Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, International Poetry Month April 2020, Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry

Latter-Day Heroes by Jamie Dedes

standard intensive care unit (ICU) within a hospital courtesy of Norbert Kaiser under CC BY-SA 2.5 license

“The coronavirus pandemic is a world-changing event, like 9/11. There was a world before Covid-19. And there will be a world after Covid-19. But it won’t be the same.” Oliver Markus Malloy, What Fox News Doesn’t Want You To Know



They’re heroes, you know, real heroes
Not the ones in capes and caps, No!
The ones in scrubs, masks, nursing clogs
Daily on extended shifts, exhausted
As fate would have it, often succumbing
And when not, still the concerns for
Possible transmission to family, to friends
To strangers along their commute, and
“I worry for my parents,” says one
On his steadfast mission, another
Fears for her unborn child, six months
pregnant, with rounded tummy she works
For her patients, for colleagues, for the
Greater good, while a president sets
A precedent for lies, misinformation,
Stupidity, cruelty, self-absorption in the
Face of a nation in need of solidarity,
A peoples at risk, a worldwide community
In want of coordination and collaboration
They put him to shame, the heroes of
The pandemic, honoring their trust,
Donning their scrubs, masks, nursing clogs
Daily on extended shifts, committed
Compassionate, self-sacrificing, latter-day
Heroes of the human condition, heroes of
A world that will never be the same

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

Dedicated to all medical workers but especially to my own critical care and palliative care teams. 

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, Pandemic/ COVID-19, Poems/Poetry

Before/After by Selby Wilson

Is this a before/after moment?
Do we stand astride the chasm in history’s annals?

Renowned halls of learning echo,
fork-tongued ghost voices fill the pupil-less void.

Eyes search the ether for
the knowledge they can grasp, in absentia.

Minds are bookmarked in the gutter.

The faces that once faced others
are sterilized by the LEDs of screens.

Chemical antiseptic perfume wafts
on the winds of forsaken corridors.

Has life gone verso/recto?
Does past/future bifurcate here?

© 2020, Shelby Wilson

SHELBY WILSON is a high school AP English teacher from Amarillo, Texas. He holds a B.A. in English from Texas A&M University and an M.A. in English from West Texas A&M University.  His work has appeared in Ink & Nebula, Sparks of Calliope, Celestal Review, and Madness Muse Press.

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, Poems/Poetry

evidently our hearts have to break every day by gary lundy

no going back. and going forward feels a wasted effort. loss with little to gain. signatures retiring mid sentence. you long for laughter yet find only decimated forests. and ground water. this day when not even private jets are safe. when the only hope is for those with power pushing limits colliding against the recently constructed wall. casualties in the tens of thousands. they refuse to count being more taken in by the direction the wind may take. it being a short runway and take off tricky. fully clothed and faces masked a dance commences outrageous. you don’t want to forget. but must to elongate the shadow of daylight. and there i go drawing unexamined conclusions. then acting upon them. naturally they carry little weight. even for us. formulaic redundancy. their course prepared. play ball. sit in the sun for a little while. an all too brief respite. and their mother dies unexpectedly overnight. younger by two decades than you. photographs of flat landscapes capture the ungoverned absence of our imagination. mistake multiplication for subtraction. escape the improbable through denial. missing the page numbers twice in recounting. is there an absence gathered in those sites of silence. or more realistically reasonable doubt and blindness.

© 2020, gary lundy

gary lundy is the author of five chapbooks, including: when voice detach themselves (is a rose press, 2013), and at | with (Locofo Chaps, 2017); and two full-length collections: heartbreak elopes into a kind of forgiving (is a rose press, 2016), and each room echoes absence (FootHills Publishing, 2018). His poems have appeared most recently in Ethel, The Collidescope, The McKinley Review, Filling Station, Shark Reef, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Fence. gary is a retired English professor and queer living in Missoula, Montana.

