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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
…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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The resistance poet in Poetry Chef Michael Dickel wields his frying spoon with that amazing verve of a militant word-master and that astounding zeal of a chronicler cum griot cum protest poet. He fries and roasts the 6th January American political gaffe into a beautiful poetry gourmet ( fusion of visual arts , graphics and poetry) as perpetuated by the tyrant and autocratic regime of Donald Trump at Capitol Hill . Archaisms and political corruption that has since plunged the once all powerful America into the status of a Banana Republichovel , a war mongering nation and a military state on record as lecturing several countries across the globe on ethos of non-violent elections, freedom of expressions , human rights and democracy . Dr.Dickel uses powerful grim visual imagery , sorry historical allusions exposing the stark nudity of a system that have thrived on punishing other nations through perpetuation…
We received the note below November 8, 2020. We lost our beloved founding editor and editor-in-chief emerita on 06 November of this year. We all will miss her. She was a loving, caring, and creative person who gave everything to her art, to others, and to the causes of peace, social justice, and sustainability. Most of all, she loved her family and they loved her, caring for her gently to the very end.
— Michael Dickel, editor
Hello, everybody. I’m Richard, Jamie’s son. As you may know, Jamie entered hospice care on July 7. She wanted to be home for her remaining days. I honored this request and stayed with her and cared for her during this time. Though end of life is painful, she went through this period with characteristic resilience, thoughtfulness, and generosity. My being able to stay with her was just the latest gift in a lifetime of gifts she gave me. She passed at 10:00 PM Pacific last night (11/6). By grace, my wife Karen and I were at her side, holding her hands as she passed. Be comforted that it was an easy passing. I am only just starting to monitor her Facebook and email. Please be patient as I work through things. You will be hearing from me. Meanwhile, thank you again. She loved the Zine and the team. I have heard many great stories about you all and read many of your works. I like forward to connecting more soon. With love and gratitude to you all, Richard.
It’s our pleasure and privilege to announce the winners of the 2021 Banner Contest for The BeZine 100TPC! The competition was fierce and our outside judge had a difficult time deciding, as all of the entries we received showed talent and great merit.
The Grand Prize is awarded to Jane Grenier, of JaneSpokenWord.com. Her entry will be showcased as The BeZine 100TPC Banner Header for the next year.
The BeZine 100TPC Team came up with some extra prizes for the designs of four Honorable Mentions! They are, in alphabetical order:
Honorable Mention: Jazmine Cabaluna
Honorable Mention: Sasha Callaghan
Honorable Mention: Kella Hanna-Wayne
Honorable Mention: Peter Wilkin
All winning entrants will receive official certificates of merit that may be printed, as well as Amazon gift cards. Both certificates and gift cards will be e-mailed to the e-mail addresses associated with the submitted entries.
Thank you all for your wonderful submissions and special thanks to our judge, Mrs. Bettye Shely Holte, a University Professor Emeritus of Art and Gallery Director of two galleries for over twenty years!
Are you artistically inclined? Do you believe in raising awareness about important issues like Peace, Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice? Would you like a chance to display your visual arts talent to a global audience for a whole year? Could you use an Amazon Gift Card?
If this sounds like you, then we want to see your art! The BeZine 100TPC (One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change) is holding an open contest for our 2021 Banner. This respected online magazine showcases both budding and well-established, professional talent from poets, musicians, and all manner of artists from all over the world. The BeZine reaches a global audience of thousands of people and continues to attract additional readers, followers, and subscribers. Artists who are interested are encouraged to check out our site at: https://thebezine.com/ to see the kinds of things we publish, as well as read our mission statement and publishing guidelines.
There is no entry fee. Only one entry per person, please.
You may use any medium, but the final submission needs to be a digital format picture or slide (.jpg, .png or .bmp). Banners need to be: 820px x 360px (or 6.8” L x 3” H) so that we may also use it on our Facebook page. All entries should be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, and the Subject Line should read: ATTN The BeZine 100TPC Banner .
Submission Deadline is 12 pm Noon CST, Monday, August 31st, 2020. Winners will be announced Tuesday, September 15th, 2020.
• First Place: $100 Amazon Gift Card • Two Runners up: $25 Amazon Gift Card each
“In all her doings my mother influenced me to have endurance, dedication, resistance, faith and resilience.” Mbizo Chirasha Our village rondavels sat on the peripheral fringes of Dayataya, that elephantine mountain of home. It cracked with a fervent babyish glee every promising dawn. Birds sang soprano and black baboons yelped baritone. The chattering monkeys and jiving […]
“In all her doings my mother influenced me to have endurance, dedication, resistance, faith and resilience.” Mbizo Chirasha Recently, Zimbabwean poet, Mbizo Chirasha, lost his mom. Knowing that his sense of loss and grief is compounded by the fact of his exile and an inability therefor to be with her in her last days and […]
Call for submissions of feature articles, fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, art and photography, music videos, and documentary videos on diverse environmental topics including but not limited to: degradation, protection, greenhouse gasses, weather/climate change, justice, and agriculture, famine and hunger. This call is open through May 15.
