Three Poems by Richard-Yves Sitoski

Letter from a Detention Centre Along the Mexican Border

take the thing which disturbs you most
& show it some sympathy
the monster under your bed
needs to eat too

show us some sympathy
you take us for criminals
but we need to eat too
so get over ancestral hatreds

you take us for criminals
we are the thing which disturbs you most
but ancestral hatreds
are the monster in your bed

& you’re not disturbed in the least
that it needs to eat too
this monster in your bed
which knows no sympathy

for it will eat you too
till there’s bones on your mattress
& if we show you sympathy
maybe that’s what disturbs you most

..

The Problem of Free Will in a Town Beset by White Supremacist Propaganda

Does sky rest on Earth or is Earth tacked to sky?
How long is a morning, a morning like this as pale as
unripened raspberries? Can birds make fools
of themselves unless they sing like nobody’s listening?
There’s nothing good on Netflix these days and
you can’t find a decent cup of joe in this town
for less than three bucks. Why? I have more questions
about the sky but I’ll keep them to myself because
that’s cosmology. I have more questions about coffee
and TV but I know the answers. But my questions
about people are something else. We’re not birds to do things
because they’re natural, singing songs we haven’t learned
but are in us. Are we? If we taste a raspberry, can we not
say to ourselves it isn’t ripe and decide based on that
if we want to keep eating? We have some choice
in the matter, do we not? Otherwise it’s all just atoms ‘n’ shit
or some such Lucretian mumbo-jumbo. (I remember a time
when my mom wouldn’t leave my dad because
she was afraid of him, but that’s different – all she had
was a diet of unripened raspberries and you can’t live
without food.) But what about those who sing off-key
because everyone is listening, knowing we won’t
like the melody? What does Lucretius say about them?
Buddha? Kant? It’s all a mess when neo-Nazis
lay wreaths at memorials honouring men who died
fighting Nazis. You get the picture. How can you
not be pessimistic about the random bouncing of atoms
in a world that knows no logic? Is hatred deliberate
or do you just pick it up? And if hate is your default
can you be taught to love? Can any of this be done
consciously? I know little of the matter, aspiring as I do
to be a bird, to move as a bird does through a sky not tacked
to Earth. Birds don’t care about the price of coffee
or what’s on Netflix. Birds fly through the pale morning
not knowing confusion or despair. But they are not
ignorant. They are in fact perfect. Perfect in knowing
precisely how to pick ripened raspberries, and that this is good.

Undocumented Arrivals

purple loosestrife grows in ditches, irrigation canals and standing water,

dominating wetlands and choking out native species.

it is as run-of-the-mill as divorce.

zebra mussels filter out phytoplankton, destroying the food chain

and leaving water clear and sterile as alcohol.

they are as ubiquitous as deathbed regrets.

since the introduction of emerald ash borers,

every single tree of the 22 species of ash is at risk.

the borers are as widespread as hubris.

phragmites are as everyday as bad things justified by anger.

sea lampreys are as tedious as capitalism.

gypsy moths are as inevitable as grief.

and if you think of all this when you read that a ghanaian

has lost every finger to frostbite on an all-night trudge

in running shoes through kilometers of waist-deep snow

your opinion is more destructive and common

than any of these.

..

Richard-Yves Sitoski is a spoken word artist, poet and songwriter from the sleepy burg of Owen Sound, Ontario, with numerous journal publications, two books (brownfields and Downmarket Oldies FM Station Blues), and a CD (Word Salad) to his credit. When not writing, he makes disturbing sounds with guitars and is a committee member of the Words Aloud Festival of Spoken Word and Storytelling, one of Ontario’s premier literary festivals. You can find him at richardsitoski.wordpress.com or on Facebook.

Changed Climate, England, Summer 2019 by Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon

Dust settles on summer windowsills,
on sideboards TVs shimmer Churchill’s ghost
onto modern screens   conjured plasma
realised through BJ’s studied bull-dog slump.

Right-wing masterminds, harness nostalgia,
declare war on liberty, compassion, freedom
with crazy, clownish grins and promised tax cuts.

In extreme heat, blood runs cold. Benighted
whispers escape Mogg’s elocution: the old/young/
frail/different/un-monied/finally everyone
beyond white rank and privilege will fail.
Terror unopposed, trashes lives beyond redemption –

yet in suffocated daylight, foul with fumes,
angry men mop their bows and mutter,
Give the BJ man a chance. Who knows?
Cometh the hour, cometh the man?
Beguiled by his brass-faced badness,
shameless mis-speech, they cling to bleached
colonial dreams, forget collateral nightmares.
Historians are hated, placed under house-arrest
banned from shedding quenching beams of light
into hell, onto our underworld’s smoking coals.