Posted in Poems/Poetry

April Seventh

I hadn’t gazed at you
since we giggled through that
game of Trivial Pursuit
on the sofa of the café that
doubled as a discotheque
when you answered that
the Australian soprano who
inspired a peach dessert was called
“Cobbler.”
In two decades
you’d gained gold stars for
sustained spousehood and
dadhood while I’d
wed and de-wed
without spawning.
I’d traded cigarettes for
White Poppies for Peace,
and you’d forayed into
law enforcement
once the brainwave of becoming a nurse had
subsided like a 24-hour bug.
After an iced coffee and a talk
about cursing and fear,
you let me hug you, your solidness
clamped against my chest as my
ears harbored your husky-voiced
vulnerabilities, and
since that April seventh
four years ago,
I can claim that
this pacifist
protected a cop.

© 2020, Adrian Slonaker

ADRIAN SLONAKER: Crisscrossing North America as a language professional, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, Adrian Slonaker is fond of opals, owls and fire noodles. Adrian’s work has been published in WINK, Writers in the Know, Ariel Chart, The Pangolin Review and others.

Posted in Poems/Poetry

Alphabet of Love

Living this life again
as though I were six sick
again and grasping about in silence.
I will learn to breathe again,
how to go beyond it
So that I can dance and fly
to those zones of magic.
Stones and burning light
and the kind of openness
you can never plan.
Tones of people touching.
The taste of food licked and loved.
As HD says, “I must read some hours every day, it is food.”
Now, I must write some hours every day.
It is my alphabet of love.

© 2020, Linda Chown

LINDA E. CHOWN grew up in Berkeley, Ca. in the days of action. Civil Rights arrests at Sheraton Palace and Auto Row.  BA UC Berkeley Intellectual History; MA Creative Writing SFSU; PHd Comparative Literature University of Washington. Four books of poetry. Many poems published on line at Numero Cinq, Empty Mirror, The Bezine, Dura, Poet Head and others. Many articles on Oliver Sachs, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and many others. Twenty years in Spain with friends who lived through the worst of Franco. I was in Spain (Granada, Conil and Cádiz) during Franco’s rule, there the day of his death when people took to the streets in celebration. Interviewed nine major Spanish Women Novelists, including Ana María Matute and Carmen Laforet and Carmen Martín Gaite.

Posted in history, John Anstie, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Lost Gardeners

Northern Summerhouse garden at the Lost Gardens of Heligan courtesy of Heinz-Dirk Luckhardt CC BY-SA 3.0

There was such colour and bustle
where now reflective calm.

In the thunderbox room
nearby the melon yard
haunting echoes of silent voices

once green fingers that pressed
a trigger for King and country
gently call from an early grave,
who once scattered humus here.

They shed tears for weeds
that stained the fresh leaves
of Spring, unfolding, unseen

cold frames of mouth-blown glass,
warmed the summer fare
that meant so much to those
who dug one last trench

so many lost at such a cost
shovelling cold organic mud
to sow the seeds of future green
in very unmilitary drills

and who would say what
could have been had peace
been thoughtfully nurtured
like the fruits of this place.

Inundated by nature’s mission
their names forever bleeding
from these crumbling walls

so few in the flesh of then
left much in the earth of now.

© 2019 John Anstie

[A visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, in the United Kingdom, revealed to me a very poignant story of its gardeners, 16 out of 22 of whom lost their lives in the First World War; of the gardens, which subsequently fell into ruin until the 1990’s when a descendant of the original owners set about restoring them to become one of the UK’s most popular botanical gardens. The scene is set around the ‘thunderbox’ room where they would carve the names in the walls as they sat and the very peaceful garden adjacent to it, where you can feel the history of this particular part of the gardens, which had almost completely succumbed to nature’s will. This intoxicating mixture history and place was powerful enough to compel me to write this in their memory].

Posted in Poems/Poetry

Three poems by Kirsty A. Niven

Luna

When lilac clouds conquer the sky,
it’s easy to forget she exists.
The moon lurks behind its thick veil,
a lunar laugh rising in her throat.
Flanked by the flashes of constellations,
she has nothing to fear.

I can still feel her watchful eyes
critiquing every word, every movement.
Our content orbit an object of fascination,
a concept she cannot understand.
Her glow extinguished, albeit temporarily,
a simple streetlight can have its spotlight.

