American Jabberjay’s

In the trilogy, The Hunger Games, written by Suzanne Collins, we are introduced to a world where government goes wrong. Not that I want to get into the decline of human nature, but there is one aspect of the novel that I would like to focus on. It’s the Jabberjays. According to the Wikipedia definition, a Jabberjay was “engineered to be able to remember human conversations and repeat them verbatim with human voices, and thus to be able to spy on the rebels with small likelihood of arousing suspicion.” In essence these little birds were bred with the intention of floating above the human population, undetected, only to report back to the government the movement of the people and anyone that was plotting against them.

If you’ve read the series (if you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you do) you’ll see how this bird in the sky back fired on the Capitol (their government) and how eventually, in conjunction with other government strong holds, the people united against the evil of the Capitol and triumphed. Fast forward to the real world and I can’t help but to be reminded of the Jabberjays when I think of the current administrations use of drones. A drone is an aircraft without a human pilot, or as more commonly referred to as, an unmanned aerial vehicle. The idea behind them is that they can be placed over enemy territory and spy on their target. Just as the Jabberjays, they are used for intelligence purposes. Unlike the Jabberjays, they can be armed with weapons and with pinpoint accuracy take out a target without the use of military personnel on the ground.

Photo Credit: http://www.someecards.com

In an attempt to bring combat missions to an end, thereby securing the safety of our troops, these drones are constantly being used on the war against terror. To date, 3,540 people have been reported killed by these drone attacks. Where they all terrorist who want nothing more than to hurt the American people? Nope! It’s been reported that anywhere between 411 to 884 were civilians and 168 to 197 were children. (Click here for the source). Now, do those numbers sound accurate to you? I mean there is a huge difference in those calculations. I am not good in math, but last time I checked there was a big difference between 411 and 884. Who exactly is taking down these stats? I wonder. . . what color crayon did they use? I hope it was pink.

According to a speech by President Obama dated May 23, 2013, he stated that drone attacks are precise. Precise? Really? How on earth can they be precise when you have so many civilians and children injured in the process? Did the calculating pink crayon smear in the fit of joy of nailing that one terrorist, thereby fudging the precise number of casualties? The President further stated that “putting U.S. boots on the ground may trigger a major international crisis.” Now forgive me if I am wrong, but doesn’t the injury of so many civilians and children harm our international standing, anyway?

I’m pretty sure that I don’t stand alone when, if, confronted with the horrible situation of standing next to some terrorist who was about to be taken out by our military; I would prefer a soldier, who has discretion, to walk up with an M-16 and take out the terrorist they are looking for instead of a drone dropping a bomb into the “general area.” I don’t want to suffer for the hate that someone else has in their heart, just because I had the misfortune of shopping in the same supermarket they do. When this administration is confronted with the number of civilian casualties, the American people are reminded that no war is without casualties. The people are also told that the terrorist death toll to date dwarfs the amount of casualties in the drone attacks. In other words. . . . its OK, the American government isn’t as bad as the terrorist. When would any American want to be in the same ball park as a terrorist anyway? Both literally and figuratively.

Photo Credit: http://www.wired.com

According to the President, congress is briefed on all strikes and they do not intend on having armed drones fly anywhere over the United States. The goal of the American government is to “detain, interrogate and prosecute” all terrorist. Americans do not have to deal with the horrific humming of drones following us to the nearest Starbucks in the morning. Ummm, well, that might soon be a wrong statement. First of all, there were American citizens who were targeted in the drone attacks. Four to be exact. Hey remember this little thing called The Constitution? What happened to due process? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment “prohibits all levels of government from arbitrarily or unfairly depriving individuals of their basic constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.” Let me reiterate that for you, PROHIBITS ALLLLL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT FROM DEPRIVING INDIVIDUALS OF THEIR BASIC CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO LIFE!! However, when any American citizen plots war against America and is unable to be captured, then according to President Obama, “citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected by a SWAT team.” They have used this fear of terror in order to deny these rights to U.S citizens abroad. How far can this fear of terror extend?

This raises the alert flag to red. Laws and rules were put in place for a reason. If basic constitutional rights are denied to citizens who are outside of the country, what’s going to stop these same rights to be denied to a citizen who is at home? Whose to say that a sly comment or a disagreement with a policy or a person isn’t enough to claim that YOU TOO have raged war against the U. S of A and don’t deserve the right of due process and being tried in front of a jury of your peers. What happens when the First Amendment is used against you?

If being an American citizen is not enough to shield one from the ideals of a free nation, don’t be surprised when the next speech that comes from the White House is closed out with “may the odds be ever in your favor.”

© 2013 Seven Magazine

The Gay Debate Encroaches On The First Amendment

For many years, marriage has been socially defined and recognized solely between man and woman. It is the very foundation which healthy familial relationships are built upon. Now, same sex couples are seeking the same right to marry as heterosexual couples, but I am opposed to their wishes here’s why:

By permitting homosexual couples the right to marry under federal law it is a threat to First Amendment. How so? The first amendment grants Americans the ability to practice their religious beliefs freely. If your religion speaks against same sex unions, one should be allowed to practice the principles of that faith without legal implications. In the case of Cervelli v. Aloha Bed & Breakfast, a lesbian couple filed suit against the private establishment stating the owner denied them tenancy because they were gay. The arbiter over the case ruled in favor of the couple citing discrimination, never taking into consideration the owners First Amendment rights.

