Posted in General Interest, interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Invisible Fog | Eve Otto

Invisible Fog

Many years ago, people said "Radio waves are harmful"
100 years later, the list of 'waves' is rather scary
     radio, television, GPS, shortwave, WiFi, smart phones,
     computers, transmitters, smart meters, satellite dishes, 
like walking running through an invisible fog 
computer and cell phone reception on Mt. Everest.
How rare to live in a remote canyon or valley 'off the grid'
to live in a house with no TV, cell phone computer tablet 
no smart meters for electric usage bills
numbers received in a hand held device 20 feet or more away 
miniature transmitters sending number signals constantly 
no one needed to log in the numbers by hand
     Perhaps there are faraway places in jungles
     North and South Poles, remote islands 
     having considerably less amounts of media frenzy 
     no electricity for smart meters and microwave ovens
Now, in public schools with WiFi beamed in, not hard wired 
school children having headaches, difficulty concentrating 
     plus other various costs of the computer age 
     and advanced civilization…
Mt Everest with “Invisible Fog”
Drawing ©2023 jsburl

©2023 Eve Otto
All rights reserved

Eve Otto

…lives in Chichester NY. She is an artist, musician, and poet. She loves nature, and is always outside, doing gardening and lawn duties at eighty years young. She is a non-electronic gadget person, and proud of that. Books are her life, after art. She sells her artwork locally around Woodstock. She replies to all snail mail. Address is: 3 Rion Road, Chichester, NY 12416


The 2023 (Inter)National Poetry Month BeZine Blog Bash

Pastel of European Robin perched on a small branch by Tom Higgins ©2021
Art: European Robin, pastels, ©2021 Tom Higgins

Coyotes Voice Plastic | Eve Otto

Where Did the Coyotes Go

Moon Song, Sketch by jsburl

The Voice of Our Planet

In honor of and tribute to Greta Thunberg
Our planet cries "Help me, I die a slow death
  my heart is the air that all creatures must breathe
  my lungs are the forests cut down by mankin
  my stomach the ocean a slow dying space
  my body the earth and the changes it makes
  my head is mankind for the good or the bad
  my enemy pollution of chemical kinds
  my pets are all creatures that fight for their lives

I remember the last huge drastic die off
  the planet survived but only a few
  of all creatures survived that horrific event
  caused by the many volcanic eruptions
  debris in the air blocking sun from the earth
  as I watch global warming making more clouds
  as it makes glaciers melt and waters to rise
  but I hear Greta Thunberg appealing for help

She talks of her young people friends of her age
  16 year old's worrying about what they face
  as they grow watching changes that threaten their world
  and maybe there won't be a livable earth
  100 more years from today 
I pray that help isn't too little too late"

Before Plastic Bags

    Think 1950’s—Before Plastic Bags
There were cans of all sizes and shapes
Metal ones didn’t make trees get cut down

But plastic makes sturdy buckets that crack
     Brittle that needs to be thrown away
     And bags clogging oceans, killing ocean life
     Clogging and littering lands and waters

A pervasive habit almost impossible to break
     Thankfully replaced by recycled paper

©2023 Eve Otto
All rights reserved

Eve Otto…

…lives in Chichester NY. She is an artist, musician, and poet. She loves nature, and is always outside, doing gardening and lawn duties at eighty years young. She is a non-electronic gadget person, and proud of that. Books are her life, after art. She sells her artwork locally around Woodstock. To contact, she uses snail mail: 3 Rion Road, Chichester, NY 12416


Change by Spiritual Self-Development | Corine Beauseigneur

Humanity is certainly facing one of the greatest challenges this Earth has ever known. Indeed, by abusing the resources that are generously offered by our Mother Earth, by disturbing ecosystems and climates, by relentlessly destroying its environment, Human Beings have made life on Earth very difficult for all living creatures. Having lost their balance, the natural elements can no longer provide worldwide what people need to sustain our needs, and the various conflicts in the World are making the situation even worse.

I started to attend the Erasmus Foundation, a Spiritual teaching and healing Centre, based in Laxfield in England, when I was living in England in the 1980s; and today I continue to receive knowledge that helps me, in a certain measure, to understand what we are going through at present. I have been taught that this is the end of the 5th civilisation and that what happens today has got a meaning, because we are human spirits who came to live a life on this Earth that is a school. Maybe today I would even say that I see it as a laboratory where God, whom we call the Great Mind, our creator, allows us, his children, to make the worst mistakes with the aim to help us learn and grow spiritually accordingly, for is it not by making mistakes that we learn the best lessons in life?

Also, in the face of the collapse of our living environment, in the incomprehension when seeing all those who prefer to continue to reap financial profit without taking into account the dramatic consequences on the climate and the environment, what gives me strength is the acceptance that there is a force working upon me, a force with which I can meld, and the acceptance that in this wise force, things are as they ought to be.

God, whom we call the Great Mind, has not only created all that is living in the Universe but he designed a great plan for life, a great evolution plan where everyone has their place, and just the recognition that I belong to this plan tapestried by the Great Mind gives me peace in the acceptance that I am as the Creator made me and that I am where God wants me to be. Our Spirit teachers have also told us that this should not be the end of life on Earth but a very challenging time that gives Humanity the opportunity to evolve and grow in making the right choices. Thanks to Humankind’s efforts we should then move on to the 6th Civilisation.

Now, I do not think that I can change the World, I think that all I can change is myself, and there perhaps lies the key—that if many are wanting to make the effort to try to change themselves with the aim to change for the better, then perhaps the World will change for the better as a consequence.

Where to find the energy we need to change? Well that energy, don’t you think it is here inside all of us? As we are human spirits, our true self that is our spirit is here inside our body, which is just an envelope for this lifetime.

It is then in calming the brain through meditation that we can let our spirit surface, our spirit that is our link with the Great Mind, is our own little tiny crystal where all the strength we may need is available. It is just for us to search for it and to develop it. 

I also believe that anyone can pray. Personally, I pray to the Great Mind every morning to ask God to give me the strength and the courage to be as the Creator would like me to be; I am sure that help comes, if only one tries to help oneself. We all know that: “help yourself and heaven will help you.” From experience I know this to be true.

And perhaps the best way to fuel others’ engines of change could be by example?

Learning to fly
©2022 Daisy Tsvete

Now, certainly, the first step to start with is to search to know oneself. It is evident for all that we have got good qualities as well as flaws. We are humans and this is naturally part of our structure when being on Earth. Therefore, in analysing myself I can see my qualities and my flaws, and I can learn to accept them so that I can work through them, trying to diminish what I see that is not right. In looking closely at myself I can discover what needs to be polished, and I can try in an everyday manner to do what is needed to become a little better, a little more acceptable to others. I then start to feel more comfortable with myself, and then, feeling more comfortable with myself, I can feel more comfortable with others. In seeing and accepting my own flaws, I can then accept others’ flaws and differences; in understanding myself better, I can understand others and become more tolerant. At the Erasmus Foundation, we believe in the Great Mind and in reincarnation ,which is for us logic in an eternally developing life design, and realising that I have led many different lives before this one in different physical forms, cultures, colours, gives me tolerance, as well.

Also, in becoming more comfortable with myself, and with the help of meditation, I can gradually identify more with my spiritual dimension. I thus identify more with all living things and, as a consequence, in identifying myself with the Natural Law, I can feel a part of it, a part of Creation and in harmony with all that is living, all creatures, and the Earth itself. If many people develop self-respect and respect for the Living, in my eyes, this is a good way to see the World changing for the better one day.

Having seen it before, I believe as well that Man is so made that it is in front of adversity that he develops his best qualities, and this is the reason why I think that it is in facing even more serious problems that are to take place in the coming years—such as the financial crash, flooding, droughts, natural events and illnesses that some scientists have foreseen for some time now—that People will really search for this inner strength and also will link together to form groups to stand together in front of the difficulties of life and find solutions to move forward.

I believe in the Great Mind’s plan prepared for his children, and in the fact that he made us very resourceful creatures by giving us the tools and the ability to adapt and to become more resilient. It is up to us, and it is also perhaps in opening our eyes to the reality of this world of today and preparing ourselves individually as well as collectively when possible, that we’ll be able to cope and help each other through the time of turmoil that is ahead.

Digital Art, ©2022 Kat Patton

This is the reason why I have hope. In a way, I would rather say that I have great expectations for the future because, when Humanity will find itself, when People will recognise their true stature, rediscovering the most important part of Humanity is the human spirit, people will open their eyes in truth, will see all the mistakes made, and will be able to put all that went wrong back into balance. It will take time, for sure, but this mechanical age will gradually move over to the 6th Civilisation that will be much more spiritual, much more beautiful. Our teachers in the Foundation tell us that it will be very colourful, with great discoveries and advancements in many ways that perhaps we cannot imagine today—new technologies, new sources of energies, new ways in education, in medicine, in growing food, in supplying shelter and housing—all with respect and while sharing resources. Also, People will be working together with Nature and no more against it.

Today, we can witness the most evil world that has ever existed, there is so much falsehood everywhere, can we rely on what is told to us? Can we rely on what is sold to us as food to be eaten, as water to be drunk, and so on?

Now, following the events that are to occur and through our spiritual development, truth will develop and will prevail, falsehood will be recognised by all for what it is and will be rejected. Then this World will be most beautiful and a place to live in quietude where evil will be overcome and much diminished in strength.

We at the Erasmus Foundation are lucky to know that there is much to look forward to, and this, too, is part of my strength, together with my confidence in the Great Mind.

