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

Peace Rocks and Peace Roles

No, that’s not a typo in the title. Keep reading and you’ll see why. This quarter’s The BeZine issue is dedicated to Waging Peace, and more specifically “Radical” Peace. It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it? Normally, the words “Waging” and “Radical” are associated with the complete opposites of Peace: War and Violence. They don’t have to be, though. We can choose to be active, radical pacifists. Aside from the wonderful assonance of that description, there are real (and radical) ways that we can wage peace. All it takes is some creativity and the will to carry it out.

Image Wikipedia.org

You’ll notice that I said “active”, radical pacifists. Pacifism doesn’t necessarily mean being ‘passive’ or non-action. We can most certainly be active in our resistance to war and violence.

Image Wikipedia.org

Look at leaders like the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi. All are/were pacifists, and yet their powerful actions have helped to change the world!

Image Wikipedia.org

So the key to radical peace lies in the actions we take. What kinds of actions can we take to wage peace?

 

 

When I was writing this, I became inspired by a movement of which you may or may not have heard: “The Kindness Rocks Project“. The creator of the project, Megan Murphy, explained how the national movement got started, and it’s based on the idea that “One message at just the right moment, can change your entire day…outlook…life!” Kindness and peace go hand in hand, so why couldn’t we incorporate this as a way of waging peace? Check it out, because Peace Rocks, too! 😉

In thinking about actions we can take to wage radical peace, it’s important to look at the roles that we play and the role that peace plays in our everyday lives. How can each of us, as individuals, take a more active role in spreading peace? How about turning weapons of war into art, like the Tree of Life and Throne of Weapons? These amazing sculptures were made by artists who built them from the surrender of more than 600,000 weapons! This article has some excellent photos of both. There’s also the angel sculpture built from over 100,000 knives which were confiscated from police in the UK:

Image borrowed from mymodernnet.com

All of them actively removed weapons that had been used for war and violence and transformed, repurposed them into art meant to challenge people’s views on those things.

Artic Drilling kayaktivists vs Shell Polar Pioneer – Photo by Daniella Beccaria on Flickr.com

How about the “kayak-tivists” from Greenpeace who waged radical peace for the planet, by bravely daring to block an oil rig belonging to Shell Oil and bound for the arctic, keeping it from leaving Puget Sound? The rig did leave the Sound eventually, but Shell ended up cancelling the lease of the oil rig, because (bold emphasis mine): However due to failed attempts to make a commercially viable discovery, mounting pressure from environmental groups and escalating costs, Shell made the decision to stop all further exploration of the US Arctic waters...By the time the decision was made in September 2015, the exploration campaign had set Shell back an eye watering US$7 billion.” ~ Offshorepost.com So those kayakers did make a difference! It’s a great example of individuals coming together to wage radical peace for the environment.

It can be peace for your family, your neighborhood, your city, the country, the world, the environment and planet…it doesn’t matter how big or how small your action is. What matters is that we take action to counter the war and violence with peaceful protests, creating a culture where peace is preferable, making provocative or inspirational art, joining with others who want the same things. What role will you take? What role will peace play in your world? Won’t you join us? 🙂

Insecurity

Hoar Frosted Trees (photo: John N Anstie)

As clouds gather and human progress seems to be freezing, it’s been worth spending some time pondering this word, its meaning, its consequences. I’ve come to the conclusion that it says everything about the human condition; it explains everything you may observe about the human race; and, in our efforts at The BeZine this month to wage the peace, it occurred to me that, if we are to achieve anything in this quest, we may have to do some ‘reverse engineering’, taking us back from war, division, angry and defensive retaliation, anxiety, fear, disagreement and disengagement to a place where we could begin to engineer the means of peaceful co-existence, true acceptance of difference, diversity and gender equality with renewed focus on how we can divert all the energy we wasted in destructive conflict to seeking some kind of new order.

We have the intellectual ability to achieve this, but do we have the strength of will to control our defensive-aggressive tendencies, our propensity when times are tough to withdraw behind the lines into our tribes where we are inclined to reinforce our insecurities, rattle sabres, beat chests and make our battle cries?

What is it that drives us to do anything? Is it just to preserve our livelihood, to ensure we are warm and dry at night, to feed and protect ourselves, our families, our children. I think in the twenty-first century Western World it has become so much more than that.

Almost everything we do is driven by our insecurity, but it doesn’t need to be. Safeguarding our livelihoods may be a positive effect, but there are far too many negatives. Insecurity can lead to discomfort, fear and anxiety. In turn, anger will follow, aggression, irrational and compulsive behaviours that lead us on to desperate measures to ward off perceived threats to our local or national territories, our place in the World and to our very being, our race. So much so that we are prepared to go to war with those whom we perceive to be posing threats, or with whom we are led to believe pose threats to our national security … enter stage right (or left) the spectre of political propaganda.

At its most basic, our insecurity is merely an expression of our frailty, the fragility of our existence on Earth. From the most insignificant to the most catastrophic consequences, it will lead us on to do stuff we really don’t need to do; to do and say things to other people that neither need to be done nor said. It even drives us to dream of leaving Earth and going into space to discover ‘life’ on other planets. At best this is vanity; delusion. At worst it is a distraction from the reality of having to solve our worldly problems here on Earth and a denial that we have the ability to do so.

In the Western World, the shopaholic, fashionista, obsessive pursuer of status all fear being inadequate, being seen to be inadequate, being seen to be less than well healed, being ineffectual, unable to afford the deemed desirable symbols of status … job title, house, exotic holiday, digital gadget, posh car. The car behind me, that fills my rear view mirror: is the driver really in a hurry, or filled with such insecurity, anxious thoughts that makes them feel they have to overtake me, even if the consequences of doing so will be dire. Is it an expression of their own status, that their car is better than mine and they should therefore be in front and not behind me? Are they thinking clearly, or are they just so agitated that they have lost their ability to be rational about what is truly important in their life?

