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Monday, May 27, 2024

WHERE’S HERSH?

by Devon Balwit




A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty. —Philippe Arriès
 

I get out of bed and put on a costume 
of being a person, says his mom,
the number of days of his captivity taped to her bosom.
She speaks to anyone who’ll welcome 
her—President, talk show host, reporter. Numb
is not an option, not while her son might live. Come
home to us, she prays, her thumb
pressing her prayer book. She prays for Umm
Mohamed, Umm Sarah, Umm Ahmed as well. I can’t fathom
her loss, imagining my own son, who looks so like him,
stolen into captivity. Harm
has already come to Hersh, arm
blown off, 220 days and counting. The number
of dead in this war also multiplies, like the rubble. I watch gruesome
videos taken by an American-Palestinian doctor—hard to stomach—
ordinary people being overcome
by history. What can be done? שום דבר —shum
davar—it seems—nothing. But Rachel must keep her momentum.
This Memorial Day, let us insist, alongside her, upon Shalom.


Devon Balwit walks in all weather and has recently returned to life-drawing and cartooning. She edits for Asimov Press.

WHAT IS LEFT?

by Peter F. Crowley


Waiting for rations from an outdoor kitchen in Khan Younis this month. Hunger is now most acute in the southern Gaza Strip.
Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via The New York Times, May 24, 2024Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images via The NewYork Times, May 24, 2024


     The language you speak has soured, become melancholy, chokes eyelids. Its tendrils lay flaying in dusty streets near occupation crossings in the gated night. Your eyes have grown sallow, as your children's stomachs distended, swollen, as you swat flies from their brow. The streets are your anguish, running, forever running from apartment home to tent back to bombed out abode. Hope was sapped with the last morsel of cat food, finished for yesterday’s only meal, while the powerful stick their blindfolded, deaf eyes deep into the sand, purchasing bulldozers to roll over you.
     You now avoid aid trucks, should they ever appear out of shackled nothingness, to avoid getting gunned down by those fighting terror. 


As a prolific author from the Boston area, Peter F. Crowley writes in various forms, including short fiction, op-eds, poetry and academic essays. His writing can be found in 34th Parallel, Pif MagazineGalway ReviewDigging the FatAdelaide’s Short Story and Poetry Award anthologies (finalist in both) and The Opiate. He is the author of the poetry books Those Who Hold Up the Earth and Empire’s End, and the short fiction collection That Night and Other Stories.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

NEW CALEDONIA NATIVES FIGHT FOR RIGHTS

by Lavinia Kumar


New Caledonia has been under French control since 1853. The indigenous Kanak population, who make up approximately 40% of the territory’s 270,000 residents, has long sought independence from France. The 1998 Nouméa Accord provided a framework for gradual autonomy and promised three referendums on independence. The first two referendums in 2018 and 2020 saw close results against independence, while the third in 2021, heavily boycotted by pro-independence groups due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in an overwhelming vote to remain part of France. The recent violence erupted after the French National Assembly approved a constitutional amendment allowing French citizens who have lived in New Caledonia for at least 10 years to vote in provincial elections. This change is viewed by pro-independence leaders and most Kanaks as a threat to Kanak representation, as it could significantly increase the number of pro-France and non-indigenous voters. —Mirage, May 23, 2024. Photo: Police forces pushed back rioters near a shopping center in Dumbéa Sur Mer, New Caledonia, on Wednesday. Credit: Bruno Favre/EPA, via Shutterstock and The New York Times, May 22, 2024.


3000 BC is when Kanaks made home
in the west Pacific, in Oceana,
          south of Papua New Guinea, 
          north of New Zealand.
 
10,000-miles-away-France, took over
the islands in1853, parked its prisoners,
          destroyed crops of the Kanaks,
          forced labor, and brought disease.
 
1854 marked the discovery of nickel,
began years of foreign mine expansion –
            nearly ten mining sites –
            one selling nickel to car-maker Tesla.
 
A 1998 Accord enscribed island voting rights. 
Then 40,000 more French arrived, and
          today rights undone by Paris law—
          expanded migrant voting, diluting Kanaks.*
 
Today Caledonia’s nickel is third in world.
Today Kanaks have no control over the mines.
Today Paris has sent President, ministers, 3000 troops, police.
Today Kanaks block roads, fight for freedom.


* President Emmanuel Macron says he will not force through a controversial voting reform in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia following deadly rioting. Speaking on a visit to the main island, Mr Macron said local leaders should engage in dialogue to find an alternative agreement for the archipelago's future. —BBC, May 23, 2024


Lavinia Kumar writes in New Jersey.  Her latest poem is here.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

THIS MAN, 2024

a cento by Jacquelyn Shah


Source: Stablecog


How will the future reckon with this man?

