Posted in Music, Musicians, Poems/Poetry

Progression of Buts, &c. | Robert Priest

Progression of Buts

I shouldn't be saying this but —
Typically the majority stand for it but —
They assumed we'd go on being quiet but —
They said that moral courage was at a minimum but —
They thought we'd go on stunned in the grey TV glow but — 
They thought we were flies on the screen forever but —
Even we believed we had no wings, no grandeur but —
They thought our outrage was dead but —
There’s supposed to be limits on how long you can push it
                                                        push it push it but but but —
We thought we'd lost each other but —
They believed that silence was assent forever but —
It looked like it was going to be World War III but —
They said that faith was not a well, not a flow, not a channel but —
I was telling everybody don't count on me
                                                        I can't be relied upon but —
They're going to tell us we're not brave but —
They’re going to push the negative but —
They said there was no buttress but —
No resistance but —
No insistence but —
No victory but —

Give Us a Floor

Give us a floor we can drag a chair over
And leave a mark
A hardwood floor that can take a lot of dancing
We want a floor that you leave your shoes on and tap when you like

A floor you can jump on
Give us a floor where a kid can bang a hammer for an hour
And no one cares
We want a good flat floor strong enough for a piano or two

A floor that can bear the weight of ten bass amps
Fifty stomping bikers on choppers
And still be fine for yoga in the morning
It is important to have a floor you can fall on

A floor good for trying risky positions
Tipsy calisthenics
Maybe one day we’ll want to invite
Multi-faith obesity groups intent on leaping and praying

A floor equipped to bear them all
And still take a child’s lightest footfall
With never the creak of any small floor complaint

A floor to hold up the elephants
And hippopotami

A floor, please, to take the great weight of human hearts
Held in thrall by mere matter
By love by stampede

We want a floor to bear seven generations
Each unfolded out of the other
All at once in a great hootenanny and holler

A floor to bear the greatest table ever made
For a feast where no one’s missing
We don’t want some poor flat excuse
We don’t want some bottom-line trapdoor
We want a floor to hold the world up when it’s exhausted

A floor to keep the sky on when it’s drained and dry
And ready to fall
It’s time we had the floor

Give us the floor

poem from Previously Feared Darkness


Spread the Word

Spread the word outward
From the centre
To the edges
 
Spread the word like the word
Was your wings
And you could fly
 
Spread the word
Like wind in all directions
Let the word be spread
Like a lover's legs
Like petals strewn upon a bed
Like the breath of life
On the land of the dead
 
Spread the word
Let nothing go unsaid
That must be said
 
Spread the word like breath
To the drowning
Like food to the unfed
 
Spread the word like medicine
To a child on a deathbed
Spread it like a wild fire
Of thought in some genius head
 
 
Spread the word to all and one
Alike
Refusing it to none
Like wealth like water
Like thirst
All over the earth
Let it never go unheard
 
Spread the word

Islam Means Surrender

There is a lot of Islam
In everything
 Those who surrender to Jesus
Are Islamic - 'Islam' means surrender
 
If you yearn to give up your essence
Into nirvana - isn't that a huge surrender?
 
Islam!
 
And Jews who seek to do the will of God
They surrender themselves to the teachings of the Torah
 
Very Islamic
 
Even lovers who bow to one another's pure forms
Or those who give in the needs of the moment — surrender
 
Islam
 
Is beautiful

—Robert Priest


Robert Priest Poet
Robert Priest

A literary poet in the tradition of Neruda and Mayakovsky, a composer of lush love poems, a singer-songwriter, a widely quoted aphorist, a children’s poet and novelist, Robert Priest is a mainstay of the literary/spoken word/music circuit both in Canada and abroad. His words have been quoted in the Farmer’s Almanac, debated in the Ontario Legislature, sung on Sesame Street, posted in Toronto’s transit system, broadcast on MuchMusic, released on numerous CDs, quoted by politicians, and widely published in textbooks and anthologies.


Robert Priest is the author of fourteen books of poetry. His book, Reading the Bible Backwards, rose to number two on the Toronto Globe and Mail’s poetry charts. He is a previous winner of the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry award. He co-wrote the hit, Song Instead of a Kiss, for Alannah Myles, which is still played all around the world and went to number one for two weeks in Canada and six weeks in Québec. His aphorisms show up frequently in Colombo’s Canadian Quotations and The Farmer’s Almanac.

His latest book of poetry for children, The Wolf is Back received a Gold Moonbeam award in the US and his previous volume for children, Rosa Rose, was a book of honour in the Lion and the Unicorn award for poetry in the North American category at John Hopkins University. His fantasy series, Spell Crossed, was described by Open Book as a ‘Modern Classic’. He is also a singer-songwriter and children’s singer-songwriter of note with songs on Sesame Street. For two years he was the resident topical songwriter on the CBC radio program Is Anybody Home and has contributed topical songs to CBC’s Sunday Night News. 


