News, by Lesley Quayle

Facebook has fake news,
The glitterati make news
And Shamima Begum wants to come home.

Education is failing,
NHS ailing
And Shamima Begum still wants to come home.

Food banks are rife
And the poor have no life,
But Shamima Begum still wants to come home.

Criminals abound
With few police to be found
But Shamima Begum just wants to come home.

Rape, assault and upskirting
Hashtag MeToo’s not working
But Shamima Begum still wants to come home.

Fat cats just smirk
As the lowly paid work
And Shamima Begum just wants to come home.

Elites need no persuasion
To enjoy tax-evasion
But Shamima Begum still wants to come home

So fuck off Theresa and Jacob the Toff,
Nigel Farage and Boris, Call-me-Dave, just fuck off
And fuck off to Jeremy, Diane and John,
Anti-semites and Brexit, fuck off and be gone.

And fuck off Shamima, seems like you’re on your own
For Sajid the Almighty says you’re not coming home.

..

Bio:  Lesley Quayle is a widely published, prizewinning poet, editor and folk/blues singer and, along with Stella Wulf, a founder of 4Word poetry press  See 4Word.org for full details.

Stand Up, by Geraldine Ward

Stand up for every child that suffers
stand up for homeless in the gutters.

Stand up for the marginalised minorities,
LGBT, BAME and stand up for the refugees.

Stand up for the teachers, doctors and midwives,
Stand up for the mentally ill and disenfranchised.

Stand up for those who have to use food banks,
Stand up for those who are condemned and bullied for living on benefits,
Through no fault of their own.
Stand up for those disabled, elderly and alone.
Stand up for those who have no voice,
Domestic violence could have left them without choice.

Stand up for those who somehow remain firm,
When negative words try to make them squirm.

Stand down, those MPs, bankers and politicians,
Who use the public as their ammunition,
Stand down those big brother people watchers,
Whose jealousy and hatred is toxic
Stand down, the opportunists and imposters,
Stand down the gossips and the mockers.
But rise all people in union one day,
When good is shown in the right way.

..

Geraldine Ward is a poet and author from Kent. She has had work published in Writers Cafe Magazine, The Blue Nib and Domestic Cherry 6 among others. You can find her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/geraldine.ward.uk and Twitter GWardAuthor. Her blog is www.geraldineward.wordpress.com

I have the Right, by Dave Rendle

I have the right to my own opinions
to state what I believe to be the truth,
I believe in freedom of thought
I believe in freedom of speech,
I have the right to be free from bondage
to be free from chains and mental slavery,
to choose what I want to be, where I need to go
because this is my right to be me.

I have the right to speak out
this is my choice, this is my conscience,
this is my right to freedom of expression
this right allows me to speak out against oppression,
a right that embraces the immortal declaration
a right that recognises the concept that all men born equal,
everyone has the right to life and liberty
to breathe in, breathe out, scream and shout.

I have the right to dignity and pride
the security of peace and protection,
that allows me to love, laugh and cry
to be treated kindly, not like a fool,
remember when justice is forgotten
and certain paths trample down opposition,
keep on fighting for human rights with no inhibition
decency and justice, and all that has been given.

I have the right to pledge no allegiance
to any country, or any bloody flag,
my struggle embedded in the rich earth
the poetry I release from my breath,
as the shadows wait for the tides to turn
will blister through cement walls,
remembering complacency invites an impasse
what unites us is greater than what separates. 

Three poems by Peter Magliocco

Gender Games

 

With the transgender hemorrhaging skin
you look upon the city’s desolation,
ripped from the maw of being
(or that nexus of sweet desire)
fomenting all that suffering
spleen of us.