  ––Edwin Markham, “The Man with the Hoe”


   

There is no shape more terrible than this––

. . . dangerous man . . .

ignorant demagogue . . .    

inscrutably smiling

thick with power oozed over branches,

the capitalistic offices

   . . . makes us all turn green with fright

and through the green his crimson furrow grooves.

He must have come up from a drain.


Knowing this man . . .

(mean, underhanded, lacking all attributes . . .)   

is a man who makes avenging armies.

He makes of laws

a broken staff,

disturbs polite conversation . . .


The knotted fabric of our lives,

our words, our lives, our pains––nothing!

We talk despairingly and drink our tea,

everyone a life alone.

All day, all night, we hear, we feel,

men, women in cities, multitudes, millions.

The dead and the dead

of spirit now joined . . .     

All––only putty that tyranny rolls

between its fingers . . .     

Poor people make poor land.



Author’s Note: Cento—lines & partial lines (occasional slight alterations), in order of appearance, from: Edwin Markham; Sarah N. Cleghorn, Cleghorn; Lola Ridge; Archibald Fleming; E. B. White; William Rose Benét; Roy Campbell; Alfred Hayes; Edwin Rolfe; Selden Rodman; S. Funaroff, Funaroff; Oscar Williams; Josephine W. Johnson; Baratolomeo Vanzetti; James Palmer Wade; James Agee; William Stephens; Eunice Clark; Frederic Prokosch, Prokosch; Hugh MacDiarmid, MacDiarmid; Pare Lorentz. All poets included in A New Anthology of Modern Poetry, 1939 Ed. Selden Rodman.



Jacquelyn Shah. A.B., M.A., M.F.A. & Ph.D.––English/creative writing. Publications: poetry chapbook, small fry; full-length poetry book, What to Do with Red; poems in journals. In 2023 her memoir Limited Engagement: A Way of Living was published, and she was a Pushcart Prize nominee for Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor.

Friday, May 24, 2024

WARFARE IS THE OPPOSITE OF PRACTICING TONGLEN

by Catherine Gonick


Tonglen, or “taking and giving” is a meditation where you imagine taking in others’ suffering as dark smoke and giving all that they need as bright light. —A Skeptic’s Path to Enlightenment


Asked to inhale
your pain

and to exhale
my compassion

I instead
inhale your righteous

rage
feel fear

exhale my own
just rage in return

and too fast to notice
a fiery fence

springs up
the burning barricade

of exhaled words
that separates

my dangerous pain
and yours

and makes us equal
in unsafety


Catherine Gonick has published poetry in journals including Live Encounters, Notre Dame Review, Forgeand Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and in anthologies including Support Ukraine, Grabbed, and  Rumors, Secrets & Lies: Poems About Pregnancy, Abortion and Choice. She works in a company that slows the rate of global warming through projects that repair and restore the climate. 

Thursday, May 23, 2024

CRYPTO RISES FROM THE CRYPT

by Royal Rhodes


AI-generated image from Shutterstock


“The Crypto Comeback” —The Daily, May 21, 2024


The bell tolled for cryptocurrencies,
doomed in its sheer insufficiencies.
But halving came
to goose its game
so bitcoin seduces new licensees.

A trial judge had jailed poor Bankman-Fried,
a name that Dickens, I think, would have tried
for a modern-day Scrooge
as a free-market stooge,
giving Wall Street a bullish new pride.

Investors had cried when their gains bid adieu,
so turned to the courts to argue and sue
with tort after tort.
But now a report
says their payback includes all interest accrued.


Royal Rhodes is retired and is grateful for the Social Security safety-net and government regulations.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

BEQUEATHED

 a golden shovel by Bonnie Proudfoot




No meaning but what we find here.

No purpose but what we make.

 

That, and the beloved’s clear instructions:

Turn me into song; sing me awake.

                               —Gregory Orr

 

 

Say you are at the supermarket, no

say you are at the farmer's market, meaning

you don't go in for plastic wrapped food, but

you bring your stringy hemp bag. How nice, but what

did you think, that one tomato at a time we

can stop climate change, find

a way to keep butterflies and songbirds here?

 

Say you'll install solar panels on your roof, no

say you've already installed them, your purpose

feels urgent, you are off the power grid, but

the sun feels stronger every day, what

you never expected was tornados, floods, we

can barely hold on to any progress we make. 

