Winter 2021

Volume 8                  Life of the Spirit                  Issue 4

Introduction & Table of Contents

Contents V8N4

The  BeZine

Volume 8                  December 15, 2021                  Issue 4

Digital painting of two hands holding a bluebird, tan background with some shadows.

Life of the Spirit
and
Healing

Cover art: May the Bluebird of Happiness be with you Always
Digital Art
©2021 Kat Patton


Introduction

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”

Elie Wiesel, “One Must Not Forget”
U.S. News and World Report, 27 Oct. 1986

Elie Wiesel

Life of the Spirit, Activism, and Healing
Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize-winning author, at a news conference in Budapest, Hungary, in 2009.
Bela Szandelszky/AP Source

You may know the story from the book, Night. Born in what was then Romania in 1928, as a teenager Elie Wiesel experienced degradation, slavery, and starvation at the hands of the Nazis, a prisoner in Auschwitz-Birkenau and Buchenwald. The Nazis murdered his mother and younger sister on arrival at Auschwitz. He barely survived the Death March from Auschwitz to Buchenwald. His father died in Buchenwald, shortly after the Death March. Only after liberation did he and his two older sisters discover that the others had survived.

You may or may not know that after he left the camps, Wiesel lived in an orphanage for displaced survivors of the Holocaust in France. He went on to study in the Sorbonne, where Existentialists Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus influenced him and where he attended lectures by the philosopher Martin Buber. He read extensively, earning money for his studies by leading a choir and then becoming a journalist. He rebuilt his understanding of the world, which had always had a base in religion, using the humanities to help him understand the world and the wound to humanity that was the Holocaust and that echoes, in our time, with continuing hatred and genocide.

Wiesel bore witness to the Holocaust through writing about his own life and experience in the concentration camps and by acting on what he saw as the moral imperative of having survived the Holocaust. He reached out to others, to teach and to learn, and spoke out against forgetting the Holocaust and for the need to prevent genocide, becoming one of the most prominent Jews to do so, then possibly the most prominent person worldwide to do so. He moved into a spotlight on the world stage after winning the Nobel Peace Prize.


Even though his legacy has become synonymous with the Holocaust, Wiesel also wrote and lectured on religion, ethics, and moral philosophy. Joseph Berger wrote, shortly after Wiesel’s death:

Wiesel was defined not so much by the work he did as by the gaping void he filled. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, no voice had emerged to drive home the enormity of what had happened and how it had changed mankind’s conception of itself and of God. For almost two decades [before Night was published in English], the traumatized survivors—and American Jews, guilt-ridden that they had not done more to rescue their brethren—seemed frozen in silence.

He certainly anchored his own activism against oppression and genocide in his experience of the Holocaust. Bernard-Henri Lévy tells us that Wiesel:

ensured, through his work and henceforth in the minds of those inspired by that work, that the dark memory of that exception that was the Holocaust will not exclude—indeed, that the Holocaust requires—ardent solidarity with all of the victims of all other genocides.

Elie Wiesel continued breaking “frozen silence” by speaking out against human rights abuses.


Wiesel also lived a life of the spirit. He explored the Holocaust and religion, offering entry into a new way of speaking of God and of humanity. Steven Katz wrote:

In effect, in the decades after Auschwitz, Wiesel could not live with God, and he could not live without Him. What religious faith now remained available had to be rebuilt from the fragments of the tradition that had been shattered by the Death Camps.

Katz quotes Wiesel:

Perhaps someday someone will explain how, on the level of man, Auschwitz was possible; but on the level of God it will remain forever the most disturbing of mysteries.

John K. Roth explains that Wiesel holds God responsible, but also:

…never uses God’s responsibility to excuse human-kind. On the contrary, his insistence on human responsibility and its tortuous implications requires him to move from the general to the specific. Nazi perpetrators, bystanders (whose neutrality, indifference, and passivity aided the killers far more than the victims), even some of the victims themselves—all have a share of responsibility to bear.

Steven Katz adds that:

By the 1980s, however, his attitude [toward God], while never uncritical and never without a note of protest—and always involving the unresolved question of where was God at Auschwitz—became less confrontational, less hostile.

Then he quotes a 1997 New York Times essay Wiesel wrote, addressed to God:

In my testimony, I had written harsh words, burning words, about your role in our tragedy…Let us make up, Master of the Universe. In spite of everything that happened? Yes, in spite. Let us make up for the child in me. It is unbearable to be divorced from you so long.

Elie Wiesel’s life iconically embodies life of the spirit, activism, and healing.

—Michael Dickel, Editor

This is part of a larger work in progress
©2021 Michael Dickel and Fisher Features

Camus said, ‘Where there is no hope, one must invent hope.’ It is only pessimistic if you stop with the first half of the sentence and just say, There is no hope. Like Camus, even when it seems hopeless, I invent reasons to hope.”  

