KALMAN’S POEMS  Updated 2/6/2006

 

 

ON THE THRESHOLD OF COMBAT

 

The planes fly low,

Loaded with large bombs,

Engaging . . .

I can see the pilots’ features,

Strained, GRIM.

I look into my men’s faces,

This is their first war, first battle—mine, too . . .

Are they going to come out of it alive,

With all their limbs,

And sanity?

Are they going to live to see their loved ones?

They look deep into my eyes, searching for answers. . . .

 

Sinai Peninsula,

June 5, 1967

 


 

 

VIRTUAL REUNION

 

Oh dear, here I see you again,

Veiled with the serene look,

Naïve as a virgin.

And I hear your voice asking for something minute,

With a tone that I don’t know,

But it is touching to my heart.

What do you want?

I am willing to give you all.

Come by me, closer to my heart,

That has been searching for you in all places.

But please do not near me as you are now,

Decorated, soaring and supercilious.

As with that, you will search in vain for my image . . .

I do not wish to know how the years have passed in your life.

All I want is your timid look,

Your coyish expression,

That once was tied to your name.

Return it to me—let it be for a short hour. 

Return to me the segment of my heart,

That you—you know—once possessed.

Return it, and we’ll be friends again.

Once more we’ll pour over our diaries,

The accounts of our lives.

We’ll glance, read and remember,

The hours we had splurged together.

We’ll glance, read and remember,

We’ll study the words, and remember all the names.

How bitter the taste,

Oh, how sad . . . how sad is to remember all the names,

The names of those who are missing—no more with us.

Names we will never forget,

Names standing in line, simple.

I am empty.

I have lost all I had possessed.

And I wasn’t even aware . . .

 

Now, if my hand grasps a page and pencil,

I’ll create—just imagine—I’ll create poetry.

 

Florence, Italy,

October 10, 1968

 

TREETOP

 

How beautiful is the tree in the edge of summer.

How beautiful is the foliage, the greenness of the grassland.

Tall trunk stands on the rim of woods,

Arms reach upward to high places,

Leaves flutter, sparking in the glow of sun’s rays,

Playing the tunes of life.

 

My eyes travel upward, searching,

To take in a bright beam of sun,

A far cloud chained up to heaven.

Hovers, floating eastward.

Birds of heights, shine,

Singing the tunes of life.

 

And I see how striking is the treetop,

Full of gathered singing boughs,

Calling in colors of life.

And its whispering-shadow crawls in the grass below,

As sweet wine on my weary lips.

And the mighty tree,

Reigns far onto horizon,

Stirs, pounds deep in the sanctuary of my heart.

I stand captivated against the godly brightness,

Wishing to climb the tree . . . to go up,

To grasp the chaste branches,

To be moved, hurled by the tendrils of vines,

To find shelter in their shade.

Bottomless is my desire to reach the treetop,

And sweep into my fanned arms its handsome top,

Take pleasure of the beauty of its songs.

 

With immense vigor I embrace the tall trunk,

My eyes fasten to the summit,

Sternly, my hand clasps the nearest branch,

The ground beneath my feet drops.

My body clambers up . . . up,

Trembles in joy and fear to the touch of the bark.

Drops of sweat and delight drip down,

Water chilly clod of earth at the tree roots.

And my hands hunt for a grip and support,

Succor of a few rungs . . . a ladder.

 

My heart craves to reach the crown,

To enjoy the glory, to—

A crackle.

The branch ruptures,

Detaches from the leafy tree and falls.

My hands slip down,

My heart whimpers. 

One more cry quivers between my lips.

Branches move in anger,

Leaves fall in shame.

And I am crushed and hurt,

Lying on a chilly clod of earth at the tree roots. 

 

1965

 

 

BROKEN HEART

 

My head is heavy,

My eyes close,

My inner spiritual pillar collapsed,

So the wind which was blowing at my back.

The footprints of my affliction are now imbedded in the sand. . . .

 

1965

 

NOT SO POOR . . .

 

Three little houses,

Three high-pitched gable roofs,

Grassland,

A Brook, clear water, deep.

A cypress, tall, vigilant.

It is true:  it is a little country,

Maybe even microscopic,

Certainly, poor,

But, from above, forever,

The star—attentive.

A large star, dazzling. 

And as the soaring cypress,

It smiles and winks hello.

A star—a superstar, in love . . .

And who knows,

Perhaps a sizeable and rich country,

Might be missing that star—the superstar . . .

 

Florence, 1968

 

 

WET DREAM

 

I submit to a deep sleep,

Or do I?

Millions of thoughts, fragments of unidentified reflections,

Rushing through my resting head,  

Thumping inside my skull,

Like giant waves on shore, beating against the boulders.

