A non-fiction story by Stephen Allen (stoicpoetry) : “Samuels Grace”

Samuels Grace

In dusks, sombre drizzle he hobbles along; in the soft grey light of a dawn that shadows feed upon.
He takes small unsteady steps. Usually, he is invisible; at best he is barely noticed by those around him.
Samuel’s worn overcoat has been his mantle through many years of lack, necessity, and need.
I have seen him often over the years; always wondering about the story he carries within him. Sometimes I have talked to him and given him small amounts of money when I had some cash I could spare.

Samuel was an old man, surely an old soul, and by all measures he was surely homeless, but he was always gracious, with a smile, and a “thank you,” when anyone took the time to acknowledge him, even if only to say
Few people ever took the time to stop for a moment; to say, “Hello,” or even to acknowledge his existence.
Maybe he was a reminder to them; of how cruel this world can be; maybe he was a reminder that but for the grace of God it could be they huddled against the elements in all sorts of weather.
More than likely it was none of those things that stopped them noticing Samuel. It could have been that no one cared at all about a man they thought didn’t matter.

In time, I could not walk past Samuel without stopping to say, “Good Morning,”
Even when I had nothing to offer him.
His eyes would brighten when I stopped where he sat at the exit from Highway 35; just across the street from the bus shelter where the morning business types huddled against the cold, waiting for their ride to what ever office, or other job beckoned them.On occasion, I would think of Samuel as I packed my lunch for the day and make a few extra sandwiches. He never asked for anything but always appreciated the smallest of gifts. Egg salad was his favourite.

Supper: Something most of us take for granted; but walking home from work on a very cold January evening I found myself thinking about how such a normal thing is not something everyone can take for granted.
It was early evening on a Friday; I had just returned from work and as I walked closer to Samuel I considered how he had probably not eaten a hot meal in a while, maybe a long while; I tried to imagine how it must feel to have nowhere to go on a snowy freezing night like this one was shaping up to be.
Samuel smiled as he saw me walking up the snow-covered sidewalk.

Pausing beside Samuel, I leaned down to talk to him; “How are you doing?” I asked.
“Oh you know…just another day in paradise,” he replied; obviously very cold though the smile never left his face.
“Can I get you dinner?” I asked, trying not to sound as though I was offering him charity, or to be insulting.
For a moment he looked uneasy and lowered his eyes, but answered; “I would like that.”
“I can’t pay for it,” he said softly.
“That’s okay,” I replied. “I hate eating alone, and having someone to talk to is more than payment enough.”
“There is a little diner across the street, it is getting late and it should be quiet now.” I offered.
Samuel gathered his few belongings; a small canvas bag, and several plastic bags, then rose stiffly. We walked in silence to the diner only a few hundred yards away.
As I had opened the door Samuel looked relieved; there were only two other people sitting in a booth.
The waitress who greeted us did not look comfortable, but I ignored her frown and asked for a booth for two. She looked as if she were about to say something more but finally smiled and led us to a secluded booth in the back of the diner.
The place was nothing special, just a basic diner with basic food, but Samuel looked through the menu as if he were at a fancy bistro. I told him he could order whatever he liked.
The waitress took our order, all the while scowling, and looking as though she really didn’t want to serve us.
The food arrived, and we ate in silence. Samuel seemed to be enjoying the food, though he ate slowly, enjoying every mouthful.

Samuel finished eating his meal and a thoughtful look deepened the lines on his aged face.
“May I ask you your name young man?”
“Of course,” I replied. “My name is Stephen.”
“Why me?” He began; “Why me, why today, why this place?” You really don’t know me, and I know almost nothing about you…I honestly don’t. “Sure, I know that you go to work, you come home, and you; for some reason, take the time to see me.”
I didn’t have a good answer to give Samuel, all I could offer was, “I am sorry if I have intruded,” as I looked down at the faded checker tablecloth.
“I just felt there was more to your story than people see when they pass by you,”
“Everyone has a story you know, no matter what anyone wants you to see, there is always more.” He said softly.
“I am no different from everyone else.”So we began to talk, while Samuel enjoyed the warmth of the diner.

The fire in Samuel’s eyes speaks of another world, of other lives. Slowly he begins to speak.
“I have built worlds and been held captive as they crumbled; forced to watch, always so helpless…then they were gone.”
“A wife with cancer; a war, and three grown children out there making their way in this world. I tried, honestly I did; there was no way to stop any of it; I could not help.”
“I do not regret my choices; such a life of adventure, love and loss. It is inevitable that we feel loss, the one thing, the one rule is everything dies, and we can never prevent it.”
“If there is one thing I can tell you anything that might help, it would be to clear the burden of your past years.”As we had left the diner, I pressed 50 dollars into his hand and thanked him for talking with me. He merely said, “You’re welcome” and hobbled away.

