Volume 8 June 15, 2021 Issue 2
Cover art: Still Life with Goldfish and Lotus
Volume 8 June 15, 2021 Issue 2
Cover art: Still Life with Goldfish and Lotus
In Hebrew, the same word is used for song and poem. This song is a poem, or this poem is a song, in any language. Manouk, a student of mine at David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem, shared this with me. As we continue poetry month(s) into May, we at The BeZine want to share its message with you, our readers.
This past week has been one of loss and sorrow here in Israel, with the death of 45 people in a crushing crowd during a religious celebration last Thursday night into the early hours of Friday morning. Lag B’Omer, the holiday, celebrates freedom and resistance to tyranny. The religious aspects go deeper, with Mystical Connections to an ancient rabbi believed to have handed down the Zohar, a principle text of Kabbalah.
This song is dedicated by its writer to Yonatan Zaken, who died too young. The BeZine dedicates it also to the 45 young and old Israelis who died last week, and to those we know and love we have lost in this past year.
—Michael Dickel, editor
There is a place Called heaven Where loved ones go And never come back, Where time is not counted. Magical rides And violins Play in the dust of clouds. And i am here empty handed… It's been a long time now, I've seen the contours Of your face. You have been brave. They say you're better off now… I look up high. You promised me You would be the brightest of all. I know you will always be Dancing in a field Of memories so free. No, I won't forget, You remain a part of me.
יש מקום הנקרא גן עדן שלשם האהובים שלנו הולכים ולעולם לא חוזרים מקום בו הזמן לא נספר נסיעות קסומות וכינורות מתנגנים בעננים של אבק ואני כאן בידיים ריקות עבר המון זמן ראיתי את צורת פניך היית אמיץ והם אמרו שיותר טוב לך עכשיו אני מסתכלת למעלה גבוה הבטחת לי שתהיה הכוכב המואר ביותר אני יודעת שתמיד תהיה לרקוד בשדה של זכרונות חופשיים לא, אני לא אשכח אתה חלק ממני
©2021 Manouk Rachelle Rosenfeld
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of your life after the fact as all stories are we find those thoughts enjambed racing toward intolerance pages unnumbered mixing tea bags in hot water the repeated inaccurate refrain they find a small hope suddenly crystalizing on artificial sweetener with snow forecast in inches over night our muscles begin to atrophy a kind act among hundreds of other assortments never worry about prepositions repeating even when swallowing hard a day dream awakens unexpected hunger you feel the press of their attraction weighing down opportunity events from a past muddle through too many filters until only pure illusion gathers among the quiet introverted the collection resonates internally with few avenues of escape
upon those acceptable which means leaving more than half alive out our denial and refusal the medicinal median you gave in four days ago and more than hearts break little fuss to make out of no longer having to wait for this event while others play overhead on imaginary tight ropes to choke the life out pretending choice personal so block out the porous windows brick closed the two doors escape prevented no longer an advocate for certainty even when in its midst blankets quartered around the filleted body last night a repetitious dream just before waking a circle of colors blended gray you will be missed had already been solvent for years
so many alone in beds meant for brief visits we want to scream but instead live in our head accede to the believed in and deeply held reality not as imagined or experienced but folded under our skirts and dresses those boots yet to be waterproofed wet hands glove covered in snow you welcome the new adventure never subverted by their kind eyes and character flaws in another score two sing out of key join in uncomfortable liaisons bodies lined weight less prayerful savants gleaning unnatural release belief held only in what they are told without question to read
so you licked tentative the day turning into evening amid the constant choking we carefully build out of their words to fortify the fear embraced in isolation refuse to answer phone voice mail or text block all numbers free ourself from pretense of common clear pathway your heart skips beat back aches the body always up to this moment our family knew nothing of our propensity for dresses and tubular vegetables pliable though functional made up swirls in their empty imagination the silence is never deafening rather an uproar of places things and voices their volume once again pliable the days resort shuffle into new brackets of darkness and light savings
nights their twenty four hour lip service wind awakens the solitary walkers who shrug off the litany of complaints sounds used to hear ourself at what expense those others whose practice learned doing the same while sources evade detection cheat in the rubble that remains of an earlier rousing party of some kind and the nonexistent masks clog the plumbing around town make for bad air quality sneezes feel good even when aimed at inside elbow at least for another few nights pretend you haven't lost us altogether make this look more like what it pretends to be wash hands again repeat a pleasure of those who have the time and where with all
the streets trees flutter their communal dance of sharing you enter into their enclosed safety open windows through out the apartment time how long it takes for frost to form on various edges those things once so valuable now aflame in frigid light we go in and out without effort keep forestalling reflection through computer screen name begin to vanish flies unseasonable dying on horizontal flat lines little reason left for italic moments of capitals your state of mind ground down only to worthless replace the c with an x to disappear into what can never be easily followed
