Posted in BeZine ToC, The BeZine Table of Contents

The BeZine | 9:4 Winter 2022 | Life of the Spirit and Activism

Volume 9       Life of the Spirit and Activism     Issue 4
fuel for change

Introduction

Life of the spirit
fuel for change

Remaining Awake

So much seems off course—climate crisis, Ukraine war, rising fascism, depleted energy for resisting—where do we find fuel to keep up the struggle for change? In the pages of this issue glimmer hopes, stars in dark nights, dreams—alongside outrage, compassion, and the fire that makes us all (as Youssef Alaoui says early in this issue). That star-sun-moon fire—the Holy Spirit to some, the light of Creation to others, stardust to many, Enlightenment shining forth for still others—this spirit moves us all to love, to care for our siblings and cousins, to awaken and rise up from ashes of despair and sing our songs.

The political right attacks “woke” and wields the word as a weapon against “…any left-leaning policy that it [wants] to condemn,” Professor Esau McCaulley writes when discussing the last Sunday sermon given by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” Prof. McCaulley tells us that “…although King doesn’t say the word ‘woke,’ he uses the concept as it was understood by many Black folks then…” (NYTimes “The Kind of Revolution That Martin Luther King Jr. Envisioned” 13 Jan 2023).

Citing the story of Rip Van Winkle, Dr. King points out that a little noticed sign in the story is of great importance. When he goes up to the mountains to sleep, it shows King George III; when he comes down it shows George Washington. The change leaves him feeling lost and confused, not knowing the world. Rip Van Winkle slept through a revolution that changed that world. King warns that too many people are sleeping through three revolutions—technological change, weapons of mass destruction, and the social revolution of human rights.

Sound familiar?

Headshot of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., microphone in foreground, out of focus people standing behind him at a distance.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

While Dr. King talks about how in 1968 the geological world had shrunk and time quickened through modern jet travel, how our word balanced on the brink of nuclear destruction, but also how a great outcry for freedom was being heard around the globe. He reminds us that our neighbors had become global, not just down the street. That we had to care for our neighbors everywhere there was oppression and injustice.

Sound familiar?

Continue reading

Posted in General Interest

In Memoriam Michael Rothenberg

Michael Rothenberg

On Monday, 21 November 2022, at around 11 PM EST, Michael Rothenberg left the world. Even though he had told me that he had cancer and I had recently heard that he went into hospice care, the news of his death that arrived yesterday devastated me. Michael was a close friend, a relationship first built online and then cemented in person at the 2015 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) World Conference in Salerno, Italy. Over the years we communicated online by text and voice. He would send me poems he was working on, and I would send him my drafts. We each reviewed works-in-progress of the other—often as not arguing over lines and words in the spirit of making the work stronger. We spent time together when I had the honor of being in a 100TPC writer’s residency in Tallahassee, Florida, where he and his wife Terri Carion moved to from the Bay Area of California. We shared work, giving each other feedback during the day. And we explored the area, ate in local restaurants and visited local bars to hear local music, often with Terri Carion, his partner.

That week 17 high school students were murdered and others injured in Parkland, near Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Michael, as he seemed wired to do, responded both with outrage and with a plan to use poetry to respond. I recall sitting next to him as he began to plan work with others online and I shared ideas and contacted others to arrange 100TPC poetry readings in response, focused on the Parkland shootings but also all other gun violence and the need for socio-cultural change to stop the killings. And soon there were others organizing readings for Parkland, independent of our efforts—synchronicity at work. Of course, mass gun killings haven’t stopped. Neither has poetry or protest against it.

As I write this, there have been two mass shootings this week, the second last night—Colorado Springs, CO, and Chesapeake, VA. And it’s only Wednesday. I seem to hear Michael’s voice in my head, “What are we going to do?” He insisted that others join him to fight oppression, war, the climate crisis, social injustice in any form. And he included himself in his urgings—What are we going to do?

Michael, of blessed memory, and his partner, Terri Carion, founded 100 Thousand Poets for Change in March 2011. In 2014, Jamie Dedes, of blessed memory, our founding editor, began an online 100TPC event for those who wanted to participate but were homebound or distant from in person events. At the Salerno conference, those of us present decided to focus globally on three interrelated issues: peace, environmental sustainability, and social justice. When The BeZine went from monthly to quarterly, we chose to use these three themes in our rotating quarterly themes, adding life of the spirit and activism to make four. We see life of the spirit (broadly defined) as being integral to supporting our activism, our art, our lives, and our values. Michael, z”l, Terri, and 100TPC have influenced and supported the mission of The BeZine.

Michael also founded or co-founded Big Bridge, Poets in Need, Read a Poem to a Child and many other events and projects. In recent years he has worked as the poet behind the Ecosound Ensemble, a poetry and music performance group based in Tallahassee. He wrote many books of poetry. He painted. He collaborated with many. He grew orchids and bromeliads. He enjoyed friends. He mentored many, argued with all, and loved people.

We will miss Michael Rothenberg at The BeZine. I will miss my friend. His poetry and activist spirit will live on, though, this I believe.

