JANUARY 2022 = ALTERNATIVES
WHO AM I?
my voice falters
as i cry out
screaming into the darkness
yesterday i smiled
but today i woke to a
my body numb
brain in a fog
yesterday i was alive
skipping through the day
today i fumble through
the known motions
as if on auto-pilot
my scream hits the wall
and bounces back to me
it sounds like the pain
of another body
one full of emotion
that could be happy again
but that emotion is gone
just in this moment
as i watch my hands clench
but don’t feel the pressure
tomorrow i will smile
and plan for the next day
but today i am unsure
of who i even am
or who i would like to be
I hear it in your voice,
I see it in your eyes,
The outpourings of grief,
You’re unable to disguise.
The strength that you possess,
So many couldn’t endure,
And collectively it’s made you
Even stronger than before.
Although these cruel events,
Have stolen way too much,
You’ve always got back up.
Providing others with a crutch,
And when you're down and lonely,
Exacerbated by theses days,
Know that I’m just down the road,
And here for you always…
Mohamed el Houssaini
I miss the rustic beauty of my town
by mountains and olive trees
no matter if it is rainy or sunny
the bewitchment of the sky refines the soul
I spent my whole night thinking
a possible alternative, but I can't
I can't be thankless
betraying the place of my childhood?
what a sin!
in dim light of aurora
I feel the breeze and peace
I see nothing save green
what a grace!
Heavenly leaves charmed speak
of the boon I own
sorrow there is ephemeral
with the mellifluous voice of birds above
euphoria conquers my soul
almond trees fetchingly mesmerize
my feelings in spring
you are the panacea for everything
ss long as I breath
I'll be thankful for all your gift
WORDS ARE BLOCKS
Catherine A. Coundjeris
Remember when letters were objects
made from sandpaper and felt?
Words were blocks to build banks
to study and hang from back packs.
Words were sticks and stones
and they did hurt.
Words on tongues hit teeth
lost words and your mind sweeps,
searching for meaning
as words jumble,
spilling out backwards
a foreign language.
of meaning in an ocean of dementia.
punctuated by sighs
no words necessary, but
the comforting monologue
and finally, only remembered stories
peppered with familiar words…
There’s no solution
Demand by humanity
Mountains of waste
Throw away haste
Greed over need
Extinction with speed
Profits and expansion
Over heart and compassion
Rethink the box
Or ingest the tox
Many different ways
To live and stay
Smarter thinking employ
Find ways not to destroy
First repair or reuse
But recycle we choose
One of many thoughts
Among all sorts
THERE’S A SILENCE
that burns at the edge
of a forest where we keep
pieces of ourselves hidden
the soft, small parts that
fit in canopic jars
be with me here
the stillness will feel like
the world was just made
it should feel strange,
like repeating a word
or a name over and over
what should we say?
your name, my name,
names of saints of light
names we hear
in dreams that arrange
with all things outlined in rushed,
hatched strokes, harsh along
their edges, but blooming
with hues that fill up everything
tangible and tangential –
leaves, elbows, katydids,
clay, hips, dew, petals
we could live here,
subsist on our senses,
the last of what’s left of us
if we can just find
FROM THE ASHES
Deenaz P. Coachbuilder, Ph. D.
yesterday, when she hurried along
hers was a welcoming home
the reassuring voices of children
as she busied herself with the evening meal
the quiet bedroom waiting impatiently
for her nightly sojourn
a book lying enticingly open
lit by a glowing lamp
her beloved lover’s warm body to cuddle against
all, all scattered fragments swirling blindly
as dried wildflowers in the wind
soon her lips forget laughter’s curve
droplets of misery fill each unsought dawn
the parched hours drag
she stumbles onto the backyard garden
granite piercing her startled bare feet
numb fragments of faded hopes
beg to be recognized
cherished relationships stretched across the years
the places she lived and loved in,
wrap around her a quilt
embroidered in long lived grace
looking for her life
a warmth begins to scrape against her skin
the soft lament of the mourning dove
knocks gently upon the chambers of her bruised heart
sweet smelling currents drawn into her shuttered breath
double delight roses shiver desperately to seek her attention
yellowhite butterflies flutter invitingly around border lantanas
the startled new sun mingles with her unkempt curls
I must wait till tomorrow,
that’s what I was told
when growing up.
would bring the sunshine,
would bring the treats,
would be glorious.
It was always tomorrow.
Now I know
that tomorrow brings death
and there is no glory in death.
