I Try to Think
CW: Institutional Abuse
I cannot hold my fork
without dropping it five times
and five more times again.
I cannot walk but I can feel.
I cannot talk but I can scream.
Now, I have been put out of the way
to teach me how to behave
in the right way.
But you, your hands so gentle,
your smile so sweet,
take my wheelchair out of the cold,
welcome me back into the warm.
When confusion explodes in my head
like fireworks in the sky,
I try to think I know that you are right
to say, kindness is the only way.
Even when the others say
that they have more experience
than you, that they know best,
that you do not know
how to do things in the right way.
They tell you it must not happen again,
you behave in such a way
that is too soft, you must remember,
the rules must be obeyed.
I try to think I know that you are right
because my legs do so hurt so very much
You, Stay Calm!
CW: Institutional abuse
I can’t do the things
as quickly as you want me
to do them.
When you get upset,
I get upset.
I can’t explain to you how I feel,
I can’t explain anything at all,
so, I have to show you by what I do.
I don’t want to throw food across the table,
pull your hair hard or scratch your cheek.
I want you to see me
and what I need.
Your voice is very loud,
I see you are even more upset
and so am I. Now, two people are needed
to calm me down.
I have to come to this establishment
because I have some special needs.
Why can’t you just give me
the space and time I need to finish
what you want me to do?
like a slim, fine knife,
to cut you dead.
Slips easily to the centre
of the heart.
The Flower Seller at Piccadilly Circus by Doryn Herbst (c/w: War)
Bio: Doryn Herbst, formerly a scientist in the water industry, Wales, now lives in Germany and is a deputy local councillor. Her writing considers the natural world but also themes which address social issues. She is putting together a pamphlet-sized series about violence in its many facets. Doryn has poetry in Fahmidan Journal, CERASUS Magazine, Sledgehammer Literary Journal and more, plus work forthcoming in Fenland Poetry Journal, Re-side Zine and The Dawntreader. She is a reviewer at Consilience science poetry journal.
A Poetry Showcase for Doryn Herbst
The potatoes from the store
didn’t make it to a soup, the oven, or the fryer in time.
They sat too long on the counter,
waiting for our attention.
The golden skin growing dark eyes to see the kitchen
and their gaze watched us wander by.
They were soft and sprouted,
no longer something of use.
I threw them out the door
and kicked some dirt over them
to hide the evidence of neglect.
Soon, green shoots emerged;
new growth even in hard times.
Bio: Matt McGuirk teaches and lives with his wife and two daughters in New Hampshire. He was a BOTN 2021 nominee, is now a regular contributor at Fevers of the Mind and has poems and stories published in 50+ literary magazines with 100+ accepted pieces. His debut collection, Daydreams, Obsessions, Realities with Alien Buddha Press isavailable on Amazon, linked in the bio and also on his website.Follow him on Twitter: @McguirkMatthew and Instagram: @mcguirk_matthew.
Sometimes I get distracted…
Like when I'm talking about one thing
I'll jump to the next chapter,
Skipping pages like stones.
I like gemstones,
The way they glisten and gleam
When the light hits them just right,
I'm not sure if I’ve been hit by light that way before.
I guess that's not for me to decide,
Beauty is supposed to belong to the eye of the beholder,
A subjective paradox
Since we're all supposedly beautiful in our own way.
Does that mean we're all blind?
I'm grateful blindness was not bestowed on my eyes
That I have the ability to see the many wonders of the world:
A butterfly landing on a lily,
A waterfall cascading over a rockface,
The sun setting over the ocean,
A crackling fire on the beach,
The full moon on a cloudless night,
The impact circles of raindrops in a puddle,
All the colors of a perfect rainbow.
Thinking about it, I've taken so much for granted,
Taken so many moments at face value.
I wonder why the phrase is face value –
I know we spend a lot of time looking at faces,
But does that make them more valuable?
You don't hear people selling faces on the black market.
And why is it the black market?
It sounds racially charged.
Like, why not the red market or the blue market,
Or for fucks sake, just call it the illegal market.
Get rid of the color labels altogether
Even fucking T-shirts are made labelless.
Did you know T-shirts were originally made for single guys
Who didn't know how to iron shirts?
I wonder what my wardrobe would look like if it weren't for T-shirts
Would I be wearing nothing but button-ups?
I hate button-ups.
This one time when I was a kid
I hit all the buttons on the elevator.
There were 16 floors,
We had to go to the 12th.
My mom wasn't happy.
It's hard to be happy;
Happiness is dependent on serotonin levels in the brain,
Those levels are a fickle beast,
Rising and falling with the slightest misfire of neurons.
Medication can help, I would know,
I take a handful of pills every day to help with my insanity,
But sometimes I think sanity is overrated.
I just wish the pills didn't come with the side effects
Oh, the things we do to be happy.
