…is a painter, teacher and artist who writes poetry. From an early age she began journaling. The words soon became poetry and part her paintings. She embosses the words into the paint. Ms. Chai has exhibited in Detroit, New York, Tel Aviv and various Kibbutzim, in group and solo exhibitions.
Shira is a member of Kibbutz Ein Dor since 1983. In 1980 Shira made Aliyah with her husband, Michael and a group of Americans to Ein Dor ‘Garin Ein Dor’. She is the mother of two daughters and a proud grandmother.
In 1982 the kibbutz divided an old chicken coop into studios for the resident artists. The kibbutz renamed the building the ‘Artists Chicken Coop’. There among the cows, horses and chickens is her studio for 40 years.
Between 1972 and75, she participated in the Writers Workshop of Judith McCombs (a published author and poet, ‘The Habit of Fire’).
Shira Chai published poetry in ARC 25 and 26 journals of IAWE (Israeli Association of Writers in English.
Grant me the freedom to speak to my GOD
Grant me the grace to accept
Grant me the knowledge to realize my strengths
Grant me the power to use them
Grant me the capacity to accept my frailties
Grant me the expertise to deal with them
Grant me the awareness of Nature’s bounty
Grant me the insight to appreciate all the
perfection around me
Grant me humility in all that I do
Grant me the flair to bestow compassion without pity
Grant me generosity towards those around me
Grant me the strength to have enough to give
Grant me the right to be who I am
Grant me the independence of self
Grant me unconditional love.
…was born in Johannesburg, lived in Durban, and now lives in Port Elizabeth. She won of the “Hilde Slinger” cup for poetry in 2009 and again in 2013, and the “Fay Goldie” cup for General Success in the World of Publishing in 2011, both from the South African Writers” Circle. Nine of her poems were published in “Signatures” an anthology of Women’s poetry (2008), and shre represented “Live Poets’ Society” in “Poetry Africa” that same year. In 2006, “A Scorpion Sings,” her first anthology, appeared. Other anthologies published between 2006 and 2015 are: “Count Catula of Shadoland & Friends,” “A Peace of Me.” and “A Scorpion Sings Again.”
Such strange vessels, you and I,
with more than enough inside
to pour, if not overflow, but only
the smallest of openings with which to fill.
I know this because we’ve each tried
to fill others, even one another,
yet hunch our shoulders when such blessings
fall upon us, as if shrinking
from some fearsome storm.
Perhaps it’s best that we’ve always
gently shared these feelings with each other.
Not wasting what we hold so dear
in some great rush, but with the tenderness
of a mist caressing our cheeks.
And now free to feel the soft joys
of receiving as well as giving each other's love.
…is a writer and poet from Albany, New York. His work appears or is forthcoming in over a dozen venues, including Cossack Review, Frontier Tales Magazine, Pine Hills Review, the 2017 Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology, as well as the anthologies Petrichor Rising and For the Love of Christmas. His poetry collections, “Penumbra: The Space Between” and “One Hundred Beats a Minute” are available on Amazon.com. He’s currently working on his first collection of stories, all based on his fascination with the American frontier, whether it’s upstate New York in the 17th and 18th Centuries or the Nebraska plains and Arizona deserts of the 19th.
On my worst days,
I forget what I sound like
I don’t know my own voice.
I look in the mirror
I have never seen that stranger before.
On my worst days,
You are my enemy,
Your olive branch is a nightstick
Your words are
And I live in a ghost town
With a swinging door the only noise.
On my worst days,
It is cold outside
And my second toe on my left foot is bright
From all the blood
Going toward my heart
Just to keep it beating.
On my worst days,
I pray I am not numb,
I hope for a tear,
A furrowed brow
So I know I am still alive.
The song is always being sung.
The rhythm is always beckoning.
But still I choose the drone
Because the drone pays my bills
The drone is annoyingly steady.
I choose the white noise
Of doom scrolling
Awareness causing me to go numb
I care so much
And feel so helpless
It is only when a rhythm breaks my trance
When my eyes move to what my ears receive.
When I am breathing to live
And I am finally free.
On my best days,
I am human,
I am glorious,
I am kind.
On my best days,
I breathe fire to light candles
I sing songs into spatulas
I fly to the next task
I breathe in.
On my best days,
I can see you
I hold you in my arms.
And invite you to dance with me.
On my best days,
I can give and receive.
I author my own story.
Thoughts are like clouds.
I can hold all paradox.
On my best days,
Justice is my drink of choice.
And mercy is my cup.
I can keep time
And don’t want to at all.
I feel each step move through me.
And there are days somewhere in the middle
Where the bubbles from my dish-washing are rainbows
And the fabric of my quilt sings history
Where the trees are cheering in sign language
And I am a buoy for my friends,
Never sinking, but still being tossed a bit.
We call these days mundane,
And they are
Of the world, deeply human,
Dipping upward to the songs of angels,
As humans are prone to do.
The every-days drone
With stabilizing force
For a moving and changing lyric
Which is still twirling when I sleep
And my deep breathing joins the refrain.
I see the world in hues
Rather than binaries
My sight is synesthetic.
And there are moments of stillness.
And the every-day is redeemed
Like I am.
