Three Poems by Barbara Berman

A small pine box with oars and sails
built for bootleggers maneuvering low tides
in the marshes of Barnegat Bay, equally
convenient to Philadelphia and New York.

Earlier unnamed models were used by
patriots of the Pine Barrens
who commandeered British ships,
capturing millions in gold bar and coin
to finance the War of Independence.

At Saratoga, General Horatio Gates
sent a regiment of Jersey men home,
too unruly to fight his well planned
battle that turned the war.

Perhaps he knew they were best suited
to sabotage in the swamps.

Some descendant, I like to think
built and named the first sneakbox.

In eighth grade when local history
was taught, facts mixed with legend
and I thought there was great romance
in the word ---


I still do.


After Innisfree

At Innisfree I sang an English ballad
taught by my mother long ago,
gave biscuits to a swan
and consumed enchantment's mist.

Two years later, near "pavements gray,"
Yeats' voice on tape, a rich
low-rippling chant as my tears rose

in great, appropriate waves.


Bone Flute

Creatures took bone
long before words
science now tells us
and knew to cut
holes in it
shaping note breath.

The best liturgists
believe music is prayer,
a double offering.

So surely God knew
bone brought forth praise
in soft-whistling sorrow,
and greater praise
in high exulting.

Surely God was pleased
that the need for song
was formed by giving
new life to trembling bone.

Barbara Berman is a writer whose prose and poetry have appeared in The Village Voice, The Washington Post, the book review of The San Francisco Chronicle, Lilith, Asian Week, Coracle and elsewhere.  She is at work on a prose book, "Meditations of a Liberal Catholic Convert". These poems are part of her book "The Blue of Flight" which is making the rounds.
You may contact her at

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