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     The Literary Review
                                                                          Issue 8

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My last trip before the lockdown
was to Spain. I didn’t go to learn more about
Conquistadors, bullfights, the Inquisition.
I went

to visit cities where Moslems built majestic buildings
and Jews served them as doctors, diplomats, viziers—
both religions attaining heights
they would not see again for centuries,
if ever.

Their golden ages warmed me
like the sun of Andalusia.

When Catholics forced the Moslems out,
they didn’t trash the heathen mosques—
they turned some into churches,
adding frescoes beyond
the zebra-striped arches.

Same with the Alhambra,
whose chambers married lacy stone,
patterned tiles and psychedelic
next to courtyards so calm,
Spanish royals chose to live there.

This is why I travel—to marvel and understand.

I am not alone.
Until a few months ago,
tourists zig-zagged the earth in droves,
disrupting wildlife in the Galapagos,
killing coral on the Great Barrier Reef,
lining up to see sunrise over the temple at Angkor Watt.

Then a virus boarded a jet.

I know the young will journey again someday,
but I worry about their parents and grandparents.

In my heart, I have a box of dreams.
Inside it, I am
walking through sandstone arches in Utah,
wandering English gardens,
riding a double-decker
with my husband in London.

I’m swimming in the Indian Ocean,
savoring chateaux in France,
dropping my jaw before
the jagged peaks of Patagonia.

The body aches and breaks a little further
each year. Will I leave the world
before I see it?

  Jacqueline Coleman-Fried_ _

for my mother

In a lilting voice,
like a breeze in June,
you read me poems
about elves and fairies.
“Who knows the wind?”
“I do, I do!”

I can still hear you,
and recall the book’s name—
Silver Pennies.

When I’m four,
kneeling by your bed,
we play a new game,
our new daily ritual—

you are teaching me to read,
starting with the letter “A.”

I am enchanted by the floating,
rippling spectacle of “Swan Lake.”
At seven, I write a poem about it.
“Is that what swans sound like?”

In high school, you gave me
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
by Joan Didion. Her take on
hippies and the golden state
hit me like a tidal wave.
Thank you.

At your alma mater,
I read the great poets—
but, strangely, wasn’t moved.
Instead, I felt called
to journalism,
That the people shall know.

I went on to edit and write
about subjects real and hard
as granite—
same as you.
For a while, it felt good
to pay the rent.

When you reached your 80s, Mom,
I watched you sustain yourself
by reading fine literature, at first
understanding it all, then—
just holding objects,
staring. Perhaps that’s why

I started writing poems again,
including one for you, on your 91st birthday.
And yet, when I showed you
my poem, your face was blank.

But it doesn’t matter, Mom—
when you could, you gave me
silver pennies—in a lilting voice,
like a breeze in June.

  Jacqueline Coleman-Fried__


I knew my mother’s mother
American matriarch
jowls and no eyebrows
I knew my father’s grandmother
tiny bird born in Russia
wrinkles deep as rivers
I thought I lived in a castle
had no idea its tower was fake
on a family vacation to Italy
in relentless heat
I gasped at columns and porticoes
the color of bone of dust
paintings dripping with bloody
the ravaged birthday cake
of the Coliseum
people who stood where I stood
thousands of years ago
had lived and died
lived and died
more times than I could grasp
one inky night
I saw a dead cat
floating with garbage
in Venice
its stiff wet corpse
electrocuted me
when I got home
nothing was as I left it
the green grass of summer
had turned brown
the cat I loved and the carpet
jumped with fleas
that bit me
for the first time at 4 a.m.
I couldn’t sleep—
a few brave birds
I’d never heard
announced the unwelcome dawn.

  Jacqueline Coleman-Fried__


Clambering around rungs on the jungle gym,
two little girls who’ve never met
draw closer as if pulled by gravity.
They are both petite with long, silky hair.
And both wear dresses—
girlie girls who like to climb.
I hear one say, “I’m the oldest.”
Now they look not at the monkey bars,
but at each other,
uttering little sentences with bright eyes.
Like butterflies flitting over the same blossom.

  Jacqueline Coleman-Fried__

Pastel on Paper
©Eve Packer: IMG_5498[1].jpg

©Eve Packer:IMG_5498[1].jpg


The soupy days of tropical air
hanging over our suburb
have come early this year.

The only place to be is in the water—a cool lake
that remembers the snow it came from,
the ocean, or the Long Island Sound
slowly opening its mouth to the Atlantic
one hundred miles east.

I cannot reach any of these bodies.
Even though things are better in my region—
I worry. Might virus lurk
in a hotel hallway, or a booth
in a coffee shop? Maybe in the bed
of a rented house, or a ladies room?

I should have learned to drive my father’s motor boat.
The water in the Sound is probably cool right now.
As a girl, I didn’t have the nerve
to navigate the craft by myself—
I was afraid
I’d run aground, or shift too fast,
stripping the gears,
hitting the neighbor’s dock.

Now, like a dead bird,
the boat rests on a rack
in Dad’s back yard.
It’s been decades since he took the boat out
so the two of us could escape the hot land—
and swim in deep water that remembers spring—
sloshing and glistening
from Westchester to the North Shore.

  Jacqueline Coleman-Fried__


Ballerina feet
supple as hands

Starting each step

with a spring, a push,
turning legs into wings—

unfurling, pulsing—
riding the air.

Touching down,
never stopping.

Lifting the crowd.

The key is the ballerina’s

the joints of her toes bending
at right angles,

unfazed by hammering
in slippers tipped

with hard boxes.
Most important—daily class

that trains the feet.

Some bleed. Mine didn’t—
but wait.

Ballerina feet later on
are mute. Maybe crippled.

If I’d known how it would end,
would I have danced?

Oh, yes.

  Jacqueline Coleman-Fried__