Bell Tower on a Grassy Knoll by Joe Cottonwood

unnamed

Frankly, an ugly structure of steel
like a square-legged spider
with the purest of heart,
a tower of one hundred forty bells.
Ocean air rises, falls, breaks like waves
ringing chimes above Bodega Bay.

Nicholas Green from this small town
at age seven was killed in far-off Italy
by highway robbers. His parents
donated his organs, new life for seven souls.
From Italy in gratitude, in sorrow
these bells etched with seven names.

Bells peal of hope.
In search of a more merciful world
we come, sit, listen.

Children come, do not sit, do not listen.
Children make offerings, a kite, a plastic airplane.
To the branches of a nearby pine
children tie handmade mobiles
marked with the names of dead siblings,
dead friends, shot schoolmates.
Here’s a string of origami hummingbirds,
and here on this branch among fog-damp needles
toy matchbox cars on fishline
dancing in the breeze. Dancing.

unnamed-1

Nicholas Green (September 9, 1987 – October 1, 1994).

 

Joe Cottonwood has built or repaired hundreds of houses in his day job as carpenter/contractor. Nights, he writes. His latest book is Foggy Dog: Poems of the Pacific Coast.

 

Photographs by Angus Parker and Lynn Donner. 

When We Glint by George Cassidy Payne

dbm

When we glint
we are back in time,
and the road groans
like an oncoming
British squadron.

Wounded. We feel
witnessed by time-
by 200 years of war,

a theater of bitter
clouds and the noon
day sun conniving.

When we glint we
sail through the carnage-

hurtling outward toward
an uncertain future. A
breeze rippling the surface.

 

 

George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, domestic violence social worker, adjunct professor of philosophy at Finger Lakes Community College, and a student of religion. He has degrees in the subject from St. John Fisher College, Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and Emory University. He lives and works in Rochester, NY.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed.

#Immigration #GunViolence: On Air, On Land, At Sea by Barbara Henning

double_flat_g_by_frogstar_23-dbly1sf

—when surfing in 28 degree water—or stuck in traffic—for 63 hours a year—your brain freezes—your chin gets stiff—no angry mobs in Tehran—shouting “Death to America”— No McDonald’s in Tehran—instead, a homegrown Mash Donald——dreaming—of a woman with blonde hair—chin length—at a restaurant table—with a younger dejected bully—hey, don’t worry—she says looking down at him—I’ll let you see em later—he drops his head—a sad puppy—so sad—so horrible—when the phone rings—we all wake up—to headlines with his name—oh no—and they’re just not true—he says—everyone must love me—digital twitter talk—can’t be recaptured—and you can’t bury it—it’s out there—scattered in air, on land, at sea—North Africa to Europe—Seawatch reports—2400 migrants rescued—four children dead—
(26 Oct 2016)

First published in Posit: A Journal of Literature and Art.

 

 

Barbara Henning is the author of several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015). Other recents include A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She has published three novels, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects and Black Lace, and she is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, Barbara lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University, as well as writers.com. http://barbarahenning.com

 

Painting Double Flat G by Jenn Zed. Used by Permission. 

#GunViolence: They Took the Guns by Buffy Shutt

23 ways january colorized

They took the guns.
In one night the children cleaned out
Our closets, our drawers, our lock boxes.
Scoured the police stations and the virtual stores,
Fled like animals, absconding with the action.

None too young or too small
To carry the guns
On their backs, over their heads
Across their forearms, stuffed into waistbands,
Zipped into backpacks, some with dangling charms.

They had badgered us until exhausted,
They turned into animals.
As one, the herd dropped the guns,
Clattering, crisscrossed into a sandy altar.
Littering our shore with dead-shiny obsidian.

Shot hot from a rifle this herd joins
The dragonflies, the turtles, the wildebeests,
The zooplankton swarms.
Heedless of the thousands and thousands of miles ahead
Theirs a desperate gamble.

The children forfeited their human form to start over.
They wait for us, these cagey animals
To surrender, to sacrifice our breath,
To sink forgotten into this riddled hill,
This ash-heap of cruel and casual penalty.

