Out of my Mind
Last year I slipped into his,
its sour wine smell
mouldy heel of bread
in the fridge, scratches
on the walls, razors at the door.
Now I am homeless
mine has been condemned.
Yours seems a better option,
the colour scheme, comfy chairs
capacious, rapacious, bit of a Tardis.
Can I stay?
Rachael Clyne’s work appears in various magazines, also anthologies: The Very Best of 52, Book of Love and Loss, Poems for a Liminal Age. Her prizewinning collection, Singing at the Bone Tree concerns our relationship with the wild. For more click here.Read More
Bernard Kops, Poetry & Peril:
PEACE WILL COME, ANNE FRANK INSISTS, YOU WILL SEE
Bernard Kops, the doyen of Anglo-Jewish letters, has responded to a global resurgence of violent anti-Semitism by issuing a new collection of verse called Anne Frank’s Fragments from Nowhere. This is his second major work exploring the legacy of the teenage diarist. Anne was murdered in Bergen-Belsen after hiding with her family for two exhausting years in a secret annex at the back of an Amsterdam building.
She returns in Bernard’s poetry to assure worried Jews everywhere:
… peace will come.
And the tired will lie down and sleep.
And the dreamers will awake
and embrace the beauty
of world, of existence, of love.
And peace will come,
and love and lovers will transcend
the wars of earth.
And they will plant their love.
And the tree of love will grow forever.
And you’ll see. Peace will come. And peace will come.
And people will come and go and live.
And live again and again.
And peace will come. You’ll see!
You’ll see. And peace will come!
And peace will come!
And peace must come.
Bernard, a poet and playwright at last basking in world fame at the age of 89, is slightly older than Anne would be if she had been allowed to live. He is a descendant of working-class Dutch immigrants to Britain, whose entire extended family back in Europe perished during the Holocaust. He is, like all Jews alive today, a survivor acutely aware of a looming, ubiquitous presence of racist intolerance.
Seven decades after the Holocaust and a year after the horrendous Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris replicated worldwide, Jewish institutions in hundreds of population centres survive under armed guard. France, the home of Europe’s biggest Jewish community and the third biggest in the world, has declared a permanent state of emergency. It deploys troops in combat fatigues and wielding automatic weapons to control the wrath of Islamist fanatics encouraging the racist rampage of the native far-right and far-left rabble.
A wide range of xenophobic hate crimes has substantially increased throughout the West. Jewish community leaders perceive a level of existential threat that they have not experienced since the wartime deportation trains transporting the Kops and the Frank families and millions of other civilian captives across Europe to industrially organized slaughter. Jewish emigration to Israel has now also reached record levels.
Anne Frank’s Fragments from Nowhere confronts a crisis that may well intensify following the Great Powers’ dubious new nuclear power development accord with the theocracy of Baghdad. Its immediate effect will be to fuel the perilous conflagrations already engulfing the Middle East and extending to the European Union and Russia. For the compromise agreement has released an estimated $150bn in direct and indirect investment in the terrorist states of Iran and its client Syria, and also in numerous terrorist states within states like Hezbollah and Hamas.
The first German feature film based on the teenager’s Holocaust testimony is titled Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank (The Diary of Anne Frank), released at the 66th Berlin Film Festival during February. A Hollywood adaptation in 1959 won three Oscars.
Bernard’s collection addresses the future by insisting on recording the past. In the poem For the Record, he recalls:
They came for him in Amsterdam, my grandfather David,
and with minimum force removed him from his home.
He surrendered to the entire German army,
and that was that.
It is of little consequence now;
so many die alone in foreign lands.
But for the record I must say
they gave him a number, helped him
aboard an eastbound train.
It was a little overcrowded,
but then they had so many to dispatch…
The poet grew up in deep poverty in the East End of London “as a committed witness for the lost community of Amsterdam,” he recounts, “including my family and Anne’s. Her fate could so easily have been mine…”
He all but met her. He explains: “My first play, The Hamlet of Stepney Green” first performed at the Oxford Playhouse in 1957, “was translated into Dutch by Rosie Pool, an author who joined the Dutch Resistance during the war. She had escaped from the Nazi transit camp at Westbork,” a collection point from which the Jews were being dispatched to mass murder, “and her first task was to smuggle herself back and organize others.
“There she met and tutored Anne. Rosie talked to me endlessly about Anne’s character, personality, dreams and nightmares. All this has fed my imagination, and Anne became my close relative.”
The experience eventually led to Bernard’s play, the Dreams of Anne Frank, which opened in the Polka Theatre, London, in 1992. The play (Methuen Drama, England, 1997) has been touring the world ever since. The Hungarian version performed in 1998 at the Mahatma Gandhi School, Pécs, employed a cast of teenage Romany actors, perhaps a quarter million of whose people had been murdered during the Holocaust. The atmosphere was electric.
