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Long poem by Goutam Hazra | Details |

Scent of Paddy Flower

Scent Of Paddy Flower

                                   By Goutam Hazra

           1
Reminiscence

My father told me 
first time 
I was just a boy then,
“Follow the scent of paddy flower
move with the wind it carries,
surely you will go to heaven.”

I remember
he would catch 
fistful of wind
bring near to my face
and wonder,
“Isn’t it godly!”

Magically, opened his hand
but I never felt
what scent he meant.
            
             2
Days of kind rain

“Son, see the misty wind
rushing all over the paddy field
comes every year
to drink the scent of paddy flower.”

Mere as a boy
I could see only
tides of a green plane
touching my little finger
and racing far… too far.
I would ask  
“Where have they gone?”
Smiled my father 
and said
“Did not you listen,
they are going to heaven,
call the goddess then,
‘come goddess dear’
we all are ready with paddy flower.”




Curious was my face,
“Papa, then?”

“Goddess will arrive smiling
her feet will be here
there
everywhere.
Seeing a pot in her hand
all those paddy flowers
delighted, will open their mouth more wider
and life will be poured…”

“Where these flowers come from?”

Remained my father smiling
speaking all his mind
looking high at sky
asked me to see there
spoke he again.

“Rain, rain, kind monsoon rain
on the first day of its shower
kind rain would ask me to come here
with bagful of paddy seeds,
‘let seeds be spread all over,
let its eternal relation with soil
be the fertilizer’
when all said is done
waiting rain 
starts showering its kind
make visible hiding life in the abyss of seed.
Happy wind changes color
being green all around
waits for the day
when the wind would smell the scent of paddy flower.”

Days passed by,
kind rain was still in waiting
sometimes hidden beyond horizon
or simply making sun blind with its smoky face
and whenever wind said,
‘Dry I’m now’
quenched the thirst.

Someday wind played naughty with sun
asked kind rain to make it misty
and with brushes of sun rays 
painted a rainbow on the face of east sky.


Wait was over
green field blossomed with flowers
and wind said,
“Fill in my heart
with scent of flower
I shall bring life…”

Happy was my father’s voice
“Rain, rain, kind monsoon rain
said so
green wind brining life 
did so
scent of paddy flower
is made so.
Bare footed be here
print your soul
in the dust of this soil
kind rain will come
green wind being there
life will be yours 
beautiful
simple
with the scent of paddy flower.”
           
             3
Cruel entropy

How old was I then
nine or ten
my father looked up
up to the sky
again and again
for a month long
only to see 
change of sky’s color
from the color of a summer day to a long humid night.
Dry wind cried at last
over my father’s sweating body
“Rain, rain O kind rain, where have you gone.”

One day sudden
kind rain came again.
Cried to my father
“Why no green wind came this year
from ocean 
to bring me here.
Desert wind why
dry my breath
seeds you have sown
how could I then
enliven with my rain.”

Question 
many question
my father had asked the rain.

Short-lived, hurried rain could spell its last breath,
“I am not that rain 
as was your friend,
I am the curse of dying forest
I am the ghost of all pollution
I am born out of acid weather…”

Who knew, it left for where?

My father cried 
As kind rain left him alone
hiding in a dry wind’s bone.

My father was still
going every morning
asking the soil
in vain
if soil could alone
make the paddy flowers to be born.

Year passed by,
came back the time, 
for green wind to bring kind rain.

Rain came one day.

But why
as a cloudburst
treacherous
roaring always
pouring unwanted
like an unkind monster
flooded misery
in the life of a simple farmer?
           
            4
Relinquishment

Dumb remained my father
for days together
sad was his voice at last,
“Run away, son, run away from here,
sky rain wind
river village land;
thread of this garland
who cuts it
go, stop now there hand.”

Draught and flood,
uncertainty of life 
changed my mind 
as of a farmer’s son.
Books, studies and education
reasons, truth and compassion
might have had fulfilled my father’s mission.

But… 
Does not this civilization
converts us 
as the products to do more production.
Run, run and run 
run ahead of time
let be it, at the cost of inhaling killer tension,
stress taking  over your life.
Insomnia, cholesterol or cynicism
is our success’s companion? 
‘A’ is shaped as ‘B’
and ‘B’ is sold as ‘C’.
Modification
innovation
sophistication
but I found the basic
what it remain
as life’s supreme conviction 
‘simply a fist full of paddy
and its grain’.

             5
Scent of life

So here, I am again
standing in front of this green plane
searching for the shadow of my father.
Green wind surrounds my existence
I can see the dance of those bunches.
My mind whispers to my ear
echoes those words of my father, 
“Bare footed be here
print your soul
in the dust of this soil
rain will come
green wind being there
life will be yours 
beautiful
simple
with the scent of paddy flower.”

I never felt so,
what I smell now 
is the scent of paddy flower.




















Long poem by Amrapali Tendolkar | Details |

RAIN SHOWERS

The Earth dry and bare; waiting eagerly for the drops of care;
 


Caught in the hot, steaming summer’s snare;
 


The flowers and creepers decorating window sills; all look desolate and ill;
 


As the nature withers away in the sun’s merciless glare.
 