It was on Main Street I saw you
cutting up the memories of yourself
once hidden in dregs of cheap wine
or discarded prescription vials
coloring your skin a whiter shade
of paleness for other martyrs
under the streetlamp of crusty radiance
infusing your tattoos with tactile brilliance
the lame bawds of history
might envy
the smile & light of your words
I was taken reading

before you
descended into a labyrinth of ambiguity
beyond the bourgeois vale,
abrading yourself in midnight revels
& otherworldly imperatives
taking you down
to a premature fragmentation

(where nothing exists
but the mind at war
with authorized genders
you don’t share):

all that I tried myself to realize
that day in a normal purgatory
when the inevitable neutering of true union
spoke in the celluloid vastness

disdaining the bleeding stigmatic cross
indecently exposed between our legs,
while we wondered about distant suns
in undiscovered galaxies
where life existed as a mirror image
of words yet to be written
on our starlit bodies

waiting to be sucked
into black holes
of unspoken eternity

 

==========

 

Rescuing Frida Kahlo’s Portrait from the Philistines

 

I smell warm water on Mexican earth,
feel somehow your touch again
even when you’re not there
aroused by that morning’s sun fusing
wayward airs back together
like the lost memories of ourselves
our shadow remains share,
waking on pine & birch bark
beyond the clay-red arroyo
time bakes the errant love
of all creatures in its weedy intaglio
leaving images of our departed selves
besides a wind-blown bramble bush.
It’s that knotty devil’s grass we feasted on
laughing, letting old cries resound
from the night’s long stillness.
Our tongues were dumb apart
from one another, but now they grow
within our mouths to sing ancient songs
to mourn the plight of Frida Kahlo
& her shattered spine, for in the arroyo
of her remembered likeness we find ourselves
again within the sand & scorpions
as our bleached skin paints color
on the bed of broken branches the rain sweetened
into beautiful decay.

 

==========

 

Blinding the Mind’s Eye

 

I wonder what grief is
in a mind’s eye
where rivers of blood flow.

Despite the dry seasons
of America’s political dissatisfaction
& racial strife leaving us
hostages to everyday uncertainty,
we grasp the last straw in the apocalypse
before the night caves in.
When did you rouse yourself
decrying the gambits of grim deceit
the worlds or art & commerce succumb to?

Buddha hears no cry tonight,
even if tears that are virulent
prey in the orbs of voyeurs.
We gaze inside some lacetal prison
infecting the common skin,
just a fading vision of justice
becoming  another dry husk
seeing no mercy.

There you rasp to sing sonnets,
for your youth will succor old paint
& the miasma of depicted dark ages
better than restoration of lost causes.

Do you remember the superstars of life
watch back, waiting for you
to overdose in old gray Manhattan,
at the frivolous scenes of yesterday
where time remains a forever-framed

Still life razed
by the blinding light
of  the Cyclops god.

==========

 

Peter Magliocco writes from Las Vegas, Nevada, where he’s been active in the small press as editor, writer, and artist for several years. He has poetry in Poetic Diversity, New Ink Review, Literary Yard, Midnight Lane Boutique, Pulp Poets Press, and elsewhere. A multiple nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, his most recent poetry book is Poems for the Downtrodden Millennium from The Medulla Review Publishing.

Loving all the Davids, by Jill Munro

There are more people called David, or Steve, who head up FTSE 100 companies than there are women or ethnic minorities (The Independent, 8th March 2018)

 

It’s quite easy to love a David, I have one of my own,
and it’s clear some hold a special place
close to many hearts – Cassidy, Bowie and Tennant
for obvious reasons, aesthetic and/or artistic.
Niven, Copperfield and Livingstone less so,
but clearly this may depend on your point of view.

We reserve hushed tones of reverence for Attenborough
in his native habitat and, of course, the corners (and tattoos)
of Mr. Beckham make him a living – if squeaky – legend.
Let’s gloss over Cameron with his slicked back hair,
lucrative speeches and messy Brexit legacy.
Let’s love those nine footsie fat-cats who revel in their title —

that’s the title David, not CEO, clearly relishing
the happenstance by which their name is not Davina or Daljit.

..

