brtanny image 1.jfif

Original image by Britanny Tarantino, 

to accompany her poem 'In Her Eyes' [see below].

Short Day

I left work without permission early

My wife was home crying

If I said I didn’t know it would cost me my job

I would be lying

 

She was the one who counted the most

First thing I did after I kissed her

Was make her favorite tea and toast

 

Sometimes you got to prioritize

Sometimes you can’t compromise 

 

She was there for me

I was there for her

The rest of the world to us

Was no more than a blur 

 

She had it rough when she was a kid

Use your imagination what her daddy did

While mommy hid

 

She gets these spells when she revisits the Hells

That’s when I arrive for her alarm bells

 

She is there for me

And I her

The rest of the world

Remains a slur

 

I got another job the very next day

And the next time she cries

I will again walk away

 

Yes I know

My work habits ain’t fair

But if it ain’t happening at home

It ain’t happening anywhere

 

You see

She was there for me

And I am here for her

And when we are together

The screams and the blistering silence of the world 

Are never heard

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

And Still

 

Got the message today

My big love

Was not coming my way

No, not a delay

Will not be mine

On any day

 

But say what you want

Don’t say it if you will

When the dust settles

It is easy to explain

I will remain

The voice will not be shrill

It will announce

 

And still

 

I am what I am

I am not what I ain’t

I’ll be the judge and jury

What will be on my plate

 

I am my own first mate

 

And still 

 

What me worry?

Of course I will

So what if my paranoia

Pays all the bills

Empty or full

It is the same swill

 

And still  

 

Undefeated am I

Weather lose or kill

The address wont change

Only the surroundings will

 

And still   

 

But

I am not always that consistent

I simply accidentally on purpose forgot

To add down what I have lost

And tally up what I got

The underneath rudder will not tell the tale

Of what will still be flying above the sails 

 

Look at it this way

Or don’t look at all

No need to say it twice

I will always hear the call 

 

And still   

 

Don’t you know

A perfect record

Of 0-0

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

Image supplied by Leeau V.I. to accompany her poem 'My Only Nanay' [see below]

My Only Nanay

 

Nanay was born

the superwoman we knew

offering her might

through thick and thin

such extreme suffering

she stood sturdily on her feet

 

shakily

she struggled to raise us

six angels of different ages

 

in what manner?

sewing dresses by paddling her tailoring machine

day and night

 

a bloodstream

no one can imagine!

 

her only trusted friend was a bottle of wine

 

in her strenuous grip

fringed by nightfall

she whispered miseries

hardship and anguish

to nothingness!

 

was the bottle of wine her sole confidante?

did anyone heed her cries?

 

 

Leeau V.I.

 

Manila, Philippines

 

 

 

 

They Call Her Joy

 

her name is Joy
so they call her Joy
but she herself doesn’t know
what joy really means

 

she enjoys singing,
imitating the singer she likes the most
but gets distressed
when out of tune

she fears for her future
that she'll vanish unsatisfied

in her 40s she works the days through
because she only wants the best
for her children

she acts fine for you and I
wrapping in secret the darkness she keeps

 

thrown into a foreign district
far from her comfort zone
she’s learning to adapt with all her might
but some make her unwelcome

her mom named her Joy
the only joy of her own miserable past
but misery still flows through the family veins

 

at times she fancies a wealthy life
to make her world go round

 

 

 

Leeua V.I.

 

Manila, Philippines

 

 

 

    

Joe, A Good Friend

 

I grew up in a forsaken village

a rose firmly guarded by thorns

blindfolded and naïve

where life-teachings were rigid and stiff

 

when they thought I’d bloomed

they picked me out like a vibrant rose

 

sent to adulthood

I lacked goals and scared easily

I learned only slowly how to get a grip

I didn’t know what to value most

 

in my second college year

a confidante called ‘Ate’

showed me the world

life became easier

days turned happier

I imagined fixed things

and gripped them tightly

but the time came to separate

go different ways

Ate went to the south

and I only halfway south

soon Ate met her better half

and I like a rose was left alone in a vase

 

I wilted for years

falling, like petals off a flower

 

but God is kind

he heeded my lamentation

he picked me out, put me safe

he gave me Joe, a good friend

a person to love

the person I deserve

God is great!

 

 

Leeau V.I.

 

Manila, Philippines

 

 

 

The Last Time I Saw Paris

 

According to the poets

This is how it ended: the tall towers

still ablaze, me struggling in my husband’s arms

as he dragged me to the waiting galleys.

I yearned, they say,

to join my love among the dead, to drown myself

in the sea - which was of course wine-dark.

 

In reality, Troy had become tedious.

As I stepped distastefully around the corpses,

I reflected that Paris would not have aged well.

I didn’t even mind when Menelaus

Whispered to me: “You understand

This was all about politics. For you,

I would not have launched a fishing boat.”

 

Back here in Sparta, life is bearable.

There is a young envoy from Corinth

who is pleasing to the eye…

 

Oh, and by the way,

I don’t think there were all that many ships.

 

 

David Whippman

 

Blackpool, England

 

 

 

Bedsitter Blues

 

The room and I did not choose each other:

Circumstances have shipwrecked me here

In this shaped vacancy which seems

Geometrically indifferent to my needs,

Uncomfortable as new shoes. Reluctantly

I unpack, stick posters on walls, the banners

Of an occupying army. Now I must wait

As if to be rescued. In time, the room

Will contain friends, be warm on winter nights,

Acceptably surround me as the radio sings

Of possible relationships. By the time I leave

This space will be a perfect fit for me.

 

 

David Whippman

 

Blackpool, England

 

 

 

 

My Mask

 

For special effect

I was born with a birth defect

My birth certificate

With not quite a face that fit

 

Very not quite

Very not right

 

I learned to take it

But failed the test

Inside I was smart

Outside?

Not at my best

 

Even thou better than many

In public

Still hurting plenty

 

Born with a jaw so out of whack

It looked like it went thru a Martian attack 

People not only stopped and stared

They got on their knees lit a candle and said a prayer

 

Then they went on their way as I went on mine 

Same scene different time 

 

In school so cruel

Not only them

But I was a fool

Owning my condition at that point

Was a useless mantra repetition

 

Learning to take it

Learning to make it 

 

A pandemic at last

I had a simple task

To purchase a mask

A mask to adore

My mask that I wore

My sexy cover up and wow

My accented blue eyes 

How do you like me now?

 

Keep it going

Keep the vents flowing  

 

Well, that is so wrong

But when ye have been singing my song

Bewilderment screws with right and wrong

 

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

My Last Address

 

Before you come to

The end of your earth

Look back

To what you thought was your worth  

 

You have found in this world

This is the deal 

You never know what you’ll get

When you pull whatever over

And see what is behind the wheel

 

Between the heights  of joy

And the depths of fear

On the train to your last stop

Sit in the front and not in the rear 

 

All the good things in my life

Slowly never did last

At the end of it all

I only ask

How I got here so fast?

 

Around the corner 

Thru the avenue

Turns the pages

Till at least page two

Have a step

In my shoes

Now give them back

They were not made for you

You can wear them again

When you’re done thru and thru

 

Ain’t no use denying. At this stage of age

It’s the groceries and the writing

That fill my  page

After I jerk off

I’m glad I’m alone

I like going steady and being faithful

With my pen and my bone

Well

We all choose

Where we will roam

 

At end of the thicket

One mans bucket list

Is another man’s fuck it

 

I was a good looking  kid 
I didn’t know it at the time

I say that with a smile

Because I won’t know what I have right now

Till I look back in a while

 

This could be my last summer

If it is that’s great

If it ain’t

Even better

I am bereft of complaints

 

All I have lifted

All I have dropped

All will be forgotten

At my last stop 

 

Maybe a window by a big dog park? 

 

In my shallow ridges

And deep valleys

No one can follow thru

When you burn your bridges

The last one I fired

I dedicate to you 

 

Before I came to this crossing

I was the boss

I dotted all the Is

But the ts were not crossed

 

 

So

Give me sunshine

Or give me moonshine

Just don’t waste

My un-precious or my time

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

 

Aling Deliah

 

Blackcap, blue facemask, pink long sleeves shirt, ebony gloves,

Wooden pushcart, aqua green bins covered with big black trash plastics bags and walistingting,

She sweeps around this corner at three in the morning.

She sorts out the garbage nabubulok at di nabubulok,

‘Are you always alone at this hour?’

‘You don’t have a companion?’ I ask.

‘I had. She's sick with Covid. So, I am alone now.’

Street sweeper

 

 

Zea Perez

Philippines

 

 

Wish You Were Not Here

 

It took a second

To fall in love with you

And a million years

To not get over you too 

 

You are taking up

Quite a bit

Of real estate

In my head

I mortgaged my soul to you

You could at least now

Pay some of my rent too 

 

One step up the stairs

Is your first name

The next step your last 

Get what I am driving at 

Replete

Repeat

Oh look, here comes the past 

 

Are not beginnings

So sweet and lovely

So nice

To start out winning

Until the finishing 

 

I reckon

Since I was the one

Left behind

I only remember the good times  

Since I was the one

Left for good

I should ponder the bad times 

I wish I could   

 

I even loved your stupid family

Even though they made fun of me 

Your brother gave me a haircut

During his freshman year at beauty  school that was so fucking bad

I told him it was the best haircut I had ever had

 

You were my last lifeboat 

In my raging sea

But a  couple of seafaring years down the road

And it looked like your eyeballs were going to explode 

 

The thing of it all that allows me to come up and breathe

Is that by the end of my third acts I make it by the skin of my teeth

 

Oh well

 

Everything has its shelf-life 

Everyone has their span

And their ain’t no difference

Between beast, woman or man 

 

The very bottom line you see

Is two eyes, a nose and a mouth

And every beast, woman and man 

Just wants to be happy

 

Maybe that includes me

 

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

 

Say Something Funny

 

Been a bad day

Like the day before

And the day before that

Let me sit in your living room

With your cat on my lap

Say something funny

You know I love you like that

 

Play your piano

If you hit a wrong key, I won’t make a fuss

And oh yeah

I’m sorry I never became rich and famous

Say something funny

It’s only the three of us

 

Dare to dream I did

Got to scream I did

Never got to play that special part

Got stuck in isle three

With an empty shopping cart

Say something funny

And say it from your heart

 

A smile from you

In the morning to start

Makes my day when you

Play that special part

Gets me going to do what I do again and again

Say something funny

Everything will be alright

Make my darkness shine bright

 

Well, it’s never too late 

To be a happy early bird

Would you like to live forever with me? 

Say something funny

Yes, is the word    

 

Your, our cat, is hungry and thirsty

And so am I, I mean we

Say something funny

As you look at me with those eyes

Say something funny

As we have our Martinis, ice cream, and pie 

 

I love you so much

I love being your guy 

Say something funny

While I dry my listening eyes

 

 

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

 

In Her Eyes

 

What no one knew is she had been through it, and at this point, she saw no reason to throw a fit.

 

She kept her secrets under a rug, what else could she do? Everyone did nothing but shrug.

 

She did everything she could, struggling in the silence. Who could she turn to? She grew up with no guidance.

 

Inspiring people of all ages even when her mind was wrapped in cages. Not even sage could cleanse all this rage that was kept beneath the rug in her brain.

 

When she spoke, she choked on almost every word, pouring out what she felt, praying for hope.

 

There was no drug, hug, and no one to blame she had been broken and excepted the pain.

 

Where does she go now? Who does she know? She continues to wake up every morning fighting the snow.

 

The world on her shoulders and life on her back, there’s a reason she can’t afford the slack.

 

The rope pulls tight until it just hangs her clothes this is where she is…this is what she does.