We don’t have the same body
none of us do
except those ginger twins
two doors down
when looking at each other, or in a mirror
are the same
but you and I don’t share
a mom or a dad
the same DNA
or even the love of pickles
which I think are death
and you think are life
I come from a country
on a different continent than you
and yet we try
to compare our bodies
thinking I eat too much
and you too little
Maybe I am the one broken
maybe you are
or maybe the melting pot
has created a standard
that none can achieve
by feeding their bodies
A breathing cloud of starlings,
reflected in momentary mirrors,
flickers in wanton trickery,
alters a collective mind
in hive unison, as if reversal
itself is the purpose of all.
Indecision or contradiction
buffets me in winds
of your capricious whim.
To escape the suspense
of randomness, I depart
in deference to indifference.
is not four walls and a door,
a roof to shield me from the storm.
it is skin and fingers
slightly smaller than mine with
callouses from plucking at
guitar strings, soft
from holding my hand.
it is the same thin t-shirt,
a scattering of holes across
the shoulders, as familiar
as the speckled skin barely
home is the way I have butterflies
on the drive up and serenity
when I finally see your face,
the way your eyes soften
when your pupils meet mine.
it is the comfort in knowing
you will hold my hand through the rain,
in the frozen winter,
home is four calls in one day because you
are the answer to every emotion I have,
every thought coursing through my veins,
are my favorite place to be,
is not four walls and a door,
everywhere I want to be,
you are my
I’d rather listen to the noise
of a powerful locomotive
then hear the silent war
I have known with you.
The one that stripped my youth
to age like a rusty nail embedded
in the cuticles of my soul.
There were times when we shared
laughter with language on solid ice,
but now, we fall through the thin
cracks of our smile’s and drown in
the house that was never a home.
And the joys we held in our hearts,
no longer hold us strong without love.
A war in silence. . . kills.
BRING ME SPRING
Forget the cabbage white butterfly
bringing winter everywhere it flies:
A trail of brassica ice sculptures,
snowmen trees and frozen
lakes of backyard ponds.
Sunset's darkroom light
slowly returning the scene to normal.
Bring me a garden tiger moth – a reincarnated
big cat bringing spring with it. The garden pond
turning a shade of Lucozade from the Koi
will be a lake, the decorative gnomes
with hats curled like whipped cream
might hide in fear at this circus escapee.
It will leap through the dandelion's
ring of flames to feed, dodge
housecats doubling up as pumas
and curious dogs with tails
whipping the air like a jockey.
It will bring pompoms of blossoms,
days opening like picnic blankets.
The lawn will welcome its netting of dew.
Our love will not shed like last season’s
chrysalises but will grow like the carnival
of butterflies bringing new light.
TIME TO CHOOSE
Trinidad and Tobago
Son son what yuh want for breakfast?
What is this I hearing?
Lil boy like he have choice?
Allyuh spoiling these children nowadays
In we time we didn't have no choice
In we time
yuh eat what cook
or yuh mudda say
Who doh want it could lay down beside it
What yuh want fuh breakfast?
Nothing but what cook was what was cooking
And d person cooking it was d one choosing it
Yuh choice was eat
or doh eat
Ah know mammy, daz how we grow
But dat was cuz we didn't have no setta food
But yuh never went hungry doh
No, I was never hungry; but it have real thing
That we had to eat then
That I wouldn't eat now though
Now ah have ah choice
Daz what wrong with allyuh
Young people nowadays
Too much damn choice
Allyuh weak now
No staying power
Breeding ah generation dat cyah persevere
I doh like dat
I doh want dat
I have ah choice
You can't make me
Boo hoo hoo
Cry cry cry
As soon as something allyuh doh like show up
Yuh run looking fuh something else
Always looking for d alternative option
Daz why now have so much alternative lifestyle
How I coulda raise children who does raise children so?
Lawd, ah doh know
Ma look doh start
Cuz you from ah generation who had no choice
And allyuh was stuck in bad marriage or shit wok.
Never having to really be responsible for your own decisions cause you coulda always say
I had no choice
And you knew that
Daz why allyuh work so hard
So that we coulda have more options
You wanted us to have choice
Now choice bad?
How you coulda raise children who raise children so?
