or (a Letter to My Brother I Wrote, Ripped, and Retaped)
Real men should be afraid of nothing,
especially not of other men.
But what of those they don’t consider to be real men?
What about the fear of even touching their blood
because it probably has AIDS?
The fear that makes every son a blessing;
every gay son a curse:
a death in the family,
a non-existent thing,
A faggot for allowing your heart to decide.
Faggot for letting your back arch
like a dog in heat for another man to make you his.
Faggot for breaking your mother’s heart,
and her father’s father’s,
and his Father who is in heaven:
hallowed be His name;
hollowed was yours on her lips
when she used to ring your wrists
until your 6-year-old hands went numb,
yelling into your big brown eyes,
wishing that you were more like me.
Your place in the afterlife hijacked
by one who loves women
just like he’s supposed to,
and takes it without complaining:
because prayer can fix anything—
like Vicks VapoRub—
because Don’t worry it’ll pass
will also pass, and you will be judged
by people who call themselves family,
who hate you because you’re not what they
think a man should be:
what your Creator made you as
when He made you the way He made you.
He loves you, along with all the angels
in eternity who are cheering for you
to grab your piece of heaven by force.
The hell I tortured you with
when I joined in because I didn’t know any better,
because I’d rather be wrong than be your brother,
because protecting you meant making myself weak.
Back when I wasn’t strong enough to be strong for you;
when you were stronger for the both of us,
and all of those that needed to form a mob
in order to be strong against you.
When I wanted to protect you from yourself
and all the evil in your veins—
the meth in your madness—
after you told me you had HIV.
How I wished for you to be 6 again
so I could finally be stronger than you,
and wrap you in my arms against your will
until you cried yourself to sleep.
I’d carry you to your room
and heal your wounds
with my kisses.
But even in your weakened state,
you wouldn’t have needed my help
the way the phoenix doesn’t
need a firefighter to aid it
as its heart burns to ash,
or a sculptor to fashion
its feathers anew from cinder.
There will always be men
who will hate you to feel like men,
preaching the Gospel of Jesus, love incarnate,
hiding behind His cross their fear of faggots—
killing Abel, the world’s first gay man and martyr,
time and time again
out of jealousy
because God loved him more
Jose Oseguera is an LA-based writer of poetry, short fiction and literary nonfiction. Having grown up in a primarily immigrant, urban environment, Jose has always been interested in the people and places around him, and the stories that each of these has to share. His writing has been featured in The Esthetic Apostle, McNeese Review, and The Main Street Rag. His work has also been nominated for the “Best of the Net” award (2018 and 2019) and the “Pushcart Prize.” He is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection “The Milk of Your Blood.”
The holiness of sunrise
by people in cars
rushing to work
In cracks of roads
plants shoot up
grasping the air
without certainty of survival
DAH’s ninth poetry collection is SPHERICAL (Argotist Press, 2019), and his poems have been published by editors from the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Canada, Spain, Poland, Philippines, Singapore, Australia, Africa, and India. He is a Pushcart nominee, Best Of The Net nominee, and the lead editor for the poetry critique group, The Lounge. DAH lives in Berkeley, California where he teaches yoga to children in public and private schools while working on the manuscript for his tenth poetry collection. His eighth book is Full Life In The Day Of A Poet, selected poems (Cyberwit Publishing, 2019). Visit: www.dahlusion.wordpress.com
We’ve come out of the dust
in our mother tongue
not to praise the people
with astronomical hoards of bucks
and numbers, but those who’ve risen
out of volcanic ashes, those pushed
into labors for biddings not theirs,
who’re capable of envisioning peace
between nations when negotiations
take work with credible research
and willingness to hear clearly,
while a missile fires off at the twitch
of a ring finger. We’re here to give
our piece to the masters of war
who may be disinterested in seeing
what’s before them, as they duck
responsibility for the consequences
of their acts just to maximize profit.
Every day the masters of war fight
the human consensus, masters who,
stumbling upon disputes, provide
not wisdom but lethal arms to every
side, who in the face of Earth’s limits
of materials wage their public war
for control and to gut education.
And yet we’re here to recognize
those who’ve stood for peaceful
coexistence, who understand links
of firing off a missile to destruction
on the ground, who can envision
many years of peace, with altruism
toward those in need, and not forget
that war is a catastrophic collapse.
