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Saturday, August 29, 2015

KATRINA ANNIVERSARY SONG

by Diane Elayne Dees



Uptown; 2012; ©David G. Spielman; from The Katrina Decade: Images of an Altered City (THNOC 2015) Photo source: The Historic New Orleans Collection via Curbed NOLA



corrupt Corps, Federal flood
blue roofs, insurance scams
trashed car, no house
no phone, no job
abandoned pets, missing corpses
toxic water, staph infections
black mold, asthma worse
dying patients, floating caskets
gangs of looters, schools gone
Danziger Bridge, shot in the back
lead exposure, can’t think
murdered dogs, suicide
recurring nightmares, lifetime Xanax
blame the victims, heck of a job


Diane Elayne Dees is a writer and psychotherapist in Louisiana. Her poems have been published in many journals and anthologies, including the 2006 anthology, Hurricane Blues: Poems about Katrina and Rita. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog about women's professional tennis.

Friday, August 28, 2015

EMMETT TILL'S CORPSE TURNS SIXTY

by Philip C. Kolin



from Jet Magazine, September 15, 1955 via JetCityOrange.



Sixty years ago today
I started my life as a corpse,
the corpus indelicti of
America the Mournful.
I am sure you have caught me
on the tv, in newspapers,  or over the net.
Ten presidents since Generalissimo Ike
have taken my Jet photo
out of their Oval Office drawers
every time America has a nightmare
about whether black lives matter
and prayed  it would never come to this.
You may have caught me
in the  faces of black boys
whose smiles have turned to pus
because of police  clubs or stray
gangland bullets .
You could have seen  me, too,
in crowds demanding  justice
for Rodney King, Trayvon Martin
or Eric Garner. Did you hear me
in a  recent poetry slam on YouTube
protesting the death of a black man
or boy every 28 hours in a Second
Amendment America where violence
has gone through the roof?
You may have also  picked me out
weeping on CNN or Fox
when the Mother Emanuel Six
were laid to rest and
the state  flag came down
in South Carolina
and all the peckerwoods
could do about it  was whistle Dixie.
I plan to be at the Smithsonian
next year when they unveil my coffin.
Hope it does not debut on August 28th.
I am not sure America has enough tears left
for me and the ravages of Katrina.


Philip Kolin is the  University Distinguished Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi where he also edits  the  Southern Quarterly. He has published more than 40 books on Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, African American playwrights as well as  seven collections of poems. His most recent book  is Emmett Till in Different States: A Collection of Poems forthcoming in November from Third World Press.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

MOBBED

by Anuja Ghimire



At least eight people, mostly security personnel including a Senior Superintendent of Police, and a two-year-old boy died when demonstrators protesting against proposals for administrative reform clashed with police in Tikapur of Kailali district on Monday. Scores of others were injured in the incident. Photo: Injured police personnel being treated on the premises of Tikapur Hospital in Kailali on Monday. Forty three personnel and three protesters were admitted to the hospital. —Ganesh Chaudhary, Kathmandu Post, August 25, 2015



Together, we are a tainted mass.
We fuel venomous gases that churn ashes.

Together, our tongues hiss flames and smoke.
We howl; red rivers dance like snakes on the ground.

Together, we are hotter than the iron blades
That sever veins with single strikes.

Together, our knees grind the earth and kill the soil.
What flower wishes to bloom in beds of blood?


Anuja Ghimire is from Kathmandu, Nepal. Her poetry is published in Red River Review, Words Like Rain, Glass, Clay, Ishaan Literary Review, The Rainbow Journal, La.Lit Literary Magazine, Stone Path Review, the MOON Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, The New Verse News, Zest Literary Magazine, Euonia Review, One Sentence Poems, Cyclamens and Swords, Shot Glass Journal, and Constellations. She lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and two little girls and writes poetry.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

THE TWO WORLDS

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske






The digital steel electronic world
wears an overlay of nature, a waxy
mist. If we are lucky, we choose
which world we live in.  A cat in
sunlight looks out the door while
the stock market crashes on tv.
Certainly more relaxing to look
at the cat.  A FedEx truck goes by,
three deer in the drive, the skunk
has a route and a name: Jackie O
because it’s fun to say: “Jackie O
is at the woodpile.”  I have never
felt manipulated, used or bamboozled
by raccoons.  Deer paw and nuzzle
at the lick in my trees while sirens
head toward another man-made
disaster. The Dow Jones may fall,
but I’m waiting for bright leaves
underfoot, crunching in that real
way, not like numbers.


