Golden Giant by Hongri Yuan, translated by Yuanbing Zhang

Headshot of an older Asian gentleman with a coat and pants and scarf standing in a city park with trees.
Hongri Yuan

Golden Paradise

By Chinese Poet Hongri Yuan

Translated by Yuanbing Zhang

Gold birds, ah!

Flew above my head

A golden ribbon

Spreading out to me from the sky

I saw the golden mountains

Smiling at me in the distance

The layers of airy pavilions and pagodas

Standing in the purple-red clouds

The gardens in the sky, ah!

The exquisite pagodas

The bridge of golds and gems ah!

Arched across the vast expanse of the Milky Way

I saw a giant

Waving to me in the sky

Stood on the propitious clouds

Shining millions of rays

The huge figure ah!

Like a high mountain

The golden dragons!

Fluttering around him

A round of sun, ah!

Shining above his head

The golden robe, ah!

Burning in the halos

I saw his magical eyes

And couldn’t help thinking of the remote past

Ah,hundreds of millions of centuries ago 

We once got together happily

You were both my great teacher

And also my close companion

We created together

The countless heavenly paradise

Your golden smile, ah

Made my heart beat lightly

The glistening tears ah!

Lingered in my eyes

Your holy hands of giant, ah!

Hold tightly with me

You dressed me a golden robe

Which was embroidered with dragons and phoenixes

The words of gold, ah!

Flew in your breast

And turned into the mysterious light

Shining in your eyes

I understood your gleamy words

And my heart laughed brilliantly

A round huge sun

Burning over my head

You opened the city gates of gold for me

And watched me crossing the huge garden

A lofty palace

Shone in front of my eyes

In the transparent white jade railings

Carved with the beautiful patterns

The steps made of the rubies

Reflected the smiling face of the sky

The huge column of gold, ah!

Carved with the wonderful flowers

The layers of eaves were hight above the sky

Like the golden birds spreading in the clouds

A holy old man

Stood majestically in front of the palace;

his body was as transparent as the flame

Sending out the resplendent red light

Your bright eyes, ah!

Contained the purple-gold flames

There are golden dragons

Circling around the golden staff in hands

Your high forehead, ah!

Rose like the mountains

The layers of purple-gold flames, ah!

Wreathing around your body

The golden lightnings, ah!

Shining in your bright eyes

I saw the rounds of sun

Burning in your head

You opened the door to the palace

And took me into it

A huge palace

Smiling at me in the sky

I saw the books of gold

Arranged in walls of the palace

The lines of gold words, ah!

Shining the charmingly light

The holy old man, ah!

Let me sit in the palace

To read the books of gold

And drink the good wine of wisdom

He raised the golden staff in his hands

Sent out the golden lights

The huge books of gold

Flew into my chest

The lights were shining before me

And I saw another sight

The countless gold giants

Flying lightly in the sky

The multi-coloured transparent sky

Many airy pavilions and pagodas

And the happy girls

Dancing and singing in the sky,

A young giant

Hold up the sun

In a transparent mountain top

Sending out the bottomless light

An old man with gray hair

Stepped on an auspicious cloud

And stood stilly in the sky

Smiling at the giant

A huge golden mountain

Which was transparent and gleamy in flames

Turned into a palace

And a exquisite gold pagoda

The young boys and girls

Riding with the colorful husbands and wives

Shed the multi-colouredflowers

And which turned into the Gardens

I heard an intoxicating tweet

A huge phoenix

Carried a roll of golden books

Flying towards me from the clouds

The lines of mysterious words

Like the stars

Arranged into the singular figures

Shining before my eyes

A huge white crane

Turned into a young girl

who opened a treasure casket

While flashing a golden sword

A round piece of jade

Carved with the dragon designs

And there were the lines of words

Flashed the dazzling light

An old man with gray hair

Rode a kylin

Which flew leisurely in the sky

Carried a sword on his back

A huge sun

With a golden palace in the central of it,

revealed a young Prince

Reading the golden books in the palace

A huge mirror

Flashed in front of my eyes

A bolt of lightening

Awakened me in my dreams

I went back to the palace again

The magical old man

Still held the golden staff

And stood in front of my eyes

The golden books, ah!

Still shining on the walls

But the words of gold, ah!

Singing exactly in my chest

The huge golden statue, ah!