 
 


The men and the wives; the kids and the wild;
 


All are enduring the summer’s waterless exile;
 


They are waiting for the rain; to relieve them of the heat pain;
 


And of that life which has become a sweaty turmoil.
 


 
 


The wind strong and gusty; makes the roads yellow and dusty;
 


And the air around becomes suffocating and musty;
 


The birds forget to sing; their lilting, musical thing;
 


Even as the tree leaves wristle and make noise so husky.
 


 
 


Then come the Monsoon showers; falling first on boughs and flowers;
 


Making the trees and plants glisten and glower;
 


So the monsoon comes in grace; driving away summer’s trace;
 


Lashing at window-panes with its all-reigning power.
 


 
 


As the monsoon drives away the summer heat; with its raining rhythm off-beat;
 


And the flower buds open up to return it’s greet;
 


And as the water seeps in soil; a refreshing fragrance arise;
 


While the rain continuous to cool down hot gardens and streets.
 


 
 


The Earth grows green; and water droplets gleam;
 


On the smooth, waxy surfaces of the leaves;
 


Everywhere the flowers grow; in pink, red, white or yellow;
 


While buds make their way blushingly between tendrils.
 


 
 
 The wet and soft soil; now grows fertile;
 


And tender green plantlets push through the Earth in style;
 


Through soil the tiny saplings peep; as their sown seeds begin to reap;
 


And the plants and crops shake off the Earth’s temporary curse sterile.
 


 
 


As the raindrops go pitter-patter; water in puddles begins to gather;
 


And the little birds begin to chirp, twitter and chatter;
 


The insects begin to hum along; their irritating and happy song;
 


While due to rain and wind the roofs on houses begin to chatter.
 


 
 


As the showers for some moments cease; after giving Earth life’s new lease;
 


And the pitter-patter of rain is gently appeased;
 


The sun coyly shines; a cloud it half hides behind;
 


While the fluffy clouds move along with the cool breeze.
 


 
 


The fields now green and bright; are an artist’s sheer delight;
 


Pleasing to the senses of smell and sight;
 


The fresh air so sweet to breathe; that with pleasure the body writhes;
 


In the newly born rainy sunlight.
 


 
 


But this sunlight so quickly goes; as thunderstorms blow to and fro;
 


And Earth engulfs in darkness that now grows;
 


The wind rises and howls; with a voice that trembles all souls;
 


And day and night this gale roars.
 


 
 


The trees in fear tremble and shake; as leaves, twigs and branches break;
 


And the life of these trees is put up at stake;
 


Birds in nests cower with fright; and due to cold shiver with all their might;
 


And live in fearful anticipation of what else the storm may rake.
 


 
 
The monsoon now shows its ugly face; gone are its days of grace;
 


Rainy calamities take its place;
 


Cyclones and floods destruct worldwide; the raging sea throws up its tide;
 


“Nature reigns supreme”, we are forced to say.
 


 
 


Same is the life of man; may he do what he can;
 


But destiny will always play a hand;
 


What all will man control? So he should let destiny play its role;
 


And enjoy life and act as the situation will demand.
 


 
 


Somedays will shine the sun; those days life will be fun;
 


And work will be successful how much ever it’s done;
 


Somedays by the fun you will tire; and will long to get back into the attire;
 


Of normal life, however boring or glum.
 


 
 


Sometimes hope will come out; like a tiny plant sprouts;
 


And will remove from your mind every shade of doubt;
 


It will be a bright, hopeful ray; but for long it may not stay;
 


So we must make most of it when hope sprouts.
 


 
 


Just as the shower of joy; after summer comes out shy;
 


So shower of success will come when you have almost given up the try;
 


It will wash away your helpless sigh; and will give you a new will to try;
 


Which will help you succeed by-and-by.
 


 
 


Just as the sun goes behind the cloud; when thunder is heard aloud;
 


And darkness suddenly falls on Earth all around;
 


So also failure will touch you once; its upto you to prevent its repeated occurrence;
 


Or due to failure remain depression bound.
 


 
 


Sometimes through demotivation you will go; sometimes loads of success you'll know;
 


For we need all types of experience to make us grow;
 


Like some days it is wet; some days the sun for long doesn’t set;
 


But then it needs both the rain and the sun to make a RAINBOW…


Long poem by Elaine George | Details |

Tea and Poetry in the Ides of March - PART THREE

Again the alarm is set.

Strawberries, date squares…Yum, Yum.   

The alarm rings again. The tea party is over.

 She returns to her perch where her wings are immediately clipped by the Bald Eagle who informs her that a bird doesn’t chirp when her poem is being critiqued, that a bird just listens. 

“I didn’t know this was a critiquing session,” she chirps.
I thought it was an afternoon of poetry reading. 

“Bring two poems”, is all that the Raven requested.
 
God! What does she know about critiquing? Everything she knows about poetry, she has learned from a website. She still hasn’t really grasped the meaning of Iambic Tetrameter. 

The scar beneath her ring, feels as if it might explode as what remains of her Revlon mask begins to melt under the heat of her humiliation.

