The grey heron lingers… | Carla Scarano D’Antonio

Tightening in / Losing out

Honeysuckles beam in a tantrum / we share mortality / calculate the distance // the restrictions of the virus allow no nostalgia/emissions thicken / coughing // the sun blinding / incongruous spring hibernation / shift to pretended colder weather // long for a haircut, a hug / the spell of loss / the peacefulness of surrendering to unchangeable rules / fragments of freedom // occasional gusts of wind whisper secrets / wild beauty of magnolia petals rot on the pavement // kiss me and promise to come back when peonies bloom

Built to match existing, architectural plans

After ‘Diary,’ Rosa Lyster, LRB 7 October 2021

Built to match what remains of the house
after hurricane Laura,
lifting the roof like a lid
and driving a tree through the kitchen wall.

October is hurricane season,
bodies of water through the window: the Mississippi.
Water reflects the rain clouds above,
people stand around in chest-high floods

trying to return everything to its former state.
But they say it is best to stay away,
there are too many things in the water
that will kill you.

Your belongings destroyed;
they will never go back.

I don’t mind failing in this world

I don’t mind failing in this world,
there is so much to do
like boiling an egg or rediscovering a favourite scarf
that went missing.

I don’t mind failing in this world,
the days wake around me
the rain arrives soft
and the wind is gentle.

I don’t mind failing in this world,
I watch the clouds creating figures,
the grammar of imagination
catches the winter sun.

Coffee is warm in the morning,
my hands brimful of gleaming stones.

You are not supposed to be rude

sensations of spectacular germination   
a sincere glow of oxygen                       

tie your hair up                                      
wear the apron and the cap                    
respiration                                              
in the monsoon scenario                        
sensitivity of nutrition and excretion     

gnarled lock at the back gate                 
the depth of the quarry                          
explode in the tasteless whale               
at the margin of the swamp
the growth and move of living things

tuck your shirt in
hand gel   ventilation
infinite reproduction of simple stem cells
the music of the cymbals
how many woodpeckers would make spring?

let the office know
abysmal trophies
the homeless athlete

On giving up

On giving up

‘the idea of giving up figures in our lives, as a perpetual lure and an insistent fear.’
Adam Phillips, ‘On Giving Up,’ LRB 06/01/2022

The option of giving up 
thoughts progress
to final decision
indecision

Giving up 
up up up
leaving ourselves out
sense of impossibility
lack of orientation

Giving up 
makes us fearful
aware of limitations
proud of the abandonment
ascetic 

Giving up 
sabotage capacities
resist fulfilment
and ideals
deny survival

Giving up 
desires and pleasures
withdraw from sufferings
reconsideration
sacrifice

up up up
a jerky path 
of terminal disillusionment

The delay of summer

New things to die of were being added each day…
Sheila Heti, Pure Colour

Winter comes and goes
the wind is still fierce
snow piles in the streets
on corpses with hands tied up behind.
I can see faces freckled with green scars
dotted in scarlet
looking like action painting.

At the back of my shoulders
the sun spreads its warmth.
My bones feel the desperate calls.
Can you hear them?
Can you hear them?
They scrape luminosity in underground shelters.
The first draft of the conflict
is not progressing
into a final draft.

 
The enumeration of atrocities
I can see.
I can see the dandelion
upright in the cold
then closing in a withered bud.
The yellowness of the summer yet to come
will ever disclose its brilliancy this year?

The grey heron lingers near the lake
like a sacrilege, 
wildflowers resist the delay of summer,
water reflects fractured walls.

©2022 Carla Scarano D’Antonio
All rights reserved


Carla Scarano D’Antonio…

…lives in Surrey with her family. She obtained her Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Lancaster University and has published her creative work in various magazines and reviews. Her short collection Negotiating Caponata was published in July 2020 by Dempsey & Windle. She completed her PhD degree on Margaret Atwood’s work at the University of Reading and graduated in April 2021.

Website / Blog



From a Friend Now Living in Israel | Holly Day

From a Friend Now Living in Israel

I hear horrible things on the news, in movies
and call her up to ask if they’re true
what it’s like to live around such atrocities
if she doing anything about it herself.

She laughs and tells me that everyone
hates Israel, that she’s gotten used to living in a country
that outsiders just don’t understand. “It’s all lies,”
she adds, says something about anti-Semitism

and Arabs, and how people mostly just want to live with their own
but that people are welcome to live wherever they want
she doesn’t mind.

Roses
Digital Art
Miroslava Panayotova ©2022

Poem ©2022 Holly Day
All rights reserved


Holly Day…

…has worked as a freelance writer for over 30 years, with over 7,000 published articles, poems, and short stories and 40 books and chapbooks—most recently, the nonfiction books, Music Theory for Dummies, Walking Twin CitiesTattoo FAQ,  and History Lover’s Guide to Minneapolis, and the poetry books A Wall to Protect Your Eyes (Pski’s Porch Publishing),  In This Place, She Is Her Own (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), A Perfect Day for Semaphore (Finishing Line Press), I’m in a Place Where Reason Went Missing (Main Street Press), Where We Went Wrong (Clare Songbirds Publishing), Folios of Dried Flowers and Pressed Birds (Cyberwit), and Into the Cracks (Golden Antelope Press). Her writing has been nominated for a National Magazine Award, a 49th Parallel Prize, an Isaac Asimov Award, eleven Pushcart awards, three Dzanc Book’s Best of the Web awards, a Rhysling Award, and two Best of the Net awards, and she has received two Midwest Writer’s Grants, a Plainsongs Award, a Sam Ragan Prize for Poetry, and a Dwarf Star Award from the Science Fiction Poetry Association.



Addressing a Foreign World | David Dephy

Take Your Sandals Off Your Feet

You are in Ukraine, take off your sandals, 
for the place where you are standing 
is holy and the air you are breathing is holy,
touching rays on your face,
drifting through the noise of madness
from the other side of the dark,
still, the lips touch the air 
and this body is a foreign language 
addressing a foreign world,
and its foreign skies. I say, 
take a deep breath, my love, 
let us embrace this great void as an old friend, 
perhaps then we shall discover each other 
far on the other side of alone.
Have you heard a song of braves?
Take your sandals off your feet, 
the place when you’re standing is holy,
every grain is the heart of a child, 
the grain of truth—
breathing through the golden shadows.
Have you heard the laughs and smells?
This is the greatest afternoon of freedom.