In the Third World, insecurities are real even though, amongst some, there increasingly exists the enticing lure of a rich materialistic life, there are far to many impoverished people, who cannot fend for themselves for whom the water well is just too far to walk, for whom there is little hope of any kind of life, let alone a materialistic one.

The root of it all is insecurity. Why? Why do we have this emotional, testosterone driven response in a world full of resources; a world that, in spite of the fear mongers, is patently capable of supporting all its peoples, but for greed. Greed by a minority of individuals to have more than their fair share of those resources, tends to lead us on to want the same. So we all in turn aspire to become ‘wealthy’, which for most of us means ‘appearing’ to be well off, to a greater or lesser extent. And we are encouraged to do so by those who will benefit most from our consequent indebtedness. Giving up even a little of what we have is hard to do, maybe because we have had to give so much blood, sweat and tears to acquire it or maybe because we have inherited it and feel we have a right to possess it; that we are entitled? Each of us has our own reason for feeling insecure.

In ‘Waging Peace’ this month, I think The BeZine is asking us the question: how can we change the way we are? How can we stop ourselves from being greedy? How can we stop the rot, this dangerous cycle of grab as grab can, the fundamental fear that if we do give up a bit of what we have, if we give something of ourselves away, if we sublimate our ego, our personal desires, it will weaken us, make us vulnerable to being ‘taken over’ by those who would not give credence to any kind of altruism or philanthropy; moreover there’s an underlying resentment that by giving something away, some unworthy person may exploit you and benefit from it. Above all we may lose control of our lives.

And there we go again, into that vicious cycle! I feel myself getting angry at the thought of being ripped off by some greedy sociopathic personality, incapable of contrition, incapable, maybe by virtue of their genetic coding, their upbringing, the environment in which they grew up, that caused them grief, unhappiness, a feeling of disenfranchisement, a sense of desperation to do more than survive, be just ‘ok’. They want more, and more, and more until, maybe, there will be no more to have.

Side-lit Trees on Whitwell Moor (photo: John N Anstie)

I have thought, I have talked and written these words, but I still don’t truly have a solution, other than to try and learn the lessons taught to us by those rare human spirits and saintly beings, who have from time to time inhabited this Earth; who have been so humane, so selfless, so utterly giving of all they ever had to others. Somewhere deep in the spirit of all of us, there is this potential, this possibility that must be worth fighting for; that must be worth making conflict ‘so last year’, to see some light shining through the forest and make a new resolution to wage the peace.

© 2019 John Anstie

Pity the Nation, Voices of the Poet Prophets, Gibran & Ferlinghetti

Lebanese-American poet, Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) public domain illustration

Pity The Nation
Khalil Gibran, 1933, “The Garden of the Prophet”

Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion.
Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,
and that deems the glittering conqueror bountiful.

Pity a nation that despises a passion in its dream,
yet submits in its awakening.

Pity the nation that raises not its voice
save when it walks in a funeral,
boasts not except among its ruins,
and will rebel not save when its neck is laid
between the sword and the block.

Pity the nation whose statesman is a fox,
whose philosopher is a juggler,
and whose art is the art of patching and mimicking.

Pity the nation that welcomes its new ruler with trumpeting,
and farewells him with hooting,
only to welcome another with trumpeting again.


American poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b. 1919), photo credit voxtheory under CC BY-SA 2.0 license

“PITY THE NATION”
– Lawrence Ferlinghetti (After Khalil Gibran) 2007

Pity the nation whose people are sheep
And whose shepherds mislead them
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars
Whose sages are silenced
And whose bigots haunt the airwaves
Pity the nation that raises not its voice
Except  to praise conquerors
And acclaim the bully as hero
And aims to rule the world
By force and by torture
Pity the nation that knows
No other language but its own
And no other culture but its own
Pity the nation whose breath is money
And sleeps the sleep of the too well fed
Pity the nation oh pity the people
who allow their rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away
My country, tears of thee
Sweet land of liberty!

Link HERE for more of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry

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

On Innocence

Below the infant school and nursery
we work on chemical weapons.

Every child is a bomb.
Parents hold the trigger button.

Our hospital is a munitions factory,
Our churches are suicide training centres.

All our official military installations are fake.
Beneath family holiday centres we are nuclear.

© 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

Boats on Blue

Bodies and souls from
distraught lands shell out
thirty pieces of silver
to ride the waves to freedom.
Finding too late
that they have
paid the price of their
own betrayal,
overfilled, leaky craft
capsize, spilling warm blooded
cargo into cold blue seas

Souls float above
Broken bodies float below.
Some, still alive grab onto bits
and pieces of their dream
long enough for
those few who care to
to reach them, pull them out, —
But it is not well.
No, it is not well for their souls
nor for ours.

© 2019, Joan Leotta

Damascus Cloak

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

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

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

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

© 2019, Joan Leotta

the rock tumbler

 

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

 

® 2019, Charles W. Martin

My Five-Five Fingers

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019, Tomisin Olusola Martins

Flowers of Embers

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

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

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

© 2019,Tomisin Olusola Martins 

Only Collaboration

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019, Carolyn O’Connell

The Totem Stump

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

© 2018, Myra Schneider

Open Door

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019, Moe Seager

The Irony of Plowshares

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

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

(c) 2019, Mike Stone  

Drop the Guns and Let Us Be Poets

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

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

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