Praise the Proletariat
Praise the proletariat, and their nondescript looks. Faceless monkeys in bear-sized work clothes, gas mask and red working hands. Praise them as they perform before the organ grinder.
Praise the proletariat, their love or their hate or their loyalty to a party, whatever that party may be. Praise their stagnant, slouch stance; broken but unbending, beneath the weight of the organ and its grinder.
We sneer at them in work, cheer for them in war.
No? Don’t look down. Look up and
Praise the proletariat. Sing praise for them and dance. Let the music play. They are the monkey that keeps the organ grinding. So play on, organ grinder; play on and on and on.
You, too, will be ground down.
Originally from Chicago, Dan Franch currently resides in the country of Estonia. Currently a language teacher in Estonia, he has traveled extensively, has lived in six countries, and has had a wide variety of random life experiences. Restless by nature, Dan is doing his best to settle into an extended stay in his children's homeland.
What beast is this with bloodied paw
and face as if it never saw
the mutilation it had wreaked
on flesh from which such fluid leaked --
the adversary now deposed
whose weaker means have been exposed
as order in which nature chains
its fleeting and enduring reigns...
...the lives that are by deaths sustained
through instinct over time ingrained
where conscience by design denied
leaves nothing moral to abide...
...except in those who understand
when needless blood is on their hand.
Portly Bard: Old man. Ekphrastic fan.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment.
Protect yourselves against the gas.
It’s in every pore, hiding in the very fabric
of the dying. See the spittle, the vomit,
the blisters, the bulging eyes.
It takes a few hours, so make sure.
Your hands can finish the job, then stir the blood
of the slaughtered.
Sometimes you receive the still living
in your country’s home with a smile,
strangle them gently,
dismember them quickly.
Don the suit that protects you against the acid.
You are not aware
that we are watching.
Rose Mary Boehm
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and three poetry collections, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print).
Paw bloodied, eyes like pans, its mouth gapes
as if to say, Look what you’ve done to me!
Upon tangerine setting, hunched atop claret-
an apelike shape resembles you, echoes me.
When animals are ensnared,
bound by ambush, they fade, wilt within teeth
of contrivance, sever from the womb of truth.
The raw wail of mistreatment, its stratagem,
ugliness, need not be. Remembering the lens
of compassion transmutes the wound, heals
the horror, rinses each somber reflection,
attends to the human condition with unsoiled,
Jeannie E. Roberts
Jeannie E. Roberts lives in an inspiring setting near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, where she writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. She has authored four poetry collections including the most recentThe Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her second children's book,Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children, is forthcoming from Daffydowndilly Press, a project of Kelsay Books. She is Poetry Editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs.
The Banality of Evil
Triggered by the motion-detector, the light
flicks on. He turns in surprise, a bloated corpse,
a grub, a blunderer in a hazmat suit.
He hasn’t had time to wash, gore-smirched
to the elbows. What he thinks I cannot say,
his face the dumb horror of his mask.
Such a one would not give a satisfying moral
inventory. I’d ask in vain. His burner phone rang,
and he was sent, paid in BTC, anonymously.
I am implicated by having seen, and if not,
by knowing of him just the same. In fact,
were I to undo the snaps and pull his hood,
I’d bare my own face with its hangdog sheen.
Devon Balwit lives scarily close to the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The author of Risk Being / Complicated and A Brief Way to Occupy a Body(among others), her individual poems can be found or are forthcoming here as well as in journals such as The Cincinnati Review, apt, Grist, The Sugar House Review, The Carolina Quarterly, The Timberline Review, Fifth Wednesday, The Free State Review, Rattle, etc. For more, see her website at: https://pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet
Perspective on Mohassess Untitled
Don’t give in to the
great gray beast,
the one who stares at
you through lenses of
latter day mania.
He seems to pass by, but
in your dreams he
carrying off your sanity
against the back-drop of
sun-washed walls of what-ifs
The beast’s gait will
trod through your brain
like regrets gone mad,
pausing long enough to
make sure that
Linda W. Owen, a former educator, is an active member in the Mississippi Poetry Society, Poets Anonymous, and Pennin' and Grinnin'. Her poetry appears in a variety of publications, but she especially enjoys working with and encouraging other poets. Audiences find her poetry readings to be delightful and thought-provoking.
I won’t ask the question
that begins with Father,
the one that attaches itself to the word Mother,
the concept of punishment and reward.
That blood I must drink.
That confession I must make.
That position of bowing down.
I could sing those songs,
could fall and be redeemed.
Time was I could believe in
a father, a son,
a mother and a baby child.
A recitation that absolved.
A debt paid with shame and sorrow.
