DR. RANJANA SHARAN SINHA is a professor of English by profession and a poet by passion, Dr. Ranjana Sharan Sinha is a well-known voice in Indian poetry in English.She is an author and a critic,too. Her poems have been included in the university syllabus prescribed for M.A.(English) 4 semester.Poems, fictions and research papers published at national and international levels in highly acclaimed dailies, magazines,e-zines,archives and journals both in print and online.Received a number of awards for her contribution to literature from recognized institutions and publishing houses.She has the privilege of receiving accolade from the former President of lndia, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for her poem ‘Mother Nature’. Authored and published 07 books in different genres and 50 research papers. The books are:1.Spring Zone (A collection of Poems and Haiku)2. Midnight Sun (A Collection of short stories) 3. Nature in the Poetry of William Wordsworth and Sumitra Nandan Pant (Criticism)4. Feminism:Times and Tides (A historiographical and theoretical commentary on feminism)5. Different Dimensions (A compilation of research papers)6.Scents and Shadows( A collection of 70 poems)7. Rhymes for Children.Presented papers in a number of national and international conferences and seminars.Associated with many literary associations and global poetry groups. Research supervisor RTM Nagpur University, Nagpur. Lives in Nagpur, India.
“Almost 1.4 million veterans live in households that participate in SNAP (formerly food stamps), CBPP analysis of data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey finds. In every state, thousands of low-income veterans use SNAP to help put food on the table. Florida has the largest number of veterans participating in SNAP (120,000), followed by California and Texas (97,000 apiece). In Oregon, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C., at least 10 percent of veterans live in households that received SNAP in the last year. SNAP Helps Almost 1.4 Million Low-Income Veterans, Including Thousands in Every State MORE, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, byBRYNNE KEITH-JENNINGS and LEXIN CAI
the unconscionable dance in the canyons of power,
lined with megalithic buildings, the edifice complex
of the spin-meister’s lie, that the demigods can do
anything – anything – walking this asphalt valley
a parade, flailing lemmings trussed and trusting their
die-cut dreams to the pitiless whim of the military/
industrial/medical alliance, whose war-cries are of
greed and arrogance, believing they’ll live forever,
today’s sovereignty, tomorrow’s guarantee. But it’s
all delusion – cultures die and the hope-crushing
architects of cuts and austerity measures are like
the rich man in the Lazarus story, there’ll be
some kind of backlash, some kind of hell to pay …
Rich Lazarus! richer in those gems, thy tears, Than Dives in the robes he wears: He scorns them now, but oh they’ll suit full well With the purple he must wear in hell” Richard Crenshaw (c.1613-1649), English cleric, teacher, metaphysical poet, Steps to the Temple. Sacred Poems, Delights of the Muses (1646)
New SNAP Rule Would Cost Many of Nation’s Poorest Their Food Aid
by Robert Greenstein, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Statement
The emphases are mine. / J.D.
On December 4, the Trump Administration issued a draconian rule in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) that will cut off basic food assistance for nearly 700,000 of the nation’s poorest and most destitute people. Those affected — SNAP participants ages 18 through 49 who aren’t raising minor children in their homes — are among the poorest of the poor, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. Their average income is just 18 percent of the poverty line. Their average monthly SNAP benefits are about $165 per month.
A longstanding, harsh provision of SNAP limits these 18- through 49-year-olds to just three months of benefits, while not employed for at least 20 hours a week, out of every three years. Because of its severe nature, this provision of law also allows states to seek, and USDA to grant, waivers of this three-month cut-off for areas where insufficient jobs are available for these individuals, such as when unemployment is elevated.
From the provision’s enactment in 1996 until now, both Democratic and Republican presidents alike have operated under a common set of criteria in granting waivers from the three-month cut-off. And Democratic and Republican governors alike have sought and secured these waivers. Thirty-six states currently have waivers for parts of their state where unemployment is highest.
Now, the Trump Administration is abandoning this longstanding, bipartisan practice, however, and replacing it with a much more restrictive rule that will increase hunger and destitution. The new rule sharply restricts states’ ability to protect unemployed adults from the harsh time limit. It does so by substantially narrowing the criteria that states have most commonly used to qualify for waivers, thereby greatly shrinking the number of areas that can qualify for relief. As a result, the Trump Administration itself estimates that the rule will cut off basic food aid to nearly 700,000 unemployed or underemployed individuals.
Most of these individuals are ineligible for any other form of government financial assistance because they aren’t elderly, severely disabled, or raising minor children. For many of them, SNAP is the only assistance they can receive to help make ends meet.