 

 

 

Britanny Tarantino

 

South Carolina, USA

 

Manila - The Haven And The City

 

Inside the room: Morning Chimes and Stirrings

 

Pandan scent

conquers the room

at the tick of a rice cooker

 

A crackling

in a pan, frying

sunny-side-up eggs

 

A ping

signals ‘all done’

in a bread toaster

 

A clap

from a heater

telling ‘boiling water is ready!’

 

A spoon

stirring in a blue cup

fixing a creamy Barako coffee

 

A fan

lightly humming

beguiling the air

for a cool morning

 

Piano masterpieces

of Makiko Hirohashi

playing, rejuvenating the senses

 

A laptop

clicking, clacking

declaring the start

of a hopeful, fruitful day

 

safe haven

cozy, quiescent

relaxing, reading, sleeping

the “me” universe, a sanctuary

the bedroom

 

respite

ivory white, shampoo scented

cleansing, reflecting, pondering

a place for eliminating toxins literally, figuratively

the comfort and shower room

 

a space of memories

tiny, orderly, functional

working, cooking, dining, talking

a small table and seats, a stove and a ref and wood cabinets for utensils

the premier room: our home

 

terrace

brown, wood-like floor tiles, ebony railings on the side

clambering grapevines coiling on clothesline pole

feathers of dove birds, brown, white and grey falling from the top floor

herbs, fern-like flowers and vegetables growing in recycled pots of plastic mineral water

a viewing corner of hollering trucks and cars, honking motorbikes, bellowing ambulance and patrol cars, peddaling bikes on the road

an oasis amidst the bustling city

 

Blue Cup

breakable earthenware

soothing, revitalizing, reviving

my companion every morning

coffee

 

 

 

Outside: The City’s Morning Buzzes

 

Maya birds chirping

freely perching on the grapevines

basking and adoring

the sunrise

 

A door

gently clicks

as it opens and closes

of an adjacent neighbor

 

A nasty whiff

the smell of nicotine

its vapor tarnishing

the air

 

The dogs

At the next block

hostile and snarling

echoing a ‘commotion’

 

Vehicles

all of various kind

lively running, horns bellowing

on the main street

 

Women

in baker’s apron

yelling as they open

the famous Gluten Pastry Shop

 

A metal gate squeaking

ushering a car

going out

somewhere

 

Church bells tolling,

greeting and praying

for the safety

of the flocks

 

Scurrying ambulance

fire trucks

and police cars

hollering, bellowing

 

A distant audible

TV news, broadcasting

close to a million Covid-19 Cases

nationwide

 

Working women in apron

lounging at the entrance of a sweet shop

telling jokes and chuckling with blue facemasks on

one asks, ‘Will you be having a vaccine?’

the other women merely blink their eyes.

 

Lone long black-haired lass

bought a kakanin, waiting for jeepney

in pink shorts, white tee, facemask and shield on

are her extremities all painted with moss like tattoos?

a fair young millennial in her sneakers

 

Three big tummy men

enjoying their break, chatting in distinct tone

tucking out their sando shirts, revealing fat bulges

One says, ‘I thirst for a drink of rum!”

The men howl, ‘Wish for no virus, wish for no lockdown!’

 

Law enforcers and tanods in uniform

Trafficking the road, ensuring quarantine rules

Delivery guy asks, ‘Is lugaw not an essential food?’ A tanod replies, ‘Not essential!’

Poor exhausted delivery guy went home with his cold lugaw

The netizens rage, ‘Lugaw is food! It is essential!’

 

Zea Perez

Philippines

Here They Come

 

The ones

You see coming

Are tougher

Than the ones that come

Sudden and stunning

That kind of shock

Would crush a rock

But it’s over real soon

The far away ones

That you see like a full moon

By the time they arrive

You have already

Lost your hide

 

Fast or slow

Which is better

What speed should

They come and go 

 

I slowly waked down the hall

Opened a door

My innocent intention

Was just to settle a score

But when I  got in

There was a freeze

In my brain

I planned it so long

I must have over-trained

Fast and loose

Like a runaway caboose

 

Things come and go

Only difference

Is fast or slow 

 

I have run

I have rendered

I have won

I have surrendered

All I remember

Was the speed

That it started

And ended   

 

I’ll try to figure it out

A little more

Remember when people

Looked you in the eye

Real slow

And then faster a bit some more

 

Slow motion

Or

Locomotion

In our own time

We all crawled out of the same ocean   

 

You don’t have to see it coming

If it’s inside of you humming

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

All The People    

 

If you try real hard

You still can not see them in the air

But they are still there 

If you try real hard

You can not hear them right there

Hey

I never said

It is fair

 

All the people and pets

That loved you

Before they died 

Still stay by your side

 

I once had a blind cat

A true love was he 

I now know

That now he can see 

You see him with me?  

 

All the people and pets

That loved you before they died

Did not travel that far

They have your ear and eye

You are still on their radar

 

I twice had a wife 

Both are through

But I know

I am still sleeping

With number two

 

 

All the people and pets

That loved you

Before they died

Are still here for the ride

Are still here when you slip and slide

 

I had a child

A lovable wild child

Running wild

Was here one day

Then the next

Not on file

There is he now

He is the one with the smile

Like they have all the while  

 

All the people and pets

That loved you

Before they died

Wait for you to join them

Wait right by your side

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

Morning Traffic

 

This morning, from my bedroom window view,

I watched a dog sniff down my garden path.

He did not know I watched him as he tasted

The red camellia blossom that he bit in half.

Then he licked the morning dew

From several blades of grass,

And with glancing eyes and shifting paws,

He jumped aside to let a caterpillar pass.

Excited by the sidewalk sounds,

He turned to watch, unabashed,

The parade of morning leashes

With captive dogs attached.

Then, with stately canine grace,

He turned around and left the place.

 

 

William Masters

 

San Francisco, USA

 

 

 

 

The Sunset Window

 

When the sun gradually edges down,

bright red-orange rays,

shall gander on this glass window

the horizon shall welcome the dusk to come

gradually clasping the darkness.

To wrap up the day,

this window never fails

to regale me vignettes

of tales around.

 

In late evenings

and sometimes at dawn,

this window makes me notice

the husband of a neighboring couple;

smoking silently on the balcony

filling the air with its nasty nicotine

vapors beckoning his fairy slumber

work and life must be tough?

His fume goes insidiously

thru the window

tearing inside the house

slithering into my nose

stifling my breath

I pray his fairy to come quickly

and usher him to sleep.

At midmornings

I see this pretty wife

humming to a love song

sang by Regine Velasquez

while she hangs dry their freshly washed clothes

to this line pole;

the pole where the grapevines

stoutly creep around during summer.

The wife must have empty

this fabric conditioner

a Sampaguita scent

conquering the air with its whiff

intoxicating my nasal senses

inebriating all our corners

sousing even straight up into my bed.

 

On some occasions

this window offers me

snatches of Roe’s older sister,

having sweet moments,

with her boyfriend,

whispering inaudible voices,

and little muffled laughs

sometimes,

I sense of livid silence

perhaps a lover’s quarrel?

 

Yet this window

has a darling tale of Roe

a dear neighbor

who takes images of the sunset each day,

who gathers her dry,

washed garments every fourth night

an almond-eyed lass,

so lurid at seventeen,

she tells me snippets

of her online classes

that Algebra is her mess

and how she saves a dime

paying this pricey internet

other times,

she delights me with tales

of her mom’s work in a foreign land

where she takes care of kids

like Roe’s age.

Or how her mom instils discipline

through phone messages and calls.

Roe studies hard

because she tells me

she has a dream

a dream of a better life

where she can take care of her mom

and her mom is home to take care of them.

Roe will cook Pinakbet for her,

and at chilly nights, 

Roe shall secure her lovingly with a bandana

until she gets old.

 

 

Zea Perez

 

Philippines

 

 

 

We

 

I am walking

In the midnight air

Remembering the times

You would let me climb your stairs

A raven is flapping

High on a tree

Do you ever

Ever think of me?

 

I am moving up

A sunlit lane

We would watch the rain

From your window pane
Fish float

As they sleep in the sea

Would you consider

Maybe a friendly

Cup of tea? 

 

You’re the one

That was my light

The only one

That

Lasted more than

One night

Here I go

Causing my own fuss

Is it

Crazy

To still think of us?

 

We have

More yesterdays

Than tomorrows true

I don’t want

To get older

With someone new

Get me a time machine

Get me the past

Or should I

Just hoist my mast?  

 

Well

Here comes the anchor

I am sailing away

And that is that

I’ll put down

When I get to where I am at someday

And why should I complain?

Oh, I know why

For your love

I’m as blind as a bat

 

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

Two On The Aisle

 

A snake

And a dove

Walked towards the kingdom of love

That’s what some of the bile

Was said

Referring to me and my future wife

Walking down the aisle 

 

They told her father

What surely would come 

You’re not losing a daughter

You’re gaining a bum 

 

They saw clear thru me

Like a dirty piece of glass

They were concerned about her future

And leery of my past

If a tornado stopped the wedding

It would be an invited blast 

 

I did have a few fans in her family

Only because they were worse than me

 

We don’t how it happened

But we stuck together

I’m certainly not saying

There was no stormy weather

All our dreams

With us aboard

Set sail 

I even managed

To stay out of jail

 

It all became a happy steady course

Most of the wedding party

By that time were divorced

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

 

 

Survival

 

I lay in my bed

As I run in my head

My survival

Has been nothing more

Than a tired road show revival

My look is not presidential

My failures have not been accidental 

 

Like you and all

I like to self-destruct

Like you and all

I like playing in the muck

 

I don’t want to get involved

I don’t want to get hurt

My acts of kindness

Come in spurts

 

Most of the time

I waste time

Counting up what is mine 

And what is yours 

And how low

I have climbed

 

Inch by inch

Step by step

I choose the wrong

Things to regret

I take nothing accomplishments

And give them too much respect

 

I don’t need to fly

I’m ok just getting by

Take my pride

I offer it to survive

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

All The Things I Left Behind

 

When I want to run and hide

From myself

And the junk inside

I remember the things

I left behind

The pillow

As a boy where I would rest my mind

My night light

My toys

My books

Outgrowing my shoes

When they became too tight

I miss these things

Like a plant misses light

In the middle of the day

In the center of the night

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

Love And War

 

All is fair

In love and war

If you do your shopping

In an empty store

 

Look out your window

And see what is fair

How can you argue with a world

That just doesn’t care

 

 

Oh sure, you can plan every move

Like an officer, and not a gentleman

Let’s see which one could be more uncouth

 

 

You heard I’m banging your sister? 

She has nice hair

Haven’t you also heard

It’s all fair   

 

I remember a  time

When people at least pretended

To give a fuck 

Now we have the lottery

For just one buck

 

After a bout of darkness

After wiping off my lips the kiss of death

Maybe there is somewhere later

I could rest and take a breath 

 

Then again, and again.

 

There is nothing as nice as meeting you

For a middle of the night touch

Why do we feel guilty

For having too little

Or having too much

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

No More Valentine’s Day

 

No more flowers for me today

no more sweets,

no chocolates

Will I keep on

loving this solitude

and air of cold weather?

Will I stay on

hearing this insipid

sound of peddling bikes

and running cars?

Will I get accustomed

to this monochromatic horizon?

Will it take longer

for me to bear

these rain clouds

of February?

A looming crisis

is still coming

No glimpse of let-up yet

with pandemic lockdown

No face-to-face classes

no mass gathering

no friends coming

no flowers,

no chocolates

no sweet notes

on this Valentine’s Day.