I want to be the moon
crossing over the sun.
I want to be a cloak
that covers the world with light.
I want to open like a rose,
rise like the chorus that follows the verse.
I want to journey with the lost souls,
drunk only with the scriptures of galaxies--
I want to become what is written on the stars.
Kerfe Roig says, "You can see my art and poetry on my website http://kerferoig.com/, or on the blog I do with my friend Nina, https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/ ."
What? The apricot wall goes up to hold him back. We dared to make him walk in his own blood after we stripped the mask from his face. “What are you? A baboon?”
“A dirty bleeding baboon who knows which strings to pull, which pockets to line with gold, which votes to steal. This conversation is over.”
And we would say to him, “It had never begun.”
A three-time winner of the Wisconsin Regional Writer’s Jade Ring, Eger’s stories appear in Fictive Dream, Flash Fiction for Flash Memory, Runcible Spoon, Fifty Word Stories, Tuck, Scarlet Leaf Review and the Cadence Poetry Anthology. She is working on an apocalyptic novella under the name Copper Rose. Connect athttps://julieceger.wordpress.com/.
He’d heard that no disaster
in a nightmare could actually kill you.
But how did anyone really know?
And why couldn’t he remember
that comforting fact till he exploded
Tonight his psyche worked
overtime. Two mugs of warm milk
couldn’t stop his shivers, erase
the sight of the weird, amorphous
creature that ran him down. He’d faced
gorier, scarier assassins than this
humanoid storm cloud.
Normally, he’d wake up
when a monster grabbed him.
No such luck. The blob plunged
its fist deep in his gut, pulled
its hand out dripping with blood.
He didn’t scream, faint, or wake,
just stood gawking at his assailant.
The blob clutched its side like it felt
the pain – its mouth an O of horror.
It reminded him of that time Dad
took a belt to him for breaking
the neighbor’s patio door. He’d never
forget that what have I done? expression –
how Dad looked more shattered
than the glass.
Alarie’s latest poetry book, Waking on the Moon, contains many poems first published by The Ekphrastic Review. Please visit her at alariepoet.com.
As a young bear cub Tebi was taken from the wild by Russian hunters forced to live in a small cage granted food only when he learned the tricks he was expected to do. “Dance!” Tebi stood on his hind legs swaying back and forth to the delight of children and grown-ups. His entire life was spent with a heavy chain on his neck tied to a post. The only time he got off the post was to attend an event where he was expected to perform. When he was younger crowds would clap and cheer. But recently public scrutiny and animal activist groups condemned this form of entertainment. Less and less Tebi was removed from the chain fastened to the post and spent long days and nights just sitting watching life passing him by. Since he was no longer making money for his owner his daily feed was less and less. When things were at their worst, he was given to a rescue group who took Tebi to a sanctuary. For the first time in his life the heavy chain was removed from his neck. His head felt light. The cage where he was placed allowed him to discover things beyond the chain restrains. He searched the far corners on his own. At 21 years of age, he was still the small cub at heart. He’d never had this much freedom in his life. As the months went by, Tebi was put into a larger area with others of his kind. He had never interacted with any other bear before. There was much to learn from each other. He watched while the other bear foraged for their meals. No longer were meals provided as an offering in a dish. He learned about berries, bugs, roots, grass and drinking from the river running through the sanctuary. Soon he was able to feed himself. He friended a younger sow named Tasha. They became inseparable. Where Tasha was Tebi was only a short distance away. Many months, they had not seen a human and they grew more independent in the wild. A truck appeared early one morning. Tebi became apprehensive as his natural distrust of humans had returned. The human darted him and Tasha and put them into small cages. Upon waking Tebi cried for his loss of freedom but was comforted by the sound of Tasha nearby. Hours and hours over bumpy roads they traveled until the trucks stopped. Their cages were placed on the ground next to each other. The men stepped away and magically the bars opened on the cages. Tebi cautiously stepped out of the cage, calling Tasha. Tasha poked her head out and followed Tebi as they ran off into the woods. They kept running until they no longer smelled the men. There was a stream both drank the water and started to forage for food. Tebi came across a tree with buzzing bees. His nose told him there was honey in that tree, his favorite. He clawed at the rotted wood but couldn’t get to the hive. Sticking his big paw into the tree he was stung by many bees, but was rewarded with a huge comb. The dripping honey ran down his claws as Tebi triumphantly lapped at the golden sweetness. Freedom tasted so good.
Dawn DeBraal lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband, two rat terriers and a cat. She successfully raised two children (meaning they left home and now support themselves!) Early attempts at writing won $75.00 in a poetry contest from “Your Daily Poem.com” and a song accepted for the International Habitat for Humanity song book. Recently retired, she has tried to turn her passion of telling a good story into writing one.
