January 2000
Café Society's Poetry News Update    
Welcome to a new century of poetry! Do you have any poetry news or comments for the Readers' Letters section? If so, mail me on the email link at the bottom of this page. Competitions and calls for submissions can be announced here free.

A n   I n t e r v i e w   w i t h

Image from Elisha's page on the Outsiter website, used with permission.
(Note: Elisha's site uses a text font with a Hebrew character set, best viewed on PCs with that font)

Elisha Porat, the 1996 winner of Israel's Prime Minister's Prize for Literature, has published 17 volumes of fiction and poetry, in Hebrew, since 1973. His works have appeared in translation in Israel, the United States, Canada and England. The English translation of his short story collection "The Messiah of LaGuardia", was released in 1997. His latest work, a book of Hebrew poetry, "The Dinosaurs of the Language", was recently published in Israel.

Elisha Porat was born in 1938 to a "pioneer" family in Palestine-Eretz Yisrael (pre Israel);his parents were among the founders of Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, a Kibbutz on the Sharon plates near the city of Hadera. Today Porat, devoted to the community ideal, still make his home near the original tent erected by his parents back in the early 30s. In 1956 Porat was draft into the IDF (the Israeli army) and fought in three wars: the Six Day War in 1967, the Yom Kippur War in 1973, and the War of south Lebanon in 1982.

As a lifelong member of his Kibbutz, Porat has worked many years as a farmer as well as a writer. His labors in the Kibbutz fruit orchard, perhaps contrasting his military tours of duty, have always influenced his art. Besides writing, his current endeavors include editorial duties for several literary journals. He is married with four grown children - three daughters and a son. In 1998, Porat journeyed out into the internet, and his growing volume of work can be readily found in many literary Ezines. His translated stories and poems have for years found their way into print, most recently The Boston review.

Elisha extends his gratitude, as ever, to his several talented, dedicated translators.

Short anthologies from the author's works:
Ariga: 4 poems by Elisha Porat
poems and short stories.
Unlikely Stories: Elisha Porat feature
poems, fiction, interview, reviews.
The Poet's Haven: Elisha Porat
poems, fiction - scroll down to P for Porat
Funky Dog Publishing: Elisha Porat
Elisha Porat is author of The Messiah of LaGuardia, a collection of stories.

Poetry L & T: When did you first start writing poetry, Elisha?

Elisha Porat:I was a writer of prose, short fiction, novels and childrens’ tales. Then the war of Yom Kippur broke, in October 1973. I was 35 years old, then, and had never written poetry before. The war was very hard with bloodshed, a terrible war. Many of my close friends were killed in the war, or wounded. I think it was the darkest period in the modern history of Israel. I spent more than half a year in the northern frontier. The shell shock of the war was very hard for me, and I missed my veteran friends. In that hard period I begin to write poems.

Poetry L & T:What (or who) influenced your first poems?

Elisha Porat:The war, the loss of my dear friends, the danger to the Israeli existence, were among the most reasons which took me into the land of poetry. I began to write memorial poems as tributes to the the young soldiers who died in the war. I tried to write eulogy poems, and lament poems, and I devoted them to the memory of my best friends. So it was my initial way to write poetry. A sad way, a longing way, a missing way.

Poetry L & T:Who is your favourite well-known poet?

Elisha Porat:Well my favourite poets are all Hebrew poets. I'm afraid that the English readers don’t know them. That is the bitter fate of such a small, minor language as Hebrew is. I like the poems of Abba Kovner, the great Jewish leader, poet and partisan from the Ghetto of Vilna. He was a very special Hebrew poet. I like the poems of David Avidan, a modern pioneer of Hebrew poetry. I like the poems of Yehuda Amichai and Natan Zach, who released modern Hebrew poetry from its ties to classic poetry. So, I'm sorry, but not one of the great English poets is among my favourites. I like the translated poems, the memories poems by the great American poet, Archibald McLiesh, and I dedicated one of my poems to his memory, also one of my short works of fiction. But translation is translation is translation..."The kiss through the kerchief"....

