Artistic Difference is a project that aims to showcase the wonderful variety of artistic expression. Every art form has found innovative and provocative ways to express life in all its forms. This project aims to bring as many art forms as possible into conversation with each other through the expression of a unifying theme.
The plan is essentially to publish a prompt and collect as many different responses to the prompt in as many different art forms as possible. This means that you can respond with a short story, a poem, a painting, a photograph, an etching, a song, an audiovisual work, a performance, whatever form you choose it to take. Then, we will compile these into a single blog post to show the wonderful similarities and differences between each artists’ response.
For the isolation period of the COVID-19 pandemic, I think a weekly response is possible to keep us all working away. On Sunday evening I’ll post the prompt which gives you till the following Saturday, Midnight to submit your pieces to email@example.com which will be compiled and submitted the following Sunday morning.
Get creative and I look forward to seeing what we can make together while we’re forced apart.
Next Exhibition’s Theme:
submit at firstname.lastname@example.org before midnight Saturday May 16th
"Goetic! And the Words Are Lost Once More..." by M.A.A.
A sceptre falls down from the shelf
its lord throws himself down the ages
a voice called, with delicate vocals
where have you been?
hiding amidst marble pillars
wielding your rusty swords
caged by your castle walls
in some goetic scheme of gods
the boy was to drown
in greatness and love
for a short while
for a second, for another time
but the voice cracks
disappears just like that
walls closing in fast
end your damn pride at last
the sceptre lost its glamour
now but a worn-out shovel
to bury the hopes with ghosts of time
the shelves emptied of poems and wine
left a few words in the air to greet
oh, where have you been?
– – –
– – –
"Postal" by Mark J. Mitchell
Just west of forty, waving at the world,
a tourist, passing through. I mail postcards
with terse notes, coded, crude handwriting hard
to read at best. Pictures of cars or girls
or diners dress the fronts. I look for old
icons, nothing too shiny or modern.
I don't honor shopworn gods, downtrodden
myths. No, I just like places the past's sold.
Besides, they weigh more lightly on me and
there's space, between lines of fading blue ink.
for word games I disguise with meter, rhyme
and pass as wisdom, insight. I can't stand
myself or my cheap tricks. I can't out think
soul. So I play at being lost in time.
“Invisible” by Alberte P. Steengaard
Being invisible really only leaves you with two options – you can either walk around dressed, having everybody convinced they are seeing things, or you can walk around naked. And I mean completely naked. Trust me when I say it is as uncomfortable as you may imagine, because even though you are technically invisible, you still feel VERY exposed. I don’t know how I became invisible, or why for that matter. I guess I’ve always been easy to overlook, the kinds person that fades in with the wallpaper, you know? I didn’t even know it had happened at first. I went to work, did my job, just like any other day, even went to the park to read as I often did in my lunch break. As I sat there on the bench reading Kafka’s Metamorphoses a little girl asked her mom in a high pitched voice why someone had left their clothes on the bench and pointed directly at me. “Don’t be silly, dear. It is an art installation” the mom said without so much as a glance in my direction. She was busy looking at her phone. Of course it freaked my out at first, but I guess you can get used to even the craziest things. This certainly qualifies as crazy. But there are upsides too – I can’t remember the last time I paid to get in anywhere. I went to the fun fair for free the other day, even dared take an ice cream out of the man’s truck. As I left the truck a little boy stared at me with wide eyes, and he tried to tell his mom that the ghost had stolen an ice cream. She didn’t believe him, of course. Sometimes I think children can see me – or maybe more sense my presence. I guess children still see everything around them, unlike adults who have learned to filter out the unimportant details of their surroundings. Which brings us back to the whole clothes vs. nudity thing. I don’t like the idea of traumatising small children by walking around naked, not being sure whether they can see me or not. So most days I don’t leave my apartment at all. Maybe I should take more advantage of my situation and sneak into to more exciting places than fun fairs and libraries, but I am not that brave. I stick to my daily debate, which is clothes or nudity? Being invisible comes with its own set of troubles, who could have known. But I guess that comes with being lost to the world.
– – –
“Losing Moonlight” by S.J. Saighead
The hands are spinning like joyful tops,
When not watched with patient eyes.
The sun has gone but not its light
Now soon to make a reprise.
He works forlorn, our hero quiet;
His lover away, asleep.
Night must pull down tired eyes,
Despite not sowing, he must reap.
His head is a cloud, his feet hills,
His skin the colour of death.
But he must go on, fallen knight,
He now has no reason to fret.
Not fault but his own
He'll reap what is sown.
At night, all alone,
With nothing done.
The hour is so quiet,
Wasted on unrestful souls:
Who have no time to admire,
Who have no time at all.
He gives in at last
To restless sleep,
With nothing to show,
all of which he can keep.
It is said they come every Autumn
to these meagre ponds before the mountains,
and they come to sing a few hymns in Avar,
dance for whoever comes from afar,
in a collective reverie they ponder
what it means to be made of stone,
clearing the head, refreshing the soul
out of mind and body,
to think of shiny tin and rusty gold
one can wash
only so much of one’s own tongue
as there is a price to be paid
for a few wrong words
with corrosive prose
in a few conclusive moments
they stare patiently into the Sun and pray upwards,
listen to the pond echoing their howling verses,
on the off chance that they distract the inner wards,
and ponder how it feels to be one with light's sabres,
out of body
to be but a guise for an unheard song
one can wash
only so much of one’s own tongue
and there is a price to be paid for these loose ends,
but now they dance for whoever comes from afar,
pushing back catharsis, letting the spirits in,
admitting an honourable sin
in a collective reverie they try to make sense
of how it feels to dwell in a unified verse,
to in the end pray for none at all
to sing about essence left behind in the shade,
revel in one masked gaze
to confuse nature with law,
yet even in this grotesque zen
have little to feel after all.
Again, he giveth great Wisdomand Knowledge in Mechanical Arts;and can changemen into other shapes.
– – –
– – –
"For a Trowel in the Graveyard" by S.J. Saighead
Upon a wall in the graveyard
a trowel lay alone and pining
for the hand of a worker abandoned,
stopped dead in the middle of gardening.
