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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

NEW DEAL

by George Held



Image source: DonkeyHotey



The Thirties, the Honest Decade,
When the Depression made the US nation
Face its ragged heart and wretched soul.

The Obama Era, the rotten eight years
When the US nation let racism,
The feral cat, out of the bag again

And refused to face its ragged heart
And wretched soul, and let them fester
Like a million dreams deferred so long

They colored the land with blood
Spurting from myriad wounds inflicted
By AK-47 or Glock 9,

And now it’s time to choose whose
Name will label the next four or eight
Years, which flawed candidate

Is toxic enough to scare the US
Nation into facing its wounded fate,
Its ragged heart, its wretched soul.


George Held, a regular contributor to The New Verse News, has a new book out from Poets Wear Prada, Culling: New & Selected Nature Poems.

Monday, February 08, 2016

THE GHOSTS OF ISHINOMAKI

by Luisa A. Igloria



In early summer 2011, a taxi driver working in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which had been devastated by the tsunami a few months earlier, had a mysterious encounter. A woman who was wearing a coat climbed in his cab near Ishinomaki Station. The woman directed him, “Please go to the Minamihama (district).” The driver, in his 50s, asked her, “The area is almost empty. Is it OK?” Then, the woman said in a shivering voice, “Have I died?” Surprised at the question, the driver looked back at the rear seat. No one was there. A Tohoku Gakuin University senior majoring in sociology included the encounter in her graduation thesis, in which seven taxi drivers reported carrying "ghost passengers" following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. —The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 21, 2016. Photo by Getty Images via International Business Times.


There was something
I was trying to finish—
A lunchbox
for my little one:
balls of pearled rice,
the pale white body
of a radish undressed
on the chopping board.

*

Take me
to Hiroriyama,
I say to the driver.
After we crest
the hill he stops.
The road disappears.
There is nothing there.
Every time, I die again.

*

I am a shimmer
in the twisted grass,
a shadow on rusted
copper. My hands,
two pale fish lost
in a river of red
at the ends
of my sleeves.


Luisa A. Igloria is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world's first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State University Press), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009-2015.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

THE PAISLEY SHIRT OF "EL CHAPO" GUZMAN

by Alejandro Escudé





I too wore a paisley shirt like the drug kingpin
in middle school, and girls thought it was sexy,
because paisley says, “I’m macho and I’m crazy.”
A paisley shirt looks like the world from space,
swirling clouds over continents, how loco fame
is just a form of fireworks. There he is. It is.
A peasant who knows as much as a rich man,
with the confidence to smile, escape the slammer,
un wey with the touch of gold, his shirt collar
too big, like a satellite dish, a flagship’s flag,
or the scarves on the mic of a rocker. Yet Penn
wanted to show what little choice the narco
had, whose poor voice was topped by a cock
inside a chicken coop, crowing under the sun.


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.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

AFTER MY FRIEND ROSEMERRY WRITES ABOUT FAILURE AND MERCY

by Phyllis Klein




Aboriginal Brass Band Offers Burst of Hope in a Bleak Community
—NY Times, Jan. 24, 2016


I write back to tell her
about the Brass Band revival
in Yarrabah, Australia. How Anglicans
made the mistake of dragging Aboriginals
over to their mission and forced
them to labor in the 1890s.
How their children got yanked off
into dormitories, stripped
of their culture and language
like saplings with the wrong kind of bark.

Again, this white failure to understand
how the harness of racism
traps us all in a world without mercy.
Again, this felling of trees
in a forest already depleted and suffering.
Rosemerry, I say, I couldn’t ever believe 
in a journey from revulsion to hope.
But look, I say, but look, 
right here in the New York Times,
even this story has one slice of sun 
in the chapel of despair—the Brass Band. 
Listen, can you hear it as background
for Christian hymns, its instruments
able to withstand humidity
and heat, the music shimmying up tree trunks
into bluesy sky, unable to be enslaved.

