Cicadas for Change — poems by Mike Stone

A Hundred Thousand Cicadas for Change

Change.
We want change.
A hundred thousand poets for change want change.
We started wanting change nine years ago.
Nothing much has changed since then,
Certainly not by us poets
Certainly not by our poems.
 
What is change anyway?
 
First off, I’ll tell you what change is not:
It’s not the change you leave for the waitress,
It’s not even something we all agree about,
And it’s not anything specific.
We just want change.
 
Now, I’ll tell you what change is:
It’s something that starts off with one or two good people
And ends up with just about everyone in the world;
It’s something that lassoes your imagination and your heart;
And it’s so specific that you know exactly what to do.
There’s no right or good time for change.
The time for change is now.
No one will do it for us.
Only we can do it.
If we can’t do it,
Then it has to be me;
Otherwise, we’re just
A hundred thousand cicadas
Making noise in a forest.
 
                        June 20, 2020

Our Worst Intentions


Do the skies above your country stop at our borders?
Are the skies above our country afraid to enter yours?
Do the rivers flowing through your land dry up at our borders?
Do our borders refuse admittance to your rivers?
Is the wild grass at the edges of your fields reluctant
To spread over the edges of our fields?
Do the grasshoppers on your side decide against
Hopping over our imaginary lines into our
Breeze nudged grasses or having hopped
Decide not to hop back home?
It seems there’s something in our natures
That disdains our borders and boundaries
Despite our worst intentions.
 
                                    July 28, 2020

Pity the Poor Politician

Pity the mildewed magician
Who knows there’s no magic
And all is just slight-of-hand
Which gets slightly slower
As he gets older
As does the blonde he saws in half
To dwindling applause,
And who knows the sound of a
One-person audience clapping.
 
Pity the flim-flam snake-oil salesman
Standing on his teetering soapbox
In front of a crowd of toothless bumpkins
And a pre-paid confederate in a wheelchair.
He knows his medicine’s no good
And his confederate isn’t crippled,
But he’d take a swig of kick-a-poo juice,
Stand up from his wheelchair,
And walk tall for all to see.
He knows he’d better get going
Before the suckers realize
They’ve been suckered again.
 
Pity the poor politician
Alone on the stage
Sweating under thick makeup
And squinting at a teleprompter.
He alone knows his promises are lies
His answers are as substantive
As cotton candy at a carnival,
He hasn’t a clue what to do,
His supporters will eventually
Turn on him when they finally wake up,
His opponents see through him,
And his friends will desert him
As soon as their whims change.
 
                        August 7, 2020

©2020 Mike Stone
All rights reserved


Mike Stone was born in Columbus Ohio, USA, in 1947. He lived in San Diego and Chicago. Mike played clarinet and saxophone in his high school marching band, dance band, and concert band. He also composed music. He started out with a Fine Arts major but then graduated from Ohio State University with a BA in Psychology. He served in both the US Army (stationed in Germany) and the Israeli Defense Forces. Mike has traveled throughout Europe and to several Arab countries.

Mike has been writing poetry since he was a student at OSU. He has published four books of poetry (The Uncollected Works, Yet another Book of Poetry, Bemused, and Call of the Whippoorwill), a book of essays, and four science fiction novels (The Tin Man, The Rats and the Saps, Whirlpool, and Out of Time). Mike is currently working on his fifth book of poetry (The Hoopoe’s Call) and a fifth science fiction novel (H4N5-2080). He supported his writing habit by working as a computer programmer, specializing in information security.

Mike speaks English and Hebrew, as well as a smattering of Spanish, German, Russian, and a bit of Arabic. He also speaks several computer languages fluently. Now he is retired. Mike moved to Israel in 1978 and lives in Raanana. He is married and has three sons and seven precious grandchildren.

Check out his blog. You can read his latest poetry, short stories, and essays, while they are works in progress. Mike also has an Amazon author’s page.

Hundreds and Thousands

—John Anstie

One hundred thousand
Poets for change,
so many voices and
carefully chosen words, seem
to be decaying into the void
of the anechoic chamber.

Earthly Fathers praying
for the Establishment,
that sets the stage
and casts its values
in concrete, steel,
plastic…and carbon.

