of my father as
I feel his hand in mine strong
Ever present – singing in the
Shimmer of leaves in a willow
Rustling in chestnut blossoms
Soaring on the velvet tip of
A blued jay on a clear day
Returning caw for call

I sing the song of my father
As he stood watching my ride
On a carousel light slanting
through high mullioned windows –
Calliope playing – platform circling
waiting for me to jump - I jump into
his open waiting arms

I sing – the song of my father
Holding my newborn son
in aquamarine waters high
above his head – diamond
droplets falling about them

I sing the song of my father
Coffee cups before us
Words flying as red cardinals
soaring from- between –above

I sing the song of my father
I sing in memory, in reflection
In honor, in dedication and
In love – I feel his presence in
the air that brushes my cheek
In every particle of my being

and though I thought it a wonder
that he left when his hair was
mostly black and his back straight
when he could bend and rise
From the earth of his garden
Hands rich with fragrant loam –
Though he left still
Young enough–

I see him now – Hair Platinum, –
The slightest dignifying slant-stance
Shining in the blaze of sun
I see him – I feel him -
For it is from him
In his reverberating voice
that I sing his song
With the life he
Lent to me.

Little Girl at Night (7)

knees drawn to tiny chest she curls in velvet
night her secret swallowed under her silent
laughter, laughter polished to dazzling dancing
in the dark - this prismed diamond dancing, bouncing
joyful twirling as a whirling dervish –until the chill spills
down her spine –she, tiny seer, in the lifting dawning dark
tastes the stranger shadow who wears her father’s face
looming,  long-strong legs like steel twin towers
holding her prisoner of childhood
martyr to her mother’s sweet unknowing sleep
as the small bed creaks in supplicated sigh, laughter
safely stowed, the dancing diamond of joy stilled for now,
her fist stuffed in her mouth, small teeth grazing soft knuckles
as crazy time begins

Since you split my lip (8)

I learned that blood
really does taste like copper
pennies and that it is
possible for you to cry
copious tears in my lap
as I hold your hand and
notice that your knuckles
are swollen around small
cuts where my teeth hit
Since you split my lip
I dry your tears with a
dishtowel – suck the
blood back down my throat
and get you ice for your
too fast fist
and – No, there
is no need for sorry
because I truly do
know that this time

seven year old vow (9)

I will hit you with my fist
I will break the badword lips in your mouth
I will send a predator drone on your head from
space and warlocks to blast shaming chants
at you from the sun - put binding on your
arms and legs I will drag you to the crook of a cave
broken glass under your bare feet 
and waiting vultures will continue circling
my anger singing until slaked at all you have done
to my mother
I will take a slow picture of you bowed
with a quick camera
and wrap it in a bow 
to show
to her
for Mothers' Day
and then 
she and I 
without you
will sit in our
quiet house
and smile
and laugh 
I will give her
Unafraid Forever  
I vow 
I will
get you

I can


Golly Miss Motley   (10)

Out in the cotton field you trip on an unhoed
row and I seize the moment and catch you
in my arms that seem too skinny for the moment
My legs like jelly – Golly, Miss Motley. I want to celebrate -
to hold this moment on a silver shimmered platter
shining forever in our perfect portion of paired paradise –
I swear, I see you turn and lift your arms around my neck –
but it’s all a half-bake dream, spoiling in the hot sun
as you trip on an unhoed row and I stand stunned in
the flash of your thigh, and like the sixteen-year-old I am,
watch your fall, see you shake off my too-late-offered hand
wait as you walk away, ponytail wagging at me, waving
your contempt stained in acres of cotton forever indelible  

After the screaming stopped  (11)

She stood on tiptoe
eyes level with
the harrowing and
breathed an oath
to self with seven
year old lips shivering
in the thin air of that night

She stood on tiptoe
"I saw" she'd later swear
but she was seven
either unreliable or
standing in pajamas
so thin - transparent
light shone through

She stood on tiptoes
and she swore
that even after grubs
feasted on her marrow
she would march to her
own singular drum
beating her own rhythm
of rare pure certainty

She swore this silent
oath to her small self
that never would her own
dainty daughter stand
on tiptoe in any star soaked
future night

never would her daughter
peek through a cold
window - trying to guess
why Mother
would allow herself to lie
lip bloodied - limp legs
flung wide - under him

Standing on numb tiptoes
she warmed her future
child - swaddled in blankets
soft with protection and
sweet lullabies

Standing on tiptoes
she vowed Never to be
the rag doll woman
cast-off - crumpled -
preternaturally still
as her heart pounded
in that final frigid night

On bare tiptoes
she held onto the sill
outside their window
under cold staring stars -
ice chips glinting in black night
clenched toes, wide eyes
transfixed after she threw covers
and fled the precarious safety of bed
awakened by that sudden silence
and the sudden stop of the constant
shimmer of screams.