Peace #8
Digital Art
Dean Pasch ©2022

Love Song of Rays

See the rays over there? Did you hear songs? 
Yes, songs from the frontline? Mariupol. 
The pearl encircled by rays. 

Muscovites hate the rays, ray means freedom, 
they don’t understand freedom, they hate themselves,
that’s why they hate the world, hiding faces in the dark. 

“This is the end, beautiful friend,” remember?
We need victory, over the spiritless corps, 
not just a peace—

peace is a luxury, as this second is one more 
deadly breath of time, we do not have much time 
for peace, we have time only for victory.

Even shadows shake when mother’s voice 
echoes from far beyond. How can you say peace 
should give you comfort? Peace does not dwell 

on the other side of war, but victory. 
Maybe there is no peace in the world, 
that’s why we should win. 

See the voices of kids how colored the ground?
Each thing born from those rays is our hope. 
Who can succeed with all those rays, 

full of those voices? Rays blow through the blood.
Who would like to dictate to you?
Who among us is right? Most valuable?

Who most resembles God? Have you ever seen God?
Touch the rays in Mariupol and you will see.
If there is peace deep in the ground, 

it should feel the fear and joy, 
If there is peace it should be a memory,
but memory is not powerful enough, 

is not beautiful at all, never forget we are free, 
that’s why we can see the rays. 
We can smell the rays, touch them 
with every beat of our hearts.
We are dying, we are living, not complaining, 
we touched each other with our hearts

because we were born in the hearts of each other,
because we required life, because we all are in the war.
Touch the rays. Peace.

Peace #14
Digital Art
Dean Pasch ©2022

96 Year-Old Man

I was standing alone in front of the stillness 
of March, not expecting the flow of memories.We are living without love, that’s why the war

can’t be measured by history, by ashes, by art.
Without today we breathe between yesterday 
and tomorrow. Do you know something about time?

About time, yes, and its insanity?  
Do you know something about yourself?
About me? How I lived? How I loved? 

What I did? Maybe you can predict future? 
Time should have some meaning for you.
For me it’s insanity. 

I felt history’s neurasthenia in that very afternoon 
when I was standing in front of the stillness of March
and not expecting the flow of seconds. Nerves of time.

I understood and I did not expect to be alive,
time is meaningless and it’s suppressing us. 
I didn't expect to feel that deadly second again,

in emptiness, but my heart was able to beat again, 
my heart is remembering, after centuries, 
how to beat again in the frozen silence of fears, 

war, in the raw, 
cold breeze of the laughs 
and howl.

96 year-old man. 
Mr. Romanchenko. 
Survived the concentration camps: 
Buchenwald, 
Peenemünde, 
Mittelbau-Dora, 
Bergen-Belsen. 
Yesterday he was killed 
by the Russian missile 
hitting his apartment building in Kharkiv. 

Russia, the "denazifier," 
did what the Nazis 
couldn't do.

Poems ©2022 David Delphy
All rights reserved


David Dephy

…is a Georgian/American award-winning poet and novelist. The 1st place winner of The Artist Forum Poetry Award in New York 2021, the winner of the Finalist Award in the 2020 Best Book Award National Contest by American Book Fest, the finalist and shortlist winner nominee of the Adelaide Literary Awards for the category of Best Poem, the winner of the Spillwords Poetry Award. He is named as A Literature Luminary by Bowery Poetry, The Stellar Poet by Voices of Poetry, The Incomparable Poet byStatorec, The Brilliant Grace by Headline Poetry & Press and An Extremely Unique Poetic Voice by Cultural Daily.



“sea” is not a mistake | Ira Director

pale brown

american blacks: pale brown
slavers hunted/ bought
flesh from africa 
why not cheap
american talent? Bottom 
line: 
give native american heavy metal 
long wooden handle 
count rest of your sad life in seconds MF. 
WARRIORS: (sea: come home caring their shield, or on it/ 
sea: why is a king a king, and a slave .../ 
sea: tight packers, or loose packers/ 
sea: colonial era>>><<< sea: "heart of darkness", 
sea: "he said he loved you."/ 
sea: "apocalypse now"/ Sea: "words no good"  

Note: “sea” is not a mistake.

They say,

“He survived the camps”
They say,
“He came back from the war”
They say,
“He recovered from the illness”

no one survives
comes back
recovers

only a thin sack
knotted
around his naked body
shelters his face from the dirt
Published in “The Last Stanza” 2011

a soldier bleeds

a soldier
bleeds then dies

a woman bleeds or 
doesn't 

another soldier
is born
A Soldier Bleeds
Painting
ira Director ©2022

©2022 Ira Director
All rights reserved


Ira Director…

…is a Chicago born artist and poet Ira Director who has published in journals and e-zines; exhibited in galleries and contributed to the International Mail Art Network. Poems and paintings may be combined, with both integral to the pieces. In 2002 he instituted Poetry from Bar-Ilan for poets to read their works in public venues, and produced it for over 10 years. His contributions to the arts span over 50 years.

Ex. 2022 a Retrospective: 50 years of art and poetry



Invading Nation | Irene Emanuel

Ukraine Burning

Invading nation
annihilation, desecration
without conversation.

Invading nation
altercation, condemnation
without invitation.

Bombs landing
on people standing,
no permission or intermission.

Crumbling bricks,
Russian tricks,
no remorse, war in force.

People crying,
people dying;
homes deserted, justice perverted.

Landscape battered,
thousands scattered;
next excursion to border incursion.

Bully bashing,
Ukraine crashing;
History veiled as the World derailed.

