Poetry by Laura Grevel





Poems by Laura Grevel:

Texas Freeze Over—February 16, 2021
On that freezing eve in a winter storm, where nothing was the norm,
eighteen-year-old Rodney Reese was walking home down a Plano street.
He’d finished his shift at Walmart, groceries in hand,
still had a good ways to go, slipping and stumbling in ice and snow,
still had a good ways to go, when they showed up and slowed.

He heard the shout, saw the colors of the car,
felt a shiver run over his memory wars:
remembered what happened to
George Floyd in Minnesota,
Eric Garner in New York,
Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia,
Daniel Prude in New York.

Did the cops remember the truth as they told him to stop?
That they’d been sent to make a wellness check?
Not to be a pain in the friggin’ neck?
That the state was now a disaster zone
of ice and snow, bodies freezing in homes?
Did they remember that he was a man?
That warnings were given by the weathermen?
That warnings were shouted by the BLM?

They asked him to stop; he sweated and labored on.
If only he could get home or where someone could see what was going on.
He peered resolute through the snow, through the dark, and he prayed.

“Where you going, son?” 
“I’m going home.”
“Why you walkin’ in the road?”
“Sidewalk’s icy, man.”
“Where you goin’?  You need a ride.”
“I’m goin’ home.  Don’t touch me!”
The cops get out, come close.
“Why don’t you stop?  We want to talk.”
“Don’t touch me, man!”
They grab his arms, cuff him.  “This is an investigation!”

So though it makes no sense to anyone with a few cells of gray,
they charged him for walking home—charged him with being a pedestrian in a roadway.
He spent the night in jail, managed to keep his heart from fail, managed to keep from other travail.
Next day the police chief let him go, said they should ‘a’ taken him home,
didn’t know what was in those cops minds, was it race?  The chief couldn’t say.

Rodney, when asked later why he didn’t want to stop for the cops, said,
“I seen all this stuff with George Floyd.
It hurts, man.”

People Are Looking

They just keep killing black men—
these self-appointed vigilantes and cops—killing
men jogging down the street like Ahmaud Arbery
or men coming out of a shop like George Floyd
and the BLM started marching
and the Trump response
sent an Armageddon of armored cops and henchmen
to attack people who were not armored
who were protesting the murders of black men.
A Star Wars attack on regular people,
and the protesters march wearing Covid masks,
march those streets, through smoke and tear gas,
and the robotic cops bear down bear down brutalize
and my mind races to find the puzzle pieces
because I seem to have missed something.

1968
I am seven.  I walk into a church in East Austin
with my mother, brother, sister.
Moselle who cleans our house and takes care of us kids
invited us to her daughter’s wedding.  And when we walk in
and walk down the aisle and sit down, my heart
begins to thud because people are looking, then not looking, at us.
We are the only white people there.

1988
I am 27.  I walk into a church for the wedding of
Sara.   She is a friend, a co-worker,
a fellow accountant at the State Auditor’s Office.
And when I walk in and walk down the aisle
and sit down, my heart begins to thud
because something is similar, something is wrong,
people are looking, then people are not looking, at us.
We are the only white people there.

2020
And my mind races to find the puzzle pieces
as a despot’s robot army marches on people
who are protesting the murders of men—
murders because of the color of their skin.
An obscene scene of spleen sent by
a President who is more mean than man,
sending a smokescreen to make a show
that is the only way he knows.
And my heart thuds and my mind races to find the puzzle pieces:
1968, 1988, 2020,
and I look back and ask

Sara, where were the other people from the office?
Why did none of them come to your wedding?
During workdays, we all worked together.
During lunches, we ate out together.
During out-of-town audits, we travelled together.

My God, Sara, I remember back then
I heard one or two excuses
busy, kids . . . but most had no kids—
most of our co-workers were single, and white.

Oh, Sara, how blind have I been?

Poems from Fevers of the Mind Anthologies by Rickey Rivers Jr.

