Poetry: “Older” by Anthony Agbo


As a child, all she ever wanted was to travel around the world
but as she gets older, she realizes that wishes weren't actually horses
so she settled for the only place she could go without actually travel- Utopia
Everything was perfect there, she was happy and fear was something she conquered over there
but after each trip out of Utopia,
it becomes sadder and scarier for her
because she knows that just Alice in wonderland, she always have to return to the real world.

When she was just a child, she expected the world to be perfect just as she imagined it.
As she gets older, she doesn't know what she wants me what's she stands for anymore; and this scares her.
Embarrassed by her fears, she made defensive scarecrows that scared away the things and people she loved.

As she gets older, life sat her down and made her realize that life was way beyond the borders of Utopia
Now, she knows she has to face her fears before it burns her out,
she has a lot to do! Yet only so many hours in a day.
She now understands that life is cruel 
and that things mostly don't go as we imagined
but one still has to live in the real world and not Utopia.

Ever wondered why we get sad and more scared when we get older?

Bio: Anthony Agbo, a law student at the Benue state University, Nigeria.  A poetry & script writer.

Book Review: Demitasse Fiction (One Minute Reads for Busy People) by Roberta Beach Jacobson reviewed by Jerome Berglund

Tapas Plates:

the Sweet and the Savory in Roberta Beach Jacobson’s “Demitasse Fiction: One-Minute Reads for Busy People”

Alien Buddha Press, 2022, 61 pages, 5.5” x 8.5 ISBN 979-8377304104, $10.99 on Amazon


Reviewed by Jerome Berglund

Possessing a highly original voice and enviable dynamic range spanning the full, impressive gamut of civilization from its most worldly urbane (pride marches, the jet set of society, La La Land) to superbly prosaic and folksy pastoral (encompassing agrarian antics, an unforgettable peacenik chance encountered, life slices from widest assortment of less represented or examined vocations and departments, including custodial, sales, stenography), whatever your personal preference be and tastes steer you, all can find many things to admire and savor in the light, extremely pleasurable, captivating and readable pages of Roberta Beach Jacobson’s debut – one may also discover her prolific writing published elsewhere in over ninety print anthologies! – short fiction collection from Alien Buddha Press.   

            Throughout, irreverent, cheeky, thought-provoking and inventive, always entertaining and stimulating scenarios, approaches to often tremendously serious (overcoming physical and mental illness, existential angst, the search for meaning, ego and class struggles; overcoming grief and different forms of loss figure prominently, as do profound moral and environmental questions and concerns) subject matter are readily displayed across a veritable curio shop of Lilliputian morsels artfully sketched.

            Rarely can one observe individual foibles, society’s ills so endearingly and relatably satirized, skewered, and memorably mused upon with a wry smirk, particularly with such hard-boiled brevity and punchy immediacy.  Jacobson locates droll humor, brings the levity, irony and pathos to even the darkest settings and situations, introducing welcome doses of alien into things mundane – and conversely, finding trace dashes of integral humanity amongst the elevated sublime. An economic literature of yins and yangs is this, cleverly discerning that blot of darkness in the light, speck of illumination glimmering about those shadows too, deftly seizing upon such disparities and artfully directing the reader to ponder their significances carefully at length.  To accomplish such a feat in a few sentences or paragraphs is no easy task, something an audience can truly commend and learn from.  

            The author furthermore has a special gift and penchant for things Absurd, often embodying and exemplifying that dreamlike quality and character startlingly consistent with the French schools of surrealist dada, prose poets and existentialist writers — Camus and Kafka come swiftly to mind frequently, as do Apollinaire and Verlaine —but with a distinctive buoyancy (referred to in the Eastern short form traditions, which this collection’s creator has also distinguished herself as a master and authority in, as the ideal of ‘karumi’, argued thoughtfully for by such pillars as Matsuo Basho) strikingly evinced, in pure and unadulterated form. 