Jill Munro’s poetry has appeared in various magazines including The Frogmore Press, The Fenland Reed & The Rialto. Her first collection ‘Man from La Paz’ was published in 2015 by Green Bottle Press, London. She won the Fair Acre Press Pamphlet Competition with ‘The Quilted Multiverse’ (2016) and won the O’Bheal Five Words International Poetry competition 2017/18. Jill was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2018.

Extraordinary Rendition, by Judith Trustman

[after Stevie Smith]

 

the flame of his mind flickers, dull
recognition still burning
……the faces
……the noises
……eating life out
of the bottom of the bag
where the shit lies
he tries to sit still they told him this
is where the flies don’t come
some day he knows he’ll fly
through a place with no name
like a man with no name

shame hangs like a cloud, dull
as the minds claiming sovereign powers
over our sovereign powers
……wreathing the airports
……the runways
a flicker of light is an orange suit
which might arrest as an image
hold imagination hostage
we only know there was a waving through
extraordinary as it may seem

this, my rendition of these events
is an attempt to say it was not waving
but drowning
like a country with no name

Winter, by Judith Trustman

It is winter, my love,
And rain falls on you
Wind turns you inside out
But you are already out
Of your country
Out  there  in Calais
In Leros
In Syria
In Iraq
In Afghanistan
In our world
In our fields
Our minds and our hearts

It is winter, my love
Can we blank it out?
The mud and the wet
Searches for you
But no one else does
Under blankets
Under paper
Under fire
And you tell us that.

Underneath our joy
Your sad life
In winter

..

Judith Trustman has had poetry published in The North, The Interpreter’s House, Counsel Magazine, The Times and has been shortlisted for the Plough Prize, Short Category 2006.  She lives on the borders of Wales where she is a member of Border Poets.

‘We are very close’, by Finola Scott

Tens of thousands march in Venezuela 2/2/19

This river of democracy is in full spate,
With flags frothing, baseball capped marchers
flood their cities, find strength in each other.
Waving statues of the virgin, home made banners
they march, courage tied tight as their shoes.

Seirra de Perija                Barquisimeto

This tsunami of hope, of belief in protest,
seems unstoppable. Yes we can! We can!
My throat catches as I see them stand
rock steady while their anthem soars.

Caracus         Petre          Barinas

As other words – ‘counter-demonstrations’,
‘the Military’, ‘gringos’ – slip into the article,
I recall my days of foot stomping in Glasgow.
Whose streets? No Pasaran felt easy here.
Fear pricks my skin.

Mr President, by Gil Hoy

There is many
a living thing 

That doesn’t love
a wall. 

Like hunters, rabbits
and yelping dogs 

Like the pine trees
and apple orchards 

Like human beings–
Who aren’t cows– 

And quirky elves don’t
like them much either. 

The frozen-ground-
swells beneath can crack 

Even the strongest stone.
And there are too many gaps 

Between the stones
nonetheless. You can  

Rub your fingers rough
and raw by placing
and replacing 

The fallen stones.
Mr. President: 

I see you walking in the darkness.

An old, rough savage-stone 

 Firmly grasped in each
armed hand.  

Like an old hypothermic man
who is lost 

and cannot find his way

Like your crotchety, stubborn
neighbor beyond the hill.

Mr. President:

 Spring is coming.
Let’s walk the lines, 

Remove the walls
separating pines
and trees bearing fruit.

Mr. President:
Forget your father

He was so very wrong. 

Good walls, like selfish men,
make bad neighbors.  

..

Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer who studied poetry at Boston University under Professors Costello and Pinsky through its Evergreen program. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy’s poetry has appeared most recently in Chiron Review, The New Verse News, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, I am not a silent poet, The Potomac, Clark Street Review and the penmen review.

