Box

We are listening to the Old Voices,
from the Meat Time, before the Water Tap
was drilled and capped ‘in the last days’ they say,
deep into the rocks. They talk of water as though
it could be made to run freely without a click-stop.
They say that Tap used to mean a long hose, metal
like the ragged sharps the runners dodge around,
that water could be made to pour out of, just pour
and pour, like the sand in the sand bath; that long ago,
for thousands of years, there was no thought
of the Water Tap.

We are listening to the Recording
of the last ones, the Artists. They tell us about
‘sheep in fields of green’, ‘luscious’ they say it was,
like the eyes feel drinking the shift of sand at sun up
and that these sheep grew a coat over their skin. ‘Wool’.
They say it could be cut off and used to cover a man,
to make him look and feel not as he is. These were animals,
bred for clothes, even for food, and many more than sheep –
hundreds of different kinds. That was the Meat Time,
before scrubbing for roots and picking off the bugs
from our skin.

They say they tried to save it all:
water, metal, ‘plastic’, all that was more than roots,
they tried to save it but the End Rain came too soon
and all they could do, the Artists, was leave us The Words
to tell us, for each lost thing, how it might be made again.
They talk as though there was more than this one story, this
one Box in the sand telling of rain and how it was water.
They say there were animals that leapt and swung in the air,
like the bugs hop, and they were called ‘birds’. ‘Beautiful,’
they say, ‘how they would always begin to sing again
after the end of rain’.

© 2016, Anne Stewart

from ‘Only Here till Friday’, Bibliotecha Universalis (Bucharest), Eng/Sp, 2016.

Cutie

Ascultăm Vechile Voci,
din Vremea Cărnii, înainte ca Robinetul de Apă
să fie forat și astupat ‘în ultimele zile’, spun ei,
adânc în pietre. Vorbesc despre apă de parcă
ar putea fi făcută să curgă fără sistem de oprire.
Ei spun că Robinet însemna un furtun lung, metalic
precum coțcarii zdrențăroși evitați de contrabandiști,
că apa poate fi făcută să scurgă din, doar să scurgă
și să scurgă, ca nisipul în baia de nisip; că odinioară
timp de sute de ani, nu exista gând
despre Robinetul de Apă.

Ascultăm Înregistrarea
ultimilor, Artiștii. Ne spun despre
‘oi pe câmpuri verzi’, ’seducător’ spun că era,
ca ochii savurând mișcarea nisipului la răsărit
și că aceste oi fac blană peste piele. ’Lână’.
Ei spun că putea fi tăiată și folosită să acopere un om,
ca să pară și să se simptă altfel decât e. Acestea erau animale,
crescute pentru haine, chiar pentru hrană și nu doar oi –
sute de diferite feluri. Aia a fost Vremea Cărnii,
înainte de a trudi pentru rădăcini și de a culege gândacii
de pe pielea noastră.

Ei spun că au încercat să salveze tot:
apă, metal, ’plastic’, tot ce era mai mult decât rădăcini,
au încercat să salveze, dar Potopul a venit prea repede
și tot ce-au putut face, Artiștii, a fost să ne lase Cuvintele
să ne spună, pentru fiece lucru pierdut, cum ar putea fi refăcut.
Ei vorbesc de parcă ar fi mai mult decât această poveste, această
Cutie în nisip spunând despre ploaie și cum era apă.
Ei spun că erau animale care săreau și se avântau în aer,
cum saltă gândacii și li se spunea ’păsări’. ’Frumos,’
spun ei, ’cum întotdeauna începeau iar a cânta
după sfârșitul ploii’.

© 2016, Anne Stewart

from ‘Only Here till Friday’, Bibliotecha Universalis (Bucharest), Eng/Sp, 2016.

Thinking green would just be there …

Those sweet Pacific blues
made me take fertile
for granted,

thinking that green
would just be there
and it seemed
even the eucalyptus
felt a bit unique,
stolen of, standing out in
its starkly brown bare bark.

