FIRESTORM: A Rendering of Torah – a review/interview

Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah by Michael H. Brownstein
Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah by Michael H. Brownstein

As an occasional Critic, I find it rather difficult to compose such a stellar review on a topic that is quite unforeign to many of us now referring to Michael H. Brownstein’s latest chapbook Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah which is a collection of poems regarding the insurgence of the 1948 war against the Palestinians; poems beautifully penned, vividly detailed, and indisputably compelling.  But in order to give such a review without adding insult to injury particularly on a subject I [honestly] knew nothing of only up until recently when this chapbook was presented to me, I instead decided to go to the source himself and transcend this review rather into an interview by inquiring several questions as to give the audience a more personal insight to Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah and why the author chose to write about it. 


1.)     Michael, what inspired you to write Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah?                         




All of my life I have been taught Israel was right and everyone else—the Arabs, the Palestinians—were wrong. It was cut and dry. Though I’m not a Zionist (and never was)—and I am Jewish—I never really believed Israel was above the law and everything that went into making this tiny Jewish state was positive. I did hold the belief that Israel came about because it was fighting for its very life. Then I read Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (W.W. Norton, 1993), by Carolyn Forché, The section on the 1948 war amazed me. I did not know or even understand that any of this could have possibly happened. Yes, perhaps against the British—but innocent Palestinians? No.




So I began researching. Could Forché be making this up? I knew due to her reputation that she wasn’t. The more I got into it, the more disconcerted—if that can be the word—I became. We had just come from a major Holocaust and now we were doing the same kinds of things we said “Never Again” to the Palestinians. The further I got, the more energized, the more passionate, the more angry at all of the lies I had been fed (and believed)—and finally I knew I had to let others know. So I took my passion for poetry, my research on the 1948 war that began after reading Forché’s book, and combined them to make this book. I who had lived behind a shadow all of these years decided no one else should have to. Truth has power. Poetry, too, has power. The making of Firestorm became a passion I could not put out.




2.)     Did you possess personal knowledge and/or experience which inspired you to write Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah?




Simple answer: No. I just could not believe Israel could develop out of such falsehoods, the rewriting of history and, well, downright lies. Did you know on many maps—particularly maps in the Middle East—Israel is called Occupied Palestine?




3.)     Or did you know any of the MC’s in your poetry and prose to inspire such a write?




Once again, no, I just learned all about this about a year ago when I read the section in Forché’s book. Before then, no, I thought all atrocities were against the British by the Jews or the Palestinians against the Jews. I never thought the Jews could be capable of harming others the way they had just been harmed—World War II was only three years in the past. I could not believe leaders of the new Israel considered themselves the first and best terrorists. I could not believe men got away with atrocities and became leaders of this new nation while they were prosecuting Germans for crimes against humanity. I could not believe how hypocritical Israel was. The more I researched, the more I knew this story had to be told.




4.)     What was your purpose in writing Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah?




To begin a discussion on the issues of what the 1948 war caused. To correct the rewriting of history. To show the other side of the story in much of its gruesome detail. To begin a real dialog between two people who are both Semitic, but cannot sit down and talk peace. To make Israel acknowledge their wrongs and make them make them right. To change the view of Zionism. To help the Palestinians regain what they lost.




5.)      Do you think much has changed since then?




Unfortunately, I feel we are moving backwards. The Palestinians are maintained in the world’s oldest refugee camps and they are still treated badly. It’s time for a change and I actually have hopes that people reading Firestorm will want to engage and dialog in making these changes come to be. 



For those of you who have yet to read Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah and wish to read it in its entirety, you can find the chapbook here:


Enclosing, Michael would very much like to thank his editor and publisher, Russell Streur of the Camel Saloon who supported the project and felt very strongly that Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah should be published. Michael also goes on to add that he is very glad Russell had the guts and the determination to work with him on this important (in which he feels) project.


I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the author himself for allowing me to inquire these valid questions and for the manner in which he answered them in.  And I too strongly feel that if I had not taken the route I have taken with Firestorm:  A Rendering of Torah this review/interview would have never came about.  Thank you, Michael.



Devlin De La Chapa-

Editor, BoySlut 

Foodstamps For Pets? Goldfish!. . .musing & poem

So foodstamps for pets?  Hmm. . .now while I would normally find humor in this (and only if this were a much stable economy) I actually sympathize.  According to Bloomberg, ‘foodstamps for pets’ is currently in circulation.  While many or most might frown on the idea because it will now cost the taxpayer that much more money, it’s actually a good idea.


How, one or you might ask?


Well consider the housing market. . .and I don’t give a damn how much the President claims the housing market is stabilizing because it isn’t. . .I have seen more For Sale and For Lease signs sign-stamped on the fronts of lawns more than I’ve seen Going Out Of Business or Business Closed signs stamped on glass windows! 


Okay, back to the housing market. . .


While many homeowners were or are making their move into apartments and rentals, more and more pets have or are being left behind because their owners can or could no longer afford to feed them as many or most homeowners can barely afford to feed themselves much less their families.  While the cost of food keeps going up and up, so is pet food.  I look at this ‘foodstamp for pets’ as a strategic move as it is just that. . .‘Strategic’ because it will allow owners the opportunity(ies) to keep their pets instead of abandoning them or dropping them off at the local pound.


