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Two Poems by Allison Grayhurst

Whenever I touch him

 

Heavy shackle

around my shell.

He says no, no,

to the great descent

 

to hands locked in the wind,

on pillow or sheets.

 

October sun beating on my covered spine

So many walls erected in the name of home

 

He talks of black birds glowing

or running into webs as wide

as a tree’s open arms.
©Allison Grayhurst

 

 

 

 

Even Though

 

Even attempting to climb the perilous cliff,

I am not afraid of falling.

The sensual rhythms of this lonely morning

devour me, reconciled

to my private chamber, suspended.

 

Far under the cliff, the gulls

are united with the ocean, as that

deep blue speckled-white

beckons me to its bed.

 

Wolves and warriors are rooted to the hunt.

I am rooted to this risk, edge-clinging,

fated to ultimately rest

in the body of a miracle.

 

There are miles below and miles above,

awakening sounds of insects burrowing,

of swallows nest-emerging –

a holy vapour all around that fills

the void with necessity.

 

©Allison Grayhurst

Five Poems by Shirley Jones-Luke

There’s No Luxury in Poverty

 

My family was poor   government cheese free box of food for Thanksgiving   sleeping on a cot until I was in my twenties couldn’t afford a bed    roaches & rats as roommates emergency room visits drained limited funds   doctor or medicine or rent or food going out was a treat movies or dinner   could only have one no pets barely could feed ourselves new clothes only on birthdays or back to school       don’t ask for too much mama didn’t have it like that don’t beg don’t envy what others had even if they rubbed it your face  mama was a proud woman a product of a different era she knew how to make do with what she had we learned from her how to make a dollar out of fifteen centers   even when we went to beg hungry tomorrow held the promise of something better we just had to hold on
© Shirley Jones-Luke

White Knives, Blue Tears & Red Whips

 

The whips fed on the blood of my forefather’s backs. Soaked it up like needed sustenance, leaving the drops for the soil

 

We cried into the sea, bodies floating there like black buoys bobbing atop the waves, the ships they leapt from sailing on

 

The moon revealed escape attempts. Brown bodies shining like dark stars in the light. Hounds at their heels.

 

Our people fought in wars & were used as shields for white bodies, sacrificing themselves in the hopes of helping their families back home

 

We have a history of sacrifice & of forgiving. It may gain us a special place in Heaven but for now, we suffer a Hell on Earth
© Shirley Jones-Luke

Urban Boys & The Blues

 

No, they are not all-American boys,

but black & brown shadows, shaping

their futures, wishing for magic

 

No, they are not powerless, not broken

by an unjust society, making them targets

because they are black diamonds

 

They are the descendants of Africa,

the un-American negro, nigger, nigga,

related to former slaves of lost origins

 

Yes, they walk across the brown soil,

of a never – forgotten people,

angry about what has been denied them

 

Yes, they are neon signs, bodies

like electric artists, illuminating

their canvases for all to see

 

These boys, these boys of the diaspora

know they carry more than struggle

in their DNA, they carry freedom
© Shirley Jones-Luke

They Won’t Harm You as Long As You Comply

 

Black man sits on the sidewalk

arms akimbo, head down

eyes stare straight ahead,

the dog attacks without hesitation

biting into the man’s right arm

 

Officers run up as the man tries

to fight off the dog, free arm flailing

officer grab the brotha by his throat,

starts a semi-choke hold, bending

his head back

 

They tell us not to resist, resisting

leads to more bodily harm – even death,

but our wind pipes are squeezed, our

backs kicked in, our legs bitten, our heads

slammed with the butts of guns

 

They tell us we won’t be harmed if

we comply, history has shown us

that our black bodies are forever in jeopardy,

their words are lies, resistance is all

we have left to save us
© Shirley Jones-Luke

Who Holds Up Black Women?

 

Black Women hold up the world.

Who holds up Black Women?

 

We are nurturers, holding babies

at our breasts. Who nurtures us?

 

We pass down the stories of us,

our forebearers, cherishing their knowledge.

 

Who will tell our stories?

Who will cherish us?

 

We are the color of the soil,

deep brown earth. Black midnight.

 

We are tar and coal, sienna & sepia

branches, growing from mahjong trees.

 

Who will water our roots? Who will help

us grow? We will wither & die?

