The HyperTexts

Peggy Landsman

Peggy Landsman is the author of two poetry chapbooks: Our Words, Our Worlds (Kelsay Books) and To-wit To-woo(Foothills Publishing). Her poems and short prose pieces have appeared in many literary anthologies and journals, which include The Muse Strikes Back: A Poetic Response by Women to Men (Story Line Press), Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes (C&R Press), Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press), Calyx, Mezzo Cammin, Bright Flash Literary Review, The Offing, and Scientific American. She lives in South Florida where she swims in the warm Atlantic Ocean every chance she gets. Her website can be explored at:

Links to Our Words, Our Worlds (Kelsay Books):

Kelsay Books:

Three sample poems from Our Words, Our Worlds (Kelsay Books):

Power Trip

In the middle
of my life

I will start

I will catch
my breath.

Time's my lover,
not my doctor.

My wounds
are mostly


First published in The Quotable


Up the hill, I pedal
my no-speed bike.

I huff and I puff,
pass Men At Work.

Down the hill,
no hands, I fly.

A couple of guys
shout out something.

Sounds like they're cheering
my engine.

First published in In the Mist

Talking It over with Myself

I’ll learn to live and love by letting go
the foolish fiction I am in control.
Since all things change, what can I ever know?

Remember Heraclitus. Rivers flow…
The Earth’s a ball I balance on and roll.
I’ll learn to live and love by letting go

the urge to push the world when it spins slow
and I’m in haste to reach some distant goal.
Since all things change, what can I ever know

that nurtures me and helps my whole self grow?
Perhaps I’ll find it with a kindred soul.
I’ll learn to live and love by letting go

those fears I failed to tackle long ago
when each new dawn required its patrol.
Since all things change, what can I ever know?

So many contradictions. Yes and no.
Such awful violence to becoming whole.
I’ll learn to live and love by letting go
each moment as it changes what I know.

First published in Grand Little Things


Our bodies press against each other, my
front to his back. Across his side, my arm
lies pinned beneath his arm, which squeezes tight
when I attempt to move. This silent struggle,
a silly little game, goes on awhile
until it stops. I run my fingers through
his hair. I love those flowing, silver waves.
My breath between his shoulder blades must tickle.
Before he asks, I rub the spot, kiss it,
and roll onto my other side. He rolls
too. Our bodies press against each other,
his front to my back. His fingertips touch
me lightly as if he’s blind and my skin’s
a poem in braille he’s bound to learn by heart.

first published in The Orchards Poetry Journal


No marriage is a simple matter.
Each one’s a tricky mix of two
egos unprepared to shatter.

My best advice: Prevent disaster.
Don’t count on dreams to all come true.
No marriage is a simple matter.

Commitment’s hard. Some would rather
avoid the pain they’re going through,
their egos unprepared to shatter.

Though friends are always quick to gather
to hear the “Do you?” and “I do,”
no marriage is a simple matter.

There’s never been an easy answer.
No human being has a clue.
With egos unprepared to shatter…

Remember Alice, the Mad Hatter?
No need for any big to-do.
Unmarriage is a simple matter
for egos unprepared to shatter.

first published in The Road Not Taken


I feel as if I’ve always lived with you.
Was there a life before this life of ours?
At times it is a struggle being two,
But love prevails. Estrangement loses power.
Rebuilding trust is hard. We’ve just begun.
There’s still a lot of damage to undo.
But we are two who wish to live as one.
We may be damned, but damn it, we’ll break through!
What else on earth is life worth living for
If it’s not love and intimate connection?
We’re here where we have never been before,
Two lonely lovers looking for direction.
We’re human. We are falling. Take my hand.
Forgiveness is our last place left to land.

First published in The Orchards Poetry Journal


(Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, oil on canvas. 1931)

This memory's sky is wider than high.
Ants never suffer regret.               
When memories die, they don't ask why.

A lump with long lashes, an unseen eye.
Ants, in time, forget.
This memory's sky is wider than high.

This high desert wind sounds like a sigh.
Nothing ever gets wet.
When memories die, they don't ask why.

