Other Poems by:

Helen Bar-Lev


I was born

with the bone of fairness

stuck too deeply into my soul;

always trusted

that despite the holocaust legacy

of my birth and all wars hence,

there existed a dependable,

if not perfect,

cosmic justice


and that good but grieving gods

sat helpless

as dismayed as I

wringing their various

multi-denominational beards

in desperate regret

of the humanity

they'd created


but then the Earth shook

water roared, retreated

left the dead strewn like rags

on the beaches

of Asiatic eternity


So now is the time

to question my comprehension

of the workings

of supreme beings

whatever their names

in whichever language

mourners call to them


It seems they are no better

than humans

who cannot control

the urge to destroy

forever and ever again

1.2005 Helen Bar-Lev

Featured in the Lucidity Journal of Verse Chapbook, 
Volume 20, no. 2, Winter 2005

One Year

One year

There is no need for the calendar
which I know quite by heart
having counted and recounted
the moments and the months
which add up to a year

One year

My biological clock
protests this fact
and like me, it too attempts
to comprehend the passage
of a tiny bit of eternity
too complicated for thought
too fast to absorb
to call it Time is absurd

One year

with a pace and a passion
of its own
with a unique way of passing
as though belonging
to a different dimension
expressing itself in a simultaneous
slowing down and acceleration
as if rearranging molecules
so that it still possesses that wonder
and freshness of a yesterday ago

One year

Where did it go?

 2004 Helen Bar-Lev 

Featured in the Lucidity Journal of Verse Chapbook, 
Volume 20, no. 2, Winter 2005


At this moment

seven in the morning

the sun is just rising

its orb shining

over the Sea of Galilee

a mirror-mirage

reflecting the white

like an incongruous ice rink

on this scorching morning


Today the Sea is at peace

with its watery world

with the bougainvilleas

and date palms and bananas

growing calmly,

along the road gracefully

All falling into the category

of a surrealistic holiday


Take a deep breath

inhale this calmness

keep it inside you

as part of you


Because this bus you are on

speeds from the Sea

into the desert

along the border with Jordan

and up the mountains

and in three hours

will reach Jerusalem


Where the price you pay today

for the privilege of living

in this Holy City

with peace impossible

is a tension too terrible

which, like a cello string too taut

may snap at any moment

in mid-note


 2004 Helen Bar-Lev


Holocaust memorial day again
Ten a.m. 
The dog is frightened
By the whine of the siren
The siren of two minutes' silence

I stand
palms up
head down
Deep in grief
From which
There will never be relief

Is it my imagination
Or do I really see an Angel
Hovering just above me
Tears in his eyes?

My instinct is to embrace him
How can I,
Mere mortal,
Possibly comfort an Angel?

And then I feel
His tears of compassion
Calming my palms and fingers
As just a bit longer
I linger
After the siren
Is silenced

Haunted by childhood memories
Wondering about the absurdity
Of trying to forget
That which must never be forgot
That which is impressed
Into my being

And find little consolation
That I have kept my vow
Never to visit Germany 

And I wrestle with the New Age philosophies
That believe the reason for it all
Was so that the State of Israel 
Could become a nation
Why do I have such difficulty
With that notion?

I could write about this topic forever
But it will never make me feel any better

 2004 Helen Bar-Lev

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