You Ask For A Poem – Marilyn Kallet

You ask me for a poem about current events: babies and
Toddlers beheaded at a kibbutz, war in Gaza. And I say

No, I have no poem, coward that I am. But my heart says
Sister, you know how to grieve. You know your heart still beats

And little ones do not. Aged ones, older than you, have stopped
Short. I have not walked these killing fields but I embody

A voice that tries to soar overhead, to descend and
Enter the wreckage, voice that is only sound that yearns

To show love and care, throat that can bemoan the loss
Of every life in Gaza, each drop of blood spilled.

I have entered gas chambers as a tourist, to see what
My relatives endured before the end at Terezín.

But this is now, Israel, all of us, and we grieve
Together and beg the wisest ones to take charge,

Stop the blood-letting and save little heads
From being chopped and big ones from pontificating

While more of us are lost.
Yisgadal v’yistkadash sh’mei raba…
Glory to those who bring peace where others
Cannot find a way. Condolences to every family

That has lost a loved one in this field of carnage.
Let us create, vow to love more, every way.

Grief is our teacher.
Let us dedicate our time to friendship

And peace.
May it be so.


Marilyn Kallet’s latest poetry book is Even When We Sleep, from Black Widow Press,  2022. She has published 18 other volumes, including How Our Bodies Learned, The Love That Moves Me and Packing Light: New and Selected Poems. She translated Paul Eluard’s Last Love Poems and Péret’s The Big Game. Dr. Kallet served two terms as Knoxville Poet Laureate, June 27, 2018-June 2020. She is Professor Emerita at the University of Tennessee. For two decades, she has led poetry groups in Auvillar, France, for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her poetry has appeared in Plume; Still: The Journal of Appalachia; North American Review and Potomac Review, among others.

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