Smooth as ICE, by Jennifer Lagier

“Propaganda must facilitate the displacement of aggression by specifying the targets for hatred.”
Joseph Goebbels

La Migra we call border patrol agents
who harass day laborers
as they queue up for jobs
outside our local Home Depot.
What was once a banal nature cliché
is now a potential death sentence.
Immigration officials carry out
cruel federal policy like good little Nazis.

Enraged, I carry a picket sign,
march and chant with
ACLU and MALDEF members,
parade along wire cages
where deportees are held
at the edge of Salinas.

School attendance drops.
Children are afraid of being separated
from mothers and fathers,
the only culture and community
they’ve ever known.

Hate-mongers scapegoat, demonize,
use faux news to rouse
their raving base, build support for
crimes against humanity,
deny the label of racist.

I hold My Daughter’s Hand, by Steven Croft

that the physician wiped clean of smoke
and dust and I think of the time of no war
so long ago, the trips in my brother’s car
to the quiet country stream by the olive trees.
..
My daughter, I cradled you after the meal until
your cries softened, then held you and looked
for your future in the quiet stream
..
I feel her hand has grown cold, but I will not
tell them.  Days, nights, days I prayed to Allah
for the bombs to stop.  Now I am exhausted.
Bombs shake the floor but I have no prayer
left, just this hand of my daughter I hold on to.
..
My daughter, I stare now at the quiet stream
where I will wash these wounds, by the trees
I will bury you in the peace of your beginning
..
I don’t want the busy attendant to stop so
I keep my head down, look at white bandages
stained with red that wrap your chest.  All
life I have left is holding this beautiful hand.
..
..
Steven Croft is the author of two chapbooks, Coastal Scenes and Moment and Time.  He has recent poems in Politics/ Letters LiveSky Island JournalAs It Ought to Be Magazine, and Poets Reading the News.

The Blue Girl, by Orla Fay

in mem. Sahar Khodayari

Shouldn’t the colour shield,
shroud in its protection?
Of the sky and of the sea
at best seeking peace, tranquillity,
communication, no offence?
Its devotion is millennia old,
favouring the myriad in divinity.

What of freedom though?
Is it the river-like hue of flowing speech,
the backdrop to the swallow’s
wings on an azure day?
It is a battle cry too, the storm,
the painted face of Celts and Picts
on the journey to war.

Or is it just a sadness,
the feeling of never being good enough,
years of being less because of gender?
It is the weight of society,
the unbending rules of authority
and tradition that inflict traumas
of fear and oppression.

Did you know you were going into combat?
Did you hope the deception would hold,
that a blind eye be turned?
It was only a football match; your team wore its shade.
When they arrested and sentenced you,
did the flame of injustice consume
your spirit, scream liberty? Change?

..

 Orla Fay is editor of Boyne Berries. Recently her poetry has appeared in The Irish Times, Poetry Ireland Review, ROPES 2019, Impossible Archetype, The Bangor Literary Journal, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Tales from the Forest, Quarryman and FourXFour. She has been previously shortlisted for The Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award, The Dermot Healy Award, The Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Award, The Rush Poetry Competition and The Redline Book Festival Poetry Award. This year she was shortlisted for The Cúirt New Writing Prize. She won 3rd prize in The Oliver Goldsmith Poetry Award 2019. Her shorty story Foxy was published on the incubator selects in April. She is working towards a first collection of poetry. She blogs at http://orlafay.blogspot.com/   

2019, by Harry Gallagher

(With apologies to Orwell)
..
On a warmer than normal
Autumnal morning,
the clocks all struck thirteen.
No one heard as England dreamed
of Spitfires and bunting,
streetparties, fox-hunting.
..
Somewhere in the distance,
three doors down your street,
bobbies on the beat
whistled a merrie tune,
while loosening bricks,
smithereening the front door
of planet-hugging peaceniks.
..
No warrant needed,
no cause for alarm,
a warning well-heeded
will keep you from harm.
..
When the siren calls, muster
in the Churchill Pavillion,
repeat after the speaker
from one to a million:
..
There was only ever one Winston
There was only ever one Winston
There was only ever one Winston….
..
..
“Extinction Rebellion eco-warriors arrested as police batter down doors in raids….”