hour ahead gray birds in the starkly black black and white domain of conjoined conflict lies building upon lies push you back to bed and the wail of those usual broken love songs while lyrically diverse the message the same their bodies magical hidden as we will be by mirrored glass judged inappropriate you have never been prescient but understand the absence hours compel out of any context save wonder rereading those memories to ensure erasure the failure when using language with a known assumed listener reader in mind scrambles forms of alliterative translation forms of abstinence don't worry the operation went smoothly although what's missing remains tactile faulty
company the days languish late autumn grayness around the base of the two new trees leaves burrow for warmth a smell of bread toasting a time ago shots of brandy and laughter talking power outages and strange surroundings when young you kept hidden beneath surfaces a sense of safety which was all along absent gathering groups of memorized thoughtless inarticulate truths leaving out a consonant or vowel feels as if we've pulled away from each other unnoticed by anyone builds to a crescendo where opposites join force restive in ourself never a melodic introverted caffeine synthesized dusk lock the off switch
©2021 gary lundy
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Particularly speaking to this “Covid moment,” Eicha (איכה) comprises 5 videopoems which takes as its jumping off point, the Biblical Eicha, The Book of Lamentations, which laments the destruction of Jerusalem and through reflection, deflection, refraction and the fracturing of language, homophonically re-situates the original text to the horrors and hope of the present moment. Tracking through “the city” as a desolate weeping widow overcome with misery, and moving through desolation, ruin, prayer, and recovery, it explores ways that in rupture, there is rapture.
As transpoesis it acts not only (in General Semanticist terms) as a “time binder” but through a luminous, voluminous threading of light, it highlights how darkness is a form of light, how text itself is, in essence, black light on white light, and thus opens up new ways of seeing and the cyclic nature of meaning and being.
Text written and performed by Karasick and comprises the first section of her forthcoming book, Ærotomania: The Book of Lumenations. The music is composed and performed by world renowned Grammy Award winning composer, trumpet player and Klezmer giant, Frank London. Eicha I includes Vispo by Jim Andrews and Daniel f. Bradley with Titles by Italian filmmaker Igor Imhoff. Eicha II and III, music by Frank London and video by Igor Imhoff. Eicha IV and V are still under construction and will be launched for Tisha B’Av.
Michael Dickel: Your theoretical frame for this work takes us from The Book of Lamentations to General Semantics developed in the 20th C. to the present moment of pandemic. What intrigues me about this is something I have thought about for some time. Before I heard of Alfred Korzybski, I had begun to think that cultural products—specifically but not only visual arts, music / dance, and writing—formed a sort of socio-cultural DNA. The “stories” or “meanings” they convey shape socio-cultural formations much as DNA shapes life forms, but outside of the body of course. And as such, they are apparently uniquely human. This is how I understand Korzybski’s “time-binding.”
In this framework-metaphor-analogy, would you agree that “reflection, deflection, refraction and the fracturing of language” could resemble RNA / DNA dividing and recombining? Perhaps I’m asking if your work introduces and “recombines” the DNA of light (luminosity, lumen) into the sorrow of loss and darkness (lamentation)? Or is the case completely different?
Adeena Karasick: So many interesting questions, Michael. First, if we think about “time binding as a kind of recognizing of pattern recognition—how cycles emerge in conjunction with the zeitgeist, aesthetic and political and social orders of the day and bound by semantic environments and spacetime contingencies to a past which is ever re-articulated in an ever contemporaneous present; as Korzybski might say, by abstracting nutrients, growing subsystems, which over time re-orient the narrative, language, “meaning” — in this way it is in a sense a recombination (or in Abulafian terms, a permutation and recombination), restaged into something new.
So, yes between the layering, the looming of the lament and the lumen i’m interested in illuminating the way the present re-presented through an ever-shifting past pinned to a future that is ever-fracturing; how darkness and light are always already embedded in one another – and we see this through our very rituals. For example, on Tish B’Av, when we read the Book of Lamentations which mourns the destruction of Jerusalem, it’s followed by the kinnot, the liturgical dirges that lament the loss of the 1st Temple, the 2nd Temple, reminded of all the other major calamities, the murder of the Ten Martyrs, medieval massacres, the Holocaust. Everything gets bound in these cycles of language of time of repetition and reproduction a simulacric spiraling that bleeds into the prescience of this very moment. A moment that itself (due in part to the weight of cultural memory) fractured and re-reflected, deflected, where limerence lamentation and lumenation emanate: When life gives you laments make limnade ; )
MD: A liminal moment. Your discussion of darkness being a form of light, or the light in the dark, reminds me of Carl Jüng and also of Robert Bly’s A Little Book of the Human Shadow. Both of course metaphorically could be seen as responses to the concept of yetzer hara (יצר הרע). However, the quantum optician Arthur Zajonc perhaps more literally addresses this light in the dark idea in his book, Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind.