Flashed the dazzling light

The holy old man, ah!

The kindly smile appeared on his face

The layers of purple-gold flames, ah!

Surround me all around

The stars with much light, ah!

Shining in my body

I saw a huge golden crown

That few out of the old man’s hand

And turned into a sun ah!

Which embedded in my forehead

Suddenly a flash of lightning, ah!

Went into my eyes

I saw a gold pagoda, ah!

Shining in the sky

A golden giant

Stood with smiles in front of the pagoda

A gold garden

Embraced the golden pagoda

The holy giant

Took me out of the palace

A white crane was called in

And flew to the sky with me

It was like a white light ah!

I came to the pagoda in the twinkling of an eye

The huge pagoda of gold, ah!

Was higher than the mountains on earth

It was more than ninety thousand floors

The height of each floor was ten thousand meters

It was like a universe

Containing the countless worlds

The countless suns, ah!

Shining on the floors of pagoda

The multicoloured stars, ah!

Constituted these wonderful designs

The countless dragons, ah!

Flying around the huge pagoda

The lines of wods of the stars

Shining in the transparent walls of gold

The golden giant, ah!

Wore the diamond armor

Smiled at me briefly

And opened the door of the pagoda for me

On the huge door carved with gold

Mysterious patterns were convex and concave

Like the countless stars, ah!

Spinning in the golden space

A golden palace, ah!

Were full of wonderful giant flowers;

The huge gold tripods

Burned in the raging flames

The giants were sitting

On the purple-gold pavilions

They smild at me joyfully

Like the long time parting families

The golden winding stairs

Coiled round the columns of the palace

Like the huge golden dragons

Flying into the sky with their head held high

I saw a huge ball

Which was in the middle of the palace

Like a clear and transparent crystal

Rotating the golden pictures

There seemed to be countless worlds

Fashing leisurely in the crystal

The golden paradises

Made my eyes drunken

The wonderful bells

Suddenly sounded in my ears

The giants that were sitting

Sang the thundering songs

The songs were like the golden lightning

Shining in my body from all quarters

My heart was empty suddenly

And saw the things of billions of years ago

Originally I myself builted

The huge pagoda of gold

The lines of stars on the golden wall

Just were the poems that I had written

The smiling giants ah!

All of them were my former partner

The huge crystal balls ah!

Were a golden universe

The golden pagoda with more than ninety thousand floors, ah!

Contain the countless the times and spaces

Like a golden staircase of time ah!

Linking up with the countless heavens

Into the stars that had been turned by time ah!

It’s the sacred words

Each of the golden poems

Created a paradise

The huge golden tripods ah!

Burning the flame of time

Smelted out the countless stars

Forming the universes

The countless giants were sitting

On the transparent pagoda of gold

The light of their songs

Turned into the rounds of sun

I saw the crystal sky, ah!

Rotating outside the golden pagoda

There seemed to be countless golden pagoda

Shining in the sky

I seemed not to exist

And turned into the boundless light

The countless huge pagodas of gold

were just in my luminous chest

The countless giants who were sitting up

Smiled at me on the golden pagoda;

Their dazzling smils, ah!

Flashed the golden eternity.



Yuan Hongri (b. 1962) is a Chinese mystic poet and philosopher. His works has been widely published in journals and magazines internationally in UK, USA, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada and Nigeria. He has authored a number long poems including Platinum City, The City of Gold, Golden Paradise and Golden Giant. The theme of his works is the exploration of human prehistoric and future civilization.

Yuanbing Zhang (b. 1974), who is a Chinese poet and translator, works in a Middle School, Yanzhou District , Jining City, Shandong Province, China. He can be contacted through his email-

Headshot of a middle aged Asian man with glasses.
Yuanbing Zhang














横跨  辽阔的天河






























































































































































































































































Poetry from Kevin Hibshman

Pain is Perception

Does everyone have a measured quotient for the amount of suffering to be experienced in a given lifetime?

Is Pain a language encoded in our DNA so that it may relay information from the body to the mind ?

It is the sharp recognition of danger issued as a command so that the body itself may attempt to survive situations that would render one harm.

Pain is personal and comes in a myriad of levels and a host of different reactions.

I once thought of pain as something like a litmus test for one’s character,

Does the response merit the condition?