In regards to free exercise of religion the First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If the First Amendment states one is able to practice their religion freely, then the owner of Aloha Bed & Breakfast rights were encroached on. I believe the judge in the above case handed down a ruling which conflicts with federal law. This case forces us to examine how far the hand of protection is extended where the First Amendment is concerned. Does it exclusively protect the principles and institution of religion, or does it also cover the action of putting those principles into practice?

Cases such as Cervelli v. Aloha Bed & Breakfast and others like it will be used as a position to sue private business, organizations, or religious institutions who reject same sex couples by enforcing their First Amendment rights.

In a letter penned to the Danbury Baptist Association, Thomas Jefferson expressed his concern for government interfering with and individuals right to practice their religious beliefs stating: (1) “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.”

The constitution grants certain indelible rights to the people protecting their individual preferences. It’s injudicious for a government or any group to force a lifestyle or system of beliefs upon another that conflicts with their own. If the U.S. Supreme Court ever decides to validate same sex unions on a federal level, it will be the death of the First Amendment as we know it. Legalizing same sex marriages threatens the blue print our country was built on. It compromises rights of people who disagree with gay marriage, thus taking away certain religious freedoms and freedom of expression.

References

1. Wikipedia: Separation of Church and State

Juxtaposed by Tiffany

You’ve searched and you’ve found Short Shorts. This month we are exploring the talent of Seven Magazine’s own Tiffany. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, you have heard correctly. You may have read her numerous reviews on her blog TiffanyLovesBooks, but never before has a table turned as fast as today! Without further ado **enter drumroll** we proudly present Juxtaposed… SN:Please remember to tell us what you think AND submissions are ALWAYS welcomed. Check out our Contact Us page for additional information. Now, sit back and relax and enjoy Juxtaposed.

“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” It has become my mantra. I have repeated these words so many times they have lost their meaning. I’m not sure what I’m really saying anymore. What were once words I used to keep me focused and motivated have become a meaningless mumbled jumble. I’m not even sure why I’m still attempting to repeat these words anymore. They have become so scrambled in my mind that they have simply become a sad effort to concentrate on anything but the pain.

I’m still running. My breath rushes in and out of my mouth and the stitch in my side make every step, every breath painful. I see everything around me as if it’s someone else running in my body. It doesn’t seem real. Just this morning I was doing normal things and joking with my friends, how can I be fighting for my life now? It’s like I’m having an out of body experience. I am surrounded by nature. All these barren trees fill me with foreboding.  Every time my foot hits the debris covered ground I imagine a big neon arrow pointing down on my location. I try to run softly, to not step on twigs and fallen branches. This slows me down too much. I hear them catching up. I give up on that attempt.

“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” I’m tired. My heartbeat is pounding in my head. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. I need to find a place to hide. A place where I can catch my breath. I start to look around. I wonder what a good hiding place would be. Will I be able to get to it fast enough with my pursuers on my heels? My energy is waning and lifting my eyes from the ground feels like a bad idea. I need to watch my step and I don’t know that I can look around and run at the same time. This ground is too unstable. I can’t keep this up. I’m exhausted and my body hurts everywhere.

“Please let me find a safe place to hide.” I throw this silent prayer into the air. I don’t know who I pray to. A god, the universe, the bird staring at me perched on that tree. I glue my eyes to the floor, I don’t want to fall. If I do, I don’t think I’ll be able to stand again. “Please help me find a safe place to hide.” This time I say it out loud. Huffed through ragged breaths and barely above a whisper. I hope now that it was said out loud my prayer will be heard.

“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” My legs are starting to buckle beneath me. I’m going to be caught. I just know it. There is no where for me to hide in these barren woods. There is also no one here to save me. No deity I believe in, no god to save me from my fate. I idly wonder what my obituary would say. “Here lies John. He wasn’t fast enough.” I can’t breathe. I feel it stuck in my throat. I try to cough, I need to dislodge it. It’s another sound that jumps out of my mouth. The force of it scares me. This laughter I hear bubbling from my throat sounds inhuman. I can’t stop it- it’s making it harder for me to breathe. I’m terrified. Tears are rolling down my cheeks.

I know I’m dead. There is no way I can escape. My hysterics start to die down as my mind tries to accept it’s fate. Would I have done anything differently? Would my death be noble? To die for what I believed in? I spoke up when no one else would. Will my story be told? Will I be remembered as a hero or a cautionary tale?

“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” I’m starting to feel light headed. Is there something wrong with the oxygen here? I feel no relief when I breathe. My heartbeat is tattooing itself into my skull. Is there any hope of me coming out of this alive? The possibility fills me with hope. I take my eyes from the ground and attempt to look around me. My foot hits a rock and I find myself sprawled out on the floor. Tears fill my eyes as all hope escapes me. As if the gods are trying to seal my fate, a hand wraps around my ankle. And pulls.

