“To Beat the Morning Drum” — A Memorial Day Reflection by Resident Skeptic, James R. Cowles

James R. Cowles is a member of the diverse Bardo Group Beguines, publishers of The BeZine, which I manage and edit. James also regularly contributes to The BeZine’s sister site, Beguine Again. James isn’t shy of controversy and while you may not always be in agreement with him, you will always be encouraged to revisit and rethink … and, the man is endlessly entertaining. / J.D.

Monday of next week, 28 May, is Memorial Day. So the following is dedicated to those who fought in the Nation’s wars, especially those who never returned home. In particular, and most personally, I dedicate this to the memory of my father, Cpl. Leonard Eugene Cowles, who served in Battery C of the 174th Field Artillery Battalion, and of whom I have written previously. The following poem by Walt Whitman was reprinted on the flyleaf of Dad’s copy of We Did, the history of the 174th which was issued to every member of the Battalion as they left the Service at the end of World War II. (The title of the history was chosen so as to finish the Battalion motto:  Possumus Et Volumus — “We Can And We Will”.) How painfully nostalgic to reflect that the men who received that Battalion history went to Europe to fight fascists and fascism, so that, 70-plus years later, Americans would have the right to vote fascists into high office in our own country. Think long and hard about that.

Cpl. Leonard E. Cowles, Battery C, 174th Field Artillery Battalion



Camps of Green

by Walt Whitman

Not alone those camps of white, O soldiers,
When, as order’d forward, after a long march,
Footsore and weary, soon as the light lessen’d, we halted for the night;
Some of us so fatigued, carrying the gun and knapsack, dropping asleep in our tracks;
Others pitching the little tents, and the fires lit up began to

Outposts of pickets posted, surrounding, alert through the dark,
And a word provided for countersign, careful for safety;
Till to the call of the drummers at daybreak loudly beating the drums,
We rose up refresh’d, the night and sleep pass’d over, and resumed our journey,
Or proceeded to battle.

Lo! the camps of the tents of green,
Which the days of peace keep filling, and the days of war keep filling,
With a mystic army, (is it too order’d forward? is it too only halting awhile,
Till night and sleep pass over?)

Now in those camps of green–in their tents dotting the world;
In the parents, children, husbands, wives, in them–in the old and young,
Sleeping under the sunlight, sleeping under the moonlight, content and silent there at last,
Behold the mighty bivouac-field, and waiting-camp of all,
Of corps and generals all, and the President over the corps and generals all,
And of each of us, O soldiers, and of each and all in the ranks we fought,
(There without hatred we shall all meet.)

For presently, O soldiers, we too camp in our place in the bivouac-camps of green;
But we need not provide for outposts, nor word for the countersign,
Nor drummer to beat the morning drum.

James R. Cowles

Image credits

Images are the property of the author, please be respectful.


“WE WILL NOT BE BROKEN” – A word from Michael Rothenberg, on 100,000 Poets (and other artists and friends) for Change, March 29, 2018 / Mark your calendar

“The next 100 Thousand Poets for Change (100TPC) global initiative will take place on September 29. I can’t emphasize too much how important I feel it is to organize globally this year, how important it is for poets and artists to raise their voices in unity with greater strength and conviction than in years past. I believe we are at a crossroads and we must make ourselves heard together.  Please sign up* to show the world that we are here together again! . . . Peace, Justice and Sustainability. We will not be broken!” Poet, Publisher and Co-founder of 100,000 Poets for Change, Michael Rothenberg

“Il prossimo evento 100 Thousand Poeti per un cambiamento una iniziativa globale sarà il 29 settembre.

Io non vorrei enfatizzare troppo quanto io sento importante per i poeti e gli artisti di far crescere uniti la loro voce con grande forza e convizione rispetto gli anni passati.
Io credo che siamo ad una svolta importante e dobbiamo rimanere con forza uniti .
Molti di voi siete già stati con me in questo evento ma desidero che vi segnate di nuovo in questa lista per mostrare che noi siamo ancora insieme tutti!
Postate la vostra città ed io i assegnerò per organizzare nella vostra città.
Pace Giustizia e Sostenibilità. 
Noi non vogliamo essere piegati e spezzati!”

