Guns Are (From A World Where 2) by Paul Brookes

good. Make you feel safe.
Make you more responsible,

like your own child. Nobody
hurts my child. I’ll shoot anyone

that does. My child needs
a decent education. Some shooter

Who wants to be famous kills
my little one in lessons.

I’m glad I’ve got my gun
so I can kill the shooter

and his family. Guns are good.
Make folk sit up and listen.

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We are not all in Hollywood by Nancy Levinson

1

On the hotel dance floor

at a high school reunion

just a few measures into

a nostalgic Patti Page song

a tongue was thrust into my ear

like a striking snake. The wet flick

startled my brain (encased ever so near)

and bolted me backwards

across the room to the bar or the terrace

or the ladies’ room      the aftermath

escaping my memory as I’d escaped

the man named John.  I’d met him

only moments earlier introduced

by his wife Peggy

a close high school friend

twenty-five years past.

 

2

In the sunny kitchen of our home

avocado plants lining the sill above the sink

the children’s school drawings covering

the refrigerator door     my brother-in-law Leo

greeted me hello dinner smells so good

with a hug akin to a simian’s long arms

clinging for life     then Leo added

an extended deep sweeping back rub

until I could extricate myself

and feign a foolish moment

or nothing at all.

 

3

We were talking about Ferdinand Magellan,

my editor Lavinia and I, seated

in a small Greenwich Village restaurant.

Earlier we’d been in her office reviewing galleys

of my biography on the explorer’s daring

and perilous seafaring adventure.

As planned, her husband joined us

and we scanned our menus by light of

a cluster of votive candles,

placed our dinner orders,

and sat back each with a glass of wine.

With the arrival of salad plates also came

the exploring hand of the husband

up my thigh all the way up

the shock knocking me overboard

into a roiling sea as I swiftly shifted

in my chair.  I was not in Hollywood

yet deserved an Oscar for performing

as if nothing had just happened beneath the table

where also sat the woman/editor/friend

whose husband had groped me.

 

never was I promised a ticket to stardom

threatened with a job loss

felt need to call for help or seek counsel

 

Only quiet waves of sorrow washed over me

told these sad tales

while keeping bonds between women

unbroken.

..

Nancy is author of MOMENTS OF DAWN: A Poetic Memoir of Love & Family; Affliction & Affirmation, as well as stories, poems, and essays that have appeared in many publications such as Confrontation, Poetica, Rat’s Ass Review, River Poets Journal, Burningword Literary, Drunk Monkey and several anthologies, including Getting Old, Take Care, and Oasis.  She lives in Los Angeles. www.nancyslevinson.com

That generation of men by Rob Cullen

How long did I work with people who were abused?
Thirty eight years of my life
but always meeting that resistance 
of silence and absolute denial by that generation of men.

Thirty eight years trying to get through a wall
of silence, of intolerance,
it seems ridiculous to me now the ends they’d go
to avoid listening or do anything.

I was known in the United States
my boss shut his door refusing to answer his phone
he was out or in a meeting his secretary said
when I could see his car outside my window.

That generation of men who believed children
asked for it in some way
or thought the abusers of children were right,
it didn’t do the child harm after all they’re still breathing still alive.

Thirty eight years of listening
and now I worry that nothings really changed
another generation of men
are not talking about what they really think.

ME TOO by Caroline Juskus

We raise our ME TOO banners to the sky,
Pink Pussy Power, feminine and strong
As silent women’s voices blaze as one.
United round the world, you hear us cry
‘To sexually harass is to defile.
We’ll take the rapists back to where they come
from deep inside the high walls of our wombs
and once a month we’ll cramp and bleed them dry.’

Alone she curls her legs upon her breast,
the icy water will not let her go
as guilt and sin and violation grow.
The widest ocean cannot wash her clean,
what words can trickle from her to protest
when countless more like her will go unseen?

 

In the time it takes 10 people to read this sonnet
one woman will have been raped in the UK
and two women sexually attacked in the USA

Caroline Juskus is studying a Creative Writing BA, is a kids’ author www.carolinejuskus.com and runs an art blog www.ompomhappy.com

The March by Antony Owen

For people like Joe and Jaz

 

A thousand flags joust the nationless sky
red, white, blue.
Those heavens are the home of our ancestors
of black, white, like me and you.

A thousand rags are the immigrants armour
St George of Palestine –
a life in bags from Drones of May and Obama,
Oh my darling Clementine.

