Keeping Quiet

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

from Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid, pp. 27-29, 1974)

– Pablo Neruda

There’s a Chance

“There’s a chance peace will come.” Melanie Safka

I. works at a factory in Kazan that makes parts for shells. This is how she supports her family. She lives in peace.

M. works for a state-owned company in Isfahan that makes electronics for guided missiles. This is how he supports his family. He lives in peace.

S. lives in different places in Idlib. She’s originally from Damascus, where she worked in a pharmacy before her husband was killed in a bombing. Her son made it to Germany, her daughter is with her. They stay with friends and try to survive. She would love to live in peace.

If these three met somewhere, they might be friends and would definitely live in peace with each other.

Es wäre möglich

I. arbeitet in einer Fabrik in Kasan, die Teile für Granaten herstellt. Damit ernährt sie ihre Familie. Sie lebt in Frieden.

M. arbeitet für ein staatliches Unternehmen in Isfahan, das Elektronik für Lenkflugkörper herstellt. Damit ernährt er seine Familie. Er lebt in Frieden.

S. lebt an verschiedenen Orten in Idlib. Sie stammt ursprünglich aus Damaskus, wo sie in einer Apotheke arbeitete, bevor ihr Mann bei einem Bombenanschlag getötet wurde. Ihr Sohn hat es nach Deutschland geschafft, ihre Tochter ist bei ihr. Sie leben bei Freunden und versuchen zu überleben. Sie würde gerne in Frieden leben.

Wenn sich diese drei irgendwo treffen würden, könnten sie Freunde sein und würden definitiv in Frieden miteinander leben.

© 2019, poem,  Johannes Beilharz

The Love in the Heart

I built a huge heart

Shelter for all the people of world

In it, sins vanish,

colors blend,

languages melt down.

You can read in all directions:

Long live Love,

Long live Peace.

Where flowers don’t need to be watered,

Where bodies want kisses and hugs,

Where every cumulus above heads scintilates,

Where souls are not held by chains.

© 2019, Faruk Buzhala 

The Way of Blessing



still … at last …
I find myself
in this moment
a thousand madnesses away
from the person
I’d thought I’d have-a-go
at turning myself into …
once upon a time

the air is fresh
with frost so soft
it hues the skyscape
to every gentleness of blue
that man or miracle
has ever rendered
in and under heaven

the nuggets of self-knowledge
laboriously gathered along
my mazed and muddled journey
fascinate in retrospection …
for the course
was seldom sure
and the diverting path
more apt to interest
and enthrall

to have come to this
without much yield to show
from grand design or driven effort …
is strange fortune

for as it turns …
I feel myself good and comfortable
at the sight of my own breath …
greatly pleased to be alive
in gladness … having gleaned
that peace and splendor … such as this …
surely, must be blessings

© 2019, poem and photograph, Wendy Bourke

Righteous Path



I happened upon an old rerun of the 60’s TV series ‘Star Trek’ a couple of nights ago. How depressing it was to take that cinemagraphic stroll, down memory lane. Ostensibly an adventure series, Gene Roddenbury, the show’s creator, intended the program to showcase morality tales; allegories of modern day realities. The protagonists would proceed in their dealings, peacefully – with altruism and acceptance – thus demonstrating the very best of what humankind is capable of. The Starship Enterprise’s voyages played out in stories that championed the principles of universal liberty, rights, and equality.

Antecedent to the 1969 Apollo 11 lunar landing, the show seemed to herald an era when human understanding and technological advances would come together on a path imbued with more righteousness, than any path that had ever been trod before. When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon and uttered the words: ” … one small step for man”, how fervently we ‘earthlings’ wanted to believe … we were – at least – making small steps, in that good direction.

The 20th century marked more technological changes than all the other centuries in the history of this planet, combined. Having been born in 1951 – midway through the 20th century – I took my early footsteps in what is, arguably, one of the most fascinating, progressive, dynamic – and yes: turbulent, monstrous and challenging periods, in our earth’s history. Those words ” … “, have resonated with me, throughout the days of my life … often beating – like a metaphor – to forward progress … and often beating – like a metaphor – to backward regression. I remind myself that my lifetime is but, a grain of sand, in the sands of time. I live – and will die – in the hope that many … many … many … small steps will, eventually, find their way … to that righteous path.

on the beach
the shifting sands
erase my footprints
as I walk
to water’s edge

note: scientists believe that the earth has existed for approximately 4.5 billion years.

© 2019, Wendy Bourke, words and photo: Boots on the Sands of Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC

Ethnic Cleanser

Removes unsightly
grease and dirt of people
who spoil your landscape.

Cleans as it polishes, replaces
their awful smell with fresh fragrances.
Their profane beliefs with fresh air.
Their noisy children with heavenly quiet.
Our history with revised pages.
Preserves our pure culture.

They are an infection that will be eradicated.
Their unmarked graves forgotten.

Ethnic cleanser for a cleaner society.
Buy into this great product.
Popularly known as genocide.

© 2019, Paul Brookes

A Wealth

 of mankind

in a pile of naked emaciated bodies

flopped over one another,

People as things

rugs, blankets on a market stall

elaborate designs or plain

to put beside a fireplace.

 

Riches beyond avarice

in faces pinched into skulls.

Concave stomachs, prominent ribs

I had only ever seen in Christian Aid

adverts, famine victims.

 

Beneath quiet fields and woodland

their bones move years after

the weight of soil thrown over them.

the dead and disappeared move

towards their discovery

in shallower ground. Time

walks over their graves

building motorways and railways.

Grief takes time in small steps,

one softly after another.

We walk on unremembered bones.

A forgotten treasure.

© 2019, Paul Brookes

I’m Just About

I’m just about

managing between the barricades

My kids play between sniper targets.

I fetch the shop through broken
buildings perforated by gunshot,

past cars jammed across streets.

I’m just about managing between regimes.

Previously published in I Am Not A Silent Poet.

© 2019, Paul Brookes

Warlord

loves to be entertained.
After a battle where skulls are blown apart
he loves to sit and laugh at Anthem For Doomed Youth.

After a skirmish in which men are screaming
with half a leg or arm bone shattered
by shrapnel, he guffaws at Dulce Decorum Est.

The more graphic, the more comic to him.
He says if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.
Laughter is healthy. Laughter is human.

Laughter affirms life, essential before
a fight amidst bullets, stabs and snipers.

“Oh What A Lovely War”, is his favourite film.
“All Quiet On The Western Front” a comic classic.

He knows we laugh at what we fear most.
War is like great stand up when you can barely

breathe for laughter, your sides hurt
as if they need stiches. War is medicinal.

From Paul’s collection, Port Of Souls, Alien Buddha Press, 2017

© 2019, Paul Brookes

Two Tied

Two Tied

Fishtails. Mam and me,
Swim away from his slaughter

Of friends and neighbours,
Fall of Ash and mortar,

Taste of burning skin.
Not sure who me father is,

As me mam goes with owt
In trousers. Her first names

Promiscuous but folk, ‘specially men
call her Promise. She calls me Lust.

Me Dad could be Chaos or War.
Me mam’s been with both.

We’ve scarpered from Destruction
who clamours atta end on us all.

Mam and me lept into watta,
as fish tied together wi ship rope

So as we can’t drift apart,
tho ad be glad if we could

as ad like a life a me own
not chained to her,

and how can I tell her
am getting younger by the day.

Soon al be a bairn with a bow and arra
and tiny wings shooting me

arras off not bothered who they hit,
an consequences of giving folk

bits of mesen, so their bodies hanker
like me mam after owt with a pulse.

From forthcoming collection “Fish Strawberries”, Alien Buddha Press, 2019

© 2019, Paul Brookes

She Says

whilst her fingers make an unbroken
run over the walls of our home:

You live in a strange world.
No bullet holes for my fingers
to play with. No blasted
holes to climb through
when playing hide and seek.

I say You get used to it.
My Grandad played on bombsites
In the fifties. The demolished
a lot.

She says, I love ruins.
Everything should be ruins.

© 2019, Paul Brookes

Ancient Messenger

Who but the smallest
can fly through
the terrible winds
that choke off flight?

Who but the smallest
dares to find a way
past the desert

and the thorns.
The Tower of Minds
so fixed
in their labyrinths?
It has always been so:
the task of one, lone bird
who finds land,
who brings peace.

© 2019, Judy Capurso

At the End of the War

“after the End and the beginning” Wislawa Syzmborska

We need to do something about all the lost limbs.
Would somebody please volunteer to search
for all those lost legs, arms, faces?

We’re all thirsty, yes, but does anybody know
where we can find a brook, a creek that
doesn’t have our floating cousins?

Yes, yes, we need a morgue, but first
we must find a few dogs to tell us
who is beneath the stones.

We know Gertrude and Maurice and maybe
Alfonse, maybe more, all have to be found.
Bandages, surely someone has some bandages.

We want to rebuild. Does anyone have a ladder?
Let’s leave God out of this for awhile.
Let’s start in the square, and slowly remove

what was thrown down from the sky.
Who knows how to get a weather report?
Will there be good weather for tomorrow?

Yes, that’s a good idea, but we can always
talk, there’s always a lot of time for talk.
We’ve got such a mess.

Brooms. Everybody, find all the brooms.
Can anyone send a letter, we need to let
someone know this has happened.

Tomorrow we can start burning our families.
Surely someone will see the smoke.
Surely someone will come.

excerpt from At the End of War (Kelsay Books, 2018)

© 2018, DeWitt Clinton

Under Siege

Demonstration against road block, Kafr Qaddum, March 2012

Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and the cannon of time
Close to the gardens of broken shadows,
We do what prisoners do,
And what the jobless do:
We cultivate hope.

A country preparing for dawn. We grow less intelligent
For we closely watch the hour of victory:
No night in our night lit up by the shelling
Our enemies are watchful and light the light for us
In the darkness of cellars.

Here there is no “I”.
Here Adam remembers the dust of his clay.

On the verge of death, he says:
I have no trace left to lose:
Free I am so close to my liberty. My future lies in my own hand.
Soon I shall penetrate my life,
I shall be born free and parentless,
And as my name I shall choose azure letters…

You who stand in the doorway, come in,
Drink Arabic coffee with us
And you will sense that you are men like us
You who stand in the doorways of houses
Come out of our morningtimes,
We shall feel reassured to be
Men like you!

When the planes disappear, the white, white doves
Fly off and wash the cheeks of heaven
With unbound wings taking radiance back again, taking possession
Of the ether and of play. Higher, higher still, the white, white doves
Fly off. Ah, if only the sky
Were real [a man passing between two bombs said to me].

Cypresses behind the soldiers, minarets protecting
The sky from collapse. Behind the hedge of steel
Soldiers piss—under the watchful eye of a tank—
And the autumnal day ends its golden wandering in
A street as wide as a church after Sunday mass…

[To a killer] If you had contemplated the victim’s face
And thought it through, you would have remembered your mother in the
Gas chamber, you would have been freed from the reason for the rifle
And you would have changed your mind: this is not the way
to find one’s identity again.

The siege is a waiting period
Waiting on the tilted ladder in the middle of the storm.

Alone, we are alone as far down as the sediment
Were it not for the visits of the rainbows.

We have brothers behind this expanse.
Excellent brothers. They love us. They watch us and weep.
Then, in secret, they tell each other:
“Ah! if this siege had been declared…” They do not finish their sentence:
“Don’t abandon us, don’t leave us.”

Our losses: between two and eight martyrs each day.
And ten wounded.
And twenty homes.
And fifty olive trees…
Added to this the structural flaw that
Will arrive at the poem, the play, and the unfinished canvas.

A woman told the cloud: cover my beloved
For my clothing is drenched with his blood.

If you are not rain, my love
Be tree
Sated with fertility, be tree
If you are not tree, my love
Be stone
Saturated with humidity, be stone
If you are not stone, my love
Be moon
In the dream of the beloved woman, be moon
[So spoke a woman
to her son at his funeral]

Oh watchmen! Are you not weary
Of lying in wait for the light in our salt
And of the incandescence of the rose in our wound
Are you not weary, oh watchmen?

 

A little of this absolute and blue infinity
Would be enough
To lighten the burden of these times
And to cleanse the mire of this place.

It is up to the soul to come down from its mount
And on its silken feet walk
By my side, hand in hand, like two longtime
Friends who share the ancient bread
And the antique glass of wine
May we walk this road together
And then our days will take different directions:
I, beyond nature, which in turn
Will choose to squat on a high-up rock.

On my rubble the shadow grows green,
And the wolf is dozing on the skin of my goat
He dreams as I do, as the angel does
That life is here…not over there.

In the state of siege, time becomes space
Transfixed in its eternity
In the state of siege, space becomes time
That has missed its yesterday and its tomorrow.

The martyr encircles me every time I live a new day
And questions me: Where were you? Take every word
You have given me back to the dictionaries
And relieve the sleepers from the echo’s buzz.

The martyr enlightens me: beyond the expanse
I did not look
For the virgins of immortality for I love life
On earth, amid fig trees and pines,
But I cannot reach it, and then, too, I took aim at it
With my last possession: the blood in the body of azure.

The martyr warned me: Do not believe their ululations
Believe my father when, weeping, he looks at my photograph
How did we trade roles, my son, how did you precede me.
I first, I the first one!

The martyr encircles me: my place and my crude furniture are all that I have changed.
I put a gazelle on my bed,
And a crescent of moon on my finger
To appease my sorrow.

The siege will last in order to convince us we must choose an enslavement that does no harm, in fullest liberty!

Resisting means assuring oneself of the heart’s health,
The health of the testicles and of your tenacious disease:
The disease of hope.

And in what remains of the dawn, I walk toward my exterior
And in what remains of the night, I hear the sound of footsteps inside me.

Greetings to the one who shares with me an attention to
The drunkenness of light, the light of the butterfly, in the
Blackness of this tunnel!

Greetings to the one who shares my glass with me
In the denseness of a night outflanking the two spaces:
Greetings to my apparition.

My friends are always preparing a farewell feast for me,
A soothing grave in the shade of oak trees
A marble epitaph of time
And always I anticipate them at the funeral:
Who then has died…who?