 

We carry our culture on our backs. Our history

Is in our faces. Our voices are our songs.

 

We sisters of the soil, our blood are the rivers & oceans,

flowing through every country, every continent

 

We leave a mark on everything we touch

Our bodies are marked by everything that touches us.

©Shirley Jones-Luke

Two Poems by Sudeep Adhikari

Schrödinger wave equation of cancers and miracles

 

i thought i never wrote love poems,

or poems on wars, or

poems on how the few people

have destroyed the planet, while i see

the limited enlightened ones

 

posting memes on internet

about how things used to be , and

how things should have been. because  

bukowski. because plath. because rumi.

 

i thought i wrote about my dreams

of slashed out wounds, spurting blood

in tandem with technolicious beats

of my never-present hyper-reality,

 

or about the sewers, undergrounds,  

and the occult madalas, by the side

of a river , larger than the walls of our

self-created penitentiaries.

 

and then i realized, just like this one

every poem written so far

 

is always a love poem, a war poem

and a political poem at the same time;

and we all are in this together,

 

like a schrödinger wave equation; with the

coupled quantum state of cancers,

and occasional bleeps of unexplained miracles.

 

©Sudeep Adhikari

silent horror movie

 

a sort of stanford prison

experiment goes inside my head,

non-stop. my ghosts

imprison me,

and the unconscious bullies

of my moral mortuary,

keep electrocuting my decaying bones.

 

the shortest distance between

you and yourself

 

goes through all the hells

you have spawn in silence

 

mirror neurons misfire. i watch

myself, and all i see is the scariest

silent horror movie.

©Sudeep Adhikari

 

Interview with Gabriel Ricard

Q: When did you start writing?

A: I’ve been writing for most of my life. I know I’ve been trying to at least write down stories, comics, whatever since I was about five. When I was 12, I decided that I wanted to be a writer. I don’t think I’ve ever really looked back from that. It’s just this constant in everything I do, think about, and process.


Q: Who are your biggest inspirations/your favourite writers?

A: For poetry, I like people like JP Garcia, Dorothy Parker, Anne Sexton, Ryder Collins, and Damian Rucci. With short fiction and novels, definitely folks like William S. Burroughs, Shirley Jackson, Raymond Carver, Dashiell Hammett, Larry Brown, Barry Gifford, Haruki Murakami, Carson McCullers.


Q: What time of day do you do most of your writing?

A: Well, I also do freelance writing for money. So I usually start the whole damn show around 7:30, 8 AM. I work until 2:30. Then, because I’m secretly 85 years old, I take a nap after lunch. Get up, run around like a lunatic trying to get everything done around the house. I try to write for a couple more hours in that period, hoping to finish for the day around 8 PM, but that’s easier said than done these days.


Q:  Why do you write?

A: Mostly because I still genuinely enjoy it. Partially because I can’t really do anything else.


Q: Do you have any favourite quotes from writers?

A: Bear with me, it’s a little long, but this one from Kurt Vonnegut always gets my heart out of the mud: (When Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope) Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.”


Q: What is one piece of advice you would give new/aspiring writers?

A: Don’t stop. That doesn’t mean don’t take care of yourself, or neglect other things/people. All the same, keeping that in mind, just don’t stop. You’re doing great.


Q: Do you have any collections, chapbooks, or other books available for people to purchase?

A: I have a big bucket of links to answer that question!

http://kleftjaw.com/product/clouds-of-hungry-dogs/ https://www.moranpress.com/store/p32/Bondage_Night.html https://www.moranpress.com/store/p56/LoveandQuarters.html https://www.amazon.com/Ludicrous-Split-Kevin-Ridgeway/dp/1717428657

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Chani Zwibel

An Interview with our Associate Editor. =)

The Wombwell Rainbow

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

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Chani Zwibel

Chani Zwibel is the author of Cave Dreams to Star Portals, published by Alien Buddha Press. She is an associate editor with Madness Muse Press. She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and their dog. She enjoys writing poetry after nature walks and daydreaming.

and a link to my…

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Two poems by Matthew Jose

The Poet

The poet must sing a thousand songs before dying a thousand deaths.

A thousand symphonies soft, the music must play on.

Long after a human will is broken beyond repair.

Long after the voices have all been tucked away.

Long after a ship is lost at sea.

The poet must sink to a thousand ocean bottoms.