My mind struggles to focus into the hazy twister,

To grasp the indistinguishable.

And there she is,

Slowly advancing, floating toward me,

Like a mirror image out of the Greek mythology.

A spark in my brain turns my body over—once, twice.

I feel warm throughout,

My tongue searches for moisture off my lips,

I utter from within.

The lids of my closed-eyes tighten evermore.

My breathing turns heavy,

My blood pulsates in an unrestrained rhythm.

My body stretches and again turns over.

I am being transferred away.

Where am I?

Now I feel my bare feet, resting on smooth pebbles,

I am standing on a still, dry riverbed.

I hear something,

A faint, but rising sound.

It’s coming closer,

Now it is roaring,

Oh God . . . the water!

I am going to drown,

I am on top—I am under.

I am wet,

My eyes open.

 

Florence, 1968

 

 

MY TRAIL

 

I will pave my trail with words and metaphors,

Coat it with utterance of existence and desires.

I will sense each quivering motion,

Every trembling passage.

They will rise from within me,

And I am powerless to stop them.

 

Florence, 1968

 

 

MY RAFT AND I

 

My raft and I,

Drifting in rough waters.

Exposed, defenseless.

Bare to the fondling of sweltering sun,

To the rage of violent river,

To the looming of dark, menacing cloud.

 

I edge the muddy, steep bank,

Wishing to climb ashore,

But my hand fell short of grasp.

And once more my raft and I are swept down river.

 

Florence, 1968

 

THOUGHTS

 

One teardrop splashed on my pillow,

Trudged with flamed toil.

One teardrop splashed on my pillow,

Saturated with thoughts and feelings.

 

My eyes searching in space,

Wondering in darkness,

A murmur, my breath fainted,

Under the blade of silence.

 

My heart leaped with the twirl of desire,    

Good and foul, under the jagged, cutting edge.

In bed my body turned,

Terror and nightmare in my rest.

 

I am lonely, dejected,

Captivated against, by the world.

Light and blackness, ray of luminosity and shadow,

The chime of angels.

 

One teardrop splashed on my pillow,

Trudged with flamed toil.

One teardrop splashed on my pillow,

Saturated with thoughts and feelings.

 

Florence, 1968

 

 

ILL

 

A bed—white sheets.

Warmth—unfamiliar to the weak.

Faintness—isolation and hardship.

Sorrow—darkness, mourning.

A gulp of air—a murmur out of moribund lips.

Gloom—I am in the company of the discarded. 

 

Tel Hashomer, Israel 1968

 

 

HOPES

 

Hopes behind despair,

A beam of light at the end of night.

Delight up from a well of unwanted fears,

Pleasantness healing the touch of prickly barbed wire.

Hopes at the rear of wicked harvest,

Deliverance from self-annihilation,

Joy for salvation,

Bliss of men and heaven.

Hopes from embittered days,

Past turbid waters.

A new bright corner,

Swathes young man’s future.

Hopes of coming days,

Resolution to a bleak riddle.

Comely roses of heart,

Trap of invading pain.

Hopes of the reborn,

Cushion the slope,

Hopes invigorate the blazing heart.

 

Israel, 1968

 

 

MURKY PAST

 

Yesterday’s gone by,

But a scar remains.

A sprout—memories for future days.

Yesterday was dark—black,

A signal of rescue from destruction.

A floating cloud—a gray cloud,  

Stilled my path,

Drawn mucky past.

With a mysterious flow of air,

The ominous cloud retreated,

Leaving a thin stripe of hope.

A noble, mighty hand sheltered my soul,

Pulled my body out of the deep,

To live.

 

Tel Hashomer, Israel 1968

 

 

TO ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR. (RFK)

 

Oh, Bobby . . .

 

Oh, plowshare of blood and murder,

To crumple, to trash beyond recognition.

A beast, a wicked creature,

A monster aiming for infinite destruction,

To spit, to stab and gnaw on one’s eye.

Storms alongside weariness,

Self-exaltation of the filth.

Our brains are too small to encompass all this taint and foulness.

Odium grew too fetid to our nostrils.

Throng of murders—stranglers of the soul.  

What evil has this Knight ever done other than fighting for his nation,

In favor and grace, dignity and courage?

Why did you propel your cursed hand to spill Bobby’s blood?

To pierce him with your sinful bullets?

To shove him down to his grave?

Is that the recipe for FREEDOM?

In murder, violence and hatred?

Sure, this is the way you see it!

For you,

Without all that evil, any glare of truth is worthless.

NO!

You narrow this world when you etch it with crimes.

