Hell is a Bureaucracy

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Contributor: Vaunna Fostertagg

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is the woodchipper of busy work
of productive apathy
of the dead
herding the dead
denying grasping hands
with bureaucratic handwavium
go back to the back
of the back of the back
and start over
because what you've provided isn't right
and we'll need at least six weeks
to process your immediate needs
while we sit here dead
and dying
rotting at the same pace
as the system that the lawyers built
to keep layabouts from suing the system
into sweet oblivion
because someone lost something
in hellish bureaucracy.

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Florida native with a heart of gold, sometimes.

Over Time

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Contributor: Bruce Mundhenke

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Seemed like a long time
On the way,
From first steps
To a head of grey hair,
But looking back on my life now,
It never took long
To get there.
The excitement of youth,
Slowly gave way,
To an elder's
More thoughtful days.
The lust for things
Not so important,
Eventually faded away.
Knowing a little more than before,
But still lacking knowledge,
It seems...
Alive in the present moment,
Now no longer waiting in dreams.

- - -
Bruce Mundhenke has been everywhere except the electric chair and seen everything but the wind. He writes poetry and fiction and is learning to relax.

A Rainbow of Hope

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Contributor: Carrie Hooper

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When life's rainstorms
Drench the window of your soul,
The sun of God's presence
Continues to shine,
And He creates
A rainbow of hope
With the colors
Of endurance and renewal.

- - -
Carrie Hooper lives in Elmira, New York. She teaches voice and piano lessons, gives vocal concerts, teaches and learns languages, and writes poetry.

The Future

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Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
The black lace of winter
Permeates the view
Barren trees at sunset
A panoply of sorrow
Recounted in a single verse
Monopolizing thoughts
That once were golden
Filled with brightly colored hues
A rainbow of mem’ries
Now erased by shadows
Encased in a shroud
Questions not yet answered
Yet terminating the sunrise
In a recurring pattern
Drifting on inexplicably
And only time can reveal
The future

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Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional and is published on and in numerous internet and print journals. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin.


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Contributor: Cynthia Pitman

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O Seraph, stone of the gods,
how is it that you were torn
from the crag above and flushed
by the tallest of all waterfalls
to be lodged into the bottom
of the chosen river?
Though at the world’s peak,
you fell so hard that you sank
deep and deep and then beyond.
Did the rock of all ages
strike you from sight?
Or did you mine yourself
from the heights of glory
to join in the cacophony
of the rushing waters,
to be forced forever
into the rough bedrock
and be slowly shaped by eternity?

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I am a retired teacher with work published in Leaves of Ink, 3rd Wednesday (contest finalist), Vita Brevis, and others. My book, The White Room, is forthcoming.

Hungarian Wizardries - Musings

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Contributor: Paweł Markiewicz

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Something of Hungary would give thanks to Austria for the historic-ontological suitableness, a weird-like spirit.

I was with my hound in front of the primordial oak
I harvested there tree glamorous-meek acorns
I have left behind the acorns in addition to a thermal spring
with the result that the water-bow is able to sheen
dainty sempiternity fulfilled in me
when my dog masticated subtle-propitious acorns
three glamour-like ghosts were freed
from these acorns yea with the brilliancy
there was the Erlking the King of the pixies
with the butterflies-King of a dreamy night
in the Erlking prevailed – the witchcraft
in the pixy-like King reposed – the dreamery
in the King of butterflies Your vanlet
a bewitched waking dream in the Erlking
a dreamier enchantment in pixylet-like King
I have dreamed with Kings over the day
that was more marvelous than a night-dream aforetime
and the King of butterflies wore magic
day-dream hex and also enthusiasm
as far as an angelical autumn-starlet
beguiled of meek ghost-moonlet
I will dream simplemindedly with the threes
with attractive magic-eons

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To Say Goodbye

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Contributor: Michael Seeger

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Sunset’s glow fades
into the west
through hospital shades;
let go your last
earthly breath,

Dearest Mother,
beneath strange long hair.
Rise to some other
place somewhere—
entering death

your bony limbs
stretch out with a new
strength as light swims
through the blue

above, now below;
the here and now.
I want you to go.
You taught me how
to say goodbye.

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Michael lives with his lovely wife, Catherine, and still-precocious 16 year-old daughter, Jenetta, in a house with a magnificent Maine Coon (Jill) and two high-spirited Chihuahuas (Coco and Blue). He is an educator (like his wife) residing in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, California. Some of his poems have appeared recently either published or included in print anthologies like the Lummox Press, Better Than Starbucks, and The Literary Hatchet.

