Elusive Peace

I turn on the morning news and my sense of well-being is smothered by the countless acts of violence that are reported daily…a harangue of horrendous behaviors has become the norm outnumbering acts of kindness by a landslide. Seventy year-old woman raped…15 year old girl jumped by a gang of boys and beaten…a five year old has disappeared and never been found.

Let’s not talk about war, violent conflicts where more than a thousand people have died in a year. “Rumors of war, and war” a reality…war in the Middle East…war in Africa…war in Europe…war in Asia.. Then there are deadly conflicts in the United States, China, and South America as well as the terroristic testing of missiles in North Korea. Will there ever be peace?

The news rains heavily in my heart, at times flooding my vision. Yet my spirit continually rises capturing that moment of harmony when the notes of life create a beauty that arises from ‘waging peace’ within my heart then sends messages of hope throughout my soul. I am one of those fortunate human beings born into a loving, nurturing family…a black family.

So I was emotionally secure in spite of racism and the many atrocities being committed against black people. I was emotionally secure in spite of the Cold War between Russia and the United States and all the ant-communist sentiment infiltrating every aspect of our lives. I was emotionally secure in spite of my mother having to raise my brother and I without a father figure.

I come from a family of teachers. Discussion of current events within the family circle was a norm for me growing up. Attending political rallies was a given. I remember the joy hearing Dr. King speak at the Oakland Auditorium in California as a child. I was restless listening to all the speakers but when Dr. King was introduced I was totally mesmerized by his sonorous melodious voice calling my child spirit to action.

I remember the joy as a teenager listening to Malcom X in 1961 at the local YMCA in Berkeley, CA. He had been banned from speaking at the University of California campus. I was truly captivated by his analytical dissection of the black man’s condition. He set my soul afire with a desire for a mindset change.

I remember with joy the Saturday morning picket lines ‘waging peace’ in front of Woolworth’s supporting the Sit-in movement started by students in Greensboro NC who were refused service at Woolworth’s lunch counter because they were black. I marched and sang across San Francisco demanding upfront jobs for the many invisible people living in the Bay Area. I marched into the Black is Beautiful self-awareness era developing my Afrocentric concepts and confidence.

The Vietnam War simultaneously loomed on the horizon. My brother and a few of my male friends were drafted and sent off to a war with no end. Some of the young men declared themselves conscientious objectors, others fled to Canada. The voices of protesters against the war grew stronger and stronger ‘waging peace’ at a war that had been going on for years.

Even when it ended there were no winners, no ticker tape parades for returning soldiers only PTSD with its ghoulish nightmares reaching from the war torn jungles of Vietnam down through the years constantly bombarding veterans with images of fallen comrades and the horrors of war. I thank God that my brother survived and that my friends survived as well and came home. History just repeats itself over and over again. Will we ever learn?

It’s amazing how many of us can still find joy in the midst of chaos and confusion despite the vicissitudes of life often times leaving us reeling. Yet our resilient spirits find gratification in births, birthday celebrations, education, graduations, weddings, jobs, retirement…and satisfaction in a life filled with storms yet well spent. Dates have relentlessly peeled off the calendar yet the condition of man remains the same.

The United States is a country at odds with itself and this internal turmoil has existed from its inception. Greed, racism, hatred, and war are never ending cycles in which good versus evil. Evil was and still is camouflaged by the cloak of Christianity which is the complete antithesis of the teachings of Jesus. The moral clock measuring tentative progress has been set back by the current administration enabling hate once more to demonstrate its draconian venom.

But the women have been ‘waging peace’ the last four years in January making their voices heard on high-waving the banner for justice for all, not only in Washington, DC, but with sympathy protests throughout this country, and in some places around the world…the beat of their feet marching through the streets…the beat of love, the beat of peace, the beat of tolerance, the beat of integrity, the beat of victory.

At 74 years young I am director of the House of Love Soup Kitchen/Pantry in Newark, NJ. We are a faith based organization addressing a basic need of people…food. It’s a travesty of fairness that in a country as wealthy as ours that there should be hungry people but unfortunately there are. We are ‘waging peace’ in our community by providing a place where people can come for a moment of solace in a nurturing environment, and receive delicious food, spiritual nourishment, and respite from the daily deluge of issues found in confronting the clutches poverty.

Justice battling hypocrisy and the loss of hope seeks to light the way through darkness and despair. A call for action ‘waging peace’ has been issued. Poets, writers let your words be music to the soul…let a collaboration of the arts march together raising banners of peace that will start to pierce hardened hearts. Let the atmosphere fill with tears then rain happiness into rivers overflowing with a new found gratitude.

Let the paint brushes splatter the sky with a brilliance of rainbow colors that sing of completion. Let the voices of humanity join together in a new song…the voices of unity shaking the foundation of being…heralding in a new beginning.

© 2020,  Tamam Tracy Moncur


TAMAM TRACY MONCUR was born in Oakland, California. She attended elementary school in Oakland and attended middle and high school in Berkeley. She loves to write and has been doing so from the time she was a teenager. She was a civil rights activist in San Francisco prior to relocating to the East Coast. She met her husband, renowned jazz musician Grachan Moncur III in New York City. They were burned-out and relocated to Newark, NJ, her husband’s home. Six children were part of this union, and while having children she attended both Essex county College, and Rutgers University receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree and two certifications, one in Music Education and the other in Elementary Education.  She taught for 25 years in the Newark Public School System.

Tamam in the past has worked with her husband arranging musical compositions and performing.  In her spare time, she has self-published several poetry booklets, co-produced a CD of music and poetry, and collaborated with her family to produce a play that her mother wrote. She also has written a journal sharing one year of her teaching experiences in Newark, NJ entitled Diary of an Inner-City Teacher, a project quite close to her heart.

She retired from teaching in 2010, simultaneously receiving a scholarship to attend the International School for Restorative Practices located in Bethlehem, PA. She received her Master of Science Degree in Restorative Practices in 2014. Restorative Practices and Restorative Justice can change mindsets and transform lives.

Tamam has served as a restorative practitioner within the school setting and community settings. She’s currently director of the House of Love Soup Kitchen/Pantry, a faith-based organization that serves the community by either serving hot delicious meals and or giving out food boxes provided by the local food-bank.  The environment is restorative and nurturing for people who are experiencing hardship because of trying times.and economic uncertainty.


 

A Palace of Bird Beaks

The Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon bearing opulent gifts, and hoping to see if he was as wise as the stories claimed.

“What can I offer in return?” asked Solomon. “Only ask, and it shall be yours.”

The queen had also heard that Solomon spoke the language of the birds, but didn’t believe it. Here was her chance to kill two birds with one stone.  “Build me a palace made entirely of bird beaks,” she said, “if you can.”

“Oh, I can, ” boasted Solomon.  “You shall have it.”

To her amazement, Solomon summoned the birds, from every corner of the earth.

 

They heeded his call…

 

….from the tiniest hummingbird…

 

…to the majestic eagle.

 

“We’re going to make our nation the envy of the world,” he told his gathered flock, to the cheering of the birds.

 “But I need your beaks to build a palace.”  And the birds bowed their heads and wept.

 

“Stop fussing,” said the king.  “Everyone dies sooner or later.  Believe me, I know more about that than anyone else in the world.”   The king scanned his gathered flock as they waited to die.  “Where is the hoopoe bird?  Why isn’t she here?  How dare she defy me?”

 

Breathlessly, the hoopoe swooped in to land at his feet. “Forgive my late arrival, Sire. I’ve come from the ends of the earth, and I’ve seen so much along the way. I’ve even learned three things you don’t know.”

(photo in public domain)

 

“Really?”  King Solomon frowned.  “A lot of people say I’m the smartest king that ever lived.  I know more than anyone, about pretty much everything in the world.  What could you possibly know that I don’t?  Tell me quickly, before I take your beak.”

The other birds trembled, fearful that Hoopoe would upset the king, for they knew that he didn’t like his genius questioned.

 

“Sire,” asked Hoopoe, “do you know who it is that was never born, nor will never die?”

“Of course, I do!  The Lord of the Universe…

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…the Creator, who made the sky above us…

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…the earth we stand on…

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…every blade of grass…

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…every creature that walks…

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…or swims…

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…or crawls.

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King Solomon hesitated.   “Or flies.

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Solomon looked at the birds…

 

…each one magnificent…

 

…each in its own way…

 

…..each one created by the Lord of the Universe…

…and who had also made Solomon, and blessed him with wealth, power, and responsibility.

“What’s the second thing?” asked Solomon irritably.

“Sire, do you know what kind of water rises not from the earth nor falls from the sky?”

“Of course, I do!  It’s a tear that falls from the eye, born of sorrow.”

Solomon looked at the birds, their heads bowed, tears flowing, as they waited for him to chop off their beaks.  Might he have acted rashly in agreeing to build a palace of bird beaks?  But the Queen of Sheba, the whole world was watching, and he thought, “A promise is a promise.”

“One last question, Sire,” said the hoopoe.  “Do you know what is so delicate that it can put food into the mouth of a baby, yet is strong enough to bore holes into the hardest wood?”

“Of course, I do.  It’s a bird beak,” said the king.

(Photo by Amanda Lightfoot)

 

“Yes,” he repeated, “a bird beak, of course.”

 

Solomon looked upon the great gathering of birds, whose lives and children were as precious to them as his own were to him…

 

In his arrogance, he’d promised to build a useless palace to fulfill a selfish whim, and to make his own subjects pay for it, without considering the cost in blood and tears.  And he knew what he must do.

 

“Hoopoe, you’ve demonstrated courage for daring to resist this injustice.  I shall not demonstrate my power by destroying the defenseless.  You have helped me understand that my true power is in resisting my own cruel impulses.”

King Solomon turned to the Queen of Sheba.  “A truly wise and worthy leader must never be so proud that he can’t admit his mistakes, or do what he must to right a wrong.  There will be no palace of bird beaks, now or ever.”

The queen smiled and nodded.  “I came here to take the measure of a man, and I believe I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.”

 

Except where noted, all words and images ©2020 Naomi Baltuck

NAOMI BALTUCK (Writing Between the Lines)~ is the Zine’s Resident Storyteller.  She is a world-traveler and an award-winning writer, photographer, and story-teller whose works of fiction and nonfiction are available through Amazon HERE.

Naomi conducts workshops such as Peace Porridge (multicultural stories to promote cooperation, goodwill, and peaceful coexistence), Whispers in the Graveyard (a spellbinding array of haunting and mysterious stories), Tandem Tales, Traveling Light Around the World, and others. For more on her programs visit Naomi Baltuck.com.

Naomi says, “When not actually writing, I am researching the world with my long-suffering husband and our two kids, or outside editing my garden. My novel, The Keeper of the Crystal Spring (Viking Penguin), can be read in English, German, Spanish, and Italian. My storytelling anthology, Apples From Heaven, garnered four national awards, including the Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice. I am currently working on a contemporary women’s novel.”

Strange Fire

Trumpy(un)Liberty
The words are the 2017 (POTUS inauguration) version of a 2012 poem.
The image appeared with the words below it in Meta/ Phor(e) /Play as: “An (anti-)Inauguration Poem.”

©2020 Michael Dickel
Multi-media and Audio ©2020; Poem ©2012–2017; Digital Landscape (image) ©2017.
Earlier versions of the poem, audio, and  mulit-media appeared on The BeZine in 2018 with three other multi-media poems here.


Michael Dickel, a contributing editor for The BeZine, writes, creates art, and teaches in Jerusalem, Israel, where he lives with his wife and two young children. The World Behind It, Chaos… (WV? eBookPress, 2009), one of his first books, includes photographs and digital artwork from photos in a free PDF eBook format. His resistance chapbook of poetry, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism (locofo chaps, 2017) can also be downloaded for free as a PDF (or purchased in paper). His latest collection of poetry, Nothing Remembers, came out from Finishing Line Press in September, 2019. Other books include The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, a collection of Flash Fiction (art by Ayelet Cohen), and War Surrounds Us, a collection of poetry, both from Is a Rose Press.


A Little Poem

George Orwell (1903-1950), BBC Photograph in the public domain an curtesy of Penguin Books, India
George Orwell (1903-1950), BBC Photograph in the public domain, curtesy of Penguin Books, India

A LITTLE POEM

A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

And later still the times were good,
We were so easy to please,
We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep
On the bosoms of the trees.

All ignorant we dared to own
The joys we now dissemble;
The greenfinch on the apple bough
Could make my enemies tremble.

But girl’s bellies and apricots,
Roach in a shaded stream,
Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,
All these are a dream.

It is forbidden to dream again;
We maim our joys or hide them:
Horses are made of chromium steel
And little fat men shall ride them.

I am the worm who never turned,
The eunuch without a harem;
Between the priest and the commissar
I walk like Eugene Aram;

And the commissar is telling my fortune
While the radio plays,
But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
For Duggie always pays.

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
And woke to find it true;
I wasn’t born for an age like this;
Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?

– George Orwell


Eric Arthur Blair (1903 – 1950), better known by his pen name, George Orwell, was an English novelist and essayist, journalist and critic. His work is characterized by lucid prose, biting social criticism, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.

As a writer, Orwell produced literary criticism and poetry, fiction and polemical journalism; and is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working-class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences soldiering for the Republican faction of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), are as critically respected as his essays on politics and literature, language and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked George Orwell second among “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.


 

Translations

The Zambezi River in the Mana Pools National Park / Public Domain Photograph

Each raindrop, fast, often furious,
Rushing to greet the earth, often hard and thirsty earth,
Transitioning, into pools, rivulets, and,
Surface runoffs to the drain,
After roots had sucked enough,
To the tributary and mother river,
To the sea or lake,
Far off too, to the ocean,
Steam off the seagull Nation,with waves crashing on whale fins,
Up and up the heat flies up,
Clouds picking wings and forming fluffy feathers,
Am from the South where men play dice with human bones,
And the best use of the mouth is to chew held dreams,
And spit them into fresh graves,
While father’s walk the slow walk of the ninth trimester mother ready to deliver,
Except,the new born is an old lie wrapped in diamond glitter,
Am now in the East, where Christmas happens every market day for those with pockets,
While hunger roams the side streets of those politically incorrect,
Am going to the North, where hope still holds a decent conversation,
And reason is not needed to allow a man to breath,
Invited by a soul who knows my needs and not my name,
Perhaps I may end up West,
Where feathers once adorned a brave head,
There, I might rest a night and a day,
Waiting for paid maladies to find a cure,
And social consultations to search my roots,
At this cross section where my dreams sit anxiously,
Am kept alive by sweat of Angels from
Lands I know from Google map,
Am constantly logged on the accounts of good will,
Never lacking for sleep for the flow of interrupted hope,
I see in my mind’s eye why faith is such a divine virtue,
Hunger has failed to dim my steps,
Cold has refused to deaden my prayers,
Am a warrior first who fights best on his knees,
Pillars that stand like lighthouses never fail to send light my way,
Am mothered by love that is beyond blood and tribe,
As for father’s, their silent arms embrace me from afar,
So dressed in the dusty clothes of a traveler,
Bearing temporariness like a permanent feature,
I transact my steps in Translations of survived hits,
Counting my blessings in the power of ten like Man Musa
And the Commandments, I transition each night
From a wide freelancer boy to a missionary with a mission and vision,
What the world will know one day is this,
Some paths are never chosen by those who walk them,
And that the path does pick pillars to support such a walker,
And I, son of an uprooted existence,
Is borne on this journey by true Angels,
Am a beneficiary so grateful,
That when a tear drops,
I catch it first before heaven thinks am ungrateful.

Dedicated to all the folks who are supportive of me in my exile.

© 2020, Mbizo Chirasha


MBIZO CHIRASHA (Mbizo, the Black Poet)  is a recipient of PEN Deutschland Exiled Writer Grant (2017), Literary Arts Projects Curator, Writer in Residence, Blogs Publisher, Arts for Human Rights/Peace Activism Catalyst, Social Media Publicist and Internationally Anthologized Writer, 2017 African Partner of the International Human Rights Arts Festival Exiled in Africa Program in New York. 2017 Grantee of the EU- Horn of Africa Defend Human Rights Defenders Protection Fund. Resident Curator of 100 Thousand Poets for Peace-Zimbabwe, Originator of Zimbabwe We Want Poetry Movement. He has published a collection of poetry, Good Morning President, and co-created another one Whispering Woes of Ganges and Zembezi with Indian poet Sweta Vikram.


1919 ~ A Story of Peacetime

As Alice put another cold compress on Frankie’s forehead, I had my hand on her shoulder and felt it heaving up and down.

“Don’t cry, Alice,” I said. But when I looked in her eyes, they were dry. What I felt was not sobbing. She’d been suppressing her coughs, so she wouldn’t wake Frankie.

“It’s okay, honey. I’ll take over now,” I said.

“Thank you, Frank,“ Alice said, pressing her burning cheek to mine. As she left the room, I heard her cough…hard.

For a year, I’d seen buddies die in front of me, nearly ripped in half by German Maxim machine guns, wrong place/wrong time in an artillery barrage, and now a cold that killed in only a few days. I’d seen it France. I was told by some of the boys soldiers were dropping like flies at Fort Riley in Kansas. We slid more than twenty over the side of the Liberty ship bringing us home to the States. They told me it had hit New York City, too.

I was beginning to feel guilty about how some folks were saying we Doughboys brought the sickness back to America, this Spanish Influenza. I didn’t need that kind of help. War can make a guy feel guilty all on his own.

Frankie murmured something and started coughing, a weak, choking sound, so I propped him up a little more. But I knew even that wouldn’t help much.

I’d gone to France because I was drafted, not to make the world safe for democracy.

I fought there to take care of my buddies, but you can’t take care of someone vaporized by an 88mm shell dropped on his head.

I stayed alive to get home to Alice and Frankie, to see my boy grow up. To feel the warmth of my wife again. Tonight I felt feverish heat.

I heard the bed springs ring in the next room, then heard Alice cough again. And again. And again.

You feel so helpless at a time like this, no matter who you are or what you’ve experienced in life. How do you prepare for this? How do you prepare for dying by the hundreds and thousands? Or one at a time.

Frankie tried coughing again and he sounded like he was drowning and I could barely take it anymore. Such suffering for a kid. He opened his eyes and looked at me that same way. And that day broke through the thin crust I’d try to grow over the memory.

I saw that German kid in the middle of that shell hole again. It was full of water that had this yellow-green scum on top of it – the residue of their mustard gas.

Me and my buddy Charlie Oakley had him covered with our Springfields and motioned for him to come out. But he wouldn’t. He just kept yelling – no, screaming – “Hilf mir, bitte.”

Then the boy, he wasn’t more than seventeen, I’d guess, he kind of fell over and his face went into the water. And he looked like he had shrunk by about a foot. He fell again and between the stagnant water in the shell hole and that Mustard residue, he started choking, drowning really.

Charlie said, “Shit, the kid’s stuck in there. Bottom of the hole must be all mud. I’ll fetch him.”

“Let him go, Charlie. He’s just another Kraut,” I said and spit into the water.

But Charlie was a preacher’s kid from North Carolina and it was obvious since all the way back in training at Fort Slocum that his mama raised him a real Christian gentleman.

Charlie slogged around to the far side of the crater and slid about halfway down. You could see how he was trying to figure out how he could reach the kid.

“Hey, Frank, come over here. Hold my hand and I think I can grab this kid’s collar,” he said.

The mud in France is a living thing, you know, a monster that’ll suck your boots right off your feet and then eat your toes for dessert. As I clopped-plopped over to Charlie, the mud in that shell hole must have had enough of the German kid and it decided to try an American.

Charlie’s feet slid out from under him and, like on a sliding board, he flew out over the edge and fell flat on his back in that poison water and sticky mud. I ran over as fast as I could, but I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t see the German kid anymore, either.

“Charlie!” I screamed. I mean I screamed. Then I saw his head bob back above the water. But that was all I saw.

“Frank! Help me! I don’t want to die like this. Help me, buddy.” Then he went under again.

He came back up, but all I could hear was this gurgling in his throat. His eyes were wild then they settled down. Just his face was above the water now. He stared at me like a yellow-green picture of Jesus in Gethsemane. Kind of pleading. And I knew what he wanted me to do.

I remembered what Jesus said that night. I looked into Charlie’s eyes and said, “Father, remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.”

Charlie sort of nodded and I raised my rifle and squeezed off the most difficult shot I ever took, even though my target was only seven feet away. Charlie disappeared, but the image of his face didn’t. Never will.

Frankie stirred again, shaking me out of this memory. I saw the whole thing in but a second or two. This time Frankie’s breath came like a fingernail swiped on a washboard. It sounded so much like guys who’d caught just enough gas to singe their throat and lungs, but not kill them. Not until they got to the hospital in Étaples. Then they’d get sick, dying there a day or two later. Fever. Lungs giving out.

Like Frankie’s did that night. Honest, they did. Alice lasted two more days. I’d been home three weeks and I can’t help but wonder. Did the influenza kill them or did the war?

Last night, I had that nightmare again where Frankie and Alice are neck-deep in the water and mud of that shell hole and pleading with me to save them. I raise my rifle, but just as i bring my rifle to my shoulder, I woke up. I eventually fell back asleep.

But then, a new dream. I hear the scream of that 88mm shell and it’s falling on top of me instead. I wake up and I realize it’s been me screaming. Again. But that 88mm falling on me?

Oh, how I wish.

© 2020, Joe Hesch

JOSEPH HESCH (A Thing for Words)  is a member of the Zine core team, a writer and poet from Albany, New York. His work appears or is forthcoming in over a dozen venues, including Cossack Review, Frontier Tales Magazine, Pine Hills Review, the 2017 Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology, as well as the anthologies Petrichor Rising and For the Love of Christmas. His poetry collections, “Penumbra: The Space Between” and “One Hundred Beats a Minute” are available on Amazon.com. He’s currently working on his first collection of stories, all based on his fascination with the American frontier, whether it’s upstate New York in the 17th and 18th Centuries or the Nebraska plains and Arizona deserts of the 19th. You can visit him at his blog A Thing for Words.  He can be found on Twitter at @JAHesch and his Amazon page is Joseph Hesch, Poet and Writer.