Elizabeth Kerlikowske reports here on what is happening in the Midwest.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

THE FATHER IN SUMMER PLAINETH FOR HIS SON

by Cally Conan-Davies






O western fire
Take this day back
Reverse the truck
Unburn the wreck.
The fire fighters
Of the forest service
Hell-bent to save us,
Rain down on them,
Drown every forest plant.
Then bring him home,
Because for every day to come
I can't.


Cally Conan-Davies hails from Tasmania. Her poems can be found in periodicals such as The Hudson Review, Subtropics, Poetry, Quadrant, The New Criterion, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Sewanee Review, The Southwest Review, The Dark Horse,  Harvard Review and various online journals.

Monday, August 24, 2015

AMERICAN LUST STORY

by Penny Perkins






There’s a boy. And there’s a girl.
                                    And you might think just from that set up that this is a story about the attraction between them.
                                    Or at least a story about the boy being attracted to the girl. Because often times in these boy/girl stories we don’t see what the girl wants or feels, only (or mainly) what the boy wants or feels.
                                    But, be relieved, this is not that story.
                                    Because, in this case, the boy is actually a manboy, a damaged boy trapped in the body of a perverted man, and the girl (there are many) is an actual girl, in some cases as young as 13 or 14 years old. The manboy has been soliciting for sex with girls ages 13 through 16. And, in this time and place, what he is doing is technically illegal, technically against the law, but it happens all the time, a lot more than we “good people” want to know about or educate ourselves about. But this specific time with this specific manboy—which is rare given how frequently this type of activity goes on—the manboy is caught. Being the historical moment that it is, the buying and selling of girls is facilitated a lot by technology and the internet, which does leave a footprint (omg, caveat emptor!) that the police can use as evidence to charge him. The manboy has left a thick trail of emails and texts and search engine histories and images downloaded onto smart phones and computer hard drives. The police confiscate these things from the manboy’s home and digital forensics sink him. The cache of electronic artifacts of his lust implicate the manboy on his illegal, criminal proclivities for young flesh. “Middle school girls are hot,” he is quoted as saying to a female reporter. To be sure, he is gross and his statement is gross. But, given the huge numbers involved in the criminal activity of buying and selling young girls, there are clearly a lot of manboys who agree with his assessment.
                                    Probably none of these incidents with the manboy in question would have been any note at all to the general public, except for one thing: The manboy sells sandwiches for a living, and has gotten very rich doing so, but now the sandwiches are mad at him for associating their “eat fresh” product with something that is distasteful and not very fresh at all. As it turns out, the sandwiches themselves also have a digital footprint and they use it against him: their twitter feed washes their hands of him and they tweet tweet tweet to let the public know they are against the eating of underage sandwiches. On the other side of irony town, though, their website proclaims that every sandwich has a story. It’s just that the sandwiches didn’t want the manboy’s story to be their story. Can’t blame ’em. Lo and behold it sucks to make a manboy a millionaire hawking your feel-good sandwich story and then go have him turn around and use that money to sate the appetite of his curious, criminal desires. Yeah, that sucks for the poor sandwiches. Not good for franchise business. But it really, really sucks for the girls, the underage girls, the girls he raped, and it sucks for all the other disenfranchised girls bought and paid for, sold and sliced like sandwiches for the manifold manboys of America.


Penny Perkins holds an MFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. Her short story “Car Ride Through Corn Fields (1975)” was chosen by Manuel Muñoz as the winner of Beecher’s Magazine 2014 Fiction Contest. Her short story “Gut Feelings” was a finalist for the Reynolds Price Prize in Fiction as a part of the 2015 International Literary Awards sponsored by the Center for Women Writers. Recent short stories have been published or are forthcoming in The Pine Hills Review, Waxwing #5, and HOAX #10. Other publication credits for fiction, poetry, and non-fiction include Salon, Conditions, The Portable Lower East Side, Curves, Girlfriend No. 1, and Book, among others. She currently lives in northeast Florida and teaches at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

DON’T JEWISH

by Max Ochs


from Moby Dick or, The Whale. Illustrated by Rockwell Kent published by The Modern Library, New York, 1930