Several weeks went by without seeing Samuel at his usual spot by the freeway, and one morning I crossed to the bus stop to ask whether anyone had seen him recently.
“No, but I’m glad he has gone; don’t they have places for people like that?” a woman in a business suit scowled. “Goodbye, and good riddance to him I say,” she added.
I continued to watch for him, but he never returned. In the spring, he had still not returned.
I miss Samuel; I miss my friend. 


Bio: Stephen Allen was born and raised in Northern Ireland before relocating to Canada.
I have lived in the US and currently reside in Austria.

I have a novel and a poetry book self published, as well as several short stories. (Amazon KDP)

I also have a blog on WordPress; Through The cracked Window (revisited) 

https://throughthecrackedwindow909748923.wordpress.com

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Lisa Mary Armstrong

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Lisa: I’ve always been an avid reader. My mum would take us to the local library every week which I loved. I read a lot of Roald Dahl and Enid Blayton when I was younger and then moved on to the “Sweet Valley High” series by Frances Pascal and “The Vampire Diaries” when it wasn’t as well known. I was bit of a romantic soul and starting writing teenage love stories in my first year of high school which probably weren’t very good.

Q2: Who is your biggest influence today?

Lisa: I am an eclectic reader and it needs to move me. Right now, I am a huge fan of Louise Peterkin whose debut collection “The Night Jar” is simply stunning. I love Mary Oliver, Dorothy Molloy, Tishani Doshi is a tremendous talent and my good friend Elizabeth M. Castillo writes so beautifully. Being the romantic that I am and having an appreciation for the Spanish and Greek language I just melt when I read the likes of Neruda and Cavafy.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

Lisa: I grew up in a small town called Johnstone which is in Scotland. I do tend to write about my childhood as we lived near the countryside, and I have very fond memories of Lochwinnoch where I spent a lot of time with my nana.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influenced your work/describe?

Lisa: I have traveled all over Greece and it’s a country that I love to visit. I’ve always been interested in Greek mythology and how women are represented in Greek myth so it does feature a lot in my writing.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/poet?

Lisa: I suppose I’ve always wanted to be a writer because I don’t believe there is anything better out there than seeing something you’ve created come to life on a page. I didn’t get into poetry until I was much older. I’ve only been writing poems since December 2020 when lockdown happened.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Lisa: I grow roses and enjoy getting out into the garden. I play the piano and music has always been such a big part of my life. I’m also a mother of five so that keeps me on my toes and relaxing isn’t something that I’m able to do often.

Q7: Any recent or upcoming promotional work?

Lisa: I’m working on my first collection and have a few poems that are due to be published in The View Magazine which provides a platform for criminalised women and campaigns for social justice https://linktr.ee/The_View_Magazine

Q8: Favorite lines from your poems/songs, or favorite piece from another?

Lisa: My favorite line is taken from a Mary Oliver poem “Tell me what is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” She had such a wonderful way of looking at the world and her poetry helped me through some really difficult times during the pandemic. I emerged with a greater appreciation of nature and felt more connected to the world.

Q9: Who has helped you the most with writing?

Lisa: I think just having the support of the poetry community and having my work published has really spurred me on and great journals like “Fevers of the Mind” provide a wonderful platform for poets of all ages and abilities like me. I love my Twitter friends in the poetry community. Elizabeth M. Castillo is just a phenomenal writer and genuinely one of the most beautiful and supportive people I’ve ever met. Elizabeth Bates who runs Dwelling Lit is another kind and gorgeous person, Anisha Kaul, Annick Yerem and Zahirra Dayal. There are just too many to mention.

2 New Poems by Elizabeth Castillo : New Start & Black Dolls for Christmas

3 Poems by Anisha Kaul : “At the Dead of Night” “Flight of Tragic Wings” “A Commotion of the Holy Ones”

Bio: A writer/poet/mother living in Scotland. A big fan of Greek Mythology and feminist reimaginings, old Hollywood Actresses/films, the theatre, ballet and music. I’ve always written creatively for the catharsis and only started tinkering with poetry in the pandemic. My inspiration comes from poets such as Mary Oliver, Carol Ann Duffy, Emily Dickinson, Sappho, Anne Stevenson, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Molloy, Derek Mahon, Dylan Thomas – the list is endless. To read more about Lisa go to her website at https://lisaarmstrong2179.wixsite.com/website

3 poems by Anna Rozwadowska from Fevers of the Mind Anthologies : Sabotage, Unphased, Harmony

Sabotage

All hearts are trained by purity; the mind wanders in
sabotage, winding rivers coalesced by jagged rocks,
humankind holds expertise in this endeavor,
ego blames ego; the two cannot co-exist, one force shall drag the other,
blood is spilled on the floor, one of confusion the other betrayal,
a blameless victim of apparitions, vision clouded by sand of the
strained apparatus.
Self-sabotage, why?

