Belshazzar’s Feast by Ruth Aylett

These are the right men: bonuses
nannies and secretaries, fast cars
designer suits. Masters of electronic
transactions, bestriding the stars.

Silver candelabra stroke warm tones
into the white napery and haute cuisine,
jump glinting riches off the gold plate,
bathe well-fed faces pink with content.

Belshazzar gives the after dinner speech
about hard-working families incentivized
by tax cuts, aspiring to riches. Then
that hand appears, more than life-size.

A hand that writes with quick certain
movements, holding its non-pen
as if a screw-driver, thick fingers,
square nails, with dirt under them.

A buzz of puzzlement at its words,
carved into the flock wall-paper:
weigh, number, divide. “Who knows
what that means?” Belshazzar enquires.

A young immigrant waiter translates.
“You’ve pressed too long on the poor”
“More of us than there are of you”.
“We’ll not fight each other any more.”

National Hero by Ruth Aylett

I’m a regular kind of guy with a nose for WMD,
this must be true since you all believed me
give or take a demo of a million or two,
but with Bush as my buddy, I didn’t need you
to bring freedom and democracy to everyone,
especially in Iraq; look at all the good I’ve done.

Yes, I also do God with a beatific smile;
I’m true to my friends, I’ll go that extra mile.
They need those robust methods in Kazakhstan
and the Egyptian army, as only armies can
brought freedom and democracy to everyone
to save their nation’s values, oh the good they’ve done.

With seventy million in the bank I’m only slightly rich,
six thousand pounds a minute gets you a splendid speech.
I’ve helped the housing market with two of my own,
and my good friend Rupert Murdoch would never hack a phone,
he wants freedom and democracy for everyone
especially in Liverpool, so much good he’s done.

I’m back in the UK now because you all need me
to explain the necessity of austerity;
if everyone voted for the left it would still be very wrong
because the top 1% would be missed if they were gone.
Freedom and democracy is what they want for you;
I’ll save our nations values, oh the good I’m going to do.

..

Ruth Aylett lives in Edinburgh where she teaches and researches university-level computing, thinks another world is possible and that the one we have is due some changes. She was joint author with Beth McDonough of the pamphlet Handfast, published in 2016. She has been published by Antiphon, Interpreter’s House, New Writing Scotland, South Bank Poetry, Envoi, Bloodaxe Books, Poetry Scotland, Red Squirrel Press, Doire Press and others. For more on her writing see www.macs.hw.ac.uk/~ruth/writing.html.

When all about you by Ceinwen Elizabeth Cariad Haydon

 after Rudyard Kipling

 

are blaming you

trust yourself

make allowance.

 

And, if you speak,

talk wise words,

make dreams

of your own truths

learnt from the things

you gave your life to build.

 

You can pitch and toss

in stormy waters and

breathe when you are so weary

and there is nothing in you

except your hurt and longing

for a better world.

 

You can fill the earth

with eggs of hope

incubated in secret places,

watch them hatch under strong wings

in nests built by your sisters and brothers.

 

And you’ll die knowing good goes on.

Rise Rats, Rise! by Dave 1289

It should be a privilege to steer the ‘great’ ship,

not freewill to pillage and sell and betray.

The spoon of the privileged scoops only to gain,

like pirates they strip all our assets away

 

They kill off our lifeline: protection and health

and drown out the warning of social destruct.

Their privatisation is pleasing their greed,

so now we’re in need of a social erupt

 

‘cause rats in battalions slay silver-spooned

stallions and now it is our time to rise!

We’ll bring down these fat cats, and make right their

wrong acts; together, we will turn the tide.

 

Enslaved by systemic poisonous feed,

ensuring the rats can’t get near the elite.

In black, tax-payed limos they deal for the few

as globalised greed eats up homes on our street

 

They just keep on pushing the unjust divide

and burn all our bridges so riches can thrive.