 

Zea Perez

Philippines

 

 

Old

 

I like being

Home alone with my teeth out

It’s your problem

If I resemble a pre-historic trout

You can unlike me

Always get out

 

I like looking back                                                                                                                                       

And see what I have done

I like calling someone sometime

Young Lady or my son

 

I listen to these old songs

That you think are crap

I, on the other hand, even like rap    

 

I have not home-owners insurance

I am a renter

I meet women

At the senior center

My car is a bus

My health is a bust 

 

My coffee mate is Coffee Mate

The packs with the nice strips

I use to have coffee with my cat

But he jumped ship 

 

It isn’t such a question of getting out there

I guess we all could use some fresh air

But life is so un-fair

I think I’ll stay in here 

 

I have dodged many life hatchets

Keeping my head from the baskets

Still I could hang myself up

Like I would a pair of pants

I don’t think anyone would be interested

In the circumstance

Keep your eyes on my feet

And spy my last dance 

 

Then again 

 

This leads to this and this leads to that

I think all I need

Is a gimmie shelter cat.

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

 

Poet’s Heart

 

Why am I cursed with a poet's heart?

Every pain multiplied to me,

Why am I cursed with an artist's eye?

Every ruin too beautiful to see.

 

Why am I cursed with a poet's heart?

My tears be flowing a sea,

Why am I the one who feels this,

Pain too simple to see?

 

My artist's eye sees the sadness

The one you hide in your eyes,

And I curse my poet's heart cause,

It is a poem to me.

 

 

Anne Silva

 

Kandy, Sri Lanka

 

 

 

 

Back from Spain

 

Black clouds, white clouds

Skating over grey-blue sky

Making moving pictures.

Patterns merging, moulding,

Ever changing metaphor

Of life.

 

The garden ripens

With the waiting Autumn’s fruits

Among the green-leafed trees,

A plethora of colour -

Reds, pinks, purples,

Yellows, whites and blues

Of multitudes of flowers,

Upturned heads

Worshipping the whispering rain.

A dozen shades of shrub

Shiver in the breeze

In an English garden,

On an English day.

 

“Look at the mountains

soaring high above the sea,”

they said. I looked.

Where nothing grew,

I knew

They hadn’t seen the bloom

Of heather on the Moors,

The verdant, grass-blessed Dales.

They hadn’t walked the Aysgarth

Paths, or watched in wonder at

the life-force

of

A waterfall

Cascading

To an ambling stream.

Their blue sky, never changing

Seared my eyes.

Their desert held no promise

For my soul,

Only pity

For their “beauty”

Made so bare.

 

 

Jackie Hales

 

Yorkshire, England

This Little Corner Of Mama S

 

Did fate bring me to you, Mama S?

I seem to find serenity

just looking at you

relishing your humble space

in this little corner of the world

where babies

are blissfully born

by their mothers

hushing their cries

touching

smiling

so vibrant and reassuring

 

Did the sun,

the moon, and the stars

feel the same way I felt?

confoundment

and exultation

Will I be like you

a contented septuagenarian?

Can I also hush a baby’s cry;

with my touch and smile?

 

Can I hold you now, Mama S?

I seem longing for a mother’s touch,

Pandemic and lockdowns

get hard and tougher

my soul more than ever

needs a hush

Can you illuminate me

the ramifications of life and living?

Can I be your daughter for a day?

 

 

Zea Perez

 

Philippines

 

 

 

FAMILY

She was a family girl

He had none

He liked the rain

She liked the sun

The more he pushed back

Them more she would run

To him 

 

She loved horses

He gave them apples

But would never ride 

He let it all out

She kept it all inside

Except for him

 

So

 

You know what they say

Opposites attack

Never mind that

They got it on track 

 

And for a bit

No love did they lack 

 

There are a million reasons

But only one stirs a pout

Who really knows why

It doesn’t work out

 

So

 

They looked for answers

High and low

All they could come up with

Was I don’t know

 

So

 

They kept in touch

Through out the years 

They could have been

Each others careers 

 

But

 

They closed up shop

After every juggled ball dropped

 

Her family still liked him

And his persistence

Just as long

It was from a distance

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

 

Tell

Tell the words of of your song

That you did nothing wrong  

Find someone that wants to listen

You don’t know what you’re missing 

 

But

You have got to remember this

Sell your song as you would sell a kiss

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

Today

           

Today I make take me off the shelf                                                                                                                 

Today I may spend some time liking myself

Today perhaps I won’t stare at my face

Today a temporary honorary member of the human-race 

 

Let us take a walk, me and me and see where we roam

Let us be together instead of all alone

Let us see how long it takes to get out the door

Let us do some window shopping and see what is in store

 

Maybe the distance between us is not that grand

Maybe we do share the same area code in the same land

Maybe I will stay outside for a while

Maybe today I find that elusive reason to smile

 

Going to see what happens after a few steps

Going to give myself a medal instead of a flag of regrets

Going to fondly remember all my past pets 

Going to remember holding hands with you watching sunsets

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

 

The Dead

 

There are more of us

Than more of you

Burned or buried

This will always be true

While you’re down there

Enjoy your stay

Think of delay

When you arrive

To claim your reward

You will wonder why

You were ever bored

It’s deader up here

Than down there

No sky in Heaven

Can replace a nice earth floor

 

There is too much air up here

Too much room to spare

Don’t like not being hungry

Don’t like not being thirsty

This Angel and her harp

Are playing in the wrong key 

 

I ran into one of my past pets

She said she was sorry

For yelling at me on the way to the vet

And despite all the trouble

She always looked at us

As a married couple

My new old pet

Made my old new eyes wet   

 

I asked if up here

All debts were cancelled

No more regrets

She said take another look

What did you expect?

I said I thought this was the land of divine

She said nothing is different

You keep what you get

And I keep mine

 

Then she vanished

I said oh. Well

I fell short of Heaven

I reside in Hell

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

A Sweet Tasteless Treat

 

5th of April 2020,

Day 22 of Enhanced Community Quarantine,

three billion people

are in Lockdown.

The world becomes a battlefield,

all are fighting an invisible enemy,

the Covid 19 virus.

 

She wakes up at 6 am.

Today is not an ordinary day.

She sits serenely on her bed,

checking her cellphone.

No faculty reminders,

no teaching notes.

School is on hold.

She types greeting phrases

and sends it.

 

Not minding for a reply,

she washes her face

and combs her hair.

A quick comfort

from the shower room

to lighten herself up.

 

She prepares to go somewhere.

Confirming she gets to bring the pass,

checking she gets to wear

her face-mask and shield.

Ensuring she gets the plastic bags.

She's now like-a warrior

going to a battlefield.

 

Off she goes to the main street.

Relishing the quietness

of the empty street

going to the market.

Keeping herself

not to come in contact

with anyone.

Observing social and physical distancing.

 

Now, she is saying hello

to the market vendor,

She gives the list of items to buy.

Careful, mindful not to get into unnecessary human contact.

A few more minutes and she got all she needed:

pork, veggies, and groceries.

 

She goes back home.

She now cleans and disinfects the bought items well,

she showers herself again.

Then she prepares to cook the pasta, veggies,

meat, and sweets.

Singing.

When all the dishes are done,

she smiles with satisfaction.

The sweetest beautiful smile she can ever have.

 

 

Then she takes photos

of the treat she made

and sends it.

Her virtual gift,

A tasteless treat,

attempting to reconcile

physical distance

of the pandemic times.

That feeling of longingness,

a longing of togetherness,

a mother feels

to be with her one

and only beloved daughter

on her birthday.

 

 

Zea Perez

 

Philippines

 

 

 

Big Dog Training

 

we’ve taken her

to the big dog training group

for the first time.

 

it’s in a church hall

with, depending on your view,

 very little or enormous evidence of God.

 

the trainer snarls

at us

as if he, too, is a big dog.

 

he’s suspicious and

even more so when I tell him

our dog’s name is Brute.

 

we like poodles.

“Brute?” the trainer says.

that’s all,

 

doesn’t

have to say more,

because the expression

 

on his cloudy face

says it for him.

he tries to talk us

 

out of joining big dog club.

we insist Brute has outgrown

small dog club.

 

he thinks for a minute,

then his face lights up.

sort of.

 

there’s a club

that’d be perfect

for us he says,

 

run by a Mrs Guest

for

intermediate dogs.

 

Brute barks to show she

doesn’t like being thought of as

an intermediate dog.

 

we dig our heels in

and against his better judgement

the trainer lets us stay.

 

we feel victorious,

despite the nearby sneers of those with

bigger dogs than Brute.

 

until Brute has

an accident that the trainer

steps in.

 

“Out!” he yells.

but we

were already gone.

 

and if such a thing

was possible,

Brute was grinning.

 

 

Wayne Dean-Richards

 

Sandwell, West Midlands, England

 

 

Saunter Through the Rain 

 

A Friday morning started to lose its light as the old time clock just passed six. Spencer flipped the ironed collars flat down on his conservative clothing. 

 

He wondered that morning if that one song by The Beatles would play when he walked past the record store, if the fourth lamp post on Hawkins Street would turn on first instead of the sixth, if he would talk to Michael or Sam or Leah that day at work. 

 

But instead, his delirious thoughts led him outside on his drenched driveway. The rain pummelled down in bullet shapes, setting the sombre mood. It smeared the street’s with puddles, the air a grey haze. 

 

Spencer took in a deep breath, sighing at the unsatisfactory stench of pure dirt. Spencer’s umbrella was already sheen with water.

 

Ambient white noise was all he could hear as the shower poured across Quantico. Spencer began briskly squelching across the road. A wisp of unwelcoming wind polished the trees with a saturated musk which Spencer admired. 

 

A completely absurd decision was made by Spencer as he discarded of his only protection and shelter. Snapping his head to the sky, the water became a living blanket, the clouds lurked in his sight like savage, rabid murderers cascading their victims onto Spencer. 

 

His steps came to a stop as he furrowed his brows. Everywhere he looked, there he was, in a monochromatic funeral themed party of torrent downpour and despair. 

 

Like he was being invited to a romanticised heaven by the devil.


 

 

Maeve Luka

 

Manchester, England

 

 

 

 

A Shopping List And Lowry

 

my eye is drawn to Flowers in a Window:

the regularity of the bricks,

and no one inside looking out.

 

meanwhile my head begins the list:

of groceries to be got

for the life lived.

 

in Going to the Match,

the game’s a magnet:

droves drawn in.

 

always the basics:

bread and milk,

eggs and cheese, greens and tea.

 

in The Bedroom, Pendleton,

the bars at the foot of the bed,

are reminiscent of jail.

 

mustn’t forget rice,

pasta, salt, flour,

and Heinz Baked Beans.

 

the smoky sky of Peel Park:

a series of smudges,

achingly real.

 

don’t !

forget!

toilet rolls!

 

in Industrial Landscape: so many chimneys,

but church spires too, and Lowry’s words on the wall,

saying there was no ‘message’.

 

cleaning products:

cloths and bleach,

some spray to clean the shower.

 

in Coming from the Mill,

a machine orchestra plays unheard,

heads bend, men retreat as if on invisible wires.

 

oh,

and a TV guide,

why not?

 

‘Had I not been lonely...’ he said,

more of his words there on the wall:

LS himself.

cat food,

8,

or 9 tins.

 

at the Lowry museum it’s free to get in,

but they ask for a donation,

even give recommended amounts.

 

there’ll be a bill,

bags,

a regulation wonky trolley.

 

coming out, the world feels changed:

Man Laying on a Wall one I remember,

then do.

 

Wayne Dean-Richards

Sandwell, West Midlands, England

 

 

People Person

 

I’m a people person

Till you close the curtain

I’ll be there for you for sure

Till I close the door

Out there I’m brave

In my room I’m afraid

It’s not me it’s you

Look what you made me do 

 

I’m ok when someone is looking

When I’m not being watched

Nothing is cooking

 

You think I don’t know?

I don’t go with the flow

Trust me, I know  

 

Outside I make the grade

Inside I’m a slave   

 

But

With you all is possible

Without you mission impossible   

But you will not be here for long

When you realize the meaning of my song 

 

I’m a friend till the end

Till we reach the next bend 

And

Why should I listen to your advice?