What’s more, the final rule is more severe than the proposed rule, which itself was very harsh. States currently can request waivers when they experience rapidly rising unemployment, as typically occurs at the onset of economic downturns based on the Department of Labor’s determination that the state qualifies for extra federal unemployment benefits. But under the final rule, states must rely on historical data that would not reflect the onset of economic downturns until many months later. Moreover, far fewer areas will qualify for waivers during a widespread, national recession. A state with spiking unemployment reaching levels as high as 9 percent would not qualify for a waiver if national unemployment were also high, such as at 8 percent. This will limit a core strength of SNAP — its responsiveness to changes in economic conditions so that individuals who lose their source of income can quickly qualify for temporary food assistance. Instead of mitigating a recession’s harm, the new rule will exacerbate it.
Another Flawed “Work Requirement” Proposal
Adding to these concerns, although participation in a work or training program counts toward fulfilling the 20-hours-a-week requirement, states are not required to provide work or training slots to these individuals — and most states don’t. Furthermore, pounding the pavement and searching hard for a job does not count toward meeting the requirement. If you can’t find a 20-hour-a-week job on your own, you’re cut off SNAP anyway.
The Administration’s portrayal of the new rule as a reasonable “work requirement” thus is misleading — as noted, most states don’t offer any job, training opportunity, or slot in a work program to most people subject to the three-month limit. And people who are “playing by the rules” and looking hard for a job are cut off nonetheless.
In addition, the history of the three-month cut-off shows that some people who should qualify for an exemption from it because they suffer from a significant health condition often don’t get an exemption — and lose their SNAP benefits anyway, because they can’t satisfy the paperwork and other bureaucratic hurdles involved in securing an exemption. That’s especially troubling now, because the Administration is giving states little time to prepare for this sweeping change. Properly identifying which destitute individuals in formerly waived areas should be subject to the three-month time limit and which should be exempt (due to conditions that affect their ability to work) can require both training staff and allocating additional administrative resources.
Rule Hits People of Color, Those With Limited Education and in Rural Areas Hardest
Cutting off basic assistance doesn’t appear to help individuals get jobs, as research into the SNAP time limit, and similar rules in Medicaid, demonstrates. The rule will hit hardest those with the greatest difficulties in the labor market. That includes adults with no more than a high school education, whose unemployment rate is much higher than the overall unemployment rate; people living in rural areas where jobs are often harder to find; and people who are between jobs or whose employers have cut their hours to less than 20 hours a week, which is common in the very-low-wage labor market even when the economy is strong.
People of color are likely to lose benefits disproportionately under the rule, given their much higher unemployment rates and continued racial discrimination in labor markets. The African American unemployment rate has long been roughly double the non-Hispanic white unemployment rate. Studies have found that white job applicants are much likelier to receive callbacks after job applications or interviews than equally qualified Black applicants.
Here’s how the new rule will harm these groups. Under the new rule, an area can qualify for a waiver only if its average unemployment rate over a recent 24-month period has been 20 percent higher than the national average for the same time period and was 6 percent or higher. But a local area with an overall 5.8 percent unemployment rate can have an African American unemployment rate closer to 10 percent, as well as an unemployment rate around 10 percent for people of all races who are age 25 or over who lack a high school diploma or GED.
The Administration and House Republican leaders sought, but failed, to secure these policy changes as part of the farm bill that Congress passed on a bipartisan basis last year. The Administration is now implementing through executive action what it failed to secure through legislation.
Instead of punishing those facing destitution and other difficult circumstances, the Administration should seek to assist them by pursuing policies such as more and better job training and employment programs, a higher minimum wage, and a strengthened Earned Income Tax Credit. Denying them basic food and nutrition is not the route that a fair and compassionate administration of either party should take.
Note: The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is a progressive American think tank that analyzes the impact of federal and state government budget policies. It was founded by Robert Greenstein, the author of this feature. CBPP is 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Center’s stated mission is to “conduct research and analysis to help shape public debates over proposed budget and tax policies and to help ensure that policymakers consider the needs of low-income families and individuals in these debates.”
Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZineand its associated activities and The Poet by Dayjamiededes.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 firstname.lastname@example.org for permissions, commissions, or assignments.
“Wealth does not trickle down to the poor. Oxfam knows this, the IMF knows this, the World Bank knows this. Poor people have always known this.” Winnie Byanyima, Oxfam International Executive Director
These responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, which was “poverty,” September 19th demonstrate sensitivity, observation, conscience, compassion and skill. Clearly, these are more than good poets. They are the most decent human beings. Thanks Irene Emanuel, Paul Brookes, Irma Do, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Marta Pombo Sallés and bogpan (Bozhidar Pangelov). Also with appreciation for participating and sharing their fine work, a warm welcome Wendy Bourke and Alethea Kehas.