Robert Priest—Audio Video
Listen to BAAM! and Feeling the Pinch on Spotify.
Poem Video: What Ugly Is
Poem: In the next War
Song: The bomb in Reverse
Song/poetry album: BAAM!
Live version of Alannah Myles performing Robert Priest co-written,
Song Instead of a Kiss (four weeks at number one in Canada).
Some Links

Poetry books for purchase online
Previously Feared Darkness
Reading the Bible Backwards
Blue Pyramids: New and Selected Poems
How to Swallow a Pig

Selection of poems for reading
Robert Priest, Hand Poems

Robert Priest Retrospective in Big Bridge

Robert Priest’s Children’s Site

Children’s Books
The Paper Sword from Dundurn Books (on Amazon)
Spell Crossed—three book bundle from Dundurn Books
Rose Rose
The Secret Invasion of Bananas


All Contents ©2020 Robert Priest,
except where otherwise noted for recordings on YouTube.
All rights reserved

Posted in Art, homelessness, Poems/Poetry, poetry, Poets/Writers

Spare Guardian


Aware that M.S. Evans paints and draws, as well as writing poetry, The BeZine invited her to submit artwork to accompany these poems when we accepted this blog post. We asked M.S. Evans for artwork to accompany and complement the words on the screen (we used to say “on the page”), not to “illustrate| the poems. The result is this blog post, which The BeZine presents here as separate yet interconnected works of art by M.S. Evans.

—Michael Dickel, Editor


Spare Guardian Floating


Spare Change

Spare Change
Sidewalk, slouched.
 
My eyes circle the rim of a crumpled
paper cup.
 
Puddles cooly stare up;
too sure of an answer. 
 
Strangers offer me
naked cigarettes;
slim-boned solidarity.
 
My softness wrapped
in copper wire,
 
I learned to smoke.

Floating Away
oil pastel

Guardian of Keepsakes

The weight of boxes ease; released,
forgotten, re-homed.
 
A guardian of  keepsakes,
I carry the irreplaceable,
sentimental.
 
Not naive enough to trust
my home will last
 
this time.

Bronx Botanical Garden
watercolor and ink

Kicked Out

They gave my room away
when I became pregnant
 
You’re welcome to pay for the basement;
uneven floodplain.
 
First trimester: missed period, tender,
insulted.

Backdoor
tercolor and ink

—Poetry and Art by M.S. Evans


Artist’s Notes

“Floating Away” is an oil pastel piece I did in the early 2000s, when my housing was very unstable. There is a lot of yearning in this piece: for stability, but generally for a future. 

“Bronx Botanical Garden” is a watercolor and ink piece from my time in NY, in the late ’90s. At that time I was doing a work-exchange for a room in the house of an elderly Yiddish poet and artist. 

“Backdoor” is a watercolor and ink piece from my current living situation in Butte, Montana. There are signs of decay, but also of continuity and intent. 



Poetry and Artwork ©2020 M.S. Evans
All rights reserved


Posted in Poems/Poetry, poetry, Poets/Writers

(R)Evolution — 4 poems

Crows Are Being Born Again

     It is an undeniable fact now: 
They have arisen from the bare ground
 
Like the phoenix flapping its wings out of its 
Legendary ashes, where are they going?
Nowhere but high up into a virtual space, a world 
That, like history book, is full of black headlines
 
Big names, & bold details. All transmitted
Into digital forms. Even the most unidentifiable
Has become a star above its dark caws. 
    Each 
Taken for an angel winged with the rainbows 
Of tomorrow, while all cranes and swans are lost 
In their dances to the tune of death             

(R)evolution towards Dataism 

More advanced in evolution than their human masters are chickens as they outnumber the stars in the whole universe, and occupy every corner of the entire planet, but as in-dividuals, no chicken can fly higher than a low fence, make love within its confinement or live together with its children. The only thing they do besides laying eggs and growing meat is standing there, day and night, as if meditating about the meaning of evolution:

It took hundreds…of thousands…of years for…homo erectus to evolve…into sapiens and longer…for chimpanzees to…erectus, but…engineering ourselves…by way of biochemistry…cyborg and…AI, we are upgrading…ourselves into…godlings—all it takes…will be just half a century…where science beats gods…and devils, saints and ghosts alike…at only…a fraction of second, when a whim…pops up for a human…to go back…to a wild animal, again…

Now given each organism as a biochemical algorithm, your life is a programmed process proving your consciousness is actually far less valuable than a fucking Frankenstein’s AI

As giant ants march ahead in nightly arrays
Demonstrating against the ruling humans
Along the main street of every major city
Hordes of hordes of vampires flood in, screaming
Aloud, riding on hyenas and
Octopuses, waving skeletons
In their hairy hands, whipping at old werewolves
Or all-eyed aliens standing by
With their blood-dripping tails
 
Gathering behind the masses are ghosts and spirits
Of all the dead, victims of fatal diseases
Murders, rapes, tortures, wars, starvation, plagues
Led by deformed devils and demons
As if in an uprising, to seek revenge
On every living victor in the human shape
Some smashing walls and fences, others
Barbecuing human hearts like inflated frogs
Still others biting at each other’s soul around black fires
All in a universal storm of ashes and blood
 
Up above in the sky is a red dragon flying by
With a heart infected by the human virus

Second Departure: for Yeats

 Going, going away in an ever retreating bay
The ebb starts below a quickened sun setting
People swarm here, watching, picking, fighting
Over the fishes, shrimps, crabs, shells, weeds
All left stranded, struggling for waters on the beach
They do not care if darkness stalks right behind
Their shadows, rolling like a tide upon their souls
They care only about the benefits they can gather
The sea produce they can trade with one another
 
Surely some ignorance is still in proper place
Surely the second departing is taking place
The Second Departing! The very idea stirs in the minds
A huge flock of crows beating their darkening wings
Flapping into the narrow sky of the prolonged history
It’s these crows, these very unidentifiable black birds
That are driving the light beyond the horizon, inner or outer
(Where they have found God as a redundant re-creation
Where they believe they are the right gods for themselves)

Epilogue: A Parallel Poem

Just as both God and Devil are man’s incarnation,
so are Heaven and Hell both man’s construction. 