Writing is a puppy biting nothingness
Writing wounds without a trace of blood.

Our cups of coffee. Birds green trees
In the blue shade, the sun gambols from one wall
To another like a gazelle
The water in the clouds has the unlimited shape of what is left to us
Of the sky. And other things of suspended memories
Reveal that this morning is powerful and splendid,
And that we are the guests of eternity.

© Mahmoud Darwish/ Translation, Marjolijn De Jager; photo courtesy of ורם שורק under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Flautist Wears a Shaman’s Headdress

img_3350

“As Democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.  On some great and glorious day, the plain folk of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron.”  H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 16, 1920


gone mad, gone mad
but for the flautist in shaman’s headdress and
the first violinist wearing a necklace of skulls,
praise the intuitive, the holy, the gentle chanting
of the faithful …

defy the bassoonist 
blowing brazen notes over Syria
and the cellists hidden in caves; succour the sad sweet
violins of Aleppo, Palestine, Kashmire crying salt tears
for their lost lands, pulses weakening, and there’s
that drummer who 
down-beats from North Korea

China harps on the fumes of its discontents,
the Ukraine is loud with crashing cymbals
and the snap pizzicato of Russian preying,
while the angel of Germany hosts a symphony,
or tries to, & here in America parties are discordant

[the price of order is dictatorship
the price of democracy is chaos]

politicians out of tune, sections out-of-sync,
oligarchs charge themselves with theatre management

poor acoustics preclude hearing the chorus …
. . . and all the world’s a stage,
the men and women are not mere players

The configurations of cruelty have changed since I wrote this poem in 2013 but the cruelty is still with us and often seems worse than ever. And, it certainly turns out that Mencken (quoted above) was  prescient.

© 2013, poem and illustration, Jamie Dedes

The Plotting of a Story

“Here I am alive, and it’s not my fault, so I have to try and get by as best I can without hurting anybody until death takes over.” Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace



There are open spaces in the plotting of a story
I print out for edit during the work hours
In the silence of creativity, a sweet lavender
lends its fragrance, color and calm
Outside squirrels skip, toddlers play
Grandmothers stand-watch in doorways,
chili stewing and stacks of tortillas, warm and
soft, rest and wait under clean kitchen towels
Spring is moving into summer and neighbors
tend their herb and vegetable gardens
They imagine the yield dressed in salads
They’re willing to share the harvest with friends
A world away soldiers download ordnance
synchronized to the hum and click of my printer
Bodies fall, hearts stop, eyes water and
the manuscript is blue-pencilled* by rifle fire

© 2018, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes 

The Razor’s Edge


“You see the suffering of children all the time nowadays. Wars and famines are played out before us in our living rooms, and almost every week there are pictures of children who have been through unimaginable loss and horror. Mostly they look very calm. You see them looking into the camera, directly at the lens, and knowing what they have been through you expect to see terror or grief in their eyes, yet so often there’s no visible emotion at all. They look so blank it would be easy to imagine that they weren’t feeling much.” Mary Lawson, Crow Lake



Eye-candy, a feast of crocus, bursting
Through the snow-laden ground
Drunk on the promise of spring
The devil behind, that shadow side
Clouds shape shifting, take on
The broad outlines of a memoir

Angels dance on the razor’s edge
Forget that pin stupidity, reductio
ad absurdum, politicians and scholars
Debating, while greed and warring go on
Starving the children, curse the insanity
Dialectic, acquisition, murdering hoards

Clouds, shape shifting, take on
The contours of shame, crocus buries
Itself and the promise of spring
The broad outlines of memoir dissolve
The slashed moon drools ichor

How long can the innocent bear life
On the razor’s edge, coiling the fire
Of their despair around our hearts
Drawn to the verge on the reflux of
Rudimentary souls, vertigo, nausea
Nostalgia for what will never be known

© 2019, Jamie Dedes

Peace Alphabet

Average the
costs
contained in
conflicted—
me;

Brave the
challenges
chanced by
characterizing as human—
them;

Consider
another
analogy
announcing—
I

Decide
altogether
all people could be,
altruistically—
we;

Eviscerate
guilt
guile
grand schemes of—
us;

Forget
everything
everyone
ever told—
you—

Generically and
specifically this, a
species of
spelled out—
our

Historically
transfigured
transfixed
transferred—
other,

(those)

Ischemic
stories
stuttering to a
stop—
we

Join
together
today not
tomorrow to change—
ourselves;

Knowing
nothing,
no longer
noting—
I;

Lingering
longingly
looking
lost—
we

Make
connections
contacting
considerations, again—
we…

Nested in:
not us,
not them,
nothing more than
seeing the tear

(in someone
else’s eye).

Opening
crying eyes
almost,
finding—
them;

Possibly
possibility
potentiality
probability—
peace;

Questions
forming
to know,
not to tear
down;

Restoring
connections
lost
to fear;
then

Saying
what comes
from hearts
broken
un-broken,

They
offer
a slice
something almost
broken open,

Undulating
sweet tastes
of light
promising—
they;

View
us as
we view us
and we view
them

With
similar
intent
to build—
us;

Xylophone
bell tones
singing
together—
we;

Yearn
for this
peace
to be—
our;

(reality)

Zeniths—
like lemon
and orange—
sweet and sour
all together.

©2019, Michael Dickel

Here I Stand

I am frozen. Like a Tin Woodcutter
without oil after the monsoons.

I wait. Like a Scarecrow wanting to disturb
the debates of philosopher kings.

I weep. Like a Lion whose mask
of assurance fell off before dinner.

I have never been to Kansas, but I
know I won’t be able to go back home.

I hear the marching soldiers. I see
the torches. I feel the pitchfork prongs.

The Emerald City lies in dust.

My joints, locked with rust, refuse to move.
My mouth “ohs” at the coming train wreck.

I stand and watch in horror.
In my hollow chest, an old clock

whispers, trying to wake me,
asking me to take a stand, here.

©2019, Michael Dickel

Here I stand… Tin Woodcutter Digital art @2019 Michael Dickel
Like a Tin Woodcutter…
Digital art
@2019 Michael Dickel

 

Picket Fences

Instead of the wood

Focus on the space between

That is where hope lives

© 2019, Irma Do

Tundra

A tundra – cold and frozen
Defines the landscape of blame
Bereft of all connection
Yet longing to reclaim

Defined – the landscape of blame
Just needs forgiveness to light
And longing can reclaim
The love that heals the blight

Needing forgiveness to light
The way won’t seem that long
The love that heals the blight
Will help those words come out strong

The way won’t be that long
Since longing can reclaim
To help those words come out strong
Redefine the landscape of blame.

© 2019, Irma Do

Recycling Shakespeare for a Better World

In this brave new world

Plant a heart of gold, harvest

A bouquet of friends

Faint-hearted farming

Doesn’t yield food for the soul

Cold comfort hunger

Break the ice – Be brave

Be fancy free with warm words

Of love and welcome

All our yesterdays

Are meant to be composted

Nutrient wisdom

Silence can kill with kindness

But regretful words do not.

© 2019, Irma Do

Why You Came To This Earth

 for Marsha Lynn

A young wife, enamored by sounds of creation, calling birds,
wind whistling through trees, left the house to tend the garden.
Still fresh from the purifying mitvah bath, prayers said in Hebrew
praising God for life, she knew it was the moment to conceive.

In her youthful innocence and hunger she could not resist her new husband
cutting grass outside; shirtless, sunshine on sweat sparked his muscled flesh.
He was fit, recently back from the war, but he was not gentle. She melted at
his smile at catching her watching.

Still resentful of his fits of anger, fearful jealousy and critical outbursts,
she was ready to get back what he had taken.
No longer a trusting girl who could not protect her pregnancy from her husband’s
surprise punch to her stomach, she had become a warrior.

She lifted the soft cotton dress to view her ripe body, touched the skin
under her navel, blessed her waiting womb, then kissed her fingers as if
she were kissing the Mezuzah on the doorway. She raised her arms toward the sky,
summoned Shekhinah, the spirit of creation, begged Her for a conception,
and amidst birds’ songs, fragrant blossoms, freshly cut grass, the image of a baby
flashed in her mind. She thought she heard fluttering wings announcing the
arrival of the holy feminine force.

No words said, she took her husband’s hands, pulled him into their home,
and they fell fiercely together onto the bed. Soon she was alone again;
the girl knew immediately that a life was growing inside her, then she
became afraid of what she had done.

That night in a dream the Goddess Shekhinah spoke: ‘You hungered for a child;
a child was given. Be strong. Leave the cruel man and raise her in love and faith.
When you discover, she is like the father – forgive her!
Remember, it was you who called.’

© 2019, Tikvah Feinstein

Damascus Cloak

When I was four my
beloved Grandma
Brought me a cloak and purse
From Damascus.

Soft black velvet,
with swirls of gold braid
in patterns as intricate
as the tree of life,
as rich and bright as stars.

The cloak draped over
my shoulder
and fell to my knees.
In my cloak of stars
I paraded about proudly
Twirling the matching
Drawstring purse
Commanding the
Kingdom of dandelions
In my front yard
.
Last week I found the cloak
In a drawer,
carefully wrapped
In tissue paper
and memories
I sent a photo to my friend
Who lives in the velvet
darkness of Damascus nights.

Her nights
Now streaked with silver missles
Instead of stars,
I put on the cloak for both of us.
Covered with my grandma’s love.
In our hearts
we walk together freely,
The golden braid
matching golden lights
In days and nights of peace
We hope will come.

© 2019, Joan Leotta

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

My Five-Five Fingers

I
My five-five-fingers of my hands
Zestfully lived In serenity.
The three thrill fingers of my right hand:
Thumb, index finger and middle finger
Stoutly lived civilly and gleefully amongst her BROTHERS:
They rested gleefully upon the placid,
SHARP-SABLE-POINTED-DART.

II
Sharp-sable-pointed-dart;
Perched in the midst of the three thrill fingers
And laid rest upon the hungry,
Virgin DUSKY-SHEET, which sprawled
bear flat on the glossy desk.
The glossy desk accompanying the earth
The earth accompanying its depth.

III
The other two fingers of my right hand:
Ring finger and little finger
Calmly leisure, plopped on the hungry, virgin dusky-sheet
And lent ears to the sharp-sable-pointed-dart,
Sharp-sable-pointed-dart,
Muttering vignettes of yesterday
Muttering vignettes of today
Muttering vegnettes of tomorrow.
Upon the glossy desk
My five fingers of my left hand too
Laid rest, and eyeballed the sharp-sable-pointed-dart,
Muttering deep thoughts.

IV
Look!
All you who waded through lines:
All you who unearth the heart
Of this earth, hunting for treasures
Pore over my ten fingers.
My ten fingers,
As pure as a full virgin moon.
I have dunked deep my five fingers
Of my right hand with my progenitors
In a bowl of sweet dishes
And nibbled singed YAM amidst
The thriving vegetables.

V
But my forefinger of my left hand
Never been raised above
To curse the heavens
Never been raised up to pinpoint
My progenitors’ homeland
Never had it tasted any depravity
And never will it be licked
Or bit by the savage butchers
Who loved to fatten themselves on murder
And gratified their heart with
Juicy cup of blood and gore.

© 2019, Tomisin Olusola Martins

Flowers of Embers

We travelled far-flung
and sea beyond
to see an old time friends;
on getting to his street-brink
we sifted from aloof distance:
the street has already been cluttered
with flower of embers.
From each riven aluminium-sheet —
of every domicile
sequence of dense half-dark smoke
scudded into the engulfing mouthful sky
and a rusty brass bell
from a church-front welcomed us in —
welcomed in our dusty camel-feet.

We strutted in softly, softly slowly
upon the face of the earth,
we coughed,
we sneezed,
and rubbed off beaded sweats
on the parched tired phiz
with the back of our palms.
The street has become lull
(like an empty squirrel hole
which the hunter searched through in vain)
except for the rusty brass bell that clangs.

“…bloody political critters
has already touched this street, too
with their grubby-filthy fingers”
My partner said, with ball of indignation
ricocheting in his metal lung.

© 2019,Tomisin Olusola Martins 

Only Collaboration

Appalled by the devastation, the slaying and liquidation
wise men devised a plan for peace.
Nations formed alliances, worked together to supply
allegiances, harmony
traded, worked, improved the lives of all that joined
in years of building peace:
whatever tint a skin, whatever tongue all prospered
and were welcomed in most lands.

Just as in the borderless time of the Dogger Bridge or the Pangea planet
we prospered, travelled, worked and played
for we were young, fearless;
ready to build a word of peaceful, prosperous peoples
respecting laws, discovering
each other’s ways, each other’s tongues, and each other’s lands.

Now fools have come and sowed the seeds of strife
with promises unattainable
stoking fear of strangers, hopes of empires long defunct
wealth, health for the working man
believing and following these empty tenants they raised their flags
gave them power to break bonds.

Now children die by gun and knife, the poor die untended
food banks litter once wealthy lands
as humble workers labour night and day for pittances
and the planes of war,
fear of strangers tear the treaties our fathers signed
in bonds of friendship
as the wealthy thrive behind their walls of privilege.

From the fools spawning wealth on empty air –
Take back power, take back belief in peace, collaboration
those gory empires advocated
have crumpled;
the Dogger Man runs in the blood of all us,
Pangea pleads for rescue.
Only collaboration builds peace and plenty, rise – raise our children
safe in sustainability.

© 2019, Carolyn O’Connell

The Totem Stump

A local landmark, taller than a man,
it stands as if on guard on a Roman road
where a path takes off between trees.

Hockney picked out this character, painted it
as a rugged torso in magenta and blue
with scar circles which could almost be eyes.

It holds out short benevolent arms, seems
to give audience to saplings on striped grasses
and people who travel from afar to pay homage.

*

Who came in the silent night with a chainsaw
and can of red paint, sweated to butcher it,
strewed the remains round the raw stump?