If you continue to play your toxic positivity at 120 decibels,
Let me dive down deep
Where the bass notes
Fill my chest,
And my heartbeat wakes me up
To the liturgical rhythm
…is an ordained Minister in the PC (USA) from Austin, Texas. Her Doctor of Ministry dissertation is O Christ Surround Me: A Study in Mundane Liturgy. Krystal has worked as a campus minister and pastoral fellow for social justice and advocacy. She is currently the Assistant Director at the Hope Children’s Center, directing an after-school program. She loves spending time with her husband and daughters, and writing her own everyday liturgies.
Roll on, dark blue sea
Dash along surfaces of the deep
Browse upon verges of pasture
From the quiet intensity of the inaugural harp
to the energetic finale of the horn
Dancers take hands, go round twice,
then back again
Now turn, now repeat, arms and all,
leading forward, then leading back
Roll on until loud voices go soft,
until silence descends
on the organ grinder, the street preacher,
the medicine man
Roll on as the mouth is pursed,
the tongue is shown
and one or both lips are drawn over the teeth
Roll, as another noun phrase is born from a noun
and leaves re-arrange themselves on plant stems
based on this equation or that equation
despite vague movements to the contrary
Continue to roll on though a man falls
into a cranny and finds there’s nothing he can do
to help himself
Writing about people’s hardship
living in primitive conditions
dealing with the lack of drinking water
here somewhere on the planet
or for people’s sorrow
and their replacement by robots
those serving in a Tea Ceremony
somewhere on the planet.
I find myself in the middle
that the first is being forgotten
whilst for the second,
I dare not to think for now
they (robots) dance in my head.
I play here on the computer
the game “AGE OF EMPIRE”
The creator of humanity!
According to Stephen Hawking
Out of nowhere a black hole appeared,
Sucked everything in itself,
Then remained a stain in nowhere!
The time when people believed they could fly!
One man woke up from sleep
I can fly!
Believed him did a lot of others who said
We can fly too!
Then one who was rubbing his eyes
so why aren't you flying?
…is a well-known poet from Ferizaj, Kosovo, writing in his mother-tongue, Albanian. He was born in 9 March 1968 in Pristina. He is the former manager and leader of “De Rada,” a literary association, from 2012 until 2018, and also the representative of Kosovo to the 100 TPC organization. In addition to poems, he also writes short stories, essays, literary reviews, traveltales, etc. Faruk Buzhala is an organizer and manager of many events in Ferizaj. His poems have been translated to English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Croatian and Chinese, and are published in anthologies.
A muddled matrix: coffins; coal; trees; and appreciating the view
Models, standards, examples,
appearances and molds?
A glue or a paste
reminiscent of porridge
or eating gruel to allay one’s
Timber may be associated with
withering and dying
or plants, shrubs and trees…
coal with cinders from a fire,
To establish or cultivate
peace, harmony, kindness or temperance,
admire, appreciate and enjoy
observation and investigation;
and maybe even Taoist temples.
…has played in Ska bands, picked up university degrees, supported his parents during terminal illnesses, experienced chronic mental and physical illnesses consequential to workplace harassment, married his love, transitioned into Counselling as a vocation, fathered two great children and had his inheritance embezzled. Now, among other things, he is pursuing a PhD.
British Columbia's forests are ablaze
burning centuries of growth
killing innocent animals
threatens the communities
the very fabric of the civilization
that produced the pollution
and caused the greenhouse gases
which raised the temperature of our planet.
The wind blows
plumes of acrid smoke
over the Rocky Mountains
across the Prairies
under the waterline
through the 6:00 news
blots the sky with ashen cover
that turns the setting sun into a dire warning.
California also burns, and Greece, too.
Catastrophic flooding in Africa and Europe
and New York and New Jersey, so-called
500-year events that are happening
with increased frequency.
Just when it seems it can’t get worse,
Greenland’s ice summit witnesses rain
for the first time in recorded history.
…had his first chapbook, Scarborough Songs, released by Lyricalmyrical Press in 2013, and charted on the Toronto Poetry Map. Other publication credits include Blue Collar Poetry, Rabble Review, and The People’s Voice. His first full collection, The Other Life, was released in 2021 by Mosaic Press. His new chapbook, Worth the Wait, will be released this Spring by Cactus Press.
Almost without sound you round the corner and then there
I turn like the gears of a clock, compelled beyond
Again, I am confronted with a circumstance that
defies reason: you
Smile and roll your eyes as I try and fail
To show you the course of heartblood in me
As it traces past my loins, toward my feet and then out,
Tributary to the wide and swift current, a glacier poured,
Almost silent, irresistible, sliding to the sea.
Mere belonging, my belonging is mere.
I was, become, and am, a smear
On a canvas; round strokes rich with indigo thick
Thin yolk yellow squeaks hold court with angry mud and
Rusty blood blameworthy waters hopeful green, but
The Painter cannot be found.
The painter is found
In silence. There is no painter, no paint.
But there is color and sorrow.
And hope. There is hope.
Hope and sorrow are lovers, one inside the other,
So entangled they are, hope and sorrow, that only one
Can be seen at a time.
Bodies mangled by choices, smashed by meaning,
And move, not knowing
They’re already rotting.