            Roberta Beach in Demitasse Fiction: One-Minute Reads for Busy People establishes herself as a literary alchemist of sorts, able to wield word and idea and transmute them unexpectedly at will, shape story and tone, regulate pacing and scope with the flair and command of an orchestra conductor.  Chimerically, she slips in and out of new disparate skins one after another, with the ease and panache of a host’s outfit changes at an award show ceremony, or shifting voices between alternating personalities (and each one’s peculiar attendant idiosyncrasy, neurosis, core fallibility, depicted warts and all beside their equally identifiable saving graces and redeeming qualities, articulated with remarkable sensitivity, empathic finesse) in a one-woman show — that the author has a standup background should come as no surprise, is on constant remarkable exhibition. 

            Micro fiction, in its contemporary analog and electronic incarnations, is an exciting and promising emerging form, essential for our harried modern citizen of necessarily limited time and attention span.  From an egalitarian standpoint, it is uniquely accessible in ways more verbose genres of literature shall never manage, and thus as mode presents a wondrous and pivotal opportunity of synthesizing and transmitting meaningful concepts, information and messages to masses scrubbed and unwashed alike.

For those who relish the advantageous prospect of experiencing emotional rollercoasters capable of condensing the overarching thrust and zeitgeist of War and Peace or Huckleberry Finn into their daily commute, you don’t want to miss this stunning exemplar of the form at its most dexterously applied.  An important and riveting contribution to the prose landscape, as well as a generous gift and boon for the world’s many Busy People craving stimulating culture and narratives delivered in manageable, meticulously honed tidbits of delicacy. 

Roberta Beach Jacobson is drawn to the magic of words — poetry, puzzles, song lyrics, short fiction, stand-up comedy.  Her work has been anthologized 90 times.  She is the Fleakeeper at Five Fleas (Itchy Poery) and lives with her husband and three cats in Indianola, Iowa.

Jerome Berglund (USA, jbphotography746@yahoo.com @BerglundJerome) has published book reviews in Frogpond, Fireflies Light, Valley Voices, GAS: Poetry, Art and Music, Setu Bilingual Journal, he has also shared short form poetry in the Asahi Shimbun, Bottle Rockets, Ribbons, and Modern Haiku.

Poetry: “That One Time at the Taylor Swift Fever Concert” by Paula Hayes

That One Time at the Taylor Swift Fever Concert

Fever concerts. You have seen the advertisement. Drenched and bathed in flickering candlelight calling up the ghost of her memory. She was supposed to be the one sitting beside me. Her short hair masking the natural curls. The rosy glow of her pointed chin. A painting, she could have been in another century. 

Fever concerts. Always in a secreted location. Are the tickets to a concert or are you purchasing a meeting with Vito Carleone? You don't know for sure. But you highly suspect for the price that you are on your way to making a deal in the backroom of a spaghetti warehouse.The checkered tablecloth. The basket of bread sticks. The flask of red wine. Or it could be an Olive Garden. Again, you are not sure of much these days. 

Fever concerts. In reality, when you arrive at the venue, it is worse than you could have imagined. The secret location is a converted wedding chapel. Low budget kind. How are you supposed to get over losing her in a rented out wedding chapel? It is rhetorical. As most of your life questions are. 

Fever concerts. To take your mind off of where you are, you try to imagine a group of chubby drunken Elvis impersonators taking the stage and licking and smacking their greasy peanut butter and banana fried pork chop sandwich lips as they sing "Love Me Tender." After all, by nine the building has to be cleared out for the drag show that begins. But you are not here for the drag. You are here for the Fever concert of a classically trained quartet playing renditions of Taylor Swift songs. It is true. You know you can't make this shit up. 

Fever concerts. But there you are. Alone. And you hate to admit it to yourself but you are mesmerized. You never knew a cello could pound out between a few strings, "No Deal. This 1950's shit they want from me." 

Fever concerts. You almost melt with the wax that is dripping off the pale orange candles surrounding the overly draped in red crushed velvet stage as the violinist's arms flutter about in quickened, hastened motions. If you stare at the scene long and hard enough it might be that scene in the Titanic as the violins play as the ship prepares to sink. Yes, this is your sinking. This is your Taylor Swift Titanic moment. 

Fever concerts. You feel like a chump. There is no way around it. You purchased tickets to your very own swan song concert where Taylor Swift has been converted from pop Nashville trash art to the high classical period. You bought the tickets to your own break-up party. What the fuck? Who would do such a thing, knowingly? Probably you, you did. You know you did.  