Will we cower and crumble or laugh in its face?

Others may judge us by our unfettered, immediate coping mechanisms when we are forced to put them on public display.

I see it in the milky glaze of your pleading eyes begging the question: “When does it end?”

Pain serves a purpose in the human petri dish we find ourselves swimming in.

Pain sets the rules and it also defines the limits in our all too frail human realm.

A reality we have subconsciously agreed upon that has now become much more than we can tolerate.

Lonesome Deity

Have I so quickly fallen from the fickle memory of man?

How soon temples crumble, stone erodes, yet alone I stand with the power to crush lives, to inspire madness or delight as I turn to face the unfathomable burden of responsibility that remains solely and sorely mine.

Poetry from Allison Grayhurst

Middle aged white woman with red hair, headshot
Poet Allison Grayhurst
No Gods, no Heroes,
only women and Hector
The misdirected vengeance of Hera.
Grey-eyed Athena’s wrath and jealousy,
and Dionysus, bringer of merciless punishment –
(feral mother ripping the limbs from her son, unknowingly,
but when awakened, an internal bonfire grief
beyond extinguishing.)
Hector was the only noble hero –
shouldering his course and obeying his love.
Crafty Odysseus tossed baby-Astyanax from the towers of Troy.
Crazed Achilles knew only the fury of his passion as he
flooded Scamander with the cut-up corpses of his mad rage.
Ajax the Great impaled himself in service to his affronted ego,
and Ajax the Lesser – a coward rapist of the prophet pure Cassandra.
Give me one-eyed blindness, stay on the path, past
Hecuba and her wild rivers of unfathomable suffering – childless
when once a mother of many, Queen of an honoured realm.
Give me Electra over Hera with her young-woman’s devotion
and subterranean heart, tied to a father that would have killed
her as he did sister-Iphigenia
on the pyre-offering of war, victory and fame.
Give me a settled glory – my God of Mercy instead of candles, Jesus
instead of Apollo’s thick sensuous thighs or golden curls,
demanding matricide of Orestes.
Give me Helen in her betrayal of red-haired Menelaus, Helen,
daughter of the Swan, lover of pretty-boy Paris, Helen,
mascot and scapegoat of war, but never the cause.
Give me Clytemnestra over Agamemnon, daughter
too of the Swan, bearer of a mother’s authentic wound -
Iphigenia lost on the bloody rock
by obeyer-of-Zeus, mighty-father
Agamemnon’s royal hand.
Zeus, kind only to sycophants,
Zeus, serial adulterer, user of woman,
sire of many children, lusting as the sunlight lusts
for Earth, to seep warmth into her crust
and heat up the whole of her surface,
demanding offspring life.
Give me Penelope over
teller-of-tall-tales, Cyclops-outwitter,
slaughter-of-suitors Odysseus.
Penelope, with her patient intelligence weaving,
unweaving, keeper of fidelity
for twenty years, holding her own
up against the plight of a woman’s, even a Queen’s,
accepted inequality.
Give me steadfast Antigone,
crowned by an ancestral curse,
champion of funeral rites,
brother’s defender, daughter-guide,
caregiver of a doomed once-king,
embracing her savage fate with magnificence.
Give me poor Io, chased in her heifer-frame
from flat plains to cliff ridges
to Prometheus’s cursed crucifixion to
finally a resting point in Egypt –
Poor Io, ancestor of the brute-blooded Hercules,
who claimed madness-by-Hera turned him
into a murderer of his wife and sons,
who was no Hector, only
Give me Andromache’s zodiac-fingerprint,
for she held Hector inside the cavity of her loins,
and he loved her, and for a time, they both knew
Because there is a child,
there is infinity and grace
like a grape, crushed, filling the
senses – exotic abundance.
Because there is love between lovers
the broken shelf doesn’t need replacing,
the pond can dry up and no one will lack fresh water.
Because a mother’s love has no limits,
it stretches past darkness, obstacles,
remains fierce and tender at once.
She knows herself less important than that love and
all else perishes beside its glowing depths, worthless.
Because when others fail in love, God does not,
picks up the slack – gives promise like a shield or like
a bucket full of rainwater.
Out of chaos the primitive gods were born -
divinity separated to be comprehended, grasped loosely.
Because there is one God,
because there is Jesus – hands, feet –
the threshold of freedom in eternity.
Root yourself here. Tie the ribbon.
The ditch is now a road.
Because of mercy and forgiveness,
mercy as forgiveness,
we all have won.
Kick the tree.
The tree is a bone
cut out from the Earth.
Jump on the pavement and crack
it with the force of your rage.
Withering is not an option,
white-knuckling it
at the hidden horizon is keeping
you alive.
But it is futile, an out-of-tune song
wrestling for a harmony it will never find.
Praise the shellfish, the moles underground.
A world of faith is forming on your tongue –
you can taste it, but it is not enough
to satiate.
Release desperation and the anger that follows.
Feeling imprisoned was your default position
