Reality is not what it seems to be
Reality blurs with each breath
With each new thought or idea
We try so hard to find our reality
A reality we can embrace and accept
We look for our reality in different places
We look to education and classrooms
Some search religions, ministers, or gurus
Others surround themselves with friends
They look for reality in relationships
Books, films, and music fall short
We continue to search
We search endlessly
In the end reality is simply
Our experiences and perceptions
(Howard Moon is a writer and poet. His writing and poetry have appeared in multiple collections and anthologies, Small Change, Montana Mouthful, Das Literarisch Journal, Of Poets and Poetry, and Native Skin. He of Native heritage and identifies as BIPOC. In 2012 he suffered a brain injury and has been diagnosed with Pseudobulbar Affect)
Supposed to be sleeping,
either getting those good dreams or having a blackout from being too tired.
From playing games to social media, reading books and listening to music,
I'm still lying on my bed with eyes wide awake.
Couldn't stop thinking, just wanted to take a break.
As I close my eyes, I hear all the voices.
I kept thinking if what I did was enough.
All the negatives overflow my brain,
somehow the unfinished works became 60% progress or totally finished.
I didn't care about the time and the hunger anymore.
It felt that no matter what happens, I have to finish.
Whether I hated what I'm doing or not, it should be done.
Been trying to sleep with a calm mindset but having heartbeats and nightmares superseded.
It's like a lunatic staying high with a vertigo.
It's hard to keep the thoughts away.
Bringing back memories that shouldn't show up again,
I don't understand what's wrong with me.
Awake on the outside but dead on the inside.
Stuck in a time loop with nowhere to go, every scenario was full of rejections.
When does this stop?
I missed the sane me.
Maybe I have to be insane for awhile to wake up.
To wake up in the reality where there's still healing.
To wake up where there's still room to improve.
I hate myself to be always wide awake.
But, maybe keeping me awake reminds me to be alive and wait for its next adventures to come.
Well, good for them, they are living in the best life.
At a young age, they can see the world as they want it to be.
While here I am, lying down on my bed, just listening to tunes that calms the mind.
With no path to go, being stuck in solace, I don’t even know where to begin.
I used to dream those things.
Dreams of getting a good career, travel around the world Luxurious outfits, high-quality items,
got some Lamborghinis, Tesla and Ferraris over there.
Even with some exclusive invites to parties with black cards, they always stood out in the spotlight.
ld, having your own house.
But now, I guess it’s never going to happen anymore.
I am one of those unlucky ones.
Always hopeful, always thinking that since dreams are free, it can still be achieved.
Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic that is thinking too far.
As time passes, the struggles come by.
Did I make the right decision?
Have I done enough?
Is this path the answer to all my questions?
Everyday is uphill battle with voices of doubt spiraling in my head.
Each failure I get feels like I’m being shot by an arrow and is forced to step back.
Others thought I’m crazy for just managing it with a smile.
What they don’t know was that behind the smile were buckets of tears and dark eyebags.
The shame, embarrassment, and pity are all being thrown at me.
There is no surprise that I am now being ignored and scolded always.
All that came into me was that I am worthless.
The laughs and smiles were the façade to keep others from worrying.
At the end of the day, all I want is to be productive in what I do.
I want to regain the motivation and strength to bring back the confidence again.
I want people to see me as a person struggling but also see my efforts as I reach the top in the end.
All I want is to be enough for myself.
If only fairytales somehow existed in this universe, happiness would have already been found.
Thank the heavens that I still haven’t given up even if my patience is at the brink of its level.
I know I can do it.
I just wish that my heart, mind, and soul is still holding on to the pain and misery.
Just hold on tight on this tightrope once more.
One day, it will all be worth it.
One day, everything that I have worked for will be enough.
(Bio Note: Natasha Alva is a first-time poet and enjoys reading novels. She started writing poems in 2020 through her Instagram account and sometimes joins prompt contests from different poetry communities. She writes Filipino and English poems and gets inspired through the movies, TV shows, novels, and music that she loves).
Facebook: Natasha Alva
Instagram: @theburiedpages , @natasha_alva0341
Begin with the stardust in your never-
empty throat, search through sinew electric
and constellating different from us
but the same in fierce in wrangling.
Search unfamiliar arrays,
gaze beyond Orion to unearth
novel strands, unshackle our daughters
from our daughters from our mothers’ DNA.
May you search different angles of the same
enduring sun—unstitch tendons
from tenuous ribbons of rheumatism.
May you search for and find our heart
chambers rearranged for a feast
of hope trimmed in wing and facet.
for Kathryne Marks, PhD, immunologist and daughter of the RA Warrior, who is searching for a cure for RA.
(Pam Sinicrope served as an editor for Howling Bird Press and is an MFA candidate at Augsburg University. She is a senior poetry editor for the new Journal, RockPaperPoem. Some of her poems are forthcoming or found in SWWIM Every Day, Spillway, The Night Heron Barks, The Muse, Aethlon, Indolent Books: Poems in the Afterglow, Literary Mama, 3 Elements Review, and Appalachian Journal. Pam lives in Rochester, MN. She has a doctorate in Public Health and engages in research to eliminate health disparities with a focus on cancer prevention. She enjoys time with her family, hiking with her dog, tennis, and independent films.)
Our brain, as old as the sea, carries
of our every activity,
carries a shape
carved by our experiences,
our ancestors, our environment.
Like a cask of memories
carries our, identity, heirlooms,
filled with our own sunshine,
clouds, people, and beasts.
Like a parliament, our brain,
about our conflicting, endless, desires.
Our brain, a shape-shifter, constantly
rewrites its circuitry.
Every day our brain
tries to break free
from its reptile instincts, its ape behaviours,
its Neanderthal desires.
