Poetry

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WAXING POETIC

Published May 25, 2017 by rochellewisoff

For the past five years, since joining Friday Fictioneers, I’ve written or posted a flash fiction at least once a week. My favorite genre is historical fiction, but that hasn’t stopped me from writing humorous anecdotes, realistic fiction or just plain nonsense. But any and all who know me very well will tell you that Jewish themes are my favorites. Nu? Why shouldn’t they be? I am after all, a Jew.  All four of my grandparents came from Eastern Europe to escape the pogroms in the Pale of Settlement or the Russian draft. 

Last month I met Eve Brackenbury, a gifted poet who co-owns Inklings’ Books & Coffee Shoppe in Blue Springs, Missouri, on Facebook. Social Media is my friend. 

Eve Brackenbury

Not only did I make a new friend that day, I also made a valuable connection on many fronts. Our first conversation dealt with the challenges of marketing. As we chatted in an IM she said, “You write Jewish Historical Fiction. Are you Jewish?” Is the Pope Catholic? 

Eve told me about the CloudBursT Jewish Poetry event and gave me Martha Gershun’s email address. Although I don’t write what I would call poetry, I thought perhaps Martha might be able to point me in the right direction as far as reaching a Jewish audience. I inserted one of my Jewish themed flash fictions in my email to her and, not five minutes later, the return email came with, “That’s really powerful. Would you like to come and read?” 

Martha Gershun- CloudBursT organizer and poet

I must’ve changed my mind twelve times as to which stories I would read. Finally, the day came, Sunday, May 21, and I’d narrowed it down to four of my favorites. The lobby of Congregation Beth Torah teemed with poets and their guests. We were warmly welcomed with food, wine and friendly conversation. 

So much Yiddishkeit. I felt like I’d come home. I particularly enjoyed Ellen Portnoy’s piece “The Nuances of Nu.” 

Out of 19 who read, I was third to the last, just before Eve. The ones I read are as follows:

THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT

            In preparation for his bar mitzvah, twelve-year-old Harvey Weinstein opened the book to his parashah. His stomach rumbled. “I’m hungry.”

            “Sh’mot beginning with Chapter 16,” said Rabbi Shmuel. “First in English, then Hebrew.”

            Harvey fumed. “I’m tired of Torah. I’d rather play Xbox.”

            “This is the perfect reading for you.” The rabbi winked and pointed to the page. “The children of Israel kvetched day and night in the wilderness. ‘Oy, Moses, we’re wet. We’re cold. We’re starving to death.’ Nu? Is there something we can learn from them?”

            “Yeah.” Folding his arms across his chest, Harvey smirked. “Jews don’t camp.”

***

FAMILY TREE

            “‘And they lived happily ever after.’” Leah shut the storybook.

            Shifra’s raisin-brown eyes, round as bottle caps, sparkled. “Bubbie? Did you love Grandpa at first sight?”

            “He was only eight when we met. Mama took him in…hid him from the khappers, bad men who snatched little Jewish boys from their homes and made them serve twenty-five years in the Czar’s army.”

            “Did she hide him in the closet?”

            “No she was smart, my Mama.”

            “He was like your brother, right?”

            Leah pointed to a tintype on the table of two little bonneted girls and grinned. “More like my sister.”

***

THE HEAVIEST WHEEL ROLLS ACROSS OUR FOREHEADS

            When I was a little girl in the 1950’s, Mom used to take me to visit my aunt in St. Louis. I so looked forward to those train rides. Sunlight dazzled through the trees as they whizzed by and the rhythm of the wheels along the track soothed me.

            Dad, on the other hand, hated trains, but would never tell me why. Only once did he accompany us.

            As we left Union Station, tears trickled from the corners of his faraway eyes.  

            “Daddy, what’s wrong?”

            “The stench was unbearable. Fifty of us crammed into a cattle car. I alone escaped.”

***

HATH NOT A JEW EYES?

            Do you know the word “Jew” is a common insult among Norwegian teens? Should this bother me? After all, I am a Norwegian Jew.  