Fierce Little Sister (12)

She was a fierce little sister
No filters over her cupid bows
Standing in the keep of bully's shadow
Shouting "Enough" holding sharded
Pieces of his Christmas train
Appearing at the sound of his cries
A gusting pint-sized superhero
Hands clenched on tiny hips
Shouting away the bitter taste
Of bullied words still choking his throat
She was a fierce little sister, pig tails
Bouncing in fierce indignant protection
Of my flung big brother dignity
As she shouted "Out"
And I sullied in shame flung in the dirt
Rose in amazement and
watched as go, he did.

Dare Devil (13)

on tip toe she walks the beam barefoot
on a dare to her heart
dancing on a current of determination
high above layers of simple air
the boys beam, taunt, and then shout, Stop
as she moves
across the skeleton span of the construction site
far out of her permitted play-time range

on tip toe she walks the beam barefoot
the anchor of her shame lifted
feels the shift beneath her feet as
purchase fails and connect becomes but
a former phantom phrase

on tip toe she sails the conclusive current
toward the ever close rising ground
drops through
layers of simple air
sinking, solitary, falling, free,
five-year-old flying fast
into the ungiving yield of her
final, forever, fall
a smile flying from her face
hitting the ground first


Serengeti Plain (14)

Through the window she wrote carefully in intimate large rounded letters
“I love you”
Written across the reserves of a Serengeti plain on little girl stationary placed as a talisman against her still planed chest –
all part of that fearsome summer when a chesty outsider arrived to steal him
away as the summer heat arrived to use her,
to heat her with a strange aching burning
as she watched from her child’s bed
watched their late-night sprees in the grass behind his house under her bedroom window
her aching for him as futile as a whispered wish for the Serengeti sun to
light the navied night with equatorial blaze 

Summer People  (15)

he was coatless as a boy should be
cutting slices through the summer air
thinking of games until finally his sneakers
touched their walk and he ran to the front
door at the end of the road-side stiching,
breath in happy panting already feeling the
touch of Emily – her family would be in the
kitchen as they were every summer- a pitcher
of cold lemonade with actual slices of lemon
floating - Sugar crystals rimming the lip and
he would say “Hi” and the summer would …

But - it was all wrong – anyone could see it
the path weedy – the daylilies dead – the flag
not flapping on the rusty pole over the door –
the house sagged with that empty feel that
unbodied places get – He slumped for a long
while against that kitchen door picking at the
flaking paint - the sun sank - his mother would
have dinner on the table and be looking out
the window for him - as vocabulary words tumbled
 – “incredibly, apparently, evidently, inexplicably” -
they were not coming – there was no envelope
nattily fixed to the door with an explanation  –
and never would there be – they were summer-
people after all – their lives as far flung-twinkling
as stars - seemingly set forever only to flicker, flash
and without warning slice across the sky burning
bright, and out and irrevocably over.

Daisy in the morning – an elephant tale (16)

I don’t know if she really was
named Daisy behind a narrow
moat she stood with liquid eyes

My father young and peanut
holding locked eyes lifted his
arm and like a master sorcerer
called ” Up Simba ” and she’d lift
Her majestic trunk and rise

Like a lifting building
Throw back her trunk
And blare a smile
Eyes locked as she

Lowered herself back to
the golden straw swirling
at her ankles and reached
With the delicate pink of roses

As sound and passion
echoed bouncing from
the walls that melted
in my trembling chest
And she reached

To my upturned hand
And eyes still on my
father gently, oh so
sweetly, picked-sucked
the peanuts away

with laughing eyes
tickling my wet palm
delicate as dew on a

regal Queen honored
me at my father’s request
and the walls melted

Maybe it only happened
Once, maybe it was happenstance
but still I see their eyes and
feel the tile walls melt
shimmering away and