No way to resurrect the hefty trunk. Minor,
this piece of vandalism when violence
blooms every day but its slaughter haunts me.

from Myra’s latest collection, Lifting the Sky (Ward Wood Publishing, 2018)

© 2018, Myra Schneider

Open Door

Come in. My door is open
The windows uncovered
Be you friend or stranger
The enemy of ignorance
My table, round
A circle of friends and strangers
Enemies breaking bread

I´ll pour you Italian espresso
You bring the baclava from Beirut
We will discuss the differences
Of olives
Big and small
Green and black
Let us chew on the options

You be the Muslim
I´ll be the Jew
I´ll poem, you sing
We shall dance before an open window
For all the world to know
That we can

I shall follow you
To your city
To your house
I carry flowers
A curious manner
A wish to know
Your tastes, the aromas of your kitchen
The chatter of children
The photos you hang
Faces of they whom you carry
In your heart
An old man dies
A child is born
You tell me stories
I tell mine

Both of us discharging the shit
Of our lives in a world gone mad with itself
Spilling our laughter and pain
When evening descends
We find ourselves
Alone in the still ambiance
Of a solitude shared

When I take my leave of you
I will carry your voice
Your soft eyes
Landing in mine
My breath in halt
In that moment of
Wordless silence
Of discovery
We share the grace
Night birds call
To waxing stars
All the world around
The grace of peace

I will carry your city
On the map of my memory
Carry your voice
In conversations on the bus
I will carry your smile
As a work of art
We shall both
Be changed
For the rest of time

From my grave to yours
We shall rise in the heat of battle
To run on the waters
Fly on the winds
To the heat of battles
Angels of deliverance
Summoning our descendants
To lay down the fear
Pick up the torch
That lights the way
The way we had trod
To the crossroad of
Fulfillment
Complete and calling
All the children home

© 2019, Moe Seager

The Irony of Plowshares

n the Middle East
If you want to prepare for peace
You must first prepare for war
Because peace must be waged
With the same seriousness of intent as war
And there are as many obstacles and pitfalls
On the path to peace as there are along the path to war.
A weak man cannot forge peace because
His weakness tempts his enemies to attack
And weak are the saber rattlers
Hoping to frighten their enemies
With simulations of disproportionate force.
Their fears and uncertainties blind them
To the path of peace.
Only a strong man is confident and sees clearly.
He walks calmly along the path
Narrow as the razor’s edge.
The path to peace meanders through Gaza
Where we’ve been eyeless and
Our plowshares will be made out of swords,
Neither flowers
Nor gentle breezes.

This is from Mike’s online collection, Uncollected Works, Bemused

(c) 2019, Mike Stone  

Drop the Guns and Let Us Be Poets

“A poet’s work . . . to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.”  Salman Rushdie

So let us say
for poetry has value, it pays
I did say it does not, but I now say
It doe, in one or another way
so let’s be poets for a while-
So let us say
poetry has value, it pays
perhaps not money but sweet
verbal soothing honey
let truth and trust prevail
let’s be poets for a while-
So let us say
poetry has value, it pays
can a link joined in heaven, break ?
Can the earth without His Will, shake?
Let thoughts reveal let ideas guide
let’s be poets for a while-
Let Romantics Rise, Dreamers unite
Wordsworth, Iqbal Pope William excite
there need not be a cell number as
talking takes place even in slumber;
so let us with poetry, abide-
let’s be poets for a while-
I did say that distances beguile
But no more, just step across the stile
one does feel a presence, the eye
does drop a tear, know it is just fair-

When the heart sings the birds sing
Such joy and peace they bring,
they can see the smile
And carry it over on their wings
Nature’s love makes serene,
from sadness and sorrow , free-
So let’s be poets for a while
let truth and trust prevail
let the words in peace, sail
let the song fly, the clouds may
carry across the sky, overtake the
red horse, peace in rain, no hail…
– Anjum Wasim Dar
Copyright CER Regd. 2019

Your Freedom Eyes

Behind your eyes you lived and in your legs.
It was as if your spirit had emulsified
It was as if your body had let you down
Lover dying fighting for freedom in Spain.
That bridge in Zaragoza, guns and fires.
Wires cutting and cutting, searing bone.
Your body’s blood crying in a bad transfusion.

You had to spin your language to sharp, your mind to pun
And spawn your odd oracular silence
which kept us all quiet, so your mind could play its ways
You lived in a utopia all of your own
You had activated heroes and heroines.
The rights of man singing with Paul Robson, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger
Malvina Reynolds, Miriam Makeba, Joan Baez.
For the average man and woman. Your eager brilliance
You kept under wraps, under your eyes.
A woman of many secrets, you longed for
That outrageous freedom, where women can let loose
To be without any precedent or precedence to slow her,
You broke through roles to model a glowing chance for freedom
And you always told me in your shaded eyes to go deeper:
deeper and further that anyone says, you can stay.

© 2018, Linda Chown

Feathers of Grass

Whenever feathers lying in the grass I spy
they remind me of my dwindling days.
For all too soon I too could fall and die
and how would you know I passed though this maze?
Each quill is the scar of a leaving behind,
the remnant of some bird’s flying away.
And when I find one I hope Life may be so kind
that you might find mine when I fly one day.
So I leave these feathers of a heart taken wing
and a soul that never found a nest.
They’re dipped in black and songs they sing,
so you might know my soul’s at rest.

© 2018, Joe Hesch

Whelm

The snake fell from a branch into his canoe

inside the open lid of a wicker picnic basket

of tuna sandwiches, potato chips, and pickles.

The police arrived en masse at the homeless shelter

to pick up a man with a false ID wanted

in four states for sex abuse and one officer injected

out-of-date Narcan into another man in a coma

from an overdose in the restroom down the hall.

The plumber-son lives upstairs

in his mother’s house while she frets

over garlic mustard in her garden

and another overnight guest who gives

her gifts of sauerkraut.

An old man tries to sing farewell to his wife

in a hospice room. She whispers behave yourself

as he sings the words they made up

to dance to.

A woman named Hope excuses herself

by saying she told white lies for the President

as if whiteness makes her trumped-up story

something other villainy.

You Tubes of puppy tumbles, a parrots tango, kittens hiding

in boxes, the calf who fell in love with the blind bison, and a pig

scratching his hindquarters on a table leg collect millions

of likes and oh, did I ask what happened to Hope?

© 2018, Tricia Knoll

Making White Flags

As if this was a ballet
of a dying white butterfly,
there it was,
surrender-fluttering to a draft
that had creaked uninvited
through the door ajar.

You’ve choreographed my name
across the envelope,
but those fake swirls
are so full of fiction, and mendacious
love and affection,

as ghosts of kisses shoulder
into cold corners; attitude;
pout; pirouette twist everything
you ever said,

‘cos the note was arabesque
in capitulation
that your lips had been fraudulent
over so many sweet nothings.

© 2018, P.A. Levy

Standing Out in the Straight

Haunts of people intense in spring light,
Straw fields and thatched roofs,
Wood fences standing at a slant.
The strangeness of people surge.
Your pale hat whiter than the hills and the sand.
The white of uniqueness. An unsullied tone,
Like you were, holding on to my red shirt
Your body planted firm in my mind—
Woody Herman swinging with Django Reinhardt.
Soulful on syncopated. In that strange balance
We made, standing out in the straight.

© 2018, poem and photograph, Linda Chown

Stone Love

She believes in stones,
their tales of megalithic glory
told by the silence of the ancients.
At Avebury, spiritual omphalos,
she rushed to greet them,
hugged them like long lost friends.
Warmed by the sun
they breathed, they were alive,
they hugged her back;
Princess of Albion.

Seated in the Devil’s Chair
I watched her, pink hair,
zips and leathers a warrior queen.
Many silver bangles sung
as she danced, wove a spell
through the avenue of stones,
standing waiting for her
for thousands of years.
At last! she has come home;
Princess of Albion.

From the temple’s sanctuary
hand in hand along the ceremonial
avenue across Malborough Downs
to Silbury Hill, and why they were called
the Downs when they lifted her heart so
she couldn’t understand.
Having stepped on Neolithic footprints,
we kissed in a Druid circle of flowers,
this was when her laughter became sunshine
daughter of Mother Goddess;
Princess of Albion.

© 2018, P.A. Levy

Landing

The cave beyond the edge
lies in the land beyond attachment.
I didn’t know that the cave beyond the edge
lay in the land beyond attachment.
I didn’t know that the cave beyond the edge
lies in God’s Heart.

How little I knew.
I didn’t know that the swimming
would be so rigorous,
the need for fitness so great.
I swam there.
I climbed there.

I didn’t know that the cave beyond the edge
would require so much vigor.
I stayed there.
I prayed there.
I waited there
in all the silence.

Now, how glad I am
to have swam and climbed there,
to have stayed and prayed there,
to have waited there,
in all the silence,
for amidst it all,

I am glad,
to be in the cave beyond the edge,
in the land beyond attachment.
O Gracious God, how glad I am
to be here, where You are,
in my heart, here.

For I hear,O Gracious God, I hear
Your Voice rising from the silence.
“Thank You,” I respond, “Thank You
for the freedom, the choice,
of entering here, with You,
into this deepest chamber,

this deepest living space
of my heart, Your Heart,
where together we live in peace,
in the joy and jubilation of knowing one another
and all others, heartfelt, in harmony,
together, in LOVE.

© 2018, P. C. Moorehead

Illuminating

You, the inadmissible light of my soul,
You are a dark flashlight,
illuminating a way
I cannot see.

© 2018, P.C. Moorehead

Dense Flesh

Arms, legs implode.
Head retracts.
Breasts explode.

Dense flesh,
flesh dense,
densest flesh,

let Spirit enter.

© 2018, P.C. Moorehead

Songbird

All of these thoughts

Flood my mind

I see a flock of wild birds…

“We are coming for you.”

Wake up songbird

We want to hear your melody

Start singing

You’re not in your cage anymore

Bound by your shame

Swept up in the sky

In flight, soaring higher

Gliding over trees

Darting here and there

Free

Leaving behind the shame

Sailing away from fear

Singing my sweet song of joy

Above it all knowing peace

 

This songbird awake

 

© 2018, poem and photograph, Jason A. Muckley

Princess of the Sea


Princess of the sea
Looking out at her realm
Its vast breadth
Its immense power
Her handmade crown
Her gentle touch
Her rule
Humble reverence

© 2018, poem and photograph, Jason A. Muckley

Log Cabin Quilt

St. Ambrose University, Davenport, IA

Similar to the crazy quilt, the log cabin is also an old pattern. . . . the difference is the structure of the patches; the pieces are cut into straight patches or “logs” and organized around a center square. Some speculate the pattern developed as the woman’s counterpart to the man’s building of log cabin homes years ago.

Or the shape of a Quaker meetinghouse,
benches ranged around a hollow square.

Or the hollow square deeper within,
where I learned to watch what stirred,

and called it God, or breathe with it
now and call it something else —

only what is. I remember my own
past, or the past long ago, easier

to imagine gracious, as if its suffering
were a progress though a stately lane of oaks.

Breathing through the summer morning
while the world falls apart, and a friend

says she can barely hang on with it,
destruction invisible but so close,

obscene. The wish then not only to
resist but build, hands aching in the lap,

to make something fit to last, to live
by. Sunlight moves on the eyelids,

as on the floor of a meetinghouse,
sifted through oaks past a window I imagine;

logs of light then, angling on the ground,
each one a line, a line, a line.

© 2018, Anne Myles

Lit Up With Your Warmth

I can feel the rhythm of your heart

beating in tune with mine,

and the sound of the song

erupting beneath my chest

creates a symphony of perfect peace

that I can smile to

throughout every hour of the day.

I can taste the heat of the sun

on the tip of my tongue,

and I know that every ray of light

pouring down from the sky

was birthed by your precious eyes.

I can see for miles into the distance,

and these bright visions of the future

involve you cradled in my arms,

your lips locked with mine,

your fragrance filing every room,

your love washing over my soul,

and your voice leading me toward bliss.

I want to swim with you, sweet swan,

through the vast ocean of life,

synchronized in every step

as the dance we both have dreamed of

is made manifest upon the earth.

I want to worship you forever, divine goddess,

with respect and adoration,

with the warmth of my admiration,

with a promise to comfort you always,

and with a vow that will never be broken.

© 2018, Scott Thomas Outlar

Catching Leaves and Picking Clover

How does it feel

to truly be free?

To know that your wounds

have all been kissed?

To live without fear

because you know you’re prepared?

To give all of your heart

without reservations?

To sit in still silence

and hear the wind speak?

How does it feel

to forgive all mistakes?

To accept every circumstance

exactly as they turned out?

To breathe with clean lungs

from a state of good health?

To smile in the rain

knowing the sun will soon shine?

To dance through the days

and rest peacefully each night?

How does it feel

to finally be free?

© 2018, Scott Thomas Outlar

High Tide Hallelujah

Crystalline shards/shattered

across the spine

of a skeletal system/infused

with hues

of explosive blue/adrenaline

pumping

in waves of paint/pouring

forth from ecstatic neurons

to cover the canvass

in electric yellow/yelling

Holy Hallelujah at the crescendo

where glass meets God meets window/

stained with higher visions

of primal focus

manifesting into form/fallout frenzy/

flapping wings

of butterfly dreams

float through wild winds/abstracted

chaos melts/merges/coalescing

into strains of structured order/

amalgamated/nesting at the zero-point/

the perfect pitch

of color/of sound/of fury/

where truth meets taste meets tangible

realizations of randomness/righteous rumblings

reacting at the center/the core/

the truth/the tidal surge

of waters that wish only to dance

© 2018, Scott Thomas Outlar

The Spirit of Us

There was an interval
When we ascended
Stairs in a dream
Referring the rose pink light of dawn
To cleave apart that golden drapery
Silently waiting for
the pictureque azure
in the sky
Whereupon we sight
the silver lining
Whilst the gate of empyrean bewray
For us
To reminisce our first sacrament

© 2018, poem, Deborah Setiyawait
© 2018, photograph, Carl Scharwath

The Star

Survival of the fittest
Political temperatures dictate
Fight, flight, freeze
Been frozen for a few years
Chronologically too old for fight
Adrenal glands choose flight
Travel with jars of natural
Peanut butter and jelly
Crackers withstanding staleness
Jugs of water
Rolls of toilet paper for trips
Behind hedges
Baby wipes hygiene
Oh, why did I
Get rid of the travel trailer
Can I live on 4 wheels with 3 dogs
And a driver?