Read from your pages?

Look at you

No love for ages

 

So

 

Don’t tell me how you are different from me

You only show me what you want me to see

I’ll gladly admit I am weak

It’s your risk if you want to take a peek  

My mountains are flat

And my roof is deep 

 

You think you’re better than me?

I’ll be the first and last to agree

 

But

I’m a real nice guy

Till I turn away when you cry

I don’t think for a minute

All I do is spin it 

I love the world and its glory

But I’m not part of its story  

 

A history of my suicidal thoughts run deep

 

Heading

Towards a future of a good nights’ sleep

 

Here comes that rainy day feeling again

Keep it coming and I’ll say when

 

How did I get so ruined and corrupt

Like everyone else

The baby steps add up

See you at the till

One day

Maybe you and I could share the bill  

 

But

I think I like your style

I’m just not sure

If you’re the symptom or the cure

 

Leadership or fellowship

Neither one has been my trip

 

I’m a really nice man

As long as you stay off my land

 

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

 

Decisions Decisions

 

I can’t decide to get it over with

I can’t decide to get it under with

Either way, my brain is a shiv non-stop

What winds up on the floor

Starts at the top

I can’t decide between a gun or a mop 

 

Decisions Decisions

 

Does it make a difference which way I turn?

It certainly won’t change the dim glow of my inner lantern 

If it’s all already written, can I still editorialize on my own?

I have a few thoughts out on a short-term loan 

My,” I surrender flag”, is being proudly flown

 

There is nothing wrong with a few bumps in the road

When you drop a few things to lighten your load

 

Decisions Decisions 

 

Who do I listen to?

And who do I don’t?

My own voice is sometimes water-logged

Right now, it won’t float 

 

Decisions Incisions

 

Sometimes I get on my knees

Lay my head on the bed

It is where I go to ask for things

That I could get for myself instead

But now and then we all need a hand

Even if the prescription is written in the sand 

 

Decisions Decisions

 

While we drag our burdens

Aloud the grievances we voice

The best decisions we make

Are the ones where we have no choice

 

 

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

Un-Spoken Words

 

Walking down the avenue

The wind wet and blowing

Do not know or care

Which direction going 

Why do we struggle with the flowing?

 

Walking so fast 

In the night-time gloom 

Falling in love

With impending doom 

 

Animals know it well

As clear as a bell

Alone or in a herd 

The bird is the word 

 

Walking so slow  

On the land and the sand

Who really wants to know?

The masters plan

 

Skipping down the lane

Of my mind’s boulevard  

Calling  for the things

I have not yet marred

 

Before it gets too dark

Take a walk in the park 

Maybe under a leaf

Maybe a spark

 

Even when your ideas

Are un-even and slurred

Nothing will beat

The un-spoken word

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

My Ears

I remember the night I first heard the sound of wings playing the piano.

The harp and the zither greeted my silent ears.

The moon rejoiced and sang an original song.

I had been waiting for this.

Knowing it would come one day.

The Song of Solomon told me one cold and frosty night.

The wind speaks to me in long silky verses.

Violins and harps sing me to sleep.

The sound of words and songs.

That have graced my ears.

Have not changed me to any extent.

They just made me smile.

Sandy Rochelle

USA

 

http://sandyrochelle.com

 

Genesis

 

His love for her smelled of cinnamon

Hers for him of a clear blue sky

Their days were sparky and sparkly

And their nights wicked and witchy

 

Yet, her eggs spurned his sperm

Sneezed cooties on his genes

Proud eggs fertilized on their own

Genesised a baby free of his cells

 

Balu Swami

 

Buckeye, AZ, USA

 

 

 

A Kid Or Two

 

Did not take long

For us to see who we are

Did not take long

Before you warmed up your car

 

As you pulled away

I started to shiver

I saw you laugh in your rear-view mirror

 

If you think breaking up is hard to do

Try doing it with a kid or two 

 

As I still only have

My rusty Harley chopper

Now I get to hear about mommy’s

New boyfriends helicopter

 

Now we divide our children and pets

Instead of cocaine and cigarettes

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

Flying

 

A mean drunk some of the time

A body and mind of loveliness most of the time

Her love will never be mine

 

We all have our addictions

All are sublime

Some we kick

Most we can’t lick 

Which is fine

She is mine

 

A beautiful person

With a heart hot as ice

Someone you would not want to mess with

Someone who does not think twice

 

The merit can wait

Until the right situation  

Her

Love and hate

Come from the same plate

 

Yet

Time with her is like flying

Everything else is fast standing still

The pleasure and excitement

Of losing your will

 

You think you know someone, and you don’t

You think some ones loves you, and they won’t

And even through

They are too good at being coy

While what is behind it is underemployed

 

Being with her is like flying

Everything else is grinding

 

A waterfall and a cloud of beauty

Tunes my moral compass

To its call of duty

But it does not remain long

Until another fresh tune comes along 

 

Then there is this girl

Who is and isn’t

You never know

Her exact existence

 

Any contemporary woman

Knows vanity when she sees it

How far can you go with the racket they call,” Believe in it” ?  

 

Yet

There is the  way that she cares

And the  way she never will

I can stare at her forever and a day

As she goes out without me to play

 

I’m going to lay down for a little bit

And everything will be ok

When I pick it up again something will come my way 

 

Man am I ever down

Different territory but the same old story

 

Man am I beat

Different address on the same one-way street

 

Man am I dead

No I’m not

I’ll begin again

You just wait till get my second wind 

 

On my way

To return what I bought

Until I think

Of another afterthought

 

A lovely peachy person

All of the time

As long as the locations

Are only in my mind

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

 

Revelations       

 

I had a  dream last night     

Was way deep in the sack

The heavens beheld a sight

On live T.V.

Jesus Christ came back 

And who was the first person

That he wanted to see?

It was none other than me

 

We went for coffee 

That was our path

Elvis came in

And wanted an autograph

 

He talked about dying

And how great it was to be free

We talked about lying

I said that was my specialty

He said if I was a liar

I was preaching to the choir

 

Then I met a girl

That made me feel alive     

I was 80

She was 25

One or two things

Led to some others  

I figured it was alright 

Even if I was old enough            

To her good looking

Slightly older brother 

 

Then I woke up  

And realized 

What was real

And like so many others

I found fantasy, religion, and Elvis in jail  

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

                                                

 

Penal Colony

It is another hot day with nothing to do except what I am told to.

A new day beginning

Another night that I can not get through

 

Mail call comes in a million years

Don’t mean a thing to you know who

There will be nothing for my ears 

 

On my first day I was too scared to be scared

There  was also a bit of an adventurous turn-on in the air

Until my kind showed me how I was much I was  un-prepared

 

I was not in the for big three

Drugs, violence, nor The Unforgivable , underage sex crime spree 

So, I was  left alone with no bad kiddie target on me bones

I was a crook whose weapons were my voice and a phone

 

Thirty days in  my wife decreed it was over 

At least for a month she was my hope for an easy starting over

I  lost it all, then I lost some more

I was standing and crawling on a bottomless floor  

 

Once in a second or two, and in a good mood ,your mind sets sail

Until you remember, anything at anytime can happen in jail

 

I looked around and around, I could not figure

What was wrong with this picture, so naked and bare

Of course, it made imperfect sense me being there

 

It happens to the best of them

I happened to be far from the worst

Out of the evil in here

I would not come in first                          

 

There was a movie last night

There was a guy in jail   

When the captive audience 

Saw his situation

He got a ten-minute standing ovation

 

There was a film on another night with Dennis Quid

The one where he was gay

I guess he wanted to expand himself 

Didn’t matter at this theatre

After the nickel dropped, everyone left

 

When you look up the sun still heats your face

Still of course, I would be rather grateful

To be some in other space

 

Don’t or do look now look now

With that dumb look on your face

You did get caught and no, it will not erase

 

It was a working Men’s prison camp

Run to the letter, here is the stamp, you should have known better

 

I was an orderly 

And it meant the world to me

It was the most sought out job in  the joint

And yet I still tired to foil it

You should  have seen the warden’s face

When I told her I don’t do toilets

 

Had to wait on-line forever

A certain hour to use the phone

And then the news is always all bad

What else would you expect from hair, skin, and bone?

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

 

 

Make It

    

Here are some words   

That I may or may not write someday 

When The world I rent in

Evicts me without moving pay

Leaving me speechless

With words that won’t say 

 

Make it not come my way

Till it is all in my sway  

 

Here is a handshake

And a thought                

 

I remember when proud

The sounds that I sought

Were never too loud

Were easily heard and caught 

 

Then I learned in order to cool down

You have to first burn

 

There was a girl 

Who lit the match

Who made it all run 

A well-oiled machine

She woke  one day with years of instant sense clear and keen

She was  spotted last wandering along The Seine

 

Make it all go away

Or make it rhyme with my say 

 

Sometimes I know,  it’s over

Then again and again 

I find a five-leaf clover 

So when I aske for the check

So I can leave after my fill  

I somehow find a few  reasons

To extend my stay  ‘

I’ll figure it out

In a few days 

Without paying the bill

 

Mike it all go away

Or make I rain everyday  

 

Make up you mind

My Universe

Before we run out of time

 

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

Truly  

I went to bed scared

And I woke up in fear

I was sweating off a nightmare

Waiting for me here

My wife was at her sister’s

And I was with the blues

She took the kid the dog and cat

And her favorite pair of shoes

I looked up at the ceiling

Clean thru the sky

And said Lord Baby

I truly want to die

 

Then from on high

Came this lullaby

 

Hey you know what what pal?

I’m with you

Down there it ain’t working

And that’s the cold truth

I tried me a flood

Set the Devil free to dance

Turned you into stone

Kept giving you a chance  

 

I am The God forgiveness

The king of The Second Chance

But I think the time has come

For you last stance

 

Jesus Christ what am I hearing?

And sorry Dear Lord

For all of my cussing 

And my pistol and my sword

But I got a wife and kid

Who are better than the best

Why do they have to suffer?

How did they fail the test?

Now I know what you mean

And I know where this is going

But you did some things right

Like Dylan And The Stones

My wife’s hips gliding

My little girl smiling

The Sun and The Sea

And smell of cut grass

Could you might see your way

To to let it loose with one more pass?

 

Alright already

I’ve heard enough

Here’s a couple of bucks

Just to shut the fuck up 

Tell your family you love them

To your kid and the livestock be nice

All of you are skating

On some mighty thin ice.

 

Now get out of here before I really get mad

 

I got out of there before He said another word

 

Told my family I loved them

Even made up with the cat

 

How about that!

 

We drove home laughing

Like the way it used to be

 

I hope it will last

I guess we’ll see

 

Now did I play The Lord?

Or did The lord play me?

And was I really changed

From the man I used to be?

 

That’s the end of my tale

And if you have any doubts

Figure it out for Thyself

 

Over and out

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

Everything

We stated out with nothing

But we formed a pact

We started out with nothing

Only smiles

And some clothes on our backs

A bond we knew would never break

A faith and hope a strong wind

Would not and could not shake

 

We started out with nothing

And for long it stayed that way

But the look in our eyes remained the same

And we stuck it out in our slippery lane

 

We started out with nothing

In our pockets but not our hearts

In the love story game we both were in

We rose to the occasion

We hit all the bases and we played all the parts

 

Romeo And Juliette

Would have been jealous

At the brightness of our spark

As we laughed and kissed though all the dark

 

We stated out with nothing

But we had it all

We were one through the four seasons

We heard no other call

 

We started out with nothing

Only a love that could not die

After a snap of time

We had a baby with blue eyes

 

Nothing grew to something

And although we had no money

And every day we walked the plank

We still made it to the bathroom

And before it closed the bank 

 

We started out with nothing

It got rough tough and rocky

In our boat out to sea

The waves got steady and strong

But guess what?

