Psalm 6 | Millicent Borges Accardi

I am worn out from groaning.
People: mother, father, baby, child, 
toddler, student, woman, man.
The grandmother who yells
In Russian at the young soldier
To tuck sunflowers in his front pocket
Because when he dies his body will sort
Out into new blooms on the land
Of Ukraine, that the yellow suns
Will redeem themselves, breaking
Through shrapnel and Molotov
Cocktail remnants, and disappear,
like cloth, the children’s cancer ward 
bombed out, at its corner seams. 
the teenager named Kira,
Waiting with her conure parrot for three
Days in line to get into Poland
Those underground like the sunflower
Seeds, hiding from the night afraid
And implosions of fear they cannot 
Show to their children as they clutch
Lego backpacks to chests and look 
At the blue for signs of sky and yellow 
For the wheat fields. We are kind, 
we are peaceful. We will feed you hot tea, 
the Kyiv men say, we will help you to get home.
Nightmare slumber, boyhood, February,
Winter, imagining, omen, flying sleep.

One Fish, Two Fish
Geli Print, ©2022 Julia Bentley- Mcdonald
Used by permission

©2022 Millicent Borges Accardi
All rights reserved


Millicent Borges Accardi…

…is a Portuguese-American writer, author of four poetry collections, most recently Through a Grainy Landscape (New Meridian Arts 2021). Among her awards are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Fulbright, CantoMundo, California Arts Council, Foundation for Contemporary Arts (Covid grant), Yaddo, Fundação Luso-Americana (Portugal), and the Barbara Deming Foundation, “Money for Women.” She lives in Southern California, in the hippie enclave of Topanga Canyon.

Website

The Poem in which I Run Out of Names | Adesina Ajala

Tonight bears in its wings the dirge of a thing clattering 
the world in its teeth.

Shrapnel & bombs ricochet that way & this way, shelling
cities into rubble.

& people scamper for safety, force themselves into the mouth 
of another country because their birthplace has become 

a lapping fire. Reminds me of Afghans thronging the bodies 
of planes in Kabul after Taliban takeover. Whenever war news 

grip me before the TV screen, I reach for the brink of silence. 
Tonight, I'm at the brink of silence. Tonight, I hear soft moans
©2022 Engin-Akyurt
Unsplash
in Kyiv. This night, sighs run deep in Kharkiv. A Ukrainian 
woman hurls her baby into arms, running for the borders, 

afraid to look at the things bombs have eaten halfway, 
afraid of turning into a pillar of ruin. Tonight, my lines 
reek of bloods, my hand is too heavy to continue this poem.
Come & see bloods stroke the skin of ego. Come & see bloods

oil the wheels of politics. Come, come & see blood murals on the walls 
of Kherson. Every night, after switching between Aljeezera & BBC 

like a pendulum, I borrow new names to numb my pains. Now, I'm 
running out of names. I think of the journeys the people of Ukraine 

are unwilling to make. I think of the split gap between beauty & ruins. 
Each night, after the war correspondent's voice weans off my ears, 

I run my palm over my skin & collect into a soulful soliloquy 
of bloodied flesh & things smouldering. Tonight, a breaking news
 
about this war lingers over my TV screen. & the reporter says it 
with a certain weight in her voice as if she were drowning. I watch
 
a woman sated with the burden for home says to a Russian 
soldier, Take these seeds so sunflowers grow when you die
 
here. I clasp my palms in prayers, clogged words rippling down 
my throat: Peace for Ukraine, for Russia, for everyone running.

©2022 Adesina Ajala
All rights reserved


Adesina Ajala…

…a Nigerian writer, poet & medical doctor, is currently in the 2022 Cohort of the Global Arts in Medicine Fellowship. His poem, “A dirge of Broken Things” wins the 2020/2021 Poetic Wednesdays Initiative Contest. He also win the Ayamba LitCast Essay Contest with his piece, “Daffodils and the Promise of Rebirth” in 2021. His works appear in Afritondo, Mbari, Nantygreens, The Red Letter Journal, The Nigeria Review and elsewhere.

Poems on Peace | Bruce Black

Who gives the order

Who gives the order to fire 
and who aims the gun
and who is the target
and whose life is stolen
and who weeps with regret for what is lost
and who will raise a flag of truce to stop the insanity
and who will be the first to utter the word: peace?

Sunflowers for the people of Ukraine
©2022 Marlene McNew

Where did peace go?

Was it frightened by the sound
of rockets falling?

Did it run away
to hide in the nearest
bomb shelter?

Is it huddled with the
children in the dark
space under the rubble?

