Facebook, by Zuzana Susu

in 10 years all machinistics and intricacies, the targets of the algorhytms and the claim ‘they’ now quickly make on ‘communitystandards’, have all changed. when was Zuckerberg before the Tribunal ? 2 years ago, or perhaps 1½ year ? the topic there was to protect young people for, against, themselves. for sexual predators, hedgefund geniuses. what I did remember was how Zuckerberg succeeded to answer each highly specific question with the big unpersonal hypercorporate answer: that they would work on it. the paradox is that, if they want such social media to work, they have to install filters (against porno, religious fanaticism, hatesites, hatepages, that mentally sick people with violent purposes can not set up a web to organise, for instance, a neoKuKluxKlan (laTrumpe does that for them)). of course horrendous things happened but I have an idea without Facebook and Twitter such heinous things would also have happened. so they have to install filters and on the other hand, leave some freedom to the 2?, 3? billion users. but then we talk about such national varieties, ethnicist cultural habits, somehow still taking the Western white male viewpoint as reference. already 10 years ago I had fiery discussions with überZelous people with their rocksteady conviction that what they thought, was moral world measure. this paradox between the Amish and Las Vegas (to make a stupid comparison but for the sake of clarity) sits in the heart of the social media and, probably, in humanity. in the beginning (I think FB started perhaps in 1994?) but for me that was 2009, it seemed more personal, with friendship, even love, sometimes a ‘groupfeeling’, you really had the feeling you talked with individual persons and being who I am, filterless I dived in, headlong. now it seems all more abstract, more infested with ads. while I also remember that, if I got too many ads concerning available women, and the algorhytms discovered that you weren’t interested, they placed more ‘gay’ advertising. in the beginning I had many feisty discussions, which sometimes totally derailed, not to my dismay. to defend a friend, for instance Elazar, and some had antisemitic sensibilities, then it could turn particularly nasty. this seems now no more the case. I must say I am also pocked and measled and know when to back off. also you get older. if they attacked Carolyn I immediately came to the rescue (not that Carolyn herself is incapable to shove morons off). but there was also a strange phenomenon: we could reciprocally feel what was the matter with the other, transoceanically. I had this also with Linwood and Jacques Andervilliers. then a sad thing is that some friendships fade, even a love affair which brought Linwood to Europe (2012) and me to the US (2013 and 2014) broke….it does really hurt. I know there are people who do not undergo it all so intensely. I have had several blockings from FB when in downloading images for ‘an Album’, my fashionfoto’s sneeked in a tit here or there. but to me it had to do with fashion. yet you go against the ‘community standards’. in the beginning there was somewhat more liberty. to us, Europeans, we stumble against US-standards which are much more religiouscentered. there is NY, LA, LV, Chicago, Philly, Miami and Seattle and Atlanta. in big cities there are more leftwing people. with roomier esthetics. FB does still appeal to me. it has given me a forum to write 4400, and now unnumbered other texts behind that, and post them. right when laTrumpe was chosen I behaved like a bull in the porcelaincabin. I talked freely about him and met on a wall of silence. you understand that later. now FB is a hyperstructure. of course there are conspiricists, but I have never been that. it is partly, and ‘zonally’, controllable. it has changed the world. it has changed my world.

War Memoir, by Oz Hardwick

Somewhere in the house a door is closing, and soft footsteps move in the familiar patterns of care. Last night I had that dream in which my mother was alive again, tired but lucid as she ever was. I wanted to ask her what it had been like being dead, whether it had matched her ideas of heaven, but it seemed impolite, or just a bit gauche in the circumstances. While she was alive, I don’t think either of us ever used the word gauche in conversation with each other, though, being Europeans, we could have done with impunity; so when I spoke to her in my dream I didn’t tell her about crumbling unions and rephrased passports. Your great grandmother would have voted for a pig if it had a blue rosette, she once told me, but she wouldn’t have voted for Cameron. When I woke to the sound of a million or more slamming doors, she was dead again, with all its implications, and I thought about my father, far from home, freezing on a pitching deck, also dead but still holding out against a hate that refuses to die.

