Artwork from B.T. Lowry

Author and artist and yoga student B.T. Lowry

About B.T. Lowry, from his website.

Hi. I’m B.T. Lowry, aka Venu Gopal das.

I grew up in Canada, where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains. I love badland landscapes with knobbly stone hoodoos and deep ravines. I love forests with pine boughs mounded with snow and deep silence. I love the Himalayas, whose peaks defy gravity as they fall upward into the sky.

When I was about twenty, I met my spiritual master, Sri Srimad Bhaktivedanta Narayana Goswami Maharaja. I’ve spent the last fifteen years or so studying bhakti-yoga under his guidance, mostly while living in India.

I’ve loved creating and hearing stories all my life. Now I’m working to infuse my work with spiritual experience. I pray you find these stories deep, exciting, challenging and hopeful.

Poetry from Mickey Corrigan


The Deterministic Necessity

Darkness where the swells pick up,
flatten in white spits of foam.
Underfoot, hard plastic caps
bright blue, red, orange.
We walk the beach
in black homicidal cheer
thinking our own sad thoughts
dead love stories
we heard as kids
the path ahead unfurling
like a hot pink tongue
lapping up our future.

Everything that is necessary
cannot be otherwise.

The night moves, stars traveling
in sync, cold, long dead
while the sea drags its hinges
rusty and old, full of trash
it coughs up on shore.
The sliver moon browses
the shoreline for shells, other
treasures tangled up in detritus,
the dark tumbles around us,
frosts the rich cake of the earth.

Everything that is necessary
cannot be otherwise.

Beside you I want to come loose
of myself I am haunted by that
part of me, the young self that left
all kinds of others
in all kinds of weather.
Flee the rough waves,
let go of deep roots.

But here comes sunrise
a heaping mound of juicy peaches
and your warm hand will lie flat
across my sunken breast.

It cannot be otherwise.

Old Man Wild

He let the farm go
back to the garden,
further than that, back
to when nature revealed itself
not as coping but preference
for the wilderness.

He let it all go
absent the trap of theory,
the limits of observation
wilding the land to a land
before pioneers, plantings
fields of grain or corn
barns of cows, ponies, goats
to the prehistoric lush
of ancient forests

In came the luminosity
salted brine from sea
air, the rush of wind carry
insects and fungus, mushrooms
popping through rich leaf-strewn
dragonflies, butterflies, dizzy bees
drunk on golden pollen

In came songbirds and rats
the hawks, owls, snakes
raccoons, boar, wild deer
moles, voles and mice
creatures large and small
feeding on weeds and vines
the luxurious nameless green
blooming everywhere

He let it all go
like hair, beard, nails
thicken, grow and spread
an elusive transformation
in a striking change
in a long slow glide
a slide toward ruin
like an old man
in decay and overgrowth
aging, wizening
hundreds upon hundreds
of wild, wild years

Points of Entry

“Slaves, let us not curse life.”—Rimbaud

When he enters the port of misery
and clogs the path to victory,
traffic behind his parade stalls
for hours of miles.

On his sleekest horse
he rides high, dead set
on reining all the cities
the weak citizens, the babies
eat only dust, thus
raising him up
like a brilliant banner or trophy.

He escalates up the road
to the castle behind the seawall
where he will dine the rich
write bullied sentences
rage against those who elevate
rage against those who do not.

A civil war within him
sheds darkness on the world.

He is not a prisoner
of reason but of largesse
punishing the herd of lowing cattle
he looks down upon
from his gilded perch.

Under cruel moons, a bitter sun
he sits tall in the saddle
full of his own vagrancies
his ambiguous face a twist
of warping reflection
and in that sad mirror
poor animals
see themselves
the farce we must live

unless a fat blue wave
from a hard-boiling tide
sweeps him out to sea.

Read more of Mickey Corrigan’s work here.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes Florida noir with a dark humor. Project XX, a satirical novel about a school shooting, was released in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. Newest release is What I Did for Love, a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books UK, 2019). Her chapbook the disappearing self is due from Kelsay Books in March.

