Caryatids Discovery to the Max | Adrienne Stevenson


it must be hard to be a man
no, wait—what am I saying?
that’s the old story
from the other half of the sky
the thunder clouds and tornadoes

laughter at the unclothed emperors
exposure of their weakness:
how is that harder to take
than the centuries of servitude,
social cages, sub-human status,
eons of denied personhood?

they say: not all men
as if that meant anything to us
we say: me too, all women
finally, we use our voices
finally, someone is listening
we listen to ourselves

Peter Wilkin ©2022


children's eyes open wider 
see more possibilities
colours brightest
shapes malleable
flavours pungent
textures novel
music expansive
every sensation honed
to its finest peak

children create their own rituals
find meaning in small things
until adults, institutions
constrain, crush them
insist they conform to some norm
unperceivable by open eyes
paths leading only to darkness
constricted ways of thinking
opportunities forever lost

what could the world be
if we loosened those bounds
guided with kindness
steered gently, by example
fostered knowledge, understanding
in place of indoctrination
ignorance, lies-to-children?

a better place, I think
a discovery worth making

To The Max

Maximillian had a million maxims
He was full of aphorisms,
a proverb for every occasion
It was axiomatic that,
if someone asked a question,
Maximillian would provide
a truism, by way of answer.

It happened that, one day,
Maximillian stumbled upon
a question for which
he could find no ready answer:
What is truth? He pondered long
in search of the magic formula
that would satisfy.

Finally, Maximillian sought
help from others, a revolution
in his narrow world.
Observed fact, said the scientist.
Received wisdom, said the preacher.
Error's opposite, said the teacher.
Whatever I say, said his mother.

Maximillian found
none of these solutions
satisfactory -- today's facts
could be modified by new
discoveries, doctrine was merely
hearsay, he could avoid error 
and oppose one saying with another.

Perhaps, he concluded, the best
way to define truth
would be the absence of lies.
It was much easier to spot
someone lying than discern
innate truthfulness. A negative
view but a practical one.

Maximillian dumped all
million maxims into the well
of oblivion, where they sank
unnoticed and unregretted.
He determined to think
for himself, rather than
let others think for him.

©2022 Adrienne Stevenson
All rights reserved

Adrienne Stevenson…

…(she/her) lives in Ottawa, Ontario. A retired forensic scientist and Pushcart-nominated poet, she writes in many genres. Her poetry has appeared in more than forty print and online journals and anthologies in Canada, the USA, the UK, and Australia. When not writing, Adrienne tends a large garden, reads voraciously, and procrastinates playing several musical instruments.

Canadanarchy | Adrienne Stevenson


nobody could have predicted this
one existential challenge drops on top of another

much like the weather, seeing farther
than three days ahead seems unlikely

each time we think we have it sussed
events transpire to prove us wrong

even the birds couldn’t sing
drowned out by blaring horns

what winter's chill couldn't still
harsh diesel fumes conquered

cardinals, woodpeckers, sparrows
crows—all fled upwind to peace

wings gave them ability to flee
what human residents endured

Mob Rule, Ottawa 2022

the urge to do something positive overwhelms me
cabin fever drives me outside to winter's chill
I am greeted by diesel fumes and honking horns
an air-raid siren blares above them—deafening

holders of extreme, selfish views, from far and wide
descended on our city—we were warned
but prior groups had all been civilized
demonstrated, made their point and gone away

a vociferous minority, much less than one percent
holds hostage our daily lives, those in need
unable to obtain necessities or support
invaders speak of freedom while ensuring our captivity

our common enemies cannot be seen
neither the virus that has upended all our lives
nor the shambles we have created of the planet
so some lash out at targets they can comprehend

mythology they follow designed to bolster 
sorry egos that desire power but warrant it not
the freedom they request applies only to them
they would deny it to the rest of us

how do a few coerce the many? 
a question well-known in history
—expedient collaborators in the halls of power
emerge to take photo-ops—follow the money

augmenting the insult, local officialdom seems paralysed
police infiltrated by those of similar ideology
fearing to lose their privilege, feeling threatened
from all sides—women, minorities, the other

around the clock abuse accumulates with impunity
pets terrorized by fireworks augment the noise
local citizens the only ones fined or arrested
the insurrectionists enabled at every turn

driven by blind hatred or driven to take a stand?
when people blockade our streets, hold knives, clubs, guns
fully prepared to wield them against the innocent
do fine distinctions matter?

if we must descend into anarchy, for all our sins
against each other and the world, it would be easier
to bear if it was a natural disaster that sent us there
and not our fellow, imperfect human beings

lungs suffocated by fumes, ears deadened by cacophony
eyes weeping over obstruction and assault
I withdraw into my warm haven, to grieve democracy
not knowing when or if my positive outlook will return

