2015 SONGS OF ERETZ POETRY AWARD CONTEST ISSUE




SONGS OF ERETZ POETRY E-ZINE CONTEST ISSUE


Volume 2, Issue 3, Number 10
February 2015
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From the Editor:


This issue is dedicated to the winner of, finalists in, and participants in the first annual Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest.  Each contestant was allowed to enter up to ten poems for a ten dollar fee, and contestants were allowed to enter multiple times (and many did).  Both unpublished and previously published poems were eligible.  Every single poem was considered by me, and every single poet received a personal response to every single poem--from a few kind words to a mini-critique.

It would be polite to say that there were many fine poems submitted and that picking a winner was difficult.  However, of the 340 poems that I considered, one clearly stood out from among the rest.  

The winner of the contest and of the five hundred dollar cash prize is Carolyn Martin for her poem "One month since."  I was moved to tears by this haunting and beautiful portrayal of devastating loss and the hope for eventual acceptance and recovery--even before I read the poet's notes for it, which only cemented my opinion of the piece even more.

Nine other poets made the contest finals, and of them eight agreed to allow their poetry to be included in this special issue.  I am truly grateful to have their permission to offer herein their fine poems, especially since Songs of Eretz was unable to offer them any compensation other than publication.

Finally, I wish to express my gratitude to all the contestants whose poems did not make it into this issue.  Readers will have the opportunity to enjoy the poetry of many of these poets in the (nearly) daily Songs of Eretz Poetry Review as well as in the final issue of the quarterly Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine (which will be phased out in favor of the Review in May 2015).  Without your participation, the contest would have had to have been cancelled--and that, as I trust you will agree after reading this issue, would have been a shame.


Caressing the canvas

Releasing the pigment

Recording the movement

Forming an impression

Representing a glimpse

Penetrating the mind

Discovering beauty

Steven Wittenberg Gordon, MD

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About the Contest Winner:  Carolyn Martin


After sixteen years in academia and twenty-four in the business world, Carolyn Martin is happily retired in Clackamas, Oregon where she gardens, writes, and plays with creative friends. 

Her poems have appeared in publications such as AntiphonStirringNaugatuck River Review, and Persimmon Tree. Her second poetry collection, The Way a Woman Knows, will be released in February 2015 by The Poetry Box, Portland, Oregon www.TheWayAWomanKnows.com.
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Table of Contents

From the Editor

About the Contest Winner:  Carolyn Martin

The 2015 Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest Winning Poem

"One month since" by Carolyn Martin

Contest Finalists (presented in no particular order)

"500" by Katelyn Oster 

"For the Amusement of God" & "Burning"
by James Frederick William Rowe

"My First Cigarette" by Steven Mayoff

"Strange Alchemies" by Robert Borski

"Sophia Incognita" by F.J. Bergmann

"The Right To Not Support" by John Hunt, MD 

"Functions of the Tongue" by Anne Carly Abad

"Dreamcatcher" by John C. Mannone

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The 2015 Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest Winning Poem
One month since

the baby died and weeks-worn clothes languish
on the floor, days of dishes in the sink.
My ragged husband tries, but can’t get near.
He summons up, A short life is life.
As if five syllables could heal.
I despise his words and turn my back.

Weeks and friends shy away after casseroles
and cakes and awkward sympathy.
Calls stop and cards stack unopened in the trash.
My body hugs the indent on our bed.
We kept him warm and prayed.

Thirty days since and I cannot bear the sadness
I’ve become. But then his sister’s voice –
three-years old, brave – breaks the dark, startles me.
Pancakes, Mama. Please? As if my hands could find a way.

She doesn’t know I cannot stand her father’s eyes
or mop a floor or dust the last photograph.
Or how I scream, A mother never loses loss,
when no one wants to hear. Yet I claw my way
across unwashed sheets, past pillows pounded
down to half their size. Perhaps today one thing
I’ll do, I surprise myself. Perhaps. One thing.

Carolyn Martin

Poet’s Notes:  I thought I understood grief; that is, until I met a family of four on a flight to Maui two years ago.

