Grenfell Lament by David Banks

(To the tune of “buddy can you spare a dime”)

Once there was a tower
I called home
Washing pegged out on the line
Once there was a tower
Now it’s gone
Smelly old me all the time

Given her a facelift
Poor old soul
Given her a brand new tone
Given her a facelift
On the cheap
Better they had left her alone

Often of an evening
Watched the planes
Following one by one
Carrying the wealthy
Slow as slugs
Into the setting sun

Once I had a family
All I had
Quarrels and laughter and love
Once I had a family
Now they’re gone
Mister, can you give me a shove?

.diagnosis. by Sonja Benskin Mesher

look at the actor,acting that the arms hurts

to help with self diagnosis.

 

it will be ok if we have paper to write

on.

 

wait for news of those that are dying, have died

of fire.

 

we may still have paper.

to draw on.

 

read the news and watch the radio, we can keep

up to date through the publications

if they have paper to print on.

 

numbers rise,

high rise.

firemen

For them all by Rang-Zeb Rango Hussain

For the Refugees who have lost their all,
For the Homeless who are abandoned,
For the Forsaken who have no one,
For the Voiceless who go unheard,
For the Loveless who grieve for trust,
For the Dead who perished in poverty’s fire,
For the Orphans who dream no more,
For the Betrayed who died far from home,
For Humanity in a time of mass poison.

for them all

Around by Gale Acuff

Why do I want to see the world before
I die? It’s not like I’ll be able to
enjoy it later, when I’m stuck in one
place and can never leave, unless my soul
can split my body and wander where it
pleases, and even then, how will it be
able to touch the things it’s missed in life?
I can’t go anywhere without getting
in trouble anyway. At 44
I had to go to China–China–for
a year to teach English; I left Texas
..
independent. I returned–to Baton
Rouge, Louisiana, taught for one term.
Two weeks into that I knew I had to
go back to China, where I spent three years.
My mother lives in California–from
Shanghai I flew to visit her, then off
to Georgia, a few weeks with my brother.
I almost take a job in Alabama
..
but turn it down to come to Palestine.
I’ve been teaching here for one semester
and now I’ll probably leave again–for
the Marshall Islands, or the UAE,
some other place that’s not America.
It’s not that I don’t like America
but that’s it’s so like life that leaving it
..
is like dying and going to Heaven.
It must be the plane and the long flight to
a new home, college employees waiting
for me at the airport–they welcome me
like angels. In a Ford or Hyundai van
they drive me to my apartment. I crash
for a few hours, although there is no time
..
in Heaven, and then they come for me, take
me to dinner. We toast one another.
A few months slide–I’m off to another
Afterlife, another Paradise. I
can earn more money in America
but, remember, I’m not even alive there,
though the dollar’s stronger there than in death,
so I do alright if I don’t go back
..
–after conversion, there isn’t much left,
and a few days among mortals leaves me
eager again for what’s undiscovered,
even if that’s the United States,
the land of e pluribus unum and
toilet paper in the public bathrooms
and tampon boxes studded with flowers
..
and the insanity of 9/11
when God struck us down for flying too high.
Two towers, anyway. All right: not God
and not Satan but ordinary Joes.
..
..
I have had poetry published in AscentOhio JournalDescant, PoemAdirondack ReviewCoe ReviewWorcester ReviewMaryland Poetry Review, Arkansas ReviewFlorida ReviewSouth Carolina ReviewCarolina QuarterlySouth Dakota ReviewSequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).
I have taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Rise Up by Sharon McCarron