Somewhere we stand
Daisy, my father
and I

A glorious trunk
raised in blaring
welcome as birds
lift from the trees
and red dust swirls
about my ankles
in the mist of an
ever equatorial morning

Bubby’s Kristallnacht Cup* (17)

Bubby had a glass tea cup
that she would take down
from its high shelf once in
a very long while and hold
to the golden light at sunset
Sparkling crystal only one
with a saucer so thin it felt
weightless in my small hand
that crisp November evening
when she called to me and
her special voice warm with
a faraway language waved
me to her side – and tears
shining in her eyes showed
me how to hold the cup so
it caught all the light shining
we stood silently side by side
at her window – I a small child
with trembling heart holding
her single secreted souvenir
Until with hair shimmering
silver she straightened her
shoulders and with a proud
tremble in her voice began –
“Let me tell you “kinder” of a night
when they came to break the glass..”
Years tumbled as they will and one
day clearing out her things I found
on the self same shelf her tea cup
and reached on tiptoe my belly big
with child -and listened as it slipped
– a small smash – a tiny shatter – and
as I began to cry – cleaning sparkling
slivers – I saw a fragment Woolworth
label and realized that nothing had
survived that time except the love,
the knowledge and the legacy, to be
retold so as she would say
“it should never be forgotten”
I locked her door and at Tiffany’s
I found a fluted cup of cut crystal
Only one? the saleswoman asked
One will be enough
I answered – One will be enough …
Unwrapped it on a high bookshelf
where it catches the light and waits
to tell its story to the child that will
bear her name

Change  (18)

We could not bear
Those nights
Us two smallest ones
in footed pajamas
The change that came
Pouring over them
When the bottle was torn
From its wrapping
And we began to bargain
With a God we were
No longer sure listened 


It was the first day
He was just four
But they said he could
Play with the big boys
The big boys of five
And one of six
Helmet falling over eyes
Fixed on that tee
That kept moving
In mystical machinations
Declining the heavy
Downswung bat
Until it stopped
And the stands roared
As the ball fell and dribbled
Off into the red dirt rolling
Halfway to pitcher’s mound

Return to Lumina (20)

Go my child
Into the blaze
of all that could
have been and
never will come
to be
Go my child
Vanish from
womb to stardust
Back to blazing
Source of your
This Earth too
solid for translucent
transcendent unborn
silvered spirit you
leaving only your
footprint on my heart

Pay Attention (21)

Sit up straight eyes straight ahead
Do not let an idle thought drift into your head
Tear your eyes from the willow tree
bending, beckoning whispery tales of possibility
Things must be learned and must be learned well
Sit up straight, on the wonders floating endlessly do not ever dwell
Shake off Pegasus flying in the air
Banish mermaids floating languid hair
Sit up straight, eyes straight ahead
Learn the lessons taught so you shall be well read

The Staircase  (22)

His name was Donald, he sat in the back
in a long black leather coat
On that 80 degree first day of ninth grade
though he should have been long gone
he carried a single new black loose-leaf binder
filled with laminated litanies of hate
he ran a long finger over and murmured just
under his breath, as if in prayer alone
in the back of the room
he filled out no tiny card of identification
He had his long black coat
stinking slightly of summer and sweat
trickles running down the corner of his
temples as he ran those long fingers over
‘his lessons"
Listed as Donald
he raised his head
only to "Justice" his newly given name
that this "white-devil" school he was told
was designed to corrupt
He failed each class, appeared as an ancient spectre
closing his ears and mind, as he had promised
Until he heard her read Langston, and put his long foot
on that first crystal stair
and began to climb in his now stinking coat
hulking in the back, eyes lit hand on the closed binder, he smiled
a very small smile - another day he accepted a piece of lined paper
and wrote in the block lettering of a child, man-sized pain
spilling faster with each day through winter into spring
his mother was called,  waited for grim news and heard of this writing
that filled his binder page after page clipped in front of
his laminated hate
he passed each class
until he climbed that June graduate staircase
the "most improved student" accepting a savings bond
and a diploma smiling in a
white shirt, and caramel suit that shone
outside in the sunlight, bought by his beaming mama
His teacher cried as Donald and Justice
self-served stood
atop that crystal staircase