The Truth, by Deanna Acton

As a woman, I have grown tired of the old debate:
whether I belong in the kitchen, upon the arm of my husband or burning my bra.
The truth? Neither; not smiling, glassy-eyed through the fumes of my oven, nor naked from the waste-up, wielding cardboard cutout signs like protest propaganda. I belong nowhere. I am a Woman. I need not be chained to the stove or chained to the railings outside Parliament to matter, to be measured.

My worth is not measured by my breast size, my ability to scrub down a hob or by the willingness of my womb because living without is allowed. Measure me by my intellect, rather than my beauty. Say ‘she’s a brilliant mum’, value my contributions and my career and the very essence of my nature; that is is good and that I only ever wanted to give and to be loved. Value that I value marriage, monogamy and motherhood but understand that it does not make me weaker, any less progressive because I chose it to be this way.

And, if nothing else, understand that I can do both. I have a place in the household and the workforce, to breastfeed my baby today but to be promoted tomorrow. I am constrained only by the limitations I put on myself, not by the preconceptions of others. I am not taking the place of a man but taking that which should have been mine to begin with. This is not hate, this is not bias, misandry or even feminism. I am a Woman and this is the Truth.

Boris, by Mike Ferguson

Snow leopard without flakes to humanise. How a creature became monstrous in the act of its fakery. A rose by that name could never smell as sweet. Or Bogoris – the small one; wolf of shortness. How who and what we are at our core puts a slant on what is said: the monster was the best friend I ever had. The de piffle of it all. Play with names not namus. No Bush Pig ever soured with such a stench at this. The diminutive is in the stature of grace and caring, in the true knowing what is right and wrong, in the rhetoric of wolf and sheep and history’s making

the epithelium of the heart, by Darius Molark

dr. mercurious: if you thrive with scorn in your heart, the revolutionary poet will not be beautiful and will never be satisfied. enough warming hands from many world thrivers will have to come and rob the revolutionary poet’s heart. murders and killings will be risked. everything will be at risk, the soul fiber of his humanness. she will be evicted and all her kids and things sealed in garbage bags will sit in front of the police station on 79th street and he will be waiting to watch the homeless bus come and. and he will not understand this. she will go on. the revolutionary poet, the revolutionary poet’s route will conquer the double challenged of surviving through the jungle of intra tribal madnesses…. with scars the revolutionary poet will become poet

In his own words, by Simon Collings

A major trade, they with that, is a very nice deal. Takes the news end nicely. I actually told her I would listen. When would I say that ‘that is too bad’? To me that would end it. I would have done it very nicely. That is what is going on differently with news. It is too bad she didn’t say that, when a deal takes so long. Probably they never do work out much. I would have done it, actually. She is a person I think I get along with, but listen, it is too bad. What is going on when a deal takes so long, that would probably end very nicely. I told her I would say that. Trade that much major how to. That is, a fake relationship with the United States news. A fake United States news relationship, with a very nice person I get along with. I told her trade probably, a major deal, what is going on. Well, so long. Much differently – that, I think, is how Theresa May would have done it. To do with the ‘me to they’ she is. Too bad it didn’t end, when it actually takes so long. But listen, she would say that I would work out nicely.  I told Theresa May, major relationship news? Well. I actually would have done it. A deal takes the bad out, with a long get, too. That is to do it, never they going on. That I end so, to me is fake. That I would say, when it would probably work nicely, how much differently. She takes so to me. How very it, along with do. That is, they probably would have done, but told it to a news person. I think Theresa May would never say: ‘End a bad trade differently.’ She is actually nice. What a bad work that is going on. I didn’t listen very nicely. When I get it, her United States, that is too much.

Source material (from Sun Exclusive): I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it, but she didn’t listen to me. It is too bad what is going on. When a deal takes so long, they never work out very well. That is fake news. I would say that that would probably end a major trade relationship with the United States. I think she is a nice person. I get along with her very nicely.

