by Ahmad Al-
The Gypsy Prayer
Sometimes I think I am
less than more
than a human who’s
the brutality of being
vulnerable and pray
without being known
the gypsy prayer
In the house of God,
most of the people
choose to take
advantage of my
Meanwhile, when I am
around my sinner
friends, they taught
me “enough is
I dress the way I dress
I talk the way I talk
without any limitations
I walk the way I walk
within my boundaries
and I’ll die the way I
wished with the
Being happy with
someone you love
more of a curse than a
gift, as being
creates, hides emotions
and tears whenever
my mind, body, soul
slowly bleeds to
by Ryan Quinn Flanagan
4 Hobby Horsemen of the Apocalypse
I find one of those old hobby horses
digging through storage.
A brown horse head on a stick
that I put between my legs and gallop
around just like the kiddies do.
But it is boring to ride indoors.
I look out to the street.
All that pavement.
I want the wind flowing through
what is left of my hair.
If only I could enlist three others
with their own hobby horses,
We could all ride in together.
4 Hobby Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Like a biker gang, but with more purpose.
The neighbours would flee in fear.
Men and women screaming with terror.
Our horses neighing each time we took turns
making the noises.
by Ahmad Al-
From the foolishness of politicians
From the damages of civil war
From the combat in the south
your heart never started to break
Beirut, you have taught Baghdad and
Damascus not to panic so whatever
What happened with you yesterday
turned our eyes into a silent song played by your tears
To Beirut, we will cry and offer aids for
To Uighur, we will weep and support for
To all humanity, whom there’s not a day that
-goes by when tears are not in our eyes
It’s the time that we stop being sightless
It’s the perfect timing to stop being careless
We must stand above our unheard screams
We shall stop hearing the politician apologies.
The Nights Are Long
On The List
The Noise of a
by Ahmad Al-Khatat
The Nights Are Long
Dreaming of you explains
why the nights are long with
I still have your scent on
Even though I let you slip far away
I want you to stop me
Take me away from all of
let me be closer to your
People die like the
branches in fall
You spread love over my
And I turned love to a cloudy heart
You have always believed in a good
love, yet none of us said
I broke my heart by the
I throw all of the pieces
up to the blue sky, before they start
Now they are the steps
OF ICE, OF FIRE
by Alisa Velaj
We can't be clearer than this snowy sky, my dear.
It has the guts to see everything stark naked,
unabashedly so, down to the bone of nakedness--
similarly to Eden in its genesis days...
You and I vest one armor piece upon another,
lusty with bonfires stacked up deep inside us,
while they never satiated us enough,
nor ever burnt
or cremated us to ashes...
We are heroes of glorious sunny days--
our clarity held hostage by a long winter night,
ever since you swore on rock and wood
to flee four seasons away from snows,
there, where the sun would shine your eyes...
And here we are now—in season five,
wordless and eyes downcast, under the same sky,
which we shall never be able to outspace,
unless we first master the spectrum of light!
Translated from Albanian by Arben P. Latifi
The Scent of Death
by Ann Neo Celeste
The Scent of Death
Gregorian chant, I hear
A farmer harvesting crops
Sheathed in black bags
Past rigor mortis, feast for maggots, mobbed by flies
fate of struggle
after life found
another time, another place
by Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
There are things
one cannot escape
from, a heavy cloud,
the tiger’s claw.
Eternal peace comes
for us all, in the form
of a cloud, heavy
with rain, to the old
and young, the dumb
and wise, too heavy
to be lifted
when it is your time.
Author John Sibley Williams
by Jarad Johnson
Poetry and I have a love hate relationship; when we get along, it’s fantastic, but when we disagree, we really don’t like each other. For example, Poe and I are great friends, but Bukowski and I are not on speaking terms. It’s hit and miss is what I’m trying to say. Poetry is distinctly different than reading a novel. A book may leave you with ideas and messages to think about, but poetry to me always seems to keep its secrets close. It’s up to the reader to interpret whatever message we may or may not glean, and the interpretation either hits you or sometimes takes much longer than for prose. Poetry is an introspective process, and I often find that the messages interpreted from it are specific to the reader. But perhaps I’m just a lazy reader. I do like a story that buttons itself up. This little collection of poems is definitely a hit for me. It’s published by Backwaters Press. I appreciate the name, and the contents within. Titles for poetry books are very important. I need to have a starting word or concept. There are so many poems I loved in this collection, and I would like to go through them one by one. Unfortunately I can’t, but I have chosen four poems that really struck a chord with me. Instead of just a cursory glance, and a recommendation, I would like to really get into a few of these.
In the Cemetery
In the cemetery, I was standing on my knees,
reading verses of the holy book to the tombs
I was praying with tears on my cheeks
until the graveyard stopped me and asked me if
I was reading verses or reading sorrows
with an emotionless face, he asked to repeat
I started reading again and, his face was getting
red as his eyes were dropping my unrhymed tears
he stopped me with anger and screamed out
why more grieves, why more death, and less peace
I responded to him, why did hope sold us to traitors
why life is struggling with us, why did the wars rape us shamelessly
we cried together as he was saying that he’s listening to
spirits weeping with us, as the clouds will rain again
he asked me again, why our world is no longer bright
instead, it’s full of darkness and lots of bloody cuts
our grandparents were the farmers, who lift the sunshine
and brunt themselves to death, just to protect the seeds
our mothers stole the moon from the wall of the night
they hid in their coffins and the stars after our fathers
turned the rainbow into a solider in the zone of death
and made the snow into a drinkable water to survive