After the rain... (23)

It was third
afternoon of kindergarten
Mom said she could
walk home two blocks
all by herself…
And she did…
in the rain…

After the rain
the man said she could go
He put her inside-out-
umbrella in the corner
of his shoemakers' shop

He was a nice old man
waving her in with a smile
You can catch cold in wet underwear-
she could leave her panties
to dry on his big chair

After the rain
she could go home
After the rain…

The butcher's son-in- law (24)

The butchers son- in- law
Was tall, black haired, blue eyed
Leading man stunning handsome
His apron was a startling white
Each button neatly done
His name was Seymour and
At four it became a thrilling name
He'd lean over the high high counter
A piece of salami in his hand
And though I detested the garlicy treat
From him it was a gift unparalleled and grand
The butcher told my mother that
He thought Seymour was a no good bum
I did not care what any thought of him 
To me, he was as good as a man could come

There on the shore my father and I
sea breezed blown
he tanned and
black haired
waiting at a sanded
mound I ferrying Fantasia's beach
buckets of seawater
He drizzling into magical
being a castle
three quarters
as tall as I
All afternoon we worked the
sun lowering in the sky
people walking
by and stopping
to look to smile
a trio of tow-headed
siblings watching
for long minutes
thumbs in mouths
until they were called
Finally sand golden sun setting He drizzled
wet sand through his hands squeezing a draped
doorway into life
a small fuchsia flag
posted and waving
in the salty air
and I
watched my father
my castle
and the sudden unnoticed inexorable
creep of the tide
lapping at its sides
I leaned against him
inhaling the scent
of him - cigarettes and salt
we bought creamsicles
from the man who came
around one last time
In the orange light
the bittersweet taste
of citrus and cream
on my lips the gentle tide
turned - rose and pushed
waves closer - inch by inch
until in a sudden lurch
of powerful spray
all that remained
was a tiny fuchsia flag
floating out to sea
My fathers arm
stayed around my shoulders
as we sat warm in the chill
of bittersweet

Extended obnoxious (26)

Hip jutted out
Puffed lips in a pout
Eyes up high
rolled into a sigh
Twelve years old
nothing to be told
all is fresh,
now all is new
except for out-dated
over-rated, expatriated
alienated – YOU

Sticks out a tongue
eye rolls with a
hand on hip
twelve year old
with a sassy lip

Never Again?(27)

Never again babies bayonetted
In courtyards for sport
Never again tattooed numbers
On wrists, trainloads
Of human cargo
Poured into pain
ending in smoke
Thick, black smoke
of shame
Never again...
this end product
Of treating
Another like
The Other
Never again?
Look and smell
the wisp of smoke
drifting in the air

Since the soldiers left  (28)

it has been still
in the dusty dawn
red earth puffs
in small clouds
around the boys’
bare shins as they kick
a Coke can
left behind
and look over their
shoulders before they
laugh – waiting for
whatever will whirl
in dusty days to come

Shift Ten (29)

not sure when
she started counting-
Just knew that when she got
to ten -
She would drop her white apron
on the greasy floor, bare her teeth in-
half grin - half howling growl
and right then -
on that final day

At Shift Ten end- she’d
jump in her gassed up
fresh washed-waxed-waiting car
Hit Refresh on it all 
Kick her shoes into the back seat
goosing that baby
leaning hard into
the curves out of that town

High gear all the way
leaving everything behind-
Taking not a fiber optic strand of evidence
that life had been anything but as
smooth as it was right then
wind blowing in her clean hair

Singing out loud

Visit? Or?   (30)

I can come for a visit
Someone here will fold
the walker into the car
you send for me
I will be presentable
they have someone who
styles hair here now
not like last time
perhaps at ninety three
hair should not fall free
on shoulders as you said
I can come for a visit
and sit in that chair
you have for me by
the window – I won’t
comment on the crinkle
of the plastic I feel under
the pretty paisley throw
I can come for a visit
and see your new Prada
admire its sheen
and smile when you and yours
laugh those laughs they
must have given out when
you came into your own
I can come for a visit
I can come
and cut carrots
for the holiday dinner
even from a chair
my fingers tremble
but my heart is strong
I can come for a visit
I can return to my home
by the lake with the sagging
porch that you say is being fixed
while I visit in that place perfumed with
faint urine for another year
I can visit
I can return to the home that is no more
Stand on the shore of the lake that shines
With a reflection of all that was before and
Just after you
I can
I can stay
With you – it shouldn't be for too long
I have some stories left unspoken
Yet, my voice too sudden-soft to speak
I write instead …
“Dear Child, – Thank you, for the kind invitation
to visit but I must…