God! Please don’t let them see I am a fraud, she prays, as she desperately tries in vain to regain their acceptance, as if there was any in the first place; her being such a sparrow.

The Bald Eagle twitters a poem about her battle with cancer, which brings her to tears. Again, she dares to dream she can be one of this flock as she too is a cancer survivor. It is decided the Bald Eagle’s poem needs punctuation.

Again, still daring to dream of acceptance, she chirps that most of her poetry is also written with very little or no punctuation.

“Well,” the Raven caws, “your poem in comparison is child’s play,” and with those words, breaks the strings of her ‘Violin’. 

***

As the afternoon wears on, the Crow caws for her to be quiet as she can’t hear. Visions of Vultures begin to fly in her head.

Later the old Crow caws that the bird she is addressing as a Blue Bird is not a Bluebird and that the only Bluebird is the Raven’s wife and that the bird she is addressing is a Turkey.

Even, while responding to something the Turkey has chirped to her, the Turkey gobbles for her to be quiet because the Crow is cawing.  

The scar beneath her ring now feels like it is splitting apart. Again, all she can see is red. The Vultures are circling now.
 
Her second poem, ’The Rise and fall of An Empire, is received with little pecking, other than ‘Well it’s poetic.’ 

The Raven caws, “If he were to be cruel, he would say it contains a cliché,” (a cardinal sin in poetry) as he caws an excerpt from her poem (as the sea grasses sing).  
 
The Turkey, demurely and with a gobble of sarcasm, inquires if everything she writes is in rhyme, as she casts a disdainful glance at her book of poetry.

At 4 p.m., when the final alarm has gone off, the Turkey announces that the next meeting will be at her Nest. 

 The Raven caws, “The sparrow doesn’t know where you live.”

 The Turkey then asks her for her email address, but doesn’t write it down and gobbles she will email her, her address before the next meeting. 

“Don’t hold your breath,” cackles the Sparrow’s little voice inside.

The Turkey then drops a book on the coffee table. 

Still foolishly seeking acceptance, the Sparrow chirps, “Is that your book of poetry?” 

 “No, it is ‘Descant’, and I have a poem published in this edition,” she gobbles.

“Yes!” the Crane pipes up. “It’s the only book that REALLY matters, the BOOK that all birds want to be published in,” ruffling her feathers with her innuendo. What? The pitiful Sparrow doesn’t even know what Descant is, she with her self-published book of poetry.

 Then the flock gathers together, chirping amongst themselves, and begin to fly away without a single chirp to her, like “Nice to have met you.” “Hope you will come to our next meeting.”

No!  They simply leave her there with her wings clipped and her veil removed, having been incinerated by their hot air. 

They leave her there with her Revlon mask melting like candle wax, sliding down her face, all their black barbs having finally penetrated her thin skin, exposing her for who she really is.

Not an intellect, not a fraud, just a Sparrow, now in the autumn of her life; a Sparrow who at the age of 16 dared to dream beautiful dreams while living in a nightmare. 

A Sparrow, who had many years ago seen an old broken violin in a junk shop and was so moved by its haunting beauty she was inspired to write a poem.

A Sparrow, who as a chick, with her brother, on a summer day, built an Empire made of sand, in a land where sea grasses sang—A Sparrow who knew why violins and willows weep.

A Sparrow who knew she would never be one of them. 

Yet she was grateful!

