SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: RACHEL HEIMOWITZ


REFRESH
By Rachel Heimowitz

We raise them in lemons, in buttercream, in cornmeal,
we cut the crust off every loaf and serve blueberries
to those who can’t abide the crumbs. We let them

ride our arms like cowboys, and when their imaginations
cry elephants, we give them elephants, thick skinned
and wrinkled, but theirs. We sail them off due west,

into the froth of their own desires, tell them their lives
will roll like the hills behind the hills behind the hills
into a mist the color of tamarind and smoke. Lovely

parenthood, open and bright, sunlight through a window,
a hand smoothing sheets, Lego basketed in a corner.
The refresh button under my index finger, set to the local news site

pressed over and over and over to discover
if my child has gone to war.

 

Today’s poem previously appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Prairie Schooner (Volume 91 Number 4) and appears here today with permission from the poet.

Rachel Heimowitz is the author of the chapbook, What the Light Reveals (Tebot Bach Press, 2014.) Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Spillway, Prairie Schooner and Georgia Review. She was recently a finalist for the COR Richard Peterson Prize, winner of the Passenger Prize and she has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. Rachel received her MFA from Pacific University in Spring 2015 and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California.

Guest Editor’s Note: This is a poem of immense restraint, power, and impact. How we are lulled by its lyric, set softly adrift amid its imagery, then gutted by its simple, brutal truth. How effortless the poet makes it appear to live this unbearable life, to write this poem.

Today’s poem is dedicated to the children’s lives lost to gun violence. It is offered as a battle cry as we take to the streets today with the #NeverAgain movement to save our children, to march for their lives. So that the next time this poem is written it does not end: “The refresh button under my index finger, set to the local news site // pressed over and over and over to discover / if my child has died at school.”

Want to read more by and about Rachel Heimowitz?
Rachel Heimowitz Official Website
Buy What the Light Reveals from Amazon
Atticus Review
Twyckenham Notes
Tinderbox Poetry Journal
Cutthroat
The Missing Slate

 

A NOTE FROM THE MANAGING EDITOR:

After nearly ten years as Contributing Editor of this series, I am thrilled to expand my role to Managing Editor and provide the opportunity for fresh voices to contribute to this ongoing dialogue. It is an honor and a unique opportunity to now share this series with a number of guest editors, and we’ll be hearing more from them in the coming weeks. Today’s feature, however, is a labor of love from yours truly.

Viva la poesia!
Sivan, Managing Editor
Saturday Poetry Series, AIOTB

 

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: NEW YEAR’S MORNING


NEW YEAR’S MORNING
By Helen Hunt Jackson

Only a night from old to new!
Only a night, and so much wrought!
The Old Year’s heart all weary grew,
But said: “The New Year rest has brought.”
The Old Year’s hopes its heart laid down,
As in a grave; but, trusting, said:
“The blossoms of the New Year’s crown
Bloom from the ashes of the dead.”
The Old Year’s heart was full of greed;
With selfishness it longed and ached,
And cried: “I have not half I need.
My thirst is bitter and unslaked.
But to the New Year’s generous hand
All gifts in plenty shall return;
True love it shall understand;
By all my failures it shall learn.
I have been reckless; it shall be
Quiet and calm and pure of life.
I was a slave; it shall go free,
And find sweet peace where I leave strife.”
Only a night from old to new!
Never a night such changes brought.
The Old Year had its work to do;
No New Year miracles are wrought.

Always a night from old to new!
Night and the healing balm of sleep!
Each morn is New Year’s morn come true,
Morn of a festival to keep.
All nights are sacred nights to make
Confession and resolve and prayer;
All days are sacred days to wake
New gladness in the sunny air.
Only a night from old to new;
Only a sleep from night to morn.
The new is but the old come true;
Each sunrise sees a new year born.


(Today’s poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here today accordingly.)


Helen Maria Hunt Jackson (1830 – 1885) was an American poet and writer who became an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the United States government. (Bio courtesy of Wikipedia, with edits.)

Editor’s Note: Wishing all who celebrate Rosh Hashanah this week a shanah tovah umetukah, a good and sweet new year. May today’s poem remind us that now is an opportunity for change, but that we must be the change we want to see in the world.

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: THE NEW COLOSSUS

Yours faithful editor, with 14-month-old son in tow, visiting “The New Colossus” at the Statue of Liberty Museum, Liberty Island, NY


THE NEW COLOSSUS
By Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


(Today’s poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here today accordingly.)


The New Colossus: “In 1883, a young writer, Emma Lazarus, donated a poem to an auction raising funds for the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. ‘The New Colossus’ vividly depicted the Statue of Liberty as offering refuge from the miseries of Europe. The sonnet received little attention at the time, but in 1903 was engraved on a bronze plaque and affixed to the base of the Statue. Still, it was only in the late 1930’s, when millions fled fascism, that the poem became fully identified with the Statue.

“Between 1886 and 1924, 14 million immigrants entered America through New York. The Statue of Liberty was a reassuring sign that they had arrived in the land of their dreams. To these anxious newcomers, the Statue’s uplifted torch did not suggest ‘enlightenment,’ as her creators intended, but rather, ‘welcome.’ Over time, the Statue of Liberty emerged as Emma Lazarus’ ‘Mother of Exiles,’ a symbol of hope to generations of immigrants.”