In Act One, Anne holds up a star on an empty stage as she turns to the audience. (The following text of her song is not included in the new collection.)
Fate gave me a yellow star.
A badge to tell them who I am.
I’m Anne from Amsterdam.
I’m Anne Frank and I’m a Jew.
And I’m the same as you and you.
Or you and you and you.
But fate gave me a yellow star.
The star to put me in my place,
To wear it as a badge of shame,
But I’m Anne from Amsterdam.
I’m proud of who I am.
We have to hide away from light
Because they come for us at night.
And pack us off to God knows where,
And all we have is where we are.
But fate gave me a yellow star.
Like Bernard, the real-life Anne had consciously prepared for a writing career, and she spectacularly succeeded. Her diary describing the fears as well as the tensions, loves, dreams and irritations of people hiding away from death in a terrorized city was published posthumously in1947 as Het Achterhuis (The Annex). Subsequent editions were titled The Diary of Anne Frank and Diary of a Young Girl. The book has been sold in more than 30m copies.
A fierce controversy is now raging over an extension of its copyright protection that would normally expire 70 years after the death of its author. Another book of the same period controversially just reissued on entering the public domain is Mein Kampf (My Struggle) by Adolf Hitler, a screed campaigning for the annihilation of the Jewish people.
Bernard is one of the best known writers of our time. All his writing is steeped in poetry. He is extraordinarily creative, prolific, fearless and compassionate, the author of some nine collections of verse, more than 40 plays for stage and television, 11 novels and two autobiographies.
Many of his books are constantly in print and his plays in production. His range of concerns is enormous, embracing Jewish identity, the many shades of love, family relationships, aging, fear, passion and mental illness. The Hamlet of Stepney Green, whose roots reach back to the tradition of Yiddish theatre, is widely recognized as an originator of Britain’s revolutionary, new wave, “kitchen-sink” theatre.
A seminal, book-length critical analysis of his growing corpus (Bernard Kops: Fantasist, London Jew, Apocalyptic Humorist, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2014, 168pp.) has been issued by Professor William Baker of Northern Illinois University and Prof. Jeanette Roberts Shumaker at San Diego State University. The monograph describes him as an influential innovator of British drama, an important social critic and a careful chronicler of the Anglo-Jewish society as well as the London Bohemian subculture of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, of which he was a part.
He is also a stubborn optimist convinced that well chosen words are mightier even than fleets of nuclear warheads. With a comradely wink towards Anna, Bernard includes in the new collection one of his best loved, old poems, Shalom Bomb. Here is one timely passage:
…I want a one-man-band-bomb. My own bomb!
My live long and die happy bomb.
My die peacefully of old age bomb;
in my own bed bomb.
My Om Mane Padme Aum Bomb.
My Tiddly Om Pom Bomb.
My goodnight bomb, my sleeptight bomb,
my see you in the morning bomb.
I want my bomb. My own private bomb.
My Shalom bomb.
Thomas Ország-Land is a poet and award-winning foreign correspondent who writes from London and his native Budapest. His last book was Survivors: Hungarian Jewish Poets of the Holocaust (Smokestack/England, 2014). His work also appears in the new anthologies Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for Those Seeking Refuge (Five Leaves) and Random Red Candles grouping the best of Candelabrum Poetry Magazine, 1970-2010 (Spinnaker), both in England in 2015.
Anne Frank’s Fragments from Nowhere by Bernard Kops is published by Indigo Dreams Publishing and is available here: http://www.indigodreams.co.uk/bernard-kops/4589983997Read More
I swaddled the bulbs in newspaper
And placed them on the shelf to keep them cool
Over the winter, out of the frost
That this morning spit shined the roof of the shed.
Wrapped safely in the blackbird dark
They wait for some switch in temperature,
Some new angle of light to peel back
A memory lost somewhere in their fist of colour.
The borders are empty, small craters cup
In prayer the patch from where they were removed.
Sparrows scavenge the map blanked shallows,
Pulling up worms, unthreading a jumper.
Colin Bancroft works as an English Lecturer at a College in the North-East. He has previously had poems published in Acumen, Agenda, Ariadne’s Thread, Black Light Engine Room, Broken Wine, Cannon’s Mouth, The Copperfield Review, Elbow Room, LondonGrip, Message in a Bottle, Neon, Rockland and ScreechOwl. He has also been shortlisted for both the Manchester Bridgewater Prize and the New Holland Press competition.Read More
Welcome to Beginning Meditation. After I explain a few basic principles, we’ll start with a three-minute meditation, a sort of trial run. By the end of the course, you’ll be making a 10-minute practice part of your daily routine.