* Michael adds that, “Many of you have already been with me in this event but I want you to mark yourself again on this list to show that we are still together everyone!” You can sign-up on-line (follow the link to 100TPC) or connect with Michael on Facebook and give him your city. He will assign you to organize in your city.

Peace – Justice – Sustainability

Mark your calendars, sign-up for 100TPC to host an event in your area, and join with us at The BeZine for our Virtual 100TPC …

Artwork by The Bardo Group Beguines team-member, Corina Ravenscraft (Dragon’s Dreams) for The BeZine, 100,000 Poets (and Others) for Change, 2018

Each year at The BeZine we participate in this global effort by hosting a virtual event. This makes it convenient for folks all over the world to take part even if there isn’t an event in their area or if for some reason they are homebound. More details will follow here and at The BeZine as we get closer to the date. Michael Dickel is – as has become a lovely tradition – our Master of Ceremonies.

Questions about the Zine 100TPC? Email me at bardogroup@gmail.com

Questions about Global 100TPC? Connect with Michael Rothenberg on Facebook.


The Witching Hour, a poem . . . and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

Poetry is not a profession, it is a destiny. Mikhail Dudan

Must be something about the witching hour,
magic after all, when from sound sleep I so
suddenly awake to the silent scratching and
rough shaking of a poem, uninvited but near
fully formed, dropping in from some unnamed
peculiar heaven or hell to disturb the languid
luxury of this rare blue somnolence. A poem from
neither the horn nor ivory gate that snatches me
from the welcome arms of Morpheus, from the land
of Demos Oneiroi, where I long – an elegant ache
to return. I chew the poem like a baby new flavors,
trying to define shape and character, to hold the
memory intact until dawn when I can – perhaps –
name it. I … repeat it … repeating, repeating,
my mind wrapping itself around the words like my
arms the pillow, hugging their sensations, rolling
in the silk and nub and color, not willing to let go,
not able to sleep. In the chill before daybreak, I
give up and get up and taking the laptop in hand,
lay the words on a new page, ready post of the day.

© poem, 2011, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved;  Artwork – Morpheus and Iris by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin, 1811


Catching a poem seems sometimes almost a mystical experience. Where did it come from?  And how often does it come at the most inconvenient time – when your trying to sleep, read, bath the baby, walk the dog. Pad and pen are constant companions. I’m not implying that it’s always easy to finish – to refine the poem – but sometimes it does come to us fully formed or nearly so. Tell us how you receive and experience your own poetry as an unexpected visitor, a surprise perspective or observation, a gift, or as a mystical thing … perhaps even as an occasional inconvenience.

All poems shared on theme will be published here next Tuesday. Deadline is Monday May 28 at 8 p.m. PDT. All are welcome – encouraged – to participate no matter the status of your career: novice,emerging or pro.  It’s about sharing your work and meeting other poets who may be new to you.

If it is your first time sharing your work for Wednesday Writing Prompt, please remember to email your photo and short bio to thepoetbyday@gmail.com to be shared along with your poem by way of introduction. Please don’t mail the poem. Share it or a link to it in the comments section below.



“Child Rulebook” … and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

“Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe. ”
― Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire

The last Wednesday Writing Prompt, May 16, Baruch, The Baker, was about genocide, unfortunately as prevalent in these modern times as any other in history. The count is 24 currently, including – and ironically – Gaza. Here are the sometimes intuitive, sometimes angry, always well-considered works of poets with a strong sense of social justice and injustice. A collection for serious thought.

Thanks to intrepid and talented poets: Gary W. Bowers, Paul Brookes, Frank McMahan, Sonja Benskin Mesher and Marta Pombo Sallés. Bravo! And thank you to Sonja and Marta for sharing their illustrative art.

