MAY 2021 = POWER
PAYMENT DUE FOR DEBTS INCURRED
Douglas V. Miller
Am I nothing more to you
than a dog who has
shit upon your carpet?
Has your pride in superiority,
been shaken and challenged?
You told me to go fight your war.
I would have won it for you, too,
until your profits became more
important than national pride and
my life was reduced to a bottom line.
I didn’t win your war, because
you wouldn’t allow me to.
So now I am criminally seen as a loser.
not worth the effort or expertise
to repair, that you feel safe ignoring,
to get on with business as usual.
Don’t get too comfortable.
I learned things you will never
know and I won’t forget
as easily as you.
The wave forcefully captures me
and crashes my breath away
The overwhelming strength
of its graceful curve
plunges me toward oblivion
My world is a myriad of
aquas, greens and blues
so coalesced, it’s all a
swirling shining kaleidoscope
the flecking foam of white
leads to a saving light
but the beauty of the wave
its magnificence is all
its wondrous power and glory
OH, MOTHER EARTH
Kassie J Runyan
I suckle at her breast
trying not to wake her
the sleeping woman, dressed in white
innocent of heartache and heartbreak
hopeful dreams visioning
the future that has yet to come
a future of growth and hope
that might still come to be
she smiles in her sleep
and her hand caresses my small head
mother and child
alone in peace
I suckle at her breast
in a building desperation
to take the milk she has given
she stirs, her eyes
wrinkles her brow
as her dress dyes
from white to green
her nipple is torn
from my lips
my body pulled back
by another child
a child like m
I watch as he
lunges towards her breast
and she feeds him
jealousy climbing my body
putting my skin to tingle
my full belly replaced by the
hunger of envy
he suckles at her breast
as I'm pushed away further
the dizziness building
as I'm turning and swirling
through the throngs of children
eagerly waiting their turn
by each and every second
as their patience wanes
I stand on the tips of my toes
trying to see her
but gaining only a glimpse
of her arms
held in place
by her side
and the ripped sleeve of
her dress turned red
the torn edge of silk held up
above the crowd
by a dirty hand
and the crowd cheers
their ownership desire unchecked
I'm picked up by the wave
of pushing and pulsating bodies
trying to get closer
to the single source
but I fall to the ground
and peer through the legs
finally seeing her face again
strained with pain and
and still confusion
small hands reaching to her
pawing at her
clawing at her
worshiping her and the boys
standing at the front
of the line
who in turn
bow to the children
attached to each nipple
they hungrily suckle at her breast
as the shouts grow
louder above me
and I look up
to see a fist land
on a soft cheek
eyes growing red as the faces
erupt in angst
I roll along the
ground, avoiding the stomping feet
I slither towards where I know she lays
telling myself I will save her
from these power-hungry children
fighting over her
don't want to own her
how could you even ask that?
I giggle as my mouth waters
craving her milk
the fight rampages above
but I'm not angry like them
and I lack that obsessive need
I crawl quicker seeing a glimpse
of her limp leg
shrouded in her deep black cloth
"please don't forsake us
how can we show you
that we still adore you?“
I get to an opening and stand
ducking quickly below a bullet
fired from a found gun
and held in the hand
of a boy
not aiming for me
I run towards her body
as an explosion shakes
the ground behind me
no one is suckling at her breast
by the time I make it to her side
see her laying there
now abandoned and naked
not able to pull
the last shred of the dull grey
fabric to cover herself
as the battle rages behind me
I move my mouth to her flattened breast
trying to get just one more
but nothing comes
I release her breast and raise
my head to the sky
an anguished yell
escaping my lips
why have YOU forsaken US
we ONLY wanted to love you"
I SEE YOU…
I see you in the background,
Standing out by blending in,
I hear you when you’re silent,
And your patience’s wearing thin…
I can feel all your frustration,
It oozes from your soul,
I can sense you’ve lost a lot
And it’s left a gaping hole.
I can taste your disappointment,
Life’s not gone the way you’d hoped,
But you’ve hidden it so well
Unhelpful habits helped you cope.