And I always had compassion for the weak, poor and defenseless.  

I yearn for the anthem of truth,

For all hearts to vibrate with abundance of love,

I wish for a pure stage. . . . 

 

 

Israel, June 5, 1968*

Written, following Senator Bobby Kennedy’s murder.

 

* Turned to be also the anniversary of the Six-Day War.

 

CICADA ON US

By Kalman Kivkovich

 

2004 was the most recent emerging time of Cincinnati-17-year cicadas.  I was here, waiting in anticipation.  I remember my father talking to me about those fascinating insects, more than fifty years ago.  I recall him claiming to have captured fifty cicadas in some glass jars, just to free them later unharmed.  “I can’t kill anything,” he had said. 

Since my early childhood, those goldish-looking bugs had visited at least three times.  But in 2004, they came in-force, never seen before.  My heavenly-kingdom grounds were not spared.  They came a little late, but they came—trillions and trillions of them.  And their symphonic non-stop opus, MAN!  They say it is exclusively male stuff.  They must know their stuff!  The intense, high-pitched humming can harm your eardrums; it can be as loud as a 747 Delta Jet flying over Clifton; it surely fends off birds, sometimes.

I was brave, my wife wouldn’t dare to come within a foot and even then I had to hold her hand.  I collected a few specimens, housing them in an empty glass pickle jar.  Yes, I did pierce the tin cover for breathing air—like my dad, I didn’t want to kill them.  I waited for them to sing, but they were not in the mood, I guess.  All they did was crawl on top of each other.  After a few days, there were fewer that still crawled . . . and then came the stench . . . and then came the second empty glass jar—this time it was from mayonnaise, just in case the new cicadasliked it better.

            I observed my prisoners closely; my nose was touching the glass.  I didn’t bother to feed them; they say that cicadas don’t eat anything, and that they have already stuffed themselves of tree sap underground.  So I just looked at them carefully, I looked at their huge red eyes, one on each side of the head and at the other three little shiny eyes on top of their head.  With their wings, they resembled common giant houseflies.  The wingswere fascinating—glassy and transparent wax-paper-like held by an elaborate vein structure—reflecting sunlight in shimmering rays.  My eye traveled to their legs, And legs they have—three pairs of them.

            After a two-day clinic, I decided to let my jailbirds go free.  Only two were still moving, the rest were stock-still; a few sparkly wings littered the bottom of the jar.  I had read that cicadas don’t bite; they didn’t harm me thus far, although they were everywhere:  covering my trees, shrubs, grass, walls and even the windshield of my car.  In most cases they simply took off and flew when approached.

            I stepped out to the porch.  “Okay, little fellows,” I said, “your days are numbered anyway. Go find yourself a mate, have fun and die.”  I took the lid off and shook the jar.  No takers.  I tapped on the glass. “Go, go you . . .”

            And off they went.  I wouldn’t know if it was a hop or a natural take off.  The two creatures flew straight into my thick curly hair.  I was startled; I jumped backward, my hands reached up, searching to grab the unforeseen attackers.  “Sons of bitches!” I yelled, “Get off me, you bastards!”  I ran back into the house and jigged my way to the dinning room.

            Locks of hair dropped to the floor.  The cicadas kept clinging to my scalp, burying their claws in my now rapidly disappearing hair.  The place looked a lot like a barbershop, not a dining room.  My screaming and jumping were in vain.  By the time I managed to rid myself of those Devils, I was petrified to glance at a mirror; the floor spoke volumes. The two cicadas were still alive, still clenching to some strands of my past glory.  In my anger I raised my foot to crush them . . . and then again I remembered my father.  “Damn it, I can’t!”  I scooped the mess into a paper beg and emptied its contents in the woods behind my deck.  When I returned, I barely gathered the nerve to peek at my image in the bathroom mirror.  “My God, what will Sandi say?” I said to myself.  I looked so much different.  Heartbroken, I left the bathroom.  I took off my sandals and headed to the bedroom.  My right foot hit the doorjamb.  “Fuck!  Oh God . . .”  In an instant, all my grief of loosing my hair had vanished—I was dancing, kicking my legs up and high. . . .

 

            It has been a couple of years since my encounter with those terrestrial flying vermin.  I still have some hair left, but not much to brag about.  The important thing is that my wife likes it as it is, so she says.  And one more thing:  I have been told by many that my Jive has improved. . . .

 

InkTank October 5th, 2006

October 5, 2006

 

 

TALKING PICTURES 

 

At our house, hanging pictures talk. 

At night, they make popping, crackling sounds.

Sometimes I wake up to their symphony.

I turn on the light.

I blink to focus.

