A Poem for Jeanne and a note from the editor


El malei rachamim
O G-d, full of compassion.

Intolerable, impossible
Words gush, unstoppable
Assaulting my ears, heart and being
For now, brief sliver of time with you.

We sat like two rocks in the coffeehouse,
Your Jess, precious daughter and I
Hearing, not listening nor believing-
‘I have a little bleeding, and, a mass’,
(My younger cousin, the gynecologist)
The shoemaker and her child.
‘How much? How long?’ we intone-
Whispers, barely audible.

Shochayn ba-m’romim
Who dwells on high,

Our collective sigh
Ascending to the heavens.
‘For a while; the estrogen didn’t really help either!’
The writing was on the wall.

The Diagnosis-different, personal and threatening from this end-
Decades of empathic conversations mocked in moments.
‘I am afraid, angry-not fair!’ (got that right),
‘I will be with you’ (my first responder to her heart).
Our days are long, months short and years too few
Making memories, appointments and yes, lots of chemo.
Loving apologies, amends, fences to mend-
Savoring, tasting moments before the sand runs out.

V’yitz-ror, bitz-ror hachayim-
Bind her soul together with the living.
Sweet, soulful melodies in your ear, final precious hours,
Family, friends’ and patients’ prayers ascend with your light.
Loved in life, loved forever,
Shelter her under the cover of your wings.

by Jill Maura Rabin, M.D.
Long Island Branch, NY
Source: El Maleh Rachamim – Prayer for the Soul of the Departed – Death & Mourning

Jeanne Rabin Kanaan, M.D., of blessed memory, was a compassionate, kind, skilled and empathic physician and urogynecologist. She was also my younger cousin and best friend.
She was taken from us too soon and our grief is beyond measure or words. Our family, friends and her many patients continue to use her shining example and lessons of a life well-lived to improve the lives of others.
Jeanne loved medicine and treated her patients as precious beings who needed and benefitted from her unique brand of healing. She taught and gave me far more than I could ever repay.
It is my hope that this small poem will serve as a reminder of the bond I shared with her, professionally and personally. May her memory be for a blessing.

Jill Rabin M.D.

Click here to visit our Letters Gallery to see info on ordering Dr. Rabin’s book (scroll down) and other new books by members

Note from the editor:
You may have noticed that there was no poetry or art posted last week. Apologies–I was on a flight from Sydney to Dallas and then on the road home. One of the side effects of severe jet lag is that I get to listen to the radio at odd hours, and early Sunday morning (or late Saturday night, depending on time zone) I listened to an inteview Texas artist, Dario Robleto (not an NLAPW member). To link to the program, On Being, click here. There is also an interview with Maya Angelou (an NLAPW member) on an earlier episode. As the On Being website puts it, Robleto’s work “joins words and objects in a way that distills meaning at once social, poetic, and scientific.” His sculpture includes everyday objects, poetry, and uses visual and verbal tools to convey meaning. I’m headed to the Menil Collection to see his latest exhibit, The Boundary of Life is Quietly Crossed, as soon as I can.

The program reminded me of how many of NLAPW’s members produce work that transcends genres. And how our unique communion with sister artists in all disciplines can inform our own work. Visual artists share in the joy of our poetry; writers are inspired by the Art of the Week; we listen to music and revel in our composers’ success. The more exposure we have to creativity, the more our own creativity is enhanced. It’s why branches flourish, and why I do this blog. So, thank you, NLAPW members, and the greater audience, for all the feedback, comments, and encouragement.

And please let me know what you think of posting visual art and poetry together. What are your thoughts on it?

–Treanor Baring
NLAPW website content editor
Delta Branch, MS

Poem of the Week & Art of the Week

Click on the image to see it larger.

Grace at the Golden Hour Wendy Harris Central New York  Branch, NY Soft pastel

Grace at the Golden Hour
Wendy Harris
Central New York Branch, NY
Soft pastel

A Piece of Paradise – Tengo Suerte

Lakes shimmer in the sunlight
Palm trees wave in the tropical breeze
Driving in the gate fills me with peace
I’m home, Gratefully, I’m home
How lucky, tengo suerte
A far cry from an impoverished childhood
A northern city tenement called home
Innocence of the world served all well
Appreciation felt constantly for
A loving family
Food on the table
Clean living conditions
Caring friends
Adulthood and education
Changing everything
Opening doors and opportunities
Moves made to heavenly change
Greenery, trees, and flowers abound
A husband, a son, it can’t get better
A beautiful house, a perfect job
Friends, neighbors a good life
Then disaster, my beloved is deathly ill
He dies, leaving me partner less
My son and I are inconsolable
Slowly existence becomes a new life for each of us
House sold, career ended, move on
Son marries
I try life again
It works, we both smile often
Grandchildren born, smiles widen
My eyes open wide
I realize, this is it
Lakes shimmer in the sunlight
Palm trees wave in the tropical breeze
Driving in the gate fills me with peace
I’m home, gratefully, I’m home
How lucky, tengo suerte

