Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

Poems for forgiveness

Skyline (photo by Stephen Horenstein)
Skyline (photo by Stephen Horenstein)

Poems for Forgiveness

No sooner than
day’s started
it’s passed.

Soldered cork
and brightened light

I close my eyes
seeing nothing.


Day by day I weaken
like gravity’s rainbow
calling from below,
drooping in silent prayer
fading in thin air.

Joyful mists are gone
far from homesick songs.

Call it as you will,
“crescendo blues” or
“Minnie’s forgot the tune”
or “bone-crackling thunder”
or late night’s all in bloom”.

My eyes they burn,
better that they’re closed,
my breath no longer churns
from one or many shows.

All that will be missed—
the shadow of bliss and
that shadow’s shadow,

utterly alone,
like a stone.

Heat rises.
I am slowing down,
seeing more.

White-wash everywhere,
train’s about to leave.
Tired life of drudgery
heaving, changing tunes.
Shut the door!
Close the hatches!
Let the chickens roam
until the lawyers leave the room.

I am grateful for:
1) the cool air
2) my daughter’s pending wedding
3) my wife’s grace
4) my imagination
5) olives


Remembering someone
who forgot.

For eight years in limbo
between night and day.

Does love sustain?
Where does the soul go?

Don’t look at the sun.
Its corners are round.

Heat is rising.
I am so sorry.

Forgiveness (original drawing by Jacob Yona, with permission from the artist_

A History of Salt

Salt in wounds stings
but heals.
I like you, so I say:
“You’re the salt of the earth”
Of late I’ve been grouchy,
quite “salty” in fact.
What is this word having
so many faces?

Salt preserves but salt
“Water water everywhere
but not a drop to drink”,
(so we think…)
My Doc says salt is bad,
my tongue says otherwise.
Breaking fasts with
bagels and lox is a salty snack.
Add herring and the journey’s

Salt brings out flavor
like Greek’s awesome olives
which slowly become the pits.
Salt is so bold, salt is so old.
Dad was so blessed with a flag
when he passed.
Boller-hat man said, “for your father’s service
to his country.”
My tears, full of salt,
dropped on the cloth.
Never knew him so much.

Yes, salty seas are rising
especially at Del Fuego’s
when two seas converge
bringing salt’s double doses ,
not healthy in mornings
when we must all submerge.

Salted butter is like
no other.
Salted coffee is a joke.
Salt in Dead Sea’s caverns
is the devil’s awful joke.
Without salt we’d die.
With salt food’s preserved.
With wine it’s a yuk.

Salt mines were for slaves
but not so today.
Vikings sold salt, it
ran in their veins.
Salt pickles in barrels
lived longer than not.
Our journey is endless
as seas start to rise,
soon we’ll be swimming
while others will fry.
Like the decks of Titanic
the earth may be sinking.

Tomatoes need salt,
as do cukes and the others,
even a watermelon’s sweeter,
though too much, an abuse.
“Back to the salt mines” means
“go and create”,
a poem a day
or the endless melodies I make.
Salt is our suffering.
Salt is our cure.
Salt is our burden.
It must be endured.

“Infinity Hallway” (photo by Stephen Horenstein)

Grand Pause/Fine

Deep dark chasm,
explodes, implodes
dilates, disintegrates,

Finned in black,
Wrapped in lacque,
internal, subliminal,
converted, inverted,

Pins of light,
Sticky, prickly,
all too far for the eyes to see,
all too far for you and me.

About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA) and recently a Mifhal HaPais prize to produce a new album “Sounds of Siday: Side B” (orchestra).. Horenstein's teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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