And here is the band coming
out of its silence of fifty years.
Here is Greg Fourmile on euphonium
and Paul Neal, tenor sax,
didn’t know how to clap to rhythm,
let alone make music. Here are
the school kids and the grandmothers of Yarrabah
doing the best they can
to take the beat of healing into their hearts and ours.

They play for us, for everyone
who wants pride to replace shame,
for the terrible things we have done
and had done to us, and the need to go on.
For the meanness of power
and the sirens of greed.
For the insistence on healing,
the reforestation of what has been cut
but not destroyed.


Author’s Note: This poem was written in response to a poem by Rosemerry Trommer published in Rattle, Poets Respond.

Phyllis Klein believes in poetry. Her work has appeared in the Pharos of Alpha Omega Medical Society Journal, Emerge, Qarrtsiluni, Silver Birch Press, and The Four Seasons Anthology (Hurricane Press, 2015). She is very interested in the conversation between poets and readers of poetry. She sees artistic dialogue as an intimate relationship-building process that fosters healing on many levels. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area as a psychotherapist and poetry therapist.

Friday, February 05, 2016

BIOGRAPHY/MALHEUR

by Amy Eisner



Cattle at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge wait out the fog of a cold, winter morning January 11, 2016. Image source: Oregon Public Broadcasting.


Her childhood cards said interested, alert, and eager to learn.
In her twenties she was an associative thinker and loved
to work numbers, fold them like origami in a spread
sheet. But she has no head for numbers, they slip through.
Her boyfriend said it was obnoxious to put him on a list
after laundry, and eventually he slipped through too.
In her thirties she had babies, became a thing of many:
mouths, wakings, -pieced toys. By her forties she is simply
scattered. "Get your [ship] together" reads the tote bag
in the store. (She has become a shopper, provisioning being
the only news she can solve.) This week she thinks often
of white men in the cold, in the bird refuge
they have claimed as their own. If they stay long enough
will we come look at them through binoculars, mark them
by the particular scruff on their duck canvas chests?
On so much land the fog must roll in layers: blue, sooty,
breathy, tinged with sun, filling secret baskets in secret
Paiute graves, filling the bunchgrass and the people squatting
in it--new arrivals with binoculars in their mitts watching
us watch the tribe watch the birders watch the ranchers
(oh, the ranger and the cowman should be friends)
and the vision of what you can own in a glance
multiplies to a power, like Galileo's scope, devised
to make a man on a ship fifty miles away appear five.
You can see the ship, you can see the man,
but what can you own but what you admit?


Amy Eisner teaches writing at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her poems have appeared in Confrontation, Fence, Valparaiso, and other journals.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

by Roger Stoll




my town council convenes
in suits and dark dresses
up on their dais
far away from us

their voices are soft
speaking through microphones
talking in monotones
one phrase then another

they talk of budgets
fire fighters and police
buildings and zoning
garbage and streets

i know this matters
i know it's important
but i cannot give it
the attention it needs

instead i think
of the planes and the drones
the missiles and bombs
the guns and the soldiers

the rubble of buildings
the dead in the streets
the refugees fleeing
the cities and towns

but the things we do there
to the people in those towns
are not the decision
of anyone here

not the decision
of those in my town
of those on the council
not even the mayor

the things that we do
far away in those places
are decided by others
in chambers like this

in chambers like this one
where some of them sit
on daises much like
the one that is here

their voices are soft
speaking through microphones
talking in monotones
one phrase then another

they too talk of budgets
but for soldiers and guns
for tanks and bombs
and planes and drones

i know this matters
i know it's important
but i cannot give it
the attention it needs

instead i think just
of the fear and the pain
the wounds and the blood
the loss and the grief...

the council adjourns
and everyone smiles
their work for the night
is done...