I look at the pictures on the bedroom walls.

I look at them looking at me looking at them. 

Sometimes they crackle while I stare in their direction.

They must be releasing kinetic energy,

Transformed from a whole load of potential energy,

Stored within them for years.

My eyes travel to engage closer,

Deeper.

I go back in time . . .

The river is reflected from a pair of dark sunglasses

Worn by a handsome twenty-four-year-old.

            How far-away . . .

A wedding-night kiss is captured from behind the flickering glow of candles

Crowning a six-foot menorah.

How sweet . . .

Twin towers soaring skyward,

Bottom half, deformed, splashed with redish haze.

How bizarre . . .

My beautiful wife sits on water, and does not sink.

She waves to me with a dance-like motion.

            How inviting . . .

Dad is standing on the veranda of my Presidential Suite, overlooking the sea.

“How come they gave you the Presidential Suite?” he says.

Dad . . . it’s a short poem. . . .

 

October 31, 2006

 

 

MY GUARDIAN ANGEL

 

I’m three minutes late for my dentist appointment.

I’m driving . . .

I’m turning left on Plainfield Road.

My mind goes blank.

“Where am I?”  “Why am I here?”

I have no answers.

My car stalls in mid-traffic.

I am drawing angry, puzzled looks and flicking middle-fingers.

My mind re-emerges.

“Plainfield Road.  The Dentist.  I’m four minutes late.

 

Three weeks later.

 

I’m three minutes early for my dentist appointment.

I’m driving . . .

I’m turning left on Plainfield Road.

I’m calm . . .

I’m startled by a quick car horn sound.

I look back.  There is no car behind me.

My hands are not anywhere near the klaxon.

The annoying beep-beep resounds.

It is my car . . . my horn.

And it does it again . . . screaming at me.

It finally settles down.

Plainfield Road.  The Dentist.  I’m two minutes early.

 

“You shouldn’t drive on that block ever again,” my wife says.

What?!

“It’s your Guardian Angel trying to tell you something.”

 

November 1, 2006

 

 

A CUP OF COFFEE

 

I always start my day with a hot, strong cup of coffee.

I drink it black,

But it seems to sweeten the news glaring at me from the morning newspapers.

Yesterday,

The coffeemaker started to make strange sounds,

And take forever to brew.

I replaced the appliance with a new one.

I pre-cleaned the device.

The first cup tasted of plastic.

The kitchen smelled of plastic.

I cleaned it again.

Plastic . . . plastic . . . plastic . . .

This morning,

I tossed the new apparatus away.

I replaced it with the old one . . .

 

Starbucks  . . . drink your heart out . . .

 

November 1, 2006

 

 

WHERE IS JOSEPH?

 

I hear a strange sound coming from the new printer.

Holy Moses . . .”

It starts to print on its own . . .

A page is pulled in . . .

It starts to come out . . .

Its edges begin to crumple . . . 

I squat in front, staring . . .

A little bug—a miniature moth—catching a ride,

From within the machine.

Advancing . . .

            I gawk . . .

The bug keeps coming . . . 

I propel a full breath to stop it . . .

It keeps coming toward my face . . .

I wakeup.

Man . . . where is Joseph?”

 

November 2, 2006

 

 

A SILLY DREAM

 

A Sunday in springtime,

I wake up. 

I pull myself to sit,

Staring at an invisible object . . .

“What’s wrong?” my wife says.

“Oh, nothing . . . just a silly dream.”

“Do you want to share?”

I yawn, stretching my arms.

“I saw a deer sitting on top of your Prism.”

“A deer?!”   

“I told you it’s a silly dream.”

I force myself out of bed . . .

I walk to the window.

I look out . . .

“Oh my God . . . the deer . . .”

“The deer?!”

“Yes, on the deck . . .”

I run out to check the car . . .

 

November 2, 2006

 

I TRANSPORT MY GAZE

 

I transport my gaze to a new horizon,

My heart is yearning. 

            I have waded through the valley of weeping.

My feet reach sanctuary embankment.

Inoffensively, I pivot my head to look back.

I will learn from my past—present ingredient.

I will cherish it to time without end. 

 

My hands grip the pebbled incline.

I climb up.

I transport my gaze to treetops,

My heart is trusting.

I will never again,

Slip down the slope.

 

Israel 1968

 

 

A TASTE OF HONEY

 

A taste of honey,

My tongue craves for.

A sweet meadow to plow with my body, 

Blossoming field to explore.

I am encumbered by my baggage.

My back is stooped.

My eyes aim forward,

            Farther.

Just a bit more . . .

I am pinned down by my anguish.