—Michael Dickel, 23 November 2023

All photos from Michael Rothenberg’s FaceBook page. Copyright belongs to original copyright or photographer, or to Michael Rothenberg’s estate. Text ©2023 Michael Dickel

Posted in BeZine ToC, The BeZine Table of Contents

The BeZine | 9:3 Fall 2022 | Social Justice

Volume 9       Social Justice     Issue 3
listening, learning, reaching out 

Posted in General Interest

In Memoriam, Contributor Ester Karen Aida

In the Jewish tradition, our first words on hearing of the death of someone are usually Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet, Blessed is the True Judge. It reminds us that we may not know why, but our friend has been taken. We give up our questions to a higher power.

Today, I learned that a friend here in Jerusalem from the creative-activist communities, Ester Karen Aida, passed away. Her funeral will be this evening, as I write this. In 2018, I published some of her poems on my blog, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play. Karen, as I knew her, contributed to The BeZine starting in 2021, when I invited her to send her words and art to us. Her most recent contributions were in this summer’s Waging Peace issue—an important theme in her activist and creative work. Her writing and artwork added strength, beauty, and compassion to each issue in which it appeared.

Psalm 24
Ester Karen Aida ©2022

I first met Karen some years ago at a reading in an art gallery in Jerusalem, which had been organized by our mutual friend, Lonnie Monka. She was in a wheelchair, but active, engaged, and cheerful. We spoke, finding common ground in our creative work and activism. We both had trained in Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication (NVC) techniques. And we became friends from that conversation.

We would see each other mostly at poetry events. We kept up in email and on Facebook. She was making progress with her ongoing health issues, from wheelchair to walker to cane. I gave her rides home from some of these events, after she moved to a neighborhood near mine. She supported peace in the region here with words and deeds, helped individuals in need, and encouraged NVC training. She also supported accompanying and traditional health practices (aka alternative) to work alongside of Western medicine.

Woman in a Field of Marigolds
Ester Karen Aida ©2022

She was a dynamic, compassionate, and strong woman. She leaves grieving family, friends, colleagues. I am still in a bit of shock at the news. Not long from now, I will get ready to attend her funeral, drive across Jerusalem, and join the mourners.

In our Jewish tradition, the family will sit Shiva for 7 days. It is customary to sit with these mourners and listen to their sorrow and their memories as they process the loss. The stories they tell preserve their memory in our hearts. May it be so for all who knew and loved Karen, that her memory be for a blessing.

Children’s Community Garden, Arnona, Jerusalem
(Pastel on brown paper grocery bag)
Ester Karen Aida @2022

Those who visit to comfort the mourners say, when we leave: Ha’makom yenahem etkhem betokh she’ar avelei Tziyonvi’Yerushalayim, In this place may G-d console you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

—Michael, Jerusalem, 11 August 14:36


See Ester Karen Aida’s work in The BeZine.


Featured image at top of the post: Pines, Pencil on Paper, Ester Karen Aida ©2021


Words ©2022 Michael Dickel
All rights reserved


Posted in BeZine ToC, The BeZine Table of Contents

The BeZine | 9:2 Summer 2022 | Waging Peace

Volume 9       Waging Peace: personal & global      Issue 2

Posted in interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry, poetry

just a thought & 2 more poems | Lonnie Monka

just a thought

a gazelle
            leading its herd
can only turn
            as sharply as it
can gallop fast
            enough not
to become trampled
                        —thoughtlessly

along sections of the coast

regardless of who paid to put them there
there are "Danger of Landslide" signs
embedded into the Mediterranean sand


signs that bystanders only take as seriously
as they wonder about the future...
the future—which only ever seems to be


projections of the past—& regardless
of all their writing these signs present
an illustration of a skull facing the horizon

surely someone needs to say the cliché:
a skull has no face—no skin—no nationality
a skull just depicts the peak of naked human history


& I would never have recognized that skull as mine
until happening upon one sign that had been uprooted
and covered by—surprise surprise—a landslide

violence & the pupil

pounding their hooves gazelle search for food
in the Negev's largest nature reserve
until in the sky erupts a distant rumble

the gazelle jerk their gaze upwards
as eyes fidget across a blue & white expanse
expressing a bellow in motion

then as a target on the central hilltop explodes
the violence of the world penetrates the pupil
& an inert luster of the orb reflects

an Israeli Air Force jet zooming ahead of its own voice
restricting firing practice damage to that one hilltop
where earth is freshly blackened with each new blow

each explosion shakes the gazelle's fear-bound bones
but never ignites that ever-expansive desire
urge upon urge to preserve & to be preserved

oh!—how I wish I were a child again
ruled by cravings to touch all objects in my gaze
unaware of the damaging effects of expressing interest

before internalizing Rabbis’ tales of my people
gathering before Mt. Sinai as newly freed slaves
unwilling to face a thundering voice of the divine

"go to the top of the mountain without us"
we plead & instruct our leaders
"pound those awful sounds into marks on stone"

©2022 Lonnie Monka
All rights reserved


Lonnie Monka…

…a Jerusalem-based poet, founded Jerusalism, a non-profit organization to promote Israeli literature in English. He is a PhD student at Hebrew University, researching the intersection of modernist art and orality through a study of David Antin’s talk-poems, and he is currently an OWL Lab Fellow.

