Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Memoir of Delirium & Dementia

Girl Behind the Door/Stephanie Dickinson/ Rain Mountain Press/ April 2017

The subtitle of this book is “a memoir of delirium & dementia.” I would say it certainly is that. Several of the chapters have also appeared as short stories in various journals.

I found the book very hard to read; not that the writing was difficult, in fact the writing is quite fine. The main problem was that I had, in the not too distant past experienced the death of my mother and felt too close to the scenes that were created. These were incidents that I had put to the back of my mind. And while I had never been shot by a friend, accidentally or otherwise, and lost the use of my arm; I have had a number of motorcycle accidents that have left some parts of my body functioning less than perfectly. This is even more so now that I am no longer a young man.

Yes, Stephanie was wild in her youth, or so she tells us in this memoir; but weren’t we all. Reading through the book I kept finding parallels to people and situations that I encountered in my younger days. The question was did I want to be reminded of these moments of my past. We were Poles in Pennsylvania not Czechs in Iowa; however, the only difference was the geography.  My friend Price, who was my competitor for best writer in high school, who became a high school teacher, and who drank himself to death competing in a drinking contest at a local bar, could easily have been an inhabitant of Dickinson’s sadly changing Iowa landscape.

Where Dickinson excels is in the understanding she shows of her mother and the descriptions of their relationship. She reveals herself in conflict with the woman, loving her for who she is, but wanting to escape from all she stands for. I found myself relating strongly to these parts, as I had made similar choices in my past; choices I tell myself worked out well, but wonder still what might have been.  As I write this I am flipping through Girl Behind the Door. Tomorrow I shall begin reading it all again. I am looking forward to Stephanie Dickinson’s next book.

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Sidney Grayling



Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hunters, gatherers and modern man


a poem by
Mike Foldes


I


They fed themselves
And fed upon themselves.

They tried wet roots
And dried mushrooms

Bamboo shoots
And intoxicants

Berries, beans, seeds
And choke cherries.

Animals that moved
And those whose bodies

Lay still at water’s edge,
Hunted, gathered.

II


They fed themselves
And fed upon themselves

Advancements notwithstanding,
Technocrats and alley cats

Much changed
Remaining animal at the core.

The upright man
On hands and knees

Goes begging
at the open door

The door at water’s edge
That moves no more.



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Mike Foldes is the founder and managing editor of Ragazine, an online literary magazine. He is also the author of "Sleeping Dogs, A true story of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping," and "Sandy: Chronicles of a Superstorm," with artist Christine Devereaux." 
Download at www.Smashwords.Com and www.Amazon.Com

editor@ ragazine.cc 
http://ragazine.cc
ragazinecc/Twitter

Join Mike on MySpace & Facebook

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Monday, May 15, 2017

A Story by Sasha Thurmond

Our dragon disappeared


My castle, my Queen, my children, my subjects, our home, love, and power,  our Kingdom,
we fought to preserve it all, we fought for freedom from our enemies, and others who threatened it, including adversaries within our own castle walls.
What fuels life and one's heart to keep alive the desire to live well, not just for survival?
Writers, artists,  musicians create their craft through their word, their images, their songs, their deeds as heartfelt expressions. The amount of things people seek in a lifetime is daunting.
My juvenile dragon, named Zippy, was missing. I tore up my lair while desperately trying to find him.
Our moat and our castle walls weren't guaranteed protection. My dragon was gaining  empowerment to protect our kingdom . However, he was still very small and was also the family pet that the children played with out of sheer fun and glory.
 I promised them their beloved dragon Zippy would be home soon. He was on a mission. I knew it would break their hearts if I was wrong, but they, and I, needed hope. A loyal dragon was worth it's weight in gold.
Our soldiers were preparing for a battle with a neighboring country who wanted to conquer us, and take our land and  entire Kingdom.
My mind was busy planning for the approaching war, and I checked out all our entrances and exits, how secure our castle walls were, and how many soldiers were staying home to fight  the invaders  from inside the castle walls. 
Looking high at the top of curtains draping from one spire, I thought I saw something that varied from the curtain's pattern. I summoned a ladder and though I was King, I climbed up it myself to investigate this oddity. As I drew closer to it, I held my breath....blinked my eyes, and prayed that what I saw was true.....that I had finally found Zippy ! 
Sure enough it was, but he was ice cold and in a dormant state that dragons lapse into when they become too cold or are ill. Zippy allowed me to pick him up without protesting as he tried to awaken. I descended the ladder cautiously so as not to drop Zippy He had been lost for three weeks. He had lost a considerable amount of weight, and was very dehydrated.

