the rock tumbler

 

when i was young
i found
these stones
they were
everywhere
and
a friend had said
that if they were polished
they’d be worth
a great deal
but
no one that
he knew
had been able
to smooth
the surface
even
at an early age
i was
somewhat defiant
and
persistent
when told
you can’t
or
it can’t
followed by some phrase
like
be done
in any case
i took it upon myself
to prove
him
wrong
that’s when i bought
my first
rock tumbler
an inexpensive model
since my funds
and
knowledge
of
such things
were
quite limited
the results
of
my first efforts
were
rather pathetic
like
a love-sick youth
seeing
the true meaning
of
life and love
but
as i
gained more knowledge
of
the stones
and
the processes
others had tried
i refined my process
i learned
that
the best action
could be achieved
by
wetting the rocks 
just enough
for
the carbide grit
to cling
to the agates
as
they tumbled
i envisioned
it
as
a war between the stones
the grit
of course
were my soldiers
oh and
there were times
when i was certain
by
the sounds
made by the tumbler
that
i had indeed achieved
my goal
but
on close inspection
the stones
had not changed
so then
i decided
to seek the assistance
and
advice
of
others
one expert
inquired
if i knew
the nickname
of
the agates
that i
was trying to polish
when i said no
he said
they’re called
human greed
i can’t tell you
how many
tumblers
and
soldier’s lives
that have been sacrificed
but
i do know now
that
my quest
has yielded
little change
and
that
those stones
may indeed
outlast
even me
when
i finally
find
peace

 

® 2019, Charles W. Martin

systemic social justice

 

you must hold
your place
in
the queue
if
you’re
going
to
move forward
stepping
outside
of
the queue
means
you’ll forfeit
your
rightful
opportunity
to
get to
the front
of
the line
lesser beings
have left
the line
and
thus
made room
for
others
and
of course
moving
you
ever closer
to
the front
of
the queue
the whole
process
is
enhanced
by
death
divorce
and
insanity
barring
such
an event
for
you
you’re guaranteed
a
position
at
the front
of
the line
of
some
duration

 

© 2018, Charles W. Martin

gambling on social justice…

 

got folks
outside
the candy store
staring
at
opaque glass
they
can’t
really see
the sweets
they’ve
heard about
and
will
most likely
never
taste
but
they’ve got
some pretty pictures
like
promises
painted
for
them
on the glass
outside
pictures
carefully crafted
by
those who
own
the store
who offer
free tenants
a lifetime
of
servitude
to
buy
a lottery ticket
for
the chance
to
come inside

 

—Charles W Martin © 2018

even the most civilized…

 

when it’s realized
the last ship is departing
leaving those behind
isolated forever
fear gives birth to anger’s mob

 

—Charles W. Martin © 2018

catalyst . . .

it has no true form
yet still sweetens all of life
this so-called thing peace

© 2018, Charles W. Martin

anthem . . .

still we sing
give peace a chance
still
the young die
for
the ghosts
under
old men’s beds
and for
flag draped
corporate greed
once
our voices
were strong
and
could be heard
throughout a generation
our arms
were linked
for
human dignity
but
time
has eroded
the bedrock
of
our song
and
death
has pried
our arms apart
so
many
of us
stand alone
repeating
those words
as if
the dead
will rise
if we but
only
say
our life’s mantra
for
every
life lost
to
the lust
for
domination
oh
we have sung
these words
so
very long

 

full circle

one loses
the ability
to
sleep
with
awareness
every
event
and
sound
is magnified
in
the late hours
of
one’s existence
it is then
when
the
pulsing of blood
through
veins
can
be
counted
like
grains of sand
in
an emptying
hour-glass
where
each falling grain
echos
memories
that
replay
the events
of
our life
a life
where
options
were possible
and
paths
were taken
to
where we are
now
aware
seeing
more clearly
the lies
broken promises
and
preprogrammed dreams
of
what life
should be
but
could
never be
so
we lie
in our beds
in
a fetal position
just
before
we
die

