Poetry from Judith Borenin

From the Ashes

 

For over a week curious swellings converge

and disperse just beyond the scope of my

 

sight. My cat has seen them too – halting in

mid play – her golden eyes dissolving –

 

drowning in black pools.

 

Yesterday I stood beside the wharf assimilating

as much of the sea as I could without drowning.

 

Beside me – the scarlet remains of a small bird –

intestines strewn around it like some forgotten

 

sacrifice – hollow head wells of two black holes.

I refused to look away – steeling my veins to be

 

stoic in the face of such inevitable decay. On

the other side of the wharf a squalling gull

 

rode the rigid back of an unwilling mate with

a ruckus of white capped flapping wings.

 

This morning the fog enfolded the wharf with

a distant echo of wings. The little bird was gone.

 

Canoers – orange jacketed – in synchronized

strokes floated by – shoulders – fingers – oars –

 

oiled engines dipping in and out to stoke the sea.

 

Veins a honeycomb of absence – I sit beside

this window watching wildfire smoke and fog

 

descend like a hungry mouth. I wait here at

the bottom of this well – the cat curled – purring

 

on my chest. As I bury my cheek in soft black fur

a familiar fragrance lifts – almost solidifies – as if

 

she had just come from someone else’s arms –

absorbed their heat – its rekindled embers rising –

 

infused with the aroma of your hands.

 

Little Lives    

The eyes in the dark – the hands

that cling to steering wheels

like scarves wound around

throats caught in the spokes

of speeding tires.

 

Each little life passing –

cumulous – snug as a tourniquet.

Multitudes of voices – a choir

of laments sung in secret.

 

The groaning globe strains

to stay afloat on its axis.

 

It’s for the wounded I weep –

the cuts – the bruises running deep –

the pain that won’t relent – the cruel

voices that won’t

still or repent –

the lies that were invented to keep us

all afloat while we watch the honeycombed

procession of holes buzzing

in the bottom of the boat.

 

Every expectation slices

knife like within – the blood let

rejoices singing hymns with such

sweet acceptance as it blooms –

luminous and resigned

across our howling skins.

 

We were spewed into this world –

clawed out way out of pits a spade

could never comprehend. Paced

empty rooms – reclined and rose

up again – turned in twisted sheets

waiting for long and ravenous nights

to end.

 

With grifter hands the wind rakes by –

its stiff fingers slapping tree trunks –

an old jazz man strumming on fence posts.

What it shakes falls – what it takes crawls

the tattered skies – shuffles down like blue

notes on all the little lives.

 

Mirror Image

 

In the bus shelter beneath the thumb of sun –

weighted – pressed down – we wait – seated

reflections in the glass – for the bus to come.

Beside me sits a small bearded hill – soiled

 

clothes mud caked around him. With each

breath he takes a fetid aroma flumes. We

share hellos. I wrestle with the urge to wait

outside but I straighten my back and remain.

 

When the bus cuddles up to the curb I take

a seat and a deep breath inside next to a

dirty window and close my eyes. The next

stop a man who spends long nights inside

 

his clothes steps on and sits beside me as

his fragrance travels on taking a seat at

the back of the bus. Conversations nose

up and down the aisle as if thrust from a

 

vintage machine. A stray gnat settles in for

a nap on the lap of my white capris. I sweep

it away wedging gnat limbs deep beneath my

nail and on my pants a last breath of crushed

 

green. On worn blue seats we follow a seam –

stopping at well marked stops – propelled

by a familiar but distant driver who calls out

their names – treadles to start us all up again.

 

I could ride here forever – the world falling

away in folds like printed fabric – growing

fond of even this aroma of decay. Alone yet

not alone – a face fading in an eternal loop –

 

a vanishing reflection upon a glass pane.

 

Poetry from Joan Beebe

 

A  4TH OF JULY TRIBUTE

On this special day of celebration

We raise our flag in freedom once more

And watch parades with banners flying.

 Old soldiers are there too and some are crying.

But we go on with thankful praise,

Because we know the sacrifices made

Some will sing our anthem of old

Then thank our God as the day unfolds.

We love our country so as we look at the stars

On the red, white and blue

And say once again how lucky we are.

To live in this country so beautiful and fair

And we end our day with a special prayer.

We stand as a people diverse in many ways,

But we stand united together under our flag.

Because America embraces all who made

This country so grand and what it is today.

So may America, the land of the free and the brave

Be a symbol of peace to all people of the world

And our flag will stand proudly as the years unfold.

 

A FATHER’S LOVE

Joan Beebe (left) and fellow contributor Michael Robinson

I am watching a father lift his very handicapped daughter

From her her bed-like stroller.  This child looked to be around

9-10 years old.  She was extremely thin and her

Arms just flopped by her side as well as her legs.