The graves that there sat beside it
lay waiting for the hand’s return.
Each sat dead silent, and patient
occupied with a mild concern.
It did not fall, it did not move,
its lips could not be made speak.
The only sounds that could be heard,
are those that had left a beak.
I dare not touch the lonely tool,
too peacefully laid to disturb.
I’ll watch and wait, just like a grave
for the hand to return and perturb.
– – –
– – –
"Wildflowers of my Heart" by Linda M. Crate
i am a body of water,
too deep for most to
a body of fire
too hot for most to handle,
a body of earth
with terrain too rocky
for most to endure;
and a body of air with
such force i can become
what they don't see
is beneath all my defense
mechanisms and locked doors,
i am a land full of milk and honey;
that there is a softer side
more vulnerable and contrite—
i don't let my walls down
it's too dangerous to trust;
people can turn on you in an instant
causing pain to your heart
breaking off pieces of your body
leaving behind scars—
i have enough wounds buried beneath
the surface so i give them
hurricanes, magma, earth quakes, and tornados;
tsunamis, mudslides, and forest fires
because most don't deserve
the wild flowers of my heart.
– – –
“The Revolt of the Homeless” by Gary Beck
The young patrol officer and the tired, cynical Sergeant slowly herded the homeless off the subway car. The young officer kept saying:
“C’mon guys. We’ve got to empty the subway to disinfect the cars. That’s the only way we can control the Wuhan Virus. We don’t want you guys to get sick.”
“Bullshit,” someone yelled. Another man yelled: “This just a excuse to keep us from sleepin on the subway.”
“No, guys,” the officer insisted. “Essential workers like nurses and firefighters have to get to work without getting the disease. There are buses waiting to take you to a shelter.”
Former Staff Sergeant Ron Dawkins, U.S. Army veteran of two tours in Iraq, three in Afghanistan, growled:
“I had enough.” He looked around at the 40 or more men near him who had just been evicted from the subway and said loudly:
“I’m not going to no shelter. I’ve been sitting on 42nd Street with my cardboard sign asking for help that doesn’t come. I’d rather go to jail then one of those group shelters where they treat you like trash and the gangs hurt and rob you…”
There were murmurs of: ‘right on, man. Amen brother’.”
“If enough of us get together and stop traffic with a sitdown on Broadway and 42nd Street we can get the help we need.”
“How do we do it, man?” A guy he saw a lot of times sitting on 5th Avenue asked.
“We pick a day, a time, a place. Let’s do it three days from now, Thursday, noon, Broadway and 42nd Street. We have three days to pass the word to anyone who’s homeless to meet us for a protest. If all of you spread the word and ask anyone you talk to for them to spread the word maybe enough homeless come to stop traffic and tell the world we’re not criminals. We’re people and we need help.”
“I’m with ya, man,” one said and other voices echoed him.
“What happens when we get there?” Another asked.
“When there’s a break in traffic we walk into the middle of the street and sit down. If enough of us do it we’ll jam up things for hours. If enough homeless come they can’t arrest all of us. There are 50 or 60 thousand homeless in New York. Maybe more. If a thousand come we’ll change things. Even 500. Maybe even 100.”
At least 30 of the men said they were with him. One of them said:
“I’ll go to a shelter and tell everyone to come Thursday.”
Others said: “Me too,” “I’ll do it.”
Former Staff Sergeant Dawkins said:
“I’m going to some shelters and tell them to join us.”
Another man said:
“We should make signs. “Homeless are people too’. ‘We’re still human beings’. ‘We have rights’.”
Men yelled: “Great idea.” “Right on.” “We’re with you.”
“Thank you, my brothers,” Dawkins said. “Go and spread the word. I’ll meet you Thursday, 12 noon, Broadway and 42nd Street,” and he walked off.
The other men walked away in different directions. The young police officer turned to his Sergeant.
“Should we arrest some of them?”
“Nah. They’re just talking. They got a right to talk.”
“What about that guy who was stirring them up?”
“It’s just talk. They’re homeless, not social agitators. They’ll never do nuthin. Just keep an eye on them so they don’t go pissing in public around here.”
“Where should I send them if they gotta piss?”
“Beats me kid. It’s up to someone else to get them toilets. We just gotta move them along.”
“That don’t seem right.”
“It’s part of the job, kid. You’ll get used to it.”
the worst architect in town
grumpy bastard and boring creations
planning tunnels above and around
hollow bridges between disasters
one rune and a signature on paper
and the bridges continue to emerge
and they do so forever
patriots to a non-existent land
ever wandering comrades
of now disappeared sages
fall off the hollow bridges
into oceans of black sand
covering the paths
of soot and grime
there's not much to be done
when the paper's signed
when the rune is gone
this deal made in haste
it is a nomad's game
lose as much as you get
anything worth finding
is already dead
roots resemble vines
blossoms but leaves
one can never return
but always leave
so hold on to your memories
and keep them clean
for at the next oasis of thieves
they will be weighted
and reverted to dreams
– – –
– – –
“Suprise Suprise” by Rachel Thornburgh
The day had finally arrived, I looked a million dollars, my best friend had dropped me to departures and I had completed the US Immigration preclearance. I was dizzy with excitement.
Since he had surprised me with a night in Paris, I had secured a job and an extended J1 visa to work in Hawaii and took off shortly after the exams were over. I had surprised him on my way over and on my return. I had made sure my connections went via Austin. He made plans to come to Maui. It had been a week of romance and passion. I had told my roommate not to expect to see me for the week.
Now back in Ireland I was adamant to be on the road again soon, hopefully with him. I hadn’t seen him in six months. We had decided to meet half way, to pin down our future together. We were headed to New York for a week. This was the man I wanted. He was the one for me.
‘Could Rebecca Travers please pick up a courtesy telephone?’
I heard the announcement and laughed. Surely, it was my best friend wishing me luck. I eagerly made my way to the information desk and was pointed in the direction of a phone mounted to a wall nearby. I picked up the phone. I stated my name and the operator connected the call.
