Ouachita / Winding through Ouachita by Liliane Richman and Adina Richman

I would like to present the A pair of poems in celebration of International Women’s Day 2017. The first, by Liliane Richman, and the second, by her daughter Adina Richman, are both responses to a road trip to Arkansas that they took together. A beautiful mix of perspectives at the intersection of two different generations:

 

Ouachita

You and me
and me and you
driving
lacing through
the Ouachita Mountains
Elevation 2,464 feet

Through clouds and shadows
the greens, the pale sky blues
Dripping through the majestic pines
I knew and loved in my childhood
In Sabres, Landes

So much majesty around us
The music of Johann Sebastian Bach
Elevating the castle in my mind
Wherein blooms new altitudes
A call for other adventures, different vistas
Colors and sounds
Young sense, new desires

Still together
You and me
Forever

copyright 2016 Liliane Richman, all rights reserved

Winding through Ouachita:
For mom

Mozart in the mountains
Spaghetti road lacing the Ozarks
From foothills to headwinds
Weaving us back and forth
Hairpins and switchbacks tucked
Among trees of green fire,
Iridescent June bugs, cottoned in rising mist
Sheltering fawns, bears, bobcat
Diamond waterfalls, wind whispers and secrets,
Flowers of gold, purple and silver,
And ancient furled ferns
That reach across time and space
To brush my cheeks and tie me again,
Inextricably,
To you

copyright 2016 Adina Richman, all rights reserved

Goodbye M’baye: by Adina Richman

For M’baye Diagne*

There are so few heroes in a war zone
Especially in a struggle no one wants to name
Military action, civil skirmish, rebel uprising, genocide, not my problem –
Whatever its name or non-name,
Hard to be a hero
In a place where each exhalation is occupied with the business
Of measuring itself, calculating how much fear is safe to expel and
Each inhalation a well-timed sniff, testing what stench is floating about.
In these times where one must breathe like a snake flicks his tongue to taste the air,
One hundred times a minute, because things can change
It is not easy to be a hero

Those who knew him
This Senegalese cowboy
describe three things:
His stride, his smile, his cigarettes
Always one step ahead, moving forward
His beacon grin
Incandescent in the night,
casting light on your face, and his;
Glowing
As if he’d swallowed the moon
Anything was possible with the power of the stars, the force of the heavens
Beaming from his gut.
He walked with purpose
Lassoing all in his orbit
With that toothy smile
He drew up the slack and pulled in close
Making friends with his moonman laugh
Alien amidst screams, wails, the chop of the machete
To offer you something –
Strength, courage, confidence
A joke, a smoke, a sandwich
A fingernail of time, just long enough
To hang on or let go
The space to decide

He did what he did
Again and again
Crossing terrain from which it’s best to flee.
Laughing with men who didn’t try to hide
Blood spots on their white shirts;
Rotting flesh on the soles of their shoes.
Never allowing even the smallest scent of fear
No fragile tendril of disgust
To waft from between the spaces in his teeth.

No, he laughed, while under the back seat of his Jeep huddled
Bony shoulders clacking on floorboards
Three children stifle their cries
Wishing it was yesterday
When there was still a guarantee of tomorrow

And that was how he did it
No guns, no soldiers, no strategies
Playing the stars, playing the numbers
Three children here, five people there
Twenty-two checkpoints in twenty-four hours
One hundred days, a thousand hills to the Mille Collines,
800,000 corpses and then we stopped counting while
He did what he did
Again and again
One hero, impossible
The man on the moon
Or the moon in a man
His courage light years away from our trepidation
Our feigned ignorance
Our refusal to act

Good bye, M’baye
Peace unto you that persevered in patience!
May you dwell in the Gardens of Perpetual Bliss
Promised in your Qu’ran
Breathing ginger and jasmine
Instead of blood-metal and corpse
Tasting fruits with no thorns
Instead of fear bile and smoke

I wonder- will your heaven be flat, like Senegal-
You can see what is coming for miles-
Or dense, lush, like the forests of Rwanda
Hiding what is always just beyond
The next moonlit mountain
Another chance – there’s always another chance
To be a hero

• M’baye Diagne (1958-1994) was a Senegalese military officer and a United Nations military observer during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. He is credited with saving many lives during his time in Rwanda through nearly continuous rescue missions at great peril to himself. There is an excellent documentary Ghosts of Rwanda, and a BBC News article, “A Good Man in Rwanda” that might be of interest to the reader.

copyright 2016 Adina Richman, all rights reserved

To find more poems by Adina Richman on this blog, click HERE.

