Helen Schary Motro

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Poetry, fiction, literary non-fiction

Selected Poems


Upon not going to Poland

In towns I was not born
I grew.
In round-ups I did not flee
I ran.
In bunkers I did not crouch
I hid.
In sewers I did not snake
I crawled.
In selections I did not pass
I filed.
In streets I was not shot
I fell.
In camps I was not killed
I died.

So what need now
to snap them
with Minoltas?
To compose
sanctimonious testimonials
of latter-day remembrance?
To drown with self-indulgent tears
the spongy soil
of Latvian burial fields?

No need.
My tears have already fallen then
when they did not fall.

- Out of Line, Fall/Winter 2000


August Baby

I am an August baby,
a birthday girl whose big day stole by
year in year out, while everyone was out of town.
Marked by cards from a faithful few,
celebrated by a solitary ice cream cone, or two.

I want to ask the other August boys and girls:
Does the toll still crawl on inexorably
even minus fanfare and cymbals?
Or, if she pushes ahead unnoticed through the years
does an August baby remain forever young?

- Feature poem for month of August 2005, Scars 2005 Poetry Wall Calendar

For May, when her lithium is wearing thin

May, I want to give you
a daisy chain
as long as the dreams floating in your head.
A daisy chain yellow as sunlight
you can weave for calm.

I want to give you a poem
you can hang your hat on, May,
so that the soft brownness of your eyes
won't glaze over
with monster volts.

May, I want to give you a poem
you can hang your hat on,
so we can sit beside you and not fear
you will mimic a Lewis Carroll book
and we will all have to look the other way,
and talk fast, and pretend we donít notice.

I want to give you a poem
you can hang your hat on, May,
so that you will keep quiet, and
not make us wince,
or blush, or squirm.

We lucky hypocrites
we lucky Size 10's,
we who wear the cloak of rationality
more easily.


-California Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 4, 2000



The Yiddish I Never Knew

My 1 AM buddies, I've nicknamed them Otard, Hennessey, Martell:
the old VSOP gang.
As night deepens into Courvoisier dreams,
into Remy Martin reveries,
and the musings of imported brandies,
sets the midnight moon.
Cognac is my RSVP.

Morningtime, I'm hobnobbing with Descartes,
back to base 10,
and moisturizer with SPF,
wondering who will win the Series.

But come inky midnight,
I stand grasping at the windowsill,
waiting for Poe's raven to alight
and raise a toast:
in the name of pacifism,
and the Yiddish I never knew,
and the pain of old betrayals.


-Zygzag, 2001


Selected Works

Commentary
Articles
Op-eds, essays, features, and reviews published in the major American and international press.
Nonfiction Book
Maneuvering between the Headlines: An American Lives through the Intifada
Heartbreak and hope in today's strife-torn Israel: a memoir of coexistence
Poetry, fiction, literary non-fiction
Literature
Poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction in literary journals and anthologies.

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