The Alpine Sun

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Contributor: Tyler Zahnke

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As I drift off to sleep on a dark, cold night,
The voices slip into my dream.
I hear them on the mountaintop,
A most fantastic singing team.
They yodel in the sweetest way,
Commanding all the stars to shine.
Those yodeling voices on the peak
Have all agreed to form a line.
Those voices singing in the Alps
Have scared the sun into its tent.
Its lifelong fear of yodeling songs
Explains the reason why it went.
A dozen million years ago,
The sun would shine all day and night.
But when the yodelers first appeared,
Their voices scared the God of Light.
In the morn they went to bed,
The singing stopped, the sun shone bright.
But when the yodelers sang again,
The burning sun was filled with fright.
He hid back in his tent so cold,
Below that spooky mountain tune.
But then the stars who loved the song
Would join their cousin, Mister Moon.
On winter nights the yodelers sang
For longer than on warmer days.
As soon as all the singers stop,
The sun again emits its rays.
I was awakened from my dream
And stepped outside to face the sun,
Amazed at the fantastic things
These yodeling mountain folk have done.
For if these singers left the peak,
And chose to never sing again,
The sun would shine all day and night,
And never go back to its den.
The sun in North America
Has crickets as its only fear.
The same goes for the English sun,
Though in France it is not clear.
The great Swiss sun is brave and bold,
No insect scares this mighty beast.
But when those yodeling songs begin,
The great Swiss sun won't dare head east!

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I was born in 1997 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am a totally blind musician, writer and technology enthusiast. I believe that music is powerful, and that people should make music whenever possible.

Creativity Halted

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Contributor: Arlene Antoinette

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The cpap machine has overtaken
the spot where my pen and paper
once sat awaiting midnight scribbles
and shadows cast from silver moonlight.

Last night as inspiration hit me, I rolled
over and whispered a new poem into
my sleeping husband’s ear.

This morning, he remembers nothing.
He swears to the poetry gods that he
heard nothing, only felt cool air
blowing on his skin like a kiss
from chilled lips.

My darling begs my forgiveness, but I
can’t bring myself to forgive him
as I watch my Muse wave goodbye,
no longer willing to work in such
deplorable conditions.

- - -
Arlene writes poetry, flash fiction and song lyrics. More of her work may be found @ I am not a silent Poet, Tuck Magazine, Little Rose Magazine, London Grip, The Open Mouse and Literary Heist.

In Search of Truth

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Contributor: Sheshu Babu

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Splendid flowers of fragrance
Have myriad attractive colors
If Truth is like a set of flowers
It has multiple unexplored odors

Different shapes of many a creature
Inhabit the vast territory of Nature
If Truth is a manifestation of Nature
It embodies every beautiful picture

Every Truth in the world
Abstract form with meanings multifaceted
Is mercurial and dialectic
Its composition oxymoronic

Nothing is Absolute
Truth is not astute
Its changes are sublime
And conform to situation, space and time.

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The Undertow

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Contributor: Mark Tulin

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I took my life for granted;
figured I’d never lose my balance; thought I could walk a tightrope
on a single toe.

I don’t need to take precautions or wear a life jacket
or even scream for help.
I'm special, that way;
nothing’s ever going to overpower me.

But the next thing I knew,
I was pulled by the undertow.
The planet reversed itself and I became a casualty, drowning in my ego.

They found me floating
like a piece of driftwood
from the shoreline to the sea.

- - -
Mark Tulin has an upcoming fiction collection, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories, and a poetry collection called Awkward Grace.

The Great Master's Mistress

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Contributor: H.L. Dowless

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The elegant chateau high on a hill,
what a magnificent sight to see,
where the Great Master held such a supreme will
during his fight for liberty.

He penned those cherished manumitting documents,
he advocated a redeeming battle with swords,
his words were spoken with such splendid elegance,
to this very day he is still adored!

Prior to the days of machinery,
since his grand estate was so expansive,
generating such a fabulous line of prosperity,
it could only be manned via human persistence.

The acreage was tended by burly men,
the kitchen controlled by factotum attendants.
The most gorgeous among them accommodated important clients,
offering lavish quarters and condiments.

Upon this illustrious homestead the most endowed vixen was chief,
while the Great Master was away.
From the weight of toil she had astonishing relief,
relishing in an insouciant stress free day.

When the months had passed
and the Great Master finally returned,
a heavy cloud of lust descended,
and for the allure of delicate flesh his entire body burned.

Since the Great Master held total power and abundance,
from all others this vixen abstained,
while ‘neath the estate shelter he remained;
yet when he was absent she allowed him to engineer the happenstance,
for his business accomplices to reap their riotous gains.

When the Great Master soon made his way back to his station at work,
this vixen retained an uninhibited liberty throughout home and berth,
making herself readily available to whom e'er afforded the most lavish accommodation,
whilst the talented champion labored to construct a new nation.

In our own day some national apostle spreads a provocative lie,
that this presumed innocent youthful harpy was compelled into an abominable service,
without any petition or inquiry;
yet were it not for these words the truth might remain buried for all perpetuity,
and the Great Master blamed for her gross indolence.