Paradigm Shift, by Dave Rendle

Another world is possible
Beyond days of sleeping
Unsolved dreams can become a reality
Fulcrums of necessity
Flaming passion
Burning with fire
Released by comrades
Into the timeless bones of the universe.

Enjoying freedom
Wings of liberty
Unleashing stardust
Sweetness that contains mercy
Not bound by cages or prison walls
Through solidarity all made stronger
Breaking borders, spreading internationalism
Transforming with arms unrestrained.

The love we share
Can be a mover against injustice
Adjusting and shaping
Making waves that carry all
A communal roar spreading light
Against chains of command
Reinforcing pride with eyes glistening
Still gripping to the rays filled with hope

Greta at the UN, by Tricia Marcella Cimera

I’m a fountain of blood in the shape of a girl – Björk

She has left her Scandinavian bed,
her pillow filled with dream feathers.
Her braid is woven with oceans, earth,
skies and trees; it crackles with electricity.
Her eyes are pieces of ice that will not melt,
she is the forest fire in the shape   of a girl.

Greta at the UN (still from video).jpg

Four poems by Donald Krieger

Just Another Sinner

If I am a liar, a lecher, a pervert,
hateful, graceless, for sale,
and a vicious coward,

how could you not despise me,
you who know so much
but do not know the Lord.

If I am all these
that we live His Word,
name love Abomination,
save life at all cost,
the dying and the unborn,
even the unmale,

am I not just a sinner
doing His holy work.

 

White Out Three Times

After the wedding I puked,
then slept in the bushes. At first light
I drove east, no good bye, the sun
bright as a bomb. By eight

it was snowing. By ten
I was alone running sixty
in the left lane, the others
behind slow trucks or on the shoulder.

This weekend a white boy
drove into the crowd
and killed somebody. Other boys
with credit cards, K-Mart torches,
mommy’s clean muscle shirts, chanted,

You … won’t … erase … us.

 

 

Halls Bayou on CNN, Close-Captioned

Out Front with Erin Burnett is on TV at the gym,
Ric Saldivar tells how it happened.
His brother, Sammy, turned off toward the bridge.
The water was half up the guard rail. He hesitated,

then drove slowly across. On the other side
the road dipped and the van floated,
Sammy went out the side window,
left his parents and four grand children screaming.

He told Ric, They went to heaven holding hands.

Your cheeks flushed, Erin, when he said,
flood water covered the bridge. You hid your face
when he said, left them screaming.

They’re still finding bodies in the Freetown mud slide,
more than a thousand, and this year’s monsoon,
twelve hundred dead, millions homeless. Erin, why
do I care nothing for them?

 

Precious Payload

Jack was a rocket scientist. He often traveled to the Wallops Island test range with a payload we built, a mass spectrometer or a Langmuir probe. Sometimes they mated it to the rocket with duct tape, the stuff you can get at any hardware store. Then they waited for good weather, fired it into the sky and gone.

He often talked of his kids, how they came faster and faster, the last one, forty minutes start to finish. That’s when he got the vasectomy.

He spoke too of his friend’s daughter, arrested for speeding on Huron River Drive. It’s so wrong, his friend said, I got her a lawyer. As he told the story, Jack was shaking his head and laughing, They’re our children and we love them, but they could do anything.

Ladylike, by Myriam San Marco

 

The poem is dedicated to all teenagers who feel they can’t speak their truth.

..

