Thursday, September 24, 2020

Our RBG Story...and a poem

White House lit in rainbow colors after gay marriage ruling - The Boston  Globe

A few years ago, I learned that the mother of a friend of ours had been at college with RBG - one of the five Jewish girls housed in the same hall at Cornell - and they remained lifelong friends.  Our buddy had the opportunity to go to the Supreme Court now and again, sit in RBG's box and go into her chambers so these two dear friends could visit.

On one of these visits, our friend hand-delivered to RBG a thank you letter and two pictures from our wedding.  One of the two of us beaming and another surrounded by the dozens of family and friends who shared our joy.  In our letter to her, I wrote that we were so grateful not just for the opportunity to celebrate and recognize our love, but also for the rights we had long been denied.  A mix of emotion and pragmatism that maybe made her smile.

So in gratitude and celebration of how one person can make a difference in the world -- may her name be a revolution.  Stay safe.  Stay well.  Onward.

wedding poem

an altar waits    us to receive

blessings or a prayer      tonight we

choose faith in each other           

divinity as we make it        how

Eden was bounty all along   then

found       i am not one to tend

gardens      tend instead to cultivate

half-stories     eve without the apple

inventions and veracity

juxtaposed           but you

know how to read each

line            the poem we made

manhattan in January

   no tourists in st. patrick’s   faith

        once removed    

piety as we know it   belief without

question      overlook the looks of the

righteous            instead we

save ourselves    we are each other’s rescue

toss me a line    we will be poems

universes turn         spin

veer off the highway          slow drive

where trees are the canopy of our

x-ing            where ahead            

years wait            overhead the stars

zenith                   bless us


© Beth Feldman Brandt

February 2018

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


I am not a winter person but oddly, I find comfort in knowing that the first day of winter means that the days will start getting longer.  Minute by minute, we stretch toward spring.

But at this season, it is hard to live with knowing how many families are without comfort and joy.  Though this poem and the sound piece that accompanies it was published last year by Apiary magazine, the incarceration of families, separated or together, continues.  While Javier was able to safely leave his sanctuary at the Arch Street Ministry as he awaits his visa, others remain in churches and jails. It is a poem I wish was no longer relevant but sadly, remains a call for justice.

Wishing all who seek it, sanctuary and peace.

You can listen to the sound poem here..


Late November and winter is just starting its long march.
Days darken, more time to live in the shadow of what we fear. 

Encircled in forest, a buffer from the highway’s hum,
these acres named sanctuary, refuge, oasis.

The pond is mirrored with ice.  Life underneath suspended.

Doe and fawn.  Hard to feel safe when hunters shoot for sport
or profit, steel bow and an arrow of cross-weaved carbon,

essential element of life, and who knows if hunters believe in
boundaries they can’t see.

Outside the City of Brotherly Love, Margarita Alberto
and her six-year old son have been detained, asylum denied,

incarcerated for 328 days for the crime of fleeing El Salvador
without enough documentation of their victimization.

Now they are victims here.  Each one turns a profit for those
who contain them behind a split rail fence even her son could scale

but better to mind this border than be sent back, this time
leaving her son behind.  This time, marked as one who fled.

Javier Flores claims sanctuary at the Arch Street Methodist Church,
deported more than once but crossing over to be with his family

again and again.  The Book of Numbers names sanctuary cities but
Javier is not the one who needs forgiveness.

His life is suspended.  His family brings food from the outside.
ICE waits on Broad Street. 

His borders are the sanctuary walls, sun through the stained glass,
a kaleidoscope of angels floating above the stone floor.

Beth Feldman Brandt 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Listen to RetroLove Interview and a Prize-Winning Poem

In a cool convergence of my writing and performing lives, it is now National Poetry Month and Philadelphia Jazz Month which is a perfect time for an interview by PhillyCAM with a sneak preview of the soon-to-be-released RetroLove album.

PhillyCAM is people powered media including a community media center, TV station and   FM Radio Statio. Listen here to my interview (which starts around 10 minutes in) and hear some smokin' hot tunes with Monnette Sudler, Joilet Harris and the RetroLove band.

In other exceptional news, my poem Fire was chosen as the winner of the  Philadelphia Writers' Conference Spring Forward poetry contest!  This garners me a partial scholarship to the conference, a slot as a featured reader and some much needed inspiration for some new poetry after RetroLove.  You can read more about the award and the conference here.  All of which goes to prove that sometimes you can master something really writing about it.


Only a small fire but not where fire should be—
            the wick of a candle, hearth, heart—
                        a fire uncontained, unattended.

