Three poems by Jess White

I listened to Halsey

I listened to Halsey’s speech at the women’s march.
I’ve played it at least a dozen times.
Thinking how every woman has a story just like hers, just like mine.

How I cannot think of a single woman who has; never been catcalled, never been touched by grubby hands.
I’m the biggest believer in equality, a daily advocate for all rights not just women’s rights.

Yet when I wake up after my drink was spiked, when I hold my best friend after she was raped walking home, when I read yet another story about a woman being assaulted, if feels like women have no value and no voice.
Like it really is a man’s world.

Every night I walk home with my keys in my hand.
My mum gave me my first rape alarm when I was twelve.
When the #metoo campaign began, so many women spoke out.
I hope that maybe times were changing, yet all I see is people asking:
“what were you wearing”, “were you drunk”?, “take it as a compliment”

When can we reclaim our bodies?

When can we decide who enters them and who does not?

..

“I didn’t know you had a dad”

..
“I didn’t know she had a dad”
What should I have said at family gatherings?
While you talked about how your Dad woke you up with breakfast everyday, should I have told you how our Dad was passed out on the sofa every morning?
How we woke him wondering whether we’d be graced with Jekyll or Hyde that day?
You counted the slices of toast on your plate, I counted empty glass bottles on the floor.
In our house there were always three green bottles; Jacobs Creek, Yellowtail and Barefoot.

“You never talked about him”
Lets share our childhood memories, reminisce on our pasts.
When you were searching for your homework, football kit or school supplies every morning, we would search for twenty pence’s hidden behind the sofa
Praying there would be enough for twenty Superking and one box of red.
I don’t drink red wine, I can still taste his hangover on my lips
And I don’t eat baked beans but for years I spent my pocket money on them, so we could eat while he ate a liquid diet.

“You didn’t see him that much”
Did you see the decade of calls that rung endlessly?
The messages not always returned
All the “Sorry something came ups”at the last minute?
Did you see how I threw away all my moral stances?
How we switched from fleeting meetings in coffee shops to hours in the pub?
Just so we could talk?
How he never understood that I could only drink one pint to his three?
How he would text every other Sunday and I would ring every other week in the middle of the afternoon knowing there was a 50/50 chance he’d be sober?

“You weren’t that close”
When I was three he taught me French
When I was five he taught me to ride a bike
When I was seven he taught me that books are medicine for the soul
When I was nine we danced to Leonard Cohen in the kitchen

When I was eleven I asked “Daddy why do you drink”?
And Daddy told me he was sorry but it would always be his first love.
At seventeen I walked away, at nineteen I went back
At twenty-one I waked away, at twenty three I went back.
When I was twenty-one we held our own little graduation party, then it didn’t matter if he got drunk.

“Did he mean that much to you?”
The best night of my life was the night he spent four hours in Wetherspoons with me, asked my hopes and dreams.
He studied photos of my hobbies, travels and life.
My favourite part of adopting our cat was how his face lit up when he met her.
Every time we moved house I asked him round for dinner, but dinner never came.

When he died my phone flooded with messages of how his face beamed when he spoke of us
How he told everyone when we found a new job, new house, achievement and I hope every day I had made him proud.

I study the photos of the better years each day, pondering where it all went wrong.
I talk to him everyday because maybe now he’s watching.

“Your world hasn’t changed that much”
He died too young to ever hold a grandchild
Too young to drunkenly dance in the corner on my wedding day
His Sunday text no longer tells me he’s okay
Every time I pass a Wetherspoons I think how I would buy him all the damn red wine if it gave us one more day.
And I have learnt of the trauma that made him pour wine to his lips each night
The demons that he never shared, hidden in his drunken mind.
My heart hurts for the pain he never shared.

“I didn’t know you had a dad”
Tell me what should I have said?

,,

Unlearning all those bad habits:

When we started dating, I asked him if I could wear my hair tied up, I asked him if I could pierce my nose, I asked him for a list of all the friends I’m allowed to see, the places I can go.

He stares at me, he tells me that I am person not a gadget to control.
You see before you, he told me that girls should always have long hair so even in the gym I’d never tie it up, clouding my vision the same way love clouded my mind.
He said pretty girls don’t wear piercings or tattoos, so when he finally left I got five piercings and three tattoos.
They still weren’t as painful as that year with you.
He told me that I was too close to my best friend, he told me he kissed someone else because I loved her too much.

