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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Praying at Coffee Shops, by Maureen A. Sherbondy



PRAYING AT COFFEE SHOPS

By Maureen A. Sherbondy
Main Street Rag Books
ISBN 13: 978-1-59948-108-1
Poetry chapbook, 40 pages, $10



What a thought-provoking collection for a Jewish audience! Moving from the concrete details of Jewish rituals to their spiritual implications, Sherbondy is full of wisdom and surprises – sometimes ironic, often dark, full of yearning for the tikkun olam seamstresses to stitch the broken world back together with their needles and threads. And what a treat, in the midst of the spiritual struggle, to find in the poet’s contemplation of a praying mantis that has landed on her prayer book, one of those rare, transcendent moments when “God’s long fingers are reaching, guiding us toward a promise.” These tough-minded, deceptively lovely poems yield up more of their considerable power with each successive reading.

-- Ellyn Bache



(Maureen Sherbondy)

Maureen Sherbondy grew up in Metuchen, New Jersey, and now resides in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband and three sons. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Calyx, Feminist Studies, 13th Moon, Cairn, Comstock Review, Crucible, The Roanoke Review and The Raleigh News & Observer. Two of Maureen's poems were chosen as finalists in the 2006 William Faulkner--William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. Other poems have won first place in: The Deane Ritch Lomax Poetry Prize (Charlotte Writers' Club), The Lyricist Statewide Poetry Contest, and Gin Bender Poetry Review's 2004 Contest. Main Street Rag published her first chapbook, After the Fairy Tale in 2006. Her poetry has also appeared in many anthologies. Maureen has had fiction published, has written a novella, and is currently working on a novel.






Praying at Coffee Shops in the South



What are these public interludes with God?
Two men at Starbucks holding hands
bent over in prayer, leaning into the invisible.

This is not church or temple,
but an invasion into my caffeinated space --
these murmurings of Lord, God, Praise Be
spiraling into my melodious Sirius radio tunes.

I want a beverage jolt, not a lightning strike
of prayer -- Hallelujah, Holy Ghost, Jesus.

My mother said no kissing in public places
but here they are --
pressing lips against java-infused air,
searching for the mouth of God.


-----------------------
Tashlich

I cut the fish,
lift fleshy pink
sliver to my lips.

How many sins
have you swallowed
dead salmon.

Jews toss
transgressions
into the water.

Breadcrumbs of infidelity
Pebbles of lies
Pocket dust of indifference

I chew and swallow
hope my body
stays free

from what
I have
eaten.

How do we live
with our sins
that return;

a small pebble
caught in the back
of our throat.

(Note: Tashlich refers to a ceremony in which sins are cast out by throwing them into a body of water.)


---------------------------------
At the Mikveh, Age Four



For weeks my brothers flooded me
with tales of drowning,
said the special pool was where
young girls sank
and did not rise again.

When we appeared at the mikveh --
attempt to quell the swell
of non-Jewish blood swimming
through our veins,
I planted myself upon a bench
refusing to budge from my position.

Wanting to live no matter
the future cost. In my heart
I was a Jew, this I knew,
no ceremony could make it so.

Better to stay than to go.
While brothers and mother
vanished under water
and prayers rang out in the other rooms,
Alone, I remained wordless, prayerless
still and silent as a stone.




AFTER THE FAIRY TALE
poems by
Maureen A. Sherbondy
ISBN: 1-59948-065-4, 38pps, $7
Main Street Rag Books



Existential Goldilocks


For years she’s felt awkward in her own
girly body, those frilly dresses and skirts,
the pink bow in her hair. The sameness
of everyday life nudges her into a state of yawn and nap.

Other girls play hopscotch and jump rope,
swing for hours at the park while
her eyes envy birds and planes, bright balloons released
into the clouds. One day she leaves
the school yard but doesn’t return
home; instead she abandons the small
Jersey suburb, journeys into the woods.

When she bumps into a cottage she lets
herself in; every open door is an invitation,
an opportunity, she reasons. No thought
is given to trespassing or danger.

Bowls of Cream of Wheat leave her unsatisfied,
chairs and beds in different colors and sizes
are not enough to comfort or engage,
and the three bears that greet her with huge bear, middle bear
and little wee bear growls only bore her.

She tries out other cottages deeper into the woods:
the circus people cottage built up in an oak tree,
the beaver cottage near the dam
and even the tiny insect one. At Kafka’s cottage she
is most at ease with Gregor who was suddenly
a cockroach. While Gregor waits to become human
again, Goldilocks, never comfortable in her own human
skin, waits to turn into a golden bird.

She sits by the warm fire with Gregor, his dark thorax
sprawled out on the floor, her girly body leaning
against his hard shell, dreaming
of the day she will wake with feathered wings and fly.


---------------------------------


Sleeping Beauty in Old Age



At Whispering Woods Nursing Home
mirrors reveal the truth of time, beauty
faded into the years. All she wants to do
is descend into sleep, but attendants
pester her into crafts, jewelry making,
flower arranging classes. She has no use
for such things. Her Prince died years
before, a heart attack while riding his horse
across the golf course. The monarchy had
ended, he was a token Prince, all title, no power.
He left life insurance, but not enough.
They never had kids because Rosamond
didn’t want to ruin her perfect size two figure.
She dreams about castles, and fairies, spinning wheels,
but when she wakes all that remains is
a sterile room, a view of the busy street,
other old faces wheeling by in the hallway
waiting for darkness filled with seamless sleep".

1 comment:

JLP said...

http://johnlynnerpeterson.com/Triangle-of-North-Carolina/Open-Mic-Royal-Bean-Coffee/

Maureen Sherbondy reads from her work along with Brenda Bartella Peterson and other North Carolina writers!

http://www.brendabartellapeterson.com/