I
From the front yard of a melodious morning
From the busy road of a sweet Saturday 
From the moist corner of a heavy march 
From the back lane of pale winter
We have come, here and now, all gathering
In big crowds gathering in big crowds
Gathering in ever-bigger crowds gathering
For the boat to cross the wide wild waters
Before the fairy ferry is fated to fall
Under our feet too heavy with earthy mud 
 
II 
You may well hate Charon
But you cannot help feeling envious:
That business of carrying the diseased
Across the River Styx is ever so prosperous
The only monopoly in the entire universe
That has a market share
Larger than the market itself
Daydreaming, on this side
Of the river, how you might wish
To be an entrepreneur like him
A success American dreamer
 
III 
Flying between sea and sky 
Between day and night 
Amid heavenly or oceanic blue
I lost all my references 
To any timed space
Or a localized time
Except the non-stop snorting 
Of a stranger neighbor
 
Then, beyond the snorts rising here
And more looming there
I see tigers, lions, leopards 
And other kinds of hunger-throated predators
Darting out of every passenger’s heart
Running amuck around us 
As if released from a huge cage

As if in a dreamland

—Changming Yuan


Changming Yuan

©2020 Changming Yuan
All rights reserved

Posted in COVID-19/Pandemic, poem, Poems/Poetry

Two poems by Linda Chown

A Time for God

This is the time for God,
for a roaring sonorous voice,
a biblical moment, indeed,
when we’re shouldering the slaughtered daily,
trying to assuage the fire of fear in and around us,
when leaders spring forth and speak
with the hallowed tone of the ancient tabernacle.
Ages old salt smells, a smear of blood
We’re ready for the divine, dying alive in our
concern. This big, larger than life moment
when life and death waver voluptuously around us.


Modern Life Is Being

masked faces in the cubist ball
that modern life is being,
that modern life is seeing
masked ones gloved and covered
floating mindless in Edgar Allan Poe’s hives,
his Masque of the Red Death breaking,
reality cracks & strange shapes rattle
much like Robert Louis Stevenson incubates
fabulous forms his boats steering far off course, heroes double vestiges of how they thought themselves to be what they were
Poe and RLS brilliant slantwise visionaries. Besides they spun torn lives on the edge,
blooming irregular tunes, masked and twisted.

© 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 COVID-19/Pandemic, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Out There

I need to air out my brain
I say
to the walls
that never reply

will they miss me?
will they even notice I am gone?
I clip on my helmet
and mount my bicycle
she is stiff
not an easy ride
but she has taught me so much

as my feet spin
slowly
the air hits my face
sharp, cold

tears well up in my eyes
as I cruise along deserted streets
crawling past a speckling of people
walking in pairs or alone
like myself
alone

I slip into a world
all my own
forgetting the crisis we are in
I marvel at the incredibly skilled rollerblader
in front of me

Criss crossing
spinning
and somehow missing the many lethal potholes
I feel as though I am getting my own private show

Stopping I hike up to my spot
on a rock
amongst the trees

I watch as the sun slips away
behind the buildings across the way

sipping on tea
I think
we will be ok
this will all be ok
what ok looks like
I do not know
whether I can be patient
is uncertain

the cold creeps in
and my toes begin to transform
into ice cubes
I listen a little longer
to the rustling leaves
and whispers of bird cries
then lift off
and carry on this adventure
we all call life.

© 2020, Tricia Enns

TRICIA ENNS’ work explores how our relationship with the social and material spheres of the world impact the well-being of us as individuals, of our communities, and of the environment. She uses craft, illustrations, performance, writing, movement, playful interventions, humour and more recently electronics in her practice.

Posted in poem, Poems/Poetry

Pride Month 2020, a poem by Carrie Magness Radna

Original gay pride flag with eight bars. First displayed at 1978 San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade. / Public Domain

Rainbows,
that used to highlight Pride season,
are now painted & illuminated
on windows.

As we remain inside for protection,
many of the beloved population
are no longer hiding
in the closet—

Even in
contagion,
we are free to be
who we are.