Fear and Reason throw gasoline and acid at the bodies
Never seeing the children they doom to suttee for it.
Fear and Reason, turns out, can’t see children.
I can, because of you, and because of you I do my best
To dry their eyes and hold them, shivered, sobbing.
Fear and Reason throw gasoline and acid into a mirror.
Because of you, tomorrow I will hold them, too.
…is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Bridgewater State University. Michael’s scholarly focus is love and justice. His works include A Different Justice: Love and the future of criminal justice practice in America(2015),A Unified Theory of Justice and Crime: Justice that love gives(2018), and Personal Ethics and Ordinary Heroes:The social context of morality(2021),and articles in Contemporary Justice Review, Critical Criminology,Police Quarterly, and the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology.
Until the hour came to meet him, asleep in his bed, under
a drunkard’s quilt
a thousand hours he stood with his brush,
a hundred iterations
lofted in hay: The snow-
covered church, abandoned. The Woodburn clock tower
on campus. The tipple that ghosted the tracks.
When lantern tipped, the flame unextinguished
licked at the bents and slats, licked at the canvas,
incinerating. Let it burn, he said. Start over.
…has a collection Meet Me at the Bottom forthcoming from Main Street Rag. Her credits include The Only Country Was the Color of My Skin, her award-winning collection Umberto’s Night, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Loved Mothra and Pentimento.
Note: The forest fires in Northern Californiahave left a teen, who longs for safetyandthe returnof her young man, homeless.Inspired by the Napa Valley fires in October, 2018.
Shadows lengthen beneath the lone, live oak
at the edge of the vineyard,
branches spanning the late afternoon
and a girl with no home.
Wind hums through near-bare boughs,
invites owls to sun-warmed nests
as Mara rests at its base
among the tall, grassy weeds.
Meadow grass and sorrel sprout
throughout the vineyard,
flatten in waves with a breeze
then spring up as fresh as the roses
that used to punctuate each row of vines.
Since the Napa Valley fires last year,
there had been little work--fruit had shriveled
on vines, turned to ash, and had long blown away.
Mara’s relatives had moved north
to other camps, other harvests
while she remains behind,
each day waiting for Diego,
her young man, who searches for work.
She searches for safety and finds it,
like the deer, nestling among the tall,
grassy weeds at the foot of a lone, live oak.
The sky darkens, showcases
Andromeda, Princess of Ethiopia,
and Cassiopeia, the Queen.
Mara sends a prayer to the universe,
floats off to sleep as snug as the owls
that rest on branches above her.
For now, this is home.
Mara does not know how many nights
she lay dozing beneath the oak,
but each morning fields bloom yellow
with wild mustard. She shakes weeds
from her hair, walks across fields of gold,
past stands of thistles -- much more than
crimson weeds rosy as flushed cheeks.
As she nears the meadow’s edge,
her eyes rest upon broadleaf clover,
dandelion and nutsedge. Collectively,
these shape rich carpets of wildflowers –
more than enough bouquets to raise her spirits.
Mara pauses, chooses blue cornflowers,
purple henbit and lovely pampas grass
to weave crowns – one for her, another for Diego;
for his she seeks coarse, blue-green grass,
long and unkempt like his beloved hair --
like the meadow grass waving and rustling
during the wait. She turns to walk back,
keeps an eye out for bindweed tangles
on tree trunks to tie bouquets and crowns.
Approaching her lone, live oak at the edge
of the vineyard, she moves toward
her resting place clutching crowns,
just as an old truck rumbles by and stops.
Pushing aside the tall, grassy weeds,
she waits, wide-eyed, for the dust to clear.
From Grace Notes: a Memoir in Poetry & Prose (Goldfish Press, Seattle: 2021).
…is a poet inspired by nature, social justice, and her native Italy. She has published two books, We Draw Breath from the Same Sky (2019) and Grace Notes (2021). Recent poetry can be found in Wayne Literary Review and Trinity Review.
Planet Earth rotates on its axis oblivious to the doom
soon to grip the inhabitants
The temperature rises bubbling snow atop glaciers
evaporates into the atmosphere
Polar bears go in search of their homes.
The ocean swells up in despair the rainforest weeps in
Fires flicker dry grass ignites orange red
flames dance across the parched land
screaming sirens signal the need to evacuate
before it’s too late
Crisp air chokes on pollution Climate shrugs in disbelief
Fossil fuels burn toxic gases escaping
into the troposphere send ribbons of smoke
spiraling upward into the stratosphere
penetrating the ozone layer.
Ultraviolet radiation bent on destruction.
Smirks at life on earth
The sun rises and sets with precision mocking man on his
collision course with destiny
…writes for the sheer pleasure of writing and has been doing so from the time she was a teenager. She has been a Civil Rights activist, taught elementary school for twenty-five years, worked with her husband, Grachan Moncur III, arranging musical compositions and performing with him on different occasions. She also self-published a book entitled Diary of an Inner-City Teacher. She wanted the reader to see the classroom experience from a different perspective. Now she is a retired teacher and a seasoned senior who still loves to write. Currently she is the director of the House of Love Soup Kitchen/Pantry. Her short story, Phantasm, recently appeared online in Rigorous.