Mice Running On The Hot Wire, by Kushal Poddar

The white mice of dreams
gnaw through the resistance.
Breathe in. One. Breathe out. Two.
Let the sleep in. The white teeth
of the seizure flash the torch to seek
a grain of the grain in the forest within.
..
The cat becomes a purring machine.
I drop my coin of heart to retrieve
a soft stirring. The street vends
heroin to the overdosed.
The siren leads the runners to a wall.
In the well of calmness the white mice
gnaw in. Gnaw in.
..
Kushal Poddar authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’ (Spare Change Press, Ohio), “A Place For Your Ghost Animals” (Ripple Effect Publishing, Colorado Springs), “Understanding The Neighborhood” (BRP, Australia), “Scratches Within (Florida, USA)”, “Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems(BRP, Australia)” and “Eternity Restoration Project, New and Selected Works”(Hawakal, India).

Sentinel, by Mandy Macdonald

On 17 November 2018, a young American missionary who tried to land illegally on the remote North Sentinel Island (pop. c. 100), one of the Andaman and Nicobar group in the Indian Ocean, was the latest person to be killed by the island’s inhabitants, who violently repel all outsiders. Since the 1990s the Indian government, which is responsible for the island, has declared it out of bounds to visitors so that the Sentinelese can be left alone.

 

a people at least
thirty thousand years old
living on what their island provides
naked, handsome, happy
(or so we imagine)
officially ‘uncontacted’
in fact uncontactable
by their own wish
which they enforce by attacking
anyone who tries to land

we want to know about them
of course
……………….how they live, how they survive
how can an island of twenty-three square miles
……………….support them for so many millennia?
can their needs be so modest?
have they solved the problem of overpopulation
in some way
……………….we might disapprove of?
has nature herself set limits
on their fecundity?

so we send emissaries, confident
we can help
we know what they want

they want Jesus
they want money
they want booze
they want pop music
they want the internet
but most of all, they want
clothes
and Coke

some of our gifts
they use –
metal salvaged from broken ships
for arrowheads
bits of the bright plastic tide we send
to slosh against their shores
just once – in 1991 – a gift boat of coconuts
brought them down to their beach
in friendship, or truce
……………….(they like coconuts
……………….but coconuts don’t grow
……………….on North Sentinel Island)

everyone else
they drive off with cries
in their language that no-one else understands
and arrows

Return of the Daleks, by Greg Freeman

Design classic, some said,
put together when Britain
still had a bit of an empire.
One thought in their heads,
to take over the world.
But inflexible, lacking
imagination, no peripheral
vision, metallic voices.
Hideous inside their boxes,
extremely intolerant
of others not of their kind.

Repeating
the same words
and phrases –
Destroy! Destroy!
Take back control!
Nothing has changed!
– over and over again.
Don’t hide behind
the sofa, England!
Come out and push them
down the stairs!

..

Greg Freeman is a former newspaper sub-editor, and now reviews editor for the poetry website Write Out Loud https://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/gregfreeman. His debut pamphlet collection Trainspotters https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/greg-freeman/4587958507 is published by Indigo Dreams. He lives in Surrey and walks the local canals, hoping to spot kingfishers.

Two poems by Miranda Lynn Barnes

He showed me the film

of a woman whose tongue had been cut out,
so she could never tell, and whose hands
had been cut off and replaced with branches,
and he told me how I should be thankful
for what happened to me, the experience of it,
like his friend, the tiny blonde ecstatic
in her swings, who once, saturate in mania
had said that she was blessed.

He said, it was “beautiful, so beautiful,”

and it was beautiful, the cinematography
a panning sweep into the swamp
where she motioned with the antlers
she had for wrists, her face the agony
of hopelessness, the deep red wound
of her mouth, round in its lack
of voice, while they gleefully took
everything from her mute and mutilated
body;

oh, but beautiful, beautiful—
the cream-coloured dress, the layers of fabric
trailing in dirt as they perched her
atop the stump, like a veil, like some pedestal,
as if all this larceny, the very last thrash
as the sun made her wince, along with
the song of their manic mockery,
were some kind of savage worship;

beautiful, oh, beautiful!—
Lavinia as she tried to cover her breasts,
ill-fated, with her amputated arms and
kindling fingers, red-stained—
how vulnerable! her flushed cheeks!
her delicate young face! and the circling
jackals cackle away to leave her bound
and propped up like a doll;

oh, beautiful. An insipid spit of a word.
The sunset discovery of her swaying body,
the figure arriving through draping leaves—
a stand of birch trees recording in their scrolls
the names she cannot write or speak—
to behold her thick with clotted silence
and trapped above the festering slough,
her eloquent scream a ribbon of blood.