Together

A free form poem
(about continuously foraging for peace)

Patience has kept me sitting tight
being a role model…

Back at my station,
I have cut some branches
sliced open some new and old wounds
fingered them gently just to see why

When we’re on the phone it’s love
the same as that which kills us

Tears are at the fore
with promises building bridges
through the skies
we breathe together and hold it all back
until tomorrow

We’re growing together all the time
I have someone who can guide me
when needed
who helps to prop up some pride

Everything is open
the gate, the sky, these shackles
even these two black eyes

© 2020, JJ Aitken

No More Numbing

About striving for peace

I tell myself
I’m being strong

It’s not really strength
I don’t think

It’s more regulation
than anything

I need to witness
truly feel
what’s happening
for me

Just let it happen
be kind to it
don’t put words to it
act gently

This is
what I need

No connecting
with passed emotions
caused by ancient prejudices
ill-informed comments
on how it is
for someone else

They’re just words
with no life
lost to memory
and the culprit

Let it go, my friend
please let it be

The other side
is surely amazing
it always is
I know this

This exhaustion
and trepidation
is breeding
new connection

Serotonin is growing
with momentum
across this divide
screaming “thanks for believing”
you will be you again
and you’ll love it

© 2020, JJ Aitken

Big Mama Is Dancing on the Purple Tide

eyes of stone
people dying without the caress of a gaze
hearts of plastic
beating a music no one wants to play
hands closed
seeds won’t come from those fingers of cement

birds know we are alone
so they try to keep our moral up
fishes are waiting for our holy bath
meanwhile they laugh silently

peace seems a lost island
the one cartographers put on maps
just to make their work look different
just to drive sailors crazy

a black woman
wide breasts full of ivory milk
is smiling to her holy baby
a lullaby in the air
is the half-moon chilling the wind

I know you
you’re the one who cried yesterday
when a little boat was shipping from the harbor
on a purple calm ocean

you said
how beautiful
and tears fell down
because all was so calm and chill
your heart found the path to peace island

no one was there to say
ha ha you dumb boy
you’re crying like a sissy girl

the ocean tide grew
your flood brought a vein of gold into it
sun setting on the horizon

I heard the wind blowing your voice
I found the stairway to the great vibration
you said

and everything was in peace
for a moment
forever

© 2020, Mendes Biondo

 

Wars Whirling, Worsening World

All Lessons from the Heavens above
were of  peace patience and love.
Who created among  birds, the Dove?
Wars in the clouds war in the skies
what did man gain by all the lies?
Blood all over, all over, cries,

weapons made for hunting food
were made all strong and good,
iron sharp, defense understood—
O’ Peace where art thou fixed?
So lost forever in River Styx?
Condemned thou like Sisyphus?

Twirling planets, endless encircle,
shine shimmer, forever glimmer,
are they lights or tears that quiver?
Swords flash bullets splatter,
scrapers shatter,
but what does it all to richness, matter?
Silence stands silent, loose tongues chatter,

under the bridge hungry bodies curled
bags of  bones looted and hurled.
Wars, murders, meaningless unfurled,
wars whirling, worsening world.
Time for The Message to come again,
to relieve the misery injustice and pain.


© 2020   Anjum Wasim Dar

ANJUM WASIM DAR (Poetic Oceans) is one of the newest members of “The BeZine” core team.
Anjum was born in Srinagar (Indian occupied Kashmir) in 1949. Her family opted for and migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India and she was educated in St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi where she passed the Matriculation Examination in 1964. Anjum ji was a Graduate with Distinction in English in 1968 from the Punjab University, which ended the four years of College with many academic prizes and the All Round Best Student Cup, but she found she had to make extra efforts for the Masters Degree in English Literature/American Studies from the Punjab University of Pakistan since she was at the time also a back-to-college mom with three school-age children.
.
Her work required further studies, hence a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad and a CPE, a proficiency certificate, from Cambridge University UK (LSE – Local Syndicate Examination – British Council) were added to  her professional qualifications.
 .
Anjum ji says she has always enjoyed writing poems, articles, and anecdotes and her written work found space in local magazines and newspapers. A real breakthrough came with the Internet when a poem submitted online was selected for the Bronze Medal Award and I was nominated as Poet of Merit 2000 USA. She accepted the Challenge of NANOWRIMO 2014 and Freedom is Not a Gift, A Dialogue of Memoirs, a novel form was the result. She was a winner, completing her 50,000 word draft in one month.
.

Although a Teacher and a Teacher Trainer by Profession, she is a colored-pencil artist and also enjoys knitting and is currently trying to learn Tunisian Crochet.



Make A Vow, Remember

Melodies begin music flows the heart warms as love grows
smiles beam on all  faces as people collect in small places

some moments together we sit to share, soon time will not spare
so let us be peaceful and enjoy, comfort each other and care

who rules what place what land, what difference does it make
don’t you have your own freedom, your way, your own land?

if all humanity alike, women and children just different names
all were guided the same, one home, played the same games

what lessons from previous wars do  we remember, be it
Chawinda, D-Day, Waterloo, or 6th of September,

nothing did we gain but death destruction downfall and pain
killing each other, unknown strangers again again and again;

and so many think and talk and speak and call for peace
and write and write essays stories and poems for peace

but still produce gather and buy weapons bombs and guns
each moment each hour lose life families and loving sons

I am no princess nor a peasant just a simple human, now
seeing blood and death, I pray peace, real peace now

lets now make a vow, along with the candles and bouquets
lets all try, put down the rifles and guns, call back the jets,

try to end all conflict, live and let live, end all strife
you can call back the tanks and troops, but you cannot

ever ever ever call back…a life’

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar


ANJUM WASIM DAR (Poetic Oceans) is one of the newest members of “The BeZine” core team.

Anjum was born in Srinagar (Indian occupied Kashmir) in 1949. Her family opted for and migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India and she was educated in St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi where she passed the Matriculation Examination in 1964. Anjum ji was a Graduate with Distinction in English in 1968 from the Punjab University, which ended the four years of College with many academic prizes and the All Round Best Student Cup, but she found she had to make extra efforts for the Masters Degree in English Literature/American Studies from the Punjab University of Pakistan since she was at the time also a back-to-college mom with three school-age children.
.
Her work required further studies, hence a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad and a CPE, a proficiency certificate, from Cambridge University UK (LSE – Local Syndicate Examination – British Council) were added to  her professional qualifications.
.
Anjum ji says she has always enjoyed writing poems, articles, and anecdotes and her written work found space in local magazines and newspapers. A real breakthrough came with the Internet when a poem submitted online was selected for the Bronze Medal Award and I was nominated as Poet of Merit 2000 USA. She accepted the Challenge of NANOWRIMO 2014 and Freedom is Not a Gift, A Dialogue of Memoirs, a novel form was the result. She was a winner, completing her 50,000 word draft in one month.

Although a Teacher and a Teacher Trainer by Profession, she is a colored-pencil artist and also enjoys knitting and is currently trying to learn Tunisian Crochet.


Hope and Wishes

When I saw local policemen beating young students protesting for their rights.

I wish I had not seen  this but I did
for I was free and so I thought in
my own country,
on the screen what
all was happening on the street
it is not a foreign place nor foreign
are the men on the beat.
How safe are we today at home?
I wish I had not seen this—

from time to time I cried and
prayed and prayed with the people,
felt the hurt they suffered—what if
it had been me or mine—but it is
to me it could happen—so are we free?
How safe are we today at home?
I wish I had not seen this—

I see them smile hardly 4, 6, 7, and 10—
my own kids with such responsibility,
and I thought ‘I crossed barbed wires
and so soon the wires are back in place?
And in my own free country?
I wish I had not seen this.

They said it was a new country.
our own land, our own home free,
the colonial crown is down
gone is the purple gown—
but so soon we are marching again
in the sun in the rain with deep pain
sonorous thumping sounds as
breathing is heavy the eyes burn.
We are still trying to remove the stain.’
I wish I had not seen this—

Who is right who is true who
is for me and who is for you?
O you who are so cruel and
all ready to kill and duel—
remember that in the end it is
nothing but a Pyrrhic victory—

the grave you dig for others
may be your own, who knows?
The wealth you gather now, will
be no more in hands or shows
but when greed and wine in
arrogance flows and the wit is out,
all is soon over but the shout.

I wish I had not seen this
But I wish a time when I would like to see
my own free land in peace and bliss
free for all people equally.

I wish and pray…and hope…and…

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar


ANJUM WASIM DAR (Poetic Oceans) is one of the newest members of “The BeZine” core team.

Anjum was born in Srinagar (Indian occupied Kashmir) in 1949. Her family opted for and migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India and she was educated in St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi where she passed the Matriculation Examination in 1964. Anjum ji was a Graduate with Distinction in English in 1968 from the Punjab University, which ended the four years of College with many academic prizes and the All Round Best Student Cup, but she found she had to make extra efforts for the Masters Degree in English Literature/American Studies from the Punjab University of Pakistan since she was at the time also a back-to-college mom with three school-age children.

Her work required further studies, hence a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad and a CPE, a proficiency certificate, from Cambridge University UK (LSE – Local Syndicate Examination – British Council) were added to  her professional qualifications.

Anjum ji says she has always enjoyed writing poems, articles, and anecdotes and her written work found space in local magazines and newspapers. A real breakthrough came with the Internet when a poem submitted online was selected for the Bronze Medal Award and I was nominated as Poet of Merit 2000 USA. She accepted the Challenge of NANOWRIMO 2014 and Freedom is Not a Gift, A Dialogue of Memoirs, a novel form was the result. She was a winner, completing her 50,000 word draft in one month.

Although a Teacher and a Teacher Trainer by Profession, she is a colored-pencil artist and also enjoys knitting and is currently trying to learn Tunisian Crochet.


 

Paper Boat

Each time I search and squint…
night doubles.

Today’s mirrors
and yesterday’s borders haven’t changed.

After hasn’t landed yet,
Before looks fuzzy,
but Something waits further out.

Is that tiny dot peace getting back to normal?

Healing must be a paper boat—
drifting on and on.

©  2020, Judy DeCroce

JUDY DeCROCE is an educator, poet/flash fiction writer and avid reader whose works have been published by Plato’s Cave online, Pilcrow & Dagger, Amethyst Review, Tigershark Publishing, and many others. As a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre, she also offers, workshops in flash fiction.

Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband poet/artist, Antoni Ooto.

This is not Paradise nor a Place to be Lost

no Bodhi tree
no way through

here is where the road
changed its mind

a gray snake
pulling close its end

where words fall like
some—through a shedding tunnel

this is not a place to be lost
there isn’t enough darkness

only a place to pick up a few thoughts
palm them tightly

before time changes its mind

© 2020, Judy DeCroce

JUDY DeCROCE is an educator, poet/flash fiction writer and avid reader whose works have been published by Plato’s Cave online, Pilcrow & Dagger, Amethyst Review, Tigershark Publishing, and many others. As a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre, she also offers, workshops in flash fiction. 
 
Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband poet/artist, Antoni Ooto.

Before

hard choices had to be made,
living was sometimes easier.

The afters never left the flagpole;
time stretched wide and forever.

Now, with so many afters,
before is emptier—(grateful this is over),
or, what is left has given some peace.

It never lived up to the before, however,
when we could check the flag pole
and feel safe.

© 2020, Judy DeCroce


JUDY DeCROCE Is an educator, poet/flash fiction writer and avid reader whose works have been published by Plato’s Cave online, Pilcrow & Dagger, Amethyst Review, Tigershark Publishing, and many others. As a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre, she also offers workshops in flash fiction.

Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband poet/artist, Antoni Ooto.


 

through the ache of time

Courtesy of Greg Rakozy, Unsplash

“To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.” Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living



see it moving – Life!
moving through the ache of time
seeking that place
where identity isn’t worn on a sleeve,
where individuals challenge the tribe,
where beauty frees itself from convention,
where the chains of fear dissolve

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day), a Lebanese-American writer and activist, was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. She’s worked in social services as an employment counselor, case manager/supervisor, career center manager, and ultimately as a planner in a government agency with duties that included writing position papers, requisitions for proposals, and grant applications.

Jamie founded The Bardo Group Bequines,  publisher of The BeZine of which she is founding and managing editor.  Our goal is to foster proximity and understanding through our shared love of the arts and humanities and to make – however modest –  a contribution toward personal healing and deference for the diverse ways people try to make moral, spiritual and intellectual sense of a world in which illness, violence, despair, loneliness and death are as prevalent as hope, friendship, reason and birth.

pulsing peace

courtesy of Christine Wehrmeier, Unsplash

“They have the guns, we have the poets. Therefore, we will win.” Howard Zinn



. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . these
the quiet afternoons pulsing peace,
Bach on the radio, sustenance simmering
on the stove of my tranquility, the days
chasing night, the nights chasing day,
rhythms caressing my face, love-bites
armouring the leg of my being, heart
beating at one with the sighing Pacific
and only gratitude for the gift of life,
no more scandalized by the news of
death, baptism into heaven, whatever
that means
, but the reports center on
conflict, Palestine, Ukraine, Maghreb

easy to foment flash-points for horror,
even easier to forget just how sweet it is
to breathe with the moon and sun and
to grow with trees bending in the storms,
obeisance to the seas and sky and
living on the edge of eternity, time to
give it up, to give-up strife and anger for Lent,
to never pick them up again, to be moved only
by the gentle breeze of butterfly wings,
color and transport for our feasting hearts

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day), a Lebanese-American writer and activist, was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. She’s worked in social services as an employment counselor, case manager/supervisor, career center manager, and ultimately as a planner in a government agency with duties that included writing position papers, requisitions for proposals, and grant applications.

Jamie founded The Bardo Group Bequines,  publisher of The BeZine of which she is founding and managing editor.  Our goal is to foster proximity and understanding through our shared love of the arts and humanities and to make – however modest –  a contribution toward personal healing and deference for the diverse ways people try to make moral, spiritual and intellectual sense of a world in which illness, violence, despair, loneliness and death are as prevalent as hope, friendship, reason and birth.

At a Peace Reading

The first of George Frederic Watts’ paintings of “Hope” / Public Domain Illustration

“Hope has two beautiful daughters; their names are Anger and Courage. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see that they do not remain as they are.” Augustine of Hippo



At a café, a peace reading ~
the reverent and irreverent
We delivered our poems as prayer
as though every Utopian dream of ours had the
fragrance of sanctity, the well-chiseled
face of true North…

A battalion on the march, we poet-healers,
laying our mystic grace like the psalmist’s
table before enemies

We are sure . . .  positive . . .
while we hike the mountain of our despair,
we sense the true depths of human Hope along
the wormholes in the spacetime of our convictions

© 2019, Jamie Dedes

JAMIE DEDES (The Poet by Day), a Lebanese-American writer and activist, was a columnist, a publicist, and an associate editor to a regional employment publication. She’s worked in social services as an employment counselor, case manager/supervisor, career center manager, and ultimately as a planner in a government agency with duties that included writing position papers, requisitions for proposals, and grant applications.

Jamie founded The Bardo Group Bequines,  publisher of The BeZine of which she is founding and managing editor.  Our goal is to foster proximity and understanding through our shared love of the arts and humanities and to make – however modest –  a contribution toward personal healing and deference for the diverse ways people try to make moral, spiritual and intellectual sense of a world in which illness, violence, despair, loneliness and death are as prevalent as hope, friendship, reason and birth.

Drear

One needs a little dull.

Gray, fallow ground of naked winter
Wrinkles, cracks, rocks,
A leftover wheat straw
Stuck, quavering in cold mud.

Folks gathered on a weathered wood porch
Staring at nothing
Waiting for nothing
Holding.

Grit, under an old boot sole
Half-screeches hardship
Half-whispers freedom
Beneath steps without invitation.

Adventure
Time
Struggle and
Celebration
All pause.

Space not for let
But to allow.
Room not to fill
But to air.

How do I stay fresh?

Like this—
Inside a hoary mystery
That resolves in its own good time.

© 2020, Anita East


ANITA EAST has been writing stories, funny letters, and melodramatic poetry since second grade. She didn’t keep much, bouncing around the world, but has it on good authority that there are always more fresh words to write.

Writer friends have threatened to hold her under until she bubbles if she does not publish. Her will to live, therefore, forces her to submit and collect her fair share of  rejection letters. Good friends are hard to find; harder, still, to bury after you drown ‘em. I must spare them the trouble.
Anita draws inspiration from the mundane to the unseen, and performs regular psychic readings of her bellybutton lint to stay on course. She managed to keep her three children alive to adulthood. She finished a four-year college degree in a mere twenty-two years, and holds a master’s degree in systems counseling. She abandoned a private practice in psychotherapy to become a starving artist, and to properly raise her cat, Bailey. Bailey works in graphite, oil, and watercolor with snaffled art supplies, as well as scratch art. Anita is a photographic artist, part-time painter, start-and-stop musician, and compulsive writer.

Most of Anita’s writing topics involve subtly bossing people around who are on the verge of consternation and sheer panic. Some call it “inspirational writing.” Others don’t know what to call it, but claim it’s worth a giggle.


Search

I’m chasing peace
But this search is endless
All of us are not truly humans
There are so many wild animals in human disguise
Their nails are scratching my soft heart
Their bloody tongues are tasting the corpses of my friends
Their sharp teeth are tearing my brother’s flesh
I’m one of unstable heart
I’m one of scared mind searching for a little bit of peace
I’m one of shaking lips finding those cute faces clinging very close to my heart
Nowadays on a moonlit night I recall my backstage story
I see a birch tree listening to the sad song of a green bird
I pull out my wounds
I drag out some dirty faces from the courtyard of darkness
Nowhere am I finding peace
But still I’m chasing peace as I want to light my little heart by fire of happiness
I may be unlucky
May the bird of peace not be ever in my grip
But I would not stop
I would not linger anymore to find it
As I know
Peace would never entangle me itself.

© 2020, Kakali Das Ghosh

KAKALI DAS GHOSH was born in India.  She has a is post graduate in Personnel Management, a teacher, writer and painter.Kakali has e written for The Poet by Day, The Bezine, Country Tales etc. One of her poems was selected for Alfastar Records International and International Poetry Digest.

Reprieve

I made it through the war without a scratch
Though in harm’s way like so many others
I did not die like so many others
I’m home, in one piece, enjoying peace
Unlike so many others

I’m not ashamed to be here
I’m proud of my service
But as I walk to work at Penn
The greatest danger being the crosswalk at Walnut and South 34th Streets
Something nags at the back of my mind

I’m not sorry to have survived intact when
I see others with lost limbs or minds
But as I sit on the beach
Surrounded by beautiful ladies starved for young men
There’s a voice asking me if I deserve this

Here is what I’ll do
Work for peace
Work to prevent war from returning
For I understand what it does to men
Whether or not you survive it
Like so many others.

© 2020, Robert Gluck


ROBERT GLUCK‘s poems have appeared in Nova Bards 2016, Nova Bards 2017, Nova Bards 2018, The Poet’s Domain Volume 32, and Poets Anonymous: 25 and Beyond. His chapbook, My Childhood Home, was published by Local Gems Press, May 2018. He has a self-published collection of poems entitled Below and Above Ground. His poem Mind Tricks placed third in the NEW VOICES category of the 2018 Poetry Society of Virginia’s annual contest. He lives in Herndon, Virginia, with his wife and three cats. He is a proud grandfather.


 

the full moon’s light

in warrior eyes,
against life’s flow

the AK47’s steel kiss
The barrel’s small o

concentrated in leaden thought

In the chamber nests
a fertilized zygote

snug in its brass case womb

all this dying war
both inside and outside:

wash away this death—
it clings to my bones

© 2020, Ed Higgins


ED HIGGINS‘ poems and short fiction have appeared in various print and online journals including recently: Ekphrastic Review, CarpeArte Journal, Triggerfish Critical Review, Statement Magazine, Wales Haiku Journal, and Sum Journal, among others. Ed is Professor Emeritus, English Dept. and Writer-in-Residence at George Fox University, a Quaker-heritage institution south of Portland, OR. He is also Asst. Fiction Editor for Brilliant Flash Fiction. Ed lives on a small organic farm in Yamhill, OR where he raises a menagerie of animals, including a male whippet, Mr. Toffee, and an Indian Runner duck named Duck.


refugees

they
stream
like tears
out of my magna-
vox eye,
staining my
carpeted
comfort
with misery
no rug
shampoo
can
remove

© 2020, Ed Higgins


ED HIGGINS‘ poems and short fiction have appeared in various print and online journals including recently: Ekphrastic Review, CarpeArte Journal, Triggerfish Critical Review, Statement Magazine, Wales Haiku Journal, and Sum Journal, among others. Ed is Professor Emeritus, English Dept. and Writer-in-Residence at George Fox University, a Quaker-heritage institution south of Portland, OR. He is also Asst. Fiction Editor for Brilliant Flash Fiction. Ed lives on a small organic farm in Yamhill, OR where he raises a menagerie of animals, including a male whippet, Mr. Toffee, and an Indian Runner duck named Duck.


Epistemology

It’s always about loss,
this kind of epistemology
philosophers regard with dread.
And we can fool ourselves with thinking.
Like the grandfather
I read about recently
who picked up his four year old grandson
in two pieces on a Baghdad market street,
after a sudden car bomb there.
And then just yesterday grocery shopping,
concentrating on which broccoli florets to buy,
out of the corner of my eye
a little blond four year old girl
is running to the side of my leg
yelling grandpa, grandpa, we saw your car
in the parking lot and knew it was you.
And my son and his beautiful wife
are smiling an aisle away,
near the potatoes and sweet onions,
she holding their year old daughter
on her hip the way mothers do.
And I’m so happy to see them all there
in one piece that I begin to cry,
like a foolish, foolish old man.

© 2020, Ed Higgins


ED HIGGINS‘ poems and short fiction have appeared in various print and online journals including recently: Ekphrastic Review, CarpeArte Journal, Triggerfish Critical Review, Statement Magazine, Wales Haiku Journal, and Sum Journal, among others. Ed is Professor Emeritus, English Dept. and Writer-in-Residence at George Fox University, a Quaker-heritage institution south of Portland, OR. He is also Assistant Fiction Editor for Brilliant Flash Fiction. Ed lives on a small organic farm in Yamhill, OR where he raises a menagerie of animals, including a male whippet, Mr. Toffee, and an Indian Runner duck named Duck.


 

Good Vibrations

Through the skylight,
I view
a small rectangular patch
of moon’s shine,
so bright,
like a highway line
under a day-glo light.
The power of the moon
to bring forth altruism.
Championing those,
who’ll walk
across a room,
and put a new member
of a group at ease.
Advocating for those,
unabashed,
while dancing in front of others,
(even if they’re solo.)
Promoting those,
whose smiles reach their eyes.
Upholding those,
who recognize misery,
and work to eradicate it.
The world will truly
be full of music
when the moon teaches the sun
to sing just as benevolently.
© 2020, Linda Imbler
LINDA IMBLER (Linda’s Poetry Blog)has five published poetry collections and one hybrid ebook of short fiction and poetry. She is a Kansas-based Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Nominee.

By what right?

Hearsay of the war
Are we about to go so low?
Again?
Well, many want to die anyway
In a world we see today
And who with a sound mind
Would say it will get better when we fight?
There is no shame to cry for someone else
Nor is it obnoxious to bear another’s pain
So why then it is so common to forget
About the sufferings on Earth?
Some wish to win some battles
In their mind they have to happen
For some reason I believe
The motive of this need
Lies somewhere deep
Somewhere where lives the defeat
And by what right
These are the minds to decide
About fate, death and life
Of whole mankind?