- - -
The author is an international ESL instructor. He has been a writer for over thirty years. He has numerous publishing credits underneath his belt.

Where It All Went

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Contributor: Cynthia Pitman

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Come with me to the center of time,
where caverns are carved from black onyx.
We can watch our reflections in envy
as they dance in the sheen of the dark walls.
Yours will lift mine and spin me around,
breathless, in the airless cave.
Mine will hold yours close, and closer still,
absent a heartbeat to keep time.
Together we can watch ourselves dance eternally
in the echoing cavern of love undone.

- - -
I am a retired teacher with work published in Leaves of Ink, 3rd Wednesday (contest finalist), Vita Brevis, and others. My book, The White Room, is forthcoming.

On A Roller-Coaster of Fate

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Contributor: Bruce Levine

- -
Blistering weather withers
As cooler climes take over
Revealing the emptiness that surrounds
Pervading the hollowness that echoes
Like an empty cavern
Floating through a ravine of longing
For the improvements that signal
Regaining the equanimity
Of our own circle of life
Holding fast to passions and fancies
Foibles and follies
Hopes and dreams
Fears and failures
Following the road to the precipice
Holding hands
Always reaching for the next plateau
Always seeking the unanswered question
And laughing
To cover up the unknown
The sham laughter of sorrow
To hide the tears
That flow too readily for propriety
Yet shrink with hope
And rise again
On a roller-coaster of fate

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Bruce Levine, a native Manhattanite, has spent his life as a writer of fiction and poetry and as a music and theatre professional and is published on and in numerous internet and print journals. His work is dedicated to the loving memory of his late wife, Lydia Franklin.

Prison Mind

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Contributor: Aakriti Bikash Kumar

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I, a captive clad in dark and light
I too, its captor of wicked might
The placid bars of this turning mind
Shroud the shrieks of my echoing plight

And mice of vices gnaw at the bread
Of my soul; those inmate vermin I dread
That crawl and creep up my feet
And fester and toy with my head

With shackles, pinned myself to the ground
Chastised myself, in a mind's solitary sound
With mice of vices and shackles of shame
A free man's mind and soul were bound

Yet, the bird beyond the bars calls and cries
With a voice from within; the darkness dies

- - -
Pursuing B.A. in History (Honors) at Maitreyi College, University of Delhi
Classical Literature Enthusiast and Aspiring Diplomat :)

Never Touched

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Contributor: Vaunna Fostertagg

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I never drink, she said,
as she opened the closet
the most well-stocked bar I'd ever seen.

People give me gifts in this industry,
she said.
I do the same.

You regift? I asked.
When I can, she said.

She closed the door.
I wondered how many attorneys
kept such well-stocked larders
of gifts,
regifted endlessly

never touched.

- - -
Florida native with a heart of gold, sometimes.

On and On

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Contributor: Kendra R. Grosfelt

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Clocks are the shackles of civilization
never loosing enough time to do everything
that must be done
with utmost urgency.

Cancer is the rash of progress
a reaction to the pollutants of industry
and to stress
so much inescapable stress.

Death is the rest we all secretly crave
the blessing of the yawning grave
just a quick bliss, then gone
and then it's back to work again.

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The Painting She Left

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Contributor: Barry B. Belmont

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The painting she left
the painting I found
sitting vigil
on the thrift store shelves

I wondered what they thought
those who saw the date
the dedication on the back
of the piece

I wondered how many other weddings
generated their own ephemeral memorabilia
now only sitting vigil
on thrift store shelves

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Contributor: Perry Gardbakken

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He says he wants to leave
wants to live in space
wants to live completely free
of all this
of all this green
this blue and red and brown.

He says he wants to don a spacesuit
all decked out in red, white and blue.
he wants to stitch it all himself
of things he made himself
without waiting on anyone else
without being dependent

He says he wants to see the stars
while the rest of the world spins on
dark and blind
like crabs in a bucket
except him
all except him

He'll be independent
he'll exist without relying on anything
except himself

(and all the things that others helped him build.)

- - -
Perry saw twenty winters before he left the mountains. He writes in nature, sometimes while sitting in trees.

Finding Home

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Contributor: Jane Briganti

- -
A place to call home
Familiar sights and scenery
that warm the eyes
or maybe
New possibilities
New places yet
to be discovered

Meeting new people
Exchanging smiles
Diversity, runs far and wide
Different voices
Changing customs

Where does one

A place called home
Somewhere, anywhere
one feels safe
Feeling they belong
without hesitation
without any second thoughts

Home is where the heart is
or so they say
Home is where you are
when you're not wishing
you were away!

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A Native New Yorker, she believes poetry is the souls way of communicating with itself.


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