Barbara Ryder-Levinson

I Call Myself Alive I call myself aliveWhen I awakenTo the cold floor on my morning bones I swing from the rope of lifeA treacherous, titillating rushAir gushes through my lungs My voice rises over the all of lifeI howl needlessly althoughIt does not seem so at the time I call myself alive whenPain ratchets through my psyche andI pinch my open heart I call myself alive whenI leave home to stray into open countryWhen my belly talks of foodNot on the menuWhen my fingers are roughened by dry, prickly airThat stings my lungs I want to call myself alive whenWarm gusts of safe air cradle my lazy bonesI want wonder to open my eyesNot the pain of carrying my load Must I wrench my foot in the viseOn the edge beforeLife feels as real as it comes? In the comfort of my comfortMy feet move slowlyMy tongue lies fallowThe ache in my side blunted The Seduction Poems tremble in my wingswords timeless on a featherbreathless till flap and fluttersmall black curlicues,tapestries,they seduce me to The Chair.Some dry up like abandoned inkWhile others peek out from drapey curtains,opaque, protective to a fault.Circles and scallops threaten to fly.Figure eights and pointed arabesquesthreads woven in thin air,old women postponed. Poems are seismic,bold black and blue words,small, fragile, stinging poemswaiting and waiting—until they must burst.Eye-bulging poems.Red poems that shoot out flames,Jagged-jawed, sharpened knife. Limp, sticky-to-the-page theycry with apology of empty words,clinging to the hem of my life,poems with shoeless feetpay no heed to their own bloody footprints. Poems that run awaythat creep,too timorous to advance,flinty, intricate poems and at their impenetrable centers,rich, hot, hard-to-reach words I am afraid to touch.Road weary, worthy sibilants,they swing aloneabandoned webs. Speechless fingers stung silenteyes unfocusedwords deep in my hearta line to fish out feelings that hidethe irony of YOUwho studiedwho knows more than any of uswhat this meansYouthe one on the path do not waitthe future is not promisedtry not to be windsweptwhat we have is now Barbara Ryder-Levinson’s poetry won an honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest 76th Annual Writing Competition. She has been published in The Alembic, Carbon Culture Review, The Delmarva Review, The Minetta Review, Organs of Vision and Speech, The Paragon Press, The Penmen Review, Plainsongs Poetry Magazine, Poydras Review, Stickman Review, Voices de la Luna, Westward Quarterly, Willow Review, The Cape Rock, and American Writers Review, among others. Barbara has studied with both John Brandi and Rachel de Baere as well as Natalie Goldberg on several occasions. Her participation in two writing workshops conducted by the International Women’s Writing Guild directly assisted her in developing poems. She has worked for fifteen years to hone her craft in an ongoing weekly writing workshop as well as an online writers workshop. Barbara’s education includes a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Southern California. After graduating, she spent over two years with VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) as a community organizer, during which she helped a small African American enclave purchase their own community center. She spent two years training new VISTA volunteers at the University of Oklahoma before returning to Los Angeles, where she worked with the elderly in Residential Care Facilities and nursing homes. She is an avid traveler and owned a travel agency for two years. She has been to fifty-three countries on four continents and counting. All of her personal and travel experience feed her poetry.