As for the Kiss / Doris Ferleger


As for the Kiss

poems by

Doris Ferleger

ISBN: 978-1-59948-915-5, 88 pages, $15 (+ shipping)

Projected Release Date: June 21, 2022

The Advance Sale Discount price for this title has expired. Those who prefer to pay by check, the price is $19/book (which includes shipping) and should be sent to: Main Street Rag, PO BOX 690100, Charlotte, NC 28227-7001. 


Doris Ferleger, MFA, Ph.D., poet laureate emeritus of Montgomery County PA, and winner of the New Millennium Poetry Prize, New Letters Poetry, Songs of Eretz Prize, and the AROHO CNF Prize, among others, is the author of three full-length poetry books, including Big Silences in a Year of Rain, (finalist for the Alice James Books Beatrice Hawley Award), As the Moon Has Breath, and Leavened, and a chapbook entitled When You Become Snow. Her work has been published in numerous journals including Cortland Review, Delmarva Review, and Poet Lore.

At once spiritual and sensual, these poems embody a grounded, almost Talmudic wisdom by exploring intimacy at many levels and with remarkable courage—erotic intimacy, yes, but also the sacred elements of caring for a dying spouse, the deep connection of a mother and son, the breakage and repair wrought by new relationships—and above all, a quest to embrace the tenacious needs of the body and heart and the lightness of being that may await in another realm. ~Leslie Ullman


In As for the Kiss we are often deposited in medias res of a story or relationship, and that is the key to the intimacy of these poems. The imagery and turns inside each are loaded with metaphor like a trusty backpack, every syllable with a purpose and worth our attention. Each poem is an open door that leaves you tactilely engaged with the words while emotionally engaged with the subject, like being immersed in a new and beautiful wilderness. ~Grant Clauser, author of Muddy Dragon on the Road to Heaven, winner of the Codhill Press Poetry Award


This wise and brave collection explores the shifting seasons of love and loss, the elusive nature of happiness, and the journey to become more comfortable with unknowing, “the way I foolishly imagine I know/myself…/So little one human knows of another./So little we know of ourselves.” The speaker returns again and again to the eternal wisdom of the body and the deep understanding that “we are the brokenness/and also the beauty—/of repair.” ~Liz Chang, author of Animal Nocturne



Come, you whisper
into the receiver. I run

down the triple switchback,
don’t stop to lift the fallen

fleece glove, find you
seizing, shivering, slumped

silent on a snow-covered rock
or massive tree roots. I can’t tell.

(Months later I will seek the spot.)
A shroud of snowflakes covers

your too thin blue jacket.
(How did I let you wear only that?)

911 sends a seatless firetruck
instead of the ambulance I called for.

Let’s go home. Let’s go home, you whisper.
(I hate not knowing what’s best.)

A random hiker retrieves the glove.
In exchange I hand over our keys.

She will run to the lot, forge
back up Forbidden Drive,

her two goldens panting, smiling,
circling, leaving

paw prints all over
our cognac-colored seats—

our lives—changing
hourly—in heavy snow.




When God said, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:3), the light that came into being filled the darkness, and ten holy vessels came forth, each filled with primordial light. ~How “the Ari” Created a Myth and Transformed Judaism


The Ari, blind mystic, could see
the fleet of ten thousand clear vessels,

each carrying one infinitesimal drop
of holy light into every corner of every galaxy.

Each blinding drop of light
contained inside its own vessel

could not touch any other light.
The situation became untenable.

The thousand vessels shattered.
Sparks like seeds and stars, scattered.

Some say it was the vessels’ fault,
each too weak to contain its own

holy light. Others say it was our human need
for night, or God’s need to go dark on us

so we would have to seek out every spark,
every ember that flew across space

and settled into the corners
of every inside, every outside.

I say the reason the vessels shattered
was because God knew my loneliness,

my need to touch the light and silken
or grassy fields of a new love’s chest and belly.





I had left
my mouth already and all the words
I had ever spoken
floated like green glass bottles
on the shoreline of your world,
the world I was leaving.
You were right to be afraid.
But not of death or the smell of death
or the gaunt and strange face
I had become. You loved me
more than you could
bear if you had come any closer.





Two days at most, the doctor on call says. He looks grave.
I believe him. Our son sets himself up on the leatherette couch beside you. His heart and lungs need to breathe you in.
Only one very small window here.

Spent and ragged, I head home alone. Visiting Angel
Nurses no longer needed. Do I trust you’ll still be
alive tomorrow or hope I won’t have to watch
your breath stop?

Morning brings me back. I ask your forgiveness
for any and all I have done to hurt you. You nod.
I offer forgiveness for any and all…
though nothing unfinished comes to mind.

Samara soulful niece, who calls on ancestral spirits
to help you ascend unimpeded, bears witness.
Samara, raped at gunpoint in a Bed Sty elevator—
knows a lot about forgiveness.

In the lounge, her mom cooks from scratch her sweet
potato survival soup. Maybe it helps our son’s prediction
come true—that you’d surely outlive the doctor’s sentence
by months or more: You know dad never follows doctors’ orders.

Andrea drapes a prayer flag across the tiny square window.
Our son will place the prayers over his own wide window after.
Andy, Manny, Gita and Ron come with flutes, didgeridoos,
slit drums. They play in the lounge not to disturb the taut

fibers in your irradiated brain. In the lounge, Andy’s flute
and Ron’s staccato taps on the hollows of his steel drum
call me to dance a death rattle dance in the narrow space
before the lounge’s strange electric fire.

SKU: 978-1-59948-915-5 Categories: , Tag: