Poet of the Month: Wayne Russell
When We Surrender
Beneath the severed sky,
and where this will end
this gentle parade?
This sudden collapse of
humanity, this saddened
fade from view.
Those stars that have
shown for eons, only to
fade out at dawn.
Can you cast your fear of
the end into the beckoning
Oh that salty grave, that
soft mortal veil!
Closing, in mock surrender,
venturing into the unknown.
Falling to the dirt
majestic sway and
ramble of bones.
We have loved all and
now it’s time to bid our
A wolf can be heard
howling in lonesome
forest and though we
could never hear that
plea, that cry for help
we stood and watched
while nothing happened
in our meager existence
within our collected
genius, with our guns
ablaze and scholars
peering icy down the
barrels of superior
nothing happened and
probably never will until
permanent silence erases
our stains away from this
wounded soil of tattered
Where The Blues Live
I can feel the emptiness within,
cascading into the pit of my soul.
Sometimes it fades for a while,
when I hear the sounds of the
peaceful arrival of nightfall.
Just know that she is there, to
share what is left of this life,
the blues subside and move
out for a while, but they are
never very far off, when a new
day dawns, and the madness
begins with the drudgery of
traffic and work and so many
people that are so angry;
at everyone and everything.
Wayne Russell is or has been many things during his lifetime, he has been a creative writer, world traveler, graphic designer, former soldier, and former sailor. Wayne has been widely published in both online and hard copy creative writing magazines. From 2016-17 he also founded and edited Degenerate Literature. In late 2018, the editors at Ariel Chart nominated Wayne for his first Pushcart Prize for the poem Stranger in a Strange Town. In addition; he was nominated for Best of the Net via the editor at The Abyss. “Where Angels Fear” is his debut poetry book published by Guerrilla Genesis Press.
Summer Lies by DS Maolalai
on the city
like a saucer,
and a sliced pile
skinned apples. heat;
this shifting miasma
of a shit-thick
and biteable air.
flies hum, and I
get up from my desk
and walk to the corner,
turning the plastic
the air shifts,
makes a hot soup
and pours it
about on a bed
of wild apples
the cold earth
DS Maolalai has been nominated nine times for Best of the Net and seven times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019).
with the gaunt, wind-burnt face
Head bowed down
Head of curls
Wrists wrinkled by sun
The time he spent
manning his boat
on the churlish sea
off the rocky California coast
I visited his house in the hills
Yard with chickens
The small house
with the tin roof,
the rain buckets
The green hills echoed around us
like an ocean
Heather Sager lives in Illinois, USA. Her most recent poetry appears in Fahmidan Journal, Magma Poetry, Version (9) Magazine, The Orchards Poetry Journal, Red Wolf, Trouvaille Review, Lothlorien Poetry Journal, and more. Recent fiction appears in The Fabulist and elsewhere.
It takes fortitude to
Endure such solitude.
I’ve grown accustomed
To its long dogged face.
Though I’ve never been
Here before, I have been
Here before. It’s become
My home, my silent place.
The bustle of the world
Has no bearing here and
Neither do the wiles of,
So-called, civilized man.
I hold the sand in my hand
Releasing it into the breeze
Just to watch it swirl from
My grasp into the expanse
And beyond into eternity.
Kenneth Vincent Walker is a “New Formalist” poet, spoken word artist, performer and author of Borderline Absurd (An Exercise in Rhyme and Reason), published by Poem Sugar Press 2015.
Possum brain stew by Joshua Martin
Needle neck time worn
down to nub stalled out
glacial ingestion digestion
as you turn
, to shatter old age record book ,
knees up & above
rows of possum [brain stew];;;
stumbl,ing accusation mansion
disapproved meltdown canister
, before long , accumulation uttered
merciful prospects to
banish,ed bag[ful] of hiding.