when being shepherded into reality.
Now you are new like Adam and like Eve
you died in brutal increments
and in brutal increments
you are being reborn from time,
unlike Adam, unlike Eve.
The stream you see is a blessing. The wind
is all around, and sometimes when listening,
it is faraway instruction. Other times,
it topples you over from its reeling power and at that time
you know for certain God is God
and there are no substitutes or shortcuts
or sure-fire prophecies
that will ease the fear of unknowing.
There is just that wind that says
‘Go here’ ‘Go there’ and when there,
maps out
an unexpected direction.
(while dreams swirl all-around)
Soothsayers and seers and shamans
have children, have the same
rising and falling stars,
cannot say “This is truth”
“This will happen”
There is only God’s voice in the now,
leading to the next step and only
that step until the voice comes again.
Even in times of constant accepted prophecies,
the intelligent threw their crystals,
took notes of the pattern
but balked at the interpreters.
Journeys to the Navel-stone were daily –
whore-kings and crushed-citizens
sacrificed animals and even slaughtered
their own offspring
on the advice they were told.
But God is one
and God is permanent
and us,
being tied to time,
are not privy to visions into the future, no vision exact –
we are all equally blind, and that blindness
is a gift that opens the door to faith,
free-falling in our days,
fortunes and misfortunes,
arms open to God’s ways and grace,
open like a painter choosing his colours
like a poet, her words.
ecstasy in the listening,
surrender in the execution,
gleaming, gloriously summoned
into immediacy, into an all-demanding
A Dream Suspended
Sinking in the void, held by
nylon line and my eye sees nothing
but that void, cannot turn to the
sunny above or straight ahead to
the insect landscape and daffodils.
So the void spreads and sprawls, and then
starts to whisper – touching the shadow
to my skin, making promises
that haven’t even begun their manifestation.
Visceral futility stronger than fear
as I dangle over that blank-space reality,
and there is pressure like living gravity pulling me,
tensing the hold, wanting me to snap
and plunge into pure nothingness,
become the state of vacancy, have no frame,
no barrier or beating pulse.
It is winning, I hear
the creaking
with even further taut suspension and
my weight grows, nearing that midnight twist.
A dream suspended that has my whole future in its hold.
So I call out for help like I have many times before.
Do I strike a match, pretending it is a star?
Hang like the tarot hangman over that dull and ruthless ache,
swing a little and I might feel the possibility of a breeze?
I dreamed myself untied and running, sometimes
skipping, brimming with a joyous equilibrium.
I dreamed there was no void, only a place
of still-time, a purgatorial interlude as I shift
from this flow into another.
Light that came
Light that came
from the unending grief -
black-hole of pity sphere,
riding, sucking in, swirling
doomed to perpetual collapse.
Light that came
from hours caught in madness,
thrashing in the ribbon-tied, lock-chain
shadow centre - vacuum plague, persistent
as a wild current and just as impersonal.
Light that came
and broke the shell,
reached in and lifted, lifted me out of
the drowning water. That light is
a cold mercy, a sharp sword as my only defence -
detach - slice the limb that offends and watch it
bleed with indifference.
Light that came
to a changeless darkness changed
everything once maimed
so it could walk again.
Light as a miracle, whispered -
don’t give hell power,
separate yourself, cage it,
and when you feel ready,
kiss its forehead, sing it a song
- lullaby, lullaby.
Glory, believe
Glory, believe
the evidence is clear,
brought to a boil and
now boiling over.
World molested by greed,
indifference and distraction.
The pitch has elevated to burst
the eardrums. Scavengers are
scavenging and nothing is left.
Old ranks topple, protection is
a thin veil, fear overcomes prayers,
prayers that kept us sane.
Children and animals are the new Earth’s aristocracy,
Bless this time of turmoil - setting
everything upside down, right side up.
Jesus still walks the barren roads,
sandals in one hand,
at ease with whatever is to come.
Let me walk - a servant
yet absolutely free to not serve.
Let me make an oath to the celestial night,
an oath to replace panic with faith and
uncertainty with light everlasting.
I see the light everlasting,
the wheel that is not a wheel
but a sphere.
Exit Door Closed
because the flame is still holy
but the moon’s cold cloak
has won.
Leaning into the crossing over,
sweet exhaustion, the love of
absolute rest.
Is this what the fish feels
after minutes on the hook, on the dock,
or the rat gasping in the trap,
lunging, flailing before finding
the peace of death?
Fear is not a name, keeps no company with surrender.
Holding the reset rose in my hand. I see colours
that please me, the brush stroke of renewal
and a house true to its inheritance.
Every hero eventually dies,
and their mourning is made