 

Today each weather warning lasts longer, that

way the window of safety shrinks, and

we huddle closer, protect ourselves, our beloved,

while lightning sparks, we wait for all to clear

though we need more time to prepare, instructions

 

to face this new future. The earth will turn

against us, beyond the ladders of light leaning into

the clouds, beyond the hymns and songs

to creation, show me a new song to sing,

not king coal, not drill baby oil, give me

more songbirds to hallelujah my grandchildren awake.



Bonnie Proudfoot is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, and reviewer whose work has appeared in online journals and anthologies. Her novel Goshen Road  (OU / Swallow Press) was longlisted for the PEN/ Hemingway and received the WCONA Book of the Year Award. Her recent book of poems Household Gods can be found on Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.

SOME OF THEM ARE BRAVE

by Lynn White




Medical workers in Israel have told the BBC that Palestinian detainees from Gaza are routinely kept shackled to hospital beds, blindfolded, sometimes naked, and forced to wear nappies – a practice one medic said amounted to “torture”. —BBC, May 21, 2024


Everyone knew it was happening
the unheard story
the tens of thousands dead,
the millions displaced,
the decades of rubble,
the destroyed schools.
hospitals, universities
everyone knew.

Everyone knew it was happening
the unheard story
even though the journalists were dead
or expelled and banned
everyone knew.

Everyone knew it was happening
the unheard story
of the hundreds
or thousands,
or tens of thousands
who had disappeared
uncharged with any crime
or misdemeanour
everyone knew.

Then three Israeli workers
blew their whistles loud
and everyone heard
what everyone knew.

Now the trick is to listen.


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality and writes hoping to find an audience for her musings. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Peach Velvet, Light Journal, and So It Goes.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

YAWN

by Rose Mary Boehm


This week, Key West, Fla., experienced record-high temperatures, with a heat index of 115 degrees. Even the late Jimmy Buffett would have had trouble finding enough margaritas for that. Parts of South Florida were also hit by smoke from wildfires burning hundreds of miles away in Mexico. This is also the week that Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that removes the words climate change from many state laws. —NPR, May 17, 2024


So they had another party. 

Too high, too drunk, too wasted, they didn't notice

when half their guests and a major piece of their huge

garden disappeared, pulled into the ink-dark waters

by an enormous, merciless hand.

They laughed when the swimming pool followed.

But suddenly they woke and looked at each other's distorted faces

in horror, then drifted off

with the competing currents.

There was no-one to look for their bloated bodies,

because there was no-one left to care.

And the sharks inherited the waters.



Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru, and author of two novels as well as eight poetry collections. She was three times nominated for a Pushcart and once for Best of Net. Do Oceans Have Underwater Borders? (Kelsay Books 2022), Whistling in the Dark (Cyberwit 2022), and Saudade (2022) are available on Amazon. Also available on Amazon is a new collection Life Stuff published by Kelsay Books in 2023.

Monday, May 20, 2024

SIGN OF THE TIMES

by Lisa Seidenberg


Woman found living in Family Fare sign in Midland, Michigan for almost a year.



It had a roof and a door

space for a laptop and clothes

electric kettle, plant and more

in her improvised home

above the big box store.


warmed on chill Michigan nights

wrapped in rays of a red neon sign 

while unseeing shoppers passed below 


What thoughts crossed her mind

as she lay perched behind the sign;

Is it a crime to be homeless in America?


settlers came to this land 

with only their hands

and some tools and their wits

making up the rules of wrong

and right as survival

is the primal law


not simply a need for shelter

led her to this penthouse nest. 

living for a year like a stealthy mountaineer

scaling the crest of Family Fare. 

a temporary home.

a summit of her own.



Lisa Seidenberg is a writer and filmmaker who makes documentaries and poetry films. She enjoys reading poems on the Rattlecast and other poetry performance venues. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

THE CONVENIENT WIFE

by Elisabeth Frischauf


cartoon by Bill Bramhill


Pockets strife
Shoulders the blame
Picks up the stain
For anyone
Fanning the flame
Against husband’s fame

Deep in her bosom
Buries misdeeds
Twitter poison feed
Lucky this man
Justice of our land

Whose wife
With bravura and passion
Hangs
Our stripes and stars
Upside down


Elisabeth Frischauf is a psychiatrist, grandmother, and visual artist in many media: ceramics, collage, mobiles. Poetry is intimately bound up with her art.  Being multilingual and anchored in two cultures—the family homeland in Austria and New York City— enriches all her work. Her epic narrative memoir poem, They Clasp My Hand, short-listed for the Austria Literary Prize, was published in April 2022 by the Theodor Kramer Verlag, Vienna, Austria. This book is in process for on demand, English only, by She Writes Press.  Two more memoir verse books are in the publication pipeline.  She publishes poems in various on-line magazines. She lives with her husband, playwright Richard France by a lake in Putnam County, New York.