Does that make Sense?  I think it does, only if you’re a pet owner.  But then again if you’re not a pet owner, you will find this idea utterly Senseless and costly.


Damn, can’t win for losing!  Enjoy my poem. . .






I woke up one morning

to an empty place with

an abundance of space

for the life of me I could not fill. 


So these walls suddenly became

the material, the immaterial

the existent, the non-existent;

I was buried within.


Yet, no one knew or cared

to consider me lost

no flyers, no milk cartons, no billboards

not a trace of my importance existed.


I was dead


Or was I?


This is how it starts:


She yells, you yell.

She threatens to leave, you leave.

She takes the dog, you take the cat.

She calls a lawyer, you represent yourself.


Then, the dog runs away with the cat

‘cause it considered you two morons.

And her lawyer screws the hell out of you

because you like screwing women.


And that’s how it ends.


Now back to these walls.


I’m alive again.


My space needs a woman’s touch

then I remembered, ‘No it doesn’t,

it needs a man’s touch, goddamnit!’

so I leave these walls blank.


I take a ride out to IKEA

since every single divorced man tends to shop there

sorting through colors, patterns, lamps,

things square and oval and all around boring.


But after two hours of trying to recover things lost,

things I care not to buy, I say ‘Fuck it!’

and storm out the store to the store next door

and buy what every man should buy after a divorce:


A goldfish.

(pub2011 in DS)

Politics and Prostitution…rant & poem

Well another day, and nothing really to say or add except for America is going to hell in a handbag!  The fiscal cliff keeps cliffing.  Political differences and issues are now threatning the FDA to go on furlough so the cost of meat, poultry, vegetables, eggs, milk, etc. etc. are all going to sky rocket in prices if nothing is resolved by March 1st, so stock up.  Government employees are facing potential pink slips.  Just the other day I saw a sign screaming “Depression Rates”.  And one of my kuzis (I think that’s the way you spell ‘Kuzi’?) once read:  “It’s a Recession when the other guy loses his job.  It’s a Depression when you lose yours.” 

You know the Mayans never predicted that the world was ever going to end (thank Hollywood for that) but merely predicted big changes were to come.  So are they here now?  Where is Nostradamus by the way, or Superman for that matter? 

Need to go back and see Phil Collins/Genesis videos.

In the meantime here’s another poem. . .this one dedicated to the Sexual Politics of America!  Enjoy!




The Prostitute


Across the conferences she lays to bade foreign

nations wielding pens mightier than swords

bleed the predatorial beast beneath red-top masses;


the sovereign of exchanged currencies

exorcising their gluttonies within her are but

a mere promised farce, an anti-cleansing of impure hands-


she is the shameless populace of God’s right hand,

the echo of a prostituted nation

for at his feet, she weeps

Unit Core God Uterus

Black Listed Thoughts in a little black book by poet Mike Meraz. . .I had a black listed thought that consisted of abortion and your right to bear arms but somewhere along the way my uterus got shot down, and sustained two bullets from an AZ political drive-by thuggette who wants to prosecute the women responsible for aborting an unwanted child as it might be considered “evidence tampering”.  What kind of America are we living in when a woman has sex or is a victim of rape/incest and SHE becomes the criminal?  Okay, bad question.  Okay, I love my guns.  I have a 12 gage double-barrel action-pump Magnum Express shotgun adored by the ATF; a Smith & Wesson 6 slug revolver; and a Semi-Automatic Springer double-shot handgun.  Now I’m looking to buy a BAR 1918 as well as a Corner Shot rifle. . .all in the name to protect my Unit Core God Uterus.  I have a daughter, and I weep for her future as I fear a pre-communist uterus country unfolding with her uterus being held captive by the Gyno-Government.

So I put together a list of things to do for your uterus before and after trying it out:


0.  Paragraph A-Do abstain from sex.  Paragraph B-This excludes nymphs.

1.  Do keep your uterus clean and fetus free, see #0, Paragraph A.

2.  Hang a “Do Not Enter” sign on your vagina.

3.  Do not smile at the bartender as he may think you’re interested and spikes your drink.

4.  Have a sit down between your uterus, your vagina, and the 33 Degrees Delegates and ask what their POV’s are on this political uterus/abortion war.

5.  Have your tubes tied at the onset of your birth.

6.  Build a prison inside your uterus for sperm-victs.

7.  Talk to your great-grandmother, your true Ob-Gyn

8.  Do not self-abort with hot water, that is so 1950’s or is it 60’s?

9.  If you have to abort, take a high-ranking political rep and hold he/she hostage with extreme prejudice, then negotiate through a bullhorn, “Either the rep gets it or the fetus?”

All in all, I think women should be left to their own devices (and I don’t mean IUD’s, but speaking of IUD’s. . .):  Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, Roe Vs. Wade, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Sex, rape, incest should not even be an issue with abortion as this is America and should always be a right like a right to bear arms, and all that And Justice For All crap.  Now back to the IUD. . .I need to have my IUD replaced!  And I’m really hoping my Ob-Gyn doesn’t ask:  Copper or plastic? ‘cause I just might answer:  A Hysterectomy, please!