So were we

 

We started out with nothing

But an equation you could not divide

Anyhow you added up and down

There was a love nothing could deny

 

We started out with nothing

Not longing for more or less  

But in one another

We did bring out the best 

 

We started out with nothing

And it did not fade away

Yet we ended up with everything

Sometimes it goes that way 

But what is that magic formula?

 

No man or beast could say

 

Alan Berger

West Hollywood, California

 

 

 

Ex Files

 

I got a cat that’s dead

I got a girlfriend instead

Now I got a lumpier bed 

 

An abundant woman

Short of brains and bread

 

She had a song inside her

No one could play 

She had a dragon inside her                         

No one could slay

If the games you played with her             

Did not go her way   

She would pick up her marbles 

And call it a day   

 

The bills she sent me I would gladly pay

After the tearful thanks

I still could not get her to stay

Sometimes, you are happy just to get what you can

As I realized with her, you’re in a foreign land  

Bereft of a passport

In either hand

                                                                                                                            

She thinks, she is a fox  

 

Instead of the toilet

She uses a litter box

         

When she gets sick

I take her to the Vet  

Every other day

She throws away her cigarettes

 

I appreciate the effort

That she tries to replace my pet 

Her being a human

Is my only regret

I already know

I never go with the flow                                                                                                                              

A drastic situation with nowhere to go 

 

In my head town

All roads lead down  

 

All my aims

Turn into reservations 

All the motions That I file

Become hesitations at the bottom of the pile      

                                                                                    

Standing on the corner  

 

Ringing a bell

The gutters and the sewers know me too well

Ringing that bell till end of my time

My love and charm turn on a dime

                        

Did you know I never reap what I sew?

I thought so      

 

Letting it out

When receiving the word

Sounds like the confessions

Of a Cuckoo bird

Steady as a weathervane 

Forthright and uptight

In the wind and rain

It was a dark and stormy night  

 

Letting it known

Wherever I am blown

I inhabit a dead zone    

 

Have you ever had

An original thought?

Maybe a bright idea

And I mean something, anything well lit 

And if so

What did ye do with it?

  

Been in a million hard fistfights

All of them in my soft head

Not a lover nor a fighter

That’s what she said

                                                                                      

May take on an imaginary friend                                                                                                   

One that would surely make me sing 

But the memory of the past

Is usually better than the present real thing 

 

But then again and again

Here is the sting

Who ever knows?

What the future may bring

                                                                                         

So, stay faraway, close, loose, and tight

Anything is possible  

Anything can take flight 

 

Rock with the punches

Roll with the knocks 

Where the fuck, did I put that litter box?

 

Alan Berger

 

West Hollywood, California

The Feeling

 

The feeling came slowly, then, all at once.

 

The tugging of soft cotton against the fullness of her stomach,

The subtle roundness growing in her cheeks,

The heaviness of her breasts as she walked,

Sometimes it was watching her thighs spread as she laid down to rest

 

The feeling, it came slowly,

Then… all at once.

 

At first it would be nothing at all,

Just the small niggling feeling that she was becoming more

She’d stop moving herself,

because when she moved, she could feel the weight of her body beneath her  

 

Next came the generosity in her servings,

Mounds of rice,

Soft chunks of bread,

Cuts of cheese,

She loved to taste,

 

but this wasn’t that.

 

This was a sickening insatiability,

She was surrendering,

To herself.

 

Forced down her throat and pushing past fullness into the space where the tightness of her stomach would begin to emanate a dull ache

At this point intensity of her emotions would flood her eyes and roll down her cheeks, would prickle the back of her throat,

would play a ringing in her ears.

 

See her taking a glass of water,

Aggressively gulping it down,

A feeble to attempt to forget what had been done.

 

See her bringing her fingers to her lips.

See her whisper a promise that this was the last time.

 

But it would,

 

Tomorrow

Tomorrow

Tomorrow

 

Until she couldn’t breathe anymore

 

You see,

 

The feeling came slowly, then, all at once.

 

 

Olumayokun Ogunde

 

London, England

 

 

 

The Monster You Made

                  

I write this laying on my sick bed,

In the darkness of the midnight hour,

Guided by my pale white eyes

And an itty-bitty ray from my phone.

My heart cries in odium despair

And I Alone do not swim in this boat,

A chain of sorrow rows us abyss -

Sunken deep blue sea staring afloat.

 

We failed ourselves as a nation,

Hoax into voting for change

And aye! Having had a Goodluck turn bad,

We were headlong over a visionless change.

Five years gone and everything has gone wrong, again,

Alas! His change totes sorrow's company,

His cohorts and leaders lavishing our wealth, yet,

Impervious to our pains, tears, and pleas.

 

Finally! The youths have risen,

Against the failed system that called us lazy,

Police brutality, extortion, deaths and more having claimed innocent lives.

How can we a nation fear the outfit meant to protect us?

5 for 5 we now demand, and march

The streets in halcyon equalized protest,

Alack! Unarmed citizens manned and dehumanized by the police -

The brutality we walk against is dished back to us,

And he who promised change stares in mocking silence.

 

I'm tired again and again,

And so are the people, masses woven in wretchedness

Turns to God for hope that never comes,

For our leaders to bring such hope; mocks our very core.

Our lives matter but they do not care,

They tread on us, how would they fear?

But Alas! The monsters you made

Have come back to hunt you,

For oppression isn't ended by silence,

Rather, the outwardness of spoken violence.

 

(Being they pay us deaf ears and taken for joke)

I fear this protest worsening to an unrest

Yet, an angst I obscurely yearn,

And if this poem be what spurs us on, then so be it

For then, the true democracy we yearn shall truly come to be.

 

 

Albrin Junior

 

Edo State, Nigeria

57

 

In her first prime                                 

The cradles were no fit -   

O, her eager ambitions;

So she jumped off the four wheels

To tread thus two's.  

                   

An ambition so fitted sewn

But tailors of broken bond,

...Skirts sewn sweeping sands,

And e'er since that early test of her feet;

Have she fallen 57 times so far.

 

 

Albrin Junior

 

Edo State, Nigeria

 

 

Native Call

 

Mad men in circles chant                        

Praises to a tin god

Idle and dump, on clay laid

Respect so foolishly paid.

 

High and low do their drum band,          

Voices of hunter’s gland

And their feet sweeping sands;

For leaves to lay and rest till dawn.

 

It all ends same,

Roads deaf gods take,                            

Quiet to their native calls,

And soon their callers fall.

 

 

Albrin Junior

 

Edo State, Nigeria

 

 

Dry November

Falling leaves rustle

Down the idle brown tree

Blowing all corners near

By the wet wind gone dry.

 

It’s no time fair,

After the rain’s no more,

When people now scuttle to hide

From the scorching furious sun.

 

Lovers are no friends, and wait

For dry November to run past,

Their lips crunchy and dry;

Giving their kiss no meaning.

 

But in this very harshness

Drapers still steal drape coins,

And traders in merry sales,

For sweet December’s just nearby.

 

 

Albrin Junior

 

Edo State, Nigeria

 

 

A Letter Of Love

           

Dear love,

As this year’s runs out;

You should call me foolish

And exceedingly odd

If by next year come

You find me in meters

Near any of your daughters

Who can hold me to ransom?

 

Dear Albrin,

Your letter stuns me:

I need not call you foolish

For your prior’s odd.

 

You have found one

Whom your thought can’t without,

And that’s why you-

Will continue to be, and near

As observed by yours

                                                             Yours faithfully

                                                             Cupid

 

 

Albrin Junior

 

Edo State, Nigeria

 

 

Everything Tender, Everything Not

 

A dog will always die before its owner,                                   

                                                                                  a sad fact.

 

But, at the end of the day

I’d probably hit the grave

in my early teens too

 

if you fed me nothing

but second-hand,

dehydrated

tripe stew.

 

                                                                                  Tender is the love of the owner unto that which he owns.

 

Jack Sharp

 

Halifax, West Yorkshire

 

 

Cowards Starve

 

If I ate a mountain, would I be more mountain than man?

 

I put it to the test.

I shoved a plastic crag – the size of a strawberry – in my mouth.

 

It was once part of a scale-model train set.

I have since swallowed, and I know my throat has met its match.

 

I’d say I have ten seconds or so.

I wonder if I will rot into the ground; or be burnt and scattered into the horizon.

 

I never did state my preference.

At least my body will undergo the answer to the question.

 

Even if I am not there to see it.

 

 

Jack Sharp

 

Halifax, West Yorkshire

 

 

Shame

No future aged scene where you count my pills,

no marriage bed thrum, giddy days all done,

a melancholic outline of pale hills

witness en route to Courtroom Number One.

We know to expect a normal routine,

no selfish custodial tug-of-war,

no respect for grave vows, what might have been.

Awkward, absurd, we smile, look at the floor,

platitudes inch from tongues, the judge seems bored,

dust motes drift in slant light, hopes gone awry.

Then recall, you young, unbuttoned, adored,

this contrast, paralysis, as dreams die.

We sign papers, shared polite pen trembling.

It’s over, all our wanton dissembling. 

Ian C Smith

 

Sale, Victoria, Australia

 

 

Sink Hole

 

Stagnant water draining away

Very little left

Barely enough filth for a finger tip

Flow scum flow

The sucking sound of a small spiral – laughable

I stand above you now

Watch you plunge into your own sink hole

The last pungent droplets sewer-bound

Three, two, one…

There you go

Graham S. Crosby

Sefton Park, Liverpool

Observations From The Urban River

 

otter

aqua-greased

chemical plant escapee

oozing down mudbanks, oil

slick

 

bees

afternoon boozers

staggering from beneath

poppy stamen, cellar-bar

drunkards

 

swifts

fugacious arcs

on low days

visions from high skies

descenders

 

crane’s-bill

filigree totem

moon-dew badge

infinitely various, our tribal

emblem

 

warehouse guard

solitary, confined

another tedious shift

scrutinises the monotonous river

pacer

 

graffiti artists

rainbow alliance

staging butterfly backdrops

admirals, tortoiseshells, painted ladies

colourists

 

cormorants

spectral, stygian

water phantoms

rising to high pylons, shadow

wraiths

 

metal recycling plant

gluttonous, devouring

gigantic steel talons

the dead world’s carrion

feeder

 

wormwood

fools-silver, spurned

unloved by summer

undeterred, conquers waste ground

defiant

 

barge

moored, rusting

Styx-sick, corroded

by toxic soul-leakage

abandoned

 

tufted vetch

prophet-purple, righteous-blue

atop tendril ladders

addressing mortal grasses, exhorting

the word

 

horse

tethered, grazing

isolated green banks

nutrient-deficient, hungry for contact

starving

 

stoat

erect, watchful

surveys the kingdom

enthroned on nettle hill

sovereign

 

 

deer

vagrants, outcasts

exiled hunger, feeding

on margins, verges, peripheries

untouchables

 

river

grimy, luminous

high-translucent to

low-opaque, alternating tidal

metaphor

 

john e.c.