I sat next to the mom and a three-year-old daughter and across the aisle from the dad and a seven-year-old daughter. In the course of our chit-chat, the mom kept referring to her three children. When she saw my perplexity, she explained that they always include their middle child in any conversation about family. This child, their only son, had died four years ago at the age of two. He died at home in his parents’ bed after battling a rare form of cancer for eleven months. His mother explained that she was so grief-stricken that she couldn’t get out of bed for a month.

That is, until the day her three-year-old daughter stood at her bedside and asked for pancakes for breakfast. It was this simple request that halted her descent into despair. If she could get out of bed to make breakfast, she thought, perhaps she could do other things. One small gesture at a time brought her back to her family and to life.

Now wherever the family travels, they carry a little box with the toddler’s ashes inside. At their daughters’ request, they add travel stickers to its outside so their son will know where they’ve been. 

Four years after his death, she says, they are so grateful for the short life that had touched them so deeply (A short life is life). This poem honors this extraordinary family by bearing witness to the universality of grief, the devastating pain of losing a child, and the hope of recovery. 

Editor’s Note:  Please see above "From the Editor" for the editor's comments and also see above for a biography of the poet.  "One month since" was first published in The Delmarva Review in 2014.
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Contest Finalists
(presented in no particular order)

500
Katelyn Oster

there’s nothing wrong with writing poems,
she said,
her lips curved into a crooked smile, 
hand stroking my hair. 

its just,
its just that-

I didn’t need to hear the rest. 
I’ve heard it all before, mostly from myself
to deflect the muse
(whenever she comes climbing in). 

it’s just that-
there’s no money 
in soul, 
there’s no glory
in paper napkins with
stories and faces and names
scribbled all over them
it’s just that
there’s no use in being
a cartographer of a world already seen, already known
already documented

but I know something
that they consistently choose to forget.

nothing is sterile. 
nothing is forsaken. 
everything is sacred,
everything is alive,
everything is changing
everything is
teeming with life
even those taken by Death. 
I will uncover roads long forgotten
and reach stories
no one’s dared to coax
out of the graves,
out of the rivers,
out of the Divine.

About the Poet:  Katelyn Oster was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. She attended four years at Ohio State University, where she fostered her deep love for writing. After being named the first place “Literature” winner for the University’s literary magazine, Mosaic, in 2012, she found the perfect opportunity to publish her first compilation book, Even Crouching Gods Look Like Giants http://www.lulu.com/shop/katelyn-oster/even-crouching-gods-look-like-giants-ebook/ebook/product-20255845.html. She has written over 500 poems to date and maintains her own personal writing blog at www.katelynoster.com. She enjoys spending her spare time painting, writing, reading, and relaxing with her husband Terry and pug George.


Poet’s Notes:  This poem came to me as a sort of divinely-inspired consolation in a time where I was feeling down about the path of the writer. The poet is a devotee of the complex mysteries of life, as well as an admirer of their simple beauty. This intense admiration is what makes poetry so meaningful, but so foreign and unknown to those who do not appreciate the craft of poetry. The maternal figure in the poem represents the gentle resistance received from those who love you deeply but are not capable of understanding your sometimes solitary path as a writer.  I felt it was important to emphasize loving the resistance and appreciating it while staying strong and true to your path. 

Editor’s Note:  Mrs. Oster eloquently captures the smoldering anger and frustration of having one's creativity go without being nurtured or encouraged--something that I'm sure many readers will appreciate.  The refrain hits like a hammer, and the poet uses anaphora to good effect as well.  And the enjambments between lines 29 & 30 and between lines 34 & 35, with their extra layers of meaning, give me chills.  "500" first appeared on Mrs. Oster's poetry blog. 
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For the Amusement of God
James Frederick William Rowe

Damn!
Those are a lot of horticulturalists!
Quoth the alien
Whose large
Glassy
Obsidian orbs
Which passed for organs ocular
Peered through a spy glass on a spinning ship
I wonder what crazy things
These savages would do?