© 2017, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin

a slave’s mentality

it is
difficult
for us
to
accept
that
we
just
are
so
we’ve
evolved
elaborate constructs
religions
governments
to
pledge allegiance to
and
deify
selective servitudes
to
give meaning
to the meaningless
so
we may ordain
our deaths
and
separate ourselves
from
the beasts
all around us
all
the while
we exhibit
the same
kindnesses
and
brutalities
of
all creatures
killing
to
survive
protect territory
and as
a symptom
of
our insanities
we become
indentured servants
contracted to work
a lifetime
in exchange
for free passage
to
some purpose
for
being

© 2017, poem and photograph, Charles W Martin

three notes

and still the music plays…

throughout history
one billion lives lost to war
and still hope’s song sung

eternal hymn…

if i could but sing
songs that made love and peace real
forever i’d sing

extinction-level event…

if the music stops
the human heart will not beat
for hope will have died

 

 © 2017, poems and photographs, Charles W. Martin

genome for survival

 

full social justice
unending humanity
merging to form peace

 

© 2017, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin

theatrical backsliding

wait for the applause
as the stage lights become bright
once again a child
wanting parent approval
for a performance well done

a mere masquerade

life’s tribulations
cast of characters on stage
words heard resonate
with our lives often bringing
real tears and fears into view

an allegorical drama

shout upon the stage
show them how much you’re outraged
march on washington
enter stage right scream your lines
despite deaf politicians

Restorative Justice for Sale . ..

empty prison farms
balance sheets with dark red ink
societal chains
restraint by profit and fear
bargain priced prisoners’ hope

© 2017, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin

before it can begin . . .

an opened window
fresh air whirls around stale fears
prisoners breathe deep
hope’s sunrise cuts through darkness
revenge’s hand ends all

© 2017, poem and photograph, Charles W Martin

teach a man to fish . . .

a broken prisoner
back bent like an old willow
skin as rough as bark
believed restorative justice
society’s rejection

© 2017, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin

postponed awareness . . .

when the sun
forgets to rise
will men open
their closed eyes
just in time to see
their demise

© 2017, Charles W. Martin

off course evolution

carthage
uninhabited
angkor
uninhabited
tikal
uninhabited
petra
uninhabited
pompeii
uninhabited
the great zimbabwe
uninhabited
memphis
uninhabited
earth

© 2017, Charles W. Martin

death by committee

the end
prolonged climate change dialogues
with rehearsed government denials
as earth dies

© 2017, Charles W. Martin

basement dwellers… | Charles W. Martin

the view
from the basement
hasn’t changed
i can
still
only see
how
footprints
are made
not
who
really
makes them
nor
why
some movements
are
so erratic
as to
engender panic
from
those
of us
looking up
from the basement
i must admit
that
i prefer
those who walk
with
sure
confident steps
that are
well measured
it gives one
a sense
of hope
that
the basement door
will someday
be unlocked
and
we’ll
get a chance
to view
what’s really
going on
up there

the merchant of lies | Charles W. Martin

truth buried alive
rings the graveside bell for help
but greed’s songs of joy
hush the safety coffin’s pleas
shylocks dance upon truth’s grave

© 2017, Charles W. Martin

translucent… | Charles W. Martin

lies too often heard
like bread cast upon waters
call us to believe
but evil deeds multiple
benefiting the lair

© 2017, Charles W.Martin

red tipped canes | Charles W. Martin

words
are rarely
clear
they’re more often
translucent
especially
when dealing
with
issues of humanity
no one
wants to be seen
as
a villain
so
the murder
of mothers
is concealed
in
the opaque protection
of
an unborn child
by
a barren minded wanna-be-saint
whose
religious infection
results
in more deaths
than
lifes
but their
cataract vision
of
god’s words
lets them
strike their white cane
of
intolerance
into the womb
on
a defenseless woman
all in the name
of
a god
that does not
have
them
on
the entry list