Elie Wiesel, TIME, “10 Questions for Elie Wiesel,” January 22, 2006 

  

Table of Contents


Poetry


Fiction


Music & Video


Creative NonFiction



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Art: Landscape with Something Happening, Gerry Shepherd ©2021

Poetry

One More Covid | Ed Ahern

One More Time

Before too long the covid masking will intrude into my life,
with muffled words and itchy face of public need,
and yet another shot to warranty against the looming rife
of viruses that seem to change with fiendish speed.

The obstinate among us stand their ground and often die
but not before they also often help it breed,
a nurture of a fatal part of nature better to defy
than to abet and proudly ask it in to feed.

Covid Largesse

Aesop got it wrong.
Or at least incomplete.
This life-long ant realizes
some of my money will outlive me.
And here comes a Covid check.
More for the kids? Not likely.
But how to best squander it?
I’m too old for expensive vices,
and already giving things away.
Spas and salons are wasted
on a wrinkled, bald man.
What’s left is geriatric dissipation.
Grasshopper trips and meals,
shows and concerts,
gorged on at sedate pace,
with lessened senses and focus
and an age restricted diet.

Gerry Shepherd
Poet in a Public Place
©2021

Poetry ©2021 Ed Ahern
All rights reserved

2020 | Yewande Akinsi

and we woke up here
somewhere inbetween apocalypse and the deep
somewhere neither here nor there, existing in time
we awoke as in a dream of the night
to behold the reflection of fate on a broken mirror
tainted visions, blood bath, body count
and a pandemic on powerful prowl
we awoke to slumber
awoke to slain numbers
awoke to hounding fear
in the streets and corners

and we woke up here
somewhere in between a dream and nightmare

©2021 Yewande Akinsi
All rights reserved

Rebirth Stage | Elisha Alladina

Rebirth of my Soul

Rebirth of my soul
Through stories untold
My past life experiences
And current life adventure

A part of me died
Many months I’ve cried
But I was born again
Through feeling the pain

I sipped the darkness
Disobeyed His highness
Grew wings from this flight
And decided to fight

A battle with insecurities
My depression will cease
Will use my sword to heal
And change how I deal

Stage Makeup

Stage makeup
To hide my true getup
It masks the cry
One big smile

Stage makeup
When I go out
Adorned with layers
To hide my tears

Stage makeup
Like a sad clown
I dress up in colours
When feeling down

Stage makeup
I can’t cheer up
The circus is over
Time for a makeover

©2021 Elisha Alladina
All rights reserved

A Day in the Real Lives of Angels | John Anstie

Not so very long ago, when I was fit 
as a butcher’s dog, what seems like
a time warp passing across the Milky Way 
when the seeds of our downfall were sown 
in a way that’s beyond comprehension, 
there grew a progenitor, an apocalyptic 
but as yet unknown force, more powerful 
than anything we knew, to which we 
could never yield, because we had 
no choice, like war, but without plans.

The victims are dazed, half conscious, 
half alive, inflamed and drowning in 
black water, systems fractured, powered off 
including ordnance, a military defensive 
without armour, damage limitation for 
lost causes, no time to bury their dead 
the wives and mothers, sons and daughters 
husbands, fathers, family and friends 
left out in the cold. No touching of hands 
bereavement on hold, for some other time
another world, some other parallel existence. 

As if in that other unreachable, longed for 
place of sanctuary and rest, Elysian Fields 
where angels dare with mercy’s offered
by saints with greatest care, unprotected 
in spite of fallible humanity, disregarding 
concern for their own… 

This is what they came to do. Isn’t it true 
they save lives, these compassionate heroes
these very normal, extraordinarily ordinary 
supernaturally humane people, who walk 
among us, the ordinary, extraordinarily lucky 
human beings. Do we truly deserve them? 
From time to time, we show appreciation 
for their dedication as they run between 
the cracks and the faults in our lives. 

But we rarely see behind their professional 
masks, the anxieties, the personal struggles, 
the humanity that exudes from every pore 
even when you look them straight in their eyes 
in the line of fire, they prepare a family for 
the inevitable, another ending too close 
to the last. Overwhelmed by new beginnings 
and more bad NEWS…

The truth that is too sanitised for consumption 
in our comfy armchair homes, we only want 
to hear not this; not what we truly need to know. 
But how else will we comprehend an urgent need 
To cry. To lobby. To action. To shout from the hilltop 
To understand. To march and never give up 
lighting the fire and fighting the liar in the dock 
fighting for the right to life, the right to social justice 
not the right to exploit for greed, for enrichment 
for personal gain, or rebel against natural wisdom 
and science, or assert a semblance of civil rights. 

Civil Rights for whom? 

Whose pain and suffering will this alleviate?  
How much will those angels and saints endure? 
Facing an onslaught of mind-numbing ignorance, 
whilst facing their own demise? How long for those 
who mourn, to rise and grieve for the final tingling 
touch of a hand? For their spring, barely sprung 
their lives just begun, not yet able to understand 
what they are losing ... and the angels chose to care. 