Is it hiding from war,
from anger and rage,
unwilling to risk
returning until
the fighting stops?

Is it caught in this endless
tug-of-war, each side claiming
ancient injustices, bruises, rebuffs?

Is it burrowing deeper into
the safe room or shelter
to avoid the conflict?

Or is it missing in action, 
protecting a body 
concealed in the
rubble?

Or carried
on a stretcher 
into what’s left of a
hospital?

Or maybe it’s weeping
over each life lost, 
unable to keep count— 
Arab, Israeli—each life
lost a precious life, 
irreplaceable.

©2022 Bruce Black
All rights reserved


Bruce Black…

is the author of Writing Yoga (Rodmell Press/Shambhala) and editorial director of The Jewish Writing Project. He received his BA from Columbia University and his MFA from Vermont College. His poems and personal narratives have appeared in Soul-Lit, Poetry Super Highway, Atherton Review, Elephant Journal, Blue Lyra Review, Tiferet Journal, Hevria, Poetica, Jewthink, The Jewish Literary Journal, Mindbodygreen, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and elsewhere. He lives in Sarasota, FL.

Waging Peace | Benedicta Boamah

An assimilated dart,
Unsustained long-standing insurgencies,
the sequelae of ambience & peculiarity in holds of dynamism,
Seeping & entrenched; an unrest of sustenance,
Stability has a rare affluence on significant truces left in the dark, 
Peace can only stay when there's a joint act of benevolence.
The air that surrounds an apneic state of no riots,
Breathless & proportionate the heaps of unsettled upheavals.
Revolts of unfairness in a time of undeserving merciless acts,
Divulged & presented in a predominant maneuver,
It hits like a collective pulse of pain,
It hits with an error of silence, 
It hits with tentative overlooked & unconcerned shuns,
©2022 Anne Nygard
Unsplash
It hits with a creeping creed of pain,
It hits like the past,
Yields with no dividends,
The packs of life.
A time to wage peace from obscurities,
an ousted onset of the past.

©2022 Benedicta Boamah
All rights reserved


Benedicta Boamah…

…is a skilled nursing officer in  emergency cardiovascular care which is provided for short term contracts in various prestigious organisations. Benedicta writes poetry during her leisure periods. I was born in Bloemfontein, Free State, though a Ghanaian, and completed my degree program as a professional nurse in Garden City University College in Kumasi, Ghana.I’m the fourth and last child and as it stands my parents are retired lecturers. Currently, I have a personal blog on WordPress and a partner organisation that deals in emergency courses and live webinars. I have an inner passion to write daily from the heart in making a difference as a poet in an outstanding literary world.

BB Vintage (WordPress Blog)

Translating the Ukraine, Letters from a Young Cousin in Odessa | Debbi Brody

Daughter of a broken arm,
legs drove the wheels,
shot down at the speed
of a black jeep.

The evening moved to make things 
square. Details in bags and rustling bills.

Our nation is ready 
to give his last shirt.

Vladimir’s cathedral and walking
on subway cars with dull drawling.

A guy cleaned paws off my shoulder,
walked to the exit of transition, 
he graduated with grief in half,
three classes.

But all this being said, the flowers.
Photograph ©2022 Natalia Twardy
from Pexels

Poem ©2022 Debbi Brody
All rights reserved


Debbi Brody…

…is an avid attendee and leader of poetry workshops. She has been published in numerous national and regional journals, magazines and anthologies of note. She judges poetry contests around the nation. Debbi’s strong voice ranges from narrative to lyric, short to lengthy, grief filled to joyous, inner to outer landscapes and politics. The deep influences of the surrealist, modernist and beat poets sing through her collections of clear, tough, tender and fantastical poems. She is the author of three chapbooks as well as two full length poetry collections. In Everything, Birds, is her second full length collection published by Village Books Press, (OKC, OK 2015)and was awarded an inaugural Margaret Randall Book Prize in Poetry. Her newest chapbook is Walking the Arroyo (2020-Cyberwit Books).

At the End of the War | DeWitt Clinton

                   "after the End and the beginning"  Wislawa Syzmborska
We need to do something about all the lost limbs.
Would somebody please volunteer to search
for all those lost legs, arms, faces?
We’re all thirsty, yes, but does anybody know
where we can find a brook, a creek that
doesn’t have our floating cousins?

Yes, yes, we need a morgue, but first
we must find a few dogs to tell us
who is beneath the stones.

We know Gertrude and Maurice and maybe
Alfonse, maybe more, all have to be found.
Bandages, surely someone has some bandages.