© 2020, Carrie Magness Radna

CARRIE MAGNESS RADNA is an archival audiovisual cataloger at the New York Public Library, a singer, a lyricist-songwriter and a poet who loves to travel. Her poems have previously appeared in The Oracular Tree, Tuck Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, Mediterranean Poetry, Poetry Super Highway, Shot Glass Journal, Vita Brevis, Home Planet News, Walt’s CornerPolarity eMagazine, The Poetic Bond (VIII & IX), Alien Buddha PressCajun Mutt PressJerry Jazz Musician, First Literary Review-East and The spirit, it travels: an anthology of transcendent poetry (Cosmographia: published August 3, 2019), and will be published in Rye Whiskey Review. Her first chapbook, Conversations with dead composers at Carnegie Hall (Flutter Press: 1st edition; now out-of-print) was published in January 2019, and her second chapbook, Remembering you as I go walking (Boxwood Star Press: self-published) was published in August 2019. Her first poetry collection, Hurricanes never apologize (Luchador Press) was published in December 2019, now available online worldwide on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & IndieBound. She won third prize for “The tunnel” (category: Words on the Wall: All-Genre Prompt) at the 69th annual Philadelphia Writers’ Conference (2017). She also won 12th place for “Lily (no. 48 of Women’s names sensual series)” by the 2018 Writer’s Digest Poetry Awards. Born in Norman, Oklahoma, she is a member of the Greater New York Music Library Association (GNYMLA), and is a member/have read/workshopped for the New York Poetry Forum, Parkside Poets, Riverside Poets, Brownstone Poets and Nomad’s Choir. When she’s not performing classical choral works with Riverside Choral Society or New Year’s Eve performances with the New York Festival Singers, or writing art song lyrics with her choir buddies, or traveling, she lives with her husband Rudolf in Manhattan

Posted in Art, poem, Poems/Poetry

Five X Two, poem and digital art by Michael Dickel

Five X Two

Who blanks out one moment
sinks away from assault of light
covers provides thin shield—

but the night wraps me anonymously
protects me from dirty living-room windows
skins garlic in neglected kitchen corners.

What leaves biting gnats disturbs
perchance calm invisibility shines spots
interrogates shadows under the bed—

but the night emphasizes this
anonymously wiping glass clean
cooks up stews of sour lemons.

When whistles wastrel wind-
tunes wordlessly lifts dust grit
wastes faucet drips clock ticks—

but the night dampens eyes
anonymous echo in ears grief
wraps too many stricken.

Where sleep wrestles waking
nightmares slip into streaming
irreality shows cracked in paint—

but the night welcomes chaos
distrusts rhetoric hugs anonymous
crumbs like fine-grained death.

Why dwells here in this dark
so many tiny organic strands
unravels nucleotide secrets—

but the night reads novels
critiques plots of anonymous despair
writes poetry for morning trash.

 

©2020 Michael Dickel (Poetry and digital artwork). All rights reserved.


Michael Dickel’s writing and art appear in print and online. His poetry won the international Reuben Rose Poetry Award and has been translated into several languages. His most recent book, Nothing Remembers, came out in 2019 (Finishing Line Press) and received 3rd place for poetry in the Feathered Quill Book Awards–2020. He is Co-Managing Editor of The BeZine.


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

The Ebb Tides of Eternity by Jamie Dedes

Photograph courtesy of Kaitlan Balsam, Unsplash

“A significant portion of the earth’s population will soon recognize, if they haven’t already done so, that humanity is now faced with a stark choice: Evolve or die.” Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose



Eternity flows deftly through these pandemic* days
enfolding in her stream the many with whom we
contemplated Knowledge and Mortality

Looking back, we ponder amazed at love among
our relations and friends
……….a love that blossoms still, as fragrant, as gentle
……….as a dewy rose among thorns and thistles

We thrash and crawl and climb
………puzzling over the sea and fire that stalks us
Our hearts are cupped in one another’s hands,
……….talking drums, they communicate across
……….time and space

Our measured moments grave lines
……….in real and phantom fears,

……….they fly, they hover, storm clouds above us

In words of jade, our softest speech is elegiac
Our tears merge into raging rivers
Our smiles mask our grief and yearning
Our laughter is love grown wild and reckless

We see one another in a thousand shapes and dreams
……….and in nameless faces
Our sighs ride the ebb tides of Eternity
…..Another moment:
…..and even the sun will die
…..but our lotus song will echo on ….
……….We have lived! We have loved!

* pandemic days: COVID-19, environmental degradation, hunger and starvation, poverty and lack of healthcare, nuclear proliferation. Will we succumb or evolve to conquer?  Either way, nothing can take away the love we’ve given and received or  the life we’ve had.

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

Posted in Jamie Dedes, Poems/Poetry

Practical Cat on Cinco de Mayo by Jamie Dedes

“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.” Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, Gigi and the Cat


had we homÍnidos our wits, we’d
have had his cojones clipped before
some mean perro changed him into
a crippled capon, that tomcat, he
was boisterous and adamant
and ready for trouble, it wasn’t
just his maleness he lost, it was
his life, poor thing and he left

the other mourning and
coughing up chicken bits and
hair balls, too woebegone to steal
fatty succulents from Mexicali Rose
while she was busy adjusting the
barbeque grill, flirting with Brian ~
those two spiced their tacos
with a bit of kissy-face touchy-bod

in the heat of the heat of that
summer in ’86 when we celebrated
Cinco de Mayo in the park off
Alameda de las Pulgas and a new
little furry calabaza came into our lives,
half-starved and dehydrated with a
heavy chain-choker some gamberro
put around his neck . . . el idiota!