A haunting echo of children singing, somewhere 
across the playground, somewhere across the universe, 
somehow you feel an unexpected swelling in the depths
of your throat that caught you by surprise, unaware.

How dare their sweetest innocence awaken this grief 
inside, a fear of Armageddon, after a daylong toll of death 
you were at your most vulnerable, you were least prepared 
least able to hold it all inside. Your defences were down.

There is no denying this feeling, when all is said and done.
From out of the mouths of children, who opened your eyes 
to coming home, to reconciliation, to finding your love
came your most important gift of all … your own truth. 

This piece of writing is based on a sort of interview style conversation with a friend, a Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, who has been at the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic since it started. I am very grateful to her that she participated willingly, at times almost as if she was glad of an opportunity to talk about what she has been  through with someone outside of the medical establishment, outside of the claustrophobic bubble that has constricted her life for so long, but to which she has dedicated herself with unquestioning professionalism. One very remarkable and courageous woman.


©2021 John Anstie
All rights reserved

Little Amal | John Anstie

A larger than life puppet, as huge as the journey. A Walk 
into the multiverse, multinational, multiracial, multiplying
to seek out new friends, searching for family, connecting
us all, so that half the World knows, the other half may 
…in time, one day.

She will discover, everywhere that she goes 
on an empty beech full of sea-washed shoes 
a fest or fair, a village or a city full of strangers 
it'll matter no more if her journey ends well 
but so much depends on who writes the story…
the victors or vanquished
the divisive or divided 
the greedy or needy.

She doesn’t need history to know how it feels
to want or to need, to love and to feed and
feel the touch of her mother, her siblings’ play
the deeply felt loss of being too far away
the dearth of her years, the tracks of her tears
write their own story on a weather worn cheek
betray all her fears, bring her home somewhere 
… somewhere as alien as another planet. 

Another strange world where the weather is cold 
with seasons that brace your bodily defences
then shock your feelings till they come to their senses
till they touch you on your almost unreachable hand
sing songs, recite poems, tell tales of life in strange 
tongues, but sometimes, to surprise you, in your own. 
If only you were older, and bolder with a sense 
of the history of an imperialist, colonial past. 
Now irony is casting its net and repeating the cycle.  

This jumped up imperialism and privilege dictates
who should stay, who should go. Or perhaps 
there’s a war or a famine, or both, that ignites
a desperate diaspora, an up-rooting of life 
more horrid than the terrors each night in the jungle 
out of sight, out of mind, the children, our children 
just maybe we don’t understand. Surviving the journey 
missing meals, kicking heals, waiting for someone 
to offer you charity, to offer the hand of welcome
and compassion … yes, compassion, like food in so 
many places and ways, is in short supply these days.

Then who can provide and who will decide
who can stay, who will go, who drowns, who will stray
but those who decide, haven’t a clue what to do 
but the children survive for time being, live in the hope 
that one day, the all seeing will cool us all down 
and save an overheating world from it’s most 
unpopular creature, whose numbers still feature 
most often in bringing its battles and wars to a head
‘till the bodies and the money pile up, ‘till, by some
unfathomable cruel twist of fate, the decision’s too late.

Then the World will be able to breathe once again
and Little Amal and all who will follow, may have seen
that the miles of their lives would ultimately mean
that those lives whom she touched as she cut through 
their compromised cultural divisions, melded together 
a simple revision of all that they formerly believed. 

For a moment she replaced all our concepts of greed 
with compelling images of the desperate need
for compassion and love, for stories that tell us 
how fragile and frail, dependent and faulty we are
how we’re all joined together 'till we’re forced to be fed
by hands that lie outside our realms and control.

But those who would lead persist in their partisan quest
to retain the status quo of their cultural wars, political zest
to eliminate open-minded discussion, Socratic debate …
will the horse have bolted long after we’ve bolted the gate?

So, Little Amal and the hoards who will follow, as their world 
falls apart, hotter still, runs dry, ‘till all that is left is barren 
with dust and the ashes of a civilised age, and a people 
who forgot to look after the only source of their life. 

Are we listening? Critical thinking? Can she heal the World?
Can we save her and ourselves and hold onto the Earth 
… by reconnecting its fracturing parts, and rejoining hands?

About Little Amal

Little Amal’s story began in Good Chance Theatre‘s award-winning play, “The Jungle”. The critically-acclaimed production was based on the stories encountered by Good Chance Theatre’s founders, Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, when they created their first Theatre of Hope in the 2015 infamous Calais refugee camp. Little Amal appeared as a character in The Jungle who represented the hundreds of unaccompanied minors in the Calais camp who were separated from their families. Following the success of The Jungle, which contributed to a global conversation about refugees and shared humanity, Good Chance felt Little Amal’s story still had so much more to say…so the creators of the famous Warhorse, Handspring Puppet Company created the larger than life young girl.