I still ask him now, you see I am still struggling to learn how to be a person and not a possession.
He tells me that I should learn how to enter a room on my own, that I do not need to message him that I have rung the doctors, put the bins out or made myself some lunch.

I’m full of bad habits, I’m so used to being a puppet that I do not know how to hold the strings to my own life.

I know he hates that my wardrobe is a multitude of colours, and his closet is nothing but black.
He asked me once why I was wearing sportswear to a restaurant and wonders why there is a hundred bobbles around the house.
But slowly I’m learning that this is okay.

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.

War First Please, by Ananya S Guha

Fratricide
Holy or unholy
Wars bequeath a legacy
A turning point
Omens of all that is good
Only signatures of a damp life
We cut teeth into flesh
We make love in war
We spar damn it
Wars make things happen
Come to life
Cracking shells and mortars
Only the whimper lasts
Whisper of battle cries
And the deathly ghoul stands as sentinel
Come war means peace and all that goes
With war
Make peace and war at the same time
We need an excuse to have peace
War first please.
So a cold one, a hot one
Lukewarm if you please
Many hopes, many manifestations
That we love war to see blood curdling.

The Queen’s Speech, by Sara Dennis

‘I am your mother.
You are all my children.
I will live for you,
And I will die for you.
Our time here is short,
But our legacy must be upheld.
Today, we face crisis.
Our cells are warming beneath our feet.
We may boil in our own juices.
The walls around us
May warp and melt,
But we will stand together
As we always have
As we always will.
We will face this together.
We will protect our young,
Our future workers,
Our nurses, our undertakers,
Our seed givers, our cleaners,
The heir to my crown,
Our brothers and sisters
Through blood and solidarity.
None is greater than the other.
We work well because we work together.
We respect one another.
And I, your queen, your mother,
Will protect you all.
So as our home fills with smoke,
As often it does,
Breathe it in
And sleep, my little ones,
For tomorrow, we have work to do.
Every living thing depends upon our work.
In the face of adversity,
We will carry on and do what must be done.’
,,
And so, they slept,
As beneath them,
The workers worked
To douse the flames
To save our heritage
And protect the purse,
Whilst the man
Named after the great cathedral,
Smiled in his grave
For he predicted this, in cryptic verse
Centuries ago.
But did anybody take his heed?
..
And the rich scurried to write their cheques
And tell the world just what they’d done,
As the poor gazed in horror
At what was being done,
And the homeless warmed themselves
At the early Beltane feast,
Whilst the comfortable folk
Wrestled with their consciences
As their televisions poured out the news.
..
The next morning,
As the world wept,
The bees rose slowly from their drowsy sleep,
Flew from their hive
And got on with their work
As though nothing had happened.

Pandora, by Lilo Umpfenbach Ducommun

Pandora, what have you done?
Trolls turned loose
Cancelled all rules
Common courtesy
Overrun by rude, crude
Heartless responses
Kindness equals weakness
So the trolls declare
Knocked down still moving
Kick until comatose
A Miasma of sadness
Hovers over all
Pandora, you still hold Hope
Strengthen & release before it’s too late

Opinions of Grief, by Maeve McKenna

I can’t know the heat of it,
this igniting sky,
or flinch as the embers
descend over a city, any city.
The wounds are deep,
scorched into the flesh of seared
memory; a school, hospital,
church, a home.
A life.
This catalogue of war, of fire,
of fault, of destruction
circles the wagons.
Our individual grief
held aloft, compared,
a desolate torch
of isolated pain,
cowered and dimmed beside
your more worthy flame.

..

Maeve is originally from Dublin but now living with her family in Sligo. She has written all her life but only recently began to submit work. She was shortlisted for the Red Line Poetry Competition and highly commended in the iYeats International Poetry Competition, both in 2018.  A prose piece of hers is published in the current issue of The Cormorant and her work has been included on Poetry24.

