Posted in 100,000 Poets, Musicians, Artists and Activists for Change, The BeZine, The BeZine Table of Contents, TheBeZine

The BeZine September 2020, Vol. 7, Issue 4 — Social Justice

September is an extra special month over here at the BeZine. This year, our theme for September is “Social Justice,” in an effort to call awareness to global poverty, homelessness, and inequality. And we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC). The BeZine will hold a virtual 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) Reading / Music / Art Event on September 26th, 2020 and co-host a live-streaming All Africa Symposium of Poetry Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of 100TPC. In the words of one of the Co-founders for 100TPC—

The need for positive change is greater than ever and we must not let our spirits diminish in the task of speaking up for change.

Michael Rothenberg, 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Below is my humble offering to the movement. Please come share with us and check out some of the others as we dare to make a real difference for those in need.

—Corina Ravenscraft, core team member


Matthew 25:40 by Cameron John Robbins

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” ~ Matthew 25:40 KJV Bible


~ Under ~

Homeless Joe, has nowhere
to go. He lives under a bridge;
not a troll, just poor.
(Not in some third-world country, no).
Crazy Jane lives under
a delusion—from voices
of people not here anymore.
(In the land of the free and the home of the brave).
Carmen, a single mother of five,
lives under the stigma
of using food stamps to eat.
(In America, the poor are victimized, you know).
Speed-freak Charlie lives under
the influence of the drugs
which keep him wandering the streets.
(How many poor would that daily latte save?)
All of them, under poverty’s yoke.
Under society’s up-turned nose.
Homeless, hungry and in many ways “broke,”
Do you really think this is the life that they chose?
(How about walking a mile in their…feet?)
What they truly need is understanding,
To help them get back to dignity’s door.
Out from under all the senseless branding,
Back to being visible people once more.
(Please help the less fortunate people you meet!)

C.L.R. © 2015


Photo © 2013 Corina L. Ravenscraft Quote by Ram Dass

100 Thousand Poets for Change—10 Years

In September 2011, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion saw their idea and month of work come to fruition—the first 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) worldwide poetry events, held on the last Saturday in September. Little could they imagine back then that it would continue and grow for the next ten years!

The organization has over the years focused on three general areas globally: Peace, Sustainability, and Social Justice. Around the world, organizers and groups focus on these issues as they fit in local contexts plus other local issues that require attention to bring about positive change. In 2015, Michael and Terri worked with 100TPC organizers in Italy to put together the first 100TPC World Conference in Salerno, Italy.

100TPC World Conference Banner
100TPC World Conference Banner

Save the Date for this Year!

We will hold our annual online 100TPC at The BeZine again this year, on the “official” date for 100TPC: 26 September, 2020. So, save that date! In addition, we will be co-sponsoring All Africa Poetry Symposium in Celebration of 100 Thousand Poets for Change 10-Year Anniversary at 8 AM US East Coast, early afternoon in the Africa time zones. Read more here (including times in Africa). With this new mix of live-stream poetry, we hope to provide an exciting 100TPC virtual BeZine event. We plan to live-stream in The BeZine Facebook groups and on YouTube…stay tuned for more information.

Saturday, 26 September, 2020!

—Michael Dickel, managing editor


Table of Contents

New BeZine Banner — Corina Ravenscraft

Social Justice

Anti-dystopoem — John Anstie
Hundreds and Thousands — John Anstie
Sisi’s Song — Jessica Bordelon
Two Poems — Kat Brodie — Kat Brodie
Lanterns and Other Poems — Lorraine Caputo
My Country and Other Poems — Mbizo Chirasha
Bigots—poems from Linda Chown — Linda Chown
Self-Analysis by a Moth — Anjum Wasim Dar
Anticipation — Judy DeCroce
The Little Goat — Andrew Grant
OMG — Callista Mark
Breath of Fresh Air — Robert Schoelkopf
Cicadas for Change — poems by Mike Stone — Mike Stone