For a time,
everything was whole
growing out into itself:
live oaks and Kentucky grasses
and we were all going on forever
somehow;

for years it seemed like some kind Heaven
favored us in those paradise days.
how I took them for granted,
how I felt protected and enhanced,
how it rounded out my wheezes,
how it was classical beauty,
solid in that clear light.

But dirt oozed in with McCarthy, Strontium-90
and the bombing bomb teething death.
Contaminations in the air.
A damnation took over the earth damnedly.
New smoke and blights and fires. The air soot crazy.
Oil wells leaking dredge. The balance tilted.
And we paradise kids went deep sea fishing for more,
catching the most wonderful people:
Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Malvina Reynolds, Paul Robson, Joan Baez,
all with hope in their arts
that we might live
in camaraderie with the stars’ light
as bright as the sequoias ranged high.

It is we rebels who must lust after our land,
lust without greed,
lust ever for change
to cleanse the world, scourge its filths
with our Pacific-blue kindness.

© 2019, Linda Chown

The Smell of Wood, The Scorch of Fire

stumpsthis rough-barked sequoia stump, sitting in majesty
in its coastal home, victim of wildfire, burned down
to its gnarly roots, its nicks, holes and char, eons
of scars, life seemingly cut off, goddess snake alive
inside the concentric circles, the smell of wood and
scorch of fire, at the verge of our infinity, in its truth ~

pristine.

rugged.

pulsing.

haunted by the geometry of limbs, the calculus of green,
the algebraic eloquence of a world within a world  ~

present.

essential.

primal.

it sings to itself in the marrow of our bones

© 2014, Jamie Dedes

Photo credit ~Bay Nature.org: “The Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, California, is dedicated to educating the people of the San Francisco Bay Area about, and celebrating the beauty of, the surrounding natural world. We do so with the aim of inspiring residents to explore and preserve the diverse and unique natural heritage of the region, and of nurturing productive relationships among the many organizations and individuals working towards these same goals.” Read more HERE.

Brother Francis and Sister Moon

He’s wandering the lanes of Assisi
while other men sleep
or find pleasure
in their sweethearts’ arms.

Holy man Francesco.
Il poverello.
All skin and bone
beneath his patched-up robe.

He’s chosen
Lady Poverty’s embrace,
begs for his bread
and shares it with outcasts.

The merchant’s son
who shed his fine clothes
at his father’s feet
and took the narrow way.

He tamed a killer wolf,
some say; calls the earth
his Mother, talks to flowers
and herbs, birds and fish.

Holy fool, roaming barefoot
until a full moon
at the sky’s plumb centre
illuminates his path,

pulls fields and trees
into its orbit
of overflowing light
and he runs to the church,

climbs the tower,
rings the bell,
and summons townsfolk
from their beds.

They wait in the courtyard
for news of fire or pestilence.
Look, he cries, look up
and see the moon!

© 2019, Shiela Jacob

my ears are deaf, my eyes hear a song

mountains rise round, Mother’s ever pregnant belly
and the aspens dance with paper-barked madrone,
screeching their yellows and reds, brindle and feral
like the snaked hairs of Medusa, they are warning

looming over me as i lay miles away on a mesa,
the bones of my ancestors, the heart of my child
the pelts of the brown minks my father sewed
the vultures circle, mesmerized by my demise

i feed on the pinion and ride mountain lions
down slopes, into valleys, a wanderer, lost and lost
looking eastward, seeking John Chapman
he has something to say, or maybe it’s westward

John Muir, my ears are deaf, my eyes hear a song
emerging from brown bear, a surfeit of salmon
burning sage, clearing America, the wild beasts
are defanged and declawed and i am hawk-eyed

© 2012, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photo credit ~ Axel Kuhlmann, Public Domain Pictures.net

A Climate of Change

Down the hill Winter bleeds unabated,
leaving behind the wounds we couldn’t see.
With all the trees gone I guess we’re fated
to find a pond where a pond shouldn’t be.