Trust Fund for Tomorrow

a change of world is coming
we cannot stop it or even interfere
without precipitating its arrival
—it has been on its way a long time

symptoms of the upheaval
pile up daily—society's fringes
restless, rumbling, ranting
chanting conspiracy theories

will we avoid the lawlessness
that so often accompanies change?
our eroded infrastructure
might not cope with turmoil

I take heart in my fellows
whose forebears endured war
disease, oppression, hate
survived, remained strong

we are the world's trust fund
we are the reservoir of courage
we will resist anarchy, those who would
tear us down, and we will rise

©2022 Adrienne Stevenson
All rights reserved

Adrienne Stevenson…

…is a Canadian living in Ottawa, Ontario. A retired forensic scientist, when not writing, she tends a large garden. Her poetry has appeared in more than thirty print and online publications in Canada, the USA, the UK, and Australia, most recently in Bywords, The Elpis Pages, Silver Apples, WordCityLit and The BeZine.

Equatorial City | Adrienne Stevenson

in the dense, hot city, they huddle in corners
near-perpendicular rays find them
they scuttle, like spiders, scrawny limbs
on bloated bodies, seeking shade

it evades them as all comforts do 
they pray knowing prayer is futile
but they have nothing else in this world
where plenty abounds, food, clothing

a mockery of their rags, empty bellies
time approaches for choice of gang
when grandmothers can no longer cope
always knowing someone will come

drag them away to darker corners
where, for the right money, anything
might happen, unspeakable things
no child should ever know

©2021 Adrienne Stevenson
All rights reserved

Winnowings | Adrienne Stevenson

Scattered seeds caress the ground
stalks wither in harvest's wake
breezes blow the chaff around

—it swirls, then falls without sound
uncaptured by the reaper's rake
scattered seeds caress the ground

Silent gleaners then are found
scraping to ease hunger's ache
breezes blow the chaff around

Hungry mouths; eyes opaque
losing hope and ever bound
scattered seeds caress the ground

Greedy misers still abound
they cannot eat all they take
breezes blow the chaff around

Brash philosophers expound
dreams wither; hearts break
scattered seeds caress the ground
breezes blow the chaff around

©2021 Adrienne Stevenson
All rights reserved

Consumed | Adrienne Stevenson

And when we have burned up our resources, what then?
Humanity, for all its shining intelligence
seems just barely bright enough
to cauterize its own habitat
scorching Earth

My optimism evaporates faster with each passing day
the seething cauldron of our hubris and greed
boils, then quenches my passion
nearly extinguishes
my spirit

Envision the world after the next hundred years are spent
We won't be here to suffer the damage done
if people still inhabit the planet
in appreciable numbers
they will hunger
and thirst

Turning back the clock is not an option for anyone, anywhere
though our current swindlers would wish it so
beating down, smothering thoughts
corroding all they touch
us all

©2021 Adrienne Stevenson
All rights reserved

Posted in General Interest, Pushcart Prize Nominees

The BeZine Announces Pushcart Nominations

Kat Patton

The Editorial Team
The BeZine

proudly announces
our nominations
for this year’s

Pushcart Prizes!

From Spring 2021

“Fierce Wind” by Subhaga Crystal Bacon — ToC title: “Before the Plague…”

One Woman Leads to Another” by Judy DeCroce —

From Summer 2021 — 

“Shoulder-to-Shoulder” by Roger Hare —ToC: B-Side Shoulders | 2 poems

“Imperfect Tense” by Darrell Petska —ToC: Imperfect Willow Why

From Fall 2021

Consumed” by Adrienne Stevenson

Nowadays” by Melodie Corrigall

In 2018 Jamie Dedes, our founding editor of blessed memory, planned to nominate writers for our issues to the Pushcart Prize. For reasons of her declining health, and by late 2018 my own emerging health issues that turned out to be lymphoma, we did not manage to make those nominations. Or, if Jamie did, I have not found an indication of it and don’t recall it. Three years later, after Jamie’s passing and my own treatment and recuperation from lymphoma, not to mention the (ongoing) pandemic…we have what I believe are our first Pushcart nominations.

We found the selection process difficult, because so many of the contributions to The BeZine this year have been powerful, strong writing. We can only nominate six. We feel honored to have had so many good choices to select from, and with respect for the many not named above, we are honored to present the six pieces listed above as our Pushcart Prize nominees. The BeZine wishes all of the writers well in the Pushcart Press selection process.

Next year, we will do this again.

On behalf of the rest of the editorial team, who supported and participated in the selection process:

John Anstie, Associate Editor
Corina Ravenscraft, Art Editor
Chrysty Hendrick, Copy Editor

—Michael Dickel, Editor