Little Amal made what was titled “The Walk”. This was an incredible 8,000 km (5,000 miles) from Turkey’s border with Syria. So many refugees have started their trek from this far away. Little Amal’s walk took her across Europe to complete her journey in Manchester in the UK.

At the last moment, the organisers decided to add one further destination to The Walk, which meant that Little Amal headed for the crowded streets of Glasgow at the height of COP26. This would draw attention to the refugee problem, which is not only caused by war and famine, but also by the diaspora which will increasingly be due to global warming as the average temperatures of the large continental masses across our planet will continue to rise. These parts of our world are threatened with the outcome of being turned into barren dust bowls, possibly even within the lifetime of some of those, who are alive today.

Introductions to Little Amal and The Walk…

The Walk has been an extraordinary demonstration of how art can respond to a crisis of global proportions. It was more moving and touching than I could ever have imagined. You might find it interesting to watch a couple of the many YouTube videos of Little Amal’s journey and the story of those, who brought her to life. I may lift your spirits.

And more video about Little Amal…


Also by John Anstie in this issue:
Little Amal Goes to Wentworth Castle — Creative Nonfiction


©2021 John Anstie
All rights reserved

Motifs | Gary Beck

Hard Times

On many street corners
of my fair city
the homeless sit
resources exhausted,
the tattered cardboard signs
requesting aid
the last connection
between abandonment
and termination,
alternate options
totally expended.
Miroslava Panayotava
photo 1
©2021

Lunacy

Another school shooting.
Some of us grieve
for the lost children.
The President visits,
gives us thumbs up,
grins for the cameras,
another photo op
to tell us he cares,
but he just makes things worse.
Crazies cite the second amendment
as their right to buy automatic rifles.
Our leaders don’t understand
authority in the constitution
isn’t for nazi supremacists,
but was originally conceived
for the men and boys
who rushed to arms in 1775
at Lexington and Concord,
a well-regulated militia,
not like the nuts 
who allow AR-15s
to get into the hands
of demented shooters.


And the Children Shall Lead Them

Let’s put the kids in charge.
They can’t do much worse
then the current leadership.
They’re not venal and corrupt.
Maybe they’re inexperienced,
but it’s hard to be more ignorant
than the men and women
who can’t keep our government running.
Someday, the children of our young people
would like to breathe clean air,
not be helpless victims
of economic exploitation,
live in a safe land
where automatic weapons
weren’t the catch of the day.
It is painfully obvious
the system isn’t working,
except for the privileged.
Perhaps it’s time for an experiment,
select high school seniors on merit,
test them, find out what they know,
what they’re willing to learn.
We should design special courses
in government operations,
economics, the list goes on.
Let them run things for a while.
If it’s a disaster
we’ll go back to the old ways.
Let anyone with money,
influence, or connections,
purchase high office
however unqualified,
and not serve the people.

Poetry ©2021 Gary Beck
All rights reserved

Flag Confidential Lies | Faruk Buzhala

The Flag

It's a great pleasure
to write one young poet
poem for you.
To express, words to you
to unfold, one's feelings for you
to reveal, thinks to you.
....................................
I'm fascinated,
a little bit frustrated,
in a poem
which, like a present. comes
in one night without moon
where I was watching
from a window
the mountain top…
thinking about you!
Gerry Shepherd
Variant Two
©2021

Confidential Game 2

Furkani has style
But his style is stolen!

Furkani changes style
But they still steal it!

Furkani is left with no style,
Now he needs to create a new style!

And creates a superstyle;
Surprisingly they steal it again!
Gerry Shepherd
The Mask
©2021

Lies

I made my lie for the road
And I told it,
Fly like a wind!
It left in the morning,
And when it returned in the evening,
What to see?
It was growing, it was swollen
And perverted
So I did not recognize it!
Miroslava Panayotava
Autumn, acrylic and oil
©2021

Poetry ©2021 Faruk Buzzhala
All rights reserved

Mother Peace Meditation | Lorraine Caputo

Show Me Our Future, Sisters

I. Our Past Pours from Nine Cups

From our pasts
     we gather our pooled 
          waters of
Sweat       & tears
Into our communal fountain
     we have poured
          our labors       for work       & children
               our joys & our sorrows
We dance      & sing
     jump & dive
          into this gathering
               of Life

II. Daughters of Discs Holds Out Our Hopes & Fears

& here we stand
          solitary
     in a circle of protection
Giving thanks
     for another day of life
Gathering energy
     within our vessel
Clasping a sacred pipe
Naked
     unashamed of who we are
Always knowing
     our village awaits
          to welcome us home

III. The Strength of Eight Discs

Miroslava Panayotava
memories, digital
©2021
Our strength
     is the many blankets we weave
Blankets to warm & protect
Blankets of the many 
     designs of our 
          individual beings
We shall share these
     huddled together
          laughing & storytelling
               during the cold winters
                    to come
     huddled together
          singing & praying
               spread out upon
                    verdant meadows

IV. A Two-Cupped Challenge

The challenge       the challenge
     of a siren singing to
          our male part
     a siren calming       taming
          our patriarchal world
The challenge
     to sing       & swim free
          as our peaceful
               dolphin sisters
The challenge       of remembering
     we all nourish one another
          water to earth to sky
          male to female
Under a crescent grandmother moon
     we shall
          meet our challenge
               drinking from one another’s cup

V. Our Future Is Justice

& there       & here
     our future
We have gathered the forces
     water       & earth
     female       & male
     human       & animal       & plant
Beneath the mighty
     Tree of Life
          Yggdrasil       the Ceiba
Roots deep into our Mother
     into our past
Growing upward
     spreading our limbs

Previously published in Woman Scream (Dominican Republic: Editorial Rosado Fucsia, 2020). 


