Volume 1
Page 4
Fall 2000

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Once, on Ninth Avenue
©2000 Sylvia Forges Ryan

Once, on Ninth Avenue, while the sun fell
to the Hudson, and I wandered, lost in thought,
you left your place in the soup kitchen line.
Tell me, Miss, what do you think of me?
I want the truth!
Not fear, but something
more acute struck then, and in stopping
I seemed to hear my heart.

I admitted your ragged coat, your shock
of matted hair. Yet the fierce dark
of your dyes demanded most. For want
of understanding, I called myself
embarrassed, heard my voice give, Why
I am not thinking anything at all about you!

At twenty-one, there was so much I thought
I owned to honesty.

But what was true then turned round. For I
have met your gaze more than once
in my own mirror. And this morning
here in the park, I watch from a distance
someone on a bench, awakening.

UNITY
©2000 Clara Mae Jewel


Let not one
be your
weakness

Let Many
Be Your
Strength

"Unity."

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Tishu Recognizes Me
©2000 Marjorie Power

When the conviviality reaches a certain volume,
her look fixes on me.
She crosses the crowded room

She puts on sunglasses to make me wonder
where to cast my eyes, and to encourage
my words to roll open on the tile floor.
She imagines I hide something.
A bottle of deadly perfume,
a hatful of snakes.

And how are you?
She clinks the ice
in her ginger ale, hopes
I'll have more wine--enough
to make me spill all
the love in my body
down the front of her dress.
Waste your life, she wishes
You've ignored mine.

She has come over me this way
before, at parties,
happy gatherings
which provide no exit.

There is where I learned
to bring the earth inside, a finch at a time.
Now the sky seals aroundme.
I will serve here
the rest of my days, ladling light
into crystal bowls,
placing them on the table.

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Volume I
Page 5
Fall 2000

Feeling good
©2000 Dorothy Donaville

I woke up this morning feeling good
Feeling good about me; about who I am,
Where I came from, Where I've been and
Where I'm going. 

I feel good about my Blackness, my Black body 
It's deep Ebony Hue my Black hair and big deep  
Black like eyes, Ah yes! I feel good about 
My Blackness.  

I feel good about my Blackness, when I think about 
The beautiful, precious jewels, the Black diamond, 
The Black Opal and the Black Pearl all that are treasured 
Or longed to be possessed by most folk in this world,  

Yes, I feel good about my Blackness When I 
Think of the rich dark earth that has been plowed 
And turned to receive the seed buried deep within  
To grow the grains, the food, that nourishes man, woman  
And child in every land. Ah yes! I feel good about my Blackness. 

I feel good about my Blackness when I step into the night, 
Look into the sky, I see sliver twinkling stars against a Black  
sky that holds the golden moon that lights the way, that captures  
our hearts and minds and reminds us that without night there could  
Be no day. Ah yes! I'm proud of my Blackness. 

I congratulate myself for being proud to be Black,
for I know who I am, where I am and where 
I am supposed to be right now at the right time:

Feeling good about me and my Blackness... 

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A Free Motherland or Die!
©2000 S. Yamileth-Gomez

The skies brighten up in a sad gleaming way.
The trees tremble scared when their leaves hear the thunder-like bombs
that come raining down the sky staining the Nicaraguan soil.
PEOPLE (the peasant with dirty clothes, the rich with their well-ironed fashionable clothes) all become the same when running, escaping from death.
They all go under their beds like rabbits to their holes,
when searching for protection to save their lives;
there is neither poor nor rich, there is only thirst, thirst to live.
Outside, the land shakes in horror as she sees her sons and daughters
falling vanquished into her arms.

Their faces are not happy anymore; they don't reflect the warrior's soul that takes them
to battle. Their eyes don't shine, as they look at the soil ready to be seeded. And their lips no longer cry, "Patria libre o Morir" (a free motherland or die). They give their lives for a dream of freedom, free from this war, for the liberty that is consuming our hearts, killing our souls and burying our dreams. Their souls fly out of their bodies, at last free, free from feeling little in front of a monstrous war that eats up the last hope of peace between brothers and sisters. They leave to forgetfulness to never come back. They give their lives to their motherland, to their Nicaragua. They fight for hopes, for dreams, for freedom, but they leave a deep empty abyss to their wives, sons, daughters, mothers and husbands. Their relatives, pick up their spare pieces, and drop tears on their pale cold faces, like the rain runs over the white rocks, immobile and senseless.

Proud and heartbroken, their sons, daughters, wives, mothers all cry out loud
"MY FATHER, MY BROTHER, MY FRIEND, MY WIFE," They die, they fight to the last minute, to give us freedom, to give us the opportunity to make our dreams bloom beyond the ashes of this war that has stained red the green mountains, that has broken our hearts, that is burning our dreams. But like the phoenix, hope comes out of the ashes, dusty and weak, becoming strong as the sunbeams to paint rainbows over the rainforest, giving signs of a new day, a new dream, and new signs of freedom.