Please join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are encouraged: beginner, emerging or pro. It’s about community, sharing, getting to know poets who may be new to you. Each poet’s site (if they have one) is linked below to facilitate visits.  If they don’t have a site, chances are you can connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.

child rulebook

all conquerors
learned all they needed
from the child rulebook.
of course, it being
a CHILD’s rulebook,
some rules contradict others.
“i was here first”
will fall before
“my army can beat up your army.”
“i’m gonna tell on you”
derives from
“you will get it if mom finds out”
but is so often outmatched
by “now look what you made me do”
which is a corollary of
“it’s all your fault.”

the Standard Oil Company,
a conqueror from its inception,
“kick their ass/get their gas”
long before those words
we’re found on t-shirts.

in 1979
after a puppet government
set up by the US
was deposed,
and hostages were taken
at the American embassy,
Mickey Mouse
appeared on a T-shirt
flipping a bird and saying,
“Hey, Iran!”

now our roost is presided over
seemingly by a turgid towhead
with the impulse control
of an otter
and a sense of entitlement
derived from a lifetime
of always getting
all the toys
he wants.

dark forces pull his strings.

the human population
of Citizens United
is zero,
as is
its regard
for humanity.

© 2018, Gary W. Bowers (One with Clay, Image & Text)

Ethnic Cleanser

removes unsightly
grease and dirt of people
who spoil your landscape.

Cleans as it polishes, replaces
their awful smell with fresh fragrances.
their profane beliefs with fresh air.
their noisy children with heavenly quiet.
our history with revised pages.
Preserves our pure culture.

They are an infection to be eradicated.
Their unmarked graves forgotten.

Ethnic cleanser for a cleaner society.
Buy into this great product.
Popularly known as genocide.

© 2018, Paul Brookes (Wombwell Rainbow)

Inhumanity Is Good

Your inhumanity will prove
how human you are.

Neglect one another.
Abuse one another.

Seal each other in homes
until old and weak die.

Run pedestrians down.
Bomb hospitals.

Use the innocent as shields.
Use the knives you carry.

Kill babies, rape mothers.
Prove how human you are.

Defend your inhumanity.

© 2018, Paul Brookes (Wombwell Rainbow)


Find the glass window set in the cobbles
outside Humboldt’s University. You’ll
need to angle your view and wait until
the light reveals the whiteness of the empty
shelves,a void in Europe’s heart.
Judischen, entartate. This is where
they began the burning of the books,
flames and sparks, yellow like stars,lighting the way
to ghettos, wagons, lines of wire, ashes, bones.

Ghosts gather, tug at your sleeve politely,
plead that you read the Book of the Dead.
Its opening page lies at your feet. Descend
to lamentation’s rainbow.

© 2018, Frank McMahan


Shoes, pointing in all directions
as if they could not decide which
way to go. Ahead the river,
wide and fast, its shore empty of
boats.And people.The shoes, fissured,
soiled, heels broken; children’s clogs.As

they stood in their final sunlight:
prayers? Huddles of comfort? Piss and
shit leaking onto ancient leather.
Hurled backwards, no funeral flowers
save the smoke curling from the guns,
downwards, where the Duna receives
them, cold, reddening as it flows,
mere dross and cargo. A flask of
spirits opened, a cigarette
lit, safety catches on, the world
more Judenfrei.
Shoes, now again
pointing in all directions.

© 2018, Frank McMahan

.the star. b/w.

did i sit quietly thinking,

then place a few

things together. yes.



that was exhausting.

the star.

© 2018, (poem and artwork below) Sonja Benskin Mesher (sonja-benskin-mesher.net; Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA paintings; sonja-benskin-mesher.co.uk; Sonjia’s daily blog (WordPress) is HERE.)



work on paper

installations & photographs- sonja benskin mesher

52.59.  3.

two voices, softly said,
“yes” they cannot
understand the numbers
nor find their families.

© 2018, (poem and artwork below, Sonja Benskin Mesher  (sonja-benskin-mesher.net; Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA paintings; sonja-benskin-mesher.co.uk; Sonjia’s daily blog (WordPress) is HERE.)


artwork, Sonja Benskin Mesher


Ode to Trumps Vanity et al

Spring anticipation in the air
Orange reddened sun
Gets ready to hide its rays
Behind the lowest of all mountains
Mirroring itself on the lake.
Vanity at its highest level.
Yet the picture turns out different
In a mixture of yellow and blue
Of greed and sadness a faithful clue.