Brian freed him, we rushed
him to the vet hospital where
they repaired the damage and
he became el hermano pequeño
to the black and white, the essential
practical cat, forgetting her
tom and her mourning, letting
sweet boy stroll into her heart

© 2018, poem, Jamie Dedes; Photo credit Darren Hanlon, Public Domain Photographs.com

Posted in Poems/Poetry

Presidential Griot by Mbizo Chirasha

Courtesy of Kevin Nice, Unsplash

“Human rights don’t trickle down.” Heather Marsh, Binding Chaos: Mass collaboration on a global scale



Sometimes memories smell like a dictator’s fart
We once jived to our own shadows under the silver moon
and our shadows danced along with us, we rhymed to the
nightmares of hyenas and hallucinations of black owls.
Our desires sailed along with gowns of fog back and forth
at village dawns. Wood smoke smelt like fresh baked
bread.Time bewitched us, we ate William Shakespeare and
John Donne. We drank lemon jugs of Langston Hughes and
Maya Angelou. Soyinka’s lyrical whisky wrecked our
tender nerves. We bedded politics with boyish demeanor
and dreamt of the black cockerels and black Hitler’s

Sometimes time is stubborn like a sitting tyrant
Last night, commissars chanted a slogan and you
baked a dictator’s poetry sanguage. Zealots sang
Castro and Stalin and you brewed a socialist crank,
the president is a stinking capitalist. I never said
he is Satanist.Back to village nights, hyenas are
laughing still, black owls gossiping, silver moon
dancing still over rain beaten paths of our country dawns.

Sometimes time stinks like a dictator’s fart
Your lyrical satire sneaked imbeciles through
back doors. Your praise sonnets recycled suicidal
devils and polished revolutionary rejects, Back then,
smells of fresh dung and scent of fresh udder milk
were our morning brew and under the twilight the
moon once disappeared into the earthly womb, Judas,
the sun then took over and every dictator is an
Iscariot. I never said we are now vagabonds
Sometimes time smells like a dying autocrat

Mwedzi wagara ndira uyo tigo tigo ndira – the moon
was once sour milk silver white and fresh from the Gods’
mouth and sat on its presidential throne on the
zenith of bald headed hills and later with time
the moon was ripe to go mwedzi waora ndira tigo tigo ndira
Sometimes wind gusts whistled their tenor through elephant
grass pastures, we sang along the obedient flora . . .

Chamupupuri icho…oo
chamupupuri chaenda chamupupuri chadzoka
Chamupupuri icho…oo!

Our poverty marinated, yellow maize teeth grinned to
sudden glows of lightening, the earth gyrated under
the grip of thunder, then Gods wept and we drank
teardrops with a song mvura ngainaye tidye makavu,
mvura ngainaye tidye makavu ..

Pumpkins bred like rabbits, veldts strutted in
Christmas gowns. Wild bees and green bombers
sang protest and praise. I never said we are
children of drought relief.

Sometimes time grows old like a sitting tyrant,
Tonight the echo of your praise poetry irk the
anopheles stranded in tired city gutters to swig
the bitter blood of ghetto dwellers, gutter
citizens eking hard survival from hard earth
of a hard country , their rough hands marked
with scars of the August Armageddon, their sandy
hearts are rigged ballot boxes stuffed with corruption,
they waited and sang for so long . . .

Chamupupuri icho…oo chamupupuri chaenda
chamupupuri icho…oo chamupupuri chadzoka
Chamupupuri icho..oo

Originally published on Jamie Dedes’ The Poet by Day Webzine

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha

MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, The Black Poet) is one of the newest members of the Zine team and  a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017). He is a Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York, 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund, Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Gangesand Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.
Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, interNational Poetry Month, International Poetry Month April 2020, Pandemic/ COVID-19, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Before Corona by Mike Stone

Once, a long time ago,
Before Corona,
People sat together
Talking in soft voices
That only they could hear
Heads almost touching.

People held hands
While walking along
A riverbank
At sunset.
Sometimes people
Held each other so close
They could feel each other’s bodies
Underneath their clothes.
Sometimes they kissed
Tasting each other’s mouths.
Sometimes
They pleasured each other.

And sometimes
There were the accidental touches
On crowded trains or buses or planes
That you each savored privately
Arms brushing against arms,
Hand touching hand
While passing a cup of coffee
To someone,
A head heavy with sleep
Leaning against you
Long hair spilling across your shoulder.

These were the times before Corona
That we lived for,
That we couldn’t imagine
Having to do without,
That we thought would go on forever.

April 22, 2020

©2020 Mike Stone
from “The Hoopoe’s Call”

Before and After
Time of Coronavirus
Digital Landscape from Photographs
Photographs ©2007
Michael and Aviva Dekel
Artwork ©2020
Michael Dickel

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

Pandemic Haikus Collection by Anjum Wasim Dar

covid haiku

 

red killer virus

unseen contagious, small

stay clean, far, or  fall.

 

Social distancing

washing hands fast becoming

new law of all lands.

 

Corona dharna

houses safe, don’t wire us,no

lathi-charge*, just soap.

 

who locked me in first

now corona virus has

taken my revenge.

 

value the window

all the world is in it now

zoom in side, zoom out.

*lathi-charge: (India) The police tactic of charging a crowd with lathis or batons in order to disperse it.