Leaders of the World,
whose balance sheets and
rational, numerate intellect
measure only a notion
of success. What is that?
What is success?

For aren't we just that,
a wealth of rich and
creative intelligence
that is the only hope
for our universe
to understand itself?

Heavenly Mothers ask us
why digitise and monetise
and worship at the alter
of the great god, Thworg,
when we are in the face of
richness beyond measure.

Escape to the stars, if you must,
but answers will be found, not
in the vanity of space-time travel,
but here, with unaided vision
they lie in the green and blue,
right before your disbelieving eyes.

Permit your heart to rule
even if only one day a week, when
the visceral, and the common sense
can overrule logic and intellect, and
that subliminal noise in our head
will slowly awaken the conscience.

Maybe, one day we'll be
Seven Thousand Million
Poets for Change!
Our time will come. Greatness beckons.
It's in the wind, this beating heart,
a movement beyond the gaze of mortals…

©2020 John Anstie
All rights reserved


Two Lamentations

A Priest’s Lament

 

Labyrinth Digital landscape from photo @2018 Michael Dickel
Labyrinth
Digital landscape from photo
@2018 Michael Dickel

i
Starting from the outside,
the labyrinth’s path moves closer,
further, closer, as it takes a poet
deviously toward the center.

Mosaic patterns, partly broken
by frost, perpetually bloom there.
Gray, mossed-stones line the path—
they frame the wanderer’s flower.

ii
We wandered that desert
for forty years. All we had
for communication were
specially designed tents

built from detailed plans—
each folding floorboard
and floating nail exact—
a cellular plan from God.

iii
That lonely God longed for
our calls, the return of a gift
we could not understand.
We just turned on each other

instead. We hoarded words
into locked arks as though
we owned them or understood
what they meant. We didn’t.

iv
We meant to know more. Ever since,
with poor reception, a limited data plan,
we still pretend we can call God
whenever we want. We pray

for every child shot in school
as though words could unlock
such cruelty. We pray that we
will not long be held responsible.

v
I long for the days before
those instructions were given,
before we built the tabernacle,
before we transformed the tent

to stone on top of a mountain,
before we thought we knew
what God wanted us to do,
before we decided we were priests.


Poem of separation (kodesh, kodesh, kodesh)

 

(vi)
A wandering God longs for us
from outside a forty-year labyrinth,
folding time, returning space, locked
into receiving words that cannot be given.

We thought we knew.

(vii)
On the seventh day, God rested.
We have not seen or heard
Creation since. Our language
overwhelms the world.

We thought we knew.


—Michael Dickel


Poet Tree Labyrinth Digital Landscape @2018 Michael Dickel from photos by Terri Carrion and Michael Dickel
Poet Tree Labyrinth
Digital Landscape @2018 Michael Dickel
from photos @2018 by Terri Carrion and Michael Dickel


This two-poem sequence was written at Lake Jackson, Tallahassee, Florida, during Michael‘s participation in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change Residency Program 2018, in the days following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass killings in Parkland, Florida. The 100 Thousand Poets for Change organization has planned poetry events as gun violence protests for peace and memorials for Parkland. More information with a schedule can be found here.


 

~ Gen X Musings ~

It’s time again for the 100TPC (One Hundred Thousand Poets For Change) here at The BeZine, and all over the world. It’s a chance for artists, musicians, poets, peace-keepers, activists, and anyone else who desires lasting change in the world to speak out about issues affecting all of us. I invite you to join us in a celebration of the spirit of resistance, as we try to make the world a better place. 🙂

© 2017, Corina Ravenscraft

 

Michael Rothenberg and Mitko Gogov

 


Morning News


Michael Rothenberg

Hold me back!

Lord,

wherever
you are,

Michael Rothenberg photo
Michael Rothenberg
@2015 Michael Dickel

if you are,
give me

the will
to keep

my mouth
shut.

 


The Forgotten Retort between Two Gazes


Mitkko Gogov
Translation from Macedonian by Aleksandar Mitovski

And so we role-play clockmaker and time
Both with hammers aimed at mutiny’s head
And a clock is a bigger bastard than both man and everlasting sun
As we forget burnt words and human dust

Ugly tongues and nasty minds
They drag the lent of the soul

The inner voice doesn’t (ever) go out,
Like angels’ dander or hell’s gasoline it just booms
Skip the small lightning bolts
Twist the lowest mountains
The force of forever would, like a mother to her son,
Bind
And barely ever
Alienate
In the rood of our heads
Like snails
We hide our true home
Not realizing that the slime of our soul
Leaves traces of disquiet in our sleep

We keep the stars in our hands,
Why is it when we throw them
They strike like heavenly boulders?