©2022 Corine Beauseigneur
All rights reserved

Corine Beauseigneur

…first met The Erasmus Foundation in 1986, which is a spiritual teaching and healing centre in the UK, whose courses I continue to follow through zoom meetings from France. I have had a number of articles published in their magazine. I also take part in the podcasts they regularly put on line and I continue to write wishing to share the spiritual knowledge gained from this Foundation. The Erasmus Foundation Podcast, ‘Visualisations from the Erasmus Foundation’ can be found on Amazon’s Audible site.

Erasmus Foundation Website

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.

An Affair Never-Ending | Lorraine Caputo

I have spent many hours studying the hatched lines to see where the railroads go. © Lorraine Caputo

Imagine, if you will, that I found a new passion after I left my mate of many years.  I was not looking for a new love. Nay – you could say, it found me.

It was 1988 and I struck out to learn, face to face, mouth to ear — about Mexico and Central America. Twenty-nine years old and I reclaimed my self, my independence. And during that ten-week sojourn, I took the first honest-to-goodness train of my life. We ain’t talking ‘bout no rapid from the east side to the west. We’re talking ‘bout El Oaxaqueño, 12 hours from Mexico City to Oaxaca. Ay, how I relished the mystery of traveling through the night, awakening in the morning amidst hamlets nestled in the folds of rock, cliffs so close I could study their formations.  The slow reach of the sun over one and another range of the Sierra Madre del Sur. Wood smoke scenting the crisp air. The food offered by the women who boarded, the conversations with other passengers and the workers. The squeal of wheel upon rail as we hairpinned through those mountains, finally descending to our destination.

 I then knew that riding the rails is a perfect way to learn about a country. Many times the train goes where no road goes. You travel slow enough to be able to see wildlife from those smoke-hazed and cracked windows, critters scared by the traffic of highways. You can catch glimpses into homes set close to the tracks.  And beyond passing through pueblocitos, within the train itself forms a community. You can talk, share lives and food, walk about. Face it, you can’t even begin to do that on a bus.

If I could, through my poetry and stories, share these experiences, put a human face on the names of pueblos from Alaska to Patagonia through these rides. I decided to devote every cent, every opportunity to travel by train.

But come 1997, the raison d’être of these journeys changed. No, it deepened.

With the signing of NAFTA, Mexico had to agree to privatize its national holdings, including the railroad. In five sectors it was sold off to consortia, made up by Mexican capitalists and — in larger part — by US cargo train companies: Union Pacific, Santa Fe-Burlington Northern and others. By early 1996 freight services were in their hands.  Then 1 October 1997 — I came to discover — marked the official turnover of the passenger services.

I didn’t know this when I crossed the border on an October day, planning to again to ride the rails. I wanted to go to a friend’s family’s village in the Sierra of northern Durango State.  I could make it totally by trains.

Or so I thought.

14 October 1997 / Matamoros, Mexico

Just after dawn I cross the bridge from Brownsville and arrive at Mexican immigration.

“How will you be traveling?” the official asks.

“By train.”

“Well, you’ve missed today’s train.  It left at seven this morning.”  He turns to a co-worker. “Isn’t that right?”

The other man raises his eyebrows and shrugs his shoulders.

My information says the Tamaulipeco leaves at 9:20 a.m.  I head off for the station, through the streets of this awakening city, in hopes of catching it.

I stop at a stand where a brazier and pots of coffee steam in the cool of morning. “Which way is the train station?”

The man replies, “There are no trains, no hay.”

Further down the main road, I find a tourist information booth. Two men are inside, one behind a desk. “The train station? It’s up about four more blocks. Pero no hay.”

Next door is the government tourist office. The young woman shrugs. “I don’t know. It’s best to go to the station and ask.”

Once more I make my way up the now-busier street. At the next corner, near the tracks, a tourist officer and several taxi drivers sit on a bench. They all say, No, there is no service from here because of privatization by the government. Pero sí hay from Reynosa.  It leaves at 4 p.m.

A loud train horn disturbs our conversation. We all cover our ears. A long chain of Northwestern and other cars come rumbling along. It stops. Security men begin searching between the cars for stowaways, pulling them off. A few jump and escape.

I turn back from my quest and catch a bus for Reynosa.


Out front of the bus terminal, I ask a man where the train station is. He responds, “No hay trenes.”

I walk up to a taxi driver (they always know). Yes, he agrees, at 4 p.m. there is a train. He gives me directions.

Later I stop by a man selling roasted corn at the curb. “No,” he answers, “there are no trains.”

“But in Matamoros they told me there is, and a taxi driver here said so, too.”

“Look,” he says adamantly, “you can believe me or you can waste your time. But there is no train.”

“Since when?”

“Oh, at least six months now.”

Another man comes. “For Monterrey? Yes, there is. My sister took it Sunday. It runs every other day. So, yes, today there will be.”

With this hope I follow the tracks to the blue and white station.

It is boarded up, the doors locked with heavy chains. Some of the windows are broken. Through their white paint peeling away, I see the schedule blackboard still hanging by the ticket window. The blue seats in the waiting room remain.

Between the old station and the abandoned restaurant next door, a man sells gum and candies. “Excuse me, sir. Why is there no passenger service?”

“It’s because of a company del otro lado, from the other side. It bought it and decided there will be no service.”

“Since when?”

“Oh, since three or four months ago.”

Right at that moment, a lengthy string of US freight cars halts, brakes clanking. Black-coated men begin searching among the cars for stowaways.

I return to the bus terminal and stay until night to go to Monterrey. In the women’s bathroom, I recount to Socorro, the attendant, my fruitless search for the train to Monterrey. She is surprised to hear the news.

15 October 1997 / Monterrey

I grew bored in Reynosa and finally took a bus here, arriving at 1 a.m.

At about three, I wander outside and ask two taxistas there. They conclude, “With the change of owners, no-one knows the present schedules. It’s best to go inquire there.”

“Who are the new owners?”

“Some are Mexicans, others are from the US.”

I wait until the light of day begins washing the city streets and I walk as fast as I can with this forty-pound knapsack to the train station. A man sits behind the ticket window.

“Is there still a train for Durango?” I shift the pack on my back.

“Yes. It leaves in fifteen minutes. For only one? Ninety pesos.”

Ay, I tell him of my misadventures with the Tamaulipeco. “Since when doesn’t it run?”

“Since January.”

We leave behind those saw-tooth mountains of Monterrey, swirled with white rock. The chilled dust of early morning blows through my shattered window. Our train of hard foam cushioned seats, of dirty floors and dirty floors rocks and sways past a hamlet of rubble of once-homes destroyed.  From the ruins of one flies a zopilote. Forests of ages-old yucca trees. A hawk soars over the green desert thicket. Encrusted sand dunes sculpt the earth. I snuggle into the warmth of the sun as we pass by a village of old-fashioned adobes.

And I awaken at Paredón. In those hazes of sleep, I expect this car to be full of Mexican Revolutionaries.

The train winds through low mountains, then horseshoe-curves around a flatland. Once more it begins to corkscrew through mountains. A hawk sits up on the rise of ancient basalt boulders. The desert sand is laced with dry streambeds and footprints, horse trails, coyote tracks.

We zoom past cornfields and jolt past a sky-blue circus big top as we enter Concordia. There, a black-hatted, sun-glassed man boards. He strolls up the aisle and back down, playing a beat-up guitar and singing a corrida. He gathers his tips, then goes to the back of the car. He performs a few ballads, a fellow passenger joining in.

As we pull into the next town, a new voice and masterful strumming is heard. All women’s eyes turn to that man, black hair pulled back into a curly ponytail.  They nod, smiling, whispering to one another.

Near the tracks, nine students stand. Their brass coronets gleam in the now-afternoon sun. A few practice notes, and as we pull away, they play a clarion call.

The strolling musician is gone.

We fast clip upon these old rails. The diesel engine hums deep. Vineyards and orchards neatly crisscross this wide valley.

Over a soccer field in Gómez Palacios bobs a blue and yellow kite. Children gather in the stands, watching its dance. A colorful clothesline flaps its laundry in the cool sun.

At Torreón, an elderly woman boards. Her silver hair is covered by a black lace scarf. She holds one corner of it in her mouth, hiding the right side of her face. It falls away for a second, revealing a misshapened nose, a cheek deeply incised with wrinkles, a sunken eye, a sneering mouth.

A little girl’s dark eyes peer over the seat in front of me, then dart away as I grin. Next they appear around the side of the seat and retreat with a shy smile.

As we ride into the sunset, we hug mountains of folded rock.  Shadows fall deep and long. The red soil is shaped into irrigation ditches and plowed rows of golden maize. The bright-yellow sun nears a blanket of gilt-edged periwinkle clouds touched with peach. I listen to the music of this train and wish I could write its symphony.

                Dah        Dah
        counterpointed by squeaking springs.

Just before the sun sinks beyond, the bottoms of the clouds are etched in magenta. Then the landscape falls into greys. The pastel sky drains. Out there, to the north, a long spume of white smoke blows from an orange bundle of flames.

I turn my eyes to where the moon has risen above the sierra. The rest of our way to Durango, I gaze upon her fullness.

17 October 1997 / Durango

Sunrise is beginning to wash the eastern sky. The once-full moon disappears in the western. The chill of this semi-desert morning hovers around and within this caboose. In the warmth of a diesel stove, the conductor, an old farmer and I huddle.

“Come Monday,” the conductor says, “there will be no more passenger service — only cargo. The day before yesterday there was a passenger car. Now they ride in the caboose.”

“Why will there be no more passenger service?” I lean towards the stove, holding my hands out.

“The new owners have decided the tracks are in too bad of shape.”

“Who are the new owners?”

“Union Pacific here, Santa Fe elsewhere. They own the tracks, stations, everything. And they’re ending a lot of services.”

Así pues, I wanted to take the train from Matamoros to Monterrey, but there is none now. But there is from Reynosa, they told me. So I went there by bus. Pero no hay.”