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

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

Beyond Yearning to Hope

Courtesy of Nick Fewings, Unsplash

“This virus is teaching us that from now on living wages, guaranteed health-care for all, unemployment and labor rights are not far left issues, but issues of right versus wrong, life versus death.” Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, American Protestant minister and political activist. Rev. Barber is the author of several recommended books. His Amazon page is HERE.



The dreams can drive you crazy sometimes
The ones that envision a just world, one
Where equity is the backbone of endurance
A vineyard of bliss, so to speak, a garden of joy
Relative to the greed times of unworthy living
In a penthouse with a golden toilet, while
Others sleep on cardboard outside, urinating
In the streets, begging for lunch and walking
Barefoot in the snow, betrayed from day one
By the false ideal of rugged independence,
Of monied might is alright, of resource hording
By the richest and unconscionable trafficking of
Children for the unhinged pleasures of the elite
Oh my God, how did this happen? and who
Might have thought that the munitions factory
Of a deadly virus would bring us nose to nose?
How COVID-19 recognizes no bank account or
Prestigious position, just drops its noxious tidbits
Indiscrimanently, into lungs of princes, prime ministers
Those sleeping rough on city streets, its travels
Enhanced by an uneven distribution of access
To water, healthcare, space, living wages,
Paid time off, the rudiments of a civilized life
Girded by compassionate societies, lessons
Learned, we await implementation, and
Dare we move beyond yearning to hope

Originally published by Brave Voices and as The Poet by Day Wednesday Writing Prompt 

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

This poem and post are dedicated to the much admired Rev. William Barber and to Bernie Sanders. 

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

Heroic Words by Adrian Slonaker

“How are you?”
Here’s a hackneyed platitude
sidelined like sticky bottles of
condiments at the edges of
booths in greasy spoons – way back in February,
when they were
open,
throwaway words in the time of
meet-ups and Tinder, when
free physicality flowed
like turbid streams
coursing from their sources.
Yet during the drought,
the bromide won’t abandon its
fair-weather friends
as our touches and taps
and caresses and kisses are
evicted by locks and walls and
worry and six feet-
or two meters –
of mandated
icy space.
“How are you?”
A phrase as familiar
as crammed cafés
or yell-laden yellow schoolbuses
or sweaty discotheques,
a sanity-sustaining
semantic squeeze,
a question of concern,
of care,
of connection
softens the strange
hole of isolation.

© 2020, Adrian Slonaker

ADRIAN SLONAKER crisscrosses North America as a language professional, Pushcart Prize, and Best of the Net nominee. Adrian is fond of opals, owls and fire noodlesAdrian’s work has been published in WINK: Writers in the Know, Ez.P.Zine, Page & Spine and others.

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

Tomorrow by Ronny Sommek, Hebrew with English by Karen Alkalay-Gut

@2020 Ronny Semmek


מחר

בְּרֶגַע זֶה כָּל מִלָּה הִיא רַעַף בְּגַג הַבַּיִת
שֶׁאֶבְנֶה מָחָר.
בַּחוּץ קַר.
זוֹ לֹא סְטִירַת הָרוּחַ שֶׁל מֶרְץ אוֹ אֶגְרוֹף הַבָּרָד
מֵהַחֹדֶשׁ שֶׁעָבַר. זוֹהִי הַמַּכָּה מִתַּחַת לְאֵין-חֲגוֹרָה. הַטֶּבַע הוּא
אֶגְרוֹפָן הַמַּכִּיר רַק אֶת הַמִּלָּה
“נוֹקְאָאוּט”.

פִילִיפּ שׁוֹלֵחַ מִמִּילָנוֹ תַּצְלוּמִים שֶׁל אֲרוֹנוֹת קְבוּרָה.
אֵיזֶה בִּזְבּוּז לְהַפְקִיר אֶת הַחוּם־אֲדַמְדַּם
שֶׁל הַמָּהָגוֹנִי וְלִטְמֹן אוֹתוֹ בָּאֲדָמָה. אֲנִי שׁוֹלֵחַ מַבָּט
לַטִּפּוֹת הָאַחֲרוֹנוֹת שֶׁנִּשְׁאֲרוּ בְּבַקְבּוּק הַמַּרְטִינִי,
וְנִזְכַּר בְּדוּכַן הַמְּכִירוֹת הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁל הַמַּשְׁקֶה שָׁם בְּאוֹתָהּ מִילָאנוֹ.
לְמִי שֶׁשָּׁכַח, הַכֹּל מַתְחִיל בְּוֶרְמוּט וּשְׁמוֹנָה עָשָׂר אָחוּז שֶׁל
אַלְכּוֹהוֹל נָקִי מֻשְׁרֶה בְּעִשְׂבֵי תִּבּוּל. אָז בּוֹא נִשְׁתֶּה לְזִכְרָם. רוּסוֹ,
בְּיַאנְקוֹ אוֹ אֶקְסְטְרָה־דְּרַי.

סָלָח מִתְקַשֵּׁר מִפָּרִיז וּמַזְכִּיר לִי שֶׁהָרוּחַ הָרָעָה נוֹשֶׁבֶת גַּם בָּעִיר
בָּהּ נוֹלַדְנוּ. קוֹרוֹנָה בַּגְדָּדִית עִם עָרַבֶּסְקוֹת .הוּא מְחַבֵּר לָהּ קְלָלָה
שֶׁהִיא הַגְּרוּשׁ שֶׁהָיָה חָסֵר לַדִּינָר בַּבּוּרְסָה שֶׁל עִירָאק.