The father cradled her head in his arms as she

Couldn’t hold it up by herself.  She was unable to

Talk as well.  But the gentleness of her father

Brought tears to my eyes.  He looked at her in

His arms and you could see the light of love

Being given to her.  Her large dark eyes looked

Back at him with the brightness of the stars
.
Every minute or two, the father bent over her

And kissed her.  It was as if the two were one
.
In the father’s look there was no one in the

World except for two human beings in their

Own world of love.

Essay from Jaylan Salah Salman on the film Blade Runner

In the Eyes of the Outsider

Los Angeles Blues: Blade Runner

 

As far as loneliness, I feel Los Angeles and its layout, having to drive everywhere – it is a lonely place. It’s an isolated city in that respect because you’re driving to places alone listening to the radio. – Jason Schwartzman

There’s something peculiarly magical about LA in the eyes of those who have never been to the States, and who only know about it from behind screens, lusty voyeurs of the big city, watching in awe as the filthy rich housewives of Beverly Hills endlessly bicker about mindless chatter, or the gangs stroll around in glamourous cars, pimps and hoes in the backseats of limos. In my eyes, however, I never loved LA. I felt it was a cold, fake city, a manufactured replica of what fine art should be. Films like “Nocturnal Animals” heightened the feeling. Films like Michael Mann’s “Heat” implemented the thought in my head, this is not a city for the mediocre, it is neither merciful nor generous, it does not have the comforting silent-killer type of the South or the elegance and cultural significance of New York, even with the latter’s higher crime rate.

It wasn’t until I watched Ridley Scott’s neo-noir masterpiece “Blade Runner” that I realized, I know exactly how Los Angeles looks. I can envision walking in this city feeling more alienated than my writer-self usually experiences. This city is cold, heartless, replicants are scattered all over it but they do not show their replicant-side. Au contraire, they mimic the normalcy that they desperately tried to escape by inhabiting the city in the first place, and they carry themselves around with an air of confidence that both scares and intrigues.

Los Angeles is the source of the light for the moth; a city as vast and dreamy as one could imagine. Sinful and lustful without basing its core and aesthetics purely on lust; it promises angels when it fact, a demon lurks in every corner, whether a failed job, a failed love story, a robbery gone too far, or a grisly crime masquerading as homicide.

For Scott’s 1982 “Blade Runner” I was definitely not a target audience, Sci-fi being the least interesting genre on my PH scale. It was a bet with a fellow cinephile that the one who watches the most respected films on critics’ lists will get an Ace or something that landed “Blade Runner” in my lap. I was not immediately taken, until Vangelis’s music score “Blade Runner Blues” played, with a slow-mo scene showing a woman in her undies killed at the hands of the main male protagonist. The scene, unnerving and sexist as it was, created a séance in which one would disappear. Blues music being a part of the bargain, I fell in love with the movie, later collecting a few of my favorite shots; Rachael staring into the camera while asking Deckard if he ever retired a human before, J.F. Sebastian and his creepy yet intimate collection of toys, Roy’s monologue at the end. Strangely enough, every character seemed like a symbol of what the modern LA would look like as opposed to the cyberpunk, futuristic, retrofit exteriors with matte paintings and miniature work.

In Ridley Scott’s 2019 Los Angeles, people were doomed. Being stuck in this futuristic city, whether on top in the isolated skyscrapers, or being forced to walk down the underbelly of the city, you had no choice but to exist as you are. There would be no air of familiarity or actual contact, even when it happens, Deckard –the main protagonist- forces himself on Rachael, making it seem as if almost nothing real comes out of the city drenched in rain and decay; high-tech style.

Los Angeles scared me. I knew from the moment I saw the replicant’s –Zhora- barely clothed, teary-eyed corpse that this city had no mercy for women, or for underdogs. After all, Roy died, the hero saved the day and forced himself on the only woman who was not killed at the end of the day, probably because she was obedient enough to deserve sparing her life. Los Angeles always looked sunny in the films that glorified the City of Lights, and in films like “Heat”; Los Angeles is a city where people become reciprocal versions of each other. There is a Yin to the Yang, a cop to the rogue, and both get along easier than with their respective clans, In “500 Days of Summer” Love is lost and never found on the sidewalks of the city. Nothing about LA offers promise, if somewhat false and rhetoric. “Blade Runner” is no exception to a series of films that only manage to make the city less approachable, less dreamy-like, more like fantastic versions of an actual city that does not smell hostile and too grand for the newcomers’ ambition.