Voting

The 19th Amendment — Surina Venkat

Refugees / Homeless

Snow Dog — John Anstie
Tonight it could be you — John Anstie
Water from the Moon—poems by Mahnaz Badihian — Mahnaz Badihian
Displaced Homeless — Anjum Wasim Dar
Homeless Without — Anjum Wasim Dar
Oh! To Be Homeless… — Anjum Wasim Dar
The Lost Children — poems by Nancy Huxtable Mohr — Nancy Huxtable Mohr
Christopher Woods — Photographs and Words — Christopher Woods

Time of Coronavirus

Corona Dogs and How Noble—poems by Karen Alkalay-Gut — Karen Alkalay-Gut
Alive in the Moment — Naomi Baltuck
Wuhan Meditation 武汉沉思 — Wang Ping



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Read Info/Mission StatementSubmission Guidelines, and at least one issue before you submit. Updates on Calls for Submissions and other activities are posted on the Zine blog and The Poet by Day.


Posted in General Interest

Nightlight

I wake up drenched. Hair matted to my forehead with damp, cheek sticking to the pillow. I’ve known cold sweats before – I’ve been waking up with them my whole adult life – but this is one of the worst.
And I can understand why. Because, unlike some that fade away within seconds, this dream, those images, those noises, are all still flashing and sounding in front of me like a Halloween display. Horror come vividly to life, lingering as though I were still there watching and listening to it happen. I gasp in air, briefly frightened by the wall of darkness surrounding me. Just for an instant, that old fear, that dread that’s clung to me since childhood, rises up to break over me like a wave. Every part of me bracing for it. Tears already pooling in my eyes as I wait for the crash.

.
And then the light blinks on. Behind my shoulder, immediately casting its pale blue glow onto the bedroom wall. Illuminating the shadow of my head, complete with messy, sodden hair, even as I turn a fraction in the direction of the beam.

.
‘Shit,’ he mutters, strengthening the brightness of the phone as I turn round further, and see the screen lighting up his face as he finally swipes the bar across to full power. And instead of the terror I was preparing for only a moment ago, a wave of soaring relief crashes over me instead, as he shifts his eyes towards me and arches an eyebrow apologetically. ‘Forgot I’d dimmed down earlier. Took a moment to figure out why I could barely see anything.’

.
I almost let out a sob at the selflessness behind the words. No suggestion that he might actually have been asleep, that he might not have heard the scream that tore from my throat as I came out of the dream, that he might have been resting more deeply tonight. He’s never once not stirred at exactly the same moment I have, his body ever on alert for any hint of my distress, even in the middle of the night. He frowns slightly as he notices my eyes watering, before reaching out a finger to brush away the one escaping tear. Brushing away the images of those homophobic bastards kicking him half to death and forcing me to watch it with one simple touch. Like the breaking of a dark spell. Bringing me back to him, and only him.

.
‘Got you pretty bad tonight, huh?’ he asks, smiling sadly. ‘It’s okay.’

..
‘I know,’ I whisper. I always know. I always feel okay as soon as I see him again. Alive. Well. In my bed. Staring at me like I’m the most precious thing in the world.

.
‘What about his one?’ he asks, showing me the screen. I glance at it, and nod. A think of something starting with… game. ‘Looks interesting.’

.
‘Okay,’ he says. ‘Think of something starting with I.’

.
I love you.

.
More and more every night.

© 2020, Christopher Moore

CHRISTOPHER MOORE is a Northern Irish writer and a graduate of English from Queen’s University Belfast. He was also graduated with an MA in TV Fiction Writing at Glasgow Caledonian University.  Alongside a number of playwriting achievements, including being longlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize, he’s had a number of pieces of short fiction read, performed and published around the UK, Ireland and US over the last few years.

Posted in short story, story

A Christmas Carol

Photo credit / Omeralnahi


She was my age. I believe I was ten. I can’t remember her name but that might be more because I don’t want to rather than a memory issue.