I can see you in the background,
Standing out by blending in,
I can hear your thoughts so loud
Reverberating from within.
I can see what you’re disguising,
From the words you never say,
I can see you’ve built a barrier,
To keep the world at bay.
But step outside your silence,
You’ve so much more to give,
You were put here for a reason
So don’t forget to live.
Jack M. Freedman
Two Paths (Metro)
by Jack M. Freedman
“This is a Brooklyn-bound F Local Train. The next stop is...West 4th Street-Washington Square. Stand clear of the closing doors please.”
Sixteen stops between
14th Street and Ditmas Avenue
Is it a coincidence
that the 14th Street Station
on 6th Avenue
showcases the letters F-M-L
proving also that fuckery
is as easy as 1-2-3?
It reminds me of how
Delancey Street-Essex Street
prominently features my initials
J-M-F with the occasional ability to catch Z’s
Every subway ride has a story
Mine is a track with two paths
Empath and sociopath
Two distinct personalities
ride on opposite sides
of a mind going off the rails
They make me wonder
If I’ll ever take the B
to Brighton Beach on a whim
just to be somewhere far from Staten Island
even for an hour
Or whether I’ll bypass Ditmas on the F
and find Coney Island in places
far more sophisticated than
my hyperactive mind
Or whether catching
a Manhattan-bound Q
at Sheepshead Bay
lets me find words
within alphabetic avenues
scattered through Midwood
Or whether I will still
be embraced by the R
whether bound for MetroTech
or Union Square
Or whether the first five cars on the 1
would trap me in a maze of dyscalculia
Or whether I would take the 7 somewhere
other than Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue
Or whether I would take the 6
and travel back to City Island
Or whether the L will connect me
to my favorite artist congregations of Brooklyn:
Or whether I have a job
requiring me to take the
R-A-G to Brooklyn Navy Yard
Or whether I’ll ever see a dinosaur skeleton
after a long ride on the C
Or whether I’ll once again
take the D to Central Park
Or whether I’ll visit Briarwood
taking the E from Ground Zero
like my mother and father once before
Or whether Bay Ridge
still welcomes me
after a long ride on the N
Or whether I’ll ever see
controversial art exhibits
getting off the 2 or 3
at the Brooklyn Museum
Or whether Bowling Green Station
will make me feel less claustrophobic
before I catch the 4 or 5
Or whether the W
is the best train to take
after leaving South Ferry
I’ve ridden every train but the M
for no destination I’ve reached
relied on that letter
I’m still asleep
when the Z runs
It’s still a mystery
if I ever rode any of the Shuttles
Subways are transitions
which alter consciousness
with every transfer
Lines come full circle
and there are diamonds
buried within round trips
Just as I’ve experimented
with altering my state of mind
with plants and fungi containing rainbows
Such has been the case
with the subway
This poem is an alchemy of adversity
expressed in verses I will cross-reference
in MLA, 8th Edition some other time
I am actively taking my trauma
and transmuting it into precious memories
I am finally in a place where I am affirmed
the love between me and New York
is one that is mutual
And whether or not
the alphanumeric spotlights
come in various colors
I am hoping that my role
as a grey wizard
isn’t a haze for rays
And though I was diagnosed as bipolar
I am grateful to exist between dichotomies
Baruch HaShem Bli Ayin Hara
I am grateful
Allow me to reach a middle path
and let me continue to
in the words I
continue to express
May my split personalities
merge in a place where
I can explore myself
with a split-infinitive
To boldly go
I can find peace
I Stand before you,
naked, grotesque and thin.
My armor is useless,
this is your chance,
You finally win.
Dig through the cracks,
grab my heart beating within.
Take it, its yours,
bloody and broken,
riddled with sin.
HOLD YOUR TONGUE…
Hold your tongue
It can’t be undone…
Things slip out quick,
And the words, they stick.
You can’t take it back,
Once things have been said,
They become entrenched
Stuck inside of your head.
Those true micro-thoughts,
That come from the id,
That are best to let pass
Should have kept on the lid.
Hold your tongue
It can’t be undone
Now isn’t the time to spout,
And let that anger slip out.