Joshua Martin is a Philadelphia based writer and filmmaker, who currently works in a library. He is the author of the books combustible panoramic twists (Trainwreck Press), Pointillistic Venetian Blinds (Alien Buddha Press) and Vagabond fragments of a hole (Schism Neuronics). He has had numerous pieces published in various journals including Otoliths, M58, The Sparrow’s Trombone, Coven, Scud, Ygdrasil, RASPUTIN, Ink Pantry, and Synchronized Chaos. You can find links to his published work at joshuamartinwriting.blogspot.com.
The colors and the spread,
Melancholy and the rest,
Sighs make notes of every flickering coil.
The wind is subtle,
It shall remain subtle,
Make the music box play it’s vital tune.
The harping melody
Shades towers, the twilight.
The eyes smothers in vacuum
No wind to tumult.
Sanghpriya Gautam is an aspiring poet who is trying to find life’s meaning in between the leaves through the busyness of life. He has done his MPhil in English Literature and is currently pursuing Ph.D in English Literature.
Not coincidentally, I have met many a person
With a strong appearance of a lower species
For instance, one school mate of mine carries
The features of a rabbit, another close relative
Those of a horse, a colleague of a familiar dog
An acquaintance of a hedgehog, a fifth of a
Snake, a sixth of a pig, a rooster, a rat, a water
Buffalo, a donkey, a goat or chimpanzee &
Each seems fated to fall within or without some
Chinese zodiac year
While my wife often
Looks like a nasty cat, she says my face oftener
shows all the hideousness of a demon, as if to re-
Mind her like every other fellow human, I was
Born in an extra year of Satan though we were
All created equal in His image
Yuan Changming hails with Allen Yuan from poetrypacific.blogspot.ca. Credits include Pushcart nominations besides appearances in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) & BestNewPoemsOnline, among others. Recently, Yuan published his eleventh chapbook Limerence, and served on the jury for Canada’s 44th National Magazine Awards (poetry category).
a parrot is pretty,
and probably prudent &
peculiar because it talks!
come to think of it,
the above stanza has five Ps,
perhaps a parrot says: I`m a person?
I wonder why a swan cries
while a snail munches & maybe…
maybe that`s why a linnet chuckles?
How I wish I could see a rooster`s
internal clock that makes it envision
sunrise, a day-to-day hunt for food
and of course, territorial protection!
a rooster crows a wake-up in the morn,
& the vim for its day & nightly crows?
a kangaroo chortles, as if to say,
your hearing ,sight & hopping abilities
are not a patch on mine, you`re game!
The other day I heard a kangaroo boast:
I can hop 25 feet, come in several sizes
& shapes, use my tail as my fifth leg!!
I guess it`s not a wise idea to sneak
into a hideout with a flashy frog since
it croaks, & a petty pig that snarls,
but call to mind, it can tell you
how it is smarter than a dog
that barks, that it can’t sweat!
why does a hyena laugh?
strange as it may sound, by virtue
of a sense of frustration & insecurity,
One day I said: enough of domestic noises
and vocalisations, because a horse was
neighing ,a donkey braying, a cow mooing:moo!
a goat lowing:maa! , a dog howling: owooooooo!
a content cat purring, meowing, a duck quaking,
a cackling chicken after laying an egg, what a tune,
after saying enough of the egg song, I headed
for the forest, a mannerless mosquito tingled
me before buzzing & whining away, damn!,
evading my swat by the skin of its proboscis,
how could it bite me to obtain protein that
it needs in order to lay its eggs? more what?
that meant more mosquito bites in the future,
in the wilderness a quail called, a lion roared,
a hapless hare squeaked , a cricket chirped,
a monkey chattered like a tireless gossip,
so much so that an okapi let out ….yes
a mocking, maddening cough while,
a giant alligator appeared & bellowed,
& if that did not get me crying & cringing,
the elephant`s trumpeting saw my feet fly away!