So down he traveled
Screaming magnetic fields undulating amidst fluxing
Lines of force
That blazed energetic
As if aflame
Then he alighted upon the surface
And stifling a laugh
Proclaimed himself God before frightened masses
Who bowed down because he was convincing
And he could fly
Which was itself
A type of convincing

You guys should totally quarry rocks from way over there
Huge rocks
And make them into a giant building
And can you believe it?
They listened
Cutting stone
Lugging it
And piling it
Into pointed shapes that spotted the desert
And sunlight shone on gold tipped peaks
That could be seen from miles off
In a splendid
Sparkling
Shining
Spectacle

Then there was a famine
The crops failed
And he said to them
You know you totally should
Kill Jethro
That guy will make the crops grow
If you burn him alive
And Zinc!
They did it!
I can't believe that Jethro is burning
On a pyre screaming his head off
Until silenced by asphyxiation
Agonized by fire
Ashes which were him flutter in the wind
And spread light into the dim dusk

So
What about some gifts?
I could use a lot of shiny things
It'd be great if you piled those over here
So they did
Crafting treasures to heap on the altars dedicated to him
Ivory
Images
Icons
Idols
And he especially loved those statues
Which generously depicted
An Enormous Talent
In the crafter
Of course

But then they started offering him wine
Sweet wine
Fine wine
Strong wine
That made him giddy in the head
And in his drunken revels
He revealed to the high priest
That it was all just a gas
A cosmic joke
And the priest
Wanting in on the joke
Stabbed him in the face
And took his place

Joke’s on you, fella
Now where's my tithe?

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Burning
James Frederick William Rowe

I saw a beautiful thing burn
And I watched the flames
Within which devils danced
While near beside an angel stood
Appraising all with cold regard
And to whom I asked:
"What say you of what has transpired?"
To which he replied:
"It is in their nature to burn."


About the Poet:  James Frederick William Rowe is a Rhysling-nominated poet and author out of Brooklyn, New York. In the last few years, he has cut out a substantial niche in the speculative poetry front, having seen over thirty poems published internationally in such markets as:  Big Pulp, Songs of Eretz, Tale of the Talisman, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly (where he is an editor), Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, and now Bete Noire.

When he is not writing verses and crafting yarns, he is employed as an adjunct professor of philosophy in the City University of New York, is pursuing a Ph.D. in the same subject, and works a variety of freelance positions. The poet's website can be found at http://jamesfwrowe.wordpress.com.

Poet's Notes on “For the Amusement of God”:  For the Amusement of God” was written as a dark take on the exploitative element in religion as well as being inspired by those rather off-the-wall theories of ancient alien visitation to earth.  It is a sad truth that religion can take on an exploitative character. Though religion has, in the main, been a positive force for humanity, priests have often bilked a gullible people and taken advantage of their superstitions in order to exact an often personally aggrandizing tribute. This poem specifically features such exploitation in the context of earliest sorts of religion, as in ancient Egypt, which usually involved slavish devotion to a divine spokesman (as with the Pharaoh), such that they would quite literally sacrifice anything to this man, up to and including their (or others') lives.

My grandmother was still alive when I wrote this poem, and she was always quite disturbed by the fact that I talked about a bunch of primitives burning Jethro alive because the alien decided to see if they'd do it. I myself find this the most darkly funny part of the entire poem, especially with the alien's curious ejaculation of "Zinc!"

Then there is the rather wacky idea that the deities of old were alien conquerors who ruled as kings. This is seen in conspiracy theories regarding the Annunaki, in that Ancient Aliens TV show, in David Icke's rants, &c. This idea was absolutely ripe for a poem, especially as I had in mind to twist it into a humorous one. By placing the idea in a comic context, I found that the ridiculousness helped to make the poem funnier. It's amusing to think of an intergalactic imposter deciding to call himself god and trick a bunch of primitives into worshipping him.

Poet’s Notes on “Burning”:  “Burning” was inspired by Daylight Precision, a play about the bombing campaigns against Germany and Japan during WWII. During the later half of the play, the firebombing of Tokyo takes central stage, and the entire background appears to burn up to represent the conflagration that consumed the then paper-and-wood city. Though my poem is not about the fire bombing of Tokyo, the flames were the direct inspiration for the theme of fire.

The poem is about watching a great, beautiful thing be destroyed.  The devils represent both actual devils but also the savage nihilism that destroyed the beautiful thing (whatever it may be) in the hearts of the arsonists that I imagined set it alight.