but i can’t i can’t
keep thinking of fear
and pain and loss
and grief

i know these things matter
i know they’re important
but i cannot give them
the attention they need

perhaps
if the guns
and the bombs
were right here

perhaps
if the planes
and drones
roared above me

perhaps if
the rubble
the dead in the streets
the refugees fleeing
the fear
the pain
the wounds
the blood
the loss
the grief
all came to my town

then perhaps

then perhaps
it would matter

then perhaps
it would matter enough

to give it
the attention
it needs


Roger Stoll is a retired music teacher in San Rafael, California. He has published political verse in the North Bay Progressive Newspaper, the Pacific Sun and TheNewVerse.News, as well as essays in the San Francisco Examiner, ZNet and Counterpunch. He has been arrested numerous times while committing civil disobedience on behalf of numerous causes and is a member of the political affinity group ¡Presente!.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

IF WAR IS A HEADLESS BODY

by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri


Image source: Truthout.org via flickr


then what would you have me say
to this Veteran of Foreign Wars?

Retired military.  He’s living PTSD.
Attends therapy weekly.

Day by day -
dust covered cobwebbed dreams

spin into hellish-waking nightmares
filament by filament

each strand a broken memory.
War’s understated motto: Kill or Be Killed.

Served 26 years, since he was 19.
Straight out of high school

entered camel humped wars
of dirty sand and intense heat.

While in Iraq wandered
into their market place

into the minotaur’s “staged” rage.
An Iraqi (barely able to speak English)

said, “Chop Chop! Come on – Chop Chop!”
Communal eyes followed

a buff-built man dressed as evil genie.
A downward swinging wave –

one-cleaved sparkling and sharp cut.
A hooded head, beheaded.

As if lawlessness ended
with a thud.


Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, a native Philadelphian, is the author of three full-length poetry collections: Images of Being (Stone Garden Publishing, 2011), Lights Battered Edge (Anaphora Literary Press 2015), and Night Sweat (Red Dashboard Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in a number of on line and print publications. Awarded a grant in poetry from the AEV Foundation in 2013; served as Poet in Residence at Ryerss Museum and Library and as Poetry Editor of the Fox Chase Review. On Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qir5_xPSNiU

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

GRIM NEWS FOR THE REAPER

by George Salamon

The crash of an MQ-9 Reaper drone near Creech Air Force Base in Nevada on Dec. 11, 2014. The investigation determined the cause of the accident to be pilot error during a training flight. (U.S. Air Force)

"A record number of Air Force drones crashed in major accidents last year . . . Driving the increase was a mysterious surge in mishaps  involving the Air Force's newest and most advanced 'hunter-killer' drone, the Reaper . . . ” The Washington Post, January 20, 2016


Poor Reaper, no longer able to tell
Which way is up and which is down.
Swept away, as the Bible tells us,
Like beasts in the sky.
Its guidance system is no match
For the wrath of the Lord, and
Reapers are dropping out of the clouds.
Grim news for the Air Force's favorite drone
That could signal the demise of its Reapers
And turn its Curtis Lemays into weepers.


George Salamon has seen a cruise missile but not a drone. He professed German at several colleges and wrote about "weapon systems" for the St. Louis Business Journal and Defense Systems Review.

Monday, February 01, 2016

POLITICIAN

by David Spicer





Landlocked again in frozen Iowa,
I’m still the captain of my ship,
I’ll still charm all of you sardines
and mackerel until you swoon,
all of you sharks and seagulls
who’ll swallow anything,
I won’t show mercy when you
float in the fever you catch.
I can cajole you to destroy each other,
or dazzle you to hug in a unified trance
before you lose grip and slide
into the twilight of your dance.
I can convince you to swim in oil-soaked ice,
and you’ll delight in this devilish smile
while we brandish my motto for the mission:
Our Love of Me Beams Like a Hundred
Lighthouses. Your wet minds are useless,
I’m a trickster who’ll defeat any fool
or liar, so when belief sinks in your
hypnotized faces, I’ll swagger
toward you — I’m a riot of one,
and you’ll stutter at my beck and call,
for I possess the ships, the oars, the nets,
I’m my own harpoon: none of you can
elude the epidemic of me as I gore
you, skewer you, and sell your
sorry souls to the highest bidder.