Grateful she had survived the Ides of March, and on this day was left wondering how something so ugly could have grown from something as beautiful as poetry. 
~~~


Long poem by William J. Jr. Atfield | Details |

Summer Memories Summer Realities Thoughts about Part 1

Summer Memories
Summer Realities

This, the first day of summer, two thousand and two, finds me,
slipping back into what once was my desire, my need, my reality.
This step back into, and into times passed, has allowed me to touch,
to feel, to re-experience – for a moment, to a degree – my all time,
favorite sport – sunbathing. A sport I once played in all my glory
– my birthday suit – with such joy and total freedom,
beneath blue skies, high above the mighty meandering Grand
or alongside it’s river banks, silent winds, a breeze, rustling the leaves
of many shading trees, of many a cornstalk, a million blades of grass
beneath the heavens, beneath my feet, beneath my naked body,
golden brown laying in the noiseless sound of Mother Nature,
all Her, creatures, large and small, invisible, one and all,
except to the mind’s eye and ear, as the pleasures of hypnotizing music,
the sweet taste of mother grass, the glowing nectar of sparkling grape
that could take one on a journey, away from or into, dependent upon
the destination, the ticket you purchased would carry you.
For me, the journeys were upon the black leather of my red motor cycle,
upon the black leather of my black Bird of Thunder, her wings spread,
her top down, that great, platinum, glowing orb, hanging on high,
above this little  planet, wearing it’s great, bright blue shroud,
opened to expose the light shining down upon her nakedness,
showering down upon me, in mine, on our journeys through time,
through space, with his – Heloise’s – healing rays as I drive, as I ride
over, upon those black ribbons that wrap themselves around
Mother Earth and the back roads of southern Ontario, in the
Counties of Brant, of Wentworth, of Norfolk and others as well.
This is a sport I played – as I laid – from north to south,
from coast to coast, even, out into the ocean deep,
– on an island of coarse – on mountain tops, on sand dunes.
This sport I played, on the shores of all five Great Lakes,
on the beaches of Florida, of Mexico, of California,
of British Columbia, the last place, the last time I sported
my birthday suit in public before hanging it up
behind closed doors for more years than I care to remember.

Today, along with a few more that followed, during two weeks,
I took the opportunity, – covered of coarse, in my red and black loin cloth -
to lie beneath that burning orb in the deep blue sky and tried to recapture
the essence of those feelings, those desires of long ago and far away
- of what was and I still would like to be -, that will always remain
a part of my psyche, even though all the changes – no more noiseless sounds,
for they have been drowned out, polluted by screaming tires as they tear up
those black ribbons of death, as those combustion engines ( the driving force )
cry out in pain from friction as they pass by my horizontal frame looking for,
but hearing not, all that once was hearable, all that was beautiful in nature’s noise
–  that have left me longing for that time, left me as empty as a dried up lake.
A lone bird cry’s out it’s muffled song, a note or two where once was a chorus,
a full-fledged opera now reduced to a mumbling, meaningless sound,
a sound drowned out by the sounds of  traffic, traffic from our attempt
to escape our closed in, modern life style of constant motion.

Those sweet smells, clean and clear are lost by the cremation of decaying,
remains of once living organisms that inhabited this planet.
They are now – in death – permeating, with pollutants, the nostrils, the lungs,
the air Mother Earth and all upon her back, inhale.

The peace, once known, - in rivers flow, upon its banks, in Mother Natures flow,
on my motor cycle, in my black Bird – for this old man has almost evaporated.
The grass, the wine, the music, the camaraderie, the clean air, those silent sounds
have almost become extinct, fading into memories hoard, to be stored, forever more.
All that seems to be left - from the origins of these thoughts – is that silver orb,
still radiating down upon, but with more intensity and less glory and peace.
Only the music carries on as before, seems to remains the same,
at least to these ears, this heart, the old soul of this lone traveller.
Maybe the music has change ?, maybe for the better ?, maybe not ?
Could it be just perception ?, or has all lost its glory ?, its fire ?,
its passion ?, its glow ?, all I thought I did know in an earlier age.
Is it all in the mind of this old man ?, who still remembers that age,
the music, music still providing a refuge, companionship
and comfort during the hours, in the passing of time .


Long poem by Carrie Richards | Details |

MOCKINGBIRD - crown of sonnets

#1 "It is a sin to kill a Mockingbird. When playing games with rocks or guns, defray, them, please, ...shoot old tin cans!" "Whispered words of Mockingbirds, only heal wounds of the day" Virtues are cultivated, children are weeds, exploring a small southern town. Seeds, so rare, spread moral ivy, filling knotholes, threading trees, lining streets, during mad-dog summers. Scout, one sprout with solid roots, sifts wrong from right in spite of bull-headed pride. Stirring up dust, where resistance incites, although, brother, Jem, gently, grows more reserved. Scout, Jem, ...best bud, "Dill", are bronzed by summer's sky Moral's compass guides them home, as night returns #2 Moral's compass guides them home, as night returns yet challenged, the precocious child making assumptions. Folks would confound her! Some people were an oddity and quite beguiling Summer would sigh with ceiling fans, softly purring, people napping, long afternoons. Wilted yawns of a lethargic town, might seem undisturbed, with complacency, behind pruned shrubs, tall grass, mowed. Yet stilted air, would suffocate, with racial slurs and secret hate. Some hid by day, and spending their nights in masquerade, while crosses burned. We'd see a face, pretentious smile, falsely blend Integrity, at bitter cost, split wide the seams in 1930. Civil rights