..

Suffering

Seated on a ledge
above the burning city,
watching fires put out
by a coming tidal wave.
You’re untouched.
You’re fed a lavish
spread, a meal fine as
a white linen tablecloth.
Water solves the problem
of fire, does it not? A hot
ash blots the top
of your meringue.

How you must suffer.

..

Miranda Lynn Barnes is a poet from the US, now resident in the UK. Her poems appear in Under the Radar, The Compass, The Interpreter’s House, Confingo, NOON: a journal of the short poem, and One, as well as several anthologies. Miranda taught Poetry and other genres for five years at Bath Spa University, where she completed her PhD in Creative Writing, but now serves as Research Publications Librarian. She lives in Bristol with her ginger cat and ginger-bearded husband. 
@LuminousJune (Twitter)

At Your Feet by Ana Cristina César, reviewed by Clara B. Jones

At Your Feet
Ana Cristina César
Katrina Dodson, Ed.
Brenda Hillman, Helen Hillman, & Sebastião Edson Macedo (translators)
2018
Parlor Press
$14.00
103 pp

cesar150

Reviewed by Clara B. Jones experimenting with book review form…

“In literature, it is only the wild that attracts us.” Henry David Thoreau

Who is the author? Ana Cristina César (1952-1983, suicide*) was active in Brazil during the 1970s. Her work has been categorized as avant garde, a term usually reserved for visual artists and writers who are active politically, usually, in leftist groups or movements. According to Brenda Hillman, César was born and raised in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, in a religious, middle-class family. Conducting research on “Ana C,” as the poet was called in her circle and among her followers, I did not discover that her formative years were marked by trauma or dysfunction. However, in an academic paper, Lúcia Villares (1997, Portuguese Studies 13, pp 108-123) reported that the 1970s in Brazil were preceded by military coups (in 1964 & 1968), leading to the isolation, exclusion, and suppression of radicals, activists, intellectuals, and the middle-class.

In response to these measures, strikes and demonstrations were carried out against the military regime which countered the actions with increased repression—especially of the middle-class, including, censorship, seizure of books, attacks on left-wing publishers, among other interventions. César and her circle of poets formed a group, “geração Marginal” (“the marginal generation”) that published and sold chapbooks and books independent of commercial publishing houses and distributors. The marginal (marginalized) poets advanced a view of a fragmented world in which the power of language was reduced. These oppositional writers expressed their sense of impotence, in part, by emphasizing their communal efforts and by asserting themselves as survivors in a hostile environment.

 

Through her writing, “Ana C” identified with the “poesia feminina” movement in Brazil, part of the opposition supporting women’s search for identity and voice. This group held that to be a woman was to be “desdobráve”—a woman capable of transforming herself. Consistent with this background, César’s poetry is in general, fragmented and written in collage style, mostly, dispensing with meter, rhythm, music, and lyric, though her pieces are infused with vivid image and color. The reader of At Your Feet may find that poems seem to increase in complexity, self-confidence, and clarity from beginning to end; though, according to Hillman, there is no evidence that César’s poems were arranged chronologically. Though I am not qualified to say, the translations appear to be excellent; at least, I found them rich with artful language. After a tour of the continent, César returned to Rio, jumping out of a window in her parents’ home not long after.

