What Rough Beast

A poem a day by a different poet exploring and responding to our nation’s political reality.
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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 18, 2017

Zachary Taylor Knox
Dysphoria

i’ve known no proud nation,
no rules, reason, or order, no
ointment to heal this deep chip on my
shoulder, felt little elation
in meaningless victory another
pawn drowned by history, inner voice
crushed by the weight of the boulder pushed up-

hill over and over under the order
of the supposed higher order
whose demands are simple hush, don’t think
too much because “work will set you free” why?
because freedom isn’t free and war isn’t peace
but it’s still a release

 

Zachary Taylor Knox’s poems have appeared in Ealain and Penny Ante Feud. He lives in Fort Madison, Iowa.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 17, 2017

Liz Ahl
Evangelical Pastors Lay Hands On Donald Trump In The Oval Office, July 12, 2017

In January, I thought he’d burst into flames
when he touched that Bible for the oath.
It’s summer now, and still he has no shame

that I can see. On Twitter he exclaims
and bullies and sputters daily untruth.
In January, I thought I’d burst into flames

when he started playing odd and ominous games
claiming and denying fraud at the voting booths.
It’s summer now; he still says he was framed.

His thin skin can’t withstand a mocking meme,
but still he’s drawn, an angry, pointless moth,
impervious to the Internet’s bright flames.

And add to this a vision, an absurd dream:
a laying on of hands by “men of the cloth.”
It’s summer now, and still they have no shame.

They do the devil’s work in Jesus’ name.
They feed and stoke a dark, malignant growth.
In January, I swore he’d burst into flames.
It’s summer now, and still he has no shame.

 

Liz Ahl is the author of Home Economics (Seven Kitchens Press, 2016); Talking About the Weather (Seven Kitchens, 2012, “Summer Kitchen” series); Luck (Pecan Grove, 2010), winner of the New Hampshire Literary Awards “Reader’s Choice” in Poetry Award in 2011; and A Thirst That’s Partly Mine, winner of the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook contest. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Able Muse, Measure, Cutthroat, and Rappahannock Review. Liz has been awarded residencies at Jentel, Playa, The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and The Vermont Studio Center. She lives in New Hampshire.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 16, 2017

David Walby
Left Before the Tone

Pass the time of Revelations,
My love for you is already known,
Such was not at my discretion,
The message left before the tone.

I shan’t speak of sadness or of the gaping hole in my heart.
Nor I burden you with my tears of sin.
I made the wrong call,
Chased the bird at the wrong time.

I’d ask you to forgive me,
But my mistake was dire.
That is something I cannot require,

My love for you,
Was something of great power,
Forever doomed to remain at the top of the tower.

Pass the time of Revelations,
My love for you is already known,
Such was not at my discretion,
The message left before the tone.

 

David Walby is a 15 year old Autistic author and poet that is based in Indiana. He hopes to use his writing to improve the world as a whole and show people that Autism isn’t something to be ashamed of.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 15, 2017

George Warui
Killer

Is forth coming
And cruel
And cruel
And cruel
And very seldom seen
And fruit of killer
And fruit
Of war of guns
And cures of the illed
And very illed
And cures of the ailed
And cures of the iller
And cures of the illed
Is forth and cures the iller
Is the fruit of the graves

 

George Warui is a Kenyan poet.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 14, 2017

Daniel Culver
The Dreamers

Would you consider stealing just one dream?
Or even eight hundred millenaries?
Those aspirations and hopes you would deem
Unworthy of life, and increase for these—
Children who’d give everything to beseem
A great nation built upon reveries.
If you would wake them and send them away,
It’s this nation’s principles you’d betray.

 

Daniel Culver is a software developer living in Houston with his wife and two daughters.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 13, 2017

Andrew K. Peterson
Poem to be Read Aloud on the Corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Newbury Street on International Worker’s Day

I was there
with the strobers, for
the thieves. I could read
their heavy arrivals and
smile anyway; why not?
I’m only plodding along
tagging bottomless cotton
blends til this shift ends.
Too tired to give a shit.
One morning—too early
for stars—I passed k.d. lang
eyes locked in her look
that said don’t. So I didn’t.

Barefoot hippies took the square the day Jerry Garcia died, I was there
for the drum circles bleating crosstown tie-dyed poly-rhythms, waiting
on Mister-Mountain-Dew-Baggy-Pants to replace me on the late shift;

I was there on time.
When the old lady farts
for the morning meetings
we pretend not to hear.
I was there to proof the
memo the day she died.

I was there for the changing rooms’ loose needles thousand-dollar
wallets for the kindness of homeless man asking for King James mortar-
boards textbook returns crossed bridges to soft Pluto, to empty out

karma from the stolen tarot decks.
I was there when the lady
touched my forehead for the pulse
of an aura as another puked Scope
and both the colors changed.