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Eighteen Angels and Eighteen Wishes
©2000 Toshi Taguchi

It was a cloudy Friday morning. Our English Professor Abby Bogomolny came into class with light steps, almost skipping, with a mysterious smile on her face. Her eyes were sparkling.
"Everyone here?" Abby looked around the class and nodded, satisfied.
"Goodgood!!"
N'sombi will you close the door for me, please?" asked Professor B cheerfully. N'Sombi, who had been sitting near the door, stood up from her chair, closed the squeaky door and quickly sat down. Right before our class started Audrey, Jane and Gertrude had thoughtfully put several small tables together to make one large conference table, so we could sit around it.
"O.K. Class," Professor Bogomolny's eyes seemed brighter, and then she whispered, "first of all, before I" She was looking at each one of our faces once more,
"Before I begin...I want all of you to promise not to talk about what you see this morning, not to anyone even your friends or your very best friendsnot even with your family or spouses"
Her voice was soft, but firm. We all looked at each other's faces. We were confused, but
excited.
"What? -What!" said Dorothy D. anxiously, who was sitting next to Toshi.
According to Professor Bogomolny, only OUR CREATIVE WRITING CLASS had been chosen for the honor to receive the WISHES COME TRUE award from the Committee of Angels for the Wishing Come True, and not ONE, but EIGHTEEN wishes, yes! E-I-G-H-T-E-E-N wishes would be given to each one of us. She told us that at a quarter past nine, eighteen angels from the committee would be visiting us and if we told anyone our wishes would evaporate. The angels would be here on time to obtain eighteen wishes from each one of us, so she told us to get ready for them.
"Oh, that's ridiculous!!" said George irritatingly.
"Eighteen wishes come true?" Lea stammered skeptically, "err.did you really, say that?"
"Oh, that's a very cute joke!" Toshi chuckled.
"Abby, it's not the April Fool Day, today!" Said Ben rolling his eyes at Abby.
"Wow!..Great idea though, I can use the idea for next my youth drama. Thanks, Abby" said Jane excitingly and clapping her hands together.

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"Oh, sure... if angels really exist, why are there so many troubles in this world?" David grunted.
"Why?" said Karen in surprise.
"ErHow did youwhere did youget those ideas and who told you so?" a bewildered Dorothy B. bellowed.
"We'll see," said Professor Bogomolny quietly. Her eyes still twinkled as she grinned.

When the clock on the wall said at Nine-fifteen sharp, something came in through the open window and glided across the room. At first Toshi though they were dust, or down feathers, or they might be parachutes of thousands of dandelion seeds.
"EwwThose make me sneeze! I am allergic to dust!" Audrey shouted.
Toshi and rest of her classmates stared at the things for a second. Toshi suddenly realized that the things floating in midair started to talk witheach other in very small voices. Toshi gasped. So did her classmates around her. Gertrude's jaw dropped and her eyeglasses slipped down her nose. Bill hadn't realized his mouth was open too.
Toshi's eyes popped open wide. She was pointing at the things, and shook her head slowly.
"I can't believe it!" said Toshi in a faint voice, "Are they real angels?"
"My God!" said Dorothy D. in a very muffled voice, staring from the things
to the Professor.
Rachel opened her mouth and closed it a couple of times. She seemed to have lost
her voice.
"It can't be trueit just can't be true" Sandra clutched her throat.
For a few minutes, there was complete silence. Only Professor Bogomolny was sitting quietly at the classroom table, beaming, joyfully. She was the ONLY person who knew what was going on in her class.
"We'll ask you all separately," chorused the things, the angels, who looked like snowflakes, with very sweet, soft velvety voices, "we'll give eighteen wishes to each of you....Are you ready?"
Then the one of the angels landed gently on Toshi's left shoulder and started to ask her in a very very small voice, nobody couldn't hear its voice except her, even Lea who was sitting on Toshi's left side.

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Five Little Nelsons and How They Grew
©2000 Dorothy Bennett

How does one explain death to five, small children who have never  left the environs of the backyard or other sheltered places? Who never had a pet or saw anything die? The grandparents were just gone, that was not wondered about. If questions were asked, the off-hand response was: "Oh, they died years ago." So the words to die or death had no real meaning and the subject was never brought up.

When the two oldest Nelsons, my brother and I, reached the age of about ten and twelve, Great Aunt Kate died and Mother decided  we were old enough to go to the funeral. Funeral? The word had no meaning. When asked, the vague reply was: "It's a service for Aunt Kate who died on Monday." So two bewildered and apprehensive children were dressed in their Sunday best and taken to an unfamiliar building with a strange mixture of smells, flowers, and something else. Many solemn people entered and sat down. In front was a long, narrow box. "What's that? What is it there for?" "A casket for Aunt Kate" was the whispered answer.

After some confusing words spoken by an unfamiliar man, those attending were invited or rather expected to file past the casket. We followed Mother, and to my horrified and unbelieving eyes there lay Aunt Kate, My Aunt Kate, looking like a waxen doll. We left the building in silence. 

When we arrived home, I asked: "You said Aunt Kate was dead. What does dead mean? Did it hurt?" Mother's gentle reply "No, it did not hurt. It's like going to sleep and never waking up," left me speechless  and terrified.

Thereafter, I was afraid to go to sleep and the usual bedtime prayer "now, I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take," took on a new and terrifying meaning, and I never said it again.

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It was a long time before I stopped waking up in terror and creeping to my mother's bed to see if she were still breathing.

Even now, when I have intellectually come to terms with the inevitable reality of death and accepted my conception of it, I find, on occasion and unexpectedly a sudden rising of that childhood terror.

I know that experiences of childhood are engraved in the book of memories, never to be erased, but also that distance and understanding will ease the fear and the pain of emotion they cause.

April 2000
Dorothy Bennett

The wind came up so quickly
From where I do not know
I feel it but don't see it
I look but it's not there.

A mystery it seems to me
To find I feel but cannot see
As love and joy and life that's free
Are there to feel but not to see.

*******

The lake as I watched it
Was as smooth as a glass
Reflecting its images as
The dreams from the past.

 

 

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