Myriam San Marco is a poet, promoter and creative writing facilitator. Many years ago, she truanted school to go to libraries, read all the books, drunk all the drinks, took all the drugs, partied in all the fields and from time to time, wrote poetry. As the Bournemouth Poet Laureate, Myriam San Marco has been leading a creative writing and development program for local writers with the support of Bournemouth Libraries and continues to support poetic initiatives in local schools. She founded Word Makers and Silence Breakers in 2016 and curates a bi-monthly spoken word night at Chaplin’s cellar bar. Myriam has been found performing on street corners, bookshops, carnivals, festival stages and poetry events. Abe Gibson described her performance as cutting to draw blood. Myriam’s words have been published online and in print. She feels burdened to tell the stories that would break the existing narrative, like a small pebble in your shoe which would cause you to stop walking to hunt it down. Her debut collection Sakura was published by Burning Eye in June 2018.

https://www.facebook.com/MyriamWordMaker/

Three poems by Rodney Wood

DEATH BY THE EXPRESS NEWSPAPER

(i.m. Bill, my neighbour)

SURRENDER, PLOTS, DIVISION, SCREW YOU,
SHOCK, WARNING, CIVIL WAR, END OF EU,
GREEDY BANKS, RECESSION BOMBSHELL,
REAL CATASTROPHE, COLLAPSE, BETRAYAL

I take Bill to A&E to see a Consultant who says
Stop reading the EXPRESS. It causes heart disease,
hypertension, kidney failure, blurred and distorted vision,
obesity, excessive drinking and erectile dysfunction.

DEMANDS, PANIC, APPALLING, LIAR, CHAOS,
DOOMSDAY REPORTS, TORN APART, LASHES,
MASSIVE CURB ON MIGRANTS, CRISIS, SMASHED,
REVOLT, SHAMEFUL, VILE, DESTROYED, GUTTED

but it’s hard for Bill to stop reading because
it’s part of his daily routine, the EXPRESS
says what he and everyone thinks, he adores
the letters, comments and will devour until he dies

the hard truth – ATTACKS, WORLD WAR 3 FEARS,
ROWS, DEFEAT, SOCIETY IS BOILING, TEARS,
HYPOCRITE, NO REMORSE, TIMEBOMB, CLASH,
SCRAMBLE, SCANDAL, ALERT, SAVAGE BACKLASH

pickers carry him from his home, with the EXPRESS
spread over him like a blanket covering his breast
so people can read the worst ARSENAL LOSE AGAIN
and WORLD TO END, DISASTER, DIES IN PAIN

 

 

CELEBS WHO THINK THEY ARE GODS

An endless round of wannabes wait in the studio for their decorative, sick ceremonies to be televised on an almost daily basis. They live in a different atmosphere, are unlikely to be arrested for drug offenses or imprisoned and see fleeting fame as a plausible ambition for all. This “narcissistic personality” keeps them going but many of these celebrities are just plain boring. They haven’t learnt from real life experiences, magazines or Netflix. Yet mortals worship them even though they peddle the same boring shit. People worship them as minor deities, although Jay-Z and Beyoncé are obviously Zeus and Hera.

 

 

SHE DIDN’T SEE ANY EUPHONIUMS

Each Remembrance Day, Francine Partridge watches from her bedroom window a military brass band wearing caps, red jackets with gold bottons and a white belt, with black trousers and boots, sparkle along the road. They hold shiny cornets, horns, trombones, tubas and, the one in the middle wears a leopard skin over his tunic and thumps a big drum and, around him, snare drummers perform insane tricks. The Drum Major with a blue sash carries a heavy white mace and shows off his finger rools, neck wraps, rifle tosses, spins and flourishes. The band are playing “Old comrades” as they wheel into St Michael’s Road. One by one the band disappear. Each day for twenty years Francine sits by her window waiting for another display. One way of wasting a life is as good as any other, says her mother Florence Oppenheimer.

..

Rodney Wood lives in Farnborough has poems published in Orbis, Envoi, Magma, The High Window and The Journal. In 2017 he published a pamphlet, Dante Called You Beatrice, with The Red Ceilings Press. He also jointly runs an open mic and is the Stanza rep for Woking.

Where is freedom? by Ananya S Guha

Kashmir and freedom
I am not saying freedom
of speech, I am talking
of freedom in chains
we are born free
we are born to rise
or die
Kashmir’s many lies, lives
and death are now on the
way to freedom which it
can only understand, and
how the mind and body imprisoned
does not comprehend why it was done
what was done to annul a clause in the
Constitution to bestow freedom
Is man born without chain or fetters
if then why is there need to keep freedom
in bondage and warehouses?
Where O where is freedom, the statue
of liberty?