Poetry L & T:I would like to know more about your latest poetry book, "The Dinosaurs of the Language".

Elisha Porat:My latest Hebrew poetry book is a collected volume of poems from the last few years. I think it is a new, fresh layer in my personal voice. I think I tried to embroider a new dialogue with modern Hebrew poetry. With a reference to context, culture and social issues, and with a special view on the issue of love. I think the personal language that I acheived in my latest book, is more clear, more simple and more communicative than in my past poetry books. I think I tried to create musical effects, metaphors and fledged pictures. I think I succeeded in spicing my lyrical melodies with humour. I can only pray that some of all this is passing into my translated poems....

Poetry L & T: Do you think it is much harder for Hebrew-speaking poets to get published, than it is for English-speaking poets?

Elisha Porat:Oh, yes, of course it is harder to be a Hebrew poet... as I said, Hebrew is a small, minor language, and has a small audience of readers. so you can’t make money from poetry, and I think you can’t make a living from good prose either.... The Hebrew publishers don’t like poetry books, and the authors must try to publish their books with help from sponsors. With the exception of a few famous poets, the majority of poets are forced to publish their poetry books by themselves. Its not the Hebrew language, but it is a problem with Hebrew readers. And not all the Hebrew-speakers are also Hebrew readers....well now, when I entered to the magic world of the Internet, I can see, for the first time in my life, how limited, small and narrow the Hebrew-reading audience is. And How unlimited, wide and endless is the English-reading audience.

Poetry L & T:As a poet who has fought in several wars, do you feel that poets can help the world learn from the mistakes of war?

Elisha Porat:No, I don’t think so. The world does not learn anything from great tragedies, or from the cruel wars... I think this is not the true mission of poetry, especially poetry that came from the deep sorrows of the wars. I think poets can help in the cruel war against oblivion. I think poets can help in the war for the memory. I think poets can help in bringing a condolence. I saw too many dead in my wars, I saw too much pain, too much grief, that I feel poets can and must give comfort.

Poetry L & T:Your poem "The Fragrance of of Mignonette" (featured in the November Poetry Life & Times) is a very touching war poem. Was the young soldier someone you met, or does he represent all the men returning home?

Elisha Porat:He is a young soldier I met after the war. He told me his story in a innocent way, as if he told a simple story from daily life. But it was such a sudden story, a tragic story, that I couldn't forget it for a long, long time. And then, after many years I met him again, and I asked him if he remembered what he told me after the war. No, he didn’t remember, he became a normal man, and he forgot his period of hardship. But poets can’t forget, as you know. Poets are fighting all their life against oblivion. So I wrote the short poem, with a faith that, this time, history could not cover it up forever.

Poetry L & T:Does your religion influence your poetry?

Elisha Porat:Oh no, absolutely not. I'm a secular Jewish person, and I very much like the Jewish legacy, the Jewish tradition. But I'm not living as a religious person. I think my unique cultural situation is a little bit complicated: I'm a Hebrew-Israeli-Jewish poet and writer, and I think this "order" is my real cultural identification card. Jewish and Israeli issues were, very much, influences on my poetry. But not religious influence.

Poetry L & T:Do you feel that the Internet can be helpful for poets?

Elisha Porat:Well the Internet is new media, and for now I think it opens a wide gateway to poets and to their poetry. But there is a price for such mass-media. The poetry must change itself to fit into the new media. And to the mass-audience. Not elitist, not hard to read, not complicated issues. I think the Internet can cause poetry to become more flat, more shallow, more simple. This is a real danger I think, and poets must know it and to be careful of these possibilities. But there are also many advantages. I hope the world of poetry will know how to find the gentle balance.

Poetry L & T:What would you like to achieve in the future with your work?

Elisha Porat:I like to be one of the workers against oblivion. I like to be a partner in the struggle against the cruel powers of the time. I like to be among the workers of the new modern Hebrew poetry. And I'll be very happy to hear from any English reader who finds my poems moving to him or her, touching him or her. I'll be happy if my poems, written in my Hebrew, my small and minor language, will succeed to remove the kerchief of the translation, from the real flesh and blood of the poem.