Those who shout the loudest
Aren’t always struggling more,
And the words can cause damage
Shattering the recipients core.
Hold your tongue
It can’t be undone
The anger will fade,
Don’t release the shade.
Reflect for a second,
That, you won’t regret
Because angry words
They are hard to forget .
I’m making a spreadsheet
to decide whether to kill my dog.
That big, lumbering pile of fur
is getting older and dammit
it’s time to run my household like a business.
I score each of Dusty’s features from -5 to +5,
+5 being the best. Gazing up with adoring eyes,
chin on paw, and tail thumping the carpet
earns Dusty a +5 while drinking from the toilet
or knocking over the trash and dragging used Kleenex
into the living room moves him closer to oblivion.
I’m in the middle of a computer simulation
of future vet bills when Joan notices me
in the monitor’s blue glow.
She just doesn’t get it.
I weighted each of Dusty’s traits
according to its importance
to account for what I value.
I’m not inhuman, after all.
Why can’t she see
that the rigor of the binomial distribution
and numbers’ cool, green rationality
deliver choices free of passion and prejudice?
Besides, she’s hosted a sloppier calculation
between her ears for months.
Eyes squinting and neck straining
I input the remaining data so fast
the mouse jitters like a Chihuahua
at an espresso bar. The miracle of Moore’s Law
tallies the weighted sum and the results are
Decision Theory (page 2, new stanza)
Tail wagging and ignorant of the computer’s verdict,
Dusty drops a slobbery tennis ball
at my feet and nudges my hand with his nose.
How can a spreadsheet model loyalty
You’re safe, buddy!
It’s not so much the words
And the way they’re combined
But the passion of the writer
And the power they’ve assigned.
It’s not so much the poem,
It’s the way that’s it’s perceived
All the emotion that’s behind it
And the message that’s received.
It’s not so much the rhythm,
Or the emphasis or beat,
But the connections that is found
Without the need to meet.
We all have the same thoughts,
Fears, experiences and more,
So the ability to relate to all
Is what the writings for...
FAITH OF A CHAMPION
I strive to be better
I train to be wiser
I must attain that height
I will strengthen my might
Every minute counts
Every day I must give account
Everything I wish to become is in me
Every day is another chance to break free
Who says I can’t achieve my goals?
Who can stop me when I charge like a bull?
Who is better in this competition?
Who can stop me from winning for my nation?
There is no reason for panic or fear
There is no reason to quit and not dare
There isn’t a better option
Than to persist and become a champion.
SUPER POWERS: THE VALUES OF LIFE
No joys, no toys
No celebrations, only aberrations
Least money for a feast,
Sans emotions made ends meet
And dreamt of promotions sweet !
Studied and learnt before dawn hours,
Life’s lessons were very sour!
I actually progressed through
Quite huge towers to
Attain my Super Powers - The Values of Life.
I learnt it ALL what it takes to say :
Does not matter if life does not rhyme
Never forget your rhythms to chime
And if you champion the art of sacrifice
Your cries will turn into lessons wise
To help others learn, idealise and rise
with your positive, powerful vibes and allies
THE POWER OF MY ROOM
Trisha Ram – Age 6
My room is pink
My posters blink
My mirror makes me think
That I must face my life.
My lights teach me to outshine
My clock teaches me to match my pace with its tick
My bed teaches me to dream big
My bookshelf teaches me to be intelligent and fair
My windows teach me how important is the fresh air
My snowy white cupboard teaches me to stay calm
My make up table teaches me to be the most beautiful ‘Trisha Ram’
BIG HONKING GOD
I want to see and touch and smell
a big, honking God.
Let the sweat of an Almighty
drizzle on me.
Surely such a muscular deity can be
mine to worship and trust.
Meanwhile my elephant-headed Ganesh,
eliminates my obstacles.
Greeks and Hindus believed in gods
who showed their humanity.
Certainly today, a burly, sincere God
is not too much to demand.
I am Michael, like the angel who used
to sit at the right hand of God,
before that interloper showed
to grab that seat.
