Friday, 21 November 2014

The Book of the Unclaimed Dead

The bones are stacked in boxes to be ground up
And mixed with the rest of the body’s ashes.
The workers at the crematorium use long poles
To push the bodies into the furnace, and a book is kept.
What jolts one are the infants and the still-born:

Permit: Feb 17, 2011
Smith, Kimberly.
B/G [baby girl]

Their ashes are placed in paper bags then filed in a metal drawer,
Like a library card catalog, under fluorescent lighting.
A long, inharmonious squeak to open it.
Some relatives are only interested in the certificate.
One worker warns, from the shores of the Styx,
“Just keep in touch, you don’t have to forgive.”

The man who keeps the book says he feels it is a service,
Something akin to love. He’s past retirement but loves his job.
He says his son will claim his ashes.
That’s important, that word, to be claimed.

Sometimes the usual bookkeeper goes on vacation
And another person has to record the names.
At least six names to number and spell out every day.

The book starts in 1896. That book, the oldest one, is very thin.
As if death had later hit a boon, an industrial surge
In the heavens, calling more souls to the fill its stations.

The books are kept in a church-like room,
But the bones in the boxes form only accidental crosses.
The body is simply wrapped in a white sheet
That will not survive the holy imprint of a face.

Workers heave the white figures into the furnace.
The 2011’s are set to be buried in a mass grave.
All those tiny packages and boxes, three-lined addresses,
Bound up manuscripts, tracked but unclaimed.

Alejandro Escudé

Alejandro Escudé is the winner of the 2013 Sacramento Poetry Center Award. His first collection, "My Earthbound Eye," is now available on Amazon and at .   

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The blind sculptor who thinks everyone should touch art

It was a masterpiece which remained
out of bounds Do not touch even
if blind, even if a sculptor yourself

so friends described it, measured it, modelled it
for the blind sculptor so that its form imprinted.
He’s able to carve his own re-creation.

Imagination enables him to hold in his mind
the memory of a form of beauty
the ridge and fold, the crease of it

blown silks of stone rippling across a veiled
head turned aside to the right, arms trailing
swathed as if with weeds by flowing water

feet pointing up, webbed with a fine gauze,
the swirl of drapery revealing only gradually
the secret of the recumbent figure

the instruments of torture
pliers, a discarded crown of crumpled thorns -
for this was a dead Christ. But touch this one:

it makes the blind see and unlocks revelation
even for the sighted, whose hesitant fingers begin
the work of translating an entirely foreign language.
© Sue Norton

The blind sculptor who thinks everyone should touch art 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


People out of work,
Hungry children cry,
The 1% get richer,
The zombies shuffle by.

Our lands and waters poisoned,
Homeless people die,
Soldiers fight in foreign lands,
The zombies shuffle by.

Activists petition,
Politicians lie,
No future for our families,
When zombies shuffle by.
Voter Turnout in Midterm Elections Hits 72-Year Low

©  Gary S. Watkins
Gary writes poems and short stories for fun (and occasional burrito money), Gary's a member of The Dragon's Rocketship writer's group. One day, he hopes to tackle a full length novel.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Better Part of Valor

“I am robbing you,” the robber softly said,
his note a cipher to the cashier, wisp
of an impulse sketched in soft pencil,
paper rumpled soft like flannel. Sh.
“I am robbing you,” he said, wavering
fuzzy on the closed circuit screen.
No sound. No overt threat.
The cashier might have slipped him
her own note: “No, you’re not.”
Instead, she handed over soft bills
and crisp. He went his way and after,
the manager said, “I’m sorry”
to the waiting customers.
“We must close now. We have
been robbed.” 

          Go gently. Sh.
Go home, you seekers of snack foods
and cigarettes, and think about what
has happened and what has not.
You, sir, on your night-shift break—
put down your sandwich and go.
There is no supper for you here.
Quiet has stolen into this place—
nothing further to retail tonight.
Robbery at Convenience Store

© Cleveland Wall

A co-worker of mine was actually in this shop at the time of the robbery and didn't know about it until after the robber had left!

Cleveland Wall lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA, where she routinely refrains from robbery. She is a recent resident poet at Lehigh Valley Vanguard.

Monday, 17 November 2014

‘The world’s going crazy… (nobody gives a damn anymore’ – from Brother by Ray Davies)

The world’s gone mad, it seems to me.
We’ve lost our heads and cannot see
it makes no sense when those in need
must bear the blame for corporate greed;
and how can it be right that some,
a few, have much, the many none?
The world has truly lost the thread:
it honours those a century dead;
yet, even as that silence palls,
somewhere, another ‘hero’ falls;
as men fall dead are widows made;
yet still we love to dig a grave.

In this is not our madness clear?
Were it not so, then we would hear
the words of those who went before
and, fighting, spoke the truth of war;
and then, I think, we might despise
the adman’s specious, mawkish lies
and those hawk their souls for gain
by selling chocolate in the name
of all those men who shed their blood
for love and peace and not for goods;
and then, perhaps, we’d plainly see
the lie they call de-mock-krassy:
the world is now as it was then;
if we must fight, it’s us and them.

Abigail Wyatt

Abigail Wyatt writes poetry and short fiction from her home near Redruth in Cornwall. After a lifetime of sticking her neck out, sometimes she grows weary of the fight.