into a ritual.
Light of God, kinder than a mother’s wing,
richer than the formation of a new constellation.
My arms are enough,
even my meagre successes seem sufficient,
infused with Your light,
taking away the pressure of existence,
keeping pace with duties
and the honouring of dreams.
Stark Relief
Blundering, in disguise -
a gift masked in disease,
tongues imploring forgiveness,
love tested at its roots, glorious
as mountains.
Boredom and fear meeting in unison,
finding a strange fulfilment behind locked doors,
venturing to walk in the open air, take hikes,
sit by the lake-waters and dream, alone.
A gift that doesn’t carry a typical joy,
but breaks down the superficial slaughter
of what is truly meaningful, simplifies the one thing,
the all thing, that connects and is worthy of attention.
Love in illness, love at death, love in gratitude
for the lifeforce we have been given - its sacred mission,
not meant to be plundered on distraction and greed.
God is the only safe ship left to climb aboard on,
the only ship afloat on this burning sea.
The gift has come, and yes like everyone,
I am afraid. In my mind,
I join the people singing,
raw in mutual fear and faith,
a collective voice, harmonized, joined
from balcony windows.
The light has gone out.
Nothing is plenty or even sufficient.
The door opens, but there is no escape
just the long wait under an isolated sun,
walled up in fear and deficiency.
It could have been completed, sealed
into the account but darkness hammered
the blush from blooming, and yes, the lesson
to see was written on the Stonehenge, in
the past lives in an ancient Athenian tribe or
when setting five-alarm fires on the moon
when you were a golden muscle, ripe
and violently ending anything soft.
Greed gave you all the cards, opinions that
lacked a spiritual dimension. It will not come
until this ecstasy is laid flat.
You see – O Tantalus!
You see the stain that created your torment, unearthed.
Walk on it, shed its blood and let it bleed out
its deeply embedded drive and expectation.
Hell is individually formed,
a private backyard betrayal.
Walk into the shower,
let it cascade down and dissolve this last
unseen-before glitch – see it, wide-eyed
and say ‘forgive me’ say it and
be free.
Allison Grayhurst is a member of the League of Canadian Poets. Four of her poems were nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2015/2018, and one eight-part story-poem was nominated for “Best of the Net” in 2017. She has over 1,260 poems published in more than 490 international journals and anthologies.
In 2018, her book Sight at Zero, was listed #34 on CBC’s “Your Ultimate Canadian Poetry List”.
Recently, her work has being translated into Chinese and published in "Rendition of International Poetry Quarterly" and in “Poetry Hall”.
Her book Somewhere Falling was published by Beach Holme Publishers, a Porcepic Book, in Vancouver in 1995. Since then she has published sixteen other books of poetry and six collections with Edge Unlimited Publishing. Prior to the publication of Somewhere Falling she had a poetry book published, Common Dream, and four chapbooks published by The Plowman. Her poetry chapbook The River is Blind was published by Ottawa publisher above/ground press December 2012. In 2014 her chapbook Surrogate Dharma was published by Kind of a Hurricane Press, Barometric Pressures Author Series. In 2015, her book No Raft – No Ocean was published by Scars Publications. Also, her book Make the Wind was published in 2016 by Scars Publications. As well, her book Trial and Witness – selected poems, was published in 2016 by Creative Talents Unleashed (CTU Publishing Group).
More recently, her book Tadpoles Find the Sun is soon to be published by Cyberwit, August 2020.
She is a vegan. She lives in Toronto with her family. She also sculpts, working with clay;
 Collaborating with Allison Grayhurst on the lyrics, Vancouver-based singer/songwriter/musician Diane Barbarash has transformed eight of Allison Grayhurst’s poems into songs, creating a full album entitled River – Songs from the poetry of Allison Grayhurst, released 2017.
            Some of the places her work has appeared in include Parabola (Alone & Together print issue summer 2012); SUFI Journal (Featured Poet in Issue #95, Sacred Space);Elephant Journal; Literary Orphans; Blue Fifth Review; The American Aesthetic; The Brooklyn Voice; Five2One; Agave Magazine; JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, Drunk Monkeys; Now Then Manchester; South Florida Arts Journal; Gris-Gris; Buddhist Poetry Review; The Muse – An International Journal of Poetry, Storm Cellar, morphrog (sister publication of Frogmore Papers); New Binary Press Anthology; Straylight Literary Magazine (print); Chicago Record Magazine, The Milo Review; Foliate Oak Literary Magazine; The Antigonish Review; Dalhousie Review; The New Quarterly; Wascana Review; Poetry Nottingham International; The Cape Rock; Ayris; Journal of Contemporary Anglo-Scandinavian Poetry; The Toronto Quarterly; Existere; Fogged Clarity, Boston Poetry Magazine; Decanto; White Wall Review.  