Three, by Dominic Berry

Beneath the blind, balanced in a window ledge, he has made three towers of twenty, fifty and ten pence pieces. Not great at counting. He can walk shop aisles for hours adding to what he thinks he can afford but always the check out girl must ask what he wants to leave behind.
Beneath his boxer shorts there are three shadowy bruises left by the mugger whose fingers slid inside these damp pants whilst pressing what might have been a knife to his naked neck. Nails. Lips. Fists. Blood. Not great at countering. Recounting this story to his doctor is not enough to earn him any therapy.
Beneath closed eyes, each night brings one of three recurring dreams. There’s the one where he falls silently into factory machinery, innards split by spiky cogs. There’s the one where he has earned his freedom from the old tower block, fingertips shine like bright silver coins, feet leave concrete and he can fly for hours. Great at flying. There’s the one where the knife goes in and out and in and out and always the check out girl must ask what he wants to leave behind.

Something to Do Whilst Washing, by Dominic Berry

Prepare a public talk about charity. The suffering of others has become as boring as sand. Don’t dive in naked. Those coarse grains niggling itches could remain clinging for days. People who claim to be pained should be approached fully covered. Imagine accidentally spilling a caring word on someone only slightly needy. If a noted humanitarian commits an act of kindness in the middle of a desert when there is nobody worth impressing present to witness said event, can an unwitnessed event even be counted as a true act of kindness? What is the point of wasting such a limited resource on a person who is probably too lazy to appreciated compassion? Optimise everything. Rehearse about brilliant speech about benevolence from the comfort of a deep, soapy bath.

Faceless – 3 poems by Anwer Ghani

Faceless boys

We can smell all the perfumes of ruinations because we are the sons of war. Its eyes kill our dreams and its hands clap our cheeks. When you walk in our streets, you will tumble by our cheap souls and at that dark corner you will meet the faceless boys. Yes, we are sons of wars; our hands are empty and our souls are broken. The waterfalls can’t moisten our dry hearts, and the river can’t revive our rocky roots.

 

Faceless Girls

No braid on our girls’ heads because war has stolen everything here every the girls’ braids. Their lips are dry with deep fissures and their faces and colorless like our days. Here, in Iraq everything is empty even the souls of the girls. You won’t see the childish jumps of their feet or the playing smiles of their arms, but you will see thin legs and a very dry well.

 

Faceless Women

I am from the south where everything weeps even the sun. Our women don’t know but crying and their breasts had forgotten milk. They are the remnants of wars; their mornings start with wailing and their evenings end with groan. Look at our trees; they are brassy and coarse like the voice of our women and look at our lakes, they are dry like their cheeks. No love here because the lips have retired, and no beauty here because our women are faceless.

..

Anwer Ghani is an Iraqi poet, essayist and artist. He was born in 1973 in Hilla. His name has appeared in many literary magazine and anthologies and he have won many prizes, the last one; “World Laureate-Best Poet in 2017 from WNWU”. Anwer writing has a specific style; the expressive narrative prose poetry” and he is the author of “Narratopoet”; (2017), “Antipoetic Poems”; (2017) and other 40 books. He is the chief editor of Arcs prose poetry magazine and the founder of Tajdeed Institute for Art and Literature.

Websites: https://anwerghani1.wordpress.com

The Underdog by Marjon van Bruggen

Let me sing of broken-down dogs, they wander alone in the twisted ravines of huge cities; or those dogs who have said to reject man, blinking intelligent eyes ‘Let me be with you, perhaps from our two wretchednesses we can make a kind of happiness’. Then all kind of needing dogs: the mud-stained dog, the poor dog, the homeless dog, the idling dog, the street acrobat’s dog; their instincts, like that of the poor man, the gypsy, the actor an, they wake early and seek their livelihood or run after their pleasures. I saw some of them sleep in a ruined building in the outskirts and come every day at a set hour to claim their dole at the kitchen door of always the same kind restaurant. A band of six strong well-fed strays shares the meal prepared for them by the charity of certain sexagenarian virgins, whose unclaimed hearts have given themselves to animals since men in their stupidity no longer want them. Then there are of course the runaway slaves, maddened by love; they gambol for an hour around a beautiful bitch, not very well presented, but proud and grateful for their attention. Perhaps somewhere (who knows, after all) there is a reward for the courage, the patience and the hard work of these adorable dogs. A paradise for these good dogs, dirty, muddy, sad and sorry dogs where they can finally laugh and bark their head off about the silly, ridiculously shaven, pampered yorkshire terrier with the pink satin ribbon waved through the few remaining gleamingly washed hairs on top of her disdainful little head. Even the dirty dog has its pride, so it is good to sing their praise. You are never quite sure, maybe Circe once enchanted you.