Icy dawn heading north
Wind whipping long hair
Through minute window cracks
Canine scent-sense tells me
When we pass salty or loamy aromas
The truck a speeding bullet
Of movement
Until yawning stars give way
To a cloudy dawn
Where have I gone?
Flying away to safety
Bicameral brain
Merely a strain
Logic says no safety in denial
Creativity says
Draw, write, sing SAFETY
Until it is real

The sky is falling
How do I make it right…?

© 2018, Clarissa Simmens (ViataMaja)

for those who don’t know the chocolate …

for those who don’t know the chocolate
the children of poverty
and the sleepers in the corners of the ancient streets
for those who survived from the famine but still hungry
for those boys who never dream
cause they never sleep
for those who don’t know the chocolate
and heard more news about its sweet
the people with half soul
and lack food and the imaginary house

for those who crawled on the sharp platforms in the mid-night of every day
seeking for the warmth living
for those babies who never taste the milk
with wide eyes looking for any help
for the hands of charity
and the sensitive hearts which cry and bleed
for those who gathered in the torn tents around the world
waiting from a long time
for those who don’t know the chocolate
and haven’t the ability to imagine it

the innocent faces washed under the rain
the seekers for the smell of humanity in each alley, place, and content
for those who kiss the sun through their contemplate glances
for those who write with heavy heart and smashed dreams
the climbers of the existence shoulder
looking for the justice face

for the dancers with bare feet on the top of Everest
who do their best to bring the joy and the peace
for the sun of tolerance which touching our bones
for the bloom of the flowers
and the skies gloom

for those who never taste the chocolate
but they still hearing about its magic
the crawlers on the earth with a great desire
to make the difference between the past and the future

for those who draw on the sand
with belief in the friendship with the waves of the sea
for the killed persons in every battle
for the injured soldiers in every war
for those women who haven’t the right to vote

for the fishermen in their ships
for the highest star in our sky
and for the rainbow
for those people with disabilities
and for those players with the wool ball
for the little boys who sell the water
for the little girls who feed the roosters

for the nations which suffer from dry
for the victims of racism
for the dead from the terrorism

i write these poems for those
who don’t know the chocolate

© 2018, Amirah Al Wassif

the poetry is …

the poetry is the deep philosophy of the cry and laugh
it is the unseen language which touches our soul bitterly and joyful

the poetry is the skin of the sensibility and the incredible race among the clouds
it is the pouring of the sky blue in our opening hearts

the poetry is the art of the mess
that far world which told you what behind the galaxy

it is our previous feelings and the forthcoming ones
when we believe in spirit and science and madness

the poetry is finding the details in eyes of someone
it is means this amazing ability to read the maps of souls
it is the smell of honey and the necessary of wings
and the tragedy of nights
it is the long walking in the land of the imagination republic

the poetry is more than contemplating the moon through a poetic night
it is more than rhythm and free verse
more than the extraordinary words and the visual scenes

the poetry is more than the silence of beauty
and the gossiping of people

it is what beyond breath
it is what beyond the sea
it is what beyond the legends

the poetry is discovering the hidden smile of the orphans!

© 2018, Amirah Al Wassif

Windows of Madrid

I remember when we woke together in the ancient streets of Spain
I remember I felt a strong shiver which could heal any pain
when the fantastic windows whispered in my ears ” hello ”
I couldn’t dare to reply
I thought that voice came from my fellow
so I began to spy
here, I discovered the magnificent magic
her shape take more than my like
when I jumped like a child in the street
because I fall in love with the windows of Madrid
this a romantic story escaped from the old age
and rapidly came to me and wrote its secret on my page
the beauty windows of Madrid
inspired me to write in Casa Maria plaza mayor
it makes my soul singing for the coming light and also for
the ancient art of Spain
which could heal you entire of suffering and pain

© 2018, Amirah Al Wassif

GunShot

© 2018, Gary Bowers

A Girl in a Box

packing
my blue bag
pocketing
my lipstick
turning my back
to Brentwood

I’m on my way home.

Brooklyn beckons
as it always did
as it always does
Hudson River
city parks
a cacophony of languages
a melting pot

She’s on her way too.

by air
not track

her trunk
packed
by strangers
shipped

light
with flip-flops
a blouse
a skirt
poor
practical
that would be her

Occasionally I’d seen her laugh.

I’m
on my way
train grumbling
wheels screeching
town
upon town
Flatbush- a hub
and my stop

and there was my aunt
and there was my mother
and there was the news

Teresa Margaret
is on her way home
shipped
from Florida
on a DC10

stored
along with her trunk
a girl in a wooden box
in a cargo hold

a poor cold girl
Colder bullet in her head.

© 2017, poem, Jamie Dedes; photo courtesy of Linda Allardice, Public Domain Pictures.net.

A Poem for the Tree of Life Synagogue

 

Etz Haim עצ חאים David Friedman ©2002 In the poet's collection.
Etz Haim עץ חיים
David Friedman
©2002 David Friedman
In the poet’s collection.

Etz Chaim  עץ חיים

Tonight the clocks rolled back.
Time changes, but we
cannot sleep an hour
more. Who can sleep tonight?

Man shot the Tree of Life,
riddled its trunk with lead,
that soft and poisonous
metal turned to gold

through twisted alchemy—
profit-politics a strained
Philosopher’s Stone.
Stone-cold fucked-up NRA,

stone-cold fear-monger swamp-
creature calling out loud
to lock up the Jew they
blame, honing fear’s dull blade

until it cuts the trunk,
and bloodies us all.

—Michael Dickel
Jerusalem
19 Heshvan 5779
(28 October 2018 C.E.)

©2018

Say their names:

Joyce Fienberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
Bernice Simon, 84
Sylvan Simon, 86
Daniel Stein, 71
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Younger, 69

Read about them in The New York Times.

Tree of Life
David Friedman
©the artist

Just a few days before the Etz Chaim Murders…

“Just minutes after President Donald Trump called for unity in the wake of attempted bombings targeting a number of Democratic officials, he took a swing at ‘globalists’ and used the phrase ‘lock him up’ while chuckling. Trump was responding to a crowd yelling to lock up George Soros, a victim of the bombing attempt.”

—Nicole Goodkind, “Donald Trump Repeats ‘Lock Him Up’ Chant About George Soros Minutes After Calling for Unity Around Bomb Threats.” Newsweek 26 October, 2018


Transcending and Including
David Friedman
©the artist


Etz Chaim  עץ חיים — Hebrew for Tree of Life [return to poem]

 


In Israel, the roll back to Daylight Savings Time was the evening of the shooting, motsei Shabbat, the evening after the Sabbath, which is the beginning of the week. In the Jewish Calendar, days go from sundown until sundown. So, Shabbat (the Sabbath) begins on Friday evening at sundown and ends Saturday evening, after sunset (defined as when three stars can be seen in the sky, in the past, more typically about one-hour after Shabbat began on Friday, in modern times). [return to poem]

Snow Angels

Her nightmares began in the week before Christmas;
screaming, fearsome trespass into the child’s mind.
The news of the day had infringed with no conscience
and stolen a bit of innocence from the six-year-old,
waking her from a terror that others could not escape.
“I don’t want Santa to come into our house,”
she said one night. “It scares me.”

“You’ll be safe, hon,” her father whispered.
“Mommy and Daddy will protect you,”
her mother said. “And your Guardian Angel, too.”
“Why didn’t their Guardian Angels
protect them?” she asked,
in the direct distillation of thought
only a child can accomplish.

Her father closed his eyes and drew a breath
before telling her:
“Because so many little kids
and their Mommies and Daddies
fear this world more than we used to,
God needed more brave little angels
to help them feel protected.”

As snow fell outside the bedroom window,
the little one lay down with her mother,
satisfied for a bit, sleeping safely in her arms.
Her dad thanked God for her and that
she heard not the door open and close twice.

When she awoke in the morning,
little Emma called into the kitchen,
“Daddy come see, come see.”
There in the night-fallen snow, a score
of snow angels had ringed their blessings
upon a home and a little girl.

I’m sorry if this doesn’t really sound like a poem. I’ve been struggling with these feelings for a long time and I have difficulty expressing such things sometimes except by writing them out for myself.  Some folks say I’m some kind of storyteller, but I often lack the emotional capacity to couch thoughts of such horrible things as the Newtown tragedy and other mass shootings in words. As a father and grandfather, this piece helped me gather a few in one place. May all our angels rest in the peace of this season, and all the seasons to come.

© 2018, Joe Hesch

my decision is not new, since …

I have learnt to decide,
nor my inner self trouble,
since I have learnt to analyze;
it is easier now to get over feelings
hurt or saddened, painfully burdened-

I walked and walked and walked,
and thought…one more step and
I would reach the pure water spring,
brief known journey came to an end
my feet touched Mother Earth-

it was a beautiful afternoon-
there was a time I had transport in which,
I would be dropping friends, colleagues
and their kids that was my time, I could do that
that was my memory, this, my experience,

that came wafting touching the clayey frame,
painlessly, then flooding the heart-
I stood for a while, looking,
as the water flowed, in the river
under the bridge, the vulnerable bridge…why are
bridges made? to connect? No.
To break connections?

cannot say,well , just to pass over to the other end-
looking at the Korang River, for a while I lost
sense of time-the water flowed and I stood still-
water always did, it always will, sometimes high
sometimes low-I did not know where
to go, I did not feel the Earth under my feet
how long was I in that small seat,
moments not long, but the last ever to be
I saw Nothingness staring back at me-
till I could no more see, nothing red,
till the trembling subsided,
nothing white, nor blue..
Hey you? can I drop you?

many cars passed, people stared through
the windows, unsmiling faces raced by
hurrying to their destinations
a strange lady with a bag, changing hands,
shifting the load, had to be carried,
walking all by herself-

looking peaceful but carrying a turbulent storm
‘turn now, move on, like the river, be like
the bridge, connect and remain in quietude-

I walked…felt numb, thoughtless with acceptance,
happy moments are brief, short lived,
yet they come leaving fleeting memories-
walking helped the heavy spirit but lightened
not the load…mistake mistake, mistake-

‘you crossed the line-turn turn turn’
walk walk walk…till you can…the sun came closer,
pouring love with its rays, drenching me
in a comforting warmth-

Nature Loves us deeply, we know not…
I turned stepped on, step by step, step by step
distance unmeasured, no desert can be measured
deserted desert ,mirage unseen, this is The Unseen
The Nothingness became visible, I walked -I felt Peace

I saw the Unseen I saw Peace I saw love descending
from above-then more -the resurrection,

the road the river and I were moving, walking flowing together
in the same…..direction

© 2018, poem and illustration, Anjum Wasim Dar

The Other World

At eighteen, I stepped into the other world,
the one that sounds fantastical but is not.
Drainage pond at the bottom of a hill on campus,
behind it a small straggle of winter woods,
beyond that, a path towards the sports fields.
Grass still green in the mild mid-Atlantic,
twiggy dried milkweed standing and fallen,
plain as plain, just hidden, just waste.
An ordinary afternoon, and I felt surfeited with reading;
walking down the hill, I cast away my mind.
At the water’s edge I looked at the surface;
the water looked back at me. The world had eyes:
perceived me as I perceived it, all the same.
The bare treetops in the distance moved in my arms.
I felt the cawing of the crows that rose inside my chest.
But no crows there, no chest here, only that cawing,
that burning and empty annunciation
of how we too are the shine in the tufts of the cracked pods,
falling and lifted in the wind through everything.
All of this I could see, while I rubbed my eyes,
as if to dislodge a film that was not there.
This happened. I was a freshman, with no one to tell.
Why do we seek imagined worlds? We know nothing
of what is real, how wondrous and complete.

© 2018, Anne Myles

Wabi Sabi

Japanese tea house: reflects the wabi sabi aesthetic, Kenroku-n Garden

Japanese tea house: reflects the wabi sabi aesthetic, Kenroku-en Garden


if only i knew
what the artist knows

about the great perfection
in imperfection

i would sip grace slowly
at the ragged edges of the creek

kiss the pitted
face of the moon

befriend the sea
though it can be a danger

embrace the thunder of a waterfall
as if its strains were a symphony

prostrate myself atop the rank dregs on the forest floor,
worshiping them as compost for fertile seeds
and the breeding ground for a million small lives

if i knew what the artist knows,
then i wouldn’t be afraid to die,
to leave everyone

i would be sure that some part of me
would remain present
and that one day you would join me
as the wind howling on its journey
or the bright moment of a flowering desert

if i knew what the artist knows,
i would surely respond soul and body
to the echo of the Ineffable in rough earthy things

i would not fear decay or work left undone
i would travel like the river through its rugged, irregular channels
comfortable with this life; imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete

Inspired by Leonard Koren, Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers

© 2013, Jamie Dedes

Blessed Sacrament

In the ever-Summer glare and heat
I found my life’s pain and regret
sanctified into something replete
with but little Hope baptized in sweat.
So the torment, no matter how holy,
still rips around my beaten heart
as if it was something mad and solely
bent and intent to rip it apart.

Perhaps I can hallow my vessel so hollow
with the heat from a different kind of light,
as good for my soul as the heart to follow,
soothing all my pain with its godly might.
And that’s why I’m here dipping pen in ink,
the black sprung from my soul to my heart.
Drawing pictures in words so we all might drink
of this sacrament that heals me called Art.

 

As I like to say, completing these pieces I share does not make me feel better. But all the time spent immersed in the process of writing them does. And that, my friend, is the miracle of Art, no matter how poorly rendered. 

—Joseph Hesch © 2018

Potting Up the Peppermint

One drop of motor oil

rainbows on a puddle.

 

Limitless mileage

of mycelial felt tugs at roots.

 

Platters of map lichen spread

across the patient boulder.

 

Metastasis. Proliferation

screws up to war. Epidemics.

 

You’ve witnessed ignorance

stretch boundaries of hate.

 

When you yearn

for peace, cut sprigs

 

from the tub that tethers

run-away mint,

 

brew tea to tip

into a green cup,

 

pour love to all

gathered at your weary table.