‘Hey’, I said smiling, expecting to hear my friend.
‘Hi’. It was him. It was Christian. That familiar drawn out “hi” that I had first heard over two years previously when he had first introduced himself to me only I could tell that he wasn’t smiling this time. A million thoughts swam through my head. What was going on? Was there another surprise? Apprehension impressed upon me like never before.
‘I just found out that I’m going to be a father’.
– – –
"home (n.)" by Connor Orrico
to long to be
ham (Old English),
"dwelling place, house,
abode, fixed residence; estate;
village; region, country,"
from *haimaz (Proto-Germanic),
/ hem (Old Frisian)
/ hemir/heima (Old Norse)
/ hjem (Danish)
/ heem (Middle Dutch)
/ heim (German)
/ haims (Gothic)
from *(t)koimo- (PIE),
root *tkei- "to settle, dwell, be
perhaps a story of being
& ubeity -- of person & place;
– – –
"There and Here, Old and New" by S.J. Saighead
Only there it’s truly dark;
waking down long ambling paths,
eyes straining for light.
Only there it’s truly quiet;
a voice on the wind,
heard from miles away
along with badger’s hassled feet
and wren’s worries.
The light of a cigarette
can be seen from space there,
Lonely city, Eliot was wrong.
You do not go quietly. You roar
and splutter and cough under
LED street-lights. They say they’d
stay going for years, long after
the last lonely feet are dragged home,
bleary eyed and disappointed,
the street lamps will light the way
for cityless ghosts.
to my mother whose birthday in today, thank you for all of your love and support
– – –
"no one will take my colors" by Linda M. Crate
when i could no longer run
it felt as if my head would
split in two;
couldn't deny i wasn't straight
as i always had when i was younger
when i fell in love with her—
she woke things in my soul
that i didn't even know
and she shook off the cosmic dust
that had settled when i had
stopped fighting for my dreams;
reminded me of my importance and my strength—
i wish i could've been brave enough
to tell her how i felt instead of pushing her away,
but the self-disgust was real;
all my life i had hid so perfectly well who i truly was
had everyone fooled
didn't know i was allowed to take pride in myself
as i was,
but now i am proud of my rainbow heart;
no one will take my colors from me.
– – –
"Loving Out Loud" by Alberte Steengaard
Here I sit
Day after day Wishing that I
Had something to say
Here I sit
Night after night Wishing for better With all of my might
Here I sit
Summer and spring Waiting for something For life to begin
Here I sit
Winter and fall Thinking that out there Is nothing at all?
Here I sit
Come wind or come rain Shielding myself
From all of the pain
Here I sit
Through sunshine and cloud Terribly scared
of loving out loud
– – –
– – –
"I Should Tell You" by Alex Voelkel
This is the point where I should tell you
I never dreamed to fly as high
That all my life in all I’ve been through
I never thought I’d reach the sky.
This is the point where people claim
That they were always there for me
That they believed I’d rock this game
While I just feared and couldn’t see.
This is the point where I should also
thank everyone for their support
And while you sing and tell me bravo
I cry for those who were my fort.
But telling this would not be truthful
It wouldn’t come right from the soul,
while life has made me quite successful
I’ve never liked the liar’s role.
So as I stand here reminiscing
and wond’ring how I got so far
I know for sure what isn’t missing:
false praises in my memoir.
For to speak truly, there has been
but one who always took my side
one person only who has seen
the glory that I kept inside.
While all the rest were filled with doubt
and told me that I should forsake
the hopes and dreams I cared about
they told me there was much at stake.
You see, the one who dared to dream,
who never faltered on my ways,
was I myself, so it would seem
I am the one who I shall praise.
I am not scared to show my pride
False modesty I’ll never claim
for all I’ve fought and all I’ve tried
I think I do deserve my fame.
To all of you who feel betrayed
and call my act and art a farce
There is but one thing to be said:
Go shove this finger up your arse.
– – –
"from Lines Written About a Number of Customers" by S.J. Saighead
A pair, a secret;
Shared with a glance.
A knowing look,
A particular stance.
One looks on,
While the other advances;
Though we all know,
there’s no space for romances.
Just simply play,
designed to enhance
each other's day,
on the off chance;
that we are the same
the three of us here.
Us three men,
all feeling queer.
After the murder of George Floyd and the following protests in the United States of America the theme of (IN)JUSTICE felt like an apt one, it felt like one that might express the current moment, it felt urgent, and given the nature of this platform and its fast turn around it would seem perfect. However in the past couple of days as the protesting has increased and the police brutality against protestors has seemed to become a given, I felt the urge to write something that spoke to that moment.
I am Irish and I am gay. To this end I have two communities to which I can speak to with confidence. To my Irishmen and Irishwomen and all of those between, I urge you to look to our own past and recognise what you see there. As a nation and as a people we have struggled against oppression and adversity and come out the other end. It is not perfect. But we have come a long way. When you look at our history, it is not possible to see what is happening in the U.S. at the moment and to recognise a fellow people being pushed down by a historical power greater than them. Irish lives did not matter for a very long time. But we fought and we made our voices heard, and we mattered. Black Lives Matter is an echo of a struggle many people have gone through throughout history, and I am calling on you to support our black brothers and sisters and those in between. I am calling for you to say, we see you and we are going to help. I am calling on you to do what you can to eliminate the pain, hopelessness, and hurt of a people being told they are worthless. Because we were there, we remember, and we recognise the pain. If you are not willing to help, or don’t believe it’s your fight, I ask that you refrain from celebrating our rebels, our heroes who fought for our freedom, I ask you to give up your hypocrisy. If you do not see the pain of a people oppressed, you do not deserve to celebrate the freedom you’ve gained.
To my queer folk, I ask the same. Our fight is constant to this day but remember Declan Flynn who was murdered in 1983 by men who served suspended sentences. Queer lives didn’t matter, they didn’t exist as far as many were concerned. That is not long ago. Today we all know friends, loved ones, and probably ourselves at some point who have been abused, battered, and oppressed at various times. But we get through and we will continue to fight to be heard, to matter. See our black siblings in the U.S., recognise the pain. Do what you can to help and support them so that together we can make a better life for us all, we can matter.