Russia on the roulette table by Mark Young

Spare us the conspicuous parasol. It is too late to turn them around. What’s wrong with a provincial party boss who has cultivated a following by denouncing “entrenched interests” & promoting individual happiness over party perquisites? Elsewhere, the Tea Party zealots, those radical evangelicals, homophobes, & misogynists, were welcomed to the School by students pounding Japanese ceremonial drums. Our stringent export licensing laws make us feel like freaks, like colorless technocrats & conservatives, some sort of alien menace, but they do not breach the “professional and apolitical ethos” of the nation’s partisan schism, the divided government. Secretly, Trump would like to see Putin in the White House, as if, perhaps, they might really become emperor & empress.

ars poetica in my paintbox slips through the shithole by Debasis Mukhopadhyay

i was not thinking of a lemon perhaps Lorca’s lemon endemic to our absinthe flesh / i was not thinking of that land where a white man walking a black dog has gotten to the bottom of a song / i was just greedily looking up at the sky turning my back on ars poetica / dreaming / the same dreams almost every day i live in /how i am naked / the weight of every dream above

Shark! by Howie Good

All the shops are empty. What’s disappearing in front of our eyes is the history of this terrible war. It’s like a tornado went in and swept everything up. I was shocked. I didn’t think it would happen.

Even birds and animals have nowhere to drink water. I saw blood coming out of the seal. People started yelling “Shark!” They told us to keep inside, to be ready for anything. It’s had me spooked for years. Now we’re also worried about our houses blowing up. You know how they say you hear the train noise? I heard it.

..

Howie Good, a journalism professor at SUNY New Paltz, is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize for Poetry from Thoughtcrime Press. He co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.

Eclipse of the Heart by Howie Good

My son would tell me, “Father, you have to pray.” Yeah, yeah. People hang Gandhi’s portrait on their walls, but they do not follow Gandhi’s rules. A man armed with a knife, moving along the central streets of the city, attacked passers-by. Panic killed those people. They were screaming. They didn’t have words. There’s another whole thing going on underneath with the wind, and we have no control over that. Do you see things coming out of the top of the sun? Do you see things coming out of the bottom of the sun? Everybody sees it a little differently. I’ll stand and watch it get dark. What an experience, at one in the afternoon, to be in total darkness.

Broken Atoms by Howie Good

To make something that will rot is a statement. I visited places to ask their help. Several people just didn’t even want to talk. I thought, ‘Whoa. What are they doing? Why are they doing that?’ You could leave fake voice messages posing as someone’s mom. Or defame someone and post the audio samples online. I put a stick in the ground, and ugly stuff bubbled up from it. People realized that grandma’s jam wasn’t so bad after all.

 

*

 

A person just jumped in front of the train. He looked like what everyone thinks the typical American guy should look like, but maybe not actually is. It started as a kind of tongue-in-cheek thing. He kept saying he was going to kill someone. Yeah, well, we haven’t had a wedding or a baptism for quite some time. We mostly have funerals. No one is outside the system. Even when you ride the train, all you see is this black forest with nothing in it.

 

*

 

People were screaming; people were throwing up because the smoke was so thick. I guess I’m very confused about why this scene. Imagine getting fired. Or you got dumped, or you didn’t get into the college you wanted, or imagine whatever it is that makes you feel weak. It sucks. It’s defeating. The memory stayed with me and that’s what made me think about breaking things. Everyone thought that I was crazy. They weren’t wrong. I partied too much. And I was always begging the eagle to help me to get home safe. All I can say is, if the phone rings, please answer.

Not the Whole Story by Howie Good

The king used to live there. It’ll feel a bit weird as your eyes recover from that. The blood stayed in the water a long time. Some people didn’t want to see it. There was this driver all banged up and there was this one girl bleeding out of her face pretty bad. I kind of just shrugged and said, “Well, you’re going to see a bright light.” They didn’t storm into the room, perhaps because I opened the door in my underwear and my wife was still lying in bed. So, wow. It takes at least 12 hours before we can tell if anything has happened. You can’t just go in and plant trees and walk away.