“I have no objection to any person’s religion, be that as it may, so long as that person does not kill or insult any other person, because that other person doesn’t believe it also. But when a man’s religion becomes really frantic; and makes this earth of ours an uncomfortable inn to lodge in; then I think it high time to take that individual aside and argue the point with him. “   —Herman Melville


1
Attending Eastport Methodist’s annual Interfaith
New Years Eve service, I hear an Imam’s lovely voice;
it hearkens me to myriad wondrous childhood hours
in the synagogue we called Shul, where I loved to hear
my Hebrew cantor in prayer. A number was tattooed
on his forearm; his fierce eyes had witnessed the camps,
unspeakable things. Blessed be Reb Hammer, who taught
me to sing: Boruch Atah Adonai.
This Imam was singing  in the same heartfelt, earnest
and strict way as Rev. Hammer. That made me love
the Imam, as he called upon Allah, as a cousin. As family.
He disappeared before I could shake his hand,
look him in the eye and say: Salaam, you and I
both spermed down from one ancestor, Abraham,
upon whom God called, demanding sacrifice;
the same son I call Isaac and you call Ishmael,
a name which now narrates Moby Dick.

The image of Ishmael looking to knock someone’s
hat off in New Bedford, summons the mythology
of my father’s stories of being a tough
young street fighter, ready and rough.
Sound his name, Isaac, as a sudden laugh aloud.  
In 1927, Izzy clenched his fists in Far Rockaway,
and felt just as  punchy as brother Ishmael had
100 years before, opting to up with Ahab, aside
a devout cannibal, the harpooner Queequeeg;
Ahab the white-whale-chasing monomaniac.

1927, in Queens, a politically dangerous time
and place to out as Hebrew, around rival gangs.
Don’t Jewish (you were white). Don’t signify.
Not only Medical schools, even city sidewalks
had Jewish quotas; the system was biased then,
we heard, in favor of [LOL] waspy men.
Don’t you wish you were not? All that singing,
with a crying voice, like gypsies! Opt for the above
and kiss shiksas under the Brooklyn boardwalk.
Let them play tennis, where nothing means love.

Neither today is it fun to be statistically sucked in
to prison by society’s vacuum for being like Queequeeg
or Huck’s Jim, a brown male. My friends, already tired
of Ferguson, can’t identify; Ebola hemorrhaging in Africa,
eyesore ISIS spreading down Levant its blue videos of death
by beheading. My friends still watch TV, but any more
news and they’ll get depressed. I start to spout
war-warn rhetoric, my sermon about our future.
Our weary globe’s a-warming; no peace for Arab, Jew;
holy elephants poached for tusk, rhinoceros for horn;
Chestnut trees, honey bees, cod fisheries disappear.
Old species gone, sperm whales sure as you’re born.

Queequeeg’s Black Yojo Doll, Ishmael accepts;
The entire world’s other brands of religion too.
As long as it doesn’t insult or try to kill him.
Okay, for once, irony: darkness escapes light.
Ain’t no fluke, an enemy compels us to war.
Again. Honey, I know, but this time, even if
this be our fathers again, looking for a fight:
Maybe we’ve got just cause, and we ought.
And Jim shall have a song in scary cells of jail.
One sermon sold “inherent dignity”; I bought.
Avast, thou!  Ye haven’t seen the white whale?

When the Imam calls the population to prayer,
so all may pray together to the all-powerful creator,
remember Ishmael’s example: tolerate anybody’s
faith if they will, in turn, tolerate yours. Don’t
you wish you were free? Then pray on your knees
in the hospital with Ahab and the other amputees.


For decades, Annapolis poet Max Ochs used “stolen moments” to scribble poems at night while working by day for his county’s anti-poverty agency and the local conflict resolution center. Like his famous cousin, songwriter Phil Ochs, Max has maintained a faith in what organizers can do for just causes. Many poems reflect on his career as mediator, activist and teacher; others chronicle an ongoing dialogue between a “failed atheist” and the gods. Archived podcasts of his poetry and music can found on Grace Cavalieri’s “The Poet and the Poem” (Library of Congress website).  A “primitive American” musician, Ochs learned his licks from some blues greats: Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James and Son House, all of whom stayed with him in New York City. Tompkins Square records, which depicted Ochs as an “Obscure Giant of Acoustic Guitar," featured four of Ochs’s poems on the 2005 CD, Hooray for Another Day. Ochs lives with his wife, Suzanne, on the picturesque Severn River, just north of Annapolis, Maryland.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

SAFE HARBOR

by Louisa Calio



Maria Luisa Catrambone and her parents Christopher and Regina, founders of Migrant Offshore aId Station (MOAS). The BBC interview with Maria Luisa Catrambone is available here.