Young people with fresh eyes, call out BJ
and his crew, their coruscated sunshone lies.
Older adults, stupefied, relinquish resistance
to wilful ignorance and time’s scalding, stinking dustbin.

Five poems by Bob MacKenzie

control

You look at me and see
a girl becoming a woman
and I suppose I am that

yet you do not see
me below the water
hid from the terrors

I have known as a child
evil’s gentle touching
hands finding me at night

waking me with a whisper
it will be alright dear
though I know it will not

I have heard the threat
the secret of that touch
sunk in despair’s depths

I sink and become water
hid within my own self
deep and untouchable

yet you can look and see
a girl becoming a woman
and I suppose I am that

..

..
The Waning of the Moon

The full moon bleeds into the night
soaking the clouds and trees and Earth
with its essence until the pain
has leeched into the morning light.

Somewhere in darkness you stand still
bleeding your soul into the night
against the fear you hold within,
out of time and against your will.

You shine against the blackest fears
as darkness falls away from you
and you fall away from memory
to find brief peace as morning nears.

There is no feeling here but calm
that seeks the gentle blade’s caress
draining the darkness from your soul
as softly as a soothing balm.

And then you wash and go to bed,
now at peace, if not forever,
with yourself and all memory
shrouded now in a cloak of red.

The full moon bleeds into the night
but morning wipes its death from sight,
and you live on with all your past
come back to you with morning’s light.
..

..

Saint Joan

In the beginning, you seem void and without form;
you only slowly grow clear and material
against the brilliant light behind you, not sun
but floodlamp of Lucifer that shows you your way.

You become a world of contradictions made flesh
to creep slowly over your prey and to take it,
betrayed by your venom, deep into the darkness
where darkly you pick it apart at your leisure.

You are small in your body and small in your mind,
with a sweet middle aged smile and honey voice;
you cut your hair short or it would be in a bun,
and you wear drab fashions that imitate a nun.

You know you are the saviour of little children,
absolved in whatever you do by your own faith;
you know you are the saviour of little children;
you know you must destroy all who stand in your way.

From your father onward, you know the way men are;
from your childhood onward, you know the violence
family life does to any child, did to you;
you know you are the saviour of little children.

To save the children you must crush the families,
you must take the children to your bile filled bosom,
where they may suckle of hate and fear and see life
in the light of your knowledge, in Lucifer’s light.

Yours is the greatest agency under Heaven,
transporting children to its bowels forever;
the Devil in this world controls what you do, as
you save the children and Lucifer lights your way.

You do not see the small spot appear on your heart,
do not see it grow larger, void and without form,
do not see yourself falling deep into that pit,
do not see the light of Lucifer falling dark.

..

..
don’t be mad at me
I ain’t mad at you

don’t be mad at me
I ain’t mad at you

there’s a lot of anger in this world
and a lot of hurt and a lot of hate

and it’s there in the air
you can feel it everywhere
like the oxygen you breathe
like the rain that falls on you

there are bullies and persecutions
there’s abuse and worse all around
and you see it everywhere
and you hear about it non-stop
and you feel helpless to stop

feel helpless to stop the anger
stop the hurt, stop the hate
most often just feel helpless
and lost, just lost

What can you do?
What can anyone do?

It’s them
you know it’s them
the vast everyone
the normal people out there
who hate everyone who’s different
who hate you
who hate me

But what can you do?
they are the many
we are the few

we are powerless
there are too many of them
the power is theirs
to change things
to just hate the other
the different
to hate us
to hurt us
to persecute and abuse us
just because

they can
and they do
they can
and they do
and what can you do?
what can I do?
what can anyone do?
yes it’s there in the air
you can feel it everywhere
like the oxygen you breathe
and the anger
the anger falls on you

there’s a lot of anger in this world
and a lot of hurt and a lot of hate

tag
you’re it:
the fag
the dyke
the kike
the muslim
hell, even the Christian
in the wrong church

tag
you’re it:
the dummy
the nut case
the crip
you’re not normal

they hate the other
the one
who is different
who acts different
who talks different
who’s not normal

the foreigner
the spick
the wop
the jap and
the chink
the nigger
the native Indian
the white man
woman too

the uke
the kraut
the brit
the mick and
the paddy
even the yank
sometimes

everywhere
the hate, the hate, the hate
the anger seeths beneath every surface
the anger reaches out
rages

where is the focus?

tag

you say it’s about you
it’s them against you
the world against you
you are hurt
you are angry
you
you are angry

I ain’t mad at you
don’t be mad at me

I ain’t mad at you
don’t be mad at me

can’t you see?
there is no them
except me and you
me
and you

I have met the enemy
and
he is us
she is us

I have met the enemy
deep within myself

if I have been hated
I have also hated
I have also been angry

How about you?