Poetry from Jake Cosmos Aller

the year that was

January

The world watches in amazement

Longest shut down in history

Watching it all in Korea

contemplating escaping the cold winter

February

World watches as North Korea and the US

Walking back from the brink of war

escaping the cold winter blues

revisiting Vietnam after 15 years

March

The chaos president continues his chaos tour

the world begins to ignore his constant insane tweets

heading back to DC inspecting property

seeing old friends glad I retired

April

the chaos King’s policy remains a shamble

as the Mueller team closes in

in Korea I write a poem a day

and begin to become a publish writer

May

watching from afar

the chaos in DC and the world

traveling to DC to inspect property

celebrating my wife’s big 60

June

the President walks away

from a non deal with the North Koreans

I am back in DC

end up cruising to Alaska

July

watching the insanity in DC

while visiting Alaska, Seattle and Yakima

visiting my father’s grave in Yakima

communing with family ghosts

August

the dog days of summer the world is consumed

wars, rumors of war, trade wars

retuning to Korea

surviving the August sauna like summer

September

The whistle blower sets off a bomb

the president lies no quid for quo perfect all

trying to avoid watching the news

hiking in the Korean mountains with old friends

October

the President flitters about my crisis after another

the UN diplomats laugh at him national humiliation

returning to DC yet again more property blues

celebrating my 64th year orbiting the sun

November

the House starts formal impeachment hearings

watching fascinated by the impeachment drama

entering my third NoVoWrMo competition with Timeless Love

ending the month sudden surprise trip to Okinawa

December

the year ends on a high dramatic

President Trump becomes the 3rd impeached President

hiking enjoying the late autumn like weather

contemplating my wealth at the end of the year

the Terrifying Teens

2010

The dark days of the great recession

Begin slowly to fade away

Ending my Barbados experience -the best job in the foreign service on high note best labor officer award

2011

the president and Congress locked in battle battles

glimmer of hope as economy comes back to life

Studying Spanish arriving in Spain

worst year ever part of three years bad luck

2012 

the US re-elects the Black President

rejecting Romney entitlement mentality

I leave Spain my last foreign posting

buying new property in the fall

2013

In the US the religious right

loose the social Battling gay marriage, legal pot

Starting a new job as an evaluate program evaluator

ending my six month wandering the halls of State

2014

The Obama presidency

The tea party rebellion on the right

Moving to Capitol Hill

My sister’s sudden death rattles me

2015

The end of the Obama era

Was this the beginning of the end of America

Beginning the year with a new job

resolving to retire, enjoy life while I still can

2016

American voters and at the madness

Elects the mad would be king President Trump

We traveled across the country 10,000 miles

To celebrate the end of my foreign service career

2017

the year of the chaos president

Fast and furious disruption to the norms

Went to Oregon to renovate property

becoming wealthy in the process

2018

the American public woke up

Send a blue wave to clean up the mess

Moving back to Korea

Blogging up a storm

2019

in the end of the year that was

The house races up and impeach is the president

I travel to Vietnam, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Okinawa

Dreams

Dream what may come

Recalling past lives lived

Every fantasy comes to life

All night long

More nightmares to come

So many worlds to explore

 
Fate

Fate has a way

Always catching up

To you embrace your fate

that is what’s up

at the end of the day

Endless dancing away

 The Oyster Speaks Up

A diner sits down

looking forward

to eating oysters

it was their season

after all

just as he was about

to pounce

on the oysters

the head oyster spoke up

saying

hey human what the hell

do you think you are doing

you think you have the right

to eat me?

that’s violating my human right

don’t ya think

the diner laughed

said to the oyster

shut up and accept

it is your fate

to be eaten this date

just let me enjoy eating you

and you have no human rights

as you are in fact

not human don’t ya know

eating the complaining oyster

shutting him up

as he ate him up

Prose from Jeff Rasley

Welcome to Kathmandu 1995

Where are the traffic lights and street signs?

Water buffalo, cows, dogs, goats, roosters, and chickens wander across and sleep in the streets.

