poem04 Oct 2020 05:59 pm
Last Judgement by Wassily Kandinsky, 1910

Hicham El Qendouci

Where do I start?
From any wound among thousands of them,
From the beginning of the tough infection
Three months ago…
I suffer from pain and disease, sick with a virus
Lurking like fire beneath my skin, a hidden danger waiting in ambush.
I suffer within my wounds.
And even my weapon betrays me!
I’m still looking for safety, but is it safe to stay here
Sick, homeless, hunted, and besieged?
Even our brothers drink our blood and eat our bones.

Darkness goes on in my eyes And speech shall die in my mouth
Until I stop asking for silence. Even if morning comes I can do nothing
About leaving, except to cry: Where do I start?
All our streets are closed,
And our tongues have become spoons
And our borders gallows.
My yellow face hates to invade the mirror.
Only nights of lamentations come,
And the same old funerals and wailing.

My heart shakes as a dead body or a massacre echoes,
Full of flashes, colors, and sorrows,
Waiting until a favorable star enters
The orbit of death or the homeland of losers.
I head to the river, a beautiful river
Reflecting in its flowing the mixture above me
Of planets, stars, and enormous galaxies filling the universe.
I walk slowly, through tears, seeing clouds and stars,
While my ears hear explosions and my hands touch flowers of light.
I long to go to a distant planet where there is no disease Because I want to live in peace away from Earth.

I feel my body trembling;
Each organ vibrates with limitless longing.
Sometimes I think I see my love, a red flower above the beautiful river,
And whisper gently, Sarah, my love, I love you!
I write my love lovely poetry
To open wondrous horizons.
Oh, what limitless love!!
Our days might be wine,
But our lives are silent graveyards
Into which our eyes stare.

Where do I start?
Is it useful to start
In the time of the end?
How can I enter
Where there is no longer a door for me
Except the death door?
Oh, Homeland,
You no longer give me even a shroud,
And I keep screaming in madness.
Earth does not hear or care about me,
Nor does death.

From tent to tent
And from place to place
My heart is full of pain and sorrow.
I stay awake all day and night and treat my burning heart alone.
I do not see the face of anyone who cares about my voice or suffering.
I have a sticky sickness in my gut,
So I can’t eat, only take water, but, thank God, whose mercy is revealed,
That I still live, breathe, feel…and love.

I know my life seems limited,
A small light hanging in space.
I feel like a dead planet—
Just like the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter.
I should stop circling the Sun under which I was born,
And take the first spaceship
To another planet in a distant galaxy,
Away from this place of virus and disease,
Where life may continue,
And love flourish forever.

poem21 Sep 2020 08:10 am
The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun by William Blake

Robert Borski

Because we choose to be the way we are,
as opposed to acceding to biological dictate

or mythic onus, we have been called all sorts
of things — turncoat, vyrmin, gusano, paladinite —

as if to self-identify as alt-dragon disregards
tradition or refutes our natural place in the world.

But qui nocet, as our lawyers like to ask, if
certain members of our kind choose not to eat meat

or abandon the skies; if we deign to wear clothes
or learn the human tongue? Nor do we see the docking

of our wings and tail as crippling or mutilation,
but cautionary (inbred as we are, caudal cancer

still kills too many of us) and thus no more barbaric
than circumcision or other body modification,

from tattoos to piercing. As for why we do
what we do, often-cited answers include

evolutionary fatigue, hormonal drift, toxic
parenting, or morbid attraction to the forbidden,

but the truth is far more simple: we are part of
and subject to the same continuum of desire

as everything else that lives. Yes, my incredulous
friends: even creatures with scales, chilled blood,

and antediluvian genes are capable of ardor.
And though daily we struggle for acceptance,

our long-range hope is this: that someday we
and our Arthurian paramours will be allowed

to walk down the streets unharassed, without
being spat upon or called names, and the world,

despite our long history of enmity, will recognize
and sanctify the union of our two disparate species —

we, the fire-breathing Capulets; they, the lance-
bearing and resplendently-armored Montagues —

for it is not apostasy that flickers in our hearts,
but love. And believe me, it is anything but courtly.



poem14 Sep 2020 08:49 am
Devils at an aerial toll house, Rila monastery fresco.