I immediately placed him on the hearth of a blazing fireplace, and summoned food and water for him. I headed to my children's bedrooms to awaken them, and tell them that Zippy had indeed returned to us, and told them to go see him with their own eyes. They clamored out of bed and rushed off to the great hall where Zippy was thawing out.
While they fussed over him, I reflected how fortunate I was that Zippy was home safely, and my promise to the children had come true  
When Zippy heard we were preparing for battle, he wanted to go with the troops to fight our enemies, but I told him that until he was older, his job was to protect all the children and keep them out of harm's way. Zippy was exuberant and gladly went back to being the family pet. In time, he knew that he would be the protector of the entire Kingdom.


*   *   *

Sasha Thurmond is a graduate of the Cornell University MFA program where she majored in printmaking. She lives on a farm in South Carolina with her horse and other animals, and sometimes finds time to make art or write poems or stories.

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illustration by Sasha Thurmond

                                                                                                                         

Friday, April 28, 2017

Two Poems by Jack Hopper

GREENWICH TIME

Gratefully the eyelids close
but not entirely, just in case
a dream drops by unbidden
but welcome at any hour,
like my now dead West Coast friend
who mid-beers used to call so late at night,
forgetting the three-hour difference
so both coasts were for him
11 o’clock and all’s well!”

I’d listen just a little
then laughter began
and my ears swung wide.
We’d go like that for an hour
from Wittgenstein to Bach,
Woody Allen to college profs we’d had
till eyeballs ebbed
and ears creaked on their hinges.
Then said goodnights
and fifteen minutes later
said good night again. 

And all was well, was well. 



 AS IF

Clutching a pen
as if it could spring light
and illuminate a line,

I listen for the right
word, hoping I have
an ear to hear it.

Outside, no sound.
No passing plow,
no shovels shoveling snow.

Only the hill, waiting
to echo something
I’m expected to say,

And batteries of crows
gathering as if to challenge
questions I’ve yet to ask. 

*   *   *

Jack Hopper is a writer, chiefly of poetry. He has been an editor for the academic publisher AMS Press and a co-founder of Cayuga Lake Books. He has published three books of poetry, most recently, Doubles: Poems 1995 - 2012. He founded and edited, Works, A Quarterly of Writing. He lives in Ithaca, NY, where he has been the Poet Laureate for Tompkins County. You can learn more about Jack on his web site: www.johnhopperauthor.com




Friday, April 14, 2017

Two Books From Djelloul Marbrook



Rarely do I receive two books from one author in the same mail, especially where one is a work of fiction and the other poetry. However, this was the case the last month, on the day before the big snowstorm, when I received copies of Djelloul Marbrook's latest releases; A Warding Circle: New York Stories and Riding Thermals to Winter Grounds. Both books were engaging and skillfully written. I was glad to be trapped inside with them while the snow melted. I thought of Marbrook, who lives in the Hudson River Valley and was probably hunkered down in the same storm over there.

A Warding Circle: New York Stories contains a novella and several short stories. The works reveal the author's intimate knowledge of New York, both the city, with its devious art world, and the state, especially the Catskills. The book is dedicated to the well-known artist I. Rice Pereira, who was Marbrook's aunt.

In the title story a young woman artist is struck by lightning during a storm in the mountains. She finds that her mind has been turned around and all the conventions that she has lived by now seem absurd. Based partly on the life of Marbrook's aunt, it describes a world where an artist's success is often determined by things other than their artistic merit.

