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Poets share at Lawrence Family JCC … and on our website!

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By Eileen Wingard

Eileen Wingard

LA JOLLA, California–The third year of “Jewish Poets—Jewish Voices” at the Astor Judaica Library of the Lawrence Family JCC opened Tuesday evening, January 18, and featured Judith Rubenstein, Howard Rubenstein and  Ron Horvitz. Each of the featured poets read 15 to 20 minutes from their original works.
Judith Rubenstein played selections of Chanukah songs in Hebrew and then read her companion English lyrics. During the half hour of open mike which followed, four of the volunteers had been featured poets during past seasons: Sara Appel-Lennon, Trudi Richman, Mike Horvitz and the capable Master of Ceremonies of the poetry evenings, Joy Heitzmann.

The community of poets and poetry lovers continues to increase as the series gains in popularity and community recognition.
    
Following are samples of the poetry heard on January 18 from the three featured poets and from two of the open mike participants.

The next “Jewish Poets—Jewish Voices” program will take place Tuesday evening, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Astor Judaica Library and will feature Zeji Ozeri, Pepe Stepansky and Janet Tiger.
    
English poem/lyrics for the Hebrew “Ahl Hah-nee-seem” is entitled
“For the Miracles” by Judith Rubenstein

For the miracles, we thank You, God!
And for the heroes who conquered fear,
Who fought idols and all the pagan ways,
Freed our parents in troubled ancient days,
At this very time of year.

In the days of Mattathias,
Mattathias, son of John,
From those Hasmoneans
Came a band of brave young sons.

When the empire of the Greeks
Ruled Judean land,
The children of Israel,
The children of Israel,
Began to forsake
Your torah and commands
The people started to forsake You.

And You with compassion saved them.
You sent miracles, a small band of men
Who defeated great numbers of oppressors.
You saved us now with love and mercy then.

Excerpt from MACCABEE
An Epic in Free Verse by Howard Rubenstein

Mattathias listened respectfully,
Then responded in a loud voice.

“Though all the gentiles
from all the nations
under the dominion of the king
obey him out of fear
or desire to please him,
and though every one of them
is readily willing
to forsake the religion
of his ancestors,
even so, my sons and I
and the people of Israel
shall continue to walk
in the way of our religion,
We will never forsake
Our love of the Creator,
The Ruler of the Universe,
And his commandments.

“We will pay no heed to you
or to the words of the king.

“My Father’s Eyes” by Ron Horvitz

My father’s eyes hold the strength and love and power that I need,
And sometimes they hold the sorrow, guilt and sadness that can bleed
My father’s eye’s have what sometimes only looks like fearlessness,
And when it’s gone, they embrace me with a loving tenderness.

Refrain:

And he’s always had them there for me when I was just a boy,
Now, they’ve opened up to see and now they overflow with joy,
My father’s eyes, my father’s eyes, my father’s eyes.

My father’s eyes hold the happiness that comes with any age,
And when confused, hide the fear behind a mask of angry rage

Refrain:

And he’s always had them there for me when I was just a boy,
Now, they’ve opened up to see and now they overflow with joy,
My father’s eyes, my father’s eyes, my father’s eyes

My father’s eyes are the color of a clear blue mountain stream,
And when they flow, carry hope and love and spirit of my dreams.

Refrain:

And he’s always had them there for me when I was just a boy,
Now, they’ve opened up to see and now they overflow with joy,
My father’s eyes, my father’s eyes, my father’s eyes.

My father’s eyes, my father’s eyes, my father’s eyes.
My Daddy’s eyes, my Daddy’s eyes, my Daddy’s eyes.

CRITIC IN MY HEAD by Trudi Richman

Critic in my head
Please go away, don’t come back
To spoil my day
You bothered me enough
And told me not to try
Not to write another word
Not to find another chord
Not to play or write a song
Seems I’m fighting all day long
To be creative is no crime
Please don’t say I’m bold and old
Help me feel I’m better than ever
More unique, and even clever
That is what I truly need
So please critic do take heed
Make sure to go away
And do not spoil another day
 

“Those Little Things” by Mike Horvitz

To Carole with affection & love

You say, “It’s those ‘little’ things,”
that burden you:
spots on the counter
clothes draped on the chair
too many things scattered about 

It vexes you,
weighs on your mind,
this accumulation of annoyances

How certain you are of misery’s potential
As if there were other options

The universe is filled with bothersome ‘little’ things,
Like bits of cosmic radiation
relentlessly pelting the earth
Invisible flecks of smoke & grit
slowly eroding our lungs

Traffic jams with ten-thousand watts
of custom car stereos hammering our nerves
And don’t forget the spiders:
those that don’t bite leave cob-webs
collecting the dust you can’t bear

Where would you resettle
to avoid those ‘little’ things?
Who would you shack down with
in that elusive Garden of Eden?

So let’s argue it out—
with scowls & accusations
as we paint our futures
with the joys of freedom—
finally single again–

release from those wearying burdens!

But don’t you pull back now—
thinking of the loneliness
 of parting
Short-changed in the trade
of freedom for a love-connection.

Well
I see I’m convincing you
but you resist—defending your
 untenable position.

Alright then—let’s chuck it all!
Grant each other that ticket

to freedom!
Cut the bind!  Release the ties!
Ah-hah! Had enough, have you?

I’ll stick to my position
I’ll never give in—not an inch! 

What?!…You’re smiling, are you?
You don’t believe me?
I’m my own man!  Just you watch!

Say…come here: You!

Look at you standing there
as if it’s you who’s right!
C’m’ere—the only thing right
about you is that body of yours—
That’s pretty sweet!
And maybe your smile—you’re
Pretty good there,
And I suppose you’ve got
A bit of a song in your voice…
when you’re not on my ass.

And I do like your touch—love it, really.
Could be I happen to notice you have that
special grace in your poise—something

I haven’t seen in others, actually

Here, let me hold you,
How soft your sweet-smelling skin
Cuddle-in closer—there…there

 So what was I saying?
Oh yeah—
Don’t you worry your
pretty little head about all this–
Just stay close to me

Anyway
I’m getting better at cleaning the counters
and putting my clothes away
Really—trust me—I’d be crazy
To leave you!

 *

Wingard is a freelance writer based in San Diego.   San  Diego Jewish World would like to acknowledge the kindness and thank each of the poets who shared their work with our readers.

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