וּבְרָמַת גַּן אֲנִי רוֹצֶה לְהַדְהִיר אֶת הַמִּכְחוֹל
כְּמוֹ שֶבָּאשִׁיר אַבּוּ רַבִּיעַ מְמַלֵּא אֶת סוּסָיו
בְּצִבְעֵי הָאֵין־סוֹף.
אֲנִי רוֹצֶה שֶֶׁקְיוּזוֹ מִ”שִּׁבְעַת הַסָּמוּרָאִים”
יַצִּיל אוֹתָנוּ.
שֶׁיָּבוֹא וְיִלְפֹּת שׁוּב אֶת חַרְבּוֹ כְּיֶלֶד הַמְּאַגְרֵף אֶת הַסֻּכָּרִיָּה
הָאַחֲרוֹנָה בְּכִיסוֹ,
שֶׁיַּזְכִּיר לַצֶּלוֹפָן שֶׁעָלָיו לְהַסְתִּיר אֶת אוֹתָהּ סֻכָּרִיָּה
מִשִּׁנֵּי הָעוֹלָם.

מָחָר יִהְיוּ הָרְעָפִים מֵהַשּׁוּרָה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה גַּג מֶטָפוֹרִי
שֶׁל בֵּית קָפֶה לְמָשָׁל.
שָׁם נָבִין סוֹף סוֹף שֶׁגַּם עִרְבּוּב חָלָב
בְּתַחְתִּית הַסֵּפֶל יָכוֹל לִבְרֹא
עוֹלָם חָדָשׁ.

Hebrew poem ©2020 Ronny Sommek


Tomorrow

Right now, every word is a tile on the roof of the house
I’ll build tomorrow.
It’s cold outside.
It’s not the slap of the march wind or a punch of hail
From last month. This is a blow beneath the beltless. Nature is
A boxer who knows only the word
“Knockout.”

Phillip sends photographs of coffins from Milan.
What a waste to sacrifice the red-brown
Of mahogany and bury it in the ground. I glance
At the last drops left in the martini bottle,
And remember the first kiosk of that drink in that very Milan.
In case someone has forgotten, it all begins with vermouth and eighteen percent of
Pure alcohol soaked with herbs. So let’s drink to their memory. Rosso,
Bianco, or extra-dry.

Salah calls from Paris and reminds me that the evil wind is blowing as well in the city
We were born. Baghdadi Corona with arabesques. He composes a curse
That it was the last piaster missing from the dinar in the stock exchange of Iraq.

And in Ramat Gan I would like to make a paintbrush gallop
The way Bashir Abu Rabia fills his horses
With paint of eternal colors.
I want Kyuzo from “The Seven Samurai“
To save us.
To come and grasp his sword once more
Like a child who clenches his last candy in his pocket
To remind the cellophane that it must hide that candy
From the teeth of the world.

Tomorrow the tiles from the first line will be a metaphoric roof
Of a coffee house for instance.
There we will understand, at last, that stirring milk
in the bottom of the cup can create
a new world.

English translation ©2020 Karen Alkalay-Gut


Pandemic / Tomorrow Digital Landscape from Photographs ©2020 Michael Dickel
Pandemic / Tomorrow
Digital Landscape from Photographs
©2020 Michael Dekel


Karen Alkalay-Gut’s latest books, due to be published next month, are the dual language Surviving Her Story: Poems of the Holocaust (Courevour Press), translated to French by Sabine Huynh, and A Word in Edgewise (Simple Conundrums Press). She lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and an outdoor alley cat.

See her two pandemic poems on The BeZine Blog here.

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

Two Poems by Anjum Wasim Dar

The World Came to A Stop

Another day, another death,
another night, another sin
committed not regretted, nor repented,
routine pulled in pain, in beating
the grain for hours, sweat poured,
didn’t wash the hurt,

the baby cried, hungry, on the back
exhausted by jerky rhythmic jolts
then, the world came to a halt-
no cries sounded as bodies fell
listless without breath, awe and fear?
blood sacrifice, so near?

Take cover, take cover, unseen
strafing , women children men, free
of shades, cash or kind, Flee! Flee!
Death defies borders, barbed wires
make no sense, bullets batons guns
lose power.

Emptiness prevails on land, animals
watch caged humans, no honks for way
on roads. Yesterday what we loved to
touch, that very thing we fear, but will
life be the same again? Will there be
honest care?

The sun still shines, the moon in silver
smiles, rivers run for miles, ranges guard
birds twitter, trees remain calm and green,
fruit is plenty, clouds float in the sky, I—
alone, sigh, and cry—I hear my heart say

Now you know, why?
‘Because You would not stop for the World
It kindly stopped for you.’


The  Skean

Boomeranged, the skean slashed, unseen like phosgene on
the terrene, unforeseen unseen, it ripped smothered innocent
breathers, hundreds at once, to thousands in seconds.