She had three or four little brothers and sisters, they are nothing but small shadows of recollection today. She had a knee-walking drunk for a father. She had a mother for him to beat on when he was out of whiskey. I remember that.

We lived in a boomtown in the midwest. Lots of oil. For a couple of decades, everyone had money. Yet, even when the cup runneth over, there is always the kid who has nothing. She was it. She was the poor kid.

At some point in yesteryear, civilization had conspired with Charles Dickens to draft unspoken legislation insuring there would forever be an unfortunate sucking the hind tit of life.

And, right out of the mind of Dark Charlie, the poor girl got canned goods for Christmas. Whoever thought this gift was in the holiday spirit needs to be beaten to death with their own practicality. But, wait! There’s more…

In the sadistic fashion of Miss Havisham, after Christmas break, our teacher initiated the customary — What did Santa bring you? — round-robin. The poor girl’s humiliation filled the room.

The worst kind of shame a kid can endure is that which is given to them by their parents.

I remember her dad passed out in their front yard once or twice a week. No one ever saw him staggering around, he would just suddenly appear, flat on his back, through ninety-proof sorcery. I remember my mom standing at the kitchen window growling; calling him a no-good sonofabitch without an ounce of shame to his name.

I remember the girl’s brother always saying they hadn’t eaten in two days. Always two days. He never came straight out and asked for food, but my mom was quick picking up hints. She never sent a stray away hungry.

I remember my mom standing at the kitchen window watching it all and crying.

On Christmas morning, a small gathering of blue-haired angels from the Rotary Club had descended on the girl’s house, their wings aflutter. They came bearing boxes and bags of their own righteousness and virtue. It was a wonderful day. The poor kids got fed and the blue-haired angels had reaffirmed their seat at the right hand of God. Tiny Tim’s crutch was spared kindling yet another Christmas season.

Her eyes welled with tears when she told the class she got a few cans of beans and some candy. After hearing tale after tale of Santa’s generosity, the fat guy had only floated her a few cans of Van Camp’s. Some of the kids laughed. My heart broke.

I should have seen it coming but I could not be bothered to watch for it. My face started leaking too.

I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide, but the world wouldn’t provide one. The world was teaching me a lesson. It grabbed me at the base of my skull and forced me to see. “Look! Look! This is how we roll.” We watched her cut out her own heart with the lid off a tin can and stuff shame into the void and we thought it was funny.

The only lesson I learned from the Ghost of Christmas Poverty was either fix the problem or stay away from it. Half-measures only fester the wound.

“What good is Christmas dinner if you starve every other day of the year?” — Borne Wilder

Looking back, the only shame I can still see is mine.

© 2019, Jess Starkey, Originally published by him on Medium where he is a top writer of short stories. Shared here with his permission.

Posted in General Interest, The BeZine Table of Contents, TheBeZine

July 2016, Vol.2/Issue 10; Faith in Things Seen and Unseen

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake

Faith! In the discussions here you won’t find consistent perspective or theology. You will find faith explored in its many manifestations, religious and otherwise. You’ll find it both shaken and unshakable and in things of the spirit, in nature and humanity, in intuition and in self and family. Unity here is not in things creedal but in the shared values of peace, sustainability and social justice and for many of us – implicitly – in ultimate salvation through artistic expression.

Unitarian Universalist Minister, Rev. Ben Meyers, starts us with an appeal to religions to give their prayers and vigils legs, to befriend one another into the groundswell of local social justice initiatives that ultimately help to inform and bolster global efforts toward equity, justice and peace.This couldn’t be more appropriate as The BeZine “went to press” amid news reports of yet more violence.

You will find our usual diversity represented: skepticism and atheism, the three Abrahamic traditions, shamanism, and the mystical perspectives of Buddhism, Hinduism and Sufism.