I was reading.  Of course, I was reading,
            and making tea which I had forgotten.
                        It was a good book.

No doubt I put the sound of the fire crackling
            into the story I was reading, the way
                        you put a ringing phone into a dream.

Crackling—sometimes the cliché, a crackling fire,
            is true—fire sounds like snapped branches
                        or crumpled drafts of a bad poem.

Curious at the sound, now loud enough
            to pull me from my book in which
                        I carefully marked my place.

Fire on the stove.
How to douse it? A word I use now but then
            only out or just the desire for the fire to be out
                        because I am sure I had no words

when the fire inhaled, doubled,
            spilled toward me, skimmed across
                        the inside of my arms

as I lifted the thing that burned.
Then it was out. Extinguished.           
            Sodden in the kitchen sink.

I wonder now when I would have chosen
            to abandon the kitchen.  The house.
The book with the dog-eared page.

How high would the flames have needed to be?
            How intense the heat, angry and consuming?
                        Or a child I needed to save?

Fire. Slur. Scuffle. 
            One small thing.
                        Fueled.  Repeated. Escalated.

Fight the fire or flee.
            And no time to take anything
                        with us.

© Beth Feldman Brandt, 2017

Friday, November 25, 2016

Just Announced! RetroLove at World Cafe Live (Watch a Preview)

If you missed RetroLove in June, want to see it again (and bring your friends), or have always wanted to visit Philly, here is your chance.  Tickets are now on sale for  Sunday, February 12th at 5:00 pm (doors open for food and drink at 4:00) at World Cafe Live, the coolest of the cool Philly clubs.  Watch this trailer and see just a taste of the show.

Still to come, RetroLove: The Album and if you are in the mood to snuggle up with some warm words, you can still buy RetroLove: The Book.

Meanwhile, I am heading to Ragdale, an artist retreat in Chicago to see what poetry is lurking post-RetroLove.  I will report back.

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Wow!  Two sold-out houses and standing ovations for RetroLove: The Show here in Philadelphia thanks to Philadelphia Jazz Project and my stellar collaborators Monnette Sudler and Joilet Harris.

I have to say that I was more than a tad nervous to make the leap from page to stage but it was so gratifying to feel the audience join us on this RetroLove journey.  Stay tuned for an upcoming video and record (!) thanks to PhillyCAM and Turtle Studios.

In the meantime, if you loved the show or missed the show, you can make your own RetroLove happen by getting the book.   (There is a bonus poem or two that were not in the show.)  RetroLove is about being in that retro moment but also looking back, with kindness, for our younger selves.

If you RetroLove it, you can buy the book here.  Thanks to Greenleaf Poetry Press and Deidra Greenleaf Allen, publisher and designer extraordinaire.

In My Life

I wake up early.
  I used to love to sleep all day,
  now I love the highlighting behind the trees
  and the quiet when even the dog is asleep.
I miss midnight.

I make my tea steeped from loose leaves
  with the last tiny bit of honey
  in the jar from the farmer’s market --
  even when it’s hard, it is still sweet.
I miss dark coffee at midnight.

I listen to the morning news as I
  brush my teeth and sometimes in the mirror
  I look like a different person,
  but not half bad when I smile.

I don’t miss the ‘feed me, get dressed,
  don't forget...I missed the bus.’
I don’t rush out the door like I used to.
  I have more time -- and less.

I wake up early
  so I can curl myself around you
  say wake up, it’s a new day, baby,
  a gift.

(c) Beth Feldman Brandt 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

RetroLove goes live!

RetroLove is rockin'!

RetroLove: The Book is on the way to the printer and dates are set for RetroLove: The Show.

Monnette Sudler, Philly's first lady of jazz, is the composer and Music Director.  Actor/singer Joilet Harris is ready to take you to all kinds of retro moments.  Add a hot jazz band and we are on our way.

You can pre-order the book and buy tickets to the show on June 29th and 30th at the newly renovated Drake Theatre in Philadelphia.  Plus read a cool interview about the show at Philadelphia Jazz Project.

Check it out on my new website.  Oh yeah.

Monday, January 25, 2016

My Poems in Haiku-Year-In Review 2015

I am so honored to be chosen again for inclusion in the Haiku-Year-in-Review by Broadsided Press. Print it.  Post it in your favorite coffee shop, over the microwave at the office, on a bus shelter.  My haiku, heartbreaking and heartfelt, focus on the Charleston Shooting and the Syrian refugee crisis.

Read the poems here, as well as brief a tribute to my aunt, Pat Komarow whose full, but too short, life inspires my daily haiku practice