The Wrapped Hedges, by Emma Lee

It looks as if a fog has whirled around the hedges,
wrapping them in a swirl of candy floss like a fleece
protecting them from frost. The implication is the hedges
will be unwrapped to show a healthy growth, firm stems,
perfectly green leaves, branches stretched in welcome.
The covering takes on the texture of a regular weave,
as if a team of spiders had worked solidly for months,
but the structure is too crude to be natural, too regular
to constructed by anything but a programmed machine.
It reflects a grid of lines running from left to right
with rectangular holes. If laid flat, it would represent
a map of a housing estate, plans made by those seeking
to enrich themselves on the grounds councils cannot
demonstrate they have an adequate housing supply,
that somehow executive, four bedroom homes,
beyond the pockets of those on waiting lists, will meet
and that it’s fine to build in the country out of reach
of public transport and amenities but it’s just these
birds who will prevent building during the nesting
season that are the problem. So man-made webs
are their suggested solution; mimic nature to prevent it.

..

Emma Lee’s recent collection is “Ghosts in the Desert” (IDP, UK 2015). “The Significance of a Dress” is forthcoming from Arachne (UK). She co-edited “Over Land, Over Sea,” (Five Leaves, UK, 2015), reviews for The Blue Nib, High Window Journal, The Journal, London Grip, Sabotage Reviews and blogs at http://emmalee1.wordpress.com.

 

Statistic, by Fiona Field

I dreamt i was a statistic on the National news
Crushed just as the commentator took his cues
I guess in reality that’s all i really am
Product of a society that doesn’t give a damn
..
Victim of a victimless crime
A Man without reason or rhyme
The hiccup in a babies cry
Just another sign of the times
..

Knives and guns and bombs ablaze
Or could it be I’m being tased
Another economic refugee
Or a slave to the wheels of industry
Depicted in the graffiti on a deserted city wall
A master of many who simply had to fall
A lonely poet who heard the call
But couldn’t get out from behind the wall
In time to comune with his fellow souls
..
I dreamt i was a statistic on the National news
Crushed just as the commentator took his cues
I guess in reality that’s all i really am
Product of a society that doesn’t give a damn.

Five poems by Bear Jack Gebhardt

  1. Heavy Legs

 ..
,,

I find myself disturbed
at the sound of children laughing, running:
my own grandson– his friends.

I find myself touchy, testy, withdrawn.
I would that I could shake from these old legs
the memory ache of Dallas and JFK,
the heavy image of his brother Bobby
fatally falling in that crowd in L.A.
Martin’s Memphis balcony weighs my feet.
How do I cleanse the clogged veins
of these last five decades of wars and grief–
the liars and thieves, the sorrow of
Ruwanda, Darfur, now Iraq, Kabul, Syria.

I would that I could shake this world off,
not be disturbed with the bright sounds
my own damned children make.
I would run with them, I would,
laugh, point
toward the bright days they see ahead.

“Hush,” I hear my daughter say.
“Grandpa’s resting.”

Her words disturb me in a different way.
I slowly stand, arch, stretch,
reach for my beret, my cane,
make my way back to the street,
to the good fight, to the barricades

that my grandson might play another day.

,,

 ..

  1. We Spent Uranium

 ..

We spent this nickel, bought some ground
Some poor Baghdad kid’s stuck with the round
Next four thousand years or more.

Puts it in his drawer,
It melts his socks, shirt, underwear,
Curls his testicles, deforms
Toddler feet, facial bones, kidneys.
So we give him back his town.

We spent a dime, bought some time,
Some poor Kabul kid’s left with grime
That won’t wash off, electric dust;
The water itself is spoiling, tingling,
Fields turn yellow long before harvest.
The kid’s gut hurts, our dime sticks
To his cheek, burns through to his teeth.
We let the Red Cross/Crescent in.

We spent uranium,
Used it for our bullets, shells,
Our bombs, our sweet so-called victories.
Our kids follow our trail,
Come back home mysteriously ill.
Those bastards poisoned our kin,
We tell the press, licking our lips.

The highway of death out of Kuwait,
A dozen years later, still littered
Untouched by scavenger kids who know–
Who’ve seen, who’ve heard—
These spent uranium carcasses still kill.

Of all the lies we’ve told,
Of all the violent, vicious, black mouthed lies we’ve told,
This one: “it’s safe for kids and pets, this
Radiant spent uranium,” this is the lie
Will lead our kids to put us on trial at Nuremberg.

,,

  1. Civilization Reversed

..

“Assassins must be assassinated.”
And yet… our legislatures, parliaments,
city regents,  tribal councils,  our courts,
a thousand years of representatives…

all evolved what’s right, what’s wrong, who makes law,
who doesn’t.  We case by case, vote by vote
built this borderless body of laws, hopes.
No man is above this long tradition.