            “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”

            Reptilian? I’ve been called this. Do people seriously believe this mishegoss—that Jews are lizard creatures from another planet?

            “If you tickle us, do we not laugh?”

             I will never forget holding my father’s hand as we strolled along a mountain path. Two youths shoved him and shouted, “Child murderer!”

             The memory of warm spittle dripping down my face sickens me still.

            “If you wrong us, do we not revenge?”

            Not in Norway. Instead, we hide in plain sight.

            Last summer a group of Hasidim invited us to a Jewish gathering in Oslo. We cranked up the music and danced in front of Parliament.

            I’ve heard that work makes us free, but we’re not falling for that again.               

 

 

 

 

31 March 2017

Published March 29, 2017 by rochellewisoff

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***

Genre: Plagiarized Poetry with Apologies to Lewis Carroll

Word Count: 100

*

WHAT’S SO FUNNY?

*

The sun shone on the Med,

Twas shining with all its might.

The sea was wet as wet can be.

Rusty-Drain and Pinky walked hand in hand,

Shuffling through quantities of violet sand.

“If only it were cleared away,” said Pinky. “Wouldn’t it be grand?”

*

“The time has come,” said red-nosed Rusty,

“To speak of many things:

Of poems—purple pygmies—and joy buzzers—

Of snake-proof boots and strings—

And why the Arkansas is boiling hot—

And whether pachyderms have wings.”

*

“O Rusty-dear,” whined Pinky, shedding bitter tears.  

“We’ve had a pleasant run

“Alas, wee whoopee cushion have I none.”

*

*

Any questions?

RUSTY-DRAIN

Click here if you’d like to read Original Poem

PINKY

11 March 2016

Published March 9, 2016 by rochellewisoff

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Polonius said that brevity is the soul of wit. I’m trying something new for me and it’s ever so brief. Life’s been a bit of a whirlwind lately and my brain is on overload. Much of my writing time and head-space have been given over to my next novel, As One Must, One Can. Thank you for understanding.

Shalom, Rochelle

Genre: Haiku

Word Count: 25

.

.

TABULA RASA

 

sunlight after rain

casts light on sodden pavement

my dry bones languish

***

solomon said there’s

nothing new under the sun

as one must, one can’t

.

.

Unfortunately there are copyright issues concerning a decent recording. Many thanks to my friend Regina O’Hare who videoed this from her phone. Sorry about the quality.

Author InterviewThe interview

22 August 2014

Published August 20, 2014 by rochellewisoff

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Genre: Realistic Fiction

Word count: 100

HAFIZ’S  SOLUTION

            “You’re unbelievable, Trisha,” said Joe. “We’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and you’re reading poetry?”

            “The tow truck’s on its way. Nothing we can do but wait.” She grinned at him from the passenger seat, her feet propped on the dashboard.  “Relax. Enjoy the breeze.”

            “The repair bill’s gonna be astronomical.”

            “Could just be the battery.”

            “Or the transmission.”

            Joe’s mind raced from one awful conclusion to another as he paced back and forth in front of the stalled minivan.

            Trisha giggled.

            “What’s so funny?”   

            “Listen.” She read, “‘O someone should start laughing! Someone should start wildly laughing. Now!’”

To read over Trisha’s shoulder click here. 

6 June 2014

Published June 4, 2014 by rochellewisoff

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Genre: Poetic Musing

Word Count: 95

NORTH STUDIO

He left delicate strokes of life

On rice paper.

Katsushika Hokusai embraced age,

Unshaken by his advancing years.

Seas swirled beneath his skillful fingers

As the eternal mountain loomed ahead.

Infinite wisdom rippled from the artist’s hand.

 

Here is her life.

Once young and wasteful,

Kishiko lights a candle.

Undimmed eyes stare into velvet darkness.

Sixty years flow behind her

As brilliant pathways loom ahead.

I am the artist.

 

Here is my life.

On the path,

Kindled by passion

Unafraid of the future.

Strength in my arms

And excitement in my steps,

I am Kishiko. 

Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2

Hokusai had a long career, but he produced most of his important work after age 60. I find great comfort in this. To learn more about the prolific artist, click here.

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