I was there when the Patriots lost to the Giants.
I was there when the Patriots lost to the Giants.
I was there to direct so many woke dreamers

to the mattresses. Why was I there?
For the feel of fitting in after all that time
can I help? Can I help? Hi, can I—
deny myself the question

step out from behind the register, the back of my hand
a makeshift blind against afternoon slants’ winter sunset:
commerce—an open mouth emptying a ringing song
I was there on corners for the work that wants
the wheel that wants the drum to shake it all loose from

—for Michele Lubowsky

 

Andrew K. Peterson is the author of The Big Game Is Every Night (Locofo Chaps, 2017), Anonymous Bouquet (Spuyten Duyvil, 2015), and bonjour meriwether and the rabid maps (Fact-Simile, 2011). His work appears in Emergency Index 2012 (Ugly Duckling Presse) and has been featured in museum exhibits and performance projects. He edits the online literary journal summer stock and lives in Boston.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 12, 2017

Ayşe Tekşen
A Home for You

I’ve found a home
for you here.
Get a little closer,
with a torch in your hand.
The windows are broken,
but no problem!
We’ll fix them in no time.
The back door squeaks,
but no problem!
A little bit of oil
will solve it.
The roof is in good shape,
however we might need to
trim the ivy that slouches up.
The walls…
Oh honey,
I don’t know what
we’ll do with the walls, though.
Maybe we’d better let
them tumble all at once.
This wrecking ball
might be of help.

 

Ayşe Tekşen’s work has appeared in Gravel, After the Pause, The Write Launch, Uut Poetry, and The Fiction Pool. Her forthcoming or recent work appears in Scarlet Leaf Review, Constellations, Neologism Poetry Journal, and Seshat Literary Magazine. She lives in Ankara, Turkey where she works as a research assistant at the Department of Foreign Language Education, Middle East Technical University.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 11, 2017

Zachary Taylor Knox
Restlessness

tortured atlas lays quartered
and splayed across the coffee table put
on display as a reminder to
those that wish to betray the fallen way
and run away, dear god there has to be
another way, maybe if we tried real hard
and made the time to pray to the titan’s

makeshift altar maybe he would let us
escape this constant fear of financial
and physical ruin, he looks down from his skies
and cries my sun the world is shrinking
the waves are sinking the shores again
the glory of atlantis again fleeting from our
beating oars, row faster bastard, there’s

no use soon all will be one and every-
body n/o/ne

 

Zachary Taylor Knox’s poems have appeared in Ealain and Penny Ante Feud. He lives in Fort Madison, Iowa.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 10, 2017

Marc J. Cid
For the Hiroshima Peace Flame, and All Her Brothers and Sisters

You are lamentably beautiful at 53 years burning—
an as-of-yet unfulfilled promise, a rejoinder. I wonder
if we could treat you with Olympic reverence
every anniversary of the annihilation and poisoning
of Hiroshima, of Nagasaki, of the annihilation and poisoning
of the Japanese, and of the human race status update
to becoming the single greatest existential threat to itself,
species sapiens evolving
from omnivorous, to omnicidal
with the press of a button,
with the casting of a vote,
with the transfer of campaign funds,
with the broadcast of militaristic
and fearmongering populist demagogues,
with the blame games and shaming of names,
with the rallying of hate and hate accessories

and it was a previous iteration of this cycle
that birthed you, the Hiroshima Peace Flame.

Maybe we could fulfill the wish for which you burn,
if every year we could relay runners
to spread you cross-country, cross-borders
cross-demilitarized zones, cross-channels,
cross-gulfs, cross-oceans with bearers
of every skin color and national allegiance starting
from you and passing by your neighbor, the crane-folding statue
of Sadoko Sasaki, sculpted and standing for the thousands of child victims
of the Manhattan Project’s progeny in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park,
swing southwest to another archipelago and the water-wading bronze likenesses
of General Douglas MacArthur and President-in-exile Sergio Osmeña
in MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park on Leyte’s Red Beach,
pass the torch due north and 360 feet underground through Pyongang’s metro
dug that deep to pull double duty as a nuclear shelter,
then off west to Moscow to sprint through Tretyakov Gallery,
circle 146 times around the pyramid pile of skulls glaring
out of the painting The Apotheosis of War, once for every year
gone by since its maker Vasily Vereschagin sarcastically inscribed
into its frame the phrase: “This is dedicated to all great conquerors,
past, present, and future,” then swerve southeast to the dove-topped marble monument
of the Tehran Peace Museum inaugurating the 20th anniversary
of Iraq’s gassing of Sardasht, on which it is inscribed:
“That terrible suffering gave us a new understanding
of the cruelty of war, the terror of weapons of mass destruction,
and the importance of peace. Until the day when all people on Earth
can live in peace, we will continuously send messages of peace to the world,”
pass over northwest to Vienna’s Albertinaplatz and its Monument
Against War and Fascism, the bifurcated white Gates of Violence and its effigies
of mangled limbs and gas masks, of a dying woman birthing a soldier,
chained slave laborers and barbed wire-bound Jews,
and then carried North, South, East, West, illuminating every monument to peace
of which I am still ignorant, to every memorial to the dead
not yet constructed, every reminder of atrocities committed long ago
or for atrocities still in progress, to every peace monument and memorial
never created but this time, never created because they don’t have to be,
because this time, we avoid atrocity because this time,
we choose peace, because this time, we say not this time choose not
to gas, to bomb, to nuke, to sterilize, to enslave, to hurt one another
for God, for Allah, for country, for communism,
for capitalism, for all lives finally
will matter and we can say that
without worrying we are erasing
the plights of the marginalized,
because the human race will progress to the point
where we no longer believe we must hate and hurt each other to thrive.