© 2020, Magdalena Juśkiewicz



MAGDALENA JUSKIEWICZ is a master free spirit, who has hundreds of interests and for some reason keeps adding  more for herself.  After being born and growing up in Bydgoszcz she…stayed in Bydgoszcz. She attended high school, where she was studying graphic design only to not really work in that occupation. Graduation time is the exact time when her whole world decided to play twister and fall over. Her greatest accomplishment is lifting up that clumsy dude—life—from the floor and looking younger that she is meanwhile.


 

Out of Sight

The times they are a changin’
-Bob Dylan

It was a decade
of innocence and awakening
an era of protest
a coming of age
a time
when expressions like “hip” and “cool”
weren’t exactly out
but “far out” was really far in!

a time
when we traded in the stuffy square
for the more open rounded circle
when we traded
sit-downs for sit-ins
social unrest for Berkeley protest
the small screen for the real thing.
a time
when we unplugged our inhibitions
opened the doors of perception
and broke on through to the other side

In tribal splendor we “happened” at gatherings
in Woodstock San Francisco Chicago and L.A
synthesizing with Leary in holy sugar-cube communion
of divine LSD conception and the expanding consciousness
of One. Evolution was our revolution.
Change was in the air We exploded everywhere
while the government blew smoke-rings around smoke screens
smuggling heroin back from Nam like our dead in body bags
We checked in And we checked out–
as did Janis Jimi and Jim

It was the Summer of Love—
music turned us on music tuned us in
The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper rolled off our tongues
and out of every window Lucy
was in the sky with diamonds
The Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow
took us to a new plane with White Rabbit:
And if you go chasing rabbits
and you know you’re going to fall,
tell ‘em a hookah-smoking caterpillar
has given you the call. Ask Alice.”
And The Doors promised to take us even higher.
Come on, baby, light my fire. Gonna set the world on fire!

Miles and Coltrane were blowing their horns (New stanza)
Dylan and The Dead “like a rolling stone”…
no direction known were somewhere blowin’ in the wind
And some of us were just blowing it!
Blowing our noses
blowing our minds
blowing our inheritance of plenty
and then some!

We were scoring pot rolling grass smoking weed
and taking tokes off Wolf Thompson and Kesey
who first ignited our imaginations
then lit up the whole damn joint!
Every trip—manna from Heaven fuel for The Road
While Kerouac guided us down the back-roads
Ginsberg howled on up the high-ways
as did Corso Ferlinghetti Snyder–
and those faithful few who kept the beat
in the ever-altered States of these United

It was a season when
we placed flowers in our hair
we placed flowers on our graves
we stared down the National Guard
and we placed flowers there
We generated peace
we generated love
we generated the minds of the next generation
We dropped out of school
we dropped acid instead of bombs
we dropped sometimes like flies
off the face of the earth
But we NEVER
dropped
out
of
sight

© 2020, Antonia Alexandra Klimenko


ANTONIA ALEXANDRA KLIMENKO was first introduced on the BBC and to the literary world by the legendary James Meary Tambimuttu of Poetry London. A former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion, she is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (in which she represents France) and Maintenant: Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art, archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants: one from Poets in Need, of which Michael Rothenberg (100 Thousand Poets for Change) is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Josheph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris, where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence.


 

Waging Peace

i have been
in
the ground
for
many years now
my
once
soft flesh
has given way
to
decay
and
my bones
are
iron ore red
adopting
the color
of
my
current
home
once
i walked
the
earth above
as
a freedom fighter
fighting
to
foster
peace
waging war
to
acquire
the antithesis
of
what i was doing
war
has always
been
marketed
as
a means
to
an end
the end
proposed
was
peace
but
i’ve had some time
to
think
and
it may be
that
waging war
is
not
the way
to wage
peace
perhaps
waging peace
is
just
as the words
imply
the acquisition
of
calmness
no troops
moving
forward
or
backward
no weapons
hoisted
upon shoulders
or
drones
like
mosquitoes
filling
the air
no
just calm
each person
taking
the time
to
reflect on the beauty
of
life
having
no time
to
wage war
and
thus
waging peace

 

© 2020, Charles W. Martin


CHARLES 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). Upon retirement in 2010, he turned his full attention to poetry and photography.

Charlie 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.  He has self-published a book of poetry collections entitled The Hawk Chronicles 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. Charlie’s joint venture, When Spirits Touch, Dual Poetry, a collaboration with River Urke, is available through Amazon as are all his books.


 

Let Peace Be the Journey

Shower the world with drops of love and humility
Wash yourself with the spray of calmness
Eradicate any hatred. Anger or frustration
You have inside of you.
Delve into the branches of happiness
We together as a nation can protest against war
Living in harmony amongst one another
We do not need violence,
Put an end to all negative thoughts
Evoke feelings of joy, splendor and amusement
Laugh, smile and relax with the world.
Waves of tranquility drowns on you.
Let peace be the journey…..

© 2020, Neelam Shah


NEELAM SHAH has a Masters Psychoanalysis Kingston University-2017. She is currently a temporary Researcher and a freelance Academic Health Researcher/Writer for Knowledge Links, Freelance Proof Reader for London Skills Network and Adhoc Ranstad Disability Support Worker as well as a Short term freelance Project Manager for Read a Book for Charity. In her spare time she says she genuinely enjoys tutoring online, baking, painting, drawing, travelling, photography, dancing, playing the keyboard in addition to her passion for writing blog posts and articles, poems and short stories. She relishes reading novels and visiting historical and art exhibitions. Neelam is also an e-activist, Global Citizen Leader, Campaigner, and political lobbyist for PETA, Walk for Freedom Slavery Activist and End Global Poverty, Unicef Children’s Champion, GQ Transforming Mental Health Supporter/Campaigner.


 

Global Forest

Goat tree was an old birch
named for his long burl face of wise knots
his horns of shadow-branch

Old birch danced a dappled wedding
Old birch rocked some kids, friended
a lonely yard dog, sang night-breeze soothes
to a sleepless poet
Old birch was cut down dead
by a new landlord. ‘For the light’.
So poet mourned-by-light – the new patch of blue sky
shone only in the shape of the loss

But the thing about trees is
they forgive from the roots
greensticks growing up now
from that great ringed history-bone, gangly-ranked soldiers
already six feet tall
headbutting clouds from that yard

And the thing about a forest is that the roots of trees share water
even with a stump among them, knowing it only as a tree
And the thing about sap is that it finds a way to rise
And the thing about sap is that it rises like words
And the thing about words is that when you cut
them down, they bleed themselves right through the earth
watering the world-web of unseen roots

Greensticks growing up now all over the place
from the great ringed history-bone, gangly-ranked soldiers
already headed six feet deep, uprooting the rocked
kids, the loney yard dogs, the weddings, the light
oh it’s always for the light

And the thing about us is
we don’t grow again from the stump
when the axe comes, but the whole forest readies its water
at the sound of the very first blow

© 2020, Ankh Spice


ANKH SPICE is a sea-obsessed poet from Aotearoa (New Zealand), whose poetry has appeared in more than 30 print and online publications internationally in the last year. He is a co-editor at IceFloe Press, a poetry contributing editor at Barren Magazine, and a firm believer that words have the power to change the place we’re in.


 

The Path of Empathy

“When did the left foot stop walking with the right?
—Fu Schroeder
Green Gulf Ranch, California

Head swollen, eyes still blackened and green
from injuries sustained in a skirmish
I turn to meditation

My body this old dog
finds a spot to rest—
it is my mind that rattles
like a snake in a bamboo tube

Is it not the same with war and peace?
Within without
my country your country
I’m right you’re wrong
Hsssssssss
Many go to war two by two—
left foot right foot
left foot right foot
forgetting they are One.
Others—yogis
may cross the entire universe
without ever having left

Every day
I put one breath after the other
just as Someone Else
puts the other breath before.
Breathing out breathing in–
the world becomes larger
the world becomes smaller–
continuously living
continually dying

On stage online on website blogs:
message in a bottle—
see me hear me feel me touch me
screams a disappearing world in high definition
while I in my easy chair feed these pages
with bite-size impressions

3,000 Burmese monks walk barefoot
in protest of their government
3,000 Burmese monks walk barefoot
with Jesus in the desert
walk barefoot
with Buddha in the forest
walk barefoot
with Moses on the mountain
The earth is moving (New stanza)
and still I sit
The mountains are moving-
they are running beside the rivers
But I do not budge–
I hear but I do not listen
I am liquid says the snake your river flows within
I am skin says the snake you can peel me like a glove
I am mindful says the snake
you must change to BE changed.

When did the left foot stop walking with the right?
When did you stop becoming me?

There are many languages
but there is only one tongue
When I opened up my mouth and heard myself scream
I could feel the dry explosion in the squeeze of my throat.
I could taste its bitter root on the tip of my tongue
When I opened up my mouth and heard myself scream
a thousand consonants like stars flew in different directions
Consonants gagged on spittle and yesterday’s dust
consonants gagged on consonants
and in no particular order

When I opened up my mouth and heard myself scream
I knew then that they would want to blindfold this poem
and question it until it cracked!
Soon they are sticking bamboo shoots
under the nails of every sentence to extract their full meaning.
But I do not budge
I won’t give up the vowels
I WON”T GIVE UP THE VOWELS!!!

I a large toad growing larger on my cushion
transforming in mid-air… nightmare into dream
Eyes that stutter with all the old stories–
the history of my life
written across my bruised body in Braille

Where is Kindness?
with her thousand fingertips
to trace the shadow of our suffering
and soothe its man?
What have they done with Quon Yin?
with her thousand arms and cameras flashing–
eyes rolling in the palms of her Hand
eyes to record and to remember. ..
what we leave out!

3,000 Burmese monks walk barefoot
in protest of their government
while I a large toad a leap of faith
go hopping on one foot across the Universe
across the only One path I know—
the path of empathy

My mother (breathing out, breathing in)
rolled bandages in basements
with women who wore numbers on their arms.
My father (left foot right foot)
could never step into anyone else’s shoes
When he died…they had to cut off both his feet

When did the left foot stop walking with the right.
When did I stop…becoming you?

First published in Big Bridge

© 2020, Antonia Alexandra Klimenko

ANTONIA ALEXANDRA KLIMENKO was first introduced on the BBC and to the literary world by the legendary James Meary Tambimuttu of Poetry London. A former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion, she is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (in which she represents France) and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants:  one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Josheph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence.


 

To Write a Peace Poem


“Poetry. It’s better than war!”  Michael Rothenberg, cofounder of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change


Introduction for grownups

In 2013, I originally developed this exercise for some poetry workshops geared to upper-elementary school children in English language classes at The Jerusalem School of Beit Hanina, in East Jerusalem. The school’s motto is “Peace begins with me,” also the name of a poetry anthology for children. My workshops coincided with Peace Days at the school. This version is modified here a wider audience.

I posted it on my blogZine, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play in 2018. It has been a very popular post, one of the most popular on that Zine.

Please feel free to use this exercise with children, teens, adults you know or work with, and to modify it to your needs. I ask only that you give me credit for it and include the credits for the poems, if you use them.


Introduction for everybody

There are some words a poet might call “big.” They are not long words, with lots of letters. However, they are “big” because when you say them or when you read them, they hold a lot of things in them or a large, important meaning.

Now, if a word is very big, a poet may not want to use it in the poem at all. The whole poem may be about this very big word. If I put the word in my poem, though, it could break the poem. A person reading it would not know exactly what I meant by it. Or a person may mean one of the other things the word could mean.

Peace can be a very big word like that. We can all say we want peace. Every person might make a wish like this: “May Peace prevail on Earth.” (When something “prevails,” it wins, it is everywhere and leads everything.) Yet, the poet asks, “What do I mean by peace? What exactly is this peace I want?”

Poets can write about a big word like peace though, if they ask questions about it. They write about the answers they find. They do not always use the word “peace” when they do.

Let’s try to write a poem now, about peace. But don’t use the word peace!

Instead, ask some questions about peace, and write your answers down.


What kind of questions do poets ask?

Some of the questions poets ask have to do with the senses. Others have to do with places, or people, or things.

Below are some questions a poet might ask. They are here to help you write a poem about peace. You can ask your own questions, too.

Write down some answers to these questions (or your own, or both). You can make a list of words or phrases, write a sentence, a paragraph, a story, or a piece of a poem…

But you don’t have to write the whole poem. You will do that after answering the questions.

Some questions to help you start

1. What does peace look like? Is there a place that you go to or have gone to where you can see peace? Where the view looks like peace?

2. What would peace feel like, if you could touch it? Is there something you touch that feels like peace to you?

3. What does peace sound like? Is there a sound you hear every day or just sometimes that sounds like peace for you?

4 What about a taste? What would peace taste like ? Do you eat anything that tastes like peace?

5. What would peace smell like? Do you ever smell peace? What other things might smell like peace?

Some more questions

Your answers from the questions you just answered can help you answer some of these questions. Or, write new answers.

Imagine someone who doesn’t know what peace is. Try to describe peace to this person as though it is an object in the world.

What does it look like?

What does it sound like?

What does it smell like?

What does it taste like?

And, what does it feel like?

Imagine someone else who doesn’t know what peace is. Try to describe peace as something people do.

Who does it?

What do they do?

Where do they do it?

When do they do it?

Why do they do it?

How do they do it?

What do they look like doing it?

What do they sound like?

Write your own poem

Look over all of your answers. Can you think of other things to write to say more about your answers? Do you have other questions that you want to ask about peace?

Do some of your answers help you think of a poem to write?

Are some of your answers fun? Funny?

Do some excite you?

Do some seem very true to you?

Do the answers to one question seem connected to the answers to another one?

Now write down a poem. You can change it as you go. You can change it after it is all written down the first time, too. Your poem can rhyme, but it doesn’t have to. The lines of a poem are usually short, but you can also write them longer. Usually, they are not really, really long. Sometimes, they look like prose (and are called “prose poems”).

Try it now!


Now that you have written a poem

Go to page 2 to read two of my poems that I share with classes.


Bizarre

We bring
Truth through lies
Reconstruction through destruction
Peace through violence
Liberation through occupation
Democracy through repression
Life through death.Their propaganda
Our news
Embedded.
Our intelligence; their spies
Their guerrilla war,
Our just cause
Our soldiers; their terrorists
Their irregulars; our resistance
Our freedom fighters; their guerrillas.

Their weapons of mass destruction
Our deterrents.
Our collateral damage
Their atrocities.
Their war criminals
Our special forces
Guilty losers
Never winners

How bizarre.

© 2020, Mike Gallagher


MIKE GALLAGHER was born on Achill Island in 1941. Like practically all islanders and the majority of young people born on the west coast of Ireland at that time, he was forced to emigrate, arriving in London in 1960. For the next forty years, he worked on building sites there. On returning to Ireland he worked in construction for a further ten years. He did not find the building industry conducive to writing and, consequently, did not write his first poem until he was sixty-three years old. Since then, he has been published and translated throughout the world.

He won the Michael Hartnett Viva Voce competition in 2010 and 2016, was shortlisted for the Hennessy Award in 2011 and won the Desmond O’Grady International Poetry Contest in 2012. In 2018, he was placed at Listowel Writers Week.

His poetry collection Stick on Stone was published by Revival Press in 2013.

Another protest song | a poem

 

Again. War machines seek blood.
Fucking military industrialists
penetrating, Trump’s premature
timing, vampire-sucking lives dry.

Hezbollah meeting
with Hamas faction leaders.
A pre-dawn rocket fired
from southern Gaza
to north of Tel Aviv.

The pounding of Gaza
a deep bass drum.

Let’s try canceling
the Israel elections.
If Bibi-Bob does it here,
Trumpty-dump can do it

anywhere.
Tick-tock

unwind the lock
rewind the hammer,
the bell, the song.

Peace.

Peace.

Peace.

Ring your bells
across the valleys
and echo across the hills
until the war machines
break down under
pressures of harmony.

–2019 from Israel

©2019 Michael Dickel

History of Peace / History of War
Digital Landscape from Photographs
©2020 Michael Dickel

 


Michael Dickel
Lucky Goat Café,
Tallahassee Florida
©2018 Cindy Dickel

Michael Dickel (a contributing editor for The BeZine) has had writing and art in print and online since 1987.  His latest collection of poetry, Nothing Remembers, came out in 2019 from Finishing Line Press, and received 3rd place for poetry in the Feathered Quill Book Awards–2020. His also won the international Reuben Rose Poetry Award (2009 and 2008), and has been translated into several languages. A poetry chap book, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism, came out in 2017; The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, a flash fiction collection, came out in 2016. Previous books: War Surrounds Us (2014), Midwest / Mid-East (2012), and The World Behind It, Chaos… (2009). He co-edited Voices Israel Volume 36, was managing editor for arc-23 and -24, and is a past-chair of the Israel Association of Writers in English. With producer / director David Fisher, he received a U.S.A. National Endowment of Humanities documentary-film development grant. He currently is a lecturer at David Yellin Academic College of Education, Jerusalem, Israel.



For Victims of Natural Catastrophes

We cross the river to the other side where a mother
and child wait for the sun before going forward. The

new day a promise fulfilled to them. And us. So we
celebrate life every day because a catastrophe can

happen without a moment’s notice. Uprooting. To
transport the will where it does not want to go.

A stubbornness unfamiliar only in its familiarity,
like a counterpart that is part of the whole.

Life happens with intrusions. It is true that every-
thing breaks and needs fixing. An answer that precedes

the question that births it. There is a fate
that becomes you and that you need to make

a home of, with walls of hope that let love in.

© 2019, Elvis Alves

Elvis Alves is the author of Bitter Melon (2013), Ota Benga (2017), and I Am No Battlefield But A Forest Of Trees Growing (2018), winner of the Jacopone da Todi poetry book prize. Elvis lives in New York City with his family.

Life Is Divine

Some stories encourage and build stamina.  Some stories touch and heal. Yet, some stories break hearts and forever refuse to be forgotten.  This is one such story.

It is the story of a love so intense, so our and blessed, that in the city of Chogoria where it took place, it is current news for any and all with a heart that feels.

Her name is Minne. A girl wellbroupt up but orphaned at fourteen. Both parents perishing in a fatal car crash that left Minne in a wheelchair for a solid year.  She recovered.  Using crutches at first but through sheer determination, she went on to walk and later to run.

It is her physiotherapist who owed gratitude for seeing her walk through encouragement long before the pain of the injuries had dulled.  She fell in love with the angel helper.

Five years later she wed him. Bliss. Heaven. Paradise.

Not nine months later when baby Roy was born.

The seemingly healthy child had jelly bones and could not support his head even at six months.  His droopy eyes said more to the father with the medical background than the young mother in love with her cherubic angel.

By eight months, even the mother sensed paradise was losing something.  Roy could not sit unsupported. He drooled nonstop.

The doctor’s report was devastating. However, it was not as devastating as the suggestion by the father that they give the boy up for adoption.

“What!”  The shocked mother howled at the husband’s suggestion.

“Baby,” he called cooly as many a doctor would react even in the face of bad news to a patient.  “We cannot afford to keep him. You aren’t even work. How do you expect we shall take care of an autistic child.?”

Minne’s heart shattered into a thousand shards.

She looked Roy senior in the eye and didn’t recognize him.

She looked him further and saw a stranger.

She wept. O how she wept, as she hugged her sweet innocent cild who for no fault of his own would have to depend on parents longer than other children.

That was not the worst.  A week to the day, Roy senior did not come home from work. Neither the following day nor the one after.

Minnie called him. She called the police. She called his only sibling, a sister. None had an answer for her.

At the end of the month she received a letter.  She was to vacate the doctors’ quarters since her husband had deserted his duties at the hospital. Shock and disbelief and finally belief as she moved out of the house a fortnight later.

To where? To whom? With what means?

She wept silently at first and then she wailed.  When Roy junior joined her in this unfamiliar who, she had to gather strength and calm for his sake.

She sold cheaply what she could, gathered what she could carry and went back to the old deserted home where she was born.There she sang sad lullabies to her son. She great chickens and tomatoes in the yard.

Roy walked at four years of age. Roy went to school at seven. At thirteen he could ride a bike. At seventeen he could read and write. At twenty-on he fell in love for the first time and did a painting of his girl. He was a great artist.

At twenty-four he married Wendy in the local church.

Roy missed all this. He missed the twin boys born of this beautiful couple.

Love conquers all.

Originally published in Autism: An Advocate Initiative

© 2019, Nancy Ndeke

NANCY NDEKE is the Associate Editor of Liberated Voices,  a Poet of international acclaim, and a reputable literary arts consultant. Her writings and her poetry are featured in several collections, anthologies and publications around the globe including the American magazine Wild Fire, Save Africa Anthology. World Federation of Poets in Mexico. Ndeke is a Resident Contributor of the Brave Voices Poetry Journal since mid-2018. African Contributor to the DIFFERENT TRUTHS, a publication that sensitizes the world on the plight of Autism edited by Aridham Roy. SAVE AFRCA ANTHOLOGY, edited by Prof. Dave Gretch of Canada and reviewed by Joseph Spence Jr., has featured her poetry and a paper on issues afflicting Africa and Africans.

Health Is Health, But Love Is Love

Those who have heard the story of baby Leon have had constant tears running down their cheeks.  It is the story of loss, grief, and love beyond what many think they can handle.

Leon’s birth was difficult.  The mother was a young university graduate waiting to report to her first job after three months.  Leon’s dad was abroad at the time his beautiful wife went into labour.

The waters broke at midnight.  Mary was expecting the baby in ten days, so it was a surprise.  She was rushed to the hospital by a kind neighbour.

That was the end of good news. Mary labored for the next ten hours and by the time the resident doctor took her in for a cesarean section, Mary had lost consciousness and there was no baby movement at all. Mary only woke up long enough to name the baby.  She passed on without ever seeing her son or ever holding him.

Baby Leon was a silent baby.  He made no sound after a thirty minute struggle to have his breath.  His father found the body of his wife and the baby with tubes along his nose and IV drip in the nursery.  Joseph was inconsolable.  But like all things life and death, he had to attend to the final rites of his beloved wife and bury her.  Then he came for his baby.

The doctor could not look him in the eye as he explained what he could expect from his son.  That it was quite possible that Leon’s brain was damaged by the difficult birth process.

How much could a man take, Joseph thought as he fought a fresh bout of tears?

“I see,” Joseph mumbled.  As a matter of fact, he did not see anything but a long stretch of misery and darkness.

He did take his son home. He had taken leave to take care of the matters surrounding him.  He installed little Leon in his bedroom and took to caring for his son henceforth.