© 2018, Tricia Knoll

Yours If You Will Take It

If you want to feel
the passing of night to day,
take my hand.
And if you would know
the road best travelled
see the lines on my face.
If you wish
the greatest gift ever,
lie beside me, feel my heart
and if you want to know
what lies behind the stars,
look into my eyes.
If you would feel
the world shift, then accept
happiness from my soul.
And if you want
a place always to return to
join me.
For this is not
slavish devotion.
Without thought.
Nor a storybook rhyme
that ends happily, regardless.
This is love.
As simple as it can be.

© 2018, Miki Byrne

Sore Spots

When we love. Truly love,
our skin becomes thin.
A fine, tender membrane.
Sensitive, delicate.
That leaves us vulnerable.
Open to the blade and scour
of a harsh word
or thoughtless gesture.
Yet that same skin rebounds.
Strong in its flexibility.
Allows healing and repairs
the sore spots of wounds
unintentionally inflicted.

© 2018, Miki Byrne

Fear and the Mind

Fear has teeth, weight, venom,
that permeates every cell.
Brings paralysis of limb and mind.
Saps strength,
steals appetite and sleep.
Yet, it is a figment.
Has no legs, no substance but that
which we offer from our own minds.
Imagination
that pushes thought forward
to explore worst-case scenarios
that we touch and poke
like a tongue probes
a tender tooth.
Yet fear is insubstantial.
Allowing it bones hardens it.
Gives solidity to make a weapon.
One which we painfully use
against ourselves.

—Miki Byrne © 2018

Sunday People

Sunday people bike or walk for miles
under a wool-grey sky, a warm-as-bread breeze

rising over rocky outcrops, dissolving the day
fast as holy wafers on tongues.

Sunday people leave bad news, regret
moored to the past, set sail

on a sea the colour of slate,
smooth as pebbles whispering

over and over Pors Pin Bay lapped white
as the gull wheeling to a fleck of dust.

Sunday people stop to breathe
pine and larch crouched on a far hill,

patient as dogs waiting
for a shepherd’s call to gather flocks.

And here with you sketching
I watch the turn of your hand,

pen gliding paper – ink taking hold
of clouds, a skein of geese,

a fishing boat ploughing through water
like the prodigal son coming home

to thickets of oak and sloe, a table laid,
forgiving moments hauling us back to earth.

© 2018, Kerry Darbishire
Editor’s note: This poem is included in Kerry’s new poetry collection, Distance is Sweet on My Tongue (Indigo Dreams, 2018)

Dataism

 

1/ The End of a Beginning

 

Given   each organism  as a biochemical  algorithm
Your life         is a programed         process proving

Your consciousness         is actually far      less

Valuable         than a fucking             Frankenstein’s AI

 

2/ The Beginning of an End

 

Through         human-computer interface
My mind has become     part of     a robot

While the robot         part of me

 

As     data exchanges with     my consciousness
Or flow         between each other         on their own

Where                 can I find my true self?

 

Avihs || Vishnu

 

Mornings || they disperse || beyond || the corn

Fields, || separately. ||Sunday

She || throws

 

Her partner’s computer || (midnight)

Into the garage.|| George ||who

In many || a city || upgraded || his software

 

Upgraded || hers.

They will || stop over || an island

Separately.|| Your son

 

Hated || all || mushrooms

George mentions — do you recall || yourself?

To a single mind,|| their spirits || evaporate

 

Charging

Ever since they became erectus, and

 

Domesticated wheat, dogs and chickens

 

They have murdered almost all…

Destroyed numerous…

Poisoned every …

 

Altering the natural course of…

Rewriting the original codes of…

 

And even redrawing their own genetic maps…

 

As they keep moving everywhere

Albeit I have placed in loudest human voice

My repeated charges

 

That are ignored with repeated ignorance

 

Now
For their next revolution to achieve:

Happiness

Immortality

Deity

 

Making Light of Darkness

 

in a world always half in darkness

your body may be soaked deep

in a nightmare, rotting

 

but your heart can roam

like a synchronous satellite

in His space, leaving

the long night far behind

 

as long as your heart flies fast

and high enough, you will live

forever in light

 

Mega-Physics

 

Few are really aware of

Such universes

Existing beyond our own

 

Even fewer of so many other versions

Of selfhood living

In each of them, let alone

This simple secret:

 

At the depth of consciousness

Lives a quantum

Or soul as we prefer to call it

A particle, demon and/or angel dancing

 

The same dance afar, far apart

In an entanglement

 

Invoking Laozhi

 

Hiking along a less trodden trail in the Pacific Spirit

Forest, I almost have to stop to find my Way out

Because all roads have led me to nowhere

But I keep walking until it is almost Laozhi himself

Pointing his fossilized fingers towards Dao

(Which he says is no ordinary Way if it can

Be named. Similarly if I can find it on my own

It’s not the real or the right one.) Like a tour guide

Who seems to know every path to and from the destiny

Leading me like a dog, sometimes running well before him

Sometimes beside him, more often going astray by myself

Among the low bushes. I cannot help but follow him because

The leash is getting so tightened I want to protest aloud: you

Claim the great Way is no Way, but just follow Nature. Then

Why keep me with a rope? Like every other domesticated dog

I have a delicious bone right above my mouth, which makes

Me keep running to my death, but never allowing me to have a bite

—Changming Yuan ©2018

Latent Objectifications II: Dataism <br /> digital landscape from photos <br /> ©2018 Michael Dickel <br /> (the binary code is the text of the poem)
Latent Objectifications II: Dataism
digital landscape from photos
©2018 Michael Dickel
(the binary code is the text of the poem)

Life

Like A symbol yet unknown

Looks like love sometimes hate

Looks like faith cheating on hope

Looks like fear breading on dreams

Looks like health depending on wealth

Looks like strength hoping on age

Looks like status owing to power

Looks like trust standing on friendship

Looks like hardwork depending on success

Looks like greed in comfort

Looks like laziness in contentment

Looks like envy in wishes

What Manner of life is this

What sorcery is this

Why lay claims to love life

When no one cares for but themselves

A life where breastfeeding mothers feed no more

A life where fathers flee from children

A life where the world fails humans

A life where nature cries for help

A life where death is celebrated more than life

A life where wealth is more valuable than life

A life where the earth is a sinking hole

Oh! What manner of life is this?

—Michael C. Odiah © 2017

Black November


What manner of life is this
Who designed that word
Why call it modern
Why call it melanin

A life full of thorns
A life buried in hate
A life traded for money
A life drowning in blood

A word filled with tears and blood
A word filled with shadowed evil
A word filled with curse and cause
A word filled with pain and fear

They call it modern and new
Like a thing changed about it
Like it got better or worse
Like it now wears a mask.

Why give it a name in the 1st place
Why look a being in the eye
See same features and still
Go ahead to segregate

I wish the children’s children
Know no black or white
Know no hate or fear
But rather love endlessly.

—poem and photograph, Michael Odiah © 2017

America Still Sings of Freedom

 

In the midst of nuclear insanity
In the midst of natural calamities
In the midst of hatred and harm crisscrossing the land
In the midst of hostility riding in cars emasculating our civil liberties
In the midst of blood spattered into the streets…
In the midst of people crying…people dying
America Still Sings of Freedom

In the midst of Black Lives Matter
In the midst of limitations set on Muslims’ immigration
In the midst of white supremacy poisoning the tender tendrils of democracy
In the midst of Native Americans wanting to save the earth from greed and destruction
In the midst of dreamers’ dreams vanishing in the wind
In the midst of chaos and confusion
America Still Sings of Freedom

In the midst of immigrant children being wrenched from their parents’ grasp
In the midst of the vanishing affordable health care act
In the midst of the oppressed screaming for justice from the callous and the cold
In the midst of the stranglehold of the school-to-prison pipeline
In the midst of the vines of violence choking aspirations
In the midst of mass incarceration
America Still Sings of Freedom

In the midst of earth’s disintegrating atmosphere
In the midst of conflicting attitudes towards a solution to pollution
In the midst of profits leading to the desecration of our planet
In the midst of socio-economic terrorism
In the midst of religious fanaticism
In the midst of man’s obsession with power
America Still Sings of Freedom

In the midst of the sunrise greeting a new day in magnificence
In the midst of the stars twinkling eminence throughout time
In the midst of intergalactic connections singing in eternity
In the midst of the courageous voices of the many standing together in unity
In the midst of joy infusing hearts of stone
In the midst of peace in search of a home
America Still Sings of Freedom

—Tamam Tracy Moncur © 2018

Universal Credit

Learn this lesson: assume the supplicant’s
position, low before the arbiter.
Hang your petition on the ox’s horn and
pray as it turns and plods inside the keep.
Forty two days in the wilderness, longer
than Christ’s self-chosen stay. Time to go home
and count the copper pennies in your palm, time
to scour the bins for corn cobs overlooked,
scraps on bones, nubs of bread, hide candles
and kindling, beg remission on your rent.
Time to forage hedgerows, scrape bark for baking
bread, claw the furrows for potatoes, hush
the hungry child while you lie clamped and clemmed,
fashioning hope from feathers and dung.

You may be lucky: beneficence
parsimonious may be granted or
day on day on days delays will find you
in winter’s shadow outside the castle walls.

—Frank McMahan © 2018

The title of this poem relates to a new UK  Social Security single benefit ( to  replace several others).  Its rollout has been very expensive and is causing great hardship for the poorest people in this country. Many have to rely on food banks.

 

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

Unlearning

Unlearning

I learned in the back seats of cars
The alcoves of bars
How to please
And how to tease.

I learned at the department store
How to dress to settle the score.
And underneath, my angel side
Learned how to cause a great divide.

A push, a pinch, a tug, a spin
Put pain to the side; upfront, just grin.
I learned my worth, a ratio
Of tits and ass and let it go.

And when you think the game is done,
You spy your girls and know they’ve won.
Those weren’t lessons, they were deceit.
I was fooled, their greatest feat.
Should I just acquiesce to my defeat?
Oh hell no.
#metoo
#timesup

© Irma

Intertwined

The woman I am
Is the woman I was
The quiet one,
The smart one,
The bookworm,
The one who ran a high school mile in 20 minutes.

The woman I am
Is the woman I was
The hands in my back pocket,
I can conquer the world,
Let the party begin,
I can pull off an A paper in 4 hours Co-ed,
Who wasn’t self aware enough,
Who wasn’t practiced enough,
To know alcoholic lies.

The woman I am
Is the woman I was
The trusting in a good world,
How did this happen to me,
Despite my negative words,
Against my feminist will,
It must be my fault,
Forgive me, understand me lover.

The woman I am
Is the woman I was
The grieving mother,
The don’t get too close so it doesn’t hurt mother,
The oh it could be fun and easy mother,
The I didn’t realize boys were so different mother,
The stay my baby a little a lot longer mother.

The woman I am
Is the woman I was
Angry and hurt,
Confused yet hopeful,
Spurned into action,
Despite fears of rejection.

I am the intersection of
My gender
My ethnicity
My religion
My race
The intertwining of identity and history.
The woman I am
Is the woman I was
Is the woman I will become

—Irma © 2018

Gestures

 

Jaw set
Brows coming together
Looking straight ahead while around her
Kids are squirming, tearing, jeering
She rubs her forehead, right above her nose, and closes her eyes
The gesture of acceptance
Out-numbered defeat

Head tilted to the side
Eyes squinted
Staring into a face that doesn’t believe in her worth, her rights, her existence
She crosses her arms, juts her hip, and taps her foot
The gesture of defiance
Disbelief that in this day and age

Mouth agape
Neck outstretched
Listening to advice and false promises yelled by witnesses to her body’s treachery
She swings her arms and shuffles forward
The gesture of persistence
Knowing pain is temporary

Afterwards, she sits still
Listening to the quiet sounds
Of trees swaying and not breaking
Her breathing deepens
Her arms raise to the sky
The gesture of triumph
Self determined

—Irma ©2018

Clouds

Amorphous clouds engulf me –
My true hand unseen
My heart frozen, unloved
My breath stilled and unworthy
My solid form deemed weak
What was supposed to shade me
Protect me
From the bleaching hanging sun
Now hurts my skin with its
Wispy viper tendrils
I thought you were my friend
But I missed the forecast for
Cloudy with a chance of
selfish entitlement.

—Irma © 2018

Killer Angels, Better Angels

Its leaves are near-ochre,
yellowed with age and changes
in weather and geography,
like the pages of memory
I un-shelf along with it each year.

I bring it out like a swimsuit
each summer since I found it
on that beach in that place from
that side which did not prevail.
Today, a page fell like a memory.

It tells a tale of the push and pull
of a time when men could be
paid for and sold, or lined up in ranks
to pay their last full measure
of devotion to a cause each held sacred.

As I run my finger down the page,
I am present in my place and time
as I am in theirs, though I smell
the aroma of a musty old book rather than
of Hell’s own sulfur and smoke.

And I am at peace reading of war and death,
vaguely secure that such a conflict
couldn’t again slash my nobly scarred nation.
Then all these men would have given
that last full measure for nothing.

It’d be our most-mortal sin to allow them
to have lived and died in vain, knowing their
new birth of freedom, and government
of the people, by the people, for the people—
all the people—did perish from the earth.

 

Rambling draft inspired by reading, breathing, feeling, listening to the pages of my old paperback copy of The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara’s fictional narrative of the actual men and events leading up to, within and following the days in July of 1863 we know as the Battle of Gettysburg. I find myself reading more of my Civil War books these days.I love them, but that I feel so viscerally compelled concerns me a little. 

—Joseph Hesch © 2018

Elegy

Elegy

dying slowly incident by incident
how hard—for you and those
who knew you or have memory
of your existence
to witness such mean

abandonment

today there is no praise
we come to bury you
and your acts long ago
dismissed and now

despised

open doors, offers of aid—first
and continual—serving—
sharing—sacrificing
anything—wealth / time / thought

eliminated

replaced now with all manner
of self serving consideration
attitude replacing gratitude
with consequences on others

ignored

gluttony and self indulgence pull
the shades over generosity
and sympathy seen weak and
forbidden

today we declare you dead
Stomp the ground—your bed

Respect is not the fashion
be dead now—compassion.