A scream born of fear is ripped from my throat. I don’t know what to do. I scream at them to let me go. I threaten to kill them when I get my hands on them. I beg them to release me, I swear won’t go to the police. My throat is dry, my voice is hoarse and I’m still being dragged across the forest floor. I don’t know what they’ll do with me and my imagination offers no relief. I beg them to let me walk. The rocks and branches on the ground are hurting me so bad. The front of my body is starting to numb. I ask them again to let me walk. I apologize for the words that got me in this situation. I tell them that if they let me live, I won’t say things like that anymore. They laugh at me. Please, I beg, just let me walk. You guys have me, I can’t escape. Please just let me walk. The guy pulling my ankles grunts and drops my legs.

“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” I know what I said to be true, I have no hope of escaping but I have to try. I would have hated myself for not trying. I run with all the strength left in my body. It takes them a few seconds to react. I look back and they are not pursuing me. I feel a spark of hope come to life in my gut. Maybe I can survive this. I look back a second time already a few feet away, one’s holding a gun aimed at me. My heart drops, my blood runs cold. I try to think fast. I don’t want to stop running but I don’t see what choice I have. I dive to the forest floor to avoid the bullet that’s left his gun.

Adrenaline is pumping through my veins. I try to stand up, my legs aren’t cooperating. I hear them approaching. I work even harder to get me legs below me. I know that if I can just stand up I’ll be able to get away. I hear their laughter and look up. They are standing a few feet back, amusement in their eyes and laughter poring from their mouths. I don’t get it. Is this some form of torture? Like in those dreams where you are trying to run and are giving it your all but seem to be moving in place. As one of the men cruel laughter seems to be getting louder I look up. He’s walking towards me. He points to my back and snorts with laughter. I don’t get it. Giving up on my attempt to stand I reach one hand around to my back and touch the spot he’s pointing to. My fingers come back from my spine with blood on them. Realization dawns on me. I’ve been shot.

I’m not sure if I’ll survive this. If they let me live I know I won’t come out of this the same. Staring at the blood staining my fingers I wonder if it was worth it. Would I do it again, knowing that this would be the outcome?  I never realized the power of words. How they have the power to motivate or condemn. My actions, my words have brought me here. I hear a gun being cocked above me. I know now that my death is eminent. People constantly die fighting for our country, fighting for our freedom. I know I’m no hero but I am at least dying for what I believe in. I take comfort in that. I’m not dying for nothing. Free speech is something worth fighting for. This battle for freedom won’t stop. Although I may not keep running, my message has been heard. Peace envelopes me as the gun shot reverberates in the air around us.

© 2013 Seven Magazine

A Scribe’s 10 Commandments

The title of ‘Scribe is an Adjective’ was created with the idea that for some, writing is a need. It is what we do and who we are. It was intended to be a category dedicated to honoring those writers who have changed our lives and taken writing to new levels. However, this issue we will be deviating from our normal broadcast. We know that those authors to whom we dedicated an entire section to, those who write for the love of the art, aren’t that different from you or I. From the most mediocre to the most established writer, we are still writers and form a part of this community.

We at Seven feel that to remain a respected community we must all set some rules and adhere to them. We must set a standard. Not only to avoid these faux pas that are being seen way too often, but to also help make you a more respectable writer. This is for everyone but especially for those that seem to have misplaced their moral compass. We hope that someday writers of all backgrounds and aspirations find themselves on the same moral ground. We feel that all writers should have a common ground, a mutual understanding and an underlined foundation. Did I lose anyone there? I speak of a writers code. One that goes beyond courtesy and should be acknowledged by all. We at Seven have gone back to the times of King James to effectively lay out A Scribe’s Ten Commandments.

10. Hone thy craft
Make time for writing. – This follows the lines of the idea that practice makes perfect. Everyday take out time to write. Make it a time that you can afford on a daily basis. Even fifteen minutes if that all you could spare. But use that time wisely and write to your hearts content. If writers block becomes an issue, then write of the frustrations of writers block- but write.

image9. Thou shalt write passionately to better thine craft
No matter where you draw your inspiration, the best writing comes from the heart. So write with passion, with emotion, with your soul and your heart. When you give yourself over to your writing and emotionally invest in it, not only will it be that much more special but it’ll also be more likely to truly reach one of your readers.

8. Thy pen shalt not cease to touch thy paper
After all scribe is an adjective. Never give up on your dreams. Write to your hearts content and never use the fear of rejection as a scapegoat to give up on your writing dreams.

7. Thou shalt ask for permission to use other’s works
Not only should this be done as a courtesy but not doing this can also result in copyright infringement. This includes audio, art and writing. Be respectful of others creative ideas and respect their work as you hope for yours to be respected.

6. Thou shalt give thy credit wherest it be due
Give credit where it is due. There are often many things that motivate us. Nature, music, others… When we draw inspirations from others, we should give them credit for it. This is truly a from of respect.

image5. Thou shalt respect the art of writing
It’s not always easy to be nice when voicing our opinions on novels that took up hours of our life and are a waste of the paper they were printed on. While this could easily be me asking you to not vandalize these books or use them as kindling that is not what I am referring to. Um… But please do refrain from doing those things. 🙂 Respect all creative styles and outlets of an artists despite your differences in taste or opinions.

