Sonnet for the Long Married #3
There ain’t no cure for love, sings Cohen on
the playlist. Both dogs barking: hate the music?
want a treat? You crank the sound and drink
your meds, these cool strong beers. Linguine bubbling,
damp dishtowel your epaulet: Commander
of the Kitchen Sink. The rain, the time
tick-ticking down, hung leashes drip, unfinished
dissertation shelved, and Hamlet essays
still to grade. Your wife still at the stylist’s:
takes him eons. Darkened windows glint
like sequined mirrors. All these years refracted
and redacted, water droplets, life
support. You wipe your hands and glasses: why
so warm and wet? Love’s IV on slow drip.
Chorizo, couscous, thin-sliced gala apples
in a bowl: a bachelor’s hash a husband
married many years can love, with spiky
jazz (that’s Braxton morphing Monk), cold beer
in front of you. Your wife has turned in (headache),
so it’s you and Trey, adopted greyhound
black as dreamless sleep. Linked memories,
your private myths—first Ali-Frazier fight
(on German radio), a gradeschool English
teacher and the story of his scar,
Andromeda’s bare bottom in a painting
by Burne-Jones—rise glistening as boulders
in a river. Have you journeyed well
enough to know the boulders, be the river?
(Thomas Zimmerman teaches English, directs the Writing Center, and edits The Big Windows Review https://thebigwindowsreview.com/ at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. Poems of his have appeared recently in Ephemeral Elegies, Grand Little Things, and Trestle Ties. Tom's website: https://thomaszimmerman.wordpress.com/ )
Balsamic Moon: Last Quarter before New
I took my aching heart for a walk above the river
seeking solace of rocks, and wind to clear me.
Balsamic moon, time of rest, of healing.
Blackbirds swooped tree to tree, to horizon.
Lilacs hanging heavy, bowed by fragrance and futility,
I took my aching heart for a walk above the river.
Balsam flower roots, the size of a hand, boil
into medicine. Leaf, flower, seed: all good
like the Balsamic moon, time of rest, of healing.
I lie down in arrow leaves, last shower of yellow
petals, cool and fragrant their little shade. The weight
of unshed tears in my aching heart, a river.
There’s a time to be lost in yourself, unknown as foreign land,
to listen for wisdom in your darkened quarters like this
Balsamic moon, last sliver of light, time of rest, of healing.
Silence holds the answer to the questions you don’t ask, like blackbirds
feeding on Balsam seeds. If you listen, you will hear them
in your aching heart’s lost river under Balsamic moon,
last quarter before new, time of rest, of healing.
Another sleepless night, pull of the moon
or some internal weather moved by time’s
changing rhythms. I walk, somnambulist,
in the new morning, west where the sun goes
each lengthening day to rest. I sit on the waking
earth. Last year’s grasses bleached platinum
on this south facing slope. River runs. Sky
unmarred by cloud thins along the sun-bright
ridge. I can see through each shadow of tree
the snow-dusted cheeks of hill and the age lines
left by deer. The dog paces in rustling steps
to check if I’m still here. I’m still, here.
(Subhaga Crystal Bacon the author of two volumes of poetry, Blue Hunger, 2020 from Methow Press, and Elegy with a Glass of Whisky, BOA Editions, 2004. A cis-gender, Queer identified woman, she lives, writes, and teaches on the east slope of the North Cascade Mountains, in Twisp, WA.)
It Had That Swing
My mother spent evenings listening to records.
Years of evenings.
78’s and 33’s, and only big band swing.
All named after the band leader.
The bands are largely forgotten now,
but there were Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey,
Woody Herman and Harry James,
Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller.
My mother, widowed and jobless,
Played the music of her courtship,
Of a yet unburdened future,
At least twice a week.
I never liked the music,
But had nowhere else to go,
And absorbed it despite myself,
Melodies lingering decades later.
In cleaning out her house
I couldn’t throw away the records
And suitcased them back home.
Never played, almost forgotten.
They’re serious collectibles now,
Worthwhile selling off,
But I can’t discard the future
She almost had.
(Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over two hundred fifty stories and poems published so far, and six books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of six review editors.)
