Volume 8 Life of the Spirit Issue 4
Project Type: Volume 8 | Issue 4 | Life of the Spirit
Volume 8 December 15, 2021 Issue 4
Life of the Spirit
Cover art: May the Bluebird of Happiness be with you Always
©2021 Kat Patton
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
Life of the Spirit, Activism, and Healing
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
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Music & Video
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Be Inspired…Be Creative…Be Peace…Be
- Beguine Again, a community of Like-Minded People
- The Bardo Group Beguines, Page
- The BeZine 100TPC, Group – Featuring Best Practices
- The BeZine Arts and Humanities, Group – not just for poetry
Art: Landscape with Something Happening, Gerry Shepherd ©2021
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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
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!
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!
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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
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 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?
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
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Moon Days Details | Holly Day
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.
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
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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
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
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.
©2021 Judy DeCroce
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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.
©2021 Michael Dickel
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Participation Nineteen Shoveling | Christine Du Bois
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.”
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.
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.
Poetry ©2021 Christine Du Bois
All rights reserved