Ballistic by Dominic Albanese

2,100 trans gender people
killed since 2003 or so world wide
a corrupt govt here
in lock step with
corparado……….desperadoes
in 4000 dollar suits
kids not get enough to eat
abuse neglect slander libel
an more cock a mamey lies
en Fibber MaGee….movie prophesy
songs poems polemics
nuke leak oil leak assorted natural
an man made disasters
is it gonna be Mad Max
or Monkey bang on monolith
I don’t know
religion greed politic greed
upmanshad …silly willy an the gang
calling all cars BOLO for any
*other*needs a bullet letter
to extinction
while really fat rich people
plot some outer space escape
leaving us me you n Gus
the mess they made
who knows? a whimper a bang
earthquake flood tornado?
or a
bunch of us
sittin on benches
crying bout why

..parlay.. by Sonja Benskin Mesher

win or lose.                    hedge  your edge.

write of parlay.             slowly ending bet.

forbidden child!             drift into another.

world.                                               tabbed.

dice or other  games.

no one wins…..

parlay

Love is not Love by Marissa Glover

that warns me I better not get fat.

You’ll leave me if I gain weight? How many pounds?

Because I can gain three right here, right now

before you finish talking—and will, with pleasure,

just in French fries and raspberry bliss martinis,

and I’ll happily lick the chocolate rim clean

and tongue-dive to the bottom of the glass

to tell you through my greasy, sweet, salty lips

to kiss my growing ass.

 

Love is not love

that hooks up with a sophomore tonight

and bangs a freshman tomorrow and tells me

to get over it because we aren’t exclusive.

Excuse me, Mr. FWB, but love is not love

that trades one body for another,

moving in darkness from cover to cover,

spreading heartache like some kind of disease

no condom prevents and no drug can ease.

 

Love is not love

that lies or hides behind equivocation—word games

and mind-fucks show no consideration for the woman

who hangs herself on every word.

Your words are rocks I put in my pockets

before I walk in the river.

You hold my heart hostage when you’re sorry but

not sorry enough to change. The head of the house,

you forbid me to feel what I was made to feel,

and tell me that what I know that I know that I know isn’t real.

 

Love is not love

that dumps me because I won’t sleep with you.

Sex is not how I measure your worth—

even if it’s how you measure mine.

I’m sure the space between your legs is a magical place,

but is it where your thoughts are born and raised—

where you show you’re smart and funny and kind?

No offense to your beautiful body, but why get angry

that I want to fall in love with your mind?

Can your cock hold a pen to paper and write

the story of your life? I’ll open my arms

to your poems, your fluff, your deepest thoughts,

your scary stuff, your emo diary off the cuff

journal doodle pad you hate your dad random Hufflepuff.

Willing to read you as you long to be read,

and you break up because I won’t jump into bed.

Love is not love

that tries to shrink my will to fit your size.
My name is not Anastasia, Mr. Grey.

Go away. Take your toys and knotted ties;

I don’t care what you saw Mia Khalifa do online.

Some girls might fall for your bandwagon appeal—

your logical fallacy rough sex gang train fantasy plea bargain deal.

But don’t assume my Yes to a date or a drink or a dance

means I want to get nasty or get in your pants.

The only blurred line I see

is the one between the man you are

and the man you ought to be.

For the record—

My name is Marissa, not THOT, T-H-O-T.

If you slap me, I won’t turn the other cheek.

You Ray Rice me, I’ll call the police.

Unless you are my child, there are conditions to my love.

If I did not give birth to you—end of.

 

Love is not love

that looks in the mirror at the end of a date

and wonders in tears, What part of me does he hate?

And then stuffs her face instead of facing her stuff

so she can take what she’s given though it’s never enough,

instead of walking away from anyone who says she’s too much.

God is love and God’s in me—self-love and Jesus

will make me complete. No more starvation or deprivation,

pretending I’m content to eat the crumbs

that fall from a man’s table while I sit at his feet.

 

My love for you lives in mitochondria

and spans the Texas sky,

a full-bodied 47 Cheval Blanc Viking war cry.

But love is not love that forfeits her own soul’s worth,

so in all of my loving,

I’ll love myself first.

 

Marissa Glover lives and dreams in central Florida, where she shares way more of her thoughts than necessary. Marissa considers sharing her form of charitable giving. If it counted as a tax deduction, she’d be rich.

My Generation by McKenzie Ford

When I sat down in my English class I heard from my teacher:

“Write a story about the future!”

I know what she expected

Flying cars, robots and super computers?