were just a dream #3 In 1930, civil rights were just a dream, and motherless children were coming of age. Bare feet were swift. Bandaged knees and hands unclean, would slam old screen doors, to seek lemonade. A ghost, they feared, in the raw sided house, watched close. A tree in his yard, hid treasures he stashed. The three Musketeers, upon discovering, shout! Armed by bravado, they are ready to dash. Putting yourself into another man's shoes, is a lesson, soon learned by Scout and Jem. They've faced their fear, and will make a friend. "Boo", the 'phantom', a new best friend left trinkets and gems. Kindness learned, role model intact, was Atticus Finch. A measure of integrity, inch by inch. #4 A measure of integrity, inch by inch, advocate for those who won't stand a chance. Folks down on their luck, where dollars won't stretch in a depression full blown. Money is scant. Fighting for the underdog, who have no paycheck. What's right is right. What's wrong, is wrong. Someone must stand at the end of the day, where flies fill a courtroom and tempers grow stronger. Regardless of skin, be it black, be it white Unfit, by standards of talcum shaved chins, if injustice is war, he'll give his lot. The falsely accused, he'll defend, to the end Those who wallow in mud, eventually sling lies when honor goes to hell, and folks sit idle #5 When honor goes to hell, and folks sit idle, false accusations can simmer, slowly inciting bigoted people, into mobs, spewing cries of hate. Screaming "rape" into the night. Ignorance and prejudice, are all of one stuff with corn-likker sauce and gravy mentality, amphibian worms, as if from a trough, gorging on mania. They covet brutality. Led by Bob Ewell, with arrogance oozing. Clan- fed, tantrums squirming out of control. Small minded men, choosing squalor, alluding the truth. Some would sell their mother's soul. They have lied on the stand, where justice treaded thin. Where white man's word, over a black, always wins. #6 Where a white man's word, over black, always wins, was a rule of the thumb, during those years... The innocent man, Tom, shackled, condemned, taken away and waits to die, and endure With Indian summer, waxing and waning, Atticus chooses the simplest words. His children need, wisdom, and calm understanding, in trying to explain, that most men are good. He tells them, gently, how someone so crude, even Bob Ewell, no matter how evil perhaps in his life, was misunderstood. The hellish of summers begins to unravel. But another ill wind, would brew up a storm, to bring more than a flurry, into their home. #7 To bring more than a flurry into their home, burnt embers of color, drift down, red and yellow. Carved pumpkins, and a grieving autumn, looms in the night. Roaches encroach, deep in the shadows As Scout rushes homeward, behind her on the trail, a whiskey-breath nightmare, with evil intentions Then, someone appears! Halts this devil,...,Ewell is not immortal! .....as we come to conclusion. A guardian presence, waiting to rally has kept a vigil, guarding children who run, swiftly through thickets. Lonely Boo Radley, appeared like an angel, a bird seeking the sun So pure of heart, and a thing so rare It is a sin to kill a mockingbird
2/17/14


Long poem by Christine Phillips | Details |

Souls On Fire

We have been observing the expanse of the parched land for many years, a land that stood the test of time and captivated by myriad dreams unfolding through the footsteps of the ages thus penetrating our lives. We gazed at the vast mountains and high lands with its luscious vegetation stretching thousands of miles from across them, Autumn on one side, Summer on the other, and Spring reluctantly emerging from a gruesome Winter that paralyzed the inhabitance of nature, stripping it from its wholesome prominence while it convalesce from the battered and bruised earth. 

We languished at the sudden disappearance of the water valley and the vast landscape around it. As far as our mind could reach, and as far as our feet could travel we trod upon the visible land within our reach. Land that has never been inhabited stared at us; land that has never been farmed is waiting to be ploughed. I could hear my great, great, grandfather and my grandfather before him shouting at the boys to get out of bed, harnessed the horses and start plowing the land again. 

We reminisce over acres of lands that our ancestors have fought for, land that spilled blood and claim the lives of innocent souls and fearless warriors, land that expands from ten generation, stood before us bare and empty, weeping for the souls who have fought furiously to preserve them. 

This land that has fed us for more than a hundred years lay waste before our naked eyes, the land that God gave us to feed the next generation has been sold out to strangers. The land is infested with dilapidated old building and at the whistle of the wind they are destined to collapse. They spread out all around the city and is inhabited by ruthless strangers and priced high despite their aging structure.

We lament the days spent on this land but foresee hope for the future. We searched for the farms, but they have disappeared, we look for the streams but they have dried up. Our bodies are polluted with toxic substance from contaminated food washing up on our shores from the other side of the globe, food unfit for human consumption have replaced the natural food on our grandfather's farm.

Oh great God that watches from every corner of the earth, extend your mercies and cause the land to flourish once more. You have given us land so that we can eat; you have given us land so that we can have enough in time of drought. You hold the universe securely in the palm of your hand and expand it so that it can reach everyone. The land is precious in your hand, no one can bargain for it and no price can be paid for it. 

When everything is stripped away, and the money diminishes, when our strength fails the land is here to stay. This is the land that will feed the younger generation; this is the land that will produce our crops. Powerful God, proliferate the land once again, mend the broken edges, and rescue your children who have been doped with hatred, intoxicated with bitterness and sedated with evil desires. Empower them and eradicate the poisonous substance from their perishing souls.