She can only look on in wonder.
The days of bullets and blitzkriegs
when we cross paths are over.
The starry battlefield, silent and empty.
And no one else remembers,
except the moon and I.

One Night

In the still of the night the moment pauses.
Heartbeats hushed. Voices lost to lust.
This dead end dark could make me anyone.
I’m sure that’s the only reason you’re here.
Lips continue on regardless, not caring anymore;
happy to be broken, just to feel something.

Light interrupts. Lust flees. Life rushes on.
I can never be the girl that you want.
Fluorescence ravages that illusion instantly.
No parts of our bodies are touching anymore
and the familiar numbness settles in again.
Your voice ends it with words I forget.

Bird On The Wire

My twig feet dither on this tight rope,
desperate to wobble away to freedom.
Talons cling and my drunken heart sings,
taking my life into my feathered fingers.

It is so far down to fall with fractured wings
and I’ve hurt so many just to get here.
Apologies tweet from my open beak,
I am just trying in my way to be free.

© 2020, Kirsty A. Niven

KIRSTY A. NIVEN lives in Dundee, Scotland. Her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Strength, The Alien Buddha’s Feminist Agenda and Landfall. She has also featured in several journals and magazines, including The Poet’s Republic, Cicada Magazine, Monstrous Regiment and Silk + Smoke. Kirsty’s work can also be found online on sites such as La Scrittrice, Anti-Heroin Chic and Poetry Breakfast.”

Posted in Poems/Poetry

Four Poems by Joan McNerney

Amazing How
Only last Thursday
after another morning
of clichés
as freezing winds pushed
us along grey avenues
you shouted my name
in the middle of 34th Street
calling me poet
and instantly mountains
of mediocrity were melted
by your smile.

.

A glimpse of spring

shy blue morning

black trees etch sky

children skipping

over puddles

bramble on snow

soft birdsong

listening to water

race downstream

winds gently kiss

my forehead

grass shoots push

through first thaw

.

Trees of Heaven

Those are tough trees

growing in slums.

With no need of rich soil

or pruning, they rise

in abandoned lots.

These are trees that

survive rubbish, rodents

noxious chemicals.

Not easily cut down,

they stand against

gaunt tenements.

Climbing skyward,

delicate palm leaves

flourish flowering pods.

Trees of Heaven give

children glimpses of bright

emerald each morning.

Stars play peek-a-boo

between their branches

through long nights.

Who has said a taste of

paradise is only for the rich?

.

Imagine

Imagine to be a bird

slicing air with wings.

Up up over that horizon

soaring through clouds

away from solemn earth.

Shining, shimmering

far above this sphere

into clear blue light.

Cutting through sky

gliding over oceans

eyes open all seeing.

Awake all day all night

brushing rushing

against the four winds.

Imagine to be a bird.

© 2020, Joan McNerney

JOAN McNERNEY’s poetry has been included in many literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Spectrum Publications have accepted her work. Her latest title, The Muse In Miniature, is available on Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net. She has four Best of the Net nominations.

Posted in Poems/Poetry

Scars

If you’d walked the doorway of my mind
and saw my light surrender
to darkness
Saw that sneaky twin twined in creation
Your indifferent lips would’ve dared not call me a psycho and a nutcase

If you’d understood how death strays not from its constancy
And how no eye peeks wholly, at what roams in tomorrow’s heart
Remembering this, should’ve caused
you to cultivate compassion
and dared not label me the cursed or possessed one

If you’d believed how every bit and piece of your being
is vulnerable to breakdown in its order, one time or other
You would’ve seen how you too could be a victim like me
to mistakes or misadventures
and dared not call me a wacko

If you had bore scars; glaring or unseen/ some real or perceived
and had been shackled up and forced
to gaze at dancing images of gloom
Cobwebs warped around your head
in symphony of thundering voices
You would’ve dared not call me a loose cannon

If you’d looked hard and saw how thinly the lines runs
Between your ability to stand and stumble; speak or fumble
In just a slip or flip of fate , or flip or flop in your securities
You’d have dared not call me a loose bolt and cuckoo in the head

Your nonchalances, my dear friend,
would’ve neither sent me down
the abyss
nor let your sensitivity hear my silent screams
and not catch me before my catastrophic fall
Your little sympathy to inject belief
Into my disbelief
would’ve been the ultimate relief to my torment
From one who’d dared not call me
A knuckleball, a schizo and a zombie

® 2020, Samuella Conteh

SAMUELLA J. CONTEH is from Sierra Leone, West Africa. She is a writer, poet, dramatist and motivational speaker. She is a member of the Sierra Leone Writers Forum and Member of Board of PEN-SL.  She is also President of the International African Writers Association in Sierra Leone.