My Violet   (31)

There she goes a fake feather boa wrapped around her head
Vivacious, vibrant, a vision in a single sumptuous hip check


Slather of fresh whipped creamery butter gliding barefoot
There she goes, nothing manipulative about this little chicklet
Short and sassy lisping “Love you Daddy” in her Princess PJ’s
And I sit here, suddenly inarticulately, just this side of vacuous
Master of Nothing, soaking in this sumptuous four-year-old


Fresh from her bath – a fake feather boa on her head
Tip-toe dancing into forever, pulsing in, and with, and through
And magically, mystically, incomprehensibly, of my very blood

My Violet

Stamped in forever, with a fake feather boa on her head

Sand and Sea   (32)

We sat on the sand there my father and I
close to the water by and by
I so small my legs stretched out only reached the top of his close to me thigh
We sat on the sand there my father and I
close to the water alone there he and I
Watch said he and of course I did
As he scooped a hand of loose sand which in his fist hid
Watch said he as he opened his hand through his fingers
drifted grains of sand
He brushed his palm with meticulous care
until only one grain remained sparkling there
Looked from his open palm straight into me
You are as small as this grain of sand in the whole scheme of things that are and will come to be
And then brushing his palm and
holding his arms around me
turned me around on his knee
as he pointed with arm outstretched remember said he
you are also as vast as this sparkling sea

Disappointment (33)

There it was cherry
mahogany gleaming
under the store dust
She could see it opened
to full length –bulging
three board leaves full
with food and china
They carried it home
and shined it up and
for a time it was five
Three children and the
two of them at the table
Until one by one they
grew inspired supported
wings and flew and foolishly
she smiled –during this
“Nesting time” – waiting
patiently through their
tears and cheers, their
would-be forever loves
and careers spun like
cotton candy – waiting
for their inevitable return
She could see the full table
Yards of linen – endless
china passed laughingly
from hand to hand –
She could wait
And did –
The table sitting with a
single leaf opening wide
in the center of the long
room – holidays fell one
into the other fragrant
dishes served for most
often three – and then
Finally, it began – they
Married and procreated
She ran to airports and
down hallways to meet
the small newcomers
For they were far away
Yet, still back at table she
knew they would return
But, the wind under wings
carried them far – Still she
cooked for twenty though
there were only two or three
or one year four – and
in a flash of tumbled time
it was thirty years before
it struck her – hard – obvious
they never would return –
Some fairytales are for children
others whispered to and by adults
The difference lies
in the happy ending
and a table set for two

Down To One  (34)

It's the holiday
the table white
linen set
crystal sparkles
silver shines
the good china
all lifted down
from the high
and now in early evening's
golden light
slippers shuffle
soft and nearly silent
on the glow waxed floor
as finally finished she
sits in her
usual seat
to watch the
door that
stays shut
no matter how
often she checks

Whorled  (35)

 Here you are from womb whirling to mountaintop majesty
 Wandering, wondering, wondrous, laughing, slip-sliding
 Infant dimple fingered hold on that slice of eternity
 In the years tumble, tempest-joy-uncertain-clear trek
 Always in soft certitude of the light of stars - sparkling
 With a clear true flame - born under, carried within and
 yours to share - from first blink of fathomless eyes
 reflecting the mountaintop from where you came, from
 where you now stand, all pinpointed celestial eternity behind
 ahead and shimmering within you, this day, as each day
 forward flooded filled with all - from first drop of sweet milk
 to sting of  bitter herbs upon the tongue, whirling, floating
 aquamarined waters to iced-arctic whitened snowflakes
 whirling from infant milestones to the crack of a bat vibrating-
 beasts gentle lumbering, emotion-swirl beginnings, incomprehensible
 endings rolled in burgeoning intellect -until your own 
 first shimmering thoughts coalesced writ- read
 reflecting something beyond, yet within, familiared  comfort-clear,
 life-love flowing up each step of whirling, womb-walk, 
 footfall steadied with each tumbled year, to stand here today
 on the mountaintop eyes filled fathomless deep as at that first blink at the
 whirling tumbled tempested wonder of it all spread before, around
 and within you in timeless kaleidoscopic shifts of endless configuration
 Enjoy the journey and the unexpected vision of mountaintops without acme
 Revel in strong legs to climb, clear eyes to see, and the wondered whirl writ
 in unique imprimatur whorled in your infanted dimpled fingered tip reaching
 from then mystic manifestation, whirling through the considered now, into
 this mindful moment - breathe the clear cool air of your mountaintop of your
 horizonless forever