Is you raise we so
So yes my son have that choice
My children go learn early that they responsible for the life dey go be living
We may not have had much choice
But you and daddy make sure we learn dat
Iz just dat my son go just have more practice choosing
Making better decisions
Cause he had more practice making decisions
And yuh know you woulda choose different for your life
If you had more options
Yuh get big? Talking to yuh mudda so
Daz not true?
life should be full of them!
are nice things!
like always finding a
out of a bad traffic jam!
a surprise job offer
when work hours simply
increase without raise!
no one should be left
with that sentence
“you are left with no alternatives!”
no one should ever be told
“you have to do it"
everyone should always
be able to ask
“well, what are my alternatives?"
alternatives should be as
pleasing as a choice
between Continental, Chinese, and Mughlai!
but! Endless choices can confuse
a buffet with limitless items on the menu
will be only half enjoyed!
in a world most capitalist than anything else
your favourite green
of the grass
can hang and dance
in jumpers and pullovers
of so many cuts
you won't know
which one to choose!
and not love, not even lust
may be, something in between
an organic song
called seduction plays itself
long settled, drifting apart
ready to part!
what a travesty!
humans appearing as
alternatives to existing
what? do you say
It’s an age-old game
well, isn't it time
to end it now?
to stand for the individual
to never obfuscate!
shouldn't this be modernity's clarion call?
ANNA AND THE SCOURGE
Rescued from captivity
we will preserve you. . .
mighty Russian word!
We memorized our poems
to preserve them from
winds out of the Kremlin.
My friends, in corners unknown,
now memories enfold you
in the raw weather of release.
As you walk down the Arbat
mind my ashes that remain
as a sign of sanguine revival.
Dank cells offer only blank prospects,
a full moon illuminates your path,
promise opens to a peaceful sea.
Remember metal on metal at dawn,
the thud and crunch of boots,
shouts, and cries of the tortured.
Black Marias careened with human loads,
we consoled each other, understanding
that Russian speech was our homeland.
Delirium thrived; we walked by
the frozen grins of corpses,
chains finally unfastened.
Proud Russia writhed in the army's grip,
I won't allow emotion now,
a dark shroud protects the memories.
I remember your words and your faces,
There will be new sorrows, but I will
remember our time through them all.
If there is to be a monument, place it
in front of the steel doors where I stood
for hundreds of hours, and an old woman's
cries echoed through us, where tears
now will flow from bronze eyelids
watching silent ships sail up the Neva.
GOOD AT ANY AGE
Carl “Papa” Palmer
so what do you say
wanna give it a try
remember the last time you did it
we’ll start out slow and easy
be patient and understanding
no use rushing right into it
we don’t need to keep score
nothing to prove
I’m sure it won’t be anything
to write home about or tell
a close friend probably best to
keep it secret it’s really
no one’s business
how well we bowl
IN ALTERNATE MOMENTS
Not just a peck but a long drawn passion —
The warmth of his affection
A tender tracing of sensuousness
Consuming blazing flames
Cooling smouldering embers...
And I breathe again!
O Love! What fiery mystery is this!
My eyes, desperate to behold his approach
Become glowing coals
My parched mouth, thirsting to drink
The virility of his lips
Turn wet crimson
My cheeks, coloured with thoughts of him
Blush a deep that no palette
My hands, lambent with longing
Quiver rufescent tones
My heart, a firestorm of conflagrating emotions
Swells with love for none else
O Love! What fiery mystery is this!
A moment when separated
I, a nervous, raging inferno
Swathed in a carmine cloak of feverish desire
Yet, a minute later when near him
Healed to composedness
As aching feet by tranquil waters!
MORE OF ME
Linda M. Crate
i've always been seen as one
of the alternatives,
never the first choice or option of
anyone for anything;
if you don't think that hurts i'm here
to tell you that it does—
i am always the friend that cares more,
always the romantic partner that loves
more, always the giver that gives more,
the encourager that encourages
and i can safely say i am exhausted being
there for everyone else when no one is ever there
and so i am done treating myself like an alternative—
i have a voice and a magic all my own,
should you not be able to appreciate me as i am
then you can go find less because i am going to be
more of me.
ALTHOUGH I KNOW ANOTHER WAY TO GO
Parody of Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
Whose woulds are these? They’re mine, you know,
but druthers changed my path, and though
intentions lead to Hell from here
if shoulds were coulds, I still might go.
Bad choices make each toll more dear;
each brings a troll which we can hear
like blackboards which a nail might rake
while burning lessons in our ear.
But do we learn and do we take
this wisdom offered for our sake,
or do we simply let it seep
from brain to drain, without a wake?
My will seems empty; dark, and deep.
The better choices I don’t keep
and so I sew that which I reap—
the consequences, ours to keep.
OTHER WORLDS EXPLORED
Julie A. Dickson
At last consequences felt,
too late addressed, gasses
amassed, atmosphere distressed,
other worlds explored, escape
hoped for, evading instead -
not to cope with or reverse
fossil emissions, conversation
fraught with irresponsibility,
omissions of perverse overuse,
no, say it – abuse of resources.