In multiple ways, “Blade Runner” seems like the ultimate escape for the avenger in every viewer; dark, poetic, grim and desperately pleasing, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth even if it uses an iconic macho American hero –such as Harrison Ford- to create a regular tale that squashes the underdogs and celebrate the All-American hero. Ford (or Rick Deckard) is aided by a city that has no sympathy for losers and only celebrates success, even if on the expense of its architectural thrive.

The array of characters in the “Blade Runner” verse, highlight the cycle of alienation in which subversive people who live in Los Angeles constantly move. Freaks, those haunted by past crimes, those who hide secrets or carry them around, those who prey on the meek and the marginal only to hide their own vulnerability, on the other hand, the rich and the famous are facing the same sense of isolation up in their skyscrapers, only for inter and intra cultural clashes to become as vivid and ephemeral presence in the way replicant vs. replicant hunter collide on the rainy, foggy streets where the overpopulated slums are crowded with people who are always on the move.

Blade Runner – The Sexism

In a city like Los Angeles, you probably would not imagine that sexism exists. Women are at their best, manicured, botox-ed, injectable filler-spewn lips aside. You watch reality shows; “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”, “Vander Pump Rules”, to name a few and you realize, these women are becoming rich, pampered versions of who they ought to be. They are being judged by sexism as badly as a woman in an African or Arab country, who would be judged based on her clothing, as much as they would be judged by who aged faster, whose lips are more luscious.

It’s not just that the idea of a Love Theme, saxophone music played smoothly over a woman forced to accept a man’s sexual advances, but the idea that notions of beauty, sexuality, aging, womanhood and liberation are messed up in the city of angels only throw a shade to its power over people confined to it. Women are all sultry and beautiful, awaiting the interaction with men probably not ready enough to satisfy them.

Blade Runner – The Diversity

Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the world. But in “Blade Runner” still it is unsold as that. In my mind, the diversity which Los Angeles possesses is merely a background through which the white, privileged, plastic-surgery obsessed, fake art scene goers thrive. The underlying populated slums work only as fuel for the survival of the upper class. Two vivid examples include two of the central female characters; who happen to be replicants. Strangely –rather unsurprisingly- every significant female character in this movie happens to be a replicant; Pris the pleasure model and Zhora the exotic dancer are the most notable examples since they rebel to the cause of their manufacture and thus get punished for it. Both are killed at the hands of the alpha male protagonist Deckard. The only female replicant whose life is spared is Rachael, who submits to Deckard’s nonconsensual sexual advances.

Submission is the key to survival in Los Angeles, replicants who go astray are “retired”, in other words they are killed for daring to ask for equality, or to think of a different future where they are not treated as creatures designed to live the life they are told they were born to walk, and a role they were born to fulfill. Their price for being alive. In a city where you dare to dream whatever you please, “Blade Runner” shows you the grim truth, you are nothing but what you are told you are, even in the city of lights.

Blade Runner – The city

Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic – Norman Mailer

In the city of angels, life and death could be an expose of what lies beneath the road to stardom. Marilyn Monroe once described it as a freeing place, a city where you can be anybody you want. But the structure of the city is not even that inviting for a brave new world. It’s either condos and pool parties or scrapes of art scenes and Oakwood. These dreamers flock to the city in pilgrimage of becoming the next diva or Hollywood sensation. They dream of getting rich fast or shedding off their old, loser skin. Only to be mostly crushed by the gigantic city that has seen, swallowed, gurgled and regurgitated thousands of similar aspiring creatures. In “Blade Runner”, the idea of a city that can collectively rejoice in the company of everyone does not sound like a reality, but more of a requiem of a dream someone else has dared to imagine. High-tech architecture, neon signs, and a social hierarchy that divides people racially and –dare I say- gender and sexual-orientation-wise, only enhance the fact that a city of lights only casts the polarizing beams on those who deserve it. The underdogs who dare to dream are punished mercilessly, or forced to flee with their dominant partners who happen to be White, male, and part of the elite.

At the end, “Blade Runner” is an unflinching as the city he is selling. It perfectly portrays how the glamour of the city hides an underbelly of people barely existing who will all be lost like “tears in rain”. The shock that LA has always given me is how insignificant the individual struggle is if not lived under the spotlight. How many residents of the apartment complex will go back to where they came from; their dreams crushed, their brief encounters with the city lost forever, not worthy of a mention, an Oscar nod or a Hollywood star on the Walk of Fame? Los Angeles is indeed the city of dreams, it treats people who pass by with an Eye of God perspective, only those who dare to wander are lost. But that’s not even a certainty.