Love on two wheels (36)

I watched from the
as you – thin
small shoulders
hunched, muscle bunched
hair blown back
grin trailing
the air of
that kindred kindergarten
summer night
the very air swirled
as sparks shot
shafted Midas beams
drenching a melty molten
heart shimmer shivered
in shining sacrosanct
loving – for – you
as you flew
rounding all corners


Recall and hold fast to all
that flushed your faced and
quickened your heart
that had you pause in
awe struck wonderment
that had you throw off your shoes
and dance in bare feet - even once
on the sandy shores
of receding time

Gloxinia (38)

There we sat in the full blaze
sun of late July
on my father's deck looking out
beyond the little koi pond
where large fish sparkled
beyond the waterfall
created to spill into the pond
beyond each bud and flower in full blossom
beyond the carefully lovingly created
Eden of my father's making
born in the dreams of a Brooklyn windowsill
filled with tiny pots
now to the far end of the acre's reach
to the stand of glorious tumbling gloxinia
“Listen” said he because
I will not be here next year to tell you how to keep them

This quiet time of perfect balance  (39)

Yesterday I sat up high in the trees
light filagreed lace on velvet cheeks 
baby at breast - a breeze ruffled my
hair across his face -  I moved it -
watched the soaring swooping of
swallows - an emerald city dream -
mountains reclined to hills womanly
curved - circling the harbor -
would-be Mother of the Universe –
curled hip cradling the sparkling -
and I - sat yesterday- up high in the
trees and inhaled it all - each particle
of my being with my baby too new
to be yet separate from any of it-
this quiet time of perfect balance -
this yesterday that has never faded
in the light filagreed lace of years

She walks (40)

before her the distant
horizon of Humvees
whirling red dust -
Behind her boyhood
playmates hurl rage
at her breast
a suckling infant
velvet skin, soft
hands stroking
the flow of milk
As Peace walks
Hope in aching
arms – Walks
on and on
and on
leaving bloody
in the dust


Champion of apartment 32C    (41)
He was only seventeen-
Muscles on the close edge of skin
stretched glistening, poised to burst
with energy pounding beat bouncing
the canvas on new sneakered tip toes

He was only seventeen
Face chisel-carved-smooth
as he turned circling for a single
white smile at the crowd glow
Rising like a cloud of steam
applauding his first draw

He was only seventeen
as the first fast-fisted-punch
split his puffed pouty baby lip
brushed just this afternoon
by his gray lipped limp mother
in her thin drawstring gown

I am only seventeen
he thought, words of
release hanging in air
as a quiet distant roar
raced through the tide of his ears
and a thunderstorm of fists
banged glistened flesh
into tomorrow's solid bruise

And he with a wave of surrendered
victory folded in boneless
defenseless crumple,
too deflated to
even crouch, as the curtained darkness
descended with the promised
purse to come

He is only seventeen, his sister
screamed, but did not pierce
the ether-sweet still silence
of his once again bouncing
on tip toes - new sneakered

Wild Horses  (42) 

you might have well have
loosed wild horses at your
imperious signal to thrust
bullets of hoof prints over
my heart
you might have well
as I stand at the edge of
feet leaden - locks
of ball and chain
frozen in a single
paralytic spot
wondering at the wind of
vitriol that rose to whirl
in vicious vacuous
stoned laced stings
where love once had
and now cheeks cut, heart
bleeding under the cloven
hooves of your indifference
this heart under which
you once grew from a single
cell seeks to repair itself
alone as you plant your
unfamiliar flag
on a hill of your own making
with those of your own choosing
never looking back

Take It Down! (43)

It don't symbolize
sarsaparilla or mint
julip or magnolia
blossoms floating
in soft summer sun
It don't symbolize 
sweet sugar sounds
moving slow-sliding
like strap-molasses
no more than a
swastika symbolize
-sweet apple strudel
It sure don't symbolize
Southern - Dig - 
nity - Nothing
dignified about
hauling up hatred
up on mast....
So stand up and - 
Take it down ...

