July 7, 2016

Three poems by Ruth Sabath Rosenthal: "For Want of Green," "This Parrot," and "You're Free,"

Ruth Sabath Rosenthal is a New York poet, well published in the U.S. and internationally. In October 2006, her poem “on yet another birthday” was nominated for a Pushcart prize. Ruth has authored five books of poetry: “Facing Home” (a chapbook), “Facing Home and beyond," “little, but by no means small,” “Food: Nature vs Nurture” and “Gone, but Not Easily Forgotten.” The books can be purchased from Amazon/U.S.A. Please feel free to visit Ruth’s websites: www.newyorkcitypoet.com and www.poetrybyruthsabathrosenthal.com.

05- IVJ Art, Ken Allan Dronsfield.jpg
Digital Artwork Courtesy of Ken Allan Dronsfield

For Want of Green

“I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.”

               Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself”

Walt, it's over a century since you bequeathed us
your optimism and exuberant trains of thought.
Over a century that the trees of your youth stood
sky-high in air fresh with optimism. Those trees
now standing stalwart in airs rank with intolerance,
limbs reaching upward entreating heaven. Entreating
world leaders to fight with words not swords.

I quake in the timbre of unrest that surely would have
waked you in a drench of sweat, waves of foreboding —
a far cry from the green of your luxuriant grass,
your warm blush of autumnal hues, your snowflakes
dancing upon bare branches reaching far and wide
warming wanting hearts and enlivening the earth
with a melt giving way to burgeoning spring.

Earth, where today flags raised, nation after nation,
wave shamelessly. O Walt, if only you were here
to unearth the green of grass scorched in these flag-
rantly hostile days. If only you were here to raise
our hopes of tolerance and freedom with
your inimitable ebullient praise of green —
your poetry to help close the breach that divides us.

This Parrot,
     (after Stevie Smith’s “Parrot”)

plucked from rainforest greenery
and forever barred from flight —
in her sight, only the dreary
from a dank cage barely one
by one foot — she stood the plight
of silent incarceration, then 

one day snapped:

pecked down, clear through skin,
beyond molten mad, clawed an eye out,
flung it to the dark hearth in
the rental on Central Park South,
and with a swell of her aching chest,
opened herself to death.

(This poem previously appeared in Avis Magazine and several other publications.)

You're Free,

You’re Free,
so stand and be counted!
No matter what, stand up
to the enemy. Don’t
stand in the way
of action. Stand fast
and deliver what is sure
to ensure victory.
won’t be stood for!
Don’t stand by
and let others rest
on their laurels.
Can’t stand the heat?
Chill, till you will
take the stance
that sits well with folks
who don’t stand
on ceremony.
No standing room left?
Sit — work the phones.
If need be, pound
the pavement, or go
down in history standing
shoulder to shoulder
within the rank and file
of the long-standing line
of collectors of dog tags and body bags

~Ruth Sabath Rosenthal

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