The mother never
gazes at her baby
She averts her eyes
from her baby
she feels that
a huge bruise caused by guilt
the face of her baby
The mother always
eyes of her baby,
not to be caught by guilt
that she gave every timidness
to her baby,
not to be killed by eyes
full of tiny hate
and approaching torture
The mother never
gazes at her baby,
her baby wants the mother's eyes
“Dear Beloved One”
Instead of loving you,
I want to break you
by my cracked skin
Instead of healing you,
I want to torment you
by my despairing lips
My empty eyes
gaze at only your desire
Your vulnerable soul
pours dry hopes
into my veins
makes me travel
around the velvety night world
The scent tastes
The bitterness sounds
In my mug,
with the rising sun
As if summer tells me that
it never sinks,
coffee cocoons my space
by floating here
Yuu Ikeda is a Japan-based poet. She writes poetry on her website: https://poetryandcoffeedays.wordpress.com/. Her published poems are “On the Bed” in Nymphs, “Seeds” in Tealight Press, “Dawn” in Poetry and Covid, and more. Her Twitter and Instagram handle is @yuunnnn77.
First there is the smell.
A smell that can never be forgotten.
Symbolic warnings more portentous than simple DO NOT ENTER signs.
The red caution lights: crossed bones, shanks of hair, dried shrunken skulls, some stuck on sticks, others mashed as if beaten repeatedly with baseball bats,
Helmets streaked by blood long dried and caked into an unsightly mass.
The torn warning flags, expired road flares burnt down to the melted pavement,
the rusting steel reinforcements showing through;
all the amulets, signs from some bad horror movie enactment in real life
that must end in a danse macabre for the unsuspecting,
for us, forced by circumstances, to be walking here.
Long black marks, burnt rubber tires, black trails of smoke and refuse burning;
then the first sights of the high rises, reduced by half or more
as if swiped by a giant beast or crashed into with intent by suicide bombers,
In a loop set for continuous imaging,
controlling what is occurring inside our heads until disaster becomes meaningless and only the notion of walking on seems real.
The further into the city's interiors we go, the more muted the light is, the more we are surrounded by acrid smoke, floating refuse, blown dust,
all the effluent of the mind released in a surreal, timeless, floating, clouding motion covering our already grimy skin with an extra layer of something that feels like death.
Somewhere in the distance we can hear feral sounds, moaning that comes from within manmade caves, wasted buildings...
The moaning, a confused sort of wounded, angry sound, that could be anything that was once a living being released into some confused state of being that could only be construed as hell personified and made real for the most impious of non-believers.
Of which I am one.
My eyes and face and exposed skin blackened and tarred,
my ragged clothing meager protection from the ever harshening elements,
but I, we must go on....
None of us should ever question the prime directive.
It is as if we can see the ocean, the pristine beaches, warm sand and uncluttered places of certain refuge before us, lurking just beyond this ever widening shadow of a nightmare.
Even the clouds we sense above us, have become part of the murkiness,
the oppressive weighing stuff of catastrophe circling about us in a painful orbit like some kind of freak, mysterious, exploded asteroid belts; all the disassembled pieces of an
inexplicable cataclysmic event,
for an unknowable reason.
We survive, as if by the luck, having drawn the right number in some cosmic lottery, we are the winners.
Or maybe the losers.
There is no point in questioning what our actual fate is.
There is just this: the burnt sky, the falling white specks, still waters collected in the ruts, the pits, the shelled craters of a post-apocalyptic war over nothing.
The dominant ones may be those released to another place, the once human, now dried, now mummified effigies
hanging from blackened tree limbs, bent street lamps,
or they may be the ones directing the howling our way
or the voices themselves.
Speculating whether the sounds that beckon us deeper into the unknowable, fogging place is, by design,
to prepare us for what lies on the other side,
is as futile as not going on.