Our special selection of lead features and poems are by: shamanic practitioner and psychotherapist, Michael Watson; resident skeptic, James R. Cowles; the always engaging and level-headed analyst, Priscilla Galasso; the fallen altar boy, poet Joe Hesch; professional story-teller and photographer, Naomi Baltuck; our renaissance man in Sheffield, John Anstie; and university librarian, poet and artist, Corina Ravenscraft, on the ultimate triumph of the Universe.

Speaking from positions of their unshakable religious faith are: Algerian poet, Imen Benyoub, on the spiritual joys and family and community connection she finds in the holy tradition of Ramadan; Catholic Theologian, Fr. Daniel S Sormani, theology professor at Ateneo de Manila University, warmly writes about lessons learned from the homely life of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and our gentle Italian literary contributor, Mendes Biondo, tells of inspiration from the Bishop of Hippo Regius (current Annaba, Algeria), St. Augustine. Imen and Mendes are our two student contributors.

Two of our contributors allude to child sexual abuse but a third, Terri Muuss, addresses it head-on and in depth. These are experiences that may strengthen faith in self, though that doesn’t come without pain and work. Terri is featured this month in our popular “Getting to Know You” section.

Our July poetry collection covers matters spiritual, emotional and environmental with excerpts from published collections by Zine regulars: Matt Pasca, Terri Muuss, Myra Schneider, Silva Merjanian and Michael Dickel, contributing editor to The BeZine. With joy we welcome back two lights: German poet, photographer and educator, Dr. Aprilia Zank and English poet, Patricia Leighton.

New to our pages in this issue are:

  • Connie Spearing  who writes of finally “seeing” her Irish grandmother with the accidental discovery of her family’s history during and after World War 1.
  • Sandra Renew’s s poetry expresses her opinions on the state of the world. She wonders who sleeps at night? Who is lucky enough to live in safety and peace?
  • Anca Mihaela Bruma, citizen of world, educated in Rumania, is a poet who writes spiritual autobiography. Anca wanted to incorporate some lovely music and art into her posts. Due to copyrights in one case  (Dorina Costras’ art) and technical incompetence (mine) in the other, we are unable to share Dorina’s paintings or Anca’s soundcloud recordings. However you can view Dorina’s work HERE. You can listen to Anca on soundcloud HERE.

****

One last word: DON’T FORGET TO SAVE THE DATE Saturday, 24 September 2016 is The BeZine’s 100,000 Poets for Change, an event which we host virtually.  This event is part of an  important annual arts initiative for global solidarity and peace, social justice and sustainability. Reader participation is invited and encouraged. This is a good time to share your work in the service of a worthy cause.  As is our tradition, all submissions will be archived here and at Standford University. Instructions for participation will be provided on our blog that day with Michael Dickel serving as Master of Ceremonies.  Between Michael and me, the event will run from morning in Israel to midnight in California. The theme this year is Environment/Environmental Justice. More detail HERE.

****

Now, come friends.  Read.  Nourish yourselves at our table …

In the spirit of peace, love and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines,
Jamie Dedes
Founding and Managing Editor
The BeZine

EDITORIAL

The World in Vigil, by Rev. Ben Meyers

THEME: FAITH IN ALL THINGS SEEN and UNSEEN

Lead Features

Knowing, Michael Watson
Varieties of Faith – Rational and Religous, James R. Cowles
Faith Means Making Choices, Priscilla Galasso
A Perfect World, Naomi Baltuck
Falling But Willing, Joseph Hesch
The Pine Cone Project, John Anstie
Regarding Faith, Corina Ravenscraft

Essays

A Month of Light, Imen Benyoub
The Blessed Mother: She Reminds Me of Who I Am and Who I Should Be, Fr. Daniel S. Sormani, C.S.Sp.
A Little Story of Faith, Mendes Biondo
NOTIONS OF THE SACRED: Poetry as Spritual Practice, Jamie Dedes
The Grandmother I Didn’t See, Connie Spearing