My eyes comb the waysides,

            Barriers of prickly bushes and weeds.

            Shielding purple thistle fields.

            I edge slowly,

Tugging my load. 

I look through the spiny wall,

            A beehive.

My hand reaches for the sweet . . .

A taste of honey,

My tongue craves for.

I stop.

A nasty thorn is lodged in my palm.

 

Israel 1968

 

 

AN ANCIENT IMMOVABLE ARM

 

An ancient immovable arm,

Invisible, balanced.

An ancient immovable arm,

With prolong sound, merged people with pain, grief,

Energy, fierce pride and pleasure.

 

Found Poetry:  InkTank 9.21.2006

Webster, page 797 (Ms)

 

INDIRECT POLITICS

 

What can we do to make our city better?

I don’t care for all the statistics

Being thrown at us during elections.

Are forty murders better than sixty-eight?

Tell that to the victims’ families.

Are seventy rapes a cut above two hundred seventy-three?

            Tell that to women who survived the ordeals.

I know that good and evil tailed mankind from creation.

This twosome undoubtedly will follow us to the end of time.

We have the choice . . .

And in order to learn,

There are three things we must do:

The first thing is to teach.

The second thing is to teach

And the last but not least . . . is to teach.

 

InkTank November 2, 2006

 

MISSING

 

I fashioned the bed with the vibes of my feelings,

So you’ll enjoy the softness of their touch.

I unfurled the creases of my thoughts,

A pillow to cradle your head. 

My heart pounded.

I spread the blanket of my dreams at your feet,

In suspense of a blossoming rose.

In my delusion, I sunk into your arms,

Fountain of youth and godly fragrance.

            And . . .

Where are you?

 

I hated the glow of moonlight

That augmented,

My solitude

 

Ramat Hasharon, 1968

WORDLESSNESS  

 

Pale face,

Face of a wordless man,

His mouth is sealed from offering any,

But his silence grips in its roar.

 

Fortified within sadness,

Concealed amid unspoken reins,

His soul is restlessly bustling,

Rumbling with deep-rooted awareness.

 

Wordlessness,

A dagger in the hand of the frail.

Wordlessness, 

Reverberates deep in hearts,

And to the heights of daunting mountains.

 

Wrinkle-ploughed brow,

Creases of skin,

Tear-stained cheeks,

Eyes and tears—all lexis of . . .

Wordlessness.

 

Ramat Hasharon, 1968

 

 

My parents smiling at me

One more smile,

The last smile,

The eternal smile.

distant

 

 

MOANS IN THE NEIGHBORS’ SHED

 

I hear the groans coming from the neighbors’ shed.

The heavy breathing sounds like something out of my dreams.

I’m fifteen and dreams I have—flood of wet dreams . . .

I glue my eye to a crack in the wooden wall.

My gaze pierces the soft skin that blocks my view.

The moans fill the enclosed space beyond.

What the hell is it?  My mind gears in full speed.

I close my eyes.

Something is bulging inside my trousers,

Thrusting against the already dilapidated partition.

 

InkTank, November 30, 2006

 

And another offspring . . .

 

From Kalman’s Desk . ..

 

A rewrite of a joke I saw circulating on the Internet.

 

Well, maybe it’s not a poem, but if it strokes your fancy and brings a smile to your face, it might be okay for the occasion . . .

 

“Irish Coffee and Sex on Valentine’s Day”

 

An Irish woman of advanced age visited her physician before Valentine’s Day, to ask his help in reviving her husband's libido.

“What about trying Viagra?” the doctor said.

“Not a chance, he won't even take an aspirin.”

“Not a problem, give him an Irish Viagra.”

Irish Viagra . . . ?

“Yes.  Putit in his coffee.  There is no scent and it’s flavorless.”

“But—”

“Give it a try . . . call me and let me know how things went."

            A week after Valentine’s Day the woman was back to see her physician.  “ ’T'was horrid.  Just plain awful, doctor!”

Really?  What happened?”

“Well . . . I did as you advised . . . I slipped it in his coffee—the effect was instant.  He jumped straight up—a twinkle in his eye . . .”

“Yes, go on . . .”

“His pants . . .”

“Yes . . .”

“They were bulging!  Then . . . with one swoop he sent the cups and tablecloth flying.  He ripped my clothes to tatters and took me right then and there . . .”

“And . . .”  The doctor was amused.

“He made wild, passionate love to me on the tabletop!  It was a nightmare, I tell you, an absolute nightmare!”

“Why so terrible?  The sex wasn't good?”

“Oh, no, Doctor, the sex was great!  ’Twas the best I've had in thirty years!  The problem is that I'll never be able to show my face in Starbucks again!”