If believers can count on personal attention
at least that to a fallen sparrow,
can I expect a God good for banter and
a drink in the cloud bar?
WHAT HAS BEEN DONE TO WOMEN
After Naomi Shihab Nye
I was too young to appreciate
the trust it took Gloria to ask to stay with me
so she could get away from Tom.
In my adolescent way
I think I was happy to just be chosen.
It was a matter of practicality:
I’d been away at college
so he didn’t know where I lived.
But she was also entrusting her safety
to a naïve nineteen-year-old
who didn’t really understand
how scary this was.
I’ve never wanted to share this story
Because it wasn’t mine to share
I feel the same about the morning
I was at work, preparing to counsel
high school girls, when Lisa’s call came in:
Someone had to call the police.
They came and interrogated the victim
as though she were to blame
Forty percent of cops abuse their partners.
This is part of the problem, in America.
We don’t feel like we can talk about it:
How men treat women
How men treat other men
relationship as property is.
I’ve changed the names in this poem
but put it out there anyway in hope
it makes it safer for the authors
assuming they survive
to tell their stories.
what about powerless- devils advocate.
It’s a yin and yang, sort of thing.
I walk through the day, with the shiny things dangling above my head-
I, want it all;
but I don’t say it, never would I tell you that I want it all.
I play keep busy to avoid the inevitable realization that I’ve already fallen-
I have no power over gravity, it has got my attention.
I ask you if we can do it together,
fake myself into thinking I will not feel the pain,
or feel gravity’s sting if I have your hands holding mine.
“I want it all”.
Bits and pieces of neglect,
what a mess.
mistaking cynicism as ultimate intelligence.
and putting my feet back on the ground again.
Watching them, as they exude their own power.
I stumble on my own, looking down at all the flowers.
Stretching my arms, as if they are the coming of morning light.
But, my reach only goes so far.
& you know what, that’s alright
the day is already pretty bright.
I reach, and I breathe. I reach, and I breathe.
For now I reach as far as I possibly can.
I scribble the ways in which I’m okay without it,
I scribble the ways in which I love it,
I scribble the ways in which I will get it,
and upon scribbling I forget about the necessity of it- scary, isn’t it?
But nonetheless I lay my head, and a new day comes-
I lift my head from the floor, I honor those who reach even though they have before.
it’s in, and above my head-
and I need it before this life is over.
MARCH MADNESS: GAMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’
B-ball defense, dribble, shoot
players gathered in Indiana
instead of usual tournament
years spread across your USA
stadiums almost empty
because of COVID fears
which rattle luckless teams
with perennial powerhouses
having lackluster seasons
thus amazingly not even
qualifying for NCAA’s
huge field of sixty-eight
in an astonishing defiance
of laws of gravity that favor
large well-financed programs
which have perk$ and facility
bona fides to recruit blue chip
kids on their way to the NBA
it’s a wonderful yet somewhat
eerie experience time ‘n again
to bear witness as pampered
youngsters come to recognize
their inevitable success isn’t
gonna happen, plus look in eyes
of (perhaps) surprised underdogs,
at first blush simply happy
to get into The Big Dance
with a chance to compete.
As Bob Dylan once said,
Loser now will be later to win.
pink fluffy child
pulls from her
to the puddle
bewildered by the
power at her
tiny little feet
to make the world
COMPASSION MOVES THE WORLD
Michael H. Brownstein
In the days that followed
The blue ink of sea broiled over
A child, a vulture, a lack of seed.
Everything spreading outward.
Wind whined into place and rained.
Sun spread its thick arms and stayed.
One person can make a world.
A strong wind can swim in acid and wake.
Water in turmoil thickening.
Hold on with all of your might.
The earth has not yet broken open.
The legs of the strong are stronger
Than the waves of the cloak of life.
We will come to cross this path,
We will make it across this continent,
We will find the child, the vulture, the seed.
