“My Lost World: By the Rivers of Babylon” by Angela Cohan

 

I’m tired of hearing it.  I’m tired of being reminded everyday.  I’m so tired

of being and classified.  Most of all, I’m tired and fed up with ignorance and

intolerance.

You know what I mean?  Do you get me man?  I’ve been banging my head

against the wall for the past thirty years and I’m still the ugly ducking.  Can

you dig?

I’m so confused.  I was even more confused when our rabbi said that there

are fundamental differences between the Persians and the “whites.”

The who?  The what?  Did he say white?  I had to ask my friends.  I’m still

dazed and confused.  I didn’t know that I was a different color than my

friends who were born here.

I feel like I’ve lost my identity.  I feel like I’ve lost my home—my center.  I

feel like that I’ll never be able to visit my birthplace.  I feel lost.  But most of

all I feel unwanted.

Like the time when I was shopping in Westwood for new year cards.  The

blond, green-eyed clerk was badmouthing her Jewish clients in the brightly

lit store in front of other customers.  She then looked at my credit card and

exclaimed in a surprised voice:  “Cohen, you’re a Cohen—you’re Jewish?

You don’t look Jewish.”  I could only look in her green catty eyes and say

“yes”, vowing never to shop there again.

I’m the typical wondering Jew who is desperately trying to belong.  One

who is searching for meaning, serenity and peace.  I’m striving to give my

kids the promise of brighter future in the land of the free and the home of the

brave.  I’m trying to educate people that bigotry and intolerance have no

place in the modern society.

My heart broke on a warm sunny day while vacationing with my family in

Dubai as I stood by the waters of the Persian Gulf.  The captain of the small

passenger boat told me that he could take us to southern Iran—it would take

twenty minutes.  My heart was aching to go back home even if just for a few

hours, but my American children were terrified.  I don’t blame them.  I knew

it would be taking a risk to step on the soil of an extremist Islamic country

without wearing the veil or the chador with a Jewish last name like Cohan.

So I just stood there on the dock and I cried silent tears for my lost world.

Angela Cohan

© 2010

“Apnea” by Alex Bledsoe

Photo by Alex Bledsoe

Each night I dream of failures.
I relive past ones,
and make new ones from whole psychic cloth.
They accrue, like interest in my IRA,
and with each one it grows less and less likely
that any waking triumphs will ever balance them out.

Alex Bledsoe

© 2010

“The Red” by Candice Rosales

I wasn’t ready for it tonight.

Her insistent look or the urgency of

The red.

A long pour please, I wasn’t

Ready tonight.

Red copper hair came not once but

Twice.  I knew she would have it too,

like it was some fundamental truth.

Her wide eyes and the wisdom she came with.

I am too weak for her, always have been.

How do you feed this child from your breast?

How do you nurture a soul older than your own?

I have muddled through, blind and stupid, groping

After the immutable fact of my love for her.

it has never failed me, and doesn’t tonight.

Her unflappable heart searching mine

For what comes next?

The red has spread.

A crimson inkblot prologue to

a hip-splitting birthpain.

This is my territory!

These secrets are mine to share, and I do.

I grip her tight – so tight!

I whisper that this is just the beginning

And I smile into her wide eyes the way I did

When she was born the first time.

I don’t mention what has died tonight,

I’ll take up the cause

Of mourning on my own.

Red always does me in.

Candice Rosales

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010

“It Was The Sweetness I Was After” by Ariana Trinneer


It was the sweetness I was after.
The unfettered taste
of something present wrapped
and full of potential.
Yesterday I hung my bones out to dry
in the winter sun.
Clean and white they burned
like the bleach eaten rocks
we used to skip along the river.
Do you remember
when we laughed all the time
or is that just something I made up?
The accumulation of memory is useless
and that’s the bald headed truth.
A collection of spent seeds
to bury,
wishes
to blow.

It’s still me deep down,
It’s still me.
but there’s never any time now for knee buckling gazes,
when the world ricochets—
a flock of black words
against the window pane.
And the gap in my chest stretches so wide
that my hands gripping shoulders
over crossed chest
are not enough.
If I could just shake out
the misconceptions,
let them fly
with this northern wind
through the skeleton trees,
let loose the metallic taste
of disillusion
until my thoughts run sweet.
There is a big difference
between fearing the worst
and believing the best.

Ariana Trinneer

L. K. Thayer’s Foto Fetish

© 2010

“Because the Reckoning Came” by Ariana Trinneer

Because the reckoning came
on an average tuesday
from a doctor with a young face and old eyes
with a small hole in his right pocket
that his pinky kept escaping through.
Because I hadn’t showered or slept or even changed my underwear,
because these kinds of things, these words,
the words he said, they’re not for us.
A white sky presses against the window and above me
toffee colored ceiling stains in the shape of healthy ovaries
tango like we used to in the old days
cheek to cheek, each pretending to be the other’s dashing future lover
while outside, the roar of Big Sur and the fog and our sweaty hands
lifting the window to the car waiting below
smothered laughs and the boom and the crash
and the wet sand and the beach fires and the thick skunk-smell of pot
and the luxury of it all,
the luxury.
I watch his finger, pointed and bright against the blue cloth, just the barest tip
anxious and naked.

Ariana Trinneer

Photo by VC Ferry

© 2010

“The Corsage of Courage” by M.C. Lubow

https://i0.wp.com/zedomax.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/duct-tape-corsage.jpg

It’s been a while since I wore a corsage.
How I loved the special feeling
that someone thought to honor me
with fragrant flowers.

Today I woke up crying.
Today I wear my courage
in a corsage on my chest.

I confront myself. I search within,
for multicolored petals of strength,
to face a Goliath, whose passion for deprivation,
seeks to conquer all my personal territory,
every inch of me.

Today I woke up crying.
Today I wear my corsage
of courage on my chest.

Shall I surrender yet again,
lacking resolve to stand on my own?
I enter my own garden at the home
I still love, because it is my shelter.
I diagramed all the sprinklers’ spray, observed
where holy water should be conserved.
I fired the gardener last week. He didn’t listen.

Today I woke up crying.
Today I wear my courage
in a corsage on my chest.

Am I listening to my own heartbeat,
or that of Goliath?
I tried to synchronize our rhythms
on Sunday,
but our breaths fall at different rates.

Today I woke up crying.
Today I wear my corsage
of courage on my chest.

M.C. Lubow

© 2010