Time lies in pieces, it will not fly.
There is no safety net.
This memory's sky is wider than high.

The landscape listens, but does not cry
Over this warehouse of old debt.
When memories die, they don't ask why.

These watches are watches no one will buy.
This flesh lump's a mask we might have met.
This memory's sky is wider than high.
When memories die, they don't ask why.

First published in The Ekphrastic Review


To be a Jew
has little to do
with you,
who you are,
what you believe in.

To be a Jew
has everything to do
with the world…

Is it big enough
for us
to live in?

First published in The New Verse News


for Beryl and Zelda Botwinik

When I was a little girl in New Jersey
I saw the photo
of that little boy in the Warsaw ghetto.
I could not unlock his large dark eyes from mine.

Then there were the films
of people who'd gone to camps
that had nothing to do with summer.

Beryl and Zelda, our Polish cousins,
came from Israel to live with us.
They spoke Hebrew, Polish, and Yiddish.
I helped them with their English.

Zelda had saved her life by jumping from a train.
Beryl fought in the underground.
He told me things.

Images of naked corpses spilling into open pits,
the occasional open, empty hand
clawed my nighttime dark.

Bedtime turned against rest.

I turned to books, to covert reading
long after parental "lights out."
I read Anne Frank's diary,
Adolph Hitler's biography —
the one William L. Shirer wrote especially for young readers;
Elie Wiesel's Night....

Night after night on page after page
trapped in the beam of my flashlight,
the printed words froze like prisoners
who failed to make their escape.

for Ella (9/9/1910-10/3/1991)

This poetry book that I borrowed from the library,
The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch,
is due October 3rd.

This twelve-ounce bag of classic American salad
that I bought at Walmart
will be best if eaten by October 3rd.

My AT&T bill is due by October 3rd.

My new Visa bill will be emailed to me on October 3rd.

I haven’t checked the date on the milk yet,
but if it’s best by October 3rd, I won’t be surprised.

Oh, I know that October 3rd is just one day out of 365 days every year.
I know that October 3rd has nothing against me.
It doesn’t mean to offend.

After all these years,
I’m no longer startled into tears
every single time
I see this date.

But I’m not neutral.
Not indifferent.

I do try to take it in my stride,
but October 3rd
is always
the day that
you died.

First published in Persimmon Tree


As the old leaves fall from the trees,
I think of all the ways that he’s
been trying to help. I’m dealing
faster now with what I’m feeling,
but it’s a challenge to unfreeze.

He has begged me many times: “Please
talk to me. Trust me. Be at ease.”
Finally, I feel I’m healing
as the old leaves fall.

When I’m upset, I start to wheeze;
internal organs, a tight squeeze.
I’m ashamed to be a weakling…
None of this needs to be crippling.
It’s all a matter of degrees
as the old leaves fall.

First published in Mezzo Cammin


We've been living on this planet a lot longer
Than we had any right to hope we ever would.
The beliefs we cannot shake are growing stronger
And what we know, we know does us no good.

It can be awful knowing nothing matters.
It can be awful knowing we don't care.
But we view our life in a gentle light that flatters
And dare to live exactly as we dare.

So here's to life, this tricky one-way ride,
And to our love which makes it all worthwhile.
Two existential nomads, side by side,
We'll live in beauty, Lebenskünstler style.

Our where is here, our when is now;
There is no why, no one knows how.

First published in Mezzo Cammin


begins by saying “Sh,”
trying to hide the fact
that it’s loud.

Then all its letters all together,
but very indirectly,
shout “Hold us!”

We must put our shoulders
to the wheel,
make the world as warm and as loving
as we believe it should be.

First published in Elephants Never


what is preying on us?
the death of the earth is certain
the black-dwarfing of the sun foretold

yet unformed forms are forming

we only get in trouble when we don't mind
that little boy in the Warsaw Ghetto—
his eyes go on forever

everything is remembered

yet-unformed forms are forming
though the death of the earth is certain
the black-dwarfing of the sun foretold

we only get in trouble when we don't mind

the nightmare express wrecks
leaps its tracks

are we alive again?

we thank god
even when the inner-light of everyone is cindered
god's will be done—

the impossible ignition of another six million suns.