Poetry from Damion Hamilton

What's Going On?
Here come thoughts
feelings and impressions
Everything you wanted is somewhere near
I pick up the phone
Check the info
Check the world
Alot is still there
You dream of women, podiums
You put more bricks in front of your day
People are smarter than you and you are glad
Feels strange to be someone to look up to
Do you remember your bottom?
When you were twenty and knew even less than now?
I picture humans in white coats and laboratories playing with white mice
They are smarter than me and should be
I wanna know where the best minds go on their Instagram vacations?
Some write that Nikola Tesla lived a life of virginity
What is mind glamorous about that?
There is plenty of mind in your life
Somethings have to go
I lay My Head
Besides my body
I had tired of it
The music that came from it’s
Speakers were too loud
And I listened for too long
Other people’s voices in young days
Or the call of things in the future
I felt my eyes and nostrils constantly.
Breath in and
Breath out
Blinking into obscurity
My body didn’t need that head thing
Making of stories and creating words which make you suffer
Now headless. The lungs and heart do the the work
Breathing and beating.
No anxiety and sorrow
My former head spoke to me
At a distance
pick this thing back up and experience life boy
but, you were making me crazy my friend
Why should I unite with you?
without me you cant express the world
I liked you a lot of times head but
my depression, the anxiety, you gave
my friend seem to burn the bones and blood
of this body
why should I put you back on my head?
What’s Happening
Just trying to survive
Ya knowing hating things
Loving things
Breathing trying not think
Too much
Thinking too much
You can’t really help this
Because you have grown older
And the times escapes from you like thin papery thoughts
Oh you wanna get married
Oh you want a sweeter occupation
And sometimes you want nothing at all
And what should you do when you feel this way?
Sometimes you have such a sloppy heart.
Nothing can or will love you
Till completion.
Casino Frogs
I’ve never seen one before
Coming here
Frogs they are so small
Like little bugs or tiny mice
They are so sluggish too
They line up at the casino entrance.
I don’t know why they do this?
With the woods and big river around
They are easily squashed along the walkways.
I think I’ve probably killed a few while taking a long walk to the car.
Most of the time, they hop out the way.
These little things
Little things that move so slowly
Without a scream when crushed.
So tiny, but not as tiny as ants
And so easily removed from my conscience
How easily they hop in
And easily they hop
Out of the world.

Poetry from Mary Bone

Trees without leaves
stripped bare like bikini bottoms
at the beach.
Summer is naked, unclothed and bare.
Mosquitoes and flies arrive-
bloodsuckers sucking the life
out of innocent victims,
burning on the beach of life.
In Sync
From chaos comes order.
Dancers form a line-
gliding in motion.
Cicadas hum in the background.
Flowing rhythm in sync
as the night continues.
Solar Lanterns
Solar lanterns
In the sky,
Lights the way for all mankind.
Night Warbler
Night Warbler, your song continues
Throughout the day, during the chaos and the fray.
There is mayhem on every corner
as you continue to sing,
bringing a pleasant melody of comfort
as my heavy eyelids close.