We gazed at the vastness penetrating the earth, and see land waiting to be occupied exposed to brutality, exasperate with atrocities and evil works. Great big God, save your children from the open gutters and trenches that awaits them, save the mothers, their suckling and toddlers who have been ravished from their homes and recruited into ruthless activities to torment and demoralize innocent people’s minds. Save them from the snares that await them, the tribulations surrounding their homes and the pestilence that seeks after their souls. 

We traveled the entire land, and hear you calling out the young men to till the ground. We can hear you beckoning the young men to throw down their weapons, clean up the garbage and farm on their grandfather’s land. They can hear you but they are too fragile to comply; they have weakened themselves with substances that make them vulnerable and unreliable. Emerge you powerless youth, transpire from your defenseless state, purge your body with clean drinking water and start cultivating the land again.
 
What else do we have but the land that you have given us? No one can take it away from us because it belongs to you. Strengthen the young men to till the land again and plant on fruitful ground. Bless the earth, and endorse it with your favor, thank you for this journey you are a mighty savior.
                                                                              
                                                                       ©2014 Christine Phillips



Long poem by Terry O'Leary | Details |

At Heaven's Gate - Parts 1 and 2

PART 1:          THE MEETING

Alone one night neath lantern light, I trudged a weary mile.
Forlorn, I went with shoulders bent (the storms around me howled)
until I met a Silhouette behind a sultry smile – 
She gazed with eyes that mesmerize (Her body caped and cowled)
and stayed my way with question fey... ‘Why don’t you while awhile?’

The churchyard groaned, an organ moaned, the bells of midnight chimed
as wanton winds awoke and dinned, and mistrals multiplied.
A prostitute – not shrill but mute, with gestures pantomimed –
snuck by in haste, with tracks untraced, beneath the evening tide.
The Persian moon, like arced harpoon, arose and slowly climbed.

The Silhouette (a pale brunette) arched eyebrows meant to please,
and down the lanes, twixt windowpanes, the shadows danced and sighed.
A meadowlark within the dark, somewhere beyond the breeze,
embellished Her with wisps of myrrh while deigning to confide
to nightingales the whispered tales of human vanities.

She doffed her cloak before She spoke with tunes of sorrow sung
(like mandolins, as night begins, when mourning day’s demise)
and spun Her tale of grim travail and tears She'd shed when young.
As jagged volts of thunderbolts lit up the dismal skies,
the creeping fog concealed a bog in coils of curling tongues.

Through summer vales and winter gales Her secret thoughts were voiced.
Midst storms so cruel (neath lightning’s jewel that glistered on the ridge)
She reminisced, She touched... we kissed... Her lips were wet and moist.
A lighthouse dimmed, while moonbeams skimmed across a distant bridge
to avenues where residues of shallow shades rejoiced.


PART 2:          HER TRAGIC TALE

“Midst sweet perfume of youthful bloom, the lonely spirit braves
and often cries and sometimes dies in quest of her amour.”

While starry-eyed, a ship I spied, a’ sail upon the waves –
The galleon docked, the seagulls flocked, the Captain swept ashore
where, debonair with gypsy flair, he led his salty knaves.

While passing by, he caught my eye – I tried to hide a blush,
for ambiance of innocence leaves fire’s ice congealed.
His gaze (defined by eyes that shined) beheld my cheek a’ flush.
I bowed my head while caution fled, I felt my fate was sealed
– a bird in spring with fledgling wing – he’d snared a  falling thrush.

He said ‘Hello’ – I answered ‘No’ and yet before he’d gone
said I, ‘I’ll wait at Heaven’s Gate not far beyond the Pale’.
At dusk he came neath moon aflame, and left before the dawn
just humming tunes along the dunes that lined the sandy trail
beside a pond where morning yawned, where swam an ebon swan.

We met again, and once again, and once again, again
entangled in a love called sin, in whirls of make-believe.
While in my arms, with voice that charms, said he ‘I must explain –
the tide awaits at morning’s gates and I must take my leave’.
Then tempests formed and vapors swarmed in ardor’s hurricane.

‘Forsake your home and we may roam’ he smiled as if to tease
and still naive, said I ‘I’ll leave, in silver buckled shoes’.
He took the helm in search of realms, before the morning breeze –
with tearful eyes, I bade goodbyes with fare-thee-well adieus 
and sailed above a wave of love across the seven seas.

We swept one morn around Cape Horn and sped for Gold Coast Bay.
With naught to reck, I strolled on deck, a baby at my breast,
while zephyrs blew and seagulls flew above the ocean’s spray.
Our ship soon moored, we went ashore and off to Fortune’s Quest –
with gold doubloons which shone like moons, he gambled through the day.

Two deuces wild... he thinly smiled... another card was drawn –
he called and raised with eyes half glazed, was dealt a dismal three.
With betting tight throughout the night, the final ace was gone
and so he lost... at what a cost... alas the prize was me –
with empty bag and pauper’s swag, he left me doomed at dawn.

A buccaneer with ring in ear sneered ‘now, my dear, you’re mine’.
He held my wrists to thwart my fists and then... my honor stained.
In midnight’s swash, the sky awash with tiny tears of brine,
I broke his clutch with nothing much of me that still remained:
a residue when he was through, left clinging to a vine.

In morning dew, the good folks knew, and spurned me in my plight.
The preacher man pronounced a ban and wouldn’t condescend,
ignored my pleas on bended knees and prayers by candlelight.
While cast aside, my baby died... my world was at an end.
Until this day, I’ve made my way beneath the shades of night.

Continued in Part 3


Long poem by Nola Perez | Details |

EULOGY FOR FRANK

