SALVATION Army

Photo Credit: Deviant Art
Photo Credit: deviantart

In the background,
he strips thyme and rosemary from their stems,
into a stainless steel bowl.
The scent of herbs, apple pie and ginger
pervades the family room
where

he watches war unfold on A&E.
An enemy’s blood splatters the screen.
I block out the noise of contradiction,
search for words of love and peace
to celebrate the season in verse.

Music sounds an ending.
I raise my head to witness
a good guy die.
No winners here.

A fire dances in the hearth,
then Mozart fills the room.

Will it be in music
that hope will enclose our battered world?
Will winter snow
cover scorched land, satisfy sere hearts?
Will love supplant bullets,
peace settle in the crevices of wounds?

Bells ring at the entrances of a local Walmart
beneath winter solstice sun.

– Victoria C. Slotto

Photo Credit: Sacramento Bee
Photo Credit: Sacramento Bee

© 2013, poem, Victoria C. Slotto, All rights reserved

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

2940013445222_p0_v1_s260x420VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~ is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012, is Victoria’s first novel. A second novel is in process. On Amazon and hot-off-the-press nonfiction is Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s ebooks (poetry and nonfiction) are free to Amazon Prime Members. Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

Editor’s note: Congratulations, Victoria, on that the long awaited publication of print copies of Jacaranda Rain, Collected Poems, 2012, Beautifully done.

POETS AGAINST WAR, #1: The Irony of War by Victoria C. Slotto

smiley

Smile, Jesus Loves You

He wore no smile. Square jaw, set firm,
taut muscles. Skin like latte, stubble-covered,
(more like fuzz.)
Skin too soft for who he was,
who he pretended to be.
Salvadoran sun backlit the scene
set on the borders of insanity.

elsalvador

Not a game he played that day,
a game his peers in other lands
and other times still play.
This was a game of war.

He stared at us, each one, with eyes
too full of sadness for an almost-child.
Compared our passport photos with reality.

And there, upon the submachine gun’s butt—
a smiley face, a message, too.

I wonder–can he smile today,
and can he still believe?

Earthquake--El Salvador1986
Earthquake–El Salvador
1986

At the height of the civil war in El Salvador, the country suffered a massive earthquake that resulted in much loss of life and many injuries. I spent close to a month there, helping to nurse the wounded not requiring hospitalization. We flew into Guatemala and drove to San Salvador, the capital. On the way, we had to pass through numerous military checkpoints. At one of these stops I observed a young soldier. I’d guess he wasn’t much older than 15 or 16, perhaps younger. There on the butt of his huge machine gun was a smiley face sticker with the words in English that I’ve chosen for the title of this poem.

When will we ever learn?

– Victoria C. Slotto

Invitation: We’d like you to join us – not only as readers – but as writers by putting links to your own anti-war or pro-peace poems in the comment sections. Next week we’ll gather the links together in one post and put them up as a single page headed “Poets  Against War.”  Thank you!

Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer's Expo March 2012
Victoria at the Palm Springs Writer’s Expo March 2012

jr-cover-2VICTORIA C. SLOTTO (Victoria C. Slotto, Author: Fiction, Poetry and Writing Prompts) ~  is an accomplished writer and poet. Winter is Past, published by Lucky Bat Books in 2012is Victoria’s first novel.  A second novel is in process.  Jacaranda Rain — Collected poems, 2012 is available on Amazon, as is the hot-off-the-press nonfiction, Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria’s poetry collection and non-fiction book are free to Amazon Prime Members.  Link HERE for Victoria’s Amazon page.

religious odyssey…

digital decoupage cwmartin

aunt bea
was reading
the sunday paper
when i stopped by
she said
i’ve noticed
that
they have
computer apps
for just about
everything
here’s one
that tutors students
it even watches
the student’s face
so it knows
if the student
is getting upset
and
will provide
some
comforting words
of encouragement
guess we can
soon expect
that someone
somewhere
will walk into a confessional
ask for father dave
and hear
dave
dave’s not here
i’m
hal

– Charles W. Martin

© 2013, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin, All rights reserved

.
678ad505453d5a3ff2fcb744f13dedc7-1product_thumbnail.phpCHARLES W. MARTIN (Reading Between the Minds) — earned his Ph.D. in Speech and Language Pathology with an emphasis in statistics.  Throughout Charlie’s career, he maintained a devotion to the arts (literature/poetry, the theater, music and photography).  Since his retirement in 2010, he has turned his full attention to poetry and photography. He publishes a poem and a photographic art piece each day at Read Between the Minds, Poetry, Photograph and Random Thoughts of Life. He is noted as a poet of social conscience. Charlie has been blogging since January 31, 2010. He has self-published a book of poetry entitled The Hawk Chronicles  and will soon publish another book called A Bea in Your Bonnet: First Sting, featuring the renown Aunt Bea. In The Hawk Chronicles, Charlie provides a personification of his resident hawk with poems and photos taken over a two-year period.

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.”

THE RATE RACE

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THE RAT RACE

by

J.D. Gallagar

In 2011, researchers at the University of Chicago conducted a simple experiment to ascertain whether a rat would release another rat from a cage without being given a reward. The answer was yes. After several sessions, the rats learned intentionally and quickly to open the restrainer and release the caged rats. The rats also repeated the behaviour even when they were denied the reward of reunion. Even more astonishing, when the rats were presented with two cages, one containing a rat, the other chocolate, they chose to open both cages and “typically shared the chocolate”.

For the researchers, the conclusion was inescapable: the rats were displaying empathy. Announcing the results in Science the lead researcher, Peggy Mason, explained: “There is nothing in it except whatever feeling they get from helping another individual.”

This is the opening of an article I was reading recently,(read it HERE if you like) it was about Barack Obama, Republicans, gun control, rich people and poor people. I don’t really want to go into the whole political aspect of it. Everyone to their own. Personally I believe all sides of politics, Left or Right, Independent or Green will screw us all over without the slightest hesitation. But I am a cynic.

But what I found interesting about this is not the experiment but the subjects. Rats. How many times have we heard the term Rat Race or the expression: even if you win the race you are still a rat? Quite a lot I bet. Buy why rats? Is it this perception that they are lowly and dirty, poisonous, dangerous. Even in school (I don’t know about other places but here in Ireland) if someone called you a rat it was the worst insult you could receive, it meant you told on someone to a teacher, you ratted on them.

You squealed was another popular expression in the schoolyard, again it implied the same thing and again conjured up the image of the  rat.  A coward. The lowest of the low.

So the experiment was interesting in that it showed rats in a better light, and yet how strange it is that when rats help each other for little or no reward we call it empathy and when humans do it we call it socialism or communism and it is frowned upon, socialism is one of the worst insults you can throw at a politician in the Western world, it implies weakness.

Funny old world.

© 2013, illustrations and essay, J.D. Gallager, All rights reserved
Published here with the author’s permission

010_the_embrace_hr-copy-2J.D. Gallager is a: “Writer. Avid reader. Type 1 diabetic. Irish” and “A struggling author … struggling to convince people he is an author.” His blog is HERE  and his Amazon author’s page is HERE. Mr. Gallager writes fiction for adults and young adults. (Book cover art is property of the author.)