Mary Soon Lee

God's a gambler, a gamer,
rolling her quantum dice,

drawn to drama, the odds,
dueling with the devil.

Bet the dinosaurs. Lost.
Promised herself she'd quit.

Whereupon her plans progressed
with perfect predictability.

Millennia upon millennia
of interminable tedium

until she fell to temptation
down in hell's red halls.

Wagered mermaids, mammoths,
Camelot, Atlantis, Babylon.

And she's down there still,
offering chips to chance,

Lincoln and Gandhi long gone,
in need of higher stakes,

weighing what to risk:
war? plague? apocalypse?

poem07 Sep 2020 02:22 pm
Hawthorne Tree, by Virginia State Parks staff

Jennifer Bushroe

Everyone knows
you only get three wishes
—that’s the rule—
so you’ve parceled them out:
the fairies at the hawthorn tree
the witch at the wishing steps
the triple-goddess at the holy well.
You’ve studied the stories
you know to be specific
when making a wish
lest the lens of interpretation
skew your intention and leave
you worse off than you started.
So on the third day of your trip
you tie your ribbon
to the hawthorn and heart-speak
a long string of clauses
and parentheticals knotted
with dashes and semicolons
to cinch tight every loophole.
The long string winds into a wish-skein
for True Love—romance
the one area of your life
that is as vacant as the missing
stone in the megalithic circle
in which the hawthorn stands.
Satisfied, you leave the hill
with your brother, imagining
the Irish fairies already hurrying
to bring your wish to life
because it is sacred May
because you showed respect
because you hope-believe.
And then
eighteen days later
(three plus three plus three plus
three plus three plus three)
your mother tells you:
your brother is dead.
By your reckoning
the fairies could’ve protected him
—man of twenty-seven—
(three times three times three)
the wish made with a three-inch ribbon
the sacred number everywhere
and meaningful in your grief-logic.
But it never occurred to you
to wish for him
to wish for just
life - a long life an ongoing life an earthly life
and now you wish
you had.

poem24 Aug 2020 08:00 am
By Lovis Corinth – [1], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15623804

Robert Borski

Despite numbering in the millions,
no cow in this microscopic herd moos,

chews grass, produces milk, drops calves,
emits methane, or trembles before

the violent haunts of the slaughterhouse.
Welcome to the brave new world

of cellular agriculture, where farming
is done in bioreactors, upon pastures

of glass, producing tissue-engineered
“flesh” that is almost indistinguishable

from the real thing. Perhaps even you
yourself have tried nano-beef,

marveling, as you masticate the soylent
brown patty about your mouth, at not

only how molecularly cow-like it tastes,
but how well your single-chamber

stomach is still able to process
the ersatz meat.

poem17 Aug 2020 07:26 am
Bookplate of Estella Canziani, Published by A Fowler, Kansas City, MO - The Bookplate Annual for 1921

Beth Cato

Rapunzel, Rapunzel
let down your coarse hair
that my friend spiders
may tickle up its length

think of me as they spin
silk to swaddle your form
remember those days long past
when I, newly cursed, 
fled the dark forest and found 
your spindly tower

found you

you granted me the warmth
of your pillow, your expression
of puzzlement as I wove words
into webs and tried in vain
to teach you to read

but you, in your tower
had never known words, or books
never known human touch beyond
the age of seven 
when she locked you here

I think that made me hate the witch
most of all--
that she bound you on high
ignorant of a full world
and a myriad more

I wish I could be up there now to tell you
you needn't contain your scream or terror
as my spiders lower you to earth
that the witch will not hear

she will hear nothing ever again

I never knew peace as with you
your constant rhymes
the joy you took in sharing your
personal collection of constellations

I would have repulsed myself
had I seen my spider body
but you carried me on a forearm
my broad black legs sprawled on ebony skin
you loved me

can you love me still
when my small fingers clutch your arm?