I start sawing it off, just the one trunk
and then I remember to ask
permission of the tree lay hands on it
wait a moment wonder
what can I give in return? start
sawing again an awkward angle
if it hurts you it should pain me too
then I hope maybe I’m kind of
returning you to the privacy
of your own privet heritage
(or is the privet hedge a human construct,
not your natural state?) but
I’m sawing every which way because
unlike Potawatomi black ash basket weavers
I do. not. know. what I’m doing
I’m sawing until I hear you tear, begin to break
I keep sawing your clean bright interior
I keep sawing with my hand on your
and then you’re down, separated from your siblings
and now yes there’s more room for my patio umbrella
my you’re heavy and I pitch you onto the lawn
and then I with actual drops of
sweaty anguish on my forehead I heft you
onto my shoulder and walk toward the pile of yard trim
I bless your wayward growing
I bless your foot of rooting
I bless your leg of standing
I bless your trunk of ringing bark
I bless your shouldering of branches and leaves
I bless your arm and hand of waving each
and every season
and instead of laying you on the pile of yard trim
I exert my weakling gratitude and stand you up
against a manmade wooden fence so that the end
does not feel so quick.
Here [A Resolution]
Where, as the sun rises, the same old birds announce
light again and all seems well;
Where, as each minute seven new souls arrive snatching
at breath, water, life;
Where, as the children are sleeping in the next room,
gas leaks from the stove all night;
Where, as we clothe ourselves, shreds of plastic fall
from our bodies to shower the soil;
Where, as fifth grade, in its overheated classroom, asks
if the sun will explode;
Where, as we inhabit in this generation a right to
prosperity and also low prices;
Where, as we have long since crossed local apparent
noon and approach our twilight;
Where, as each minute four hundred eighty-three
trees meet our diamond swords;
Where, as night falls, longitude by longitude, we
resist with switches;
Where, as some hit the drive-through, some open a
can and some put on a pot to boil,
for we all must eat;
Be it therefore resolved that everything is happening
here, and now,
to each and every one of us; and if your liberation is
bound up with mine,
then let us be here now, and brew the coffee and stew
the beans and
walk the children to school together, allowing a narrow
latitude of grace
and keeping our eye on the bending arc of this place, this
small patch and grand horizon,
Where, as, we live.
…is the author of two collections of poetry for young readers as well as contributions to journals and anthologies for both adults and children. She taught in public schools for 35 years and recently served on the NCTE Excellence in Poetry Award Committee. Heidi now coaches young writers and provides poetry enrichment classes in Montgomery County, MD.
Ozone hole over Antarctica could heal entirely by 2066
says UN says the news which says to me
that the Earth so fucked by climate change
it’s clenching its butthole shut so hard it’s
going to disappear.
Somehow, we sidestepped the Robocop 2 dystopia
with blue sunscreen SPF in the thousands.
We haven’t lost the ozone layer but
I’d buy that for a dollar if it would stop the extinctions.
Sheila Watt-Cloutier proposes, at the Circumpolar Council,
that the Inuit and other Nordic peoples have
the right to be cold.
The rest have the obligation to ensure that right.
That would slow the extinctions.
Instead, I will be paying so much more while mineral miners
apply sunscreen to their short-sleeved arms
under Mount Erebus.
That ring outside the Roche limit,
and Weywot, the tiny moon;
we call their system Plutoids
because of our concepts of Tartarus and Hades,
distances so far from where solar flares unfurl
that we think in spiritual concepts instead of quantitative.
We great apes. We who assume all celestial bodies
but our own
If only we looked down again at our proudly upright ankles
we would have seen the Quokka:
with their spheroid cheeks and fur,
their low-gravity mass,
their penchant for circling an object of study
from so very far away.
We might have realized
the ring of Quaoar is constructed
by its Arctic people,
that their burrowed cities account
for reduced gravity and miscalculated distances,
the dirt from their millennia of tunnels
and subways and geothermal
the flung-up backfill flown far
in Centaur gravity, kicking like Centaurs engineers,
so tiny clods of dust and pebbles would coalesce.
With the advent of space hops, and glass helmets,
the Quokka Empire could populate the ring,
establish a spaceport on Weywot,
aim for a world closer to tropical sand...
...And that is how the societies
on the Pacific coast of North America
came to know Quaoar as the source of life and worlds
and Weywot as his son.
Last night the propaganda minister dribbled a fake peace dance
Mother and other mothers ululated to that adulterated signature jive.