We want to rebuild. Does anyone have a ladder?
Let’s leave God out of this for awhile.
Let’s start in the square, and slowly remove

what was thrown down from the sky.
Who knows how to get a weather report?
Will there be good weather for tomorrow?

Yes, that’s a good idea, but we can always
talk, there’s always a lot of time for talk.
We’ve got such a mess.

Brooms. Everybody, find all the brooms.
Can anyone send a letter, we need to let
someone know this has happened.

Tomorrow we can start burning our families.
Surely someone will see the smoke.
Surely someone will come.
                  From At the End of War (DeWitt Clinton, Kelsay Books 2018)
                  This appeared in the March 2019 Waging Peace issue of The BeZine.
                  Reprinted now at the request of the poet.

©2018 DeWitt Clinton
All rights reserved


DeWitt Clinton…

…taught English, Creative Writing, and World of Ideas courses for over 30 years at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater.  His earlier collections of poetry include  The Conquistador Dog Texts, The Coyot. Inca Texts, (New Rivers Press), At the End of the War (Kelsay Books, 2018) and By A Lake Near A Moon:  Fishing with the Chinese Masters (Is A Rose Press, 2020).  A fifth poetry collection, Hello There, is due out soon from Word Tech Communications in Cincinnati.



Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata. | Michael Dickel

                    These fragments I have shored against my ruins
                    Why then Ile fit you. Hieronymo's mad againe.
                    Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

				                    Shantih    shantih    shantih
The Wasteland, T. S. Eliot

Rubble of war hangs from wilted rebar,
a child’s trainer swinging from broken branches,
shredded bits of clothing flagged by the wind,
broken rock, handfuls of dustalarming Tarot
cards overturned in Gaza, Yemen, Afghanistan,

Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, Myanmar, 
Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Syria, Chechnya, Crimea,
now all of Ukraine invaded. War, empty and desolate
as the sea, wave upon wave of never-ending beachheads—
a martial canon of cannons, missiles, bombs, machine-

-gun repetition rat-a-tat-tats punctuating a thumping bass
rhythm from dawn to dusk and all night long. In a quiet
moment ghostly shadows slide out from shelters,
from behind brick and debris of smoking burial mounds.
They shuffle through the desolation, remains of their proud

homeland, survivors moving to the defensive periphery
for a final stand—neither living nor dead, they had sought
spring hyacinths, not hellish fires. A patient enemy, death
always triumphs, the king of entropy—slimy-bellied rats,
bloody bodies, and bleached bones its reaped subjects.

The young, once living, now dead. The still living, dying.
At the edge of the wasteland three shacks crumble to dust
under the weight of hope and repeated failures of peace:
A shanty of quiet resignation, a shanty of determination,
a shanty of fear released, once lined up against ruin,

			                    dark lightning, and silent thunder.

This poem points to T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and to Eliot’s further sources. Follow the links from Eliot quotes and allusions above to the original lines and to annotations: The Waste Land :: T. S. Eliot Original content from that site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0).


Poem ©2022 Michael Dickel
All rights reserved


Heavy Hearts Lift Skyward | TS S. Fulk

Rockets roar behind me
as I train my spyglass
upon more wondrous thoughts
Beyond wayward Pluto
lie systems much like ours
to which my spirit flees
©2022 Max Mishin
Pexels
As viral fears are replaced with 
the mad threat of nuclear war
my eye searches fondly upward
a queen bee looking for a nest
My heart cries to Andromeda
and nearby Alpha Centauri
with an innocent naked plea
— I am weary please let me rest

An imperial tsar 
rises blazingly in the east

©2022 TS S. Fulk
All rights reserved


TS S. Fulk…

…lives with his wife and three children in Örebro, Sweden, working as an English teacher and textbook author. He is an active musician playing the bass trombone, the Appalachian mountain dulcimer and the Swedish bumblebee dulcimer (hummel). His works have been (will be) published by The Ekphrastic Review, The Button Eye Review, Perennial Press and Wingless Dreamer.

The Nightingale and the Bear | Peter Howard

The nightingale soared peacefully and free
While the mighty bear sauntered patiently.
Wisdom kept the bruin from aggression
The nightingale, high above oppression.

Then one day, abandoning its reason
The bear initiated songbird season.
How embarrassing it made the effort
To pluck the sky of the singing feathered.