Assassinations without a jury
flaunt, slam the door, spit on all our forebears,
our legislation, legal agreements.
Civilization itself gets reversed

when faceless machine drones assassinate.
No justice here. No law. No safety. No progress.
Just blood vengeance.

..

,,

  1. Feeding the Freedom Dream  

..

Train slows coming ’round Nuncio curve…
old Uncle Lucio stands by the track, throws small bags
tortillas, cooked beans, water bottles
to the vacaros riding the tops of the cars
making their way north to freedom.

Uncle Lucio, who himself has no wood for floors,
whose small pension allows for meat just three times a week
throws bundles of hope to those going north.

His grandson, my cousin, Porfio,
has not been heard from in years.

..

,,

5. Fighting the Newspaper Wars

,,

The barbarians are at the gate.
The mega-media-chain’s claw reached out
first tickled, then fondled,  then lay itself down
to consume our longtime little paper,
only local news outlet.

Bon appetite,” the fatalists shout.
I’m drawn into the fray, to the barricades
speak on local radio, say exactly why
we should not in this instance sacrifice
our lovely local hometown virgin
to the drooling maws of that lecherous beast.

Okay, granted, she’s not that virtuous, wears short skirts,
paints her lips red, eyes blue, they do
admittedly desire each other’s parts.
Neither of them express much tact or taste
in the face of human love or tragedy—
tender wringing of hands
over the death of a son at war,
a kitten trapped in a tree—
equally ground into their daily
to boost circulation.

Still, I’m called to the barricades. Goliaths
march on our town, I’m among the appointed Davids–
we who must meet Goliath at the Interstate Exit,
throw our stones, hope to connect
bulls eyes, smack in the temple ,
see the giant tumble to the ground,
listen as the crowds shout, Huzahh! Huzahh!

Alas, it’s not to be.
I don’t want the bastards here, granted.
yet they’re already here, head to toe, butt to balls
we’ve long been occupied by the giant corps—
our papers, our phones, our tv’s
we already gave up our booty when we deign
to read those full page ads from Chase or the Gap.

Nevertheless, sure, I’ll man the barricades, toss
stones, grenades, toasters, tell the bastards,
“Back off, Back off, stay away, not in our name,”
Then, as they move inexorably ahead
as they churn up and over our makeshift fort
as they’ve done in every town across the land–
I’ll run away
To fight, of course, another day. To fight
when some old chum calls  once again,
asks me, begs me, please, please dude,
come on my show once more and talk
with your common sense powerful voice,
your clear conscience, independent spirit,
tell us all, once again,  exactly why
gravity itself is such a bummer.

Substitute teachers, by Jennifer Brown Banks

An anomaly,
A modern-day mystery,
Part teacher,
Part understudy,

Academic scapegoats
Minus the authority,

In times of emergency,
Super heroes,
On the educational hierarchy,
Ground zero,
Bullied,
Threatened,
Propositioned,
Viewed by some
As the Opposition,

Disrespected
Unaffected,
Overlooked,
Underpaid,

The proud,
The few,
The brave–

Causing ambivalence,
,,
“Rent-a-cop”
Equivalents

JENNIFER BROWN BANKS is a poet and passionate word peddler. 
She is the founder of a community-based arts organization in Illinois.

Sajid Javid and responsibilities, by Andrew C. Brown

His comment paid by column inches
played to a grateful audience. No irony
seen in refusal to equate similar standards
to his colleagues. The word hypocrite easily
rhymes and chimes with the word shit – an apt
if not a mellow description to the DWP’s lack of
acceptance to role they played in so many needless
claimant deaths. Paul DonnachieMark Wood, David
Barr, Stephen CarréLawrence BondDavid Clapson,
Susan RobertsAlan McArdleJodey Whiting. All
with human names treated like cattle and sheep
taken to market in knowledge of slaughter.
The UN knows who the assassins are;
UK government pardons them all.