Poetry L & T:How would you define the art of poetry, Elisha, in terms of what it means to you?

Elisha Porat: I think every poet has his own, his exclusive definition for: “what is poetry”. And I bieleive that this question "what is poetry", occupies and bothers every poet. And makes every poet uneasy. I think every poet, in every language, is very conscious of the sources of his own poetry. But only few poets can creat a perfect definition to the question "what is, after all, poetry?"

I found my own definition, one day, one night from a spasm of inspiration: "Poetry is a sudden process/ of verbal compression...." and I put these two lines into my poem "Memory from my Youth". Suddenly, in the middle of the night, I was filled with an illumination, that poetry is a magic, unknown, artistic result of verbal compression. Poets are people for whom their whole world, their entire universe, is made from words, from verbal matters. The invisible process of the birth of poetry, is, to my humble opinion, a sudden process of verbal compression.

Poetry is a different kind of use of words, a unique kind of use of verbal matterial. I think poetry is a work with words, a hard work with verbal basic roots, and it very different from the usual working with words. Very different from the daily life, using words in every category of modern life. I think the blessing of poets and artists is that of the world of the human voice, the human tool of verbal definitions of the universe, is their special raw material for their inspiration, for their creation, for their life, for their art.

Poetry L & T:Finally, Elisha, what advice would you give to young poets who wish to improve their work?

Elisha Porat:I can give to young poets this one main piece of advice: dont write poetry for fun, dont write poetry to pass the time, not as a game and not to demonstrate your remarkable verbal skills - never. Because one of the important characteristics of true poetry is that it is profoundly necessary or profoundly essential for you and for your life. I think poetry that is not essential is redundant. I believe in the unique connection between the poet and his or her poetry. And I believe that such a unique connection can appear only if the poetry is so needed, so impossible to be without, that you can say, yes, it is really essential verbal expression.

I think that the classic poets, the great poets, went this way. I think that the great poetry of all times, is a unique meeting between great verbal talent and truly essential needs. So I can only advise young poets to try to identify their truly-essential motivation. And to avoid, as much as they can, the attitude of fun, games and empty demonstration of their brilliant qualifications.

Poetry L & T:Thank you for the interview, Elisha.


P O R A T ' S


Elisha Porat:
for Sima and Ephy Eyal

Poetry is a sudden process
of verbal compression.
I remember well one such illumination:
her father was a famous artist
who used to load his brush
with one bullet many --
to explode on the canvas with first touch.
He drew the beautiful head of his daughter
and shook his head with pity at my sweaty pages:
I feel for the two of you,
she dosen`t know yet
that a poet is a continuous process
of the pain of existence.

translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keler.
(c) All Rights Reserved

Elisha Porat:

To my Hebrew, my own sundered, grated Hebrew:
There, in my forgotten, distant childhood
You were placed inside my ear, imprinted
In my finger, poured upon my neck.
Now, goodbye: I am sinking, forgotten
You go on, not turning your head.
Fare you well, my bell-wether.
Now lock on, my distant one, to
The neck of a tender boy, weigh heavily
On the heart of my successor.

translated from the hebrew by Asher Harris, 1999.
(c) All Rights Reserved

Elisha Porat:

Hush now, proud
heartworm, stop your gnawing,
leave off chomping. I've suffered enough
because of you. Down girl,
down. Stick to the bottom
of the pit; and quiet there, you arrogant thing.
Maybe if you shut up in time,
it will hurry, pass over us
too, like it did then, and again
nab, grab and take down with it
those who aren't careful.

translated from the Hebrew by Vivian Eden, 1999.
(c) All Rights Reserved

Elisha Porat:

