Let US Pray Feature




Helen Bar-Lev, IL


Free Verse

Lord of All
For James Deahl


Lord of peace
And Lord of all wars
I, simple artist
Born with no concept
Of politics,
No heart for these horrors,
Bow humble before you

Are you aware
That my daughter,
Normally fearless
But a pacifist since the womb,
Leftist to the core,
Wanders homeless from the bombs
Demolishing her town
Even this moment
As I attempt
To distract your attention
From the news on the television

Lord of war
And Lord of peace
just a suggestion to you
In your warless heaven,
Perhaps the time is auspicious
To copy the chromosomes
Of those of us humans
Opposed to violence,
To impose a holy law
Which would eliminate
The war chromosome
From all babies born
From now on

A daring experiment
An innovative concept
Perhaps a solution
To a continuous war
That has lasted
Since Adam
And refuses to finish

Anything really, Lord,
That would cause war to cease,
Permanently and forever
We’d be so appreciative
My daughter could return home
Blood rivers would stop their flow
Forests would grow from war-ashes
And we could all sleep again



A Prayer


to be calmed
to calm
to comprehend
the barriers beyond which
love cannot enter
to be peace-filled
to bring peace
to accept flaws, contradictions,
devils at the door of the heart
the stop signs on the path
of wrong turns and dead ends,
accidents, breakdowns
a vehicle cannot revolve
beyond the limit of its tolerance,
that to evolve takes lifetimes,
one is insufficient

to comprehend
there is no perfection, no absolutes,
transformation is limited,
perhaps unattainable,
love can be struck down
by a word, a look,
like a creature running
in front of a car

to understand to placate anger
so that the me I am
can continue to exist
and I am weary, whittled away
by the oceans of age,
a pebble, a piece of driftwood
on an ancient beach,
waiting to be found and cherished
or remain abandoned forever,
prepared for either

to live is difficult
hear my prayer,
give me wisdom to be calmed
to calm to forget to remember
to forgive

I am alone





At 11:15 that terrible night in my bed I lay
half awake and half asleep and prayed
the Angels to keep the victims’ families
of the attack earlier in the day

At the moment I finished my prayer that night
I heard with an awful fright
that horrific explosion
I could not move nor catch my breath

as though my blood had frozen
for at that moment I had witnessed death

So very close the house shook
Impossible to tell from which direction
perhaps from the Theatre where I had just been
packed with people to the brim

In shock I lay waiting
for the terrible confirmation from the ambulances’ wailing
which in just one minute pierced the night’s utter silence
on and on countless sirens

At midnight I was able to move to turn on the news
and then heard that the attack
was at the Coffee Shop where I had sat
that very afternoon

In my bed I still lay frozen with grief and horror
when the helicopters began to hover
shining their orbs too bright
stabbing the dark of the night
and into my window their eerie light

I know that this is strange to say
but some of us had a premonition the previous day
and now we were somehow relieved
that this attack was behind us

I know this is difficult to believe



In the Hospital


In the hospital
pain rules
patients lie confused
tubes protrude
infusions intrude

Oh I am stoic
but pain and apprehension
reduce me to futility
I turn for support
from my own healing torch
pray to my angels

Episode over
I rest subdued
frantic for release
in half-sleep, half-meditation
while the doctor
carefully fills in the forms
which will free me

To return to my own rhythm
to step into freshness
to breathe real air again



In the sulfur baths


In the pool in the form of a cross
white sulfur particles float
as do we
undrownable now
in the weakening heat
and saltiness
of the Dead Sea waters

we come to heal the pains
of living
in a hot pool of minerals and lithium
immerse our achiness
and envision a cure

eye the younger and agile
those who must have better ways
to spend a weekend, yet here they are
see the beauties in bikinis
the flat tummied young men
and wonder where we disappeared to,
the we we once were
when we took ourselves for granted
and bemoaned the occasional blemish

and now we bathe in healing springs
and pray for miracles









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