Alone Again As Before
I stare at nightscapes
stars flicker a little too bright
over nearby rooftops
where Lady Gaga and House of Pain regale partygoers
I imagine bodies bouncing in basements
speakers thumping, dim lights glowing
like last week
I speak to the night
trying to find words
to describe vastness
sterility of rooms without pictures
inbox without emails
without the simple words. we’d love to invite you.
I try to speak
talk to me. get together for a quick drink.
please. may I join?
I’d like to join
I’d really like to
pronounce the words, but awkward
hands reach into the air
and I feel a thousand scenarios
mockery, apathy, ignorance marching
thumping. voice pulls back into sterility
like last week
and many last weeks
why can’t I just speak?
at least the wounded words would be spoken
(Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program in fiction. A native of Idaho, Yash’s work is forthcoming or has been published in WestWard Quarterly, Café Lit, and Ariel Chart, among others.)
I forgive you
To the thug, the creep, the criminal
You who has to sneak in the shadows of night,
Your life of deceit is subliminal, yet you’re the only one who cannot see it.
Even when your lies are cast into the light, still you fight.
Manipulation and coercion without shame, to achieve your own personal gain,
This became my harrowing pain, melancholic misery, your actions were to blame.
The issue of consent is clear, no means no, but somehow you chose not to hear.
Your need to satisfy yourself has cost me my dignity, my job and my spiritual health.
Created emotional wounds visible for the world to see, gaping and raw, swallowed by a whirlwind of anxiety.
I am grateful you were not violent, if not only because the sheer shock caused my silent compliance.
Initially overcome with confusion, an unsettling feeling pushed aside as I fall victim to insidious manipulation.
Sadly I was blinded by delusion, a deceptive illusion of who I hoped you’d be,
The hideous man you are wasn’t evident to me, distracted by my own helplessness,
It’s clear now why I wasn’t able to see.
But slowly you revealed yourself to me, a monster, challenged mentally, a liar lacking empathy.
The police confirmed your multiple criminal convictions, they already have you marked as high risk on their systems.
Flooded with anger and insomnia, engulfed by mountainous waves of horror, I submerged in self pity.
I did request however, for the police not to make an arrest.
I’m still not so sure this was best, But my heart needed to rest,
Involving the police certainly wouldn’t increase my sense internal peace, their endless questions followed by your relentless lies.
Justice or peace, my heart had to decide.
Then it was your mum whom I wished I could tell, perhaps your ex wife even more so,
The man you truly are they deserved to know, desperately seeking a way to let this pain go.
But thankfully the pain is no more, my heart returned to peace, the wound no longer sore.
Now I am able to forgive you and wish you well, for you are just mentally unwell,
I extend compassion and loving kindness in hope that one day you will see through your nastiness and surrender your ego based righteousness.
I however, have survived this dark phase and have nothing other than gratitude and praise
For endless value arises from that brief encounter, an unexpected elevation in spiritual power.
I embrace my suffering, knowing that flowers don’t grow without rain.
Self-reflection inspired by my pain, pain which drove me insane, yet showed me that something needed to change.
Paradoxically my loss of dignity has lead to greater clarity.
Paradoxically I chose to be powerful, not pitiful, creating victory out of tragedy,
Paradoxically your trickery helped me to look inside, to where my own deceptions hide.
Internal fears, tainted values and silly ideas. I have let go of all of this.
I no longer need a man’s flattery, no longer burdened by this type of insecurity.
No longer do I fear rejection, that was nothing but a mere projection
I no longer need male validation, no longer time wasting seeking and chasing
I have stopped running and hiding, it’s myself I have started facing.
I am able to transcend my story. My past, my pain no longer has power over me. I am free.
God sent you to me to help me see, that all I need is within me.
I just need to love me to be free.
This anxiety inside of me, really ought to be set free,
Just let it go, it’s driving me crazy.
Spinning my head around and around, this mental block,
Sometimes leaves me bed bound.
Hours, days, years. Confusion transported through my tears.
Like a heavy river, fears and frustrations once again flood the banks of self composure
A single thought can cause a thousand heart beats.
That’s too much weight to carry man, I’ve only got size 7 feet.