No relief
from disbelief
that leaders kill just for the thrill.
20-03-2022

Peace #16
Digital Art
Dean Pasch ©2022

Ban the Bomb

Bloody bombs,
Burning bombs
Breaking lives and worlds.
Bleeding bombs,
Blasting bombs
Broken bodies curled.
Body bombs,
Car bombs,
Intent on dying.
Big bombs,
Baby bombs,
GOD is really crying.
Who are they
Who die to kill,
Who seek their glory
In one last thrill?
Who are they
Who make their plan
To obliterate all
That belongs to Man?
They’re Devil Blood,
They’re in Satan’s purse;
They thrive on pain
And pray a curse.
But still the bombs
Are bursting through
With no regret
For them or you.
Battered people
Hurting people
With bombs.
Black bombs,
Blue bombs,
Bruised bodies.
Brown bombs,
Red sand,
Screaming land.
21-11-2015

Poems ©2022 Irene Emanuel
All rights reserved


Irene Emanuel…

…was born in Johannesburg, lived in Durban, and now lives in Port Elizabeth. She won of the “Hilde Slinger” cup for poetry in 2009 and again in 2013, and the “Fay Goldie” cup for General Success in the World of Publishing in 2011, both from the South African Writers” Circle. Nine of her poems were published in “Signatures” an anthology of Women’s poetry (2008), and shre represented “Live Poets’ Society” in “Poetry Africa” that same year. In 2006, “A Scorpion Sings,” her first anthology, appeared. Other anthologies published between 2006 and 2015 are: “Count Catula of Shadoland & Friends,” “A Peace of Me.” and  “A Scorpion Sings Again.”



Life, Tricks, Death | Vern Fein

Our Life Again

In grad school behind a wall
of books, sealed into the words
of Poe, Stevens, Hemingway
Faulkner, Salinger, Albee.

Dominoes fall 
and Goliath lies, 
claims a David
from Viet Nam
dared sling a torpedo
at one of our ships.
We attack Communism 
and those fierce, small,
black-clad people
as if our economy
depended on it.

In love with Lydia, a young nurse,
fingers as gentle
on my body and soul
as her patient hands on the dying.

That was our life.

I dropped out of school,
buried my love of books,
chose a love of marching.
Lydia nursed us through protests
to foment a revolution
that had no more chance  
than our nation could keep 
from shooting missiles
at foreign lands.

Once again the world is at war,
this time another Goliath
against another David,
its own brother
as Russia attacks Ukraine.
The bombs fall and people flee
just as they did so long ago.

This is our life again.

The Unbearable Sorrow of Being…
digital art
Kat Patton ©2022

Old Tricks

In our apartment building,
when I was a child, 
old Mrs. Greta Shultz horrified me.
We lived by an airport,
every whining sound of jets
sent that creaky lady
scuttling under the kitchen table,
duck and cover every time,
air sucked in, moans-- 
for her an American Luftwaffe,
Slaughterhouse Dresden memories--
her mind recoiling
at the screaming sounds 
from her younger girl day/nightmares.
Despite heart-felt pleas,
Greta was safe under the table.

After years of marriage, 
we rescued a dog.
She had been caged 
for months in cold wire.
We gave her our warm and safe home.
But when my wife ever went out,
Butter would mewl by the door,
shiver and shake
till the door opened, 
de-plane on my wife's lap.
No coaxing mattered.

You can’t unlearn old tricks.

Stalin: A Slice of Death

At twelve I was aware of the world.
News flash during Ramar Of The Jungle:
Joseph Stalin dead of a heart attack.
I jumped up and yelled through
my house as if the Devil
himself had finally been slain.

When he had a traitor executed,
the whole family was killed
like Achan’s tribe at Jericho.

Terrorizing the population,
sent his soldiers into big cities,
to murder a few thousand innocents.

Slew over half of his advisors.
Would throw parties, shoot
those not drunk enough.

Chased down Trotsky in Mexico.
Axed Leon, his comrade
who dared to oppose him. 

Loved flowers but at the end
nightly commanded his gardeners 
to decapitate every blossom
and replace the flowers the next day
for another pogrom of his garden.

Absolute power over more people
than anyone in history, estimates
of over 20 million slaughtered.

Why obeisance to the One,
allow One to dominate us,
allow One to kill so many,
allow One to hoard the wealth,
bend the knee to One,
kiss the ring of One?

Poems ©2022 Vern Fein
All rights reserved


Vern Fein…

…a retired special education teacher, has published over two hundred poems on over eighty sites, a few being: *82 Review, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Young Raven’s Review, Sledgehammer Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Poesis, and Monterey Poetry Review. Recently his first poetry book—I was Young and Thought It Would Change—was published by Cyberwit Press.



One Day This War Will Be Over | Leslie Grollman

Peace #18
Digital Art
Dean Pasch ©2022

One Day This War Will Be Over

Eens zal deze verschrikkelijke
oorlog toch wel aflopen,
eens zullen wij toch weer mensen en
niet alleen Joden zijn!
—Anne Frank [1]
Jews! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Muslims! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Christians! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Genitalia! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Hurting! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Running! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Space! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Color! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
What we eat! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Emojis! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Features! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Named! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Loathing! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Enemies! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Country! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Afraid! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Bordered! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Shattered! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Stanzas! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Emails! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Dialect! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
Ists! just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
just not and again people be we’ll when come will time the
 
the time will come
come time war when
will come when 
when over the war
people will time 
be people again 
not again people 
again and this not
not just time and war
and we’ll be when time
we’ll be again time
people in time
and we will be just

Poem ©2022 Leslie Grollman
All rights reserved


Leslie Grollman…

…has work appearing in Sweet Lit, Ellipsis Zine, Moist Poetry Journal, Yolk, Spoken Word Scratch Night, Writing Utopia 2020 Anthology, The Selkie, Together: An Anthology, Thimble, Nailed, Pathos, other publications, and is forthcoming. Leslie was chosen to be a reader for one of Octopus Books’ open reading periods. She earned an MSc Creative Writing, Poetry, with Distinction, from the University of Edinburgh in 2020.