© 2017, Charles W. Martin

ain’t no wonder | Charles W Martin

the brown bag prophet
said
a jury
can watch
a
police video
of
a rogue cop
shooting
an unarmed black man
point
blank
and
the jury
will
argue
for days
about
the validity
of
the evidence
and
then
end up with
a
hung
jury
it’s
no wonder
the current
white house
feels
it can do anything
it wants
and
still maintain
popular support
even
if it kills
a bunch
of
them
point-blank

unconcealed | Charles W Martin

counting names again
names inscribed on marble walls
fallen heroes’ walls
where war’s truth is really found
along with uncounted tears

having found a stone in my shoe …

i’ve begun
to wonder
if hate
does not
permanently
dye
the soul
the color
of
dried blood
our
words
of forgiveness
to those
who’ve
wronged
us
are
but
pilate washing
his hands
all the while
a thin veil
of flesh
conceals
what lies
within
a darkness
that
spews
from our lips
gaseous words
of venom
when
passing
troubadours
wishing
only
to write
songs
of enlightenment
press
too tightly
upon
the fragile flesh
of
our
beliefs
and
fears
thus revealing
that
inert
element
hidden
in our souls

© 2017, Charles W. Martin

healing hands …

aunt bea
hasn’t been
feeling well
this week
her sister
suggested
that a visit
to a local faith healer
might not be
such a bad idea
aunt bea
said
some folks
don’t need
to go to church
to find god’s healing hands
all you got to do
she said
is open your eyes
look around
at
the wonders
of
nature
the art
created
without
one
human hand
a doorway
to
the heavens
above your head
filled
with a thousand
angel’s eyes at night
and
a thousand hymns
of joy
from birds
with light’s
first peek
into the new day
it’s laying
of
god’s hands
upon
the troubled waters
for
souls
seeking
something more
than
institutionalized
amens
and
hallelujahs

© 2017, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin

luke 10:25-37…

for some
just
stones
neatly stacked
along
the riverside
but
for a few
an alter
from which
inner peace
flows
into
souls
abandoned
alongside the road
a stone parable
left
no doubt
by
a travelling
good samaritan

© 2017, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

patriarichal wounds …

joan of arc statue
touchstone for abused women
healing fear’s deep wounds

© 2017, peom and illustration, Charles W. Martin

PTSD Children

when the fear of war
in the night grasps a child’s heart
hymns of love are sung

© 2017, Charles W. Martin

letting my freak flag fly

unnamedletting-my-freak-flag-fly
i was talking
with aunt bea
about
a demonstration
on
the
illegitimate presidency
of trump
how a group
of us
were headed
downtown
next week
to stand in solidarity
against
washington criminals
aunt bea
said
it’s
so easy
to resist
and
rebel
when others
walk beside you
but
the real resistance
is
when you
stand alone
either
in the voting booth
or
in your
personal decisions
to
defy
and
address
the wrongs
that stand
before
you

© Charles W. Martin

the poet’s prescription

unnamedi am
bathing
in the words
of poets
washing away
the ash
of
hate
that
floats
all about
cleansing
my soul
from
this loathing
that
clings
upon
the world’s skin
a pandemic
disease
pervasive
and
rampant
leaving
many dead already
and
more to die
if
we cannot
prevail
and
inoculate ignorance
with
the wisdom
of
words

© poem & illustration, Charles W. Martin

re: your account

unnamedour accounting department
has contacted you numerous times
regarding your account
for example
on all your birthdays
right after your graduation
from college
your first christmas alone
we even sent you postcards
during staff vacations
a policy not normal
but in your case
we made an exception
this is your final notice
but you need not respond
we have determined that you
were a bad investment
so we’re writing your debt off
this is just our way of saying
this
friendship
is over
don’t bother to call
the account
is closed