Mary Bone has been writing poetry and short stories since childhood. Some of her most recent poems can be found at Literary Yard, Best Poetry, Visual Verse and BlogNostics.

Poetry from Ike Boat

Young Black man with dark glasses holding a microphone with a tee shirt that reads 'POET' in front of a sign reading 'Stakeholders Meeting.'
Artist Ike Boat

The Music Mind (TMM) <— Title Of Poem (TOP)

The music mind,

Comes with lines of lyricism

And it verses connect with euphemism,

Yet, we tap the feet, shake hands to bind.

The music mind,

Sometimes, sleep not

Like the cooking African pot being hot,

But, the studio and audio makes one rewind.

The music mind,

Makes you feel the rhymes and rhythms of the beat

Whiles the instruments and sound bring it repeat,

Towards what the soul search to find.

The music mind,

Describes all what we want to embrace

Regardless of our race and place to trace,

And does not make us left behind.

The music mind,

Provides, the legend and stars to reward

As we stand and walk to move forward,

In order to entertain humanity as mankind and feel kind.

Pieces Of Papers (POP) <— Title Of Poem (TOP)

Pieces of papers,

That’s how it all starts

When I want to ink

With different aspect or parts

It becomes beautiful like pink.

Pieces of papers,

On the table almost everyday

Because the reason to write can come at anytime

So it’s good to be ready and stay

In order to make each word become prime.

Pieces of papers,

Even in the white little polythene bag

When I’m walking in the city

It become ready to pick and not brag

That ensures that each stanza brings certainty.

Pieces of papers,

Often in plain colours to portray transparency

Like proper governance needs no corruption

That’s how citizens can rely on as in dependency

And not compared to volcanic eruption.

Brett Axel’s novel Not Okay, reviewed by Cristina Deptula

Brett Axel’s novel Not Okay

‘I’m not OK. Uncle Will was not OK. The only reason I think the frozen lemonade girl is OK is because I don’t know her. No one is actually OK.’

Peter, the articulate, troubled narrator of Brett Axel’s novel Not Okay, reconsiders and rejects popular 1970s self-help advice while figuring out his own way to recover from child sexual abuse. The strongest part of this title is his voice, how he reasons everything out to himself in full sentences, upfront about his trauma and his shortcomings. He’s got the nonchalance of a survivor who knows he can’t be upset about what happened all the time if he’s going to function, but who knows how to navigate systems to attempt to access the help he needs by letting on about some of his past at opportune moments.

The darkly humorous construct of this book is that the narrator, who survives a truly horrific experience, only has self-help platitudes designed for people with smaller, ‘regular’ problems for guidance. That’s a valid critique even today of some aspects of ‘wellness culture’ that haven’t caught up with the issues facing modern society. I remember wondering, after the police murder of George Floyd, how as a white woman I could be ‘okay’ and ‘enough’ and ‘confident enough to not apologize for taking up space’ while simultaneously holding myself accountable to confront my role in violent and oppressive systems.

We see Peter evolve as a character as he figures out that women he dates, and his female partner, have minds and traumas of their own, and how to have more equal relationships. In one memorable scene, he realizes that if he can handle revenge, he can most likely handle cleaning the apartment. Later on, he struggles with moral questions of how to treat abusers who are genuinely sorry and with the unreliability of memory and his own fallibility.

The plot moves along quickly enough, and I was surprised at times that characters who broke the law could escape detection for so long, but then remembered that it was the 1980s before we had such advanced surveillance technologies.

The setting gave a good sense of NYC/upstate NY/New Jersey in the 1980s, showing our country and all its little quirks and imperfections, such as the ‘F’ in ‘Freedom’ bursting after the rest of the word in a Fourth of July fireworks display. We see the benefits and pitfalls of mental health care, parking and driving in a big city, first jobs and first loves, and making your own sense in a world that offers little direction.

Overall, a heartfelt and thought-provoking read.

Brett Axel’s Not Okay is available here from publisher Vinal Press.