[1] Translation: “Someday this terrible war will end, one day we will be human again and not just Jews!” [back]

Refugee Strength Canoe | Rose Menyon Heflin

Refugee Memories: A Tanka Sequence

I.
Precious memories
Drawn upon in times of need
Of those bygone days
Days of tight togetherness
Days of happiness and peace

II.
Days of calm beauty
Days of small, mundane pleasures
Days of great laughter
Days of friends and families -
All those days before the war

III.
Before the fighting
Before conscription happened
Before the bombs dropped
Before all the suffering
Before you fled for your life

IV.
When you had great dreams
When you had a full belly
When you had purpose
When you had a loving home
When you had a bright future

V.
Now all that is gone
As air raid sirens echo
And you find yourself
In a nebulous limbo
With just memories
Previously published in Poetry for Ukraine Anthology from THE POET.

Strength: An Ode to Refugees in Tanka

I.
Leaving home behind
Children and grandma in tow
You flee so quickly
Hoping to one day return
Knowing it may not happen

II.
You may not go back
Or it may not be the same
Still, you leave it all
Putting both past and present
So very far behind you

III.
Fleeing for your life
With just what you can carry
Leaving memories
Embarking on a journey
Its end completely foreign

IV.
The not knowing hurts
As does the thought of the life
That you leave behind
Yet, you find the strength to go
To push past all of the pain

V.
Forward you progress
Knowing suffering awaits
Knowing tears and grief
Knowing uncertainty lurks
Knowing that you must survive

VI.
Just trying your best
To live another dark day
You have no comfort
All you know is misery
And fear - so very much fear

VII.
But you still persist
Calling on the great power
Of your freedom sweet
Calling on your ancestors
Calling on internal strength

The Indian War Canoe: A Tanka Sequence

I.
Prepared for battle,
Both God and Mother Nature
Firmly at her bow,
The Indian War Canoe
Glides across the blue waters,

II.
Sailed by warriors,
All of whom will gladly die
On this fine fall day
As they shoot so skillfully
From their right front hip pockets.

III.
The dirt scrapes her hull -
A foul taste deep in her soul -
As they drag her hard.
Finally, she feels water
And is at her best once more.  

IV.  
She is old and wise,
This Indian War Canoe -
Very trustworthy.
As anger fills men’s black hearts,
Battlecries will rend the skies.

V.
Animal paintings
Adorn the canoe’s bark sides.
Grease-streaked faces focus.
Some will live to tell the tale
Of the bloodshed and the waves.

VI.
Others will perish,
Consumed by rage and water.
When the blood is spilled,
The Indian War Canoe
Will drift solemnly to shore.
Indian War Canoe
Emily Carr
Alert Bay, 1912 Oil on cardboard 65 x 955 cm
The Montreal Museum of Emily Carr
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Previously published in Issue 24 of Fireflies’ Light on September 7, 2021 

©2022 Rose Menyon Heflin
All rights reserved


Rose Menyon Heflin…

…won a Merit Award for her poetry from Arts for All Wisconsin in both 2021 and 2022, one of her poems was performed by a dance troupe, and she had a CNF piece featured in the Chazen Museum’s Companion Species exhibit. Her recent and forthcoming publications include Deep South Magazine (Ode to Summer Rain and Gone), Fireflies’ Light, Hare’s Paw Literary Journal, Isotrope, Of Rust and Glass, Pamplemousse, Poemeleon, Red Weather, and San Antonio Review.



Order of Battle | Pete Howard

Order of Battle

The struggle for peace requires nothing short of total war.
Accomplishing victory with the deployment of unconventional weapons.
Like love,
Wielded by:
Squads of sympathizers
Platoons of providers
Companies of caregivers
Battalions of believers
Regiments of realists
Divisions of dedicated
Corps of compassionate
Armies of activists
And then, united and unyielding in the face of it. The scourge of nature and humanity will truly be defeated.

Peace #5
Digital Art
Dean Pasch ©2022

Poem ©2022 Pete Howard
All rights reserved


Name…

…biography goes here, with ellipses in front. Link to known social media accounts, website, and / or blog. Delete the words if no links. Edit the Find the The BeZine button link to include the names where it says FirstName and LastName. If there are more than two names, add a plus-sign (+) and additional names, in order. Add Social Media links if we have (do not need to, but can delete the social media block if none). Replace art to the left with a photo. (Use the NO photo block if there isn’t one, not this block).

Website / Blog Linked



Garden Photograph Blues | Dorothy Johnson-Laird

This Garden

You see all we have is this garden. 
These bare, raw, hardened hands.
All we have is this garden. 
This earth to grow with, these plants to root for. 

All we have is this gathering of brother, sister, father, son.
They come here to garden together,
To break bread and sip water in the dusk.

In this garden, love was made. 
Children grew and learned the flowers, 
And grew some more and learned to plant. 

The old woman with her white, white hair
Comes here to work the corn. 
She sings to the children as they gather at her feet. 
They can recognize the sound of her deep, husky voice. 
“We shall overcome, we shall overcome,” her voice embraces the night air
The children memorize the song until they can sing it back to her. 

You see they want to call this land real estate. 
They think they can split it apart at the center, 
Destroy its twisty paths, willow tree. 

They think more of a community can be made by 
Gutting the earth and slapping concrete over it, charging per square mile. 

They imagine that the love this garden was made with can be uprooted, 
Tossed to the side. 
They have forgotten the feel of fresh corn in hardened hands, 
How the sun strokes your back as you work the tomatoes.
They have forgotten that a child’s wisdom isn’t always found in books. 

This garden was a refuge for the children
In the hustle of this crazy city, 
To try to prevent them from running wild on the Lower East side 
When the streets are layered with drugs, syringes, anger. 

Maude with her white hair and bustling energy 
Has spent hours tending to this sweetness.
She knows the way to create with plants,
How to tend to them, 
Caress them with her fingertips, even sing to them.
  
She won’t let anyone hurry her. 
She is stubborn with her blue cotton scarf on 
And a tunic that contains her gardening shears, her winterized gloves.