Riding Thermals to Winter Grounds is Marbrook's fifth volume of poetry. There is a great deal of crossover here. While the stories in the fiction book are infused with poetry, these poems become rather narrative. This results in some very powerful lines, such as: "And then, near the end of my life, I become the man I wanted to be without the fuss and bother of giving a damn." Lines like this also seem to establish a leitmotif, if you will, for the book: the words of a man grown old enough to be comfortable with what he has become. And what Marbrook has become is an excellent writer. He has a background of many years writing for newspapers, which shows in the way Marbrook has mastered his craft. These are two of the most powerful books I have had the pleasure to read in some time.

SG

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Kinga Fabó: Three Poems


The Transfiguration of the Word

Open, the sea appeared asleep.
Carrying its waves.
A pulse under the muted winter scene.
Throwing a smile on the beach.

A nun-spot on the hot little body.
A color on the broken glass.
A gesture that was once closed.
Lovely as the sea stood up.
Throwing a smile on the beach.

I wanted to remain an object.
But, no, immortality is not mine.
I am too strong to defend myself.
Waiting for punishment.

This and the same happened together.
Silently, I sat in the glass.
Only the spot wandered on the naked scene.
Sounds did not continue.

Only an omitted gesture.
Happiness like an unmoving dancer.
Beatings on naked, bony back.

And the sea will no longer be immortal.

(Translated by Zsuzsanna Ozsváth and Martha Satz)


The Suskind Perfume

Now the maestro is rather uninspired
Baptiste procure one like in the olden times
follow her scent   the woman
turns her head   it’s foggy   steal her

smear and wrap her in a sack
let her soak in grease for a time
to preserve her volatility
with her every drop

the grease sucks her in
she cajoles you to follow
the scent on the bodies
of every other women

do you recoil – on all?!
What happens if your yearning
drives you mad
follow her scent
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
(and you, fair scent will evaporate)

(Translated by Gabor G. Gyukics)


Androgen

The bees are tough, hard to break virgins.
Virgins, but different from us humans.
They have no ego. Hermaphrodites. Like the moon.

Butterflies. Phallic souls.
Soul phalluses in female bodies.
The daughter, daughters of the moon

allured me but only until
I figured them out.
As lovers.

I got tired of my ego.
And theirs too.
I’m bored of their services.

It wedges an obstacle between us. Neither
in nor out. In vain
I keep trying. I can break through

mine somehow.
But his? How?
Selfish, inspiring; but for what?

Is he like this by nature,
subservient, dependent?
On me? That’s dispiriting.

He doesn’t even suspect, that I depend on him.
I am the stronger, the unprotected.
Tough as a woman, austere.

Delicate as a man, fragile, gentle.
What would I like? I want him to
wrestle me gently to the floor,

penetrate me violently, savagely.
So I can become empty and neutral.
Impersonal, primarily a woman.

(Translated by Gabor G. Gyukics)

*   *   *


Kinga Fabó is a Hungarian poet. Her latest book, a bilingual Indonesian-English poetry collectionRacun/Poison was published in 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Fabó’s poetry has been published in various international literary journals including Osiris, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Screech Owl, The Original Van Gogh’s Ear, Numéro Cinq, Deep Water Literary Journal, Fixpoetry, lyrikline.org and elsewhere as well as in anthologies.

Two of her poems have been translated into English by George Szirtes and are forthcoming in Modern Poetry in Translation Spring Issue introduced by Szirtes.

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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Letters To Alice by King Grossman



Meet Frazier Pickett lll, a man who feels that he is just phoning it in. His wife, Margaret  ignores him, his job is on cruise control and there is nothing left to excite him, not even the social injustices that he feels that are his right to protest. Frazier has seen it all and done it all. Then the world is turned upside down when Frazier discovers that beautiful French contemporary artist Anastasie Moreau, not only does he fall for her but makes her his muse.

As Margaret continues to tune out Frazier she slowly comes to the realization that she needs to find courage to claim her birthright and pen the story that is hers alone to write. As she reads the letters from Alice for inspiration, she finds not only a rekindling with Frazier but the secrets she is meant to tell!

