Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guest Spot: Lenore Weiss

Every now and again we get some submissions that won't fit into the coming issue of Pilvax, but are too good not to pass along. Such was the case with the poetry of Lenore Weiss, daughter of Hungarian emigrants to America. Enjoy these two poems that are part of a cycle about Lenore's mother, and drop her a line if you like them.

Coffee with Mom

"Those busy arms of yours are cool now
like this river with its broad silence
winding soft and slow."

--Attila József, Sleep Quietly Now

The removal of a kidney
brought you downtown,
yours didn't come out, but Daddy's did, buying him
coffee with a cheese danish
from across the street, whatever it took
to make a red light turn green again.

He had five more years left on the books,
marked by a daily dose of dipping his hands
in the waters of acetone to terminal cancer.
Better than staying in Hungary
during the War and becoming a ghost
on a railroad train. Choose your poison.
You left early, survivors

stuffing everything
inside a back pocket,
who taught me
to ride standing up
without losing my balance.
And so here I am.

You want to know if I've
been taking good care of myself.
Yes, I say. I have.
Afterward, we talk about the children,
there are no grand kids yet,
catching up on how the world's been doing
playing Disney on high-def sets,

wars, the presidency, and all the rest,
and how everything
is getting smaller
and costing more money. Money.
How it runs out like time,
the bottom of your change jar
with two pennies.

The Cymbalon and the Oud

A cymbalon and an oud
Growing out from the grass
Where a headstone beckons
For me to come closer.

It's my mother,
Powdering herself with
Silent Night
Under her arms, between her breasts.
She's busy and doesn't notice
When I sit down,
Measures a tablespoon of baby oil
Into her palm and smears her face,
Turns into a finger painting
With her nose on a plate.

She always had a sense of humor but now
Has become someone I don't recognize.
Disappears into her boudoir
Leaving only a smell
And a trace of powder.

Gone for all those times
I needed to know what to do.
The hammer of the cymbalon
And the cry of the oud
Is all she'll say.

Lenore Weiss is a poet, writer, and editor of Hungarian heritage who now lives in Oakland, California. Both of her parents came to the United States and settled in New York City where she was raised with her two sisters. Her father was a medal-winning soccer player and gymnast. Her mother had a uniquely strange sense of humor and knew how to bake cakes filled with delicious lekvár. She died more than 40 years ago. Lenore wishes she could sit down and have coffee with her Mom today with a slice of her cake. Lenore's email is: lenoreweiss@sbcglobal.net. She also serves as the fiction editor of the November 3rd Club.

Lenore Weiss

Matt Henderson Ellis is a freelance manuscript editor and author coach working with writers who publish in print and digitally.