The men with the bulldozer have come.
But Maude saw them from down the block, long before they arrived.  
She just sits down, planting herself on the earth,   
Rooted as a wizened tree 
She blocks their passage at the garden’s entrance 

“They cannot enter” she sings to herself “They cannot enter.” 
The children sing behind her, echoing her. 
And then she lets out a big belly laugh, 
She cackles at them, not saying a word. 
In her firm, rooted place, nothing and no-one’s going to move her now,
                    Not even their big engine.

A Rose
Digital Art
Miroslava Panayotova ©2022

Harriet’s Last Photograph

In the last year of your life, they took a photo of you.
It was a formal picture.
You were seated outside in a large wooden chair,
You were seated upright, the green lawn falling away behind you, The trees marked a background in the distance. 

Your eyes looked out far beyond the camera lens.
Your eyes looked away from the camera's eye in defiance,
You were not going to smile in that moment.
You were not going to pretend happiness:
It was impossible for you,
Not after the years of fighting.
You were not going to let the viewer of that photograph forget your journeys, The way your hands had lifted up young slave children from the floor, Pulling them onto your back,
Stepping out into the cold winter night, with no possibility of going back, Finding a way to keep going forward. 

In this last photo they took of you,
You were dressed all in white, with a shawl wrapped around your thinning face, White hair cut close to your head.
You were strong, yet a model of peace. 

Looking out beyond the camera, what did you see?
Perhaps you still carried within you
Those old journeys to freedom, hiding behind newspapers,
Lodging yourself between cars on trains,
When they set dogs on you, you disappeared.
You had a way of knowing how to find the shadows of walls in the middle of sun-light. It was a power that they could never know or pull apart. 

Harriet, you were born different from the other girls.
Less passive, you carried yourself upright,
When the other girls giggled or looked down at the ground. 

Araminta was your birth name, it meant defender of the people.
Once you crossed the line to freedom, you could have remained North,
But each time, even though your hands were worn out, your feet were calloused from miles of walking. You determined to go back again to rescue someone.
You said, “I never lost a passenger”

You were 94 years old in this photograph.
Even though you were aged, you gripped the chair's arm firmly. The toughness was still inside you.
It allowed you to journey forward
No matter what came your way. 

Irises
Digital Art
Miroslava Panayotova ©2022

Manhattan Lock Down Blues

Woke up this morning with the Manhattan lock down blues 
Said I woke up this morning with the Manhattan lock down blues 
Something came over this country 
And I can no longer lace my shoes 

Someone has stolen the economy and sent it out with the rain 
Someone has stolen the economy and sent it out with the rain 
Companies are starting to crash, jobs going down the drain 

He’s a mad magician pulling feathers from his hat 
But has the Doctor told him where the rabbit's at? 
The narcissist has taken over 
His twitter feed has gone wild 
Now even more journalists must fact check his lies 

The police have become the military 
Shooting at random with no restraint 
The police are now an army 
And they are starting to look insane 

Woke up this morning with the Manhattan lock down blues 
Said I woke up this morning with the Manhattan lock down blues 
There’s a Mad Hatter in Washington 
Who is out on another tirade

Meanwhile, the sirens in New York city soar 
And a thousand homeless people are not rescued from their shelter 
Don’t mention the unemployed who must decide between rent or hunger 
And the person who doesn’t have a voice to express his anger

As the virus numbers peak 
Mr 45 says he is not so sick
And he breathes heavily outside the White House front door 

Mr 45 claims there’s an easy cure 
Perhaps he wants to distract the public with his talk of greatness again
But he’s left his medicine in the Hospital with his hydroxychloroquine brain

©2022 Dorothy Johnson-Laird
All rights reserved


Dorothy Johnson-Laird…

…is a poet, social worker, and activist who lives in New York City.  She received a B.A. in creative writing from New School University and an M.F.A in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.  Dorothy also works as a music journalist with a passion in African music. She has published journalism with Afropop Worldwide and World Music Central, among others.

A recent poem was accepted for publication by Evening Street Review. 



Be Change—3 Sonnets | Peter Lilly

Fights

Men will clutch at illusions when
they have nothing else to hold onto.
—Czeslaw Milosz
Presuppositions, carrots, sticks and stones.
Break my bones. Re-mortgage my fractured home.
A system built on never ending loans
Will divide against itself and implode.
It’s hard to kick against the fiscal goads, 
But people remain people, even so.
There comes a time when they will seek themselves
And find their shelves of purchases to be
Their allocated eternal dwelling,
As decided by the salesmen who delve
Into new definitions of this free
Doom. Despite the great reckoning welling
In the hearts of the masses, wound up tight,
The violence sparked will not be the good fight.

The Good Fight

I’ll fight your rope, your rules, your hope
As your sparrow does under your supervision!
—Jack Mapanje
The good fight is not in the violence
But the grueling daily grind of being
Fully present. Movable in silence
And in shouting. Invisibly seeing 
The power behind the play, and playing.
But taking the game from the arena
And into the sand-pit where it belongs.
Noticing the blood, tending the lesions,
Both broken nose and cut knuckle. Weighing
Not the trifling arrest and subpoena
But the breath, every note of tragic songs,
And every synthesized social adhesion.
Bandwagons of revolution comply.
If your hope is in them, it’s already died.

Revolutionary

There is one thing, and only one thing,
in which it is granted to you to be free
in life, all else is beyond your power:
that is to recognize and profess the truth.
—Leo Tolstoy
To be a revolutionary is to 
Let your living make the mightiest noise,
Not to write a message of peace in blood,
Or let a movement’s leader dictate to you.
It’s not to find the tribe that fits your voice
But to reject tribalism for good,
As a concept and as a condition.
You don’t prove you’re not a pig by grunting
In protest against the proposition.
You must be changed to be change to see change,
And know the bed-rock of what you’re wanting
Beneath the gargantuan mountain range 
Of rough rubble reasons rabble rousing,
To the meat of the hope you’re espousing.

Poems ©2022 Peter Lilly
All rights reserved


Peace #17
Digital Art
Dean Pasch ©2022

Peter Lilly…

…is a British Poet who grew up in Gloucester before spending eight years in London studying theology and working with the homeless. He now lives in the South of France with his wife and son, where he concentrates on writing, teaching English, and community building. His recent and forthcoming publications include Dreich Broad 3, Paddler Press Issue 4, Archetype Issue 1, Radix Magazine, Spillwords and Lothlorien Poetry Issue 7.

