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

Scribe is An Adjective

Scribe Is An Adjective is our acknowledgement that for some writing is not a pastime- it is who we are. We will be highlighting authors (past and present) who make a difference in literature. Writers who inspire, challenge and captivate us with their words. This issue we will be looking into two successful and accomplished Irish authors.

imageC.S. Lewis, to me, is an author of children’s novels and the man who brought us the brilliant and timeless world of Narnia. But I recently found that he is a man of three hats. During his life he played three different very successful roles: literary scholar, author and writer and broadcaster of Christian apologies. But who was Lewis and how did he come to be this successful multidimensional man?

C.S. Lewis or Clive Staples Lewis was born 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. He nicknamed himself Jacksie at the age of three when his dog died and he took up it’s name. He spent his life with that nickname which was eventually left at Jack. His mother died of cancer when Lewis was only ten years old. After her death he and his brother were sent abroad to continue their studies in England. He struggled to adjust in England but came to rather enjoy himself though he never stopped missing Ireland.

As a teenager, Lewis declared himself an atheist although he was raised with Christian beliefs. He also learned to love poetry, including the works of Virgil, Homer and Yeats. He considered becoming a poet until his first published works Spirits in Bondage and Dymer flopped. He was then
convinced he could never become an accomplished poet.

In 1916 Lewis was accepted at Oxford University. However, he took time off from his studies to volunteer in the British Army in WWI. He fought in the trenches of France where he was injured on the front line by a British shell that fell short of its target. He lived the rest of his life with shrapnel in his chest. When the war ended in 1918, Lewis returned to Oxford where in 1925 he graduated with first-class honors in Greek and Latin Literature, Philosophy and Ancient History, and English Literature.

He was elected to join the faculty at Oxford as an English Professor. Lewis continued to be a non believer with various fazes until his 30’s when he converted to Christianity. His first major work, The Pilgrim’s Regress, was based on his own spiritual journey to Christianity. Between 1931 and 1962 he published a total of 34 books but wrote over 60 during his lifetime. His writing won him acclaim in his ‘three separate vocations’. In 1963 he died of renal failure yet his death was barely publicized due to President John F. Kennedy and Aldous Huxley dying on the same day.

It has been said “that those who may have known of Lewis in any single role may not have known that he performed in the other two.” This was very much the case for me. What role did you come to know C.S. Lewis for?

Oscar Wilde

His name is Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. I know him as Oscar Wilde. There was a time in my life where I was tired of what the New York Bestseller’s list had to offer and decided to revisit THE CLASSICS. That was the moment that I discovered that classic literature is NOT boring. Once I came across The Picture of Dorian Gray, I became fascinated with Oscar’s sarcasm and complex sense of humor. He entered my life and changed the way that I saw literature and changed my style of writing. Oscar_WildeI always wrote in the sense of what if. For example, what if a lady walks into this bank and her water breaks. Baby is coming. People are calling 911. Etc..etc. I never truly made a connection with any of my characters and just wrote. I never truly fathomed the idea that each time the words hit the paper and flow out of  your mind, your heart is actually bleeding. Art imitates life and his life was a Wilde ride.

Up until his first and only novel, Oscar Wilde was the Seth MacFarlane of the playwright world. He was an eclectic story teller with a hint of raunchiness and well educated in art of writing. He always felt the need to go the extra mile and see how much he could actually get away with. He was well known, respected and honorably paid for his wonder works.

However, this extra mile was also his downfall. Since art imitates life, Oscar went ahead and let his heart speak in his only novel. This was the drop of water that flooded the dam. Oscar was prosecuted for … get this …. being gay. Keep in mind that the time was 1891. However, upon reading the novel that destroyed his credibility and ultimately became his demise; the book is not blatantly gay. There are subtle hints here and there, but nothing like Fifty Shades of Grey (For the record, I haven’t read this book…only heard of it). Yet, the story ended his career and left him destitute with no family and no friends. Not even his lover stuck around!

If you are searching for a timeless piece of writing, amazing prose and tons of intellectual laughter, pick up The Picture of Dorian Gray. You will not regret it. Also read up on his plays and poetry…a simple Google search will do (I love that Google.) I leave you now with a quote from Oscar Wilde’s only novel…

“The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray, and the advantage of Science is that it is not emotional.”

© 2013 Seven Magazine

Genesis

The campaign for change has to start somewhere. Genesis is our somewhere. Every month we will be making you aware of worthy causes and pointing you in the right direction to help make a difference.

imageI’m sure that we have all, at some point been lectured about the environment. Some form of it at least: fossil fuels, pollution, ozone layer depletion, etc. What we are doing wrong and how we can go about correcting these wrongs. Even the government is trying to motivate us to do our part- like tax write offs for those that invest in fuel efficient products and make their home more Eco friendly. But at the end of the day, does one man, his actions and attempts at going green- are they enough to change our fate?

Let me tell you about Billy. He lives a normal life and does small things that help the environment. He recycles, uses compact fluorescent light bulbs, turns off lights as he leaves the room and unplugs appliances when he’s not using them. Billy is a real stickler for rules and never even goes over 60 miles per hour while driving. Instead of 70 mph or better that everyone else seems to be doing on the highway and saves him 4 miles per gallon. He tries to reduce his water consumption by turning off the water while brushing his teeth and fixing any leaks as soon as possible.

Billy is doing things that in truth are simple and don’t take much time to do. Yet with this simple tasks he is really making a difference and doing his part for the environment. Do you see? It doesn’t take a lot to go green. It only takes a little knowledge and the want to help out and make a difference. Because at the end of the day, no one man can undo the damage that has been done by billions of people over countless years. We must all do our part. Billy is a great example of the things we can all do to help the environment. But there is much, much more that can be done, things that will even save you money in the long run.

imageMaking compost is another way to reduce waste and is also a great natural fertilizer. Use phosphate-free laundry and dish soaps, use washable rags- not paper towels while cleaning, use re-usable containers to store foods, save your hangers and return them to the cleaners, take unwanted, re-usable items to a charitable organization or thrift shop. The thing is, that the list to do your part for planet Earth, is pretty endless. For a pretty long list of ways to help click here.

For one reason or the other most of us don’t do anything to change the fate of our planet and that of our future. And this is the problem. What exactly are you waiting for? It doesn’t take much effort or time to be Eco friendly. It’s actually quite easy. Like Ghandi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” and get to it.

© 2013 Seven Magazine