It was hard and he had to engage a nurse.  The boy grew but slowly. Unlike most kids his age, he could not support his frame at eight months and only managed to sit at one-and-a-half-years of age.

Joseph had by then changed careers and was now a stay at home daddy working online to support himself and his son.

His family was supportive but in a very intrusive manner. His mother was of the opinion that he should marry another woman to help him take care of the boy.  Joseph knew not to argue though that consideration was a dead thought.

His sister had tried a hundred times to hitch him to a girlfriend of hers as a potential candidate for a wife.  Joseph, having installed a CCTV camera in all the rooms in the house was shocked at the prospective girlfriend’s reaction to Leon.  Horror was evident even as she sweetly smiled at him.

As years rolled on, Leon learnt some basics.  He smiled more to his dad. He could identify some animals on the chart that Joseph used to teach him. He could call the family dog, which was his best friend, as well as the sly cat that kept escaping his grasp every time Leon tried to catch it.  Those were moments that brought joy and tears to Joseph’s eyes.

Then, one day when Leon was seven, as the family watched cartoon in their living room, Leon turned and said, “Aba one you.”

Joseph almost fell over. In tears, he kept saying over and over again, “O my God! O my God! I love you too. I love you too, Son.”

He even called his doctor to share the good news seeing that he did’t have many friends.

He hugged his son on and on and kept tempting him to repeat the magical words.  Lean didn’t.

Most afternoons, Joseph took Leon swimming.  That was a recommendation from the doctor. So, after the wonderful affirmation that his son might eventually speak normally, it was time for their swimming class.

As Joseph bent over Leon to prepare him for swimming, something seemed strange.  Leon seemed to be smiling, but this time there was no drool on the sides of his mouth.  Leon’s brown eyes were fixed on his face.

Joseph sat up straight.

“Leon,” he cried.  Panic washed over him in waves.

“Leoooon!”

The empty stare and the fixed smile.

Joseph let out such a scream, the neighbors came running.

At little Leon’s funeral, Joseph allowed no one to speak of his son but himself.  Even then, he chose to recite a poem:

To Leon, My Broken Sparrow

You came whole baby sparrow,
En route, brokenness grazed your hand,
You landed on loves lap taking the tit away,
Leon, my broken sparrow,
You said you loved me and I believed,
You held my hand when insanity threatened to take me away,
You taught me about humanity beyond what psychologists could ever know,
Leon, my broken sparrow, how I loved you so,
And knowing about love and how it never ends,
Your body like your mama’s here I let you live,
But in my heart of hearts where soul lives eternal,
I treasure what we had and what we didn’t have, all in the safety of memories,
So goodbye my little sparrow for now you are made whole

Those who have heard the story of baby Leon have had constant tears running down their cheeks.  It is the story of loss, grief, and love beyond what many things they can handle.  Many thought Joseph had gone made. A few knew that Joseph had accepted his fate with his creator. Tears express both sorrow and joy.

Originally published in Autism: An Advocate Initiative

© 2019, Nancy Ndeke

NANCY NDEKE is the Associate Editor of Liberated Voices,  a Poet of international acclaim, and a reputable literary arts consultant. Her writings and her poetry are featured in several collections, anthologies and publications around the globe including the American magazine Wild Fire, Save Africa Anthology. World Federation of Poets in Mexico. Ndeke is a Resident Contributor of the Brave Voices Poetry Journal since mid-2018. African Contributor to the DIFFERENT TRUTHS, a publication that sensitizes the world on the plight of Autism edited by Aridham Roy. SAVE AFRCA ANTHOLOGY, edited by Prof. Dave Gretch of Canada and reviewed by Joseph Spence Jr., has featured her poetry and a paper on issues afflicting Africa and Africans.

A Christmas Connection

This quarter The BeZine focuses on “A Life of the Spirit”. Read here and be inspired by others who show us that the word “Spirit” comes in many forms, shapes, sizes and meanings. I chose to write a poem about part of the “Christmas Spirit”, which is spending time with loved ones at Christmas dinner, the connections we have with others we cherish. But what about those who don’t have anyone to enjoy that event with?

The holidays can be extra challenging for the elderly. Often alone, with no one to spend these special days with, they can get depressed and lonely. Please make an effort this season to check in and spend a little time with any seniors you might know who could use a smile or two, whether they’re family, friends, neighbors or even strangers in nursing homes. Give the gift of your time and attention to someone older. It’s one of the greatest presents they can receive. 🙂

~ A Christmas Connection ~

He shuffled softly down the well-lit aisles,
Searching for a Christmas meal just for one.
His wife, God rest her, was gone a long while,
And he knew the kids weren’t able to come.
Of course they were busy, lived far away,
But he missed their smiles, and the grand kids, too.
“We’ll see you next year!” They would no doubt say,
Though their short visits were still far too few.

She came looking for a Christmas repast,
Stopped in front of the frozen t.v. meals.
Her faint breath frosted the door of thick glass,
Of the case which housed the advertised deals.
Her mind caught in times of holidays past,
She recalled the faces and names held dear.
Of all those remembered, she was the last.
Old and lonely, she now found herself here.

The man paused in the frozen dinners aisle,
Drawn to the woman’s soft, sad demeanor.
He wondered if he could coax a small smile,
Ambled closer, picking out a dinner.
As she reached for one, it slipped from the shelf,
Fell to the floor near the elderly man.
“Turkey Pot Pie? Almost got this, myself,”
The man smiled gently, the box in his hand.

Cheeks pink from embarrassment, she smiled too.
“Thank you,” she said. “I don’t cook anymore.
It’s just me now, so no real reason to.”
He nodded agreement, closed the case door.
“Forgive me if this sounds forward,” he said.
“But would you care to have dinner with me?”
Afraid of rejection, he rushed ahead,
“I’m by myself, too, and it’s rough, you see?”

“No one should be lonely on Christmas Eve.”
Her eyes got bright and she nodded assent.
She said, “Nor hungry either, I believe.”
He laughed, “I agree, one hundred percent!”
“I’m Josef,” he smiled, and gave a small bow.
“It’s nice to meet you. May I call you Joe?
I’m Marie,” she answered, less lonesome now.
From there, their friendship continued to grow…

© 2019, Corina Ravenscraft

CORINA RAVENSCRAFT ~ dragonkatet (Dragon’s Dreams) ~   posts about things important to her and the world in which we live. She  champions extra important political, societal and environmental issues, etc. Sometimes she waxes philosophical, because her blog is a place where she feels she always learns about herself, too, by interacting with some of the brightest minds, souls and hearts out there. It’s all about ‘connection(s)’ – by which she doesn’t mean “net-working” – with people for personal gain, but rather, the expansion of the 4 L’s: Light, Love, Laughter, Learning.

The Damnedest Places

The hour-long litany of love and pain-stated-as-fact, went on and on. A mother dealing with the US health care system as it serves, and does not serve, an adult child with psychosis. Her child was in another state, both geographically, and mentally.

We sat in the back corner of the mall’s food court where my friend likes to meet monthly (“among life,” as she says) for spiritual direction. The food court’s back wall is all windows looking out over a sparsely-treed and, even more sparsely used, parking lot. Malls are no longer the place to shop. From those windows we have marked the change of seasons in the year we have met. Gazing from them, we have seen the young ash trees, planted strategically at the end of each row of largely empty parking spaces, as they struggled to grow in asphalt-topped soil. Life wants to live, though, and so those straggly saplings have gone from bare, to budded, to green, then brilliant yellow, and now faded and mostly naked again, without seeming to grow an inch.

We meet before the retailers are open, and well before the carousel and bumper-cars have been turned on in an attempt to amuse children who have forgotten how to amuse themselves. It is quiet in the mall before ten in the morning. The only people we see are the retired men who meet for coffee and complaints, and the sneakered “mall-walkers” who take their climate-controlled exercise on the cement floors of the upper level between shops filled with things no one needs, and many people want. It is all like a scene from the movie Wall-E.

On this particular day, my friend and I were both running a few minutes late due to traffic and life. As we greeted one another with apologies and hugs at our regular table with its three chairs, (one for her, one for me, and the third for the Holy Spirit,) we noticed a small, confused, bird darting from one corner to another, seeking some way out of the unnatural, nightless, treeless, world it found itself in.
We began, as we always do, with prayer. We included the little bird.

My friend began speaking, “I guess I want to start with my daughter. She has had a psychotic break. She had been doing so well.” My friend told me the story of her last two weeks, describing her daughter’s struggles with psychoses, addiction, and the challenges of gender transition. Her voice never quavered as we spoke about the conditions at Bellevue, where her daughter was receiving treatment, and the very different conditions at New York University’s Tisch Hospital just down the road.

She shared her daughter’s fear when placed on the male ward, where her body still qualified, but her mind and soul never had. She told me about unplanned bus trips into the City, and the friend who had opened his home to her; how she had made it a daily habit to walk from Bellevue to Tisch just to sit in a calm and clean lobby to gather her thoughts.

I listened, as I always do, noting the most tender bits of her story, noticing that she did not speak of her own heart, only what was happening with her daughter.

She didn’t tear up until the hour had ended and I asked about her feelings and her faith. The woman is grounded and centered, like the fabled tree planted beside a stream. She is also big-hearted, and her heart hurt for her child, and all the others she encountered. She told me how good most of the nurses, physicians, and social workers at Bellevue were. She could see God in these people, as clearly as we always saw the Holy Spirit in our monthly conversations.

We reflected that Christ is always present in the damnedest places; the places filled with pain, hurt, suffering and fear: in locked-wards, “factory farms,” battlefields and detention camps. Wherever the suffering are, the Compassionate One is there, also, waiting for us to recognize our eternal divine souls, even as our frail, human, skins tremble and quake, seeking a way out of the unnatural world we have created.

© 2019, Melina Rudman

MELINA RUDMAN is a writer, spiritual director, retreat leader and contemplative activist.  Melina’s first book, Sacred Ground, will be published by Anam Chara Books in Spring, 2020.  The book is an exploration and memoir of spirit and life in the natural world.
Melina holds a BA in Psychology and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Bay Path University in Longmeadow, MA.  She received her training as a spiritual director at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, and has completed programs at Hartford Seminary (Women’s Leadership Institute) and Harvard Divinity (Executive Education Program).
*
Melina is an avid gardener and environmentalist who sees the all things in God, and God in all things.  She grows fruit, flowers, herbs and vegetables in her backyard gardens, dubbed by a friend as “Generosity Farm.”
.
Melina lives with her husband and puppy in central Connecticut, near her children and grandchildren.

Progress

Last year, a wheelchair and sessions of hydrotherapy –
the water supporting your crumbling back
as you strode, slo-mo,
across the pool.

These days, no wheelchair. Exercise and calcium pills
have strengthened your muscles and bones,
but the pain still nags you
for Cocodamol.

A wheeled walker eases the stress on your back,
so you’ve stretched your walks ‘just round the block’
to half a mile
and the local shops.

Now you’re taking lengthier walks from the holiday let
down to the beach and to the restaurants in town.
No faster than you were,
but what great strides!

© 2019, Mantz Yorke

MANTZ YORKE is a former science teacher and researcher living in Manchester, England. His poems have appeared in a number of print magazines, anthologies and e-magazines in the UK, Ireland, Israel, Canada, the US, Australia and Hong Kong. His collection ‘Voyager’ will be published in February 2020.

The Enchained Spirit

Tied to the armchair with a broad brown leather belt, his fists clenched, muttering, gasping unintelligibly under his breath, angry at something or somebody, an unhappy frown shadowing his brow, hair cropped short, feet bare and sharply white. She recalled his first image, Everyone called him Tari. He was always around the house, on the bed, trying to walk along the wall, holding on to it for support, or sitting tied to the chair, but she never saw him run…..or maybe he could not. He never went to school either. she realized this, days, months, and years later. Then she heard someone say ‘mentally retarded by birth’ and needs to be treated by small doses of the drug Phenobarbital.

It was a disturbing evening when he just fell flat on his face and hit the side of the bed. Sharp cut in the forehead let out a gush of dark red blood. She was terrified, she started crying, crying at seeing him bleed, crying at his pain, which she felt. Why did she feel so?

Why did she like him so much? Who was he for her? He would smile at her when she went near him, he would suddenly grip her arm so hard that sometimes she would shout – Let go! Please. He would laugh, laugh and laugh. The laughter would turn into fits they made him roll on the floor. No one could stop him until the laughter turned into tears and moans of pain that no one could stop. Then she knew he could not stop himself. He would never be able to stop this laughter by himself.

She saw her father’s concerned face as he paced in the room; then heard him say “He cannot control this, it will require treatment.” She saw her father fill up a small syringe. He was a doctor. He inserted the needle into the shaking arm, the laughter mixed with cries continued. Trembling she went closer ,bent over him as he lay there, his eyes were closed , his face was wet; she felt afraid and then knew..Oh! He, he was her brother. He was only six years old. He would be fine when the laughter subsided and I thought all was well. She played with her sister when he would just sit in his chair tied to it. He liked music and songs. Father would put on the black records on the player. Tari would scream for more and it was difficult to stop.

Memories of painful cries strike sharply as she turns the pages of childhood. Mother was always working, cooking washing looking after guests and holding Tari . He was not a normal child. She never heard her mother complain about him but could often see her swollen eyes and sad countenance. They never went out in the evenings.

Who will look after Tari? That was always the question.

Tari did not know who he was . He could not change his clothes or eat by himself but they knew when he was hungry. He would scream and cry. He wanted to be part of life itself, hold onto something, wish for peace. One day she could not find one of her books. After a long search finally she saw it in Tari’s hands. He had twisted and crushed it.  It could not be read. Ahe cried, “Mama see what Tari has done to my book.” Mama was helpless. Tari could not be punished.

It was hot that summer afternoon. As she stepped off the tonga coming home from school, she sensed an unusual silence. The family stood in the porch, heads bent, faces concerned.

Her heart missed a beat and then beat faster, the heavy schoolbag bag felt heavier on the shoulder. Tari! She ran to his room; the chair was empty, the brown leather belt hung loose. “We can’t find him. Its been three hours now,” she heard a voice behind her. She sat down on the steps outside and stared emptily in the air. Evening turned into night, night into the next day. Three days went by. The lost Tari. Why was he in this world which he never knew nor understood?

For me he was a bond of love, of unconscious relationship, of mystic entity, a truth, a state, a form, an image yet a shadow; she wanted to help him but never knew how.

Mother was a pillar of patience having him as a child. She could not speak of his pain and fears, wants and needs, hurts and happiness. They could tie him to a chair but could not untie his being, his self, his mind;

Tari came into their lives with laughter with hope with a divine presence; he must be in heaven. His soul was alive but his Spirit, enchained.

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

ANJUM WASIM DAR was born in Srinagar (Indian Occupied )Kashmir,Migrant Pakistani and educated at St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi. She holds an MA in English. Anjum has be writing poems, articles, and stories since 1980. She is a published poet and was Awarded Poet of Merit Bronze Medal  2000 USA .She’s worked as Creative Writer Teacher Trainer and is an Educational Consultant by Profession.

The Valley of Death

“Whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day,
and does good deeds – all such people will have their reward with their Lord,
and there will be no reason for them to fear, nor shall they grieve.”
Surah Baqara The Cow 2.62



After Jamie Dedes’ poem

Every night I am taken to a place unknown
in a state, motionless, quiet, still like
a huge stone, unfelt, unheard, in oblivion
not knowing light or darkness or any color,

I cannot see the sky or stars or birds that
fly, or clouds that float in the vast blue
nor the sand or soil beneath my feet do
I feel, nor dainty flowers in my view, nor

fragrances in my senses do come, no one
is near me to hold or hug or comfort-
the last I remember, just a sharp pain rising
from the back, between the shoulder blades,

I was light as a feather, I was flying in a void
A blurred vision of
The softness of a pillow, a white sheet a warm
blanket cover and the faint odor of menthol

vaporub, fingers gripping the glowing beads
of ‘tasbeeh’, no consciousness of time –but
awareness of boundless dimly lit space
a dark shadowed ethereal plain, silent,

neither warm nor cold, no door floor or
fold yet there was someone beside, out
of sight, a shake a light touch and I was
awake,where had I been ? How did I survive ?

How am I alive? my struggle begins but
I believe I am blessed with another day
to work and pray, come the night,
slow is the breath-as sleep drowns, in the

Shadow of The Valley of Death

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

ANJUM WASIM DAR was born in Srinagar (Indian Occupied )Kashmir,Migrant Pakistani and educated at St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi. She holds an MA in English. Anjum has be writing poems, articles, and stories since 1980. She is a published poet and was Awarded Poet of Merit Bronze Medal  2000 USA .She’s worked as Creative Writer Teacher Trainer and is an Educational Consultant by Profession.

My Valley of the Shadow of Death

“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” Tecumseh



Night makes way for morning
The clouds tumbling in like
Cotton bolls blown across a
Field of promise, sun ablaze
Tinged with crimson and saffron
Grooving to the rattle and the click
And caw of our city corvids, and
Hear too the blue jay’s whispered
Song, the mourning dove’s coo

In my kitchen, five stories up, is a
Breakfast reminiscent of my father
Broiled trout, roasted potatoes, and I
Pull cartilage from the fish, evocative
Of a trachea, and salt the potatoes
To the humming of O2 concentrators
I drag on a nasal cannula, life support
In this, my Valley of the Shadow of Death

© 2019, Jamie Dedes

JAMIE DEDES is a former columnist, publicist and the associate editor to a regional employment publication. Currently she is a homebound freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. Jamie manages The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry. Jamie’s work is featured widely in print and digital publications. Her primary professional affiliation is Second Light Network of Women Poets.

Paradise

Leave it to an old lady like my mother to try to cheat death. You wouldn’t have expected it from a staunch Wisconsin Synod Lutheran who once assured me she’d followed her confirmation vows to the “T”. Her faith should have invited a calm and easy acceptance of the inevitable. But for some reason, about the time she turned ninety-five, she began having dying episodes—none of which reached fruition. Her speech would disappear; she’d stop eating; her breathing would become as irregular as Minnesota weather and her face would age a decade in a day. We’d all gather. Well, that is, we’d all visit more frequently. Grandkids would interrupt their game-boys long enough to stop by. My sister would drive up from Tennessee. We’d comb her hair, put our hands on her brow, read the Bible with special emphasis on Psalm 23 and assure her it was alright to let go, and to go. But then, a few days later, maybe due to all the attention, she’d be back to her old self asking about the grandkids, filling our ears with family history, and fussing about the Democrats.

Actually her mother behaved somewhat similarly. Grandma Ida sewed her own funeral gown ten years before she needed it and in the interim, periodically, would call my mom on any given morning announcing this was her last day, but by the time mom got there she’d be hanging out the wash. Genetic? Who knows?

If mom was afraid to die, there didn’t appear to be a good reason for it. She was nothing if not the embodiment of the Christian faith. Besides attending church regularly, she was a person who truly lived out the ways of Jesus in her daily routine. She gave to the needy, visited the sick, and I never heard a word of gossip, a racist inference, or a swear word. Well, one swear word.
One time in the early sixties, my dad butchered the chickens by wringing their necks instead of the usual chopping off of the heads. Alas, the birds did not bleed out. Mom had to squeeze the blood out of the chicken’s flesh by hand as she dressed them. It was time consuming and difficult. As she struggled with it over the kitchen sink, I heard her utter a most awful cussword: “Damn” spewed forth from her pursed mouth. It scared me. As a fourteen-year-old boy, I’d rarely even heard my mother raise her voice. I’m sure God forgave her instantly and I’m sure she trusted it to be so.

So why might she be worried about death? Well, the truth of the matter is, nobody knows what’s on the other side. Christianity, as well as other religions, besides providing moral guidelines, health edicts, ritual, and song, have some answer regarding the end of life. People without faith assure themselves that when it’s over, it’s over, and the journey ends at a blank wall, and they may be right. But the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, sanguinely postulated that even while we can rationally believe that when we’re dead, we’re dead, we can’t, on the other hand, totally accept on an emotional level that we, as persons, as unique individuals, will someday completely cease to exist.

Mom’s religion trusts that if you are a confirmed believer upon your last day you will be transported to live with the Father above through the sponsorship of His devoted Son, Jesus the Christ. But how’s that going to work? Do we vaporize like in the movie Ghosts? Does the soul slip out of the body like ammonia evaporating from a Windex bottle? Will there really be a welcoming committee, or is there a series of stages (Lokas, in the Tibetan religion) that a soul traverses before it reaches its final destination?

I have a few pet theories about it. One came from a Lutheran minister’s daughter, who was very close to her father. As he lay dying, he was able to communicate telepathically to her the first few days of his afterlife experience. Here’s what he related: he was first welcomed by persons within his own Synod, but gradually joined the entire Lutheran community and eventually merged into the greater interdenominational Christian congregation. Presumably he went on to live as a spirit person in the world community of all those who have gone on before.

But what about those who are not so bound into a religious belief? My dad for instance, grew up a minister’s son in the Church of Christ, steeped in Christian Gospel—song and verse, but was forced to re-think religion when he studied science at the University of Iowa in the 1930’s. While there, he was shown a jar containing a preserved human fetus. The fetus appeared to have gill slits—possible proof of evolution. If Darwin was right could the book of Genesis also be right? Many who believed in evolution in those days were damned to Hell, yet Pop died more at ease with himself than his own wonderfully Christian mother who seemed to be afraid to die.
Several months after dad passed, he came to me in the form of an apparition while I was meditating. He was confused and was in a place I intuitively perceived to be Tibetan Lokas. Somehow or other I knew what to do. I pointed him in a certain direction, towards a tunnel, and said, “Pop, go on through there.” He relaxed, turned, and was gone like a dragonfly. I haven’t seen him since, and assume he found some sort of peace in the great beyond. Perhaps the tunnel I pointed him towards was a birth canal into a new life-form.

So we don’t know what’s beyond the earthen grave. And we all know we don’t know. But I had a jolting thought after one of my mother’s “death bouts.” It came to me that she wasn’t just having some sort of short term physical debilitation (a mild stroke was mentioned), but that she was taking short excursions to the other side in order to “test the waters.” She was putting her toes in to see if it would be warm enough (important to Minnesotans), or safe enough. When she returned from one trip, which lasted about a week, she regained consciousness as I sat next to her bed in the nursing home, and exclaimed wryly, if not a bit exuberantly, “I’m back!” Then with a soft grin—her face too stiff for a full smile—she whispered, “I’m going to live!”
And that’s how my mom cheated death. Maybe the old adage “we go when it’s our time to go” just ain’t so. At least for my mom, it looked as if she was going to go when she was damned well ready to go.

Marie Ella Gertrude Nase Hurd Florine died in 2011 at the age of ninety-six. She went placidly into the night.