In the weeds  (44)

Fathers then did all dabble in torture
and so when I was whisked off for a whack
behind the house as consequence for some
childish hunt for adventure - skinny haunches
shivered with a thrill of the first promised invasion
of my soon to be naked flesh - And so it unfolds - He,
somehow larger than ever, hand circling my puny bicep
And then there we are, alone, in the shallow  impress of that
dip of dandelion studded weeds - a whoosh,  he pulls his belt
through its loops, the buckle flashes in the fading sunlight -
a slice of his belly exposed for a flash - I see that his eyes
behind his glasses are stained with something irrevocable -
the knowledge that all will shift in seconds between us forever
and as I turn and wordless reach to loosen my britches - his arm
raises - rippled muscles of forearm whip the air beside my ear with
a skill of gentle deceit that neither one of us shall ever reveal as we
wait and then after a measured time walk back to the house our pride
intact -our love hallowed - our shared secret left in the whisper of weeds
as I lower my eyes and let my shoulders relax under the weight of my unwhacking


You told me to look for you in the wind
As we lay on our backs in the cool grass
On that long ago hot summer day
You told me to look for you in the wind
As a breeze lifted and tens of thousands
Of leaves rustled in filigree sunshine
Floating chestnut blossoms
In our hair – I could not imagine your
leaving any more than I could imagine
the stopping of the wind – solid heat
you were, as my three year old self
melted along your side inhaling your turpentine
cologne, your clean hands resting open
On your paint smeared shirt
My artist, poetic, impassioned paternus
Black hair falling over closed eyes
I inhaled you – into each particle of my being
A canvas on an easel stood off in the full sunlight
Look for you in the wind and you would be there
I did not know you were going anywhere
Did not know that you were comforting as yet
Unborn, yet already fertilized, grief
I looked for you and just as belief was fading
You rose as powdered dust or chestnut blossoms
Sprung from your pine splintered box
dancing dust whirling on the wind

I felt the soft whisper of this summer breeze
Touching my grown-beginning to-crease-cheek
I feel the fragrance of paint and turpentine 
in the wind and in the shimmer
the rustle of flowers drifting
on another hot summer
of filigreed light
and I do not have to look
any longer
to see

Along the edge of the tracks (46)

they stumble as
crumpled files
complex mess of numbered limbs
death marched through
the frozen forest
Along the edge of the tracks
their stumble - specter
lurches searching still
screamed questions burning
in the long limbed trees
answers no class will ever
the why of stumble-
starved- pain - pale
the why of waiting gas
Along the edge of the tracks
the shunned stumble by
good people who rode beside
good people warm and comfortable
rumbling in moving trains
seen as flashes of dream in
clacking windows
so long-later
vapors rise
still -
and compassion's
lie - lays languishing
in the
rustle of wind
in the stumble
of sadism's march
along the edge of
other looping tracks
where some stumble
and some ride
with blind eyes
watching the rushing
as others ask

Ah infidels of  reason  (written after the Boston Marathon murders) 
A Mother's Lament   (47)

Ah infidels

one shock folded
into another
struggle spent
I placed one hand on
each still thin shoulder
and we shipped to shelter
shunning hate - together

Ah infidels

In this land of lush
bursting possibility
you blossomed
both and thrived
my shining testament
to childhood resilience
and hope renewed

Ah infidels

of once silk soft skin
thirsty minds, malleable hearts
empathy and compassion
my smiling boys
how have you come to
harden as clay fired
Unrecognizable from the
Oven of indoctrinated hatred

Ah infidels

One shock folded
into another
you have been snatched from
my still-leaking
still-yearning breasts
I reach for you -
babes I bore
in remembrance of velvet feet
against my ribs

Ah Infidels

I reach
I reach
as in an
searching dream
but empty air

Ah infidels

sons of mine
whose same hands
clutched but a moment ago
for purchase
now our sanctuaried streets
with your catastrophic carnage