We all sang to the psalms of the land, pain is carved unto our bones like a plague of the stolen throne
We drank our tears, our hearts drowning in rock-armpits of streams gushing with bloody conspiracy,
And that faked peace-dance is the fall of another political soul, the death of another protester
Another dissident and another revolutionary combatant
We chanted the iron-knuckle slogan, shame wetting the beautiful rags of torn presidential regalia
Hung unto our hatred-soaked flesh-frames
We ate morsels of drought relief, guts aching from pangs of hypocrisy, we lost our daughters in charcoals of forced sexual gigs, we sipped from jugs of sorrow as sons are defiant stray dogs roasted for elections dinner
Decades ago, we rattled colonial dynasties with the gusto of new land/new freedom/new hope/new dawn
And we ate political sausages every morning and we supplicate to long dead combatants for another freedom, we rocked the revolutionary jive at the dawn of new black cockerel shrill, freedom songs combed the land once roughened by bullet and washed by blood
And again, today we lick the wounds of corruption and munch the omelet of poverty
We are another country born out of revolutionary struggle, as we walk on carpets of bones and breathe the wind that remain the spirits of medium kindreds long gone, Nandi/Nehanda/Nerfetiti/Nzinga/Murenga/Mutapa/Changamire/
We are not another country,
we are not the bottoms of another country
We cousins of soshangane,
grandchildren of Azania
and sons/daughters of Tanzania
Tonight we are dancing another jive, a riyal dribble, a majestic dance,
Misizulu KaZwelithini, the heir apparent of the Zwelithini ka Bhekizulu becomes another King, descendants of Chaka Zulu, great great great grandchildren of Senzangakhona kaJamaa
Another country, another nation,
royal nation in Azania land,
the rainbow nation
and the rainbow is written on every rock
Back in Jozi, the City of gold
Tito is writing a blockbuster of a political recipe, Juju walks unto the morning dew of truth
Doves, owls and honeybirds are singing in proverbs, the paradox of the rainbow-land
Throwing the economic rags unto the faces of saboteurs and spitting verbal phlegm unto the rigid apparitions of apartheid,
Mkonto Wesizwe is the spear of nation, Steve Biko rising, Jo-Slovo resurrecting
Cyril dances to Mbaqanga and praying in Kalanga tongues,
Msholozi walks free and sings Zulu poetry to the Amaqawe
Marikana bones are burning in the sun, long dead and long forgotten, Xenophobia scars are still the ghetto signature of another country,
This is another country, every beverage is laced with xenophobia lingo
Beyond the mighty river, the crocodiles are still chewing big fish and gnashing bones of small breams
Their bellies are fattened by election beef and propaganda chicken curry,
last night their sweet beverage was the voters roll
and their after-dinner light meal is the radical nationalist-communist manifesto,
they sing hymns of Castro, Stalin, Mao and Lenin
Rains are falling, sun is also burning, the land is boiling and stewing under the grind of hunger
We are another country of another country
The night is a discord of feverish yearnings from loud vendors, incessant gun claps, and disorderly tenor of car horns. The air is taunted with baritones of groaning old engines coughing their way out of the wincing city. The streets are writhing under the heavy grip of teargas and alcohol laced urine of vagabonds. Tonight, the city is a naked harlot. Its dance is the thud of state police’s steely boots in mad run and chase arrests of drug peddlers, sex vendors and forex dealing rascals. Drunk scumbags are wetting street pavements with filthy and snort. Somewhere closer to an old and dingy police post, a trail of blood led my eyes into the moonlit dingy street. Stray dogs are tearing apart fresh meat from a dumped baby. Maybe the new mother is night crawling in those disease sodden corridor brothels or a trainee recruit of crank brewing in gutter taverns. While the unknown father might be some notorious criminal on police wanted list. Maybe a potbellied fat cat talkative about gender equity and child rights bills in parliamentary sessions. Paradox! The growls of fighting dogs resonate with rushed groans of masturbating suspects in sordid police cells. I am watching the night from the roof of an old city brothel.
Downtown under the old bridge, between the bottoms of the frail city. Delinquent boys, serial drunks, life rejects and diehard ex-convicts are sharing a joint under the hesitant wink of the shivering moon. A battalion. They are easing their bones after a day’s hunt of food in rubbish jungles. Today their dinner is a dozen of expired tins of beef and a crate of burnt bread crumbs. A lucrative dinner. They laugh their poverty away between puffs of marijuana and gulps of alleyway brewed crank. Next to their anopheles infested hovel is a narrow stream shitting dysentery and vomiting typhoid. The stream is choked to stagnancy by used condoms, old wigs, decaying bodies and human faeces. Behind them is an old railway station and a dilapidated cemetery, usually a haven of wayward cheap sex predators and their raunchy prey. Every night, the bridge slide into a din of food battles, masturbation groans, mosquito whistles, catfights and lung wrenching influenza. Sexual groans by morons and drunk harlots add flavour to the daily festival.
The red tin roofed railway station is Satan’s pigsty, where the devil reward wayward young lives with the deadly virus, he then releases them into the city to spray infections like pesticide. Unknowingly and knowingly many dice like sprayed green fleas in trances of midnight excitement. Mortuaries are harvesting virus-caused deaths every day of God. Sometimes the old bridge battalion spent nights digging up the dead to take away the coffins for resale.
When the battalion is asleep you can hear footsteps of tired snores and drunken dreams floating along with rot of corrupted wind. Delinquent boys hallucinate under the grip of evil spirits. Ex-convicts are haunted by souls of people they killed. You hear them pleading for forgiveness in the depth their nightmares. Cheap harlots supplicate to god to release them from devil’s grip. The terminally ill and oldest ones die many times under the attack paediatric and asthma seizures. They are resilient, they rose with the sun like everybody else. The battalion is mix of small crime and big crime ex-convicts, drug addicts and just wanderers. They are now a tired lot, exhausted by their past and present. The old bridge is their only home. A permanent home in summer, winter or rains season. Young sinners prowl the bridge in feverish hunt of food delicacies and good sex, despite the pariah conditions. The bridge is an export and import station of tuberculosis, dysentery and syphilis. Everyone’s penis is rotting from decade long syphilis wounds.