Samuella’s poems and short stories have been featured in several national and international anthologies.

She has also received many awards including the Medal of Ambassador de Literature (ADL), Award of World Poetic Star, Award of Mahatma Medal, and most recently, the Order Of Shakespeare (OOS).

Samuella is also a member of the Motivational Strips Academy of Literary Excellence and Wisdom (MSALEW).

Posted in Poems/Poetry

Moonlight Closeness

When the moon is full,
wondering where you are,
I will look up,
tears will play, glisten
freely on my cheeks,
knowing moon’s silver
cloak covers, warms us both,
bringing me closer to you
than we ever were before.

© 2019, Joan Leotta

JOAN LEOTTA lays with words on page and stage. Her motto is to produce
“encouraging words through Pen and Performance.” Her poems, essays, short stories and articles have been widely published. Her poetry has appeared in Stanzaic Stylings, Peacock Review, Creative Inspirations, and other journals. Her performances of tales of food, family, and strong women have entertained audiences at fairs, in schools, libraries , and museums. When she is not at the computer or on stage, you can find her reading a book, walking the beach, or traveling to be with family.

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, General Interest, Poems/Poetry

Environmental Justice ~ Poseidon’s Plea

 

Courtesy of Joseph Barrientos, Unsplash

Oceans are one of the many miracles of the Creator as the Earth itself is. The water holds itself yet moves, full of life, rebirth and deaths and fathoms of fluid space, stable for all ships and boats, salty roadways, for travelers transport and sport. / Anjum Wasim Dar



O’ Poseidon bestowed with the power unique
tell us the secret of the two seas that do not meet
yet flow with different colors, wave by wave, move
by move, side by side, a perfect acceptance of diversity,

Poseidon speaks, ‘Man is nothing without the Gods’
oceans or skies the sole power is with the Creator
who loves clear open hearts, He blocks nothing nor
builds walls, see my home has no doors nor windows’

All are free to enter, float, sail, swim dive or dig
I am full of food, fish, color, charms and treasures
but many living beings are careless, inconsiderate
they throw harmful waste trash plastic on and in me.

Water will not become less but will be a source of
trouble for human beings themselves, the dead will
float the dying will cry and curse, the thought makes
me shudder, storms surge, waves rise to great heights,

Water is hurt, it is red now with blood and scales
breathing is difficult, inhale a struggle, exhale an
ordeal, oil blocks unmarked uncharted paths
Ocean ides, no longer accept offerings from fans.

Home state worries Oceanus, growing more old
countless pennies coins of gold, are useless down
on the sea bed, worthless is such a treasure which
sinks and loses its values, shine and becomes cold.

A revenge rises a tsunami results, as the grand
bowl shakes jolts jumps and throws up-
beware O People …I envision a huge surge…
sing not any songs nor lie naked on the beach

Pray pray pray peace, repentance, forgiveness, seek

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

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.
Posted in Illness/life-threatening illness, Poems/Poetry

Cancerland

Out with the old, in with the new could

apply if refers to surgery to remove

urinary bladders all studded with tumors

that don’t respond to chemotherapy

administered intravesically through thick

catheters oy ugh inserted in penises.

 

With this dim prospect of employing such

a big procedure which’d fashion

a bit of large colon into a fresh sterile sac,

one realizes how much we have

now bonded with previously unnoticed

unloved taken-for-granted organs.

 

Well-wishers offer hope old receptacles

and us, after many happy years

together, reconcile relations, start to work

out existing problems — or if not

in cards dealt, resolve to divorce benignly

before move on to new partners.