Speculative Flash Fiction

Moshe’s House in Space, Michael Dickle

Poetry

Rhetoric Introspection, Anca Mihaela Bruma
Our Autumn Spring, Anca Mihaela Bruma
Hindsight, Anca Mihaela Bruma

Unidos en Cristo, a poem in English y en español, Jamie Dedes

Three Poems, Michael Dickel
En Gedi, Michael Dickel
Hybrid: Warm Hunger, Michael Dickel

Lost Behind Clouds in Skies of Blue, Joseph Hesch
Hang in There, Joseph Hesch

And the Village Still Sings for Taha Muhammad Ali, Patricia Leighton

Coverage, Silva Merjanian

Passing, Terri Muuss
What Heals, Terri Muuss

Tanyou (In Search of Quietude), Matt Pasca
Silence, Matt Pasca
Toll, Matt Pasca
When Joy Breaks, Matt Pasca

Bring all those who are led astray out of the desert, Sandra Renew

3 a.m., Myra Schneider

prayer for shadows, Aprilia Zank

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

Terri Muuss, Over Exposed

CONNECT WITH US

IMG_0234Beguine Again, Spiritual Community and Practice

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

Access to the biographies of our core team, contributing writers and guest writers is in the blogroll where you can also find links to archived issues of The BeZine (currently in the process of updating), our Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines.

Posted in Fiction, Jamie Dedes

Time of Orphaning

file0001349463653It’s tough when you are orphaned at seventy. I say that without rancor or irony. I’d known Mrs. O’Donall and her daughter for fifteen years, which at the time of this story was the entire length of my life.

The ladies – as everyone called them – were fixtures in our parish. Each morning they arrived at St. Anselm’s at precisely six-fifty for daily Mass. Their consistency was such that my mom said she could tell time by them. They generally made their way into church arm-in-arm and always sat in the first pew.

While the younger lady was fragile, tentative and wide-eyed, the older one was stern, sturdy and quick-minded. With her daughter in tow, she worked on the Annual Church Carnival Planning Committee and in the Women’s Auxiliary as well, relied upon to help the nuns clean the sacristy, press altar cloths and arrange flowers. Over time they left cleaning the sacristy to younger women.

Those two were always proper and powdered, wearing red lipstick and hats and gloves as if it was still the forties or fifties. Everyone called Miss O’Donall “Baby,” though she was seventy. In fact I never knew her real name until I read it in the in the church bulletin: “Patricia O’Donall of County Cork, Ireland and the widow of John is survived by their only daughter, Margaret O’Donall . . . ” Margaret, I thought. Well that doesn’t seem to suit her. Maggie maybe. I could see her being called Maggie.

****

Mrs. O’Donall was ninety-one when the call came and “a nice ripe old age it ‘tis,” said my mother. She was preparing stuffed cabbage for after the funeral. The gathering would be in the church hall and the funeral at St. Charles Cemetery, which is where everyone in our parish gets buried. It has green lawns, tree-lined walks and stone fences. Odd that the dead are buried in a more beautiful place than the ones in which they had lived.

The O’Donall place was owned by the church. It was a four story walk-up on 97th Street next to an empty lot and so old it had dumb-waiters with ropes on pulleys and rusty hot-water radiators that hissed and rattled. The halls and stairwells smelled of rancid oils and the walls were marked with I’d guess was about fifty-or-so years of grime and fingerprints. The old ladies lived on Mrs. O’Donall’s husband’s pension combined with Baby’s savings left from her working days.

I was at their place often, whenever they needed me to run errands or to help lug groceries up the stairs. Their apartment had one bedroom. Mrs. O’Donall slept in the bedroom and Baby slept in the livingroom on a daybed. They kept their place as scrubbed and as sparkling as they could get an old place like that, with paint peeling and the linoleum worn and yellowing and starting to curl. You could smell the mothballs they used in their closet.