Stones have learned to resound
Yet our dulled hearing needs to wake up!

Both fire and abyss alike
Are eternal
Just like our pensive, darling souls
Just like a shard in marbles, when our bell breaks
We are of piercing glass, yet
Troubled as the soul remembers
But knows not to reciprocate

We’re birds that have decided to build their own cage,
We sing of the freedom we’ve created
But the space in which we act is
Barely as large as our wingspan is

Be the river that desires to break through the cold
And the ice of the mountain whose home is winter

We all want to see the whole
We all want to be a part of someone’s whole
We want to add to the whole, bid for it,
Increase it, make it rich

Or
Cripple it without realizing

As we don’t grasp we’re nothing but cutouts
A square on a Rubik’s cubepersevering, searching for its match
On the other side of the cube
We’re seemingly moving in a circle
Rolling all over the globe like a stolen bobbin of yarn
From grandma’s old chest.

We leave our people like
Forgotten church bells in our soul
Though we’d like their thoughts to echo
But you’d only hear the blood of your words
And angels pacing on the cobblestone road
Leaving without making a sound,
With a touch ingrained in us like a scar from child’s play
Like a mother’s hand holding a teaspoon of soup
Like a father’s lesson of how to chop kindling
Without losing a finger

We cut and we carve, but the truth can’t be carved,
Because, if we do, it will carve us back
And bury us six feet under
Even though we never brewed enough coffee
Even though we never leaped over enough bonfires
Even though we lied when we said that spirits came but we summoned witches
And the fairies choose our shadows as their mates
No, our shadows, like us, would rather hide in verses
And battle quietly for their hidden lives.

We’d rather be snow: white, clean, untarnished,
But you can’t keep snow in a jar, it won’t sit still,
Neither will love
Trapped, lonely, not shown, framed.

Love floats alone in a frame, like a cross-stitch
Of a woman spinning yarn as her wool is coming to an end.

Let’s make our minds ascent in a global fire
And resurrect the enchanted souls.

A forgotten retort between two gases
(therefore)

Please leave me
Leave my
Predicaments be

It’s not the time in which
The soil on its own and
By its own volition
Did turn over
And roll over

We all move,
Twist, roll over,
As we live we do not remember
Or notice,
While we’re dead
‘we do not eavesdrop
As others gossip about us’
And
Probably all spine issues are gone.

Leave the world be, darling,

It is not a part of you
Can’t you see in your naiveté, how,
Through your breath of lunacy they pass you by
They skip right over you
They won’t even cough anymore?
Leave the trams, darling,
In them fewer wishes are travelling these days

Mitko Gogov photo
Mitko Gogov
©2015 Michael Dickel

Towards you,
Inside you,
Next to you,
No more hands reaching out
No more raised voices

—we drown in our own outcry

We hope that hope as our last refuge
Will pay our debts
Will turn off the light
And in the end

Just like us all
Will leave
And go

To hell.

 


Michael Rothenberg has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 37 years but recently moved to Tallahassee. He is a poet, painter, songwriter, and editor of Big Bridge Press and Big Bridge, a webzine of poetry and everything else. In 2011 he and Terri Carrion co-founded the global poetry movement 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

His songs have appeared in Hollywood Pictures’ Shadowhunter and Black Day, Blue Night, and most recently, TriStar Pictures’ Outside Ozona. Other songs have been recorded on CDs including: Bob Malone‘s The Darkest Part of The Night (Caught Up in Christmas) and Bob Malone (Raydaddy’s Blues), Difficult Woman by Renee Geyer, Global Blues Deficit by Cody Palance, The Woodys by The Woodys, and Schell Game by Johnny Lee Schell.

His poetry books and broadsides are archived at the University of Francisco, and are held in the Special Collection libraries of Brown University, Claremont Colleges, University of Kansas, the New York Public Library, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, and UC-Santa Cruz.