I have been quiet.
I have felt defeated.
Deflated, losing anger like air
Tired of waiting and fighting and justifying
Why nothing changes.
Ground down by the enormity.
Then came bombs. And Dead children
Fires and Dead children, things became clear again.
Dying children lead to dying children. Manufactured war
A bankers payout leads to dying children, Austerity a lie that left us to burn
We have to look in the mirror, our grief keeps us tired, lends itself self to their agenda
Beaten down.
The death of understanding is the death of Decency
They speak right and Act wrong
They place value on publicity not People
On personality not Person
On cash not Care
We go along.
We are decent people who sucked up austerity,
Because it was the right thing to do
Because we pride ourselves selves on doing the decent thing.
WE let them free the middle East from peace to make war
To boost sales
WE let them take the dignity of the disabled
And mock the poor, we watched with glee on channel four.
We allowed patients to die so that trident could kill us all
We allowed them to take community and make it society less
We allowed them to point the finger at the jungle
We Read the lies and felt better.
Them not us, their responsibility,Not mine
We pride ourselves selves on doing the decent thing
They play the long game
Did you vote for them as they took our labour from us
Did you vote for them to start wars.. They used your name anyway
As they supported homelessness
Killing the sick and elderly poor
We’ve stopped using the word poor it didn’t make great press.. Now it’s underclass
The great unwashed is the great undeserving
We made our selves in their image
Thinking ourselves equal,We rose to the position of owner
Piled high with desirable Things
We…. became yesterday’s word
But they are not like us
We are fodder
THEY are frivolous with us
“Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many – they are few.”
Written by Shelley at the start of the game 200 years ago
See what we’ve allowed since time
We let them kill In our name to Maime
We let them choke our decency.
We voted for poverty
For death For xenophobia, for mysogyny, racism for me me me
When it needs to be we we we.
We need to rise Use our democracy
Vote for no more underprivileged
No more over privileged
No more poorly educated
No more exclusively educated
No more sick because you’re poor
No more empty mansions and platitudes
No more.. Don’t allow it, dont be complicit
From each according to his ability
To each according to his need.
Use your voice be heard.

Mafioso Pizza by Joe Balaz

Soon aftah I wen move
into da new neighborhood

I walked around wun corner to see
wun catchy sign above wun storefront window—

Mafioso Pizza.

 Next to da name of da joint

wuz wun depiction
of wun 1930s Chicago style gangster.

Da character wuz wearing
wun fedora and wun suit

and he wuz smiling
while he wuz holding wun tommy gun.

Da caption on da bottom of da sign
read “There’s no crime in killing your hunger.”

One of my friends did tell me

dat dis West Side area wuz moa rougher
den wheah I used to live.

At least da owner of da pizzeria
had wun sense of humor.

Den again
it’s not as crazy as da East Side of town.

Cleveland’s police
and some suspect bad guys

recently took it
to wun new kine height ovah deah.

Law enforcement
responded to wun high speed car chase

by using wun bazooka to kill wun ant.

Five dozen cop cruisers
joined in on da intense pursuit

wen da runaway car’s backfiring muffler
wuz mistaken for gunshots.

Aftah da vehicle wuz stopped and cornered
13 officers unloaded 137 bullets into da car.

One highly amped cop

jumped up on da hood
and fired rounds point blank through da windshield.

It sounds exciting

but he wuz only putting extra holes
into two freshly snuffed out corpses.

Before he did dat

da unarmed couple in da front seat
wuz already dead from da preceding hail of gunfire.

Bottom line

it wuz just anadah day
in da big city wit big reactions

next to da big lake.

Seep and Drip by Joe Balaz

His body engines stay roaring

and he’s ready foa take flight

 

cause all his cells have been altered

and da damage is in sight—

 

Da reluctant passenger

going crash slowly

 

into wun invisible fireball.

 

 

Neurological

and cancerous consequences

 

going be talking in present tenses

 

wen all da doctors do dere tests

and find wun tragedy in da results.

 

 

Dis unfortunate situation

could be coming down da road

 

cause people going find out

wat has been happening.

 

 

Da average person on da street

might be one of many

 

who has been drinking

traces of aviation juice

 

witout knowing it.

 

 

Undahground at Red Hill

da military got wun massive storage system

 

dat wuz built just above

wun important aquifer.

 

Da large tanks wuz leaking jet fuel foa years

and now da public going get wun huge surprise.

 

 

At da hearing

wun spokesmen foa da Navy

 

wants to sweep everyting

undah wun bamboo mat

 

cause he no can address wat may happen

 

if tings develop

into wun humungous hazard.

 

 

Da buggah is all deflection

wit his bureaucratic deception

 

as he dances around da questions

concerning da big snafu.

 

 

Meanwhile

 

potentially moa lethal

den missiles from any fighter jet

 

contamination

continues to seep and drip.

..