Ndaba has authored 24 published books and coauthored more than 100 published books. Sibanda is the author of Cabinet Meetings, The Immigrant With A Difference, Notes, Themes, Things And Other Things, The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, When Inspiration Sings In Silence, The Way Forward, Sometimes Seasons Come With Unseasonal Harvests, As If They Minded: The Loudness Of Whispers, This Cannot Be Happening :Speaking Truth To Power, The Dangers Of Child Marriages: Billions Of Dollars Lost In Earnings And Human Capital, The Ndaba Jamela and Collections and Poetry Pharmacy. His work is featured in The Anthology House, in The New Shoots Anthology, and in The Van Gogh Anthology, and A Worldwide Anthology of One Hundred Poetic Intersections. Some of Ndaba`s works are found or forthcoming in Page & Spine, Peeking Cat, Piker Press , SCARLET LEAF REVIEW , Universidad Complutense de Madrid, the Pangolin Review, Kalahari Review ,Botsotso, The Ofi Press Magazine, Hawaii Pacific Review, Deltona Howl, The song is, Indian Review, Eunoia Review, JONAH magazine, Saraba Magazine, Poetry Potion, Saraba Magazine, The Borfski Press, Snippets, East Coast Literary Review, Random Poem Tree, festival-of-language and Whispering Prairie Press. Sibanda has received the following nominations: the national arts merit awards (NAMA), 2016 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize, The Best of the Net Prose and the Pushcart Prize.
In the bright afternoon sun
cormorants swoop above
the silver-lamé water
The tide washes high
swirling away from the base
of a red lava cliff
A magnolia clings to its face
digging its gnarled roots deep
into the black-streaked rock
The white flowers scatter the
slope & beige sand
with a sweet perfume
Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 250 journals on six continents; and 18 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Escape to the Sea (Origami Poems Project, 2021). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. In 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.
Is the Poet Obsolete? The Role of the Artist in Society by Gary Beck
The role of the artist in society has changed dramatically at various times in recorded western history. One of the earliest notable exemplars of the reputable place that a poet occupied in society is Aeschylus, who did his public duty in 490 b.c., when he fought against the Persians at the battle of Marathon, participating in the struggle for survival of the democratic polis, Athens.
The options of the artist diminished rapidly with the growth of empires, since the role of the artist is not vital to the existence of the state. For almost two millennia, the normal pattern of life for the artist was dependency on patrons, sponsors, or commissions. The exceptions were the select few born to privilege, for example, Byron, who gave his life for Greek freedom, perishing in 1824 at Missolongi, during the Ottoman siege. During this span, the artists outside the system led difficult lives and were fortunate to practice their art, however difficult the conditions.
The Industrial Revolution diversified the control of wealth by the lords of power, bringing forth a new class of financial barons, who turned to the arts in imitation of their betters. Suddenly artists were able to create their work without it being pre-sold, consequently they were no longer mere craft-persons. Many became personages of some stature in the eyes of the new prosperous middle-class society.
From the 1870’s on, some artists had a world view that allowed them to look beyond their individual discipline, as they searched for a more significant role in the life around them. Poets patriotically enlisted in World War I, and the British poets in particular wrote about the horror they experienced. The poets who dutifully went to war in World War II returned quietly and never really developed a public identity. The crisis for American poets began in the early stages of the Cold War. American painters skyrocketed to world acclaim, fame, fortune, while the poets composed in relative obscurity. More and more poets sought a modicum of security, finding shelter in universities far from public recognition and reward.
In a dynamic American cultural revolution, every art form from the 1960’s on, offered the possibility of wealth and status to the artist, except poetry. Poetry had no opera houses, concert halls, museums, galleries, or mass-market publishers to attract large audiences. But the poets now were college-educated and with a few exceptions, such as the Beats, led obscure lives in colleges. The artificial atmosphere comforted the isolated wordsmiths with the illusion of accomplishment, reaching small groups of students, readers of poetry periodicals, and miniscule audiences attending poetry readings.