Their furniture “had seen better days,” as my Gram would say. They had small replicas of the Irish tricolor and the American flag on the buffet, odd splashes of color in the midst of pragmatic tan and brown. The end tables and the backs and arms of the chairs and sofa were protected with crocheted doilies in the old way, crochet hooks and cotton being as constant in the old ladies hands as their prayer beads and almost as revered. You could count on them to ply their craft like you could count on having to study for the SATs and on your parents giving you a curfew. Whatever the ladies gifted you from crib to coffin would be crocheted. “And so you should be honored,” my mother had said, “that the ladies made something with their own hands for your birthday.” That was the last year before Mrs. O’Donall died. They gave me two white crocheted collars for my cardigans, but no one wears that kind of collar anymore.

****

Uncle Tom and Uncle Andy, my mother’s brothers, took Baby in charge throughout the days of the wake and during the funeral, taking turns to help her up-and-down the stairs at home and holding onto her so that she didn’t trip into the grave at the funeral. She wasn’t normally doddering, but it did seem she was in shock. Mom made sure Baby ate some dinner at night and helped her into bed and my aunt on my father’s side, Claire Marie, got Baby up each morning and made her Red Rose tea and steel-cut oatmeal with raisins, brown sugar and milk. She drank the tea but barely touched the oatmeal.

We all worried about how Baby would fare when the flurry of activity subsided and she was left alone with silence and the reality of her mother’s death. She was the subject of the Women’s Auxiliary as they wondered if they should create a rotation of its members to check on her each day and make sure she didn’t feel abandoned. They wondered if they should also call the county social services. “I don’t want to be mean,” said Mrs. St. John, “but we all have husbands and children to care for. Where’s the time?”

“Where’s the time indeed,” said my mother with five kids and a husband “who is really just another child after all and more helpless than the rest.” So in the end county social services was called and a Miss Antonio came to talk with my mom and Mrs. St. John. My mother opened the door to her knock and found the lady dressed in a snappy red pants suit and carrying a brown leather briefcase. “Not Irish, but she’s a nice young lady and got herself an education too.”

In the end Miss Antonio’s considered opinion was that Baby was too frail to live on her own and too emotionally unstable for her judgement to be trusted. Amid Baby’s tears and confusion, Miss Antonio and some others from county social services packed a bag with the “basics” and moved Baby to an old people’s home. Her furniture and other things were sold or otherwise disposed of.  Mom said that money from the sale went into some sort of trust account for Baby’s care along with her remaining savings.

After a couple of days, some of the women in the Auxiliary and one of the nuns visited Baby. They said she was grieving but that the home was nice and she’d be happy and safe there.  I wanted to see it for myself. I wanted to see if Baby was really okay in that place. About two weeks after the move, Mom finally said I could go visit.

****

The following Sunday after ten-o’clock Mass, I made the twelve-block hike in the summer heat, arriving sweaty and dry-mouthed. I was surprised to find that the home didn’t look like a home at all. It was more like a government building, a school or something. Institutional. I went to the front desk and asked to see Miss Margaret O’Donall. The receptionist – who didn’t look much older than I – politely pointed to the stairs and said, “Next floor. First room on your right.”

Baby’s room was nothing like her old apartment and wasn’t very homey. There was a small night-stand with a lamp by a single bed, its metal frame painted black. There was an oak dresser with a mirror attached and a padded arm chair. The floor was bare and the window barred. The bed was neatly made with a worn white chenille bedspread.

The room’s saving grace was a big maple outside the window. Someone had placed the chair so that Baby could sit and look at the tree and the birds and squirrels. You could see patches of blue between the buildings, though their high rising blocked any view of the horizon.

Whenever I visited Baby during the months that followed I’d find her sitting by that window. Staring. Silent. Almost breathless. After awhile she’d realize I was there. “Oh, our bonnie Bonnie,” she’d say, “Mother will be so glad to see you.” When the winter came, she asked me to buy her crochet cotton and hooks and she started crocheting again and all winter long Baby made bed jackets. “You know Mother,” she said, “she always feels the chill.”