Poetry ©2020 Lorraine Caputo
All rights reserved

weeps economic cancer in the land | Chinedu Jonathan Ichu

why weeps the brogan?

i exist as a fact
you were enslaved as my muse
now we don't see eye to eye
i stole the truth from natures liquid haystack
wrestled it deep inside the crust of my chest
sorry can't give it back today,
its root hair bounds me, has refused to give up on me
it professed to my zealous heart's throb
and also to an undying fighting spirit
it continuously tickle my fancy
not to worry there will be plenty to go round
once it begins to sprout.

economic cancer of the bone

When the heart beats turmoil 
men become dead instincts 
animals dressed in polyester skin
regardless of their mother tongue
they pounce on warm blooded reeds
ready to devour their fleshly twilight 
you were meant to nurture these sweetened daffodils 
old enough to have strolled out your loin

not chain their virtue to the vent in your ugly cold room.

there is hunger in the land

wayward politicians are pointing accusing fingers
there are mouths agape
ready to devour justice
they no longer care
if it still remains the common mans last resort
my inside growls in anger
warning me in advance of an imminent outburst
rage fills up its spiked moist tentacles
that has ripped up my entire visceral to shreds
i scream...locked up in a feudal position
i demand a compilation of all our looted funds
my vertebral column strikes my flesh from within
"let me out, am sick and tired of this colorless cistern

it's has being cursed from within the embers of a caustic tongue."

©2021 Chinedu Jonathan Ichu
All rights reserved

Eight Poems | Linda Chown

Ageing

Sometimes I feel like I'm ageing, 
backwards, i don't know 
how we can go forth
when we're sinking so fast
under malevolent ignorance
And spring is shining so
bewitchingly.
When I think of Spain,
which I do in my sleep,  in my dreams,  in my everywhere,
I see women in black all clean
with ardent faces and a smile
below all that plain pain 
I hear Spain, their tongue-driven voices
rambunctiously them.
Please dear humanity
Do not let them be splayed and
Agonized like death clouds again.

Heart

As of now that rising sound 
Below my neck reminds me of Baku,
And Boris my remote cousin. It is that
I’m not breathing like I should be.
It is like it happens apart from me.
I stare and listen hard to that whine.
It’s as though I’m carrying Geronimo 
up high on CaveFighters Hill.
Only the lonely would complain 
and only the lonely will remain 
here in a vast vat of love
of understanding and profundity,
a way to live for you and me.
Stay away from green eggs 
and purple devastation.
Don’t, like a cavalier, give your 
heart away to the hawks.
As Katherine says in The English Patient 
the “heart is an organ of fire.”
Be sure to keep that organ
with another: to cast your lightning 
into each other’s excited airs.

Some Times

Inspired by The Rolling Stones

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need

It’s like I don’t write a poem to explode out 
It’s like I don’t write a poem to complain in
It’s like when I start to hear the call to write
I start to float it’s like to float inconspicuous 
It’s like pieces of time and what’s mine join 
In a moment of homeostasis overtime 
It’s like poetry is a sublime 
coming together.  Feast and famine 
Holding place in this oneness 
A permanent addition like a mission 
Which we can make when pieces of time 
And what’s mine align in homeostasis sublime
To be ours for hours making such oneness rhyme.

How Sarah Saw to Herself

Miroslava Panayotava
Roses
digital art
©2021
at night in a quiet room
she sank deep into the lights of dreaming, 
to hold on to what she was 
finding out about seeing colors,
nuances shaping up in the night. 
Her always wide eyes. Wheezes
knocking at the doors of her chest 
like shutters flapping in a Texas wind.
The decisive whack of wood.

Even when nobody heard her 
hear to say the fabric of what 
she was coming to know to think,
When she was all locked up little 
in those taffeta clothes, tiny buttons and plackets,
tight around her. When she was bending 
her toes around, wriggling them, just to tell 
how she saw to herself. To remember the smooth spots 
that she knew she knew by heart
but only when she was alone 
those times fitting into herself 
while she was in the corner 
coming to settle into herself.

Just knowing how she was
in that light of hers darkly,
paddling the peeling moments like a sailor
and starching the intricate fibers of memory 
with near collarbone precision.
Her voice a feather of tulips in the morning.