While The BeZine does not pay for content, neither do we charge submission or subscription fees.
Work that is not properly submitted will not be considered.
Prose, poetry (up to three poems), and links to videos: submit in the body of the email.
Please: no odd, unusual, eccentric layouts
Photographs or artwork: submit as an attachment
DO NOT send PDFs or a document with both narrative and illustrations combined.
By submitting work to email@example.com, you are confirming that you own and hold the rights to the work and that you grant us the right to publish on the blog or in the Zine if your submission is accepted. Submissions via Facebook or other social networking or in the comments section, will not be reviewed or accepted.
Please include a brief bio in the email. No photographs.
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY: We are looking for something special to be the header for The Table of Contents Page.
SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS are okay but please let us know immediately if availability changes.
Among the guidelines: our core team, our guest contributors, and our readership are international and diverse. No works that advocate hate or violence, promote misunderstanding, or that demean others are acceptable. Please read our Complete Submission Guidelines.
How long is it since I set out on a quest, my
life’s mission, it seems like an age since I
realised my first ambition to own a car, to
drink a pint, legally, but not at the same time,
obviously! Each step was like—I imagine—
a fix of drugs, the only thing that I ever wanted,
that brings the ultimate pleasure that cannot
possibly be surpassed by anything but another
fix of something newer, stronger, more in
keeping with my current mores, my present,
my expectation, my self-image when was it
that I was introduced to Status, that fickle friend,
who always taunts me, the little demon, who
also seems to be up to their neck in sand and
knows so much about me, too much, and
strangely seems to have acquired me, as a
chattel without so much as ‘by your leave’, but
Ego and I are old friends, even though I didn’t
know, it turns out he’s also known my new
friend, Status, for longer than I, partners in crime
it seems, strange how small and large the World
is and that feeling I’m not in control, but damn!
who had the audacity to tell me I’m not in control,
of course I am fully in control of my thoughts and
actions are completely my own invention, all my
own, I know who I am, what I want, where I’m
going so don’t tell me I’m not in control, my
friends all like me, for who I am, or are they
really a reflection of my own missions, ambitions
and do I support them against their enemies, who
they perceive, think, guess, assume I am against
… before another me arrived stage left, with
thoughts that are different from anything I had ever
espoused, before this moment all I ever wanted
was the next portion of life served up at a price.
Now, whilst ego may still be important, the only
status we need is to be alive, to live, all else is
immaterial. So, where is God? Where is salvation
for these sorry souls, faced with their mortality?
Then there was Samuel, who wrote of him, or
someone, who sounds like him, about people,
who wait forever, for a pot of gold, for a favour,
apparently owed, for an expectation assumed,
an entitlement thought to be a right, to enable a
mission, want, desire, dream, right of passage,
an explanation of it all … then I realised I didn’t
have a clue … what we were waiting for.
[Author’s note: We should never wait. We should absolutely not wait. Life is not going to be served up on a plate for us. I now know I’ve spent far too much of my life waiting for something that I was lead to expect would happen, something that would change my life for the better, that would magically transform me into the person I longed to be, or thought I longed to be, thought that I should be, according to the expectations I had grown up to believe I should have for myself, or that someone else had for me, that was apparently the key to success and happiness. And so it seemed to be … until, that is, I began to realise that I am, like every being, a unique organic entity, with a unique set of abilities and aptitudes. Then I started to believe I could make things happen for myself and stopped allowing myself to be influenced by the expectations of others, especially the (soon to be considered pariahs of modern materialistic society!) the marketing and advertising people, who want to make us believe in the idealised person we think we’d like to be, so as to persuade us to buy that nectar of the Gods, that machine that will revolutionise our life, that technology that will give us ultimate power of knowledge, those things that will make us the more attractive, that will pave the way to financial success, wealth, power and influence, simply by buying into their purveyance. How frail is the ego. How flawed is our search for status. How fragile is life and how much of a leveller is the Corona virus that will not select its victims according to status, but according the fact we are all organic beings. We are all humans, in need of purpose, compassion and love.]
Two plays by Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot” and “Happy Days,” are the original influence for this text.
Clouds gather in the sky
some are dark some light up high
here they come rumbling
wonder why they are grumbling?
raising a storm, hue and cry!
Clouds gather in the sky;
are they showing us a fire?
frowning on a sinful desire?
warning of The Heaven’s Ire?
or to cool the bonfire?
Clouds gather in the sky
I wonder if their thunder
is a song of celestial choir?
praising Divine Moist Sapphire,
Dust we see and dust we are
yet the particles conspire
Clouds gather in the sky
to relieve us from our misery
cooling comfort we do require,
I know they come to admire
and blessing us , will soon retire
away to their ocean home entire,
Clouds gather in the sky!
they leave a message , a purifier!
be at peace and mercy
be not a crier or a liar
be like us without any fuss
a bold graceful high flyer-
Clouds gather in the sky!
in rain we sing ‘n’ shout ‘n’ play
but break the law, then face the bolt.
If stormy weather be Gods’ Wrath?