Author Jaylan Salah

 

 

Poems from Mahbub

The Victim of  Erosion

Mahbub, a Bangladeshi author and English teacher

Dreams are floating on the river

Cries are pouring in the rain

It is the erosion of the river

Takes away the heart of the people

Transferred from this place to other

A place to the unknown

This is the land of rivers

All goes dry in the summer season

Have been filled with silt and sand

Go full to the brim in the rainy season

Water spread around

Devours the ground

Losing the land and property

Lament for lying in open sky

Not to find any food and shelter

Years after years this going on as usual

We are the only silent visitors

No step to remove the disaster

O dear, come and see the condition

How people pass their time in such miserable condition?

The sky calls to mingle with

Try to fly away with the wind

But they are to remain at the place

As the stagnant water

No way to pray for

Nor way to die for

No way to run for

Ah! What shows the life here?

Always cry out in silence.

 

 

 

The Days Gone By

 

I can reside on the glorious past

Those moments are not only the moments

Shows the light in my heart

It was the rainy season

The silence of time sweeps on the water

I caught the fishes from the ponds with the fishing lines

Oh how glittering blazed the light in my eyes

Rushed to my mother

How tasty cooked or dried!

I arranged the team at afternoon

Playing football, cricket or badminton

Came back home at the evening and took my bath

How fresh it was my mind and body

How sound the sleep slept!

Now sometimes my heart beats so high

Like to reside on the moments

So sweet, so blissful the days gone by.

 

Give Me

 

Give me a glass of water

I’ll quench my thirst

Give me a hand or heart

I’ll cross the bar

Give me an eye for love

I’ll find the way to run

Give me a chance to watch the world

I’ll feel fresh and it will remove all the darkness

Give me the way you don’t mean

I’ll find the right track

Give me a voice soothing or loving

I’ll sleep and find you in my sweet dream

Give me a shade to rest in

I’ll gain the power to live in the green

Give me your dictation

I’ll fill up my blank page

And try to follow them for future

Sound me the mew

I can be conscious to move

Show me the water you flow around

I’ll surely die on the vast world where

The creators will compose so many stories or novels

We’ll quench our thirst for ever.

 

 

Death

Death is the cloth spinning to infinity

Over the body it rounds the white piece

Removes the darkness

Death is the vortex of systematic race

Death is not the destruction

A condition to take rest

A nice farewell

We came from the unknown

We leave for the same

I want to be naked to my soul

I want to find my peace to the goal

O lord, deaths are waiting so hungrily

Through me out

Don’t cry for me, dear

We are at the same station to get into

We see ourselves in the middle of swirling wind

A certain place

I do have my belief

Our Almighty will turn us back

Getting together we must lead a peaceful happy life.

 

 

The Connection Tower

 

Facing the sky to the revolving world

You are always busy to connect us

You make the whole world together

O Tower, you catch the voice floating in the air

I am here

You are there

Not at all

We always abide by very near and dear

As lying in the same bed reflecting the image

Both paying loving eyes face to face

We all united one

O dear, you are so near my loving figure

We take our breath sighing together

Stand together, sit by, lie before the same mirror

Folding the physique, imagine the practical

Draw the virtues

Not hundred and thousand miles away from each other

We all walk hand in hand, lie in the same bed

Wake up in the morning under the same sky

O Tower, you soar to the sky

Bound our breast connecting all.

 

Chapainawabganj, Bangladesh

02/07/2018

Essay by Chimezie Ihekuna

DECEPTION 4

Chimezie Ihekuna

As men, we ought to give into sexual advances to women, whether married or not

If the statement is put this way: As women, we ought to give into sexual advances from men, whether married or not, the male folk will unequivocally have problems with it. Ironically, in loose terms, men generally tend to key into this deceptive assertion.  Hence, one of the reasons for male chauvinists treat their spouses less than second fiddles and simultaneously gratify their sexual thirst with other women, irrespective of relationship status. They fail to recognize that the women they “cheating on” have rights to take part in what they seem to derive pleasure from. Without a doubt, the statement “equal rights” irritates them!

Granted, men are moved by what they see and women are moved by what they hear. However, self-control cannot be excused for giving into sexual offers. Some men claim that the reason they give into sexual advance from women is due to the response of “the manhood” to sex-tuning offers from women and assert that the ‘seat of womanhood’ cannot be noticed and hence, women should not ‘enjoy’ such a right as they do. What an alibi!

The statement has two interpretations, that is, “As married men we ought to give into sexual advances from women”. And “As bachelors, we ought to give into sexual advances from women”. Therefore, we will consider them. 