Hull, East Yorkshire

 

 

Father

 

So let’s play judge,

Slamming hammers down on different shadows,

They can’t be happier folding paper while we clink coins,

But we can be if we improve our worth,

Let’s undress anything we envy,

Desperate to spit into tissues to clean our grubby faces,

The projection that we are the laidback and liberal ones,

Handing out beers on arrival, shaking the men’s hands, with their wives wanting their cheeks kissed,

But once the latch is secure the tide comes in,

Permitting a starter and a main, or a main and a desert,

The bus there and back,

Pressing the thumb into their education so that the rights are still there to brag,

Moaning endlessly about her mother but sitting yours next to Mary and Diana,

Taking multi-buys to work to feel you’ve beaten the system by undercutting the vending machine,

At work everyone’s either fat or divorced or drinks to numb the pain of not being you,

Going to the gym once a week to brand fitness to your forehead,

Spying on the neighbours bum cracks while they garden, assembling the whole family at the front window to bear witness to a sixty year old man without a belt,

Taking time off work to reverse the car off the drive and giving the mother two glow sticks to guide you back in,

Sticking your ear through the letter box to make sure the house alarm’s set,

Begrudging the completion of any order but recounting the generosity of favours you’ve bestowed,

Through a process lasting years building up the safety equipment for your ten minute cycle to the train,

Treating finding a seat as one of the many battles that ensured you were born,

Then sitting on the train, as hard-nosed as the next, attempting to stitch a six figure sum into the M&S suit,

No one will ever save as well as you,

The wife’s half hour labour over stoves and grills empties into five minutes of gasping for air and shaking indigestion’s hand,

‘That heating dial isn’t set at a lavish 15 degrees for any bugger to piss it away through open windows and doors’,

Knowing the precise hour the daughter came in but asking her all the same to catch out the deceit,

Of course one of the small victories for part-time Morse,

Polo shirts in summer and shirts in winter, cross trainers all year round just in case the bin needs taking out,

There is a reason for everyone’s misfortune apart from yours,

Big jobs involve painting window frames and getting suitcases from the loft,

If she’s lost something you’ll look in the same places she has, ‘because your mother doesn’t notice things like I do’,

Dreaming up phobias and remedies,

Nuts make you anxious and you haven’t been ill since you’ve had bananas,

Tapping feet to full dance floors,

Your phrases that were dreamed up and died in your hometown are tossed around the house,

We will never know we’re born, especially while you’re around,

But why would I want to?

You’ve raised me through these systems,

Taught me to hate that the world isn’t run out of our living room,

Showed me the crevices of imperfection I’ve previously overlooked,

And so I will gladly take your baton and spread your message without meaning,

Let us feel that it should have been us on the cross,

As I’m not accepting becoming one of the high street’s bobbing heads. 

 

Paddy Born

Brighton, England

 

 

A Reason To Return

The past casts long confusing shadows, the daylight follows the laughing horizon,

From the jagged Red Lantern Hills, we are returning from the sea,

There's a song that I sing on the mountainous trail,

In the quiet of the day or the still of the night,

I call it "Hush." In a land of Hush, a loud voice is King,

We are twenty returning warriors of old, we are bold, we are cold,

Between us no sign of a shoe or a cloak,

And around here no chance of a shelter that boasts of a roof.

And we search for a reason to return,

With nothing to show loved ones for our months away,

A hawk took to the skies, flew off with all our lies,

We are strangled by some unnamed fears, drowning in a pool of tears,

Annie, let the dark skies cry when again we part, but you know you'll always have my heart.

Steve Lodge

living in Singapore

 

 

 

iPhone

Sent from my iPhone, so please excuse brevity, spelling & punctuation

Sent from my iPhone whilst dieting, so please excuse an 8-point-font

Sent from my iPhone during a senior moment, so with all due respect Missy- excuse spelling & punctuation

Sent from my iPhone clad head-to-toe in hard-wearing corduroy whilst tuning pianoforte along the Cotswold Way, so pitched perfectly- excuse punctuation

Sent from my iPhone iTyped with iThumbs, so excuse brevity-spelling & punctuation

Sent from my iPhone within an eruv in NW-London: it’s not some clever legal trick trying to avoid a rule

Sent from my iPhone resident in the People's Republic of Conformity so just excuse apathetic listlessness

Sent from my iPhone whilst drinking Dr. Pepper, what's the worst that can happen?

Sent from my iPhone: I’m struggling anxiously to increase sales volume by 20% (in accordance with an inflexible corporate strategy) so excuse brevity, spelling

Sent from my iPhone scunnered by 5-decades-of-wage-slavery so excuse self pity

Sent from my iPhone having been advised to place my personal feelings aside whilst learning for a fact that I’m definitely not receiving what I thought I deserved, & now apparently I need to envision the bigger objective first- so please excuse my tears

Sent from my iPhone- currently chained to my Mrs whilst she untiringly seeks ever more inventive-onerous-opportunities to break hard rock’s together- shoot me

Sent from my iPhone whilst navigating from wife-through-girlfriend-onto-lover: have a heart cock, & excuse brevity or any STD

Sent from my iPhone whilst having my shirt lifted in the famous Cockring-night-club, so excuse double-dutch spelling

Sent from my iPhone whilst being probed by Prince Hisahito of Akishino; excuse this inscrutable Japanese text

Sent from my iPhone whilst perched painfully upon a spinning fickle-finger-of-fate, so excuse me all over the place

Sent from my iPhone inspired by Bruno Manser, so get naked, camouflage your face & start blow-piping lumberjacks

Sent from my iPhone during black mass at a local coven- so until next time: merry-meet-merry-part-&-merry-meet-again fellow pagan xx

Sent from my iPhone energetically riding a wart-hog; excuse casual animal cruelty

Sent from my iPhone whilst wanking please excuse typos, brevity & spunk

Sent from my iPhone whilst running naked across the common, closely pursued by community officers, so please excuse typos & brevity

Sent from my iPhone whilst being dishonourably discharged from an internship with our local coastal Edelweiss Pirates, so please excuse brevity, spelling & punctuation

Sent from my iPhone at home alone listening to Carmina Burana on full volume: my wife’s left me, so please excuse typos or punctuation

Sent from my iPhone reflecting upon my unforgivably bestial behaviour, increasingly concerned that my shame shall long outlive my trials & tribulations

Sent from my iPhone presently inside a coffin buried somewhere in SE-England with only 9% of phone battery remaining & perhaps another hour’s oxygen- if I do dig myself out I’ll respond fully tomorrow: but for now- thanks for keeping me au-courant with your debauches. Do please excuse typos, punctuation & brevity etc.

Evan Hay

resident in Britain

How To Be A Real Person

 

Life

makes no

sense – love it.

 

Life

hurts a

lot – dodge blows.

 

Life

picks you

up – smile, laugh.

 

Life

Knocks you

down – stand tall.

 

Life

Is good

and bad – real.

 

Life

up and

down – ride it.

Pamela Scott

Glasgow, Scotland

 

In My World

 

The sun always shines,

the rain never falls

people can soar above the clouds

and there’s no such thing as pain.

 

Everyone’s happy and loved;

we’re all beautiful,

there’s no prejudice

and you can be whatever you want.

 

There’s no hurt or pain,

you can live forever,

you can soar above the clouds

and everyone’s got exactly what they need.

 

Every person is free,

you make your own choices,

you control your destiny

and everyone’s lives out their dreams.

Pamela Scott

Glasgow, Scotland

 

 

Of Shadows, Of Light

 

Snow Girl hid in the darkness,

ashamed, shielded her broken

shell from the light

 

she longed to walk in the light,

feel the sun on her face,

let the wind blow through her hair,

look & act like everyone else

 

but darkness is her home,

the only place she can be herself,

the only place she feels safe

 

there’s no place to hide

in the light, no protection,

no way to stop the stares

or the cruel words that cut into her

 

in the shadows she can relax,

take a few deep breaths,

shed her old, broken skin

 

it’s easy to hide in the dark,

there’s nothing to shield her in the sun,

shadows protect her, keep her from harm,

light exposes all her greatest fears

Pamela Scott

Glasgow, Scotland

 

 

Shapes In A Twisted Mirror

 

Snow Girl sees the monster inside her

 

sees the twisted, deformed shape,

the freak who lives inside her, makes her hurt

 

jeering voices ring in her head, hatred

takes everything about her and deforms it,

she can’t stand the way she looks

 

their laughter follows her everywhere, haunts her

 

she smashes the mirror in her room, the door

to the darkness inside her, cuts herself with broken glass

 

she sees the creature inside her, taunting her,

turning her thoughts black, whispering,

urging her to hurt, draw blood, find release

 

she feels a great weight pinning her down, suffocating

 

she slices her flesh, hopes to find the darkness

& cut it out of her, make herself whole/normal

 

she hides in shadows, covers her ears to drown

the torment out, repeats her safe word over and over,

imagines her heart stopping, a sweet release

Pamela Scott

Glasgow, Scotland

 

God: In the beginning there was a poem about a God

In His once upon a time was His happy ever after.
Emerging from the chrysalis of His own potentiality
He stood, immaculately conceived, top filled to bright brim with youthful
vigour
Like a March calf amongst the buttercups
At the solid base of His consciousness-
And there He waited, panting with desire, while deep in His
Fiery bowels, time chugged and giggled
Bashful as a firing squad in love, and explodes....
His heart, that vast pumping plant of light and space,
EXPLODED!
Flinging reality spinning outward to its bounded infinity....
Behold!
In the first moments before knowledge of God and Devil, claws and defect,
Before the fall of original incompetence
He stands, insanely beautiful, as bright and brainless as an orgasm,
Blood erecting His crumpled form, the translucent membranes
Of his quadrifid ears stiffening into divine shapes...
They beat the air, and a terrible wind arises,
Billowing through the age of inertia,
Beating clouds of mathematics from His trouser cuffs,
And the sun shines out of His bottom.
He raises His head, His teeth chatter, His toes curl, His tail frisks-
And He speaks!
Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmm, he says,
Clearing His throat of polystyrene and bubble wrap,
Let there be such a thing as a Heap! And a Drawback!
Let there be Fragrances and Destinations! Herbs and Hubs! Inflorescences and Osculation's!
Mountains Fountains Indignations Mice Coronas Hippopotami and- and
Chlamydomonases!
LET THERE BE ME!
With a hop skip and a jump He ascended
Into the primordial haze of the purple skies
Flying for joy.
(Happiness was God's natural element
And today was the beginning of His end).
Aeronautics created He then: the Barrel Roll and the G-Turn
The Scissor the Split S and the Immelmann Manoeuvre
The Jink the Aerlion Roll and the Victory Loop,
And then God turned downwards and from the superfluity of possibility
He created the Out of Control Nosedive.
He saw the base of His consciousness beckoning His descent
And He saw that it was good.
He saw antelopes' gracile scatter over the spilling pampas
The mountains' crumpled satin spines
The wildly beautiful spread of everything
The widening darkness of His own shadow rising to fill
The horizons cup
And it was at this point that He created doubt
And second thoughts
Fear and trembling, disillusionment and despair
Also seemed like good ideas,
Irony, art, metaphysics and religion also occurred to him
Just in time to be too late
As he hit the last line of the poem.
(This one)

 

Evan Hay

resident in Britain

 

Spoon

 

in the small room

which he called his sanctuary

she keeps the box on a high shelf

a reliquary of sorts

an unopened packet of GI cigarettes

two Red Cross letters

an all skin and bone convalescent photograph

and a spoon

weighty

six inches long

plain

mass produced

deep oval head

yellowed

without shine

seemingly taking in more light than it gives

 

she says somehow

he held onto it

through the camps

the marches

eating scraps of anything given

or scratched along the way

he said he ate soup so thin

he could read his tattoo through it

 

she allows its coldness in my palms

I gently roll the terrible presence of the past

between my fingers

beginning to grasp its denseness

through the leaden spoon

 

substance relic

trauma object

heavily religious

JKG,

 

London, England

 

 

Thicker, Richer

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

down come the torrents and up go the flames

we have our fire as they have their flood

we yelled from the roof the loudest we could

the mailman came sailing, calling our names

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

fighting the inferno came to no good

you clothed and fed us, all the same

we have our fire as they have their flood

neighbour, you cared for us, like flesh and blood

and likely as not, you’d do it again

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

your truck made it through to where we were stood

never great friends until then, when you came

we have our fire as they have their flood

the river washed away our livelihood

but a thicker and richer soil remains

deluge on the plain, blazes in the wood

we have our fire as they have their flood

 

Zachary Rogers

Scranton, Pennsylvania  USA

Swallows

 

Early evening, late summer.