A soldiers tags sway from her Mother’s neck
St Karen of Pwllheli,
A life in bags she is carried by Welsh Dragoons-
Mis-sold as British on telly.

A thousand noises yell violently what is British
none of them women.
A Sikh boy whispers silently, scared and skittish
His grandad fell at Ypres in British linen.

Amongst a plague of selective patriots I found the world
Aylan in the tide unfurled.

song of a cane flute by Donna Snyder

…we are the children of bridges, bridges made from our backs, our tears, our sacrifices, and from all the ones who never made it across with us…. Junot Díaz

low tones solid as her father’s sweet bread
high notes sing the vibrato of son jarocho
of a woman near tears but speaking still
words deep within the memory of cells

the cells are theirs
the lengua is theirs not mine
I can’t presume to speak their truth
yet their indomitable vigor lifts me up
fills with me with a sense of solidarity
a feeling of common purpose
and feelings need not be truth
but are still facts

the strength of la gente bears me up
out of the inundation of hate
their strength through persecution
through the suppression of truth
their unbroken backs carry me
across the chasm seen between us
a bridge between fear and resolution
inspiring me to be a revolution
this bridge called their backs

when I slip and fall I see shoulders and arms
rise up from where knocked to the ground
and those hands reach out to steady me
stand me on my own feet and take my hand
the gift of strength from one heart to another
a kind word from one tongue to another
the gift of memories not mine but shared

like the voice of a cane flute
calling out to the stars

..

Donna Snyder read this June 21, 2017 at Librotraficantes event, accompanied by Dr. David Romo. Written at a recent Tumblewords Project workshop led by Nancy Green.

Pandemic by Michael Peck

the sickness spread silently
starting in individuals
then into groups, government, and religion
the altar was cleaned of statues
a mirror set on the Gold leaf table
beautiful people stood before it
women fluffed their hair
men adjusted their ties
that was the genuflection now
wallets were placed upon the scale
donations made by weight
still, they all came on Sundays
to be seen
to smile, shake hands, brag about their businesses
no one seemed to notice
the church and God being transformed
once more by those who made them
and the rules

Will anyone who witnessed the collision between man and the environment by Ed Stone

I have the uncanny feeling I am being watched
by myself.  I move self-consciously,  clumsily.
There is no getting away from my hidden eyes.
For the past week I have been running
a peculiar fever , a low fever.  It makes my
feet cold despite the heat wave that engulfs
the city.  My tongue has a soapy flavor.
Any liquid except hot milk tastes brackish
and leaves me parched.  It is often impossible
for me to concentrate.  My thoughts become like
empty eggs floating in my head.  They collide
with crinkling noises.  I sleep dreamlessly,
never certain that I am asleep.  Sometimes
I am awakened by the sound of my own whispering
It grieves me that I cannot understand the words.

Ode to a Wounded Artist by Ed Stone

The onslaught
                   of icy dragons
is relentless
                  but bind your wounds
you will survive
                  you will live
and live
                  to create
such wonders
                  that never cease
such wonders that make
                  the lovely covenant
with thy neighbor’s life
                  which is your own:
To conquer?
                  yes, it seems true
the  vision appears only
                  in melting eyes
but weep not
                  weep not
get on with your work
                  and master
the art of breathing
                             fire.

the employed poor by Martin Hayes

they have a car a job with no contract they work for a company that has
a zero-tolerance policy on sick days and non-attendance they have a
flat with heating and food they have a bottle of wine of a night
they cook a pasta dinner for their two kids they try to buy their
kids new clothes and a mobile phone but it’s never the right
ones always 2 or 3 generations behind they are healthy but
nervous strong but fragile they have nothing in their
hands or tucked away under their beds they
are only one withheld monthly pay cheque
away from disaster one bosses decision
away from hunger one unfortunate
accident away from annihilation
one unplanned bill away from
tipping point one illness
away from seeing the
whole edifice of
their lives come
tumbling down
with no one
around to
help put
any of it
back
together
again

 

Cambiamento di paradigma by Brian Crandall

Depression, the quicksand of the mind

Creeping death

A dark shadow, slowly, ominously, painfully strengthening its deadly grip

On my conscious self

Pulling me under

I try to escape

Desperately reaching out for help

I try to take flight before I succumb to smothering suffocation

It was then I found

That my wings were bound

Era il dolore che ha portato la depressione

It was Pain that brought Depression

 

Pain grips my body,  squeezing angrily

Fiercely determined to crush my bones

Hoping to hear the snap, snap, snap!