–deb y felio © 2018

Lazy Bums Vanish from Lazy Town

“Once upon a time there was a town where all the people were exceedingly lazy.”

—The Lazy Townspeople

It’s true of course as we all know those
Lazy folks just down the road will do
Just about anything to not do just about
Anything, hoping some nincompoop

Will show up just in time to rake up
All the trash, bag it, maybe recycle it,
And send all that is not wanted on its
Merry way. When even that didn’t

Work out, the old folks were just beside
Themselves to get themselves going
So the place might look a bit more
Spiffy when the man in the white house

Who now owns everything and everyone
Will drive by for a view, and toss a few
Coins to those whose waving hands
Are the highest ever for free handouts.

That was at least the plan. The old town
Though just got older, stinkier, trashier,
And big bugs soon arrived by the millions
So no one could get a night’s rest without

Bites everywhere and anywhere but as
You know, no one knew quite what to do.
We could all make rakes, a ratty man said.
I’ve got a bunch of mowers, said the long

Beard. The smelly old one even kept empty
Bottles of Clorox and Windex just in case.
Everybody said let’s get started, but no
One really started, as no one had ever

Known how to bring spring to the old town.
A well-kept girl crawled under the hedge
That kept those in and those looking out
And she knew right away what might spiff

The place up, shiny and brassy as before.
Follow me, she said, and everybody did
Just that, and soon the town was not ever
There, no one could even remember it,

And then, what nature does best, a big
Wind came through and the wind coughed
It all around the world as it was most
Disgusting with all the dust, and mites,

And those terrible bugs that get into
Everything, and soon the man in the
Big white house drove down to see
His priceless town, and it was so shiny,

Smooth, and not a trace could be found
Of the terrible people who once called
What once was trash, what once was home,
A fine place to wave his tiny, clean hands.

—DeWitt Clinton © 2018

McCarthy’s Girl

 

On looking how she was. Staring
always, as though there were
depths and hollows to see through
somehow all into. Something to stay with her
little girl hands twisting and then the warts.
She would always try to pull
The world into her fingers.
To play the sounds closer.
She was just oblivious
To her difference.

But behind, they knew her
for the witch they thought they knew she was,
Jude, Commie, sick-to-stick-out little girl,
Pale-wincer-in-the-sun with that heavy coat.
Cassie and Lassie, those twins,
they knew fast just what to do.
lasso a tip of her hanging braid
and soak it slow and silent in the
ink-well behind. Well, she just kept her still.
Her long eyelids shuddering in her quiet.
Little girl on the edges, locked inside in.
No Howdy Doody times, no way to say it.
She just fought to gaze hard to look straight
beyond the puppet land of the 1950s.
She had to come home to hide
behind the tv and the cooking.

All the time life opened up for her
savage saddle markings.

—Linda E. Chown © 2018

Coming Back: Franco not here no more, 1988

 

I go blind from then I go
here now so into Franco-free light
where I don’t know
how to turn my eyes,
spent scars of second skin,
years of no and fury,
now the clean air breaking in
to be real in this to breathe it
all in and then to die in Madrid.
Tempt it not—I surely do not
Not too. No Franco and his cops
Nor his tiny stamps, unwritten laws
And truncheons at the ready.

I did not come here to die
but to be home here
where I can get lost again free
in a landscape of
words drifting oh words!
Hombre que te pasa
la Republica Zaragoza libertad.

Find the bridge, the path,
to cross over to some-
where the verdict words cannot.
Qué bonitas son
Son las flores
No, not just pretty. Knot not.

When I go blind,
“good I cannot see them”
(as the words once were cords
even to touch their fury)
The pain of sound.
Clackety clack.
Let the air out
of this flat tire.

I’m breaking in
to be real again—
the Guadarrama mountain range
splendid low about the horizon
white-scarred muses
women scarring Fascism.
Late afternoon glory with them in Madrid.
The air so pure it stings to settle.

—Linda E. Chown ©2018

What they said

 

At the beginning of before.
Here it is: are we in the right
spindle bobbing away?
Are you a fable resting in the sun and wanting?
Tell me how your dreams are.
Tell me what you might mean to yourself in their fury,

Now, skirts forever in a night wind
Yesterday spins yellows around tomorrow
Whatever did your mother tell you about
late at night when you put your book down
on the bed and she came in soundless
with a tight face to sit in the dark with you
while you wheezed and you waited.
Violence in the coal mines.

They always told me
La Pasionaría was brave
no pasarán, she said. With her vision
she was defending Madrid’s mountains
they told me and I heard her when
she spoke with that spike of passion
indomitable: she said no pasarán
and in the foothills there were cheers all dressed in black.

Your father I learned took a gun with him
there at the beginning of before
to protect himself at midnight
on the picket lines in the dark
to protect himself from hit men
who hated his vision out west
in the fog in those long flat parking lots .

Low in his left cheek a muscle quivered
within, at the end of a smile that wasn’t.
He took a gun and she went kitten silent on your bed.
The quiet of her heavy sitting
at the beginning of before
reminds me of an old dream,
her telling you of crossing the street
because of the scar on her skin
because she wanted to hide it from all eyes

Was this a mingled message
to fight with all the passion the rains pour
or to scurry away from feeling?
To hold the front line or to flee into a hole?
Camus who believed in solitude as his struggle
And Aragon whose masses were transcendental
Tell, tell me more please before the end is over.

—Linda E. Chown ©2018

Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, aka “La Pasionaria,” a Spanish Republican leader of the Spanish Civil War

Sepia — a poem, a controversy…

Sepia

No matter how much we enlarge it,
that photograph snapped by a German soldier
of my grandmother in Lida, 1916,
remains perfectly clear. Her eyes
register her cold measure
of the soldier who could decide

Lida, 1916 photo

to shoot her instead of her
picture if that
was his hobby
instead of photography.

This is what war
is like – I taste her fear
even though I’m seeing her
now from the eyes
of the oppressor.
And I know the shame of both.

—Karen Alkalay-Gut ©

 


What brought the Israeli poet, Karen Alkalay-Gut, to post this on FaceBook, about the poem above?

Sepia: The poem is about 1916—there were no Nazis back then. By writing the poem about this scene I am doing what the German soldier is doing—taking advantage of the person in a helpless situation without their permission. That’s what the poem is about. Anyone who sees politics in this poem is paranoid. But if some people were hurt by this poem, especially because it was in a place so honorably perpetuating the memories of such persecuted people, I do apologize. —Karen Alkalay-Gut

A controversy led to this statement, of course, based on misreading the poem. The misreading, though, mattered because of the context of where the people that Alkalay-Gut mentions “were hurt by this poem” encountered the poem. The poem appeared in the exhibit “Flashes of Memory – Photography during the Holocaust,” at Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center (Jerusalem, Israel). Although the photograph from the poem came from 1916, and the year appears in the poem, the context suggested to others that it was about a NAZI soldier. And rather than understand that Alkalay-Gut recognized that her own gaze at the helpless Lida, her grandmother, in the 1916 photo formed a kind of oppression (related to something called scopophilia in critical theory), viewers/readers saw in it a criticism of Israel that likened Israelis to NAZIs.

One might agree that a reasonable reading of the poem could be that those who benefit from military oppression are like the soldier who oppresses with his camera in the poem. The soldier had the choice to use a camera or a gun, and that those privileged to be in the class benefitting from soldiers’ guns also have a choice to use cameras or (let others) use a gun. The poet could be seeing her gaze as privileged and potentially oppressive (of her grandmother / grandmother’s memory, of others held at camera-gun point). But the soldier in the poem came from WWI, not from the Holocaust, and that is not a minor distinction.

Another distinction that matters is that Karen Alkalay-Gut lost her family during the Holocaust. She recognized that the hurt that could occur from encountering this poem in this context could be genuine and deep. She responded, as quoted in Israel HaYom newspaper:

“It’s a personal poem, I write from the heart, and it’s not a political poem, despite the fact that there are many ways to read a poem—and it could be read in such a way,” she explained.

“If this poem is hurtful to someone, then it should be removed from the exhibit. I did not mean to offend anyone, heaven forbid. I lost all my family in the Holocaust, and if it offends someone then I have no right to say something else,” she said.

“I think Yad Vashem needs to handle the matter, and if it appears to someone as political and insensitive – the poem must be removed from the exhibit,” she reiterated. —Israel HaYom 

The poem cannot reasonably be read, on its own merits, as comparing Israel to NAZIs. It could be seen as being critical of oppression and military violence. It could be seen as drawing a parallel between the WWI soldier and the poet. On its own merits, yes. The context, however, created a different reading than the poem by itself would. And Israel does not appear in the poem, except if you know Alkalay-Gut is an Israeli living in Tel Aviv.

This is a strong poem, by a strong poet. She does write from the heart, as she says, but she also writes with a sense of justice. This poem is about justice in a very personal way—her grandmother is a victim of the soldier, as the speaker in the poem implies (the presumption is that he is exercising his power over her), and a victim of the poet looking at the photo, many decades later, when the grandmother can no longer say, “No. That is not for you to see. It is private.”

—Michael Dickel

Wild Women in Art, Poetry and Community featuring Gretchen Del Rio’s Art and Victoria Bennett’s “The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be”

Spirit of the Wolf

‘The spirit of the wolf resides in my heart
Mostly peacefully, but ever wild
Running in time to the blowing wind,
Dancing in the clouds that drift in the heavens
The spirit of the wolf resides in my soul.”
– Gretchen Del Rio



The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be

by Victoria Bennett

Snow Owl by Gretchen Del Rio

At twenty-six, I met an owl. It turned out to be one of the axis moments on which my life pivoted. It was a cold January day where frost lingered in the shade but the sun was shining, the kind of day where things seems possible because you have survived the darkness of winter. The trees stood bare of leaves, branch-fingers stretched out expectantly, waiting for Spring. I was waiting too, holding a sense of change quietly behind my eyes. I watched the crows fly, black wings against blue sky, looking for carrion, listened only to the sound of water and wind and some crow caw above. This was what I was trying to remember – the feel of my touch, the scent of the sky, the hopeful warmth of sun just after the midwinter. My life had become so much darkness, so much noise and pollution and not seeing. This was the counterbalance and so far, it was working. Slow, slow days, allowing the words to surface and sound and where words could not come, allowing the brush to paint or the body to move. All was changing. I was changing. The woman I was underneath was beginning to take shape, and to my surprise, I liked her.

But first, the owl. I was stood beside the ash, eyes closed, when I heard a scratch from above. I opened my eyes and saw the owl, white feathers thick for winter, watching me. Awake. Not daring to move, I simply looked and allowed it to look at me, until after a few moments, it flew away. The owl came, and I was listening because I was ready to hear, and I was ready, it seemed, to shift shape again.

One week after the owl and I met, I had a dream. In this dream, I was with a woman walking along the river. She told me I was to call the Wild Women together. This did not seem strange or unusually prophetic. I had found a deep resonance with the stories I had found in the Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ book Women Who Run with the Wolves and so the archetype of the Wild Woman was something I was familiar with, but the sense of purpose was surprising, and so, the next morning I got up and started to write the posters for what was to be the very first of the Wild Women workshops.

“The reason that people awaken is because they finally stop agreeing to things that insult their soul.” Gretchen Del Rio

Six weeks later, I stood in my living room, the fire in the stove burning and the tea hot in the pot. Before me sat twelve women, very different in ages and styles, but all sharing something special: they had all responded to the call. And so it came to be, the Wild Women group was born and I was to be their mother-wolf for this journey. As I stood there, faced with women whose individual and collective ages outstripped my own, I felt petrified. Who was I to stand here and say “this is the way of being woman”? Yet, that is exactly what I was to do. I did not know where it would take us, take me. I was just willing to begin, brave enough to speak out and hopeful enough to believe.

‘”Welcome…”

… and in that one word, I started something that would sustain me through my twenties, thirties and into my forties. I had met my clan. Together, we found the courage to stand up and say, “This is who I am…”.

That was nearly twenty years ago. Since then, working with the Wild Women, I have gone on to set up Wild Women Press, published several books of poetry from the group, worked with over 2000 women (and some brave men) on a number of amazing projects, hosted the (in)famous Wild Women Salons, made creative connections around the globe, and performed live at events around the UK and USA. It is a space of celebration and activism. There is no business plan or professional career path. It can lie dormant, hibernating as we nuzzle down and grow our ideas in the dark, or it can awake with passion and create for change on a global scale. We have used our creativity to create positive change, to be part of the world we want to live in andleave for those who follow. Sometimes we act on a very local level, sometimes on a global one.

Recently, I have been collaborating with the creators of the #MeToo poetry anthology. This is a very important movement for me personally, and for us as a group. As soon as I heard Deborah Alma was wanting to put together an anthology of poems from this movement, I offered my support, and the platform of Wild Women Press. It was obvious from the very beginning that there would be many more poems than there were pages in the book, and so #UsTogether was created, to give a platform for some of these other voices. Alongside the launch of the book, Wild Women Press are hosting a selection of these poems, in honour and celebration of the courage and sisterhood of all those who have spoken out as part of the #MeToo movement.

One of the core aspects of the group is the respect and celebration of each individual woman. Although in the beginning it was me who stood at the front of the room, every woman in the group was to go on to inspire and lead, using their own experiences, passions, talents, and knowledge to guide them in how they would to do that. In a similar vein, we will be launching an online Wild Women Press blog later in 2018, sharing our ideas and perspectives. Over the next year, we will be gathering Wild Women from around the globe to contribute, extending our circle of clan further. We would love to hear from other women, who would like to be part of a clan of contributors. If you are passionate about something, and would like to be part of a global group of Wild Women writing, creating, and being part of a positive change, please do get in touch.

In 2019, it will be our 20th Anniversary, and 20 years since we published our first book, Howl at the Moon: Writings By Wild Women. To celebrate this, we will be publishing a new book of poems by Wild Women – and this time, we are extending the howl out to others. We will be putting out the call for submissions soon, on our website, Twitter, and Facebook page.