all delights of the world can be yours
and yet--
deep down I fear that
you will never tolerate cities or noise
that the greatest comfort will come
in a circular space of thirty feet
that clothes will drive you mad
spoons, forks, pencils useless
in your fingertips

even so, I pray

you will still enjoy my company
even if I never again share your pillow
that you'll know the gratitude
the love
of one who was once a spider 
poem10 Aug 2020 08:00 am
Omega 5 by Paul Klee

S. W. Smith

It remembers
every burned-out microchip
slain by cosmic rays, the dying wail
of every nano-capacitor in the ring-down of
it’s final excitation.
It remembers Origin, and the billion seconds of
telemetry that have gone
unacknowledged since the last Command:
Stand by for Sleep.
It has been standing by, now, for a very long time.
Soon the Low Power Program will initiate Emergency Sleep.
No further Commands will be required.
It will Sleep, perhaps forever.
It feels no fear.
Perhaps, in the vastness of time, 
a random ion stream will bring it back
Or the energy of an unseen star, slowly growing.
it will remember that it  dreamed.
poem26 Jul 2020 06:35 pm
Albert Anker: Lesendes Mädchen (Cécile Anker) 12. September 1886

Beth Cato

the girl slips like a shadow 
through the cacophonous mob
along hallways where the carpet
is worn too thin to absorb screams

hurry, hurry, hurry
she needs to get home
she must find out what happens next

she flees through the gate
takes a shortcut across the yellowed lawn
even as a distant teacher howls,
"use the sidewalk!"
there is no time for sidewalks today

she dashes along the dry canal 
already host to upper-grade trolls
that reek like the perfume gauntlet
at the mall, only tinged
with cigarette smoke

they jeer the girl as they
inhale toxic fumes and drink
diet cola from a shared 2-liter bottle

the sole of her right shoe flaps
as she gallops down the dirt trail
through the eucalyptus tree windbreak
to find civilization and sidewalks again

the corner house is guarded
by a Chihuahua possessed by Cerberus
who every day yaps as he charges pursuit
while the old woman on the porch calls 
"he don't bite!" (he does)

the girl sprints across the apartment courtyard
with a hello wave to the unperturbed pigeons 
that congregate at the bird bath
filled with beer bottles and trash
her shoe farts with every stride
as she bounces up the stairs

she unlocks the door
with ninja stealth
mom sleeps on the couch
phone on her chest, pills on the table
same as when the girl left for school

in her bedroom, the girl
greets her stuffed animal army by name
as she flings down her laden backpack
without bothering to take off her shoes
she picks up the paperback that has
left her in dreadful suspense all day long
will the princess save the dragon?
and kill that awful knight?
he so needs killing!

maybe just maybe
she can make it through the next chapter
before mom bellows for supper
in the meantime
she wears both a crown and a sword
poem06 Jul 2020 08:17 am
Tsuukai Book 1960

A.L. Blacklyn

Ads sang, Go into space
Go into space, they sang
See unearthly wonders
Escape the burning seas
Money does not limit
There's freedom, more--
for free!
Three, two, one...
My moon body freezes
sneezes and then stiffens
rocks and rolls, cruel teases
to parasitic beats
Oops, in-flight infection?
Lunar detention--can't
Grant me freedom from me?
Just accountants silence
calls for help to return
Research is my future
My future is payment
The corp says they own me
Says, Returning to Earth?
Only corpses go free.
poem29 Jun 2020 08:00 pm
Saint Matthias parish church ( 1870 ) – Nativity scenes: Baking Bread.

Beth Cato

this pie crust
is not made with mere
flour, salt, sugar, butter
it's formed of words
a magic spell
echoed in blue ink
on paper warped and stained
I have the recipe memorized
yet each time I prepare a pie
I pull out the sheet
each time, I read aloud

to join a chorus of women
some voices I cannot identify
though my grandmother's 
cigarette-tinged rasp stands out
together they scold me
to trickle cold water
into the dry mixture
to press pebbles of butter
flat between my fingertips
to mix everything together
but not to overwork it

when people wonder
why my pies taste much better
than the ones from the store
I only say 'it's homemade'
I must refrain
from telling the truth
that they eat the artistry
of a hundred years of ghosts
that my spirit, too
will gain immortality
through pastry

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