© 2019, John Hurd

JOHN HARRISON HURD started to pound out more words and pound in fewer nails. Now he writes all the time and has been selected as runner-up in a few publications. Two have published things. John is presently working on two books. One is a Peace Corps Memoir from time in Botswana. The other spans a five year period when he lived on an old farm place with a shaman. The shaman helped him raise his kids. John was born in the Hidden City, Oak Ridge TN, where his dad worked with heavy water for the atom bomb. Later we moved to a farm in Minnesota. He’s been active in environmental and social justice activities for many years.

A Shower of Roses

“I will let fall from Heaven a shower of roses.” St. Therese of Lisieux 1873-1897

I didn’t ask for roses
when I whispered Pray for me, Therese,
but it’s the way you often answer.
A blush of winter buds.
A single bloom at my feet.

Now, in this humid,
dog-eared June,
I see roses white as breast milk
on the bush I pruned last year,
abandoned to frost.

Regrown, it tempts me outside.
I forget aches and pains
and weariness of soul.
I sweep dust from the path
and peg clothes on the washing line.

Some theologians say roses
doesn’t mean roses, just blessings.
But you loved the flower, Therese;
watched roses sway in the courtyard
as you lay dying.

Handed one, you crumbled it
over the crucifix
on your bedsheet and smiled
as petals fragranced
His wounds and holy face.

© 2019, Sheila Jacob

SHEILA JACOB was born and raised in Birmingham, England and lives with her husband in Wrexham, on the Welsh border. Her poetry has been published in several U.K. magazines and webzines. She recently self-published her short collection of poems that form a memoir to her father who died in 1965. Sheila finds her 1950s childhood and family background a source of inspiration for many of her poems. You can connect with Sheila by email: she1jac@yahoo.com

 

stillborn

you are always with me
even when you are not

Life’s full empty room
Breath’s bittersweet sigh

color of Nothingness
transparent as angels
color of darkness
perforated with light
color of tears
fallen
from the dotted blue blanket of Sky

you are always with me
even when you are not
suspended like the crescent moon
the alphabet of stars
the space untraveled
between us

as if
inextinguishable
presence and absence
relinquish their names
surrender themselves to the Invisible

as if
only
without holding
may we trembling feel
the infinite nearness
of our immense
aching
fragility

i marvel
at the innocence
of your tiny unopened fists
how

butterflies still
fly from your lips
how mine drown
in the drool of gurgled silence

how
even as the umbilical cord
untangles around my neck
my voice so far away
is trying to reach you–
buried so inexorably
in your muffled lullaby

i am always with you
even when i’m not

© 2019, Antonia Alexandra Kilmenko

ANTONIA ALEXANDRA KILMENKO  is a former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion and she is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (in which she represents France) and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants:  one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Josheph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence.

What We Gather

Taking nothing with you 

leaving nothing behind 

I find only your scent 

 

Floating   unbounded 

without your breath of spirit 

to hold its bouquet — 

 

it passes through me now 

while still it lingers 

Holding on     while letting go 

 

is never easy 

Holding on      while letting go 

is breathing out while breathing in 

 

is water slipping through fingers 

is loving with your eyes wide shut 

and your heart slit open 

 

Flowers 

cut down in their prime 

lose the earth 

 

only to return to it once more 

while women with parched lips 

still chant the names of rivers 

 

and other beds gone dry. 

Every day 

I gather at the river– 

 

                        river of tears 

                        river of refuse

                        river of dreams 

Every day 

I kneel in the banks of my memory 

making large withdrawals 

from smaller deposits 

of dwindling return 

 

Today                                                                      

the darkness flows within me 

and without me 

Tomorrow 

I will gather   and be gathered

 

Each experience

but yet another flower

 

for the vase

 

© 2019, Antonia Alexandra Kilmenko

 

ANTONIA ALEXANDRA KILMENKO is a former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion and widely widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (in which she represents France) and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants:  one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Josheph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence.

Two Poems by Rae Rozman

I want to talk about you
with someone who doesn’t remember your name
who hears our stories as new
leans in on knitted fingers
and asks me to tell her more
tell her how you made me feel
says she sounds beautiful
and means I can tell you loved her



Quiet love, ask me my name
and I will tell you
that the mountains have whispered ballads
about a woman who asked for nothing
but a symbol of anonymity

A goddess in her right,
she stood on the edge of everything
and wished only to be on the verge of a dream,
only to be a breath from somebody

© 2019, Rae Rozman

RAE ROZMAN is a former seventh grade English teacher and current middle school counselor. Her poetry often focuses on themes of queer love (romantic and platonic), brain injury, and education. A Jewish femme dyke, her personal is political, and all of her work is written through the lens of living on the interstices of identity. Rae has poems published in the Stonewall’s Legacy poetry anthology, Nixes Mate Review, and forthcoming issues of Trouble Among the Stars, MockingHeart Review, Eldritch Lake, and Black Coffee Review. An avid bookworm, Rae can often be found curled up with a YA novel to discuss with her students. She lives in Austin, Texas with her long term partner. For poetry, book reviews, and pictures of her rescue bunnies, you can follow her on Instagram @mistress_of_mnemosyne.

The Hallmark of Success

It was on a wet and windy Saturday night, in October, in a little seaside town on the North Wales coast. The venue, whose size is out of proportion to its host, is international in its scope and contains a theatre that was packed to the gunnels, on all levels; and at £30 a ticket this is some achievement. What happened next was unexpected and quite extraordinary.

A group of amateur singers came together there, because they had been invited to be the guests of a large collective of women, who, like the men, happen to sing for love, not money. This is a routine invitation that happens every year to the chorus of men, who have won the gold medal at their own annual convention. They neither opened the show nor closed it as the ‘headline’ act, but rather perform somewhere discreetly in the middle of the show. Somehow their performance turned into something quite different, something that few of us had experienced before, even those who had been on the stage with this chorus times many over the years in the winning of an amazing eight chorus gold medals in the forty years since they first came together in 1978.

We stood in silence, watching our Musical Director mouthing and miming instructions to us, to be alert and ready to perform, listening through the back of the stage curtains to a quartet singing their songs with huge hearts. Then, following applause for the quartet, we were announced, reigning UK Champion men’s chorus, Hallmark of Harmony!

But, as the curtains opened, I had a personal moment of time travel. It is always the case that every time we do a show, those ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty or forty minutes on stage seem to fly so quickly that it is easy to forget how it felt, whether I got all my parts right, how I sung, whether I performed as I should. In that moment, I thought we had finished and the audience, which filled the theatre, were applauding, cheering and standing to thank us. After that brief moment, it quickly became apparent that we hadn’t yet sung a note! We were being charged with energy from a very appreciative crowd, who, it seems, were either offering us the warmest of welcomes, or simply expecting great things …

I imagine what it must be like for a successful sports team, at the top of their game – with a large following of tens of thousands of fans – whose game is lifted by the energy of that crowd, its energy, its enthusiasm, its support. Well, ours was lifted that Saturday night. We were given wings … and I think we delivered on the promise.

It took only four songs, with their well thought out links in between, telling stories of fun, joy, the value to the spirit of singing and gratitude for what we had achieved; for what the Sheffield Barbershop Harmony Club had done for Barbershop, for singing in the UK. Yes Sheffield. Once, in close living memory, the City of Steel; now, a city of music and of culture. A city where one of the four UK Assay Offices was created nearly two hundred and fifty years ago, to enable the accurate hallmarking of those highly valued objects made of silver and gold. Now a greater value is placed, maybe not by the establishment but, by so many extraordinary people, on creative endeavour.

So how do we value the art of harmony singing? How can we put a stamp on it? How do we hallmark it?  In short, we cannot. In countless testimonies, the health and well-being of those who take up singing in groups, particularly in harmony singing, receives unquantifiable reward, not often with silver and gold medals, but every day, by raising the status of the human spirit. At a time when we are faced with burgeoning evidence of corrupt political establishment, self interest and selfish greed … for ‘things’, for stuff that provides, at best, only short term value and salve to damaged spirits. You cannot put a price on it; on making music and art with friends. This is my idea of success in life.

[ The above recording is not from Hallmark’s most recent time in Llandudno, but much earlier in the year, when we and the Cheshire Chord Company were separately invited to perform at Holland Harmony in the Netherlands. The song is “Without a Song”, for which the two choruses only had one rehearsal together. It was arranged by Hallmark’s own Sam Hubbard, and, as the lyrics will tell you, it has very special meaning for us. At the Venue Cymru in Llandudno, we did perform it again in the bar, where we managed to squeeze in a rather large gathering of singers from Hallmark of Harmony, along with two of the UK’s top ladies choruses, the Cheshire Chords and the White Rosettes to reprise it to resounding effect, along with some tears … tears that recognise the fragility of the human condition, the frailty of the human spirit, but above all this, how full of joy the human heart can be. ]

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer, poet and musician –  a multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

Recent publications are anthologies resulting from online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group (Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Healer

She said when she ran, thunderous
footsteps followed her like parasols.
In the 5D realm of lucid crossing blur,
truth skims her mind’s dusty corridors.
Ancestors free their undelivered lives
from graves as true beings of ether.
The pledge is simple the first time
they visit; they are meant to whisper
in ears; feather noses with their words –
cause the itch, steer it to urgency –
she said when they spoke, they sang
of destinations. Her visions grew loud
as ears dubbed near and far sightings;
faint-pitched ringing, the warble of air
entering thin enclosures, and the walk
of feet on breaking ripples. Her mind
hovers above her sleep as she wakes;
light hatching a misplaced apparition –
landing of a mayfly on night’s shoulder.

© 2019, Sheikha A.

SHEIKHA A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her works appear in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent publications have been Strange Horizons, Pedestal Magazine, Atlantean Publishing, Alban Lake Publishing, and elsewhere. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Arabic and Persian. She has also appeared in Epiphanies and Late Realizations of Love anthology that has been nominated for a Pulitzer. More about her can be found at sheikha82.wordpress.com

ToSayThinking

We need above all to learn again to believe
in the possibility of nobility of spirit in ourselves.
Eugene O’Neill

To Say Thinking

Benjy was say-thinking his turbulent way out loud,
that Caddie smelled like trees, he knew to know
And I cannot breathe I said under my chest breath
And autumn flowers they fill my lungs
with flower dust, a mildew I cant touch.
Ibsen’s Oswald in his stunned syphilis
called out. And I’ll ever forget this need:
Give me the sun, he cried, Give me the sun.
Like anyone could ever give that. Benjy peered through a fence
Smelling honey suckle. I can’t breathe, i said, my father’s gray shirt
had oval wear holes and Oswald was radiant there with hope
that he might live with some brightness.

This spirit land needs what folds under, how we know our songs in the deep,
How we touch each other’s skin where it is all most open. Most acute.
Spirit land makes us burgeon brighten and bespeak what we are.
Eugene O’Neill, in his wonder, thought spiritual realism truest: it was, he said,
really real in the sense of being spiritually true, not meticulously life-like.
No one much listened to his words then, being full as they were then of that thing obsession.

You know, really spirit is right here, before, in us, in you when we stop making words
And just let the say-thinking part emerge to show us out, in,
The fresh hot baked side of us. The shivers of skin. How we surge to quicken
And fall in far to loveth. My mother a true spirit woman felt so different to the world,
her noble heart-self rang to us each and gave forth holy.
She wore flat round clip-on earrings, not danglies.
Between these dull stone bubbles her face gave out spirit shapes,
for she was our flag in the wilderness of materialist monotony.

© 2019, Linda Chown

LINDA E. CHOWN grew up in Berkeley, Ca. in the days of action. Civil Rights arrests at Sheraton Palace and Auto Row.  BA UC Berkeley Intellectual History; MA Creative Writing SFSU; PHd Comparative Literature University of Washington. Four books of poetry. Many poems published on line at Numero Cinq, Empty Mirror, The Bezine, Dura, Poet Head and others. Many articles on Oliver Sachs, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and many others. Twenty years in Spain with friends who lived through the worst of Franco. I was in Spain (Granada, Conil and Cádiz) during Franco’s rule, there the day of his death when people took to the streets in celebration. Interviewed nine major Spanish Women Novelists, including Ana María Matute and Carmen Laforet and Carmen Martín Gaite.

An Epitaph

I prized my strength.
Like a great oak
I towered on
the land I broke

as if red clay
were ruddy gold.
None moved me till
Christ broke my hold.

Come in His hand,
I yield and give
like windswept reeds
and yet I live.

© 2019, William Conelly

WILLIAM CONELLY took both his BA and MA degrees under Edgar Bowers at the University of California, Santa Barbara. This was after his military service. Unrelated work in research and composition followed before he returned to academia in 2000.  Since then he’s served in both the US and UK as an associate professor, a tutor, and a seminar leader in writing and English Studies. The Able Muse press brought out a collection of his verse in 2015.  It’s titled Uncontested Grounds and may be reviewed at their website or via Amazon.  Dual citizens of the US and UK, Professor Conelly and his wife reside primarily in England in the market town of Warwick.

Paradoxical Time

“To be human is to be whole, but to fail to see this wholeness.”  Thomas Lloyd Qualls, Painted Oxen



We are

koans

poems

riddles

rhymes.

We pass our days in paradoxical time.

© 2019, Jamie Dedes

JAMIE DEDES is a former columnist, publicist and the associate editor to a regional employment publication. Currently she is a homebound freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. Jamie manages The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry. Jamie’s work is featured widely in print and digital publications. Her primary professional affiliation is Second Light Network of Women Poets.

It Was Love Kept Me Anchored

“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”  Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov



One winter I ate the sun, it warmed
It warmed the moon dancing with my heart
It calmed the seas that ran in my veins
It drew spring flowers from crusts of ice

I wrote a poem to the sun, to the future
I wrote another to the eons gone by
Still another told of history’s lessons
But it was love kept me anchored
Earthy, yet not earthbound, love

© 2019, Jamie Dedes

JAMIE DEDES is a former columnist, publicist and the associate editor to a regional employment publication. Currently she is a homebound freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. Jamie manages The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry. Jamie’s work is featured widely in print and digital publication. Her primary professional affiliation is Second Light Network of Women Poets (U.K.)

The Flood

 

I fold a piece of paper, a ghost from the past.
Will it rain tonight, as has been forecast?
If a downpour falls, will flash floods follow?
Water would erode the lies and the glitter,
I hear, that I freely threw out on my way.

I fold a piece of paper, a ghost of the past,
faint shadows of words once boldly painted black.
When the downpour comes, will the flash floods blast
through the rock walls that grief has packed?
Will I sift fool’s gold from that loosened silt?

I fold a piece of paper, a ghost from the past.
The fortune in my cookie was never meant to last.
I don’t know if that’s good or bad. At dinner,
the conversation turned. Falling rain drowned
out whatever sense that may have remained.

I fold a piece of paper, a ghost of a crane,
in the hopes that peace will come into my refrain.
Will the rushing waves finally clear a way?
I wonder if that time comes, will I be able
to travel the paved road that remains?

I fold a piece of paper, a ghost from the past.
Will it rain tonight, as has been forecast?
If a downpour falls, will flash floods follow?
Water would erode the lies and the glitter,
I hear, that I freely tossed in the way.

—Michael Dickel ©2019

 

 


Michael Dickel—Digital Self-Portrait from Photograph
Michael Dickel
Digital Self-Portrait from Photograph
©2019

Michael Dickel is a contributing editor for The BeZine. He writes, creates art, and teaches in Jerusalem, Israel, where he lives with his wife and two young children. The World Behind It, Chaos… (WV? eBookPress, 2009), one of his first books, includes photographs and digital artwork from photos in a free PDF eBook format. His resistance chapbook of poetry, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism (locofo chaps, 2017) can also be downloaded for free as a PDF (or purchased in paper). His latest collection of poetry, Nothing Remembers, came out from Finishing Line Press in September, 2019. Other books include The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, a collection of Flash Fiction (art by Ayelet Cohen), and War Surrounds Us, a collection of poetry, both from Is a Rose Press.


 

Hope Spoke

Find me, hope said
where headwaters unfurl
and roll across eons of rocks
polished by the playful tumble
of a rumbling stream. I stir belief
in the faintest trace I leave
under layers of a forest bed
the faint murmur of a mountain spring
where the ascent of a desert trail
is more than water
and the curl of a wool blanket
around the thumb of a sleeping child
is more than warmth.

Find me
where daydreams break
and flood the order of days
bridged by that narrow crossing
between duty and yearning. I destroy walls
from the rigid constructs I emerge
from labyrinths of complex reasons
the unwanted changes and the changing wants
where the hunger on the abundant earth
is a promise made
and the bend of the searching sun
under the months of winter snow
is a promise kept.

Find me
where smoke rises
and lifts the ghosts of mourning
entrapped by a constant churn
of candle stubs. I unite breath
under melting symbols I bow
to the church of the desperate fate
the humble faith in the big mistake
where a vow of strange forgiveness
is more than peace
and the prayer for a shamash flame
or the chant to an endless knot
is more than peace.

© 2019, Oz Forestor

OZ FORESTOR is a former journalist. He began writing short fiction, poetry, and essays when he realized the topics that don’t make news are more interesting than news: class struggle, un-planet Pluto, geriatric romance, power psychology, migratory birds, Nazi-era art suppression, trees.  Forestor’s nature-themed poetry chapbook sold out–all three copies- when he was nine. He enjoys hiking, travel, is prone to getting lost, and does not believe in GPS technology.

The Believer

I have faith in the darkness

that surrounds me—

in the holy unspoken prayer

the unborn child

the photograph coming to light

 

So small am I in my inertia

like Nothing hurtling through

the eternal chasm of my loneliness

And   yet only out of the depths

am I able to climb deeper into That

which holds me suspended

in the knowable Unknown

 

I do not know if I am

sinking or rising star

morning or evening

What does it matter?

I just keep climbing

out of myself

out of that dark hole

I have dug once too often

 

into the Holiness

into the Holiness

© 2019, Antonia Alexandra Kilmenko

ANTONIA ALEXANDRA KILMENKO  is a former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion and she is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (in which she represents France) and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants:  one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Josheph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence.

From One-hundred Lost Letters

From an ongoing project in which I reflect on what St Thérèse of Lisieux may have written to her spiritual director, Père Almire Pichon. All the letters she sent to him in actuality have been destroyed. 

4

The tunnel through the mountain,
its black rush, crash of sound –

o my father, is this head-on death?
I have hankered after martyrdom,

the drama of severance, and yet
the sheer void, the long-drawn

clamour of hollowed-out rock –
a nothingness I had not intimated,

nor had I prepared for the shock
of hurtling back into the light.

25

I have retrieved, Mon Père, the grace
of clumsiness. Just now I dropped

my copybook: its cracked spine
fractured all my limping words;

earlier I knocked the bread
from basket to refectory floor;

for penance, I wear broken crusts
around my neck. I think of them

as sacramental; rough-cut hosts –
and I their battered chalice.

32.

With all my clumsy sentences and songs
I hope to make you smile, Mon Père,

the way a child delights her mother’s heart,
or a poor girl, given fine sandwiches

dreams against the tree, while Papa casts
for the bon mot, a flash of fish –

it seems I have one bouquet I can share,
the holy moment of the lips and eyes

as though I tender in my catch of time
a little sliver of eternity.

© 2019, Sarah Law

SARAH LAW lives in London and is a tutor for the Open University and elsewhere. Widely published as a poet, she edits the online journal Amethyst Review, for new writing engaging with the sacred.

Merge

The frenzied shrieks of a lapwing
more accustomed to singing
in the sunlight ring out
prolonged
The ceiling fan scatters
stinging mosquitoes
A street-light beams brilliance into the room
piercing darkness
with a gleaming shard

The night with
its primal instincts swirls in
no longer separate or still
soporific
It breathes quietly inside my head
and I begin to

merge

The walls are my skin
the slimmest of sheaths
They pulse with
every breath I take
I am the house

Buffeted by nocturnal silence
I inhale wisps of sterile moonlight to quench
my senses
until concreteness falls away
Unfettered and formless

I am the night

© 2019, Urmila Mahajan

URMILA MAHAJAN worked for over two decades as an English teacher in various schools. Passionate about drama she now works as a drama consultant for schools.Her poetry has won several online prizes. She published her poetry book, Drops of Dew, with a foreword by Ruskin Bond, in 2005. Her more recent poems can currently be found at on her blog HERE.Her full-length children’s novel, My Brother TooToo, was published in 2010. Around the same time, her articles on using English correctly were a regular feature in a youth magazine. She lives in Hyderabad, India. Her hobbies include birdwatching, growing organic vegetables and of course, looking after her cat.

 

winter rain in my muse-like homeland

the eyesome fay at the crack of dawn in winter

is weeping

the winter rain in the form of magnificent teardrops is dropping down

it is to be mesmerized in glaciated dreams of muses

the shepherd boy hears the falling of the more tender rain like meek tears

*

the docile Nixie by Christmas morning

is crying

the winter drops in terms of mignonne teardrops are falling down

it is becharmed in a snowy soul of muses

the child of a falconer tastes these Apollonianly meek drops

*

the meekly miraculous Siren at sunset glow

bawling

the winter snow – wonderfully tearling-shaped – falling down

it can be ensorcelled in frosted muse-like hearts

the druidical companion looks at flurries full weird of the tearlets

*

the magnanimous Sibyl at midnight in December

crying

the winter snow-rain – marvelously tearlet-shaped – falling to the ground

it’s worth being enchanted in the hazy fantasy of the muses

the guardian of Winter Queen’s touches some Herculean traces of the rain

© 2019, Pawel Markiewicz

PAWEL MARKIEWICZ was born in 1983 in Poland (Siemiatycze). He has has English haikus as well as short poems published in the good literary magazines, including Ginyu (Tokyo), Atlas Poetica (U.S.), and The Cherita (U.K.). He has published some poems in Taj Mahal Review (India) and Better Than Starbucks (U.S.). He has also published poems at Blog Nostics as well as a short prose piece entitled “The Druid.” Paweł has published more than fifty German-language poems in Germany and Austria and three Polish-language chapbooks in Poland.

Grey Dawn in Chaco Canyon

Lean eye bone to wall bone,
thumb stone’s scars and fissures.
Draw myself into the narrow dark
into the lore:

Birthed from a molten core
bathed under six oceans, thrust
into turrets, wind washing dust
to the Gobi, cliff dust, my dust
Hint of damp. Once a slim straw
of water leaked from hidden lips,
fed the beans, kept the Anasazi alive.

My belly, the rockbelly
our motion placental.
I pull my eye away, cheek chafed,
lift my hand to the tenderness.

Lift my gaze to the cliffs
centuries of hard mothering.
Children hidden in her skirts,
love, a silent trickle from deep inside.