Paper, Ream, Stack, Tiered, White, Note
Letter

I found your letter.
I thought you were feeling better.
Had I known you were still down
I would have stuck around.
Had I known you were in pain.
I would have...
I don't know.
How could I force you not to feel low?
I've never been through
What you've gone through.
So how could I know how far you would go?
I'll not worry about blame.
It's not your fault.
It hurts to even say your name.
So, I won't.
I'll leave you in the past.
But some things linger.
The good times and the bad, all the fun we had.
Memories float.
I wish I'd spoke to you before you wrote the letter.
And not say that things would change for the better.

This is Only a Peak

This is only a peak

Trust the owls.
They are binding, as is the liquid that steams in day.

Drink.

Rise above.

Reach the clouds.

See the rain down.

Sweep slowly as the band plays blissfully.

Suit and tie protection futile.

Exploding, yet the way is laid.

Crawl over the couch, a final breath serenade.

The room is the last color seen.

Dance.

Don't simply sit.

Dance.

Compressing Cloud

The cloud comes in many forms.
It makes you ponder what ifs?
It makes you consider regrets.
It makes you unappreciative of the present.
You become a mess of "I should have" and "Why did I...?"

It squeezes you into mush, a crinkled picture of your former self.

The bed is so much safer than the world.
It comforts, suffocates in a different way, coddles.
It could almost be your final resting
if you allowed its privilege.


Rickey Rivers Jr was born and raised in Alabama. He is a Best of the Net nominated writer and cancer survivor. His work has appeared in Brave Voices, Sage Cigarettes and Hell Hued Zine (among other publications). Twitter.com/storiesyoumight Sensurlon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09XDHZXHB

2 poems by Peter Hague in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

Stars, Night Sky, Space, Galaxy
A Place in the Universal

Here, on the bright side of death
I occupy the right side of my heart.
I am at the centre of my being -
a line scribed from head to soul -
a blend of genres, running pole to pole.
I am at the centre of my living dial -
at the confluents of patience, blood and bile,
and all revolving in the universal smile -
that inherent affinity -
dispensing an axis for all.

Relocation of the Heart

The walls of this unfamiliar house
have transformed themselves
into the closest copy
of where I last felt comfortable.

It is not their fault
that paper peels and paint cracks -
or new feet stroll across the creaking floor.
It is an unburdened wish
to liberate change. 

Bio: Peter Hague has written and studied poetry for most of his life and apart from being published in magazines like 'The Interpreter’s House' he is now posting some of his work on Twitter. Two books of collected work are in production now and are expected in the coming weeks. He is also working on a new website, dedicated to his writing. He is also associated with the art name ‘e-brink’ and has a gallery of digital art at: www.e-brink.co.uk.  

Wolfpack Contributor: Peter Hague

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Peter Hague

3 poems by Vicky Allen : ‘The Circle’, ‘I Am Not a Fortress’, ‘Honesty’

Ring Of Fire, Circle, Blue, Fire, Flame
The Circle

The tide is rolling in and out
I allow myself this -
breathe in, breathe out, breathe in
and I let the petals of time unfurl

I allow myself this -
the seeding burst through the warm earth
and I let the petals of time unfurl
as I linger on the cool threshold, a moment between moments

the seeding bursts through the warm earth
breathe in, breathe out, breathe in
as I linger on the threshold, a moment between moments
the tide is rolling in and out

Honesty

Honesty breaches the shadows
and asserts herself.
Fragile, she survives winter's
severe punishments,
withstands the long dark.
Pale, upright
quiet.
Honesty perseveres.
She is stronger than she looks.