Blog



letters, gunshots, another dream, and more | Lonnie Monka

I’ve been sending letters to various
areas controlled by the islamic
          state

explaining how peaceful & loving ways of life are possible
that to kill in the name of God is mistaken
& that a little dialogue could do wonders

I sent poems describing a future world without war
& inspiring quotes from political & religious leaders

then
          one day
                    I received a reply:
“to the dreamer who mistakes a nightmare for paradise”
          it began
“it is beyond us to know if by God you mean Allah
          yet let us assure you
a thirsty man lost in the desert may find a pool of pure water
          revive himself
& then run off to share his hydrating discovery
          until the pool is depleted
such is your state
          you call out to God
to control the rain
          & to replenish the empty form
which memories & stories claim was filled
          with purity
we
          by the power of Allah
will move from pool to pool

decimating fraudulent temples erected not to worship
          but to control the rain
until the whole world submits to Allah
          & our expansion ceases
leaving only a pure motion

dams will not be erected
          as people flow across the land
no different than water
          across the earth

you speak of love & peace
          but
you only want us to pay taxes
          to erect more static artifices

& please
          from now on
use extra postage
as we grow
          our operations carry more overhead”

Photograph
Michael Dickel ©2022

gunshots in the distance

          in distinct intervals
marked by a sloppy unison
          of soldiers at the firing range
the odd out-of-sync shots
          blossom into a single roaring echo
as I lay in a bush-filled field
          surrounded by weeds of varying heights

perched in a weed’s canopy

          of white flowers
a white spider
          waits

black flies & red beetles
          scrummage through the bed of sweets
climbing beside & even over
          the still white spider

its body mounted
          by little legs
while two longer white legs
          extend half bent in the air

till certain sized flies pass
          its face
triggering those long thin legs
          to swoop down
striking prey dragged
          into a hungry face

sometimes when released
          those bodies fall motionless
& sometimes they begin
          mid-air to fly

Falling spider, invisible thread
Digital Art from Photograph
Michael Dickel ©2022

another dream

          of two soldiers in a watchtower
                    talking through the night
will history judge us poorly?
          one asked
                    & his friend said
yes & no
          since history forgives the perpetrators
                    with a flare
for watching those who suffer most
          as those
                    who inherit evil

so they say

an M-16 in someone's hand asserts: kill or be killed
it only argues with adults—whereas children
they deafen all arguments into chatter

a stray dog doesn't know that it roams about as if it's not a target
a tree couldn't care less that it can sustain many bullet wounds
a wall must separate sides—no matter its thickness

it's fine if we're mistakenly standing on some graveyard
it's ok if you can't stop all people from fighting
it's nice to take care of a cat that you dislike

let all the varied kinds of privileged people tell you what's right
let thoughts of distant violence grow more distant
let yourself breathe—simple & stupid—grinning like a gorilla

it's alright if the news improves its powers of seduction
it's alright if one day the sun just burns out
it's alright if you desire—deviously—to litter a little

even if ambiguous firework-explosions startle you
if you move & speak according to what you believe is right
it's good if life & death dissolve into some unspeakable truth

veteran field

—for Mr. Visher
both before our lives and before our eyes
           upon every death before us we live
thoughtlessly leaping from this height to that
           we continue & learn also to love
to continue living as if stable
           upon whatever ground beneath our feet:
our subtle world produces fertile soil
           like this lush field where children play—knowing not
how they grow upon the dead body parts
           of some passing war & of all thought as war:

with ever-shifting translucent pillars
death supports all mortal experience

waning & waiting

bullets whiz
           past people’s ears
every day
           on city streets
I have shot
           the same gun
others have used
           for suicide

the stop signs have
           no gun holes here
the sun is blocked
           from flirting strands
of light—flickering
           with the rising
& the setting
           of lust-filled days:
maybe tomorrow
           I’ll find her
perhaps I will pull
           hard on her hair

every day
           I wake up
a blinded bird
           that craves to fly:
who can resist
           the savage pleasure
of pushing hard
against the air?

©2022 Lonnie Monka
All rights reserved


Lonnie Monka…

…founded Jerusalism, a non-profit organization to promote Israeli literature in English. He is a PhD student at Hebrew University, researching the intersection of modernist art and orality through a study of David Antin’s talk-poems, and he is currently an OWL Lab Fellow.



The Bellicose Vein | Bruce Morton

The Bellicose Vein

Which or why matters not.
It would be best to forget
The whole damned lot.
But what do you want to bet
That we will go for a rerun.
		 
We will do as we have done,
Enlist the starry-eyed young,
Stack them like cordwood
Tight in the barrack bunks
Prepared to feed the flame.
		 
We will play the patriot's game,
Wave the flag and sing the song
Fight for right and right wrong
And it will not be long, again, before
We exhume the past, bury the future.

Poem ©2022 Bruce Morton
All rights reserved


Peace #9
Digital Art
Dean Pasch ©2022

Bruce Morton…

…divides his time between Montana and Arizona. His poems have appeared an many magazines, most recently  Grey Sparrow Journal, Rat’s Ass Review, The BeZine, Ibbetson Street, and Muddy River Poetry Review.



Petrichor ArtLab speaks on the war in Ukraine

Abduction

Abduction
Jeffrey Lipsky

Trading fire

What grabs but never gives? The rusty heart of war. Looting? What’s left to plunder from ruins? Even poetry fled weeks ago! Easter bears witness to mass graves.

The combatants trade fire. Who’s keeping the books in this commerce of souls? Accounts fatten. Bombers seed fields with bullets. Recruits plant landmines and harvest death. Drones hover over tanks. Murder hornets rarely miss a mark. 

Summer is almost here. We will irrigate the land with our blood, the defenders vow.  Survivors huddle in skeletal tenements, bent over smoky fires. Soon enough winter will rule a famished land. It’s only a matter of time.