Poetry in America experienced an identity crisis. The anti-Vietnam war movement in the late 1960’s firmly closed the portals on the topic of war, mankind’s most consequential activity, as a suitable subject. Virtually all American poets were liberals and in all good conscience opposed war, so the government became the enemy. Since the poets mostly could not identify the capitalist owners of America, they scorned the system of flawed representative government and retreated further into safe niches. Internal revelations and lurid exposés of parental abuse became valid subject matter, transforming the nature of poetry into microcosmic excursions, rather then explorations of big issues.
In an era of uncertainties and dangerous conflicts, domestic and foreign, there is no designated role for the artist in American society. The very concept of training poets in college, an environment that discourages extremes and negates any natural inclination to action, leaves the poet adrift in a world that dismisses the practitioners of passivity.
The poet travels towards his or her destination, a journey of creation of what should be a meaningful body of work, through a haphazard combination of education, exposure and personal preferences. This occurs in an unstructured process that makes the accomplishments fortuitous. In medicine or engineering, students are taught and trained by measurable standards and the results are assessable. Even acting, the most superficial of the performing arts, which lacks the stringent requirements of music or dance, has more predictable goals than poetry. The poet’s path could be adventurous, since it explores an uncharted wilderness without landmarks or traveler’s aids, but it will be a dismal voyage for the timid.
Poetry, once the preeminent literary art, has been supplanted by mass market commercial fiction. The authors of novels have become far more prominent than any poet, whose limited possibilities of achievements are determined by effort, talent, and coincidence. Rarely is anything meaningful achieved without a mentor, the sponsorship of a like-minded network, or a supportive artistic community. The poet can be susceptible to a stifling tendency to huddle together in protective enclaves, rather than move in the sphere of the world at large.
The poet must learn to expand his or her perception of existence and enlarge their scope of interest, or risk becoming inconsequential in this demanding life. There is an urgent need to reach out to diverse audiences, prisoners, seniors, the culturally underserved, and most important, to youth, not to make them poets, but to introduce them to a broader view of life. With proper instruction, poetry is the most accessible and cost-effective way to reach large numbers of youth. The constriction of the classroom rarely develops confidence in youth, the quality that allows them to choose who they will grow up to be. The poet can help launch venturesome journeys for youth that will promote their contribution to the future of our society.
It is implausible that America will produce warrior-poets who will fight on tomorrow’s battlefields of freedom. But those poets who wish to participate in the life of their times, participate in a grander arena of creativity, design a meaningful role for themselves in their society, must outreach to needy and deprived audiences. The poet’s efforts will enrich their audiences, who in turn will reward those poets who are receptive with the great satisfaction derived from serving humanity.
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director and worked as an art dealer when he couldn’t earn a living in the theater. He has also been a tennis pro, a ditch digger and a salvage diver. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and his published books include 28 poetry collections, 11 novels, 3 short story collections, 1 collection of essays and 2 books of plays. Published poetry books include: Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways, Displays, Perceptions, Fault Lines, Tremors, Perturbations, Rude Awakenings, The Remission of Order, Contusions and Desperate Seeker (Winter Goose Publishing. Forthcoming: Learning Curve and Ignition Point). Earth Links, Too Harsh For Pastels, Severance, Redemption Value and Fractional Disorder (Cyberwit Publishing). His novels include Extreme Change (Winter Goose Publishing). and Wavelength (Cyberwit Publishing). His short story collections include: A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). Now I Accuse and other stories (Winter Goose Publishing) and Dogs Don’t Send Flowers and other stories (Wordcatcher Publishing). Collected Essays of Gary Beck (Cyberwit Publishing). The Big Match and other one act plays (Wordcatcher Publishing). Collected Plays of Gary Beck Volume 1 and Three Comedies by Aristophanes translated, then directed by Gary Beck (Cyberwit Publishing). Gary lives in New York City.