Zajonc points out that the night on Earth is not an absence of light. The sun’s light is still in the sky, as can be seen by its reflection from the moon. He describes a demonstration he uses to show this of a box that has a vacuum inside—no dust, nothing. The inside is all painted flat black that is totally non-reflecting. There is an eyehole on one side to look into. There is also a light that shines from a side 90-degrees to that. And a mirror or flat object inside that is black on the back but can be rotated. The box looks “dark,” that is pitch-black, until the object is revolved and reflects the light. Then it is clear there was light in the box all along.
It seems that what you are doing is showing us that the dark / night / shadow always contains light. That darkness or shadow provide the contrast and form to reflected light. And that the light we see, as Zajonc points out, is only the reflected light. Even the sky reflects dust to become blue.
With this other, different framework-metaphor-analogy, does this seem a reasonable way to understand your hybrid title, “Lumenations”, which of course plays homophonically with illuminations…?
AK: So important particularly in these troubled times to shift the perspective, change the channel, shift the diorama, “peepholes, eyestreams” and recognize the light in the darkness; to revel in the white space, between the letters, the long silences, the emptiness, the shudders / shutters, suspensions and remember that as in the Zohar, the darkness contains the light. Or the absence contains the presence – thinking about maybe Heidegger’s translation of Heraclitus preserved by Hippolytus (which i quote in another section of The Book of Lumenations), that even in the presencing of all things present, itself remains concealed from being present, “not as presence presently absent or an absence absently present but as the absent present that continually withdraws in the spectacle of its present absence”[i] Acknowledging how it’s so important to complicate these dichotomies, uncover its fabrication, and analyze the violence this initiates and sustains.
And like the flash of primordial letters clothed in the nothingness of being enshrouded in the disquiet of dissembling – letters, like desire itself, embodies all that is to come; comes and keeps coming in an ever-arriving future. So yes, it’s both a reflection defection, deflection, confection ; ) playing with ways all is simulacric and thereby produces a kind of co-sanguinity mirroring how like in the 2nd C. Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Creation), primordial creation is ever re-created through the articulation of each letter – which contains all the future within it[ii]
MD: Now, how does all of this fit in your thinking with the Time of Coronavirus / “Covid moment” we find ourselves living in?
AK: Well, we’re living in dark times. And in many ways like the word COVID itself which homophonically can be transliterated in Hebrew as Kavod כבוד, which (as you know), means glory, honor and respect; ie when we congratulate someone we say Kol HaKavod, ‘all the honour’ (Good job!), or close a letter with the word V’Kavod (‘with respect’) Yet — ironically, COVID kaved is also “heavy. And throughout Exodus, the presence of God in the tabernacle is symbolised by the word ‘Kavod’ ((which is also represented by a cloud!)) So, like The Book of Lamentations itself which is mired in darkness, heaviness and cloudiness – a masking of the light, like you mentioned earlier, with reference to Zajonc, it’s so important especially now to recalibrate how we see, what we see; displace our usual systems of spectrality. Through this homophonic translation, this transpoeisis, it displaces a sense of language belonging to a particular moment but marked by chasms, folds, paradoxes, turbulence and desire, highlights the Other in language, coveting and foregrounding its caveats.
[i]. Elliot R. Wolfson, Heidegger and Kabbalah: Hidden Gnosis and the Path of Poiesis, Indiana University Press, 2019, p.5.
[ii]. See Sefer Yetzirah, 2:2. Wesier Edition, Trans. Aryeh Kaplan, San Francisco, 1997.
©2021 Adeena Karasick and The BeZine
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(( wrote this after an extended blog conversation with another talented poet friend of mine about the limits of the written word and language. As good/succinct/clear as a writer strives to be, there always exists the possibility of misunderstanding, and that can be very frustrating! She inspired it (Thanks again, E!), and rather than use an image for this one, I think it's more appropriate to let the words do the talking this time...)
Thick as the speed of clotted thoughts, This language suffices; A cumbersome tool. Experience sought (and bought) The sacrifices That made wiser men From ignorant fools. Words escape. You. Me. They cannot be caught, Yet aren’t quite free, For every one comes attached to a thought, And for every action, It was birthed in naught but Electrical energy -- Brain waves of….what? Symbols understood, with meaning, But none can accurately catch the dreaming, Teeming shores of what it means to live. Sensation lingers in the mind’s mouth, Tasting phrases. Sifting variations of description, Through this medium’s sieve. It still lacks The richness of the moment’s impact. In fact, It’s amazing communication takes place. Limited as we are, By our lack Of (understanding) The rigidity of moving back And forth, Through Time and Space. Seeking to capture a feeling, A sight, To explain human nature -- Thus, stealing it, right? We take from experience, And categorize. We label our labors, And ceaselessly prize the “Hows“, And “Whys”, But Language, The bridge of the written word… *sighs* Though inadequate, Sometimes succeeds, And we’re “heard”.