© 2020,

GERARD SARNAT is a poet, physician, executive, academic and social activist. Gerry is an MD who’s built and staffed homeless and prison clinics as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently Gerry is devoting energy/ resources to work with internationally known and recognized leaders addressing global warming.

Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize and was nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is published in academic-related journals including University of Chicago, Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Virginia Commonwealth, Arkansas, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, Slippery Rock, Appalachian State, Grinnell, American Jewish University, Sichuan University, University of Edinburgh and University of Canberra. Gerry’s writing has also appeared widely including recently in such U.S. outlets as GargoyleMain Street Rag, New Delta ReviewMiPOesias, poetica, American Journal Of Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, Poetry Circle, Every Day Poems, Clementine, Tiferet, Foliate Oak, Failed Haiku, New Verse News, Blue Mountain ReviewDanse Macabre, Canary EcoFiction Southeast, Military Experience and the Arts, Poets And War, Cliterature,  Qommunicate, Texas Review, Brooklyn ReviewSan Francisco MagazineThe Los Angeles Review and The New York Times. Pieces have also been accepted by Chinese, Bangladeshi, Hong Kongese, Singaporian, Canadian, English, Irish, Scotch, Australian, New Zealander, Australasian Writers Association, Zimbabwean, French, German, Indian, Israeli, Romanian, Swedish, Moscovian and Fijian among other international publications. Mount Analogue selected KADDISH FOR THE COUNTRY for pamphlet distribution nationwide on Inauguration Day 2017. Amber Of Memory was chosen for the 50th Harvard reunion Dylan symposium. He’s also authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), and Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids, five grandsons with a sixth on the way and looking forward to future granddaughters.

Posted in Illness/life-threatening illness, Poems/Poetry

Antibiotic Blues

Courtesy of Anton Darius, Unsplash

I’m bulbling, bumbling like a dumb blond(e) from the Golden Age of Hollywood
without the figure
or the yellow locks,
a himbo who isn’t very beau.
How can a petite podwery, poerdy, poderwy-
POWDERY damn it
wite, white pill-or is it the pinkish-bluish capsule with the cryptic digits-
besiege a brain and morph it
into mash, or is it mush, to match
the collywobbles in the gut during
eight days of frustrating pharma fog thicker
than a full-frat, full-fat Frappuccino?
Science squashes my IQ as I misplace my cell phone, followed by the TV remote, keys and
bank card and my, um…I forget.
As if hijacked by the shakiness of a heat haze, I stumble to the ice machine but
come back with nothing.
Dates and deadlines become meaningingless in a malfunctioning memory bank, and
I fix and refix phrases like “extra much” that sounded Shakespearean when I typed them.
Mercurial emotions mock me like the menacing Space Invaders of my childhood as
innocuously constructive criticism rips up any remnants of calm.
Someone’s profiting from my prescriptions while I’m vantiqued, vanquished by the salvos of adverse effects.

© 2020, Adrian Stonaker

Originally publish in U-Rights Magazine, December 2019.

Crisscrossing North America as a language professional, Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee Adrian Slonaker is fond of opals, owls and fire noodles. Adrian’s work has been published in WINK: Writers in the Know, Ariel Chart, The Pangolin Review and others.

Posted in disability/illness, Poems/Poetry

Two poems by Alana Saltz

Field Trip

For you, Ms. Frizzle, I would fold
my fingers around the curves of my stomach, dig
my nails into the flesh, rip
it open so you can go right in.

Take your big-eyed bus full of curious children
and explore my mysterious body.

Watch organs lighting up a little too bright.
Red blood cells drifting lonely
like they’ve lost their best friends.
Scattered inflammations and infections hiding
in muscle and tissue.

Explain to the children that these are things
that make me hurt
but not enough for anyone to see.

And when people don’t see something,
they don’t do anything.

Teach them that lesson.
It will always apply.

This poem first appeared in Philosophical Idiot and in Alana’s chapbook, The Uncertainty of Light

Halt

I’m enthralled as I watch an actor scribble symptoms
in notebooks and cry when the pain is too strong
and see doctors who seem to know a little too much
about what’s happening, but it’s okay.