All our ecstasy, anxiety,
depression, fear, and love,
spring up from the recesses
of our brain.
Despite all the hyperbole
about the human logic,
most of our activities run
on an autopilot, by-passing
reason, by-passing consciousness.
(Dr Javed Alam- a UK based Kashmiri poet and physician. He uses a pen name to separate his professional life from his literary work. He likes to write in the language of ordinary people, about their ordinary thoughts and about their ordinary insights. Dr Javed likes to use poetry to explore the philosophy of life, neurosciences and Kashmir. His work has been published in print and online literary journals as well as in anthologies in the UK, USA, India, Canada and Ireland. https://www.poeticnoesis.com/)
A Mile Past Despair
A lonely wanderer
retrieves the trampled newspapers from the street.
She gives free rein to her untethered thoughts
and conjures up meanings beyond the pages.
From these crumpled up pieces of trash,
she dares to create her secret world
In her faded shopping cart,
she scavenges grimy cans and bottles.
while she mumbles her magical prayers
and stares at numbers and signs.
She sojourns the streets cursing and blessing
depending on her encounters and moods.
At night, she crashes behind the rusted green dumpster till dawn.
Sometimes she gets captured and confined,
but she refuses the pills
that make her obese and withdrawn-
a mile past despair
and nobody cares
What can it be?
What can it be? Where can it be?
Who is this monster that still follows me?
Am I too trusting or am I a threat?
Is it some weakness or is it some test?
Maybe my feelings are too self-involved,
Or maybe I’m lazy or just getting old.
Can I escape from this prison of thought?
Can I break free from my backsliding God?
Perhaps all my questions are nothing but fear
That twists up my feelings
And makes me seem weird.
Perhaps in this moment, I can free myself
And find out some purpose
That helps me reach out.
But I know this monster
That comes every day,
So I will keep vigil and patiently wait.
I have nowhere to run and no place to hide.
I must face the creature before it’s too late.
(John Zurn has been faced with the challenges of bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder for his entire adult life. He gradually learned that: medication, exercise, meditation and creative writing were vital for his long term recovery. Despite this challenge, he still worked as a teacher and counselor for thirty-five years.)
It’s lonely here for my brain cells
they used to have some fun
but now they go for days on end
not seeing anyone
First they would sing and then they’d dance
with bubbles like champagne
electrically charged and bursting
now they're circling the drain
Creatives in the right brain
with their colors and their words
the logicals gathered on the left
what a boring bunch of nerds
But now the sounds of silence
are like echoes off a cliff
as an ancient hieroglyph
I'm not sure what could have happened
oh brain cells, where are you?
there must have been an exodus
not much that I can do
All that's left
is a sad refrain
it's lonely being
in my brain
(Siri Espy is retired from the corporate world, where her publications included two books, numerous articles, and innumerable reports and bullet points. She has been published in Global Poemic, Sparks of Calliope, Persephone’s Daughters, The Society of Classical Poets, and Lighten Up Online. She is delighted to rediscover her creativity.)
In praise of …..Mind – Less
The catch between the tick and tock
Where time lapses
The page reverses
Peace expands and illuminates
Opens the flow
Clamours are subdued
Soothe and restores
Unifies selves within
(The Philosophical Pigeon fell to grace into poetry as a way of healing from mental health issues. Fascinated by life and all that jazz poetry is a liberating tool of expression. Content and style are eclectic and mirrors the multidimensional beauty of humanity.)
As hearts go,
Mine is an easy one captured.
And indeed, it will always be captured,
By the uncertain hope of a one-way ticket.
I heard it this morning,
He manoeuvres heavy suitcases.
His exertion manifests,
In warm, sweaty breaths.
“One-way ticket to Dublin”, he gasps,
His breath fogs up the glass, misty eyes.
Perhaps his bags were too heavy,
That could be why.
Or perhaps he is going to leave and never come home
And to start a new life!
This bus stops at the airport,
And from there there’s the world,
There’s nowhere he couldn’t go,
An infinity of bus stops are there, right out there!
I’ve gotten a one-way ticket before,
I came back of course,
But when I decided to leave,
I didn’t know when my return trip would be.
I just went and then was,
How exciting was that?
And then I was stuck in an airless beige house,
for a year and a half,
(How exciting was that?)
So I went on a voyage,
And unearthed a new me,
Spent long days, restless nights,
Seeking, eking every bit of me out.
Gave unloved parts love and untended parts care,
Ugly parts too got compassion,
Then I pruned them away and replaced them with roses.
Slowly, slowly, but every day.
I was bone-tired sad once, hated every small bit of the world,
And especially me.
And now I’m writing a poem as I sit on the bus,
And I revel in peace,
How exciting is that?
I took a one-way trip,
I am whole now, complete,
I have reached Dublin Airport and here is the world,
And there’s nowhere I cannot go.
How exciting is that?
(Emily is a young scientist from Donegal, Ireland. Completing her final year of university during a national lockdown took a significant toll on her already ailing mental health. This prompted her to seek medical attention for her depression. Over the past months, joy and abundance have returned to her life).
The way we go
Were his eyes growing dim
or was he already shedding,
his once so solid mind crumbling
like a leaf in autumn?
I felt him reach and fumble,
not quite finding me, though
I myself hadn’t moved.
Each time he tried to connect
I got less of him until all that was left
was a heap of rust.
(Diana Devlin is a Scottish-Italian poet and fiction writer who formerly worked as a translator, lexicographer and teacher. Her work has been widely published and anthologised, for example in The Lake, The Blue Nib, The Poets' Republic, The Poet Magazine and Ink Sweat & Tears).
The Beautiful Space-