Naked City

Naked City
Jeffrey Lipsky ©2022

Ghosts

It’s a downtown traffic jam:  ghosts are piling up in deserted avenues, scrambling over one another, frantic to leave. Indecent haste: they have not mourned their humans. Keening screeches like sirens. 

Radiation wafts from embers in shattered towers. The wind plays dirges on bare wires and chimney stacks. A hotspot glows under late snow: the neighborhoods will be poisoned for years. Free land to the uninformed or reckless? There are no takers.

The ravens’ work is done. Geese paddle serenely in blasted waterways. Abandoned cats and other strays figure out a living. A tabby gives birth under a porch. A maternity hospital lies in ruins.

Latin IV

Latin IV
Jeffrey Lipsky ©2022

Work

Swiss cheese: a latticework of mousework, housework for a dog. Homework for a cat: I will study the habits of rodents, she thinks. I will unravel this dark matter. It matters.

Tunnels under Mariupol seethe with cats and dogs. Humans fall silent. The rats are all above ground. They have nowhere to hide. A lacework of sun and shadow streams through bombed-out buildings. The rats hide in their thoughts. We hide in our prayers.

In a mirror image world, sewers tunnel through air. Sceptic tanks overflow. Record of a pandemic. Panic sets in. We hide in our prayers. The rats hide in fear. 

All over? Not quite. Quiet. I wait for the world to be quiet.

©2022 Art Jeffrey Lipsky, ©2022 Text Heather Ferguson, ©2022 Petrichor ArtLab combined
All rights reserved


Petrichor ArtLab…

…Petrichor ArtLab is Boston-area artist Jeffrey Lipsky and Ottawa poet Heather Ferguson. Their collaborations have appeared in Experiment-O, and Ygdrasil: A Journal of the Poetic Arts.

Jeffrey Lipsky
Heather Ferguson

Jeffrey creates abstract narratives that are found in galleries, museums and private collections worldwide. He was featured in the New York Times Magazine (Portrait of an Artist as an Avatar – Filthy Fluno – The New York Times (nytimes.com).  He recently held an online art exhibit at the Metaverse Art Museum.

Heather is the author of A Mouse in a Top Hat (chapbook, Rideau Review Press) and The Lapidary (special issue, Ygdrasil, A Journal of the Poetic Arts). The Lapidary was later translated into Spanish (four broadsheets) and French (The Lapidary / Le Lapidaire, Vermillon).



Bloom between drums | Kushal Poddar

Viktor Zaretsky
Ukrainian
Harvesting Flax, 1960

Peace Blooms

Peace blooms a complex flower; 
its petals rivulet in this light; 
I shiver in its impossible implosion. 
Something I lost becomes
almost a grief, albeit not quite. 

Not quite a whispering, and yet 
when you propose availing 
the blossom, say, "Let's use the peacetime,
piece together the pieces our bodies are." 
my ears giggle at your bad pun. 

The flower, if I play 'love/love-me-not' with,
yields a set of inconclusive results as if
we shall never know any better.

The Peacetime in Between

I try my hands at calligraphy.
The letters grow wings,
and some—a garden to sing in.

The expectations of a letter
hits a high note 
as they say, 'The net is restored'.
Yet, not a single mail,
and I close my eyes to envision

some bodies morphed into pebbles
on a foreign road.
The journey of the refugees looks like
a hyphen lettered with a stub nib.

The Drums Listen to Us

Evening beats a drum in the forest temple.
Everyday. I never see any devotee. 

Now I have nothing more to do at the shop,
I pull down the shutters, go home, eat alone,
watch a movie until sleep dawns on me,
and some time after the midnight one feline
with eight scratched-off lives leaps into the room.

The windows are still and sealed. Naked 
and in tight corsets. I try to recall the age 
of the ceasefire. The ethnic drums beat miles afar.
I have lone hands. I think. The milk has outrun its longevity.
I have nothing to do here, or there. Now in peace 
or then during the war.

©2022 Kushal Poddar
All rights reserved


Kushal Poddar…

…is an author and a father, editor of Words Surfacing, and author of eight books, the latest being Postmarked Quarantine. His works have been translated in eleven languages.



Raging at an uncommon pace… | Fabrice Poussin

Peace #13
Digital Art
Dean Pasch ©2022

Chasing the Muse

Raging at an uncommon pace
eons accelerating through the stars
little bright spot in the immensity traces
the sign of what it may become
a line disappearing in a soft vibration.

Fleeing to escape modern history
it may never be seen but as a memory
shiny speckle into the depth of an abyss
made of eternity and absent souls.

The poet squints to fix the moment
and imagine the words it may have spoken
echoing for all to hear the dying symphony.

Perhaps it will return with the new dawn
looking for a mate to grow in harmony.

For yet it seeks a rebirth in a hostile sphere. 

In the Soul

Some join in the deep of secret hours
behind curtains thick with lies
truth does not know the way in
when they share ultimate fancies.

When dawn comes they will part ways
rushing onto a path into other tragedies
after a night to decades of illusions
they pretended to believe in eternity.

Shells will survive into their world
upon streets of stench and dark asphalt
where they will smile again with faith
that no one will scent their death.

Strange liquid like putrescent molasses
ooze from those living corpses
enveloped by a cloud of love
as they like to make it known on the rooftops.

I would rather walk by her side
Safe, surrounded by her aura
with a touch of her soul upon my breath
inhaling her being through every pore. 

Rolls Royce and Little Yachts

Dressed in a bright gown
feet in golden stilettos
she stirs the Lamborghini to a halt
near the Cartier store where she will splurge.

Not far behind her the smoke of a city
fallen to the greed of the would-be gods
a low cloud hovers thick as muck
heavy with the weight of infinite miseries

The tuxedo waiting for her, too dreams
of helicopters and private jets	
lounging on the acres of his vast greens
one step closer to vast fortunes.

Descendant of royalty long forgotten
little, wrinkled by endless suns
alone in the dingy room she cleans
mansions and castles large as her city.

