Azrael’s Wings


poems by

Karol A. Neufeld

Part of the MSR Author’s Choice Chapbook Series 
     (published by recommendation of another Main Street Rag author)

ISBN: 978-59948-529-4, 38 pages, cover price: $8

Projected Release date: April, 2015

KNeufeld_Px_BookstoreKarol A. Neufeld

After teaching elementary school for twenty-six years, Karol Neufeld left the field of education to pursue other creative interests. She has recently completed a history/memoir about her Polish-Jewish father-in-law’s family. Her poetry has been published in International Poetry Review, Bay Leaves, Pinesong, Seven Hills Review, and two anthologies of Greensboro writers. She is a member of the North Carolina Poetry Society and North Carolina Writers’ Network and has participated in many of its workshops, as well as Miami Dade College Writer’s Institute, Anjail Rashida Ahmad’s year-long The Fractured Writer course, and Colrain Manuscript Conference. A dedicated traveler, reader, and collage artist, Karol lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with her husband John and dog Roxie.

Recommended for publication by Alice Osborn:

In Azrael’s Wings, Karol Neufeld confronts death and grief head-on, suggesting these inevitable journeys of the human condition can be considered a gift: “We collect our dead/in memory, preserving what we need to live.” But the reality is that no one is fully prepared for that knock on the door from the Angel of Death. Thanks to Neufeld’s keen eye for imagery, the details of navigating her family’s multiple deaths from the Holocaust to old age honor what we do our best to ignore as “we keep in our hearts what death tries to take.” Through her often painful reverential tones and brave language (“Fight back and be broken;/beauty lies in giving way”), Neufeld recognizes what scares all of us while giving comfort to survivors who wish to remember their dead “as they were before, before we knew about the wind/and water that engulfed them.”

What She Doesn’t Know


She’s only nineteen, newly wed,
bridal bouquet brought all the way
from Louisville: three-foot waterfall
of fragrance almost as dazzling
as her smile. How could he not
have wanted to coax her away
from the others? What a handsome
couple they make. They’ll honeymoon,
come back home, start a family.
He’ll go to work, she’ll love him,
birth two sons. Youthful, shining,
how can she know, in seven years
she’ll sit beside his July bed
hour after antiseptic hour
and watch him, car-crushed, die?
Her roses will turn funereal,
she will always shrink from the smell.


What I Want

for my mother-in-law

Any minute now I’ll hear
your slippers scuff around
the corner, see your white hair
curlered pink for the night,
cigarette dangling from lips still
a little rosy from the day.

Any minute now when I ask
you’ll tell me again how you like
the silverware in the dishwasher,
tines on the forks up or down,
plates facing left or right, bowls
on the top shelf or bottom. I forget.

Any minute now I’ll ask where
you keep his favorite recipes.
Your husband doesn’t like my food.
He, your son and I are circling
each other like lost planets
in the solar system of your house.

You’re not supposed to be dead,
neck snapped by a teenager
hurrying his car over the hill.
You’re supposed to be here, where
any minute you’ll come around
the corner, telling me what to do.


Jimi and Janis


He seduced the strings, howled
feedback at the sun, oozed predator
desire from every pore, unleashed
psychedelic mystery into drug-hazed air.
Passion and power went into overdrive.
She discovered her pain before her voice,
dressed it in velvet and put it on display.
She kissed the microphone, opened
the veins of her throat and wailed her misery
in rasping tones; we hung on every note.
Woodstock 1969, those still around
were muddy, tired, coming down
when he ambled onstage, banded hair
black and billowing, long leather fringe
white and sinewy against brown skin.
Bracelets like amulets up her arms,
necklaces to hang her hopes around,
she danced on the stage, wrenching
out songs, shot them like bullets straight
at our hearts. She let us take pieces of hers.
Flashing a peace sign to the crowd,
he exploded those dirty white stars
out of their dark blue field.
Let the stripes on the banner
wave for something besides war.
Her honeyed voice had thorns;
she testified and we said amen.
She flung out her frizzy hair,
baptized herself with pellets of sweat,
embalmed herself with SoCo and smack.

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