The ursine losing all its common sense
Should apologize and return to whence.
Then if the natural order is reset
If love and beauties preconditions met
The bear and nightingale again may gather
And share a song of futures that are better.
Bird on Wall
©2022 Demian Nayem

©2022 Peter Howard
All rights reserved


Peter Howard…

…is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University where he majored in history and minored in social studies. He is very interested in events and people of the past and the present. His current vocation is at a non-profit for individuals with intellectual disabilities, which I have been doing for over a decade. I enjoy writing poetry as well as the visual arts.

Website / Blog Linked

I Thought about My Two Students | Nancy Byrne Iannucci

©2022 Çağın Kargi
Pexels
I took the same path in the morning—
woke up to find my cat lying in sunbeams,
got dressed, had breakfast, prepped 
before my nine o’clock class, 

then I heard the chainsaw, 
cutting through Thursday’s route 
sending ice floating in lily pads
down Poestenkill Creek. 

I could see it all from my window 
driving to work, 
listening to bombs on the radio,
 “listening to bombs on the radio,”

echoing old sounds of the twentieth century. 
I put on Stand or Fall by The Fixx 
and thought, “how the hell 
can I continue my classes 

on the Protestant Reformation?”  
My plan was to have them assess Cranach,
 Law and Gospel and Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.
 How can I go through with this now?  

Crying parents tell their children
 if you survive don't do as we did.
 I thought about my two students 
from Lithuania and Ukraine, 

Ugne and Yaryna, 
roaming this quiet N.Y, boarding school
like Stoics, consumed by Putin 
and the safety of their families back home. 

I decided to keep Luther’s 95 Theses
nailed to the Wittenberg church door.  
Impromptu teaching has always terrified me,
but what right do I have to feel this way now, 

when red-lit metal boxes 
are jamming Kyiv highways 
in a desperate attempt to flee the city. 
What do I know about fear?

Ugne and Yaryna forced a good morning smile.
I stared at the class for a painful moment,
then nailed Putin to the whiteboard.  
Oh! Their faces! Their Munch faces!

I tried to answer all their questions, 
giving Ugne and Yaryna a moment to speak,
to cry, to be consoled by their classmates, 
many of whom had not heard what had happened 

until now.

©2022  Nancy Byrne Iannucci
All rights reserved


Nancy Byrne Iannucci…

…is a widely published poet: Defenestration, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Glass: a Poetry Journal are some of the places you will find her. She is the author of two chapbooks, Temptation of Wood (Nixes Mate Review, 2018), and Goblin Fruit (Impspired, 2021); she is also a teacher, and woodland roamer.

Website

Have Strength | Honey Novick

Yellow and Blue then Green

blue on one end of the scale
yellow at the opposite end
a kind of magnetic needle in between

blue, a feeling of down or calm
yellow feels up, vibrant, bright
somewhere in the middle, green
in the middle, they meld and transform
yellow and blue become green
three for the price of two

this gauge is invisible, yet lives within
it is carried eternally
it is the human tachometer
a reminder that nothing stays the same
everything can change
it can go from blue to yellow to green
unaware of its change
remarkable in being seen

@2022 Joao Reguengos
Unsplash

When the World is on Fire

When the world is on fire 
do you close your eyes?  Ignore it?
Do you?

Fuelled by racial discrimination
this conflagration
is a spirit abomination
this IS my nation
home of my education
playground of my indoctrination
to a world of justification
looking for integration
knowing that communication
is the way forward

I say I want a revolution, a human revolution
it’s gonna have to start with me
the only solution for this revolution
Has to start with me

We’re all in the same war
but not all in the same trenches 
these flames are deep, embedded
we need more than hammers and wrenches

reformation, inner reformation
takes transformation
no longer subjugation
seeing ourselves as real
co-existing
human transformation
my own revolution
lighting my way and seeing you

Yasher Koiech Nefesh Yehudi

These words, “yasher koiech, mein nefesh Yehuda” 
“Have strength, my Jewish soul” is like the mantra
used to encloak myself when leaving the comfort of home.

Even with broad-minded people, there is always the risk
of awakening the sleeping dragon of the Jew-baiting anti-semite
ready to pounce.  Will this feeling, ever so deeply engrained
leave the awareness I call myself?

I choose one Jewish metaphor to describe myself, 
“charoseth”, the sweet, dark, spicy, nutty, tart mixture
made for the Passover Seder, one of the six Seder plates,
an homage to the slave labour in Egypt’s Pharoah time,
the reason for the Exodus.

Charoseth resembles mortar.  
Mortar builds things—houses, outdoor ovens.
Because Jews number few in population,
we are noticed and well-known for high achievements.
I try to build friendships 
while remembering the charoseth of 
apples and dates and wine and nuts.
I think of people this way, 
full of goodness, sweetness and with the 
intoxicating alluring risks hidden in the dangers of nuts.
I want to be accepted—not tolerated, 
therefore I must accept others
just as different to me as I am to them.
Not easy, but definitely doable.