Am I creating thoughts or are my thoughts creating me?
Sometimes it can be hard to see. Is this really reality or just my perception?
Endless day dreams, sometimes even night mares.
Exhausting my sense of positivity, diminishing my creative flare.
My thoughts seem so unclear, this internal chaos.
It can be like a whirlwind in here.
Worry, worry, worry. I’m so bored of this.
If there’s anything I’ve excelled at in life, it certainly is this.
Can people see that sometimes I’m a helpless mess?
Does my face show signs of stress, hiding eyes, tainted smiles?
Or have I convinced everyone that I’m powerful and strong,
That I can handle it, even when things go wrong?
I guess I can
Now listen miss, sit in your seat of self-respect, take a moment to reflect.
Your childhood spent in foster care, various places, so many faces,
often left you wondering if anybody really cares.
A life without parents has been hard and yeah, it’s definitely left some scars.
But from the way that I have grown, to hold my own, yet never really been shown.
I’m more than blessed.
I have risen against all adversity, damn I even made it university
And I’m not just an average pass, girl you got yourself a first class
So next time you’re about to break a sweat, just remember there is no real threat.
You’re on the right path, you’ve got a great life, wonderful friends and an amazing job.
None of this is pretend, this really is reality
(Cemile Kabadayi based in South London, is very excited about having her original poetry reviewed for publishing in The Beautiful Space Journal. Much of Cemile’s Poetry is authentically themed around mental health and surviving challenging circumstances. Cemile is comforted by the idea of others reading her poems and finding solace through identification.)
An ambulance sped
to a hospital at night.
The moon rose
in fright. Scared
all the way.
They sounded like
I saw a packed
room upon arriving.
A voice cried,
Don’t leave me
from a distant place.
Time bent, twisted,
I became loud
and unruly at once.
in the chaos like
a ship had ignited.
All hands stormed
the burning deck.
The crew’s white
Men dressed me
with a jacket.
A raft sailed by.
We got on board
and took off.
I rode a wave
The moon shone
full and high.
It pulled through
a cursed sky,
alarmed by a rising
tide of admissions.
(Sarah Henry is retired from a newspaper. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in journals and anthologies both printed and online. Sarah lives and writes in a small Pennsylvania town without distractions.)
Couldn’t be written or worn
He walked words that couldn’t be written
That rarely were spoken of, meaning he hung on notes
But left his glory to keep up with his mistakes
His mind went behind thoughts that found an escape
Hard to find
He drank from barrels of tea that had bags
That stained all his cups
Unable to wash off the uncertainty his life
Had poured out, he would never be clean
Or be able to be proper enough to hide
But when he embraced her design
Back in the closet he went through having hung nights
That he wore her thin while finding the fullness of his skin
Cast in the morning he looked for love
That he never thought would run out
with him wearing the heels or
That would be the most comfortable way to flee
(Uzomah Ugwu is a poet and writer. She is a political, social, and cultural activist. Her core focus is on human rights, mental health, animal rights, and rights of LGBTQ persons. My work has been featured in Prelude Magazine, Tuck Magazine and Wild Word, the Angel City review and Voice of Eve and Scarlet Leaf Review, and more.)
THIS CALLS FOR ANGER
Anger is calling,
calling me to rise
from my slumbering stupor,
calling me to shake off
the shackles of indifference,
calling me to stir
the pot of injustice.
Come on woman
answer the call!
Harness the power
of red hot rage
to hurl away oppression
and obliterate abuse,
to pounce on prejudice
and kill discrimination,
to deal a deathly blow
and transform these iniquities
into human parity.
feels like a weighty cloak
heavy laden with privilege
and cross-stitched with unawareness.
I was swaddled in my whiteness
the moment I was born,
but oftentimes it felt
like I was wearing nothing
skinny dipping through life
oblivious to the blessings of birth.
I’ve been wrapped in security
and cradled in a culture
woven with threads
of blatant bigotry
and subtle oppression.
I can never remove my whiteness,
but the time has come
to completely refashion
the fabric of my inner world
and the pattern of our outer world.
