Two Poems

Whose Sky, Between



A name that meant sound of an owl’s hard fall, another day of blood gunned to all

walls, a tiredness of how well we mourn. How well I do not pray. How well we tried.


When at night I go to sleep/ fourteen angels watch do keep… strewing me with

roses … as my soul reposes …God will not forsake me … when dawn at last will wake me ….


Love from among almond trees, a girl says, girl in a killer country where sun spills

floral bloods. I’ve plucked one almond from a branch, she says, her borders killed


by the same or other arms that kill us here. A symphony of cicadas, frogs or other

friends, she adds, counting minutes on her fingers. Girl who asked me once if her God


would kill her if she loved orgasm, unfastened her veil, exposed her thighs to a star.

I send her burned love from an island, whispers through veils of ironwood needles, their


spill on a shore I share with a darker sun, with a man weary of quest or prayer.

Our hands take no longer to renew than light of a silvered solstice.


No longer to hold than cumulous too high to reach, too near to misunderstand.

Dragon-eyes and fat-thighed cloud-leaps chase old friendship as we do, hold


afternoon as we hold light’s fall across no-color winds. No colored prayers.

Yes, my ocean is dying, my friend says. Yes, I know, I have said. My culture is dead,


he says. Yes, I bend, asking because he whispered among other trees, once, on an

island, once: live in the question. And there, I know I believed.


Of the elements that are poisoned, now — earth, yes, waters, yes, the air, — we mouth —

is fire the one that will live? Ask, rocked by a day’s burnt hands here, kneel while the war-bent


are kissed by the drowned in another sea. Let’s not mourn. Imagine almonds. A symphony

of cicadas born to live for a day. In the long clouds, our own most recent dead live in the after,


know the zero point landings of owls. Here, dragons, between hidden gods.

How many? How hot is fire, is it a desire to age, or to forget? Grace, to the wind.


I pray less, my friend says. Yes, but will fire be what stays?

Ask the ironwoods that once, I heard, were cut and nailed to form the Cross,


if this is love—

and whose sky, between?


This day, how many white cranes remember all the bombs we’ve made to make the ‘other’

dead. Said: so we may never die. Said: hang a thousand small wings from our branches.


May one crane fly, one jasmine open, one thrush sing — all fragile night. One bloom of

a peace that cannot die.


. . . Because we will remember: blooms of jellyfish, men-o-war, and men of war,

long ravenous ancient fossils said to over take all seas of life. They never die. They clone.






Rape of America. So, it appears


Too like those who’ve eaten the food of the dead

—they may not return to a world of the living—


Too like Persephone seized by underworld’s soot-horsed god,

America, raped by tower-men fat with iced sperm & testosterone


Too like Mandelstam’s Petropolis where we will leave only bone— we too

drink the air of death, too like that ancient rape—told & told.


Myth’s pomegranate seeds choked down under a mad god’s fist

too like lies we are force-fed at dawn & dusk & dark


Too like impressionists’ mute edges, stained light, spilled—

Too like lost babies in webs of thorns, left to crawl blind—


Those left, like coal after its fires      will rise like dust from

ash     remembering everything.


Rape of America? Yes, kings of underworlds kings of towers

— dust from ash.     When the fires die, crawl blind.


May you die hungry.

May you feast on the food of the dead.






MARGO BERDESHEVSKY often lives in Paris. Her newest poetry collection, “Before the Drought” will be published in the USA in June 2017 by Glass Lyre Press. A recent poetry manuscript was finalist for The National Poetry Series 2015. Published collections are “Between Soul & Stone” and “But a Passage in Wilderness,” (Sheep Meadow Press.) Her “Beautiful Soon Enough,” (University of Alabama Press), a book of illustrated stories, was the recipient of Fiction Collective Two’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Award. Other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America, & Now Anthology of the Best of Innovative Writing, a portfolio in the Aeolian Harp Anthology #1 (Glass Lyre Press,) numerous Pushcart Prize nominations for works appearing in Kenyon Review, Agni, Pleiades, New Letters , Poetry International , Tupelo Quarterly, The Collagist, Plume, The Best of Cutthroat, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, Cimarron Review, and a poem for the Academy of American Poet’s Poem-for-a-day [selected by the chancellors.] In Europe, her works have been seen in Poetry Review (UK), The Wolf, Europe, Siècle 21, & Confluences Poétiques. Her Tsunami Notebook of documentary photographs and poems was made following a journey to Sumatra in Spring 2005, to work in a survivors’ clinic in Aceh. Born in New York City, where she had a first career as an actress, she can often be found reading from her books in London, Paris, and New York. Her “Letters from Paris” may be seen in Poetry International here:

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Current Issue #69 April 2017
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