My father died prematurely while away on 
a business trip from a rogue blood clot to the heart  
I never doubted he loved me, would have liked me, 
(not the same thing), adult to adult, provided I 
was not too strong a woman for him.  He was difficult-- 
a Henry VIII of the times, two divorces, a first wife 
we never knew, one from my mother when I was six, 
then heated voices from their bedroom with a third, 
heard in darkness beyond my door, hands over my ears.  
But, he was DADDY. the god-like person who emceed 
his daughter's birthdays, planned games, gave out prizes, 
while a backstage stepmom provided cake.  Cake 
mistress, fond father.  Thus, I learned to turn to men.

Tennessee Williams wrote, "My sister was quicker
at everything than I."  I was like that, maybe not quicker 
than my brothers, but quick to fall in love with cities,
objects, water anywhere: tide pools, oceans, rivers,
mountain streams, stately geese, lake ducks in queues,
the vermillion of winter sunsets, purity of cumulus 
in a summer sky, the scarlet flash of a cardinal from tree 
to tree.  Good luck, always, but with bad luck, I always 
fell in love with impossible men, ones who left me, or I left 
them.  The husband who stayed? He was the true one.  
Then, there was Mr. K, my high school principal, a dead ringer 
for Thomas Wolfe, with whom the girl I was must have
thought she could go home again.  His costume
"de rigueur" was a rumpled white shirt, black trousers
splayed with chalk dust, coal black hair, and an imposing
presence no one took issue with, maybe not even his
British wife, teaching English in the same school.

I sent him my poems by a classmate to his office, too shy 
to deliver  them myself.  Years later, "Poetry mash notes,"
a colleague said, inciting laughter in a poetry audience with 
whom I shared my youthful infatuation, the energy lingering 
long after he signed my graduation diploma, because Yes, 
he read my poems, and Yes, I sat dazzled in his English Lit 
class to "Beowulf," "Chaucer," and the Shakespeare plays we
took turns reading aloud.  When he chose another to read
Portia instead of me, "for her gentle voice," I was devastated,
yet when a boy spoke out in class to criticize my poems:
"No one can understand what she writes," Mr. K. replied 
"On the contrary, she writes about very complex things with 
very simple language."  This praise never left me.

Years after, moving to Atlanta with my husband and small
children, our paths crossed again.  Living there 
at the same time, Mr. K. and I found each other in an 
Episcopal parish, its satisfying high-church "smells and bells" 
the only show in town, "Spiky," his wife said.  There, our
friendship deepened, until Mr. K. moved to England with his wife, 
she returning home to complete the cycle, finish out the years 
at point of origin. We do go home again, Thomas Wolfe not-
withstanding, as did I, seeking toward close of life 
the comfort and substance of birthplace.

Mr. K. returned occasionally to Atlanta for a visit with his son.
He would call me, and it was then that we met for dinner,
most often at Zazu's an intimate bar and restaurant on Peachtree.  
What did we talk about sitting across a table from each other?
I do not now remember, but once I observed him glancing at
his aging hands and comparing them to mine, younger by a few,
completely irrelevant years.  I once asked him as he entered
his later years if he ever felt "old."  He said No, he felt the same
as he always had.  This was a revelation: I imagined people 
felt as old inside as they looked.  This is not the case, as 
I was to discover in my own lifetime.

On one evening I did not know would be the last time, Mr. K.
and I sat in my car in darkness after dinner in front of his son's
house.  As he prepared to leave, he said, "I don't know how I shall
get along without you, though I've been without you all these
years.  We never touched, save in the bond of friendship, and more's 
the pity.  Some time passed.  I wrote a letter to Mr. K.and his wife.  
It was returned unopened with a message on the envelope, 
"Both deceased."  In my car, then, that last night, it was Adieu -- 
To God, not Au Revoir.  Now, with "All time, all attitudes washing 
away," as I wrote in a poem called "Fernandina," he lives 
in the room in the heart where no one enters but me.
No need for a phone call.  I hold the key.


Long poem by Brick Cullum | Details |

ARTPHUCK

like a Renaissance baby born of man and woman
to a fatherless mother without hope for a
future worth passing on or an inheritance
worth inheriting at all in its own debt
that truth to life which breathes so hard
cancerous lungs and a diseased heart
that beats to the vanity of its own blood
a suffering sound does it make like a 
thief running on a watery sunbathed street
the falsity of all of the jewels in his hands
that shine so bright diamonds and pearls
glimmer glimmer so they glimmer they 
shimmer they shimmer a cold winter
does it snow in the summer does it
rain in that place called hell I can’t imagine
a break from the heat this year it’s
been quite the year as to this point
soot sits silently on the hill of shadows
oh does it sit so very solemnly sometimes
ashes ashes we all fall down the corpse
of Mary’s little lamb rotted away to nothing
but dust and sin and maggots and grit
wonder do I now of all times where 
that burnished throne of Eliot does sit
so I might plant myself upon it and 
bloom a song of myself and sing the body
electric until maybe it comes back to life
perhaps the winter is too harsh for roses
this year and the summer too hot
but the frost told me the trail was rough
so I perhaps of all should think not
tears of a better day cried for tomorrow
as though the sand should fall up
but it will never come again for us
we only have the present to live
not a minute more than the second
we’re given when we think just now
do you see do you see do you see
it’s quite a remarkable thing to think
and know that for just now this very moment
you’re capable of saying you have life
but in a flash it could all be gone
like the last note of some forgotten and
overly played and out of tune song
do you sing my friend oh ever
should you sing a song to me
would I smile so bright and laugh