Mitko Gogov lives in Macedonia, where he writes poetry, short stories, essays and journalism. He writes haiku, senriu, renga which he publishes occasionally in the micro blogosphere twitter, but once published in London by Yoko Ono as well. His work so far has been present and translated in several anthologies, collections and journals for literature and art in India, Pakistan, Philippines, USA, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Check Republic, Germany, Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Bulgaria … He’s current with his first collection “Ice Water” published in 2011. in Serbia, and in 2014 issued in Macedonia, in the edition “Fires” for the publishing house “Antolog”, supported by the Ministry of culture.

As conceptual artist with several exhibitions, installations, performances, scenery, short movies and multimedia projects he participated in a few international group exhibitions and projects in Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria, France, Norway and Italy.

He is President of the Association for Cultural Development and Protection of Cultural Heritage “Kontext – Strumica” and organizer of the international movement and festival “100 Thousand poets for change” in Macedonia, Strumica. He is also the CEO & founder of the internet portal strumicaonline.net and one of the editors at the ezine for culture and literature in Macedonia, reper.net.mk. He organizes many other cultural and art events, collaborating with youth, art, film and theater festivals.

As youth trainer he provides different creativity workshops, such as: forum theater, multimedia, design, stick art, street art, graffiti, use of organic and recycled materials in contemporary art, handmade and social aspects as PEER & informal education, EVS, youth participation etc.


This post originally appeared on
Fragmentarily/ Metaphor(e) /Play.


Three Poems from Albanian | Faruk Buzhala


Faruk Buzhala

My house

My house is a hundred years old.

My House
Digital art
©2017 Michael Dickel

The wounds of time appear on the walls
Even though I have tried to repair you.
You are as beautiful as a monument of the past.
I have lived and grown inside of you.

My hundred-year old house—
When it rains why are you crying?
The roof and ceiling leak
And I…
Run with bowls in my hands
To pick up the tears.


Here is the original, in Albanian

Shtëpia ime

Shtëpia ime qindvjetëshe
Plagët e kohës t’figurojnë në mure
Edhe pse shumë here t’i  kuroja
Je e bukur si monument i t’kaluarës
Për  muaqë në ty jetoj.

Shtëpia ime qindvjetëshe
Kur bie shi përse qanë
Pullazi tavani pikojnë
E unë
Vrapoj me tasa në duar
Të t’i mbledh lotët.



The ending

“Two thousand years ago ended the voyage of the prophets.”

We annihilated darkness
Digital art
©2017 Michael Dickel

People are left
at the crossroads of life
without knowing the direction to go:
Past, Present, Future, or …?!

Old wisdoms
We took for the worst
and put them into a bag.
Then we upload into time
the burden of our sins.

We annihilated darkness
But we were left in the dark,
with tired eyes barren of myopia
seeking the grace of god’s fire
wasted somewhere in the universe.


Here is the original, in Albanian

M b a r i m i

“Qe dymijë vite u ndal rrugëtimi i profetëve”

Njerëzit kanë mbetur
në udhëkryqin e jetës
pa ditur kah të shkojnë:
Kah e kaluara,e tashmja, e ardhmja, apo…?!.

Mësimet e vjetra i morëm për ters
dhe i futëm në thes.
Pastaj ia ngarkuam kohës
barrën e mëkateve tona.

E asgjësuam terrin
por mbetëm në terr,
me sy të lodhur shterpe nga miopia
kërkojmë hirin e zjarrit të hyjnive
të tretur diku në univers.



The above poems are from Faruk Buzhala’s second book, House without Road. Translated by Faruk Buzhala with Michael Rothenberg. Faruk wrote the poem below in English.



”Love… lost somewhere in the deepest cut of my heart, waiting for someone to awake feelings.”

With a candle
Digital art
©2017 Michael Dickel

to be alone when your heart wants to have friends near,
to wish one wish when your body burns for some youthfulness,
to think of the past when your nostalgia brings back all of the pictures of life!

With a candle in the dark spirit, walk easily through the passing years.



Faruk Buzhala
©2015 Michael Dickel

Faruk Buzhala is an Albanian from Kosovo. He currently lives in Ferizaj. He describes himself elsewhere as “an alien falling from the sky to earth…”

This post originally appeared on
Fragmentarily/ Metaphor(e) /Play.