Swallows twisting tails above us

As we have our cuppa in the yard.

 

Her reminiscing. Family history, mostly.

Some of it old, some of it new,

Some of it wrong.

 

Aunty Sissy had a B&B in Blackpool,

Not Morecambe.

Grandma’s Yorkshire Terrier wasn’t Kitty,

But Candy.

And she didn’t teach dad how to play draughts:

He taught her.

 

So it goes on

And becomes a game of spot the mistake.

But I don’t contradict her.

There’s no point in that.

 

Eventually she pauses, takes a sip and notes that

They’ll soon be gone north.

 

Again, I don’t correct her

But lift my lukewarm cuppa

And take another gulp.

Janice Smithers

Pontefract, West Yorkshire

 

 

I want to be a renaissance man, but she won’t let me!

For years I’ve felt trapped in my hum drum life,
Working int’ foundry to earn brass for the wife;
So she could stay home looking after her Mother,
Her budgie, her whippet and even her brother!

 

For years I have been at her beck and call,
Fitting her kitchens, rewiring the hall;
So now after years of toeing the line,
I want to do something that I can call mine!

 

In moments of solitude while sipping a brew,
I’ve studied - improving my mind on the loo;
“What are you doing? The dog needs a walk!”
I obey commands now, we no longer talk.

 

She smiles and laughs when I try to protest,
As I stand covered in grime, stripped down to my vest;
Trying to discuss the beauty of art,
All I frequently get is: “Don’t you start!”

 

In the public library reading book after book,
Devouring poetry till my whole being shook:
But my wife isn’t interested in the learning of verse,
Her responses to me are becoming more terse.

 

I bought a violin and learned notes of the stave,
Of studying concertos I became quite a slave;
But she snorts her disgust and loudly she sneers,
And goes back to her CDs of Britney Spears.

 

On sculpture and form I could hold seminars,
I can carve stone and granite and even weld bars;
But my efforts are met with disdain and pure mockery,
As she throws my statuary onto her rockery.

 

Michelangelo’s art work puts fire in my soul,
His use of a brush has long been my goal:
But my efforts at painting have long met with hate,
Unless I am glossing the front garden gate!

 

I think I have now reached a point in my life,
When I have to appraise the cause of my strife; 
She’ll have to go! I’ve got to break free!
I want to be a renaissance man, but she won’t let me!

 

Melmoth

Whitby, North Yorkshire

Personal Soundtrack

 

big bro is

hardstep

hip-hop

psychobilly

death rock

epic doom in every room

crust punk

for sure

 

that’s right little bro

big bro is

garage

grime

post grunge

freak folk

cross-over thrash my ass forever

that crunkcore mother

 

agree there bros

big bro is

industrial emo

make that screamo

cybergrind

born unkind

black metal

drill

in for the kill

 

well that’s enough of your noise

you three

I don’t hear that at all

no

not me

only feel his trembling

the vibrations

 

and I only have

ringing in my head

unless you come and calm me

mother always said

your whisper

was the only music I ever heard

sister

Zachary Rogers

Scranton, Pennsylvania  USA

 

 

A Single Fly


 

Sometimes the presence

 

Thirst quenched from fountains on Liberty Square.

Swallows writing summer in freehand,

high above the palace. 

 

in a prison         

 

River kissing banks

below the suspension bridge.

Lovers lock and release, lock and release.


 

of a single fly

 

Warm breeze blowing flyers 

into the blackened windows of vehicles.

Lines of birches dancing in Havel Park;

leaves holding firm.



 

stirs into life

 

Through gates onto open fields, 

butterflies, wild flowers and waving grass.

 Smiling faces coming forwards,

arms raised.

 

 

a thousand illusions.

 

 

Arundhati Lahiri

Dollis Hill, London

 

 

Bouncing Back

 

Losing all my shine, now patchy and bald.

Neglected in a puddle by the bin

Then kicked on all sides by the lads again.

Getting tough to bounce back. Deflating, old.

 

Stood and sat upon. Booted through the dirt.

And always subjected to mockery:

‘Hey, look at me, I’m having a baby!’

Shout boys who stuff me up their bulging shirts.

 

Soon for the skip, no doubt; but I’ll arise!

Thrown with intent, I’ll mark their young faces

And strike them hard in their tender places.

A clouted nose will bring tears to their eyes.

 

I, ball aimed straight and true into the balls,

Will bring me sweet revenge on one and all!

L.Vikram Piggin

Hampole, South Yorkshire

I, This

 

I hardly think before I speak

The words I learned from others.

 

But hear this: I was born on a day not of my own choosing.

.

Earth gave me weight.

Light coloured my eyes;

 

And now when I close them

It is sleep which fills my hollow head;

 

Dreams come from the night,

Warm, like your lips on my cold ones.

 

Love is not my invention;

You are teaching it me. Thank you.

 

If only I could sing to you

A song of my own making;

 

But I cannot, for I am this.

 

Arundhati Lahiri

Dollis Hill, London

Love At Bay

 

I heard the secret call of the unambiguous,

Like framing the story of an untaken chance

 

I get then handed over.

 

It is the colour of hands tried and tied,

Feel of a walking-stick, always a step ahead,

And love means water for its flow goes so chary

Its flow just a metaphor that is so real as we live.

 

So, framing a story means a war is a war

 

A war in the beginning looks like a stone

Pieces and pebbles, made for some good, and curious better

Pebbles need the beach, to keep lovers at bay

Pieces are shared like partners swapped,

I got the call, my turn then over

 

It is as simple as warring sets,

You have me reminding and I have a chance,

Random is a cuss-word, secret of war

 

Something is relevant, you call it dream

 

Jayanta Bhaumik

Kolkata, India

 

 

Do You Take Your Coffee Black?

 

I catch your eye

as your Rothmans haze clear-

you smile and twist a curl

of long blond dishevelled hair

around your index finger,

an unspoken invitation

to whisper sweetly,

through dangled earrings,

into gently nibbled ears.

 

In the twilight of sobriety,

you flitter with butterfly wings,

I’m open to your seduction,

and I promise I’ll try

to satisfy your silver dancing.

 

And when the moment comes

its beauty is distorted

even more than your face

which has moved far beyond

any resemblance to death.

 

I’m still thinking on this

when you offer a cigarette

and light up yourself.

I’m blowing curls of smoke

when you break the silence:

“I’ve run out of milk-

do you take your coffee black?”

 

Keith Davison

 

Ex-Gateshead, England

 

 

 

Kerosene

 

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

The conflagration comes; comes and is near.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.

 

Raising kindling altars; think it obscene?

In tinderbox land there’s little else here.

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

 

Fear not the flames; holy men do not scream;

But quietly prophesise, ear to ear.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.

 

Water colours earth; paints serene greens, for

Hours or days or weeks or months or years, yet

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

 

A phoenix, her plasmatic wings agleam,

Ignites our sleep: torched from the photosphere.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.

 

Pyriscent seeds rest; patient for extremes.

Infants of the scorched plain will reappear.

Fire is eternal; the sun fuels our dream.

Prepared, we baptise babes in kerosene.

The Baron Aargh!

Newcastle, England

 

 

Unusual Professions And Their Sine Qua Nons

 

Anarchist: endless pointless meetings

 

Bacteriologist: dirty kitchen

 

Cat groomer: scowly Persian red

 

Donkey man: beach

 

Elf: Christmas

 

Fingerprinter: ink, accused

 

Gigolo: erection

 

Hedgefund CEO: supreme greed and arrogance

 

Illusionist: politician

 

Jacob Rees-Mogg: hubris

 

Kite maker: wind or good farts

 

Looter: riots in urban areas

 

Mountaineer: knowing which way is up

 

Nobody: excessive masochism

 

Orangutan: forest

 

Pantomime horse: partner (front or back)

 

Queer: excellent grooming

 

Reveller: parties

 

Simpleton: Facebook

 

Time traveller: watch

 

Undertaker: botox

 

Vampire: decent fangs

 

Writer: delusions of bestsellers

 

Xylophonist: wood

 

Youth: touching faith

 

Zeroist: nothing

 

Cross reference as desired or required

Attempt these professions at your own peril

Perstimmons

Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

 

 

 

Spinning Hands

 

Time rides the tide onto migrant shores;

Washes sand through his tiny mouth and nose.

A decade marches a family up the Metzgerstrasse to the tick-tock rhythm

Of soldiers’ boots; her little arms outstretched at 10 to 2.

Long minutes on the paediatric ward.

Flowers at the school gates draws a gathering of hours.

Intensive moments: what to do with her photographs, his toys, their clothes?

A vacated cloakroom peg brings a century to a close.

Canals, dykes and slurry pits; a millennium clocked

By the spinning hands of drowning boys.

Mother hardly spoke again: choked on the year of your missing.

Father’s singing voice reduced to a low whistle

From the day your heart gave way - as did ours -

Between the passing of two small seconds.

john e.c

Hull, East Yorkshire

And You Who Never

 

Shrouds of rain over St. John’s Lane.

Archipelago of faith; puddles, an island church.

Candles flicking shadows across the nave,

Making gargoyles of the Boy’s Brigade.

Communicants circle as Sunday drains to its dry centre.

Clem the Organ holding out damp palms in anticipation;

The vicar heating the wafer to softness on her tongue.

Lightning on the windows of the dripping saints;

Thunder rolling across the drenched parish;

The restless wind rattling the knocker.

Weather-veined, the Clements turning their backs on the draught;

Miss Joan finding the chalice warm between her lips;

Wine, fire-red,

Trickling down the throat of Thirsty Bob.

Geoff Tracey

Otterburn, Northumbria

Micah

 

and all we hear is Micah says this and Micah says that

you and your remnant of naysayers from Moresheth-Gath of all places

that toilet on the Shephelah

more of a shit-hole than Elmsall

on and on in mixed-messages:

'fake-news loop-holes'

'zero-hours landlords'

'minimum-wage bankers'

blah blah blah

spreading your poison from Grimethorpe to Zaanam

Orgreave to Adullam

the land of sour milk and honey

eh?

and blaming it all on us

here in the big smoke

listen

haven’t all our prophecies come true?

the city’s never looked so flush

The Temple’s in spanking nick

Jerusalem’s just one big pie, enough to fatten all them that want to get on

food banks for them that won’t help themselves

so don’t speak to us of our ‘incredible capacity for wishful thinking’

and ‘nights without vision’

anyway,

who wants to hear

quote: ‘I’m no hireling prophet.