This is a story that spans generations with twists, turns and secrets you will enjoy reading about, discuss at book clubs and talk about long after the book is finished. Everyone will want to know… Who is Alice?

*   *   *


To learn more about King Grossman and Letters To Alice including upcoming events check out his electronic press kit by pressing the following link: http://www.randeegfeldman.com/LTA/LTA/Electronic_Press_Kit.html

Books can be ordered by contacting publisher:
Occupy The Word Publishing, www.occupythewordfoundation.org or
King Grossman, king@kinggrossman.org



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Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Short Story by Edward Hower



AT  SARATOGA

 

                                                   


On a warm summer day, I rowed my children across a shallow lake where some other children had died a hundred years before. 
My son, just recently past their ages, knew the story.  I watched his face struggle as he spotted them beneath the water, lying on their backs, wrapped in weed shrouds.  The plants swayed in the current, reaching toward the surface.
My daughter, younger, not knowing, said she saw green hills under the boat, and we were flying above them.  She pointed to the clouds floating beside us on the water.  My son saw me smile, and nodded.
Resting the oars, I listened to my live children talk in low voices against the stillness.  The voices hovered around the boat, making ripples that fanned out toward the shore where the pine trees watched us like tall angels.  The shadows of their branches settled over the water: huge, soft wings.
The boat glided on.
"Faster," my son said, watching the weeds.
"Slower,"  I whispered, as the clouds' reflections broke open before the bow.
My whisper scuttled over the wake: a water bug.
That day, the surface held.
But sometimes I feel the current rushing past me.  I reach for the oars to row my children across the sky.
*   *   *

Edward Hower's writing has appeared in: The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian, American Scholar and elsewhere. He has been awarded two Fulbright fellowships and grants from The National Endowment and The New York State Council on the Arts. He has published eleven books and taught at Cornell University, Ithaca College, Duke University, and Kenyetta College in Kenya.

*   *   * 

----
This story appeared in Voices in the Water: Collected Stories,  c Edward Hower 2010.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Raza Rumi New York Times Article