The same year I took my first cruise
and looked out at the dark blue fathomless sea
recalling all those seafarers’ stories
Ulysses, the dangers he passed, before reaching home
as well as my ancestral journeys by ship from Italy to America

Was the same year my eyes burned with tears
watching scores of migrants flee the Port of Libya
across the dark blue Mediterranean
in over-crowed inflatable dinghies
barely able to move or breathe
some drowning during the passage

Hoping to escape war, death and misery
men, women and children
risked everything for the hope of something better
Taken by traffickers, reminiscent of slave traders
profiteers of human misery

While nations debated
willing to spend millions on vessels to stop them
and not a dollar to take them in.
Just when my heart was a dark ocean of grief
about to consume me
I turned on the BBC and heard the voice of Maria Luisa Catrambone.

Daughter of an American father and Italian mother
who left college to relocate to Malta
to rescue migrants with her family
Offering food, water and medicine
to the lonely, lost and suffering
through tender open hands

Filled my heart again
Compassion turned to action.
Having known the greater purpose
beyond comfort and security
The trust that fills you with a knowing
that any resource you may need will appear
as if offered by the hand of God

The people with no Statute of Liberty or Ellis Island
to welcome them in
Have a Ship, the Phoenix,
offering safe harbor to the tired, the hungry, the poor
reminding us once more, “No man is an Island”
There is room at the Inn!


Louisa Calio is an internationally published, award winning author, whose work has been translated into Italian, Sicilian and Korean. Winner of first prize for her poem “Bhari” City of Messina, finalist for Poet Laureate of Nassau County, Director of the Poet’s Piazza at Hofstra University’s Italian Experience for 12 years, her latest book, Journey to the Heart Waters was published by Legas Press in 2014.

Friday, August 21, 2015

KHALED AL-ASSAD

by W.F. Lantry



Photo: Khaled al-Asaad in 2002. Marc DEVILLE / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images via NBC News



Small birds, protected, flutter ceaselessly
in trees behind our house. Even the deer
serenely ravage gardens as they feed,
browsing their peaceful way from yard to yard.
Kingdom of thunderstorm and thistleseed,
each day leads to another without fear:
no rifle shots resound from our far shore.

But somewhere in a desert there were more
unjustified mortalities today.
Each life’s worth every other, but one man,
devoted, spent his days among the scarred
Palmyran ruins. He opposed a plan
to steal every relic, would not say
where what he’d found was hidden. After prayer

they hung his body in the central square.
As warning? Advertisement? To recruit
new followers? I hesitate to guess.
That mountainside is littered with the charred
relics of warfare: columns, motionless,
have seen such things for centuries, the fruit
of ruthless battles pursued endlessly.


W.F. Lantry’s poetry collections are The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree 2012), winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award in Poetry, The Language of Birds (Finishing Line 2011), and a forthcoming collection The Book of Maps. Honors include the National Hackney Literary Award in Poetry, CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, Crucible Editors' Poetry Prize, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (Israel), and the Potomac Review and LaNelle Daniel Prizes. His work has appeared in Asian Cha, Gulf Coast and Valparaiso Poetry Review. He currently works in Washington, DC and is an associate fiction editor at JMWW.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

HAIR AND THE HEALTH OF THE WORLD

by Kit Zak






the doctor clips
a few strands of my hair—
the adrenal fatigue test

I think about all that stresses
my gray head
            (not so many now that my children are fledged)
it’s their turn. Still

thoughts of hair seize my brain
            (not just the mineral deficiencies the test might show)
but candidate Trump’s coif
floating over his head
like a gold hairball
            (WHO has hair like that?)
Or like his devil-

interlocutor, Megan,
her honey tresses and
the talented stylists who make hair
their calling (card) and fortune.

