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  August 2009
volume 7 number 2
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Thea Iberall
August 2009
   

 

bio


T Jungle

    Thea Iberall is a poet, playwright, and scientist. She has been published in Rattle, Spillway, The Southern California Anthology, Common Lives, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, Peregrine XVI, Apollo's Lyre, Sunspinner, poeticdiversity, and ONTHEBUS. She was a semifinalist in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition. Thea's chapbook Be Ye Love (Inevitable Press, 1997) is part of the Laguna Poets reading series. As a performance poet, Thea represented Los Angeles at the 1998 National Poetry Slam Competition. Her love of words and theatre have taken her into playwriting, and Thea has had staged readings and performances of her one-act plays and musicals, including "Primed For Love" which she wrote with her mother, Helene. She has a Master's Degree in Writing (USC) and a Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience (U Mass). Her first book of contextual poems, called The Sanctuary of Artemis, is soon to be published.
www.theaiberall.com

   

 

The People of Caphtor

† †† † The entire people saw the thunder, the flames,
† †† † and the smoking mountain and they said to Moses,
† †† † you speak to us and we shall hear; let God not speak to us lest we die.

† † † †† † -- Exodus 20:15



I say to the Rabbi that these plagues which hit Egypt
were really due to a volcano. Heís looking at me
with his nice tie and beard like Iím a Philistine.
We are in the temple and there is my auntís seat
the one she sat in for sixty-two years.
Everyone has their own place. It's like
the dead are still here, still with the living.
He is on the bimah with the Bible
talking about the blood, the frogs, the lice, the beasts, the epidemics,
boils, hail, locust, darkness, first born.
It reminds me of a book about the ancient island of Caphtor.
The men wore short kilts, showed off their penises with big codpieces,
had nice pottery, and used to sail to nearby Egypt
but then the volcano exploded
and thatís when all the bad things started happening, you know,
the blood, the frogs, the lice, the beasts, the epidemics,
boils, hail, locust, darkness, first born.

The Bible says the hail was laced with fire and thunder,
the air was dark for three days, brother could not see brother.
It says these plagues prove the existence of God.
Ko omar adonai the Lord said bzot teyda ki
through this shall you know ani adonai that I am God

The book said it was sulfuric ash pouring down
from the sky as acid rain, like smoke on the dying,
tempering cat against serpent, a glass
clear river becoming polluted murk.

The eruption was thirty times larger than Mt St Helens.
Forty-two billion tons of rock were pulverized into dust
to be sucked in by the living, coughed up by the dead
ki shodeyd adonai et píleeshtim as the Philistines,
remnants of the isle of Caphtor, were destroyed by the Lord.


† †† †† † (stanza break)

Iím explaining what he just read
and the Rabbiís looking at me like Iím a Philistine
which just means sea people you know.
But what I really want to do is ask him why
he threw all that dirt on my auntís grave.
When I walked into the temple there was her seat
the one she had sat in for sixty-two years.
Everyone has her own place. It's like
the dead are still here, still with the living
but Iím realizing if that mountain hadnít blown its top
then we wouldnít be worshipping volcanoes
and the Rabbi would be standing there
not with a yalmulke on but in a short skirt
with his you know what hanging out --
not an image I wanted to dwell on
so I turn towards my auntís seat and wave.

I tell her I miss her.


† †† † I think she heard me.



(alternative ending)


Iím explaining what he just read
and the Rabbiís looking at me like Iím a Philistine,
† †† † which just means ďsea peopleĒ you know
† †† † and what I really want to say is

they called it blood as it hit all the rivers and the streams
killing fishes, filling dishes and stone bowls so that teams

of green frogs started croaking in the muck and the goo
and they jumped, head and rump for the land, wouldnít you?

Dicey lice, thought it nice, as they wriggled in the crust
making glue, in the stew, as they burrowed in the dust.

Hairy beasts, on the hoof, got alarmed, made a dash
for the trees, in the breeze, going wild, with a rash.

Rash! Itís an epidemic and I think systemic!
Nothingís antiseptic! Quick go get my tunic!
This is much too toxic, and so very cosmic!

And big boils, from the ash then broke out upon their skin
and they itched, in the ditch, and yelled out we canít win!

Til the hail, big as rails, from the sky fell so hard.
Lightning hits! Thunder blitz! Killing amaranth in the yard

and the locust, hocus pocus, ate as fast as bugs could chew
What a feast! Say the least! No one else knew what to do!

Then the darkness from the ash cloud came and took away their sight
Whereís my bro? Whereís my toe? Itís been three days without light!

And my firstborn isnít coping with the wear upon his bod,
So he died! And I cried ďWhyís this happening?Ē
† †† † And Iím realizing that if that volcano hadnít exploded
† †† † then the Rabbi would be standing there
† †† † not with a yalmulke on but in a short skirt with his
† †† † you know what hanging out,
So he died! And I cried ĎWhyís this happening?í
Must be God!

copyright 2009 Thea Iberall