The angel represents the cynical wisdom that understands that such is the destiny of all beautiful (and good) things when placed in the wrong hands, and that it is the way of the world for such things to happen. Though his reply is quite laconic, it is pregnant with double meaning, as "is in their nature to burn" both speaks to the devils being inherently destructive, and in the object itself being a transitory thing that will one day meet its destruction. Moreover, he is described as merely watching, which speaks to the incapacity for reason to restrain the passions of the ignorant.

Editor’s Note on “For the Amusement of God”:  This one tells an interesting all too true story about the relationship between gods and men.  There is irony, but it is not overdone.  The dark humor at the end is simply brilliant.  For the Amusement of God” first appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine issue #49.

Editor’s Note on “Burning”:  “Burning contains a profound message, sad but true, elegantly stated, with just enough religious overtones to make it speculative/mythological but not enough to make it preachy (a fine line well trodden by the poet).  I enjoy how the use of alliteration and consonance enhances the aural quality, as does ending the first and last lines with "burn."  Mr. Rowe was the subject of a featured poet issue of Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine, which may be found in the e-zine archive.  
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My First Cigarette

in 3 years, 7 months, 16 days,
11 1/2 hours and more minutes
than all of these put together.

Hello, darkness –
Hello, lushness –
the black knotted into the green,
thorn shadows seen and unseen.
The slim sea-blue girl
starts to shimmy, swimming
& winding around the helix
of smoke, rising, stretching
into thin air

eternally mine.

The pinking lung renews its
allegiance to the black.
The shrinking butt burns into
an eye glaring red, firing back.

Paper and leaf inching down
to a smouldering sound,
a soldering ground.

Consuming both chaff & sheaf
in a puff of shock,
worming past the throat-lodged rock
past a hair-trigger cocked
to go off and cough
and cough and cough.

Still, the sea-blue girl
dances me to the edge

and I light up another one.

This second son, this Abel
is slain in no time flat,
a lost first repeated

like the thinning

echo
of a shot.

Steven Mayoff

About the Poet:  Steven Mayoff is a full-time writer living in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada. His fiction and poetry have appeared in literary journals across Canada and the U.S., as well as in Ireland, France and Algeria. In 2010, his story collection Fatted Calf Blues won the PEI Book Award for Fiction, and his first novel, Our Lady Of Steerage will be published in May 2015. He is currently writing the libretto for an opera, Sikutopia in collaboration with Greenlandic composer, Arnannguaq Gerstrøm and working on his first poetry collection, Red Planet Postcards.
Poet's Notes: The poem came from an evening at the end of a stimulating yet intense week of the first writing workshop I ever took (I was in the fiction group). All the participants gathered on the outdoor patio of a local pub. I noticed the poetry instructor was rolling his own cigarettes. Even though I had stopped smoking three years earlier, a few beer and whiskies (as well as other stimulation, courtesy of one of my fellow participants) brought back the old craving.

After I rolled the cigarette and took that first drag, what came to mind was the opening line from “Sounds Of Silence" by Simon and Garfunkel: “Hello, Darkness, my old friend.” I used the first half of the line and hastily scribbled a rough draft of the poem, which the poetry instructor judged as not bad considering my inebriated state. I didn’t look at the poem until a week or so later, in a decidedly more sober frame of mind, and found some lines worth developing.

Although the poem was written a good decade ago, what strikes me now is how it captures that visceral immediacy of the smoking experience: craving, fulfillment and remorse. By the way, although I have indulged in the occasional cigarette over the years, I never fell back into the nicotine habit.

Editor's Note:  Mr. Mayoff captures the seductive feeling of nicotine addiction and brings it to life for me.  And I have never smoked!  “My First Cigarette” first appeared in Cerulean Rain in January 2008.
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Strange Alchemies
Robert Borski

It is not the bird's giant nutcracker beak
that does the necessary damage. The endocarp is still too durable, 
too fleshly hard, and so the tambalacoque 

seed must be swallowed first, a considerable 
feat in itself given the hugeness of the nut (despite the similarities, 
this is no rain-swollen, moss-covered, golf 

ball lying there on the jungle sward, awaiting 
Dutch adventurers to find), but the dodo, having already forsaken flight 
to live on Mauritius, is equal to the task.