I think of our foremother Esther whose intelligence
saved her people.
My own orphaned, biological mother Yocheved
was responsible, at age 7, for a younger brother and sister.
These women and Ruth, whose compassion became
synonymous with empathy used the mortar of their own wisdom 
to build better societies.
They are the woof and weft of the weaving of these cultures.

When Vashti refused to parade naked 
in front of her husband’s cadre of supporters
she was replaced by Esther and through 
cunning and fortuitousness exposed calumniaty 
for what it is.

At  7 years of age, at cheder (religious school), 
there was an Esther contest.  
I had no hope of winning.
My family was unable to purchase my costume.
Being self-conscious, yet enjoying the participation,
I took a brown paper bag, drew a crown of crayon coloured jewels,
borrowed my mother’s flowery cotton skirt and elastic-necked blouse,
marched down the aisle with a devil-may-care smile,
fully expecting nothing but a good time, and 
for my ingenuity, I won and won more than flowers
I won a confidence that is sewn irrevocably 
in the decision-making process of my every day

Never give up, give in, go forth, be creative, 
with the directive Yasher Koiech, Nefesh Yehudi
the mortar is in you, build with sweetness, goodness,
tartness, nuttiness, chutzpah and always with the
knowledge that with a Nefesh Yehudi
we are together, we are strong,
I am with you, I am strong,
I and you are strong and we are all together
Yasher Koiech!

©2022 Honey Novick
All rights reserved


Honey Novick…

…was privileged to record with bill bissett for the Secret Handshake Reading Series in December 2021. The Secret Handshake also published her chapbook, Bob Dylan, My Rabbi. Two copies were purchased by the Robards Library, University of Toronto. “Kaleidoscopic Wonderful” was published in January 2022 by the Taj Mahal Review. She was commissioned by the Friendly Spike Theatre Band to write the history of mad people’s theatre in Toronto with “I’m Mad, I Matter, Making a Difference,” and also edited the anthology, POEMDEMIC.

From the Ruins of the Springtime, 2022 | Kushal Poddar

©2022 татьяна чернышова Tatiana Chernyshova
Pexels
From the ruins my offspring
forceps out the burnt remains
of my poem:

"The sunflowers burst in
my mind. They must have warned,
but I tend to ignore the signs.
The shrapnel in the spring zephyr
pierces one or two stray thoughts.

Somewhere, when the explosions hush,
some music bleeds. I can hear."

If there were other staves to this,
future cannot tell now. Blue, green,
yellow and rust choke all possibilities.
My offspring's footsteps clot
when the discoveries end.
Another spring, perhaps one during
a brief period of doves cooing Zen
or perhaps time rides a pale wild horse,
my progeny returns to the tent. 
The campfire glows atomic
amidst the tar of the night.

©2022 Kushal Poddar
All rights reserved


Kushal Poddar…

…is an author and a father, editor of ‘Words Surfacing’, with eight books to his name, the latest being ‘Postmarked Quarantine’. His works have been translated in eleven languages.

Website / Blog Linked

Cold as a Mountain Peak | Gayle Rose

In meditation, I find my mind more restless and wandering than usual.  The minutes since sitting seem long and drawn out—time has stilled but not my attention.  Heaviness is pervasive and a tightness around my heart.

I’m conscious of the fan blades moving lazily overhead and a slightly warmed breeze coming through the open window.  The sound of tiny birds enters the room coming forth from the bird feeder hanging just outside.  A light, fluttering splash lets me know that someone is bathing in the nearby birdbath.  The chimes outside the kitchen door let out an almost imperceptible tinkling as the melody finds its way to my room.

silence breaks my heart
cold as a mountain peak
sunflowers weep

©2022 Karolina Grabowska
Pexels

©2022 Gayle Rose
All rights reserved


Gayle Rose…

…writes: This is a Haibun poem written in support of the Ukrainian people that reflects my own feelings during this unsettling time.