It is also worth noting for the people in Ireland that is this not an issue we can pretend is foreign to us. Racism in Ireland is an ongoing struggle and is not helped by the outright denial of the issue nor the attitude of ‘well at least it’s not as bad here’. It is not an issue of scale. I would encourage the people in Ireland to look into Ireland’s Direct Provision Centres and the inhumane treatment that countless migrants to Ireland experience under that system. This is not an American issue, this is a world issue. The scar that colonialism and colonial thought has left on the world is immense and has not even begun to heal. To culture is exempt, and no country should feel as though this is not their problem too.
Do what you can to help, donate if you can, sign petitions, contact your representatives, show support, have awkward conversations, and get educated. Education is key. Learn about the histories of oppressed peoples, learn about the mechanics of fascism, learn about the systems that are designed to oppress us. This form of fascist behaviour displayed by the United States police is a warning sign. Fascism is dangerous and you will not be safe. Prevent it. Oppose it. Destroy it.
Do what you can. Be safe. Remember.
– – –
"BLACK CHILD" by Minenhle Mngadi
Oh black child
You have suffered so much
at the hands of vain people that condemn you
because of your skin colour
You are being punished
because being black is regarded as a sin
You are being killed
because being black is regarded as a curse
but ssshhh black child
you will be able to walk the streets
without fear of what might happen
you will be able to send your kids to schools
without fear of whether or not they will come back alive
you will be able to go out without being judged
but for now black child
they will try to break you
fight for your rights
they will try to silence you
be the voice of reason
One day they will see you for who you are
Strong, black, human and beautiful
– – –
“it is not the house on fire” by Linda M. Crate
is there any justice in this world?
so many of my fellow white
brothers and sisters
remain quiet, complicit with
the actions of the police;
how many black people do they have
to kill before they say something?
i can't imagine how i would feel
to be part of a group of people oppressed
for hundreds of years,
instead of telling them how not to protest;
we have voices,
and unfortunately our voices are
louder than theirs right now;
so let us use our voices for justice
instead of letting injustice continue in this world—
we are devourers of cultures
yet we have no culture of our own
is it your jealousy of their
depths and their culture that keeps
do you hate them because they
aren't as vanilla as you are?
do you hate them because you find them
more talented, more beautiful, more wise
than you are?
put aside your hate, your greed, your jealousy;
and your anger and your rage and your misunderstanding—
now is not the time to put out your house
it is not the house on fire.
– – –
– – –
“Protest, May 30, 2020″ by Connor Orrico
strangers to shelter
from tear gas miasma:
to plea with
– – –
– – –
"Temples Raised to Pretexts" by M.A.A.
An old thesis, soaked and wrinkly, by some nauseous sprites,
no objectives nor guidance, but a list full of degenerate rites,
with cheap manifestations of guilt, regret and broken ties,
there's a bit of join in pain, I admit,
and it goes like this:
I. What an injustice, when a beast considers itself broken,
due to the vilified actions of the mind, permanently swollen!
II. A horde of rushing spirits, seeking the home of old,
disagree as they may, it's a pantheon long ago sold.
III. Frozen sky turns over, towards it they open their arms,
from atmosphere to underworld, it's always downwards.
IV. With their gold and salt, opportunities as far as eye can see,
young minds and beliefs, a trip to paradise ended in Zanjī.
V. He was granted all the seas in wine, freed from the flow,
now forced to think of all those years, where did they go?
VI. They dance around the fire, in a nightly meadow well-lit,
if someone catches the flame, she's thrown down into the pit.
VII. Temples crumbling from the front, rebuilding in the back,
celebrated in foreign terms, they too go through the crack.
VIII. And a writer brings up some text, to cast away all this horror,
so the work becomes him in one, self-detached in the other.
IX. It may be a short history of decay, with a little hint of nuance,
procession of false Absolutes, on which idolatry is laid upon.
Lastly, I shall add a last boring woe of my own:
while justice may come from above, prices are better below,
sell the chips underground, so when they finally come to ask,
they have nothing on you at all.
– – –
– – –
"Jefferson City, Missouri" by Michael H. Brownstein
My son wishes to return to his home,
his quest marred with the report of differences.
He is strong stone, but he wonders if skin color,
a gesture in eyes, a violence against diversity,
can make the pathway a path of gardens
and not shards of broken concrete,
a mosaic of torn glass, a system of closed doors.
The police car's headlights go to bright,
a few minutes later, the lights atop flare into being,
then a siren, soft at first, then a hurricane
after the first calm: He pulls over, rolls down his window,
places his hands on the steering wheel
as we taught him and waits, seat belt still attached,
eyes facing forward. He does not ask: Why did
you stop me? He already knows the answer.
He waits for the officer to tell him why. This we
also taught him. In a place of white fear,
he is ready for whatever is to happen.
We had reports, the officer says, of an African-American
driving the type of car you are driving.
Then he sees my son's wife, his baby daughter,
and knows this is not the right one. Yet he feels
he has to pursue this, escalate it to another cliff,
but my son is polite, tells him he has just now
arrived across the river and is heading home
for a visit with his parents. By now there are three other
police cars on the scene, flashing lights waking the child,
his wife nervous, my son with the PhD in botany,
molecular science, metabolomics, has come home.
– – –
"Some Simple Ways to Be Anti Fascist" by S.J. Saighead
Learn to Recognise Fascism.
Fascism and fascists are tricky to pin down by design,
research your enemy, learn to recognise the signs,
knowledge is key.
Find out where and when fascists meet
Organise counter demonstrations, email venues
Raise the social cost of fascism, make it difficult to be one.
Fascists are cowards by nature, the go after individuals.
Protect your identity, stay in groups.
There is no shame in a mask, the Police use them
so should you.
Know your rights, be prepared to face the law.
Remember that laws are written by and for people in power,
and supported by the apparatus of the state.
Just because a law exists, does not make it just.