4. Thou shalt not limit thy self
Lets say that there have been over a billion books written since the beginning of the written word. Let me also say that what makes the difference between one novel and the next is the writer. So when you have an idea to write, don’t not do it because you think it is too common or too crazy. Unleash your crazy and own up to your interpretations and creativity. Because you are unique your novel shall reflect that and your voice will make it original.

3. Thou shalt hate not
Despite what can be said about writers, we make an awesomely creative and unique community. Oftentimes competitive but a community nonetheless. As we are all in this together, be supportive. Congratulate other artist on their work and accomplishments rather than throw shade.

2. Thou shalt know thy craft
The same way that an artist can go to a museum and appreciate the art of others, a writer should be capable of reading the works of others. No, beyond that. A true writer should love reading as reading and writing go hand in hand. I am a firm believer that to be a great writer, one must read the work of others and appreciate the good and the bad. Know your craft. I also believe that reading will make you a better writer. Therefore a writer should never stop being a reader.

1. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors art
In a world where you are not always brimming with ideas, it is a rather easy thing to see the awesomeness of someone else’s work and to want something like it under your name. Well, as it easy as it may be, it doesn’t at all make it OK. Plagiarism is a very serious offense that not only takes away your credibility, but also is an injustice to the original author. I ask that no matter how much you enjoy, love or admire someone else’s work, you do not reproduce it without giving the original author credit for it and asking for their permission to re-post/distribute/etc.

Speaking of which, I recently found a bloggers account of the 5 sure fire ways to avoid being plagiarized: Five Step Method to Ensure Non Plagiarism Real Good by Kat Kennedy over at CuddleBuggery Book Blog. Truly great advice with laughs guaranteed. This includes trying to emulate the uniqueness that was Shakespeare, ways to make your work unappealing to plagiarist, how to ensure you have plagiarist free followers and a sure fire way to keep your ideas from being stolen. A must read.

We all have different reasons for writing, yet I believe there should be a common code for writers of all motivations and aspirations. Please heed the rules set forth to not only be a respectable writer, but to also be a positive member and contribution to the writing community.

© 2013 Seven Magazine

The Pen Bleeds

Welcome to The Pen Bleeds where poetry is more than rhyme, more than reason, more than words flowing with rhythm; it’s a combination of jagged thoughts, feelings, actions, and a unique language opening minds to see the world from a different perspective.

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This Month’s Featured Poet: Sean Burton

It’s a pleasure featuring Sean Burton, a poet who delves into those caliginous places; the eerie ones where hell equates to being overtaken by a succubus while the body is at rest. His writing demonstrates a side of poetry that is more than love sonnets dressed in niceties making the heart flutter. Instead, it exhibits an intense and chaotic shadowy side, which intentionally preys on the fears of the living. Do you dare to embrace the darkness in all those dreadful crevices? We posed seven questions to better familiarize our readers with his creative vision and intellect.

Q&A with Sean Burton

Seven: What is your favorite genre of literature to write about?

Sean Burton: I really get into the darker side of writing. The macabre, taboo, and sins. That sort of thing.

Seven:  What inspires you to write?

Sean Burton: My poetry is usually associated directly with whatever mental state I am in. If I have a feeling of heartache, fear, lust or anxiety I write. I find this better because the words literally just flow and there’s no thought process to it until it comes to editing/proof reading.

Seven: Who is your favorite author and how do they inspire you?

Sean Burton: I’m a huge Lovecraft fan. He is undoubtedly a linguistic genius. He has this way with words that just drives my imagination to insanity and when I read it, it just becomes sudden inspiration.

Seven: Are your writings primarily nonfiction, fiction, or a mixture of both?

Sean Burton: Both actually. The nightmare pieces are nonfiction. The poetry comes roughly half and half but a real life experience rooted them.

Seven: Do you have any advice for writers who want to improve their craft?

Sean Burton: Always keep something to write with nearby. I can’t tell you how much I hate being struck with inspiration and I don’t write anything. It never comes out nearly as good. The reader can feel your inspiration and passion through your words and as always, keep writing. Never stop.

Seven: Can you write on command about any topic or is writing more spiritual for you?

Sean Burton: Both. I write for a few fitness magazines locally so I’m often asked to write on a timeline and I blog about both fitness and my personal writings. Needless to say, I get a lot of practice.

Seven:  What are your views on freedom of speech and why do you feel “The Great American Boy” is a prime example of standing up for ones beliefs?

Sean Burton: Freedom of speech is something I feel everyone cherishes, yet very few take advantage of due to repercussion or criticism. Imagine not having it for a second. It’s the essence of where we are as a nation and men and women have died for it. He who possesses the will to stand against the masses for a belief they cherish, and let it be known, has the same will our founding fathers possessed.

Sean Burton is a resident of San Antonio, Texas, who is a freelance self employed personal trainer, poet, writer, blogger, and jack of all trades. He staunchly opposes mediocrity and conformity; he has a unique style all his own. Everything he does is fueled by passion, fortified by knowledge and carried by faith.