That isn’t what she got.

The children she teaches don’t see hope in the future, we see restrictions

And she didn’t tell us to write fiction – so we write what we predict

We wrote about strict governments and hopelessness

Because we see the inequality, we know

That everyone, everywhere is in danger

At home, on the streets, in a room of strangers

When did we stop believing in a bright future?

We stopped trying to invent flying cars

And we started obliviously destroying our nation

But I don’t think that’s what my teacher meant,

When she told us:

“Use personification.”

 

 

PR Moles and Astroturf by Michael Brautigan

insecurity protected
by corruption
 
why can’t you
talk to me?
 
suppression is
wrong
I do know
it can never be
right
 
only the suppressed
poets talk to me
now
 
the academics
are playing
hide the book
 
only outlaw poets
are legit
the only ones
who sympathize
and feel real pain
 
the academics
are playing
money games
and think poetry
has been turned
into some kind
of recipe
of ingredients
that only they
can afford
 
but I slipped through
the cracks
(by accident)
and now I’m
a permanent
stain
 
never been happier
in my life
 
cum on yall
don’t be afraid

Michael Brautigan is a poet, freelance writer, and activist who has published in the Milvia Street Journal, Unlikely Stories, Blink-Ink, Undergroundwriter, DM du Jour, Collective Exile, Carcinogenic Poetry, Red Fez, Return to Mago Way of the S/HE, Control Literary Magazine, Caesura Issue1 and Aubade, both edited by April Mae M. Berza.    

Angels by Micheál Gallagher

Mattresses airing at open windows –
this lingering vision has scarred his sixty years;
his abiding childhood recollection:
if it rains today, we’ll all sleep wet again tonight,
his mother had traipsed this same long hall,
was told: Sit there, sign that. Give him up!
Barely two weeks earlier, she had transgressed,
screamed in labour; frog-marched to an outhouse;
legs apart, she gave birth standing over
a steel commode, torn, left unstitched;
and the cold-eyed nun moved slow from bead to bead,
asked if it now was worth the few minutes
of passing pleasure.
..
Kept behind locked doors and iron gates,
a hundred pounds would have bought her freedom –
its lack condemned her to a lifetime of scrubbing
floors or clothes, cutting grass on hands and knees,
mending potholes; no letters, no talk, no bras,
name changed, hair cut, experiments – other parallels;
this the penance for her whore’s droppings,
atonement for leading faceless men on,
for being pretty, for being naive,
for being woman.
..
And her stolen child, a chattel, shovelled
from home to foster home, exploited, ostracised,
dragged through nettles, sleeping with pigs,
whipped and flogged, pot-bellied for want of food,
unloved, unschooled, a life blighted
and the torment of not understanding why.
A thwarted search for belonging, for a lost mother,
her illegitimate children symbols
of defiance of the church’s power –
they were not meant to meet again ,
all part of their shared punishment.
..
The search for his infant sister,
neglected to death  –
where to start among the hundreds
of communal graves; no headstones,
only a home made nail in a granite wall
to mark her anonymous presence;
was she coffined in a shoebox,
was she dumped in at pit filled to the brim
with baby bones? Bastard bones, unworthy
of investigation, of explanation.
..
So, we resealed the slabs that hid our sad, sordid secrets;
said prayers over the uncounted numbers, the unremembered names,
then taught ourselves to forget; taught ourselves to despise
and abuse and punish girls, stole their children,
buried them without respect or dignity;
crossed ourselves, smug in a theocracy that rained
Hail Marys and Holy Rosarys and Our Fathers
from one Saint Swithen’s Day to the next. Our fathers?
What of our unblamed fathers, skulking in anonymity;
what of our church that created the sin, allotted the blame,
turned our minds; what of our state, supine in its collusion,
blind-eyed to the brutality carried out in its name.
Fools, did they not know that innocence, wronged,
never rests, that we would not escape its haunting?
..
A poem written in response to reports that the bodies of nearly 800 young children are believed to have been interred beside the former mother and baby home in Tuam, Co Galway, Ireland.

When the Voice Comes by A.S. Ford

Laying still and curled up small,

the world dims and becomes quiet,

heart beating so hard it numbs

beats,

bangs,

bruises

the rib cage.

The disembodied voice

whispers,

shouts,

fills

  the room

demanding what it calls ‘forgiveness’,

for another chance,

while trying to hide the deceit

that lies so heavy on its tongue

drying out its throat to cease the words.

It is only seeking the power

that it once had:

a throne and a crown

of delusion,

fear

and pain

that I usurped,

keep locked away

no matter how much the voice pleads.