take a moment
stop looking for some
them
to hate
turn around and look inside
deep into yourself

meet the enemy
see where the enemy lives
deep within each of us
forgive
just forgive
and love
let love and forgiveness
replace the hate
replace the anger
in you

this one choice
this one small change
can change your world
may begin to change
to change all the world

I ain’t mad at you
don’t be mad at me

don’t be mad at me
I ain’t mad at you

,,

,,
The New Police

You start a war nobody wants or thinks is just,
then you send young men and women overseas to fight that war;
you indoctrinate them to believe everyone is the enemy
and even apparent civilians are just enemies in disguise,
then you put them in the field for five years or more
killing civilian adults and children because they may be
enemies.
After a while these young men and women come home;
you give them jobs in local and state law enforcement;
you rationalize that they have the training after all,
then you give them military weapons and vehicles
just like the ones they used in war to kill civilians.
What did you think would happen?

,,

Four of these poems have been previously published as attributed below.
don’t be mad at me, Saint Joan, The New Police, and The Waning of the Moon have all been published in the selected works “Agapé: Heaven & Earth” (Dark Matter Press, 2015).
Saint Joan and The Waning of the Moon have also been published in “On Edge” (Dark Matter Press, 2012).
The New Police has also been published in “somewhere still in wind the tree is bending” (Silver Bow Publishing, 2018).

..

Bob MacKenzie’s published almost 400 poems in journals around the world, including Literary Review of Canada, Dalhousie Review, and Windsor Review and in numerous anthologies. Bob’s published sixteen volumes of poetry and prose-fiction.  With the group Poem de Terre, Bob has released six albums of his poetry spoken and sung with original music.  His numerous literary awards include Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council grants and Fellowship to attend the Summer Literary Seminars in Georgia. 

http://communication.ca/poet
https://www.facebook.com/canadian.poet

my body politic, by Mark Young

The white-wing com-
mentators cackle like
geese as the king of the
barnyard distributes
purported pearls of
wisdom which they
gobble down with un-
bridled joy. Blinded by

being accorded audience,
they do not recognize
that what is being doled
out to them is nothing
more than blanched
pellets of horse shit.

Two poems by Kushal Poddar

Cats Don’t Love Guns

The cat waited for her house owner
in the evening after the mass shooting in a mall,
an usual gloaming midst all the palaver
about the climate change, dictators, stalls
of sugar inaugurating besides the sugar stalls.

The old man returned not; the cat did
on the following day and night,
ate from another resource, moaned
at those swaying summer leaves
casting susurrus shadows on the stairs.

The house owner waned away from the cat’s
immediate mind.
People listening to the news heard

,,,

Basil

Basil recalibrates the summer.
The aliment consists salad and breeze.
We lift forkfuls of good heat
and before we digest the mass shootings
life nourishes life. Because I feel the sting
I am alive having a summer dish in your company.
We both know moon rises somewhere
behind those acropoles; life may end life;
gun may reproduce sons of a gun;
basil for us, blessings for the demised;
because we discuss we live to discuss some more.

..
Kushal Poddar

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)

 

Author Page – amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet

Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

Prisoner 1858, by Steven Croft

My feet sore, broken, face
pressed against cinder blocks,
cooler than our unwashed world
of bodies in the small jail cell.
..
Dragged back to interrogation,
hung by ankles from a dark ceiling,
leg irons are tentacles of pain
the guard strums with a stick,
.
Then beats me.  The outskirts
of the city are broken shells
of buildings.  I am told I am
responsible.  My companion,
..
Fear, a vertigo that leaves and
comes back until I can’t hear
the questions or count the strikes —
it is now that I dream an other
..
Self.  Asked to give the names
of others, I think human existence
is full of such traps, that this
is why I’m here, my name spoken
..
By another, hanging here, as
I lose sense of time and believe
I am him, but, instead, I say
the names of my family silently
..
To myself, careful never to release
this precious treasure to brutes
though pain boils in my brain while
tears fall from my eyes unbidden.
..
Instead, I go home and sit beside
them, share the morning meal,
reach for my wife, my daughter,
gently, unbidden.
,,
,,
..
Steven Croft is the author of two chapbooks, Coastal Scenes and Moment and Time.  He has recent poems in Politics/ Letters LiveSky Island Journal, and As It Ought to Be Magazine.

Five poems by Chad Norman

BANDAID ON THE SIDEWALK

One day how
the future may sound
could be echoes
of children’s footsteps
overtaking the ears
on my oversized head–
remember, it is actually spring
when the ditches begin to sing.

Isn’t it timely how
the sun lights up
all the white hairs
on a black sweater.