“You’re so vain,
You probably think
This march is about
Reads the banner
At the Women’s March
January 21, 2017.

Millions came together
Across the globe
To raise their voices
Against your choices
Mr. Trump.
Your misogyny,
Your greed and your lies
Are most unwelcome
Because it is your vanity
That makes you lie.

Where’s the first media-built man
That promised jobs for the working-class
To make America First and great again
When all you bring is constant pain
Erasing truths and liberties from earth.

The second man’s now on the surface,
Two sides of the same coin,
And the reddened sun sets down
While Vanity School runs high
For Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders,
Frauke Petry, Beppe Grillo…
And the like.

Even Spain’s Rajoy’s a little Trump,
Profound ignorant and clown,
Who drains the fund backing pensions
With an air smell of corruption.

Won’t you grant us, Catalans,
Once for all that referendum
Any democratic state would offer
To a stateless people to decide:
The right to self-determination.

No, instead, you’re blurring powers
Just exactly as Donald Trump
Judicializing politics and sending
The very democrats to court
For organizing a participatory process
In Catalonia, November 9, 2014.

Vanity School expands its limits
And buys a handful Orwell’s 1984
While the sea has just began to weep:

Mare Nostrum, Mare Mortum,
In 2016 almost 5.000 people
Drowned and died
From 2000 till now 30.000 dead!

With Barcelona’s pro-refugee rally,
The largest in Europe and perhaps
In the entire world till now,
We will surely not have enough
To eradicate our human misery.

The red sun has just hidden
Behind the lowest mountain
And as darkness unfolds
The picture changes colors:
Grayish blues carrying their shadows
On a rippled lake obscured
Where birds and ducks move
Swiftly countercurrent.

© 2018, Marta Pombo Sallés (Moments)

Nenufars copy

The Excess of Confidence

I was sitting on a meadow one day
A book in my hands, how long I can’t say.
Three hens came close to me and showed no fear
I was most surprised as they came so near.
Was it my presence, so benevolent,
What made them approach me so confident?
They just trusted me and I did the same,
Collective confidence was here the game.
Animals, humans, need it in our lives,
To trust others instead of carrying knives.

Another day, walking in the city
I sensed there was no aggressivity.
On a street, a gay couple holding hands
Perhaps Barcelona now understands.
One person was black and the other white,
They were no longer a most dreadful sight.
Collective confidence was there again
Let’s hope this new tolerance will remain.

In Germany the principle of trust
Seems to be essential, it is a must.
I walk along one of its widest streets
It’s a frequent place where everyone meets.
Then I see a bookcase on a corner
It is public and with books, I wonder.
Books placed in the middle of a street
How pleasant it is to read so sweet
No one thinks to set them on fire
People read for pure desire.
Books travel, they come and go
The shelves have something to show.
No shelf becomes ever empty
For books there are always plenty.
Again collective confidence
Makes possible such a tendence.

Yet confidence remains shadowed
Too much the Germans have swallowed.
As Martí Anglada (1) once said
Their excessive confidence led
To the horrors of the genocide
Did they all ignore what was inside?
Heidegger was controversial
Did he think it was so special?
The Nazi regime would be the best tool
To reform university, how fool!

Essen celebrated Love Parade
Look at all the mess some people made
Beer bottles rolling on the floor
Of that crowded train, I want no more.
On railtracks drunken people walking
The train driver gave us a warning.
Nothing happened, yet soon after
There was more than one disaster:
The Duisburg tunnel, the Germanwings flight
Excess of confidence, a loss of sight.

Then came the Volkswagen case, a new shame,
Where again just too much trust is to blame.
Which country in the world, never mind
Each place carries such cases behind.
If the excess of confidence is no good,
Will we ever learn to act the way we should?

Martí Anglada is a Catalan journalist and the author of the book La via alemanya (The German Way), Brau 2014.

© 2018, Marta Pombo Sallés (Moments)