© 2019, Nancy L. Meyer

NANCY L. MEYER, she, her, hers: Avid cyclist, End of Life Counselor, grandmother of five. Nancy lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work may be found in many journals including: Colorado Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Bitterzoet, Indolent Press, The Centrifugal Eye, The Sand Hill Review, Caesura, Snapdragon, Passager, Ageless Authors, The Asexual, The Writer’s Cafe. Published in eight anthologies, most recently Open Hands Tupelo Press and Crossing Class by Wising Up Press.

Undersides

Lie under a stand of wild carrot.
Five-foot tall, blooms held up to the sky
like candelabras. Look up
at their undersides. Light
pierces each floret, tattoos
your cheek, frilly.

Quiet, hear the bluster of bees.
If the ground is not too lumpy
under your spine, rest long enough
to inhale the astringent stalks
stroke their hairy length.

Maybe a friend lies with you, little
fingers touching along the sides,
palms sensing the first warmth
of soil in spring.
Play along the rim of a fingernail.
Raise your clasped hands and sing
You Are My Sunshine. just sing it
before you feel foolish.

Or tell stories
dizzying over and over
down grassy slopes until
you create a new world. Then
sit up, a happy sick swirl
back when
that sensation was fun.
Before you notice the itch
from the grass or mind
the stains on your shorts.

Lie here long enough
to contemplate why you don’t usually
lie
on the ground
under wild carrot.
Why not,
since you are happy now.
Just imagining it.

© 2019, Nancy L. Meyer

NANCY L. MEYER, she, her, hers: Avid cyclist, End of Life Counselor, grandmother of five. Nancy lives in the SF Bay Area. Her work may be found in many journals including: Colorado Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Bitterzoet, Indolent Press,The Centrifugal Eye, The Sand Hill Review, Caesura, Snapdragon, Passager, Ageless Authors, The Asexual, The Writer’s Cafe. Published in eight anthologies, most recently Open HandsT upelo Press and Crossing Class by Wising Up Press.

Three Poems by P.C. Moorehead

Kenosis

Bless the Kenosis.
Bless the emptying,
the loss.

It has brought us here
to this point,
to this time –

This filling of self
to Self –
Thou.

The Road Unmarked

The eagle is screaming.
The night is here, and I am lost,
lost on a mountain I may not touch nor approach.
hearing the green wood roar grow,
swollen by tears in a road unmarked.

Whither You

We are alone,
You and I,
alone,

alone in a vastness
of space
and time
and Being.

The energetic wave of Being
rests on us,
rests in us.

We are sign and symbol
of that enduring wave,
that particle of time,
Life’s own energy.

We participate,
patch upon patch,
in Life’s own energetic Self.

© 2019, P.C. Moorehead

P.C. MOOREHEAD moved to rural Wisconsin from California’s Silicon Valley. She appreciates the beauty and peace of the woods and the inspirational environment that they provide for her writing and reflection. Her poetry and prose have been published in many journals, anthologies, and other publications.

Numinous

there is an immense ocean over which the mind
can sail upon which thought has not yet been launched

here with thoughts of benevolence the mind of so many
thousand years has worked round and round

in circles pervading first one direction then a second
there is so much beyond all that has ever yet been

imagined as I write these words I look in a third direction
then a fourth direction then above then below

I feel the whole air the sunshine lighting up the dark
ploughed earth identifying with all existence

as I write as I exist at this second a sublime initiation
I pervade the entire universe with thought so miraculous

strange and eternal feeling compassion with heart enlarged
wide everything I see and hear boundless like the ocean

the earth the trees the hills the birds eternal
purified of all ill-will the same sun the caveman saw

rise beyond the sea he too closed his eyes
and looked into himself becoming all existence

* Found poem. Sources: Richard Jefferies Autobiography and The Brahma Viharas

© Eric Nicholson

ERIC NICHOLSON is a retired art teacher who lives in Gateshead, UK. He has followed Soto Zen for over 35 years and occasionally visits a  Zen Buddhist monastery near Hexham.

One Hundred and Eighty Degrees

until you see it and approach it
the unknown that keeps tugging unexpectedly

you’ve imagined perfection,
and after all the effort
find it ordinary

you try to recapture it
in the most promising light;
then, turn 180°
as with a camera

Voilà!
Perfect!

Hope.

It’s like falling in love.

© 2019, Antoni Ooto

ANTONI OOTO has and still looks for answers which he shares at times with poetry. He finds pleasure in reading the works of many poets such as WS Merwin, Jane Kenyon, Donald Hall, Elizabeth Bishop, Margret Atwood, and the humor of James Tate.“I read various poet’s first thing in the morning aloud. My wife and I discuss the structure, rhythm and beauty of the lines.” Reading poetry aloud (he feels) allows the voice to find a cadence that the reader might miss when seeing the words on a page. Antoni Ooto is a poet and flash fiction writer. He came to writing late after many years as an abstract expressionist artist. He eventually found his voice in poetry. His works appear in Front Porch Review, Amethyst Review, The Ginger Collect, Soft Cartel, Eldritch Lake, Pilcrow & Dagger, Young Ravens Literary Review, and many others. Antoni works in upstate New York with his wife poet, storyteller Judy DeCroce.

Simply a Song

What if the spiritual world were simply
a song, a song that stripped
away the world yet left us
home and listening

but not home as we knew it,
a deeper home that just kept
getting deeper until we were
no longer big enough to hold it

And we had to – no, wanted to –
let the ever-changing, ever growing
song be what it was
and not constrained by
small lungs and narrow mouths.

Accepting our acceptance
The song grew as we dissolved
and was not heard anymore
because it had replaced hearing
With being,

And then there was only being
And what is the Being is
heard by everyone who listens
but I was not there, anymore
Because

We are here

© 2019, Stephen Tanham

STEPHEN (STEVE) TANHAM is a mystical writer, poet and prolific photographer. He is one of the founding Directors of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit distance-learning organisation that offers a proven path to deepening our internal and external consciousness. Steve lives in the English Lake District with his wife, Bernie and their Rag Doll cat and Collie dog. Prior to founding the Silent Eye, Steve spent a working life in IT, culminating in running his own software company for over twenty years. Throughout his adult life, Steve has worked as a senior field officer (on a voluntary basis) for various mystical schools, including the Rosicrucian Order AMORC and The Servants of the Light.

Steve is the author of several mystical books. They are written as stories rather than more formally. These are available on Amazon in both print and ebook format. Steve’s Amazon Page UK is HERE.  Steve’s Amazon Page U.S. is HERE. His WordPress website is suningemini.blog. Steve can be contacted on rivingtide@gmail.com

just sayin’

just mindin’ my businesss
just walkin’ down the street
move along move along
(you lazy loot… get your black ass gone)

just enterin’ my home
in this hood i don’t belong
don t shoot don t shoot!!
(tough luck kid! your color’s all wrong)

i’m just eighteen
the whole rainbow all in one
i was black before my father
i’m as old as the sun
the same DNA
as the moon and the stars
the bloodstains on my pillow
are no different than yours

please Officer PlEASE!
don’t point your gun at me
i’m not the enemy
i wasnt’ born i wasn’t mourned to be
white chalk on asphalt
what ? your murderin’ me is my fault?

you call me the ‘ n’ word
Martin Luther MalcolmX Mandela
you call me the ‘n’ word
and claim you are a brother
while you insult ass-ault
my father sister mother
(you mother!)

beaten in our fields
raped in our beds
the seeds you sow still reek
of oppression and dread
of lead and rubber bullets
of pointy gnarling teeth
you re the Boogeyman from Hell
come to get me in my sleep

you’re darker than night
you’re blinder than blind
i’m the candlelit vigil
of your impoverished mind
the nightmare the daymare of sirens screaming
another brother down !! let freedom ring ??
he died for your american dream!
shrouded in secrecy indecency bigotry
democracy of thee i sing? what a mockery !!
we choke on your hipocracyyyy

i’m talkin bout YOU Mister Evil
oounting blood like money
talkin bout YOU Snake Eyes gamblin away our lives
YOU Ms Fraidy Cat hiding behind your chagrin
tightening the noose with sympathy around our necks
just boys barely men we’re hep to your sins
to the legacy of hate of apathy the shudder of death
the fear of our own footsteps

strange fruit hangin’ from the old oak tree
roots steeped in blood and sorrow
hearts caught in our throats for eternity
who knows who’s next tomorrow

i’m just eighteen
the whole rainbow all in one
i was black before my father
i’m as old as the sun
the same DNA
as the moon and the stars
the bloodstains on my pillow
no different than yours

generations of tears
flow from ancient holy skeyes
mine eyes have seeeeen the glory
the in-justice of our lives
you conceived in love
what are you SO afraid of
the color of my skin
or the darker matter you’re made of
deface me debase me erase me
you can’t replace me
deny me or your own humanityyy
you can shackle my dreams
but the spirit flies free
you can shackle my dreams
but the spirit flies free
and

when i honor you
i honor me
when i honor you
i honor me
when i honor you
i honor me
when i honor you
i honor me

© 2019, Antonia Alexandra Kilmenko

ANTONIA ALEXANDRA KILMENKO  is a former San Francisco Poetry Slam Champion and she is widely published. Her work has appeared in (among others) XXI Century World Literature (in which she represents France) and Maintenant : Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing and Art archived at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. She is the recipient of two grants:  one from Poets in Need, of which Michael (100 Thousand Poets for Change) Rothenberg is a co-founder; the second—the 2018 Generosity Award bestowed on her by Kathleen Spivack and Josheph Murray for her outstanding service to international writers through SpokenWord Paris where she is Writer/ Poet in Residence.

I Pegasus

lift my hooves for gallop,
rise as my white wings open.
Wind rushes into my pricked ears.
Excitement whinnies from my mouth,
ripples through my flanks, drives me
towards a place that’s always cloudless.
Below me are snow-spattered peaks,
valleys where rivers wander, where trees
are laden with oranges, small suns
which pay homage to the sphere above.
Below me are huge cities with domes,
spires and innumerable buildings,
the tallest invade the blue of sky.
I miss nothing: the glassy stare
of cars stampeding like maddened cattle,
humans fleeing from burning towns,
forests felled like mighty armies,
the sea hurling itself in fury
at the land, barren fields thirsting
for water, skeletons of starved creatures.
I choose a verdant slope when I land,
hoof its milky grass and a spring
bubbles up from earth that’s rich
with squirming worms. Then I rejoice
for I am the breath in and the breath out,
I am the quickening which comes unbidden
to the mind, blossoms into words
that tug the heart, I am sounds which bell
the air and enthral the ear, shapes
and colours which come together
to sing. I counter hatred, destruction.
I will not be stamped out.

from Lifting the Sky (Ward Wood Publishing 2018)

© 2019, Myra Schneider

MYRA SCHNEIDER has had eleven full collections of poetry published. Her most recent publications are Lifting the Sky, Ward Wood 2018, The Door to Colour (Enitharmon 2014) and the pamphlets Five Views of Mount Fuji , Fisherrow 2018) and Persephone in Finsbury Park, (Second Light Publications 2016). Other publications include books about personal writing, in particular, Writing My Way through Cancer, Jessica Kingsley 2003 and Writing Your Self (co-written with John Killick), Continuum Books 2008.  Myra’s books also include three novels for young people. She was shortlisted for a Forward Prize in 2007 and her poetry has been published in many anthologies and well-known journals, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in Poetry Please and on Radio 3. She has co-editeD anthologies of poetry by contemporary women poets and is consultant to the Second Light Network for Women Poets. She writes reviews and articles about poetry and co-organizes the local Poetry in Palmers Green programme with poet Katherine Gallagher.  She has run one-off poetry workshops in many parts of England, also in Ireland and Normandy and has tutored for The Poetry School since it was started by Mimi Khalvati in 1997. She lives in London UK. She has taken part in many poetry festivals and done readings all over the UK and in Ireland and Trinidad. She has also collaborated with up and coming artist Robert Aldous.

Four Poems by John Sullivan

Our Moments Clang

against each other,
clang & clang & fume
against the goad,
against the pain.
We shake it on up,
we boogie hard, like
end-a’-daze angels,
we boogie down
blind, all night long
despite the looming:
there’s always places
to go, places for being,
there’s always work
songs for singing
& our hearts, too,
need brave music,
as our moments clang
against each other,
clang & clang & fume
down any road, dressed
up to kill, stained
blood-red, always-
always ringing
in our ears.
Wounded shadows
of our singing

Angel of the Landfill

Origin is what this new angel seeks,
clawing through garbage for the
essence of what-hovers-over, the
germ-line of all storms.

Describing nothing, doing only
that action – playing strict to her
life, as chosen, maybe
just ordained.

She stops flat, frozen, smells
reek all around, rubs the faded
nubs just below her shoulders,
and asks the sky:

What have I traded my feet for?
Why?

Bird of Paradise

A Sufi, wigged and stiff inside
his unbroken dream, wakes up one
night and screams: Hey, we’re all
stuck inside this same fat dream.
See?

The world is a chest, we’re
locked down inside. See:
the lid is shut, it’s so dark,
and we give ourselves over
to scuffle, and to tears.
We allow: Go Crazy.

But if we give it over, instead,
to: “be notorious,” to swim against
that hard-chaw stream of plasma
wind whooshing off the sun, to go
peek-a-boo behind the moon, to
scream with joy inside the mad whorl

of a wild-wild river, if we unfurl before
the lid cracks, make a wing grow,
then another, if we groove the way
our first heart works its own pulse,
and same way shatter the grain of
the groove with the hammer of a

prayer of our own attention,
then: when death lifts the lid,
the ones with wings accelerate
and strobe, blow past this Zion
for, yet, at least, another Zion.
See?

The ones without wings stay
locked inside the chest.

First Contact?

point of first contact: a parking garage, well-lit,
clean-to-the-core, so much unlike home, a shiny
zone of creature comforts for whole congregations
of Porsche, BMW, Lexus, Tesla, turbo-this / turbo-that,
(perhaps) an occasional Lamborghini, and more

we don’t belong here but still must slog
through this terra incognita toward
our own low-slung, dogtown car-car.

then, we all hear it: plain and easy roll of rubber wheels
on concrete surface, smooth as frosting – closer
yet, it gets, that sound, until – mirabile dictu! –
it’s on us (perhaps): an R2D2-looking free-range droid
in patrol mode turns a corner, moves on from us
in parallel to us -like an invitation (perhaps) to play
or what?

and so, game on: I approach the droid

ignoring my cobbers and my own
internal self-improvement tape: “don’t you mess” –
I hear it say – “too much with what you do not know.”

the droid stops, its servos whir, its top
gently pivots on its middle

did I snag on a trip wire, tip off its perimeter defense net:
or what?

it moves closer to me, closer yet, then stops, again,
and stands right there: stolid, immobile, inward-looking,
or seeming-so, at least, (perhaps) even scheming-so?

Brother Droid – so I’m calling you –
or are you, indeed, my Sister?
Or both of you, together, all-at-once (perhaps)?
Or even something more I haven’t yet imagined?

Based on a Mullah Nasruddin Sufi tale

© 2019, John Sullivan 

JOHN SULLIVAN was an American College Theatre Festival Playwriting regional finalist, received the ‘Jack Kerouac Literary Prize,’ ‘Writers Voice: New Voices of the West’ award, AZ Arts Fellowships (Poetry & Playwriting), Artists Studio Center Fellowship, WESTAF Fellowship, was a featured playwright at Denver’s Changing Scene Summer Play (Changing Scene Theatre), and an Eco-Arts Performance Fellow from Earth Matters On Stage / University of Oregon. He was Artistic/Producing Director of Theater Degree Zero, and directed the Augusto Boal / Theatre of the Oppressed focused applied theatre wing at Seattle Public Theater. 

His work has been published in a variety of print and online venues including: Hayden’s Ferry Review, Black Bear Review, Argy-Bargy, Prose Kitchen, California Quarterly, The Lucid Stone, Oddball, OVS, Scarlet Leaf Review, Steel Toe Review, Squawk Back, Razor: a Literary Magazine, The BeZinePudding Magazine, Birds Piled LooselyMadness Muse PressHarbinger Asylum, Anti-Heroin ChicTumblewords: Writers Reading the West. John’s latest book, Bye-Bye No Fly Zone,has just been published by Weasel Press (Houston TX).

Lady Striga & aka “Doc Benway” Do Spirit-Memory Magic & the Object-Monster Explodes

(aka “Doc Benway” stomp-dances under the stars. As dancers go, he’s up there, all alone, on his own gimcrack pedestal. Lady Striga hovers, draped
“like a sofa between tenants.”)

(This dance is not for her benefit.)

(The Object-Monster also hovers somewhere in the space, just below the wavelength requirements of human perception. But this “cloaking” should not be framed as an attempt at stealth or espionage. The Object-Monster merely lives in a separate, parallel dimension. Very objectively, of course! Independent of the Big Bad Who,
or so we can only hope.)

aka “Doc Benway”
I feel like a new
Stretchman Beast
at the bottomeof
Goddes Secrettes

I feel like a seismic rodeo,
that skin between us all:
I want it all back, now, I do
I want it all forever, now, I do, I do

And I walk it all, forever,
like a devil’s orphan walks,
without sin and rolling-rolling,
– across oceans and oceans of serotonin –
And O what a good Phosphene Cascade Commando, am I!

And I’ll sell you fake supernal, unknowing, forever,
and I’ll sell you my spectral, my only bastard buzz
I’ll sell you starry maps to run alive through the wire
to dodge all the traps, to defile the temple fire
I’ll sell you the whole volatile-molotov-tensile-manifest/

(Lady Striga breaks into and enters aka “Doc Benway’s song at /. She shakes her drape with a loud crack and aka “Doc Benway” freezes in place. Lady Striga looms over him
like a “Mother Manta.”)

Lady Striga
Hey, you old Dreamer-Boy-Baby, you.

aka “Doc Benway”
I know …

Lady Striga
Yes. You do.

aka “Doc Benway”
I know that Voice …

Lady Striga
I know you know that.
I know you really do.
I got no eyes, but at least that’s real.
And my Voice means real trouble for you.

(Lady Striga casts her drape over aka “Doc Benway” like a net. She hums and “installs” pictures, photos, symbols, sounds-shards of “other people’s core to die for,” and eyes, lots of eyes – all over the drape like EKG electro-probes, or dermal time-release drug-pumps. In between her humming, she unveils her bricolage / elective affinity theory of memory for aka “Doc Benway’s” future use
while he performs his “mission.”)

(Think: Goody Rigby and her Feather-Topped golem
without any links to Nathaniel Hawthorne.)

Memory’s a made up thing.
That’s what we’re steady doing.
You can dig away at memory, full-bore, like a pit of gold
or copper or yellowcake: that tick, tick, ticks.
You can jig that memory, too, like an itch, and the itch warms up, the warm spreads out, and that old pit gets wider, deeper:
it all goes tick, tick, tick.
Like a clock it makes you dreamy, yes it does,
makes you dream in all four directions, all at once.
Like you walked, fell, jumped, ran
right out of your history into something else
you, maybe, really need to see.
Like an extra chromosome, or secret gene, guards its dire
consequence: like deep pain in a ghost limb you never
earned but, still, must wrap your skin around.
Like “ceaseless, inexhaustible” cold war, forever –
many faces, many voices trapped inside the mire
of their separate fates, the histories of their separate clans
– is, now, the organizing principle.
So now you can watch yourself with many pairs of eyes:
watch you watching you watching you …
then it goes all raw around you.
Then it aches, maybe, like a crushed butterfly aches:
in your very hand that crushed it, now, stigmata bloom.
But, still, you got to jig that itch.
Soon enough, you still outrun your story.

(Lady Striga finishes engineering her Feathertop. She begins a chant to wake all the dead who look like they’re merely sleeping. She also imbeds a command
to move the action into a possible future.
So Who you workin’ this one for, Lady Striga?)

“Nothing left but “Do It” for an old scratchy-man
Crawlin’ like a beetle through the wind-blown sand
Skinny bones a-buggin’ like a hoo-doo tree
Draggin’ back a bacon for baby and me.”

So go get-get-get all the kiddos.
Round up them sonny-boys
and that moon-ish girly-O
“with a dark turn of mind.”

“Wake you up, clang you heels, run you hard, away.”

(aka “Doc Benway” dreams himself back into being.
He “comes to” in fight or flight confusion.)

aka “Doc Benway”
… this blood, new blood …
– Jehoshaphat!-
these memories, new memories.
– Vergangenheitsbewältigung! –
Like my skin’s all crusty with ‘em.
Their past, my past, all stuck together, now,
Ick and ruin, ick and ruin, nothing but ick and ruin, here!
And all so very crusty!

Lady Striga
So Dreamer-Boy, you.
Look outside, look far away long, now: what do you see?

aka “Doc Benway”
I see …
I see … bum and ice and dread.
I see … Where-God-Does-Not-Live.
I see … nothing happening, nothing much going on.
Will I be what I see, forever?

Lady Striga
So Blue-Dreamer. Yes, you.
Look inside, now, look teensy: so what do you see?

aka “Doc Benway”
I see …
I see … gunshots, lightning … fire, more fire …
… I see, maybe … memories, forgeries of memories…
… bad checks, blown warrants, gun-gangs at the border…
I see “the wire’s behind us both, now,
but our feet have turned to wire.”

Lady Storage
Now you got yourself a real quest, you washed-up ghost, you
a true Zanni; now, you got you a duty, now, a gen-u-ine mission.
My own mission so it goes is bringing
this all through, just for you.
And yours is: just go fast, just go faster,
however long it takes: tell ‘em
it’s time to stop that leak and story the stone,
once again, once again.
Flesh or wire, flash or fire: same need’s still the engine.

(Now the Object-Monster senses another presence. Not Lady Striga or aka “Doc Benway,” but some(one or thing) invisible, appearing in the O-M’s field of perception like a dream in flight on furry wings. OK, so we’re anthropomorphizing like your typical dumbass human supremacist here – but – cut us some slack, please. It’s just our temporary heuristic – we’ve got nothing else to go on. To the Object-Monster these beings are all others but this new (invisible?) other is not like the others in its own other-ness. So what will the O-M do? Well probably, wait prudently, of course, for closer reconnaissance and bigger data to prime more nuanced analytics. That’s the default – just like all these other routines we’ve seen unfolding – and the O-M is good with the concept and process of waiting.
The O-M never seems to run out of time.)

(Meanwhile, aka “Doc Benway” wanders like a dazed bug around in a wobbly circle. Beyond these odd arpeggios of gesture and emotion, can he ever
wander again with a purpose?)

aka “Doc Benway”
So where does this leave me? So what, now, should I do?
Don’t want to be a lost man, that’s true enough.
Half-way out of my time into someone’s somewhere’s else:
just ain’t no good no how for me, or you.