What is At Your Feet about? The book is a collection of intense poems, mostly about bad or failed relationships with men, as well as their associated emotions and feelings. Also, the book’s title suggests subservience. Thus, for example, “I went on the attack: it’s now, sweet-/heart, in a car going up in flames,…in the early dawn, because of you and furious: it’s now, against this traffic….” (p 19). The author seems driven to make sense of things—with men, with herself; though, there is no mention of political unrest except in the sense that the poems, themselves, may be viewed as oppositional—against the military regime, against traditional mores, and against conventional literary practices and criteria. The primary subject-matter seems contradictory to her reputation as a feminist and her documented identification with women and feminism. For example, she relies upon many female stereotypes (e.g., lovestruck, hysterical, silly) and expresses negative emotions toward other females (e.g., they arouse jealousy or are viewed as intruders: “that total bitch/of a woman”, p 77).

Nevertheless, one of César’s stated goals was to become assertive, authentic, and outspoken, rather than, a passive and suppressed woman. Thus, her bold expressions of emotional vulnerability may be viewed as attempts to be radically, unabashedly honest (“Let’s have afternoon tea and I’ll tell you my big passionate story, which I’ve kept under lock and key, and my heart beats out of sync while we eat gaufrettes…I’m touched by fire.” (p 11); “Call again tomorrow/no matter what.” (p 17); “Without you, I’m really a lake, a mountain./I think of a man named Herberto./…And without bravado, sweetheart, I raise the price.” (p 33). On the other hand, a few of the poems demonstrate moments of assertion and agency (see, for instance, “Final Fire,” p 89), but the intention seems never to be sustained. Ultimately, this collection is about a young woman searching for her own voice, her own agency, and her own will, as well as, the ability to resist socialization and circumstance.

Formal Structure: As mentioned, the poems in At Your Feet, are fragmented, like the political landscape within which César found herself and like her own psychological makeup. Thus, her classification with the avant garde is warranted by the innovative nature of her forms, matching her content. As well, many of her poems appear without titles (a type of erasure?; a silent, “Untitled”?), a convention sometimes used by the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet, Susan Howe.

César’s work seems to align with the movement, Surrealism, since many of her poems exhibit “automatism,” sometimes, by way of, impulsiveness (but, “My boy. It’s not automatism. I swear. It’s jazz from the heart.”, p 41) and the mining of unconscious processes (“Poetry doesn’t—telegraphic—occasional—/leave me solo—loose—/at the mercy of the impossible—/—of the real.”, p 47). The collection includes prose poems and an interesting list poem (“Onomastic Index,” p 93) that includes the names of at least two famous females who died tragically. Structurally, many of the poems might be classified as “fragments”—a single or a few lines. In keeping with a fragmented identity, voice, and form (Post-modernism?), most of these poems are cynical, self-absorbed, emotional, or detached, or are about “boredom” (p 85) or “illness” (81) or victimization (p 83) or hysteria (p 19). Thus, as a whole, the poems’ forms are consistent with their meanings and themes—as defined and expressed by the author.

Conclusion: In the final analysis, César’s collection shows the work of a young poet without the ability to see herself through an objective lens. As Marjorie Perloff has stated, a mature poet has the ability to see the humor in themselves [sic], something lacking from At Your Feet. It is a cliché to point out that one would like to see how this writer might have developed over a long, productive career. Without this option, one must view the collection’s value primarily in relation to the socio-political atmosphere in which it was written. In addition, the poet’s work is interesting as an example of a “young adult” sub-genre, and critics could mine the volume for what it tells us about the challenges of early adulthood, particularly, about the development and maturation of females who succumb to suicide when relatively young. Hopefully, César’s complete body of work will become available in translation at a future date. Combined with At Your Feet, the poet’s writings could become a valuable resource for those interested in avant garde beyond the United States and Europe. I recommend this book because it is a very interesting and enjoyable read. Indeed, despite its limitations, I was unable to put the book down once I began to read it because César took me, and will take you, on an intense “joy- ride”—on an emotional roller-coaster that you will enjoy (see Epigram).