Fever concerts. There is nothing. I mean. Nothing. More. Melodramatic. Setting your own heartbreak to the soundtrack of Taylor Swift played by a classical quartet. The mind wanders and agrees, "Yes, Taylor, it is true. It is so very true. I am the problem. It is me. It is me. And everyone at tea time really does agree."

Fever concerts. You are not even heartbroken. You just wish it hadn’t ended that way. Or ended at all. You just wish you had kept your own greasy peanut butter and banana fried pork chop sandwich mouth shut and feelings to yourself, but Taylor Swift never did it that way. So why should you? 

Fever concerts. It is the anti-catharsis for the anti-hero. You are your own anti-hero sitting in the midst of the most anti-cathartic experience your credit card debt could afford. "The women come and go, speaking of Michelangelo." That was the original TS. Eliot, TS. Not TS, Taylor Swift. Like Bond, James Bond. Swift, like Oh My God, valley girl. 

Fever concerts. You are more Prufrock anyway. Stop being so hard on yourself. You rolled up your pants legs. You waded into the water with the sirens and mermaids. You dared to eat the peach. It is not your fault she mistook you for an urchin. 

Fever concerts. She knew all the hidden Easter Eggs in every Taylor Swift song, every allusion, every reference, every album, which lover meets which line. But all you knew was how to shake, shake, shake, SHAKE. Shake. Shake. Shake. What she doesn't know is you are a Holy Roller and a polar bear Totem animal all wrapped up into one being. All musk and spirit, no bullshit. 

Fever concerts. You are more Gillian Welch and half billy goat then you are Beethoven and gray goose. 

Fever concerts. What existential crisis made you succumb that night in the rain to believe you could be so careless with your own heart as to swim in a sea of text messages where she told you, "I think you want it more than I do." 

Fever concerts. Did I want it more? What did I want? Sometimes I think Taylor Swift is more Shakespeare's Puck scandalously skipping around untying all the knots of a Midsummer's Spring's Eve, or perhaps more Cyrano de Bergerac standing off to the side in the weeds of warfare writing the letters we cannot think of on our own to write, singing to us the verses we dare not sing, silencing our soft-bellied guilt, making us more gullible and less sure of ourselves than we were before. 

Fever concerts. Taylor Swift talking about cardigans once said these wise words, “I knew you would come back to me.” I would ask her to. I want her to. But, I don’t think she will. Taylor Swift had lamp light. I only have candlelight. 

Fever concerts. Next time, Lady Gaga. And then I can “Dance, dance, dance.” 

Bio: Paula Hayes is a poet who lives in Memphis, Tennessee, the same place where rock and roll was birthed and where the ghost of Elvis still hangs around Beale Street. She finds the presence of such a rich musical history in the town she lives in to be right on track with transforming one as a poet into a bard. 

Poetry Showcase: Linda M. Crate (March 2023)

photo from pixabay (Pheladii)

someone to hear me

i have been alone in crowded rooms,
faked a smile so well no one knew
the sadness that oozed in my veins;
people say that they'd notice their friends
depression don't understand that depression
isn't always cutting wrists, sobbing, or 
the inability to shower—

sometimes it's burying your feelings down so
as not to be a burden to anyone else,
sometimes it's needing constant reassurance
that you're loved because even if you should
know sometimes you just can't;

it is being a good swimmer yet still drowning
because the emotions are too strong to fight off—

with all due respect you don't notice all the
little signs,
i know because once i thought of how pretty it
would be to view the sky from the bottom of a creek
after i jumped off a bridge and no one even knew;

love your loved ones as often as you can and 
over use "i love you" and be there and sometimes
just listen and hear them, because sometimes i don't
need a solution; i just need someone to hear me.