One day the
sidewalk looks wounded
all the leaves
dead in pools of rain
fallen weeks back
without a season I crave,
my feet need, covered up by
perhaps, the numerous injuries
left unseen like Nature’s worries?

A cover up
maybe, but doubtful
as I am growing certain the “we”
has grown more
aware for some reason–
I guess I just want
to believe in you,
all of those who are children.

I have decided to
not peel it back–
already knowing
the wounds of the world.

Strangely the students
play recorders outside,
songs drift through
then I can’t decide
when such sounds
become reminders:
I don’t know at the moment
but quickly I hear
voices asking
to peel off the bandaid,
peel it off,
dares posed by
those who’ll take over,

those who can never hear what I do,
voices saying we will help others
coming to Canada for safer lives,
but we placed that bandaid there
on purpose, to help our future, to
find those who know about Inclusion.

I want to peel it off the sidewalk.
I want to take it off the world.
I won’t be the one man scared of wounds.

When will we evolve?
To be, simply, loving?
Who gives their essence to skin?
Are we so limited when colour must be sullied?

Remember, children have put a bandaid
on the sidewalk where I was stopped,
where I’d never believe hatred
is, could, or will ever be a fashion.

 

 DECLARATION FOR THE BANISHED

May they come,
come in numbers.
May they be safe
no matter the plight,
no matter the chosen route.

Our economy needs them.
Our hospitals need them.
Our schools need them.
Our cities need them.
Our towns need them.
Our children need them.
Our fears need them.

I have no problem
with anyone
from any other country
coming to Canada
to exhibit the cost of
wanting to remain
a human being,
a human
being allowed a
new chance to be alive.

There, I said it.

 

I SPEAK AGAINST YOU

Even though you may be like me
I speak against you,
you who speak against them
saying they are taking “our” jobs,
saying they are stealing gov’t funds,
saying what I hear as exclusion.

Even though you are not like me
I speak against you,
you who speak from what I hear
as ignorance, as intolerance, as
what sounds as if you’re a racist,
but I don’t believe all that
feeling strongly you are better
than all that–after all I am sure
you live a life open to helping others.

Yes, helping, not adding to their
plight almost hard to understand.

Yes, being available, feeling something
about the humanity in yourself.

I expect better from the Canadian
you expect others to admire.

Even though you maybe like me
you are not in any way that,
you are like those I watch close
and listen to the reluctance
coming out from your mouth,
words, even though they hurt
and exclude, are of the lost,
are hardly what this country needs.

Change is a word too.
One which hasn’t been
sucked dry, hasn’t been
taken off somewhere, far away
from its unchangeable definition.

 

THE BROKEN GARDEN

Never mind the nightly or morning news
it isn’t worth watching, or wasting
the time you call your life, to be
in front of the screen you pay too much for,
and finally say, “I have had enough of
Eden being a garden I am to tend,
Adam being some guy I must admire,
Eve being a leader of women somewhere,
and that poor innocent tree
with one branch some serpent chose.”

I’ll say it again, ” I have had enough of
being called a sinner for the Cross,
for a Christ they have all wrong,
not a man I choose to see their way,
and all the Commandments used to
hold us back, keeping our humanness
from a fuller evolvement, letting minds
get beyond a book God had to self-publish,
had to rely on us to try to get through
without going to the mirror for a search,
a search of a face ready for some love.

Perhaps, I’ll say it again, “I’ve had enough
of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and
the lot of you, saying this is a freedom,
what some of you may want to say
and may believe to say it is going
to provide a free pass to that place
supposedly under us known as Hell,
but, please, say it anyway, “I’ve had
enough of…”, finally knowing to follow
all of those misadventures is a rip-off
devised and sent to leave you one thing,
the inability to hold out both hands
and help them from the many vessels
they had to board in order to sit
for the hours hope held them within,
hours either upon a sea, or looking
at clouds constantly forming shapes
pointing at this country, our country,
and what you know to be a safe landing.

Regardless of all the heaven stuff
my worries have nothing to do with it,
as a member of the broken garden
if I ever go anywhere after my flesh is done
I ask it is a real place, one where
we all sit and hold hands screaming
a prayer to explode the War Machine.

 

THE PEOPLE ARE WAVES
for Lainee

To be on one side of the window
is my gift at the moment
you see I paid for this
days away from the grind,
and by grind I mean
one thing for now, one thing
I know better than many,
one thing able to make me
feel the coolness of a wall
against my more-than-able back.

I have a job, too many don’t.
I have an income, too many don’t.
I have a home, too many don’t.
I have a full fridge, too many don’t.
I have a warm bed, too many don’t.