Jerusalism


Quote from The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot

April in The BeZine Blog


Posted in interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Poems from Purpose | Gary Beck

Poems from Purpose, an unpublished poetry collection that calls attention to the horrors and beauties in this complex life…


Urban Entropy

The extremes of nature
shock city folk
unaccustomed to deluging rain,
suddenly vulnerable
weakend by mass comforts,
survival capabilities
in dire disasters
highly questionable.

Betrayed

The homeless sit
on crumbling sidewalks,
cardboard signs proclaiming need
disintegrated
from rain, snow,
being ignored
by almost everyone
almost as needy,
abandoned by the 1%
no longer concerned with
the suffering of the people,
the state of the nation.

Track Flower
Photograph ©2022 M.S. Evans

Usurpation

Since man first organized
into family units
one had to be above average
to advance in the clan, tribe,
early cities, city-states, nations,
all well established hierarchys
classified by rank, trade, wealth.

Thousands of years later
shortly after World War II,
returning U.S. soldiers
went to college on the G.I. Bill,
a free education
for seven million men
who jumped to middle class,
a social revolution
unprecedented
in human history.

Soldiers were usually discarded
when no longer needed,
for few had the skills
to make them desirable.
Then millions of graduates
went into the world
with valued professions
that produced wealth and comfort
only dreamed of in the past.

The legions of ex-warriors
unresentful of their treatment,
unlike many soldiers past,
took their places happily
as prosperous citizens
with little need to question
the practices of their rulers,
who successfully bought off
the makers of rebellions
blinded to the oppression
of oligarch exploiters
by the abundance
of goods and services.

©2022 Gary Beck
All rights reserved


Gary Beck…

…has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn’t earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and his published books include 34 poetry collections, 14 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 5 books of plays.


Quote from The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot

April in The BeZine Blog


Posted in interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry

framed in solitude | gary lundy

it feels as if death the only reward whether

for friends or strangers we've lost the appeal of 
a promise of years to come unaffected by 
momentary surprises you tool around town 
defying calls toward turmoil while most lie 
immersed in shallow panicked breaths skin itch 
tingles unattended it seems not to matter what 
language greets at birth the side of any road 
splits open scattering impotent seeds the drought 
now so prevalent we must accustom ourself to 
the limited volume of cessation five shot dead 
including probable head of household and how 
attracted authority figures are to the fatality of 
knees on back of necks only race a permissible 
excuse we watch as a parent walks the 
neighborhood carrying their growing child and 
responsibility living in an environment where 
vehicles required in order to run even short trips 
you were impressed learning how little they had 
in savings still equaled your yearly salary while 
several state governments lay claim upon all land 
access still preoccupied with the genitals of 
children no wonder we all feel a recoil under thin 
layers of flesh you notice their nipples harden 
whenever you finally decide to leave
Framed in Solitude -1
Digital landscape
©Michael Dickel

that’s what can happen after spending months

framed in solitude when a crumb from sandwich 
startles as it hits floor every physical pleasure 
renounces presence how a page read 
disappears as quietly as it was brought to mind 
we team up with neighbors to solve a crisis of 
monetary valuation when the you vanishes 
along with any thought uttered to halt the 
displacement what to think when the crowd 
peopled by lost relatives friends peppered with 
occasional strangers pass as well in the natural 
putrefaction of oxygen deprived materiality two 
birds flattened in alley a few days ago now all 
but gone save for irregular damp spots 
evaporating in the warm daylight they remain 
confident to an extent not worrying about cloth 
labels poking out from under the seams fevers 
splayed separated by fluid shadows only 
sometimes does a letter repeat conjoined rested 
from anticipated coming fresh wounds or 
perhaps in candor words form an unknown 
source as if onward into a renewed terror
Framed in Solitude -2
Digital landscape
©Michael Dickel

a pause between two stanzas a musical silence

flairs brightly back to surface ease under 
diversionary noise we roam the four small rooms 
as might be counted ignore bathing toilet room or 
you might rather enjoy the open fields of a library 
tying two into one larger room local artists walls 
doctored for pleasure they answer the call of 
anger jealousy impotence so more shot dead 
another one wears mesh mask as if thus 
illustrating their neighborly care earlier a young 
child flinches when spoken to reflects our facial 
reaction every morning when climbing out of bed 
seeing mirrored shallow tics or might it be a 
return to bearable odors of bleach disinfectant 
who can possibly imagine what lies hidden that 
compels such stubborn rampant busy dashes 
and apostrophes we just realized they'd joined in 
giving birth a name three or four years ago prior 
to the now ever present opportunity to face rarely 
unexpected death sentence you remind life has 
always been a losing hand of cards check and 
recalibrate the timing of regional locations 
somewhere as a walking pathway inarticulate 
refusal dizzy within new gnawing hunger intuition 
misguiding directionality seek dictionary advice 
their attempt at forestalling the deceit of sensual 
fantasy again improbable pause then leap into 
new noise habitation served up on plastic 
swimwear coal carrying train cars
Framed in Solitude -3
Digital landscape
©Michael Dickel