It’s not my function to comfort, encourage and uplift’?

cheer up, misery guts

liken us to Ichabod all you want but He won’t turn his back on us

why?

because we’ve never had it so good

all He wants is His people’s happiness

simple as

so take it from those in the know

Tyke

best to keep your trap well shut if you know what’s good for you

got that?

all that ‘call-centre poverty’ and ‘tax justice contracts’ nonsense

cut it, understand?

you fetid-goat-balled-God-botherer

Moresheth-Gath indeed

L.Vikram Piggin

Hampole, South Yorkshire

Murmuring

 

We watch them on their rooftop

Gentle in their secret joy

Naked smiles

Mouthing prayers

Not of our instruction

See her

Eyes closed

The one with the silken hair

A babe at her breast

And her sister

The darker one

Daring to bare her neck

As she bows her head

Often

When they bathe the young ones

They sing

Hymns we have not taught them

Quietly

In the evening

And when the sun goes down

They kneel

Hips and thighs

Framed by moonlight

Murmuring

Furtive female praise

Alien to our ears

The brothers

Listening

From the tops of houses 

 

Arundhati Lahiri

 

Dollis Hill, London                                                                                                     

2016

 

torching eir botts en orr arborr

slaughter te lot of em

even te women

dunt want no moor of eir blodd infecting orrs

 

burning tat dammdid bokk

crushing eir wheat underfott

domping te gifted weepons en te sea

weve sticks n stonns n plenty of em

 

what use for eir cloth

meats n radd wine

we go naked agen

grobbing for roots

lapping from clear polls

 

te young desporr

self harming som of em

hiding en caves

scaping oonly t droon

 

hating os

te old te wise

but em will know te island

as we knew it

 

bleeding for te gods

sacrificing eir yoth for ere

orr om

not eirs from te big island

orrs

Kye Conlan

Leeds, West Yorkshire

Laughter

 

What disturbed him the most was our laughter

Not the screaming

Profanities

Hair tearing

Raging from room to room

The usual

But our not crying from behind the door

 

First it was you

Then it was me

Then together

Bedlam style

How we laughed at the comedy

Of our temper fit

Disappointment performed to perfection

 

And when the knock came

We laughed some more

Infectious

Laughing at never having laughed this way

Oh sister we wish you could have laughed with us

When he asked

Are you alright in there

Zoe Marklew

Distington, Cumbria

Pool Closure

 

Butterfly, backstroke.

Speedos on slow blokes.

I love the smell of chlorine in the morning.

Don’t worry cocker,

here’s some change for a locker.

Can’t you two read? We don’t allow petting!

We swam outdoors at Grantchester.

Yes Sir, halcyon days, but this is Manchester.

 

We share shampoo.

She first swam at eighty-two.

Sons plunge deep and dive for daughters.

Sixty-four lengths equals one mile.

Lie me down on green tiles;

lead me beside municipal waters.

You’re Simmonds and I’ll be Wilkie

and later hot chocolate, all sweet and milky.

 

Gosh, what a laugh,

how we say ‘barths’ and they say ‘bafths’.

Byron swam the Hellespont, Caesar in the Nile;

Webb trained at Lambeth, length on length.

Olympic legacy? Give me strength.

Screw-kick, arms flail, let’s all do the free-style!

Lost your pink goggles, let me see…

He kissed me in the deep end, back in fifty-three.

 

A springboard plop;

belly laughs for belly flops.

All of the fatties are lighter than feathers.

Lady friends, short and stout,

swim in tandem and gas about

husbands and ailments and kids and weather.

Three private to one public: So?

Oh, how we weep when we remember the lido.

 

Pool, sprite-bright;

synchronised with dancing light;

sometimes warm and sometimes freezing.

Look, it’s gone and shrunk;

I’ve lost all feeling in my trunks!

Pushing us under, their rhymes and reasons.

Armbands and floats, deflated, still;

England, closing down, drowns her own for want of skill.

 

Opened in forty-seven

By Atlee, or was it Bevan?

These lanes forget more than we remember.

Mother taught me how to swim

or maybe it was Uncle Jim.

We close at nine and then in September.

No tucks, no turns; will our limbs sleep

and cease to draw circles on the face of the deep?

Billy Unwin

Salford, Manchester

Home Time

 

From her habitual high chair

She asks again

How long have I been here?

Not being sure, we shrug;

 

Though time for us is measured

In her repeated questions,

Our not varied answers

and the silences between.

 

The tempo slows further

With the stroking of hands,

The sipping of tea

And the coming and going of carers.

 

The TV flickers then flickers some more.

 

It is windy outside

And leaves brush the window

As a jazz drummer might a snare

To offset the beat.

 

But inside

All is regular.

Fine dust hangs in trapped sunlight,

Neither falling nor rising.

 

The pulse of the afternoon steadies

As the elderly take their nap;

Breathing in unison:

In, out, in, out.

 

She too succumbs to the hypnotism

And as we leave I ask

How long have we been here?

But you shrug,

Not being sure.

Beryl Ashman

Normanton, West Yorkshire

Mid-Set

 

The call of nature followed you into the men’s room;

Caught you with your zip and mouth wide open.

His great sax split you several heads:

Skee-sa-woo-eek-swork! Swee-sa-kroo-ork-eeeeee!

Blew your fuckin’ mind, you said.

Graham S.Crosby

Sefton Park, Liverpool

Other Towns

 

It’s usually on a Sunday

when we leave them at the bus terminal

or at the railway station.

Sometimes we take them to other towns;

we unload their stuff, take a stroll,

have a sausage roll, a cup of tea,

kiss them and go.

 

It’s usually on a Sunday

when we collect them from the bus terminal

or the railway station.

Sometimes we pick them up from other towns;

we kiss them, take a stroll, have a sausage roll, a cup of tea,

heave their stuff into the car

and go.

 

Sometimes we leave them.

Sometimes we collect them.

It’s usually on a Sunday.

Andrea Birch

Bridlington, East Yorkshire

Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan

 

Vodka falls as rain; drains from the hills;

Seeps along the skeleton coast into the livers of the damned.

Beached, they reach for cigarettes.

Smoke drifts from their mouths;

From the court house, over the gaol, onto the church

And back again as incense.

Blackened windows; rifles in the boot; on your knees:

The gutturals of gunfire mark their speech.

Sex is the cold, hard grip on a Kalashnikov.

The orthodoxy of a venal creed

Begets orphans; drowned wives; Job imprisoned.

From Moscow to Pribrezhny and all stops in-between,

Hell is corruption;

Framed within the carcass of a once living whale.

F. Pat Quigley

East Dulwich, London

Brenhilda

 

due north from Butt of Ness

meridian bearing

holding Polaris tween halyard and spar

Brenhilda riding

jabblies

clutters

whaleback waves

to Sula Sgeir

 

not for you North Rona

Sula’s green sister

your brother’s safe keeper

but here

where bore holing Atlantic

crashes over peak jagged black

 

earwig plagued

fasting

prayer

song

acrid guga

gelid lungs

Palled salt air

freezing mists

westerlies squeezing innards

like sea-battered timbers of Sgoth Niseach

 

navagatio

apprentice to signs

strangeness

reading phosphorescent swells

as wonderful book

understanding high cries

of returning petrels

attentive to own time

place

 

blasted scene

of thy resurrection

Guga men

finding ribcage housing shags

taking skull for kist

rounding dark gneiss prow of headland

mulling over

arcing kittiwakes

cormorants cruciform on high rocks

drying outstretched wings

Enoch McManus

Killiecrankie, Perth & Kinross

Roundel

 

Around and around, around and around –

The holding of hands, a circle of feet –

Inward we go with the world at our backs.

 

Off with the shoes and a leap from the ground –

Dropping the rhythm, one step off the beat –

Around and around, around and around –

The holding of hands, a circle of feet.

 

Oh! Singing in tongues, our voices are found –

The hole in the ring is more than complete –

Left of the centre, now turn and repeat!

Around and around, around and around –

The holding of hands, a circle of feet –

Inward we go with the world at our backs.

Jerri Spears

Garforth, West Yorkshire

Grapefruit

 

Snap time.

Dirty fingers divide jam, ham and corn beef sarneys.

Flasks shared between seven parched mouths.

And I am dessert.

 

They grab me in the tail gate.

Wedge my feet between strut and ceiling.

Hang me like a bat.

Use me as a punch bag.

Paint my face with sandstone.

 

Down my nose goes water

And out through my mouth.

Snuff forced up my nostrils burns the eyes.

 

I am sugar and they are sour.

They taste my fear on the tips of their tongues.

 

I grin and bear it.

Want to be seen to be laughing it off.

Don’t want dad

Being shown up in The Empire.

 

Then it’s over.

Released

And it’s off to work they’ll go;

But not before Tooly, the chief torturer,

Offers me a piece of  grapefruit.

 

Usually so bitter;

This delicious segment:

As sweet as it comes.

Arthur Axe

Armthorpe, South Yorkshire

 

Thin Lizzy

 

chasing their careers along the lonesome trail

these boys just got back today and mean business

if they want to play we better let ‘em

and anyway we’re not gettin’ any younger

so if you’re ready Phil

we’re ready

 

all hell breaks loose

we love to hear the bass and drums come roaring

we’re on the floor shakin’ what we got

a certain female dancin’ steamin’

Molly wants more Irish in her

do you know what she’s talkin’ about

 

blastin’ out our favourite songs

without ‘em we cannot leave

we’ll fall to pieces

caught in the spotlight

hair sweat heels swagger

coyote guitars wail in the howlin’ wind

rollin’ us over turnin’ us around keep us spinnin’ ‘til we hit the ground

 

the gang break out from the encore

ride out at sundown

disappear without a trace

we’re left on the street again still in a trance

and this a tribute band thirty-five years later

sha la la

Jean Renard

Trim, County Meath, Ireland

To Easington

 

Turning right through Patrington.

Soul-vapour lifting from white fields.

Welwick, Weeton then Skeffling; gearing down for that bend, that hill.

Sunrise transforming the distant gas terminal

Into a celestial city: our destination.

Aurous dawn, red-feathered sky;

The new sun blazing through skeletal hedgerows, flecking the bonnet golden.

Daybreak resplendent upon turbines, churches, barns.

Farm house windows flash by us some diurnal code.

Blind to fly-tipping and road-kill;

Our eyes only mirror the one-light of morning.

Atop the crest, entering the village and alchemy:

Look! To our left a songbird, vocalising our stunned silence;

Gilded on the wing, flicking sunlight from its tail; an auric rising.

Anne-Marie Silver

Ottringham, East Yorkshire

 

At His Work

 

Worn magazines, hard seats, the faded floor

The waiting silence neither warm nor cold

Your turn in the chair

His voice friendly, not friendly

How would you like it today, Sir?

As if you have a choice

Scissoring without haste but regular

Clipping, snipping, ticking along with that clock

No conversation, only concentration

Young eyes behind an old pair of glasses

Pausing, staring, squaring your head

Yellow fingers upon each temple

Not gentle, not rough: firm

Your hair falling to his feet

Waiting for his broom, the sweeping

15 minutes: no more, no less

The uniform cut

Ready now for your wedding or funeral

Pay and tip

Not too much, not too little

Never a thank you in return

A polite nod, a thin smile, no goodbyes

Already at his work as you leave the door bell ringing

Streets later, cold air around the ears

Imagining the eyes of the world upon you

Checking yourself in a shop window

Seeing his face looking back

His fingers still gripping your skull

Turning your head this way and that

Jimmy Swain

Bunny, Nottinghamshire

Steeplejacks

 

careful near that ladder lad

another step back and it’s

half a day out with the bloke in black

one slight slip and it’s flip-flop

over the top oh aye

these chimney tops are death traps

but that’s okey-dokey it’s all the

clap-trap that’ll be the death of me

have you ever fallen off mister

is the usual crap

honestly people’s heads these days

are like these bricks we’re rendering

thick and soft as cheese

all common sense got cleared out

with that goody-goody clean air act

you won’t remember black hankies and hands

from breathing and sneezing carbon and sulphur

air then tasted fuller than a young lass’s lips son

lovely and acrid like these un-tipped chokers

kept your top boiler stocked soundly it did

them old timers were more honest than daft

hard graft never did them any harm

dark satanic mills my arse

this place lit up at night like a greek palace

my sleep’s still powered by pulleys and pistons

I peer in my dreams through great arched windows

at giant flywheels and gleaming housed engines

and everywhere smoke and steam smoke and steam

no kidding you kidda

I swear on this fag’s last drag

some afternoons when I’ve had a few

and this blue view’s more grandly murky

I can see right through all them

ticky-tacky egg box houses

right into the nineteenth century

and touch it with my less-shaky hand

anyhows curly talking of pop we’ll be tip-top

for some chips and a couple of glasses

a laugh with them lasses will serve us for later

careful young un on that first wrung

you’d rather be up here this aft

than down there with the undertaker

Franky Pallett

Blackrod, Lancashire