When the voice in your head says the hell with it, fight.

When the marrow in your bones says the hell with it, fight.

When the depths of your soul screams the hell with it, fight.

For this is when it finally reveals.
©Matthew Jose

Sun Bleached

If I write a little each day I feel good amidst the turmoil.

If I drink a little each day I feel good amidst the turmoil.

When I don’t do these two things I become like a wheelbarrow gathering rain or a well past his prime soprano singing off key notes through chipped teeth.

You see, tangled souls can’t be straightened, but with time and wisdom gained they can become less marred by the bulge.

If you’ve ever seen a starfish washed ashore, sun bleached and abandoned, then you would know this already.

Time is the master.

Time cleanses us all.

©Matthew Jose

JUST ONE PIECE

JUST ONE PIECE

If I listen, holding space, arms as wide as my strength can hold against the lines, will you speak?

There are no sides, no camps, no aisles – we conjure them in black, to have walls to touch and positions to define.

We the people, born naked every color, before there are lines.

Needing, every one, the same.

See?

© Tiffany Grantom 

 

Two Poems by Nicole Taylor

The House on a New Year’s Diet Battle

 

In the family, television room a battle waited. Age battled in every room, including coffee-table art books, philosophy, outdated software books. Photographers were standing nearby and debating, as if Ansel Adams and Edward Weston reincarnated.

 

Nine recent National Geographics, a few recent Readers Digests, Living the Country Life, Horse Life, Oregon Life, various university alumni and defense lawyer journals all waited. They waited along with the others but the war was upfront. They knew the house was living the life too well.

 

The latest award winning films, The Iron Man 2 and The A-Team revised were kneeling on bottom shelves, oak stumps.

 

Walls of stacked monitors and peripherals were built. British Malteasers sat on a tree shelf to disrupt the soldier’s path. An enemy mine or battlefield of chocolates.

 

In the pantry armies of canned chicken, albacore tuna, chili con carne, chards, spinaches, green beans and other vegetables and bottles or cans of vinegars and oils. Also teas, pots, coffees and coffee makers were waiting, brewing.

 

A turkey carcass sat refrigerated. So many migrated beers for the soldiers to relax. So many condiments maybe as useful salves.

 

Around the corners behind the head of the dining table stand liqueur bottles surrounding the stacked wine bottles, which surround the tall cabinet as a short evergreen borders. They encircle  the seasonal non-native oranges and the other non-native British chocolates hiding.

 

Classic rock debated with jazz. LP’s debated various cassettes, pre-recorded and pre-copied media. Music debated with newer media, the grand-children of the not easily portable albums. Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews, Phish and Pearl Jam quarreled. The classic jazz musicians Duke Ellington and Count Basey debated the moderns Dave Brubeck and Herbie Hancock.

 

The games behind a coat closet, building towers and buying monopolies and drawing a wall for their opponent or a bridge for themselves. Jenga jumped on the monopoly. Then Pictionary fought for the kings and queens of the card decks. An anonymous Viking built more walls and bridges and strong-armed Candy Land.

 

Wrapping paper and tinsel lay on or

near the tree and bodies and bullets.

 January 2010

©Nicole Taylor

Gelling in Family Christmas Preparations

 

Loneliness gels away from here,

away from this. Warmth gels here.

Familiarity gels here.

 

My nephew Erik is eating Chinese food

for breakfast, except for sliced and gelled sauce.

 

“You can’t have Chinese for breakfast,” says his father, my brother Chris. They debate over lunch food and lunch time. His son ignores his father.

 

Nathan says the Santa on top looks misplaced. A small cloth Santa sits atop the fir tree with needles among the blanket and water bucket. Also in the tree is a large gold colored smiling sun, and a blue and white swirled teardrop in memorial of dad. Chris sorts and checks individual ornament boxes in, from a larger decorated box. Mom tells Erik’s brother Nate that Santa came twice one year, once while visiting in California.”  Oh yeah,” says Nate who is almost 14. I wish mom remembered my childhood as well, or the childhood of any of her children.

 

Mom talks of new and old trendy Hallmark ornaments for her grandchildren. She wanted a 3 frog ornament or one Napoleon Dynamite ornament. She tells us Tom, my sister Eleanor’s 15 year old, didn’t like the Napoleon movie.