monologic pendulum within invented diversity

over compensates the small group of seven or 
fewer in the warmth of shaded looks hidden 
under ignorant familiar colors when hair sparks 
envy or our dress surprises misremember 
height as being greater now gaze down upon 
fake dreams spread lotion on over washed hands 
form as kindness lacquer speckled cracking low 
humidity and softly sore nipple from earlier 
stimulation the addendum approaches from the 
north or east building for revitalization implosion 
fold within dry lawn and wilted flowers you 
pretend to hear the footsteps of a spider only to 
look up discover it dangling webbed to ceiling the 
end grows customary losing spread over the last 
fourteen months we interrupt to wash dishes 
silverware pour hot water over floorboards one 
still wallows in defeated romance commonality 
peppers the street with skid marks tomorrow 
inoculate from present foreboding separating 
allergic figures of speech awaiting the cliché of 
some other shoe dropping watch your age when 
nearby important adults transfix upon an over 
staying for sale signage as personal loss we 
wager outweighs others
Framed in Solitude -4
Digital landscape
©Michael Dickel

to slow down when you feel already atrophied

not only by the isolation but rising rent the loss 
of unemployment checks even food stamps of 
little good turned down regularly they recover 
from heart attack have migrated from wheeled 
walker to single metal cane at that age when 
even nostalgia fails to temper despair almost 
seems the most regularly used word on this 
cloudy windy rain whispering day a love fest with 
your cat sitting sharing internet chores they take 
an extra day off for recovery from anguish 
needles and ink endorphins we remain so 
overwhelmed much yet remains to be done 
details of a poorly written description empty even 
of driving popular narratives finish coffee return 
to the slumbering apartment watch old cop show 
pretend it's a televised day off instead of the 
continued replay of bad news channel incinerate 
repetitious tattered worn out dreams our beard 
still grows whether liked or not the child wounds 
three early morning school day what to make of 
this drive to destroy maybe simple species defect 
had you more quickly read the marking slivers 
doubt might not have curled around the sound of 
pen on paper a dark sound of interrupting texts 
sent by unknown others you could care less 
about busy close contact rendering likenesses
Framed in Solitude -5
Digital landscape
©Michael Dickel

©2022 gary lundy
All rights reserved


Quote from The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot

April in The BeZine Blog


Posted in interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry

Finding My Way | Patrick Connors

Finding Myself

Strive to change the world
in such a way that there's
no further need to be a dissident.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poetry as Insurgent Art

Rising up from deep within
the very core of my being
the essence of who I am

underneath my public image
is the need to find myself  
someone to admire.

Lawrence Ferlinghetti spoke the words
the world needed to hear
at that exact moment.

Best of the Beats
because he promoted the rest
above himself.

Paragon of enlightenment
inspirer of a new way of being
artistic role model.

Ferlinghetti would have loathed
such titles based on what
little I know about him.

He would have frowned 
if not downright sneered
at such fanboy foppery.

In the same way 
many reading or hearing this could be offended
by words like humanist, socialist,

countercultural, malcontent, protestor,
activist, freethinker, nonconformist.

In the Coney Island of My Mind
—or, more accurately, Exhibition Place— 
I get to play with words

turn image into meaning and back again
with enough musicality to form a poetry
of concise language and complex thought

imagine these words 
making this world a better place
at least for a moment

and believe if I say them with clarity
and integrity for long enough
you may just listen to me.

Prisoner

I have lost my voice.
The only word I have ever felt beating
in my heart, echoing through my mind
has been taken from me.

The other prisoners 
hiss and whisper the words
the broken-hearted cannot say out loud
and leave me in solitary silence.

But I know why.
They don't understand
the burden I am bound to carry
and must keep hidden deep inside.

This burden keeps me alive.
It gives me passion and purpose
and is the only thing I have
which is real.

If this word trapped in my throat
found daylight at the tip of my tongue
I would sing and shout, laugh and cry 
and my sentence would be complete. 

If I could see her again
make love to her slowly and gently
if I could say her name once more
then I would be free.

Middle-Aged White Men Are Ruining the World

The Saturday bus ride to Morningside is so much better
than my weekday drudgery along Sheppard
up whichever connecting route presents itself
to get me east on Finch to my workplace.

Everybody is in a better mood, more courteous
more concerned about others around them.
They are on their way to fun excursions, or shopping
to meet their needs, as well as those of whom they love.

The Morningside bus ride south is even better. The bus takes
longer to arrive, but the driver wants to chat and be part
of the community, part of your day. Everyone makes room
for baby carriages and people with canes and each other.

But not LAST Saturday.

A guy about my age got on the Morningside bus with his two sons.
Two stops later, a kind enough looking guy, clearly down 
on his luck, maybe hadn’t eaten in a while, entreats 
the driver to let him on the bus without paying.

The guy about my age turns to his sons, shakes his head,
saying, “The driver let him on the bus for free.”
The two sons were at that age where their view
of the entire universe was filtered through their father.

What an entitled, arrogant, self-righteous, ignorant…
What kind of legacy are we leaving behind?
What kind of world are we leaving for the children?
What else can we teach them other than right or wrong?

I wondered how he would feel in the unlikely event
either he or one of his sons were in that predicament.