Masses of people – women in beautiful flowing saris with dabs of paint on their foreheads and men wearing clothes of every conceivable style from leather biker-jackets to loin cloths – walk, run, push carts loaded with lumber, bricks, or raw meat.

Street vendors point at their goods and shout as we pass by.

Shop owners gesture enthusiastically or doze, and beggars hold up withered limbs or a malnourished child.

We pass men shaving and women washing their long black-hair in buckets of water right beside the street.

Cars, busses, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws, tuk-tuks, and animal-drawn carts flow chaotically by.

Road surfaces vary from stone, brick, pock-marked pavement, or rutted dirt.

Odors of incense, spicy foods, diesel and auto exhaust, sewage, and body odor assault us. Horn blasts, shouts, conversations and arguments in a polyglot of languages, bleats, barks, bellows and clucks of animals, and the grinding gears and strain of rickety vehicles on the verge of collapse create a surround sound you’d never hear in Indiana.

Our car pauses beside a bright red rickshaw. Its driver stares at us with dark perplexed eyes, then opens his almost toothless mouth and laughs as we pull away.

Poetry from Neila Mezynski

 Egg Hard

Thick head, sleepy foot on stair thud. Gronk he jumps high out of chair hearing too high bang. He’s in no hurry to get where she is or isn’t in most cases. Sweet but slow foot to mouth brain. Annoying cave dweller mountain climb take flashlight see the way no more to her only slow talk out of think head gone. Forgot underwear and didn’t find her under sofa either only the journal to keep him warm. Don’t fall through cavern crack spelunk boy, go only as far as your sofa will allow. Keep those feet up high on pillow heart on ice light feet on stair maybe you’ll get there in time next. Soon.

Essay from Doug Hawley

Interview

Interviewer – Here’s what you’ve been waiting for – the interview with God. Because we are mostly broadcast to English speaking areas, we’d like to concentrate on Western concerns. Welcome to WXYZ television, God. First question, what should we call you?

God – God is fine. Lower case, upper case, I’m cool. I’ve been called Y*hw*h, Chemos, Tengri, Baal. Baal, hah, hah, I always laugh at that Lord Of The Flies joke Beelzebub from the Hebrews. Don’t know that one? Look it up. If there is a point to all the names, it is lost on me. Different places think that I’m their God and I’m on their side. No, I’m the same one with different names. Tribalism caused naïve humans that couldn’t see the big picture to get it wrong. And holy crap, the “religious” guys really messed up. There was “fake news” way before the short-fingered vulgarian ever brought it up. All of their names are different local manifestation of the one me.

Interviewer: I’m quite surprised that you look a lot like the late, lovely Hammer Studios’ horror star, Hazel Court, but about two meters tall (close to 7 feet for Americans).

God: If you were to view my reality, you would go blind, your brain would boil and you would die a torturous death. Nah, I’m just yanking you, this is the real me. You got it backwards, since I’ve been around for billions of earth years, Hazel Court looked like me. Side note – I created numerous legends when I visited earth many years before. Lately, I hang out with NBA players and don’t create much of a stir.

Interviewer – So you are the real deal, the creator of earth?

God – Don’t sell me short, I created the whole universe. But don’t blame me for whatever happened later. Sure I messed around with various life forms on different planets, but I didn’t plot out their entire evolution.

Interviewer – I’m going to have to ask you to back up. First, you don’t control history?

God – No, what kind of monster would set Hitler in motion? I didn’t make plagues or invent rap. That’s on you humans. A lot of planets have done better. And I just started things and evolution and the physical sciences did the rest.

Interviewer – Wow. There is a lot I didn’t expect. For one thing, a lot of your fans say that evolution doesn’t exist.

God – Yeah, I know about those crackpots. One of the humans that I kind of like, Paul Simon, put it to music in his song “The Boxer”: “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” Every time some bozo “disproves” evolution, he disregards accepted science.