It’s the Little Things Too.
Have conversations, sign petitions, write letters.
It only takes a small number of fascists
and a large number of people complicit
to create a problem. Remember, if you’re not anti fascist
you’re pro fascist.
It’s For Life
When dedicated to suppressing fascism,
your job is never done. It is everywhere,
always attempting to worm back in.
Be kind to yourself and take breaks
if fascists lose, they can be forgiven.
If fascists win, anyone not fitting their views
Crisp white, delicate and mine
The smell of what is now, old leather
The hang there, by a lace vine
Waiting to come untethered
Blueprints traced by the chalk on the sole,
I tightened the tapes but was interrupted by
That I took down memory lane
From an image evoked in the back of my mind I remembered that they were not always mine
They were loved before they knew mine
The toe was worn but to me it was fine
I was told that it was a sign
Of a dancer who danced in perfect time
That’s what it took
So off the hook
Did my Jazz shoes come
And with arms over head and hips thrust to the sun
A slight bend in the knee and round arch to the foot
I danced ‘til I bruised and blistered and cut
Every last inch
Of the skin on the souls
Of my feet
They were separate to me
One, Two, step through
I found comfort here
In a memory from a past so near
Of a pal and pastime I held so dear
And in that moment, one piece of the future became clear
There is still love
– – –
– – –
“Phantom of the Disco” by S.J. Saighead
Upon a night of merry glee,
when light and dark did embrace thee,
we spy a lad to whom the night
had left beyond the flashing light.
A starling perched upon a wire,
bared resemblance to this lone star.
A soul occupied beyond the gyre,
he was not there at all.
A bird or phantom, we do not know.
His soul or hand he did not show.
A fly upon the speckled walls,
a ghost on which eternity calls.
His soft face and short red hair,
a button down shirt, a body fair
unlike his face which scarred upon
the marks of despair.
He saw and was not seen
till later fish picked his body clean.
– – –
– – –
– – –
"Mother of Moons" by Linda M. Crate
you flirt with death
it is the only
dance i've seen you
and i think it's because you
know she's your bride;
you've painted me
the villain and so i will
be the merciful monster
surrendering you to the arms
of your true love—
no longer shall you be
parted from your
bride when i am finished,
and she can have every
bone and every piece of sinew
left when i am through
i only want the blood;
you thought you could break me
of who i truly was—
but i refused to be your mask
empty and devoid of substance,
a woman child seen but never heard;
song bird who sings in the cage
because she doesn't remember the freedom
of flight when wind was beneath her wings
i am the wild and fierce valkyrie—
my wings will birth the arrival of new moons.
– – –
– – –
– – –
“Steps in the Smoke” by M.A.A.
It took absolutely no time to wonder,
but years to watch over this damned thunder,
Kányádi was the man to teach lessons back then,
to tell of great things, but not where to find them,
where is this hand of Prometheus, that forever calls,
being once refused, it thus forever rejects my cause.
I did not mind, as his words had no peace,
long-but-short years, and always in need,
here was the man to teach humility,
when one was being drowned in serenity,
but to break it all - that was the key,
that is a poet's mission in word and deed.
So I kept venturing through Kányádi's verses,
soon realizing it wasn't about lessons, but curses,
now, the words ripple as to teach someone to dance,
or to have a dialog with whores, but allow no advance,
embers in a fiery song of mistook tasks, of longing trance,
all good things, my friend, to steal from each other's hands.
– – –
– – –
"Dance" by Mikhaila Fitzpatrick
An expression to escape oppression.
A freedom of the face, the hands and the feet,
To music so sweet,
The beat of each bar and the swell of a climatic phrase,
The dance can wash away,
Feelings of the mind in the past, present and future,
To a dimension like no other,
A space in between, where the soul is completely free,
Is where the mind rests while the body feels,
And in that moment,
A dance is the only thing real.
In the back room, where the smoke hugs the ceiling
and away from eyes of those unfeeling.
Fighting for each other,
aggressively running fingers through hair, down
grabbing and hoping like drowning men in a
sordid act of indiscreet passion.
The floor is never washed or swept,
but the clientele ensure their space is well kept.
"Outlandish" by M.A.A.
*please view in landscape mode if on mobile*
Senseful, unforgiving, wasteful,
residing in the caves underneath,
a little mistake, wakes up in rage,
on the other side of the web,
it shows its teeth, the look stuck in-between anger and hope, yet striving for nought,
this is an unforgiving age, finally more things to be sought,
hieroglyphic, lost, grateful, and all those things after the drought,
on the other side of the web, the grimace is embedded in love,
then it shows its teeth, the look stuck in-between anger and hope, yet striving for nought,
hymn after hymn, after every long chord of instrumental will, it’s always calling for some,
calling for songs to be sung back to its chambers, admittedly annoying, but always fun,
thousand names taken while only labels given,
hereby we only have wastes and they are shown through a mirror,
formations reaching up, down, just to show all is forgiven,
senseful, unforgiving, wasteful, still hieroglyphic, grateful, all those things after the drought,
on the other side of the web, it’s the sum of the things taken, yet its grimace is embedded in love,
it shows its teeth, while one grins in jest, now together in amazement, a suspenseful standoff,
it dances backwards, and one does the same, figures get closer,
nothing makes sense in this unforgiving age, push the heat out and it gets warmer,
a few jokes about bread and tax, summarized by someone as konx om pax,
nonetheless it’s a friend, if a bit outlandish; or to put in a more senseful way: maybe something a bit torn,
thus the web may break, and then our lands dive into its realms, for we are of the same mist, if less forlorn.
“The Faerie’s Decision” by Linda M. Crate
Cornett felt her wings wrap around her in a comforting way. The fae bent her head over her wings, feeling very vulnerable and also very lost. She didn’t know what she was supposed to do or how she was supposed to feel.
Her entire life she had always been other: other daughter, other friend, other faerie, other creature, other.
The faerie wondered when would her life begin to pepper her with some sunlight and flowers? Why did it always feel like it was her against the world? Why was it always bleak nightmares, thorns, and cutting thistles.