I’ll keep watching.
I can’t be that picky.

I ignore all the cues that this will end
the same way as all the other TV
reflections of me, the fun house mirrors
that only show sickness as a distorted, shortened
one-way road.

There was no other ending.
He’s only got one place to go.

His actor family
weeps over his departure
at just the right time
in the series.

His death is art.
My life goes unseen.

This poem first appeared in AlienPub and in Alana’s chapbook, The Uncertainty of Light

ALANA SALTZ (alanasaltz.com) is the editor-in-chief of Blanket Sea, an arts and literary magazine showcasing work by chronically ill, mentally ill, and disabled creators. Her poems have appeared in Occulum, Five:2:One, YesPoetry, Moonchild Magazine, LadyLibertyLit, and more. She’s the author of the poetry chapbook, The Uncertainty of Light. You can visit her website at alanasaltz.com and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @alanasaltz.

Posted in disability/illness, Poems/Poetry

Four poems by Antonia Alexandra Klimenko

Song of the Mad

It wouldn’t be so bad
if I lost it in one place
at least I’d know where to find it!
But Noooo…
I have to lose it here!
I have to lose it there!
And just when I find it there
I‘ve lost it again here!!

People wonder why
I never answer my own door
I wonder if they can hear me
breathing from under my covers?

Sometimes I hear myself
calling from another room
Or it could be that other guy
who blames everything on me
Of course it’s never his fault
Nothing ever is!

You see
Nothing is enough for him!
First he impersonates me and steals my best lines
Now he covers his ears with mine
and complains that I don’t sing
with the right inflection!!

As if
he’s the only one
who has to listen to me at night !

Song of the Deaf

What can I say
that you haven’t already heard
before me?
I feel left out

Everyone else has two sides
but when I turn around to face the other way
I still point in the same direction!
Sometimes people talk behind my back
right in front of me!

Of course I must expect that
I try to anticipate everything
otherwise I fall behind
and I have nothing to fall back on!
That is why
my world is suspended in animation–
I use my hands to balance silence
the way stars hold up the sky

A cloud can fall back on the sky
but I must climb deeper
into God’s Ear!
Only…where does the sky begin?
I’d give anything you know
just to hear the color blue

Song of the Blind

It bothers me that my eyes are broken
and God will not fix them

Each morning I watch and listen for Him
and wonder through which doorway of my senses
He will choose to enter next

Each day He and I together
make and remake the bed–
make and remake the world

Mostly it is the same
And that is both my comfort and my fear

I have heard that once someone is truly loved
she is never the same
You cannot imagine how I long for change!
You cannot imagine how I long for certainty!
I can only imagine

I never quite know which
I will stumble into next:
Death that l o n g night
or
Life that l o n g day!

Dear Lord
I am without sight
I am not without vision
Please find me

Song of the Homeless

How long must I go on
pushing my life before me?
My feet are bare and swollen—
they do not know me anymore
And I haven’t yet enough hands
to keep me warm
nor make a pillow for my head

Maybe I’ll grow new fingers tomorrow
so they too can stick out
like a sore thumb

I suppose you think
I can find a better place to hide
than in the poverty of my skin

Do you think I like
carrying my heart around with me
in a basket?

You do not care
that I have forgotten the words
to the songs I am singing
And I am running out of songs

How could you know first-hand
that it is not my death I fear…
only that I should learn of it
second-hand

© 2020, Antonia Alexandra Klimenko

A former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion, Antonia Alexandra Klimenko is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (in which she represents France) and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants: one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Josheph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence

Posted in disability/illness, Poems/Poetry, poetry

So You Want to Know What Autism Is Like

Autism* is standing still while
Everyone runs for the cliff edge
And you want to know why
Before joining them
But the surge pushes you down
And they thunder across your back
And you’re bloody but not broken
Because the rage keeps you sane
 
Autism is always being chosen
To be
The Cheese
In Farmer in the Dell
The Cheese stands alone
In the middle of the circle
As baby classmates point and sing
And you cry
But the next year you don’t cry
You will never let them break you
At least they won’t know
You care
 