I’ll give you an example. Some argue that the human eye is proof of “intelligent design”. It has been incorrectly claimed that Darwin saw eyes as proof of my work. When some chemicals are light sensitive (ever take a picture?), given billions of years and lots of mutations eyesight has evolved several times among many different kinds of animals. This is well known to scientists, but not to the willfully ignorant.

Another thing – would an intelligent designer build in planned obsolescence? Prostate glands, appendices, cancer?

Interviewer – Are you telling me that Genesis isn’t the word of God and it is inaccurate?

God – Much of what is in the Bible is metaphor or parable, but some just don’t get it. You know the part about the pillars of the earth? That part is a rip-off of the Greek idea about the earth being held up by pillars on a turtle or some such claptrap.

Interviewer – Do any of the creation stories hold up? I know there a lot of different ones from different areas.

God – They may be good poetry, national myth or just jokes, but they don’t hold up. Sea monsters, ravens, parts of my body, voids, national heroes. Maybe good literature, but totally accurate, no.

Hell, I can’t even follow the Greek mythology. Weird stuff, incest, war amongst the gods. I may have different manifestations, but I am just one entity.

Interviewer – How did we humans get it so wrong?

God – Two things went wrong. Some groups just made things up to explain things that they didn’t understand. Say you wonder about how the world got started. Maybe you use reproduction as a model, so you guess that two things mated and made the earth. Could be you see a volcano erupt, so you decide that the earth was created out of a catastrophe. A mushroom grows seemingly out of nothing, so the earth is created out of the void.

Early on I talked to humans before it became obvious that it was hopeless. People that don’t understand nuclear physics or astronomy aren’t going to get the big picture.

Interviewer – How did the universe begin?

God – Both science and some of the mythologies got it partly right. It was the big bang. What happened before the big bang? I don’t know. Rumors of my omniscience are overblown. Still, I’m fairly sure I created the universe, because there wasn’t anyone else around.

The whole thing about the cat is in the box or not in the box, the speed of light and quantum physics in general make no sense to me.

Interviewer: Then what was or is your part of the process?

God – I didn’t say I didn’t have ANY powers. I just don’t remember creating the universe. I’m really good at biology. I seeded millions of planets with various forms of life.

Interviewer – That answers definitively what many of our viewers have questioned over the years. Could you give us some examples of your creations?

God – There are the liquid creatures on the planet I call Riverdale. They aren’t too smart, they just babble all day. Their life cycle consists of liquid, vapor and then liquid again. That’s probably why they believe in reincarnation or resurrection, I’m not sure which. Another oddity of the Riverdalians is that they are not exactly either individuals or one entity. They mix and mingle literally. You could be Joe, then Joe plus Jane, then half a Joe.

The Askari did not turn out well. They look like humans, but are even more arrogant. They claim to have spread their kind around the universe, including humans, when in fact they just moved some animals, human and otherwise, that I had created.

They are really mean to immigrants. Every once in awhile, they find refugees from some catastrophe and “save” them, but put them to work on the most menial tasks and offer very little sustenance. Later they kick them off on another planet to fend for themselves. Some of my gambles have not paid off.

One of the planets where they drop off immigrants has some of my favorite inhabitants, the Renn. Not too bright, but they are always Zen-like in the moment. They look like small Centaurs except for their dog-like faces. They spend their time running around screwing and not worrying about a thing. I wish more of my creations were like them.

The Randd were the smarter cousins to the Renn. They live on the planet Randdog and are probably where human conspiracy theorists get the idea about Ancient Aliens. As is so often the case, the theorists got the story part right. The Randd are brilliant and even though they resemble the Renn they deny the obvious kinship. A few thousand years ago, the Randd had accomplished faster than speed of light travel. Don’t ask me how, but they did it. Because they had all the material possession that could possibly want, they began to dream of kinky sex. Both males and females had none of the talent that the Renn had, so they decided to cast their net wide. As a result, they encountered earth. The humans at that time looked just like the rough trade that their jaded tastes wanted. Earth people and the Randd were surprisingly compatible. Earthers were quite taken by the savoir faire and bling that the Randd had, and the Randd were mad for the variety that the humans presented. The progeny of these unions had gained some of the intelligence of the off planet sexual tourists. The Nazca lines of Peru, the Egyptian pyramids and so much more are the result of the alien brain power. The misfortune of your planet is that after the Randd left, humans went back to hooking up based on gross sex appeal and soon lost all that they had gained.