Oh style
and the making of a President
while really
it’s Boeing and Lockheed Martin
dictating our future

such a  three-ringer
(circus): the Hawks’ war path
and the Republican guardians for coal plants

I stress
over the rising tides in coastal cities and
the killer storms (my kids in Norfolk and Miami)

American politics: it’s just entertainment and imagine
what the Europeans must think of our clowns

I await test results
and wonder about the cure


Kit Zak lives in Lewes, DE. She’s an activist who has published in various journals and anthologies.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

WHAT THE NEWS BRINGS: TOO MUCH, NOT ENOUGH

by Shirley Brewer

I




The sea calls, deep with freedom
and risk. A sparkling summer day,
a fishing adventure off the Florida coast
in their 19-foot boat. Born on the water,
the two teens learned to walk in water.
Are they heading toward a destination,
maybe the Bahamas, paradise,
an escape from the mundane? Nature
sings in open air, until the squalls.
When the boat capsizes, they become
lost boys. The ocean no longer a home;
it swallows them whole. Despite
days of searching, the sea rules.
The boat turns up, far away from the place
where they set out. The boys are missing.
Too much. Too much water.


II




A family of three from France
plans for a whole year to visit
the Wild West. A five-week journey.
Week One goes well. Then, New Mexico,
White Sands National Monument. They arrive
at noon, 100+ in the August desert.
What prompts them to set out
on the longest trail—4.6 miles, no shade—
with only two small bottles of water?
In the dreamer’s mind, a vision of adventure
doesn’t come with a temperature.
Mother heads back to the truck, feeling unwell.
She drops and dies. Father falls, stops breathing—
his tongue swollen. Their 9-year-old son will live.
Sands blow and shift: cruel beauty, brutal sun.
Not enough. Not enough water.


Shirley J. Brewer (Baltimore, Maryland) is a poet, educator and workshop facilitator. In addition to TheNewVerse.News, her poems appear in Passager, Stone Canoe, Spillway, Little Patuxent Review, Gargoyle, The Comstock Review, and other journals. Her poetry chapbooks include A Little Breast Music, 2008, Passager Books, and After Words, 2013, Apprentice House/Loyola University. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

AFTER THE CONFEDERATE FLAG
CAME DOWN

by Margaret DeRitter



“not an uncommon example of humanity in SC: Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down.” Image/caption source: @RobGodfrey


I came upon a wedding guest list tucked inside a legal pad. I needed the pad for a workshop: “Racial Issues in the LGBT Community.” But the list? What was I hanging on to—the way Amy once loved me? I know it wasn’t perfect, but what is? Hell, if love required perfection, there’d be no love at all. I was in a mood before I ever walked into that workshop. Then we had to name our preferred pronouns. I wanted to say this and that. I know trans people suffer, but do we really need to make an 80-year-old straight guy with a beard say he, him, his? By the time someone said hetero-normative, I was sick of words. It helped when Lester told us he was there because his gay son died in a car accident. Plain English. Real grief. The next day a newspaper photo caught my eye: black cop guiding sun-baked supremacist up South Carolina stairs toward air-conditioning. The cop looked sure on his feet, the white guy ready to topple onto his swastika. It was the day the Confederate flag came down at the state house. A reporter asked the cop why he thought the photo went wild on the Internet. Love, he said. I think that’s the greatest thing in the world—love. Yes, that, I thought, breaking down at last—for Amy and me, for Lester and his son, for the cop, for the hater, for the whole racist, trans-phobic, hetero-normative world.


Margaret DeRitter lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with her dog, Murray. When she’s not walking him in the woods, paddling her kayak or writing poetry, she teaches college journalism classes and does freelance writing and editing. She worked as a full-time journalist for 30 years, including 22 at the Kalamazoo Gazette, Her poetry has appeared in Scarlet Literary Magazine, Melancholy Hyperbole, Midnight Circus and Encore.

Monday, August 17, 2015

RUNNING FOR BLOOD

by Megan Collins



Kiran Gandhi, a drummer for singer M.I.A. and Harvard Business School graduate, was called "disgusting" and "unladylike" after she ran the 26.2-mile race in April with blood running down her legs. She said she did it to raise awareness about women around the world who have no access to feminine products and to encourage women to not be ashamed of their periods. —People, August 13, 2015. Image source Kiran Gandhi via People.



She charged like Artemis
through the race.      