The farmer shakes his head. The conductor nods his, “But we believe some will return once repairs are done — like that one.”

“Well, the story is much the same up north. Before, all the passenger trains were run by the freight companies — Union Pacific, Santa Fe and others. But during the 60s and 70s they decided to do away with them. Then in 1976 the government said we needed them again. But AMTRAK, as the passenger service is now called, doesn’t own many lines. It has to pay the freight companies to use theirs. So AMTRAK can’t make much money, and fares are high.”

The conductor checks the fire.  “, money is more important than the people.”

The old man nods.

The conductor falls silent as several other workers enter. He hands me a cigarette and lights it, hands cupping the flame.

Once they leave, he continues. “One has to be careful of what one says. There are many animalillos.” He draws a finger across his throat.

“Even on el otro lado,” I respond, “people are afraid to speak up. For fear of losing their jobs, their homes, their cars and all else.”

We talk about our pueblos, our people on either side of the Great River. Of how US corporations are robbing the people of the trains, the farmers of their lands.

Soon the day is lighter and more passengers board.  Our conversation ends. I take a perch in the cupola. The old man stays at the table, near the stove. The conductor begins his work.

At about 8:30 a.m. we leave, with two locomotives, seven open hoppers, this caboose, a car with barred windows for security guards and a payroll car behind.  Over two dozen passengers are crowded in here.

Past shantytowns of wood and cardboard homes and into the desert, its edges and mountains hazed. The rocky land rises, studded with fruiting nopales, and it falls away to dry stream beds.  Through forests of mesquite, the ashy soil beneath carpeted with sage. Campos of maize sprinkled with sunflowers, fields of frijol. Cows graze near the tracks. One’s breath steams the morning. Another, chewing its cud, slowly moves off to a quieter place, away from our clicking train.

We stop at a village. The sun strokes my face through this open cupola window. The farmer looks up at me writing these words. With a slight laugh I wave my pen, writing in air. He nods and smiles. I lean out a bit and notice in the third hopper up front rides a white-jacketed, white cowboy-hatted man.

A herd of seven bulls begins stampeding, one by one, across a high field of grain. Above them flies a flock of low-swooping black birds. And just as suddenly the bulls stop.

In the yard of a blue and turquoise house, a young boy runs. He pauses to watch our train go by.

On the stove the workers heat some chiles rellenos and water for coffee. One of them warms his hands.

We arrive at another village.  On the gravel road traversing the tracks a bicyclist stops to look. Before we depart with nine new passengers aboard, he pedals off.

A yellow-sweatered boy climbs up to sit on the cupola floor.  He calls to his nervous brother to join him. I squeeze myself closer to the window to share my seat with him.

Lucia — a pueblo of raw adobe walls. A woman with her young daughter runs alongside us. The conductor leans out the vestibule.  “Where are you going?”

“To Canatlán.”

“Get in the caboose.”

En serio?  They told us there was no passenger car!”

And more pots appear on the stove. Their smells waft up to my hungry nose. The conductor motions me down to share lunch with them.

As we slow for the next stop, Los Pinos, the old farmer waves good-bye before darting out the back door.

The conductor rummages through his black sports bag. His ball cap comes flying, landing at my feet, as he puts on a gnarl-faced mask and turns to us at the table. He tosses that aside and digs out a cassette player. Between stops he listens to music through the headphones.

A woman sits upon the bed platform in the rear section. Her young fingers skillfully crochet a doll’s dress. Her son Josué puts on the Halloween mask. Papa reads today’s paper. Over his shoulder, her green eyes study an article he shows her.

At this workers’ dining table sits Mary with her four-year-old niece. Next to me is Rosario. Rosario, now 18, yes, has finished her studies. “A ver – we’ll see,” she says with a shrug when asked about her future. Mary, 23, finished only secondary school. She has no job. “No, I’m too old to finish my studies,” she says with a tilt of the head, a lift of the shoulders.

We ignore, then parry, and ignore again the chiding of men.

Through the partly opened window, I catch glimpses of countryside and villages, of children waving, of workers in the fields. Lakes glitter in the noon-day sun.

Esfuerzos Unidos, Alisos, Nuevo Ideal. Family by family, person by person, the caboose begins to empty. Angelita, Las Flores, Chinacates. A wagon drawn by two horses trots across a field.

The wooden crucifix and rosary beads above this table sway with the train’s rocking. We begin winding our way down through the heights of the Sierra Madre. Rock walls hug this train.

The conductor goes atop. Another worker hops out a cupola window to join him. There I see them standing, coated against the wind, speaking into walkie-talkies. One leans through my window and begs some matches.

At Kilometer 157 we make a short stop. A sow leads three piglets across the dirt road. The conductor climbs down to talk with some fellow workers there about when their paychecks will come. “We have the payroll car here.”

“No,” one states, “I got my letter.”

“Well, after Monday, no hay tren.”

No me digas — Don’t tell me,” another says surprised.

A lone zopilote soars over a land of bleached bones. Two yellow butterflies dance above a yucca. Beneath the shade of mesquite a burro lies. He lazily turns his head to these clapping cars. We still creep through this mountain chain, metal screeching against metal. Not far from a swift river sits a lone adobe house. In the front patio grazes a tethered horse. A small waterfall tumbles. A black bull wanders to the shallows to drink from the clear waters.

At Santiago Papasquiaro we wait. The locomotive pulls away. A dust devil picks up trash & egrets in its whirlwind. We finally depart here. Three young boys jump on a trampoline in a yard. The man with the white sombrero is gone. A dog on a rooftop barks as we gain speed.

Rosario, now in the cupola, squeals as one of the brakemen walks through with the mask on.

Within the cloudless sky a hawk dips and rises above the scrublands. A roadrunner darts among the brush. Above a pool of steaming sulfur springs hovers an orange and white dragonfly.

The conductor sits at the table reading the news. After a while he falls asleep. Rosario and Josué sit across from me up here, singing corridas. A six-pack of Modelo goes around the caboose. One by one, the cans of beer are popped open.

A pair of blue and black butterflies appears alongside us. But just as quickly, we leave them behind.

At Presidio Rosario gets off, a bit tipsy from one beer. A family of four women and a boy come on with hand-made ribbon wreaths protected by clear plastic bags.

We journey along a river that occasionally cuts cliffs and other times winds through the plain. At Corrales the new women and boy depart. They walk across the wood-plank bridge, across the river, into town.

We arrive at Tepehuanes, only seven passengers left, the end of this line. The adobe station is pink-painted bricks. The train goes a bit further to begin loading timber for the paper mills down south.

Next door to the station is a hotel. My room is large, with thick adobe walls. I open the shutters of the window and begin spreading my work on the table beneath it. Before sunset I head for dinner, crossing the bridge over a brook, climbing the hill into town. After I return, Magdalena invites me to join them in the kitchen. An adobe stove in the corner warms the interior dimly lit by one bulb. On tomorrow’s south-bound train, she will be leaving on a “trip.” Later, she confides she is going to el otro lado. Since the train will no longer be arriving, there will be no guests for their hotel — and so to make a living? She will leave her 113-year-old mother in the care of a young Lola. Lola’s mate, José still doesn’t believe the train will end come Monday, that this was indeed the last train to Tepehuanes.

I spend evenings in that kitchen, seeking the heat of that stove, chatting with Lola and José. Doña Julia dips gingerbread cookies into her glass of warm milk, gumming her words. One night of chilled stars and the sierra silhouetted against the waning moon, she tells me of when she met Pancho Villa. She was down by the river washing clothes with other women. No, she laughs, she rejected his invitation to join the revolutionary forces. I ask her if it were true he had many women. She only gives me a demure, silent look.

My plan is to spend a month here, then travel down to Durango. From there I will take the train to Felipe Pescador, to make the connection with the south-bound Ciudad Juárez-Mexico City train.

I spend the days writing, and talking with the local people about the end of this train, and of those to Aserraderos and Regocijo. One late afternoon several women and I drink coffee in an eatery. Candy, who works for the village, shakes her head. “I had heard such, but…” The waitress is shocked. “There is no train for Regocijo? But, but I was going to go visit my sister there in a few weeks! How will I be able to afford it now?

The Day of the Dead comes and goes. And every other day, when the cargo train is due in, I go down to greet the workers.

7 November 1997 / Tepehuanes

I go to dinner about 4:30 p.m. Afterwards I decide to walk down to the station to see if the cargo train had come in. Several workers and I sit on the platforms.

“Today is National Railroad Day,” says one.

“Ay, there used to be bands greeting us here and elsewhere,” another reminisces.

“But now there is just silence.  All is mute.”

The conductor turns to me. “Since two or three days ago, there’s no train from Durango to Felipe Pescador.”

“What?  How are people going to get there?  There’s no road!” I interject.

The workers dejectedly nod.

“There’s talk, too,” he continues, “that there won’t be one for Torreón nor from Mexico City for Juárez come the 13th or 14th of this month.”

“When I was in Durango, I asked about those trains, and I was told that they would continue to exist!”

“Well, that of the Felipe Pescador line was a bit abrupt. The jefe de patio got a telegram saying, ‘As of tomorrow, service is cancelled.’ What could he do?”

I look at the shadowing ground. “How is it now without passengers?”

Triste, sad.”

I arrive in Mexico City 15 November and go to the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México. A woman in a 12th floor office shows me the official schedule as of 29 September 1997. She has received reports that between 40 and 50 routes have been cancelled since then. No, she didn’t know about Tepehuanes, nor Aserraderos, nor Regocijo.

In the next few months in Mexico, I madly dash after disappearing trains.

