Since 1996 Volume XXI


MARGO BERDESHEVSKY, born in New York city, often writes in Paris. Her newest collection, Before The Drought,  is from Glass Lyre Press, available in late September 2017. (In an early version, it was finalist for the National Poetry Series. Berdeshevsky is author as well of Between Soul & Stone, and But a Passage in Wilderness (Sheep Meadow Press.) Her book of illustrated stories, Beautiful Soon Enough, received the first Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Award for Fiction Collective Two (University of Alabama Press.) Other honors include the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America, a portfolio of her poems in the Aeolian Harp Anthology #1 (Glass Lyre Press,) the & Now Anthology of the Best of Innovative Writing, numerous Pushcart prize nominations. Her works appear in the American journals Poetry International, New Letters, Kenyon Review, Plume, The Collagist, Tupelo Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Southern Humanities Review, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner,among many others. In Europe her works have been seen  in The Poetry Review (UK) The Wolf, Europe, Siècle 21, & Confluences Poétiques. A multi genre novel, Vagrant, and a hybrid of poems, Square Black Key, wait at the gate. She may be found reading from her books in London, Paris, New York City, or somewhere new in the world. Her “Letters from Paris” may be found in Poetry International, here: http://pionline.wordpress.com/category/letters-from-paris/    For more information, kindly see: http://margoberdeshevsky.blogspot.com   and http://margoberdeshevsky.com



Before another blatant hour, do not love a country;

it will turn you into a killer, defending your tree, your road,

your stars. Try not to protect the wren, its furred

babies. Say prove yourself to me again, I of doubt’s

despair born deep in winter. Prove we are not born  

in the cauls of killing.




*{first published in “But A Passage in   Wilderness” (Sheep Meadow Press/2007)











Tears in the eyes of fishes —Basho




After the end of the world, the dragon flies are the first,

returning. Frogs in chorus in a lead-weight rain, the bones

of buffalo, pissing.


After the end of the world, a shredded page, uprooted

monster trees. A blue jacket, a lace head cloth, a black

boot on a wheelchair stem, a mudded page of the floating



After the end of the world, flooded rice fields, a blind

child seeing ghosts of ghosts, stabs his forefingers in his

eyes, screaming.


After the end of the world, Ayesha is chopping chiles to

spice our gruel—I was crazy but now I sing for the world,

she says and says and says again. After the end of the world,  

a crazy woman who loves God, singing ahead of the heat.

After the end of the world, a woman who sings that the bad

ones perished,     Allehu     Akbar     in the next hot dawn again

and again, ever after.


After the end of the world, over and over—I lost, I lost, I lost,

and God is great, the mosquito ballet meeting the dragon flies,



This is not a dream, this is a tragedy, a boy making his words

a sing-song, spindle-shins, kicking. After red words on the broken

columns:  this is not a dream, this was tragedy, fresh fish who may

have wedding rings in their bellies.


After the end, a new market. After the end, what kind of town had

it been?     yellow velvet, and minarets.     a shredded boot.     blue

china, broken.     a baby's rubber thong, not screaming.


After the finale, smiles left that say, I lived.     I dream of

corpses drowned in the noonday heat. What time is it now?


After the end of the world, the taro plant blooms in another

language, its flood-root, fetid emerald in the mud. After the end

of the world     bruised     dirty     determined Sisyphus —who  

ever breathes—rebuilds.


                                                        —Aceh, December 26, 2004—

 *{originally published by Poetry International (2006),

&  in “But A Passage in   Wilderness” (Sheep Meadow Press/2007)











  handprints in ancient cave art were left by women—National Geographic




If the new animal voice cries for my empty bed, hear me.  

If a wide red wing climbing my cotton gown stills me—hear me. 


If wars in blued tongues of the night-scarved crows admit  

what our mothers pretend to forget— will you hear me? 


When wild horsemen, sketched beast-men, drawn by girls afraid  

to tell secrets to their mothers, filled caves, did you hear me?  


Secrets spread in menstrual reds on a cave’s inner walls

Did the hills listen? Did you hear me? 


My bed of old bloods has slept through dreams, and

revenants. One sky’s thickened milk fills silence—hear me 


silk-tongued as that hour ahead of our last summers— 

leaves handprints—tears the riddles open—hear me.


If the smallest hands, if the last birds, if one unborn poem spills

just a little sky, we were not killed. Were born. Mother, hear me—



                     *first published in The Aeolian Harp Anthology #1 (Glass Lyre Press/2016)










Fear, the friend says

flat voiced as hollows

in collected bones

fear, silent as a mouth empty

of its iron breath

that spills back

fear is not a stage of

grief she says,

            (passions turned ash)

            (words turned bile)

fear, no sound left

now—is its own curtain-drawn, curtain-open

stage — spot-lit to blind in the dark,

imprisoning-ly dark in daylight.

Not a stage of grief.


Not in the dark.

Not a stage of grief. Is

a stage for dying.

That known rattle. That broken legged dance.





My Long Drum   



But I stopped the prayer.


When the stair broke under the weight of wanting You.  

Closed the now-I-lay-me-eyes. Fists in them like guns.


While temple candles spit light at You who made it.

Light. (Not a plastic red lamp above an ark.)


Light. While You who made it,     was that

You, crying? Begging for water in the dark, You, God?


In birch trees, You knew me     knelt while I     held me     while 

Bone after bone after bone. Bent. Unblinking, listened. Unhearing,   

Hear o Lord the Lord our — is one.     Deaf stones in Your ears.


But knew the reach of my paw, its red flesh.

Hear o Lord the Lord our,     I'm starting. I'm standing from fallen

Wish. Branch. Mud of Your making. Standing ash. Standing woman.

Of my making. Starting.    Adding,     please,      Dear.


Between beg and mouth, black praise, going silver. Yours. Or mine.

Between Hear o Lord my — may the words of my mouth, say — Hear,

The words of this mouth. Say leaves turning silk. Say dove.

Your hand, how it strokes my      bended.     How You love.

Closed, now, my now-I-lay-me, and hear: Lord, let me.  A river. Let my

Skin. Let the mud. Let the praise. Let spilled word     un-know. The knife 

— Withdraw. Let me be woman. Let each eye un-shroud. Let God     be holy 

In my mouth. One morning.


My long drum,

My long drum,

My long drum,


where You have

halted Your horse.


*first published in Between Soul & Stone (Sheep Meadow Press/2011)


All poems 
© Copyright, Margo Berdeshevsky
All Rights Reserved.

Alan Soldofsky       Kathleen McClung    Eric Bliman       John Guzlowski     

Mary Barnet


Grace Cavalieri

Joan Gelfand

Janet Brennan