The ground’s still frozen ‘neath its epidermis,
so there’s nowhere but down the hill to go.
Up on top is where the earth’s the firmest,
but down here we’ve an inch of melted snow.

It’s nothing new, just how it goes come Spring
or whatever passes for that these days.
Lately you never know what March will bring,
another blizzard or mid-Summer haze.

It could end up the latter or former,
even both, since we’ve made Earth so much warmer.

If you want to argue or troll, find another poet. I’m too old, too sick, too tired and too sad to get in a pissing match about this. 

© 2019, poem and photo, Joseph Hesch

A Ballad for Stabat Mater

Stabat Mater: Pietro Perugino’s depiction of Mary at the Cross, 1482. (National Gallery, Washington) / public domain

A dedication to mothers

Do you remember radiance
of one who’s always there
the taste of swollen mamilla,
the scent of her sweet hair.

Whose kiss and gentle healing touch
was cooling with a balm
that soothed your painful childish graze
and injured pride becalmed.

Who taught you that a healing touch
and kiss could lead to more;
whilst she embraced competing love,
you found what love is for.

She stood as you went off to war,
to fight life’s bitter battles.
She taught you all you need to know
to rise above mere chattels.

As wisdoms, many, come to you,
from battles won or lost,
a mother’s love transcends it all
and never counts the cost.

In your old age you may well see
your children bear their own,
revealing then the seeds of love
that Stabat Mater’s sewn.

When dotage dims your consciousness,
confusion blurs your view,
expect a revelation that
her love has seen you through.

*****

The poem “A Ballad for Stabat Mater” struck me on several levels. I had already written a poem for my son’s thirtieth birthday (“The Fourth Age of Man“), basing it on William Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” (a monologue, which he wrote to open his play, “As You Like It”). Incidentally, I found it particularly poignant to note that my son had reached the same age as Jesus Christ was alleged to be, when his own mortal life ended. So, the latter never had the chance to taste the next three ages or, perhaps, he lived all seven in that short life span?

Anyway, I found my Mother’s Day poem, written in the form of a ballad, again influenced not only by Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” but also the Stabat Mater, the unforgettable and extraordinarily moving image of this religious icon, Mary, the mother of of all mothers, as she stood and watched her own son die, painfully. “Stabat mater dolorosa”, meaning the sorrowful mother stood, is a masterful understatement. How many mothers could submit themselves to such unbelievable pain! And yet all mothers do, albeit mostly to a lesser extreme, for as long as they live.

I salute all mothers, however good or bad a mother you may think you are, you have still had to suffer for your children.

© 2012,  John Anstie

First published on 18th March 2012

 

His Mother Bellows

“Jack, no.” as he bursts out their open

kitchen door past his garden toys

 

boy let’s a tiny plastic bag he clutches go

so it balloons with summer air

 

where it floats amongst lion’s teeth wends

bends a way above cut grass

 

fast up and over his red and yellow plastic slide,

glides Into his neighbours garden,

 

kitchen calls his feet back to fetch another

mother bellows again “Jack, no!”

© 2019, Paul Brookes

Disjunction (in English and Albanian)

“With one hand touch the sky
With other rate impulses of heart”

Mother…
don’t leave me alone
Mother…

I’m afraid of this wild world
Mother…
don’t leave me, mother!!!

Your tear fills the ground around me
Mother…?!

Shkëputje

“Me njërën dorë prek qiellin
me tjetrën matë impulsat e zemrës”

Nënë…
mos më lër vetëm!
Nënë…
kam frikë nga kjo botë e egër!
Nënë…
mos më braktis, nënë!!!

Loti yt rëndon dheun mbi mua
Nënë…?!