For more information on Sean Burton please visit:

Blogger: http://ghosthshortstory.blogspot.com/

Instagram: SeanIsIt

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ScBurton1

Email: SeanBFitPro@Gmail.com

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us. 

-Justice William O. Douglas

Freedom of expression is the single most important right all humans should be privy to. Unfortunately, not all governments allow this right and even in the United States it is limited.

A true democratic society supports an environment where its citizens are free to voice their opinions and ideas openly without prejudice or punishment. I believe in fostering a populace of brave free thinking people; people who not only embrace dissenting viewpoints, but also challenge any system of beliefs, government, or set of actions that may clash with their own.

Only the brave or free thinking are willing to go against the status quo, being willing to speak up and take action on behalf of the community and the world. These individuals raise the bar and lead by example. One of the greatest proponents of free speech was free-thinker, essayist, scholar and social activist W.E.B Dubois. He challenged his peers ( Booker. T. Washington and Marcus Garvey) and incessantly went against the grain to confront injustice in those oppressive and dreary places. Dubois made it his mission to fight for social and economic equality for blacks; demanding access to proper education and equivalent defense under the law. Even when the government scrutinized Dubois for his political views he never wavered in his beliefs. He remained steadfast in his fight to end racial issues and worked tirelessly towards world peace. That’s a bit of a history lesson on one of my favorite outspoken free thinkers.

Now, from my own observation of America in the twenty-first century, I can easily say a large majority of us are severely handicapped. We place ourselves at a great disadvantage by not taking advantage of certain privileges bestowed upon us from birth. People in other countries are sacrificing their lives and fighting for such rights. We’ve allowed ourselves to be “dumb down” by mainstream culture; we’ve become lazy and dependent on our government to think and act for us. By placing emphasis on the unnecessary, rather than what is needed in order for our country to thrive, America has become weak. We are no longer the respected power house we once were many years ago. The United States isn’t the blue print of an idealistic democratic progressive society. You may say that statement is un-American, but it’s true. You may not agree, but I embrace dissenting view points of others. In fact, I dare you to challenge that statement. In the words of  W.E.B. Dubois “If there is anybody in this land who thoroughly believes the meek shall inherit the earth, they have not often let their presence be known.”  Make your voice equivalent to the sound of a sonic boom; sending shock waves throughout all who become affected by its presence.

This month’s theme is all about the first amendment, free thought, and freedom of speech. We’ve selected a few poems from artist whose poetry embraces the spirit of the first amendment and the right to peaceably assemble. First up is our featured poet Sean Burton who submitted The Great American Boy, an ode to Mohammad Ali when he refused to go to war in Vietnam. Next is Wake Up a poem by K.S. Pratt dedicated to America and my frustration with the current state of affairs. Last but not least we introduce you to author, social activist, and founder of Activist Poet Round Table Steve Bloom. We selected Warriors a tribute to the strikers of Stella D’oro Bakery, and Statement of Context a short verse on the inhumane treatment of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

 

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The Great American Boy

The stage was set for a man to take his solemn duty within his hands and make his way to far away lands. Yet today this boy became that man. Not the man wanting to venture unwillingly to far away lands. Nor the man to take the wishes of others’ ignorance into his own hands … but the man to keep to his morals … to make his stand. But as his higher power served greatly , admired by few yet hated by many. For the man he is now has been labeled a criminal. A coward of will. His legal duty duped by his moral appeal, he stands before the masses chanting in tongues giving lashes. The camera turns on and the lights heat up as it’s his time to confide his thoughts to the world in rhyme.

” You know who I am, yet you seem surprised lately. Am I still not the one to dance all night? Am I not the man that came to fight? No, I will not fight … not for the own selfish ignorance’s of those who can only experience what pain is like from the side, despite their own desires and virtues, they send the poor and hide in fright.

I am not a puppet of the man who thinks because I obey the law set that I will follow my brothers blindly into that darkened hell to gamble my being and talent simply for your will. No, I am not that pawn. I will not be pressured nor convinced ; I will go on! Do what you will with my name.

Take my titles and destroy my fame, but you will never break my spirit and you cannot throw me off my game. I will come back stronger and I will be back fast. I’m bigger than this and I will take this moment and throw it in my past. For I am the greatest, and nothing can stop me. I’ll still float gracefully across that canvas mat, and I will sting harder than ever when I get back. Send me to jail, there’s light at the end. For what’s broken can always mend”

The boy has now become a man of the hour, the solid statue of standing firm for belief and value. An endless figure sealed within our history in stone,

forever remembered

never alone.

by Sean Burton

wakeup
Wake up!

America!
How long will you be
Content with fine cars and
fancy homes and think that you are free?
Wake up!

Your freedom cannot be measured in material things.
How long will you look at what you have and
Think that you are free?
Wake up!

The slave drums of the past beat for you.
The forests through which you run are the concrete jungles
Streets of the city.
Can you hear the rhythmic drums beating?
Can you hear our ancestors calling out for us to wake up?

Oh my people!
Listen to the drums and know that you’ve been lulled.
You cannot be free because you are blind.
And so you’ll never know
That the jungle drums beat for you.
And so they cry out
“Wake up, Wake up.”