Etta Schaeffer
Boca Raton Branch, FL

Editor’s note:

I usually do not pair the art and poems of the week, letting each stand on their own. These two works and their graceful beauty seem a natural fit. Neither illustrates or speaks the words of the other, and yet they both carry a message of peace and the joy of living. Such is the ability of art, visual and literary, to touch us, and such is the power of women’s voices which these two works reflect. –Treanor (still in Australia but making my way homeward).

Poem of the Week–Deja Vu

Deja Vu All Over Again
For Mary & her mom

Half of the time, she no longer recognizes you.
She reaches out, blind reflex, rages when you
respond. You feel stabbed or scratched.
You bleed.

You telephone the residence several times
a day in the beginning just to make sure.
She is okay. The kind staff-member tells you she is
watching TV in the day-room or that she ate
all of her vegetables at lunch or that she did
not fight the aide who comes to help her dress.
She can’t always recall what a bra is for, or socks
or how to tie her sneakers. You feel like a voyeur,
a locked-outsider. How did this happen? you ask yourself
all the time, when you can’t sleep, can’t paint, can’t
write. You lie there, stare into depthless Dark,
clock numerals spin hours. She is almost

an infant, as alien as you must’ve been when she first
held you. She knew she was supposed to love you
because mothers love their babies. A chemical guarantee
or something. You know you are supposed to love her now.
Daughters never stop loving their mothers.

Oh, but it is hard sometimes. These days…you’re
never ready, when the phone rings. Fight or flight?
Sometimes, a girl just wants her mama,
It’s only a bad dream, honey, go back to sleep.

Rachael Ikins
Central New York Branch, NY

(c) 2014

All rights retained by the author. Please reprint only with permission.

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Poem of the Week–Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror

Old woman, old woman, what do you see?
I see my reflection staring back at me.
There are differences in me and she.
Funny how we disagree.

She is 16, naïve and sweet
Stepping over insults thrown at her feet.
She has no safe harbor in home church or school
Where equal opportunity bullies rule.

She’s not allowed boundaries.
To all she’s fair game.
Persona non Gratis
Not even a name.

I see the results of her former life.
Emotions that sit on the edge of a knife.
A hang dog expression, a permanent frown
An “I dare you” look that she can’t put down.

I see the regret, the rage and the fear
That she has been carrying all of these years.
An angry teenager, a grown up in pain
And now an old woman who carries the strain.

Old woman, old woman, what do you see?
A sad little girl with no place to be.
I see maiden, mother, matriarch, crone
Surrounded by people but always alone.

I also see hope, for my life is not done.
My next great adventure already begun.
I see a wise woman who’s come into view.
To remind me of things I long ago knew.

I see my future my present my past
All rolled into one. But the runes are not cast.
The future I make is up to me.
When I look in the mirror, that’s what I see.

Virginia Small
Denver Branch, CO

Poem of the Week–Lightest Feather

The Lightest Feather

Like the lightest feather
from the smallest Tundra Swan,
I am wafted in slow motion
through eddies of wind
land upon whatever sort of binding
draws me near.

I lie upturned on a low leaf,
cousin to bubbles rising
in water where swans
paddle like automatons.

I ride on the turtle’s dark green shell,
to be picked up and hidden
as a prize by the magpie,
then toppled by the touch
of the squirrel’s whisker,
I land upon the hard-wrought
silken circle trap of the spider,
disappoint him, hungry as he is.

Loosened again,
I am enchanted, make dizzy loops
above poppies, lightly shadow their golden faces,
land upon ragged moss of an ancient log,
wait for the next inevitable

by Cleo Griffith
Modesto Branch, CA

Available now: Pen Arts Notecards featuring the elegant drawing by Hazel Camp found on our website background. Visit our bookstore here.

From Down Under, a Sonnet by Jean Hull Hermann

Treanor Baring, web editor, at Black Cat Cafe

Treanor Baring, web editor, at Black Cat Cafe

Apologies for the radio silence from www.nlapw.org blog the last week. I have been on travel in Australia for business. If I could clone myself, I would have left the clone behind in North America. As it is, there is only me, winter and limited internet access. But Art must be served, so stay tuned for more poems and art as I get back on line. And be sure to visit our art gallery to see the 2014 National Biennial Art Exhibit.
–Treanor Baring
Web Editor


I think I’ve found a reason why I’d want to be a clone,
Or cloned, to put it properly – besides not being “alone.”
If I were one of many, I’d wear new clothes day and night,
Have rings and watches, necklaces, bracelets, earrings bright.