In the summer of seventy-nine,
Sheltered in the shade, on a step in Market
Street, in the shop of a Christian Arab,
While my hand was storking the halo of hair
Of a graven statuette -
A starling voice suddenly broke out,
A young announcer begging, pleading: hurry, whoever is able,
Whoever is near, run to the tower
Of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher -
Through the lattice you may know her:
Wrapped all in black but her hair is fair,
And her car still pulses below her.
And when I arrived - I was late -
With those who were called to her aid,
The helpers, the radio was screaming,
And all the city was frozen, holding its breath -

Already she lay there, stretched out in the square:
Innocent, beautiful, and wrapped all about in the shining
Radiance of a cracked statuette.

translated from the Hebrew by Asher Harris, 1999.
(c) All Rights Reserved

Elisha Porat:

Foreign downy snow falls
on the slopes of Jebel-el-Kabir,
cool and hushed it descends
on trenches on armored vehicles
across the screens of memory.
In the misty fog forgotten friends
get lost in me, calling.
friends whose lives touched mine,
now far beyond the highways
the roadblocks, the rolling machinery.
Once, among them, I happened to see
such pure whiteness suddenly crushed:
pulverized, ploughed, and rising,
then dropping and soundlessly absorbing
ripped veins and a reddening stain.

Translated from the Hebrew by Tsipi Keler.
(c) All Rights Reserved

Click Here for a short story by Elisha Porat


Dear Poets,

This issue features an interview with the eminent Israeli poet Elisha Porat, who has been published many times online.

There are no longer themes in the poetry section of Poetry Life & Times, this is so that poets can submit work on any subject that is important to their own work. Features on special genres of poetry can be suggested for future months, any such ideas are welcome.

Any comments on this issue or back issues can be emailed to me on the link at the bottom of the page. Please indicate whether you would like such comments to be included in the Letters section.

I hope you all have an inspirational and successful year 2000.

Best Regards,


Featured poets this month include Jerry Jenkins, Heidi Stephens, Jan Sand, Julie Damerell and for the first time, Patrick Noakes.

Jerry Jenkins

JERRY JENKINS has been writing poetry since 1993. He is a member of the Academy of American Poets and the Science Fiction Poetry Association, where his poetry has been nominated for the Association's Rhysling Award. His poetry has won numerous awards in individual and chapbook competitions, and has appeared in printed publications and anthologies such as The Formalist, The Lyric, Mobius, Echoes, Harp-Strings, Amelia, Cicada, The Piedmont Literary Review, Mail Call Journal, Poetry Monthly (U.K.), The Devil's Millhopper, The Fractal, Dark Planet, Pirate Writings, and Star*Line. His online publication credits include work in Octavo, Eclectica, Pyrowords, Avalon, Poetic Express, and Deep South.

His chapbooks include AVIAN, Helionaut, Hamadryad's Passage, Candle, Monks' Wine, Our Own Loving Kind, and Confluence (in collaboration with Rosa Clement).

He is a former Marine Corps officer with 26 years of service, including service in Vietnam. He recently retired from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where he was Assistant Vice-President for Information Technology. He is a Sysop of the Poetry Forum on CompuServe, where he is the editor of the Compuserve Poetry Anthology.

© Jerry Jenkins

You are paralyzed in stone now,
pensive, almost wistful.
Lichens colonize your brow,
leprous and foreboding.
Your loose skin overflows the fists
that prop your chinless jaw
in mimicry of Rodin.
Your slack lips part as if to speak
or drool.

Your boulder eyes are pitted, dead,
blank geodes formed around your past.
Your gaping nostrils and the crest
of scales, your half-closed eyelids,
hint of reptile origins,
but there is something more within -
not quite alive, not fully dead,
part man, part ghoul.

You hunch beneath the weight of vulture wings
folding them in caricature
of angels. In the squalid gray
of dusk, those stunted things,
their clumsy batlike flitterings,
scarcely held you in the air
so you brooded on the ledge,
uncouth, unsure,

Until the stone, your habitat,
became your doom. Some kinds of toad
will estivate, encased in clay
for years and years. Like them, you squat
unmoving, but in some dim way
you sense the world, and wait for that
unclean, impure
revival day

When twilight bleeds its languid red
and ancient eaves decay.
Within your torpid, musing skull,
what sullen hopes you entertain
of rooftops crumbling to the ground
and raw flesh in your granite hand,
a bloated belly fed to full
and sounds of hate and pain.
What dreams you mull,
always, again,
of prey.