While building their walls to keep out the reaper,

the rats keep on racing but now we must rise

 

‘cause rats in battalions slay silver-spooned

stallions and now it is our time to rise!

We’ll bring down these fat cats, and make right their

wrong acts; together, we will turn the tide.

 

Deceit and deception the soil for their seed

but rats cannot ask or reap what they sow:

a harvest to feed their insatiable want.

They twist at the truth to protect all they grow

 

The artery to the heart of corruption

and we need to block their unjustly flow…

They sell plastic promise; the price is neglect.

We must ensure that it’s their time to go.

 

So rise rats, rise!

..

https://www.facebook.com/1289Dave/

 

Grenfell Tower by Dave 1289

 

Part 2

 

It’s been five grim weeks to the day now

The black casket stands still in disgrace

You treat us worse than the criminals

Who spit deception straight in our face.

Resignations don’t reduce anger

It is answers and justice we need

We are sick to death of wrongdoings;

Ensure all criminal trials proceed.

Murderous cuts caused this inferno,

killing my neighbour: just five-years-old.

The death toll is stuck below eighty…

We demand that all truths will be told.

You are the dealer with all of the cards,

Don’t be the joker of our disregard.

The Day Descending into Doubt by Debra Webb Roberts

*for the clinic shootings*
..
Culture in a petri dish
mouldering, gray
..
Civility in slow decline
rose pink innocence
sallows, hardens
..
The end of days
grows long in the tooth
– if only, toothless
..
Tassles for graduated
seclusion, excels at Nothing
..
Devolution of good, the bearded ones
dividing lots, split heirs of rhetoric
..
Find the teacher & the prophet
~ lip-syncing rote confessionals
rehearsed, still unwise
..
Foresight with cataracts
no envisioning benefit of Age
or ageless Perfection –
aspiration expires, robs breath
..
Wicked’s inspiration found at ignoble ends,
more telling than rants, than scripts of
madmen’s manifestos malformed,
secluded years & robbing
..
A final word, one final act
submitting to madness
..
Lunatics’ fatal fringe
elements untying cords
watch as the world unravels

Not a Gong by Nick Lovell

No one screamed in disbelief, grief or outrage
And no one ran to spread the news
There was nothing to see, 
Save a pair of battered shoes
Sticking out from behind
A line of tarnished wheelie bins
Carefully arranged to protect
From the cold, razor wind.

The Flying Squad didn’t take off
And C.I.D. stayed in the P.U.B.
Staking out the new barmaids chest
Observation their priority.
Blue lights were absent when
A solitary bobby and two parmedics
Examined the neglected body,
Perused its lifetimes abuse
but found no specifics.

Crowds did not pack out the crematorium
And the coffin’s route was not lined.
The service was very short
The denomination undefined
Not a single mourner turned up to weep
As the final curtain swept aside
The sad truth being, no one gave a fuck
That yet another homeless person had died

..

Nick Lovell is a part time van driver, full time romantic, half arsed anarchist, eternal optimist and sometime poet.  He currently holds 4 poetry slam titles from Nantwich to Hereford and enjoys writing for both page and performance!

The World is Broken by Amos Greig

The world is broken
we dance upon the flames
of hate while words

stoke the embers
of fear and otherness
we gather similarities

disturbed by differences
we settle to the sound
of distant drums

circling in artificial
tribal patterns, while the fuel
runs out.

..

..