She had loved Daryl with her entire being and he had lied. Told her that her wings were beautiful, that he loved her truly, that she had the brightest and most vivid green eyes he had ever seen… Everything of their love had been a lie on his behalf, it was merely lust.
He had stolen more than a mere kiss.
Cornett also knew she could not tell her mother about what had happened or her sisters because they would only tell her she should expect to be betrayed by a human. She knew she couldn’t tell her father because he would only remind her that every man she had ever loved had only turned out to wound her.
As if he hadn’t wounded her, too, she thought bitterly. Her black feathers wrapped tighter and tighter around her, as she clenched her fists. Enough of this misery!
Angry tears raged down her cheeks in a flood.
She was tired of being other.
Today Cornett convinced herself that she was enough, she was worthy of all the love she had given yet never received, and she was worthy of the acceptance and the care she had never been given by those whom she held nearest and dearest to her heart.
One day, someone was going to love her for the incredibly wild and fierce creature she was, flaws and all. Even if that person was simply her, she would be content.
Cornett felt her wings beat against the sky and she flew through the clouds with a renewed purpose. She was the author of her story, and she was going to rewrite it.
She wouldn’t be the “other” woman anymore. She was Cornett, and she could never be replaced. Even if some silly human chose a human woman over her.
It was his loss, not hers.
“The Creature” by Alberte Ploug Steengaard
There was another rustle in the dark. Vhalla strained her eyes to see, but the sun had only begun to rise making it impossible to see further than a few meters ahead. It was probably just a fox. She only had a few hours left of her watch before they would pack up the tents, and she could sleep for a few hours in one of the carts. Above her, in the vast green blanket of the treetops the birds began to sing, as the weak embers of the fire slowly died out. She had always loved the forest. When she was a little girl she would always beg her father to bring her with him when he went to the city – not because she wanted to see the city, but because she wanted to see the forest. As she got older she would hide in his carts, forcing him to send one of his guards back to the village with her.
When she was 12 he finally brought her with him. Vhalla was so excited she could barely sleep the night before, as she imagined how it would be to finally go deep into the forest she had longed to see her whole life. When they finally found a clearing in between the trees, where they could set up camp for the night, Vhalla had been so exhausted she had fallen asleep before dinner. The next day she tried so hard to stay up and listen to the tales and the songs of the other traders and the guards, but again she fell asleep from the exhaustion before the fire had been lit. That morning she had woken up before everyone else. As she waited for her father and the others to wake up she listened to the sounds of the forest. It was like music to her, the wind in the trees seemed perfectly in tune to the soft beat created by the rustling of twigs and dry leaves. It was like a symphony older than time itself.
Needing to relieve herself she slipped out from under the blankets and looked towards Bayne, a blacksmith the size of a mountain, who had fallen asleep on his watch. She went behind a couple of bushes at the edge of the clearing, making sure the camp was within sight like her father had instructed her. As she stood up and walked back to the camp, she noticed a figure in between the trees. At first glance she thought it was a deer because of the giant antlers, but as her eyes adjusted to the dim light of the morning she realised it was standing on two legs. Moreover, it was looking straight at her. It had an almost human face, although the eyes were big and black like a deer’s. Vhalla had a sense that she was intruding, as if she was not supposed to see the creature. But it didn’t run, in fact something that could easily have been mistaken for a smile spread across its face. With a slow bow, like the one you would expect a knight to do for a king, the creature turned and walked back into the forest. Vhalla wanted to follow, but Bayne had awoken from his sleep and stopped her. When she tried to explain what she had seen to her father later that day, he simply smiled at her and told her it was a dream. No one of the trader, not any of the guards, had ever heard of such a creature and slowly she started to convince herself that maybe it had just been a dream.
A noise startled Vhalla awake. She couldn’t have slept for long, because the light of the morning was still dim. It was not time to wake the others yet. She took out the amulet her mother had given her as protection the first time she went into the forest, and pressed it to her lips. Not a day went by when she did not miss her parents, although the years and the war had forced her to grow up from the excited little girl that made up stories about creatures in the forest. The silver plated amulet caught the rays of the sun, and for a split second Vhalla thought she saw a pair of eyes in there. Big, black, deer-like eyes. “You need to sleep” she whispered to herself and stood up to go wake the others, shaking her head trying to rid herself of her illusions. They had slept long enough. But as she looked across the
small clearing she saw something moving in between the trees. There was not one, but three of them, each with an impressive set of antlers and each bowing with a hand over their hearts. Vhalla forgot all about traders and guard duty, and without hesitation she followed the creatures deep into the tightest part of the forest.
"Strangers of the Moor, or Siduri's Care" by M.A.A.
Many were distressed, waiting for the rain to end,
but I was patiently waiting for something else,
as it did not matter how long we would be stuck,
for soon Siduri would come, and bring all the luck.
Long days went by, all the while outside got bleaker,
fog crept into the tavern, while space got smaller,
some played cards, and someone was writing a letter
Siduri would come soon, and make it all better.
During the night, most of us slept on the pine floor,
all the rooms were taken by strangers of the moor,
the letter man was still penning to someone dear,
while I thought of Siduri, she was surely near.
I saw the man's letter, it was for nobody,
yet promptly he sent it, confusing me greatly,
thinking, perhaps the nobody would come as well,
yet Siduri was soon here, 'twas all I could tell.
The man had no cards, but chose to play with his note,
confident opponent, but miserably lost,
I sat in the corner, saw there was more he wrote,
Siduri would come with care, no matter the cost.
A cat brought a letter, it went into the pile,
don't know where it came from, it was another sign,
I read the words carefully, and could not but smile,
"Siduri will arrive soon, to end all the swine."
“The Year of Broken Stones” by Robert Beveridge
Summer came, hot
and dry, and it was everything
we needed it to be. We made love
in the hallway, didn't want to wait
long enough to cross the room
to the bed. We held each other
and kissed and watched the time
faded into winter, and the time came
for nomads to move on. Christmas found us
in a new place, and it, too, began to seem
like home after that.