David Spicer has poems accepted by or published in such magazines as Reed Magazine, The Curly Mind, Slim Volume, Yellow Chair Review, Jersey Devil PressTheNewVerse.News , On the Rush, Circle Seven, Phantom Kangaroo, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., and elsewhere. He is also the author of one full-length collection of poems and four chapbooks, plus eight unpublished manuscripts.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

MEDICAL ADVICE TO WOMEN OF CHILDBEARING AGE

by Joan Mazza


El Salvador wants women to avoid getting pregnant until 2018, out of concern for the Zika virus rampaging through Latin America. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects, a fact that has led several Latin American countries to ask local women to hold off on getting pregnant until the outbreak is under control. El Salvador, however, is the first to announce a two-year ban on baby-making. “We’d like to suggest to all the women of fertile age that they take steps to plan their pregnancies, and avoid getting pregnant between this year and next,” El Salvador’s Deputy Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza told Reuters. Here’s the problem: Abortions are illegal in El Salvador, and birth control is hard to come by. The irony, which seems lost on El Salvador, is that the same government that denies women control over their reproductive health is now asking those same women to control their reproductive health until 2018. —Vocativ, Jan. 26, 2016.  Photo: AP


The women of El Salvador are told to not get pregnant,
to postpone starting a family. Poor women without
access to reliable birth control, single women,
girls who are raped are being told to delay families,
delay their planned pregnancies. The Zika virus

causes birth defects. More than four thousand
babies have already been born with tiny heads,
impaired cognitive functions, plus other yet-to-be-
diagnosed disabilities. Mosquitoes are carriers.
Tell them to cover up to avoid being bitten

by mosquitoes, to dress in the equivalent
of a burka. Tell them not to tempt the men who
rape them because of their skimpy clothes,
long legs, pouty lips, absence of power.

Already-pregnant women hold their bellies,
wonder what they carry, what life they
will have. How will they work and care
for these children? Abortion is illegal.
Spray poison, spray standing water, drain

swimming pools. Tell them to slather
their bodies in DEET. Tell women not to travel
to infected countries if they are pregnant
or plan to be. Aedes aegypti is an aggressive biter.

You might as well tell them not to buy yachts
or furs or SUVs or private jets. These luxuries
harm habitats, hurt the planet. Consider those
whose heads are so small they can’t see straight.
Consider the many with impaired cognition.


Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Kestrel, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Buddhist Poetry Review, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

AT THE LEADING CANDIDATE'S RALLY

by Steve Abbott




The answer, of course, is simple:
They are not like Us, Our heritage
and faith and flag. Not like Us, who
understand the real danger, the loss
of rightful place, above Them with
their odd odors and leather skins,
over there. And now here, among Us,
pretending They are like Us. Once
They feared Our strength, but now
We hesitate to do what must be done.
We need to do something now, to
show Them who’s in charge. We’ll
do to Them what We know They’ll do
to Us. No one knows what ’s going on.
We can’t live like this. They weave
dark webs in lives full of secrets,
hide Their evil in unfamiliar accents.
There are traitors among Us who are
helping Them, Those who want
to take what we have. The beards
of Their sons conceal explosive wire.
They’re hiding something in Their
worn suitcases, in blankets Their kids
carry. They’re stealing Your jobs,
Your kid’s future. They are waiting
for Their chance. Soon They’ll destroy
everything. Your leaders have betrayed
You, locking Your dreams in the banks
of Their friends. I’m saying what You’re
thinking, and We’re not afraid to act.
We have the weapons we need.
We can stop Them. We can be great
again. We know what We have to do.