Freedom? by Nathaniel Flachs

“I think that I’m a tree”
Said the man to me
“Sir I disagree”
I said to Mr. Tree
He hit me in the face
Then sprayed me down with mace
And everybody yelled
Filled with Giddy Glee
Good for You! Good for you Mr. Tree!
,,
I sat in pain and terror
As people came to me
Screaming – shouting
“How dare you not agree!”
,,
What happened overnight?
It’s hard to really see
I thought I lived and breathed
Where speech was seen as free…´

,,

Nathaniel Flachs recently graduated from Salve Regina with a B.A. in theatre. A former playwright apprentice with New York Stage and Film he has spent years writing poetry, plays, and novels. He’s seen many of his fellow class mates and friends take up the view that people should not be able to voice their opinions if they do not agree with them. He sees a degradation of the sanctity of free speech. Hopefully this poem will help people see that the cost of letting people speak freely is far less than the cost of silencing opinions.

 

It’s strange, by Dave Rendle

It’s strange
each day the same as the last
millions dying of hunger
profiteers counting their cash,
daily people getting exploited
man made crisis and refugees denied
racism and homelessness on the rise
the grains that still fall ,full of doubts and fears.

It’s strange
there is no end in sight
ecosystems on the precipice of extinction
sea levels rising, the planet in peril,
the shimmering light of tomorrow disappears
dark hands of fate, twist the knife
trouble keeps brewing, spreading strife
no matter what we do, we are betrayed.

It’s strange
tears  of humanity lingering long
releasing sadness, breaking hearts
remember though, this pain we must share,
but moving round in circles
can be done with little fuss
a solution surely can be retrieved
beyond us, no more anguished  memories.

It’s strange
how love still tears us apart
as we weep to remember
what  it once contained,
some people two-faced
only interested in self and position
no radiance have these people
they are stagnant and void.

It’s strange
how life can weigh heavy
are we not all at times afflicted
let us share the wealth of our affliction,
salvage some hope, tear down the chains
messages of human kindness, instead of greed
in this odd little world, we can search for a new reality
let’s  all try and continue until the day we die.

Three poems by Cynthia Blank

American Woman

 

The joke is familiar:
a girl has had too much to drink.

She lets the bottle lick her lips,
the alcohol sour her throat.

She blacks out, but not enough
to forget the invasion.

She refuses to vomit (and admit
something foreign needs extracting.)

She falls asleep in the bathtub,
scrubbing away the evidence.

She wakes up naked, dangling
over the red-hot coals of shame.

She remembers the laughter now.
She was the joke.

..

..

Bleed
..

I have been silently screaming for seven months
trying to rid myself of the rot
building inside me.
But every time I vomit up a shot of tequila,
or cry while investigating myself in the mirror,
nothing is excised.
I am always brought back to a little white room
in which screaming, silently or not,
offers nothing but indignity.
He touched me against my will, but I prompted his touch.
He’s not a good person, but he’s a good worker.
He was in love with me.
So the boss said.
So an excuse is cemented in the ground.
So another woman splits herself open
just to watch herself bleed.

..

..

..

Prey

..

I run down the stairs
and he chases after me
With each step, I can hear
the sharp bang of his hand
cracking against
my skin, the slurp
of his mouth seizing mine
I run faster to them
They’re on the ground floor
I can see them
I start to scream, I scream
for my life, but they take
a knife and make a gash
in my tongue
They bundle it with gauze
and promise me the swelling
will subside
with time
I’m oozing red, I manage to shout
oozing red from the inside out
They don’t want to hear
but I can
see from their faces:
no one imagined I could bleed like that

,,

Cynthia Blank received her MFA in Poetry from Bar Ilan University’s Shaindy Rudoff Creative Writing Graduate Program. Her poems have been featured most recently in Foreign Literary Journal, SHANTIH Journal, New Reader Magazine, and Grey Borders Magazine. More of her work can be found at https://cynthblank.wixsite.com/website.

Three poems by Elizabeth AJ Eaton


THERE IS WHERE I WANNABE

People say I’m over the top,
Passionate and driven are just words for “Shut the fuck up”
I’ve got all these opinions riding around inside my head,
Screaming out for answers,
Seeking out some praise.

They wish I’d chat about the weather,
Be calm and reflect,
Let the silence linger…
Not fill the room with statements, declaring my theories,
Just breathe in… and out…
But, I can’t.

Good at being,
Intrigued by who we are,
Enlisted in understanding our purpose in this world,
Rather good at making things awkward,
Perfected uncomfortable silences to a T,
I have.

So I tap the side of my pint,
I twist and tug my hair,
To force the words from BLURTING out.