Autism is getting it wrong when a boy flirts
Confusion from what he means
Interpreted by his ego
Thinking you’re indifferent
To his oh-so-obvious charms
And he hates you
 
Autism is being nice to a boy
Who seems like a friend
But not realizing
His ego cannot allow someone like you
To be kind
To flirt (must be, he reasons)
And he hates you
For showing interest in his
Oh-so-obvious charms
 
Yet autism is like everyone else
Loving friends and movies
Books and games
Dreaming of being asked
To the prom
And buying a dress
To transform the lightning and thunder
Into rainbows of love, peace and happiness
 
Autism is loving sex and drugs and rock and roll
But luckily learning that drugs can take you
Where you don’t want to go
Because you can’t come back
But some nights you think
Maybe that’s not bad
What’s to come back to?
Only thunder and lightning and rain
 
Autism is when married
Choosing a dysfunctional 
Who becomes an adversary
Family and friends roll their eyes
And laugh when he reveals your secrets
Meant only for him
It’s not like you’re barking like a dog
Or flapping your hands
Everything looks “normal”
But there must be some type of invisible mark
That all can see
Except me
 
What did they see?
What did I do?
What did I say?
 
Answers? No, so
Although I’ve never been a head banger
I want to badly butt
My head against theirs
Make them see
I’m like them
I am!
But I don’t know what to say
My tongue gets in the way
 
Children come
One is finally labeled
“Somewhat autistic”
What does that mean?
No information pre-internet
Never heard the word before
No idea I am
We’re all so different
But raise my children 
In the offbeat way
AKA, autistic
And their lives
Get drenched in different shades of rain
Thunder, lightning
Mudslides
 
What is Autism?
 
Autism is traffic jams
Oncoming headlights in
A foggy, dark night
Thunder drowning out your heartbeat
Automobile stereo’s base line ripping through your brain
 
Autism is thunder in your soul
As rain pours from your eyes
And lightning jerks your strings
 
Autism is knowing you are safest locked alone
In your room
Where no one can hurt you
But the curse is
Like everyone else
You crave society…
.
Poet’s note: Not all people on the spectrum are the same. I speak only about my life.
.
© 2020, Clarissa Simmens
.

CLARISSA SIMMENS (Poeturja) is an independent poet; Romani drabarni (herbalist/advisor); ukulele and guitar player; wannabe song writer; and music addict. Favorite music genres include Classic Rock, Folk, Romani (Gypsy), and Cajun with an emphasis on guitar and violin music mainly in a Minor key. Find her onAmazon’s Author Page, on her blog, and on Facebook HERE.

Clarissa’s books include: Chording the Cards & Other Poems, Plastic Lawn Flamingos & Other Poems, and Blogetressa, Shambolic Poetry.

Posted in disability/illness, Poems/Poetry

Feeling Good Was Good Enough For Me

When being sick was all you knew
Sweet Jesus, the doc last week asked
“When was the last time you felt good,”
Me and Bobby McGee and I saw black
Roses. Could not thread my way to good.
Life a Harlem-globetrotter procession of sham
Dunks and wheezes. Born RH negative all my
Blood exchanged. Lord have mercy then
Coughing times in bed over and over again.
I hadda find good feeling cuz i was an other early
Outcast over and over. Put the music on
And I would play the piano
Rocking to peace my outcast soul.

Sickness made me hold on to my
Strange and play it on an Aeolian harp
To woo the good places and make me me.
Thank you Kris Kristofferson,
Good enough for a life to live,
To share with you the secrets
Of my soul on the edges
Of strong all along. Be a pearl
On my own making the
Good happen. Jiving Janis.
Feeling good was good enough for me.

© 2020, Linda Chown

LINDA E. CHOWN grew up in Berkeley, Ca. in the days of action. Civil Rights arrests at Sheraton Palace and Auto Row.  BA UC Berkeley Intellectual History; MA Creative Writing SFSU; PHd Comparative Literature University of Washington. Four books of poetry. Many poems published on line at Numero Cinq, Empty Mirror, The Bezine, Dura, Poet Head and others. Many articles on Oliver Sachs, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and many others. Twenty years in Spain with friends who lived through the worst of Franco. I was in Spain (Granada, Conil and Cádiz) during Franco’s rule, there the day of his death when people took to the streets in celebration. Interviewed nine major Spanish Women Novelists, including Ana María Matute and Carmen Laforet and Carmen Martín Gaite. Linda’s Amazon Page is HERE.