I mixed a palette of warm, fleshy colours and applied the paint liberally; imperfect and passionate. The black outline suggests a firm grip. The lovers quietly communicate their care through this language. – C.G.
“Caring too Much for Potted Plants” by S.J. Saighead
It's a Thursday or Friday but no one
seems to care anymore and I've stayed
up all night reading in a vague attempt
not to completely regret life, despite
the bus stop near me and the little plant
in a little pot watching me
toil at my desk against fatigue.
And the sight of the petite plant tossed
by sea winds against a backdrop of unwavering
concrete moves me to tears. But surely
I do not cry for a plant? I must be
forgiven my eyes have been open for 30
hours and I no longer see, just observe
potential poems to disservice
and paintings I can't paint
and songs I won't write
and all the rest.
I wonder why I care?
(expect no answer)
"Other Self-Care Thrall Comes in Distant 2nd" by Gerard Sarnat
I suppose obvious -- but so important
that we create a strong connection
when discussing what’s missed
most during COVID sequester.
For this mid-septuagenarian,
one somewhat compulsive
plus quite prolific writer,
it wouldn’t be a problem
to never publish again,
though each and every
day don’t see my kids
or grandkids is giving
up nine good reasons
I work to remain alive.
All quirky, you choose
own places where to put
energy –- are hearts, heads,
our bodies the top-most loves?
One possible answer as to priority,
None, makes me feel empty and sad.
Revolution of the Heart by Linda M. Crate
She had always been bad at knowing when to let go. Because she had never liked the thought of being let go, sometimes she had trouble letting go of people.
Even those who brought her more headaches than joy.
Caren had spent so much time caring for others, but she realized now that it was time to take care of herself. How many things had she neglected for the sake of the others? How often had she put her own dreams on the back burner just so she could help others shine? She was done lighting herself on fire so others could keep themselves warm.
She was going to take time for herself, she was going to make herself happy again.
Because Caren knew she was worthy to be loved for who and what she was without feeling guilty or intrusive simply for existing.
She knew Devon would never change, and it was time to let him go. She didn’t have to be subject to his emotional abuse and gaslighting, any longer. It was time to move on with her life. Just because she cared about him didn’t mean that he cared about her, in return.
He just wanted to control her, and Caren had her fill of being told who she was and what she was supposed to do.
She knew that he wouldn’t take kindly to her leaving, but she did not care. Her life was her own, as was her destiny. It was time to think about what she wanted, and to focus on her dreams. For far too long she had been numb to what she had desired from life, but what was the good in living if one was dead to their dreams and hope? She was a woman of ambition and drive who had forgotten to take control of her own life for far too long. Enough was enough.
“Where are you going?” Devon demanded, when she walked out with her rolling suitcase.
“To my mother’s.”
“Because I’m leaving you.”
“I’m done with being told who I am, and what I can and cannot do—.”
Before she could finish her sentence, Devon interrupted her. “That’s fine, just saves me from breaking up with you. I found someone I like better.”
“Good for you,” Caren said, coldly. Her eyes flashed as she slammed open the door, pulling her suitcase with her. She slammed the door behind her, feeling an odd sense of satisfaction whilst doing so. She told herself she ought to have left so much sooner.
It hurt that he didn’t even try to fight her choice or even fight for her, but it just confirmed she was right. So she was going to move on with her life, love herself, and make a beautiful future for herself. Because it was more than high time she cared about herself.
Caren was done people pleasing, she was done sacrificing her choicest parts to make others happy. If she had to water herself down for people to try to understand her, those weren’t her people, and she wasn’t going to force herself to stay.
Her heart was going to be a revolution and drive all those who were nightmares and poison to her soul away.
I have not
in half of
elegies exit as
through empty eyes
"a lie i should've never believed" by Linda M. Crate
you mocked my brown eyes
said they were boring
for years and years and years
i believed you,
until something in me stirred;
and the tides
shifted and the oceans of me
eroded away your words
and i saw my eyes in the mirror and i realized
they were beautiful—
you were just jealous
because your eyes weren't the
dark bark of a tree
or her deep roots,
the color of life giving soils,
your eyes weren't the color of the
bones of the forest;
and i realized there was beauty in me and these eyes
i tried to wish away all those years ago
because you had convinced me
of a lie
i should've never believed.
"The Quill People" by M.A.A.
Are we not lucky to possess the fortunate ways
of the lucky cunts who thought of better days,
who wrote many a script to be played,
who wrote to show what had been said,
yet left a lot unheard and unnoticed,
yet left a lot of what their minds bled,
none of it was ever made.
Looking closely into their gaze,
we can see through the haze,
but from the view of our times, some insist,
nonsense, for it is with their eyes we see
drunks still playing with their convincing lies,
nonsense, for it is their words we hear
gone men still hoping for future highs...
“Catching Eyes” by S.J. Saighead
I move around the room, catches eyes as I do so, putting them in my pockets. In a place like this, the eyes are the only body part one truly can’t hide. No clothes to cover, no make up to conceal. The eyes tell it all. Well I hope they do, or I’m going to get another beating.
I feel the bruise under my shirt, just below my ribs. It’s not sore, just tender. A reminder, be careful. Hit them first. Or leave, there’s always that. Though I don’t know if I could find the door. I’m fairly sure that’s the gimmick of this place. Fill them up with booze then make the music irritating and the door impossible to locate so the only option is to dance, fuck, or both.
A haze had settled over the room, above the heads of the writhing mass. Possibly a cloud of sweat, or maybe it was pumped into the place. Dry ice? I’ve been coming here a long time and never really figured it out. There’s no one really to ask. No one talks. No one knows. There’s no one seems to run the place. It just exists.
A nightly hub of insanity and alcohol.
These eyes aren’t quite what I’m looking for. There’s nothing there for me. They’re distracted with others. They’re unfocused. I don’t see it. Whatever it is. There’s something, I’ve surely seen it before. I’ve seen it.
In the eyes.