2016 ATE (After Trump Election): by Adina Richman

I have to say
The prognosis is grim
The pulse is erratic
Breath has become labored, thready
The circular in and out replaced by panicked gasps.
Constricted windpipes wheeze long, hopeless sighs
Nope, it doesn’t look good.

Worse still,
It’s going to be a slow death
Indignities suffered
Humiliation and Outrage, twin, piercing icebergs
Slow melting glaciers,
Until we are all awash in a flood of self-pity
Each wishing, hoping
I am Noah!
Knowing
We haven’t been that good
And we won’t be that lucky.

Of course, we will still rally.
When our blood pressure rises
We will brace ourselves to fight, be vigilant
Outsmart the insidious cancerous squid ink squirt
Leaking, surreptitiously at first, from a tear
A rotted carotid
Later, inevitably,
Pumping, hemorrhaging boldly, aggressively, vigorously.
We had always known it was in our veins
But thought we’d outlive it

We might not
Without fail, we grow weary
Weak with worry
Our will sandpapered
Even the mighty heart is compromised
And something’s not right in the head

Still, there are so many plans to make
Upturned faces to wipe clean
Documents to be put in order
There are always taxes to pay

It would be easier
Better for us all
To just relax, let go
Unplug
Decant…

But, no, no, we all know what that means!
Do not go gently! No,
No rest for the wicked or the righteous,
We must
Put on a brave face
Keep calm, Keep on trucking
We shall
Keep the faith
Fight the good fight
Do it for the children
For the good of us all
We will
Hold on, be strong…

It’s all we can do, right?

But…
It’s looking pretty bleak from here….

 

copyright 2016 Adina Richman, all rights reserved

To find more poems by Adina Richman on this blog, click HERE.

IPM 2015: Where do we go from here?

Before the Simplon pass at the Italian-Swiss border, is a Roman bridge over the Diveria River. It's called the "new" bridge, because it was built in 1300 c.e. to replace the previous bridge built in the reign of Emperor Augustus that was destroyed by a flood.
Before the Simplon pass at the Italian-Swiss border, is a Roman bridge over the Diveria River. It’s called the “new” bridge, because it was built in 1300 c.e. to replace the previous bridge built in the reign of Emperor Augustus that was destroyed by a flood.

 

“Poetry gives us the opportunity to offer our observations to present and future readers, be they from the perspective of one standing on the bridge watching events or of one standing below and taking on the current. I’m looking forward to a month of editing and I know that my IPM readers are standing on the bridge waiting for the flow of poems to begin…”

So began International Poetry Month 2015 and the flow of poems was fascinating for me to edit and I hope that both Readers and Poets enjoyed getting their feet wet. I offer my most sincere thanks to the participating poets and to the more than 1000 readers who came from the United States, England, Australia, Brazil, Italy, Pakistan, Canada, Denmark, France, India, Luxembourg, Singapore, the UAE, New Zealand, Trinidad & Tobago, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Switzerland, Israel, Ghana, the Philippines, Belgium, Peru, Romania, Serbia and Portugal to read their work.

Today is the fourth of March and Spring seems only a few days away here in Northern Italy while I know those in other places are still slogging through the snow. Regardless of the temperature, here the snows have begun to melt and these poems will begin to erode away, disappearing a few at a time and leaving only the voices behind. Some you will still be able to find on the web, or in a book. Some will be gone for good. Where do we go from here? Why across the bridge and in search of new images, new experiences and new poetry. Following is an alphabetical list of the participating poets; each name is also a link to the poet’s work posted at IPM where you will find additional links to individual blogs or published works:

At the Fountain: by Adina Richman

Land of gladiators and Michelangelo
Roman ruins, streets of water, pasta putenesca
History, mystery, beauty and romance

Under fragrant wisteria
In a rose trellised park corner off the piazza
Is a pond, with a fountain, dappled gold and green

Too perfect to exist, it must be a movie
A woman with a lion’s mane made of raven wings
That spills gracefully, playfully, over bare, marble shoulders
Tempts her Marcello, or Antonio, or Giuseppe
To kiss in waters carpeted by tourists’ copper wishes
Glowing warmly under a technicolor moon

Different scene at high noon:
Boys play cowboy in the park, kicking up dust
Pretending to drown Indians while ducks quack,
Church bells ring,
Happy daffodils sway
Smiling young mothers shoo bumble bees from
sleeping babies in prams
Under a canopy of wisteria
I saw three boys beat another almost to death

Blood arcing from his face
Graceful as the water in the fountain
Dancing in the sky
Ruby droplets spinning in the sun
Crashing, splashing, exploding bombs
On ancient stone, silent and indifferent as the day they were set,
All those years ago

.

copyright 2009 Adina Richman, all rights reserved

To hear more poems by Adina Richman, click HERE.