Down into the avian gullet it goes, down 
through the ventriculus, where the tree's hide is assaulted by stones 
like some botanic saint or adulteress,

eventually to emerge with a lethal bruise, 
a crack or rift in the endocarp, which then allows Nature, via solar
torque, access. The result, in time, will be

a tree. Joyce Kilmer, would you mind joining
Charles Darwin and me in the orchard of beastly mire for tea
Or if not tea, maybe Kopi Luwak

Thanks to the Asian Palm civet, 
a fruit-eating, fur-bearing, 10 lb mammal, part cat, part weasel, yet 
somehow altogether neither,

that loves to dine on red coffee cherries,
shortly whereafter passage is engaged through the alimentum; no gastroliths reside
here for grinding in the cat-weasel's

gut, but an alchemy of enzymes 
that will leach out the bitter proteins, transforming the plumbous bean 
into a harder, brittle, and darker quiddity

that will emerge from the retort 
of the intestines as shit-covered pellets of gold. Cleansed, roasted, brewed, 
the result is Kopi Luwak,

the world's most expensive cup of java, 
at $600-1000 per lb. One sip, I'm sure, would be plenty. (Per my doctor's advice.
I'm trying to cut back on caffeine).

As for my own mutable engine, the plus 
ça change of moons and hormones, it continues apace, although I'm still not sure how
or where the raw material has entered me,

or if the implantation has been imposed 
from without. Perhaps aliens? All I know for sure is that something definitely tumbles
within, like a gem in a polishing machine,

accreting layers, modifying others,
being either enhanced or broken down by its passage through my interior, whether
the actionable process involves the millstones

of genes, enzymatic reduction, or simple 
female magic. Not that, at his stage, it matters. I'm fairly far along, I sense. 
And keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well.

I'm also betting my metaphoric cohorts 
were less than impressed by the dross they strewed, although I'm resigned 
to betterment -- to gold, but without the feculence.

If I'm lucky, no matter how transformed 
the original seed, perhaps the end result will even look like me.

About the Poet:  Although his short stories have appeared in Analog and Fantasy & Science Fiction, and he's written two critical examinations of Gene Wolfe's fiction (Solar Labyrinth and The Long and the Short of It), Robert Borski did not start writing poetry until he was well into his sixth decade. Much to his surprise, he's had over two hundred poems published since then, a good portion of which have appeared in Asimov's, Dreams & Nightmares, Strange Horizons, and Star*Line, as well as a first collection from Dark Regions Press, Blood Wallah. A second collection, entitled Carpe Noctem, is forthcoming in 2015 from Eldritch Press. He has been nominated for the Rhysling Award ten times and the Dwarf Stars Award thrice, and still lives in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, the town of his birth, where he works for the local university.

Poet’s Notes:  I've always had an interest in one of alchemy's central conceits: namely, that by means arcane or scientific, it's possible to transform either a base or ordinary substance into something extraordinary or precious, lead into gold being the paradigmatic example. Of course, we now know this is technologically undoable, although apparently the process can be reversed, gold being transformable into lead if you add the right number of neutrons and then wait for the appropriate decay processes to take place. 

But while elemental alchemy has proved to be a bust, keyed perhaps by an early decision to major in biology once I was of age, it did not take the youthful me long to realize that biological alchemy has been with us in various forms and modes pretty much since the beginning of life. And talk about your base materials! Take civet coffee, for example. It starts out as coffee cherries, but then undergoes a process that is frankly a little disgusting, only to emerge as flavorable gold. (Alas, I've yet to taste my first demitasse). Ditto for seeds of the tambalacoque tree and the dodo gullet. 

And so, as someone who is always looking for subjects about which to wax poetical, once I began to link both transformations together in my head, I felt as if I might have the makings for something potentially wonderful and enriching. (Yes, poets are alchemists, too--although our results are often plumbous). But it wasn't actually until I was well into the first draft that I realized there was a third example I could tie into the alchemical process, not only surprising me, but hopefully the reader as he or she peruses the poem for the first time. 

Doubtless, to some extent, I was subconsciously influenced by Yeats's line from "Crazy Jane Talks With the Bishop" about where "Love has pitched his mansion," but later, when I attempted to work this into the poem, I couldn't do so satisfactorily.  At any rate, this is how "Strange Alchemies," a poem I originally called "Tambalacoque, Topi Lowak, and Me," came into being.