Interviewer – If I may ask, what happened to the Randd?

God – The brilliant Randd had one big blind spot. Their sex drive made them stupid. They caught stds from all over the universe and infected a number of worlds, which is why the Randd are now extinct. Be glad that they visited earth before they picked up some really bad diseases.

Now if I may return to the original question.

You humans would probably like the Feline planet. It has all the variety of cats that you know and love, and some that you have never seen. Sniggle is short legged and looks something like a snake, but is covered in fur. A few hundred years ago idiot humans killed thousands because either you thought that they were familiars of witches or that they carried the plague. THEY WERE MY GIFT TO YOU, YOU INSUFFERABLE CRETINS. Sorry, I just got a little overwrought. I see that some of you have gone back the other way and worship them as the Egyptians did. I love cat videos. How can you not believe in me when there are cats?

You hate mosquitoes because they vex you and ignore the fact that they are major player in the food chain. As larvae they feed fish and as adults they feed birds and bats. You like fish and birds don’t you?

Interviewer – You mentioned that the Randd became extinct. Is that common?

God – The latest report says that 32% of civilizations have become extinct. War, introduced toxics, plague, or just giving up has doomed lots of planets. A couple of ways things go south is like a couple of your movies. Some are defeated by an alien invasion like in “Independence Day”, but with a different outcome. Likewise sometimes it’s “Terminator”. There are enough replacements by the Askari to keep the number of populated planets fairly steady.

Interviewer – We can hope that our aliens are more like E.T. and that we aren’t smart enough to make machines smarter than us. I’d like your take on some holy leaders. Let’s start with Buddha.

God – I’m not really high on Siddhartha Gautama based on what I know. Maybe I can’t blame him. He may have been misquoted. The whole thing about Nirvana and rebirth is quite the crock, you know. Do you really want to know how to be a poor beggar with no ambition? No, I didn’t think so. Those that see him as supernatural are off their nut. He was just a guy with some ideas, some good, and some bad. Lying is bad – he got that at least. Despite his reputation as being peaceful, his followers don’t mind beating up minority Muslims.

Ask yourself, is some guy who has extinguished all of his desires and ambition, and has no interest in material rewards likely to invent the car, the internet, defibrillators and peanut butter? Didn’t think so.

Interviewer – Mohammed?

God – He’s one of the newer guys isn’t he? Can’t say I followed his career too closely.

Interviewer – Confucius?

God – Some of Kong Qui’s jokes are good. Just kidding. Some guy supporting the status quo.

Confucius say woman who fly plane upside down, heeesorry, that always breaks me up.

Interviewer: Moses?

God – I think that his biographers got a lot of it wrong. I’ll give you a couple of examples from the tablets. I don’t care about the graven images. Take my picture if you want, do my bust – I guess that could be taken the wrong way. I already mentioned that we are all the same god, so no gods before me makes no sense. That bit was just put in there by the priests that wanted an exclusive franchise.

But Moses was a national hero. I don’t want to take anything away from him.

Interviewer – Jesus?

God – One of my favorite children. Wonderful person, but like so many others, mercilessly persecuted, misquoted and misunderstood. The world would be a lot better off if his teachings were followed.

Interviewer – Did you just say “one of my children” and “misquoted and misunderstood”? Could you expand on that?

God – I could, but if I did your TV station would be burnt to the ground and the land covered in salt. As it is, you will at least get death threats based on what I have said here. Have I mentioned that humans are not tolerant? Yes I did.

Interviewer – The founder of the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints?

God – Joseph Smith Jr.? He’s another new guy that I have not followed. I do like many of the Mormons.

Interviewer – Did we miss anybody important?