A copy of the rail map the FFCC de México used to give away, with most of the rides I’d taken marked.
©Lorraine Caputo

I look at my map of Mexico, noticing those black rail lines that go where no road passes, a web covering the nation from Baja to the Yucatán. I think of the routes I have taken over this decade of traveling. I think of the rides I will never get a chance to experience.

I shall miss the awakening from dreams, to see the full moon shining upon a sleeping home. Hushed voices in unlit cars of passengers coming, passengers going. The golden mesh of lights filling the valley as we’d come into Mexico City at night. I shall miss seeing the morning sun reach its fingers into the crevices, range by range, of the southern Sierra Madre mountains, morning mists over jungle cerros of Tabasco. I shall miss storm clouds mounding, then bursting upon the afternoon desert, sand imprinted by coyote, correcaminos running for shelter. Sunsets painting the western horizon.

I shall miss leaning upon the vestibule half-door, the wind blowing loose strands of my hair about, listening to the clickety-clack over wooden ties, the softer rhythm over concrete ones. I shall miss the smells of those women offering me gorditas de nopales con queso and atole in Chihuahua mornings, volovanes de cangrejo and coffee come Veracruz evenings. The bite of wood fires in crisp darkness. Of burning fields of sugar cane in the zafra.

I shall miss the children looking over their seats at this loca writing, or playing with their toy cars in the aisle, or sitting with me and this map, seeing where we had been and where we were going. Of sharing my sleeping bag with families migrating north, dressed in nothing more than thin cotton clothes.

I shall miss the stories of a doña Juana telling me of her childhood during the Mexican Revolution, before roads cut the Durango deserts. I miss sitting next to a doña Teresa embracing sweet azucenas to her Tehuantepec-huipil breast, like a Diego Rivera painting. I shall miss the conductor’s wife offering me a croissant, a banana and coffee, the workers offering me fish tacos or chiles rellenos.

I shall miss the sharing of lives and hopes, food and love with others, whiling away the time on those endless, timeless journeys.

Traveling by train no longer became a way to enjoy the country, to learn of its culture and life, to share community. No, riding became much more than that. I had to face deeper realities of the importance of these trains.

What will happen to those people who supported their families by selling to us passengers? On ebon nights, awaiting in the lights of the station, boarding with their baskets and kettles steaming in the chill air, stepping over bodies wrapped in thin blankets, sleeping in the aisles. The voices of mothers and their children quietly calling

                           Arroz con leche

                                    Café       Atole

                           Tamalitos       Enchiladas


How shall campesinos get their cheeses and fruits to market? How will they feed their families tonight, tomorrow and tomorrow’s tomorrow?

What will happen to those villages whose lifelines were the silver rails?

Will abandonment beat the dirt roads, melt adobe homes into the earth? Will wooden doors bang in winter winds sweeping down from the north? No longer will laundry sway in a blue-white sun. No longer will small circuses pitch their ragged big tops for a few day’s pesos before moving on to some other pueblo. How many of these families have had to pack their trunks and bundles, migrate to a city in hopes of survival? How many of these communities are now rent by these winds of thoughtless change?

How will folks visit one another? How many will be able to afford a bus ticket for everyone in the family, to see abuelito, to celebrate Tía Rosa’s birthday, to take a holiday? Before, the bus was up to three times more expensive than the train. Who will be able to afford those bus fares spiraling, spiraling upward, now that there is no competition?

How many lines might continue to because these new owners deem they can jack the prices up, rake in the big bucks from the foreign tourists? Or because of protest by the people?

For now the vestiges of the Mexican Revolution continue to fray in the northern winds. Perhaps those days of train travel are gone. Or perhaps not. Maybe someday a new government shall come to power that recognizes the importance of the trains to communities, to the families, to the economies of these pueblocitos — as is happening in other countries.

Or perhaps a new Revolution is brewing in the Sierra Madre. Maybe one day former workers and a village will take up “arms” of máquinas and carros, appropriate the tracks, and with no funds from anyone keep the lines alive and gleaming silver to the ejidos, giving campesinos a way to get their products to market, for the ill to receive medical attention, for kinfolk to visit.

It may seem this affair has ended, but I still study my map, tracing those black lines. This is a love that has deepened with the years. I still search, every time I am in Mexico, for whatever visage of those train adventures. And, ay, when we meet once more, what a ride we have!

Sí pues, as long as there is a train upon which to journey, this shall be an affair never-ending.

This originally appeared on Latin American Wanderer. Republished by permission.

©2016 Lorraine Caputo
All rights reserved

Lorraine Caputo…

…is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 300 journals on six continents; and 20 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019), Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022) and Fire and Rain (Red Mare #18, 2019), a collection of eco-feminist poetry. She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. Her writing has been honored by the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada (2011) and nominated for the Best of the Net. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. 

Follow her travels at: Latin American Wanderer

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.

Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, The BeZine Table of Contents

The BeZine’s Virtual 2020 100TPC Event—Poetry, Music, Art for Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The BeZine’s Live 100TPC Event

Poetry, Music, Art
Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Poetry. It’s better than war!

—Michael Rothenberg
Co-founder of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change

Welcome to the 2020 Virtual (Aschronous) Live Event

Dedicated to Jamie Dedes
Editor Emerita

It is time once again for The BeZine live 100TPC event, this year in the midst of a global pandemic, racial tensions worldwide but particularly focused around the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, and raging wildfires related to Climate Change. Wars continue, as they always seem to do.

Our focus here is on positive change in the areas of Peace, Environmental and Economic Sustainability, and Social Justice. The BeZine approaches these issues in the context of spiritual practice and through the arts and humanities.

Today, under the banner of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC), on the 10th Anniversary of 100TPC, people the world over are gathering online to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE. There are over 800 100TPC mostly online events worldwide scheduled for 26 September 2020, and many others throughout the year.

This year will have a few differences, here at our Virtual 100TPC event. The largest change that we in the core team of writers and editors feel is that Jamie Dedes, our Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief emerita, has stepped down (read more here, Jamie in her own words). Jamie modestly called herself the Managing Editor, then eventually added Founding. She did more than “manage” us (like herding cats, trust me), she lead, inspired, supported, counseled, and loved us. And we love her back.

Jamie, I assume that you are reading this. We miss you. And we dedicate this 100TPC live event, and every issue and blog post, to you. We hope that you live and rest comfortably in the remainder of your time here surrounded by love and spiritual light.

When we started online, we were the only online event. Now, in the Time of Coronavirus, we are one of many. The others are streaming live, something we never did before. We have more of an asynchronous approach—writers, artists, musicians drop by the page and post something throughout the day. Others come, view, respond, perhaps add their own work.

In addition to our asynchronous / live virtual event on this page, The BeZine this year co-sponsors with Miombo Publishing-African Griots the live All Africa Poetry Symposium in Celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change 10-Year Anniversary, on Zoom and streaming on Facebook (see details below).

—Michael Dickel, Managing Editor

Instructions for sharing your work.

It’s twelve years since I started using poetry for activism, involving myself first with Sam Hamell‘s Poets Against the War. Almost ten years have passed since poet, publisher, musician and artist, Michael Rothenberg, and editor, artist, graphic designer, and translator Terri Carrion, co-founded 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) to which I am seriously devoted.

Through the decade our 100TPC poet-activist numbers have grown. We’ve expanded to include allies. These creatives from around the world share the values of peace, sustainability, and social justice. They speak out against corruption, cruelty, tyranny, and suppression through poetry, story, music, mime, art and photography, sometimes at personal risk.

—Jamie Dedes, Editor Emerita, 04 June 2020
The Poet by Day

From last year, we again celebrate youth activists—our future:

these precious perceptive youth

“Providing food, shelter, clothing and education is not enough any more, because all of this would have no meaning in the end, if your children do not have a planet to live on with health and prosperity.” —Abhijit Naskar, The Constitution of The United Peoples of Earth

this perfect blue-green planet, her youth
dream among the strains of their hope,
dream of us like our sun and moon,
coordinating  … if only we would,
sowing the rich soil with right-action,
cultivating a greening of our compassion,
acting on a commonsense vision

the fruits of our being-ness plant their
ideals, shared values, a call for accountability,
for a re-visioning unencumbered by insanity,
rich fields to harvest, color, sound, textures,
rough and smooth, the deep rootedness of
their stand and stand for, their wise demands
casting a spell that we might see with one eye,
splendor hidden behind our irresponsibility,
their effervescent call, blossoming unity, vision –
bright spinning planet gently graced with these
wildflowers, these precious perceptive youth.

Dedicated to the young people of the world who teach us many lessons as they reach across borders in their stand for climate action. 

© 2019, Jamie Dedes

Jamie Dedes’ poem originally appeared on her blog, The Poet by Day.
Read more about Autumn Peltier, Mari Copeny, and Xiye Bastida, young people changing the world, here.

Instructions for sharing your work.

All Africa Poetry Symposium
in Celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change
10th Anniversary

Saturday, 26 September 2020 at:

  • 3 PM (Jerusalem, Kenya
  • 2 PM (Botswana, Egypt, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe)
  • 1 PM (Nigeria)
  • 12 Noon (Sierra Leone)
  • 8 AM (US-East Coast)

You are welcome to attend and we look forward to presenting an exciting, dynamic and vibrant Poetry Symposium, where Africa speaks of itself through poetry.

The 100 Thousand Poets for Change Movement was founded 10 years ago by Editors, Poets, and internationally acclaimed Artists Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion —in order to speak change, to speak truth—against racial injustice, wars, poverty, corruption, the demise of human rights and smothering of human freedoms. The movements speaks through literary arts activism and social change-activism arts.