Try

the world tries
to tell me
I am something
I am not
and I fight back
and I lose
so I try 
to be what they say
they want me to be
and I succeed on their terms
for a moment
and then the moment passes
so I try 
to be myself again
and I fail
and then I try 
something different
and I fail
but the failure
seems to be 
the shit I must get through
so I can
finally grow up
so I laugh
not a maniacal laugh
merely a buffer 
against the underlying darkness
which tries
to overwhelm me
but 
I rise
try to clean myself up
and realize 
this is the day
I become
a little more
human

Patrick Connors’…

…first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, was released by Lyricalmyrical Press in 2013, and charted on the Toronto Poetry Map. Other publication credits include: Blue Collar Review; The Toronto Quarterly; Spadina Literary Review; Sharing Spaces; Tamaracks; and Tending the Fire. His first full collection, The Other Life, is newly released by Mosaic Press.


©2022 Patrick Connors
All rights reserved


Quote from The Wasteland, T.S. Eliot

April in The BeZine Blog


Posted in Book/Magazine Reviews, General Interest, Guest Writer, Life of the Spirit

Coalesce—Stories at the Center of the Human Experience

I have recently had the pleasure to begin a correspondence with the founding-editor of Coalesce, a new online journal, one that I think would be of interest to The BeZine’s readers and contributors. So I invited that editor, Erich Keyser, to share with us about Coalesce and his journey that led to it.

Connecting Through Our Stories

COALESCE is a community where people can come together by sharing their personal human story through creative nonfiction, poetry, and photo essays. We all have a personal story to tell. The way we were raised, the hardship we’ve faced, the people we’ve met, and the lessons we’ve learned. The experiences that have shaped us, good and bad, painful and joyful, challenging and rewarding. But how often do we get to share part of our story openly, feeling truly heard and understood? COALESCE is a place to be unequivocally listened to and heard, and hopefully to activate our empathy and initiate a spark of compassion and greater understanding. We never know what someone has been through. Sometimes, we aren’t even fully aware of how our own traumas and experiences have impacted us and then influence the way we see and treat others.

With our current fast-paced culture of immediacy and business, when time is money, and political perspectives equate to perceived threat, it’s hard to slow down and listen. Misinformation, misjudgments, and misunderstanding lead to fear, which prevent us from connecting with others. A global pandemic forced us to stop and listen for a brief moment in time: we could hear the birds in the city, dolphins returned to canals of Venice, people went for walks outside, had to sit with their own feelings and thoughts in their heads (scary!). Yet, there seemed to be a rush to get back to “normal” – to traffic-jammed commutes, to quick greetings of “how’s it going?” without stopping to listen for the reply. While in ways this pandemic brought us together, it also sharpened the divides and exacerbated the anxieties in our society. I think that now, even more than before, it is important for us to listen to each other.

COALESCE began about a year and a half ago when I was in the depths of a state of significant loneliness, fear, and depression. I was in self isolated quarantine in Guelph, Ontario after recently visiting my family in Pennsylvania for a short holiday trip. I was in the middle of contemplating leaving an objectively great job with steady pay and meaningful enough work. But the long hours at a desk and fast-paced business style were damaging my body and draining my soul. I was wrestling with my dad’s recent cognitive decline, which he was brushing off to old age, and that we later found out to be a tumor, which was, thankfully, successfully removed. Certain cognitive functions however won’t return – most likely due to early stages of dementia. I was missing my family and friends. And I was trying to hold together a relationship at the time, which was inevitably not going to work. I was missing and craving community and creativity, and began dreaming up all kinds of ideas, which were the beginnings of what COALESCE Community eventually became. 

I grew up in a very small, very white, very conservative town. It wasn’t until I started meeting people with different lived experiences and diverse perspectives, that I genuinely started questioning my own assumptions about others and the world. I got my B.S. in Biology and Religious Studies at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, and essential to the Ursinus experience is a course called CIE (the Common Intellectual Experience). This required first-year seminar introduces students to much more than college level reading and writing. It broadens their academic, intellectual, and emotional horizons, engaging with books, poems, music, and plays across disciplines, worldviews, cultures, and time, and poses some of the most fundamental questions of the undergraduate experience (and arguably, our experience as human beings): What does it mean to be human? How should we live together? How do we come to know the world? What should matter to me? What will I do? I was lucky to have the late Rev. Charles Rice as my CIE professor, who was the epitome of compassion and love. He was a no-bullshit kind of man, who deeply cared for his students and their growth, and sought to know them on a deeper level. In short, he took time to listen to them and their personal human stories, cultivating greater understanding, compassion, and love which contributed to him being a champion for students and a pillar of the college and surrounding community.

This course, these questions, and Rev. Rice forever shaped me and how I oriented to the world. They guided my subsequent experiences at Ursinus, studying abroad in Tanzania, and at graduate school in Canada. They continue to inform much of how I approach my life decisions. During graduate school, and afterwards in a professional capacity, I had the privilege to work with several First Nations and Native American Tribes across Canada and the United States on a variety of environmental and conservation initiatives. Being able to bear witness to the powerful and beautiful songs, language, stories, ceremonies, and relationships that many of these people and Elders shared with each other and the land – culture and relationships which were almost destroyed through settler colonialism and residential schools – created a deeper understanding inside myself of the ways in which we are all connected. The ways in which we exist in relationship to one another and the world around us. The ways in which we all have spirit and can only thrive when we care for and nurture that spirit.