Salerno, il mio amore

100TPC World Conference Banner
100TPC World Conference Banner

Santa Sofia Complex, Salerno, Italy
Santa Sofia Complex, Salerno, Italy

Inside the Santa Sofia Complex
Inside the Santa Sofia Complex

June 3, 2015, the afternoon after I arrived in Salerno, Italy, I found my way up to the Santa Sofia Complex, an old church on a square with a fountain.The first 100-Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) World Conference would begin with an opening reception in the evening. In the complex, I met Terri Carrion, one of the co-founders of 100TPC and co-organizer of the conference. She told me that her partner, Michael Rothenberg, was around the corner at a cafe meeting one of the writers who had just arrived from Macedonia.

Poets gathered at tables in a cafe, Salerno, Italy, 100TPC World Conference
Poets gathered at tables in a cafe, Salerno, Italy, 100TPC World Conference

After helping Terri and Valeriano Forté, a Salerno poet and 100TPC organizer, assemble some tables in our meeting room, I wandered down to the cafe. Several poets gathered at tables in excited conversation. Michael was with Mitko Gogov, the poet from Macedonia. Others were from the U.S., Mexico, Hungary, Germany (via the U.S. and Rome), Greece, Malaysia, and France. And this was just the beginning. All of the people at the cafe then I now count among new-found friends, along with many more that I met during the following week.

Aqueduct Salerno, Italy
Aqueduct
Salerno, Italy

Imagine, if you can, more than 80 poets from all over the world—every continent, 33 countries. Imagine poets from every generation, spoken-word artists, poets with books or no book, all come together to share the spirit of poet-activists, as 100TPC organizers. Now imagine us all talking about poetry, about arts and activism, women’s issues, oral versus print traditions, and organizing—with interpreters translating into Italian and English. That’s how our four conference days were (mostly) spent.

Alfonso Gatto Poem Detail from mural in Salerno
Alfonso Gatto Poem
Detail from mural in Salerno

Those were scheduled topics. Another one came up—artists’ international mobility. Several poets had their visa requests turned down by their home countries or Italy. So we rejoiced when three poets from Egypt finally received their visas at the last minute and arrived during the conference. Some who could not make it joined us virtually by posting to social media. For the next conference, we plan to be more prepared for this issue, and to have both advice and, if we can raise them, funds to assist people.

View of Salerno
View of Salerno

The days tended to serious dialogue on sustainability, peace and justice. The evenings (and a couple of afternoons) overflowed with poetry. Each evening, several poets read as “scheduled” readers, usually after dinner. Then came the open mic—which ranged from raucous readings to a quiet “campfire” around candles to a poetry walk from the complex to the sea. The open mic that I co-hosted with a poet living in Malaysia and a Ghanian poet was in a restaurant, the last reading of the conference.

Light and Shadow Along a Salerno Street
Light and Shadow
Along a Salerno Street

Street Art, Salerno
Street Art, Salerno

And what of Salerno? Salerno won our hearts—an old city with a castle overlooking it that once was ruled by a warrior-princess; the home of Alfonso Gatto, an Italian poet whose poetry appears in murals by contemporary artists all over the town via the Alfonso Gatto Foundation (a sponsor of the conference); a town nestled between mountains of alleyways, stone walls, beautiful squares and the sea; a song of bells, sea gulls, swallows; a haven for street artists and poets.

Arch and Tree Salerno, Italy
Arch and Tree
Salerno, Italy

The night following the end of the conference, many of us still in Salerno took over most of a small restaurant around the corner from the Santa Sofia Complex. Not wanting to let go of our transformative week of amazing global poetry, we began an impromptu reading, some reading from books of others, some reading our own work. A couple from the town, not part of our conference, sat at one of the tables listening, and then the man asked if he might read some of his work in Neapolitan. He recited his work, then line by line he read the Italian with someone translating into English. Poets attract poets.

So, in two years, we plan to return. Writer-artist-activists reading this, perhaps you’d like to join us?

Looking out the door Santa Sofia Complex
Looking out the door
Santa Sofia Complex

– Michael Dickel

© 2015, article and photographs, Michael Dickel, All rights reserved