As bones fall like dominoes

Pain laughs as I cry in agony

Throbbing.  Burning. Gasping

Grasping at the air, finding no one there

 

Dolore mi stava trascinando alle caverne di inferno

Pain was dragging me to the caverns of hell

 

Depression is a vacuum

Emptying my lungs of life-giving oxygen

Siphoning every molecule of life from me

 

I am the astronaut in space

Whose fabric has torn

 

Pain crushes physically

Depression is The Reaper

Together they pull my soul from body

Ripping the two apart
Violently

Tearing my soul away

From my heart

Slowly

Painfully

 

A tug of war I could not win

Demanding penance

 

For what sin?

 

A great storm has the power to change the path of a river

 

My Mind and Body became unrecognizable to my former self

 

 

La mia anima ha subito un cambiamento di paradigma

My soul experienced a paradigm shift

The fading spark was reignited

From lessons learned

 

A new fire burns

 

La Phoenix è aumentato

The Phoenix has risen

 

A transformation unexpected

A new purpose

Filled the emptiness

That Pain & Depression left behind

The blackest of coal became

The brightest of diamonds

 

Situations and realities, prioritized

I took the time to pause, and listen

I see the world with brand new eyes

New possibilities

 

With new found vision

 

Cambiamento di paradigma  

Paradigm Shift

Posthumously Poetic by Brian Crandall

I told her I was going to do this

She thought I said it for attention

I told him I was going to do this

He said in Christ I’ll find redemption

 

Their heart aches when they hear

another one died from suicide

“If only he’d reached out for help”

If only he tried

 

I did reach out for help!

My cries for help were ignored

You thought I was too weak

to fall upon a sword?

 

My friends, my family

They didn’t know just what to do with me

So they smiled at me, reacted ignorantly

“You will be fine” they all assured me

 

I’ll be fine?  FINE!!???

I won’t be fine and I know this

I look in the mirror and I see me

I am disgusted in me

Who I’ve become I am just sick of me

That’s why I have a gun so I can blow this

Image of me

Erase this

 

Memory

 

I hoarded all the pills and I told them

I could’ve made some money had I sold them

But I kept them

The hidden treasures that give me pleasures and send me to heaven

I used to take them two at a time

But when I spoke nobody listened

They couldn’t hear me, like I was a Mime

“You will be fine”

Now I take a bottle of pills with a bottle of wine

And bide my time

 

Fuck the doctor and his poisonous toxins

Fillin’ me up with percocet and oxycontins

Writing prescriptions for their profit

And now I’m hooked on them and can’t come off it

I have some pills but I need more

But there’s a limit of what I can get at the pharmacy store

 

So I look around and what I found is heroin

This is where the story it really begins

 

And where it ends

The Pains that Bind Me by Brian Crandall

I’m conscious
Unconscious
I can’t tell the difference

Pain clouds my thoughts
Can’t distinguish the reference

Acute and transmitting
It’s sending a signal
Crash into the brain
Sharpened daggers a symbol

These are the Chains that bind me
These are the Pains that blind me

I want to get out
I just want to go home
Existence so fucked
From defective genome

Forcing a smile and
Faking the laughter
Expected reaction
Then cry hours after

I don’t care if I win
I don’t care if I lose
I just want the end
God or Satan please choose

A thousand generations of pain
Screaming signals to my brain

These are the Chains that bind me
These are the Pains that blind me

Stockholm Syndrome by Brian Crandall

The silence is maddening
Pounding in my skull

I need it to stop
It’s my mind
I can’t control

I need the noise or
my thoughts go astray

Music might prevent

my suicide today

I hate your happiness
You’re always leaving me

Always laughing
Never loving me

I love my pain
It’s always there for me

It never lies or tries
to leave me or deceive me

It doesn’t love
It doesn’t please me
But at least it’s here
And it never leaves me

I just want to end my life today
Why would you even think
That I would want to stay?