To be able to open a cupboard door
and stand stopped by indecision,
to be able to sit & hear the cat purr
and enjoy a doc on Bobby Kennedy,
and finally know it takes Time
to present it, the gift called Duration,
the gift given to History, and it is
then Time’s duration finally becomes
History, how the waves of People roll in,
and roll on back out, to only roll
on back in, the waves of People
I am watching, riding the waves they
find their lives atop, their lives somehow
riding a lack of food, riding a
lack of a job, riding a lack of an income,
riding a lack of a full fridge,
riding a lack of a warm bed,
to open the cupboard and find
themselves stopped by indecision.

And now, right now, this very moment,
to be on the other side of the window
and have that my gift
what I also paid for, to be
part of another form of grind,
one which leaves a man standing
outside a liquor store,
dressed head-to-toe in camo
unable to shake with what was
his good hand, a hand
I sadly, yet gladly, place a fiver in.

..

Chad Norman, Truro, NS, Canada

His poems have appeared for the past 35 years in literary publications across Canada, as well as a number of other countries around the world.

He hosts and organizes RiverWords: Poetry & Music Festival each year in Truro, NS., held at Riverfront Park, the 2nd Saturday of each July.

In October 2016 he was invited by the Nordic Assn. for Canadian Studies to give talks on Canadian Poetry and read from his books at Borupgaard Gym in Copenhagen, and Risskov Gym in Aarhus, as well as other readings in both cities and Malmo, Sweden. Because of that tour Norman has started the manuscript, Counting Coins In Denmark And Sweden.

His most recent books are Selected & New Poems, from Mosaic Press, and Waking Up On The Wrong Side of The Sky, from Grant Block Press, and a new book, Squall: Poems In The Voice Of Mary Shelley, is due out Spring 2020, from Guernica Editions. Recently, he completed the manuscript, The Black Rum Poems, and presently works on a new manuscript, A Small Matter of Inclusion.

In October of 2017 he read at various Eastern Canada venues in Kingston, Ottawa, and Montreal. And in the Fall of 2018 Norman gave a speaking/reading tour of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, as a celebration of literacy and Canadian Poetry.

He is currently a member of the Federation of NS Writers and The League Of Canadian Poets.

His love of walks is endless.

 

Two poems by Punam Sharma

God (Senryu)

When a man decides
to play god to his brethren
humanity dies

Illusion

The bed is unmade, has been unmade for weeks
though I do change the sheets, I like the look of disarray
it makes the room look lived in
I also like leaving empty coffee cups on the side table
when I come back from work
I can feel the presence of the other self
my soul floats back and forth
between me and the other self I oft see in the mirror
we do have conversations too,
I mean a girl has to talk!
I am glad I have company
for I am tired of answering
probing questions about this and that
how I manage alone and all that blah
then, when she peers at me from the mirror
I breathe easy and we giggle together
for loneliness has no room in this room for two.

,,

Punam is a stay at home wife and mom, who writes for textbooks. Her poems have been published by Tuck Magazine, Spillwords and Indian Periodical. She blogs as paeansunplugged on WordPress.

How Many Bullets, by Giselle Marks

How many bullets
Mean freedom to you?
How many people
Do you need to die?
Is one not enough
Or doesn’t twenty sate your bloody lust?

How many bullets
And how many dead?
Children and women
Do you need to kill?
Do you feel a man
Taking many lives?
Sorry for your hate
Sadder for those who met a bloody fate!

How many bullets
And how many guns
Must you sell today?
Not an honest buck
No you don’t give a …
How many will fall
As long as they pay
In slaughtered innocence today

Lifestation Observation, by Jennifer Brown Banks

My heart bleeds
That “Johnny can’t read”
Due to unmet needs,
And inequality
In educational facilities—
Books that are outdated,
Torn and faded,
And a future slated
For poverty—
Sadly,
There was no win/win
In the “Separate but equal doctrine”
For it failed to provide
For those in fact
Born on the wrong side
Of the track
And whose cardinal sin
Is having too much melanin
In their skin

In Memoriam, by A.D. Moore

Black
Cold granite
Standing tall,

With the names
Of them all,

Who answered the clarion’s
Patriotic call—

It was not to some ball
Held at some Civic Hall,
Or a romp at the local
Shopping mall,

Rather
To a place
Where they showed some gall,
Before making the fearful, fatal fall,

And now, I’m telling ya’ll
Their supreme sacrifices
Will never be forgotten,
Their names,
Their deeds,
Not so small,
Will live on for an eternity,
On the Vietnam Veteran’s Monumental Wall!

 

A.D. Moore is a military veteran and retired U.S. postal worker. He is the author of “STREET TALK AND MOORE.” Moore is a member of Poets United to Advance the Arts, in Illinois.
Visit his site at:

http://admoore44.blogspot.com/

Two poems by Laura Grace Weldon

Instead of War  

“America’s post-9/11 military interventions have killed over a half million people.” Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Send our most promising youth
to work with young people
of strife-torn countries, where they build
centers for learning, the arts, healing.
Build understanding. Build friendship.