 

*Note: César’s fate brings to mind two other young female artists who jumped out of windows to end their lives: photographer, Francesca Woodman (1958-1981) and poet, Elise Cowen (1933-1962), both Americans. One of my motivations for writing this review is the hope that a reader who is an academic or critic will conduct research on these cases—or, pass the possible project on to someone. Based upon my own limited knowledge, there appear to be some similarities among the women’s trajectories. For instance, both César and Cowen jumped out of windows at the homes of their parents, and César and Woodman both traveled in Europe before they took their own lives. Further, all three of these women may have experienced an increased measure of popularity—as well as, disillusionment?—before they killed themselves. I think, though I am not certain, that this apparently contradictory pattern is common among suicides. (My contact: foucault03@gmail.com)

,,

Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD, USA. Her poetry collection, /feminine nature/, was published by GaussPDF in 2017.

Five Visual Poems by J.I. Kleinberg

America

america 1348

because

because 1422

How can we

how can we 1477

What is

what is 1649

wary

wary 1452

..

Artist, poet, and freelance writer, J.I. Kleinberg is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the 2016 Ken Warfel Fellowship. Her found poems have appeared in DiagramHeavy Feather ReviewRise Up ReviewThe Tishman Review, HedgerowOtoliths, and elsewhere. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, USA, and blogs most days at: thepoetrydepartment.wordpress.com.

 

The Theatre and its Double, by Paul Sutton

Outbreaks of cultural madness are not unusual.

Our elite encourages, and then participates.

Rumours of impending starvation and pustular diseases – kept hitherto at bay by our imperial overlords – are announced in all non-fake media outlets.

As in Cavafy – though internally – the barbarians are about to grab power, with a return to pre-Cambrian levels of public comfort and safety.

The artistic community – noted for its diversity and independence of thought – unanimously co-operates.

Screaming mobs and toddlers parade through the capital’s streets, dressed as enormous genitalia daubed gold on blue.

Older citizens are whipped with foreign meats and told to die.

Bankers throw gold from their windows, homeowners wrap houses in clingfilm, media courtesans harangue non-degree holders.

Salvation is only conceivable through “a deal”.

With bodily fluids preparing to erupt, gesticulating bubo cover the bodies of politicians.

Our Head of State leaps into the Thames and is flushed into the North Sea.

On a business park in Maidenhead, Berks, the exhausted dark warehouse workers queue for Cornish pasties.

Most are reduced to living as troglodytes, in the gardens of benign liberals sheltering us from the coming spring.

Insanity, by Jennifer Lagier

To satisfy his
illiterate, raving base,
toddler-in-chief throws a tantrum,
demands billions of taxpayer dollars
to build an expensive,
ineffective border wall
along our southern boundary.

His snit translates
into two painful weeks
of a government shutdown
enabled by spineless repugs
who continue slurping
at the public trough,
expect their own paychecks.

Federal employees
suffer without compensation,
worry about mortgages,
utility bills, feeding their families.
National Parks overflow
with uncollected feces and garbage.

The stench of incompetence
emanates from
a dysfunctional administration
installed by Russia,
headed by a doddering simpleton
illegitimately occupying the White House.

Dispossessed, by James Graham

They had good soil. The common Sun and rain
were generous, warmed their bright eyes and made
limbs strong and gentle. Their children
ran and climbed and tumbled. But good soil

is coveted. As if a thundering host had thrown
itself against them, fiery and murderous, their land
was taken by thieves: a cruel conquest
which in thieves’ language is called purchase.

They were put to flight. The city rained
no mercies on them. They rested where the Sun
baked the hard ground, beside a smouldering
garbage heap; they were cast away. Now they live

in a rain-fed country, but have little water.
Power flows through cables; they must steal it.
Their homes are rigged from boxes and old iron.
The land is fertile; they are often hungry.

No more than a mile from wealth, their home
is an exoplanet, harsh, too distant from its star.

James Graham.

..

James Graham was born in 1939 in Ayrshire, Scotland, in a rural cottage lit by oil lamps. He was a teacher for thirty years, but would rather have been a celebrated journalist and best-selling author. Most of his published work is poetry, which has appeared in numerous print and online magazines. His third collection, Becoming a Tree, published by Troubador Press, is currently available.