The Poetry Fête is co-hosted by African Griots and The BeZine in coordination with 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Poets in this All Africa Poetry Celebration are from Sierra Leone, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Egypt, and Zimbabwe. Co-host and Emcee, Mbizo Chirasha, has worked tirelessly with 100 Thousand Poets for Change since its inception a decade ago, through literary arts projects GirlChildCreativity Project and the Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Campaign. Internationally renowned Jerusalem-based poet and The BeZine editor Michael Dickel will co-host the streaming events and attempt to wrangle the technology. This mega event will be streamed lived on several digital platforms.

The event will Live Stream in The BeZine 100TPC, 2020 Facebook group page.


Co-Host and Coorinator for All Africa Poets

The All Africa Poetry Symposium was a great success earlier today! We had poets and registered audience from these countries:

  • Botswana
  • Israel
  • Kenya
  • Machakos
  • Morocco
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Sierra Leone
  • South Africa
  • Uganda
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

The Zoom events was recorded, and will be made available online after processing and editing, date to be determined. Meanwhile, most of the event live-streamed and is available still on Facebook here.

We are trying something new this year!

To view the virtual, asynchronous poems, art, photography and music videos, scroll down to the comments (scroll down the page to see comments).

To share your poems, art, photography and music videos for our “live” virtual 100tpc today, please add your work or link to it in the comments section below (scroll to the bottom of the page to add to comments).

Remember the Themes
Peace, Sustainability, and Social Justice

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Places I Have Never Been


I’ve never been in the hull of a slave ship
chained and starving, drinking my urine
lying in my excrement.

I’ve never been forced to leave
my homeland, my family, my tribe,
enslaved by those who saw me as subhuman.

I’ve never picked cotton fifteen hours a day
under the whip of overseers who
raped me when the sun went down

and when I was emancipated, hung me from a
lynching tree, torched my home and family
denied my right to vote.

I’ve never moved north for higher ground
to neighborhoods depleted of dollars and hope,
goods and services, red-lined out of moving up.

I’ve never been called nigger, refused a table, watched
my children in their Sunday best internalize the word
while I struck them to teach obedience so they could live.
I’ve never attended sub-par segregated schools
or at college worked harder, scored higher
for less recognition, offered fewer jobs at lower pay.

I’ve never been profiled by police
because they saw a violent criminal
easy to spot, hair-trigger ready.

I’ve never endured my success to the highest office
being questioned, called illegitimate, in a country
that my people love in spite of it’s hatred of my kind.

I’ve never been anywhere
without the cloak
of my white skin.

Unraveling privilege is
without merit

© 2019, Ellen Woods

What Does It Mean to Love Everyone?

Bhikku Bodhi, American Buddhist monk, founder of Buddhist Global Relief courtesy of Ken and Visakha Kawasaki under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

To answer this question we have to distinguish two different nuances of the word “love.” One is an emotional feeling of affection that arises from my direct relationship to particular people. This type of love is not necessarily selfish and egotistical. It is not necessarily driven by an exchange principle, by the hope that others will return my affection and treat me kindly. I may sincerely love other people without hope of receiving anything in return – love them in appreciation of their good qualities and with a heartfelt wish for their well-being and happiness. But the primary basis for this love for the other is my direct connection with that person, and its robustness depends on regular contact. This type of love can range from self-centered attachment to family and friends to a deep devotion to those in my circle of friends and relatives that I admire for their outstanding qualities. What characterizes all shades of love in this sense is its contingency: it depends on circumstances and connections and is thus subject to change when the conditions that nourish it change.

The other type of love is not contingent on external conditions. It does not depend on direct personal contact. It does not even require that we actually like or admire the people toward whom this love is extended. This type of love is generated solely by recognizing other people as subjects, from seeing each person as a center of experience and thereby as the center of a world.

This type of love transcends the subject-object dichotomy that ordinarily structures our interpersonal relations. It emerges when, from the inner citadel of our own subjectivity, we see the other person as a subject and recognize that, as subjects, that person is similar to ourselves. This perception binds us together in a union of subjects, a union in which, no matter what we might feel about the other person as an individual, we recognize that this person, as a center of experience, is endowed with intrinsic value, a value that must be honored and protected.

To be a subject of experience is to seek one’s own welfare and happiness – not necessarily in a selfish and exclusive way but as an innate disposition of one’s being. As persons, we are each subjects of experience, and thus we each endeavor to avoid harm and suffering. Even more, at the bottom of our being we are disposed to grow and to thrive, to achieve security and happiness, and to realize our potentials, talents, and capabilities. Our quest for self-realization may be warped by distorted ideas about the nature of the good. We may be driven by greed and personal ambition, and in our quest for the good we may hurt others and deprive them of the good toward which they strive. But with a clear understanding of our own good, we would see that our own flourishing depends on the flourishing of others, that we thrive best when others also thrive. From this it follows that we have an obligation to avoid harming others and to help them along their way to achieving their own good.

The recognition of others as subjects means that we see in each person a reflection of ourselves. In doing so we relate to others as subjects who share our essential subjectivity. Since by introspection I can see that at the root of my being is a deep urge for the attainment of my own genuine good, I can know by inference – or better, by direct intuition – that every other person desires their own genuine good. When, through this intuitive contact, I appreciate and honor that desire, that need for the good, I will feel, rising from the depths of my heart, a wish for others to achieve the good they seek.

This wish for others to avoid harm and to attain the good is love in the second of the two senses I distinguished. It is love that responds to the moral injunction, “Love everyone without discrimination or qualifications,” or “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It is love that is directed, not merely to particular persons, but to every human being (and perhaps to every sentient being) by virtue of their status as centers of subjective experience, and thereby as each the center of a world, of a unique perspective on the universe. The expression of this kind of love is the sense of solidarity, the sense that what affects each affects all and that the good of the others is also my own good.

Love in this sense issues in concern. It manifests as the concern that others may be exposed to harm and danger, crushed by suffering to a degree that will stifle their ability to grow and thrive, that will thwart their potentials for a meaningful and fulfilling life.

In responding to the injunction to extend love to everyone, we have two obligations. Our first obligation is to see that others are protected from harm, which requires that we do our best to provide them with the basic conditions for a life of meaning and purpose: a safe environment, sufficient nutritious food, shelter, and medical care in times of illness. Our second obligation is to help others to thrive. This does not mean that we can impose our own ideas of well-being upon them, but that we try to provide the conditions necessary for them to realize their own potentials in accordance with their own aspirations. Above all, this entails providing them with an education, with the knowledge that will awaken and nurture their capacities for intellectual enrichment and with the training that will enable them to enjoy a satisfactory standard of living.

The work of Buddhist Global Relief is inspired and sustained by this second type of love. We look upon people all around the world – people we will never meet, never see, never know – as essentially like ourselves, as human beings who wish to be free from harm and suffering, who wish to live with dignity and self-respect, but who face formidable barriers to realizing their goals. We recognize that the main obstacle blocking their path is poverty – poverty as manifested in food insecurity, in hunger, in poor health, in lack of education. We endeavor to help them rise above debilitating poverty, especially by freeing them from the ordeal of chronic hunger and malnutrition. Going beyond mere subsistence, we also seek to help them to thrive by providing them with education, to allow the light of knowledge and understanding to illuminate their minds. We see this not merely as the fulfillment of a duty, but as love in action, arising from the resonance of our own hearts to the pain and needs of others, subjects who are essentially like ourselves, each the center of a world.

– Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi

Posted in justice, youth

Poets and Others Stand Against Gun Violence; Events, Information, Resources

What I like about Evelyn Augusto’s effort to help stop gun violence is that she combines poetry with action. She visits high schools to offer students tools that are not self-distructive. Evelyn’s contact info is at the bottom of the poster. Contact her if you’d like her to speak to your local high school.

At this writing, according to the Gun Violence Archive there have been 6,975 incidents, 1,922 deaths, 3,330 injuries, 71 children killed or injured, 377 teens killed or injured, 32 mass shootings, 41 officers shot or killed, 312 subject or suspect killed, 235 home invasions, 192 defensive use of guns 229 unintentional shootings.

If you agree that we need to share this info – get the word out – please feel free to reblog using the WordPress reblog feature or  to cut and paste this into a post on your own site. Thank you!





A World With Peace: A Place to Lament and Resist Gun Violence

100,000 Poets for Change Co-founder, Michael Rothenberg and The BeZine team member, Michael Dickel, have initiated a day for poets to gather wherever they are in the world to resist violence, especially gun violence, and raise awareness of the need for appropriate gun legislation in the United States and elsewhere. Beguine Again founder and another member of The BeZine core team, Terri Stewart, Guns Don’t Save People, Poets Do founder Evelyn Agusto and I support the effort and encourage you to organize events. To publicise your events post your event on the 100,000 Poets for Change Facebook Communication Page and on The BeZine 100TPC Facebook Discussion Page. I’ll do my best to catch all and post them to The Poet by Day Facebook Page and The Bardo Group Beguines (publisher of The BeZine) Facebook Page. Post to  Evelyn’s Facebook Page as well.  March 21 is also International Poetry Day.


Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship.

Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school.

Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day.

We are not safe at school. We are not safe in our cities and towns. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020.

Join us in saying #ENOUGH!