Editor’s Note:  I was really enjoying the botanical education in the first part of the poem, which Mr. Borski makes all the more vivid and memorable through his storytelling style.  Then I came to the turn where science and science fiction spectacularly collide, and I was blown away.  Mr. Borski was the subject of a featured poet issue of Songs of Eretz Poetry E-zine, which may be found in the e-zine archive.  A review of his collection, Blood Wallah, may be found there.
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Sophia Incognita
F.J. Bergmann

A higher education is what divides:
the sequin-spangled veil that hides
you from arcane knowledge you possess
without knowing, that unseen guest
lurking under the table spread
with the liberal banquet of arts and dead
languages arranged in silver vases,
reaching up to help himself to cigarette cases
and the odd delicacy. But if the dinner
leaves you hungry, angry, thinner;
starved and dry amid peace and plenty
you’ve proved that the cup is mostly empty.
The worms of doubt rise from the gut again
to eat the fermenting apple of the brain.
Under the sway of post-prandial port
you regurgitate all you were taught;
your lips flap free as flying birds 
to la-la lots of lovely words.
The servitors prepare for the next meal
and sharpen up the carving-steel;
polish sapient wood, wash windows, dust
and vacuum-clean the house of lust,
mop up the vomit-puddle of your uncouth
from the damask of concealed truth.
The arcane brocade pattern is blurred;
I think your years have gotten stirred.
Drink yourself underneath the ruined table,
suck out your own blood, if you are able.
The learning curve completes its circle. I’m glad 
you’re tainted with hermetic wisdom—mad.

About the Poet: F.J. Bergmann writes poetry and speculative fiction, appearing in The 5-2, Black Treacle, North American Review, On Spec, Right Hand Pointing, and elsewhere. She is the editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA) sfpoetry.com, and poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change mobiusmagazine.com.  Recent awards include the 2012 Rannu Prize for speculative poetry and the 2013 SFPA Elgin chapbook award.

Poet's Notes:  This poem stems from a love-hate relationship with academia, and a purely affectionate relationship with general erudition. “Sophia,” of course, is Wisdom—a deceptive goal. With only a BS in psychology (and an excessive amount of superfluous coursework in the hard sciences and fine arts), I have marveled at the puppy-mill-like proliferation of MFA creative writing programs, and how little they often seem to avail their recipients. There is a duality inherent in the amassing of knowledge, particularly “useless” knowledge—that which does not directly advance professional skills or status (although to a poet, “useless knowledge” is an oxymoron, as it should be to any sentient entity).

The accumulation of both data and the myriad methods of processing it has its drawbacks as well as advantages; I have never been certain whether, as Richard Feynman believed, the storage space in one’s brain is finite, or whether, like a magic purse, it expands as needed no matter how much is inserted. In either case, organizing this accumulation becomes proportionately more complex and glitch-ridden—and interesting—as it mushrooms within one’s mind.

Editor's Note:  It's about time a poet said something about the "higher" education being sold these days.  The rhymes and rhythm here are impeccable--a nice poetic contrast to the "educated" whom the poet mocks.
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The Right To Not Support 
John Hunt, MD

Don’t vote
Don’t pay
Ignore
Disobey.

Narcissists employ their toy:
The Congress of the United States
to inflict their choice
Upon those with less voice.

The charismatic narcissist plies his trade
An empty suit filled with ego and greed
For power and control, the sociopath’s coin
Moderated only by the brain that fills his groin.

Vote once, vote twice, it makes no nevermind
The odds are in favor of you voting to bind         
All citizens to the whims of the political hacks
To whom you keep giving your power back.

Why do you support those who want to control you?
Why do you support those who think that they own you?
Why do you support those who tell you what you must do?
I hear the bleating. Are you a sheep? Their sheep?

The empty suit, the charismatic narcissist
Is precisely what is worst.
They seek power to feel good.
Whilst they hate, and destroy.

What good are their laws?
What money saved?
What labor avoided?
What liberty attained?

None. I say none.
For such is not their goal.
Their goal is to lie, to cheat, to steal.
To control, to own, to harm.

