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Poetry by
Bobbi Lurie

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Recitation by Author
Art by Gene Tanta

sunflower

 

Art by Gene Tantastanding ground prisoners assembling…dark bitter brew camp cooks
call coffee… kitchen a hunting ground for sadist SS…part of the “program” to be injured
late night we lay dark groans whispering the polyglot humanity: rich poor;
educated illiterate; religious agnostic kindhearted selfish; courageous
dull-witted common fate made equal
closest companion deeply religious hurt by jeers but never shaken
victim to despair was i not him
ready to share wisdom piety to give strength dear lord…his face radiant…
the news sad as usual
angels of mercy truth peace justice did not live among us
man is punishment enough
banishment earth begs through tears calling truth back
to heaven where
it must live
but so blue and such glare…
clod of earth soaked in tears…
shed from having been banished

 

 

sunflower 2

 

Art by Gene Tantawe are strangers to our murderers
prevent quarrels start conversations
lying in my bunk half-asleep back hurt dizzy much pain…
voices far away
seeking to slaughter us
god on vacation took the red eye
or did i dream him at all
like brothers like lawyers like writers perpetual ironic smiles
no freedom happiness
prison camp: can't imagine things
even if killing us
savoring hunger exhaustion anxiety humiliation too for still alive
anything believed in a world which seeks to save man from man

 

 

sunflower 3

 

Art by Gene Tantathe oftener they registered us the fewer we became
essential worker no longer just pain
mistrusting words whose meaning looked harmless
food tasted accordingly
special stratum of people stumbling still
well-oiled machine of extermination is what humanity does
speaks of love but
sneaks in that which kills spirit love hope joy life
pieces of bread slipped before death
though all of us sick of food
beaten poured liquor into
and who will the last one be not me not melanie not diane oh dear friends
not glenn not his daughter holding his hand forced to live without him
notorious bullying and witticisms
strung up trampled underfoot bitten by dogs whipped humiliated
by father
brutality a great expectation for some
after lust for killing lust for music bach wagner grieg
forced to compose “death tango”
they cried to the music but not when we died

 

 

sunflower 4

 

Art by Gene Tantafaces of passersby wrote me off as doomed
fate accepted without protest or sympathy
indifference
numbered
protocoled
categorized
forgotten
stared at
asked
perhaps afraid to nod openly
i saw his surprise seeing me still alive
date missing on death certificate though i carried it
low barbed wire fence
wires threaded through sparse low shrubs
on each grave planted a sunflower butterflies
fluttering flower to flower though i lost my only one
dead with her message of light if only forgiveness
light into darkness
no butterflies no sunflower just me

 

 

sunflower 5

 

Art by Gene Tantadeath waiting for me i
no longer curious when or how
street of doom the only one to walk
left bleeding razor blades sticks
ambulances waiting patiently
those brutal wore a badge
stood on well-kept lawns impersonal
being looked at as though in zoo
cigarettes in mouths of wounded
the ones who held us prisoners
sat in sunshine

(strange joy in knowing everyone hates me)

 

 

sunflower 9

 

Art by Gene Tantahe paused and groped
put the glass back safely in its place
i tried to release my hand from his
his grip grew tighter hands a replacement for eyes
no necessity to break it so gently
i mean i barely eat
he detected my uneasiness
the loss of self-image
nameless grave is this life
my end would be violent
no time for confession
he spoke as if reading aloud
born to be mistreated by beasts in human shapes
racial hatreds
boundary of light and shadow is an inner façade
unreal insubstantial
earth peopled with mystical shapes
soothsayers and fortune-tellers
we drove past vast fields of wheat
all the way we could hear their screams and groans
conversation full of stupid phrases he had taken from newspapers
prisons filled with murdered men
there were deaths
on the pavement was the body of a woman
two children one weeping
carefully preserving all her prescriptions

 

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Bobbi LurieBobbi Lurie's three poetry collections are Grief Suite, Letter From the Lawn and The Book I Never Read. Her work has been published in New American Writing, American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Born, Moria, Otoliths, diode, Big Bridge, among others. She lives in New Mexico.

 

Gene Tanta, Art DirectorGene Tanta, Art Director. Gene Tanta was born in Timisoara, Romania and lived there until 1984, when his family immigrated to the United States. Since then, he has lived in DeKalb, Iowa City, New York, Oaxaca City, Iasi, Milwaukee, and Chicago. He is a poet, visual artist, and translator of contemporary Romanian poetry. His two poetry books are Unusual Woods and Pastoral Emergency. Tanta earned his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa's Writers' Workshop in 2000 and his PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2009 with literary specialization in twentieth-century American poetry and the European avant-garde. His journal publications include: EPOCH, Ploughshares, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, Columbia Poetry Review, and The Laurel Review. Tanta has had two collaborative poems with Reginald Shepherd anthologized in Saints of Hysteria: A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry. Most recently, he has chaired a panel at the 2010 AWP titled, “Immigrant Poetry: Aesthetics of Displacement”. Currently, he is working on two anthologies while teaching post-graduate creative writing online for UC Berkeley Extension.

 

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