so long into the midnight where
the moon beats red against the dead sky
a light over the world where corpses
walk and humans die pathetic
remembrances of who they once were
you can look and you can cry but
the photographic tears will never dry
and they’ll water your soul until
it blooms a subtle dead thing
you might ask Simon what he sees
if the Lord of the Flies is real or
if maybe the body of war is just
another nightmare of the raped thing
we so call a home or a country or
whatever we choose to label it
in these malicious and malignant
times and yet I wonder if maybe 
hope can be found in the rotten
flesh of some selfish soul
tis I that is nobody but myself
a worthless man behind the face
of another dead and delinquent one
a mask is only a mask until you
give it the presence of animation
a mask becomes a face when
you let it become one it’s a thing
called freedom or liberation or choice
never perceive the American dream
as something that it isn’t because
those great donators those ejaculators
of emancipation want you free
they want you to choose the oppression 
that you so crave and desire
only you can light your flesh on fire
burn baby burn baby burn
let that great wheel turn and turn and turn
until it’s fully satisfied with itself
and all of the things it’s done in its life
some great and liberated idea
that a woman’s body is a man’s toy
but who should I see but a woman
carry the child that he kills with
a flick of his alcoholic wrist
this thing called love is cruel
to those who believe in it
maybe that’s why God is love
because both are cruel and both
cross out their own ideas with nothing
but the idea of their own ideas
you can’t live a life in a book 
you can’t live a life in hope that
someday you’ll live a different life
streets of gold are great and heaven is okay
but what does that matter in terms of today
when you can die before you 
even comprehend what I’m telling you
so what’s the point then
why am I doing this
why am I even an artist at all
when my portraits of life reflect nothing
but the opaque things in the human soul
you don’t even care so I think I’m done now
see you some other time friend
I hope you don’t let them hurt
you like they hurt me
I hope you don’t hurt yourself
like I hurt me
I hope you don’t become an
artist 


Long poem by Vic Pister | Details |

REVOLUTION IN TOGO

NEWS Item AP: TOGO
LOME – In an effort to topple a government set up to end a 24 year dictatorship rebellious army troops seized the state broadcasting station yesterday, then left the building but returned several hours later and recaptured it. Up to six people died in the clashes. The rebels forced a broadcaster to report demands that the prime minister Joseph Koffigoh resign and dissolve the high council set up to oversee the transition from military rule to democracy.


Revolution in Togo

I was lying on my lawn chair on a sunny summer day
With a dozen pack of Heineken and there I planned to stay
My wife came screaming from the house, most upset I must say
She knew there was trouble brewing, that I’d have to go away

In her hand she had the newspaper, waved it wildly in my face
I looked quickly at the headline and my heart began to race
What, I cried, a revolution? That could not be the case!
A revolution out in Togo? But we all came from that place!

“That’s impossible” I shouted, it is such a peaceful place
A revolution out in Togo? What a terrible disgrace!
I wondered what was brewing, what the problem there could be
My imagination then took over and the rest is history

I could see the picture clearly, I could see it all come down
It was all about the money, and the purse strings of the town
John Mulroy’d been in opposition for two terms maybe three
He was sick of watching the corruption and all the bribery

The foreigners came from Makaroff and San Clara and took hold
Taking all the jobs and contracts, lined their pockets with our gold
Johns support from Runnymede and Kamsack were stuck outside
Getting menial jobs and thinking they’d been taken for a ride

Rollie Hamel was Johns inside man, he was working for the town
Telling John what was going on and what was coming down
John was now determined to stop the debauchery 
And raise himself an army to set the people free

He got the Nabe boys and the Burbacks and a couple of their friends 
To mount an armed insurrection and bring this to an end
They quickly took the broadcast station in the back of Richies’ store
Within two hours the regular army came crashing through the door

What a standoff as they stared each other down with dirty looks
Talking about the law and the dubious entries in the village books
It was turning ugly for no one was backing down
But Richie’s store was also the only liquor store in town

In the meantime I had panicked with a sense of responsibility 
For there are times when a man must fight to protect his dignity
I sold my house and all my toys to buy supplies and guns
To try and save the homeland from the invading Huns

I arrived in Togo just in time to get to Richies’ store
And found a bunch of bodies lying passed out on the floor
What happened? I cried, with dread to anyone that could hear
John Mulroy said, with groggy head, t’was the best party of the year

“We came down last night to have a beer and watch the hockey game 
Drank a too much and passed out on the floor here, what a shame
We drank up all the whiskey, the whole supply in town
Then we finished off the moonshine as the third period wound down”

I said “What happened to the revolution going on here at home?” 
He looked at my newspaper article and said “No, that says in Lome”
Lome I said, confused now, where the hell is Lome?
He said that’s in a place called Togo, I said well…. that is my home…..?

He said “No you idiot, that’s not here, it’s an African country  
Everybody’s heard about it”, I thought “Yeah, everyone but me”
I said “Damn it, I’ve got loads of equipment, what can I do with it?”
He said “Sell it I guess, to tell the truth I don’t really give a shit”

So, I have two dozen crossbows, two hundred arrows and 3 Willis jeeps
I came fully prepared to fight the war, prepared to play for keeps
I have enough stores and weapons so any revolution I can dowse
I’m trying hard to sell it now so I can buy a house


Long Poems