(The Object-Monster, sensing a possible paradigm shift in aka “Doc Benway’s” core ontology, quietly “explodes” rather than risk capture and the possibility of humiliation
or even disassembly.
Or so we’ve been lead to think.)

Lady Striga
(Draped again – she does it to herself –
but speaking her own version:
a voice with hot-arc, a voice behind-beyond
the pale of standard protocols.)
You’re buggin’, baby, always buggin’.
You remember yet? You got to go and do.
Ain’t but a few of us left, now, see.
When the bug bites you, no matter where you be,
you’re bit, you’re bit into: you got to go and do.

© 2016, John Sullivan

JOHN SULLIVAN was an American College Theatre Festival Playwriting regional finalist, received the ‘Jack Kerouac Literary Prize,’ ‘Writers Voice: New Voices of the West’ award, AZ Arts Fellowships (Poetry & Playwriting), Artists Studio Center Fellowship, WESTAF Fellowship, was a featured playwright at Denver’s Changing Scene Summer Play (Changing Scene Theatre), and an Eco-Arts Performance Fellow from Earth Matters On Stage / University of Oregon. He was Artistic/Producing Director of Theater Degree Zero, and directed the Augusto Boal / Theatre of the Oppressed focused applied theatre wing at Seattle Public Theater. 

His work has been published in a variety of print and online venues including: Hayden’s Ferry Review, Black Bear Review, Argy-Bargy, Prose Kitchen, California Quarterly, The Lucid Stone, Oddball, OVS, Scarlet Leaf Review, Steel Toe Review, Squawk Back, Razor: a Literary MagazineBeZinePudding Magazine, Birds Piled LooselyMadness Muse PressHarbinger Asylum, Anti-Heroin ChicTumblewords: Writers Reading the West.  John’s latest bookBye-Bye No Fly Zone,has just been published by Weasel Press (Houston TX).

On His Way To Damascus aka “Doc Benway” Hits a Big Br(I)ck Wall

(Temporarily abandoning his shambolic career disrespecting the life-force and dodging any bolts of self-awareness aimed in his own direction, aka “Doc Benway” resolves to drop the act and turn himself inside-out to see if there’s really anything in there. As far as protocols or formulas for such a project, aka “Doc Benway” employs a multi-cultural (or neo-Colonial, depending on your POV) strategy of bricolage to kludge together a compass and a viable way-of-working these psychic interiors.)

Miz’ Chan
(Speaks directly to aka “Doc Benway”)
Ghosts (or gods) are not at war with beauty, or life,
or rain and gale-winds, or even the oppression
of so many brains tuned to vibrate, all at once.
They are at war with You.

Right Reverend RSV
(Narrates the ritual, antidotes the poison:
aka “Doc Benway” (and the others) respond in kind.)

Ecce homo, and his own personal “Rip, Rig & Panic”:how this weak and delusional raggedy-man chucks off his baby-skin, strips down to his own fat shadow and sings his wilderness to fight for his life, and atone for dismissing or freezing out
both the almost living and the nearly dead.

See the Brood awakening:how his hubris offends and infuriates all the gods and ghosts – they’re always right on top of us – and every hidden realm projects its own goblins like shadows across a heart. Topu, Sidhe, Duppy, Jumbies, Xapiripe, etc., mobilize in a blink to ensure their covert dominion’s immunity from potential human stain. Eventually, he’s struck down for his defiance by ghost-sickness, blurring space and longing, and left “weak with fright.”

Watch him lock: how he stiffens, young people carry his rigid body on their shoulders around in a “widening gyre.”
They smile while they carry him for his body shines – this fever of remembering transfigures most – and
his luck, or lack of it, rubs off.
They say: his story outruns his life.

(Miz’ Chan, Mr. Rougarou, and the Right Reverend RSV stop gyring and set aka “Doc Benway” down – actually straight up, standing still, stiff as a board. Gradually he loosens up, wiggles his fingers, stretches the rest of his body. The Brood disperses like Oberon’s gang
of anarcho-syndicalist faeries, dissolving into
Max Reinhardt’s iris, in a quick shrink to gone.)

Mr. Rougarou
Look: his lips move …

Aka “Doc Benway”
O-My-O-My, now that there’s the cookies.
Cross my heart and hope to stake my very being:
I just cut right through the blur.
I been strictly out there on my own for days, you know.
(aka “Doc Benway” throws his own self
on the “mercy of the court.”)
AH! So very much: AH!
So very much hard-used Heaven.
For Beauty’s sake alone I stand convicted,
my star in my mouth,
deaf eyes perched up top my spine
like twee standing stones.
O Happy Brain, flash and fervid,
into the Mother of Heavens unfurled, again.

(After the Brood evaporates, the Object-Monster is left to ponder (through enhanced multivariate analysis, presumably) the what’s, why’s and how’s of aka “Doc Benway’s” recent ascent from the ranks of those “who died as men before their bodies died” into a more rarified community of the duly apologized and more or less shriven, waiting on their next assignment.)

(At least that’s a possibility, though the Object-Monster plays her/his/its cards close to the vest and we have no way of knowing the parameters of any “thought process” involved. Another idea: it’s possible aka “Doc Benway” actually saw, was touched by or in some other sense contacted the Object-Monster when the Broodblew through his body. Maybe he thought the O-M was just another form of astral punisher, like the topu, or one of the sidhe. The O-M’s obvious
recon mission notwithstanding,
is the Object-Monster here to answer any of our questions, or primarily to challenge our theories by beaming back and (possibly) distorting the realities they were designed to reflect in a cognitive ricochet effect?)

© 2019, John Sullivan

JOHN SULLIVAN was an American College Theatre Festival Playwriting regional finalist, received the ‘Jack Kerouac Literary Prize,’ ‘Writers Voice: New Voices of the West’ award, AZ Arts Fellowships (Poetry & Playwriting), Artists Studio Center Fellowship, WESTAF Fellowship, was a featured playwright at Denver’s Changing Scene Summer Play (Changing Scene Theatre), and an Eco-Arts Performance Fellow from Earth Matters On Stage / University of Oregon. He was Artistic/Producing Director of Theater Degree Zero, and directed the Augusto Boal / Theatre of the Oppressed focused applied theatre wing at Seattle Public Theater. 

His work has been published in a variety of print and online venues including: Hayden’s Ferry Review, Black Bear Review, Argy-Bargy, Prose Kitchen, California Quarterly, The Lucid Stone, Oddball, OVS, Scarlet Leaf Review, Steel Toe Review, Squawk Back, Razor: a Literary MagazineBeZinePudding Magazine, Birds Piled LooselyMadness Muse PressHarbinger Asylum, Anti-Heroin ChicTumblewords: Writers Reading the West. John’s latest book, Bye-Bye No Fly Zone,has just been published by Weasel Press (Houston TX).

A Nun in Training

By the time Hanna gets home from her work at the post office, she’s ready to be a nun. By then, she needs a gentler, more cloistered, even renunciate type of lifestyle.

“Our home should be our sacred retreat,” she said to Darcy, her fifteen year old daughter. “When we come here, we need to feel we’ve reached safe ground, home ground. We need to be welcomed, or at least acknowledged. It’s like we’ve just returned home from the wars.”

“Yea, right,” Darcy said. “Was just watching my shows, mom. So what’s the big deal? That I didn’t call upstairs, hi mom? Welcome home?”

“Yea. I guess that’s it. When you don’t interrupt your media for even a minute, what it means is that Everybody Loves Raymond, or whatever you were watching…”

“Real Killers…”

“Okay, what it means is that you’ve decided that Real Killers is more important than real people. Flesh and blood people.”

“Okay, okay, mom,“ Darcy said. “I admit you’re real. But Real Killers, you yourself have to admit, can be a lot more interesting than a mom you see every day.”

Hanna laughed. “Yes, probably. Though it might depend on how hungry you are.”

“How hungry? What do you mean?“

“Well, let’s pretend you hadn’t eaten in three days, and I just came home with a slab of bacon and a loaf of bread.”

“I was eating a burrito when you came in.”

“Yes, I know, but if you hadn’t been eating a burrito, and you were real hungry, then you’d be happy to see me, right?”

“Okay. I’m happy to see you, mom. Welcome home from the wars. Thanks for bringing home the bacon. Now will you turn the TV back on?”

“Sure. Be happy to.”

“You’re weird, you know that, mom?”
“Yes, child, I do.”

“Ok. Can I get back to my program now?”

“Yes, you can. I will pray for the good guys to win.”

“That’s weird, mom,” Darcy said as she went back down stairs and Hanna went back out to the garage and flipped the breaker switch back to ‘on.’ From that day forward, Darcy yells, “Hi mom. Thanks for being home from the wars. Please don’t flip the breaker switch.”

It makes Hanna smile, just to hear it. Hanna answers Darcy kindly, then goes upstairs and changes into her at home clothes, her habit, pleased with her young nun in training downstairs. Nuns do have their loving, training rituals.

© 2019, Bear Gebhardt

BEAR GEBHARDT is a librarian at the New Buddhist Methodist Church, living in the foothills of northern Colorado, with wife of a hundred years. He’s been a free-lance writer for many decades and published eleven books, two of the latest being: A Wave of ThanksOther Human Gestures: 31 Quick Stories; and  How to Stop Smoking in One Easy Second, A Heart Mountain Monastery Murder Mystery. He’s published hundreds of articles, stories, essays and poems in well-known, somewhat-known and little-known places.

The Waste of It All

The train zoomed past some station with a loud horn. His thoughts, faster than the speed of the train. There was a misunderstanding in his factory and the workers had gone on strike. He kept getting updates from his manager and each call was worse than the other. His anger grew with each passing moment. The inefficient air conditioning didn’t help him cool down either. Another call.

“The workers have left the premises,” his his manager told him from the factory.

“Damn!” He hit the blue seat of the train with a soft thud. Not happy with the sound, he hit the back partition which co-joined two compartments. The sound was loud enough for him and gave him some satisfaction.

He looked out the window. Trying to make some sense out of all this. What was he to do on reaching the factory? How would he solve everything? Who would…?

Someone from the other side of the compartment hit the partition.

His thoughts stopped. Someone had taken away his pleasure. Angrily, he hit the partition again.

Though he felt peace with the sound, it lasted for a few seconds only.

“Bang” hit someone from the other side again.

He grew furious. Why was this happening now? Who could do this to him? He hit the partition, louder and fiercely. His hand, red with pain. Bang came the reply from the other side.

Was this one of his rival’s strategy to irritate him. He looked at his hand. The palm grew crimson and begged for some healing. He looked at his phone. Thoughts of the manager and workers pierced his mind and… Bang Bang, he hit the partition in frustration twice.

Bang Bang came the reply.

Was this really happening or was he dreaming? Unable to bear this intrusion any longer, he decided to go confront this person.

~

“Will you sit down, why don’t you tell him something?”

“Beta, if you fall down, it might hurt you and it will be difficult to get help. Why don’t you sit down and play with your monkey.”

The 4-year-old sat down, took his favorite soft toy and played with it.

Someone banged the compartment partition and the toddler decided to reply. He hit the monkey to the partition. It made a nice loud sound. Someone on the other end banged back. The kid enjoyed and awaited each bang with eagerness and joy.

The couple was glad that his son had found some playmate to keep him busy. Even if it meant that they were to hear some banging, they were at peace. They sat closer to each other and looked out the window until a man came in their compartment from the other side, holding his left hand with the other, his face almost red with anger, staring at them and then at the boy and then at the child’s soft toy with an expression of anger, surprise, and frustration.

© 2019, Sunayna Pal

SUNAYNA PAL was born and raised in Mumbai, India, Sunayna Pal and moved to the US after her marriage. With a double postgraduate from XLRI and Annamalai University, she worked in the corporate world for five-plus years before opting out to embark on her heart’s pursuits: raising funds for NGOs by selling quilled art and becoming a certified handwriting analyst. Now, a new mother, Sunayna devotes all her free time to writing and Heartfulness. Dozens of her articles and poems have been published and she is proud contributor to many international anthologies. Her name has recently appeared in Subterranean Blue Poetry, Cecile’s Writers and Poetry Super Highway. She is part of an anthology that is about to break the Guinness world of records. Know more on sunaynapal.com

In Memoriam — Reuben Woolley, Part 2

In memory of a friend, poet, publisher, and activist.


coralled gates the trees no more


Reuben Woolley


for the Great Barrier Reef, officially declared dead after 25 million years

coloured

birds don’t fly here 
not even 
	                & a dry 
time we have

white a forest

moves 
	                no longer

	                no

birds	       no

song

coloured 

birds don’t fly here


rust & old machines


Reuben Woolley


here we fall

                                 the same

the stories 
of 
strange.their shining 
faces broken 
now / feel

the opening 
the silent doors 
on doors unfold

                                 it’s time 
to haul out 
our lost pieces

our histories 
of shattered shell.come 
to it then 
& in our dreaming

In Memoriam

Reuben Woolley died earlier this month 2019. His poetry, publishing, and support will be missed by readers and fellow poets around the world, and here in The BeZine community. Reuben was an activist-poet, and published other activists on his online magazine, I am not a silent poet. He worked in an experimental and expressive poetics, using typography and visual aesthetics as tools of his poetic craft. He crafted language into poetry, with white space containing silences, space, and questions, among other things. His work will live after him, and continue to be with us to read.

His collection, the king is dead  was published in 2014 with Oneiros Books and a chapbook, dying notes, in 2015 with Erbacce Press. Runner-up: Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and the Erbacce Prize in 2015. A collection on the refugee crisis, skins, was published by Hesterglock Press, 2016. His collection, broken stories, came out in 2017 from 20/20 Vision Publishing, and some time we are heroes was published in 2018 from corrupt press. 
He published and, as he wrote in 2017, “pretended to be busy” with the online magazines: I am not a silent poet and The Curly Mind.

The BeZine published many of his poems over the years. The poems here appeared with this artwork on Meta/ Phor(e) /Play in 2017.

 


 

In Memoriam: Reuben Woolley, Part 1

In memory of a friend, poet, publisher, and activist.


sewing the bright spaces


Reuben Woolley


stitching up the holes

		                       like

black 
windows where 
the light

leaks 
	       out

see the craters 
the fat 
drops of rain 
in dry dust

		                  spaces 
looking for me

to hollow out this 
white 
skull

tat         tat         tat

                                 "spaces
looking for me"
Michael Dickel
Digital landscape from photos
©2017

these liquid hills


Reuben Woolley


drowning

in my solid earth

		           & how
these mountains grow

listen to grave
rumour
	            they talk
to me now & in
my dying

	            deep
in all their roots

		    pull
me down / they're waiting

patient

like stones always do

“these liquid hills”—
Amalfi Coast Overlay
Michael Dickel
Digital landscape from photos
©2017

a fully moon after all these years


Reuben Woolley


holding myself / still / i am 
dust floating in torch 
light.i am tree 
cutting a sky 
& rain falls newly 		just ask 
for no answer 
		& here’s 
a lost song.unplay 
me now i never listen

this hat wearing a man.oh 
my dear i want 
a new line / bold 
& brightly hiding 
like the wolf 
behind a dark hedge

“this hat wearing a man”
Michael Dickel
Digital landscape from photos
©2017


In Memoriam

Reuben Woolley died earlier this month 2019. His poetry, publishing, and support will be missed by readers and fellow poets around the world, and here in The BeZine community. Reuben was an activist-poet, and published other activists on his online magazine, I am not a silent poet. He worked in an experimental and expressive poetics, using typography and visual aesthetics as tools of his poetic craft. He crafted language into poetry, with white space containing silences, space, and questions, among other things. His work will live after him, and continue to be with us to read.

His collection, the king is dead  was published in 2014 with Oneiros Books and a chapbook, dying notes, in 2015 with Erbacce Press. Runner-up: Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and the Erbacce Prize in 2015. A collection on the refugee crisis, skins, was published by Hesterglock Press, 2016. His collection, broken stories, came out in 2017 from 20/20 Vision Publishing, and some time we are heroes was published in 2018 from corrupt press. 
He published and, as he wrote in 2017, “pretended to be busy” with the online magazines: I am not a silent poet and The Curly Mind.

The BeZine published many of his poems over the years. These poems appeared with this artwork on Meta/ Phor(e) /Play in 2017.


 

Three poems on A Life of the Spirit

Poems from
Nothing Remembers
on A Life of the Spirit


Called to faith

A man stands over the culvert on the gravel road onto the farm.
The stone he hefts in his hand—igneous remnants from before time,
bits of crystal cooled across history mingled with impurities beyond memory.
He lofts this shard of the past in a slow arc that ends in the dark pool of standing water.

Sometimes he wishes he could follow, down through the water as surface tension
erases faint traces; he wishes sometimes that he could fall through the cold numbness
to sink into the soft, welcoming mud—to sleep among layers of last year’s rotting leaves
and the year’s before and the year’s before and years’ before—layers of organic memory that,

still,

do not reach the stone’s most recent memory. The stone takes no notice.
And the man does not sink with the stone into murkiness. The morning calls
him to his desire, so he chooses to return to the work at hand. There is a garden
to plow and disk. There is corn to plant and tend. There are nettles to uproot and remove.

Despite the threat of frost or hail or rabbit or deer, he trusts
that in August there will be sweet corn and tomatoes and beans.
He will gather some in and eat. He will gather some in to store. And
he will gather and save the best for next year’s seeds. These make up his act of love.


Napping in a chair

Yesterday seagulls laughed
under the storm clouds caught
in mountains behind the sea.

As I ambled through a plaza,
I heard someone playing piano
stop and start the music over.

People ate lunch, drank coffee.
The rain did not fall on them or
anyone. The ships slid slowly by.

I noticed these things. I did not
notice other things. I thought of
you, I am not sure why. I walked.

I heard sea gulls, a piano, the sea.
I listened for echoes of your voice.
I remembered something you said.

As I neared the wharf, fish swam near me.
Only faint shadows revealed them.
Two lovers sat under trees conversing.

I thought of someone. I don’t recall who.


Somewhere, a whirring fan

“With this beginning, the unknown concealed one created the palace. This palace is called אלוהים (Elohim), God. The secret is: בראשית ברא אלוהים (Bereshit bara Elohim), With beginning, _______ created God (Genesis 1:1).”     — Zohar (I:15a)

“…She knows that her beloved is searching for her; so what does she do? She opens the portal to her hidden room [in the palace] slightly and reveals her face for a moment, and then hides it again.”     — Zohar (II.99a)

Somewhere, a whirring fan
in an open window spins
possibilities into threads.
I heard a rumor that the
Oleander flowers shed
their pink and white grace
for poisonous reason.
A car slinks down traces
of a melted tar road.

You like to stand by the window,
and want him to see you there,
behind a curtain. He doesn’t
know you or you him. He walks
the span of street, infrequently
catching a glimpse of blue
eyes, a reflection in cracks
of the cotton-hued skies.

The crow calls from a tree.
Another day, green parrots
screech louder than the
traffic flees. The heat lays
like a corpse upon our city.
Bougainvillea bracts spot
gardens with false hope,
colorful arrays of forgotten
pain turned to sweet honey.

He forgets you, though you
never meet. And you, also,
forget—window, curtains,
the desire for a stranger’s
glad glance. Someone wants
this to be autobiography, a
short recollection of moments
actually lived. That person never
dreamed, does not exist anymore.

And I never existed because I
don’t stop dreaming. Poetry, like
a god, provides code for an image,
keying it to suggest a revelation-lode
from your past. You want it to be
my past. Parrots screech.
A crow calls. A beautiful Other
by the window waits. This all
happens to you while I write

these scenes tangled in dreams,
whirring fans—the poem unable
to light any form, your reading,
this page; unable to discover more
than bare wisps of meaning in the
vibrations of words—your song longing
for someone in the infinite void. Wanting
a mortal to read you into this, to see you
alive, you seek a new beginning—genesis.

Note: Zohar refers to The Book of Splendor, one of the main texts of Kabbalah. Translations from the Hebrew are from the work of Daniel Matt.


©2019 Michael Dickel

These three poems come from Nothing Remembers, by Michael Dickel, released September 2019 from Finishing Line Press.


Michael Dickel—Digital Self-Portrait from Photograph
Michael Dickel
Digital Self-Portrait from Photograph
©2019

Michael Dickel is a contributing editor for The BeZine. He writes, creates art, and teaches in Jerusalem, Israel, where he lives with his wife and two young children. The World Behind It, Chaos… (WV? eBookPress, 2009), one of his first books, includes photographs and digital artwork from photos in a free PDF eBook format. His resistance chapbook of poetry, Breakfast at the End of Capitalism (locofo chaps, 2017) can also be downloaded for free as a PDF (or purchased in paper). His latest collection of poetry, Nothing Remembers, came out from Finishing Line Press in September, 2019. Other books include The Palm Reading after The Toad’s Garden, a collection of Flash Fiction (art by Ayelet Cohen), and War Surrounds Us, a collection of poetry, both from Is a Rose Press.

 

 


 

Peace

 

Disputes of imperfection,

Forbidden paths of injustice,

An advanced keen search of leadings into the past,

A grant of amnesty with guided routes of the unveiled truth,

Relays of an open form with no opposing jurisdiction,

A sketchy dialect of continuous trials,

The nooks and cranny of faded laws,

Adding principles & measures as hues to a truce that turns the tide,

Genuine quotes of peace which resolve a flaming misunderstanding.

“Peace & Solidarity: revolution assets of life.”

© 2019, Benedicta Boamah

Five from Faruk Buzhala

Lazy afternoon

The faded afternoon
sitting in a corner
makes the calculations of the day.
With a taste of café in the mouth
smokes the next cigarette in laziness!

Is this the same

To walk alive
Among the dead
Where everyone watches you
And no one sees you
Or
To walk dead
Among the living
Where no one looks at you
And everyone sees you

Is this the same?!

Traces

Satan is gone
But among us has left
A lot of his bastards.

Prophets voice
Despaired of the views
That appear on my window.
I hear voices that echo from
The bottom of the souls
Shrieks of which
Keep me hanging over the ground!

I want to scream with all my voice
And tell them that
We live at the end of the apocalyptic world!

Grief

I want to cry
To blow the peel of grief
That enlaced my heart
I want to cry
To be a tear at all
In the darkness of grief
Flowers let’s get drunk
In the garden so that I’m not
completely dried out

© 2019, Faruk Buzhala

Pushing through Utopia

How we eagerly read so many new names 
       (like Rousseau, Robespierre, Marx)
         of social revolution
             in books at Berkeley, 
                  read of feasts of blood
                      and showers of murders through Western times

How it was quickly becoming something more to me than history 
      It was becoming an exploding passion
        as we sat on a mountain on the edge of America over the Bay
          dangling our feet to see how far we could go for pure freedom  
              pushing away the mind’s old dandelion utopias.