© 2019, Faruk Buzhala

Out of the Womb of Time

Madonna of the Plains


out of the womb of Time they slide
peasants and kings, artisans and queens
murders, warriors, healers, peacemakers
the grandfathers and grandmothers
on whose shoulders we stand

they are with us, their spirits sensed
though unseen
their hearts are in our mouths
as they guard and guide

feet rooted in the mud of Earth
we drink the wine, eat the roots
and sing the songs we inherited
their sayings are our sayings
their voices are our voices
carried on breezes
like the music of cathedral bells
like the call of the muezzin
they chime and summon
they sum what came before

from their gnosis
whispered in the ear of silence
we learn: we are nameless but not lost
we too shall echo
shall be the shoulders
shall be the mothers and grandmothers
shall be the Hope and the Light
along the path . . .
. . . . beckoning

Originally published in Brooklyn Memories

© 2012, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes

A Separate Peace

“I think this to myself even though I love my daughter. She and I have shared the same body. There is a part of her mind that is a part of mine. But when she was born she sprang from me like a slippery fish, and has been swimming away ever since. All her life, I have watched her as though from another shore.” Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club



 sometimes …
near impossible to see past the manic crowds
or to lift our eyes to look at the wholesome
trees inscribing their calm upon the sky

sometimes …
we record our fears with writing utensils,
call them weapons, coloring the margins
of our books with the dry dust of martyrdom

sometimes …
the children use their pages to blot away their
mothers’ tears, turning backs on the old refrains,
hearing their own souls speak, deaf to their fathers

sometimes …
those children fell trees, transforming them
to paper and well-sharpened pencils, their lives
written in the manner of their own separate peace

“Everything has to evolve or else it perishes.” John Knowles, A Separate Peace

Originally published in Brooklyn Memories

© 2013, Jamie Dedes

Your Mother Is Always With You

Your Mother is always with You
    She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street.
    She’s the smell of certain foods you remember.
     She’s the flowers that you pick, of the perfume that she wore. 
She’s your breath in the air on a cold winter’s day.
    She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep,
She’s in your laughter, crystalized in every tear,
She’s the place you came from, your first home.
    She’s the map you follow with every step you take.
    She’s your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy,
    nothing on earth can separate you.
    Not time … Not space … Not even death!
2019©Isadora DeLaVega

Tribute

Where are the prayers of the mothers?

Only Heaven could know,

Tell me oh Lord

Where they are stored

In a spring, that in Eden flows?

 

Where are the prayers of the mothers?

Prayers that daily ascend,

During ring around rosie

Or making babe cozy,

Urgent prayers plead end to end.

 

Where are the hopes of the mothers?

Hopes that somewhere soar?

Hopes there in the heart

To quickly impart

To a child forevermore.

 

Where are the prayers of the mothers?

Prayers so silently pled?

They’re shining at midnight,

Glowing in moonlight,

Lighting our way ahead.

© 2019, Sharon Frye

Those Before Me

Those who have gone before me-

My mother and her mother too,

Have left their mark upon me

In all I think and do.

 

Times that I remember

From earliest youthful dreams,

Were molded by each moment

I spent with both my queens.

 

If I could leave an impact

Or a treasured legacy,

I pray it is no less-

Than this one left to me.

 

A legacy, so sterling,

And a testament of care,

Leads me and guides me

Just like a whispered prayer.

© 2019, Sharon Frye

Letter to My Mother: The Only Inhabitant of Heaven

Mother,
let me build your heaven!

You would be a butterfly
caressed by the sun
and the snake frozen by your sight
would lose his poison
The entire view would borrow its color
from the rainbow of your wings
The rest you should find it into my palm
there you would tuck in with my soul
I will be the guardian of your sleep
For nourishment I would serve you my eyes
my tears you’ll drink to calm the thirst …

Yes, mother, with your permission,
I will build you the heaven!

© 2019, Iulia Gherghei

My Mother’s

“Art creates the dream of life“

Is that the season?
The leaves are hitting the silent windows
and some roots of trees are creaking,
but I am a dream.
I do not recognize the colors,
when the sun of that town
without time shelters me like Mum.
Which flowers shall I gift to you?
I am not a saint – I cannot revive you.
I cannot even grief.

To gift to you – a last flower.