It’s easy to avoid an angry co-worker, to ignore someone experiencing homelessness on the street, to get upset with a friend or partner for something they said or did that was hurtful. It’s easy to dismiss someone with a different political or social perspective as a waste of time or unable to understand. But all these reactions lead to and perpetuate misunderstanding, fear, hostility, anger, cynicism, or apathy and indifference. When we take the time to sit with someone, get to know them on a deeper more intimate level, hear their story, what they’ve been through that has shaped them, it’s impossible to not develop a greater understanding of who they are, where they came from, and what they’re going through. Listening to understand is an intentional practice. The late Thich Nhat Hanh summed it up with profound simplicity: “Understanding and Love are not two separate things, but just one. To develop understanding, you have to practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion. When you understand, you cannot help but love. And when you love, you naturally act in a way that can relieve the suffering of people.”

The Cover of Spring Equinox 2022
The first issue of Coalesce
Cover Art by Kate Sowinski ©2022

At COALESCE we want to empower people to share their story. Stories are at the center of our human experience which bring us together. Authentic and honest sharing and deep listening can help us connect with one another, cultivate greater empathy, understanding, and compassion. We currently publish a collection of human stories seasonally, one for every solstice and equinox. We try to stay connected to our contributors, follow what they’re doing, celebrate their successes and share them with the world. We are starting virtually, and in ways this is a beautiful gift as our community can reach and connect with a larger audience. The long-term vision is for COALESCE to grow into a collaborative creative community space: to hold story-telling and creative workshops, serve as a co-working space, host retreats centered on creative inquiry and expression, partner with educational institutions and other community organizations and businesses to hold space for student galleries, community talks, and so much more. Realistically, the door for ideas and people is wide open. At the center of it all is sharing our stories. For all of us. To speak our truth. To be vulnerable. To be heard. To connect. To understand. To grow closer. To heal. To love better. To see each other and the world with eyes of compassion.


©2022 Erich Keyser
All rights reserved


Erich Keyser…

…lives outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (the Traditional Territory of the Lenape Nation). His studies in Geography, Biology, and Religion have taken him across the United States to Tanzania and Canada. Erich has several years of experience working alongside Indigenous Nations in Canada and the United States on a variety of environmental and conservation projects. He is curious about human relationships with each other and the natural world, and believes in the power of deep listening and connecting through personal stories. He is currently an Adjunct Instructor at his alma mater, Ursinus College, and finds joy in playing and composing music, writing, rock climbing, hiking, mushroom coffee, and quality time with his partner and loved ones. Erich is the founder of COALESCE.

Coalesce Community
STORIES AT THE CENTER OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Coalesce Submissions

Posted in BeZine ToC, The BeZine Table of Contents

The Bezine | 9:1 Spring 2022 | sustainABILITY & Ukraine Peace special section

Volume 9                  sustainABILITY & Ukraine Peace                  Issue 1

sustainABILITY

with a special section—

Ukraine Peace

Posted in General Interest, Peace & Justice, Waging Peace

Ukraine—Peace

Sunflower, digital art from photo
©2017 Kat Patton
The sunflower is Ukraine’s national flower.

Even with all of the tensions and warnings, Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, shocked the world. This violation of international law and Ukraine’s sovereignty could easily expand to a broader war. This puts progressives, as I think myself to be, in position of wondering how do we wage peace? Is there a path to peace?

As I write this, I don’t know.

Whatever the path to peace may be, the path for social justice would not allow for accepting Russia’s war on Ukraine. However, I also am aware that Western Imperialism has acted just as viciously in its own interests, and that the US and the West continue to promote wars in their interests.

Perhaps the #HackersAgainstPutin group could do infrastructure damage to stop the war? Anonymous claimed credit for knocking down Russian government websites. Would this be enough? And could this escalate to cyber warfare that would harm or even kill civilians if infrastructure fails in combatant countries?

Could a world-wide strike be the path, opposed to all war and demanding peace? Is such a thing possible even? How do we follow Gandhi’s path of non-violence and quickly grow it to a global scale? I can’t imagine that it could be done in time to help the people in Ukraine.

And history provides warnings about where this invasion could lead. In fact, Putin followed a playbook used in 1939. One of the demands Hitler presented for negotiation just before the invasion of Poland was “safeguarding the German minority in Poland.” Putin said in his speech announcing the invasion that its “goal is to protect people who have been abused by the genocide of the Kyiv regime for eight years.” By dawn of 24 February 2022, the Russian army attacked Ukraine with a blitzkrieg, aiming for military targets. The blitzkrieg strategy was first used pre-dawn of September 1, 1939, starting the invasion of Poland. The USSR joined Germany in attacking Poland on 17 September of that year.

How do we protect peace and simultaneously prevent further expansion through military force?

And who to stand behind for justice? It is not as though the U.S. does not use military force, directly and indirectly. The shadows of Vietnam, Irag, Libya, and Afghanistan loom over this battle. Can we trust the US and NATO to do the right thing?