That spring Baby joined Mrs. O’Donall. I went to the home one day to find her bed stripped and her things packed in two paper shopping bags. I brought everything home to my mom and she let me keep the bed jackets. It’s been two years and I’m still not sure what I should do with them, but I don’t want to let them go. I don’t want to erase my memory of Baby. I don’t want to forget how hard it is when the time of orphaning comes, even if it doesn’t come until I am old.

© 2014,  Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; This short story is a fiction and any resemblence to anyone living or dead is coincidence. Photo credit ~ courtesy of morgueFile

Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3unnamed-18JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day)~I am a medically retired (disabled) elder and the mother of married son who is very dear. I started blogging shortly after I retired as a way to maintain my sanity and to stay connected to the arts and the artful despite being mostly homebound. My Facebook pages are: Jamie Dedes (Arts and Humanities) and Simply Living, Living Simply.

With the help and support of talented bloggers and readers, I founded and host The Bardo Group because I feel that blogging offers a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters and not as “other.”

“Good work, like good talk or any other form of worthwhile human relationship, depends upon being able to assume an extended shared world.” Stefan Collini (b. 1947), English Literary Critic and Professor of English Literature at Cambridge

Posted in Culture/History, Fiction, First Peoples, Joseph Hesch, story

Sweet Grass

Sweetgrass HillsSweetgrass Hills in Montana from Red Rock Coulee
Source: Wikipedia

“His father’s father was Métis, you know…rode with Riel in 1869 and his father fought with Dumont at Duck Lake and Batoche in ’85,” Sheriff Hank Reynolds said as he pulled the glasses off his nose after reading the arrest report on his desk.

“That may be so, Sheriff, but it doesn’t give Liberté Beaubois license to ride into Montana, hunt protected buffalo and take a couple of shots at my head, does it?” asked Reynolds’ new deputy, Linus Philkin.

Reynolds wiped a few drops of coffee off his graying mustache and walked back to the holding cell, where he stared at a buckskin-clad man sleeping on the floor, face to the wall, on a mattress he’d pulled off the cot.

The sheriff rubbed his hand across his bald spot and recalled wind blowing through his hair in the long-ago when he, Liberté and some Piegan boys from over Milk River way would ride hell-bent for election chasing buffalo that would wander onto his father’s place. It was in those days before the Somme, before Liberté came home with a Victoria Cross and Croix de guerre in exchange for his childhood, an eye and, some said, his mind.

“I’ll take care of this,” Reynolds said, and loaded Liberté into his Ford pickup truck and Liberté’s horse with his into the trailer behind it. They drove from Chester up to his old man’s place outside Whitlash, where they mounted and pointed their ponies north, all the while howling like twelve-year-olds, chasing memories through the Sweet Grass back into Alberta.

A true mash-up of prompts went into this little story. First was Lillie McFerrin’s word of the week, Freedom. Then I decided it worked with Canadian writer Sarah Salecky’s daily prompt, which was “His father’s father was Métis.” I can never let a chance to write a North American historical piece go by. Then, as luck would have it, the first Story-A-Day May prompt was Going Home. And there you have it.

– Joe Hesch 
© 2014, All rights reserved

Hesch Profileproduct_thumbnail-3.phpJOSEPH HESCH (A Thing for Words) is a writer and poet from Albany, New York , an old friend of Bardo and a new core team member. Joe’s work is published in journals and anthologies coast-to-coast and worldwide. He posts poems and stories-in-progress on his blog, A Thing for Words.  An original staff member at dVerse Poets Pub website, Joe was named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “2011 Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.” He is also a member of the Grass Roots Poetry Group and featured in their 2013 poetry anthology Petrichor Rising.