Joe Balaz writes in Hawaiian Islands Pidgin (Hawai’i Creole English) and in American English. He edited Ho’omanoa: An Anthology of Contemporary Hawaiian Literature.  Some of his recent Pidgin writing has appeared in Rattle, JukedOtoliths, and Hawai’i Review, among others.
Balaz is an avid supporter of Hawaiian Islands Pidgin writing in the expanding context of World Literature.  He presently lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

Anti-gay pogrom in Chechnya by Stefanie Bennett

And I will love you because
the world never did.
And I will cloak you in syllables
to  keep inquiring eyes at bay.
And I will cover our footprints
so daringly
that no-one will ask,
ever again,
for a sequel to love and loveliness.
 .
And you will love me because
the world never did.
Because the gentleness of fortitude
is a hard act to follow.
And we will scrape up
our worldly ruins
to begin building this
hectare of the heart
cupped between the planet’s breast.
 .
Know that the quiet doctrines will be
as fragile
as your face.
The direction…
clear as a single birdcall
across the idioms
of free space.
In a land where
no wall stands we will
 .
meet and set our lives to the order
of metaphysical things.
We will love because
the world never did; and
give back
what was never taken
when the time comes.

The Chill: Boko Haram by Stefanie Bennett

Analytically, outside
the city limits
‘The Age
Of Reason’
is deterred.  *
Thus… here’s
to the cat
that sat
on-the-mat
in a school-house
none sought
to assemble.
(*Chibok, Nigeria)
.
Stefanie Bennett has published several books of poetry, a novel & a libretto. She has
been nominated for The Pushcart & Best of the Net & acted as a publishing editor;
tutored at The Institute of Modern Languages [James Cook University] & worked with
Arts Action for Peace. Of mixed ancestry (Italian/Irish/Paugussett-Shawnee) she was
born in Queensland, Australia. ‘The Vanishing’, Stefanie’s current poetry title –2015-
is available from its publisher Walleah Press & Amazon.

Racism, like any Root Vegetable, is Grown in the Dirt by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

In grade school

my best friend Freddy

was from Nicaragua

and even though he was two years older

then us

and set back in grades

the bullies used to try beat him up

all the time

as the other kids circled around

shouting: kill the brown kid!

the groups of girls forever curious

but thinking of their fathers

and Freddy was older and faster and stronger

and would often get the better of

the bullies

so that the parents would demand

the removal of the foreign kid

who came from violence

and did not know

better.

Beat a Child, You Have a Drum by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

The last thing I want

is to be stored away in some university library

after it all –

dusty and neglected

forgotten on some top shelf of nowhere

afraid of heights

ever since my parents threw me down

the stairs

when I was eight months old

trying to make the crying stop I would imagine

after many weeks of sleeplessness,

first time parents explaining away the many bruises

I must live with

now.

Glasgow Smile by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Her pimp held a knife to her face

said he’d give her a Glasgow smile

and even though she had no idea what that was

she was certain she didn’t want it

so she gave him the money

and talked him down

 

so she could go back to work

bent over in the back stairwells

 

two months pregnant

and starting to

show.

Truncheon Eater by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

Teeth flew out of his mouth like a busy airport

and blood and pitiless cries to no one

as the smoke black figures stood over him

slamming truncheons down on gaping fleshy baby wails

and when he awoke the hammers all around him

made him flinch as they too slammed into distant moon rock

man chained to man, crouched naked over dry crater desolation,

his own hammer meeting rock as if strangers

for the first time.

Governments Don’t Do Things for You, They Do Things to You by Ryan Quinn Flanagan

governments

don’t

do

things

for

you

 

they

do

things

to

you

 

so

the

question

remains:

 

to

be

screwed

the

same

old

way

 

by

the

same

old

faces

 

or

by

someone

else

 

entirely?

 

Ryan Quinn Flanagan is a Canadian-born author residing in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada with his wife and many bears that rifle through his garbage.  His work can be found both in print and online in such places as: Evergreen Review, Walking Is Still Honest, The New York Quarterly, Word Riot, Outlaw Poetry Network, Red Fez, and The Oklahoma Review.

Changing The Guard by Julian Isaacs

They’re not changing guard at Buckingham Palace

Just in case Isis goes down with Alice

 

The nodding halberdier in the sentry box

Spits in the sand at his feet, disconsolate

The coiled cur in the gutter

Flicks his tarry tail, disinterested

American tourists take only photographs

And not responsibility, selfishies

The soldier’s Guards cigarette has gone out

Leaving only burns on his bare skin, contaminated

A curtain twitches behind the balcony

As an elderly ungentleman fires up his doner home grill, besieged

Rotten Row’s gone truly Billy Cotton

But this is no show for the band

It’s humanity’s last stand

 

Honour, laud and glory have all gone gory

At least Michael Fagan was only there for a spot of Jackanory

They’re not changing guard at Buckingham Palace

Just in case Isis turns up with Alice

Who would make such a cruel world? by Will Coster

Who would make such a cruel world?
No one knowingly.
But its genesis lies in a thousand tiny selfish actions,
A million little unkindnesses,
The life-long disdain for humanity.
So vote by vote,
And brick by brick,
We raised these towers of Babel.
These palaces of poverty,
Are the storehouses of spite,
Hidden by the cladding of contempt.
If no one set the spark,
And we never fanned the flame,
We still laid the grate.
Who would make such a cruel world?
There is no one in it but us.