Moving towards the bar is a difficult task. No one talks. They just dance. I don’t see it. I feel hands, brushing, Brushing past me. Touching, grabbing. Holding, no holding. They meant to hold something else. I was a miss, I’m sure. Grinding. Some fingers intwine in mine. They’re not it. You can tell with these things. They pull but to where I do not know. They don’t want me. They don’t know that yet. They would though.
When their arms are in mine. Fingers through my hair, desperately clinging. Rubbing, holding, touching. Exploring every inch of skin. They’d feel it then. I’d feel it too. It would be uncomfortable. We won’t know why. This never happens. They’d go home dissatisfied. There was something wrong there. Maybe I was just bad? Maybe I was inexperienced? It wasn’t right. People don’t talk. They wouldn’t know what was wrong, but it was wrong. I was wrong.
The fingers disappear. It wasn’t it.
At the bar, elbows are on hard wood. People are waiting, having a look around or simply smiling at their friends. I catch more eyes, put them in my pockets. They’re not it though. Again, some think they are, but they don’t know. I’m just catching eyes, putting them in my pockets. Behind the bar is an impressively colourful display of various alcohol substances. Some you can mix with fruits to achieve a colourful sweet alcoholic for only the price of three weeks rent. These, however, are the best. They don’t taste like alcohol so one can consume vast amounts of them with childlike glee till one can’t see nor stand and the task of catching eyes and putting them in your pocket becomes impossible. This is generally when I find it’s wrong. Because wrong is better than nothing.
That’s not true.
I order something from the man. He demands payment and I comply. There’s nothing in his eyes. I don’t even catch them, I can see without even looking into them. I don’t want them in my pocket. The problem with catching eyes is that it involves throwing your’s. I don’t like mine to be caught. Not by some people. Not by him. My ribs ached. He might see. I don’t know how. He might see it. Sometimes I see it and they do too.
They don’t talk here.
I take the drink and move back into the crowd. It feels completely silent. I forget to catch eyes for a moment and let it wash over me. I take a sip. It stings the back of my throat. They don’t talk here. The music is so loud. I feel it in my chest. I feel the rhythm, along with my heart. The two rhythms afflicting my body.
And there it is.
I caught the eyes and nearly had them in my pocket before I realised. Before I knew. That was it. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck. The song had change; suddenly the pace was even faster than before. I took another drink. They don’t talk here. I glace around. Catching eyes, stuffing them in my pockets. Did I imagine that? Those eyes, no colour. Not from here. They light washes them out.
I saw them. I caught those eyes, they’re in my hand.
Bodies continue to move around me, ignorant. The night had suddenly changed. The vibrations were suddenly more frantic. They’re in my hand. I saw them. I move, trying to get through the crowd. They’re here somewhere. They don’t talk here. But I wanted to, badly. I wanted to scream. I wanted to grab someone’s shoulder and scream at them. Show them, show them what’s in my hand. Ask them if they too had seen it. Someone had to have seen it. I did. It is here. My night can only end well, if I can find them it’ll all be right.
That’s not true.
There they are. Closer this time. Brash as anything. To someone watching it might be staring but no, this is simply catching. These eyes, they’re making sure. Making sure I know they’re still there. A smile plays across lips. I wonder if I’m going to get the shit kicked out of me. They don’t talk here. My ribs ache. My head explodes. The music speeds up.
The eyes turn, head to the back room. I wonder if I’m going to get the shit kicked out of me. That was it though. I saw it. I look down at my hand. Perfect match. I empty my pockets and pop a cigarette between my lips. I follow. Of course I follow.
The back room is a smoking area. I light up as I pass the threshold. I breath long and deep. I wonder if I’m going to get the shit kicked out of me. The people talk here, but they don’t look. No more catching eyes. My pockets are empty. I see my eyes. I see the smile playing across lips. I approach. I wonder if I’m going to get the shit kicked out of me.
The eyes, the smile. He takes the cigarette from my mouth and pops it between his lips, taking a drag. I smile, he smiles. I won’t get the shit kicked out of me. I don’t think so. Not yet. The cigarette is tossed aside. My pockets are empty. I don’t need to catch eyes. They’re locked on mine. I move in. He backs to the wall. I pull him in. His arms wrap around me. We hold onto each other like drowning men. Running fingers through hair, exploring every inch of skin. I won’t get the shit beaten out of me, not yet. Not now. We’re lost. In the back room. The people talk here, but they don’t look. It’s none of their business. I put my hand on his face, feeling his jaw as his mouth moves in mine. The light stubble has grown, he shaved this morning. I take him in, his smell, his taste. His everything.
And before it begins, it ends.
He pulls away. He smirks. He leaves.
I smile. I smoke. I leave.
NEXT WEEK’S THEME: CARE
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I find it in the early morning
Whilst the rest of the world is not there
and the peak of the sun is adorning
the dew and the mist in the air
It’s different under a stage light
When your lips touch the pop screen of a mic
It is constant, even in stage fright
And renders us almost childlike
Burnt out by flex of arms
Feed turns to poison in one
Built up to execute charm
Kept until it must come undone
Although the cup does runneth over
And your primary source does run dry
One can become quite the rover
It’s tiresome, to watch it
Until we die
"people are overwhelming" by Linda M. Crate
i try to be upbeat,
but i am an empath;
an emotional sponge
all the negative energy
is exhausting to my
full of love and light,
and dreams and kindness;
compassion and mercy—
i feel overwhelmed
people are too much
i just want to be a hermit crab
just climb into my shell,
and linger there
until this pandemic is gone
because i find people overwhelming
on their own even more so
"On Watching Him Read" by S.J. Saighead
Upon his face, careless pleasure
Below his eyes and on the mouth.
Upon this you could watch forever;
Sustained on only this, no doubt.
To watch his eyes play down the page,
eager for the next encounter,
A joy unsullied by weary age:
His love is yours, it shall not fade.
What was striking to me in creating this piece was it’s movement. The colours embark in a dance; from the fiery licks of red into a softer mute and through to energetic ribbons of green. This sequence repeats on itself. The glass panel interrupts this flow and imposes it’s only rhythms and directions, the silver akin to the green in it’s vitality.