There Came This Big Rush

So when and if then,
there came this big rush, 
a rash of factors 
which took you back to
a giant shadow of memory
on the waterfront, 
California light falling 
and breathing in, then,
it was when history was, 
seemingly sublime, 
in the kind of closeness
we would die for, then, 
but it was happening, here,  
now longshoremen big armed 
talking like veteran labor leaders. 
Tillie Olson said a Mrs. Dalloway idea,
pondering soft. It was all bodies 
and more, beyond the blue line, blessed.
It was people living, bulging themselves.
In mass, together, out loud voluptuous:
It was real life warm out of the factory
lasting like Sunday hotcakes.

The Breath of my Blood

These two years  
Have thickened me, left me bewildered, 
High and dry as the debris in an elephant’s eye, 
Ringing unanswered bells in white hell halls.  
How I wanted to run again  
And to seem determined.  
How the breath of my blood  
Stiffened and I came to 
Look nice without my old exotic,  
That fire in a thin emphatic face,   
Those lingering lips and know it all eyes, 
How my feet grow restlessly stiff  
How I sleep with oxygen  
How I have gotten permanently 
Sick dramatically and unrecoverably smitten 

It Was He Who Knew

It would be Blake who knew 
It was the body which made us fair,  
More than stray stone bullets. 
His world was so physical 
His inner light transfused matter 
Into a moan of joy rushing in  
To the plenty of us all so physical 
That each petal of our being 
Sang itself way before Whitman 
Blake grew the Cartesian split into harmony. 
He made us big again, 
Big in our girth and our worth. 

He would take the full nine yards of us:  
“You never know what is enough  
unless you know what is more than enough,” he dared.  
And he feasted and saturated and wept sublime  
to encounter what he saw with a naked burly view. 

His path was not to split body and soul. 
Nay, he wept the veins and nerves whole.

The Reunion of the Soul and Body
William Blake, 1813

The cloudy shores of today

If life is now more of an adverb,
Participles all stuck in the sun,
Wrapped sticky in virus,
All we say now is how we see it
Not what, since facts died with Trump
So verily how we find each other is the final 
Dusty piece to play for dessert each to each 
It’s Kafka au lait in the cloudy shores of today.

©2021 Linda Chown
All rights reserved

Somehow, Soon | DeWitt Clinton

Oh, Nothing Much, You?

Well, yes, we do have a few puny pale yellow day lilies
Bursting forth in our little universe, the size of the lot
I’d have to look up if you’re that curious, and I’ve set
Down some tiny grass seeds near the sidewalk to 
Replace whacked grass the mowing crew always likes
To take down to the nub.  Other than that, we’re looking
Forward to more movies which we’ve already seen,
And we’re always tempted to see “Burn After Reading”
Again, and maybe again, as it’s fun to say the lines along
With the hilarious discombobulated, but we know none 
Of it’s true, but we always think it is, and it is, of course,
Somewhere, but not here, yet, though the way things
Are developing around here, anything might pop in
Into our tiny little universe. Of course, we’re gloved
And masked, as we have no way to know where those
Tiny floating bugs are that want to slip down our nose
Into our old lungs, and since both of them, hers and 
Mine, are not exactly in great shape, we’re doing all
We know how to do, but we do get very frightened
Anytime, anytime, all the time we turn on the telly
And learn that we’re back to April with even higher
Infections so that makes both of us want to stop
Breathing at all, but then, after a few seconds we
Gasp for air, having no real assurances from anyone
We’re not already lined up to be stacked in the morgue
Like so many of our dear friends have ended up, but
If you think about it, and haven’t you had time to 
Think about it as well, well, we’re mostly into survival
Mode, eating more asparagus and Brussels sprouts 
That we would never have dreamed of but we’re
Hopeful the sandstorm from the Sahara will not only
Blot out all the light around here, but also give a 
Good whack to those floating, nasty critters who
Don’t like at all a sandblasting into their micro- 
Impossible-to-believe-they’re-still-here-with-us.
Yes, pour some more of that, and how’s by you?

Anytime, Possibly

Someday, one of us isn’t going to be around
The other, and that hasn’t happened before,
Except for the occasional trip to you know where,
Or other times which are now so hard to put
Back into our old brains now, but then, 
Each one of us wants the other to step up
To what each of us can’t imagine, and lately
I’ve seen a lot of old friends do the very same
Thing, step up, cope, figure It out, go out 
For a walk, maybe all day, though then there’d
Be less food on our little bed trays, and of
Course, less trash, overall, but one of those
Days, we’d start to wonder how we’re going
(and it’s not exactly we’re going) to cope with
All those dresses and suits and shoes downstairs
Which one of us said, let someone else take
Care of that, and I think I know who that’s
Going to be, so I’ll step up, or down, and see
What’s there that’s going to different stores
That might want to feature all the fashions
One of us is no longer wearing and just the
Thought of that makes me think I’ll wear black
Or white all day, maybe all night, yet for what
Reason I have no idea, though I sense a lot
Of single spouses might wonder the same thing,
Getting used to not saying, “I’m home,” when
Of course, you’re home, not you, but me, of
Course there’s the cat, so the “I’m home” 
Could be just as good as before, but not before
Pets to the head, or tail, hearing a little squeak
Which for the present, will have to do. That
Seems about right doesn’t it, the sort of that
Will have to do, at least for a while, until 
Something else unexpected might go wrong,
And then someone else will have to finish
What I couldn’t get around to with all that time. 