The traffic on the M3,
The work I’m doing to my ensuite
My pension scheme,
Wait, who am I kidding,
A writer,
There is no pension scheme,
It just all feels alien to me.

Sex education in schools,
Social media causing emotional withdrawal,
The cotton industry draining the Aral sea,
The fear-mongering broadcasts of the BBC
There is where I wannabe.

..

L-I-K-E-L-Y 

They build you up with patronising talk
Those adults standing there with coffee-flooded breath
and armpit sweat.
..
They break the words up sounding out those
stupid letters L- I- K -E-L- Y, now you try
..
Standing you up on the table
in front of all yours peers, clapping and cheering
Your little face covered in shame
Children snigger
because you finally learnt to spell your name

.. 
At first they’re patient but soon their faces fill with red
They watch the clock as you fill with dread
Soon you’ll see it’s like riding a bike
or learning your ABCs
..
Then they’re slamming the table and pulling at their hair
You’re sat with hot little legs
and milk down your chest, while questions fill you head
..
Why can’t I
..
Why don’t I
..
Get it
..
Never get it
..
You pick up a pen and move it round the page
You know what it is that you want to say
but the words just don’t quite come out
..
It’s like your hands being pulled about
It’s like it’s dangling from a piece of string
Somebody is manning it, making you look like an inadequate little thing
..
As this must be torture and it must be cruel
That all your life you have to use all these extra tools
..
You fight through school
..
Battling with it
..
Laughing at it
..
The class clown, it’s the only way to survive
in this wild and roofless town
You achieve a grade but it’s not great
Pushing and dragging through it, like a pack horse on its way to market
Suddenly you’re in so-called adult life
You continue to have nightmares that you’re in that exam again, so you wake up terrified
..
It’s not easy
It’s not simple
..
People throw the term around like it’s going out of fashion
Oh, didn’t you know that Einstein had it
It means you’re creative
It means you have a talent
If only that was comforting to our small demographic
It’s those times that the words jump about and muddle across the page
It’s when you’re trying to speak your mind but out of nowhere those facts wander off and you’re left behind
..
It’s coming up with an idea that could be mind-breaking and world-saving but you turn your head to find a pen and suddenly it’s gone
..
It’s the constant feeling of being embarrassed
It’s the judgement and stigma that goes alongside it
It’s the shock covered faces and long lingered pauses when you say you’re doing a master’s degree. Well, I guess really that should fill you with some glee.

..

Our cities’ children

..
City fumes and red-faced greys
Broken roofs with slanted slates
..
Torn up hearts and calloused hands
Stamp your feet, if you have it hard
..
Tired eyes and sore feet
Endless days of fighting fit
..
Keep on moving, swim, swim, swim
This city never stops to breathe
..
So much anger, so much rage
As children curse instead of pray
..
Such panic fills their little hearts
It stops them play, it stops them laugh
..
Now I stop, to take it in
I wear a skin that’s paper thin
For I do cry and fear for them
Trapped in a maze with just a few better days.

Four poems by Caroline Johnstone

Solvitur ambulando

Sleep eludes me for we wait, and still we must wait;
for change comes slowly, slowly, in drips
of sweetened milk and force-fed quiet protest.

We must be ladylike as we rock the status quo.
Resistance must not stamp its feet, flaunt itself,
give anyone excuses to blame our sex.

They waved their placards, politely petitioned
for rights, took toffee hammers to shop windows,
set fire to the establishment –

yet still we pick our steps through cacophonies
of wolf whistle stares, sexist shaped salaries,
misogyny that chokes us, clings like muck to our souls.

It is not us who needs to clean our act up.

The moon turns the pages of a new century,
reaches to the corner of my room, shines
on my soft leather boots that sit, tongue silenced.

Worn out and ready to be polished, their impotent gaze mocks
my rage that this path still needs treading,
for we wait, as the world pussy foots around us.

The moon turns the pages of a new century,
reaches to the corner of my room,
shines on soft leather boots that wait to be polished –

optical illusions of movement, déjà vu dances.
Tongue silenced, their impotent gaze mocks
my rage that still we wait, we still have miles to travel.

..

Asylum

 

There were locked wards in the mental hospital I first worked in,
the kind that made you scurry away from the howling, banging,
heavy iron doors locked with jangling keys.

Outside our office, the ones they said were harmless mad
would wander, wait to pounce with sly smiles asking for money
for cigarettes, a ribbon for her unwashed hair, a stamp.