Add your event to the map or find one near you here:

Compiled by Jamie Dedes  

Posted in 000 Poets, 100, Musicians, The BeZine Table of Contents

100TPC Event Today … Link in your poems, art, stories, film, music, videos for peace, sustainability and social justice with an emphasis on poverty and hunger

<img class="size-custom" title="Hand of Fire, Hand of Creation
Moshe Dekel (age 5)” src=”” alt=”Hand of Fire, Hand of Creation
Moshe Dekel (age 5)” width=”2389″ height=”1548″>
Hand of Fire, Hand of Creation by Moshe Dekel (age 5)

Welcome to the 5th year of 100,000 Poets (Musicians, Artists, Mimes…) for Change, and the 2015 edition of The BeZine Online 100TPC Event! If you’ve done this before and you know the score, skip to the comments or Mister Linky at the bottom of the post and begin. If you are wondering, hey, what are you folks up to then check out some serious non-fiction here:

Our mission here today as poets, writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends is a sort-of fission for change—a burning with and expression of the desire for peace, environmental and economic sustainability, social justice, inclusion, equity and opportunity for all. We seek through our art to do a bit of old-fashioned consciousness raising, to stimulate thought and action leading to the kind of change that is sustainable, compassionate and just, and to engage in the important theme of the issues facing humanity today—but all with a goal to alleviate suffering and foster peace. We don’t want to just “talk about it,” we want words, art and music that help us take action in some way for positive change wherever we are in our lives, in our world.

We see a complex inter-woven relationship between peace, sustainability, and social justice. We all recognize that when people are marginalized and disenfranchised, when they are effectively barred from opportunities for education and viable employment, when they can’t feed themselves or their families or are used as slave labor, there will inevitably be a backlash, and we’re seeing that now in violent conflicts, wars and dislocation. Climatologists have also linked climate change, with its severe weather changes and recent droughts, to the rise violence in the world, and even contributing to inequities in areas – like Syria – where a severe drought destabilized food production and the economy, contributing to the unrest that led to the civil war, according to one study.

Jerusalem in an unprecedented dust storm that engulged much of the Mideast, linked by one climate scientist to the Syrian civial war and ISIS conflict
Jerusalem in an unprecedented dust storm that engulfed much of the Mideast, linked by one climate scientist to the Syrian civil war and ISIS conflict

There are too many people living on the streets and in refugee camps, too many whose lives are at subsistence level, too many children who die before the age of five (as many as four a minute dying from hunger, according to one reliable study—more info), too many youth walking through life with no education, no jobs and no hope. It can’t end well…

Syrian refugee camp, photo: The Telegraph
Syrian refugee camp
photo: The Telegraph

More than anything, our mission is a call to action, a call to work in your own communities where ever you are in the world, and to focus on the pressing local issues that contribute to conflict, injustice, and unsustainable economic and environmental practices. The kind of change we need may well have to be from the ground up, all of us working together to create peaceful, sustainable and just cultures that nurture the best in all the peoples of this world.

Poverty and homelessness are evergreen issues historically, but issues also embedded in social and political complexity. They benefit the rich, whose economic system keeps most of the rest of us as, at best, “wage slaves,” and all too many of us in poverty, without enough to provide for basic needs or housing (including the “working poor,” who hold low-paying jobs while CEOs are paid record-breaking salaries and bonuses in the global capitalist system). We are united in our cries against the structures of injustice, where the rich act as demigods and demagogues. We have to ask of what use will all their riches be in the face of this inconceivable suffering and the inevitable backlash from the marginalized and disenfranchised. We need fairness, not greed.

So, with this mission in mind, and with the complexity of the interrelationships of social justice, sustainability and peace as a framework, we focus on hunger and poverty, two basic issues and major threads in the system of inequality and injustice that need addressing throughout the world.

We look forward to what you have to share, whether the form is poetry, essay, fiction, art, photography, documentary, music, or hybrids of any of these—and we want to engage in an ongoing conversation through your comments on all of the above as you not only share your own work here today but visit and enjoy the work of others, supporting one another with your “likes” and comments, starting or entering into dialogues with writers, artists and musicians throughout the world and online viewers, readers, listeners.

Think globally, act locally, form community.

—Michael Dickel, Jerusalem (with G. Jamie Dedes, California, USA)


Share links to your relevant work or that of others in a comment or by using Mister Linky below. To use Mr. Linky, just click on the graphic. (Note: If you are sharing someone else’s work, please use your name in Mister Linky, so we can credit you as the contributor—we will give the author / artist name in the comments, from the link when we post the link in a comment.)

You may leave your links or works in the comment section below this post. If you are sharing the work of another poet or artist, however, please only use a link and not the work itself.

In addition to sharing, we encourage you to visit others and make connections and conversation. To visit the links, click on Mr. Linky (the Mister Linky graphic above) and then on the links you see there. (Some Mr. Linky-links can be viewed in the comments section after we re-post them.)

Thank you! 

All links will be collected into a dedicated Page here at The BeZine and also archived at 100TPC.

Thank you for your participation. Let the conversation begin …

Posted in Poems/Poetry, Victoria C. Slotto

whoever said life isn’t easy, nailed it

Artist: Cheryl Kellar Used with permission
Artist: Cheryl Kellar
Used with permission

i shall swim in aqua seas,
flounder in roiling seas,
writhe in darkest doubt

This morning two sparrows chased a black crow from their nest, sheltered among palm fronds. Their babies survived.

when earth begins to bleed,
i shall dance in wild flames,
thirst for crimson nights
long gone.

Death lingers in my thoughts today. I find downy feathers at the base of an old oak tree. Mama dove mourns in a low-hanging branch.

i fly my chariot across blue skies,
approach sun’s brilliant orange
until, like Phaeton, heat

Tornadoes and floods level land in the South, claim lives, devastate families who begin, already, to reclaim their existence.

I shall swim in aqua seas,
grasp hold of blue balloons
to fly above earth
once more.

This poem was originally posted on my blog to a prompt offered  for dVerse Poetics, based on the art of Cheryl Kellar. 

For a change I decided to play a bit with form. Perhaps “Descending Meter” could be a name for it. It consists of 4-line stanzas of 7-6-5-2, interspersed with short prose observations.

In the writings of Ovid, Phaeton, a son of Apollo, asked his father to grant him one wish, swearing to do so on the river Styx. Apollo agreed. Phaeton requested that, for just one day, he be allowed to drive the chariot of the sun across the heavens. Of course, Apollo tried to talk his son out of it, knowing it would consume him. Phaeton, however, insisted. Because of his oath, Apollo granted his son’s wish with the expected outcome. I suppose the lessons are: be careful what you wish for, and, don’t promise anything before knowing what it will entail.

– Victoria C. Slotto

2014, essay, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved; photographs as indicated 

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x42034ff816cd604d91d26b52d7daf7e8417VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editorial note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

Writers’ Fourth Wednesday prompt is hosted by Victoria from January through October. Victoria’s next Fourth Wednesday writers’ prompt will post at 12:01 a.m. PST on June 25. Please join us. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours so that you can link your response to this blog. If you find Mister Linky too cumbersome to use, please feel free to leave your link in the comments section on Wednesday. Victoria and Jamie will read and comment and we hope you will read each other’s work as well, comment and encourage. 

Posted in General Interest, Jamie Dedes, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Poets/Writers

because a poem is everything you can be …

Chirlane McCray by Kelly Weill, NYU
Chirlane McCray by Kelly Weill, NYU

CHIRLANE McCRAY is a writer and poet, a speechwriter and wife of New York City’s new (as of January 2014) mayor, Bill de Blasio. She is also the mother of two children, Chiara and Dante.

According to her bio on de Blasio’s website, “Chirlane began writing at a young age. In high school she discovered ways to use writing as a tool for activism. While studying at Wellesley College and the famed Radcliffe Publishing Course, Chirlane became a member of the Combahee River Collective, a pioneering black feminist collective, which inspired her to write groundbreaking prose and poetry.”

I’ve triend to find poems by Chirlane other than the one below, which is being featured by just about everyone in the New York blogosphere. No luck. The poems are probably out in the world somewhere, but try to bring one up in a search and you get bombarded by the overriding political effluvia and razzmatazz. Nonetheless, this is extraordinatry poem and the one – according to the man himself – that made de Blasio fall in love with her. It is from Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology. I happen to have a copy of Home Girls, so I know it’s the only poem of hers in that collection. I was unable to find Chirlane McCray’s poems in the other anthologies I own.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio kisses his wife Chirlane McCray after voting in the New York City mayoral primary on September 10, 2013 (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY: Public Advocate and then mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio kisses his wife, Chirlane, after voting in the mayoral primary on September 10, 2013 (photograph by Spencer Platt via Getty Images)

I Used To Think

I used to think
I can’t be a poet
because a poem is being everything you can be
in one moment,
speaking with lightning protest
unveiling a fiery intellect
or letting the words drift feather-soft
into the ears of strangers
who will suddenly understand
my beautiful and tortured soul.
But, I’ve spent my life as a Black girl
a nappy-headed, no-haired,
big-bottomed Black girl
and the poem will surely come out wrong
like me.

And, I don’t want everyone looking at me.

If I could be a cream-colored lovely
with gypsy curls,
someone’s pecan dream and sweet sensation,
I’d be

poetry in motion
without saying a word
and wouldn’t have to make sense if I did.
If I were beautiful, I could be angry and cute
instead of an evil, pouting mammy bitch
a nigger woman, passed over
conquested and passed over,
a nigger woman
to do it to in the bushes.

My mother tells me
I used to run home crying
that I wanted to be light like my sisters.
She shook her head and told me
there was nothing wrong with my color.
She didn’t tell me I was pretty
(so my head wouldn’t swell up).

Black girls cannot afford to
have illusions of grandeur,
not ass-kicking, too-loud-laughing,
mean and loose Black girls.

And even though in Afrika
I was mistaken for someone’s fine sister or cousin
or neighbor down the way,
even though I swore
never again to walk with my head down,
never to care
that those people who celebrate
the popular brand of beauty
don’t see me,
it still matters.

Looking for a job, it matters.
Standing next to my lover
when someone light gets that
“she ain’t nothin come home with me” expression
it matters.