Adjacent to the bridge, just across the railway station life goes on under the veil of frail city lights. Goat bearded maestros, street intellectuals and sloganeering imbeciles’ prowl city bars and pimp shebeens. They drown their filthy anger in brown and green bottles. Raunchy dances, raucous laughter’s, political gossip and beer are daily lubricants to their heavily depressed mental boxes. Big fish, well-polished town fellas and important persons come here to spend nights cuddling the bottoms of sex vendors as well as hips of beer mugs. They enjoy their daily toil away from the maddening wives. Every Friday is a happy day, beer is cheap and sex is free. The City night club becomes a hive of pole dancing, break dancing, pimping and gambling. The club entry point is characterized by broken sheaths of used condoms, chopped fingers, blood trails, stubbed cigars, torn wigs and many other laughable paraphernalia. Marriages are made and broken in this den of sins. Here is where, political players deposit the country’s future in pink bras. Mugs of cheap whisky castrate city leaders into useless imbeciles and the deadly virus is planted in many lives like maize seed.
At midnight, the city wears its black gown. A lone gutter owl introduces wizards and their cousin sisters into the playground. Illegal vendors invade the streets like ruthless migrant grasshoppers. Madhubula. They pawn everything from stereos to wedding rings to sugar and crank.
From where I am seated right now, I see the city prostituting our lives and taking bribes. Corrupt shadows crawling from one street to the other, hustling for dirty dollars. Alley way sex escapades, blind couples making kids under the quilt of pavement shadows. Heartless doctors peddling hospital drugs. Minister’s wives fornicating with bodyguards and garden tenders. Stray dogs feasting from used and broken condoms. Village mothers bussed in to sing for an absent president.
The balcony smells of unprotected sex. A Viagra peddler is grinding a pole dancer without a condom and she is vomiting because of his ruthless pounding. Her snort perfumes the brothel canteen with a rude smell of cheap whisky and beef bones. Her vomit also smells like an expired locally made pesticide, galatrox. A potbellied anopheles is enjoying Christmas from the pair’s alcohol greased blood. The dancer feverishly winks to the moon and the frail moon winks back. The drama continues.
Towards dawn the city wears a grey robe in the glow of the first twilight. The battalion sit around flames of cardboard boxes made fire. Their limbs are as black as burnt wood in the first rays of dawn. Their eyes are red like hungry hyenas. And they are ready to pounce at anything that can end the war inside their bellies. As the city yawns out the night’s hangover, somewhere over the bridge, white robbed prophets are bluffing in tongues and their pilgrims are singing in praise. A motorcade siren wails loudly and suddenly fades into thin air. Bus engines puffs their stale fart onto the bridge, the battalion coughs in a synchronized chorus. Touts are already in the streets as usual; the city becomes a virgin again. A cuffed evangelist is pleading to a defiant young police woman. A swarm of drunken wanderers are pursuing behind them, chanting vulgar creamed songs. The echo of their nonsense is drowned by another siren of the new president’s motorcade. It’s the 23rd of November 2019. The city throws away the black and grey gowns. It wears a dark green combat and is remote-paused into a presidential minute of silence.
…is the founder of the Writing Ukraine Prize (2022-23), UNESCO-RILA Affiliate Artist (University of Glasgow, School of Education, Scotland).2020 Poet of Residence at the Fictional Café (International literary culture Writers Space).2019 IHRAF Pan Writivism/African Fellow .2020 free-Speech Fellow at PEN -Germany Writers in Exile Program. Resident Coordinator at All Africa Live Poetry Symposium (100TPC, Africa, Israel, global).Festival Poet at Poesia de Medellin (Columbia), Guest Writer at University of Glasgow Creative Writing Programme (Sept 2020). Guest Speaker at SpokenWordOonline (Paris).2019 live literature hub Producer at Sotambe Film Arts Festival (Kitwe, Zambia). 2015 Jury President at Shungunamutitima Film Festival (Livingstone, Zambia).2009 Poet in Residence at ICACD (Accra, Ghana). 2009 Fellow at UNESCO-Photo Novel Intensive Training (Tanzania).2 011 United States Embassy, Harare Guest Poet at World Poetry Day (Harare, Zimbabwe).2007 Producer/Coordinator of This is Artist Artist in Residence Project (Goethe-Zentrum, Harare) 2006 United Nations Tribute to Kofi Annan Poet. 2003 ZIBF ,100 Best Books Young literary/writing delegate to Goteborg Book Fair (Sweden). Chirasha is the Publisher of the Time of the Poet Republic. Curator of WOMAWORDS Literary Press. Editor in Chief at Brave Voices Poetry Journal. Chief Blogger at Porcupine-Quill blog(wixsite). Founder/Curator at African Writers Caravan. Author of Mbizo Chirasha (African William Blake) blog journal. Mbizo Chirasha was the Creative Director of Girlchild Creativity Project and Urban Colleges Writers Prize. Author of A Letter to the President (Mwanaka Media, Zimbabwe), Pilgrims of Zame( FootPrint, Malawi). Co-Authored Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zambezi (Cyberpress), Curated/Co-Edited Corpses of Unity, Second Name of the Earth is Peace(Anti-war collection,USA) , Co-edited Bilingual Digital Anthololgy Street Voices (Germany), Edited Voices of Africa: A Call for Freedom Anthology( USA) and Disgrace-land (Kindle collection)/
“Sure on This Shining Night” is a poem written in the 1930’s by James Agee. All Poetry says the following of James Agee and shines a light on the impact of the Great Depression and perhaps on the unsustainable effects on human dignity of the unfettered and unsustainable human quest for profit and power: The poet, James Agee (1909-1955), was also a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He was the author of “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”, an eloquent and anguished testimony about the essential human dignity of impoverished sharecroppers during the 1930s. The book is regarded as one of the most significant literary documents associated with the Great Depression.