THE COEXISTENCE OF DARKNESS AND LIGHT
A long, dark year
filled with distance and disease,
murder and marching,
prejudice and protest
causes me to lie
tossing and turning.
But the multitude of stars
outside my windowpane
are blind to my disquiet
for they glimmer and gleam
as they always have before.
I fall asleep
fearing the news
tomorrow might bring,
but the sun rises
spreading pastel promise
across the horizon
announcing the splendor
of another day.
Looking at the colored canvas
I beg to be delivered
from discomfort and distress
and showered with everlasting jubilation.
What a histrionic plea
that I know can never be.
When I take the Sunday paper
out onto the deck
and watch the leafy shadows
mingle with the headlines
I feel the ever-present coexistence
of darkness and light,
of suffering and joy,
of what has been for ages
and what is yet to come.
(Alice Smith lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her husband Alfred and their dog Leroy. Together they have four children and four grandchildren. Alice is a cancer survivor, an incurable introvert, and the author of five collections of poetry including That Little Girl.)
Bringing Jimmy Home
It’s what needs to be
so he can be in his own bed
see the faces he knows best
sit in his favorite chair
pet Max his dog
hold his wife’s hand
eat all the ice cream he wants
have people he loves
come to him
if he calls out in the night
This is right, bringing him here
so he can fondle his scrapbooks
watch sports at all hours
having Jimmy home
is what we all need
his wife won’t have to wait
to conjure up his smile
The clock ticks louder
not much time left
years and miles
have just flown by
no more races left to run
just all his loving fans here
as he breaks through the ribbon
at the finish line
(for Jimmy the Runner 2011)
is my shrink
my pen, medication
outbursts of words
my healing catharsis
nothing is sacred
nothing is held back
pain has no depth
anger is welcomed
what is not said
face to face
burns holes on the paper
bruises the ink
words stream out
on reams of tears
my painful necessity
a daily bodily function
it pushes me outside
away from open windows
yes, a great artist
would of loved
to have been able
to immortalize you
but it’s too late
the warm light
and vivid colors
can no longer
hold you within
a glowing silhouette
your portrait is gone
paint washed away
all that remains
are faded lines
on a forgotten face
you have vanished
all your energy
after so many years
just another exhausted
long suffering caretaker
of a wreck
(RM Yager is a nurse/teacher/photographer whose topics are marginalized, at risk populations, poetry is her vehicle to deliver words most people find unspeakable, hopes to offer inclusion, wants to stop you in your tracks with controversial humor/tragedy within family and relationships, but she also loves whimsy and humor).
BARE BONES REALITY
Hello. My name is ‘bare bones reality.’ You probably think of me as your worst enemy.
I travel the world and invade people's lives; sometimes when they least expect it.
My greatest enemies are happiness, comfort, and satisfaction. I have absolute power.
I can morph into various shapes and forms. I am like a chameleon on the prowl.
Most people see me as a ghastly ugly creature whose mission is to torture and destroy.
I can appear as death, illness, tragedy, and many other things...
Most people try to ignore that I even exist. They turn their heads and hope that I will not find them.
Yet, I am strong and relentless. I will eventually visit almost everyone in their life time.
Sometimes I will appear for only a brief visit and sometimes I will stay for a very long time.
I do not care if you are rich or poor, young or old, a sinner or a saint.
You are at my mercy. There is nothing you can do to evade me when I decide that you are my next prey.
However, despite being repugnant on the outside, I do have a mysterious inner beauty.
I will always dramatically change any life that I visit.
I will decimate all of your hope and comfort. I will strip away all of the armor that you have used to deal with life.
I will lay you as bare as a newborn baby. All of the power that you thought was yours will evaporate like water in the hot sun.
Yet, I will show you secrets beyond what you might have imagined.
The pain that I exact will both humble and resurrect you.
So, when I do come, please know that there is a meaning there that you must strive to see.
By so doing, you will be like a Phoenix arising from the ashes in a way that you never could have imagined.
(C. B. Buckner is a retired radiologist residing in Little Rock, Arkansas. Only recently has he begun to explore creative writing. He is currently working on a collection of poetry, prose, and short stories. He has two novels under development)
The Beautiful Space-