Don’t vote
Don’t pay
Ignore
Disobey.


About the Poet:  John Hunt, MD is a pediatrician and a co-founder of Trusted Angels Foundation http://www.trustedangels.org/—which provides medical, educational and entrepreneurial support for orphans and others in Liberia, West Africa. Profits from all his writings support Trusted Angels.

Dr. Hunt is the author of two novels: Assume the Physician http://www.amazon.com/ASSUME-THE-PHYSICIAN-Medicines-Catch-22/dp/0985933208 (reviewed in Songs of Eretz here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2012/07/review-of-assume-physician-by-john-hunt.html) and Higher Cause http://www.amazon.com/HIGHER-CAUSE-John-Hunt-ebook/dp/B00BBOO6VS (reviewed in Songs of Eretz here: http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2012/07/john-hunts-premier-serialized-novel.html) and is currently writing a series of six novels with his coauthor Doug Casey. Additionally he is the author of Liberty.Me’s Surviving Obamacare https://liberty.me/audio-video/john-hunt-md-surviving-obamacare/, and a soon to be released parent’s guide to childhood asthma.

Poet's Notes:  The country is divided into people who readily use force and fraud to accomplish their aims (the morally insane), and those who refuse to do so (the good folk).  The good people are tolerant of EVERYTHING except force and fraud. In contrast, the forcers and defrauders want power over everything and are intolerant of those who oppose them; such people therefore gravitate to the only place where force and fraud are legal to employ--politics and government bureaucracy.

The sociopaths and narcissists hate to be ignored, and get all a-fluster if they are disobeyed. It’s elucidating and frightening to watch these anti-human shells decay when people realize what they indeed are.  So tweak the noses of those abusers of humanity, and for gosh sakes don’t encourage them!  Don’t vote, don’t pay; ignore, disobey!

Editor's Note:  I can hear the drums beating out the ironic truth of Dr. Hunt's political message and can't help but agree with it!  The poet uses anaphora to his advantage here, and the rhymes in the more melodic parts enhance the tone.  And the staccato refrain at the beginning and end of the piece rings like a rallying call.
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Functions of the Tongue
Anne Carly Abad

Taste. Test. Test. Taste receptors are strewn all over the body. Note, in testes. No one yet knows why they're there, but the little non-blooming buds on the tongue permitted our species to shun possible poisons. Bitter. Remember we are adapted to favoring saccharine flavors. "Sweet," I said. "No, it's rust." You. Sugar, aspartame—I never could tell them apart.

Salivation. The tongue begins the process of digestion, wetting, moving food between the teeth, for crushing. I don't remember when it happened. You invited me for a smoke, and I went even if I didn't. You sent me ripped music on file transfer. "U gon' like dat," you typed. It was rock, and I listen to silence.

Swallowing. My tongue pushes the bolus of you into my throat. I think, post nasal drip. It burns. I gag. Did someone mention motor oil? "Try again," you press.

Touch. The tip of the tongue is most sensitive to touch. I pick out stones and fish bones from my half-chewed lunch; explore the smooth, the sharp, the hard. Which one are you?

Speech. The tongue produces over 90 words per minute. "Thanks," you mutter, rolling to the other side of the bed.

Snoring.
Is the tongue involved in that, too?

Movement. The tongue flies like a dancer. It bends, advances, retracts, rises, flattens... I turn. I tell you to leave. You click your tongue. The next time I look, no trace of you but the door you left open. Shades from the hall lick my welcome mat dark red. Doorways have much to say, yet I leave them there, dangling on the tip of shadows.

About the Poet:  Anne Carly Abad has recently been nominated for the Pushcart
Prize for her poem "The Bitter Gourd's Fate," which was published by
Niteblade. Her work has appeared or will appear in Crucible Magazine,
 Apex, and Not One of Us. Her epic novel The Light Bringer's Kingdom is soon to be published with Zharmae Publishing Press in 2015. Find out more about her at http://the-sword-that-speaks.blogspot.com.

Poet’s Notes:  Four years old. I receive a Washington apple, so strange to a child who has never had anything other than bananas. Why my neighbor has given me the shiny red thing, I do not know. But she smiles. I don’t eat it in front of her. In the secrecy of my room, I take a bite and discover sweetness that is nothing like the candies I hide under my pillow.