Bodhirose’s Blog

Blond Hair in a Ponytail | Mike Stone

©2022 Sima Ghaffarzadeh
Pexels
A young woman with blond hair
Tied in a ponytail
Wearing jeans and a sweater
Hums a song to herself
While she brushes off shards
Of shattered glass from what was
Once a window overlooking
The destruction across the street.
The shards fall inward onto the floor.
Tanks roll by in the street below
Clinking like a xylophone out of tune.
She notices a sniper take up position
Across the way. He checks his crosshairs.
As I sit at the kitchen table in front of a screen
On the other side of the world
Suddenly it’s very important to me
To hear the words she is humming
Even though I don’t understand them.
Israel, February 27, 2022

©2022 Mike Stone
All rights reserved


Mike Stone…

…was born in Columbus Ohio, USA, in 1947. He graduated from Ohio State University with a BA in Psychology. He served in both the US Army and the Israeli Defense Forces. Mike moved to Israel in 1978 and lives in Raanana. He has self-published eight books of poetry. Mike is married to Talma. They have 3 sons and 8 grandchildren.

Web site

Transformers | Alan Walowitz

Like his grandson’s toy, the Russian army 
swiftly re-assembles itself in Belarus, Donetsk, and Crimea 
with blood banks, field hospitals, mess tents, 
and mysterious HQs marked by geodesic domes, 
dark inside where the orders arrive 
and are mistaken for Tarot and silently obeyed--
this the way the tumor surrounds my friend’s esophagus
from many staging points in his throat and abdomen—
the thyroid, the intestines, the nether regions
no one would willingly travel  in conditions like these. 

This is where the rages we never got to speak have gathered,
and who can blame us given the awfulness
we have banked inside?
It strangles so that we can’t eat
and no longer think of eating.
We wait out the wreckage the body can do to itself
in some subterranean station
decorated in hues of another century 
our daughters and grandsons have never imagined.
And into this come the healers, charged with excising ills 
as our insides get chewed once more this morning 
through a port, this hole dug in our soul,
meant to make us a new life—
here, or in the long dreamed of other side.

©2022 Alan Walowitz
All rights reserved

Hope Beats | Chrysty Darby Hendrick

Hope beats at the heart of humanity
It beats within where none can bar its way
It beats aloud in the shouts of protests
It beats steadily in the hands of the medics
Hope beats

Swiss banks freeze after 500 years of hibernation in neutrality
And a farmer feeds his hungry homeless used-to-be neighbors
Hope beats

Worldwide people choose sanctions with their higher prices 
To rally against the price of Ukranian blood
And a Polish driver takes a volunteer to the border
Hope beats

Russian independent broadcasters protest the lies Putin mandates
Risking their lives playing Swan Lake on repeat as long as they can
And a Russian boy’s last words inspire a viral TikTok song reaching more than 2 million people
Hope beats

Diapers, formula, hairbrushes, toothpaste; donation sites in Poland fill to capacity
And the Meme Mom I follow tells me the truth through her camera in Eastern Europe
Hope beats

Hope beats at the heart of humanity
It beats in every act of kindness and charity for love
It beats in every act of defiance and courage for justice
It beats in every act of sacrifice for the sake of others
Listen for the Hope Beats

©2022 Chrysty Darby Hendrick
All rights reserved


No Change | Faruk Buzhala

time gap

I see that 
nothing has changed here 
except
some gray in the hair 
and wrinkles on the face 
that have left unnoticed traces.

boshllëk kohe

po shoh se...
asgjë nuk paska ndryshuar këtu
përveç se
ca thinjave në flokë
e rrudhave në fytyrë
që paskan lënë gjurmë pavërejtur.

©2022 Faruk Buzhala
All rights reserved


Faruk Buzhala…

is a well-known poet from Ferizaj, Kosovo writing in his mother-tongue, Albanian. He was born in 9 March 1968 in Pristina. He is the former manager and leader of “De Rada,” a literary association, from 2012 until 2018, and also the representative of Kosovo to the 100 TPC organization. In addition to poems, he also writes short stories, essays, literary reviews, traveltales, etc. Faruk Buzhala is an organizer and manager of many events in Ferizaj. His poems have been translated to English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Croatian and Chinese, and are published in anthologies in the USA, Italy, Mexico, Albania, China, etc.

Purim Shpiel | Michael Dickel

The Jewish Festival, Purim, occurs March 16–17 this year, 2022 (17–18 in Jerusalem). This BeAttitude, from The BeZine, March 2017, is a part midrash and part Purim shpiel, with a bit of exegesis after the poem. If you don’t know what midrash is, see Deborah Wilfond’s Midrash following in this issue for a description and example of modern midrash. A Purim shpiel is a drama-carnival done for the holiday, usually humorous, often satirical, related to The Book of Esther.