America!
Open your eyes and see!
While you blindly sing and dance,
The chains of oppression have been tightened.
Tightened by the past.
Tightened by the present.
Tightened by the future.

How could you let freedom escape you?
How could you allow generations yet unborn
To suffer the untold misery of the chains?
It is time for us to wake up!

America!
You’ve let the concrete jungle
Lure you into a state of complacency.
It is time to stop the music!
Dance no more!
My people! My People!
Wake up! Wake up!

by K.S. Pratt

 

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Warriors

 

You dwarf the words of the poet: you,
the warriors of Stella D’Oro.
For the best I might ever do
is recount this story which your deeds
have already written.

The end, it seems, was composed by others—
who have more power but less humanity.
A toast, therefore, to all still holding
heads high, proud of their humanity.
For this is the common cause any poet
might share with those who fight
for justice.

Each one of you will always have
your humanity: the many-thousand acts,
small and large, of sacrifice and sharing,
the comradeship, the sheer magnitude of what
you have achieved.

Not one crossed the picket line. No,
not one.

For these things can never be taken away
no matter how much equipment
is dismantled, moved to another state—
just as the poet will always
have the written word, even if
our world might not be ready yet
to listen.

It seems you spoke too soon, you
the warriors of Stella D’Oro,
before our world was ready to listen.
Still, I refuse to lose heart, assert
that one day the bosses and billionaires
will spend a little time of their own
on the unemployment line—after
the working people of New York City
have taken control.

And then we will turn that old building
in the Bronx (you know, the one that used to be
the Stella D’Oro bakery) into a must-see
destination, marked on every
tourist map, a shrine which pilgrims
can visit in their millions to learn,
remember, offer a tribute
to your struggle—writing, thereby,
an alternative ending to the story
of Stella D’Oro.

And the poem that you have composed for us
during this strike year of 2008/2009 will touch
their hearts as each one listens to its words—
overflowing with your humanity, the many-thousand
acts of sacrifice and sharing, the comradeship,
the sheer magnitude of what one,
small,
courageous
work-place was able to achieve
and finally understand.

Yes, each one of them will,
finally,
understand.

by Steve Bloom

Statement of Context

“Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter

has said the Palestinian people

trapped in Gaza are being treated

‘like animals.'”

He is wrong, of course.

If you treated your animals this way

someone would come

to put you in jail.

by Steve Bloom

© 2013 Seven Magazine

How do you feel about torches?

I was raised in a Christian household and my mother was a firm believer of turning the other cheek. Yes, quite literally. As in “But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39 ESV) Being bullied at school and having my mother advise me to not fight back and simply pray on it was no easy feat. Being bullied, at all, does something to a person. It changes them and not necessarily in a good way.

There was a time where parents would send their children to school completely at ease, believing in their safety. Lets say that instead of being in a safe haven, the child was being heavily bullied at school. This child became increasingly withdrawn and was continuously sporting a shiner. As the parents search high and low to find the best solution to protect their child in school; they are at ease when the child is home. After all, they are far away from said bully.

Well hypothetical situations like the one depicted here are a thing of the past. Not because bullying has ceased to exist but because the rise of technology has helped evolve the art of bullying. Bullying no longer stops at the playground or at the end of a school day. As defined by the government “Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.” Technology has provided a whole new playground for bullies that offers an opportunity to harass with less accountability, more anonymity and its all from the comfort of home.

Although statistics state the the most common victims of cyberbullying are children from the ages of 9-14, the truth is no one is safe from it. Someone, who wishes to remain anonymous, and has experienced cyberbullying said, “Cyberbullying is a problem that is a lot bigger than anyone can imagine. I feel it’s necessary to take appropriate steps to combat this issue before it gets out of hand. My advice to anyone who is being harrassed or threatened by someone is to immediately report the incident to the proper authorities. Next, they should seek support from loved ones or attend counseling to help deal with the damaging side affects.  There are a large array of resources and support groups available on the web for both adults and children. The most important step is to talk about it. No one should ever feel like they have to deal with this issue alone.

Although I completely agree with Anonymous’ words, it is in this advice that we find our crux. Because not all states have laws against cyberbullying, it’s not always an easy issue to resolve. However, there are exceptions. If bullying ever reaches these following levels, they are considered criminal and should be reported to the authorities. Threats of violence, child pornography, sending sexually explicit messages or photos, Taking a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy and/or stalking and hate crimes. While most states do have legislation in place against bullying, not many include cyberbullying.

Although a study released at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in October 2012 shows that “cyberbullying is rarely the only reason teens commit suicide. Most suicide cases also involve real-world bullying as well as depression.”  Yet, suicide is one of the leading cause of death for those, ages 10 to 24 and both traditional bullying and cyberbullying increase the possibility of suicide and suicide attempts.

While every state with the exception of Montana has some form of bullying law only 16 of those states include cyberbullying. If you are not in a state that includes cyberbully legislation what can you do? There are many websites that give very sound advice as to what can be done to help. Such as Safeclicks and stopbullying. However, I think we should take it a bit further. An anti-cyberbullying law was proposed to the federal government and is sitting in some dark secluded corner collecting dust because it has not been able to generate enough backing. H.R. 1966 (111th): Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act named after Megan Meier a girl who commit suicide because of cyberbullying.