One clone would wear my business suits, the discreet skirt and tie;
Another would look like Britney Spears’ clone –squeal! – they say: “She’s fly!”
The third would have all day to dress, perféct makeup and hair,
Choose curls, straight, Mohawk, limp, bouffant, wild colors, too – I’d swear

Each one was me, for so she’d be, and I’d be a fashionista.
I’ve got to say, this beats it all to hell with hats for Easter.

by Jean Hull Hermann
Diamond State Branch, DE

Poem of the Week–Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Murder is completely devastating
its reaching immeasurable
those killed
their families
their friends
the killer’s mother
the killer’s father
a heartbreak that surely will live in them
as long as those who lost loved ones…
death of young people
their dreams now dead
futures that have no future
families and friends who ever will have
a void, a hole, a grief beyond grief
losses that cannot be replaced
tragedy that defies description
shattered hearts…
I wonder where God was and
if there is a God.
If a God can create a beautiful flower,
lovely songbirds, a magnificent world…
and many of us are taught God can do anything,
where was God’s preventable power?
We credit God for the mystery and
mastery of birth. Does that balance
outweigh the imbalance of Elliot Rodger?
Of course not. Will any of us ever
learn what human killing is all about,
wherever, in schools, on city streets,
in countries, in wars, in world history?

by Lois Batchelor Howard
Palm Springs Branch, CA

Poem of the Week–Reflections of Childhood

Reflections of Childhood

I tiptoe back
past doors that are kept
toward the sunlit living room
where funny papers giggle on a table,
where Prince Valiant rides his horse
across the oriental rug,
Aleta by his side.
                                                 …pleasant memories…
yet, down the hall
a door I do not want to touch
is opening.
Sitting on her bed, a little girl
is spilling the secret world of her soul
onto paper.
I can hear her thoughts,
feel her breath
rising from the pencil’d words.
I reach to stroke her hair
                                                 ….is she real?

and, writing in my bedroom now,
                                                …am I real?
or am I just invisible air
wrapped around a cylinder of ink,
this winding wet thread
the one voice I have,
the only heart,
my liquid spirit veining out
across a universe
almost drying up at times,
endlessly drawn to Source.
Such a narrow stream of life
from my pencil, from my pen,
sometimes I wonder how I fit inside…

By Virginia Hagen
Pioneer Branch, CT

Poem of the Week–Sunday at Nonna’s

Sunday at Nonna’s

Walking through Nonna’s iron-latticed door
in Bensonhurst on any given Sunday,
we were enveloped by the savory
odors of freshly-stuffed sausage,
onions and garlic, sizzling in a pan,
the licorice scent of fennel
hand-picked from her yard.
We would find her, still in black,

though widowed some twenty years,
her apron caked with grease and marinara,
dispensing anisette cookies to the youngest cousins
all the while putting her tongue on the roof
of her mouth behind her front teeth, hissing
whenever anything displeased her.
That sound sent chills up our spines, young
and old alike, and we knew never to complain

about the plastic shrouding the furniture,
the gargantuan crucifix looming above
the dining room table. Not to complain. Period.
But once the sumptuous pasta tumbled onto plates
and forks were lifted, their silver glinting
like Vatican treasures, we all laughed, paused, and raised
our glasses in a toast to Nonna, the matriarch, the arbiter
of order, the feared, the beloved, the keeper of the feast.

“Sunday at Nonna’s” first appeared in The Poet’s Cookbook (Bordighera Press)

by Calder Lowe
Modesto Branch, CA

Poem of the Week–My Size

My Size

I’m having trouble with my size.
My Closets are filled with clothing that’s my size.
There are women my size.
I have pictures of me in my size,
but me, I’m not my size.

what do I do?
I can’t look in the mirror without saying,
“How did I get to be this size?”
Now, mind you, I’m not fat,
oh, I’m not skinny either.
I’m sort of round where I was straight before.,
jiggly where I was solid.
you think this is foolish, it’s not foolish.

Women wear breath defying underwear.
Men hold their stomachs in until they turn blue.
What to do,
how to change?
Get a trainer,
stop eating carbs,
learn Yoga,
get hypnotized,
open a Hershey Bar,
savor the moment,
then move on

the next size.

by Etta Schaeffer
Boca Raton Branch, FL