Great Again by Monika Kostera

Gray linoleum land
covered with thick,
sticky film. Buildings,
boarded up alongside
the tents of the homeless,
black tears on brick walls,
a feast
of stark camera necks, “surfaces
may be slippery”.
Train filled with
smell welling up
from the toilet.
This is not austerity,
this is overflow.
It’s what trickles down.

(Leeds/Sheffield, 2016)

They do not serve who rule by Oonah V Joslin

They may try to scatter
the ashes of despair
elsewhere, pull down
the opposition that towers
over this disaster,
send the poor survivors north
where it’s cooler,
where their voices,
whipped away by the wind
might find a home,
but no cohesion.
Out of sight,
out of mind.

It has always been done this way,
no matter what people say,
since we first had kings
since we had tyrants.

Implementation of The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006), the National Policy Planning Framework and the Fenland Local Plan. by Fianna  (Fiona Russell Dodwell)

Planning permission is

No we can’t include those papers as we haven’t seen them

and That’s not officially on the agenda

It’s Don’t ask the District Council staff

and Mr Mishandlin doesn’t want to know

It’s Mr Stall and Mrs Hasten go back a long

l   o   n   g

way

 

Planning permission is

Well technically it’s illegal

but people turn a blind eye

in Phittlesey.

It’s They can’t do anything if you do it at the weekend

call it Backlands Development

not Conservation Area

in the plans.

 

Planning permission is

European Protected Species?

We’ll be out of Europe soon

I don’t want bats in my belfry –

that’s a good one

hahaha!

I don’t give a flying fuck

about breeding birds!

My mother hated starlings.

 

Planning permission is

What Poplars?

there’s no trees on these plans!

Oh, NEWTS!

(what newts?)

Flavour of the bloody month!

E   COL   O   GY!

Board up that fence

so they can’t reach the pond!

(what pond?)

 

Planning permission is

Don’t ask the neighbours!

well don’t give them time to answer anyway

nosey sods.

It’s Infill, backfill

right up your street

right up to there mate

take it up to here mate

only been here 15 years mate?

..

Fianna  (Fiona Russell Dodwell) is from Fife and lives in the Fens. Her first poems were published in Ink Sweat & Tears, and since then she has had about 50 poems published, both online and in print.

For Grenfell Tower : a poem by Dave Rendle

It is nearly summertime, but it’s increasingly getting very bitter.

Theresa May not capable of shaping society for the better

Getting daily free food and accommodation and so much more,

Just adds insult to injury to  those already feeling  sour

Victims of Grenfell Tower fire, without food,  no roof over head

Feeling abandoned a community mourns for their dead.

..

The Queen,  managed to walk the streets, for some this was noble

Had at least made the effort to leave her palace of gold,

After many poorer people had died in  raging inferno

Maybe she found time to witness the cracks of division,

The feelings of despair and rage as the Prime Minister hid

Streams of rage currently growing stronger until she is rid.

..

There are almost 20,000  Ghost homes sitting empty in London.

Many left on the streets feeling the heavy weight of burden,

And the Crown Jewels value means nothing at all to those lost

Nor the CEO’s receiving  millions  as a reward  for cutting costs

While fire resistant cladding is 24 pounds per square metre

Money still keeps getting wasted on those that don’t deserve it.

..

As a  people’s need for justice grows bigger and bigger

And the scent  of anger keeps blowing through our streets,

We are connected by faultlines of separation and inequality

Certain lives are still considered more important than others,

As smoke drifts, lets not forget the crimes of greed and selfishness

remember the victims, harmed by the crime of recklessness.

..

The future will look back in anger and deep everlasting shame

Until there is justice and those responsible are apportioned blame,

This tragedy will not be forgotten and nothing  will ever be enough

For those that are daily caught up by the effects and anxiety of poverty,

Revealing the wealth disparity that crawls through our days

Let the healing begin, time now to abandon division.