“A significant portion of the earth’s population will soon recognize, if they haven’t already done so, that humanity is now faced with a stark choice: Evolve or die.” Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
Eternity flows deftly through these pandemic* days enfolding in her stream the many with whom we contemplated Knowledge and Mortality
Looking back, we ponder amazed at love among our relations and friends ……….a love that blossoms still, as fragrant, as gentle ……….as a dewy rose among thorns and thistles
We thrash and crawl and climb ………puzzling over the sea and fire that stalks us Our hearts are cupped in one another’s hands, ……….talking drums, they communicate across ……….time and space Our measured moments grave lines ……….in real and phantom fears, ……….they fly, they hover, storm clouds above us
In words of jade, our softest speech is elegiac Our tears merge into raging rivers Our smiles mask our grief and yearning Our laughter is love grown wild and reckless
We see one another in a thousand shapes and dreams ……….and in nameless faces Our sighs ride the ebb tides of Eternity …..Another moment: …..and even the sun will die …..but our lotus song will echo on …. ……….We have lived! We have loved!
* pandemic days: COVID-19, environmental degradation, hunger and starvation, poverty and lack of healthcare, nuclear proliferation. Will we succumb or evolve to conquer? Either way, nothing can take away the love we’ve given and received or the life we’ve had.
Once, a long time ago,
People sat together
Talking in soft voices
That only they could hear
Heads almost touching.
People held hands
While walking along
Held each other so close
They could feel each other’s bodies
Underneath their clothes.
Sometimes they kissed
Tasting each other’s mouths.
They pleasured each other.
There were the accidental touches
On crowded trains or buses or planes
That you each savored privately
Arms brushing against arms,
Hand touching hand
While passing a cup of coffee
A head heavy with sleep
Leaning against you
Long hair spilling across your shoulder.
These were the times before Corona
That we lived for,
That we couldn’t imagine
Having to do without,
That we thought would go on forever.
Right now, every word is a tile on the roof of the house
I’ll build tomorrow.
It’s cold outside.
It’s not the slap of the march wind or a punch of hail
From last month. This is a blow beneath the beltless. Nature is
A boxer who knows only the word
Phillip sends photographs of coffins from Milan.
What a waste to sacrifice the red-brown
Of mahogany and bury it in the ground. I glance
At the last drops left in the martini bottle,
And remember the first kiosk of that drink in that very Milan.
In case someone has forgotten, it all begins with vermouth and eighteen percent of
Pure alcohol soaked with herbs. So let’s drink to their memory. Rosso,
Bianco, or extra-dry.
Salah calls from Paris and reminds me that the evil wind is blowing as well in the city
We were born. Baghdadi Corona with arabesques. He composes a curse
That it was the last piaster missing from the dinar in the stock exchange of Iraq.
And in Ramat Gan I would like to make a paintbrush gallop
The way Bashir Abu Rabia fills his horses
With paint of eternal colors.
I want Kyuzo from “The Seven Samurai“
To save us.
To come and grasp his sword once more
Like a child who clenches his last candy in his pocket
To remind the cellophane that it must hide that candy
From the teeth of the world.
Tomorrow the tiles from the first line will be a metaphoric roof
Of a coffee house for instance.
There we will understand, at last, that stirring milk
in the bottom of the cup can create
a new world.
Karen Alkalay-Gut’s latest books, due to be published next month, are the dual language Surviving Her Story: Poems of the Holocaust (Courevour Press), translated to French by Sabine Huynh, and A Word in Edgewise (Simple Conundrums Press). She lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and an outdoor alley cat.
See her two pandemic poems on The BeZine Blog here.
Barbara UngAr ’s (barbaraungar.net) fifth book, Save Our Ship, won the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize from Ashland Poetry Press and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2019; it is currently a finalist for the IBPA’s Ben Franklin award. A limited-edition chapbook, EDGE (named for the EDGE list of Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered species), is forthcoming in April 2020 from Ethel Press. Her prior books include Immortal Medusa, named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015; CharlotteBrontë, You Ruined My Life; and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Prize and a silver Independent Publishers award. A professor at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, she lives in Saratoga Springs.