Purim Fibonacci

Purim—
that carnivalesque

masquerade Persian New Year
of the Jewish Calendar rests
Carved wood mask
Nacius Joseph (b. 1939)
Haitian Sculptor
in the arms of Mardi Gras, an
upside down play of masked and
unmasked images dancing
at the party while Purim shpiel
stages a drama: unfolding
parody, satire, commentary—
the whole Megillah. And
who puts on an Esther mask
on the way to the
Beverly Hills Purim Ball, but Hadassah
herself, on her annual pilgrimage
to the festivities of inversions.
Nu, who do you think inspired
the Rabbis to write in the Gemara
that Jews should get so wasted
that they cannot distinguish

…

between "Blessed" Haman and

"Cursed" Mordechai, if not Vashti?

Vashti, who released herself
from the lustful gaze

of her husband's court,
now wears the death mask of that
same Ahashuerus who banished

his Queen to her freedom.
The Tel Aviv Opera Purim Ball
rejoices in the refractions
of self and story—politics
of the beauty contest


Wood mask
Artist unknown
for the virgin, check or mate.
Revelers cheer an Uncle arrogantly
dressed in mourner's cloth
who entered her in competition,
then stripped her of her mask
to save their people,
while letting his people massacre
others—another masquerade.

…

And in Tel Aviv and Beverly Hills,

the masked dancers
drink up the casts
and no longer recall

the difference
between good and good,
mask and masque—

so many layers
of truths, peeled
one after another,
as the frenzied forgetting
tears off masks over masks,
Angel of Time, oil painting
©Licka Kerenskaya
layered like ancient rubble
under old cities and their tels,
like history and politics,
like geology and religion,
until what lies beneath
and beneath again
barely glimmers
in the eyes

…

of the masquerade.

And Hadassah laughs,

dancing freely with Vashti,
two lovers at last

hidden and unhidden
at Tel Aviv and Beverly Hills
Balls—globes of pleasure

circling the world
in three complete lines
forming seventy-two
masks, each one
a part of the whole.
Michael Dickel

Exegesis
Anonymous commentator
Digital art from photographs
©2017 Michael Dickel

The poet dons the mask of commentator, but the poem always wears at least one mask in the presence of the poet, so beware. And, if the poem reveals (a) different mask(s) to you, dear reader, please explore. The poet does not trust that any poem reveals all of its masks at any one time, especially to the poet.

The Jewish holiday of Purim celebrates the tale told in The Book of Esther, a story that, remarkably, does not once mention G-d. Set in Persia, which rules over the Jews at the time, The Scroll of Esther (or Megillah) layers many levels of deceit and masquerade, and the tale turns on itself in many ways.

Book of Esther

The King of Persia, Ahashuerus, banishes his Queen, Vashti, when she refuses to dance in front of his guests. Mordechai urges his niece to enter the beauty contest held to replace the queen, but to hide that she is Jewish (and probably not eligible to be queen of Persia). So she uses her non-Jewish name, Esther, instead of her Jewish name, Hadassah, wins, and becomes Queen Esther.

Meanwhile, Haman, the viceroy to the King, hates Jews and especially Mordechai, who refused to bow before Haman, and who is in the story honored for revealing (through now Queen Esther) a plot against the king. Haman has to lead him through the streets on a horse, Mordechai dressed as a king, Haman’s own idea of how to be honored—which he is asked to tell the king at a party, perhaps a masque (Haman thinks it’s for himself that the King wants to know how to honor a person).

Haman, whose orders are like the King’s own (another mask), plots the hanging of Mordechai and the genocide of the Jews. While the rest of the city celebrates an occasion of state (the defeat of Jerusalem), Mordechai dresses in mourning because of Haman’s plot against his people. However, this is an act of treason during the celebration. He thus shames Esther into unmasking herself to Ahashuerus, who reverses Haman’s murderous order when he learns his wife is a Jew.

Purim mask

Jews celebrate Purim as a day of deliverance from death (and genocide). However, the rescinding of the order came too late to the walled cities, which had to fight to defend themselves (under dispensation of the king). So, the celebration of Purim as a holiday is one day later for the cities that were walled cities at the time of the story (including Jerusalem and Tiberias—this is called Shoshan Purim).The scroll ends with the recounting of Haman’s hanging and the killing of his kin, the death tolls from the battles at the walled cities, an unmasking, perhaps, of another form of genocide—in the name of defense.

The Poem

The date of the holiday itself loosely coincides with Carnival (Mardi Gras) and the Persian New Year. Jews celebrate with Purimshpiel (Yiddish for Purim stories, usually in the form of plays—traditionally, parodies and satires on current events using the story of Esther) and by donning costumes and masks, holding parties (balls), and getting drunk. Yes, the Gemara says that Jews should get drunk enough that they no longer know the difference between Haman and Mordechai, respectively, the male villain and hero of the story of Esther. Perhaps it is to make up for Eden and the whole Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil thing. This poem could be read as a sort of Purimshpiel variation.