Somehow, Soon, We’ll Ascend into the Clouds

Thanks for even wondering if we’re still here as
We don’t step out that much anymore, and our 
Last dining out ended up carrying it all back home,
But it was tasty, especially the grilled tuna with
All those delicious peppers and onions nestled
Nicely together in warm cubed feta and olives 
Which makes all of us wish we were back again
On the Mediterranean island where we took
A lift straight up the mountain side to behold
Island top shops and restaurants just for the 
Curious who were living off shore in spacious
Apartments, some with balconies, so we could
All gaze out over the blue waters to watch dolphins
Sail so happily just above the waves, but that
Was long ago, wasn’t it, and now we’re in lock-
Down hoping to save our old lungs from what
None of us ever expected to travel around the
Globe with such frightening speed, as if WWI
Wasn’t enough, a plague-like flu wiped away
So many who had just entered into the new
And frightening world which some of us 
can still remember, not the first part, as that
Would make us older than anything living
On the planet, and so much is no longer
Living, but we are hopeful, as just yesterday
Astronomers applauded the possibility of life
On Venus, though getting there, from here,
Seems a long shot, and possibly not in our
Lifetime, but that’s really beside the point,
Isn’t it, as all we really have is the idea that
Clouds out there, somewhere, might drift
Toward earth in several million years, long
After Aunt Lucy or cousin Geraldine have 
Turned to dust as by then almost everything
Will be dust, and that’s what we really wonder
About after all this effort, to find something,
Something interesting, only to know by then
The planet will probably re-create itself and
To our delight, a few will crawl out of the 
Cesspool oceans, and make a life on a beach,
Something like the one we enjoyed so much
As we ascended with other travelers way up
Onto the most loveliest of old-world islands.

©2021 DeWitt Clinton
All rights reserved

Moon Days Details | Holly Day

Gerry Shepherd
Variant One
©2021

Full Moon

We put through the request for more teeth, sharper teeth
retractable claws and thicker skin. The directive is fright
but it takes a couple tries before Development gets it right.

The changes need to be quickly reversible, otherwise
the game will be over before it begins. We punch the new changes
into the computer cards with careful precision, feed them through the input slot, 
wait. 

The changes correspond with the full moon, plenty of light
to make sure the schematics were followed properly. 
already, we note where improvements could be made, plan careful phrasing 
so as not to offend the tech department.

3 Days

I have the sudden desire

To eat paint chips, drink turpentine, root around in the garden
For toadstools and mushrooms
Fight a bear. The phone sits in its cradle, refusing to liberate me

From all of the good choices in life that brought me to this point
The conscious good-food choices and intermittent exercise
The firm shake of my head when offered dangerous substances

To ingest, to smoke, to shove up my ass.
There are things I did that could have led me to this point
But it doesn’t seem like there were enough.

Details and Damning

She tried to only focus on the cool, crisp raspy scratch
of starched hospital sheets, focus on how her sweat refused to be absorbed 
into the rubber mattress just beneath the sheets
clung to her backside in a warm pool. She wondered if
she rolled over, it would look as though she’d wet the bed
if she could roll over, if her friends would just look away
embarrassed for her, but she couldn’t roll over, she knew she couldn’t.

Her friends gathered around her bed and tried to distract her
from the chance, the fact, no, the chance, let’s not lose hope
that she would never be able to roll over again, to walk again
might never leave this room again, maybe frighten her 
away from the edge of death,  because yes, there could be death 
looming somewhere in the room, perhaps even capital D Death, 
a specter only she could see.
She would get better soon, they assured her.
They’d come by every day until she could come home.

There were more inane words of encouragement
from her parents, her lover, a stranger who had seen the accident
from the rails of a highway overpass, a stranger who kept describing
the accident in excited detail, as though someone in the room
might be writing a book about her accident
and he wanted them to get it right. All she remembered was seeing
rabbits scurrying out of the way as she spun out of control
a deer staring, curious, from the safety of a nearby stand of birch and fir
brittle, yellow cornstalks rising in waves to catch the car as it finally fell.