— “Mother of Exiles” historical marker, Statute of Liberty Museum, Liberty Island, NY

Editor’s Note: Forget the wall. Lift the ban. Let Lady Liberty’s torch, once again, be a beacon of welcome. You want to make America great again?

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: THE HUMAN FAMILY BY MAYA ANGELOU




Editor’s Note: Yes, it’s an iPhone commercial. But it is also a beautiful video and an inspirational poem, both of which come together to remind us that we are more alike than we are different. “I note the obvious differences,” the poet observes, “between each sort and type, / but we are more alike, my friends, / than we are unalike.” A message we all need to be reminded of, perhaps now more than ever.

Maya Angelou was born as Marguerite Johnson on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri and raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. Maya Angelou became one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. With over 50 honorary doctorate degrees Dr. Maya Angelou became a celebrated poet, memoirist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. (Biography of Maya Angelou courtesy of Maya Angelou’s official website.)

Want to watch more awesome poetry videos?
Hear Maya Angelou read the complete text of “Human Family”COMMERCIALS?
“If I Should Have a Daughter” by Sarah Kay
“The All Black Penguin Speaks” by Roger Bonair-Agard
“Look Up” by Gary Turk

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: THE HEART OF A WOMAN

We_Can_Do_It!
THE HEART OF A WOMAN
By Georgia Douglas Johnson

The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
Afar o’er life’s turrets and vales does it roam
In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.

The heart of a woman falls back with the night,
And enters some alien cage in its plight,
And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars
While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.


(Today’s poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here today accordingly.)


Editor’s Note: No matter who you voted for in the primaries nor who you plan to vote for come November, there is no denying that this was an historic week in American history.

In this vein, I dedicate today’s poem–written by a black woman in a white age–to Michelle Obama, a black woman running the White House who reminded us this week that: “I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves. And I watch my daughters, two beautiful, intelligent black young women, playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.” And I dedicate this poem to the fact that, for the first time in American history, a woman has been nominated by a major party to run for President of the United States of America.

Any (reasonable) reservations you (or I) may have about Hillary Clinton and our two-party system aside, this is a moment to pause and marvel, to appreciate what we have accomplished and to believe that this can–and should–be just the beginning of progressive progress. This is a moment to celebrate that the heart of a woman need not try “to forget it has dreamed of the stars,” for it need not break, break, break “on the sheltering bars.”

Georgia Douglas Johnson: A member of the Harlem Renaissance, Georgia Douglas Johnson wrote plays, a syndicated newspaper column, and four collections of poetry: The Heart of a Woman (1918), Bronze (1922), An Autumn Love Cycle (1928), and Share My World (1962). (Annotated biography courtesy of The Poetry Foundation.)

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: RUMI

Molana
THE GUEST HOUSE
By Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


(Today’s poem is in the public domain, belongs to the masses, and appears here today accordingly.)


Rumi: (1207–1273), also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, Mawlānā or Molānā, and Mawlawī or Molavi, was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic. Rumi’s importance is considered to transcend national and ethnic borders. Iranians, Turks, Afghans, Tajiks, and other Central Asian Muslims as well as the Muslims of South Asia have greatly appreciated his spiritual legacy in the past seven centuries. His poems have been widely translated into many of the world’s languages and transposed into various formats. He has been described as the “most popular poet in America” and the “best selling poet in the US”. (Annotated biography of Rumi courtesy of Wikipedia, with edits.)

Editor’s Note: Thank you to long-time reader–and my beloved mother–Maya Elashi for sharing today’s poem with me so that I might share it here with you. May we welcome all that life offers, learn what we are able, and walk our true paths with the experience and the wisdom that we gain along the way.

Want to read more by and about Rumi?
Rumi.org
Poets.org
Khamush.com

SATURDAY POETRY SERIES PRESENTS: TWO MERMAID POEMS


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Editor’s Note: In response to last week’s feature, Saturday Poetry Series favorites Erin Lyndal Martin and Elana Bell introduced me to two more fabulous mermaid poems. These poems have been swimming through my mind all week, and are too fantastic not to share. Get a taste here, then follow the links below to read each of these stunning poems in full.



from FABLE OF THE MERMAID AND THE DRUNKS
By Pablo Neruda, Translated by Paul Weinfield

But having come from the river, she understood nothing
She was a mermaid and was lost
Their insults flowed down her perfect, smooth flesh
Their filth enveloped her golden breasts
But not knowing tears, she did not weep tears


(Read the complete poem as translated by Paul Weinfield.)



from LATE SUNDAY MORNING
By Elana Bell

I kiss

the puckered lips, taste
ocean breath and remember

myself, slippery and long
under sun-slanted depths, swaying

to the whine of boats overhead.
I did not need you then, my scales

shining in their pristine sea.


(Read the entire poem in Winter Tangerine.)



Want to read more?
“Sunday Morning” in Winter Tangerine
“Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks” as translated by Paul Weinfeild
“Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks” in English and Spanish via Susan’s Place
“Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks” on youtube, as read by Ethan Hawke



Today’s selections appear via Fair Use.