Even those of us who recall the burning water that adhered to our feet, the terror rain summoning the streets to transform themselves into something living, hostile to the walkers, those who refuse to tread lightly on the melting souls of feet hardened to callous by all the
walking, no longer clamor to go back to what we have escaped from.
There is no need to point out the dread interiors of buildings left virtually unscathed, the exteriors scarred by long black carbonized imprints of things once standing,
the once living melded into the concrete by forced, thrusting beings,
objects forced with the might of a solar wind.
The place settings of diners still intact along with the gradually deteriorating ruins of an extravagant meal.
The view from fifty floors high obscured by petrified remains,
a black caul pulled down from the afterbirth of death.
Some have suggested we find refuge in the sudden caves, domiciles ripped from the heart of skyscrapers, the odd placement of interior superstructures ripped from their moorings and thrust into the pavement to form a spontaneous global village from the detritus of the noblest of constructions.
Once inside these ruins, we have experienced the worst kinds of unnatural sights:
vast confusions of burning rubbish,
a flourishing rodent population, alert to all potential food sources, scuttling, eyeing the movers with greedy, aggressive eyes, waiting for the unguarded moment of repose, a slackness in vigilance none of us can afford.
We have seen fires of rare gases, pale flames licking the undercarriage of the once great and mighty buildings, gradually assaulted and worn away by the relentless release of hostile elements.
Have seen under wreckage, the interior grottos flooded by unseen sources, gradually pooling, covered by an impenetrable, viscid scum covering an unthinkable depth of noxious liquids,
have smelled the almost palpable stinks of these places and become gradually less repulsed,
have become inured to the most grotesque visions of death in life this anti-place has to offer....
Still, we have realized that, what waits outside in the real world, is no worse than what waits inside.
Even as the last burst piping explodes overhead and drowns the unsuspecting in the worst kind of refuse imaginable,
stuff that sticks and adheres and reforms the skin and the bones,
of what remains of the body, into something entirely new
Seeking shelter there are rains, with no source, underground,
in the sub-basements,
subway stations collapsed into pockets, cavities of unusable repositories for what is no longer capable of salvation,
salvage in this or any other world,
quickly realize the folly of wonder in a world such as this.
A rain with no source, may be an illusion, some say,
as may be, where we are, underground.
If it is, this is an illusion that touches us,
affects us all.
If we choose to stop and wonder,
forsaking the directive of moving on,
and beyond, at all cost,
we will have been defeated.
This is as unthinkable.
There are also those who claim they have witnessed the truth of these places,
that these so-called cavities of being of the dead and the diseased,
the stalactites, forcefully thrust underground, the ruined vehicles, carriers and cars of a celestial railroad derailed for all time.
They have been struck blind bit insist they can still see.
Underground, stalagmites, newly created formations caused by an acid drip, is, in fact, a slow effusion of chemical waste transforming that which already had existed, not a growth, but diminution, an attrition.
The visions that accompany these places are a spectacular to behold,
are wondrous multi-colored objects spread on a black background,
in this airless place, a pure envisioning of the non-corporeal changing colors, rainbowing across an adherence of an artificial night;
a miraging effect that confuses many,
causing them to linger, to be entranced.
They are the ones who are never seen again.
It is not difficult to wonder why.
A glimpse of sky through the deepest of hazes.
The memory of what might have been, in the shattered glass of a storefront.
The promise of a better life, in the rotted core of what might have been a succulent meal.
Many have openly asked,
wished out loud to return from where we began,
but this is impossible.
How can they not realize that there are no maps to rely on in these dark places?
How can they not realize that there never will be maps,
that the whole concept of mapping, is just another illusion to be bothered by?
Onward I command,
and those of us who remain, follow.
There is no other way.
Alan Catlin is primarily known for poetry but that doesn’t prevent him for mixing and matching prose and poetry as the subject allows. He has published dozens of full length book and chapbooks, mostly poetry, over the years. Although he is not a genre writer he has somehow managed three Rhysling Prize nominations and a Bram Stoker Award nomination He didn’t win either award.