Dear Hiroshima Peace Flame,
I am sorry I did not know about you or your siblings sooner,
I am sorry it took commander-in-chief tweets to herald
the potential birth of another memorial to recidivistically
and sadomasochistically mourn another unthinkable
pyramid pile of irradiated skulls, to notice your picture,
to notice the magnitude of your family dynasty built
and painted and ignited in trying to deny any more death.
I am sorry if I overlooked you due to sleeping in history class,
or I am sorry my history teachers and textbooks
never spoke to me of your existence,
I am sorry that so many peace monuments
can be seen as hypocritical,
I am sorry so many of our societies
have so much blood on our hands,
that even if we apologized
for every slaughter and atrocity
we have committed, our contrition
would not make things right and yet
we haven’t even managed such a pittance.

But if we could relay run around the world
with open hands and borders passing torches
from monument to memorial,
from Hiroshima to Tehran, to Vienna,
pounding feet and heaving lungs
sending streaks of fire across water
and earth over long buried bullet casings,
above acres of filled-in trenches and deactivated land mines,
through concentration camp-turned museums,
what will it, what will we, amount to?

Hiroshima Peace Flame, do you believe
you will be blown out, not by birthday wishes,
but by the winds from mushroom cloud shockwaves?

Or do you believe we can lay you to rest
on wings of smoke having fulfilled the wish
on which you were born to be extinguished,
once all the nuclear bombs
on our planet are erased?

 

Marc J. Cid is the author of Theatrical Release, a chapbook published in 2017. His poems have appeared in Cadence Collective, The Black Napkin, East Jasmine Review, and Incandescent Mind, as well as in the anthologies Short Poems Ain’t Got Nobody to Love (2016) and Snorted the Moon and Doused the Sun (2017), both published by For the Love of Words Collective and edited by Raundi K. Moore-Kondo. Marc works with a media company, lives in Downey, California, and can often be found performing at various poetry open mic nights throughout Southern California.

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What Rough Beast | Poem for September 9, 2017

David Walby
Are We Not A Fighting Race

War is upon us,
A time of eternal strife is closing in around us,
Thousands will die,
Millions will suffer.

We refused to acknowledge the signs of the Antichrist’s rise.
Now he is here,
What will we do now,
Will we roll over and die into Satan’s clutches,
Or are we not a fighting race.

Can we resist the Deadly Sevenfold,
Shan’t we fall to evil’s’ grasp
With the hand of God,
And the rise of Rome,
Might we have a chance.

Throw off the chains of your race!
We are all human!
Are we not?
Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jew, Hindu,
It matters not !
We are all in this same hell together.

In a time where corruption is at its highest,
Millions die in the streets,
Children are blown to bits,
Women get rapped in the so called holy halls of the Church.

The New Age Nazis,
The Knights of the Klan,
Remnants of the Confederation,
And Panthers of the Night.

All are mongers of hate,
And servants of the Devil himself.
These are the Legacies of our race,
The human race.
Well I say no more!

Can we not make peace with ourselves and our peers.
Must we fight to the death, over such petty differences.
Mother against Father,
Brother against brother,
Family versus family,
We are falling apart.

Throw off your chains,
Release yourself from pain.
Unite with your common man,
and hold the hands of your previous enemies,
For united we must stand if we are to survive.

War is upon us,
A time of eternal strife is closing in around us,
Thousands will die,
Millions will suffer,

We refused to acknowledge the signs of the Antichrist’s rise.
Now he is here,
What will we do now,
Will we roll over and die into Satan’s clutches,
Or are we not a fighting race.

United we must stand.

 

David Walby is a 15 year old Autistic author and poet that is based in Indiana. He hopes to use his writing to improve the world as a whole and show people that Autism isn’t something to be ashamed of.

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