I let him into my tent
with portable easel and paints
after the sideshow closed.
I didn't mind being nude.
It made sense.
An artist must document--
capture unusual forms.
What I couldn’t understand--
the red glove and gas mask.
Symbolism is lost
on an ignoramus like me.
That's what the boss always says.
It felt important,
in this particular way.
into something better—
Art. Not a curio.
In my line of work
one wears a black unitard
to a Gawk ‘n’ Gander.
Patrons pay to see my freaky form.
I give them my head
atop a silhouette.
A thin, fabric modesty remains.
Painter Man took my bared vulnerability,
expectations of deeper beauty
layered on clean canvas,
and posterized them on souvenir pulp
intended for a bedroom,
not a gallery, wall—doubling down
on disfigurement and disgrace.
How did humanity
I’ve only been handled
Jordan Trethewey is a writer and editor living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. His work has been featured in many online and print publications, and has been translated in Vietnamese and Farsi. To see more of his work go to: https://jordantretheweywriter.wordpress.com
A Welcoming Hand
When I woke, he was still there, still waiting for me--
my apparition, or reality?
Off and on through the night, for many long years
he’d visit in my fears.
At least, I’m certain that I always sensed terror in his comings,
a darkness of drummings,
but though these nightly visits, sometimes multiple, persisted,
he never insisted
on doing me any harm, nor causing any me alarm, not at all--
as best I recall.
Yet I dreaded each return as though I feared he brought as presents
the beheading of peasants,
of whom I was one, and yet not just one, but one and one only,
so terribly lonely,
though I never wished for the companionship of fantasmic creatures
of demonic features,
and so I would run, to escape from a vague sense of presaged doom,
confined to my room
and finding no way out, always attempting in vain to scream and shout--
but what about?
Not knowing whence or why he came, his confused look always the same,
and that red hand of blame,
that red hand of shame,
that red hand, which by any other name would always scare as completely,
so silently, sweetly,
and tear my soul asunder with flashes of lightning and sounds of thunder--
yet, I wonder,
since never in my dreams did he reach out or approach or attempt to attack,
but always came back,
until now, here at last, in the flesh(?) he stands fast by my bed, quite alive--
so will I survive?
Is this my last day, one which even his patience can no longer stay?
Must I go away?
For the first time he turns, and face to face I see he yearns to approach.
I let him encroach.
In his left hand a bowl, very full, like a rich liquor, deep and red--
is this what I dread?--
and as he mixes, his red hand of death becomes a dripping red hand of wine;
a comforting sign,
so I take my last drink without fear. In this peace, his rest is mine.
Ken Gosse writes poetry using simple language with traditional meter and rhyme, often filled with whimsy and humor. First published in The First Literary Review–East, November, 2016, his poems are also in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, The Ekphrastic Review, and other publications. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, he and his wife have lived in Arizona over twenty years, always with a herd of cats and dogs underfoot.
"I will not leave anything behind for the necrophiliacs. Because how does a painting make sense in a world where there are no fish in the sea nor animals in the forest?"
Murder needs a gas mask.
Unless it's a pig snout. Poor pig.
Murder has a tender red blood-foot.
Or blood-hand, in case Murder is human, standing like that, caught by the painter's brush.
Murder is a dear bear, raised on two legs, looks right at you, a nice round middle, well fed.
Murder is a metaphor, not exactly attractive.
Its artist hides his talent
under the screen
of the primitive.
of his work.
And make light of destruction.
Or out of destruction.
Or onto destruction.
As death nears, the artist is robust with humour.
And with the monstrosity of things.
When my hand is my foot,
when my mask is my face,
when my appeal is to horror,
when my arm curves to a pause,
when my assigned task is complete,
then I will sit on the crayoned floor
against the yellow wall
in the room bare of all.
What I have done, I have done.
Note: Before the Iranian Revolution (1978-79) Bahman Mohassess was a widely honoured artist in his home country. After the Revolution, much of his work was destroyed by the state, and then more of it by himself. See acclaimed documentary "Fifi Howls from Happiness," by Mitra Farahani.
Shirley Glubka is a retired psychotherapist, the author of four poetry collections, a mixed genre collection, and two novels. Her latest poetry collection is Through the Fracture in the I: Erasure Poetry; her most recent novel: The Bright Logic of Wilma Schuh. Shirley lives in Prospect, Maine with her spouse, Virginia Holmes. Website: http://shirleyglubka.weebly.com/ Online poetry at The Ekphrastic Review here; at 2River View here; at The Ghazal Page here; and at Unlost Journal here and here.
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