© 2019, bogpan (Bozhidar Pangelov) 

Conflict

Mother walked into a coffin

full of snow and ice,
I should have told her

January’s not good for dying.
On nights like this air clots in hindsight,
I start a fire in her grave
watch winter burn in a blaze.
She warms her feet under my spleen,
rearranges my ribs not knowing
where to land,
as if walking through mine fields
stepping in footprints of others.

Can the woman fit in my skin as I age ?

She had church
thousands of them tearing
through stone groin of hills,
does it matter that prayer is stale
on my lips?

She had trust,
same desert swallowed our past,
she shook off the sand,
it fell like flakes of doubt and regret on my hands.

She knew love,
it filled her bones till they cracked,
I love with my heart behind barbed wire.

My voice paces in our language
between memories hanging like bats
on clotheslines,
clashing with a bright yellow dress
I remember from somewhere,
and the moonlight softening the lines
blurred in my chest.

A tender moment I chew and spit in a song,

lyrics scrape the only thing left alive

against my cheek,

this longing rising inside a sigh
where she owns all of this silence
crumbling on my tongue.

© 2019, Silva Zanoyan Merjanian

The Apple and the Tree


I like to think humanity is a bunch of apples

We have flavor

Happiness, sorrow, glee, anger, silliness, love

We have sour greens, juicy yellows, and sweet reds

 

Now as siblings of humanity where do apples come from

Trees

Tall, strong, expansive trees with their branches flailing about

Now trees in fact can hold many different kinds of apples

Ones with love, ones with music, ones with sports, ones with sadness, ones filled with life

Trees nurture these fruits with all of the heart, soul, and mind

Filling each apple with peace, love, and joy

 

Humanity is a relationship

An experience of nurturing from trees to their apples

You are my tree

You are my brother’s tree

You have nurtured us

What do you have now

Well a bunch of fruits living in your house of course

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Crazy Fruit Tree

© 2019, Kennedy Stewart; illustration courtesy of Jean Beaufort, Public Domain Pictures.net

Kennedy Stewart is a young adult who takes great pride in his long, ginger hair. He is a graduate of Woodinville High School and is currently working towards his passion of gaming and music. His favorite musical is Hamilton and one of his favorite bands is Queen, but he loves all music. He hopes to be able to tell the stories of games through composing music. He loves animals and is currently plotting to adopt this little one with his brother.

 

Mothers’ Day: Different Thoughts

What Greater Expectations than Great Expectations,
Miss Havishams’ so many, embedded secluded, on dusty
wooden gilded thrones, behind cobwebbed curtains,
Majestic Marvels, First Created, Sacred, now rest transfixed
in false reprehension, languishing in darkened streets
As scattered clouds scan terrestrial to celestial dimensions
blinking intermittent flashes only to find twisted torments
blood filled swamps, whirring swarms of discontents, amidst seas
of colorfully placed flowers ; Supreme Sopranos burnt to ashes.

Turning Around She Thought
O Woman’ What Mothers’ Day Means to You

created sacred beguiled abused
ordered bound accused excused
what woman’s day means to her
she thought…

what nights will make her scream
day is work, no escape
night ‘love? no! rape..
fears and fears of rape
drugged missing real or fake?

should she think of women famous?
those who are seen on history pages?

should she think of those unseen
pushed kicked thrown in cages?

mothers and daughters in frustration
yet manage homes and serve nations

should she honor the saintly ones
who were obedient ordained

should she mention those half
widows, widows of genocide

chained enslaved in perpetual pain?
or those maids forced to labor
or those who hold kids while
parents dine and perhaps wine’

whom should she call ‘mine’
standing serving morn til nine-
and there are families royal
to the people crown so loyal

loved honored seen by all
that is not all…..

so many names graceful glorified
history remembers all sacrificed
she thought…cannot pick one or two
one in white, covered one in blue-
East or West old or new…Oh
Athena’ Wise One ! Help’ if only I knew

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

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

In 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