Amos Greig is a poet, artist who has been published in several magazines and journals. His poetry has appeared in the Art of Being Human anthologies as well as an Anthology of Contemporary Irish Poetry. He is also the editor of A New Ulster

12-Step Death Sentence by Michael Marrotti

If I can help

one life

it’s worth

the time

 

At least

that’s what

I used to tell

myself

 

Everything

changed

this year though

 

New faces

keep showing up

for help

at alarming rates

 

All the old

clients

are still clinging on

to the program

 

Rehabilitation

is a long road

rarely passed

 

I’ve never known

this many

dead people

before

in my life

 

It seems like

they pass away

on a weekly basis

my consciousness

is embedded

with their names

and faces

 

I come here

on my own

volition

to make

a difference

sacrificing

my time

for the betterment

of the homeless

 

A year ago

I was eager

to show up

each week

religiously

 

It was different

back then

before the

constant influx

of new faces

overdoses and faith

rendered insufficient

 

I’d leave

with a feeling

of fulfilment

knowing I

made a difference

 

Now

when I leave

pessimism

takes over me

 

For each life

I help

three or more

will perish

 

I’ve never been

a fan of the

arithmetic

statistics are here

to confirm our

worst suspicions

 

I’m considering

not showing up

this coming week

its become detrimental

to my pocket

and overall wellbeing

 

Four hours of

voluntary work

at the Light Of Life

Rescue Mission

amongst the down-and-out

who refused to heed

the advice of Nancy Reagan

 

Has me placing

an order with

my dealer

when I can’t afford

the price of the product

or the price of making

a reoccurring trip

up and down

this 12-step

death sentence

 

Michael Marrotti is an author from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His chapbook, F.D.A. Approved Poetry, is available on Amazon. On his free time, he volunteers at the Light Of Life Rescue Mission. He is also the editor of Excavation, a poetry blog. Submissions are open: https://excavatingtheunderground.wordpress.com/

Hush by Ananya S Guha

Killing a sixteen year old
hush, the shadows are falling
you called  him beef eater
hush the mother god is silently
suffering
you saw his skull cap
and did him to death
hush, skull caps are silently
revolting
the protest in a country
not-in-my- name
hush the country
is conspiring
children are hiding
women are conniving
the ageless country is mourning
death of its ‘beef eaters’
lower castes and those
whose shanty rooms
are never in sun’s eye
hush
nature is re visiting
mad inferno in swirl.

The Magnificent Man by Ellena Edwards

We sit around the table

you at the Head

surrounded by your girls.

 

You turn on the tv

enamel fills your face

as she plates your food.

 

He appears on the screen

calling women animals

calling punishment for abortion.

 

You say he’s a monster

when her scars remain

tattooed across her vessel.

 

She will never admit it was you

who was wrong, is wrong.

 

I look at her and wish

begging her to release

becoming his

dangerous

fear.

Them and Us by Ananya S Guha

The roads are black
Pilgrims die like cattle
Paying homage in blistering
Terrain is not enough
Even if the gods do  not bless
Terrorists do
In the name of a country
We cannot travel
Kashmir’s gates are too near
Death or the valley of guns
If it is not our soldiers
It is theirs
We are mangled
Them and us
Our bodies are them and us
Our corpses too
Why even our gods are
Them and us.
Why cannot we be them
And them us?
Because the blood is not
Them and us !

Apocalyptic Annunciation by Rupert M. Loydell

It was a matter of national security,
the President had to be informed.
But he was busy with his grooming regime,
practicing presidential poses in the mirror.
He had all the moves down pat, had almost
memorised the nuclear push button code,
and remembered who he now was.
..
But who was this blonde woman
who said she had come to debrief him?
Was that an innuendo? Just how
attractive was the power he had?
His money, fame and fortune?
Oh, national security. Homeland alert,
undercover cops and time to dish the dirt.
..
He stared at Carrie’s earlobes,
tried not to look at her breasts
or ask her if he could have the pleasure,
kept his hands down by his side,
fiddling with the gadget in his pocket.
‘Mr. President, what have you done?’
The world on fire outside went white.

Panthers by Paul Sutton

Snow on fingers which feel nothing.

Stolen diamonds, apartments open to clouds.

I have lived for sunlight and

 

coffee in scorched squares.

Four months in an adjacent shop,

asleep in the heat, testing walls.

 

The gang laughed at my shame.