Originally appeared in AVIAN

© Jerry Jenkins

The deep recesses of the living room
are paneled in oak and pine. The enfolding wood
stands vertical and firm, solid and good,
like the enduring trees it once came from.

No evil happens here, nothing intrudes;
the hours pass in simple, dreamlike ways.
In the adjacent room, Grandmother's gaze,
kind and quiet, protects my solitude.

The corner holds a glassed-in curio case,
and in that case three things engage my view:
a dish of marbles, polished green and blue,
an enameled tin, and in the glass, my face.

Brilliant scenes are painted on the tin,
a prince, a forest, an exotic bird.
I hold it close, and I know I have heard
the song it sings. It comes from deep within,

It comes from long ago. I was that prince,
and in that forest something else was there...
I can't remember. Vanished into air,
something, someone I have not seen since.

I hold a marble up to the room's warm glow;
a topaz mist burns in its silent core.
It might have been a dragon's eye before,
the dragon that I killed so long ago.

No matter. I know I cannot return
to that lost time, and I can only try
to recollect, to wonder how and why
this memory in me has been reborn.

Originally appeared in Elephants and Other Gods

© Jerry Jenkins

You hide in ink-blue water deep below
the surface, hundred-fathom ageless thing,
and watch the languid eons come and go,
a living fossil. Sun-dark natives bring
you up to spangled light in nets of string.
For generations they have hauled you in,
heedless of your ancient origin,
while half a world away your skeleton,
in smooth gray shale, has captured other men,
who dream you in a younger sea and sun.

Winner World Order of Narrative and Formalist Poets
Competition for Dizdains

* The coelacanth, a primitive fish, was known to scientists
only in its fossil form until 1938, when a living specimen was
caught in deep water off the Comoros and identified by a
western observer. Natives of the Comoros had used the
coelacanth for generations as a food source.

© Jerry Jenkins

I've known you since days of my past
and you've always been close to my heart.
Maybe I'll meet you at last
and learn if you're matron or tart.

I don't know your figure or face,
if you're native or alien or what;
I have no idea of your race
or whether you're slender or squat.

But your work is magnificent, dear,
I can always rely on your skill,
and today's note (I hold it right here)
gives me once more that old thrill.

We may never meet, but who knows?
You're dear to me as you can be.
I always feel good in my clothes
when they're Inspected by Number Three.

Originally appeared in Echoes Magazine

[email protected]

Curiouser & Curiouser Logo
- click logo to visit site

HEIDI STEPHENS, haphazard poet, occasional fiction writer, obsessive webmistress, resides in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and two cats. For a glimpse at the woman behind the madness, see http://curiouser.tripod.com.

© Heidi Stephens

The sky fell in on me today,
It merely slid down the horizon and sat at my feet,
rolling and chuckling at some joke known only to him,
leaving a hole in the air between two weeping clouds
who told me he kicked them on the way down.
He said he knew our God very well and that
God was really an out of work plumber who reads magazines.
I didn't believe him, so then he told me
about this book God keeps with all our lives written in it;
and the sky stretched out on the grass and proceeded to recite
my whole life for me; when he finished I cried
and maybe he was ashamed of his deed,
for he slowly crept back into the gap over the earth
and he waved at me hesitantly, and I shrugged him off.
Now that I know how my life will end,
I think I will walk slowly home through the autumn leaves,
and stay up late to look at the stars.

© Heidi Stephens

Was it you walking there, wearing top hat and tails,
garb from a time before,
unused since your days with the potato eaters?

Which woman held your arm, head lowered, ashamed,
pacing between the columns of trees, no path through
the glare of harsh grasses and grotesque flowers,
only the hall of the Doric tree-line?