          We’re not as desperate
          for attention as she is.

She weaved between people
as if between trees in a forest.

          Must we all be involved
          with every single problem?

Her legs and lungs hunted
for the finish line.

          Must we monitor what women
          in other countries do?

Her blood bloomed
against her thighs.

          I’ll stick to worrying
          about Western women.
          If that makes me elitist,
          so be it.

It was a red moon waxing,
a dark flower unfurling.

          It isn’t natural
          for a civilized society.
          As a woman, I find it disgusting
          and unsanitary.

It was in her sisters’ names she bled,
but still, her sisters said,

          She should be ashamed.


Author’s note: Accompanying almost every news story about Ghandi in the past week has been an onslaught of comments from readers who vehemently oppose Ghandi’s actions and cause. I was surprised to see that most of the negative and especially vicious comments came from women, the very people who Ghandi was attempting to support. In my poem, the indented, italicized sections are quotes culled from some of those women’s comments.


Megan Collins holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University. She teaches creative writing and literature in Connecticut, and is also an editor of 3Elements Review. Her work has appeared in many journals, including Compose, Linebreak, Rattle, Spillway, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

DIKTAT

by Rick Mullin 






Now that the Novus Ordo’s nouveau riche,
we might knock out a memo to the mint:
No more Latin double-talk—Capiche?

Recast the pyramid-and-eye pastiche
with something more like winking or a squint.
Now that the Novus Ordo’s nouveau riche,

the barn door open, Fido off the leash,
and Andrew Jackson nearly out-of-print,
let’s drop the Latin double-talk. Capiche?

Annuit Co-eptis? I mean, sheesh!
Pronunciation’s a perdickamint
now that the Novus Ordo’s nouveau riche.

Pardon my French, but Real Men Don't Eat Quiche,
a motto writ in stone, though not on flint,
would trump the Latin double-talk. Capiche?

In English. Send it out today, Rajneesh
(In God We Trust can stay. They’ll get the hint):
Now that the Novus Ordo’s nouveau riche
there’s no more Latin double-talk. Capiche?


Rick Mullin is the author of four volumes of poetry, including Sonnets from the Voyage of the Beagle, and Soutine, both published by Dos Madres Press, Loveland, OH. His work has appeared in various journals, including The New Criterion, Measure, Ep;phany, and American Arts Quarterly, and in anthologies, including Irresistible Sonnets (Headmistress Press) and the forthcoming Rabbit Ears: The First Anthology of Poetry About TV (New York Quarterly Books). 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

RECOMBINATION

by Jim Bartruff



Image source: Collateral Damage



1.

Spurred by the aroma of wheat and lamb,
we had been starving the last hundred miles,
we lathered the horses over steppe and stone,
and before the body of our force had forded
the clearest rivulet we had crossed in a year,
a bustle of water circuiting their gate,
we dammed it with the limbs of the boys
they pushed out to be sacrificed, and delay.
Only the backward ship their decrepitude
into the hills to hide, let strong men die,
and leave their women to hold back the horde.
The white, the broken hairs black shawls tear
from their heads in a show of grieving and pain,
their village merely a smudge of charnel and ruin,
would never amount to half a hand of cordage,
not nearly enough to stake a calf to the grass.
We are feared but we are not amoral.
We killed the idiots as weak for refusing
to rape the children of the unbelievers,
and also the one who stormed the palisade
to get at the girl the king had set aside.
Tomorrow, when we mount and are gone,
the ancients skulking back will have a shame
to eat and little else, though once they awaken,
they'll see we have diluted their waste away,
have given them a purpose to pierce their ache.
By spring next year the rivulet will clear,
and if their golden roof thatch is erased,
there will be babies with other eyes than blue,
eyes with folds across their lids, and slants
of mind the likes of which they've never abided.
They'll know, just as we ascertained the mothers knew,
prying their tears apart to watch our teeth.

2.

