Poems from Paul Brookes to Honor Reuben Woolley and I am not a silent poet

c estate of Reuben Woolley

“I wish to honour Reuben by thanking him for all the poems he accepted that I submitted to I am not a silent poet.” Paul Brookes



Note: Due to a technical challenge all of Paul’s poems were left out of the original homage to Reuben Woolley. Hence, they are shared here. / J.D.

World Is

always at war.
Every bulletin lists casualties,
devastated buildings, grief.

Bloodied, scarred, lost, missing,
found dead. What about the lost dead?

Forever wanting you to discover,
uncover their brief candle burn.

We Live

in a fake peace between world wars,
shop and shop to stay reasonable.

Families are killed elsewhere.
We see their relatives tears on plasma screens.

Sometimes tears drop closer to home,
and we are reminded of our fake comfort,

that is preferable, a faux fur covered blade
sometimes bleeds and we are keen.

Our Justification

for the gang rape
and killing
of your eight year old
Child
Is that, like you,
She was
Not human
And therefore
Not under
The rights
And privileges
Of humans.

You must
Be tolerant
Of our beliefs
If you wish
To stay
On our land.

Some Baked Bread

or the journey
to the hole in the ground

where they were asked to lay
on the still warm dead
neighbours and children
to be shot

As their ethnicity was cleansed.
the soldiers with guns
wrote home from the war.
It was such an event.

A Queued

Life. Born to this line
Of cotted bairns,

Crocodiled infants,
Slumped with others outside

A locked classrroom,
Marshalled exams desks,

Job interview staring at strangers,
Ranked at work,

Drs, dentists waiting rooms,
appointmented even my wedding.

Waiting list for a council house,
Parents evening lined up with others

Listed as deceased in papers, online.
Regimented plaque for my cremation.

As that world ends another begins.
Join another queue, another thought

of final judgement already delivered,
or forever pended.

Without Permission

he walked on her grass,
uprooted her wild flowers,

She says “Don’t touch
without asking. It’s abuse.

Stop it. No means no!”
Fantasies of ravagement

on both sides who know
these are merely fantasies

that should never be public
so a no becomes yes,

and abuse pleasurable. Always safe
words agreed beforehand.

Always taken too far, control
and power corrupt.

Slavery

is good for you. All folk
should be chained,

manacled to a mortgage,
to work, to an employer

a partner. Freedom denies
your human rights. Slavery

teaches you the meaning of life.
demands you act properly

constrains you to common sense,
sets out a wild world of imagination

creativity and invention. Freedom
is too wishy washy. Lock

and load your chains. Don’t let
loose and free your mind. Freedom

Is heavy, restricts, denies movement
of blood, bone and brain.

Become a slave and see our world
with new eyes, fresh perspectives.

Hopelessness Is Life

Only the hopeless live.
Only hopelessness makes you smile.

When all hopelessness is gone
then you will grieve at the loss.

There are three streets we can go down,
Faithlessness, Hopelessness and Selfishness

Without one of these the others cannot exist.
There must always be hopelessness

in the best of times. It reminds us of an edge
to life. Surrender to hopelessness

and all will be well. It is the force that drives
all that is worthwhile and good.

An Inappropriate Life

Born inappropriate to this inappropriate world
this inappropriate earth I learned how to be inappropriate

in school, met a lass
who said she was inappropriately ready

to be inappropriately wed, so we inappropriately married
after three months of inappropriate courting

she bore inappropriately our first kid
after six months whilst I worked inappropriately

in inappropriate employment
Promoted inappropriately to inappropriate manager

so we bought our first inappropriate home,
furnished inappropriately, after decorating inappropriately.

I had an inappropriate allotment where I grew inappropriate carrots
and potatoes and cabbages.

She died inappropriately after seven years inappropriate fighting
lung cancer. I never remarried inappropriately

Bring up our second child inappropriately
tell her inappropriate dream stories
of our inappropriate love inappropriate life.

Guns Are

good. Make you feel safe.
Make you more responsible,

like your own child. Nobody
hurts my child. I’ll shoot anyone

that does. My child needs
A decent education. Some shooter

Who wants to be famous kills
my little one in lessons.

I’m glad I’ve got my gun
So I can kill the shooter

And his family. Guns are good.
Make folk sit up and listen.

A Bridge

anastomosis [ah-nas″to-mo´sis] (pl. anastomo´ses) (Gr.)

It is bin day. Sound of breaking glass.

A vein.

between places,
one person and another,

A Bridge

anastomosis [ah-nas″to-mo´sis] (pl. anastomo´ses) (Gr.)

It is bin day. Sound of breaking glass.

A vein.

between places,
one person and another,
you and your kids,
a busy crossing between beliefs.
from wick to ash.
full to empty.

Broken, blocked, under investigation.

No link, information dammed,
Adamant your side is right,
other side apostate.
Bloodied metal sends a message,
via media bridges.