Could you see an end, did you pass a doorway
in the deeper forest behind you,
and chose instead a tunnel to follow
until you met your end, not long
after you left this canvas to dry?

[email protected]

(pnokio) has been writing poetry off and on for over thirty years. He studied it “for the love of it”, in English Literature courses via the state school system [O-level, A-Level, some Open University] long after leaving school, and a long time after beginning to read and write it. Patrick tells me: “I suppose what I try to say through poetry [I really don't set out to say anything at all] is whatever I imagine I know about the human spirit, however little that may be. A bit of a serious thought, I suppose, but poetry is serious. Even when it's being funny. I think it's at work in sweet little things, like this cat poem, and I believe it's there in the lost world of Prey.” He has many favourite poets - Chaucer, Blake, Ted Hughes, FitzGerald, Khayyam, Adrian Mitchell, Charles Causley, Manley Hopkins and many more.

Patrick’s online works include the Writers’ Showcase feature on the Aylad website, with his short story “The Last Bagatelle”.

© Patrick Noakes

She turns, but again there's no one there,
Between the water-fountain and the trees.
By nightfall she founders, searches inwards,
Glances backwards, attracts the silent prey
Between the water-fountain and the trees.
Assembled like songbooks obscuring her way
They emerge in their cold, isolated stance.

She calls them to her as she scans the ground
Between the water-fountain and the trees,
Wondering: Is there still a way? It lies
Cocooned and entombed behind her eyes.

The pathway veiled she cannot charm nor tame
Familiar faces soughing her name
Between the water-fountain and the trees.
But now, drawn on by sighs, by shadow calls
Of voices calling through the eventide,
She does not sense where dormant lies despair,
And lingers, scent-snared, searching, unaware,
Encircling the woodscape. But all has died there,
Between the water-fountain and the trees.

© Patrick Noakes

Truanting was as wrong as telling lies,
But you can only learn by confirming
There ain't no treasure on pleasure island -
An artist's life cannot rot in a cage.

The wonder-prison compels you where
Starlight magnifies foolishness and flowers,
To the saint, to the land of discontent,
To where everything changes but you -

Where everything remains the same but you,
While the orphan learns of love, that love is
The pen and brush, the hammer of conscience.
But it's only ever you forever

At the crossroads where signs are pointless,
Where innocence dumps you on the ocean's shore,
All washed-up. But the lamp burns where they come,
Who built you of love, who believe in you.

Feline Nocturne
© Patrick Noakes

I have a cat, Pollycat, ginger and white,
Whose sleepy persuasion reverses at night.
Because after her supper, round about soon,
She's on the back fence singing songs to the moon.

We have a black beast living right next to us,
A hugh feline monster, real horrible cuss,
He hates all the pussycats living nearby,
He bashes and biffs them, makes their fur fly.

My Polly is dainty, has little white paws,
Is too refined ever to brandish her claws.
When Knuckle Nose creeps from the bushes to fight,
She sings like and angel, all ginger and white.

The fact of the matter is with Polly's song,
This Brutus falls quiet, and listens along.
He ogles this feminine feline of mine,
He snuggles his paws as she soars in her whine.

One night in the darkness I heard a new mew -
The moon on the grassland displayed shadows two.
One was my Polly's, a slight demure figure,
The other a monster's - very much bigger!

And there till the morning the smitten cat stayed,
With Polly delivered a dazzling cascade,
And all the nice pussycats, hearing their tune,
Jumped into my garden and danced by the moon.

Patrick and his daughter's children

[email protected]

from "Twisters" cartoon
© Jan Sand

JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times. and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals, or science fiction.

To see more of Jan's poems, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter.

© Jan Sand

I deem it unlikely
That Christ will walk again
At the millennium,
But if this event does occur
And he seats himself
On a crowded subway train,
Or perhaps donates his place
To another tired passenger
And confides to the crowd
That we should be kind to one another,
That we should cease concern with wealth,
That we should devote our lives
To charity and good works,
That we should, with joy,
Invite foreign destitutes
To share our wealth
And good company,
That we should enforce
That good behavior
Dominates the world,
He will, of course,
Be gently led away
To some institute
Where the wisdom of our society
Shall instruct him
Into rationality.

