Yvette Neisser

“We had forgotten everything. . . . We were the only men on earth.”
--Elie Wiesel, Night

Afraid of dying without it, he ran forty miles
clutching it beneath his shirt—
keep it warm, keep the wood from cracking.
Caught in the momentum of men
hurling their bodies forward
into the ranks of snow, he trampled fathers
who sank into the white grave underfoot.

The night’s blizzard and cold
deafened his belief in beauty. White
now the color of unending nightmares,
and snow falling, a negation of future.

After humming his way through fumes
that permeated dreams and clung
to his body, imbuing him
with the scent of his own death,
it was there, in that empty-hearted night,
stumbling along the fragile trajectory
between collapse and existence—
the cacophony of barking dogs
nearly consumed his internal melodies.

But Juliek kept hold of his violin
as snow enshrouded the night’s dead.
His fingers bled into the maple’s grain.

Abandoned factory:
men piling one on another to sleep or die,
whichever might come first.
Though he could barely breathe
beneath the pressure of somebody’s back,
he scratched his way out
from the smother of bodies,
violin’s neck gripped in his fist,
bow sheltered in the crook of his arm.

Unsure if he still could create sound,
Juliek somehow navigated the instrument
through the stiffening air
until his chin found the place to rest.
He angled the bow to fathom each string,
pulled a sonata, note by note,
from the hollow vessel—a slow plea
for the beating of human hearts
muffled by snow.

Yvette Neisser
Originally from New Jersey, Yvette Neisser received her undergraduate degree in English and Middle East studies from Tufts University, and her MFA in poetry from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, where she taught poetry writing and Middle Eastern literature. She has worked for organizations promoting peace and conflict resolution in the Middle East, and currently works as a freelance translator, writer and editor. Yvette’s poems have appeared in various magazines, including Virginia Quarterly Review, Tar River Poetry, and North Carolina Literary Review, as well as in the anthologies September Eleven: Maryland Voices and Poetic Voices Without Borders, recently published by Gival Press. Her critical work on (and translations of) Palestinian and Israeli poetry has been published in the Palestine-Israel Journal. Yvette is currently translating the poetry of Luis Alberto Ambroggio and collaborating with him on a bilingual collection of “selected poems” to be published in 2006. In addition, she is seeking a publisher for her own first book of poems, Fields of Vision, which was a finalist for the 2004 Gival Press Award. She also co-directs, along with poet Judy Neri, the Café Muse literary reading series in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Yvette resides in Silver Spring, Maryland with her husband and 3-year-old son.



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Carol Ashworth

E. Louise Beach

Sandra Beasley

Anne Becker

Mel Belin

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Nancy Naomi Carlson

Norma Chapman

Christopher Conlon

Michael Davis

Martin Dickinson

Jehanne Dubrow

Moira Egan

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Perry Epes

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Rachel Galvin

Bernadette Geyer

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Laurie Hurvitz

Tod Ibrahim

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Hiram Larew

Michael H. Lythgoe

Ebby Malmgren

Dan Masterson

Ryan McAllister

Judith McCombs

Miles David Moore

Daniel Abdul-Hayy Moore

Heidi Mordhorst

Yvette Neisser

Judy Neri

Bonnie Nevel

Barbara J. Orton

Eric Pankey

Jacklyn Potter

Ellen Sazzman

J.D. Smith

Rose Solari

Alan Spears

Gary Stein

Adele Steiner

Mark Tarallo

Colette Thomas

Doug Wilkinson

Rhonda Williford

Terence Winch

Rosemary Winslow

Kathi Wolfe

Anne Harding Woodworth

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