Bins must be wheeled back to their places.

a busy crossing between beliefs.
from wick to ash.
full to empty.

Broken, blocked, under investigation.

No link, information dammed,
Adamant your side is right,
other side apostate.
Bloodied metal sends a message,
via media bridges.

Bins must be wheeled back to their places.

Mobiles

are in the shape of small graves
for children who mine the precious
metal inside that make it work
and I look Into the screen
to stay connected but do not see
their gritted lives as they haul
the valuable out of the hole
and the world has never been
so connected by this small grave
I carry in my pocket.

Deliberate Death Of A Conformist

I insist I nod in agreement
at all they accuse me of.

I refuse to make a spectacle of myself.
I will not protest. I agree with all

the folk in power do. I always obey
the law. Drive correctly. I want

an easy life. No hassle. Why am I
guilty? Whatever it is I did it.

They tell me -That’s too easy.
You must have done something worse.

If we told you to jump out
of that window would you do it?

So I do. Now they arrest me again,
-You caused a public disturbance.

-I agree I say. – There must be something
you don’t agree with they say -No I reply.

– If we tell you you died in that fall,
and this police station is heaven – I agree.

Refugee

is good. To belong
is wrong. Be homeless.

Mortgages and rents are chains.
Tread the world without burden.

Find a banquet in a crumb.
A glassful in a droplet.

Warmth in a newspaper blanket.
Comfort is a concrete underpass.

Our Folk Burn

Management say “Lessons will be learnt”
Folk have already warned bosses.
Management say “Our sympathies are with the families”
Death toll expected to rise.
Management say “Lessons will be learnt.
Austerity costs must be met.”

Because

people killed further away
do not grieve any less.

a mother is a mother
even if her fashion is not ours.

a father is a father
even if we disagree with his beliefs.

an explosion is an explosion
even when on a flat screen.

Nothing (For Manchester)

is real.

My smile was a pink balloon
floated above me. I sang.

A big bang.
Blood on the balloon.

I find metal nuts and bolts.
I can’t sing. It isn’t real.

I’m Just About

managing between the barricades.
My kids play between sniper targets.

I fetch the shop through broken
buildings perforated by gunshot,

past cars jammed across streets.

I’m just about managing between regimes.

“Why Dad?”

It happens a lot.
I look up to see
a soldier
with the butt of his rifle
move Dad forward.

“Why, Dad?”

“They don’t know where
we belong.” He says.

© 2019, Paul Brookes

“I am not a silent poet,” this Wednesday Writing Prompt in honor of Reuben Woolley

c estate of Reuben Woolley

“I have been seeing such increasing evidence of abuse recently that I felt it was time to do something. I am not a silent poet looks for poems about abuse in any of its forms, colour, gender, disability, the dismantlement of the care services, the privatisation of the NHS, the rape culture are just the examples that come to mind at the moment. It is not a site for rants which, if they are well written are welcome here [i.e. Facebook]. My idea for this group is for discussion about abuse and what we can do about it. There is room here, of course for poetry. I just felt it was time for me to get off my arse and try to do something.” Reuben Woolley, publisher of the webzine I Am Not A Silent Poet, A magazine for poetry and artwork protesting against abuse in any of its forms



Reuben Woolley died last week and so many of us are feeling the loss of this man who shared our ideals, wrote poems of protest and resistance, and published “quality poems of protest” on his webzine site as well as poetry and information on his Facebook discussion page. His most recent book. This Hall of Tortures, was published in April 2019.  He recently sent me a copy for review. I was waiting until he got out of the hospital to send my interview questions.

“I am not a silent poet looks for poems about abuse in any of its forms: colour, gender, disability, the dismantlement of the care services, the privatisation of health services, the rape culture, FGM, our girls in Nigeria are just some of the examples that come to mind at the moment. It is not a site for rants.” 

Reuben was laid to rest on Monday and his daughter writes, “Although he was not a religious man, we decided to do brief ceremony at the Iglesia de los Milagros in Ágreda. In the same place where he and my mother got married 40 years ago, we came today to cry his death and celebrate his life.

“Remembering all our roadtrips around the UK listening to the Rolling Stones’ album “Let it Bleed” , I thought that playing for him “You can’t always get what you want” one last time would be a good way to remember him. Personally, I think he would have got a huge kick out of knowing that he caused a Rolling Stones’ song to be played in this quaint Spanish cemetery. Cheers dad.”

requiescat in extremis

the dark denizens
come forward
in flux
& what i have is
the hole in the picture the
red balloon & a child
follow me this
again
& one time only

here
there is weather a
hindrance & my chair i
sit too much listening
to pure crazy jazz
in this brain my
dangerous habitat

extinguish me now say
a pointless gesture ever & down
load this my stupid requiem

© Reuben Woolley, September 13, 2019

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

In the spirit of I am not a silent poet and in honor of Reuben, please share a protest poem or two – any topic but NO RANTS, per Reuben’s rules.  Comments on and memories of Reuben are welcome also if you’d like and will be published along with your poem/s next Tuesday.