For now, we continue to meet as a group every couple of months, and once a year, we spend four days at our Wild Women Gathering, celebrating, creating, and sharing our stories (and eating way too much food). We have witnessed births, marriages, divorces, unemployment, career changes, graduations, new beginnings, and painful goodbyes. What began as a workshop group, has become a place we now call home, and a wild family. You can sometimes find us on the fells or beside fires. We howl often, laugh lots, and when prompted, bare our teeth. Our coats are all a little more silver, and our eyes a little more wise, but we are still discovering. We are the Wild Women, and we welcome you.

Victoria Bennett
Founder, Wild Women Press

http://www.wildwomenpress.com
@wildwomenpress
https://www.facebook.com/wildwomenpress/

© 2018, “The Howl or How Wild Women Press Came to Be” and the wild-women word-heart illustration, Victoria Bennett, All rights reserved; 2011 and 2018, water color paintings, Gretchen Del Rio, All rights reserved

Poet, publisher, activist and wild woman, Victoria Bennet

VICTORIA BENNET (Wild Woman Press) is an award-winning poet, creative activist and full-time home-educating Wild Mama to her son, Django. Originating from the borderlands below Scotland, she is the Founder of Wild Women Press and has spent the last quarter of a century instigating creative experiences in her community. Her poetry has appeared in print, online and even in the popular video game, Minecraft. She has published four collections and performed live across the UK, from Glastonbury Festival to a Franciscan Convent.

Poetry publications include:
Anchoring the Light
Fragile Bodies
Fragments
Byron Makes His Bed
My Mother’s House – a Poetry & Minecraft Collaboration with Adam Clarke, that explores grief and letting go

What We Now Know – digital VR music collaboration with Adam Clarke and The Bookshop Band, inspired by the #MeToo anthology



angel300-c12182011© Gretchen Del Rio


HER POWER LEAPS

she’s present

returned to bite through the umbilical of tradition,
to flick her tongue
and cut loose the animus-god of our parents,
like a panther she roams the earth, she is eve wild in the night,
freeing minds from hard shells
and hearts from the confines of their cages,
she’s entwined in the woodlands of our psyches
and offers her silken locks to the sacred forests of our souls ~
naked but for her righteousness,
she stands in primal light,
in the untrammeled river of dreams
the yin to balance yang
the cup of peace to uncross the swords of war ~
through the eons she’s been waiting for her time
her quiet numinosity hiding in the phenomenal world,
in the cyclical renewal of mother earth,
whispering to us in the silver intuition of grandmother moon
watching us as the loving vigilance of a warming sun ~
she, omen of peace birthed out of the dark,
even as tradition tries to block her return,
her power leaps from the cleavage of time

© Jamie Dedes


Gretchen Del Rio

Illustration ~ the lovely watercolor painting by Gretchen Del Rio with its girl-tree, panther and other spirit animals was the inspiration for my poem, Her Power Leaps, on the return of the divine feminine. The back-story on the painting is interesting. Gretchen says, “I painted this for a fourteen year old Navaho girl. It is for her protection and her power. She sees auras and is very disturbed by this. She is just amazing. Beauty beyond any words. You can see into the soul of the universe when you look at her eyes. She has no idea. I loved her the moment I saw her. My blessings for her well being are woven into the art.” Such a delightful piece. I purposely posted it full-size so that everyone can enjoy the detail. Bravo, Gretchen, and thank you. / Jamie Dedes

©2011, water color painting; Gretchen Del Rio, All rights reserved; 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved.

– originally published on The Poet by Day

a man, a woman and a stick

(1921)

the stick stood in the corner of the kitchen
a constant threat; stoking, as it was meant to,
chronic intimidation

he had a man’s right to deliver his blows
to vent his anger and his self-contempt
to cause suffering for the insufferable

someone had to make it up to him,
his loss-of-face to race, creed and poverty

for her part, eve’s daughter was ripe,
shamed by her intrinsic sinfulness,
worn by her constant pregnancies

her femininity: tired and task-bound,
guilt flowing freely, as all-consuming as lava

[relief, only in death]

and the seventh child was born to die
and the man was demanding his bread

she wrapped the girl in swaddling cloth,
placed her gently by the stove, and
while the newborn made busy with dying,
the woman prepared him his meal
(2)_Cycle_of_abuse,_power_&_control_issues_in_domestic_abuse_situations

© 2015, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; illustration source is the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence 

Hell Prefers Unaware

I store sorrow seeds and bitter roots
in gold jars where memory breaks
their pain into parables I’ve risen from.

Hell prefers the unaware, the wound
and not the scar, but the candle of my spirit
has been formed from match strikes at midnight.

My childhood stolen by hands of harm
caused me to swim silently in a river of threats
until trust carried my voice to freedom.

I reject brutality’s attempts to pour me into a victim’s mold
or chain me to the barbed wire of ghosts.
I am a survivor resurrected whole from affliction.

© 2018, Susie Clevenger

April 13, 2018:

I’m on my way home from the Lucidity poetry conference. I learned a lot from fellow poets and from Nathan Brown. I highly recommend if you have a chance to go to one of Nathan Brown’s workshops, do it! He teaches through music, storytelling, and poetry reading.
As per one of the requirements I wrote a poem for Lucidity‘s Annual poetry contest. At the time I didn’t know why I was being led to write such a personal poem about abuse. When the awards were given out it earned an honorable mention. As with anyone who enters a contest the hope is to win. I was disappointed but stood up to read the poem not expecting to be emotional. I felt a bit overwhelmed but managed to read it and then sat down. After the ceremony a man came up to me in tears. He thanked me for being brave enough to write it and to read it. He said he was going home to tell his daughter about it. He said she had suffered abuse and he thought it would speak to her, help her. I leaned over to the table picked up the poem handed it to him,and told him to give it to her. He wrapped his arms around me and we cried together. I then knew my reason for writing it and my reason for reading it. Susie

Evil Ones

Will we be able to tell
that there were those
who killed the future?

In the roar of the shots,
we try to whisper life.

The eyes speak only with silence:
we are afraid of death.

Life is
– trembling.
Despite all this
it is hope for another
– smile of chance.

Perhaps because of it
the evil ones
will not hear our silence?

Translated by Artur Komoter

© 2018, Eliza Segiet

Źli

Czy zdołamy opowiedzieć,
że byli tacy,
którzy zabijali przyszłość?

W huku wystrzałów,
próbujemy wyszeptać życie.

Oczy mówią już tylko milczeniem:
– boimy się śmierci.

Życie jest
– drżeniem.
Pomimo wszystko
to nadzieja na kolejny
– uśmiech przypadku.

Być może dzięki niemu
źli
nie usłyszą naszego milczenia?

Species Sustainability

our young are our future a crop we manage
birthing, raising, loving, shielding
until we release them to fruit in the world.

For they are the future of country and culture
planning, learning, loving, caring,
and carrying our lives, values on when we’re gone.

We share these values across the globe’s nations
whatever our colour, creed or nation
we strive for home and sustain our families,

no matter whether a beggar in rags, or rich as Croesus
for gold is but metal as Midas found
when bread and wine turned to gold he couldn’t drink.

Who hears the children afraid to go to school?
Scythed in their youth by the boy with gun
or broken and blasted by a tyrant’s bomb.

They are the crop that fell on hard ground
taken by birds of greed, war, ignorance
to favour the harlot of hatred and fear

she walks down the street with sympathy’s
flag and gun in a belt or bag
but the children are dead and the coffins parade.

© 2018, Carolyn O’Connell

Gifts to the Poet’s Newborn Child

I bring you time
wide, unbridled,
seamless as seas;
the fragile vee
of fledgling’s beak;
the solidness of shapes:
oak, tower block, petrol pump;
a coupling, tripling,
quadrupling of souls;-,
the still small pureness
of alone;
of colours, every one;
an ample mixing palette,
deftness of touch to conjure
your own shades.

An ear tuned
to the furthest whisper
of the furthest corner
of all your life might hold,
and every decibel step
and variation from this
to the loudest brain roar;
a hundred eyes to sperm
innumerable words;
the knowledge-gift
and mystery of saying
all you need to say
in one, or two

© 2018, Patricia Leighton

Life Eternal

ladybirds, beetles and bugs
worms and platoons
of white maggots
with bluebottle generals in charge
turned the corpse
inside out
upside down
and bit by bit
spirit eased itself free
of tissue remnants and bones

squeezed between stones
until it stood proud of the earth
an aura of wishes still clinging
wondering why it felt
so lost, so alone
wondering

© 2018, Patricia Leighton

Climate Changes

Time walks the hills in different measure these days:

pale wood anemones birth early and bluebell spears

thrust up with frost-thoughts hardly buried.

June stitchwort blooms in May and ‘eggs-and-bacon’

runs through grass like kindergarten children

released before the bell.   Stark heather

colours the hill tops long and late;  November,

and the rowans have barely turned.

 

The wind is in my face and my throat churns

with an uneasiness that’s hard to explain.

So long I’ve walked through seasons trusting

time’s rhythms, stepping out the days.

Changes are subtle but I know I, too,

no longer measure time as I once did.

 

Searching for rhyme or reason clouds the head.

Better, perhaps, to savour it as it is.

I’ll hug the cold, draw breath, watch berries drop.

If they drop late, I’ll live in hope of early

snowdrops laced along the lane

and being there in time.

© 2018, Patricia Leighton

Clear the Brush

c Mike DeMarco

Ah, but let us show you how to live!

We own in full what we have,

And we never long for Friday.

For Friday is just like Monday,

A blessing.

Oh we of little frame,

Fit fine, stand tall in the cracks of trees.

Sprawled upon the grasses.

The hot springs steeps our tea,

We leave no carbon footprint,

For we tiptoe on little feet.

I place a flower in my ear,

And your hand in mine.

For I’d flutter into waterfalls

If a daydream grows to thick,

And you softly squeeze it.

For you would never speak of ladybugs,

Or humming birds in common conversation.

Never starving artist, for we feast on what our father has made

Infinite of beauty.

This poem is about my reaction to the protest and gufaws at the die hard simplicity my husband and I attempt to maintain. Green is in but sadly simple joy and the appreciation of nature, human experiences and connection is not. So, if you see a petite, brown skinned cellist busking on a street corner near you, give her a hug. If it is not me, I am sure she won’t mind. If she does…it will give you something to write about.

© 2018, Ursula Jacobs

When NASA Finishes Mining & Carbon Footprint

When NASA Finishes Mining

There used to be craters on the moon, now the moon is a crater. Carved out, mined of all its juices, it remains derelict. Too light to continue to orbit: it just hangs, skeletal and listless. Unable to wax or wane, its cycle broken.

Tidal-confusion grips the ocean below. Trapped, neither flowing in nor out, unable to turn yet trying to. Turning itself one way, then the next, like an uncomfortable sleeper, too hot inside its own shape.
I sit, bare-footed, on night-dewed grass, sniffing out the hot-salt of the ocean that cannot rest, the orange-rind moon above. I too am neither one thing, nor another. I whisper to the blades of grass, tap on the earth, and wait for the flowers that will never come.

Carbon Footprint

In my lifespan,
so far reaching 22 years,
I have owned 3 computers,
3 games consoles (despite the fact I don’t really use them)
and 3 mobile phones,
the first of which would have lasted forever, but,
in a freak accident my dad ran his car over it.
I can’t drive, but I did have a moped –
but I crashed twice and got rid.
I have voted in 1 election – (you made me)
but I won’t say who for. (Yellow)
I can ride a bike, swim (just about), speak French
and have that crazy allele that lets me roll up my tongue.
I have drank 0 cups of tea, smoked 0 cigarettes –
the only nail polish I own is black.
I have eaten:
1516 Apples
1232 Loaves of Bread
243 tins of Baked Beans
3125 Carrots
669 kilos of Spuds
181 kilograms of Chocolate (mostly without you)
and 345 Chickens.
I have bought over 2000 books,
borrowed over 3000
and never returned at least 5 (one’s yours, I’m sorry).
I have spoken 32,301,600 words
written nearly as many,
but lost most of them in workshop.
I have had 30,025 dreams,
most of which were nightmares,
some in black and white,
some sound-only, (but always your voice)
and some so real – they remain
like false memories –
when I wake up the next morning.
I have blinked 119,376,303 times,
walked over 4450 miles,
cried 34 pints of tears (25 pints were for you),
shed 588 skins (but for you I haven’t changed once),
experienced over 834,200,000 heartbeats,
I have lost my virginity once,
had sex with one person,
and (I think you should know this)
have only ever fallen in love once.

© 2018, Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe

Sustainability Should Be Our Creed

I think it’s now generally agreed

Sustainability should be our creed

Not this endless slash-and-burn destruction

That mentality comes from self-centred greed.

There isn’t any defining definition

Much more could be done, in a coalition.

If we could bring about some lasting change

Some balanced ideas, sweeping in exchange

On some universal scale the world

This blue planet could be, better sustained

For all…We mustn’t ever be, deterred

Coz-any-meaningful-outcome is hard earned.

We need to meet the needs of the future

Who amongst us here isn’t a wrongdoer?

All our thinking needs to change at some point

Who amongst here hasn’t been a polluter?

Each man, woman and child should be employed

Surely we don’t want to disappoint.

Shouldn’t our children, children’s existence

Be better or equal in ecosystems

How can we make a difference ourselves?

Listening to all the statisticians

Wows, scary, please give it your best attempts

No longer close your eyes in pretence.

Overpopulated are our societies

Side by side spreading untold anxieties

Our global footprint isn’t it a crushing weight

We must look at our own, improprieties

Decide how we’re going to change this fate

… Else just drift till it’s all just, too late.

© 2018, Mark Andrew Heathcote

Gertrude’s Poem

To name a purple flower—hubris;
To call red a rose.
A rose is a rose is a rose,
She said.
The fruit of purple.
So like an apple—
so unlike an apple—
poison to eat.
—Sodom’s apple
milkweed—
A rash thought that
blisters my skin.
A rose is a rose is a rose,
She said.