In thousand-dollar Hawaiian suits
others bask on the beach of their own islands
fake hair and skin made of silicon they also go
to the tomb… in million dollar outfits.

©2022 Fabrice Poussin
All rights reserved


Fabrice Poussin…

…is the advisor for The Chimes, the Shorter University award winning poetry and arts publication. His writing and photography have been published in print, including Kestrel, Symposium, La Pensee Universelle, Paris, and other art and literature magazines in the United States and abroad. Most recently, his collection In Absentia, was published in August 2021 with Silver Bow Publishing. 

Website / Blog Linked



Do Something | Jean Rover

Peace #19
Digital Art
Dean Pasch ©2022

Do Something

Can you not hear us?
We can hear you,
“Thoughts and prayers.”
“Thoughts and prayers.”
For how many bodies
on the ground?

“God bless the people of El Paso, you say.
“May God be with all of Dayton,
Charleston, Philadelphia, Orlando,
Sandy Hook, Parkland, Atlanta, Bolder,
Buffalo, and Uvalde.”
On and
      On and
           On and
                  On. 

Sadly, we plead to 
stone-deaf politicians.
No answers, only rancid rhetoric,
followed by dead silence.
Except for,
“Thoughts and prayers.” 
“Thoughts and prayers.”
“We are heartbroken.”

How many more? 
How much more?
Hate and anger like molten
metal spilling hot and fiery, 
torching the earth. 

We are the voices of the dead.
That’s our blood smeared
 on your walls.
 Our bone shards scattered
 on your streets. 

From our graves we shout,
“Do something. Do something.”
Too late for us, but for the living
Please. Please. Please.

©2022 Jean Rover
All rights reserved


Jean Rover…

…is the authorof Touch the Sky, a heart-rending novel, filled with intrigue, about a missing child in Oregon’s backcountry. Her writing has received awards or recognition from Writer’s Digest, Short Story America, Willamette Writers, Oregon Writers Colony, and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Her work has appeared in various literary magazines and anthologies, including the Saturday Evening Post’s Great American Fiction Contest Anthology. Other stories were performed at Liars’ League events in London, England and Portland, Oregon. She has also authored a chapbook, Beneath the Boughs Unseen, featuring holiday stories about society’s invisible people.  She lives and writes in Oregon’s lush Willamette Valley.



Three Poems About Ukraine | Alison Stone

Self-Portrait March 2022

Warring nations mingle in my blood—
Russia, Germany, Ukraine, all the great-
great somebodies who boarded ships
pulled toward America’s promise-paved streets.
Their passports all stamped Jew.

My heart’s a non-fungible token,
encrypted. Needing heat.
My eyes hold boat rides on rivers
through glittering cities.
My finger’s locked as though stuck on a gun.

Daily, my legs take me the same loop—
kitchen, bathroom, office, street.
The mountain dwarfs me as expected.
My hands reach for passing dogs.

Clients tell me their dreams—
wolves, staircases, snow, an open window,
terror jumbled with desire. Symbols giving form
to need. Outside, premature crocuses
open dumbly, unaware of the forecasted storm.

The news offers its collection of horrors.
How easily beauty is bombed into meme.
What are you doing about it?
the first spring birds chirp, and no matter
what I stammer, a fat brassy crow
caws not enough.

Chill

Outside our thick locked door, the air grows cold.
Fall plays songs of loss. For an encore, cold.
 
Cascade of tangerine and neon pink–
The dying sun departs in splendor. Cold
 
nights for the too-long married. The furnace
breaks. More than metaphor—the air grows cold.
 
Poe writes his dead love back to him, despite
the tiresome raven’s Nevermore, cold
 
and final. Waves swallow the sand. Sun sets.
How long will stubborn swimmers ignore cold?
 
The power of love versus the might of
power. Who’s stronger, Venus or Thor? Cold,
 
hot, cold, hot—Our wounded planet revolts.
Flood. Drought. Plastic-filled whales wash ashore. Cold.
 
Grandma’s crooked fingers, Cossack-blue eyes.
Gold chai she always wore. The air grows cold
 
near gravestones. Too late to learn her secret
Anatevka dreams. East wind brings more cold.
 
Ukrainian bride strips off her wedding
gown, puts on the uniform of war. Cold
 
metal in her hand. Poets sip the Green
Fairy, enter delicious stupor, cold.
 
The old unfold chairs and umbrellas. Teens
sprawl tanning on the sand, all languor, cold
 
beauty.  Truckers wave swastika flags. Books
are burned in churches. The hungry implore cold
 
gods. In Stone’s empress daydream, two laws: Have
mercy. Plant seeds before the air grows cold. 

Untitled
Painting
David A. Amdur ©2022

Russian Soldiers Plant Landmines in Ukrainian Cemeteries

Despite landmines, mourners visit the dead.
Strategy is a cold, barren thing.
Which commands must be obeyed, which ignored?
An army is made up of people.

Strategy is a cold, barren thing,
measuring success in numbers of stopped hearts.
An army is made up of people,
some generous, some mean. All want to live.

Measure success in numbers of stopped hearts.
Count the empty places at tables –
Some generous, some mean, all people want to live.
Children starving in basements eat their hope.

Count the empty places at tables,
the houses bombed to blood-streaked rubble.
Children starving in basements eat their hope.
How inconvenient is the call to help?

So many houses bombed to blood-streaked rubble.
Despite landmines, mourners visit the dead.
How inconvenient is the call to help?
Which commands do we obey and which ignore?

©2022 Alison Stone
All rights reserved


Alison Stone…

…has published seven full-length collections, Zombies at the Disco (Jacar Press, 2020), Caught in the Myth (NYQ Books, 2019), Dazzle (Jacar Press, 2017), Masterplan, collaborative poems with Eric Greinke (Presa Press, 2018), Ordinary Magic, (NYQ Books, 2016), Dangerous Enough (Presa Press 2014), and They Sing at Midnight, which won the 2003 Many Mountains Moving Poetry Award; as well as three chapbooks. She has been awarded Poetry’s Frederick Bock Prize and New York Quarterly’s Madeline Sadin Award.

Website / Stone Tarot