Pain will keep me company today

Paradelle: to one seeking an end to conflict by Jan McCarthy

Meet me half way between guns and roses
Meet me half way between guns and roses
In the no man’s land of compromises
In the no man’s land of compromises
No man’s guns and half way compromises
Meet me in roses land of in between

O let my voice make equal weight with yours
O let my voice make equal weight with yours
If marriage of true minds is what you seek
If marriage of true minds is what you seek
Let equal weight of minds o marriage make
If true is what you seek, my mind with yours

I’ll not exchange my weaponry for yours
I’ll not exchange my weaponry for yours
I’ve felt too keen the wound those bullets make
I’ve felt too keen the wound those bullets make
Keen weaponry your bullets those I’ll not
Make my exchange too for the wound I’ve felt

If half way weight of me is what yours felt
Wound my true mind with no man’s weaponry
The I’ve and my o those I’ll not exchange
Seek for you too your bullets in between
Let equal guns make land of marriage meet
Roses make keen minds in compromises

To The Person who Told me Going to Keep Fit would Help me by Jan McCarthy

I smiled benignly, indulgently, but thought

Did you see me at five, tearing down the drive

on my scooter?

Or at eight, rollerskate like a demon?

Winning ribbons in swimming comps

Engaged in vigorous childhood romps

With my sister?

Mister?

At thirteen I was a wreck

Putting my all into weekend discotheque

And at the same time studying fiercely, fervently

All the way to glandular fever

I’m no deceiver

I did it!

Uni then, no gap year

Never fear!

Signed up for Saturday Night Fever and ballroom

I was quite a diva – believe it or not

I care not a jot

What

You might think

I think you stink

Rowed stroke in navy blue

Up and down that effin river from five till two

In snow and ice, sleet, hail – it wasn’t that nice

And for four years I rode a bike round town, from lecture to seminar

And back again

It was a teenager’s bike

That a friend won in a competition

With Kellogg’s cornflakes

No gears, I pedalled like a fury

So listen up, You are NOT my judge and jury

I was fit as a fiddle!

From there to work

Going beserk, typing so fast my fingers

could have fallen off

From there through moving house twice to babies

Four, to be exact –

Four times as many as you, mate

And in between, Saturday jobs at Christmas

Lugging toys from basement stock-room to shelves

It was me, weren’t the Elves!

After that, running around with push-chairs

For years, and laundry and shopping

Cleaning and mopping

Sweating till I was sopping

And travelling, lugging rucksacks and cases

Wiping sticky faces and drying tears

Then teaching, always reaching

Two bags on each shoulder, weighed more than a boulder

And a box of marking in my hands

While you were boasting of half-marathons

Weight lost, circuits completed

I was grafting, lessons drafting

No break for me

At last at fifty, feeling ragged to the brim

Caving in

I joined a gym

Three times a week, cross-trainer, keeping trim

Until the hip bust, and then the knee

And so you see

I do not need you saying

‘Cause I’m more than paying

For my mad and frantic life of exercise.

And no

No

I am not going to spin class, or sixty-plus zumba with you!

Bitter Charity by Jan McCarthy

he’s come look no don’t look
I just wanted to check
come from his den in the foxgloves
under the tumbledown bridge where cowards fear to tread
he’s there he’s there across across the street
bare hand in bin with gilded coat-of-arms
noblesse oblige for rubbish
lion rampant regardant, coatless he under cruel April snow
where is the coat we left him?

the watching curtains twitch
those who sat cosy, chicken dinners on laps
watching the Real News far far far away
safe distance suffering you are too too close
just outside and close enough to smell
but windows are tight shut, all doors tight locked
against you, the cold, the air that makes one think

what if he’s still there when we go shopping?
they say to each other as gravyed lips go twitch
they should have rat’s whiskers so should we all

he grins a rictus as he pulls it out
styrofoam box, toxic apricot nest
for probably overly sumptuous
chicken dinner we put there before
I’ll not watch now, give privacy to public deprivation

we’ll get it in the neck tomorrow we
from the neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Rat
they can say what they like we deserve all kinds of guilt
and it should be about him, not about us
ladle it on: the flavour is far from alien
but bitterer now, sticking in the throat
for some hot reason I had best decipher
for my own personal, lasting true salvation
but I fear I know: it all comes back to self

We’re such cowards! We should have taken his meal to the bridge;
invited him in to eat; set a dangerous precedent
Who knows what might come of that? Eh? Think!
Rape? Robbery? Murder? An eviction order?
Ah well in that case, friend, leave it alone.
The important thing is the roof over our heads.

#metoo by Laura McKee

blood from a stone
when it did come
had not greyed inside

did not know
it was no longer fresh
blood no it flowed

as red as
the day it began
to be contained

in the veins of something
picked up
looked over

put down or
sometimes thrown
to watch it bounce

..

Laura McKee’s poems are all over the place. She maintains an adoptive cat and four variously present offspring. Twitter: @Estlinin