Send elders to share stories with elders,
poets to write with poets, musicians whose songs,
sung together, reach the marrow as music can do.

Send families to visit families, drink tea,
watch children squabble and play,
seeing in each another
a common desire for safety, belonging, hope.

Consider what trillions spent on destruction
might accomplish for good.
Envision drones delivering ripe fruit;
checkpoints checking out library books;
stockpiled Lego blocks free to any child,
their bright primary colors connecting
into any shape ingenuity makes possible.

 

Dehumanization Pays

My congressman isn’t in his office for summer recess hours
as promised, so I don’t get to share my shuddering outrage,
don’t get to ask how he sleeps at night. I drive back
through small towns, past farms,
thinking of brave people seeking freedom,
of children seized from loved ones,
of places kept hypothermia cold
where soap and due process are denied.

Border Patrol Facebook posts mock asylum seekers
cruelly as this president does, all
deliberately meant to dehumanize.
Calling people “animals.”
Leaving them in filth, in despair.
Packing human beings tight as products in boxcars.
All meant to make it easier
to build a wall between us and them,
easier to commit human rights violations,
easier to get massive campaign donations
from private prison corporations.
Easier to slide a country
into the tight pockets
of fascism’s slick overcoat.

..

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of poetry collections Blackbird (Grayson Books, 2019) and Tending (Aldrich Press, 2013), and as well as a handbook of alternative education titled Free Range Learning (Hohm Press, 2010). Her background includes teaching nonviolence workshops, writing collaborative poetry with nursing home residents, and facilitating support groups for abuse survivors. She works as a book editor and teaches community writing classes. Connnect with her at lauragraceweldon.com.

Admission, by Mary Wight

Krug, Macallan, Armagnac,
whatever they want, OK Jack—
already on the move, he’s slip-sliding
past beluga, chocolate fountains, oiling
the buzzing craic with a drizzle here, a dribble there,
pumping palms, patting asses, working the white Carrara floor.

Yeah I’ve done OK, he drawls, re-telling his wife and anyone
who’ll listen how he rode the tiger as if it was a done-in
fairground nag, up and down but mostly up
and up the greasy pole, made the top,
jumped before the roof fell in,
took nothing on his chin,

landed on his Guccied toes,
crouched and sprang again, closed
a deal overnight betting on the fact the walls
would crumble now, and of course was right. He calls
himself the constructive-executioner without the merest hint
of irony. Says there’s always got to be a hole, to make a decent mint.

..

First published in Poetry London in 1212

Mary Wight lives in the Scottish Borders. She has had poems published in magazines and anthologies, most recently in Envoi, The Blue Nib, The Poets’ Republic and Firth.

Man of the People, by David Babatunde Wilson

A man of the people
A man of the folk
He’s our kind of person
An everyday bloke

Schooled in posh Eton
In privilege and wealth
When ill he can skip
The National Health

He speaks for the masses
He speaks for the many
For those who have money
Or don’t have a penny

With a cabinet of cronies
And like-minded friends
Who’ll push through his Brexit
However it ends

He speaks as sees
In the North or the South
And only offends
When he opens his mouth

He says what he’s thinking
And doesn’t need notes
He’ll change his opinion
In the pursuit of votes

He’s a man of the people
And he’ll do what he can
To serve your best interests
If you’re a wealthy white man

Two poems by Bojana Stojcic

CORRIDA DE TOROS

 

An adrenaline-seeking town dressed in red and white
runs down the cobblestone streets like a hungry river

in the fierce heat of the Mediterranean sun
enraged bulls show no mercy

to those who slip and fall
who slip and fall

a ruthless wolf pack in San Fermin
with days passing between feedings

locates, singles out
and stalks

its prey from a distance
staying out of sight until it’s ready to attack

not a deer, not a moose
not a bison, not an elk

but a beaver, feeble and sightless,
breathing the air of placid sufficiency

opportunistic feeders, unable to retain saliva
within their mouths, circle and test before

bringing the victim to the ground
the conquest of paradise

the animal does not die of blood loss or shock
but of shame

 

 

PARENTAL ADVICE

 

finish school
find a decent girl/boy from a nice family
you’ll marry and have kids with
read the bible, praise the lord
save for a down payment and try to break
the shackles of debt before you drop dead
get a job you can commit to for the next 40 years until
you retire at the age when you’re good for nothing
then watch your kids do the same mistakes, in the same order

..

