a waking dream.

Beth is able to see the world through a child’s eyes and to translate it for us mere mortal adults. Today she has found stories by refugee children to share. An incredible project by a journalist working with refugees, and a direct way we can help these kids find a way home.  Here’s the direct link to the book ($10) on Amazon.

I didn't have my glasses on....

Refugee children have written a book of fairy tales and it's just awesome
 Refugee children have written a book of fairy tales and it’s just awesome. Travelling Tales features chickens fighting an alien invasion among its eight stories.

A collection of fairy tales written by child refugees in Greece has gone on sale to help those like the book’s authors.

Travelling Tales features a rugby-playing dog, a king who grew to love animals and chickens fighting an alien invasion among its eight stories.

The book is the brainchild of Brazilian journalist Debora de Pina Castiglione and her sister Beatriz. The two combined their love of words and illustrations to create the book but the ideas came directly from the children.

Debora ran workshops with Syrian and Kurdish children aged between four and 14 years old, at three refugee camps close to Thessaloniki in Vasilika, Lagadikia and Oreokastro.

Front cover of Travelling Tales

It gave the children something to do without focusing on their own lives.“The idea was not…

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god On The Morning Local

I want to share Rajani Radhakrishnan’s gentle poem about life and god and
how. . . well, how one thing leads to another.

THOTPURGE

I saw him on the local train during rush hour,
a newspaper cone of peanuts in his hand,
smiling at me through a web of weary limbs
and disenchanted heads,
a lesser god with a stubble and sad eyes.

Is this chance, I asked him, or fate,
or is there no difference?
he shrugged like a basement programmer
who had written a game with a million possibilities,
one thing leads to another, he said,
didn’t you want to see me?
how can I win or at least not lose,
I was begging,
five peanuts later he asked,
who decides if it is victory
or defeat?

Through the window I saw life
like a flip book,
one snapshot after the other,
each alive for a cry and a
half turn of the wheel,
each moment, each frame,
dying and born as the next,
meaning nothing by itself,
leading nowhere by itself,

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Flotilla

I am so proud to know Steve Deutsch.  He is part of my poetry workshop group and for the second month in a row, one of his poems, this time “Flotilla,” was chosen by Goodreads from more than 300 entries as a finalist in their monthly contest.  To read the poems in the contest, click here.  And if you agree, as I do, that Steve’s poem is outstanding, please vote.

 

You left behind.
one half a jelly donut,
stale as last Wednesday;
some clothing, moth-eaten,
mildewed; two shoes,
one black, one brown,
with newsprint for the soles.
You left behind a paper sack
of winter warmth, and poetry
by Whitman, Poe and Crane,
well-fingered and browned in age.

You walked into the river
and left behind four dollars
and eighteen cents, which I
have spent on coffee
and a banana nut muffin,
that crumbled in its freshness.

Your poetry; penned
in your perfect prep school hand,
was stuffed inside two newish socks
atop the brown and laceless shoe.
It is unnervingly good,
but I can use the socks.
I crumpled your words in their freshness,
and set them to sail upon the river,
page by remarkable page.

– Steve Deutsch
First published in Weatherings
photo courtesy of moneycrashers.com

Dorothy’s Grave

“They haven’t dug the grave yet.”

Mom insisted on coming to the cemetery
after her best friend Dorothy’s viewing.
“The funeral’s not ’til 2 tomorrow,” I said.
“They’ll dig it in the morning.”

“They should have it dug,” she fussed.

Mom is a farm woman, used to death.
She turned ninety in the fall,
and Dorothy was her last good friend
in the tiny delta town where children leave
for jobs or school or just to escape the soy
and cotton. Her church has only twenty members
now — old women who show off corsages
on Mother’s Day and sometimes cajole their men
to come in overalls and slicked-back hair.

Dorothy and Mom taught Bible study, went to Eastern Star
and bingo, traded recipes and gossip.
Mom killed a rabid skunk in Dorothy’s yard
with the double barrel she keeps under the bed,
and Dorothy came to quilt on Wednesdays –
just the two of them since the other three passed on.

“Why’s it important to see the empty grave?” I asked.

“I need to know she’ll be comfortable,” Mom said.
“I know she’d do the same for me.”

– Sarah Russell
First published in On the Veranda
For Poetry Pantry on Poets United
Photo courtesy of Paul Marshuk

Stillborn

My friend Ryan Stone has a poem in the August issue of Red River Review.  I’ll reprint the poem as well as links both to his blog, Days of Stone, and to the journal.  Many fine poems on both venues.

