Poet of the Month
2021: Poets featured as Poet of the Month
NOVEMBER: Stanley H. Barkan, American poet and publisher
Stanley H. Barkan, editor/publisher of Cross-Cultural Communications, which in 2020 celebrated its 50th Anniversary with 500 books in print, and as many broadsides and postcards and audio-visual productions in 60 languages (ranging from Arabic to Yiddish). CCC, in addition to having a long and productive cooperative relationship with Peter Thabit Jones of The Seventh Quarry Press in Swansea, Wales, has also hosted numerous literary events throughout the United States and in many parts of the world (Argentina, Bulgaria, Poland, Puerto Rico, Sicily, Wales), at such locations in New York as the International Center, Poets House, the Yale Club, and the Dag Hammerskjöld Auditorium of the United Nations. His own work has been published in 29 poetry editions, many bilingual, including Armenian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Dutch, Farsi/Persian, Italian, Romanian, Russian, Sicilian, Spanish. His most recent books are As Still as a Broom, translated into Spanish by Isaac Goldemberg (2018) and Pumpernickel, translated into Farsi/Persian by Sepideh Zamani (2019) (both published by Oyster Bay, NY: New Feral Press), and More Mishpocheh, with illustrative photos and art by the author’s wife, Bebe Barkan (Swansea, Wales: The Seventh Quarry Press, 2018). Also, in 2017, he was awarded the Homer European Medal of Poetry & Art. Barkan lives with his wife in Merrick, Long Island, where his son and daughter and five grandchildren also reside. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley H. Barkan
In Jerusalem, he gave me a dollar
to give to a needy man somewhere in New York,
a blessed message that, I’m told, would protect me:
“The messenger of a good deed comes to no harm.”
So I carried it like a live coal in my pocket,
wondering how I would get through airline security.
I fingered it like a worry bead, like a Hindu crystal,
all the long journey from Tel Aviv to New York.
It glowed hot and fiery all the car trip
back to my home in Merrick, Long Island,
And all night long it threatened to burst into flames.
The next morning, I drove into Manhattan,
sought out a truly worthy-looking homeless man,
took out the dollar, stuck it in is hand, glad to be rid of it,
like the flask in the Stevenson tale of “The Bottle Imp.”
As I turned away, I heard a crack, a sound of thunder.
I turned back and there was fire—flames burst
out of the hand of the homeless man!
All the homeless men were burning like the beggars
and cripples and poor in the legend of Vlad Țepeș.
All New York was ablaze. The world, too, was ending in fire,
while I was frozen, turned to a pillar of ice.
(c) 2021 Stanley H. Barkan
From O Jerusalem by Stanley H. Barkan
with complementary photographs by Ron Agam
(Cross-Cultural Communications, 1996)
for Max Schwartz
on his gefilte fish
because it was strong
like the Limburger cheese
he spread on the large
oval slice of pumpernickel
he covered with heavy sweet cream
thick from the top of the tin milkcan
delivered at predawn to the grocery store
he opened at the crack of every morning.
Horseradish, after all, is just a weed
whose roots in the earth
you may, by chance,
spread as topsoil on your lawn.
It can grow through sand, asphalt—even cement.
It is strong in any form—red or white.
But chreyn is good on flanken and fish,
especially on gefilte.
If he were still here,
you could ask my grandfather.
(c) 2021 Stanley H. Barkan
From ABC of Fruits & Vegetables
by Stanley H. Barkan, complementary
artwork by Mia Barkan Clarke
(Sofia, Bulgaria: AngoBoy, 2012).
THE CATS OF BROOKLYN
Brooklyn cats breakfast on birds.
No canned wet pet food for them,
nor kibbles & bits of dry food.
Brooklyn cats are street cats.
They rule rooftops, fire escapes, and fences.
They roam backyards and alleyways
and won’t be confined
in condos, cages, or courtyards.
These are the cats of Brighton, Borough Park,
Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, and Bushwick.
These are not the cats of Manhattan,
Queens, Staten Island, or The Bronx.
These Brooklyn cats are tough, not even
the big dogs of Bed-Stuy will tangle with them,
knowing they, like their cousins of Tel Aviv,
fiercely fang and claw all comers.
You can take the cat out of Brooklyn
to Long Island, Westchester, or Connecticut,
but you can’t take the Brooklyn out of the cat.
(c) 2021 Stanley H.Barkan
From Pumpernickel by Stanley H. Barkan,
Translated into Farsi/Persian by Sepideh Zamani
(Oyster Bay, NY: The New Feral Press, 2020)