We often think that we, as one person, can hardly do anything to make a change. Unlike the story of David and Goliath, I’m not asking you to cast any stones. Truth be told, that has already been done. Plenty of stones have been cast into the waters of this terrible form of harassment. However, we must continue the fight and pick up the torch. Linda T. Sanchez a Californian congresswoman has already set things in motion by submitting this proposal to congress, now, about the torch mentioned, you must do your part. Let us reach out to our senate, these people we voted into office and have a responsibility to us, their voters. Lets ask that they support this bill and see to it that the law is passed. We can all prevent the repetition of tragic cases like that of Megan Meier.

Are you on board and wondering what you can do to help? Well first, go to the government website and find your senators. Senators make themselves available to their constituents and have varying forms of communication available. And as easily as you can call and state your concerns, you can also copy and paste this message in the text of an email:

Dear Senator [Insert Last Name]:

As a constituent concerned about the lack of cyberbullying legislation on a federal level, I urge you to back the H.R. 1966 (111th): Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act presented to congress by California’s Linda Sanchez.

Cyberbullying is an epidemic that destroys lives and rarely sees punishment. Cyberbullying can be very damaging. With the nature of the Internet, once things are circulated they may never disappear. Cyberbullying can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicide. It is an increasingly dangerous issue that needs to be addressed. With the federal government passing this bill, not only would this form of harassment become a taboo but it would also become punishable by law.

Many bullies don’t see what they do as cyberbullying and are likely to view it as a joke. However, ruining lives is never a laughing matter. I ask that you please help in protecting our community. In protecting our children, siblings, friends and neighbors.

You have the power to speak for me, for our community and to make a difference. I once again urge you to support H.R. 1966 (111th): Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act. It is of the upmost importance that our lives be protected by our government and ask that you represent my voice, that of your constituent, in the face of your peers.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

© 2013 Seven Magazine

Tall Non Fat Latte for Kitty!!

iphone2 686I know what your thinking? NON FAT LATTE at STARBUCKS!! I know! I know! I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve gained a couple of pounds (I stopped counting at 7 over) and I’m inspired now to do something about it. (calorie counting S U C K S!) Or it’s the fact that I think I have tried every single possible combination for delishishness at Starbucks and have run out of ideas. I guess what I’m trying to say is that… well…. I think that…. I’m just plain bored of the drinks at Starbucks… wait… did I just say that out loud? **Clears throat** Is it hot in here… It feels kind of hot. Oh boy.. Mermaid… Starbucks Mermaid person… COME BACK HERE!!!

I didn’t mean that. Crap…FIX IT! FIX IT!!

Dear Mermaid,
I didn’t mean that. I love you forever.
Love,
Me =)

That’s right. Come back here. . . Now that that’s settled (or so I hope). This got me thinking…

WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO WRITE?

BooksYmelda Ramirez

I’m not sure where he said this, as I have not read this for myself. However, one of my favorite quotes by my ageless pen role model is “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” That was Ernest Hemingway by the way.

This screams at me. Simply because I think the act of living, on its own, is inspiration to write. When you are infected with the disease of writing, it has a tendency to take on a life of its own. It’s not something that you control. It’s something that flows. One of the Pastors from my church said “You cannot illustrate a story that hasn’t been written in your heart first.” (Pastor Brian Vasil). I believe this holds true, not only in a spiritual life, but also in the writer’s life.

I can think of a story just as thoroughly when I am standing in line at the grocery store, to when I’m having a discussion with a co-worker, to the times where I am sitting around the dinner table with my family. I carry a small notebook in my purse for the JUST-IN-CASE-I-FORGET story ideas. There are times that I plan a bank robbery as I wait for my turn at the teller or plot a murder as I wait at the doctor’s office. Does it mean that I’m crazy? Probably. But, no one truly understands a writer, like another writer. No one else will get it. No one else can understand the sense of accomplishment that flows through your veins when you read something you wrote and see this story that you created in your head solidified in black and white. NO ONE can understand the joy of having someone read your masterpiece and you see the emotions run through their face of awe/disbelief/hatred/love/happiness.. etc.

So, in closing, what inspires me to write? Life. Books. Pens. Paper. That is all.

K.S. Pratt

Kimmy

I’m encouraged to write by simply experiencing life or being in a certain element. I discovered the best ideas are sparked by events that cause me to confront my deepest feelings; sometimes it’s emotional, at times it’s spiritual, and at other times inspiration is coaxed by a glass or two of sauvignon blanc. Lol! Truthfully, I am stimulated by everything around me so I never run out of things to write about. The funny thing about writing is it strikes me at the most peculiar and inopportune moments. Anything ( a song, a sound, a smell, a conversation) can trigger a bout of inspiration  which leads me to write. Because this happens quite often, I try to keep a notepad and pen in tow or download an app where I jot down notes on my smart device.