First published in Mosaic


The tea bag sinks to the bottom of the cup.
I wait a few minutes; watch as the water turns dark.
I sip the tea. It works no magic.

I go outside; watch the sun set.
As it sinks into the Pacific,
Cirrus clouds—high overhead—turn pink.

In Sarajevo, Mufid's mother
Marinated pink rose petals in large glass jars of sugar water.
She set the jars on the window sill early in the morning.
They made the most of ordinary light.

In Osaka, sakura yuki. Cherry blossom snow.
That's what I called it.
Walking along the river in the wind and rain—
Cherry blossoms.

At Kibbutz Usha, I killed a snake
On the stoop out back behind the kitchen.
In the middle of peeling and chopping two hundred seventy onions,
My eyes tear-blind and mad with stinging,
I smashed in its skull with a stone.

Night after night...

I think about the former Yugoslavia.
On the spot where Gavrilo Princip took aim and shot,
The impression of a pair of pointy-toed shoes
Is sunk in the sidewalk. Preserved in bronze.
I stood in them. They were just my size.

So many spots where I stood in Kobe
Waiting for all those job interviews, the trains at Sannomiya.
Waiting and watching as Black Vans rolled.

Impossible to not think about the Holy Land.
Tonight another bombing of another bus in Jerusalem.

Somewhere down the street a car backfires.
It startles me. I turn around.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century
the thing that still amazes me
is how easily I startle.

First published in the 2004 Political Issue of


Hagar and Sarah should have talked,
Laughed together when alone.
Who did Abraham think he was—
Ha-Yehudi ha-rishon?*

Ishmael and Isaac should have been
Boon companions, closer than brothers,
Passing their days doing their chores,
Tending their father's sheep together...

Staying up late entertaining themselves
Arguing over the numbers of stars
Each was the first to have named.

*"Ha-Yehudi ha-rishon" is Hebrew for "The first Jew."


A dull echo remains.
The radio astronomers are
All ears—
Big as satellite dishes—

Listening for news that was
Out of date
Light-years ago

As if it will set the world on fire.
As if hearing a peep from the Big Bang
Will tell us who we are.

First published in Neovictorian Cochlea


Dreaming of hydrocarbon snow
falling on Titan's methane lakes

of egg-like Europa cracking its shell
hatching in the dark

of geysers spraying nitrogen
over Triton's strange terrain

I dream of the Cosmos banging
and banging once again.

First published in Science Poetry (N. H. McAlister)


Look at all the work the universe has done.
It makes the most of ordinary light
from new moon to full moon, from sun to setting sun.

It does the work of all the worlds rolled up into one
mind-boggling miracle of space and time and light.
Look at all the work the universe has done.

Will we ever know for certain how the universe was begun?
Will we ever learn the reason for all this lovely light
from new moon to full moon, from sun to setting sun?

Much of what we think we see, we know in fact is gone.
Stars do die out long before we catch their traveling light.
Look at all the work the universe has done.

Now look at all the works of man, the wealth of our creation!
There are still no substitutes for heat and light…
from new moon to full moon, from sun to setting sun.

I'm ready to quit my day jobs now; to leave them, one by one.
All I want is to make the most of ordinary light,
to look at all the work the universe has done,
from new moon to full moon, from sun to setting sun.

First published in Bringing Sonnets Back


Simple physics, a cinch, the tock-tick of it all;
Though they haven't a clue to the trick of it all.

Light cones. The über-timeline. The multiverse. No strings.
Theorizing the cosmologic of it all.

Construct dream castles in the air, but do not move in.
Come down to earth, the mortar and brick of it all.

The ontology of Being with a capital "B"
or a small "b." The dialectic of it all.

Turn on. Tune in. Drop out. Sex and drugs and rock 'n roll…
There's no escaping the dead and the quick of it all.

Let's look deep into each other's eyes, initiate
our intimate connection. The orgasmic of it all.

And let's raise our half-full glasses and toast the other half;
Delight in the pointless, gorgeous music of it all.

First published in SWWIM EVERY DAY

The HyperTexts