Mother knows how much I love apples, so to win my love she buys me the pale ones from China. I tell her they are hard, sour…Sticks to the roof of my mouth. But I shut up before she forces me to eat bananas instead.

Years later, I have almost forgotten the taste of that dear mythical fruit until a man I like places one in my hand. “I hate apples,” he says. His mother always packs some for him. Without the shyness of my youth, I sink my teeth into its ripeness, only to find that my tongue is a liar. Things are not always as we remember. How can a fruit so beautiful hide such bitterness? I forbid my thoughts from escaping my mouth.

“Thanks, it’s my fave.” I smile at him. But he soon moves to different school. We lose touch.

first puff
tongues of fire
in the breeze


Editor’s Note:  I enjoy the way this poem is clinical yet poetic, explicit yet not pornographic, and detached yet deeply personal.  [Note:  The accompanying graphic is NOT a picture of the poet].
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Dreamcatcher
John C. Mannone

            asabikeshiinh, Ojibwe word for spider

Like the shape of circle across the sky that the sun
and moon travel, its hoop is fashioned from willow
filled with webbing, the nettle fibers stranding rim.

Before the sun rises to burn nightmares in the dawn,
an asibikaashi, a spider woman, weaves a magical
web to sift the restless thoughts while we all dream.

Will she weave one for nations since the world is asleep
to crimes against humanity? I weep. Can we not be as
little children who are only frightened by the sandman,

the unknown darkness, or monsters lurking under the bed

of their imagination? Is this not a better fear to conquer
than the grown-up fears of humankind, which are real
monsters that eat our freedom, but sadly are dismissed?

And I need the Asibikaashi to slip the soft, calm thoughts
through the hole in the center of the web, to glide down
the hawk feathers, that wisdom dwelling in the quiet night.

I need good dreams to intoxicate my heart with images
of you and magic of the moon glistening on the silvery web
moving ever so gently in the window, in the gentle breeze.

About the Poet:  John C. Mannone has work appearing in The Southern Poetry Anthology (Volume VII, NC), Still: The Jourmal, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Negative Capability, Split Rock Review, Agave, Tupelo Press, Raven Chronicles, Poetica Magazine, Synaesthesia, 3Elements Review, The Baltimore Review, Rose Red Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Tipton Poetry Journal, Prairie Wolf Press Review, The Pedestal, Motif v2 & v3 anthologies, and others. His collection, Flux Lines, was a semi-finalist for the 2014 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize. He’s the poetry editor for Silver Blade and Abyss & Apex, and an adjunct professor of chemistry and physics in east TN. His work has been nominated three times for the Pushcart. Visit The Art of Poetry: http://jcmannone.wordpress.com.

Poet’s Notes:  When I wrote this poem for Tupelo Press, I had been thinking about Sacred Flute, my collection of poetry infused with Indian culture, legend and history. I had just read the poem, “Securing the Line,” by Kimberly L. Becker http://www.amazon.com/The-Dividings-Kimberly-L-Becker/dp/162549064X, a Cherokee poet (The Dividings, WordTech Communications, January 2014), who uses an interesting metaphor: the poet snares words, as a spider captures prey. Though not directly, this led me to the legend of the dreamcatcher (and of the “spider woman”) http://www.firstpeople.us/FP-Html-Legends/TheLegendOfTheDreamcatcher-Chippewa.html.

In my poem, I start with a dreamcatcher, but soon transcend beyond description and beyond legend. Two extensions develop with a dreamlike, even nightmarish mood. One is external and macroscopic, hinting at the socio-economic political turmoil in the world, while the other suggests an internal and the personal darkness of the narrator. The structure of the poem—a series of tercets surrounding a single line—not only goes to the symmetry of a dreamcatcher, but also provides a pivot that bridges both worlds.

Editor’s Note:  Mr. Mannone’s verses create a dream-like mood that compliment the poetic conceit perfectly.  The single-line stanza in the center of the poem that recalls the symmetry of the dream catcher webbing is a nice touch.  The turn is smoothly executed, and I love the message about the metaphoric nightmares that now threaten all of humankind.  “Dreamcatcher” was first published in Tupelo Press in March 2014.

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