Ten minutes? Doesn’t sound like much. I really need to relax. How can 10 minutes make a difference? If it sounds too good to be true. . . . At least I can say I tried.
Let’s begin. You’re trying to calm your monkey mind. Just close your eyes and sit comfortably. Focus on your breath. I’ll let you know when three minutes are up.
Three minutes is a pop song. This will be a cinch. Oh, right. We’ve started. Empty my mind. . . .Wait till Jan hears about this. . . . OK, my breath: in, out, in, out. What did the guy next to me eat? Garlic city. . . . Whew. I’m going to sneeze. No. In, out. Don’t forget to . . . let it go. Let it be. Now there was a song—more than three minutes, though. There will be an answer, let it. . . . Why is this so hard? In, out, my mind is blank. Blink. . . . Maybe there’s a book that would help. Ask the teacher. . . . In, out. In, out. In, out . . . three, I did three seconds. Don’t think. Just be. In, out. No wonder it’s called monkey mind. Let it GO. . . . Isn’t three minutes up yet? In, out. How can anyone do this for 10 whole minutes?
one fragrant, one carved
blossoms in the buddha’s hands
worn by the wind
Pat Tompkins is an editor in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poems have appeared in The A3 Review, Confingo, A Hundred Gourds, and other publications.
NB: This haibun was first published in Thema, 2014Read More
from WHITE NOISE 3
Non-specific wording to agree
Please read and accept
as much as possible
You should not acknowledge
contaminated dredge material
Are not authorized to go
outside the boundary
Do not be unresponsive
Be prepared to view
Transform your home
the long way round
I was born tomorrow
wire-brushed and distressed
clean and nice looking
I can help you discover
and save creative ideas
Make the dirt stick
Contact the human switchboard
See what we did there?
I’m surprised you want advice
Find a salt-grain of solace
get the latest in your inbox
Experience one sunny day
Failure is evidenced in memory
surface tension drastically reduced
What a good Mum you are
Rupert Loydell is Senior Lecturer in English with Creative Writing at Falmouth University, the editor of Stride and With magazines, and a contributing editor to international times. He is the author of many collections of poetry, including The Return of the Man Who Has Everything, Wildlife and Ballads of the Alone, all published by Shearsman Books.Read More
When I feel that I’m the Crow
living outside that circle
gliding far from the heads in chatter
that only resemble the pattern of Mandir Temple
in whitened marble;
The night that stalks its seekers
a dark star- an angel from another world.
When I feel the Crow has left my side
white feathers grow back into skin
am I not that white star ? invisible in daylight
at night a fading stream just that echo of a falling pin.
Matt Duggan‘s poems have appeared in The Seventh Quarry, Section 8, The Dawntreader, Roundyhouse, Apogee Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, Dwang 2, The Journal, Illumen, Yellow Chair Review, Jawline Review, Carillon, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Vagabonds, Lunar Poetry Magazine, The Screech Owl, Message in a Bottle, OF/With, IANASP, The Stare’s Nest, The Cobalt Review, Sarasvati, Expound, Ex-Fic, Trysts of Fate. He had his first collection of poems published last year ‘Making Adjustments For Life Expectancy. Matt also created and hosts a spoken word evening at Hydra Bookshop in Bristol UK called Spoken Indulgence, and is the editor of a brand new poetry magazine The Angry Manifesto. Matt was shortlisted for the 2015 erbacce poetry prize.Read More
From Pewsey to Didcot by Mouse-Hearse
Get yourself a free-rolling hearse;
a Daimler or a big Ford. You won’t require speed,
a good walking pace will do.
You’ll need a bedroll and a sleeping bag for night,
something to insulate against the metal of the runners,
but space won’t be a problem, you can lie out full length.
Breed your mice from the best stock;
weak, white lab specimens aren’t born to dray work.
You’ll save the cost of peaked caps for their pink eyes.
Give them motivation through inspirational talks,
remember chocolate is more attractive than cheese.
Allow five hours to harness them each morning.
It is your job to apply the brakes quickly,
should a cat or other predator break cover
and scatter your team. Many previous expeditions
have been cut short by losing stock
to the wheels of vehicles or early sledges.
Mice do not respond to whip-cracks.
At the end of each day, attend to the needs
of your mice before your own. Feed and water them.
Make sure they have plenty of fluff for nesting.
The route is mainly flat; there are no major hills
(don’t contemplate the Hexham expedition).
Give your mice recuperation time. Avoid Newbury.
Simon Williams has five published collections, the latest being A Place Where Odd Animals Stand (Oversteps Books, 2012) and He|She (Itinerant Press, 2013). He was elected The Bard of Exeter in 2013 and founded the large-format magazine, The Broadsheet (www.thebroadsheet.moonfruit.com). He makes a living as a journalist.Read More