CUNY Professor Peter Beinart offers an apt quote from 1943 to frame his argument that this time, we need to support the US, even progressives who rightly attack the US for its hypocrisy and war-mongering:

In 1943, the Hungarian-born journalist Arthur Koestler wrote: “In this war we are fighting against a total lie in the name of a half-truth.” That’s a good motto for American progressives to adopt in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

CUNY Professor Peter Beinart, “Russia speaks total lies. That doesn’t diminish America’s half-truths” in The Guardian

Beinart acknowledges the lies of the U.S.: Saying the US stands with Ukraine because America is committed to democracy and the “rules-based international order” is at best a half-truth. The US helps dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates commit war crimes in Yemen, employs economic sanctions that deny people from Iran to Venezuela to Syria life-saving medicines, rips up international agreements like the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate accords, and threatens the international criminal court if it investigates the US or Israel.

And then he goes on to explain the connection to the 1943 quote:

But this hypocrisy wouldn’t have fazed Koestler, because it’s nothing new. In 1943, the alliance that fought Hitler was led by a British prime minister who championed imperialism, an American president who presided over racial apartheid, and Joseph Stalin. Koestler’s point wasn’t that the US or Britain, let alone the USSR, were virtuous in general. It was that they were virtuous relative to Nazi Germany in the specific circumstances of the second world war, and that these sinful governments were the only ones with the geopolitical heft to stop a totalitarian takeover of Europe.

These extended quotes give the overall argument. Beinart continues to develop it with a focus on the invasion of Ukraine. He points out that there are times when Russia had been on the relatively virtuous side and the US not, with examples. And times when the US has been relatively virtuous, and Russia not. In the end, for this case, we have to think clearly and make a choice.

As Beinart writes: “But Koestler’s point was that progressives can puncture America’s pretensions to universal virtue while still recognizing that it is sometimes one of the few instruments available to combat evil.”

Peter Beinart’s essay is worth reading in full here.

While I do not support much of what the U.S. does, in this situation, I agree with Beinart that it is, relative to Putin’s invasion, the more virtuous side to support.


However, I still really want to find a non-violent path to peace for all. I recognize that, today, this seems an impossibly distant goal. It probably won’t be reached in my lifetime. Sadly, it has been made more distant, seemingly less possible, with this invasion.

My heart, thoughts, and good will goes out to the peoples of both Russia and Ukraine who are caught between the anvil and the hammer. May peace return.


I don’t know what will happen in Ukraine during the next two weeks, but as editor, I have decided to have a special section in The BeZine’s Spring issue, one devoted to peace in Ukraine. Give us your thoughts, share your poetry, send your art.

The Spring issue comes out on or shortly after 15 March.

Special Section Deadline: March 8.

Please consider submitting your work and please encourage your contacts to submit to this special section.

May Peace Prevail on Earth.

—Michael Dickel ©2022 except quotes

As I have been writing this blog post…this is breaking news:

One news brief on MSN (via AP)
two very different pronouncements
RUSSIA PUTS NUCLEAR FORCES ON ALERT

In a shocking move that immediately unearthed fears many thought permanently buried from the Cold War of the previous century, Putin ordered Russian nuclear weapons prepared for increased readiness to launch, ratcheting up tensions with Europe and the United States over the conflict that is dangerously poised to expand beyond the former frontiers of the defunct U.S.S.R.

© Provided by Associated Press Members of civil defense prepare Molotov cocktails in a yard in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. A Ukrainian official says street fighting has broken out in Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv. Russian troops also put increasing pressure on strategic ports in the country’s south following a wave of attacks on airfields and fuel facilities elsewhere that appeared to mark a new phase of Russia’s invasion. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The Russian president told his defense minister and the chief of the military’s General Staff to put the nuclear deterrent forces in “special regime of combat duty.”

He said that leading NATO powers had made “aggressive statements” toward Russia in addition to stiff economic sanctions and cutting leading Russian banks from the SWIFT banking system.

RUSSIA AND UKRAINE TO HOLD TALKS

After rejecting Putin’s offer to meet in the Belarusian city of Homel on the grounds that their common neighbor was facilitating the Russia assault, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy agreed to send a Ukrainian delegation to meet with Russian counterparts at an unspecified time and location on the Belarusian border.

The announcement comes hours after Russia announced that its delegation had flown to Belarus to await talks. Ukrainian officials initially rejected the move, saying any talks should take place elsewhere than Belarus, a country that has supported Putin directly by allowing Russia to use its territory as a staging ground.

© Provided by Associated Press People fleeing the conflict in neighboring Ukraine cross the border in Przemysl, Poland, Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022. Street fighting broke out in Ukraine’s second-largest city Sunday and Russian troops put increasing pressure on strategic ports in the country’s south following a wave of attacks on airfields and fuel facilities elsewhere that appeared to mark a new phase of Russia’s invasion. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Zelenskyy, who has refused to abandon Kyiv, named Warsaw, Bratislava, Istanbul, Budapest or Baku as alternative venues for talks, before accepting the Belarus border.

The Kremlin added later that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had offered to help broker an end to fighting in a call with Putin. It didn’t say whether the Russian leader accepted.