Donning masks
Digital art from photographs
©2017 Michael Dickel

The donning of masks allows us to hide who we are, but masks also reveal who we are, or an aspect of who we are that is usually hidden. Carnivalesque masquerade allows us to try on aspects of ourselves or display those energies that we normally repress or hide (perhaps in a closet somewhere, with the costume). Drunkenness allows forgetting, but also disinhibition and release. Perhaps we learn of the capacity of good and evil within ourselves, as well as about those other parts of ourselves that would otherwise be “masked” by everyday existence.

So, the poem has Hadassah, the Jewish girl, wearing the mask of her alter ego from the story, Queen Esther. Yet perhaps this is an aspect of her all along? Perhaps we all have hidden “royal” qualities? Esther replaced Vashti, who was banished by King Ahashuerus for refusing to dance (naked) before him and the court. And Queen Vashti, in the poem, wears the mask of the king. He banished her from the court, but to where? Did she stand up for her own self-respect by refusing to succumb to what, centuries later, a feminist film critic would identify as scopophilia, or the male gaze? Was her banishment a freedom? How does gender play through this story, that seems to focus on men, but relies on a woman at its center, perhaps two women, if we look more closely at Vashti?

The poem suggests in its own center that masks unveil as we peel them, but also there is the hint that they reveal at each layer (like the layers of rubble beneath old cities that mound into tels, which hint at the history of the eras of the city; and like the layers of both geology and religion, which are ancient with something hot and molten at the core, like our own psychological being). This move to the psychological enters the mystical, with the masked women, who appear to be King Ahashuerus and Queen Esther now that they wear their masks, dancing together (yet at separate balls, one in Beverly Hills, its own masquerade and center of Hollywood glitz and glamor, and the other in Tel Aviv, the “new city” of Eretz Israel). This is like the Malkhut and Shekhina, or Shabbat (King, or male aspect of G-d) and Bride ( Queen, or feminine aspect of G-d).

Arithmetic or is it geometry?

And then comes the poem’s mysterious end, which references Exodus 14:19-21 the three lines of Torah that, with 72 Hebrew letters each, Kabbalists believe can be permuted into the 72 Names of G-d. The poem suggests that these Names are both masked and masks (that hide or reveal?)—their hiddenness echoes the hiddenness of G-d in the text of Esther, and the ineffability of divinity in all of its guises.

Purim mask

The stanzas follow a sequence of line numbers each, counting the first line of three dots (which wears the mask of the title). The pattern goes (before the title, think of 0): 0 lines (an extra line break marked with … before the sections that follow after the first one), 1 line, 1 line, 2 lines, 3 lines, 5 lines, 8 lines. This pattern repeats three times (for a total of 60 lines), then goes 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, for a total of 72 lines, like that number of Hidden Names.

The sequence of numbers used (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8) is the first part of an infinite series, known as the Fibonacci sequence, that has many interesting relationships in math and nature, including the pattern of sunflower seeds in their flower, unfurling fern heads, and, significant to Jewish mystical allusions, the branching of trees.

The Hebrew word for life, chai, has the numerical value of 18. Twice chai, or double life, is 36. Double that, and…72. That the number of lines in the poem equals 72 probably doesn’t mean much more than that our lives are not singular, but layered with intersections of meanings.


Explore more
The author in costume, Purim 2017
Photo ©2017 Aviva Dekel

Wrestling with Esther: Purim Spiels, Gender, and Political Dissidence by Emily Nepon— a modern Midrash that informs this poem.

Purim and the Masks We Wear by Ari Kahn— a commentary that, while coming from a very different perspective, has some interesting background from traditional Midrash.

The Astounding Achievement, Maybe, of the Man Who Definitely Wasn’t Fibonacci by Dan Friedman— an interesting article about Fibonacci from LA Review of Books, reviewing Keith Devlin’s book that covers his experience researching and writing a book on Fibonacci.


This originally appeared in The BeZine March 2017, and is a lightly edited version of :

Dickel, M. (2013). Drash Meets Mosh: Purim: A Fibonacci Sequence? (Column). Drash Pit . February. Online. Original url: drashpit.com/Main/Drash_Meet_Mosh.htm (no longer active). Archived.


©2013 original, 2017 edited version Michael Dickel
All rights reserved