© Charles W. Martin, poem and illustration

you really didn’t say that

your-really-didnt-say-thati had just
stopped by
aunt bea’s
and
was relating
a problem
i was having
with a friend
of mine
i said
she always wants
to pay
for things
i
just want
to have things
balanced
you know
what I mean
i could see
aunt bea’s eyebrows
rise
just above the borders
of her
reading glasses
oh
she said
that
accountant syndrome
where
relational spreadsheet columns
must always
zero out
my dear
friendship
is not about
balancing
the books
at the end
of the day
it’s about
love

© Charles W. Martin, poem and illustration

of lovers and friends

unnamedlovers aren’t always friends
but friends are always the ones
that offer you love

© Charles W. Martin, poem and illustration

too many loves

unnamedmy being
is a jigsaw puzzle
one of those
more than
a
thousand pieces
kind
so it’s
just
impossible
for me
to name
a single love
that
has influenced me
for all time
i mean
each piece
of the puzzle
has been colored
and
defined
by
a different
love
so
there can be
no
singularity
no
single
book
can claim
the fame
or
blame
for
what
this mind
conveys

– Charles W. Martin

© 2016, poem, Charles W. Martin, All right reserved; Public Domain Photograph from Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building

Charles W. Martin and the Ever-loveable Aunt Bea

Charles W. Martin, American poet
Charles W. Martin, American poet

Charles W. Martin (Read Between the Minds) …. Charlie …. “slpmartin” … was the first blogger-poet that I started to follow with some regularity.  That was back in February 2010. Charlie had – if memory serves (which it doesn’t always these days) – recently retired and just returned from a trip to Africa – Tunisia, I think – and had shared a few poems about dusty streets and ancient wisdom and social inequities.  At the time he was also sharing poems that had been published in his first book, Read Between the Minds. 

I was struck by two things in Charlie’s poetry: his unremitting concern for social and political issues and his unique style. Charlie wrote about having lost patience with the poetic forms he was taught in school. He developed a spare and direct style that worked for him. As it happens it works well for readers and is perfectly suited to blogging, where brevity is the popular preference.

As time went on, Charlie created and introduced us to the kick-in-the-pants wisdom of Aunt Bea, whom we all came to love.  It wasn’t long before Charlie created two other personalities, each with a distinct voice.

Recently, I read Charlie’s self-published collection: Bea in Your Bonnet, Volume 1, First Sting. As expected, it was pure fun laced with homey wisdom.

Here’s a sample:

word usage…

aunt bea
was reading
the paper
when i stopped by
for a visit
she noted that
there had been
a number of
indictments
of
political leaders
for fraud
and
failure
to serve
the public need
most
of these indictments
she said
were unfounded
in her opinion
since
the word
indictment
suggests
the person
may
be
innocent

– Charles W. Martin

Charlie’s backstory:

Charles W. Martin earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology (hence the “slp” in his url) with an emphasis in statistics. His credentials allowed him to pursue a career that included teaching, research and administration in university settings, treating patients and providing administrative leadership in clinical settings.

Charlie worked as a speech pathologist professional in the public schools where he diagnosed and treated communication disorders caused by a wide range of health conditions and contextual factors. Charlie brought passion to each of his professional positions but he was always focused on mentoring his students and improving the quality of life for his clients and patients.

Throughout Charlie’s educational training and career he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography). He was a published poet before he completed his graduate work. Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to his poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life.

Charlie's second self-publsihed work
Charlie’s second self-published work

Aunt Bea’s backstory:

Charlie wrote me saying that “Aunt Bea, my mother’s twin sister, represents all six of the aunts, my mother, and grandmother.  Aunt Bea’s voice is one I’ve heard almost every day of my life.  The poems are family observations, lessons, and advice given to me and every other family member who had the good sense to listen.  Her homespun philosophy most likely will not be found in any collegiate textbooks or for that matter in any local town crier newspaper catering to city dwellers.  Indeed, she has a different way of viewing the world – a bit old-fashioned, sassy, and steely at times but a viewpoint which has engaged my imagination and heart.”