Read on, enjoy, be inspired and do join us for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt tomorrow. All are encourage: novice, emerging and pro.
souls and human beings
she walked down the street median … passed the row
of idling cars that would have raced by her,
but for, the bright red orb that signalled: stop
she held a cardboard sign ‘pregnant – need money for food’ …
I could not tell, if the gloom upon her old young face
reflected anger or hate or sadness or pain or all of it
it is impossible to move around this manic city without anguish …
without words like ‘souls’ and ‘human beings’ tumbling
across your mind, like tosses of dice in a game of craps
she caught me … staring at her through the window …
and I sheepishly cast my eyes down – for I knew the look I wore
expressed my shock and frightened thoughts of the fate
that awaited the unborn child … if there was an unborn child
she came up to my car door, as if she’d been summoned
and, rolling down the window, I pressed a blue five bucks
into a limp and grimy hand … wondering … if I’d just been played …
as if such speculations have a place … where human beings beg
WENDY BOURKE lives in Vancouver, Canada where she writes, goes on long rambling walks gathering photos and inspiration – and hangs out with family and friends. After a life loving words and scribbling poetry lines on pizza boxes and used envelopes, Wendy finally got down to writing ‘in earnest’ seven years ago. Her work has appeared in over 100 poetry anthologies and journals.
I wasn’t poor for long,
At least that’s what I chose to believe
My grandmother tells me the story of our return
From the Hare Krishnas
Faces the color of ashes, bellies bloated
Over skinny legs
I was too young to remember
But the ache has become
A troublesome cyst
I refuse to extract
Inside a place to dark and deep
For life. Like the hole in our outhouse
I don’t remember walking in the night
But I remember shame folded
Into second-hand clothes
And the pink satin nightgown
Never worn by another child
All that was missing was a crown
When she was two, ALETHEA KEHAS spent several months in hiding with the Hare Krishnas from a father she chose to believe was a villain until she reunited with him at the age of thirty-six. Alethea’s story is told in her memoir, A Girl Named Truth. She is also the author of The Labyrinth, Book 1 in the Warriors of Light fantasy series for children of all ages, but especially those who feel a little different on the inside and outside. Alethea’s Amazon page is HERE.
A Penny Drop
must never happen.
We must always be misunderstood
to communicate clearly and cogently.
Wrong end of the stick grasped firmly.
Vagueness is clarity.
If you let the penny drop confusion
and disillusion will result.
As many of you know, Paul launched a series of interviews a few weeks ago. HERE is the link to the most recent. It’s with Deborah Alma, one of my faves. She was also featured on The Poet by Day and in The BeZine regarding #Me Too a women’s poetry anthology. She is England’s “Emergency Poet.”
HERE is the link to Paul’s U.S. Amazon page. HERE is the link to Paul’s U.K. Amazon page.
hollowed into make-shift sponge-foam beds,
tight-curled into malodorous rag-blankets
and plastic of dubious origin.
the shadow-ghost people
of no fixed abode,
gathered loosely together
in cohesive misery.
existing on society’s fringe,
sustained by the government’s pandering promises;
sharing glue-highs and garbage rot.
old children, dying people,
together in perpetual poverty.
trampled contours on grass verges,
silhouettes on street corners,
robotic vendors with nothing to sell but themselves.
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
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
Marta’s “A tasty lentil soup” served up in both English and Catalan was published in response to another prompt, but we’re going to share it again … Enjoy!
A tasty lentil soup
keeps you warm from the cold.
speaks of emptiness,
sadness in a cloudy day.
Or is it just the fog all around
that saddens your mind and spirit?
Going through the streets
the walking dead
if they can still walk.
You saw poverty’s face
the system’s decay.
Needles in their hands,
hollow eyes, ailment,
people lost without a second chance.
Is this what you came here for?
But you had your lentil soup
that kept your body warm
while your bleeding heart
sank into the deepest darkness.
You detached it from the body
took it to analyze and
put it on to a microscope
And the bleeding heart spoke up
vomited nothing but the truth
awaiting the other truth that hurts.
You knew it would happen.
The lentil soup eaten
in the Arabian restaurant
and then a sudden sound,
a slight noise on the floor,
something moves near your table.
You raise your eyes and there it is:
A black pigeon inside
walks a few steps toward you
as if he wanted to speak.
“Do we have a new guest?”
The waitress gently guides him
to the main room
near the entrance door.
The bird moves his wings
flies inside the restaurant.
The waitresss, a little scared,
utters an “oh” sound
while the black pigeon
displays his wings, flies away
through the restaurant door.
A sad bird looking
for temporary company,
maybe a friendship
but forever unattainable.
El colom negre
Una saborosa sopa de llenties
t’escalfa del fred.
La fredor a l’exterior
parla de buidor,
tristesa en un dia plujós.