 

Although science, with clinical wisdom
declared her not yet a person,
a heartbeat argued defiantly
for a night.

We visit the cemetery —
hands entwined, minds
in different hemispheres,
hearts mangled. In a quiet corner

where the sun lingers late in summer,
where gelid moans soften in winter,
we become broken pieces
of something once much stronger.

– Ryan Stone
photo courtesy of Jikoman

 

 

The Secret

When I told Truth to go away,
we were both girls –
blossom-cheeked,
skipping rope with life.

“I can’t be your friend,” I told her.
“You know my secret.”
Truth shrugged. “OK.
I’ll be here if you need me.”
She waved goodbye, and went
to live high in the hills
with hummingbirds and foxes.

I stayed behind, secure in my choice,
though joy was hard to find, I never
trusted love, and I reacted oddly
to the seemingly mundane –
lilies made me nauseous, Black Beauty
gave me nightmares, a breeze against my neck
could make me cry.

After fifty years, I looked for Truth again.
She hadn’t changed – still young,
sweet, smiling, glad to see me.
But I’d become Wilde’s portrait in the attic –
haggard, bitter, burden-stooped.
I asked what would have happened
if I’d let her have her way.
“You’d have suffered,” she said. “People
would have shamed you. They’d say
you made it up.
But you’d be free.”

– Sarah Russell
First published in the anthology Secrets and Lies 
For Real Toads quote by Dickinson
Painting:  “Two Little Girls” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

At the beauty salon

I close my eyes as a young woman
massages in shampoo, gently rubs
my temples, smooths cream rinse —
scented with jasmine — from my brow,
and you are here with me again
that summer day under the waterfall.

– Sarah Russell
First published in Shot Glass Journal
Photo courtesy of waterfall.solaridas.com
For the “suggested narrative” prompt at
Real Toads
Also for Poets United’s Poetry Pantry
.

Figure Drawing at Community College

This flash piece was just published in Rusty Truck.  Thanks, Scot!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’m getting goosebumps from a draft, though the class doesn’t notice. Most are open-mouthed, charcoal scratching paper, concentrating on the weight of my breast, curve of hip, sag of buttock. I bite my lip, think of the rigidity of a villanelle, try to compose one in my head while the old guy in a beret for god’s sake, studies the cleft, the pubic mound, then meets my eyes.

I want to yell, “I just want to earn enough to get cable,” but I look away, try to show disgust without showing disgust because the woman who will pick up kids from school at 4 is drawing my face. My arm is falling asleep. The instructor said to tell her when I need a break, but the young man by the window is so intent, I hate to interrupt him. I start to tremble, try to shift but not throw off the line. The villanelle becomes a limerick.

There once was a nude on a table
Who couldn’t afford to get cable…

Trembling. Can’t feel my arm at all.

She posed for a class
Where an old man was crass,

Ah, the instructor is announcing a break. I raise my body off my arm and feel electric shocks as blood starts to flow. I reach for my kimono. The old guy sidles up to me.

“Coffee later if you are able?” he asks. Shit, he’s finished my limerick. I walk away rubbing my arm. “Maybe tomorrow?” he calls.

– Sarah Russell
Photo courtesy of Blot Magazine

Rust Belt

“. . .empty factories and gutted storefronts. . .”

Rust Belt

Sure, we loved the hats and hoopla
the rhythmic chants of lock her up,
but we are not a stupid people.
We know full well this patchy place
between the slag heaps
and the scrub pine–
these crumbling houses perched behind
the padlocked plant once known
for truck tires,
will never be great—
or even good.

You say rust belt
and mean the measure
of empty factories
and gutted storefronts.
The jobs bled out.
The eyesores left behind to moulder.
But the rust is mostly in us.
Too many years of children
born to little hope.
Too many years of promises
from windbags in dingy union halls
and air-conditioned buses
painted red, white, and blue.

This afternoon, I take my maul
to the wood pile
by the rusted chain link fence.
Crisp and clear,
It is a fine day to bust things up–
And the making
of that splintered shattered kindling
with a body that burns
is as near as I will ever come to joy.

– Steven Deutsch
First published in New Verse News
Photo courtesy of Bankruptcy-USA.com 

 

Chancing Love

Not a dive’s precision arc.
Instead a lemming run and plunge,
oblivious to depth,
temperature, whether
water’s in the pool.

Cynics shake their heads.
“Only a fool…” they say.
“Yes, yes!” I answer,
and drop my towel.

-Sarah Russell
First published in Shot Glass Journal
Photo: “Splash” by Upsplash

P.S.  Celebrating 200+ followers.  Thanks, Everybody!!