To destroy the throne and crown

is a temptation and desire,

but even just a glimpse of those

metals with their peeling gold plating

is enough to bring the voice back

to drown this room once more.

In Other Words, Freedom by Maria Stadnicka

The fatal morning Europe woke up and thought it had something to say,

there was nobody else left in the world able to listen.

Oh, earth, the bones had gathered to queue for bread,

by the front door at Saint Joseph seminary.

 

An ordinary day for ordinary death.

The bakery opened and closed.

The workers arrived on time for a last shift then went home.

The ovens had no traces of grain.

 

The ink stained hope filled up rusty water pipes.

The crowds’ whisper went on, up the hill, out of the city.

 

After that, freedom meant nothing.

It all came down to

who could hold the front running place the longest.

 

freedom

Maria Stadnicka is a writer, freelance journalist and lecturer.  She started writing at the age of seven and published her first poems in 1995.

Between 1996 and 2003 Maria lived in Iasi and Botosani, Romania and won 12 Romanian national prizes for poetry, as well as Porni Luceafarul… – First Prize for poetry collection and Convorbiri Literare publishing house, T. Arghezi – First  Prize for poetry and V. Alecsandri – First Prize for poetry.

She worked as a radio and TV broadcaster, presenter and editor in chief for Radio North-East, TV Europa Nova and Radio Hit and was a member of the literary group Club 8, Romania.

In 2003, Maria moved to England and in 2010 she became member of the Stroud Writers Group, Gloucestershire. She read poetry in London, Bristol, Cheltenham and Stroud. Maria is a freelance journalist and works as a lecturer at South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, England.

Maria Stadnicka published poetry in:
Wienzeile (Vienna, Austria);
Cronica, Poesis, Hyperion, LiterNet, Convorbiri literare (Iasi, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Suceava, Botosani – Romania);
Contrafort and Discobolul (Chisinau, Republic of Moldova);

Gracious Light and The Clouds (New York, USA);
International Times (London, UK).

Books and pamphlets:

O-Zone Friendly poetry anthology (Iasi, Romania ISBN – 973-99824-7-6, 2002);
Pamphlet 15Change and Permanence (Stroud, England, 2012);
Pamphlet 15Trust and Betrayal (Stroud, England, 2014);
– A Short Story About War, poetry (Yew Tree Press, England, 2014 ISBN 978-0-9562038-4-7);
Stroud Poets pamphlet, poetry anthology (Yew Tree Press, England, 2016 ISBN – 978-0-9956603-0-4);
Imperfect, poetry (Yew Tree Press, England and Two Wood Press, England, 2017 – 978-0-9562038-5-4).

:: birds sing :: by Sonja Benskin Mesher

she talked rapidly

about family,

history, opera, poetry.

 

i idled,

listened a bit,

eyed her clothes.

 

wished i dressed liked that,

treat myself,

et cetera.

 

then.

 

she told me

that

her uncle,

in war painted

white crosses on men who deserted.

 

an aim for those

who shot them.

 

she said,

he was never the same after.

 

birds1

 

. magna carta . by Sonja Benskin Mesher

is left behind with tiny writing. salisbury cathedral.

 

the back way. written in latin for those who matter.

 

those words and those words

an historian uttered sent me reeling          outside.

where air is cleaner.

 

oh , by the way

left you both there too. were you trying to appease

the barons?

magna

Environmental by Jo-Ella Sarich

I lay on my back beneath her underside,

wings fanning my fear like

six-pack rings around my wrists.

I wonder if she’d let me in, I wondered,

let me hide my sunburn. Would it

 

be the same in there, all those

pull-down charts where trees jut upwards

like arrows, rows upon

the FTSE index? I saw them

 

packing their men

like sardines in tin

dismounting the ocean’s surface

to the white halls beneath.

Free to

sleep against their notepads etched

with fly swat smears,

reach the nadir of

the exclamation dot,

and dream in all their

paper cities.

How deep to dive to reach her tears?

 

I saw

them marching their men off to war,

downward-trending like

16 types of endangered species. I saw

them grab branches with their tomahawk hands,

just to pull themselves ashore.

 

It’s OK, I’m use to beatings, she said.

 

I found her again like a

stray dog at the animal shelter. Maybe

it’s warm for January. I check

the mercury and pull

my jacket round her

just in case.

 

If tears were bullets, maybe

I could find a way

the words I need

to keep you safe.