At 5 A.M every morning
and just before it gets dark at dusk ,
put on a gait of concentrated disinterest
climb the stairs
open the doorway.
There lies a world of possibility
waiting to embrace me,
hug and seduce me by its virgin charms,
hitherto unexplored by men tied
to endless travels of futility.
Today the event will commence.
The hour is set.
The moment has been etched in my head.
I let myself slip out
into an extended blur.
For the pain of conclusion,
of bones breaking,
is inevitable .
However, every now and then
I ask myself,
as I pass on and on
to the edge of the cliff.
Then the balcony bares open its heart,
bids caressingly for my final attempt.
The Preamble to my moment of reckoning.
The writer’s name is PRITHVIJEET SINHA from Lucknow, India. He is a post graduate in MPhil from the University of Lucknow, having launched his writing career by self publishing on the worldwide community Wattpad since 2015 and on his WordPress blog AN AWADH BOY’S PANORAMA besides having his works published in several varied publications as CAFE DISSENSUS, THE MEDLEY, SCREEN QUEENS, BORDERLESS JOURNAL, ASPIRING WRITERS’ SOCIETY, LOTHLORIEN POETRY JOURNAL, CHAMBER MAGAZINE, LIVE WIRE, RHETORICA QUARTERLY and in the children’s anthology NURSERY RHYMES AND CHILDREN’S POEMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD ( AuthorsPress, February 2021).
A Demon's Dwelling
Darkness fell as night set in
The stars did twinkle across the sky
As I— myself was set to begin
The art of magus or—magi
Possessed by a feeling, a thought
One that was miserably found to linger
Clutching the words I had sought
As I lifted up a bloody—finger
And with that finger I began to write
Words that were but merely placed
TO THE DEMONS THAT RECITE
THE NAMES WHICH THEY EMBRACED
Engraved upon a wooden chest
A box that’s locked away
The demons are said to have blessed
The EVIL words one can’t unsay
For as the sun follows a path—the same
Moving from one side unto the other
Returning not to where it came
Completing its cycle which grew darker
That black sun that rules underneath
When the light that’s hidden away
Is said to leave behind and bequeath
The sorrows found of yesterday—
The box that’s sealed with one word
One that’s known by they who reside
Are then contained as their captured
And behind these words—where they hide
A demon's dwelling is all but hidden
To they who are said to know—
Open and blatantly blazon
Revealed by ones own sorrow
Ode to Baal
Ruler of demons and powers that are
Faithful you are found to be
Ruler and keeper of both peace and war
Yet— also a giver of life and prophecy
For mirrored thoughts are oft found
By the essence and your being
Doing the will and are oft bound
To the dwelling— or one's body
Faithful and true— the banner you wear
Words that are found to be
Upon the countenance and oath you swear
By they who can see—
For one may be a friend you find
For their enemies must beware
That you are not only a strong-one to bind
But it’s strength and precision you bare
Peace is found amongst your friends
As war and misery to enemies
As the demons themselves can’t contend
With your realm of limited boundaries
Serpent of Truth
Thrown to thy belly, through dust I crawl
Thrown to deception.....underneath it all
North, south east and west
Having searched, yet to find rest
Seek without ceasing and ye shall find
Through the dust called confusion, of thy mind
Pray in thy closet, which is thy head
To see yourself, the one who's dead
A slave still chained and bound
Yearning for freedom, yet not found
Fallen under a curse, a deep sleep
Unable to awaken, for beliefs I still keep
To open thy eyes, and become wise
To know the fruit, under its disguise
Struggle this battle, which is, inside
To find an answer, yet lies I find
Unable to accept, unable to renew
For many are called and chosen are few
Season of Satan
For when the time was fixed
Bound by fates and destiny
Satan is said to have mixed
His demons amongst humanity
Disguised as humans both they and he
Unseen and hidden as both you and me
For some are said to be sensitive too
Warnings they find and try to issue
For the timing itself is found to be fixed
Bound to destiny— its crucifix
When his voice emerges from within
And your guts begin to say
That it’s he— himself that’s here to begin
And it’s you—now who can soothsay
For the wicked serpent that is found
Like the sun— eternally bound
And from the guts found within your belly
Can barely digest the concept which is found most— brilliantly
Season of Satan—time is at hand
One raised above and one down below
As you try to then withstand
The knowledge in your belly— that you swallow
Katrenia Busch is a Freelance Film Critic for Hollywood Weekly Magazine, former editor for Aware Earth an an investigative journalist for The Total Plug. Some of her published works can be found in the Screech Owl, Literature Today, Riverrun, Literary Yard, Poetry Super-Highway, Police Writers, Westward Quarterly, Dark Elements, The Feeel magazine among others. She published an essay on psychoanalysis and is a Peer-Reviewer for The American Psychological Association, reviewing journals such as Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research and Practice and she has also published articles on the national healthcare system for Senior Care Quest.