Bring Pakistan’s Missing Bloggers Home

Since Jan. 4, at least five bloggers and activists have disappeared in Pakistan. Perhaps the best known is Salman Haider, a poet and academic who has been a vocal opponent of religious extremism and the Pakistani authorities’ abuse of opposition activists. The others who have vanished had the courage to critique organized religion, the influence of clerics in Pakistan and the country’s powerful military on social media.
Throughout Pakistan’s history, dissent and free speech have been muzzled by a state that inherited a repressive legal framework from the British colonizers who ruled the Indian subcontinent until 1947. Journalists, poets, intellectuals and many politicians who questioned the state were labeled traitors, sometimes jailed or exiled, and on occasion killed. Almost every Pakistani government — military or civilian — has tried to control and manipulate the news media.
That kind of control has become more difficult as print and electronic media have expanded in the past decade and a half. Since the deregulation of electronic media in 2002, Pakistan has gone from three to 89 television channels. The state’s monopoly of the airwaves is over. Noisy talk shows regularly challenge the elected governments and their policies. But when it comes to the military, journalists and commentators are cautious, often indulging in self-censorship. Laws governing freedom of speech and the news media are vague, and their enforcement is arbitrary; critics are often accused of endangering national security.
The rise of social media and blogs has further expanded the space for dissent. Pakistanis can say on Facebook things they still could not get away with on television or in print. The missing activists, for example, were allegedly affiliated with satirical Facebook pages that ridiculed the hypocrisy of religious clerics and the flawed state policies of using jihad to further foreign policy goals.
Last year, the Parliament passed a draconian cybercrimes law curtailing digital freedoms. This law grants the government overarching powers to control and block information that state officials find offensive, examine and retain users’ data, and impose harsh penalties for a variety of offenses. The law builds on the narrow definition of freedom of speech that the Constitution guarantees in principle but with a number of exceptions that include “glory of Islam,” “the integrity, security or defense of Pakistan” and “public order, decency or morality,” among others. Such ambiguous terms are easily invoked to suppress dissent.
After the enactment of the cybercrime law, Pakistan’s intelligence agencies reportedly asked for legal cover to take pre-emptive “action” against people they believed were breaching national security. This demand was accepted. It is unclear whether the five bloggers and social media activists have disappeared under this arrangement. In fact, there is no information from any official source. But there is good reason to be worried.
In recent years, hundreds of suspected insurgents from the southwestern province of Baluchistan and religious militants from other parts of the country have allegedly been picked up by security agencies, never to be heard from again. A government commission is handling at least 1,129 cases of “missing” persons.
Even if the five activists reappear, they will face the wrath of zealots who want instant justice for blasphemers. In recent days, right-wing social media users and pundits have been smearing the missing men as blasphemers. In addition, they have been accused in absentia by conservative sections of the Pakistani media and right-wing trolls as pawns of foreign powers (read India, the eternal enemy) who are waging an information war against Pakistan.
The exact relationship between these right-wing loudmouths and the security services remains, as ever in Pakistan, murky. But these activists’ lives are most likely in danger. In 2011, a police guard killed Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province, because he had publicly defended a Christian woman sentenced to death under the blasphemy law, a law he said needed to be reformed.
By cracking down on people opining on social media, Pakistan joins Turkey, Bangladesh, China and other countries where journalists and activists are hounded by the state and by extremists. Pakistan’s elites, both civilian and military, frequently complain that their country has an image problem. Such disappearances certainly don’t help. Moreover, in an interconnected world, such moves are counterproductive. The elected government of Pakistan must be held accountable for such brazen curtailment of rights. The Parliament needs to review the scope of internet freedoms as well as reconsider the nebulous guarantee of free speech provided by the Constitution.
The international community should help, too. It can remind the Pakistani government of its obligations under the United Nations Convention against Torture and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to put an end to enforced disappearances. In its 2015 compliance report on the civil rights covenant, the government stated that it was “firmly committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.” It is time to move beyond lip service. Upholding freedom of speech will only bolster Pakistan’s fragile democracy.
But most of all, these missing men should be returned home safely as soon as possible.

*  *  *

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Daphne Sola: Two Poems

‘H’ STANDS FOR ‘HOSPITAL’

Who wins a war is always a moot point
or perhaps an oxymoron,
since no-one really wins a war,
each side leaves the field
wounded
either by braggadocio
or humiliation.

We are meant to admire generals
who deal with death and destruction,
victory and loss
and when they return
they display battle scars and medals
but carefully wrap themselves
in the flag
to conceal the deflation
of the massive erections that
helped them lead armies
and sustain a virile stance.

In civilian life, people are all things,
happy or depressed
ambitious or oppressed
health-nuts or obsessed
with their allergies,
and now we are asked to admire
those who own large amounts of money
and entrust our future
to their expertise.

I have even heard that a very rich man,
no, a very very very rich man
is giving some of his wealth
so that all disease will be eliminated
from human life.
He must think we will live decades longer
and does not envision
that eventually
we would die of boredom,

This reminds me that recently,
touched by a sickness,
I looked out a hospital window
and saw an asphalt tarmac
clearly marked with a large yellow ‘H’
and I thought it meant,
‘This is a Hospital! Do not bomb!’
and was later told that the’H’
stood for Helicopter,
an emergency landing site

So in one small mind
as well as in the vast terrain of the Middle East
once again,
mercy succumbed to mayhem.
                                                      


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

ABANDON

If I bury my head in a pile of leaves
some of them catch
in a tangle of hair

leaves crackling
hair so soft.

When I drag my feet through a muddy puddle
black footprints follow
with me unaware

leaves rustle
hair swung aloft.

Then the sky does a trick and turns upside-down
unruly hair
sweeps out and around.

leaves scatter
and cover the ground

I send out squeals that make the air ring
I stick out my legs. . .

A child on a swing.

*  *  *

Daphne Sola is an artist, poet, and former art gallery owner. She lives in upstate New York. 



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