so very bitter

my co-worker and i were 
talking about depression
last night,
and i was telling her how annoyed
i was that some people think suicide victims
are selfish and how that made me angry
because it's not like they're doing
it for attention;
they're in pain and they cannot feel the
love that surrounds them from everyone who
cares for them 
and she agreed with me—

she shared something intensely personal
with me,
and it made me sad;

because so often people say they would notice
if their friends needed help—

but no one seems to notice the little things,
and it is often in whispers and small little noises
that depression speaks;

it is never one thing but a bunch of little things
adding up until the pressure is too much 
to take—

i have been a lot better lately,
and i am grateful because i do love living but
sometimes the hard days are intensely
hard and so very bitter.

more harm than good

my uncle taking his own life made me
realize that i didn't really want to die,
just wanted to carve out all of the negative
things that brought me down;
i just wanted to stop being dragged down by
the dregs of emotions too heavy for me to
carry alone—
because no one really wants to hear that
you're struggling when they ask how you are,
they want you to put on a smile and say that
you're fine even when you aren't;
life can be so difficult and so hard 
i don't know why we should require one another
to wear masks—
emotions aren't weakness,
and i refuse to believe that anyone who wants
the best for me would want me to pretend;
so if i am crying or angry or wounded 
please don't be angry at the display of emotions
because we should all be able to feel everything we 
need to—
bottling everything in always did me more 
harm than good.


i am proud of anyone
who has survived
the darkness
of their own minds

because i know it isn't easy,
and the lies told are easy
to believe in your weakest moments;

sometimes my only reason for survial
was spite so find whatever works
for you and keep going because i promise
you will find magic and beautiful things

survive for all of the sunsets and sunrises,
your favorite meal, your dog or your cat
or pet lizard, survive for the moon dancing
above the creek at night casting a long and 
silver shadow of hope, survive for all the future
yous that you have yet to meet;

because you haven't met all the people who will
love you and all the people that are your tribe—

so if you can do nothing else: survive.

it's so easy not to be the darkness

bullying was the reason
that i wanted to end my life,
i began to believe their 

i felt worthless and like a burden
to everyone i loved because of them—

& the one time i went to an adult
for help at school,
i was told if i weren't so weird then i
wouldn't be bullied;

maybe if bullying weren't something
considered acceptable in society then 
mental health issues might be a little better—

it costs nothing to give someone 
compassion or kindness,

but everyone is so willing to tear
someone down because of their appearance
or their taste in music or because they
watch anime or because of their hobbies;

in the grand scheme of things none of it matters
because all of our lives are important and touch others—

but depression is a knife of all the unkind
things ever said to you on a repeating loop
until you just want the darkness to stop,
and it's so easy not to be the darkness;

be the light that someone clings to instead.

Bio: Linda M. Crate (she/her) is a Pennsylvanian writer. Her works have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies both online and in print. She is the author of ten poetry chapbooks, the latest being: Hecate's Child (Alien Buddha Publishing, November 2021). She's also the author of the novella Mates (Alien Buddha Publishing, March 2022). She has three micro-poetry collections out:  Heaven Instead (Origami Poems Project, May 2018), moon mother (Origami Poems Project, March 2020.), and & so i believe (Origami Poems Project, April 2021). She has published four full-length poetry collections Vampire Daughter (Dark Gatekeeper Gaming, February 2020), The Sweetest Blood (Cyberwit, February 2020), Mythology of My Bones (Cyberwit, August 2020), and you will not control me (Cyberwit, March 2021).

Poetry: “Swept Love” by Doryn Herbst

Swept Love

I really couldn’t bear
to look at it at all,

that piece of unrequited love,
that disregarded romance,
that unreciprocated 

I put his picture in a book,
so dull, so tepid,
I didn’t even bother
to finish it at all.

I put it high upon a shelf,
in a place I normally
couldn’t reach without a stool.

Then took a broom of
complete indifference
to sweep my love
under a rug of
I really did not mind at all.

Of wanting not to realise
the shredding of my inner lacing
under the guise of pretending
not to remember at all,
that piece of unrequited love.

Bio for Doryn Herbst

Doryn Herbst, a former water industry scientist in Wales, now lives in Germany and is a deputy local councillor. Her writing considers the natural world but also themes which address social issues.

Doryn has poetry in Fahmidan Journal, CERASUS Magazine, Fenland Poetry Journal, celestite poetry, Poems from the Heron Clan and more.

She is a reviewer at Consilience science poetry.