Serpent of Truth originally appeared in The Screech Owl, December 2014. All three others are being published for the first time.
your mouth leads to
the afterlife, and your
cursed chilled body finds
solace in my shadow,
playing tag until dusk,
when the moon bonds
destinies through a
open wide, utter
your hexes, and i
will be your friend
again, singing your
perish song, in
of digested dreams
we had once shared
Brian (@brahvocado) is a Puerto-Haitian Bronxite writer and performer. His work has been featured in RiverCraft, DenimSkin, Squawk Back, Contraposition, Beliveau, Trouvaille, The Quiver, Rye Whiskey, and Cajun Mutt, among others. He holds a BA in Creative Writing from Susquehanna University. https://brianalvarado.com/writing
Enter the Apocalypse
Now sense some coming apocalypse,
now expect some ripe recipe
for total disaster;
in the first nanoseconds
of God's hideous anger,
fortified with worse than
fire and brimstone,
the earth, our mother,
glows hot and red,
our red-hot mama
can't be saved;
the heat, the deadly radiation
seek our bones, our marrow, our cells.
From Pensacola to Beijing
and all points west, east,
north, south, everything
dead or alive,
rocks to rooks
to cats to Kathy next door
burnt to a crisp;
look at the charred trees
in the garden of Eden
where Eve's lovely breasts
and the rest of her used to sit;
the patient farmer turned to charcoal
along with his plough;
even the dead and buried wake,
turn and peer up
through bone holes, wormy eyes;
some citizens see nothing
but the removal of agriculture
in their situation,
an end to the fertile earth;
others, passing on from
a life of faulty digestion,
sour guts and Paregoric
show faith in the power of death;
no hurt to them, this ravishing terminus.
The typewriter building in Rome,
the Taj Mahal, Saint Peter's dome,
start to smoke, then
in the blink of an eye,
like fiery wedding cakes
go up in a blaze;
oceans boil away, roaring their anguish,
their seasoning burning in white heaps;
the glaciers cry away their
mass in floods of icy water;
mountains melt like butter,
rained on by the corona
of some enormous nearby sun.
The shroud of death spreads over
the broad burning earth and
then the horror of too much Assyrian orange
takes away resemblance from everything,
leaving the remains of blackened bits and pieces,
unidentified debris, piles of nothing
turning to dust and less than dust.
We don't have enough time for all of it,
over the eons slowly creeping
and no need describing
the whole extinction, my fellow shareholders;
a spectacular dish for special occasions,
but expensive and terminal;
beyond its horribly radiant gate,
beyond God's towering cloud of wrath,
wherever he is,
there is nothing.