More reading

Beauchamp, Zack. “Putin’s “Nazi” rhetoric reveals his terrifying war aims in Ukraine.” Vox. 24 February 2022 [accessed: 27 February 2022]

Beinart, Peter. “Russia speaks total lies. That doesn’t diminish America’s half-truths” The Guardian online 26 February 2022 [accessed: 27 Feb 2022]

Marker, Jake. “A Prayer for Those Who Stayed: Yearning for a peace that falls like wildflowers” Tablet 25 February 2022 [accessed: 27 February 2022]

Stanley, Jason. “The antisemitism animating Putin’s claim to ‘denazify’ Ukraine.” The Guardian online 26 February 2022 [accessed: 27 February 2022]

Posted in Poems/Poetry

IFLAC WORLD PEACE POETRY CONTEST 2022

The International Forum for Literature and Culture of Peace is pleased to announce its Peace Poetry Contest 2022 (in English or Spanish). You will be able to register your poem for this competition from the 15th February to the 15th July 2022. The winners of the contest will be announced on September 2022, during the celebration of the International Day of Peace.

Posted in BeZine ToC, The BeZine Table of Contents

The Bezine | 8:4 Winter 2021 | Life of the Spirit and Activism

The  BeZine

Volume 8                  Life of the Spirit                  Issue 4

Digital painting of two hands holding a bluebird, tan background with some shadows.

Life of the Spirit
and
Healing

Introduction & Table of Contents

Posted in General Interest, Pushcart Prize Nominees

The BeZine Announces Pushcart Nominations

Kat Patton

The Editorial Team
at
The BeZine

proudly announces
our nominations
for this year’s

Pushcart Prizes!

From Spring 2021

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

One Woman Leads to Another” by Judy DeCroce —
Poem

From Summer 2021 — 

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

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

From Fall 2021

Consumed” by Adrienne Stevenson
Poem

Nowadays” by Melodie Corrigall
Fiction

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

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

Next year, we will do this again.

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

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

—Michael Dickel, Editor

Posted in BeZine ToC, The BeZine Table of Contents, V8N3

The BeZine | 8:3 Fall 2021 | Social Justice

The  BeZine

Volume 8                  September 15, 2021                  Issue 3

Social Justice
and
Hunger

Cover art: Exchange 1900–2021
Digital Landscape from Photos (Winona, MN, USA, and Jerusalem, Israel)
©2021 Michael Dickel

Introduction & Table of Contents

Posted in BeZine ToC, The BeZine Table of Contents, Volume 8 | Issue 2 | Peace

The BeZine | 8:2 Summer 2021 | Waging Peace

The  BeZine

Volume 8                  June 15, 2021                  Issue 2

Waging Peace
through finding common ground

Cover art: Still Life with Goldfish and Lotus
Kat Patton

Digital Image

Introduction & Table of Contents

Posted in interNational Poetry Month, poem, poetry, song

A Letter to Jonathan by Manouk Rachelle Rosenfeld

In Hebrew, the same word is used for song and poem. This song is a poem, or this poem is a song, in any language. Manouk, a student of mine at David Yellin Academic College of Education in Jerusalem, shared this with me. As we continue poetry month(s) into May, we at The BeZine want to share its message with you, our readers.

This past week has been one of loss and sorrow here in Israel, with the death of 45 people in a crushing crowd during a religious celebration last Thursday night into the early hours of Friday morning. Lag B’Omer, the holiday, celebrates freedom and resistance to tyranny. The religious aspects go deeper, with Mystical Connections to an ancient rabbi believed to have handed down the Zohar, a principle text of Kabbalah.

This song is dedicated by its writer to Yonatan Zaken, who died too young. The BeZine dedicates it also to the 45 young and old Israelis who died last week, and to those we know and love we have lost in this past year.

—Michael Dickel, editor


Dedicated to Yonatan Zaken
Music and Lyrics: Manouk Rachelle Rosenfeld (Vd Woestijne)
With Yonatan Gelfand, Guitar, backing vocals, and recording
Lyrics translated into Hebrew by Noya Rosenfeld
@2020 All Rights Reserved

There is a place
Called heaven
Where loved ones go
And never come back,
Where time is not counted.

Magical rides
And violins 
Play in the dust of clouds.
And i am here empty handed…

It's been a long time now,
I've seen the contours
Of your face.
You have been brave.
They say you're better off now…

I look up high.
You promised me
You would be the brightest of all.
I know you will always be

Dancing in a field
Of memories so free.
No, I won't forget,
You remain a part of me.
יש מקום
הנקרא גן עדן
שלשם האהובים שלנו הולכים
ולעולם לא חוזרים
מקום בו הזמן לא נספר

נסיעות קסומות וכינורות
מתנגנים בעננים של אבק
ואני כאן בידיים ריקות

עבר המון זמן
ראיתי את צורת פניך 
היית אמיץ
והם אמרו שיותר טוב לך עכשיו

אני מסתכלת למעלה גבוה
הבטחת לי שתהיה הכוכב המואר ביותר
אני יודעת שתמיד תהיה 

לרקוד בשדה
של זכרונות חופשיים
לא, אני לא אשכח
אתה חלק ממני

The roof of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai Tomb, Mount Meron, Israel (2010 photo)
It was at the site of this tomb that the Lag B’Omer Tragedy of 2021 happened.
Source: WikiMedia. This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike
4.0 International3.0 Unported2.5 Generic2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.
Bar Yochai Tomb, Mt Meron, Israel
(photo from 1920–1930)
Public Domain Source: PikiWiki – Israel free image collection project via WikiMedia

©2021 Manouk Rachelle Rosenfeld
All rights reserved


The BeZine Spring