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I utter in clandestine code Nasi lemak, mee rebus, mee siam Paratha, mee pok, char kway teow, Biryani, nasi padang, rojak, char siew pao, Roti john, mee soto, popiah, putu piring Embedded in my genetic soul Ravenous for the familiarity of a satiating sustenance a childhood defined a hungry rebellion usurped a displaced gluttonous immigrant lost in a gumbo of new worlds a legacy of bewilderment longingly relishing fuel that coursed through my veins I prattle my mindless mantra Durian, satay, ice kacang, kaya, teh tarik Ketupat, laksa, lontong, dosai, agar agar Putu piring, wonton mee, chili crab Bak kut teh, chendol, gado gado A foreigner Forever famished
sometimes it's arduous being colorful in this white world sometimes I stand out in the forest of humanity sometimes I fade in the landscape of dirt and mud sometimes I become invisible in the shroud of possibilities sometimes I crave to be a shade of nothing sometimes I yearn to be simply monochromatic Then you see me For who I am In that blind understanding phenomenal love makes intricate connections our disparities fervently celebrated by our equal residency on this universal concourse of life and we all simply exist
©2021 Kelly Kaur
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You create images with words you’ve carefully chosen & modeled into verse But in your droning monotone they fall lifeless before my ears my mind Breathe the fire you felt when you wrote that poem Let the words escape from your mouth the way they escaped from your imagination Let me hear the laughter the groans the serenity the anger Your words sputter out in a constant stream to stop dead before reaching my Spirit
The idea …. Take the poetry out of the coffeehouses & classrooms Take the voice to the streets Small groups 3 or 4 voices united Guerrilla strikes poetry readings Hit with the power of poems & disappear, then into the mundane life laundromats speaker’s circle shopping malls convenience stores police station waiting rooms wherever people are sludging through the mud of rutted life Strike with the word Then vanish DO IT!
On a ball court in Barrio Edén we set chairs around the stage-buffet we are laying creating a different space from the bar on the corner blaring tropical rhythms, from the traffic going some place some place else this Saturday night Families & neighbors take a seat, their hungering souls, hungering minds feasting on the songs & stories, poetry & mime—the visions we serve at this Cultural Banquet, a now & then breeze softly wiping away our sweat, softly swaying palms to our rhythms in this different space
©2021 Lorraine Caputo
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Wandering troubadour Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 250 journals on six continents; and 14 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She travels through Latin America with her faithful companion Rocinante (that is, her knapsack), listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.
“With this beginning, the unknown concealed one created the palace. This palace is called אלוהים (Elohim), God. The secret is: בראשית ברא אלוהים (Bereshit bara Elohim), With beginning, _______ created God (Genesis 1:1).”
— Zohar (I:15a)
“…She knows that her beloved is searching for her; so what does she do? She opens the portal to her hidden room [in the palace] slightly and reveals her face for a moment, and then hides it again.”
— Zohar (II.99a)
Somewhere, a whirring fan in an open window spins possibilities into threads. I heard a rumor that the Oleander flowers shed their pink and white grace for poisonous reason. A car slinks down traces of a melted tar road. You like to stand by the window, and want him to see you there, behind a curtain. He doesn’t know you or you him. He walks the span of street, infrequently catching a glimpse of blue eyes, a reflection in cracks of the cotton-hued skies. The crow calls from a tree. Another day, green parrots screech louder than the traffic flees. The heat lays like a corpse upon our city. Bougainvillea bracts spot gardens with false hope, colorful arrays of forgotten pain turned to sweet honey. He forgets you, though you never meet. And you, also, forget—window, curtains, the desire for a stranger's glad glance. Someone wants this to be autobiography, a short recollection of moments actually lived. That person never dreamed, does not exist anymore. And I never existed because I don’t stop dreaming. Poetry, like a god, provides code for an image, keying it to suggest a revelation-lode from your past. You want it to be my past. Parrots screech. A crow calls. A beautiful Other by the window waits. This all happens to you while I write these scenes tangled in dreams, whirring fans—the poem unable to light any form, your reading, this page; unable to discover more than bare wisps of meaning in the vibrations of words—your song longing for someone in the infinite void. Wanting a mortal to read you into this, to see you alive, you seek a new beginning—genesis.
Note: Zohar refers to The Book of Splendor, one of the main texts of Kabbalah. Translations are from Daniel Matt’s work.
Somewhere a Whirring Fan is from Michael Dickel’s collection, Nothing Remembers.
©2019 Michael Dickel
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Volume 8 March 15, 2021 Issue 1
Cover art: Sadness of Water
Colored Pencil, 11″ X 14″