© Jan Sand

I still struggle not to sink
Down to docile death.
The music of the minutes
Fills my spinnaker
For direction and for hope.
The seas ahead look rough,
Yet, I plow on.
Each day's tack out and back
Makes my course along a plot
That strokes my appetite for mystery.
The El Dorados long have vanished from my charts.
I am satisfied to feel the winds,
Sense the seas, watch the waves
Rock the unattainable horizon,
Gyrate the constellations of the night.

© Jan Sand

Out of the Sun
Flows the heat.
Out of the sun
Flows the light
And the heat
And the light
Flow out of the sky
Down to the Earth
Which swallows the heat
And makes the green
Which swallows the light
That flows to the wood
Which is made from the light
And stands towards the sky.
Machines take the wood
Which is made from the light
And refashion the wood
So the light from the Sun
Becomes pure white sheets
Which form, end to end,
A highway of length
From the minds of us all
To the worlds of our dreams.
So the light from the Sun
Flows out of the sky
Through the minds of us all
To the worlds of our dreams.

[email protected]

JULIE DAMERELL has been published in various internet journals:
Café Society Guest Poets,
the June '98 Pigs 'n' Poets,
Michael Stephen's Avalon,
and the Nov~Dec '98
Wired Art From Wired Hearts.
Her column for
Ellavon: An Ezine of Basic Culture,
is titled Rural Route Two.
Two of her essays are included in
Mother Voices, an anthology published by
Rose Communications in March 1998.

Cleaning out my hope chest
© Julie Damerell, 1999

Beneath the ashes of yellow dahlias
planted that first June, I found
your letter, looking smooth as bones
cleaned by the departing winter.

I trace your black scrawl and sense
the skeleton of something once familiar
resting under the paper’s skin,
legs that once jumped logs and brooks,
trampling gardens, chasing the dark.

Between the lines I feel the slope
of your shoulders, the curve of your fingers,
the furious way you tried to erase mistakes.
Some things seem so permanent.
So much becomes dust.

previously published in Dust on Our Palms (online)

Birth Day
© Julie Damerell, 1999

Many moons past you were Pinocchio,
our wannabe boy in my whale belly.
I counted waves hushing to shore
as your daddy poured silky sand
over my toes,
telling me time and again
to breathe, just breathe.
Fifteen between each twinge
as I fingerpainted your picture
grain over grain,
then ten
then eight
before I felt the harpoon
that sent me out of sun’s glare,
still coated with beach,
into that airless delivery room
where you,
coated with me,
rode the crest of our shared wave
and crashed over the shoals
into Daddy’s sun scorched hands.

A whale no more,
I laid my very real boy in the sand,
the home you struggled to reach.
Too hot inside, we nested there
soothed by the splash of surf
on our soles.

previously published online in Wired Art from Wired Hearts, Tintern Abbey

Hearing No
© Julie Damerell, 1999

My rejection slips are getting smaller,
as if the editors knew
the box chosen for them
once held ballet slippers
I gave to charity
imagining another poor teen
with a dream to dance.

I could have chosen a winter boot box
but opted to hold onto hope,
the kind I felt when I bought the slippers,
imagining nineteen wasn’t too old
to become a ballerina
or when I guessed thirty-seven
is a good age to become a poet.

previously published in Disquieting Muses

On the Playground (to Barbara Crooker)
© Julie Damerell 1998

My damp feet rustle leaves under the swing.
Back and forth, my eyes glide over your poem.
Moistened by fog, the chapbook buckles
like my heart, moving to the pulse of words.
They gather like goldenrod in chilled hands.
It is the promise of warmth and sun
that brought me here, its absence that led me
into your black on white prism. A day
unfolding in shades of gray is not lost.

published in ByLine, March 1999

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