“As married men, we ought to give into sexual advance from women”

If you on advocate of this statement, do you believe in the efficacies of marital vows you swore on the altar? Do you know that from the moment you took those vows, you are entitled to sexually submit yourself only to your wife? Are you aware of the fact that marriage is a life-long test of your fidelity? Also, can you remember how sincerely passionate you were about committing yourself (Sexually) to your wife? Have you forgotten that marriage is an institution where sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual and other important requirements are needed for its longevity? If you think that as a married man, you could give into sexual gratification outside your marital convenience, then where have you placed self-control? Apart from that, how would you react if your wife says:  “As a married woman, I ought to give into sexual advances from my male admirers”?

It is a generally sorry-case for men who get married without having the necessary knowledge of staying married. Ill-equipped with the necessary skills of managing one’s sexuality, they stumble into the institution, apparently believing their youthful exuberant tendencies will come to a halt but the reverse is the case. No wonder most exuberance – driven men cannot be sexually committed to their wives – they fail to really put to a full stop their care-free sex lives of their youth days.

In a way, this statement has made married men believe that there is practically no consequence. What a shallow thinking! If nothing, think about the guilt you will live with for a very long period of time. Of course, thanks to your judge, your conscience!

In all, if you really want to confirm how deceptive the assertion is, try self-control. 

“As an unmarried man, I ought to give into sexual advance from women”

Because you do not have a spouse doesn’t permit you to have “unlimited” sexual pleasures. Some bachelors would say ‘we are for the fun of having sex, since we are unmarried.

By observation, however, they would want to settle down and commit themselves to their (would-be) wives in future. Unfortunately, they fail to build the entirety of their personality; sexually (exercising self-control) and goal-oriented. Instead, they gallivant in the name of youthful exuberance to seek for sexual gratification.

 

 

Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope

After The Ride by J.R. Conway
After the Ride is the sequel to Greyhound Therapy and picks up right where the other ends in a very smooth way. In After the Ride we are introduced to Kenneth Boutros who has PTSD and was placed on the Greyhound bus to Sweetwater County to live at his uncle’s ranch. When he arrives he finds out that his uncle had died and another relative paid the back taxes and bought the ranch and does not want Kenneth there. The sheriff finds out the reason is a major chop shop operation. The reader will be taken on a thrilling read that will keep him/her riveted to the very end. This would be perfect for older teen to adult. I found it to be a very exciting read and absolutely loved it.
From Religion to Science by Lawrence H. Wood
This book brings the subjects of religion and science together, from the conception of science as a worldview and how it differs from the basic fundamentals of the Christian religion. A lot of scientists are atheists and can’t conceive of any of what the Bible says as truth. This book is very interesting in that it states how life evolved from one single organism, according to the scientific explanation. This book also gets into the study of the tectonic plates and the movement that causes earthquakes. This book is filled with many scientific facts and explanations. It is perfect for someone into the sciences or just starting them. I, myself, found it very fascinating.
The Future of Nigeria by Michael Owhoko
The Future of Nigeria is an updated version of the original book. It has been updated to include new data on the economics and political forces on the people of Nigeria. Instead of moving forward as a country, Nigeria is lacking in progress. The author goes on to say that Nigeria is encouraging relapse instead of moving forward. The current federation in Nigeria is not working so that the country can progress. If Nigeria does not move forward it could collapse as a nation. The leaders must listen to the people if they want to see any improvement. This is the perfect book for readers who are interested in reading books about other nations.
Bitter-Sweet Sugar by Nowrang Persaud
Nowrang Persaud grew up in poverty in Colonial British Guyana surrounded by his very loving extended family. This is his autobiography, starting from when he was young and living in poverty through his adulthood and how he worked hard to climb out of poverty. He has great respect and love for his mother who worked hard as a weeder on the estate to take care of all of the children and husband. When his father became a driver, they were able to move into an independent house. They finally had floors and a bathroom in their home. This is the story of how Nowrang worked hard and persevered to become a teacher and work for the UN and other very important jobs. This is a very uplifting and interesting story of his life. He overcame so many hardships with hard work and pure determination. I found it very interesting and can honestly highly recommend it.
The Lumpa Rupper by Tina Heinrich
The Lumpa Rupper is an extremely cute children’s book. It is about a Dachshund named Fee Bee but also called Fee Fee who is very mischievous. The illustrations are bright and children will be excited to look at them. They will love the story and will want to have this read to them over and over. I absolutely loved this and very highly recommend it.
The Adventures of Flopsy and Flathead
This is also another cute book by Tina Heinrich. The illustrations in this one were drawn by her son when he was 10 years old. It is the true story of their hen house and the two chickens that made it and hatched. Little children will absolutely love the drawings and the story itself. I also found this one very delightful and highly recommend it.