Friday, April 24, 2015

Lisa B's (Lisa Bernstein's) version of "What's New, Pussycat?" on YouTube

My version of the ever-delightful Bacharach/David song "What's New, Pussycat?" came out in 2006 on the album of the same name, subtitled "Tunes and Tales About Cool Cats." 

I recently put the tune up on You Tube with the marvelous CD cover Julie Ann Yuen created. I've neglected to post about it here, though. 

What better time to think of all things pussycat than the warming days of April? (Don't you want to go out and lie in the sun, stretching your paws?)

As the All Music Guide puts it, "Bernstein uses the word cat as a metaphor — as hipster/beatnik/bebop slang — and she is really singing about human situations… from Bernstein’s own material to an intriguing arrangement of Graham Nash’s 'Our House,' 'What's New, Pussycat?' is infectious…memorable, and clever.” 

You can read more press about the record here (scroll down):

If you'd like to own the track (and I'd be grateful for your support and the knowledge of your reliably ongoing pleasure), you can get it here: (mp3s and higher-quality digital files as well as actual CDs) or here:

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

the poem "Genesis" by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

"Genesis" appeared in Caliban Online #4 (2o11). The online Caliban is a resurrected version of Larry Smith's imaginative hard-copy Caliban magazine of the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. It in many ways was a successor to kayak, the groundbreaking magazine edited by George Hitchcock, who was one of my professors at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Caliban went on to publish a range of esteemed, exploratory writers ( Now, Caliban Online describes itself as" an internationally recognized literary and arts magazine featuring avant-garde writing" and other media, notably visual art. I'm honored to have had a number of poems in three different issues.

This one belongs to a group of my poems exploring Biblical themes and characters. Mild warning: it's not quite "safe for work." 


Face down on the green and brown bed
I put my hand under my pelvis
and feel the bone plowing a little, like a plow into the earth.

I can’t redo the Garden of Eden,
can’t recreate the errors, the judgment, the rows of plants and herbs,
the animals mutely watching God’s imposter

“the Lord” consign man and woman to post and field.
But I feel the original bone tip
meeting the earth through my palm’s flesh.

The bone wants to fuck in sorrow and rage
as if to plow up earth’s punishment like sod and copper.
And my hand nuzzles and takes

the heated plowing from my body.
And the plowing is so strong I smell the wet earth,
the parted moist ground,

the mist rising from where Adam’s old plow entered,
melting into manna and gold honey in my hand.
And as I close my eyes to the brown and green bed

and the sweat of my brow, I see the creamy, withered pages
of the false Lord’s creation
ignite and burn above my head.

The beings who sang at the true creation of the world
stand witness again,
their faces recalling the face of the God

who hovered over the waters.
I come into my hand
and breathe out a mist

which rests on my face,
my own face,
like God’s, the one I know.

copyright 2011 Lisa Bernstein (aka Lisa B)

Monday, April 6, 2015

poem "The Yoke" by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

Most of the poems in my current unpublished poetry manuscript, "The Rhythm of Forgiveness," have been published separately, in literary magazines or other types of periodicals. I've been wanting to start posting these poems here.

In this Biblical season, "The Yoke" seems a good place to start.

This poem appeared in the wonderful magazine Lilith, in its spring 1999 issue. The same issue featured a second poem by me, to come in a later blog post.

Along with featuring a poem or two, Lilith covers a wide range of topics. Here's how it describes itself: "Independent, Jewish & frankly feminist since 1976, Lilith magazine charts Jewish women's lives with exuberance, rigor, affection, subversion and style." What's not to like? (I'm tempted to adopt those last five qualities as my personal writer's mission.) 

"The Yoke" also appeared in the July 1996 issue of the monthly newspaper Psychic Reader, which was published for many years by the Berkeley Psychic Institute, where I first trained as a clairvoyant reader.

The Yoke

Somebody’s yoke around my neck—
how can I think about God now
and what a kvetch he became in Genesis?

He walked there calling for Adam.
Then the verses fell down like a ladder on the dirt
smashing all that had been planted.
Adam stopped to be yelled at

but the actual Adam was off somewhere else
dancing and fornicating with Eve.

About all the pain and suffering that followed—
was it worth the neat rows of vegetables,
each with a picture-name?

I’m more interested in the snake in the dust
and the shimmering pyramids.
The goddess that came before them
shaking her stiff serpent at the tree.

I’m as tired of the One Dad God as he was with his trying children.
Let the cypresses be trees in my hungry city,
let the dusty roads be my littered streets.
God, this agreement to plow and to plead—
it’s enough already, don’t you think?

And this yoke—take it.
Go on without me
rearranging yourself, green into red
into blue. I feel better already.
I forgive you too.

copyright 1996 Lisa Bernstein (aka Lisa B)