We will change the shape of water.
creep to the riverside
abandons my inner world
taking what I love for granted
My mantras affirm my awareness
fighting for the present
until the present
silent addictions will arise,
that body is gone.
it is said
enters the world
with closed fists
gifts to share with the world
as they grow
releasing hopes and dreams
into a divided world
helpless small fists
become enraged large fists
raised in protest
raising to ensure that
every baby’s fist
will open safely
sharing their gifts with
a welcoming world
I’m giving up the power.
I’m giving it away.
When you’ve got the power,
you’ve got to sin all day.
I don’t want that work.
I don’t want it anymore.
When you have the power
every day’s a bloody bore.
If you have the power,
you don’t get a say.
You rape and kill without a clue
why it is that way.
Power’s always empty.
A plate that holds no meat.
A glass that has no wine.
A meal you cannot eat.
I’ve been hungry in my time
on top of that old hill.
From that height you see
it’s just another hill.
One day if you’re standing
high, atop the heap,
you’ll find there’s nothing there,
however wide the sweep.
Power is a victory
that becomes a great defeat.
You’ll always be alone
when the world is at your feet.
I’m giving it all up;
I’m giving it away.
When you’ve got the power
you’re tired and bored,
alone and drowned
in blood that spills all day.
Take from me this power.
My sins begin to weigh.
A sparrow got lost
Stared at a willow, shortly the flock was gone
Begged for the sun to not set
And he witnessed the quickest sunset
Perhaps in the light, he could find his way back home
But his longing wishes, and his bitter mourns
Didn't bring back the dawn
A lonely sparrow
Flew to that willow
Twitched by howls, rustles and growls
Bearing an unbearable evenfall
His troubled eyes on the east
Lest he would be the wilderness's feast
The night ripened colder
Another threat for the missing beholder
His sanctuary was his shivering wings
Once they swayed as the Sparrow would sing
Now they caressed him near
His warmth, his streaming tears
Stared at his shortened whiffs
The moonlight as it fell
Right over his head
Gasped, looking up at her beauty
She smiled, fulfilling her duty
To always be there for the forgotten
An ally for the wounded and fallen
She kept him in the spotlight
For the rest of his esoteric night
He sang for her poems of heartbreak and recluse
And of distance but intertwined roots
She beamed despite her scars Deeply intimate, yet mercilessly far
Full and amber she glowed that night
But it was an unfortunate sign
He witnessed the quickest sunrise
But with a hope said it would be alright
The enlightened Sparrow reborn
Found his way back home
Prayed for the night to fall faster
Just to see his anguishing disaster
Every gloom fell for a thousand-year
But she evolved more dear
"My retrouvaille, we'll reconcile"
He sang in his dreary twilights
Feeble, weary, but no longer absent
She fell in crescent
He sang for her poems
Of love being equal to acceptance
Its power being faith and patience
Slowly but surely, she grew fonder
For both a bittersweet wonder
Yet again came the time
"My retrouvaille, we'll reconcile"
POWER OF KIND WORDS…
Utter a few words of kindness
to the one depressed in distress.
Watch how instantly his gloomy eyes glow.
A happy seed of hope in sunken heart grow.
No requirement of wealth of any kind.
Kind words desires loving hearts that bind
all humans in humanity and prolonged peace
wishing that human race shall never cease.
All over anger hatred betrayal prevail
for happiness prosperity forever to avail
Kind words!! a powerful weapon for mankind
that abundantly should surge in every mind
Words like serene stream forever be flowing
to reach and drench into ocean of feeling.
So to engender life, warm touch melting
the cold emotions accumulated within.
a profound process of healthy healing.
Rejuvenating the droughted riversides
then were grey, now turned to lush greens.
Revitalizing the blooms deserted in vales,
this moment dancing even to slight breezes.
Let kind words flow non-stop, gain power
Pave own way by warring, breaking barrier,
the stubborn steady stones and rocky layer
that are spread all over, everywhere.
Powerful words running through wild track
firmly leave behind remarkable mighty mark
Though gentle are the streams that sizzles
but its continuous flow softens and chisels
the tough rigid rocks into smooth sand.
Likewise words in ink glide, if wisely blend,
it's as powerful as to tempt any mankind,
their mind to refine from cruel to kind...