Sharecroppers were tenant farmers, who, as a result of the economic maelstrom of the 1930’s depression, could no longer pay their rent. Their landlords allowed them to continue growing their crops on the land, take what they needed for themselves and give the rest to the landlord in lieu of their rent. How hard would that have been, both physically and psychologically, particularly in view of the vagaries of the weather and seasons.
So evocative are the words of this brief poem, that it has been set to music by several composers, notably Morton Lauridsen and Samuel Barber, but none, in my opinion is quite so beautiful and moving an arrangement as this one for double choir (or double quartet) by Jay Giallombardo. Jay is primarily a notable arranger for close harmony ensembles of the Barbershop genre. I also say this with no uncertain bias, because this same arrangement is currently being rehearsed and in the process of entering the repertoire of my own chorus (Hallmark of Harmony), which has given me much impetus to do a little more research behind the poem and its writer.
Sure on This Shining Night
Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder
wand'ring far alone
Of shadows on the stars.
This issue begins Volume 10, our tenth year of publishing The BeZine online magazine. To mark the upcoming tenth anniversary, we will run a section in each issue this year called ReCollection. In it we will post work from past issues, looking to re-collect these examples of what The BeZine has been and continues to be. We hope to produce an anthology in 2024 from these re-collected works and more other selections from the first decade of our magazine.
We open this first ReCollection section with the last writing published by Jamie Dedes, our beloved founding editor-publisher, while she was still alive, published 17 September 2020. In this reflection she posts a beautiful poem, a goodbye, and reflects on the beginnings of The BeZine. However, Jamie kept looking forward, so she ends with some ideas for the future. We haven’t yet started a podcast (online radio show), but we are planning for her idea of an anthology, finally. She left us 06 November 2020, not even two full months after writing this.
One Lifetime After Another
one day, you’ll see, i’ll come back to hobnob
with ravens, to fly with the crows at the moment
of apple blossoms and the scent of magnolia ~
look for me winging among the white geese
in their practical formation, migrating to be here,
to keep house for you by the river…
i’ll be home in time for the bees in their slow heavy
search for nectar, when the grass unfurls, nib tipped ~
you’ll sense me as soft and fresh as a rose,
as gentle as a breeze of butterfly wings…
i’ll return to honor daisies in the depths of innocence,
i’ll be the raindrops rising dew-like on your brow ~
you’ll see me sliding happily down a comely jacaranda,
as feral as the wind circling the crape myrtle, you’ll
find me waiting, a small gray dove in the dovecot,
loving you, one lifetime after another.
Meditation on “The BeZine” from the edge of eternity!
I was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease twenty-one years ago. I was given two years to live. Thanks to loving family support and excellent state-of-the-art medical care, I’m still alive and kicking. As the disease continues its progression, however, my activities have become increasing constrained. Over the past two years I’ve slowed down dramatically. I am holding the Zine back from fulfilling its wide promise. I find it hard to keep up with obligations and to honor my own ambitions and the prodigious talents and boundless ideas of my colleagues. The long-standing lung issues have evolved into respiratory and heart failure. Other challenges to productivity have popped their disconcerting heads. These include pulmonary hypertension and a rare blood cancer, incurable but manageable. There is, however, good news.
I’ve had years none of us expected I’d have, years to enjoy my family, my friends, lots of music, reading and writing. I got to see my world-class son married. I’ve been able to spend time getting to know my beautiful multi-talented daughter-in-law and to visit with my cousin Dan when he came home to the States after years of living abroad. Daniel (now Fr. Daniel S. Sormani, C.S.Sp) and I grew up together. He is more like a brother to me than a cousin. Ultimately, I had the pleasure of forming an arts for peace community.
I began blogging in 2008 (The Poet by Day) and in 2011 I founded Into the Bardo with San Francisco Bay Area Poet Ann Emerson and Rob Rossel, a therapist and nature writer. Ann had a rare bone cancer and Rob faced cardiovascular problems. Our intention was to chronical living with dying. My friends preceded me into the bardo after just three years. I had to ponder what to do next.
The Original Zine Team Partners
This post is dedicated to them
I decided to broaden the scope of the blog, to create a platform for the global expression of peaceable minds, diverse perspectives and cultural understanding. This was a conscious effort to create a virtual space where we could find the commonalities across borders and learn that our differences are so often benign, not threatening. I found talented high-minded folks and a team slowly emerged. We grew from three members to twelve and a subscription base of a few hundred to one that is over 20,000.