If I wasn't so young I wouldn't have fought;
because I fought them I was easy to find.
They smell as rank as elk must smeared on fur.
Only the first of them hurt, and their things were shriveled
compared to what I have seen attached to my brothers,
little vicious men with little things.
Eventually lazy and less insistent, they have let
me to the well on guard to wash them out.
I thought to jump but even drunk they held me
to have me later. Aunt they killed for complaining
but they needn't have, and mother's somewhere.
It is sister they have strapped in the cage.
If she fights, the king will call it a sign.
If she screams, she'll be eliminated.
Kings use any excuse they can to keep
their weakling and their swords within their sway,
and brothers long ago taught what works best.
I hope my sister can intuit His need.
I hope she chooses to survive and escapes,
and one day straggles through the wilderness
to what was home. The men are half-asleep.
Once their wine digests, we'll have a night,
and they will force me to watch their shudders and shakes.
But there are others who'll remember this.
From the lintel, like a hollyhock,
Father's head swivels on a silken knot.


Jim Bartruff's work has appeared in Canto, Westwind, Barney, Marilyn, Drastic Measures.  He is a past winner of the William Carlos Williams and Academy of American Poets prizes.  A third-generation native of Los Angeles, he was previously a print journalist and screenwriter, now living in Portland, Oregon.

Friday, August 14, 2015

SUMMER'S HEAT

by F.I. Goldhaber



Pele. Image source: Dragons Faeries Elves & the Unseen



In the Pacific Northwest we've a
love-hate relationship with the sun.
While we treasure our short summer for
blue skies and joyous celebrations,
the natives sigh with relief when Fall's
first rain brings water to thirsty plants.

Though winter skies are ever dreary,
Spring's vibrant colors compensate for
months of precipitation. Here we
know the difference between drizzles
and sprinkles, cloudbursts and showers;
applaud brief sun break appearances.

But now summers last too long. Spring rains
refuse to fall. Winter's snow pack shrinks
every year, cutting skiing time short.
Fire season starts earlier and lasts
longer, kills more firefighters, burns more
acres, and destroys more homes each year.

Perhaps we should beg Lono to cross
the ocean and join Pele whose fire
rumbles under our feet, threatening
to burst from the peaks surrounding us,
and tear asunder the land on which
we build houses and cultivate food.

Maybe if we welcome the old gods,
eschew worshiping the trinity
of money, power, and oil,
we can avoid inclusion among
the species eliminated in
the planet's sixth wave of extinction.


As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, F.I. Goldhaber produced news stories, feature articles, essays, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now, her poems, short stories, novelettes, essays, and reviews appear in paper, electronic, and audio magazines, ezines, newspapers, calendars, and anthologies.  Her newest book of poetry Subversive Verse collects poems about corporate cruelty, gender grievances, supreme shambles, political perversion, and race relations. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

EMANUEL

by Ed Gold






We asked the red bottle-brushes blooming off the back porch,
we asked the woman who was singing and writing parking tickets,
we asked the colossal white blossoms of the magnolia tree,
we asked the cashier named Wilnetta at the Harris Teeter,
we asked the cedar waxwings swarming the holly berries,
we asked the new baby, Helena Wren Silverman,
we asked the hailstones striking west of the Ashley,
we asked the oil truck that overturned and blocked I-26,
we asked the helicopter circling the neighborhood,

we asked the couple holding hands under a maroon umbrella,
we asked the two mourning doves sitting close on the wire,
we asked the cardinal who placed a millet seed in his mate’s mouth,
we asked the aviator sunglasses forgotten on the porch table,
we asked the smudgy smoke of the citronella candle,
we asked the blue flowers on the Kleenex box,
we asked the juice glass with a decal from a moose hall,
we asked the first brown clutch of leaves in the green of the pin oak,
we asked the empty hammock on the porch next door,

we asked the crow we thought was an eagle until he cawed,
we asked the green anole who hopped on a branch and turned brown,
we asked the hawks whose chick refused to leave the nest,
we asked the loquat tree that didn’t blossom and fruit this year,
we asked the mutant sunflowers sprouting under the bird feeders,
we asked our neighbor whose throat is healing from radiation,
we asked the house finch on the sconce with his eye crusted over,
we asked the little boy who played dead under the pew,
we asked the mockingbird who sang for five minutes before starting over.


Author’s note: This is a poem I wrote after the massacre at the Emanuel AME church. We live three blocks away.