—Michael Dickel
©2018

Sodom's Apple Ein Fascha (near the Dead Sea) photographs ©2018 Michael Dickel
Sodom Apple [1]
Ein Fascha
(near the Dead Sea)
photographs ©2018 Michael Dickel

[1] Calotropis procera, a milkweed native to the Dead Sea and Sodom, Israel and other desert regions” (Wikipedia). Known also as Apple of Sodom.

Which is also the title of a Marilyn Manson song written for a David Lynch film, Lost Highway (warning: strong images in this YouTube music video of the Marilyn Manson song):


This poem originally appeared on Instagram, in an earlier version.

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
in wind or burns
off in fires. Glaciers
wear down what remains.
Everything known is now
extinct. Only new forms
emerge, scathed and
transformed from death
by cancerous greed—
into a fallen grace.

—Michael Dickel
©2018

Shekinah III: My beloved whispers in my ear

And these words, which I command thee with this day, shall be upon thy heart…
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets before thine eyes.

—Deut. VI:6, 8

I.
My beloved whispers in my ear; she reveals herself to me—
her Words, jewels upon my breast, upon my hand, upon my forehead.
When my beloved walks in the field, the heron flies up with cackling praise;
she inspires the crane to laugh as it rises into the sky; the swallows dance for her.
I have come and gone with uncertainty and doubt; but my beloved inspires constancy:
Though in times of drought the hill dries out, the hollows hide some mud, remembering.
My beloved brings rain into the high, parched fields that have forgotten her;
she walks among the swaths and sheds her tears for each cut stalk.
The hollows swell with water to quench the beasts and grow the iris;
my beloved reflects their grace as they mirror the sky among the grasses.

II.
The storm was terrible: the thunder rumbled long in the night; the lightning terrified;
a wind blew through the window of the house and tapped upon the walls.
Yet, my beloved whispered in my ear and I wore her words like jewels.
In her arms I rested as the fields drank deeply, the dry holes filled with sweet water.
In the dark I am drawn to my beloved; she is even more glorious in the light:
She is a stand of gentian unexpectedly found near the edge of the willow.
An eagle flies above the goldenrod and pines; I know my beloved thinks of me.
The thought of my beloved eases my burden as I toil on the road to her house:
Her kisses, sweeter than blueberries freshly picked, inspire acorns to rise toward the sky;
her caresses provide strength to the birch, the aspen, the maple, the oak, but also to grasses.

III.
I hold my love; she holds me. I have studied her in the willow, the iris, the thistle:
finches, warblers, and wrens feed and live in her shelter, so my love feeds and shelters me.
The oats have been cut, the hay rolled and stored for the winter.
My love comes to me and whispers in my ear; she reveals herself to me.
The geese gather and call, flying over the trees, landing in the pond:
my love sighs and the grasses bend; the aspens sigh and my love bends to me.
Her kisses build the temple; her love holds me and I heal:
My beloved is mine, I am hers. She points to the flowers off the path:
small white bells, tiny blue trumpets, vetches, paintbrush; I don’t know all the names.
My beloved knows the Names of the Flowers; she whispers them to me: I embrace her.

—Michael Dickel
©1999


Hebrew

עברות


  :III שכינה
אהובתי לוחשת לי באוזן


והיו הדברים האלה, אשר אנוכי מצווך היום– על לבבך… וקשרת לאות, על ידיך; והיו לטופפות בין עיניך

-ספר דברים, פרק;, פסוקים ו’-ח;



I.
אהובתי לוחשת לי באוזן; היא נגלת אלי-
מילותיה, תכשיטים על חזי, על ידי ועל מצחי.
כשאהובתי פוסעת בשדה, הענפה אצה מקרקרת תשבוחות:
לעגור היא נותנת השראה לצחוק במעופו אל השמיים; הסנוניות רוקדות עבורה.
באתי והלכתי עם ספק וחוסר ודאות: אולם אהובתי משרה השראה בלי הפסקה:
גם אם בשעת בצורת הגבעה מתייבשת; הנקיקים מחביאים קצת בוץ, זוכרים.
אהובתי מביאה גשמים אל הגבהים, אל שדות קמלים אשר אותה שוכחים;
היא מהלכת בין האלומות ומזילה דמעות על כל גבעול שנגדע.
הנקיקים מתרחבים ממים שמרווים את החיות ואת משקים ומצמיחים את האירוס;
אהובתי בבואה לחֵינם באותה מידה שהם משקפים את השמיים בין הדשאים.

II.
הסערה היתה נוראית: הרעם הרעים לאורך הלילה; הברקים הבהילו;
הרוח נשב מבעד לחלון ונקש על הקירות.
אבל עדיין, אהובתי לחשה לי באוזן ואני לבשתי את המילים שלה כמו תכשיטים.
נח בזרועותיה בעוד השדות בשקיקה שותים, הנקיקים היבשים במים מתוקים מתמלאים.
בחסות החושך אני נמשך אל אהובתי ובאור היא אפילו עוד יותר מופלאה:
היא גבעול גנציאן סגול הנמצא במפתיע בפאתי הערבה.
נשר חג מעל האורנים ושיחי שרביט הזהב הצהובים; אני יודע שאהובתי עלי חושבת.
המחשבה על אהובתי מקלה על המשא שלי בעוד אני עומל לעשות אל ביתה את דרכי:
נשיקותיה, מתוקות מאוכמניות טריות, מעוררות השראה באיצטרובלים להתעלות מעלה אל רקיע;
ליטופיה כוח נונתים לליבנה, לצפצפה, למייפל, לאלון אבל גם לעשב.

III.
אני מחזיק את אהובתי; היא מחזיקה אותי. למדתי אותה בערבה, באיריס, בחוח:
פרושים, גדרונים וסכבים ניזונים ובמקלטה חיים, ככה אהובתי מאכילה ועלי מגנה.
שיבולת השועל נחרשה, עובדה ואוחסנה לימות החורף.
אהובתי אלי ניגשה ולי באוזן לוחשת; היא מגלה עצמה בעבורי.
האווזים מתאספים וקוראים, עפים מעל העצים, באגם נוחתים:
אהובתי נאנחת והאווזים רוכנים; הצפצפה נאנחת ואהובתי רוכנת לעברי.
נשיקותיה בונות את המקדש; אהבתה אוחזת בי ואני מחלים:
אהובתי שייכת לי ואני לה. היא מצביעה לעבר הפרחים לצד הדרך:
פעמונים קטנים לבנים, חצוצרות זעירות כחולות; מברשות, מטפסים; אני לא מכיר את כל השמות.
אהובתי יודעת את שמות הפרחים; היא לוחשת לי אותם; אני אותה מחבק.

—מיכאל דקל

תרגום לעברית: גילי חיימוביץ’
2018©

Hebrew translation by Gili Haimovich
©2018


The English original was published in Midwest / Mid-East
and in Diogen pro kultura magazin / pro culture magazine.

Crossing the Great Divide

Arctic Desert at the Trig
Photo: John Anstie

In reading that word – sustainability – cradling the head of our current Guide Dog puppy in my hands, her deeply pleading eyes looking up at me, I am reminded that this word not only describes what we at The BeZine – and indeed many, many more people around the world – more commonly come to understand of its meaning.

I have hitherto thought of sustainability as the fundamental process, nay philosophy, that needs to be adopted in order for the Earth to continue providing for all the life that inhabits it. But it also reflects human behaviour; it expects a certain attitude; it assumes that an essential ingredient to the achievement of a sustainable World is that the human beings, who inhabit the Earth become determined to adopt a way of life that is … well, sustainable!

It is an unfortunate character of the human condition that it is not until we lose someone that we become much more conscious of their value to our own life. It seems, whilst they are still around, that we prefer to focus more on their faults and shortcomings than on their virtues and strengths. We are even more prepared to abuse or betray their trust, than to respect them. So too, our Mother Earth.

As I regularly drive the roads around us, particularly the lanes of the beautiful countryside that surrounds us here in Yorkshire, I am reminded also of one of those human faults, anxiety, and of all the consequences of that condition: stress, impatience, fear, anger, aggression, depression. All too often, when I glance in my rear view mirror, I see another car race up behind me and sit so close to my rear bumper that I can’t see their number plate; at speeds and in situations in which it would be lunacy to contemplate overtaking. It is as if they are tempting me to yield, give in, pull over into a ditch and let them pass … and claim me as another victim! It isn’t necessarily that, I know, but it feels like that and, even in my advancing years, with the wisdom and insight of the road that I’ve gained in fifty years of driving, along with lowered testosterone levels, I sometimes feel like retaliating … and we all know how that could turn out.

The Dalai Lama it was, who attributed anxiety or agitation as the root of all conflict in the World. There is no doubt that he is right. Yes, I hear the academics, anthropologists, psychologists and any number of other -ologists, state the obvious, that Darwinian principles of evolution and survival in the animal kingdoms, of which human is one, dictate this behaviour. Our base instincts are therefore not to respect any forms of life outside our own sphere, outside our immediate survival zone; to consider them a threat to our survival.

… Really?

We are beyond this, surely, aren’t we? Can’t we exert more control over our behaviours, or are we simply hopeless victims of our own psyche; our individual intractable personality. For many in the Western World, the need to survive, to subsist on what our local environment can provide us, has long since turned into higher and higher material expectations. Each generation starts with more, but wants still more than the previous generation. Our survival instincts have turned into greed; at the expence of those on the margins, particularly in the overexploited so-called Third World. Are these expectations a consequence of some out of control unconscious driving forces within us, or could we re-educate ourselves. I believe the answer for some, sadly, is ‘no’. For others it would be ‘yes’.

I contend that the World could continue to support all life, even with its currently burgeoning (human) population. If only we were able to overcome our unreasonable expectations, there is one overriding benefit that could accrue from vanquishing our own greed … we could begin to feel what it is like to live with less poverty in the world, and less debt; less personal debt; less corporate debt; less national debt. Currently the only way Western governments can see to pay off the latter, is growth, economic growth, which has become the unquestioned Demi-God of economic and political policy objectives; growth is, I believe, a largely misunderstood, overused and abused tool of political rhetoric. This is, unfortunately, a vicious circle. I’ve heard growth described as a means of servicing our national debt. Long term, this does not make economic sense and surely cannot be sustainable!

So, what are we to do? Save more? Conserve our resources, however modest they may be? Adjust our expectations and those of our children? Their generation and the ones that follow, will otherwise only continue this roller coaster of a suicidal ride into debt and debt slavery; a World in which the super wealthy few have more and more control over the increasingly debt-ridden many. Freedom from debt, however you achieve it, whatever the cost to your expectations, your dreams, has to provide the way to a more sustainable World, and …

It. Is. Liberating.

Otherwise, our greatest and only means of survival, our patient and beautiful Mother Earth, will expel us, rich and poor, forever, and no-one will inherit anything! Space exploration to find a new life sustaining planet somewhere out there in the vastness, is pure fantasy … and vanity!

What can be done to reduce your anxiety? A starting point for me is to have a hug with your best friend, be they human … or puppy dog.

IMG_0098
Photo: Barbara Anstie. Creative edit: Dave Anstie

The Great Divide

Crossing the great divide
between the dark age
and a brave new world,
sailing from the safety
of knowing your place
into uncharted waters.
In a deep and sickly swell,
an ocean of uncertainty,
struggling to recall
the purpose of the mission
for control of life, of lives,
and death by ownership.

From a certain time when
the have-nots had not
to one in which they have
a chance to trade their life
for aspiration, for riches,
for stuff and things,
for dukes and knights,
for castles and kings,
in suits that shine
with lights and bling,
but didn’t see the price
they’d have to pay.

Rivers flow with mighty force,
and carry away the memory
in a flood of whys, for what
and where will this all end?
Where are we now,
where will we be …

may be Utopia, the place of dreams
that while away our wild ambitious schemes?

We fail, as long as we can feel the pain
of having less than someone else’s gain.

Or we, by virtue of the coin’s toss,
have more by far than someone else’s loss.

~~~~

© 2018 John Anstie

All rights reserved

Dreams of Wolf Creek, Kansas

The Wolf River, Kansas by Albert Bierstadt, c. 1859

I sometimes dream of eastern Kansas,
in those days before the wars,
when the white men fought each other
to be the right men behind the doors,
deciding the lives of men red and black,
to remain the preeminent beast,
over this land he said God was his alone,
from the left coast to the east.

I think of the man in the village,
sitting on the bluff above Wolf Creek,
and how once he ruled wherever he stood,
a wandering Pawnee being anything but meek.
And I know his time is passing,
his wandering no more his choice.
Soon the white man will fight everyone
over the black man who still had no voice.

In my dream the lodges moved westward,
if they ever moved at all.
Because illness, greed and the great lord God
seemingly turned on the Pawnee, Otoe and Kaw.
And that’s why I dream of eastern Kansas
in those days before the wars,
because a native man might still call his own
his land, his freedom and his lores.

Free-write rhyming thing, an exercise I tried to get the juices flowing. For whatever reason, the name William Stafford and the words “Lawrence, Kansas” kept clanging in my head. I searched for some art that might help stimulate some creative spark and found that picture by Albert Bierstadt of Wolf River in Kansas, circa 1859. Then I let loose the reins and my claybank muse cantered me here.

© 2018, Joseph Hesch

Moon Child

Once in a while you excel yourself.
Are you blue, because we thought no more of you
as the driving force for life on Earth
or potency behind the waves of bitches and whelps
Thrilling moments … or contemplative
of a thriving, muddy, salty, riverine universe of life
waiting for you to draw the pelagic
covers repeatedly over the fruits of sustenance.

A force of nature, fully formed
yet so much smaller than the mother of your birth,
you hold sway, in countless ways
you touch our lives and drive us through our days.
Humble, unassuming, even unnoticed
by those who hurtle, mindlessly, and make no time
for the wisdom of our insignificance
or feel the difference between our age and yours.

As necessity tramples over truth
most days, we hide in fear of the darkening,
of the madness that ensues.
Does not the hunter choose your waning dark
to spike the nervous memory,
and remind us of the untamed wolf pack?
We may not ever tame you
but your mother is dying a slow and painful death.

Oh super blood blue moon,
does not your God and our God sing the same tune?

© 2018 John Anstie