This was Katie’s home and prison; suitable accommodation
for family shame, far from observing eyes and lies and questions
for an unmarried mother with not even the money

to emigrate, take a boat journey to decency and respectability
in England, spend the next two years in slavery to pay
for the privilege of silence, face nuns taking her child

away for ever. She was never mad or bad, she could just never
forget his face, tiny white-nailed hands, pink lips that sucked
furiously in his desire to live, that left her crying for weeks,

tears spilling like milk from redundant breasts. Grief stalked her.
She haunted our letterbox, searched for replies for the letters
she sent with my stamps, no forwarding address.

..

Human Beings of the Lesser Spotted Kind
Half the sky’s still
Boxed in by their gender.
Each woman – meek and mile –
Should know her place.
Cultural frameworks created
And then categorised by men
Hold most in place firmly,
Deviation classified
A witch, a goddess, bitch;
Human beings
Of the lesser spotted kind.

..

Man Up

Scissors spilled out of her mouth,
sheared deep wounds in his psyche,
chopped things that mattered into pieces,
cut him right down to size

She chipped him away from his friends
and loved ones, flew into rages,
blamed and berated him, big waste
of space, for her failings.

In shame each evening, he picks up his invisible wounds,
then sweeps them under
the carpet, where no-one will see them,
and fewer believe.

Caroline Johnstone is originally from Northern Ireland, now happily living by the sea in Ayrshire.  She writes stories through her poems, mainly on philosophical, political and life experience themes and has been published in the UK, Ireland and the U.S. She is the social media manager for the Federation of Writers Scotland, is the Secretary for the Poets Advisory Group for the Scottish Poetry Library, is a member of Scottish Pen and the Scottish Writers Centre, and was the social media manager for the Women Aloud NI cross-community group.

 She writes books on journaling and happiness and wellbeing, and runs a number of workshops that dare people to be happier. .

Resurrection, by Terrence Sykes

in the 1800 block of Houston Street
in grimy Greenwich Village back
in the turbulent limbo of the 60s
..
that walk up cold water tenement flat
was a dream for a coal miner’s son
fleeing reality of Nam & poverty
..
printing press operator by day
fedora’d longing  poet by night
searching for whatever could be
..
took another name & age
premature gray hair brought
no suspicion to that resurrected life

Four poems by Mariangela Canzi

Auschwitz

 

Looking
at the snowflakes
falling down.
Memories of home
return
like a torturing
pain.
Snow is covering
the freezing huts,
whitening
the crematory roof.
A cheerful robin
is flying high.
Silence:
dreadful is the grief.
Silence:
death is coming on.

..

Dedication

To the proud losers
who chase their goals

To the bold pioneers
who share their passion

To the kind forgotten
who keep their dignity

To the strong poets
who spread their words

To the sweet dreamers
who grasp their moon

To the brave politicians
who destroy their walls.

..

donald:   by Mariangela Canzi and Rick Davis  on LINKEDIN

you are a monarch
and a run-away asteroid.
melania avoids limelight
as a dutiful concubine to the emperor.
you smother the defenseless
and teach the world
to revel in social media,
wear falsies and smirk.

You speak words
of deep hate.
you have buried your soul
in dark prejudice.
your forgotten are lonely
across the world.
you keep on wanting
barriers and fights.
we keep on writing
no borders no walls.

..

The Forgotten

The sky darkened slowly
in the poor dreary village.
People there yearned for life
beyond the inviting clouds.
They all prayed loudly
to reach the Promised Land.
They walked and walked
till they fell to the ground.
Children were lost in wonder.
Whispers and prayers flew up
in the weeping sky.
Wishes and hopes vanished
behind a cold wall.

..

Mariangela Canzi is Italian mother tongue, translator. Her passion is English language and literature. She started writing poems about two years ago. It was a joke, it is now a challenge and a pleasure.
She tries to express her feelings and thoughts about life and the world.

Black Hole Haiku (4/10/2019), by Clara B. Jones

for Shep Doeleman* & Dimitrios Psaltis*

Nobel in your hands,
Isn’t it? Men win again—
History written.

*Event Horizon Telescope Project

Clara B. Jones is a Knowledge Worker practicing in Silver Spring, MD (USA). Among other works, she is author of, Poems for Rachel Dolezal, published in January 2019 by GaussPDF.
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