Heads-up Australia: Aunt Bea is heading your way. I predict she’ll turn down-under right-side up.

Charlie has three books out now including Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting.  Charlie posts daily to his blog and is also a member of The Bardo Group/Beguine Again core team.

“Poetry has the power to make us aware of what is hidden in the shadows…those places that we seldom see or want to see…the poet’s voice scrapes away the facade of an issue and lays bare for all to see what has been denied. By providing a voice to these mute realities, poets have throughout history altered the course of events by enlightening readers and encouraging them to take action to stop wars, halt injustice, and to reach out to their fellow man. Like those poets who have proceeded me, I am motivated by the same desire to bring about the social changes necessary to enhance the quality of life for those around me and around the world and to give voice to those who cannot speak for themselves.” Charles W. Martin

– Jamie Dedes

© 2016 (upated), Jamie Dedes; poem and illustrations Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved, used here with permission

Jigsaw Puzzle

jigsaw puzzle

i was
quite certain
there were more
than
a thousand pieces
scattered
before me
none
of the pieces
had clear markings
to indicate
where
and
when
to assemble
let along
whether or not
all
the pieces
where there
yet
i began
my task
and
parenthood
began

– Charles W. Martin

© Charles W. Martin, poem and photograph, All rights reserved

local heroes

local heroes

each thursday
they roll
an array
of musical gear
past
the nurses’ station
down hallways
full
of the scent
of aging
and
death
postponed
ending
their journey
in
the senior
activities center
it’s a gig
they look forward to
when they can
bring some joy
into the routine days
of so many
there’s mary
a mother of three
grandmother of more
than she can count now
she
raised not only
her own children
but
her children’s children
she always sits near frank
whose broad smile appears
when they play tunes
from the 60s
tunes
he first heard
in vietnam
where
he lost his legs
oh
and there’s
jordan
saved his wife
from a fire
they say
he
never speaks
but
always hums
the old standards
when played
so many smiles
to take in
and
relish
however
all too soon
it’s the last song
and then
the heroes
applaud

© 2015, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

a beautiful enigma

a beautiful enigma

if you ask
she will
not
answer
nor
will
staring into
her eyes
help you
find
the answer
for she
already knows
the answer
it was
placed
within her
when time began
and
hidden
from all men
what it means
to be
feminine

© 2015, poem and digital photography, Charles W Martin, All rights reserved

war’s cold night

war's cold night

in a darkened room
peace sits silently waiting
for sanity’s rise

© 2015, poem and digital art, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

Not That I Really Know

not that i really know

the brown bag prophet
said
i ain’t no
philosophy
barely finished
high school
but
i’ve been reading
different things
bout’
the critical spirit
how it can
hold back
religious enlightenment
you know
by asking
too many questions
trying to get to the bottom
of things
rather than
accepting the rituals
place before you
as
others have done
but
i was wondering
why anyone
would want to plant
a seed
that
cannot grow

© 2015, poem and digital art, Charles W Martin, All rights reserved

more Washington rumors

oh for the love of god
i need to get packing
i heard some folks
in washington
are gonna
repeal medical coverage
to help pay the bills
and then the 13th amendment
something about needing
cheap labor
so i need to get
my things in order
but where will i go
i can’t head for reservations
cause they’re checking
lineage if there’s a casino
and if there’s no casino
the 13th has
already been repealed
i could go to france
since i’m not a gypsy
i’d be okay in israel
since i only have one
or two arab friends
but on second thought
they have army draft
and i couldn’t shoot
anyone who looked like me
you know having
eyes, mouth, nose, etc.
i’m not japanese
so i could go china
but not germany
germany’s already said
diversity’s dead
england’s out
our rules came
from there first
maybe I could
just hitch a ride
on one of those
space shuttles