Bojana Stojcic teaches, bitches, writes, bites and tries to breathe in between. Her poems and flash pieces are published or forthcoming in Rust + Moth, Anti-Heroin Chic, Barren Magazine, The Opiate, Burning House Press, Down in the Dirt, Mojave Heart Review, Dodging the Rain, Foxglove Journal, Spillwords, the Blue Nib, the Stray Branch, Tuck magazine, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Nightingale & Sparrow and Visual Verse. She blogs regularly at Coffee and Confessions to go.

Cossetted, by Angi Holden

At school, everyone stretched upwards, ambition
a pair of silent claws. These boys all knew one another,
fraternised in the holidays, took one another’s sisters
to parties in Sussex, to hunt balls in Gloucestershire,
dressed like their fathers.

The boys who inherited the school like an old watch
didn’t have to use their brains, even if they had them.
What security: to have always been well-off.
The future would look comfortingly like the past.

Scholarship boys had to live on their wits, set apart,
herded, marked off, their world a social laboratory,
clever animals in an alien habitat. Their labour of inclusion,
like a journey of immigration, was a matter of barely visible laws:
certain areas of London, prep schools, London shops
certain sports, clothes, brands of aftershave,
distinguished surnames: all signified.

If they were posh, scholars were interestingly so,
came from bohemian and eccentric families,
like Boris, a familiar sight as he charged his way around:
The bigfoot stoop, the bumbling confidence,
the skimmed-milk pallor, the berserk hair, the impression
he’d been freshly released from some institution.

All, already in place.

..

A ‘verbatim’ poem,, for consideration. The source material is taken from an article by James Wood, originally published in LRB. I have altered words only for consistency of tense or for grammatical sense, and have re-ordered stanzas for flow.

Four poems by Z D Dicks

Diogenes
..
In the centre of the city     at the cross
is a man     Diogenes     suited and booted
he rifles     through a bomb proof bin
..
He pulls out an arm     with a half squashed
sandwich     a bite mark at corner     and waves it
at a thick     lipsticked woman     on stilt heels
and twists crust     points it like judges finger

Men don’t think about sex     every ten
seconds     they think where’s my socks
where’s my lunch     and I’m late for work

An office lady     staring at him     scrunches the paint
on her face     leaving mud banks     at corners
of eyes     she veers away     from the soggy
lettuce     and floppy bread     tumbling like a clown

Do you mind     I’m on my lunch break
hold my calls!

Diogenes smears mayonnaise around his
mouth     like gloss     wiggles hips in mock march
and salutes police     turns his head     shields
words with back of hand     and whisper shouts

Gotta to go     I’m booked up all day
kind regards     here’s my one o’clock

He untucks a shirt     tosses a hang man’s
noose     kicks off his trousers     plucks
a folded letter     from inside jacket pocket
feels the government ply     inking between
the heavy stamp     of fingers in buttocks

Diogenes bows low     like an actor     who’s finished
performing     the scrunched flower unclenched
is picked up     and thrown to feet     he presents
wrists     in Christ pose shrug     to an audience
rejected and offers his refusal     for universal credit

..
..

Enlightenment 

As Venus     plunged into night     hotter     than all
the planets in the solar system     the Morning Star
Lucifer     moved on her journey     around the sun
forever tied to fission blasts     and punished     for
her gift     an apple     giving luminescence to taste
buds     and wisdom of texture     she was cast into
retrograde orbit     backwards     against gods pull
for daring to share     her vision of warmth     through
black trees in sky     and in books she was labelled
the opposer     and temptress of men     but it was
only a question she asked that led to her exile
against the grain of solar hell

Why make them suffer?     You gave me light and heat
to see and reflect you     into every body     but     why do they suffer?
I feel the knowledge     and smoulder at my surface     but they freeze
and weep     in death and decay     why     do you make them suffer?

When all  they want is the caress of your ardency     not in glare
or flaring flood     why do     you     feel they should suffer?     Blister
their skin     without clothes and demand praise     for giving
them food     but     why force them to suffer?

Their lives are short     and you say to revere     you     and if
they don’t     and don’t understand     why do you demand to make
them suffer?     Where do the outcasts go     when you turn your
winter in them     after they die     with no grip of rules

So please     why would do they deserve to suffer?
You say to obey     or will cast them     to shiver     and starve
but why bother to make them suffer?     I can create     but
I wouldn’t want to     because     I     wouldn’t see them suffer

A response of no response
and she descended     a heretic     of her own volition
..

..

Europe

Europe used to be
a student     hitch hiking to the next party
fine cuisine     wafted to sun glazed balconies
the taste     of champagne bubbling on tongue
catching a ride on a boat     reclined in an embrace
and languages     clattering     together as rain drops

Britain is now
the taste of continental cheese     out of date
crisp packets and chocolate     reduced in weight
citizens rounded up and deported
the smell of recycling boxes     overflowing
flag waving     when no battle has been won

Britain was
a shared ideal my family died for
where I spent my childhood     and played chess
the sad look on a friends face     saying     It’s happening again
where human rights were     first     adopted
the place millions march     but     it isn’t in papers

Britain is in Europe     however     its spirit     like so many
once welcomed immigrants     has too been cast out

..