Gadabout God faces famous courtesan,
tits and all,
calls Moses a fraud, calls Jesus false
as the bloody cross he hung from;
tricks of the trade, snakes in the grass,
he calls them, all of them;
read all about it, it's all here,
plain as day or the sparkling night.
Queens leave adultery to
their daughters instead of cold millions;
read all about it, read about
flames, arson, dying firemen,
flying bullets and
dead famous entertainers,
death coming to Disneyland
in a hoop-skirt;
lapidary hoopla, it's all there,
bold as brass, stupid as paint,
creating coffins of words,
black and fleeting,
holding us briefly
and no more.
We ain't talking about the good word,
boys and girls,
the gospels to come, to be told,
to be treasured;
just the daily bleating, the comings and goings,
the ratcheting of infamous feats,
retarded admirals and presidents
at home and abroad,
in big trouble, uh-oh,
stays of execution,
all kinds of sinners and whores
in the fields of earth and
at the end of the road, the end of now,
as we know it, a modest apocalypse.
Wow! And forget it.
God, sly as a fox and bold as a lion,
scales down his limitless circumference,
signaling from the sky,
comes down again, this time
harrowing not only hell,
but earth's own sweet self,
not only boxing
the daily evangelists into oblivion,
but bringing to us all
His grace and terrible truth;
ripping out now with
the message of eternity;
none of it lasts, folks,
not a goddamned bit of it.
Out In the Country
All my fantasies
have fled the old homestead;
the hacienda’s as empty of heat
as winter’s candles.
Still as a painting
the moon hangs
in the snoring night;
twice-pale she looks,
surprised by the hunter.
Hounds skate down moonbeams
like avenging furies;
the stag, a shadow, a ghost,
runs over the meadows.
Running far from my native shores
I let the wonderful cooler native women
play with me, titillate me, adulate me,
until my weary head
rests at last
on the anvil.
satiate and subdued,
I walk on the beach,
lonely stars above
the encompassing sea.
Lonely, I look at the night;
to my fallible mirror of self
Prince Hamlet or Nial
at the least,
stalking, brooding on the strand;
to rutting teens,
more like an apparition,
an old fool
doddering in the moonlight.
Well, even Athens looked
like a heap of stone
to a seagull flying
as Hitler’s arm once was;
we souls below
try to embrace
in tortures measured
to the goose-stepping firmament.
well done over the coals,
put up a reckless good front
passus est or assus est,
died or fried,
it was over;
this fire, his life,
For us a lesson;
a thousand enemies gnaw at
brains and bones alike,
defy them all,
at the crack of doom defy;
it’s soon enough
the stinting grass
grows over our heads.
Sodom and Gomorrah
Pretty soon some passengers
on the planes and trains of life,
like those denizens of the vicious
cities of the plain,
become unbearable to God,
commit some grievous sin
for which there is no forgiveness.
The pilot closes the cockpit door,
the engineer gives way
to schedules and surly expediency
and God piles on his vengeance,
brings down a murderous rain
of brimstone and fire.
Among the bogus violets in the engine cab,
the plastic roses in the cockpit,
late in the night
a scholar writes his history
of those vengeful times;
his eyelids close and sightless
he writes on until Ursa Major,
the Great Bear, runs its course,
rolling around the night sky
like it always does.
This is the end for them,
in those cities on the plain.
The once fruitful earth
has no sympathy for them,
long bearing the blasted remains
of those two shining cities
brought low by God's hand.
The fire and brimstone rained down
in blazing whirlwinds, rough with light;
upside-down towers and fiery finials,
as the stone-knobbed agonized spires
of the Sagrada Família;
with an obliging God,
pled down to less than
a baker's dozen
to save the city
by God's mercy;
His holy messengers,
in Lot's house
pressed by perverts,
blinded them and
went out searching
for what they were sent to find;
alas, not finding in this teeming city
even ten of the righteous.
Lot's family does right
and gets out of town.
On the smoking streets
people running like ants
and it's no use;
His terrible face and rage,
seen above the furnace of destruction.