I Am Not a Fortress

I am not a fortress
I do not choose to bolster my defences today
I do not want to be impermeable, unmoved

Let me be defenceless
Let my skin be tender, vulnerable
Let me be open-handed, wide-eyed

Let your words take aim
Let your barbs hit home
Let your truth penetrate, dividing marrow and bone

Let there be a grace to the pain
Let there be hope in the harrowing
Let there be us, eye to eye, hand to hand, heart to heart

unfettered
unguarded
understanding

 

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Vicky Allen

Bio:

Vicky Allen is the author of Broken Things and other tales (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2020). She’s been widely published in print and online by journals including Mslexia, Stravaig, Saccharine Poetry, Writers Cafe and others, as well as anthologies published by Proost, Dove Tales, Fevers of the Mind and Black Agnes Press. Her spoken word work Wonderlines was performed at the Edinburgh Book Fringe in 2018 and Fringe at the Yard in 2019. She was a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee. Vicky has a forthcoming “Stickleback” micro collection being published with Hedgehog Poetry Press, and is currently working on a full collection. She also practices as an illustrator/artist as well as working in the charity sector.

Find Vicky on Twitter and Instagram @bringonthejoy 

3 poems from Barney Ashton-Bullock in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

Wild Rose, Leaf, Engine, Rose Drive
Mass Grave #58

The bloodrot rooting
Over the rise that hides the pit,
That mallow mound that salves the flatlands vista.

From outré putrefaction, the wilder roses bloom,
Their pungent spumes of spiky fumes,
Fragrances that flounder in dead-hand dealt air,

A stasis that unstirs the shrill, still sadness,
Staunches the undertow flow of the unforgiven
Charred and hidden in the sods of soil despoiled;

Limbs oiled in its threadbare muddy mercy.

The irremediable blue

in ten years time you might retire,
you might come back to Blighty,
we might return to Port Isaac,
we might have time again
to ride again our bicycles,
from Cornish coast-to-coast again.

wannabe wayfaring,
we might loll laughing again
on a wafeted, scrumped tat
o'tartan rug again
on a dot-dash of distal headland
in the mizzen drench sea-mist
of a "Fogust" again

and brush fingers again
and have, again, the intent of a kiss,
not and never had,
but ever much onwards missed,
again and again, since then,
old friend,
when we'd talk in a distinctly
distant flannel;
we swarding swatches aswirl
within this still vast vista
of irremediable blue...

the last laugh never came to pass

crackling, crackhead rapidity of speech,
in a cack-handed matey tempo
spackled with infomercial riddlings
and pseudo-psychoanalytical patter
about the love in every one of us
being all that really matters

personality types as if purloined sachets
to add a touch of bitter or sweet to the mobby broth
whose vibrant, rolling broil of events
are tampered/sieved/blent into spuzzy negatives of denials
all misfiled into microfiche mêlées of confusion
in a filled-up soup of psyche (with its linger of crouton tumours)

oh, then, to defrag these fleshy coils of cortex
to promote more systematic recall
a crumbly softness arcing through
the spindrift spun trace remembrances
of cogency condensed to illegible;
slapdash jottings made with leaky fountain pens
on absorbent flays of blotting papers
and in there, somewhere, the specifics
of what you'd dare to recall
clogged in five years of such mulching, moulder of drippage
and when, and if, ever discerned, decrypted as
mere juvie, virtue-signalled, naïve jibberish
with no stanchion of good will or best wish
for this unanchored flail of flatline future


Bio: Barney Ashton-Bullock, is the poet/librettist in the ‘Andy Bell is Torsten’ music-theatre-poetry collective and he narrates his own verse on the Downes Braide Association albums. He is the founder of Soho Poetry Nights. He has poetry published, or pending publication, in a wide range of cult poetry journals**, in the ‘Avalanches In Poetry’ tribute anthology to Leonard Cohen, in the Dreich pamphlet ‘Famous’, in the Pilot Press ‘Queer Anthology Of Healing’ and in the 'Soho Nights' anthologies published by The Society Club Press who also published his first collection ‘Schema/Stasis’ in 2017. His latest poetry pamphlet ‘Café Kaput!’ was published by Broken Sleep Books in 2020.<br>(**the Wellington Street Review, the New River Press Yearbook, SPAMzine, Re-Side Magazine, -algia Press, Scab Mag, Pink Plastic House Journal, Lucky Pierre Zine, Poetry Bus, Neuro Logical Magazine and the Babel Tower Notice Board)

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