People tell me it's normal to be happy,
But I want to know how that’s normal
In a world of chaos and despair.
It seems normalcy should be a state of melancholy.
I used to wonder what normal meant,
It's such a vague term
Defined by standards that no one meets,
And sets expectations that no one lives up to,
Another subjective concept.
So much in life is subjective,
Like our perspectives are all disconnected,
Despite being part of the collective.
Group is a synonym of collective,
But if you look them up, they have different meanings,
I guess it comes down to context.
What was I talking about?
Damn… I guess I got ahead of myself again
I wish I could hold my place
Instead of rambling on tangent after tangent
Segueing from one unfinished thought into another
I never liked the Segway
Just some fancy device for rich people and mall cops
So they don't have to walk.
I like walking,
Preferably in nature.
Something about getting away from everything is calming,
Getting away from the hustle and bustle,
Away from the daily-life lies where we're all pretending,
Pretending that we're something other than who we really are.
When I was a kid, I used to pretend I was in a far away place
Full of adventure and intrigue,
And I was always the hero, but never myself.
I'm not sure if I have the qualifications to be a hero
I guess I felt the same as a child.
Children are cruel,
Unfiltered and ignorant to what words can do.
It wasn't easy being the chubby kid,
Especially when I was considered weird too.
It's weird how we ostracize those who are different
When those are the people
That have the best chance to change the world.
Progress doesn't happen without change,
You think we'd know that by now,
Seeing as how we have to change with the times.
I remember reading this article in the times
It was about something important
Oh, what was it
It's on the tip of my tongue… Shit!
Sometimes I have trouble remembering things.
It's like the thoughts get scrambled on route to coming out.
I prefer my eggs scrambled,
A little milk and a dash of salt and pepper,
Whisked together and cooked with butter,
I wonder when the first scrambled egg was cooked.
That person gets a gold star.
Wasn't I talking about something?
It was a concrete thought,
Something firm like stone,
Oh yeah, I think rocks are cool.
Sorry, my mind tends to wander,
It’s a wonder if I ever finish a thought.
Have you heard the phrase: “A penny for your thoughts,”
It’s always bothered me,
I’ve always valued my thoughts as more than a penny.
Did you know pennies were once made of steel?
It was during World War II due to the shortage of copper
When I was in my teens, I used to steal things,
I called it the five-finger deal,
Now that I’m older I feel a little guilty about that.
Getting older sucks,
Have to watch what you eat,
Your body starts failing you,
Sleep is more difficult,
I already have enough trouble sleeping as it is.
Insomnia is a bitch.
It comes from the Latin language,
Latin was spoken by the romans,
Man, the romans really knew how to live.
In my 20s I lived like a rockstar,
12-inch rails of coke with whisky chasers.
These days I take 12 vitamins chased with water.
The water molecule has 2 hydrogen atoms,
And 1 oxygen atom.
It’s crazy that everything is made of atoms,
And all atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons,
And all of those are made of quarks.
Wait… I don’t know where I was going with that.
Sometimes I start talking
Without knowing what point I’m trying to make,
My mind wandering along.
I used to wander forests as a child
Appreciating the lush nature,
Moss and ivy and grass and trees.
I love trees,
The way they mirror themselves,
The way they branch out
Above and below,
I wonder when I’ll reach my full potential,
Hopefully that hasn’t happened already,
I still feel like I have more growing to do.
I wonder if anyone has ever reached their full potential,
What the fuck does that even look like or feel like?
I guess I find it unlikely
Kind of like the idea of perfection.
Perfection to me isn’t the same as perfection to you
Which is perfectly normal
Because we’re all imperfectly abnormal.
Perfect is such a loaded term anyways
A generalized abstraction of a watered-down preconception.
I’ve always been a big fan of abstract art,
Escher was always one of my favorites,
The way he could bend reality,
With mathematical precision.
Math and I have always had a strained relationship,
We always understood that we didn’t like each other,
It’s a language I never grew fond of.
I’m quite fond of the English language
There’s a certain beauty in its overly complex lexicon,
I’m told it’s difficult to learn for non-native speakers.
Something to do with all the homophones and homonyms.
I spend a lot of time on my phone these days
Caught in a digital daze,
Trying to connect to something virtually,
While I disconnect spiritually,
The separation growing ever wider with each passing moment,
Eyes glued to the pocket-sized screen,
Though it held all the secrets to my life’s greatest mysteries,
As the world keeps turning,
And the minutes keep passing,
And I can’t stop scrolling.
How did we start this conversation?
Sorry… I have a problem with attention,
My focus can be a bit fleeting.
Impostor SyndromeI ‘m not sure if I’m as good as I should be,
M aybe I’m terrible,
P erhaps everyone else is better,
O r maybe I’m just reaching at a fruitless dream,
S imply deluding myself with thoughts of grandeur
T hat lead me to false beliefs,
O r is this all just noise
R eticulating in my head.