 

Mom asks my brother, How is the cat around the tree?. She is fine now. I hope she doesn’t drink the tree preservative. The cat is a 6 month old barn cat named Smokey. The cat is fine but the tree is crooked. It leans left.

Is it a political or gay tree? Not a straight tree or an informative newspaper here. I thumb through the classifieds, local and life sections.

 

Mom asks me, Did you see the one outside?.”   I glance at the wooden cabinet near the dining table. I admire the silver reindeer and other decorations.  I see an attractive reindeer family near the many tall old firs.

 

She finishes her coffee and toast. She offers me tea with milk and sugar. No coffee left in pot.

 

Hi, says my sister-in-law Irene prepares eggs and toast. We discuss a recent poetry reading event I attended at her law school.

 

Erik begs and later steals part of her toast while the cat rests on the young golden retriever.

 

Mom offers me a DVD,  money, and coffee and holiday fair coupons. I walk home and pet their neighbor’s cat. I get a ride halfway home from Erik and Chris, buying lights and supplies.

Loneliness gels away.

December 13, 2005

©Nicole Taylor

A poem by Ashley Cooke

American Nightmare

 

It scares you that a black life could finally matter

a grieving mother might get justice for her son

and it scares you that all of a sudden

the spotlight could shift from you

to a place in the dark that has not seen the light of day

since you decided whose lives were more important

deeming everyone with a darker skin tone a thug

 

The ones supposed to protect us are the ones that we fear

our best interest is now in dangerous hands

that seem to always pull the trigger first

as scattered thoughts of panic inside our minds

turn into brain matter

if we don’t react to your commands

and our fear better not resemble violence

 

If we were to turn the news off

does our mind turn on?

it seems to me maybe all this negativity

is a magnifying glass

focusing long and hard

trying to start a fire in our nervous system

so they can control us one by one

 

Every argument we have over this

is a pull on the rope in a twisted game of tug of war

caught on someone’s neck like a noose

we are slow to realize just how hard we are pulling

we remember how politics at the table used to be impolite

but now it’s survival to know if those

in your home would fight on your side

 

How many of us reach down

into our bloodlines and grab the hand

of a woman as she is struggling to get away

from a man she loved and trusted

we pull our hand back in disbelief

and realize that we are only here

because centuries ago there was a rape

 

We try to shut the kids up

as we put them down for growing up

and having opinions that differ from ours

they crawl on their knees to chase their inner light

you stomp out their flame

while it crosses paths with yours before it can grow

to a raging fire bright enough to make a change

 

The 50 stars gather on the boulevard

with a carpet laid out for the sacrifices they made

to bring us entertainment we couldn’t live without

and the waving vets on the curb

looking for a penny left in the gutter

as we thank them with a solute at the ball games

as those we pay tribute to linger outside in tents and shopping carts

 

We worship a God who seems to prey upon us

unless we join sides with fascists

as they puppeteer themselves to save us

creating words that fit their politics

our neighbors welcome us with pointed fingers

as we seem to burn already

in a hell upon earth

©Ashley Cooke

3 Poems by

On Going Back

 

Will I take a trip back

to my place of birth,

a country called Kenya.

Famed for its coffee fields

and year-long hot weather.

 

Will I leave the frosty winter

to journey near the equator

and let the sun seep into my skin,

the aroma of fresh beans

borrowing deep into my nostrils?

 

I always return to this place

In my thoughts when alone.

My home is harsh and icy now.

Leaves dry up and tumble down.

The skin on my hands turns flaky,

but I have spring to revive me.

© Khadija I Gure


 

Tug of War

 

A game that brought me enormous amusement

As a child, my friends and I played even in the mud

We pulled until we found victory or got dragged

Mud slipped between our bare toes

 

In my new school in the Midwest

Students wore shoes to play in gym class

Our shoes squeaked as we got dragged

We didn’t feel the sun or mud on our feet

© Khadija I Gure

 


Sustenance

 

I can’t be blind to what I eat

The meat I put in my body makes

me think about the live body of the

animal on my plate

It makes me think about the way

he or she trotted

 

I think about the sound my food

made on a daily basis

A sound that most likely spoke

to a certain emotional state

My plate is still warm and steaming

But my hunger has turned to a bitter

kind of cold

 

One that matches the blizzard outside

my window

I run my fingertips over the goose

bumps on my arms

© Khadija I Gure