I THOUGHT I SAW YOU
Hayley Alana Agerbo
I thought I saw you.
Reflecting in a clear glass window. Plummeting amidst a thousand drops of rain. Whispering woes beneath a wavy, weeping willow.
Yes, you were there.
In the scorch of a sun. And the pale of a moon. In the cool curl of a surf pitched too soon. In the sting of sheets scraping my fire-singed skin. And deep inside my sorrowful dreams.
I thought I saw you.
Inhaling steam from a pot of simmering souls. Gulping wine from a goblet made of tolls. Thieving existence from treasure troves. Wrenching my love when you thought it exposed.
Yes, you were there.
Aching at the feet of those you’ve wronged. Riddled with regret. And pained by loss. Wishing away what refuses to be gone. Teasing the hearts of those who long.
I thought I saw you once.
But I never really saw you at all.
THE LUXURY OF LUNGS
there was this man
his name was George
he is still alive
in many hearts
but this soul left
not by his choice
in fact he cried out
for the luxury of breath
was taken from him
luxury of breath
this luxury is afforded
to all who choose to breathe
until a natural death
someone is left
begging to live
crying to his mother
I can't breathe
Never beaten, but wishing they had been,
After all pain is tangible, and it’s real,
Unlike the emptiness of self-loathing,
Unsure of how they should ever feel.
They have tried to put their finger,
On the moment they submitted control,
When It was that to someone unworthy,
That they gave away their soul.
Once so strong and independent,
So full of zest and vigour,
They see their reflection and are shocked to see,
A smaller, broken figure.
Insidious the methods were ,
They couldn’t see before the die was cast,
Wishing they could go back to being,
Who they were a few short years past.
Any victory they had earned,
And dared to feel some pride,
It would quickly be nipped in the bud,
Their joy, the abuser can’t abide.
When the abusers voice gets bassy ,
Instinctively they cower,
With sad realisation and acceptance,
They gave their abuser all the power.
Now can I ask a question?
As you read this little rhyme,
Did you ever stop to consider,
As a male, this story could be mine?
Brian L. Hayes, PG
The sins of our fathers
have come home to roost
on us, their children
and even our own,
unto the fourth generation.
How long O Lord,
Before we make America Great?
Before the implied promises
and “Inalienable” rights
are more than just empty words
on some moldering pages
that are only meant
for the Chosen.
the color of my skin
not be a passport
in my own country?
“Papers” I wear
marking my worth
as a whole person,
gaining me access
to so many places
where the door wants to be closed
to that deemed the Other.
Still, we try to follow
in the ways of our fathers,
groping the elephant in the room,
we can hold back
the coming spring melt
that it won’t carry us away.
FIRST BIKE RIDE
My breath held tight,
Hands gripped on the handle bars,
Your presence secure behind me.
Eyes straight ahead,
Feet barely touching the pedals,
Warm words encourage and lift,
I grow, just a tiny bit, and
I no longer feel small in this giant world.
The moment you let go.
Recently, I saw a social worker on the train,
who used to be a youthful Grateful Dead fan.
“I used to discuss sex and drugs,” he’d complain,
“but now all I want is a nap,” said the man.
Another friend, a welder lives with pain,
on his birthday, his son had a great plan.
He gave him a birthday card to entertain,
the message itself on the card was not bland.
For your birthday, I wish you a nap,” the refrain,
as all people who work wish while they stand.
Working people afford the bed where they’ve lain,
the unemployed take naps on benches or sand.
A mid-day nap always seems to revive,
it is the secret yearning of workers nine to five.
(Winner of an honorable mention in the 2017
Florida State Poetry Contest)
THE POWER OF A SHELL
is what it was,
reminder of journeys
no longer taken, no choice
of destination, our bodies
moved by others
whorled space left soulless
in satin-lined coffins
THE MAYOR’S CONFESSION
I am the mayor
of this town.
Voters liked me
more than a man
who wanted to
raise local taxes.
I won by a handy
Our city council
meets each month.
The public voices
views and those
of other politicos.
A moving cliché,
I walk the corridors
of civic power
to the press office
is built from stone.