Ah infidels

My bright-eyed boys burnt to ash
now men-grown
together in twisted
brotherhood of incomprehension
you bomb...

targeted shrapnel -
exploding my
intertwined heart -
scattering my
shattered soul
infidels betraying all you have received
infidels desecrating all we held holy
in love, in family, in life

Ah infidels

you sons of
squander -
your hard won promise
purloined for hatred-
I look for
you in these
flickered images -
Stare at streets
carnage claimed
stained indelibly
as with my own blood

Ah infidels

my boys
my spirit vanquished
I stare mute -
I do not scream
for your ears now deafened
I do not claw my face in grief
before your blind eyes

One shock folded
onto another
you are irrevocably gone
burnt in the billowed tendrils
of your tossed toxic smoke

Ah infidels

My infidels -
you are
Sacrilege to the
the sunlight
fallen to darkness as
rotted fruit
Of my wounded womb
Bloodied handprints
smear my head - rip my heart

Unable to stand
mortally maimed
I bleed
soul spent
decreed an infidel by you
who have shambled sacred
mother laughing love
into endless dying

Ah infidels

I ran from such heartless damnation
protecting my children from the men
you have become

Ah infidels of reason

infidels of compassion
infidels of love
I am a legless torso
a headless neck
until I am but a husk
blowing in the smoke
of your incomprehensible

Red Dust (48)

On the steps behind the garden gate he sat, small dark eyed boy compact and
steely as a newly minted dart coiled in the exile of his mothers dubious fear. 
Outside others shouted, kicked unseen stones in the red baked earth - he watched
as billows of joy drifted through the latch until a boy chasing a soccer ball
came to the gate and  waved him on - petulant, dubious, rebellion puffed his
sparrowed chest and dark eyes dancing he quickly lifted the latch and ran onto
the red rousted dust as fuses sprung and all was glinting metallic,  a boy arm,
a shower of red rock, a sneakered foot, the soccer ball, all collateral damage,
scar on the land - this now gone boy once safe behind the grated gate now mixing
with the red dust.

In The Birthday Chair   (49)
Climb on up
Into the center
sitting there
powder on her cheeks
a flower in her hair
translucent skin reveals
cobalt veins tracking
one hundred years so far
As she looks about the room
and wonders
who all these people are

Azalea Plant  (50)

They wheel her down
the corridor toward
the looming automatic
door opening outward
to a new life with only
an azalea plant
she cut off the congratulations ribbon
stuck her nail in the baby balloon
left the stuffed bears and smiles
up in Maternity
mother only to this
azalea plant who she
just could not bear to
to die

And yet we laugh  (51)

and yet we laugh
and sing and toss
off our shoes and
dance barefoot on
aquamarine shores
jiggling babies of hope
on strong hips
built for

One for these tilted times 

On the current of starlit miracles 

As I unravel the un-speakable terrain
I roll back the carpet of hate dark as 
night in tear-wet smiling I beg for peace -
file my purpose with the universe and 
then take flight in the updrift 
of starlit miracles already 
visible on the fringe 
of the blue marble 


Pearl Ketover Prilik's photo.

To the mother
I reach out to you
sweet head-scarfed mother
holding your baby to your breast
your breast so like my own - milk
identical in composition - I reach
out to you as you brush the downy
head of your new-born and ask you
to explain to me how you and not all
the millions of others will turn to believe
that this innocent at your breast - velvet
skin sucking your sweet milk will some-
day strap on a vest and kill himself in the
service of hatred with a sweet kiss from you
I reach out to you
sweet head-scarfed mother
for I will never understand -
this truest blasphemy from
one who gives life to another
for we who give life must be
those who fight with our last
breath to preserve each hair
on each head of all mothered
sons and daughters - every-
Where -I reach out to you
and to yours and I
beseech you - take
my hand before
someone else
grabs your arms
twists your mind -
curdles your
milk and
sours the
world that
we - share
to you -
I reach

Softly we walk
softly we walk
with babes in
arms and arms
at the ready to
fight this fight
that must be
fought with
the blood of
childbirth the
blood of life
the power of
the creators
of this world
softly we walk
do not mis-
take our soft
steps -we are
coming with
ferocity -
credo be-
yond any
other ...