We expanded our outreach joining with Washington State Methodist Minister, the Rev. Terri Stewart, and Beguine Again, our sister site. We became a larger presence via Twitter (thanks to Terri Stewart), a Facebook Page (The Bardo Group Bequines), and two Facebook Groups: The BeZine 100TPC (that is, 100,000 Poets and Friends for Change) and The BeZine Arts and Humanities Page. The idea behind the former is to share good news, the “best practices” that are happening all over the world and can be inspiration for initiatives in other areas. The idea behind the arts and humanities page is to give people a place to share the wide range of arts we all engage with or practice and to underscore the fact that “The BeZine” is not just or even primarily a poetry site. We welcome and encourage all types of creative expression.
I have led this effort since 2011 as manager, editor, and recruiter, but it is now time for me to bequeath this grace-filled platform into the hands of the rest of The Zine Team. Some of the support we get from team-members is quiet. You may not be aware of these stalwart and mostly behind-the-scene visionaries. Hence here is a list of the Zine team members.
John Anstie—Currently associate editor, prose and music, 2023. Naomi Baltuck Anjum Wasim Dar Michael Dickel (Now [at the time of Jamie’s writing] Managing Editor, 100TPC Master of Ceremonies)—Currently editor, 2023. Priscilla Gallaso (has moved on but not until after making significant contributions) Ruth Jewel Chrysty Darby Hendrick—Currently associate editor, 2023. Joseph Hesch—Currently still a Core Team Contributor Charles W. Martin Lana Phillips Corina Ravenscraft—Currently associate editor, art, 2023. Terri Stewart (Cloaked Monk, Zine Canoness, Beguine Again founder)—Currently a continuing partner-supporter. Kella Hanna Wayne Michael Watson
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN MY NEXT SUGGESTED BIG EFFORT?
The BeZine Educational Blog-Radio Shows
Team-member Naomi Baltuck is our resident storyteller and also works for LBGTQ understanding and rights. She’d be the perfect person to do a show and introduce other storytellers to our audience and perhaps provide guidance and encouragement for those whose ambitions include this art.
Team-member and the Zine’s Canoness, the Rev. Terri Stewart, initiated and runs a program for incarcerated youth. She could bring more information to us on these children and perhaps encourage the start-up of other efforts elsewhere in the U.S. and wherever in the world youth incarceration needs addressing.
Team-member John Anstie is a singer and poet. Music is important to him. He works with the Sheffield Music Hub as a volunteer. He’s a bass singer in Fox Valley Voices and Hallmark of Harmony. If he was amenable to the idea, I’d like to see him bring together a small panel of musicians and composers to discuss the place of music in our lives.
Corina Ravenscraft works in several areas that engage, but animal rights is certainly of key importance as is art as avocation. If willing, she’d do beautifully with a couple such shows. (By the way, Corina’s running the Zine banner art contest this year. Check it out. Info HERE. Cash awards.)
Michael Dickel, a poet, writer, artist and educator teaches English and poetry. I’d love to see him do a show on poetry writing, especially one providing youth guidance.
There are so many people for whom English is not a first language but who love writing in English. Anjum Wasim Dar is the perfect person to interview and discuss the rewards and challenges of such should she choose to do so. Many of the Zine’s contributing writers have this in common with her.
Who better than Mbizo Chirasha to draw together other writers and poets for a discussion of the new colonialism of Africa?
And who better to handle a panel discussion on surviving life with disabilities and chronic illness than Kella Hanna-Wayne?
Many of our contributors run organizations that are working for the good in their communities: clothing closets, food banks, soup kitchens, after-school programs, boys-and-girls club activities and on and on. So much good is being done.
And how about a Zine anthology? The sales might help with the maintenance of this site and its activities as well as promoting and acknowledging our talented contributors.
I’d have loved to be involved in helping to bring such work to the fore. What do you think? Share your thoughts and preferences in the comments section below. Enthusiasm is encouragement. Maybe the team will decide to move forward on these ideas. It’s up to them, of course. They probably have some other and better ideas themselves. One way or another, whatever The Zine Team decides to do, it will be magnificent. Guaranteed.
With love from the edge of eternity,
Jamie Dedes, Z”l The BeZine Founding Editor, Editor Emerita
…was a Lebanese-American poet and freelance writer. She was the founder and curator of The Poet by Day, info hub for poets and writers, and the founder of The Bardo Group, publishers of The BeZine, of which she was the founding editor and later a co-managing editor with Michael Dickel. Jamie was the Poet Laureate of Womawords Press 2020 and U.S associate to that press, as well.
From the first issue in 2014, The BeZine focused on the themes that now rotate through our quarterly issues: sustainABILITY, Waging Peace, Social Justice, and Life of the Spirit (and Activism, now). This selection from the very first issue, by Charles W. Martin, presents a (humorous) example.
i've figured out
don't believe in
ice floes into homes
around the world
flashes of weather
make people say
you call that
we need a name
that matches the symptoms
the earth is experiencing
a term that conveys
of the earth's moods
the difficult times
there's a term
even a politician
will be able
…earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics. Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography). Upon retirement in 2010, he turned his full attention to poetry and photography.