22 July 2014

Call for (Gaza) contributions

The Onslaught Press is calling for writers and artists to contribute
poems, prose pieces, articles, artwork, and photos to a non-profit
publication entitled 'For the Children of Gaza'. There will be a very
quick turnaround on this project and, with a bit of luck, the book
should be ready to go to press in 7 days. Onslaught is adding its
voice to the outcry against the suffering of the people of Gaza and
will be releasing this collection both in a digital format (free of
charge) and as a printed book (modestly priced to cover production
costs only). It will also be distributed as widely and in as many
forms as our friends in Gaza can manage.

Queries, texts and images to be sent to: retjoun@gmail.com, or to http://goo.gl/mQ0QQM

21 July 2014

Under the continent

I keep from those years a face, reliving what was in that bright
dream, the time anyone might have thought the same and nodded,
though none did, none who could have expressed that same need,
their voice part of the vision, blood on their night, too, a blot
of shame on a lip curled in fright, the tag of the next one called
to a higher level about to be read out, the crowd stirring to it.
All of this occurred at the lowest level and had to boil over someday.
We sought faces in certain people, though when we looked well
there was nothing there. These are issues that stand between me
and life outside, I who must find my city without telling anyone
what was under the continent, no woman and no man stirring a pot
above the reality below, nor a boy driving home a herd of cattle
at the beginning of now, though as the top caved in, everyone knew.
We followed aloes down the alley they had constructed that day,
their trunks laying railway lines on the ground against the setting sun
from the crater toward the summit; we walked behind one another
and ascended to heaven atop the higher hills, then plummeted home
in the valley of one shadow of death, before anyone could place
our trapped souls in a brown paper bag. I go to the top at times,
then plummet, because as you come up this way roads tell you,
as they tell the nation, that this is what a fateful man must do.

17 July 2014


Sometimes without purpose you’re pooled in blood
flinging hands to the sky, love torn out of them,
winter hanged in a space that is sparse within.
So you hold your breath and choke and die, with bowels
in the hole where you hide, turmoil in sudden league
with the grave (the one whose wound is open).
When it finds you, death will set you straight,
like it found that little carpenter boy named Jesus
and nailed him to his cross. So you ask yourself if spring
might grow without regret from these, and drag
from winter’s shelf whatever is left of its dark—
and spring opens its hands and removes the bandages,
unravels itself in a striptease to reveal its mommy,
fresh still after all this time, staring into the ages.
Trees too unfurl their palms and wave them about
to say they know what nature was not meant to be.
Perhaps that’s why autumn bleeds when it is leaving,
and falls on the wayside of a road that leads elsewhere.
Down the street a neighbour is chatting up some girl,
leaning over the fence to make his masculine speech.
My father is mad because winter disturbs his bones,
and takes from him to see to the needs of a world;
mother works the dough and says love is better
when it’s done in retreat, far from eyes. Then this age
that must tell us what it must, even against the urge
to save a passion that one day might become a pardon.
Let poison filter the names of the children of the world
and assign a dream to each. In summer do we weep
like the sky with the thrill of it, or do we find a star
behind the clouds of tedious days? Doors are opened
for what in the end can only be human, when it is time
to break the season’s bread, and drink its wine as well.


When I look at him, in this humid summer heat,
I see not a young man whose tanned skin reflects
time spent at the sea, and he must be tall, the way he sits
with his legs bent off the stool, weaving flowers
into a young woman’s hair. In fact, I see the face
of a living God. “This has took long enough already,”
he says. Magazine centrefolds are plastered
onto walls of the motel room they have rented.
A water-bed, satellite TV, and a Bible in the drawer
of a bedside table complete the picture. Travel bags
and other effects, a fishing rod, a set of magic wands,
are pushed aside to make room for the recreation,
and for the camera to see the centre where, behind her,
a man waits, holding his cudgel with both hands, her brine
in his nose. His olive skin makes it difficult to pinpoint
his city. The woman tosses hair in his face to make him
into more of a slave who must mate with her, and obey
her voice that drives his need. And all this comes to pass
before the world is new and lustrous, with this shine
in its dreadlocked hair, patterns from east-side windows
on the floor of a world she shares with a serpent,,
an apple, this guy who now wants her, and that thing
in his hands. She feels a hand raise the back of her dress
and her ingress opens like a door. She gasps in silence.