– Charles W. Martin

© 2015, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

five dollars and some change …

five dollars and some change

death
does not have
one face
but
many
some
hidden behind
corporate logos
where
money
the antipsychotic drug
reduces the side effects
of moral responsibility
while others faces
parade
in
public agencies
the second line
of social injustice
holding high
parasols of indifference
to block out
the light
of morality and justice
they’re the kind of
reapers
whose scythes
are
laws
laws
with
razor-sharp rules
bleeding
any hope
from those
seeking
to be free
from
the social roles
prescribed to them
those seeking
to be free
battle an army
of reapers
reapers
who
bring death
and
those
who bring death
do not value
life
no matter
what
the color

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/28/jamycheal-mitchell-virginia-jail-found-dead

– Charles W. Martin

© 2015, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

music . . .

sometimes
you hear
only part
of the music
for the noise
of life
hides
the melody
we hear
just
that part
outside the heart
but
if you could
hear
all
the love
flowing
from
every pore
of those
who care
for those
forgotten
like notes
not transcribed
then
you would hear
the real
symphony
that you
have
sought

– Charles W. Martin

© 2015, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

honey…i swear this is for the birds…

honey..i swear this is for the birds...

i have been
carefully
watching hummingbirds
as they
battle for air supremacy
seeking
the sweets encased
in a plastic feeder
with
the same ferocity
i must say
as humans
seeking the last drop
of deep-sea oil
human sweets
of course
being
profit margins
regardless
of species
the battles continue
i’ve
even found
dead hummingbirds
on the ground
who
in the heat of battle
flew into plexiglass walls
not
seeing the danger
like
humans
willing to destroy
not only
animal habitats
but
their own
cuz
they’re flying high
on
financial conquests
but
all the while
approaching
the earth’s
translucent walls

dance to life’s music . . .

dance to life's music

there will come a time
when shadows stand above you
so dance in the light

– Charles W. Martin

© 2015, poem and illustration, Charles Martin, All rights reserved

no translation necessary . . .

no tranlastion necessary

aunt bea
asked me
to take her
to home depot
for a couple of rugs
in the parking lot
as we left
a woman approached her
asked if she need
a house to rent
aunt bea
said
no
the woman proceeded
to tell her
why she had
to rent her beautiful home
she spoken
with a heavy
spanish accent
very rapid
and
tearful
something about her son
bad marriage
unconcerned judge
and
jail time
seemed like
her entire life story
in forty-five minutes
as she spoke
now and then
she’d switch to spanish
and then
back to english
sometimes
patting on her heart
as she spoke
they parted as friends
as we drove home
i asked aunt bea
if she spoke spanish
and
how much she understood
of the conversation
aunt bea said
no
i don’t speak spanish
and
i didn’t understand
much at all
other than
she was in deep pain
but
like all of us
she
just needed
someone
to listen

– Charles W. Martin 

© 2015, poem and illustration, Charles Martin, All rights reserved

on giving …

on giving

bapa dola
said to his student
always serve
a guest water
and
chapati
first
if they show
gratitude
and
express thanks
then
serve them
wine
and fruit
else
bid them
safe journey

– Charles W. Martin

© 2015, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

Feast or Famine

feast or famine

with the light
of the new day
he began
his fasting
knowing surely
that the gates
of heaven
had opened
but
wondered if
those of hell
were closed tight
for war
was all around
he could hear
the sounds
of death’s cruel voice
wailing throughout the day
embraced by dry desert winds
while
the songs
and
promises of peace
were
as empty as the plate
before him

© 2015, poem and photograph, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

dealer’s choice

dealer's choice

wouldn’t it
be
something
if we could decide
what others
give up
for lent
i’d surely
ask
that men
give up
war

– Charles W. Martin

© 2015, poem and photograph, Charles W. Martin