The Structures Tremble by Howie Good

I was half-kneeling half-standing and that’s when I got hit. Didn’t see it coming, didn’t see it leaving. It was like being on a motorcycle and getting hit by a truck. It was like boom. And then, “Oh.” This was not an act of terrorism. This was not a hate crime. The atmosphere is sad, but a happy sad. I could feel the windows rattling. I could feel the buildings sway. It’s time to bring the statues down. I worked sixty years of my life and it seems the only thing I did was this fucking red machine.

I read a technically perfect poem about absolutely nothing, by Antony Owen

When Grenfell windows exploded into miniature supernovas and firefighters froze in that world they will replay over and over, I shall always remember the autopsy of a well-meant poem by a bloke called Si who doesn’t write much and will never write again because a real poet told him at best it was doggerel. As the new world emerges unseen by the real poet who dissected Si’s well-meant poem I read a technically perfect poem about absolutely nothing from the real poet who had so much to say and so little to write. Sometimes when I want to find answers to the hardships of modern life perhaps I’ll ring Si and say “Hey Si, I’ve a Haynes manual on the inner workings of a Ford Fiesta and it’s written perfectly so why not come over and we’ll discuss over hummus I bought from a hipster at a literary festival which is a place real poets unlike you go to, so, Si my pixelated pal do you wanna come round mine mate”? Alternatively I could pass on the technically perfect writings about non-subjects and read a really well intentioned and flawed poem by Si who knows he ain’t the best poet but he wanted to challenge himself on writing about something more important than the existential paradox of a thespian who lived in a disputed vineyard during the Napoleonic invasion of a place that people like Kev has never heard of because he’s only interested in stuff that is happening today. I have decided to write a poem for Si in the spirit of what he was saying but not in iambic pentameter just raw emotion in controlled couplets and it goes something like this….

 

I read a technically perfect poem about absolutely nothing
I felt a technically flawed poem about something important

The latter poem was poorly written it was not a poem like this
I’d like to go and get wasted with Kev and make alphabet spaghetti.

Just Words by Peter Davey

Today lies before the storm men with Guns and Knives we are in dangerous times we live in I hear a man on TV say if you Vote you make real change Your dreams can fly away and See the sights around you
breakdown with decay and war and bedroom tax
Fashioned by the greed for a better life
For which we all have to pay to make a better world From New York and London to Palestine and the Rwandan genocide Take a trip down the rivers of another Captain Jack Sparrow has the people are people standing in the rain with nowhere to go Looking for any place to call home abound for new life away from the Bombs that fell on your Town
It’s another way of life the Art of Survival hate and fleeing in a Modern Age Let’s just dance and forget How we got here in first place
Don’t look back to where you’ve been
The horrors are today in the sands of time has our planet runs thin just ask Trump no Paris kisses for him
Let’s just all Dance and remember all the black and blue of yesterdays in the Beanfield of another burning home or a baby that cries captured by the cameraman or is just the machinery breaks down with anger on the streets watch the 1930s its making a sound again it’s the Hand Maids Tale or 1984 its all the same they got you Trapped in
It’s not Revolution Tactics to kill kids or is it time to call Anarchy What we all need is a system that does not Fail in First Place it’s not about Stars Wars or Mayflower 2020

Unaccompanied by Rachael Smart

I took his hat home to wash in the kitchen sink, got the kettle red hot, the wool spawned blood, his, theirs too, a mess of ruby muddied see-through to maroon solvent stains not stubborn like those he’d seen back home. I pictured his mother’s hands hutch – brown in their crochet of care for this hat, this hat that my fingers now worried over, the finest of stitches, a wool that gave up the weight of silence: of thunder gun fear and sawn rifle breath, of fire as far as the sky goes, of brothers rotting, of some official saying make it something easy to say like Dave or D and the soap powder kept on cleansing it out, the skin cells from way back, the screams, and then what went on last night until it was nearly blue again and still in the shape of his head when it was whole.

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Rachael Smart has a thing about words. Her short fiction and poetry has been published online, in literary journals and placed in competitions. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Nottingham. She writes best when the pencil loses its point.