Ed Gold has a chapbook Owl and poems in the New York Quarterly, Kakalak, Cyclamens and Swords, Poet Lore, Gargoyle, and many others. He is a grateful member of the Long Table Poets in Charleston, South Carolina. Ed Gold lives in Charleston with his wife Amy Robinson.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

THE UNIFORMED FIGURE

by Alejandro Escudé






On a YouTube video a cop
gets out of his vehicle, unholsters
his gun, just to ask the man recording him
a question. The man filming the cop
says, “Put your gun down, really?”
as the cop continues to walk toward him
and through him and through me,
as the policeman, gun in hand,
traverses the Milky Way,
the void a uniformed figure
consuming the stars.


Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems, My Earthbound Eye, in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

WHY I AM NOT A POET

by Gil Hoy



Poem-Painting by Frank O'Hara & Norman Bluhm. Image source: Lingo 7



I am not a poet; I am a lawyer. Why?
Sometimes, I think I would rather be a poet,
but I am not. Well, for instance

Frank O'Hara is starting to write a poem.
I drop in. "Sit down and have a drink,"
he says. I drink; we drink. I look up. "You have the words
‘Black Lives Matter’ in your poem." "Yes," he says.
I go, and the days go by, and I drop in again. The writing of the poem
is going on, and I go, and the days go by. I drop in.
The poem is finished. "Where are the words
‘Black Lives Matter’ in your poem?" All that's left is a painting
of dead black boys and dead black men to illustrate the poem.
"It was too much," Mr. O'Hara says. "And I've decided
I'm both a poet and a painter."

But me?  One day, I am thinking about racism, justice
and the law, about praying for God to bring Michael Brown Jr.
back from the dead. I rehearse my argument, all about
why Mr. Brown should be saved.  Pretty soon, it’s a whole litany
of arguments.  And there should be so much more. Not only about
Michael Brown’s life, but also the lives of Trayvon Martin, Christian Taylor,
Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Africa, Dontre Hamilton, Ezell Ford,
John Crawford III, Dante Parker, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray,
all the black boys and all the black men whose lives have been needlessly taken.
Days go by. I am prepared for God’s court. My legal argument is finished,
but I haven't mentioned racism yet. It's twelve arguments and the court reporter
faithfully transcribes  what I say to the judge.

When I see the transcription, it's titled "Racism."  And one day, I see Mr. O'Hara's
poem and painting, collectively titled: “Black Lives Matter.”


Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer and writer. He studied poetry at Boston University, while receiving a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Gil received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. His writing has appeared most recently in The Montucky Review, The Potomac, The New Verse News, The Boston Globe and The Dallas Morning News.

Monday, August 10, 2015

HUNTING SEASON

by Jay Sizemore






Pearly whites. Teeth. Not teeth.
Privilege.
$50,000 to kill a black man.
In the safari grassland of Zimbabwe,
a man with white skin, white teeth, white erectile dysfunction,
draws back his bow. He knows the dark has no soul.
It’s only an animal.
The grass ripples in waves, flashing between shades
of brown and yellow and green.
His arrow strikes true, bowstring vibrato hum,
the familiar inhuman cry.
The rifle to finish the job. A bullet through the heart,
the animal heart.
Careful to get no blood on his khakis.
Poses for photographs with his trophy,
his prized fetish, fresh frothy crimson, foaming
from its mouth. He’ll cut off its head, mount it on his wall,
maybe make its black skin into a rug.
Just another dead thing to stand on.

Blue lights. Blue shirts. Blue eyes.
Privilege.
The lion doesn’t have a license plate.
The lion doesn’t have a license.
Lions shouldn’t be driving, their primal instinct
is to kill, to gnaw marrow from healthy bones.
Question the lion. These things don’t speak English.
The lion will grunt and growl, avoid eye contact,
that dead yellow stare,
that scent of bloody breath.
This is why he carries a handgun.
This is why he’s trained his trigger hand.
The lion has no pride, it’s been drinking gin,
dribbled it down its beautiful black mane.
Old car animal sweat, fight or flight.
It’ll reach for its keys.
Tell the lion to stop.
It’ll reach under the seat.
Don’t think twice.
Shoot the lion in the head.
No one will riot.


Jay Sizemore doesn’t win awards. Founder of Crow Hollow Books, he writes poems and stories and scribbles his name a lot onto electronic pads for material possessions. He listens to Ryan Adams and drinks Four Roses. You can find his work online in places if you go looking, including his chapbook Confessions of a Porn Addict, available on Amazon. His wife puts up with his shit in Nashville, TN.