The being renders itself useless, playing with fire when
already soaked with gasoline.

The inner battle, spewing forth like geysers, this
inner demon comes forth, to cause harm to another?
Is it the competition of middle earth, golden ring  treasured above life,
strife is a compound made human through the Masters of the middle ages,
a blameless heart carries this boulder, for sabotage has a name
and it longs to be experienced; how do you feel as I step into your crevice?

Mine is the longing for the joining of souls, mine is usurped by the mind,
revenge and going forth, stepping over stones where a person's heart remanins,
wading in the water waiting to be free, for personas to dissolve
for the undertaking of the shameless, no confusion no competition,
smooth complexions in water tainted blue,
can we live a free of
meandering minds, sabotage betrayed by love?

Unphased

Lord, take away this confusion, the
armor I wear from invisible threats
if one is to bequeath; may the perforated light shine
in the cracks beneath my skin,
they stick glue, I cannot scrape them out,

my brain anew my soul free to soar with eagles
in high mountains,
not like this, not like this.
Protect me from my own sabotage, at
life fulfilled it escapes my daily strangle,
panic in the showers, bathe me in oils,
wash away insecurity that has kept me from
everlasting joy, not like this.
Heaven must have an answer for repair, 
Therefore, I summon your beasts aglow
for respite from despair, show your grace
and let me be, in peace, let me be,
not like this

If I am to trust my being, I need to envision
a space of the unfailing, in the bright
traces of the sun, somewhere up in the mountains,
may it teach me and restore my vision from heavy clouds
and nightmares at what no longer chases me,
at what no longer exists, I understand that this ghost
is a presence,
but if you show me the day where I remain unphased,
it is all that I ask,
all that my speech can handle.

Harmony

Make love to yourself; your divine nature is the essence,
hear thy creation song, you are so beautiful, so beautiful,
sing the harmony of life giving, the selfish armor of the tremors
that terrify your insides; they shall wake, they will awake,
shake it off, shake; you were not meant to be impeded.

Wounded, alive and frightened, as if small grass was,
at your creation, every fiber touches your branch, steel, glass,
emotive expression in your chest cavity, who are you, really?
It is the life perhaps worth living, you seek it only, besides your dream,
your awake cycle sleeps alongside your gravity; behold, hold,
your awakened heart, make love to yourself in formation, divine,
you were not meant to wither away, to sit back and watch victory while weeping,
heaven in rain, droplets are awakened they sit back on your delicate,
skin,

drop,
drop.

When given the second chance to live, once unearthed from the covers,
when the world stops shaking, when you feel secure, when the when becomes
longer, faster, tighter,
softer, leaven, stolen; your life was stolen.
Have you but the chance to awaken, the dream-sleep cycle allows,
the waking is for the dying desperate to live; clenching to bottles,
washing away sorrows, you are that which you are - gold?

Confide in me, confide in the heaven, protrude like the raven,
flying high it is no coincidence, earthen angels watch over you
disguised as diffusion inside your T cells, wake up my darling, live yourself,

off the fusion off the chair from which you devolved, devoured at the sight
of your perpetrator.

It is time to awaken the gentle cycle, startle response returns to bitter ends,
your bitter ends no longer ends, yet your beginning begins with bitter ends,
it is the shallow that keeps you under, trembling at long overdue emotions,
since then you are unable to live; become now, become,
it is essential to take the steps forward, flight is for the birds you are meant
for better, stand on those feet gasp for air and reclaim what you lost;
territory of your being.


Bio from 2019:
Anna is a freelance Writer and editor, poetry editor of Literally Literary. Anna is a writer, photographer, psychic, medium, and spiritual guide, and has an M.A. in Environmental Sociology and over 15 years of professional experience.

Poem by Pasithea Chan : “A Stone that Hits Home”

(c) Pasithea Chan
A Stone that Hits Home 

Even white noise can give you a migraine
when your world stands still with pain.
Fight is a light that can blight a heart with plight
like a sunrise drabbed into a sunset with fright.
Bereft bonds feint hearts until they faint.
You can’t plant your feet where you can’t wait;
just as you can’t lean on paint or enliven a brick.
The trick is not to stick with what won’t stick.
 
