Charlotte Mandel 

My poems choose their forms and style -- whether free verse, prose, syllabic, or received form such as the villanelle “Working with the Half-Dream” which appears in this issue.  Often, image or thought that comes to mind will disappear when I try for the words that will say it truly on the page.  By working with the rhyming/repetition requirements of the villanelle, I was able to capture the subject. 

The ethere form of poem “What You Said” started as a game of increasing syllable count with each line. The subject matter came as a surprise narrative, unexpected, unplanned -- brought about by the form itself.




What You Said

on me
any time
were your last words.
Yet I don’t believe
in ouija board contact
with buried loves no matter
that your fierce grip numbed my fingers
that your lips trembled like torn moth wings
that your dread flew out to me as caress.



Working With the Half-Dream

          Out beyond ideas of
          wrong-doing and right-doing
          there is a field.

               Rumi (The Illuminated Rumi, Coleman Barks & Michael Green)

If I am careful not to fall asleep
the field appears within closed eyes.
Half-dream’s divining rod goes deep.

Words in search of light begin to creep
through briary tangles of disguise
if I am careful not to fall asleep.

Invisible scythes in rhythm reap
scents of wild thyme, crush husks of lies.
Half-dream’s divining rod goes deep.

Night’s life-giving skim of water seeps
into dreams the sun will vaporize.
I must be careful not to fall asleep

pen in hand, trailing scribble. Mind keeps
watch -- draws blackout curtains and denies
half-dream’s divining. The rod goes deep

to rest above a blue-black leaping
stream where clear rinsed images surprise
unless -- afraid to swim -- I fall asleep --
the lost divining rod dives deep.







CMANDEL.JPGCharlotte Mandel’s recent books of poetry include her collection, Sight Lines (Midmarch Arts Press) and two poem-novellas of feminist biblical revision – The Life of Mary (foreword by Sandra M. Gilbert) and The Marriages of Jacob.  She edited Saturday’s Women, the Eileen W. Barnes anthology of poems by older women.  She teaches poetry writing at Barnard College Center for Research on Women.