SLQ Daily, 02 October 2020

Read of the Day is ‘Food medicine for them’ highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020) judged by Terry Jones.

The Blast from the Past is ‘Heart Surgeon in Stone’ by Josef Lesser. This poem was first published in Sentinel Poetry (Online) magazine in October 2003. This was how Lesser introduced himself back then: “My name is Josef Lesser and I am 63 years old. I have been writing poetry for about 18 months now, so I am very much a beginner. Although I have not undertaken any writing course, I have been reading a lot of poetry since connecting to the net. My wife and I live on the Mid-North Coast of New South Wales, Australia and as I am now semi-retired I hope to write more and experiment with various styles.” The reading and writing certainly paid off as Lesser went on to publish more internationally in print magazines, anthologies and online journals including The Best Australian Poems 2006, Orbis, Istanbul Literature Review, Ken Saro-Wiwa anthology, Triplopia, Stride, The Rose & Thorn and other journals.

The current issue of Sentinel Literary Quarterly July – September 2020 is available for you to own in Paperback. Buy it from the SPM Publications Shop or from any Amazon store worldwide.

Food medicine for them

They came from Honeydew on Sundays
farm people on a lift
they brought children
with silent cries, mouths open like birds.
They brought malnutrition, two kinds:
marasmus, and kwashiorkor
known for turning hair red.
Sparse hair and bloodless gums.
Protruding stomachs.
They came to be scolded
‘you’re so fat, feed your child.’
Mute, not explaining that pap can feed an adult
but a child needs protein to hold the body
from leaking into legs, swollen, discoloured.
They brought marasmic babies
who stopped eating small,
had to be coddled to eat.
They came for the prescription:
Pronutro in the morning; mince, vegetables for lunch
and supper. they got better, slowly
depressed babies with large black
dead eyes waking up, showing interest in
waiting for that lift to bring mother.
Sometimes for six months, waiting.

(pap: mealie meal porridge)

A retired nurse, Cornelia Smith Fick was editor of a primary health care magazine and a writer for Takalani Sesame (radio and TV). Her poems and short stories are in Itch, Botsotso, Fractured poetics: a poetry anthology, Soho Square V, Bloomsbury, To breathe into another voice, a poetry/jazz anthology, Poetry Potion, Spelk, New Contrast and Atlanta Review. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of the Western Cape.

Heart Surgeon in Stone
(for Rodin)

Can a Heart of Stone circuit life in a man?

Drain tears
Pump lust
Drive dreams

Who can fashion a heart?

Turn bronze into bone
Clay into flesh
Reveal space inside pain
Sculpt his mind into the mind of another
Each blow of his chisel, blood of a drop;
Auguste Rodin is the surgeon who can.

Those Burghers of Calais wherever they roam
continue when mist interweaves with the sun
to never find home.
Lament in your fate granite and steel
Drain tears
Bronze into bone
Clay into flesh
Spell passion with ‘p’, blood with a ‘b’
and anguish with eyes.
In their hands despair with a ‘d’ and ‘s’
for casting the soul.

When next you pause in the wandering desert
Baptist John with his faith is in prayer.
Search his form, pocket then his gospel of thanks,
“My Lord through your gift I breath life
to forward your deeds in your name”

Your gift beyond mountains, blood of a drop
Your gift to the surgeon in stone; his vision
I move as a man through space inside pain.

Josef Lesser

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