Life's stories are muddy quarries where worries 
cloud those under and shroud with their thunder
bereft memories like lightening hailing pain for rain. 
They make you seek shelter and wait for things to get better
They let you stay but in the end you pay.
They toil and soil you until you play 
parts that deafen you to words that slay
your heart before your ears or mind can hit replay.
 
Everything and everyone are nothing and no one
when you lose heart and part with who you were.
Sometimes the start is the end because a part
of what happened to you becomes all of you yet apart.
Sometimes where you are summarizes how you are:
A busy street in the alleys of defeat.
A flustered pleat torn in an unsuccessful feat.
From someone to no one to everyone.
 
After all, we are all victims of tole bells that toll:
To fall is a call: to stand tall or lose it all for a goal
Life is a game, so let’s play paying for our stay.
We all gotta pay,  sometimes by staying away.
 
The pain is the same even when all you gain
 is a chance to do it all over again like a stain
 that won’t go; it drives you insane with its inane 
dance tapping to  condition your brain with bane.
You look the same, but you are never the same.
 
You wonder why right goes left right with what’s left.
or why chances and hopes are tropes; or you can accept that there’s nothing left
to be missed when home is where you were left.
 Time to run, what a pun! Age is time’s theft
in a time where loved ones leave one bereft.
 
Alone is a stone that hits home, a home alone, 
with windows made of plumes not stone 
with paper panes filled with words not broken bone
that sing like birds do every sunrise, only to be gone
when the sun sets as I set in stone I am on my own.



Bio: Pasithea is an impressionist poet who dabbles in art and poetry. She enjoys writing about life and her experiences from different perspectives. She believes in art in poetry as in exploring art to emphasize its role in juicing creativity out of a quill. She enjoys writing poetry in symbolism laced with philosophy and psychology.  Combined with varied styles and topics, her motto will always be: poetry is a passionate expression kindled by an impression unlimited by public conviction.   To catch more of her work follow her on Instagram @pasitheachan or twitter @pasitheachan and on Ello @ello.co/pasitheaanimalibera where you can find more of her historical fiction and mythological or cultural short stories.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Pasithea Chan

#stopthehate challenge poem by Pasithea Chan : Able & Sable Hearts in Color & Deed

A Quick-9 Interview with James Lilley (the boxing poet from Swansea)

Q1: When did you start writing and your first influences?

James: My first memory of writing poetry was during a school trip. We stayed in a place called Borfa House and one afternoon we were tasked with writing poetry. My poem the sea cat at night was later published in a magazine or newspaper and I still have the original poem.

Q2: Who is/are your biggest influences today?

James: There are so many to name in truth. Since speaking to a poet from Swansea, Matthew M C Smith, I have met and spoken to loads of poets and writers. Reading their work, conversing with them and the support has led me to write in ways I did not think were possible.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

James: I grew up and still reside in Swansea. The city is very proud of its history and culture and Dylan Thomas’s influence is embedded into the town. The geography of the town also plays a part in my writing.

Q4: Have any travels from home influenced your work/describe?

James: In my profession and hobbies, I am lucky to do quite a bit of traveling and see lots of new places and people and they certainly find their way into my work.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be an artist/poet?

James: Since that moment on the school trip, I have always written. I never showed anyone my work and I thought it was just a hobby and would be nothing more. I tried to ignore but truthfully there were stories and poems inside of me that needed to be told to the world. I spoke to Matthew M C Smith and submitted my first poem.

feversofthemind.files.wordpress.com/2021/02/pic...
Matthew M C Smith
A Review for Black Bough Poetry: Dark Confessions

Q6: Favorite activities when not writing?

James: Boxing, training in the gym, spending time with my family.

Q7: Any recent or upcoming promotional work you’d like to acknowledge?

James: I have just had a micro collection “the Thousand Ghosts of You” published with Alien Buddha Press.

This is the U.K. link for the book on Amazon.

Q8: Who has helped you most with your writing?

James: As with my influences, there are many. I would like to thank Amy-Jean Muller, Stephen Golds, B F Jones, Max, Scott, Tisa, Wayne, Alec, and a few more. They know who they are.

Q9: For more work from James Lilley:

https://punknoirmagazine.com/2021/05/12/8-poems-by-james-lilley/

check out Punk Noir Magazine

Bio: James Lilley, 34, father of 3 studying part time in a degree in Creative Writing. 2020 saw first work submitted and published with poetry being accepted with Black Bough Poetry, Versification and Spillwords. Is an active MMA and Bareknuckle fighter and a retired professional boxer dubbed the ‘Punching Poet’

Wolfpack Honorary Contributor: James Lilley

Poem by James Lilley “Pink Gin”

Poem by James Lilley : The Blue Hour in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020

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