Tiff TreeTiffany

Inspiration for me tends to be a very fleeting thing. It is illusive and I am constantly searching high and low for it. However, I have come to find that there is a constant. The things I draw inspiration from most are nature and music. I have come to always find myself with paper and pen handy. I am one who will be walking down the street, minding my own business and usually looking the part of a sane, respectable member of the community. When inspiration strikes, usually with the subtlety of a wrecking ball, I stop everything I’m doing and looking crazed going into a writing frenzy. Yep, I pull out my handy pen and paper and write. I write as much as I can, regardless of where I am,  while the thought is present and fresh. When I’m at home later, with some time on my hands, I pick up where I left off. This is where music comes in. Music keeps the flow going.

SIGN HERE PLEASE

It was a typical South Florida afternoon. Muggy, warm, humid…definitely not a curly to straight hair day. I decided to go natural. The curls were set, no make-up, a tank top with skinny jeans and a decent pair of converse sneaks. I decided to take my sweater knowing that the auditorium was going to be freakin freezin. I knew this, not only because I was a student at the school, but also because this wasn’t my first Author speaking/book signing deal. Besides, everyone knows that Global Warming is caused by the excessive air conditioning units in South Florida. I mean… we crank up the A/C to 69° when it’s hot out and turn the heaters on to 80° when it’s “cold” out. A proper Miamian always has a sweater and umbrella in tow. Anyway, yeah…book signing with Junot Diaz!iphonepic3 373

Have you ever been? Not to a Junot Diaz event, but any author speaking/signing gig. I have never been to a Barnes and Noble type deal, but I have attended the eagerly anticipated Miami Dade College Book Fair. Last year the stage was blessed with the presence of Pulitzer Prize Winner Junot Diaz. Did I mention it was Junot Diaz? I have a word woody whenever I think of the man. Not only is he Dominican (I am too…I mean not really because I wasn’t born there, but my mom was and since I was conceived in her Dominican Womb with Dominican Juices; I believe I have some sense of entitlement and bragging rights), but he’s from New Jersey too! (Ok, I’m from next door NYC but it’s the same thing) I am also a huge fan and I love/admire his writing style! It’s very rare, especially this day in age, where one can find a book that changes the way you view language and the written word. He does this for me.

However, this piece isn’t about Junot and all of his amazingness. It’s actually about the fact that he signed my book. It wasn’t just that he signed my book and I got to have a totally inappropriate, words didn’t flow the way I planned in my head, my heart was beating out of my chest, I was hearing some kind of background noise that wasn’t really in the room, my face was beat red, I was rambling and I may have called him a nerd, my hands were flying about and I was doing that typical talking with your hands thing, It’s a miracle I didn’t smack the man….. OMG! I hope that he totally never remembers that conversation if I ever get to see/hang/talk to him again! Anyway, it was all about his signature.

DiazI kept staring at this on the way home. (No, I was not driving and yes I did stare at my hand too because I have touched published genius hands!!!) I looked at it and looked at it and stared at it some more. Then it hit me. If the combination of our touch created this über Pulitzer synergy; it was only a matter of time before I would be signing books in my jeans and t-shirt. I wondered what my own author signature would look like. I tried a couple of them once I got home and none of them actually looked cool to me.

mineThis got me thinking… have you worked on an autograph? What’s the best way to come up with one?  I mean, do you really want something that is elaborate and long winded. Just think if you make it to JK Rowling status, do you really want to sign your entire name over and over and over again. I mean, Diaz has a short squiggly line kind of deal and I love it, but let’s face it. I’m not the artistic type. So, I thought what better way to find my author signature, than to actually do some research. I decided to first look into what the greats have done…

Poe
Edgar Allan Poe**
JK
JK Rowling**
Koontz
Dean Koontz**
Hemingway
DA MAN!!! Ernest Hemingway**

These are a couple of my favorite authors. I started checking out their signatures and for the most part they sign the entire name. They aren’t ridiculously creative. It’s just a name, right?

Have you thought of your author signature? What would yours look like? We want to know! Post a copy of it on Instagram and hashtag #7themag. While there you can check out what our developing signatures look like by following us on Instagram @7themag.

 **All pictures of Author signatures (except Junot Diaz) were borrowed from www.purplehousepress.com/sig.htm They have an amazing collection, check out more by visiting their website.**

His Name is Ray. . . Ray Hernandez

Ray
Ray Hernandez – Seven’s New Photographer

Ladies and Gentleman, we would like to formally introduce you to our new addition to the family. His name is Ray Hernandez (I know… I know, overkill) and if you entered the contest last month to win this photo. . .

beach photo
La Playa

Then (hopefully) you have already have checked out his FB Page and have since become a fan of his work. If not, check it out now and like his page (he likes that kind of stuff). Check out his bio on our This is Seven page and make him feel welcome. We are glad to have him on board and can’t wait to exploite…uh.. I mean feature his AMAZING work! This months header photo is Torched. See the full photo by clicking here.

Welcome to Seven Ray! WHOO HOO!!! *Enter the band playing ridiculously loud music, streamers, the people with the sticks, fire breathers etc. . . we go all out here at Seven* We are glad to have you a part of our team.

BTW THE WINNER OF LA PLAYA GIVEAWAY IS:

SANDRA D’SILVA

CONGRATULATIONS SANDRA!!!!! YAAAY!!! Thank you for participating!! =)

© 2013 Seven Magazine