They got access, dug through –

I had the boss in his office.

 

There is beauty in deceit, reborn

by checking in and out – warmth

of towelling garments, mini-bars.

 

I stare at the screens.

Council houses in England.

Who can live like that?

 

*

 

In the politics of shame, I have no stake.

My state a broken playground for addicts.

I class cities by war or never war – all the same for luxury and its fruit.

 

*

 

Unseen cliffs and ravines,

switchback roads and

plunging waterfalls.

 

“Beauty will get fucked.”

Was it a bad joke or

words from a poem?

 

*

 

The bar behind the bowling alley is where they still meet.

Crashing, rolling, reassuring. Drinkers are desperate now:

“Nuneaton”; “Carlisle”; “Basildon” – what places are these?

 

Working in dark warehouses, too much for you English.

Selling inflatables in the eastern Mediterranean.

Army issue ex-combat – some have a conscience.

 

*

 

Don’t we all have a “special time”

and it replays like film?

Mine was a summer when a

 

kitten lived in my bedroom.

I fed it scraps and stolen milk.

I’ve forgotten the rest.

The Last Tweet of the Real Donald Trump by Antony Owen

My scent once killed an outcast house-martin,

come Summer, Africa would have scented its plume.

I heard its last tweet from the vice of a factory cats mouth.

Since childhood I have learnt how migrant beings sing when free.

Sky is the skin of the universe and we are both the illness and the cure,

I used to whistle back to the crow incapable of joy because I saw myself in her.

 

Should the day ever come when I tweet my heart

I will not need one hundred and sixty characters to do so

I will hit the space bar one hundred and fifty nine times, then a comma –

and this will be my last tweet hoping that my song is all that is left and yet to come.

 

My Mothers scent once made three healthy boys,

she made a nest of working class heirlooms that stay with me,

her threadbare breath in winter, dead peoples ornaments, hand me down lullabies.

Hush now, we are ghosts of eggshells leaving the ectoplasm of our beautiful Mothers

Hush now, we are living our lives harder before those who steal the world keep us in cages.

Economy by Maria Stadnicka

(for Timothy Snyder)

 

At first, we reduced the water supply.

The poisoned city wells dried up.

The light burnt the crops.

 

At sunset, everything crumbled into a black peace.

 

Then somehow we got used to an economy of words.

We collected ideas and thoughts in one book.

We spent the days memorising chapters.

 

For those trapped in the outer world,

for the privilege of staying alive.

stadnika

Flashback by Abigail Hurst

I smelled you,
And I knew you were coming for me,
About to drag me under-
To that place where I can’t breathe
Stumbled out, away from the crowd
So that no one would see…
What you still do to me.

And you drug me back in time
Making me deaf, forcing me blind
Until the world of safety is gone
And I’m once again desire’s pawn
Filled with guilt, and grief, and shame,
And a pain that only knows one name-
You.

You.
Spreading my legs apart.

You.
Eyes gleaming, smile sliding on your face in the dark.

You.
Lowering your head.

You.
With your forehead on my stomach
As I claw the sheets on the bed

And fight back a scream
And you’re killing me.

You.
Biting where no one would think to look.

You.
Rifling through my pages like an open book.

You.
Trace your finger from my neck below
Like you’re slicing me open.

You.
Shattering me.
Till there’s nothing left to be broken.

And this waking nightmare
So much more vivid than any dream I’ve had.

Chocking on your poison
Till I gag, convulse, and rip this dream at it’s seams.

Shaking as I pick up this shovel,
To dig furiously as my panic doubles-
Slam the casket shut with a bang
And bury you back where you belong
Six feet under ground in your grave.

And I hold my breath and count.
Just like I always have,
Till the memory of you trickles out of me-
Down through the floor,
Dripping through cracks.

One.
Two.
Three.
Hold my breath.
Four.

I hear you slip back out my door.
And leave me to mend all that you’ve torn.