Posted in Fiction, Niamh Clune

Waiting

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wait each day, down by the ocean, sitting on our bench, looking out to sea. The sun is relentless, piercing through my linen shroud like an X-ray picking clean my bones. I turn my face to it in supplication. Still, it beats down on me; whilst gentle waves of sea roll in, slide up the beach and trickle through millions of grains of sand, each of little consequence.

A sand crab hurries away. I know not where. I do not wonder. I think only of you and the last time we met. You were dark that day, your passion spent. You could not love. You could not feel. You stood a distance away, dressed in a long grey coat. The heat never touched you. It did not X-Ray your bones, nor expose the wild, stunted heart that lay beneath that full, bleak envelope. A quiet breeze lifted your hair in billowing wisps, playing with it, tempting you to participate in the beauty of the day. You saw no-thing. Your eyes were black, shrivelled into thin points staring out to sea.

You should not have been there. You looked so out of place. The incongruity of the moment stabbed me like a shard of yellow sunlight bursting through the walls of my heart.

I remember now. A tear rolls down my cheek, splashes into the sand and disappears inconsequentially, as a droplet carried in an ocean of tears.

You will never come again.

That time, you came to mourn me. You saw only an empty bench, a cruel, not gentle sea, and a crab that fed off my bones.

I am here my love, waiting still, in the moments when the wind rustles through your hair to tempt you into seeing the beauty of the day.

– Niamh Clune

© 2013, fiction, Niamh Clune, All rights reserved
Photo courtesy of morgeFile

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1orange-petals-cover_page_001DR. NIAMH CLUNE (On the Plum Tree) ~ is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm, and Exaltation of a Rose. She is also the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ: a ground-breaking spiritual psychology. Niamh received her Ph.D. from Surrey University on Acquiring Wisdom Through The Imagination and specialises in The Imaginal Mind and how the inborn, innate wisdom hidden in the soul informs our daily lives and stories. Niamh’s books are available in paperback (children’s books) and Kindle version (The Coming of the Feminine Christ). Her Amazon page is HERE.

Posted in Fiction, Guest Writer

Shadows …

Auchenroddan Forest
Auchenroddan Forest

In the deep-rooted shadows upon which the forest stands, where nothing grows except moss and the debris piles of winter-felled branches and twigs, they heard the stuttering k-r-r-r-r-r-k like that of an opening door to a derelict shack.

But around Jerry Lilly and his brother Ben, padding through the shadows, there was no abandoned home except last year’s finch’s nest and the insect domicile within the pine upon which a woodpecker hammered another k-r-r-r-r-k.

“This noise where there’s nothing around creeps me out, man,” Ben said.

“Someday, little brother, you’ll find such ‘noise,’ as you call it, a blanket of quiet comfort, the caress of natural music far from the crash and soul-crunching violence in the city to which you’ll run as often as possible for its peace,” said Jerry.

“Okay, I get it, but it’s so darn dark in here, how the hell are we supposed to see anything well enough to shoot it?” Ben said, shifting the new rifle to his shoulder and swinging it around in carefree arcs.

– Joseph Hesch

© 2013, Joseph Hesch, story and the portrait below, All rights reserved

Hesch ProfileJOSEPH HESCH (A Thing for Words) is a writer and poet from Albany, New York. This delightfully ironic flash-fiction piece is what we hope will be the first of many contributions to Into the Bardo. Joe’s poems and stories are inspired by his almost 400-year-old hometown, but most spring from his many travels between his right ear and his left ear. A former journalist, Joe has written for a living for more than thirty years and only recently convinced himself to rediscover the writer he once thought he was. Five years ago he began to write short fiction. Two years later, in a serendipitous response to a blinding case of writer’s block, he wrote his first poem…ever. He hasn’t looked back.

Joe’s work is published in journals and anthologies coast-to-coast and worldwide. He posts poems and stories-in-progress on his blog, A Thing for Words.  An original staff member at dVerse Poets Pub website, Joe was named one of Writers Digest Editor Robert Lee Brewer’s “2011 Best Tweeps for Writers to Follow.”