Anon: by Adina Richman

(For my first reader, and the one who matters the most)

 

I think, these days, more often

Of impending impermanency

How edges begin to soften

Of icebergs reclaimed by the sea

 

One day I’ll look around, anon

Not recognizing what I see

I’ll look for you, but you’ll be gone

Without you, I can’t find me

 

I worry then about that time

When we both disappear

Without the wind is there a chime

Once you are far and I’m left here?

.

copyright 2015 Adina Richman, all rights reserved

To hear more poems by Adina Richman, click HERE.

Sestina for Eva: by Adina Richman

Eva is like a crane

Regal, erect, a flag leaning into the wind

Wrapped warm in snow feathers

Eager eyes chasing gold sparks on waves

Charting flight paths in a ceramic sky, dodging the clouds

Seeking patterns in swirls and lines

Seeking pattern’s swirls and lines, she finds the beauty in a print.

Her fingers etch delicate bones, the one-legged stance of a crane

on the clay skin of a ceramic tile, the moment before the crane swoops into flight, aiming at clouds.

She won’t stop, until, exhausted, she droops, a flag without a wind.

Behind closed lids, her eyes chase the bird plunging from the sky, spotting something gold, far beneath the waves.

The couch has become an island, with pebble pill beaches and jagged pillow peaks, mountains of feathers.

As cells split and Poison Root blooms, Eva, wrapped in a snow white sweater,

watches the pattern of chemicals swirling, coursing down the PICC line.

Her bird eyes stop the nurse. She smiles, tries to wave, imagining her hand not limp and pale, but cutting air high above, remembering, beyond the spires of La Sagrada Familia, swinging free, dropping bits of heaven and earth, flocks of construction cranes.

Regal still, leaning back, resting her bald head in a panda-eared hat, she is worn, weary, but unflagging.

She reads words on hospital charts and watches the swirl in a ceramic teacup, imagining how it would feel to fly beyond the clouds.

When she tells me the cancer’s everywhere, my eyes cloud.

Eva wraps me tightly in her wings. I feel each white feather.

We’re in the backyard, a clear day with a silver wind

She shows me the garden planted by loving friends; neat rows, paths and lines.

In the window, a curtain of one thousand origami cranes.

“How can I thank them for all of this? It’s too much, there’s no way…” Her voice is echoing waves.

Later: “My doctor’s from China. Ah, their wood block prints: the carving, precision, the detail in a wave!

Dr. Chen’s like that – makes me think about things, like a mountain peak breaking through a cloud.

On her wrist she has a tattoo, a symbol of luck, longevity – a red-headed crane.

I like that. I like them all here. Interesting people, so kind, supportive…” her voice flutters, feathers.

“Shame you have to be sick to be here. It’s different in China. So many people! They wait in lines that stretch for miles! The anger, desperation! A man stabbed a doctor, and the queues still twist and wind…”

In the garden, a fading day with a silver wind.

“I know you,” she says, and the words are gold sparks, floating on dark waves.

I think about rows and paths, patterns etched, and radical swirls, out of control. I think about our lines –

How some things – no matter how clear, hoped for, inevitable – blur; raindrops lost in a cloud.

A crane, graceful and strong, is shot as it stands one-legged in a marsh, hot blood on snow feathers,

and the print is ruined, the line flattens, the prayer flags fray, the pattern                            explodes.

As the world spirals and waves roil to rail at clouds

An arrow slices the wind and strikes deep, nested up to the feathers

Her bird eyes are already in flight. I follow their line. I see gold sparks of sun, as my head cranes ever upward.

..

copyright 2013 Adina Richman, all rights reserved

To hear more poems by Adina Richman, click HERE.

 

Autumn Leaves by Adina Richman

This poem has disappeared from this website. To hear a reading of the poem, click on the player below:

copyright 2013 Adina Richman, all rights reserved

To hear more poems by Adina Richman, click HERE.

No Bed is an Island (for Brenda): by Adina Richman

This poem in its written form has disappeared. If you want to know why, click HERE.

copyright 2010 Adina Richman, all rights reserved

to hear a reading of this poem, click on the player below:

To read or listen to more poems by Adina Richman, click HERE.

Mother’s Day 2010: by Adina Richman

This poem in its written form has disappeared. If you want to know why, click HERE.

copyright 2010 Adina Richman, all rights reserved

to hear a reading of this poem, click on the player below:

To hear more poems by Adina Richman, click HERE.