 

I want to write about your sadness,

but my fingers strike

the depths of their feeding tubes

like concrete. There’s a shadow

On the water like a stain

and a stack

of paperwork to prove

you don’t exist. I turn

around and you don’t, and here’s me

believing

you’ve just gone back for more.

 

Fair Hera, with your ragged arms,

I don’t know how to reach your grief.

Did it pall beneath

the earth’s curtain,

faint soul under

the ocean’s feet?

Was it sucked inside the man-womb

where developers decorate the

brown-paper room with shards of clean bone

and boughs that link arms,

storms that have quelled, wings

that have long ceased to beat?

They’re counting up

 

the climate change refugees now,

when even all the fires from

the burning palm oil plantations

have failed to smoke you out.

The earth quiet like an ice cap, except for

 

the white bear-child

still searching like an albatross

for safety in

its mother’s teat.

 

Jo-Ella Sarich has practised as a lawyer for a number of years, recently returning to poetry after a long hiatus. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Verse News, Cleaver magazine, Quarterly Review, The Galway Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, takahē magazine and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017. 

Our Mobiles by Paul Brookes

(inspired by Cath Campbell)

are in the shape
of small graves
for children
who mine the precious
metal inside
that makes them work
and you look
into the screen
to stay connected
but do not see
their gritted lives
as they haul
the valuable
out of the hole
and the world
has never been
so connected
by the small grave
you carry in your pocket.

Supply Lines by Cath Campbell

Red skies crush rock and land,
crush this mineral rich community,
this scandale geologique,
crush this thin boy of six.
Santu’s feet slap grinding hours in early light,
hums his childing voice in western tunes.
He won’t reach nine without strong bones.
Devils drill his marrow, worm young lungs
until he cannot breathe. Cannot work
to dig the minerals from the dirt.
Can no longer carry sorrow on his back,
which hurts protesting heavy sacks.
I composed this poem on electronics
powered by ion battery boost with cobalt.
Samsung, Huayou and Microsoft.
I write about his death before its time
with the instrument of his demise.
I am sorry, Child. I am sorry …
Sorry you were born into this state.
It is not only bombs that decimate.

The Congo is the White man’s grave?
I find it not so true, after all,
for the graves here are very small.

Migration by Bill Pendergraft

along the marsh
the body of the little clerk
below the reed, magnolia arms
that stretched into the sea

I held him in my hand, a migrant warbler
eyes laid shut, a lolling tongue
no outward sign of harm, no broken wing or feather gone
his feet curled like two fists

I have seen him once before
a young man back from war
who sat silently in class
his head own on his desk

he had crossed the gulf each season too
returning to his father’s dock and nets
he did his work and like the tide
he was there, and then he left

we never understood his loss
or ours, no sign of harm
no broken wing or feather gone
yet worn by long flights home
when no one took his life
he took his own

..

From Bill Pendergraft’s forthcoming book, The Lowcountry

 

The son of an unknown soldier by Antony Owen

I want to think of you young in the parachuting smoke where you met him
his brass buttons cold against your cheek as you danced to conscripted tunes.
Your stolen kiss after war must have felt like a dabbed wound to his mouth.

I dreamt I was made in the waterfall’s shroud that dropped in tresses of red
and when you spoke his name dusk became an unpicked scab of no man’s land.

I am the son of an unknown soldier who died with earth in his fingernails.
I am the son of an unknown woman who lived in the earth with his hands.
His hands, his hands, his hands, was all she said when we danced each autumn.

Letter to Trump by Malka Al-Haddad

Write down

I’m Muslim.

I’m from Sumerians who taught your ancestors to write.

Who taught me the pride of the sun

Long before I could read.

 

Write down

I’m Muslim.

I’m from Hammurabi

Who taught American what is law and urban civilisation

You, who were neither well-bred, nor well-born!

 

Write down

I’m Muslim.

My roots were entrenched before the birth of time.

I’m from the Land of Oil:

Black gold, which is your dream to steal.

 

Write down

I’m Muslim.

You left nothing for us

But these rocks.

So will your state take them

As it has been foretold?

Therefore:

 

Write down

I’m Muslim.

Nor do i encroach.

 

But if I become angry,

The usurper’s flesh will be my food.

Beware.

Beware

Of my anger.

 

Write down

I’m Muslim.

I’m the hot sun in a desert of magic you cannot get

In your palaces of gold.

 

Write down

I’m Muslim

 

From the chocolate brown of my skin.

From my Mesopotamian civilisation your armies invade.

And left empty handed

 

Write down

I’m Muslim.