The Cheese, The Pastor and The Rock -Flower, by Lucia Daramus

I’m cutting the cheese …is so white, firm and smelling of milk
milk, milk, milk, thread of life like a baby’s skin smell
a milk drop from the cheese is falling on the kitchen pavement
as a tear. tears, tears, tears of an- ancient peasant woman
her wrinkles meander on her hands. work. hard work. poverty
famine. poverty. work. hard work and tears, tears curling on her face
in the middle of the night’s belly
I remember! the cheese milk is reminding me of that woman and her son –
in a corner of my mind a house, wooden ruin rusty house
rotten stumps , holes in the ceiling
the death screaming
and ruins , ruins , ruins, ruins in their musty house.
The son is picking up some nettles
a voice. more voices. and the broken fence of this place
” do you have fresh cheese? asked Cher in a peasant’s local language
”Oh, you like wild cheese” said very friendly the skinny man, the peasant.
‘ my friend, he is English”
the skinny peasant smiled ashamedly . never an Englishman walked his poor garden.
wooden ruin mouldy house. a window. broken window. only glasses shards.
a shadow behind them. the old-ancient woman with her wrinkles snaking her face
”oh, we have a piece, I will ask my mum, the cheese piece is only our dinner’.
the fence, broken fence. rusty. musty. ruins. poverty. famine. the hopeless and death…
death. death. death in old woman ‘s eyes …dancing
and a rock flower , me, in this group.
“Cher, ask about the price” I said
”What?” said Cher’s English friend. “Why are you so bossy ?” asked me
the Baptist pastor , Keith.
Ashamed, the rock flower looked to the skinny man
her blood sprang out through her petals mind
”He is poor, this piece is only their dinner”
”Why are you so bossy?” asked the Baptist pastor Keith
from his lavish life bothering the rock flower, me.
and….and….beyond this dampest place …. death’s poverty. flying.
scratching. digging. sharp claws of destitution.
”no, no, never am I bossy” shivered the rock flower
under the mauve – yellow sky everything is flowing and flying
into freedom. look at his poverty it’s biting from his skin.
scarcity . dearth. ending. death. death.. death
and two eyes behind the glasses shards ……away ..away
in our car smell of cheese and in my mind a trace of poverty
the poverty of human being. yes, human poverty of Keith, the pastor
”why are you so bossy? why are you against us?”
”I am not against nobody. but I am not a baptist, I want to be free
to fly, to think, to fly, sing, to fly, to fly in liberty” stretching her fingers
the rock- flower.
”If you are not with us you are against us. You must be like us,
you must think like us. You must look like us, eat like us, smell like us
if you are not, you are lost for ever” harassed psychologically
yelling at the rock flower
rock flower, rock flower, rock flower….was flying in her beautiful world .
Keith, the Baptist pastor asked again ”why your best friend is Elisabetha?
She was bothering my family , she, she…”
”her mind is a free ocean in which ideas are flowing,” whispered the rock flower,
you told me you never read a literature book, because it is
the source of all sins. You petrified in immoral act
the light festival of Indians, dancing in St. Michael Stroud Church
you petrified in immorality everything …love, love, love
your mind is seeing everywhere evil
everywhere fire of hell burning good people’s skin
you believe you keep in your hands the absolute truth
my mind is flying , is flowing in relativity
in colours and shadows, and shades
you manipulated Cher with your fossilized words
you entranced in each family business
because your interests are money, money, money
money in the name of your god, money and
manipulation of fragile souls ….money
your words leaping in Cher ‘s mind depression
your Baptist wives are sexual slaves
their wombs are only to carry babies
for the kingdom of Baptist, you destroy poetry
the flight of blue birds, the colours, smiles of liberty….”
I’m cutting the cheese …..the milk is flowing on the pavement
a street, milk street in my kitchen and a placard :
street holy drinking is prohibited in this area