Stormy weather was foretold—then
pray for mercy, and a cleansing bath
OH Clouds Gather in the sky!
And I don’t wonder why…
ANJUM WASIM DAR (Poetic Oceans) is one of the newest members of “The BeZine” core team.
Anjum was born in Srinagar (Indian occupied Kashmir) in 1949. Her family opted for and migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India and she was educated in St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi where she passed the Matriculation Examination in 1964. Anjum ji was a Graduate with Distinction in English in 1968 from the Punjab University, which ended the four years of College with many academic prizes and the All Round Best Student Cup, but she found she had to make extra efforts for the Masters Degree in English Literature/American Studies from the Punjab University of Pakistan since she was at the time also a back-to-college mom with three school-age children.
Her work required further studies, hence a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad and a CPE, a proficiency certificate, from Cambridge University UK (LSE – Local Syndicate Examination – British Council) were added to her professional qualifications.
Anjum ji says she has always enjoyed writing poems, articles, and anecdotes and her written work found space in local magazines and newspapers. A real breakthrough came with the Internet when a poem submitted online was selected for the Bronze Medal Award and I was nominated as Poet of Merit 2000 USA. She accepted the Challenge of NANOWRIMO 2014 and Freedom is Not a Gift, A Dialogue of Memoirs, a novel form was the result. She was a winner, completing her 50,000 word draft in one month.
Although a Teacher and a Teacher Trainer by Profession, she is a colored-pencil artist and also enjoys knitting and is currently trying to learn Tunisian Crochet.
California Artist Gretchen Del Rio shares advice from her son who is on the front lines battling COVID-19 in MA. There are some tips here I haven’t seen elsewhere and they make sense to me. Check it out …
I just received the following information from my son Ben who is working on the front lines in a Massachusetts ER. It contains guidelines to stay uninfected by the virus and it goes way beyond anything I have heard or read. Feel free to forward to friends and family. peace, love and light gretchen
I was meaning to send this out to you all sooner, but I have been busy lately. I wanted to offer my help and advice if desired for info about the pandemic. Unfortunately, this is real and is likely to be a problem everywhere in the US. Hopefully, the curve will flatten with people self isolating and we can delay how many people get this right in the beginning which will allow the medical community more time to prepare for this and also for the cases to be spread out more over time.
The swan known as Hamsa in Hindu mythology is said to be the vehicle of the goddess Saraswati…..patroness of wisdom, learning music and the arts. Or they may be one and the same. That would make Hamsa the divine swan-maiden.
I wake up drenched. Hair matted to my forehead with damp, cheek sticking to the pillow. I’ve known cold sweats before – I’ve been waking up with them my whole adult life – but this is one of the worst.
And I can understand why. Because, unlike some that fade away within seconds, this dream, those images, those noises, are all still flashing and sounding in front of me like a Halloween display. Horror come vividly to life, lingering as though I were still there watching and listening to it happen. I gasp in air, briefly frightened by the wall of darkness surrounding me. Just for an instant, that old fear, that dread that’s clung to me since childhood, rises up to break over me like a wave. Every part of me bracing for it. Tears already pooling in my eyes as I wait for the crash.
And then the light blinks on. Behind my shoulder, immediately casting its pale blue glow onto the bedroom wall. Illuminating the shadow of my head, complete with messy, sodden hair, even as I turn a fraction in the direction of the beam.
‘Shit,’ he mutters, strengthening the brightness of the phone as I turn round further, and see the screen lighting up his face as he finally swipes the bar across to full power. And instead of the terror I was preparing for only a moment ago, a wave of soaring relief crashes over me instead, as he shifts his eyes towards me and arches an eyebrow apologetically. ‘Forgot I’d dimmed down earlier. Took a moment to figure out why I could barely see anything.’
I almost let out a sob at the selflessness behind the words. No suggestion that he might actually have been asleep, that he might not have heard the scream that tore from my throat as I came out of the dream, that he might have been resting more deeply tonight. He’s never once not stirred at exactly the same moment I have, his body ever on alert for any hint of my distress, even in the middle of the night. He frowns slightly as he notices my eyes watering, before reaching out a finger to brush away the one escaping tear. Brushing away the images of those homophobic bastards kicking him half to death and forcing me to watch it with one simple touch. Like the breaking of a dark spell. Bringing me back to him, and only him.
‘Got you pretty bad tonight, huh?’ he asks, smiling sadly. ‘It’s okay.’
‘I know,’ I whisper. I always know. I always feel okay as soon as I see him again. Alive. Well. In my bed. Staring at me like I’m the most precious thing in the world.
‘What about his one?’ he asks, showing me the screen. I glance at it, and nod. A think of something starting with… game. ‘Looks interesting.’
‘Okay,’ he says. ‘Think of something starting with I.’
CHRISTOPHER MOORE is a Northern Irish writer and a graduate of English from Queen’s University Belfast. He was also graduated with an MA in TV Fiction Writing at Glasgow Caledonian University. Alongside a number of playwriting achievements, including being longlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize, he’s had a number of pieces of short fiction read, performed and published around the UK, Ireland and US over the last few years.