Ominous signs forewarned, scary ghostly widespread happening
suspended in the blue expanses a cloudy white sinister skull trailing
horrifically, manifested across boundless, beyond measure,

unknown, space disturbed, restless undines sensed strange miracles in
ocean fathoms-staggering, half-clad, barefooted, marginalized living
bodies, swayed in dizzy drunken states,

dozing, drowning in Shebeen, for uncounted times, now fully wayward,
drifting, stepping, sinking in dunes, sliding aimlessly, what hopes
for humanity when denes destroyed by humanity itself?

Habitats erased mercilessly and clear silver streams
filled with propylene. No Hippochrine in soul and spirit awakens here,
silence the tambourines, smoke not the dudeen,

Sunk to Lethe lust and greed, oblivious of love kindness and good deeds
why to animal level have humans fallen? Believing not The One Unseen?
Now fearing this—though invisible?

The world in speed, metamorphosed  by tiny  Covid-19—enforcing equity—
knows not rank nor caste, nor color nor creed, nor walls nor wires of any
country, nor age nor gender nor family.

Humanity now on a single plane, no one to lose or gain, death is ordained
for rich or poor, dark or fair, all belong here, shrouds no pockets have, just
fabric layers—

Covid-19—with fear you conquer but one strong weapon will win over you,
Humans have faith and prayer, good deeds and Hope—
Hope is their strength—with Hope the pandemic will surely end.

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

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

A Litany in Time of Plague (1593) by Thomas Nashe

Adieu, farewell earth’s bliss!
This world uncertain is:
Fond are life’s lustful joys,
Death proves them all but toys.
None from his darts can fly;
I am sick, I must die—
Lord, have mercy on us!

Rich men, trust not in wealth,
Gold cannot buy you health;
Physic himself must fade;
All things to end are made;
The plague full swift goes by;
I am sick, I must die—
Lord, have mercy on us!

– Thomas Nashe

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

Lockdown by Jamie Dedes

Michael Ancher, “The Sick Girl”, 1882, Statens Museum for Kunst / Public domain photograph courtesy of Michael Peter Ancher

“Kleitos, a likeable young man,
about twenty-three years old
with a first-class education, a rare knowledge of Greek
is seriously ill. He caught the fever
that reaped a harvest this year in Alexandria.”
Kleitos’ Illness, Constantine P. Cavafy


Bronchi- and alveoli-seeking respiratory droplets
Float on the air, a nightmare of guided munitions
Always a reckoning when such assassins are loosed,
And now the vineyard of joy is dead and gated, the
Elders are on lockdown, prisoners of COVID-19,
Of a government that moves too slowly, and this
Virus that moves with speed, children sent home
From school, the workers forced from their jobs, a
Run on TP, tissues and hand sanitizers, breezes
Caressing the face, now just a memory like love
And blisses, handshakes and bracing bear-hugs
Like social networking of the off-line variety

Originally published in Jamie Dedes’ The Poet by Day Webzine  in response to Michael Dickel’s Wednesday Writing Prompt

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

Earthquake and Devastation by Michael Dickel

The poem Earthquake and Devastation as graphic art, with a photo of flowers in the background.
Poem, photo, and art
©Michael Dickel

Earthquake and devastation

Shaken earth weeps
floods of ice in all lands,
attempts to cleanse itself.

We diseased cells have
metastasized, eaten
its forbidden flesh,
perforated its bones.

What it cannot shake
off it sweeps away
with wind and rain,
or burns off in fires.

Glaciers wear down
what remains. Everything
known is now extinct.

Only new forms will emerge,
scathed and transformed
by death, cancerous greed,
into fallen-Phoenix grace.

©Michael Dickel

An earlier version of this poem appeared in The BeZine, Summer 2018. It is part of a selected and new poems collection with the working title, Necropolis. It is presented here as a metaphor for the pandemic.

MICHAEL DICKEL, co-managing editor of The BeZine, has writing and art in print and online in many venues. His poetry has won the international Reuben Rose Poetry Award  and been translated into several languages. His latest collection of poetry Nothing Remembers, came out in 2019 from Finishing Line Press, and received 3rd place for poetry in the Feathered Quill Book Awards–2020. A poetry chap book, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism, came out in 2017; The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, a flash fiction collection, came out in 2016. Previous books: War Surrounds Us (2014), Midwest / Mid-East (2012), and The World Behind It, Chaos… (2009). He co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36, was managing editor for arc-23 and -24, and is a past-chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. With producer / director David Fisher, he received a U.S.A. National Endowment of Humanities documentary-film development grant. He currently is a lecturer at David Yellin Academic College of Education, Jerusalem, Israel.

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

Dunce by Barbara UngAr

I love our new quiet life.
We sit like naughty children
in our corners forced to learn
what we should already know—
that we are one.
.
© 2020, Barbara UngAr
.

Barbara UngAr ’s (barbaraungar.net) fifth book, Save Our Ship, won the Richard Snyder Memorial Prize from Ashland Poetry Press and was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2019; it is currently a finalist for the IBPA’s Ben Franklin award.  A limited-edition chapbook, EDGE (named for the EDGE list of Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered species), is forthcoming in April 2020 from Ethel Press. Her prior books include Immortal Medusa, named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015; Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life; and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Prize and a silver Independent Publishers award. A professor at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, she lives in Saratoga Springs.