  • please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
  • please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose

PLEASE NOTE:

Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published.

IF this is your first time joining us for The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-). These are partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.  

Deadline:  Monday, December 9 by 8 pm Pacific Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, check The Time Zone Converter.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights and encourages activist poetry.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

About / Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium

Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications: Five by Jamie Dedes on The World Literature Blog,  Jamie Dedes, Versifier of Truth, Womawords Literary Press, November 19, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

A Sad Day: Rest in Peace Reuben Woolley, your voice will never be silenced; link to Paul Brookes’ interview with Reuben

U.K Poet, Reuben Whoolley
U.K Poet, Reuben Woolley bares witness

December 2, 2019: In honor of a valued poet, a reblog of this 2017 post on Reuben and HERE is the link to Paul Brookes’ interview. 

Reuben Woolley’s poetry is minimalist, sinuous on the page – or sometimes scattered like landmines waiting to explode. I find his work addictive and his latest book UntitledSkins (Hesterglock Pess, 2016) is going to be a gift to myself next month. Proceeds from sales go to CalAid.

Reuben’s poems, while exquisitely trimmed of all excess, are still rich with imagery and emotion.

Stylistically, I’m reminded of e.e.cummings.

Yes! I like the way he writes. More importantly, I’m glad Reuben chose to use his deft pen and kind heart to bring more awareness to the darkness in humanity, hanging our dirty laundry out to be seen and not denied. He tells the hard truth. If you are not devastated then you have grown numb to the injustices of our world. This is why we need poets like Reuben, to sound the clarion call and to bare witness.


With Reuben’s permission, here are two poems and look for more of Reuben’s work in the January 15 issue of The BeZine.

lessons

this is the fear
of a first breath

start counting
now

this is laughter
through bleeding membranes

don’t hope
for wings

or terminal
stations

we walk the subway
mazes.the painted
maps & all their changes

…………drilling
skulls gives no answers
& death itself
is rarely clean


to this we came.not this

wrapping
a mind round wires
& razors
……………..cut

i’ll wear the given
shoes so well in these
white
streets

……………....it isn’t
the same
the running from metal

……………….the bombs
they make who give
the shoes but

still

they’re laughing at us
mother


THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF POETRY, MARRAKESH

Reuben is invited to the Fourth International Festival of Poetry in Marrakech, Morroco in April. He plans to take poems from I am not a silent poet, his online magazine. The Festival covers hotel and catering costs but doesn’t pay anything towards transport. Like all of us who live off the proceeds of poetry, his purse is a little light. Reuben set-up a crowd funding page to raise the money for the airfare. That’s the main reason I wanted to introduce Reuben to you today. Here’s the invite. The “Mrs.” is a typo and festival organizers have promised to correct it. Reuben’s crowd-funding site is HERE.

marrakech-invitation


51m8en2wll-_sx329_bo1204203200_Reuben Woolley is published in various magazines including Tears in the Fence, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, The Interpreter’s House, Domestic Cherry, The Stare’s Nest and Ink Sweat and Tears. His collection, the king is dead was published in 2014 with Oneiros Books  and a chapbook, dying notes, in 2015 with Erbacce Press. Reuben was runner-up in the Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and the Erbacce Prize in 2015. A new collection on the refugee crisis, skins, was published by Hesterglock Press, 2016:
Reubensays, he “pretends to be busy editing the online magazines: I am not a silent poet and The Curly Mind.”

I am not a silent poet is a zine dedicated to poetry and artwork of protest against abuse in all shapes and forms. Reuben’s motivation for founding the site: “I have seen such increased evidence of abuse recently that I felt it was time to do something. I am not a silent poet looks for poems about abuse in any of its forms, colour, gender, disability, the dismantlement of the care services, the privatisation of the NHS, the rape culture and, of course, war and its victims are just the examples that come to mind at the moment.”

© 2017, poems,and photograph, Reuben Whoolley; bookcover art by Sonjia Benskin Mesher

The Party Formerly Known As The GOP, by Howard Richard Debs

Well considered. Do link through to Howard’s notes on this one …

I am not a silent poet

(a found poem)

An elephant never forgets.
I remember what Abraham Lincoln said:
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
I believe this government cannot endure,
permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—
I do not expect the house to fall—
but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.
I remember what Theodore Roosevelt said:
Moreover, it cannot too often be pointed out
that to strike with ignorant violence
at the interests of one set of men
almost inevitably endangers the interests of all.
The fundamental rule in our national life—
the rule which underlies all others—
is that, on the whole, and in the long run,
we shall go up or down together.
I remember what Ronald Reagan said:
A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us,
pleading for…

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