How John Muir pulsed in our veins, his steadfast embrace of rampant wildness 
          in his dangerous life, he challenged the just wear a dark suit men
               all my life sick on the edge before, made me more ready to jump
                    into more, all that I didn’t understand 

How to go further, trembling as I was, into Berkeley’s tempting rabbit holes
       hands and feet slither into a green New Age of ecology and equality 
           Into a light that saved trees and food that fed souls
                  how we broke all our molds, wrote over stingy rules 

How we stood together, norm creators envisioning in a blur of newness
       charting new ways with glittering eyes since we knew 
              we were climbing as one into the unchartered
                   without pretense or yesterday’s food

How we felt raw and naked in our bones beginning it all 
        Protected by beautiful Berkeley light
                Secure in our mysterious dreams pushing hard, way beyond
                      The rigid order of Victorian sight

©2019, Linda Chown

TimeInWar

We lived in the war pasting coupons
page after page in the war our parents
subdued for us, banned in a loud quiet,
banning feeling in themselves
keeping the lights bright. We lived in a war
bleeding alone, for there was no tv
to see. Night radio muffled. The war hit our hearts,
what else? We ate polite weeklong pot roasts.

And knew something was missing. It was fear
that the world would not be here, nor we,
that the rituals would crash like Alice
fell through, fell to nowhere-land.

Oh, where will we go when we pass
into you? Will our hearts even start?
Who will keep this ritual life going
with all the killing and darkness?

Anne Frank at least she said, and Joan of Arc withstood.
And we all targets geographical and physical
and we exposed and frightened, having
to put a good face on this evil which threatened all
those war days and witch-hunt days and
always in our ever oppositional living.

And now again as the long days pass casting evil
again I wander-wonder alone what I’ll do when
Life turns into a living bomb cast and I’ll have no
pot-roast or pretense. Writing my
globetrotting weapon and disguise.
In out and all about. In rife absurdity.
Calm the bombs and silence the mad.
Let’s feel clear water and soft words all
green, clad in long love and trust beyond bloodshed.
Not hope but a sudden heartening.

©️2019, Linda Chown

Don’t Be Stupid

Stars are out there, many, everywhere, all the time.
Try not to think about this all the time.

Those stars, they’re everywhere, even in us, all the time.
Don’t be stupid about this. Try not to think about this all the time.

If it’s important to you where Space ends, you may not
Be picking up the clothes you always drop on the floor,
For someone else to pick up. Learn to pick up, all the time.

Mountains change, rivers change, weather changes,
Volcanoes are still erupting, it’s colder some days.
Why is this so hard to understand? Don’t think about it.

We can’t remember everything that’s happened. That’s
Why we always mess things up. That’s not hard, is it?

Don’t be stupid. Another person is a person to appreciate.
You can’t appreciate only those who look and act like you.
This isn’t hard, but don’t be so afraid. Take a deep breath.

Stop doing that. Whatever it is you are doing, stop that.
Why are you this old and you are still acting like that.
This isn’t hard, it just takes practice. Don’t think about it.

Of course, we are water. It goes in every day. We wash up.
We wash what’s dirty. We are in awe of its beauty.
If you don’t know that, wade in, go under, hold your breath.

Stop asking for applause. Do what you need to do well.
What’s hard to understand about that? Are you still that needy?

The best line of that movie was Will it help? So stop worrying.
When has worrying ever helped you to get things straight?

We are all here, standing line. You can’t make us go away
Like that. Stop blathering so. You look silly doing that.

Are you a busy person? Nothing to admire there.
Everything else in the cosmos is not busy, but it’s there.
Staying busy will tire you out. Take a 2-minute time out.

Are you feeling any better? You know, there are no truths.
I know that’s hard, but get used to it. Don’t think about it
Ever again, just try doing everything you’ve done, better, that’s all.

© 2019, DeWitt Clinton

Rising Up, You Poets

 “I knew—had long known—how poetry can break open locked chambers of possibility, restore numbed zones to feeling, recharge desire. And, in spite of conditions at large, it seemed to me that poetry in the United States had never been more various and rich in its promise and its realized offerings. But I had, more than I wanted to acknowledge, internalized the idea, so common in this country, so strange in most other places, that poetry is powerless, or that it can have nothing to do with the kinds of power that organize us as a society, as relationships within communities.  If asked, I would have said that I did not accept this idea. Yet it haunted me.” —Adrienne Rich in preface to her book What Is Found There, Notebooks on Poetry and Politics (W.W.Norton and Company, 1993)



You bare witness to the spirit of the times,
recording the minutes, building monuments
with your soft technology of healing, elevating
consciousness, What joy you feel in rising up!

Rising up, you Poets, from silence and solitude,
from ear to the ground, observation is your
spiritual practice, you’ve all been oppressors and
oppressed, now use words to change the world.

© 2019, Jamie Dedes

One Dark Stand

One dark stand against the world
Can light up & ignite the universe.
The voice of change for justice
Is fierce, unafraid it can’t be-coerced
It strikes fear in evil men’s stomachs.

One dark stand against the world
Can lead the enslaved to freedom
Break the chains that bind the unbeaten
And lead us all to a midnight vigil
And all it takes is “one individual.”

© 2019, Mark Heathcote

request…

i’m not certain
which
deity
is going
to
respond
and
i
honestly
don’t
care
i’d just
like
for once
to
have
a
response
so
here we go
dear
what’s your name
i
would like
to
request
an
end
to the senseless slaughter
of
children
if
grownups
want
to wipe each other
off
the face
of
the plane
then
let it be
but
raping the life breath
from
children
should be
banned
by
you
dear
fill-in-the-blank deity
a
gender
neutral
title
and
honorific
implied
you
needn’t
respond
directly to me
i’m
not
a priest
or
particularly wise man
just
a concerned
citizen

 

© 2019, Charles W. Martin

The Long Dark Night

stuff bottled inside
about to shatter
world going crazy
does it matter?
so much violence
so much strife
desensitizing human sensibility
help!!!
turn up the music
let harmonic sound abound
oldies but goodies
sooth harm and hurt
“ride Sally ride”
ride throughout the earth
“unchain my heart set me free”
free the words inside of me
free calming words
free soothing words
free encouraging words
let them ride with mustang sally
speeding in space
emitting messages of tranquility
that reverberate throughout the cosmos
let the balm of Gilead perfume the atmosphere
soothing all fear
ride sally ride
ride through the USA
declaring this a day of harmony and serenity
ride sally ride
ride through Africa and Asia
declaring this a day of a peace to release all animosity
ride sally ride
ride through Europe and Australia
declaring this a day of communication and restoration
ride sally ride
ride through South America, North America, and Antarctica
ride throughout the world
ride on the road of time
eradicating eons
filled with hatred
filled with wars
filled with a power-hungry lust
that never trusts the source of light
that invites mankind into a relationship of love
a love that shines from above encompassing all
who choose to be stars through this long dark night

© 2019, Tamam Tracy Moncur



 

Ju$t d1$$1m1l@r

 

Dedicated to Swami Vivekananda

Jump out of your well, little frog.
Jump out of it, to see the world.
Your well isn’t the only place of existence.
There are many wells—
bigger and prosperous wells.
Wells with diverse cultures.
Just different—not good or bad.
How can you judge your well to be the best?
When you haven’t seen any other well, dear frog.

Don’t mock others frogs from different well
or berate them for being dissimilar
to the frogs from your well.
Learn from others for each has a reason
and a habit for being them.

Don’t let the well—define you either
or become your only identity.
Remember, you are a frog first.
Just as unique as all other frogs.

There is a world out there
Waiting to be explored.
Waiting to enchant and delight you

Jump out of your well dear frog
Leap out of your well, now!

© 2019, Sunayna Pal

Don’t Hang the Poets

Raanana, January 23, 2018

By the time you read this
I’ll be long gone,
Not in a sad sense
But in a hit the road sense.
Did you think I’d stick around forever?
I’ve got universes to create
And people to make.
Besides, I’m infinite and you are finite.
Do the math.
You can’t count up to me
And I can’t subtract myself to get to you.
Everything you do or say is finite.
I do nothing, yet it is done.
I can’t know or care about every hair on your heads,
Nor every cell or atom in your bodies.
There are so many worlds and galaxies,
Yet they are finite.
Yes, my prototypes,
I knew them well enough.
No, I wasn’t angry when she bit the fruit of knowledge
And offered him a bite.
What parent would?
And I didn’t kick them out of Eden.
They just took up responsibilities
And fended for themselves.
Eden was their childhood
But then they were adults.
These books you so revere,
The Bible, Quran, and others like them,
You should know I had no part,
Men forged My name and that is all.
They quoted what they wrote for
Ungodly purposes I assure you.
Don’t let them lead you
For they know not more than what you know.
There have been wise men
But you seldom had the wisdom to follow.
I didn’t make you master over My creation,
You are just a part of a wondrous whole
Where every part is necessary
Or the whole is diminished.
One more thing before I close:
The poets, please don’t hang the poets
For I was one once, my words were worlds,
From them will come your soul’s salvation.

© 2019, Mike Stone

Social Justice

“It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation. Not merely for the vitriolic words and the violent actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, ‘Wait on time.'”

Martin Luther King, Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

© 2019, artwork, Anjum Wasim Dar

In solidarity, documentary photographs

~~~~~~~

“Let him who has not a single speck of migration to blot his family escutcheon cast the first stone…if you didn’t migrate then your father did, and if your father didn’t need to move from place to place, then it was only because your grandfather before him had no choice but to go, put his old life behind him in search of the bread that his own land denied him…”  José Saramago, The Notebook

© 2019, Christopher Woods

Using Social Interactions to Create Change

When we think of social justice and activism, most people would think of things like petitions, protests, lawsuits, calls to representatives, empowering speeches, conferences, research, legislation, publicity stunts—because these are the current conventional forms of activism. We owe much of our societal progress to the activists that have used these tools for decades to affect change. 

These tools also have something in common: They target financial and institutional positions of power to enable a large range of impact. A single piece of legislation can impact the lives of millions of people for years to come, so it’s logical to focus on influencing the people who have enough financial and institutional power to bring such legislation into fruition. One action from an elected official will have far more effect on the systems that make up our society than ten actions by an individual citizen will.  

But I have found that whenever I attempt these traditional forms of activism, all I can think about is how far away I am from the center of it all, how little control I have over what happens. There are plenty of activists that do get to the center, but in order to be “in the room where it happens” many of these activists risk their lives or safety, travel frequently so they can be wherever they are needed most, work 60-hour weeks, forego food/rest, and rely on other forms of physical stamina, all for their cause. Their endeavors are incredibly noble, and my chronically ill and disabled body was not built to fill that role. 

What, then, should you do if being too far away incites helplessness, and being too close is costly to your livelihood to an untenable degree?

My solution is to focus on the “social” half of “social justice.” Let’s run through SJW 101 real fast.

Putting the Social in Social Justice 

If you take five samples at the deli counter and the deli worker glares at you, to avoid that awful feeling of judgment, you’re likely to only take one sample next time. If you bring home a report card of all A’s and your parents are ecstatic, you’re more likely to continue prioritizing the acquisition of high grades so that you can feel that excitement about your achievement again. If wearing a shirt with a loud color scheme in public makes you nervous but you receive no discernible reaction from other people when you leave the house, you’re likely to feel assured that your color-choices for clothing are not worthy of any anxiety.

Do you have a weird habit that you picked up from your parents? Are you ashamed to cry in public because of how someone reacted to you doing that when you were little? Did you leave a toxic job situation but then found that anytime your new boss called your name, you were filled with dread? We already know that how you interact with other people, how you behave in public, even how you respond to your own needs and desires, is heavily influenced by how other people have reacted to these behaviors. This phenomenon is called socialization: the process of learning ideas about how a person like you should or shouldn’t behave, act, dress, think, feel, and aspire to be, through social interactions.  

Our strongest influencers are often the people in our lives who have more power than we do; teachers, parents, employers, role models etc, but power doesn’t just come from authority or fame, and that’s where social justice comes in. How much relative power we have is closely tied to our gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, financial status, physical and cognitive ability, and body type. It shouldn’t be, but it is. 

The traits I listed above are used as focal points for oppression if we happen to be anything other than what society considers “default”: male, white, christian, heterosexual, cisgender, financially stable, physically healthy, able, and thin. We can see the consequences of these societal expectations in high homelessness and suicide rates in LGBTQ teens, disproportionate incarceration rates and more severe sentencing for people of color, severe poverty among disabled populations, and heartbreakingly high frequency of sexual harassment, assault, and physical abuse of women. Our culture teaches us that these tragedies are a result of personal weakness or a lack of effort towards resolving their own struggles but they are actually signs of people who have had their power stolen from them.

If, however, you are among the default, your increased power not only means you’re likely to avoid the obstacles listed above entirely but it also comes with an increased number of choices available to you, less resistance to getting what you want, a greater ability to bounce back from consequences, more connections to other people with power, and a higher likelihood that your word will be trusted over a person with less power. This, in very brief terms, is a summary of what it means to have privilege

Change Starts With You

The exciting news about privilege, power, and socialization is that just as there have been thousands of people that have shaped you through social responses to your actions, you are also shaping and influencing the people in your life. 

The actions you choose to perform are an indicator of what kind of world you want to normalize. You can lead by example, speak up in the face of injustice, disconnect from toxic influences, encourage and celebrate progression, resist regression. You can validate, reject, inspire, undermine, or uplift. Humans are by and large social creatures. We are motivated to attain connection and acceptance from other people and as a result, just a simple smile or frown is enough to influence someone else’s actions down the road. 

It is this superpower that I use as my primary “weapon” against social injustice. The practice of being intentional about what behaviors I socially reward or reject according to the change that I want to see is a power that I have at my fingertips every day.

Each person has a complicated blend of privileges and sources of oppression. The complex manner in which those benefits and obstacles interact and compound on one another in your life is known as intersectionality. But no matter what your line up is, you can identify the aspects of your life that afford you more choice, more flexibility, more recourse, and use your increased power to give your influence over others, greater impact. 

Add social media to the mix and an action that previously could only be seen by a dozen people at most can now be broadcast to thousands of people, if not millions. Every time you comment, share, like, you aren’t just sharing your thoughts with your friends, you are shouting your message into a megaphone. The more power you have, the louder that megaphone will be, the more people will hear you. 

Identify and Utilize Existing Social Patterns 

Most of the time, our involvement in the socialization of other people is unconscious. Just as our level of power is determined by traits like gender and race that are outside of our control, how we are socialized is influenced by these traits too. Without the intention of doing so, we socialize women to be emotionally accessible and caring, while we encourage men to be assertive and stoic. Our culture teaches people of color to be obedient, LGBTQ people to hide their true selves, poor people to deny themselves basic pleasures, mentally ill people to suffer silently, and disabled people to ignore their own basic needs. If you’re not sure where to point your socialization powers, pushing back on the default roles we’re all squished into arbitrarily, and celebrating behaviors that defy those roles, is a great place to start.

But, keep in mind that a side effect of privilege is that you’re less likely to be aware of the depth and nuance of oppression- based problems if you’re even aware of them at all, which can put you at a disadvantage when trying to support marginalized groups you’re not part of. I’m white, cisgender, financially stable, and relatively thin, but the fact that I’m also a woman, bisexual, disabled, mentally ill, and used to be poor, means that I’m in an excellent position to both understand the needs of marginalized groupsand use the resources I have to effectively support them. I use my experience associated with my marginalization to help me understand other sources of marginalization I don’t face. 

What Change Will You Spark in Others?

The catch to using this magic tool is that the majority of the time, you won’t know exactly what kind of impact you had on people. While a hundred people will notice your actions, only one will tell you. I devoted months to my work as a blogger, feeling as if I were shouting into the void, but then people that I rarely interacted with began approaching me in person to thank me for my work and express the degree to which my writing had influenced them, and I was surprised every time. 

Do you remember a time when you were a child and an adult in your life changed something in you for the rest of your life? Maybe they were the only person who believed in your ability to achieve your dreams. Maybe they taught you kindness and compassion towards the people you found difficult to forgive. Maybe they saw you for who you were and reflected you as good and valuable when no one else had before. Even just a small word of encouragement can be important enough to us at that age that we remember it for decades. That person that helped you probably has no idea that they affected you so much, even if that impact lasted a lifetime. What if you could be that person for someone else? 

What if you could be that person for dozens of people? Or hundreds? Imagine the reverberations of your actions throughout the world as each of those people carry that change with them through life.  

Our boots-on-the-ground activists know that leaders and authorities have infinitely more power over institutional change than we do as citizens and so they seek to change the course for our country and our planet by finding the steering wheel. A leader’s decision can impact the lives of millions of people, but with your socialization powers, you can participate in the slow evolution of large scale change, enabling a society that collectively makes the kind of change you want to see, creating the activists and leaders and innovators that we need in order to achieve our goals for the planet. Your superpower is available to you whenever you choose to use it.

© 2019, Kella Hanna-Wayne

Sounding Bugles

Tonight’s moon will be heat-throttled;
my father’s slow-turning eye watches
the rising reformation of our country’s
people—the ones with more bread less than
equal to the ones that learn they can survive
hunger with a special kind of tobacco
pressed between the teeth and cheek,
the kind that acclimates with blood. Grief is
malleable in skilled hands; soon children
for whom school is a visit either to a future
or a means to learn, furthermore, the way
to escape the need for alternate food, mining
the grounds of their minds with comic strips,
become the intellectual whose arms are
muted under grinding a balance between
logical escape and patriotic leisure. But the heat
is rising; the bated night is luminous, bands
of clouds invisible, like homes of dreams
lacing fragile exteriors. Our voice is ground for
debt, that is like delayed prayer shot from
a freshly oiled barrel; tonight the moon will watch
fireworks going off on a rich man’s terrace
resembling broken dawns. Opinion is didactic
in skilled hands. My father shall recognise
the sounds through his impaired hearing,
drink enough water to fill to the brim of
his stomach, turn off the touting reforms
and wait in his sleep for the next prayer.

© 2019, Sheikha A.

Silent Courage

 

Santiago Atitlán

Three o’clock
The Catholic bells begin ringing
Women in their red huipiles
& ribbon-wrapped hair
wound ‘round their heads
enter the church

I quietly slip in & see
Father Stanley Rother’s heart
buried in the right wall
This Maya village wished it so
after his assassination in 1981
Variously colored crosses surround it,
each one with a name, a date

I reenter the sunlit afternoon
& aimlessly wander the market streets

Five o’clock
The village echoes with the
hand-clapping & tambourines
the singing & hallelujahs
from the seven or more evangelical temples

I am haunted by the horror of that memorial
I am haunted by the testimony of a volunteer
who investigated a massacre in this village
just over a year ago

As dusk falls
I once more climb those round steps
& enter the white-washed church

I sit in a pew near the priest’s heart
meditating upon those lives embracing him

Green paper crosses for the 209 killed here
22 yellow ones for the wounded
68 pink, the kidnapped

I walk back into the twilight
thinking of that December night massacre
not so very long ago
& how these villagers marched to the
military base & ordered them
to leave, to end the murderings
of their pueblo that had gone on
for too, too many years

The two nearest volcanoes are capped
by towering grey clouds
Thunder rumbles the empty streets

©2019, Lorraine Caputo

“Nights with Ghosts,” a poem from a child in Zimbabwe

 

“Poets Against War continues the tradition of socially engaged poetry by creating venues for poetry as a voice against war, tyranny and oppression.” Mission Statement for Poets Against War.



Back around 2008 when I started blogging, Poets Against War, founded in 2003 by American poet Sam Hamill (1943-2018) in response to the war with Iraq, was still going strong and some of my poems were accepted for online publication. This was my baptism into socially engaged poetry. The thousands of poems that were contributed to the database from poets around the world are archived at a university, the name of which I’ve long forgotten. There were some other great efforts including Poetry of Solidarity, which made use of the easy and economical outreach the Internet offers. These two sites have gone the way of all things. The links I saved for them now get a 404 error code. Today we have 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, founded in 2011 by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion.

Fortunately, I did keep notes on some of the poetry and activities I encountered in those early blogging days. What follows is a translation of a poem written by a child in Zimbabwe after the government made war on its own people in June 2005—200,000 people became homeless.  This poem was included in an article by American poet Karen Margolis in the now defunct Poetry of Solidarity.

nights with ghosts
.
dear samueri, my friend
i will never see you again;
maybe i will.
but i shall not know
until father finds us a new address
,
addresses!
we have none anymore.
we are of no address.
.
now that i have written this letter,
where do i post it to?
shall i say, samueri,
care of the next rubble
harare?

—child’s poem

“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?’” American poet, Eve Merriam

— Jamie Dedes

Change

 

“If you want change, let me throw it at you
as hard as I can at your dirty face…”
—Homeless read mean tweets (YouTube, now private)

Let me throw justice at you, let it hit your face
and wake us up. Let me throw opportunity at you,
let it hit your face and give us a chance.

Let me throw change at you, change in the world,
change creating justice and freedom,
change creating opportunity, real change
for all. Let me throw democracy at you, let it
hit us in the face so hard that it cracks open
and spills out into the land, everywhere, change—
real democracy, real hope, real opportunity.

Let me throw change and the stinking, rotten
carcass of consumer capitalism and greed at
those so privileged and shallow as to think white
teeth are more important than your humanity.

And then, god help me, let me find love
and compassion to throw as hard as I can
into our faces, into our lives, into the hearts
of us all, of us all standing here watching
in voyeuristic pleasures of despair.

© 2019, Michael Dickel

After the 2016 Election

We share this common irritant: the smoke of distant fires.
It scalded the morning and evening sun
ember red, then hung a net of haze over the city.
After two days, friends are confined indoors, wheezing.
My throat is raw, sinuses ache.
Now dark clouds rise from the mountain.

The day after the election, police in Alton Park
stop black residents up and down the Boulevard,
as if it is Apartheid, or a new Jim Crow.

My son is driving, stopped in traffic, radio blaring.
A cop on a motorcycle passes, hangs a U, comes back,
tickets him for going 50 in a 35 mile zone.
“Yes sir,” is the drill we instilled
when we had the Talk all parents have
with their sons of color.

Five miles over the state line in Georgia,
a white boy walks the high school parking lot,
a Confederate flag tied at his neck like a cape.
Later, black students yank it from his backpack,
stomp on it, igniting threats of a race war.

My eyes are burning. Smoke threads through
the indoors air in the gym and large commons.
We choke on the fire of distant words.

Not again.

© 2019, Rachel Landrum Crumble

The Poor

In the sky, it’s raining backwards,
always backwards. From where we stand,
it is a nightmare—our tears are the sprinkler system
of heaven. The clouds grow lush and green.
They tantalize beyond our ability
to desire. We stand, poor,
with sand in our shoes,  and
dust in our mouths, holding buckets
upside down to catch the rain.

© 2019, Rachel Landrum Crumble