But it’s not so bad now.
I can laugh about it,
trade stories and write poems
about all those put-downs,
my rage and hiding.
I’m through waiting for minds to change,
the 60’s didn’t put me on a throne
and as many years as I’ve been
Black like ebony
Black like the night
I have seen in the mirror
and the eyes of my sisters
that pretty is the woman in darkness
who flowers with loving

– Chirlane McCray

Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~ I am a medically retired (disabled) elder and the mother of a married son. The graces of poetry, art, music, writing and reading continue to evolve as a sources of wonder and solace, as creative outlets, and as a part of my spiritual practice. My Facebook pages are: Jamie Dedes (Arts and Humanities) and Simply Living, Living Simply.

Posted in Bardo News, Uncategorized

BARDO NEWS: reader and writer achievements, Victoria’s books, the growth of Niamh Clune’s independent press, Second Light Network calls for submissions

800px-Rafael_-_El_Parnaso_(Estancia_del_Sello,_Roma,_1511)WE CLOSE THE YEAR WITH KUDOS ALL AROUND for prodigious bloggers of every ilk with their plans for 2014 and their successes in 2013. So many of our readers and writers rose to the WordPress challenge of a post a day. Others took on special challenges related to seasonal changes or holiday events or their own personal sense of adventure. To name just a few:

  • From November 28 on, Terri Stewart (Slow Down, Begin Again: Spiritual Practices in Context) incorporated the work of many bloggers into a creative and joy-filled Advent Light event.
  • Instead of counting down on an Advent calendar, Priscilla Galasso (scillagrace) has been counting the free gifts we all get every day in a series of Advent essays that are beautifully written and both thoughtful and though provoking.
  • John Nooney (Johnbalaya), a faithful reader here, successfully incorporated his prodigious works from several blogs into one compact blog where he shares his many talents and interests including essays, poems, short stories, photography, and a love of music.
  • Beatrice Garrard (Adventures in Hats) started her first blog and will be joining us in 2014 as our college reporter with a monthly news post covering the arts and other topics of interest to us.
  • Liz  Rice-Sosne a.k.a. Raven Spirit (Noh Where) a devoted friend to Bardo has joined us as a core team member and will take an active leadership role in our collective Voices for Peace project. This is no small gift to us since she is also now a volunteer teacher of English-as-a-Second language. We hope she’ll share her thoughts and experiences on that effort as well. We have officially partnered our Voices for Peace project with 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change.

There are many among us who don’t aspire to publication, but many do and they have successfully sold work to magazines and anthologies, won contests, and/or attracted publishers or chose to self-publish.

Victoria Slotto's Mom
Victoria Slotto’s Mom

Not the least is Victoria C. Slotto whose first novel was published in 2012 by Lucky Bat Press. From that experience she moved on to publish Jacaranda Rain: Collected Poems, 2012, now in a newly-minted paperback edition, and  Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage DementiaWe took the time to read the latter this month and found it to be chockfull of commonsense suggestions that are easily incorporated into daily activities with which you can encourage your loved one. This work was inspired by Victoria’s care of her elderly mother and her experiences as a nurse.

The first section, Shoring Up Memory!, is alone worth the price of admission. She advises phone logs, maintaining a memory board and lists, and a commitment to maintaining a Day Timer and a journal. Other advice includes simplifying life: no over-booking, doing what can be done to minimize stress, and reworking the home so that it is as danger-free as possible. She provides information on getting legal advice, creating a team of helpers (our term, not hers), finding doctors and other health care providers. Victoria emphasizes the importance of physical and mental exercises, faith and prayer, and family support. Well done, Victoria. (Photo copyright, Victoria Slotto, All rights reserved.)

PLUM TREE BOOKS and THE BARDO GROUP have tied the knot and are collaborating to evolve our collective of artists and musicians, poets and writers, encouraging fellowship and appreciation.  Plum Tree Books (PTB) CEO, Niamh Clune, writes about PTB’s latest effort: “This is the bones of the news…  I have created, Plum Tree Books ~ INSIGHTS ~ A magazine about publishing, writing, children’s books, illustrating and poetry. I am receiving so many of your wonderful poems, and requests from people who would like to write for Plum Tree Books, that I thought this would be a great chance to expand our horizons and include more of your work as well as sharing insights into how we are growing, creating, and collaborating. This is all part of building the Plum Tree Books’ platform to give some of the wonderful talent expressed through FaceBook, blogs and The Bardo Group a broader exposure. Coming in January!”


51rk8frRwfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Her Wings of Glass (the title a quotation from Sylvia Plath) is to be a 200 page anthology that will complement but not repeat Second Light’s previous anthology (with Arrowhead Books), Images of Women. The focus of this anthology is ‘big issues’, for example the future of the planet, good and evil aspects of our relationship with the natural world and with each other, different aspects of our imaginative understanding of ‘who we are’.

The invitation is for up to six poems per submission, not more than 200 lines in total, with three copies of each poem to Dilys Wood at 3, Springfield Close, East Preston, West Sussex, BN16 2SZ, by January 15th 2014 together with the administrative fee of £5 (Second Light members) or £8 (non-members). Cheques payable to ‘Second Light’ or pay online at the poetry p f (online shop (filter to ‘Wings’). Non-UK submissions may be sent by e-mail as .doc or .pdf attachments, only to Second Light Administrator (poet Anne Stewart. ) Anne Stewart is a fabulous help with your technical questions. [Check out Anne’s poems HERE.]

Issue 11, November 2013 of ARTEMISpoetry is available now through Second Light Network and submissions are currently being accepted for the next issue. Details HERE.

BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE: This is a heads-up on our event in the planning for Valentine’s Day 2014. Details to be determined and announced. Look for more news about this collaborative effort addressing climate and environmental concerns and the meaning of nature in our lives.

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY with Victoria C. Slotto will resume on 22 January 2014, running every month up-to-and-including 22 October 2014.

… and, as the saying goes “last but not least” … a WW I memorial project of John Anstie’s (My Poetry Library and 42church group from Christ Church Stocksbridge featuring poet Ian McMillan …

Best wishes for the New Year from all of us to all of you. If you missed the deadline for this post, feel free to leave your announcement in the comments section. If you have something you’d like us to include in the next news post, leave a note here in the comment section as well or under any upcoming post and someone will get back to you. The next news post will go up on January 26, Sunday at 7 p.m. PST. The deadline for news submissions is Friday, January 24.

– The Bardo Group

Posted in Peace & Justice, Poems/Poetry, Poets Against War Week, Victoria C Slotto

POETS AGAINST WAR, #1: The Irony of War by Victoria C. Slotto


Smile, Jesus Loves You

He wore no smile. Square jaw, set firm,
taut muscles. Skin like latte, stubble-covered,
(more like fuzz.)
Skin too soft for who he was,
who he pretended to be.
Salvadoran sun backlit the scene
set on the borders of insanity.


Not a game he played that day,
a game his peers in other lands
and other times still play.
This was a game of war.

He stared at us, each one, with eyes
too full of sadness for an almost-child.
Compared our passport photos with reality.

And there, upon the submachine gun’s butt—
a smiley face, a message, too.

I wonder–can he smile today,
and can he still believe?

Earthquake--El Salvador1986
Earthquake–El Salvador

At the height of the civil war in El Salvador, the country suffered a massive earthquake that resulted in much loss of life and many injuries. I spent close to a month there, helping to nurse the wounded not requiring hospitalization. We flew into Guatemala and drove to San Salvador, the capital. On the way, we had to pass through numerous military checkpoints. At one of these stops I observed a young soldier. I’d guess he wasn’t much older than 15 or 16, perhaps younger. There on the butt of his huge machine gun was a smiley face sticker with the words in English that I’ve chosen for the title of this poem.

When will we ever learn?

– Victoria C. Slotto

Invitation: We’d like you to join us – not only as readers – but as writers by putting links to your own anti-war or pro-peace poems in the comment sections. Next week we’ll gather the links together in one post and put them up as a single page headed “Poets  Against War.”  Thank you!

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

jr-cover-2VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~  is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012is Victoria’s first novel.  A second novel is in process.  Jacaranda Rain — Collected poems, 2012 is available on Amazon, as is the hot-off-the-press nonfiction, Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s poetry collection and non-fiction book are free to Amazon Prime Members.  Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Posted in Essay, Fiction, Uncategorized, Victoria C Slotto, Writers' Fourth Wednesday, Writing

WRITERS’ FOURTH WEDNESDAY: Character Development in Fiction

Photo Credit: Pinterest
Photo Credit: Pinterest

A while back, I attended a writer’s conference session about character development. The speaker suggested using astrological signs as a means to create believable, consistent characters. My knowledge of astrology is scant, but I tried to apply it to the characters in my first novel, Winter is Past. The results weren’t what I’d hoped for.

When I worked in the area of nursing education, human resources and spirituality, I had the opportunity to delve into Myers-Briggs…a personality evaluation tool that assesses behavior based on four areas of response: Introversion versus extraversion, Intuitive versus sensate, Thinking versus Feeling and Perceptive versus Judgmental. The latter may not be so self-explanatory but I use the example of my parents: my dad would be ready to go somewhere 20 minutes ahead of time, while my mother would change her mind a few more times about what she wanted to wear. Think: structured versus easy-going.

I returned to my draft manuscript, and applied the Myers-Briggs, using this tool to help me re-create the major characters with the result of more consistent, believable players. For my second novel The Sin of His Father, I wrote out character profiles before I even began to write, again using the Myers-Briggs. It has made it so much easier.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

There is an old book called Please Understand Me that explains all the possible profile combinations and how they play out in real life. If you can find it, it’s been a godsend.

I’m addicted to The Learning Company‘s Great Courses, university level programs presented by the highest quality professors. One of the courses, The Art of Reading is taught by Professor Timothy Spurgin of Lawrence University. The lectures are well-organized, clearly presented and as applicable to writers as to readers.