S o many things left undone due to personal disdain,
Y et so many things were still made,
N ever to see the light of day,
D rowned out by the sea of melancholy,
R enasant to consider myself as anything more than average,
O r is this just more noise,
M ore disbelief of my lackluster talents,
E nigmatic and frustrating, difficult to rise above the doubt.
Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderP ieces of the past
O bfuscate reality,
S lipping from then to now,
T aking the moment hostage.
T urning the tide,
R eticulating the psyche,
A separation from oneself,
U ndulating, a visceral disconnection
M omentarily suspended in a memory,
A ll the feelings, thoughts, sensory perceptions
T aking over without warning,
I nstantaneous and spontaneous,
C rippling the mood.
S ometimes it’s a simple matter,
T o hear, see, or smell something familiar,
R eminding the subconscious,
E ntering the deepest pits of the mind,
S uddenly gripped by experiences,
S ome would sooner forget.
D etached and distant,
I t’s hard to come back the same,
S till caught in the storm of emotion,
O verwhelmed by the memory relived,
R epeating the details in a loop,
D isoriented from the discordant experience,
E ver in awe that the mind can replicate a moment,
R endered helpless every time it happens.
J. Maxwell was born in Bellevue, WA in the summer of 1990. Just before his 7th birthday, his family moved to Las Vegas, NV. It was quite the change for him, going from a place that was so green and damp to a dry desert valley. Growing up in Vegas was a diferent experience than most other places in the world, being that it is a city that thrives on extravagance, debauchery, and the vacation lifestyle. When he was in middle school he started writing which became an outlet for him, one that saved his life from his undiagnosed mental health issues. At 18, he left Las Vegas and went north to Reno, NV, where he attended the University of Nevada, Reno. He completed a dual major degree focusing in Creative Writing and in Philosophy, graduating in 2014. He now lives in Fort Worth, TX where he had his first book published SOBER THOUGHTS FROM THE CRAZY HOUSE which is a collection of poetry dedicated to mental illness, addiction, and sobriety. J. Maxwell not only writes, but also enjoys nature photography and making digital art.
Follow Me Here:
the microscopic flowers
a stone slate shard . . .
dried ferns –
in deep time
past eyes, brows, hurts, hopes, drylands
all the music
flask of tea,
the soup she carried
the longer sitting
when I come here
I talk to the stones
if I stay a long time
they almost say hello
of a pupa . . .
how many do you need?
hangs in another tree
a warbler sings
on rippling water –
why does the magic
Notewalu – Indigenous Australian word for strips of barkThe Stream at Tidbinbillathis water comes through
this water comes through
this water comes through
this water comes through
the sun shafts through
this water shafts through
the weed spines through
this water spines through
this stone stone stone stone
stone a bubble
these leaves drop
this water drops
these roots draw
this water draws
this rumble chants
this water chants
this nettle greens
this water greens
stone stone stone
digest this stone
stonemoss mossmoss mossmoss
water dews and seeps
moss mossing fern ferning
Bio: Owen Bullock’s most recent publications are Impression (Beir Bua Press, 2022), and Uma rocha enorme que anda à roda (A big rock that turns around), translations of his tanka into Portuguese by Francisco Carvalho (Temas Originais, 2021). His other titles include, Summer Haiku (Recent Work Press, 2019), Work & Play (Recent Work Press, 2017), and Semi (Puncher & Wattmann, 2017). He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Canberra. His other interests include juggling, music and chess. https://poetry-in-process.com/ @OwenTrail @ProcessPoetry
In the distance I see summer,
While the world was winter ridden,
I walked along the ridges of borders,
Not singled out by Man nor Beast.
In the distance, I see the face of sorrow,
While everywhere happiness reigned,
I hear not the cries of hunger,
I see not the face of pain.
Where do I begin,
To trace the beginning,
When care was forsaken,
Laid claim to a Man’s fate.
While someone, somewhere hungered for a friend,
I said I can be your friend,
For I have never been blind,
Or denied a hand stretched out in friendship.
He says to me, Not the distance or the hour can deny a man his freedom;
The freedom of speech,
The freedom to live,
The freedom to friendship,
The freedom to love,
The freedom to gain the world’s wisdom,
The freedom TO BE.
Shobana Gomes is a poet, essayist, lyricist, novelist and translator. She has translated the legendary poet and freedom fighter Jose Marti's Golden Tales from English to Bahasa Malaysia for the Cuban Embassy in Malaysia.
Her books can be found on Amazon. Visit her free and discounted Ebook store, Shobana's Book Station, https://shobanabookstation.blogspot.com for some earth-shattering stories and fables to keep you enthralled and entertained.
When she is not writing, Shobana creates beautiful poetic memorabilia for special occasions. Her favorite slogan for the moment is, Live and Let Live. Her website address is: https://simplyshobana.net.