In theory, onto other planets,
surely hospitable, humanity
capable of life beyond earth,
strife caused to species, extinct
endangered, succinct comparisons,
doesn’t matter that earth will not
sustain future generations, journey
will alleviate any concerns brought
forward, descendants travel toward
planets, moons, supportive of life,
draconic as fantasy fiction, seen
as predilection, worlds favorable
to inhabit, abundant resources,
repeated bad habits, ensured chaos,
predictions ensue with recourse,
humanity likely to earn its due.
Hats off to those thrill seekers,
Those that don’t exactly fit in,
Those that travel to far off places,
Just to get sun on their skin,
The exotic and the tropical,
The white sandy beach,
Once out of reach,
To step into the eyes of blue,
To swim clear waters,
To smell the early morning dew,
To dive free fall off the edge,
Just to get to the other side,
To travel far and wide,
Across the lake and seas,
To find the answer to it all,
To unravel the mystery,
FROM A DICTIONARY OF ALTERNATIVES
What if “just” were a verb?
[Note the subjunctive mood, a condition which is doubtful or not factual, as in,
Let us go, then you and I, when mustard is spread on a corned beef and rye sky.]
So, what notion, state, or occurrence would “just” signify?
just / v. jūst, justed, justing
to invert two opposing forces
Ergo, “just a second” would mean:
This one moment stays put, though the present is past.
Of course, problems will occur when there is a second, second.
We wonder, was it a grammarian or a seer who said, “Future tense!”?
LOVES SUGAR, ALSO LOVES SALT
A distinct dichotomy exists
in a wild flutter of heartbeat.
An unsettled unrest,
a frenzy to pump,
a drive for life.
Yet, a calm underlying current
says all is well because life is.
The calm of the river over a turbulent
feed of the speedy waves underneath.
A new step forward,
yet the past lurks.
A shadow spreads
when I stand in light.
The essence of life. Janus.
S l i d i n g
D o o r s
Which way should I go?
What would my life have been like
Had I been through that door?
Like when I was introduced to a guy
That lived all the way in Canada
After some messages and chats
He had come over
It's not the path I chose
Not a decision
I could make with one meeting
Instead, I stayed where I was
S t a n d i n g A t
T h a t D o o r
And let fate and circumstances
Take its course
And my life turned out this way
The way I am today
Still in the UK
Now married and settled
To the one I was supposed to
I knew it straight away
It was meant to be
I trusted a higher power
And this is the reality
S l i d i n g
D o o r s
Which way should I go?
I could have been living in Canada
Had I chosen that door
But I made a decision
On what felt right
And in the end
That is all we can do
To make a decision
Based on what we feel
At the time
The green icon
on my dashboard
signaled a warning
Add air to tires
I tried to ignore it
My nervous imagination
Compelled me to act
I had no idea how
To remedy the problem
Tires fit in a man’s domain
I pulled into a service station
Hoping to find help
Two men pumping gas looked away
A woman in leather and biker boots
was deftly using the air pump
I asked her to please unravel
the mysteries of tires plus air
She demonstrated each step
It was such a simple task
My faced flushed from ignorance
In a matter-of-fact manner
she accepted my gratitude
My rescuer puzzled me
Having grown up in a time when
M and F identified the two sexes
I was confused by today’s letters
Was this woman a L,G,B,T,Q,I,A+
Was her character predominately
defined by a string of letters
proclaiming her sexual orientation
or by her helpful actions
I decided to go with the reality
of a person who responded
like a kind good Samaritan
This encounter led me
to contemplate a complex issue
Not so easily understood
As tire trouble
THE BLESSED SOLITUDE
Steady eyes in attention rapt
Turning away to a future insight
Where angels dare, eagles glare
To outdo the latter only a mere stare
Laughing moon, a dream affair
Its crystal wafts a tuft of air
Just a fleeting dream, white in hue
To pass away the dream a sight blue
The caressed lips bereft of gist
When inside out breathe in the mist
With nostalgic sparks, days are gone
Out in the night new moons are born
The silvery edge, a lark’s watercourse
The ripples match to beautify a Rose
A nameless name, a maiden’s pledge
Wrought the wrath a disdain edge
So soft a breeze, so thin a word
Still melt the silence all around
Miles to eye, a vision in sight
Voices a secret blest alight
WHAT ARE MY ALTERNATIVES?
A New Year is beginning soon,
I wonder what it holds?
What elements of mystery
Will unravel as it unfolds?
Our future is uncertain
No matter how we plan
Exude the warmth of caring
And, hate, securely ban!
Time tested plans of helping
The sick and sad and sore
Will bring a joy unmeasured
Than you have known before
A year of positivity
Negativity in the past
Will secure a blessed future
And satisfaction, that will last!