An important point from the lecture on characters addresses developing round characters. The concept of a round character, as opposed to a flat one, was presented by E. M. Forster in his book, Aspects of the Novel. Simply put, a round character is one who will capture the reader’s interest because of his unpredictability, his complexity and the changes he undergoes during the course of the story. And this is key: “The test of a round character is whether it is capable of surprising in a convincing way.” (Forster)

While a protagonist needs to draw the sympathy of the reader, he should have some character flaws. Inversely, your antagonist should have something that makes him, if not attractive, at least capable of being understood. Just like us–no one is all good or all bad.

As you write, reflect upon your own reaction to the key characters in your manuscript. Are you able to identify with them to some degree? Are there things that, if you were that person, you might be ashamed of or want to change? Are there events or reactions which are surprising without being totally out-of-character (unconvincing)? Is your character someone you would want to know, or avoid?

One thing I find helpful when writing fiction is to base my characters on a composite of people I know or with whom I have been acquainted. You can even take someone who is in the public eye. I try not to use one person because I would never want anyone to say to me, “That’s me, isn’t it?” My mother once thought a character was her because I set a scene in a room in her house! And this secondary character was not, initially, a nice person.

I hope this brief reflection on characters will be helpful to those of you who have an interest in writing fiction. In a future post, I’ll share a character development worksheet that I prepared for  a character in novel #2 to give you something to hang your words on!

We’d like to invite you to share a brief paragraph or poem of your own presenting a character you’ve created or known somewhere along the road. There are two ways you can do it:

  • Preferably, post your description on your own blog or website, then copy and paste the direct URL into the Mr. Linky, which is included at below at the end of this post.  He will also ask you to include your name or another identifier.
  • If you prefer, add your character sketch to the comments section.
  • It’s nice, though not required to read others and leave a like or comment. I will visit all of them.

Happy writing; enjoy the process!

– Victoria

EDITOR’S NOTE: Mr. Linky is below Victoria’s bio ~

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

jr-cover-2VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~  is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012is Victoria’s first novel.  A second novel is in process.  Jacaranda Rain — Collected poems, 2012 is available on Amazon, as is the hot-off-the-press nonfiction, Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s poetry collection and non-fiction book are free to Amazon Prime Members.  Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Posted in Bardo News, John Anstie, Victoria C. Slotto

Welcome John Anstie and Victoria C. Slotto to Bardo’s Core Team

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3JOHN ANSTIE  (My Poetry Library and Forty Two) ~ As near as we can determine, John’s been blogging since early 2011.

For twenty years, he was a Rugby Union player with an ‘eight-pack’, which was helped in the early days by a school run on the same lines as Gordonstoun as well as by farming and working as a leather factory packer and security guard. The ‘eight pack’ was not helped, John admits, by becoming an ice cream seller. He’s also earned his keep as metallurgical engineer, marketing manager, export sales manager, and managing director of his own company. He’s a poet and blogger, a would-be musician with a piano and a forty-year-old Yamaha FG140 acoustic guitar. He is a singer in and chairman of a local amateur choir. He is also a would-be photographer with drawers full of his own history. John’s an occasional but lapsed ‘film’ maker. In his other life, he doubles as a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, cousin, friend and family man. In sort, it would seem John leads a well-rounded life and a rich one in terms of both arts and family. We’re wanting to call him a renaissance man, of which we have several in residence here along with a fine group of renaissance women.

John’s prose and poetry tells us everything else we need to know about him … or at least all that he’s currently prepared to tell us. He has just completed an anthology of the poetry of nine poets who met two years ago on Twitter. He produced and steered the book entitled  “Petrichor Rising.”  It’s publication will be announced shortly by Aquillrelle. The story of this project’s evolution and naming is interesting and enlightening. You can read it HERE. Among other things, it’s another thumbs-up for connecting to like-minded folks through social media.

Victoria and Dave Slotto
Victoria and Dave Slotto

VICTORIA SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author)had her first novel – 2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420Winter is Past – published last year. Her second novel is in progress as is a poetry chapbook. Victoria is a gifted writer and poet, and we are proud and delighted to feature her here. It is gratifying to see how well Victoria incorporates important insights and ideals into the narrative flow of her novel, her flash fiction, and her poetry. If you have occasion to read her novel, you will not soon forget the spirit of her major protagonist, Claire.

Victoria attributes her writing influences to her spirituality, her dealings with grief and loss, and nature. Victoria spent twenty-eight years as a nun. When she left the convent, she continued to work as a nurse in the fields of death and dying and she has seen and experienced much. Because of her experience, Victoria is able to connect with her readers on an intimate level.

Victoria resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two dogs and spends several months of the year in Palm Desert, California. Winter is Past, her first novel, was published by Lucky Bat Books. Victoria is also an accomplished blogger, sharing her fine poetry with us HERE and participating in a leadership role on d’Verse Poets Pub.

SOMETHING NEW AT INTO THE BARDO:  As part of her participation here, Victoria will be bring something quite new to Bardo, a reader-participation post once a month. The ETA to be announced. This participation will be in the form of a writing challenge. We’re doing this in acknowledgement of the many, many talented writers who are so kind and supportive, reading here, “liking,” and often commenting. Readers will be able to participate by entering their post link through MisterLinky, which most of you have used but further explanation will be forthcoming for newbies. Victoria and Jamie look forward to reading your entries and hope that you will also read one another’s work.

Posted in General Interest, interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry

Unicorn Diasporic Birdwatching | Gili Haimovich


latent love
contrived happiness
kindness that can’t be helped
excluded from my own language

how can one be mad at a unicorn
for its rarity?

Unicorn 3
Digital art ©2023 Michael Dickel

Diasporic Nostalgia

We don’t feel shame when
we share memories
of when being in love was a novelty.
We’re nostalgic once a year
and hug a bit more often.
When we do reminisce
it’s not due to our deserted country
but because of the calendar
showing us one of our anniversaries.
Recently we started to hug a bit more frequently
and it is because of our frantic deserted country.
We love like we forgot it ever had a beginning.
and we continue to love like it will have no end.
We acknowledge eventually we’ll die
and discuss, almost negotiate,
how many marks we want to leave behind us.
We’re sick and merry, healthy and sad, we’re sad 
     and sick and merry and married.

Yes, we do like better
who we are
but not enough
not to the degree we’d want you to stare at it.


Our world begged for existence.
We carried our valor secretly
no witnesses for our triumphs
for overcoming another day.
Not being able to save even ourselves,
we dropped on the bed
as if we’d lost a battle.

In the mornings we melted back
from sleeping like rocks
into floating bodies in a void.
We watched the birds
from our square-foot lawn and cherished
not just their movement –
their gift of coming from different worlds –
but our own growing ability,
while standing up, standing still
to notice them.


Written before the Jewish New Year’s Eve of
the year 5782,
 2022 by the Gregorian calendar
I want to write something with the word foliage
but need a better language than this one,
one that will allow it to breathe in a poem
and won’t be florid.
Perhaps in Estonian
where it’s possible to love quietly
and to hate
and then grief.
Perhaps there,
where it’s okay to die every winter and remain naked.
Where it’s really unknown where a sentence will end.
Where you can breathe deeply
all the way down to bring foliage,
or even autumn’s fall, on the body,
but not rain like the desert here pleads for.
Where you can secrete miracles
without desecrating respect,
with no void to cross over forty years of desert
and then what?
Me, reduced of the desert’s wandering,
at the age of a girl starting the second grade.
May she have an ameliorated year,
a year that saturates, sprouts,
a year in which twigs are ignited into buds,
a preceding year before the winters of her life
that will bless her with the fluttering foliage of clear breath,
a sweet one,
a breath,
no more than an exhale of fresh breath that will ease
the severance every end brings


Armored by slumber
I cross the flaming oceans
of the un-dared dreams.
Only the ones I didn’t dream
have been fulfilled.

Like a prime number
I am a core
in search for oneness.
Unable to divide into any other kernels
I multiply and withdraw
like waves coming and going — 
a pendulum movement
between the coarse golden ash of sand
to the silver moon-color of the waves.

Within their foam dissolving beauty
hides repetitive abandonment.
Roar at the winter
with nothing
to be hindered by.

The sand is just another foam
in a different consistency
engulfs, embraces
and yet forsakes as well,
but in slower motion.

Now I’m hushing oceans
into the fall of dusk,
searching ways
to turn into an islet
so there’s less of me
needing to be loved.

©2023 Gili Haimovich
All rights reserved

Gili Haimovich

…is a prizewinning bilingual Israeli poet with a Canadian background. She is the author of ten poetry books, four in English and six in Hebrew as well as a multilingual book of her poem ‘Note’. She was awarded prizes for best foreign poet at the international Italian poetry competitions I colori dell’anima (2020) and Ossi di Seppia (2019), a grant for excellency by the Ministry of Culture of Israel (2015) a fellowship residency at the International Writers’ Workshop Hong Kong (2021) and more, including several grants for her Hebrew books from The Pais Committee for Arts and Culture, The Acum Association of Authors and The Goldberg Grant  for Culture and Literature. She has full length books translated into French, Serbian and Estonian and more are forthcoming. Her poems are translated into 33 languages and featured worldwide in numerous anthologies and journals. Gili participates in festivals and literary events across the globe such as in Canada, France, Mexico, Italy, India, Romania, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Kosovo, Chile, Kenya, Mongolia and more. Gili also engages in photography and poetry translation as well as facilitating groups and individuals in creative writing in Israel, Canada and more.

The 2023 (Inter)National Poetry Month BeZine Blog Bash

Pastel of European Robin perched on a small branch by Tom Higgins ©2021
Art: European Robin, pastels, ©2021 Tom Higgins