O és només la boira per tot arreu
que t’entristeix la ment i l’esperit?
Anant pel carrer
els morts caminant
si és que encara poden caminar.
Has vist el rostre de la pobresa,
la decadència del sistema.
Agulles a les seves mans,
ulls buits, malaltia,
gent perduda sense una segona oportunitat.
És per això que has vingut aquí?
Però tu et menges la teva sopa de llenties
que t’escalfa el cos
mentre la teva ànima sagnant
s’enfonsa en la més profunda foscor.
La separares del teu cos
i l’agafares per analitzar
posant-la en un microscopi.
I l’ànima sagnant va parlar
vomitant res més que la veritat,
esperant l’altra veritat que fa mal.
Ja sabies que això passaria.
La sopa de llenties menjada
en el restaurant àrab
i llavors, un soroll sobtat,
una remor al terra,
alguna cosa es mou prop la teva taula.
Alces la mirada i és allí:
Un colom negre a dins.
Camina uns passos cap a tu
com si volgués parlar.
– Tenim un nou convidat?
La cambrera el guia gentilment
cap a la sala principal.
L’ocell mou les seves ales,
vola dins del restaurant.
La cambrera, una mica espantada,
deixa anar un “oh!”
mentre el colom negre
desplega les ales, vola lluny
a través de la porta del restaurant.
Un ocell trist, buscant
potser una amistat
però per sempre, inabastable.
Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded. I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.
My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, Second Light, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.
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In the four-year history of TheBeZine, this is the most significant edition.All of our concerns – peace, environmental sustainability, human rights, freedom of expression – depend on a more equal distribution of wealth, on making sure no one goes hungry and on breaking-down barriers to employment, healthcare, education and racial and gender equity.
This pyramid (courtesy of Wikipedia) reveals that:
half of the world’s wealth belongs to the top 1%,
top 10% of adults hold 85%, while the bottom 90% hold the remaining 15% of the world’s total wealth,
top 30% of adults hold 97% of the total wealth.
We’re all cognizant of that profile, but if you feel you’re sitting pretty and you’re not at risk, you’re employed, educated and middle class after all, you’d be well-advised to reconsider. The middle class is now – and has been for some time – dramatically challenged to find work, to acquire jobs that are fairly paid, offer stability and reasonable hours, and in the U.S., enable them to send their children to college.
The implications of a concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, the oligarchs and mega-corporations, are horrendous. Not the least is the undermining of democracy. Those who vote for and support the oligarchs because they think that’s where their security lies are victims of propaganda and bound for disappointment. The shadow of catastrophe (not too strong a word) that hangs over us is not due to the poor or the “other” who doesn’t look like us, worship the same God, or speak the same language, but to the 1%. Huxley was disconcertingly prescient.
This month our core team and guest contributors create a picture that beckons and behoves us to abandon stereotypes and propaganda about the poor, to recognize slave labor in its most absolute terms (human trafficking and prison labor) and more subtly in the conditions faced by workers at almost all levels of the corporate pyramid. We are called to ethically source the products we buy, to study our history, to bravely speak out against injustice and stupidity and, by implication, to shine a light on best-practices, those programs, services and unofficial efforts in your city/town, region or country that are helping and that can easily be implemented anywhere in the world. (You can share these with everyone via our Facebook discussion group.)
Beginning with Juli’s impassioned editorial, The Exponential Demise of Our Well-being, and moving to our BeAttitudes: John Anstie’s powerful Dictators and Desperadoes … Delegation and Democracy; Corina Ravenscraft’s and Trace Lara Hentz’ thoughtful invitations to awareness; Phillip T. Stephens on prison injustice; Sue Dreamwalker’s encouragement to see the homeless as fully human (and she connects us with homeless poets and artists in England); and Joe Hesch’s honest exploration of self, we are called to responsibly participate in history.
We present a memoir from Renee Espriu and a short story from Joe Hesch this month. These are followed by yet another stellar poetry collection from poets around the world, including work by core-team members: Charles W. Martin and John Anstie.
New to our pages, a warm welcome to: Juli [Juxtaposed], Sue Dreamwalker, Michael Odiah, Evelyn Augusto, Michele Riedele, Irene Emmanuel and bogpan. We welcome work from among our previous and regular contributors: Paul Brookes, Trace Lara Hentz, Renee Espriu, Sonja Benskin Mescher, Denise Fletcher, Phillip T. Stephens, R.S. Chappell, Rob Cullen and Mark Heathcote.
In the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community
and on behalf of The Bardo Group Beguines, Jamie Dedes, Founding and Managing Editor, The BeZine
HUNGER, POVERTY and THE WORKING CLASS AS SLAVE LABOR
How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:
Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling, or
You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.