©2021 Holly Day
All rights reserved

Trees About Ghost | Judy DeCroce

The Posture of Trees

unexpectedly, 
a year has spilled its worn days along the path

breaching a stand where years lay—
where colors shuffle

autumn tags beneath and above 

like the posture of trees
I stand as straight as I can 
feeling taller
going on

Previously published by Wellington Street Review / June 2019

Peter Wilkin
October
©2021

Coming About

over waste and blessings
I summon one—one step—one foot
then the next,

maybe one long stride into an evening gray boat

to where hope will tack a reflection,
stir a swell
crossing a sudden breach

through this journey
I reach for a welcoming harbor
that still lies too long away
Miroslava Panayotava
By the River
water color
©2021

Even My Personal Ghost

crouches eyeless, harmless, perhaps

pretending ordinary,
with no will of her own.

So much remains to be done.

If lost, remember the rituals
pass into possibilities through
my silhouette and beyond.

Catch up!

Catch up when light falls
and my senses cross into night…
                                  please, promise to follow.
Miroslava Panayotava
Girl, 3
drawing
©2021

©2021 Judy DeCroce
All rights reserved

Fast-talking slow-walking | Michael Dickel

I need to write to outrun hungry demons, 
to build a new me to replace the old. 
I need to tear down stone walls of resistance, escape
anchor blocks dragging in sand of man-entropy,
gravity molding me in the murky bottom. 

Subliminal fractures reshape my structures
into a me I schemed to avoid—ruptures
of who I came to be ripping through calloused skin.
The demons chase this fast-talking slow-walking
man, eat the cheesiness of his nightstand.
My minds slip out of sight like aces sliding from a sleeve.

I need to piece together a paradox, a slipperiness,
masked confusion—one person out of many impossibilities.
One person with so many masks. One mask for so many personae.
I need to write me, to replace as soon as I can demons
outrunning my old-man’s soul. Building, building, building,
until I understand that humanity lies in the earth below
the bull’s bellow—so only my own tongue speaks, no other.
Fast-talkling slow-walking man…
Digital landscape from photographs
©2021 Michael Dickel

©2021 Michael Dickel
All rights reserved

Participation Nineteen Shoveling | Christine Du Bois

Participation

I do this as often as I can, 
because it’s really important, there’s an urgent need
for your type, they tell me.
It’s about giving, and although it’s not always comfortable,
and I have to wade through a shock of documents
so we’re all sure this is right,
it’s worth it.  It makes me feel useful, valuable,
a red-blooded citizen
contributing to the common good,
helping others who might not survive 
without community connections.
We all have unexpected moments of distress
when it matters—a lot—
whether some stranger already came and gave,
their arm stretched out and their 
life-giving gift, flowing,
flowing through the system to our need.
It’s really not so hard.  You have to register,
and there are personal questions to make certain
you aren’t disqualified.  
And certainly, you have to show up.
People explain the process to you.
You get your own special, private space.
There are buttons and beeps,  
and then you’ve given what you have to give,
and you leave, proudly sporting your sticker:
“I Voted Today.”
Edward Lee
We Will Face It Together (‘Other Seasons)
©2021

Nineteen

You are nineteen. You have nine lives,
but you don’t know that yet.
I am fifty-nine. I know about your other lives,
but not all of them, because some are still ahead of me.
You are nineteen, and your heart has shattered 
into utter, suffocating silence.
Rooms full of people who care about you,
but whom you strongly suspect would hand you
simplistic formulas for healing— 
maxims and recipes that would only make the searing
sear more—
these people are company, a comfort, and an overlying bandage, 
but not truly to be trusted.  
You are lashed and lonely, so lonely, 
a willow in an empty canyon, 
wondering where the water went, 
pushing back the screaming why, 
because there really isn’t any answer—
but mostly not daring to ask.
Is there any point for the willow to complain
or fuss or question
why the farmer redirected the cool, clear brook
somewhere else?
Is there any point in protesting
the subtle but unmistakable shaming
that comes from not fitting someone else’s narrative, 
from having dared to spread your timid branches
in a manner organic for you
but disruptive for them?
What could a willow do anyway?
So, your roots bend now, 
searching the emptiness, and yearning,
and you pretend. You go on.
You will have nine lives at least.
You do not know that yet.
But I know, and I see you and your hidden, arid roots
and I reach back across decades,
and I water you with nine thousand loving tears.
Miroslava Panayotava
In the Country
Digital art
©2021

Shoveling

Shoveling sorrow
is like shoveling snow:
you have to be strategic.
Don’t waste strength
trying to make it all look tidy.
Life’s mutts and muddy boots
will surely ruin that work.
Instead, shift your
sorrow snow just enough
so it won’t trap you.

You have to think about
how to bend to pick it up
and where you’ll put it, for
it’s wet and heavy 
and exhausting.
And after the crusty glitter--
the glamour of feeling--
has fled, 
you needn’t pretend
that it’s pretty.

You have to be careful
towards yourself, 
not to slip on ice so slick 
with melting
that you’re mashed
against your own story.
Mind all melting.
And wear mittens,
because even powder softness
can block
your blood supply.

You have to be careful
towards yourself.
Every year
people die of heart attacks
while shoveling snow
or sorrow.
Miroslava Panayotava
Winter
oil
©2021

Poetry ©2021 Christine Du Bois
All rights reserved