Being on the inside,
looking out, offers
but still, I haven’t
forgotten my voters.
Smashing glass ceilings
Don’t doubt my thin wrists
Layer after layer
Sheet after sheet
Bandaging our hands
Gritting our teeth
Shoes filled with shards
We walk the yards
We stride the miles
Oh and mustn’t forget to smile :)
We’re assigned steeper hills
But it strengthens our skills
All the spiritual hurdles
The subliminals and verbals
With each othered obstacle
We wield another miracle
The literal and the lyrical
Every act, struggle and syllable
Can feel so difficult
It’s exhausting, it’s tiring
But even when the ceiling
Is honestly feeling
And our skin is bruised and grazed
Our feats should really leave us amazed.
For us, you see, the path wasn’t paved.
While the wounds from the fight
And vertigo from upward flight
Are soothing, healing, and maybe still bleeding
Remember this feeling-
When the system was stacked high against you
You smashed right through
Society’s glass ceilings.
POWER CORRODES THE SPIRIT
Bastions of power
fortify seats of determination.
Stretched in a grimace of tight-lipped
mouths with teeth that grind against
Power corrodes the spirit like an inferno
where flames lick flesh to misery.
Blemished by the stain of politician’s fingers,
the human spirit smolders
like melting larva erupting from a
volcanic mass of power.
The corrosive smear of politics
steams in waves of intimidation
that reverberate in corridors
where tyrants rule.
In an eruption of the grasp for political gain -
fingers pilfer the treasury where
decrepit souls whose barometer for success
consumes the plight of the poor.
The smear of politics
stains headlines in a lion’s roar
for a kill -
an insatiable hunger bloated by the
avarice of evil.
The human spirit is gnawed by rats
whose eyes search in a menacing gleam for theft -
gnaw, chew and devour to bellies that swell
to belch corruption.
Bastions of power
who recline in seats as tyrants
for whom the villain is celebrated as hero
with a spirit corroded from humanity.
THE DEATH THAT HOLDS NO POWER
Favour Chinenye Okpor
In this land where I was given life
have I also been prodded by the apprentices of death
with dirges of sorrow strewn across my waist
and waters of misery parading deserted eyes.
The death that did not kill us
are the boulevards of suffering
heaped upon our virgin heads;
The pregnant memories of pain
Bequeathed to us
At the juncture of mother's travailing thighs.
The death that did not end us
is the marauding injustice sauntering our land
the rabid cravings of gluttony fools
feasting on vibrant dreams and guileless innocence.
The death that did not kill us
are poignant streams of pain
coursing through hollowed veins;
The ocean of endless agonies
seated at the heart of an orphaned land
The death that did not end us
are the visions of brothers
sunk in the bellies of a bloodthirsty government;
The faltering sighs of mothers
forced to drink the blood of her murdered children.
The death that did not kill us
birthed the hope that stitched wings into our backs-
steering our hearts to a new home.
The death that did not end us
breathed strength into our pores
and fueled power into our voices.
THE POWER WITHIN
When you feel as though you're
running down a blind alley,
the walls behind you close in.
All your pain and suffering
comes to the surface again.
Hope for your future is
evaporating with every blink
of your eye.
Where and how do you get
the resolution to fight once more.
The strength and power is within you,
as you struggle to understand why.
Reach inside for the belief,
that will help you rid this
inertia from your life.
Life is no bed of roses,
but when you realise the solution
is inside you.
Make good the power within you,
and start life a new.
I repeat, thirteen.
Lemme say that one more time for you.
Barely entering puberty,
barely passed his momma's titty,
barely old enough to walk that street
Today is just one of many Thursday’s for me,
but this kid will forever be only thirteen.
This kid will never get to see what it means
to work hard, fall in love,
and change his scene
because you gripped that trigger too happily.
Yea, I bet your trigger finger feels fucking happy.
Do you have the gall to feel happy
in knowing that you made someone stop growing
at the godawful age of thirteen?
I’m getting a little tired of this in my news feed.
STOP MAKING KIDS STOP GROWING AT THE AGE OF THIRTEEN!