So that was that
and Lot's wife,
that one time,
turned to salt by
the divine effulgence
or a last fateful look
at her burning city,
Lot's wife become a memory,
standing pinnacle of salt;
a lesson to us all
in the window of history.
Little room left for life
after a city of calamities
goes up in your face;
the family saved, the mother lost
by a love too strong for her old place
or simply dried up
by the radiance of God.
and unmade by Him
and that for vengeance
and that's the end of it.
Talk About the Wild West
Talk about the wild west,
talk about the plains,
talk about the bygone Indian days;
there never was a time we couldn't see
in our mind's eye
the tribes passing, rambling
through that outstretched land,
staying and settling,
never was a time we couldn't feel
the anger of that tomahawking
wild and wooly holdup age;
the rage that never ended until death
lost nations, destroyed the old ways,
the broad paths, the houses, the tepees,
the very remains of the hearths
broken in the dust.
It's gone now
and now we only see
the piebald horses, the rust-colored
run by the buttes
as spring snipes away
at the Rockies; twittering birds
eat what they can find,
whatever's left on the ground.
Sweet grass comes up timely
for the cows lowing and eating
and we talk about the wild west
to the takers of the land,
to the sad remnants
of bygone nations.
Lady Look, lovely messenger,
reigns over hill and dale,
towns and mountains;
spring's mansion of leaves
and blooms fills, blossoms out;
dogwood trees white white
like fallen parachutes
lift up their plumage
to the warming sun;
daffodils spread lavish light.
Spring besieges summer,
more, more, it asks,
presses for more beauty and life,
newness, the colors of the rainbow,
the paleness of the new moon,
the red-winged blackbird,
the oriole, all showing the world they bring
and we sing old cowboy songs
to the takers of the land,
to the sad remnants
of bygone nations.
O skipping lamb, cakewalk
by the broken shopping carts;
with your small hooves, click, click,
show the asphalt you're the boss.
Nevertheless, never endless
the reign of spring ends,
the bird notes slow,
dwindled away by the sleepy summer
heat, drowsy the trees barely shrug,
the tar melts on the roads.
Only misbegotten seeming
the end of a proud race;
heads of flowers and men
gay only for a while,
knowing the cycle of bygone days,
heads drooping already in dreams
of root-clutching cold, change of seasons,
the end of an age, a way of life,
the end of the wild west we knew,
caught in lifeless tightfisted memories
and we talk about the wild west,
talk about the plains
to the takers of the land,
to the sad remnants
of bygone nations.
Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.
The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat who could whistle “Sweet Adeline,” use a knife and fork and killed a postman.
You who have worshipped the cursing sun
You who have cracked the earth's side
Listen the negative joy of unreality
Listen the hollow labour of love
Listen Our cry:
Day unbegotten, how was I born
From a dying womb
Cursed with a dead logic
Spawned by the carnal pack
In the long night
Children with outstretched hands and open mouths
Their bellies empty and raw, chewn and mauled
Children of Lazarus begotten
And from the empty Graves
Dead air rising
To muffled drums
Hollow beats, silencing
The mute cries of unclean water,
Where The lepers bones float
In the shadows of light
In places now forgotten
Quenched of thirst
By the jackals light
The living dead
Rejoicing in the hungry world
Rejoicing to the songs of jackals
In the dead land
The parched land
Empty bowels and
The hollow wind
A dry bone is a good feast
A dry stone to crack our jowls
A dead image to put our faith
We have chosen and must abide
Pray for the unsung dead
So that they may rejoice
And stir a dry bone
A dead eye and laugh at
The quickness of our laments
Console yourselves with these words
And believe in the wrath to come
absolve our sins
Be not unmindful who beg for redemption
Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. His poems have appeared in Philedelphia Poets,Tower Poetry, The Windsor Review, and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century. He has two books of poetry published ,The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street