James Grabill’s work appears in Caliban, Harvard Review, Terrain, Mobius, Shenandoah, Seattle Review, Stand, and many others. Books – Poem Rising Out of the Earth (1994), An Indigo Scent after the Rain (2003), Lynx House Press. Environmental prose poems, Sea-Level Nerve: Books One (2014), Two (2015), Wordcraft of Oregon. For many years, he taught all kinds of writing as well as “systems thinking” and global issues relative to sustainability.
Wife calls me from her cell, says all the way to work whitetails lined the roadway, four and five deep in places, says they looked like passengers behind the line to board a train. I remind her that today’s the day the governor comes to town with his entourage and motorcade. I ask her if she saw the rabbits. Come to think of it, she says, it did look like the doe were wearing fuzzy slippers. And were there birds perched atop bucks’ antlers? Hundreds, maybe thousands, in the voice she gathers for amazement. She asks if they’ve all left their nests to greet the governor as he passes. I tell her each and every creature have been summoned for extinction. Did you not see the front end loaders, dump trucks in the background? Silly me, she says, you’re right, always with a new administration.
First Friday, and I am only visually deconstructing a mixed medium while sipping a snappy little chardonnay and blowing foam through my minced bologna when I trip over my own two feet and slice a piece of thigh on the slivers, squirt blood floor to ceiling on a new white wall and spectators gather while I text for an Uber to Urgent Care to get stitched up, then return to where everyone surrounds me like iron filings on a north magnetic pole, not out of concern for my accident but in awe of it although Pollock would deny the accident and I am gracious and even a bit proud yet properly acknowledge the on-call physician’s assistant, the glassblower, the grape stomper, the casing stuffer skyping from a range of locations and of course, my parents in assisted living for their feet in this.
Charles Springer has degrees in anthropology and is an award-winning painter. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he is published in over seventy journals including The Cincinnati Review, Faultline, Windsor Review, Packingtown Review and Tar River Poetry, among others. His first collection of poems entitled Juice is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing. He writes from Pennsylvania.
my clock of you seems to have stopped
I imagine you‘ve moved the furniture. erased the place.
I’ve been reading rilke about loss. he speaks of meeting the pain.
finding a place for it. inside.
what does it mean that words take so long to generate?
nothing and nothing and
then up from the belly through the chest out the throat
on to the page.
mouth wet to the page.
maybe it’s me. moving the furniture.
Ditta Baron Hoeber
Ditta Baron Hoeber is an artist and a poet. Her recent poetry publications have been in Windowcat, Contemporary American Voices, the American Journal of Poetry, the American Poetry Review, Construction Magazine, New American Writing and Per Contra along with a suite of her photographs. In 2018 she received a nomination for the Pushcart Prize. Her photographs, drawings and book works have been exhibited nationally and have been acquired by several artist book and photography collections, including those at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the University of Pennsylvania, MOMA’s Franklin Furnace Artist Book Collection, Oberlin College and Chelsea College of Art and Design in London.
We pretend having our life,
even world’s life, always under control,
from past generations to present days.
Sometimes we feel close to that certainty,
and it is good that this should happen,
giving us some encouragement on the route.
We work with the mind and the heart,
science and desire, on outlining the future,
which we anticipate promising and happy.
Skirting around life’s corners, every so often,
we are faced with frightening facts,
perhaps echoes of ancient Greek tragedies,
poor of hope in the human renaissance.
Wars, revolutions, tyrannies and persecutions,
born on the drumming of soulless men,
have delayed landing in the promised land,
where milk and honey spur and light reigns,
preventing all evil once sown.
But we are already listening
the beating of the wings of the dove’s return,
like those of Noah, bringing in its beak
the green branch of the olive tree.
Edilson Afonso Ferreira
Edilson Afonso Ferreira, 75 years, is a Brazilian poet who writes in English rather than in Portuguese. Largely published in international journals in print and online, he began writing at age 67, after retirement as a bank employee. Nominated for The Pushcart Prize 2017, his first Poetry Collection, Lonely Sailor, One Hundred Poems, was launched in London, November 2018. He is always updating his works at www.edilsonmeloferreira.com.