Is this the face of humanity?
These smug white officers sharing a monopoly on being free?
These fucking inept officers with a whole system to clean
up every mess they make of their way of living?
These fucking cowardly officers who turn their trigger fingers on hands raised and eyes pleading?
Don’t you EVER tell me that we should respect the police
when their targets are our precious babies.
When their targets are us for asking the maybes.
When their targets are anyone they see as threatening,
not only to their lives,
but to their pension and savings.
When their checklist of ethics goes by their feelings,
and you never fucking asked how Thirteen was feeling.
Even as a white woman without my own threat facing,
I now get it when everyone was arguing in the 90’s
about Ice-T and his friends in a posse
rapping “Fuck the police!” proudly,
or Tupac’s rose garden up the sidewalk’s concrete
with the message of needing changes on the street.
And did y’all listen? Fuck, no. You made pleas
with the Senate, and the House, and outlawed their words’ release
all because someone told you power is king.
But who holds that power now, the bullet or the video streaming?
The time has come for police accountability,
as told to me by a friend north of me,
this is a white man’s problem.
Just like junkies on the street,
the only way to kill the virus is for them us to want the changing.
I guess someone should have told the kid running
that the main thing he had to fear was the year of his becoming
a man, and maybe
that’s the part so sadly
apparent in his story.
A baker’s dozen of years isn’t enough to teach him that exploring
his history would eventually
destroy him in the night by a man cunning enough to fake naivety.
His naivety would take his life down to thirteen.
Please excuse me while I go vomit since I’ve nothing left to speak.
MARY MEETS LITTLE BILL
Robert Edward Baker
Sweet Mary Quinn despised her man because he was a cad.
Although their home was spick-and-span, Mick treated Mary bad.
She washed his clothes a sparkly white, so everybody said,
but Mick believed such was his right and rarely left his bed.
One day when she and Mick had fought, she met a handsome bloke
who dressed in green and was so short he trailed his fancy cloak.
She wondered how he kept it neat; it didn't show one stain.
This puzzle really had her beat; his laundry looked a pain.
He asked her if she'd like a drink, then lured her to a bar.
She drank so much she couldn't think how this might go too far.
He said, “What's that behind your ear?” and “found” a golden ring
then joked around while drinking beer and proving he could sing.
He said, “I am a leprechaun, and you may call me Bill.
We aren't a myth like unicorns; I live beyond yon hill.”
Bill took her hand, which made her swoon, then bid her run away.
She gave a nod. “Can we go soon?” “Oh yes,” he said. “Today.”
His home was in a hidden glen behind a rainbow's arc,
a house fit for fine noblemen, its garden like a park.
Once there, he dragged her to a room, then pushed poor Mary in.
It looked and stank just like a tomb, and Bill began to grin.
“Don't cry or make a lot of fuss,” that evil creature hissed.
“Your struggles are superfluous; it's pointless to resist.
I've heard so many compliments, how clothes that you wash gleam
and I've a thousand dirty pants that really need a clean.”
THE ROAD WE’LL TAKE
Two tracks converged on a cobbled street.
Great pride, for we’d constructed both.
Released from prison’s past defeat—
No longer shackled at my feet—
For this hard task, I was not loathe.
The horse could travel just as fair.
For carriage hauling, it laid claim,
But thousands soon would travel there
And far exceed the wear and tear
Of horses, who would soon go lame.
Today, a carriage without horse
Is rarely seen upon our roads
But someday, perhaps with remorse,
We’ll find we’ll use another source—
Horsepower, man-made, for these loads.
Accomplished task. Gargantuan feat.
Our labors sometimes made us weep
In bitter cold and searing heat,
Yet progress never is complete.
We’ve miles to go—but first we’ll sleep.
A LETTER FOR POETS, IF THEY WISH
To my dear kindred
crafters of lyrical verse and spells:
Meaning begets power;
runes, mantras, accent and flow –
all dead without intent.
Magic is not in the words alone;
to imbue them life
string them will all the fire you possess
and all the ice, too.
They will embed, birth, grow,
to strangle or to bless
only you will know.