God – You most certainly did. He had a lot of good ideas, and was largely plagiarized in other beliefs. Now he’s known from a book and a composition used in a movie and at concerts by the late, overweight Elvis Presley. I hope by now you know I’m talking about Zoroaster of “Thus Sprach Zarathustra” renown.

He originated the religion of the Asian steppes which was the principal religion of what we call now Iran. The Magis of Biblical fame were adherents, but little is known of them today. While other beliefs had a whole panoply of “gods”, Zoroastrianism realized there was just one, namely me. They called me Ahura Mazda. Now Mazda is known as a car, and not even a luxury one. Zoroaster recognized the value of leading a good life. It was not all about smiting ones’ enemies, although I confess there was some of that too.

Today, some religions have thousands of times the number of Zoroastrians. It makes no sense to me.

Interviewer – I feel stupid asking this. Is God dead?

God – You got that right. You should feel stupid, but I know that you are asking because that was a movement of the moment. What is and was dead is the search for what is right and true in the world. So many people are sleeping through life making widgets, laugh tracks for bad sitcoms, or looking for a reason to go to war, that they ignore what is important. I welcome your worship of course, but ask yourself “Am I leaving the world a better place, am I just existing, or am I aiding my world?”

Interviewer – We talked about a lot of your creations on other worlds. How about us on planet earth?

God – I’m afraid that’s going to hurt. Some of you have been great. I mentioned Jesus already. Those that attempted to save the Jews in World War II. Those that wanted to prevent war or at least end it. Bill Gates did some cool technological things. People that grow healthy food. Employers that take good care of their workers and give marginal people a second chance. The few that work on a healthy environment. Nothing else comes to mind.

The bad list is much longer I’m sad to say. The worst of all is the misreading of “Be fruitful and multiply”. I think that I was misquoted, but in any case you humans way over did it. There was plenty of land for millions of people to live in comfort. There could have been enough for everyone, even if disaster hit somewhere. Just peacefully move some other hospitable place without conflict. Now places like Haiti and India are so overburdened, the people live in misery.

Partly because of the avarice for resources in an overpopulated planet, tens of millions died in the two world wars. If you don’t remember your history, WWI was precipitated over the assassination of one person. Think about the arithmetic, one death led to the death of over ten million. What kind of creatures would participate in that calculation?

Against your few saints, you have Roman emperors that ravaged Europe and beyond, Genghis Khan who killed millions in Asia, colonial powers that took the physical and human resources from Africa, Europeans that decimated of the aborigines in the Western Hemisphere and Australia. I could go on about China, Russia, Japan and the U.S.. All the great powers through history have a lot to answer for.

Interviewer: You don’t see any improvement?

God – With the current P.O.T.U.S? With the rise of anti-Semitism, attacks by and against Muslim factions? Have you no reason at all?

Interviewer: Don’t we get any credit for culture, Hazel? Sorry, God.

God – Some of your classical music is OK, some just puts me to sleep. Don’t get me started on rap, country and new age.

For every good book or poem, there are about a thousand bad ones. Romance novels? All the same. Have you read James Patterson? He’s a best seller. Even Stephen King wrote “Under The Dome”.

There are a lot of Ed Woodses out there. Stanley Kubrick, who did some good stuff, made “Eyes Wide Shut”. What was he thinking? Had he become senile?

Interviewer: But we’ve made such technological advances.

God – Your advances can’t keep up with your burgeoning population. When agriculture improves, the mouths needing to be fed outpaces it.

Do you consider the ability to receive phone calls around the clock from someone selling time shares a good thing?

Interviewer – This has been quite bleak, but I hope that we get another chance to talk. By the way, why did you agree to this interview now? People have wanted to talk to you for eons. Some have even claimed to have received your divine proclamations.

God – The reason that I have not talked to humans lately is twofold. As I already said, I am regularly misquoted in order to profit the reporter. Also, thousands of years ago, people couldn’t understand the truth.

I chose to talk to you now, because I didn’t think that you would be around long, and you should know the truth before you go.

Interviewer – Oh, my god – sorry – I’m going to die?

God – I wasn’t referring to you, I was referring to humans.

Appeared in Café Lit.