..
Heckle

Heckle: to rudely interrupt

The words split     from the back of the room
a clumsy hatchet hack     right down the aisle
digging into the space     without seats
as a blunt shovel slips     around an oak root
it slid across a speakers face     a flat
scratch     that flushed to forehead     sitting
in the furrow of     boney     crows feet

Heckle: to undo strands to make ready for spinning

And with that curl spring up and out
the fibre of one poet was unravelled
his hemp     dressed down     with hairline stare
to straighten his loud     frayed     attitude for rotating
away from other poets     unattracted
to his new     garish     loud design     and too loose
a mouth     and too tightly wound     for anything
but a flimsy     late apology

..

Z D Dicks 
Founder/CEO Gloucestershire Poetry Society and Gloucester Poetry Festival 

Children Need Love, by Giselle Marks

Into the world another baby is born
From warmth of mother’s womb torn
Raging with emotion, always demanding
Breathing, crying, kicking and screaming

Into the world another child is brought
Miracle – man and woman have wrought
Give each child everything they need
Children need more than ample feed

Food and warmth are not quite enough
The world around us is really tough
A child needs teaching, a child needs love
Expect no manna sent from above

To have children is a precious prize
No clone, an unknown with family ties
A daunting task all parents will find
Ties which were always meant to bind

Parents, please your children cherish
Fragile creatures who so easily perish
They’ll come to be the new mankind
Yet love nurtures both heart and mind

We can’t promise the world will live on
So love each daughter and every son
But children we should help to become
Then to hatred they will not succumb

Into the world another child is born
Expel all prejudice, hate and scorn
So each can love and be loved in return
Dream that all adults will finally learn

Ruminations of a Water Cannon, by Claire Pinney

Piffle, tosh and
supine jelly!
Scrapped amidst
such obloquy!
If only…
Oh the,
eminent
feasibility
for sunlit uplands
and ruthless
whump
and
bonk
to knock
the weak,
one in the eye
and off their feet.
Ker-splonk!
Now you’ll see…
merrily, merrily
shall I live now
and strike down the losers,
keeping order,
mop up the doomsters,
take back our borders,
and with optimistic intent
wash away,
wash away
dissent.

Two poems by Anna Saunders

The Wolf Speaks at the Tory Party Conference

 

We are tender to our own
and feed them our prey – pulverised
to a paste

a bloom of coruscating
scarlet, lumpen with gristle
on our lips.

We aren’t how the novels portray us
we are worse than that.

You could say we cower from those
who are our equals

preferring instead to track down
the weak the sick, the broken.

There we are half hidden
in the dark fir forest

panting, our lolling tongues
fat with want
glistening with cocoons of saliva.

Learn from us
seek out those you can overpower
break them down to that which your offspring can digest.

Reduce them to a quick
then let those from your blood line
eat them from you.

..

The Benefit Minister’s Mythological Creature of Choice

 

Once they had rested on a lonely shore,
the travellers laid out their food
bright fruits and berries, deep and red as the bruised lips
of the violently kissed,

plump and bold as pulvinated flesh,
largesse leaking a glitter and gleam onto stone.

How hungry they are, after weeks of travelling
how quickly the food is taken from their plates
as down she sweeps, quick beak working deftly.

She doesn’t chose to come back as a phoenix,
or Pegasus – foaled from Medusa
springing from a slashed mothers neck,

immortal winged horse
whose hooves could birth fountains.

She chooses a Harpy.

They are the Souls of the wind she says, an urge and energy
plucking the seas, forcing the grasses back in her direction.

She has forgotten they are beaked kleptomaniacs
carrying a stink of carrion.

Who we really are is occult and buried,
our egos are alchemists bedded down in the dark,
magicians – groping round to turn soiled sheets into doves.

She is half right about the word – she has harnessed the wind.

She rides the thermals
like a princess  carried on a sedan chair.

..

Anna Saunders is the author of Communion, (Wild Conversations Press), Struck, (Pindrop Press) Kissing the She Bear, (Wild Conversations Press), Burne Jones and the Fox and Ghosting for Beginners ( Indigo Dreams), and the forthcoming Persephone Goes on Question Time.. Anna has been described as ‘a poet who surely can do anything’ by The North  and ‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’ by Bernard O’Donoghue. 
Anna-Saunders

Anna Saunders. Cheltenham Poetry Festival Founding Director. 

Author  https://annasaunderswriter.co.uk