Posted in disability/illness, General Interest, Poems/Poetry

Two Poems by Antoni Ooto

Housebound

everything was so honest once
but more disappears

games in vacant lots
old haunts
all those loves

days tick down
the mirror considers what’s left

“I sit talking to myself
losing time.”

“I’m at the end of everything
barely existing.”

and my resolve?
that’s already hardening.

Minimal

How small can a life get?

Once with the strength of a Morgan
everything pulled uphill…
now, over time, resigns to cleverness of necessity.

Graceless age clutches my shirttail
dragging me everywhere.

I remember tricking my way.

In a book I read,
a bite of land was given toward the end
something—manageable to lose…

© 2020, Antoni Ooto

ANTONI OOTO has and still looks for answers which he shares at times with poetry. He finds pleasure in reading the works of many poets such as WS Merwin, Jane Kenyon, Donald Hall, Elizabeth Bishop, Margret Atwood, and the humor of James Tate.

“I read various poet’s first thing in the morning aloud.

My wife and I discuss the structure, rhythm and beauty of the lines.”

Reading poetry aloud (he feels) allows the voice to find a cadence that the reader might miss when seeing the words on a page.

Antoni Ooto is a poet and flash fiction writer.  He came to writing late after many years as an abstract expressionist artist. He eventually found his voice in poetry.

His works appear in Front Porch Review, Amethyst Review, The Ginger Collect, Soft Cartel, Eldritch Lake, Pilcrow & Dagger, Young Ravens Literary Review, and many others.

Antoni works in upstate New York with his wife poet, storyteller Judy DeCroce.

Posted in Poems/Poetry

Three poems by Judy DeCroce

Senseless Hope

she worries about losing

but not yet, not now

 

senseless hope can’t be found

 

it is definite…

she will always be ill

a beginning that will now 

be forever

 

I see it, when she does not

sometimes friends replace mirrors

 

but she is still herself in these moments 

with sense of humor fading 

 

details…

less, too much…

all shocking but eminent

 

diagnosis, pills, doctors watching,

talking, watching

talk

 

Still Trying

 

“We are losing altitude all the time” 

—Josephine Miles

Gravity and time must be the story,

strength…the music causing this smile.

 

Stepping to a mirror,

baring all you’ve become…

 

already, some is gone in the falling,

yet most remains. 

 

Anyway…that’s what we do.

late, early

 

Obstacles, challenges,

stepped over as they rise.

 

That horizon is a goal not always ahead.

It slips the lead, follows, or moves beside.

 

Today, yesterday, tomorrow,

that’s what we do…trying the best we can.

 

A Measure of Certainty

memories once carried off 

even with all my hurry

 

were certainly too late

no longer lasting 

 

sometimes a lost memory is the future

forever an empty field

 

I feel guilty 

the whole time.

© 2020, Judy DeCroce

Judy DeCroce, a former educator, is a poet/flash fiction writer and avid reader. Her works have been published by Plato’s Cave online, Front Porch Review, Amethyst Review, Tigershark Publishing, and Pilcorw & Dagger.
 
She began writing flash fiction and poetry in 2006 from which many have been published in US, UK, and India. Judy is also a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre for over 35 years, and has worked with students as young as kindergarten as well as adults.
She uses “first person” storytelling to entertain and has been invited to perform in many settings.
 
A requested instructor in Writers and Books summer program Summerwrite, and, ADEPT: An enrichment program through BOCES 2 in Rochester, New York, Judy continues to teach Flash Fiction and Storytelling.
Her impetus for writing was borne out a childhood tragedy where she was bedridden for 5 years with a then unidentified illness. Because of this, she found it easy to use her imagination to build stories of what could be. 
She was lucky to have a favorite aunt who would tell her stories before she went to sleep. This, was her most important connection to becoming the storyteller she is today.
Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband, poet/artist, Antoni Ooto.