 

 

Buffy Shutt lives and works in Los Angeles. She spent most of her adult life marketing movies. She writes poetry and short stories. She has published one novel and co-authored a book of non-fiction with her college roommate and still best friend. A two time 2017 Pushcart nominee, her recent work has appeared in Red Fez, SplitLip, Bird’s Thumb and the Magnolia Review which gave her their Ink Award.

 

Original photograph by Fibonacci Blue.

#GunViolence: Twenty-Three Ways of Looking at January by Buffy Shutt

by Fibonacci Blue Buffy Shutt 23 ways January

I bought a gun today and placed
it in the hand of a ninth grader in Kentucky.
A reporter rushing to the school learned
her son was the shooter.

Eleven school shootings, twenty-three
winter days. Cafeteria, parking lot, school bus,
high school, college. Dallas, New Orleans,
Winston-Salem, San Bernardino, Seattle.
We track them—if we do —on the chyron
gliding across our screens with other scores.

My neighbor comes over this morning.
She has miscalculated, needs
a gun for a Nebraska elementary school.
I hand her one before we have our coffee.

 

 

Buffy Shutt lives and works in Los Angeles. She spent most of her adult life marketing movies. She writes poetry and short stories. She has published one novel and co-authored a book of non-fiction with her college roommate and still best friend. A two time 2017 Pushcart nominee, her recent work has appeared in Red Fez, SplitLip, Bird’s Thumb and the Magnolia Review which gave her their Ink Award.

 

Photograph by Fibonacci Blue.

#Immigration; #GunViolence: Two Cherita by Peter Jastermsky

2 Cheritas Peter Jastermsky photo by Russ

laughing their way
across the grass

a pair of quail

for a moment
we, too, feel at home
in this country

 

 

bullets fly

heads and flags
lower

how little rain
sinks in
before the next storm

 

 

Peter Jastermsky writes Japanese short-form works. His writing has appeared in many journals, including Failed Haiku, Haibun Today, The Cherita, and KYSO Flash. Born in Connecticut, Peter and his family live in Southern California, where he works as a licensed counselor.

 

Original photograph by Russ.

#Immigration #GunViolence: String Ball by Barbara Henning

e_11___loop_c_by_frogstar_23-d9y7mob.png

for Nevine Michaan and Charles Blow

—the body’s organized—on a square—so says Yogi Nevine—I walk around Tompkins Square—all four corners—surely this is the center—of the universe—the goal in life—should be joy—in Larung Gar—the Chinese—are tearing apart—Tibetan monastic—dwellings—plan your life—like a chess game—move analytically—with intent—it’s very practical—the way to attain joy—even for civilians—trapped in Aleppo—with artillery shelling overhead—defeat in life—is bitterness—buck up—writes Charles Blow—it’s over—the bully’s—in the white house—for the time being—alt-right is not—a computer command—they’re a batch of fanatical racists—if you’re happy—you’ll help everyone—if you’re miserable—you won’t help anyone—in Shuafat—a refugee camp—in Jerusalem—Baha helps the orphans—work, find direction, survive—then a drive-by—ten bullets—one of the children—will surely—take his place—you can follow—fake news sites—from one to another—unravel the molecular structure—of ribosomes—a tangled mess of rubber bands—and coiled wires—a new pattern—of income equality—life expectancy in the US—declines slightly—be careful—it’s like a string ball—if we keep going around—in the same direction—we will surely unravel— (1 Dec 2016)

First published in Rascal.

 

 

Barbara Henning is the author of several collections of poetry, her most recent A Day Like Today (Negative Capability Press 2015). Other recents include A Swift Passage (Quale Press), Cities and Memory (Chax Press) and a collection of object-sonnets, My Autobiography (United Artists). She has published three novels, Thirty Miles to Rosebud, You Me and the Insects and Black Lace, and she is the editor of Looking Up Harryette Mullen and The Collected Prose of Bobbie Louise Hawkins. Born in Detroit, Barbara lives in Brooklyn and teaches for Long Island University, as well as writers.com. http://barbarahenning.com

 

Painting Loop by Jenn Zed. Used by permission.