Steve Abbott’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Connecticut Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Rattle, Evening Street Review, Plainsongs, Pudding, Wind, and Big Scream, among other journals. He edited the anthologies Cap City Poets (Pudding House, 2008) and Everything Stops and Listens (Ohio Poetry Association, 2013), and he edits Ohio Poetry Association’s annual member journal Common Threads. Night Ballet Press will publish his third chapbook The Incoherent Pull of Want later this year.  A collection of ekphrastic poems titled When the Image Speaks is seeking a publisher. He is a founder and co-coordinator of The Poetry Forum, one of the Midwest’s longest-running weekly poetry series in Columbus, where he lives with his wife Melanie Boyd.

Friday, January 29, 2016

ALL THE CHILDREN

by Cally Conan-Davies



At least 25 refugees, including 10 children, drowned in the Aegean on Thursday when their boat sank off the coast of the Greek island of Samos. The refugees were trying to reach the island from the coast of Turkey, just a few miles away, when the vessel went down. It was not known what caused the accident, but there have been dozens of similar tragedies in recent months, caused by people traffickers cramming too many refugees onto small boats. The Greek coast guard said that of the drowned children, five were boys and five girls. Ten survivors were rescued. —The Telegraph, Jan. 28, 2016. AP Photo Coast guard vessel arrives with the dead bodies of migrants at the port of Vathi on the eastern Greek island of Samos.


Out of the water,
his small ear
to the air—

we saw the photos,
froze,
outrage spilled over.

But in real time, the mean time,

eyes dry and tides change
yet the children of nowhere
keep dying on the waves

not over there
for there is no there but here
and no them but us
dying

in their wet clothes.


Cally Conan-Davies is a writer who lives by the sea.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

THE DOOR

by Dino Siotis




Greece has responded furiously to proposals to modify the Schengen agreement which would see the country’s borders effectively sealed off from the rest of the continent. EU interior ministers meeting in Amsterdam on Monday discussed moving the southern frontier of the passport-free travel zone, which includes most of the EU, to the north, deploying joint police forces along the Macedonia-Greece border. Other European states piled pressure on Greece to do more to control the influx of migrants into Europe via its shores. Athens’s Syriza-led government denounced the plans, with Ioannis Mouzalas, the migration minister, calling it an “experiment” that would turn Greece into a “cemetery of souls,” according to reports. Greek public order minister Nikos Toskas said, “It is very difficult to stop small boats coming [to Greece] . . . except sinking or shooting them, which is against our European values and Greek values and we will not do that.” —Newsweek, Jan. 26, 2016


So many have come knocking at my door
lately that I have trouble keeping it closed,
thieves, beggars, friends, curriers, deliveries,

Jehovah’s Witness, students with advertising
leaflets, straw dogs, homeless cats, garbage-
collectors, bag ladies, messengers, gypsies,

street-cleaners, refugees, illegal immigrants.
I am thinking of tearing it down—the door
I mean—so anyone can just come in and say

how they feel, have something to eat, take some
clothes from the closet, maybe pick up a euro
or two that I will leave on the front table


Dino Siotis is an activist and award winning Greek poet with 25 books of poetry in Greek, English and French, president of Athens-based Poets Circle, director of Athens World Poetry Festival and in charge of Global Communication of Medellin-based World Poetry Movement. He lives in Athens.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

THE ALIGNMENT

by David Chorlton


The view of the five classical planets -- Mercury to Saturn -- improves over the next week or two as Mercury climbs higher and grows brighter. Image by Roen Kelly. — Astronomy, Jan. 25, 2016. 


The view from the window early
is of a street before awakening
where a single porch light glows
beneath five planets aligned
in the pre-dawn universe.
                       The tabloids
have yet to strip naked
and campaigns for public office
are on hold while Jupiter
assumes its ancient role
as god of thunder,
                       withholding
its power in deference
to the moment’s calm. Stock markets
are yet to make a first transaction,
waiting for a signal from Mercury,
god of finance
                       and of tricks,
glowing seductively
next to Venus, who’s worried
about Saturn always trying
to invoke some revelry
                       but who, in his role
promoting freedom, can’t help
feeling glum about the way
speech has been confused
with wealth. The sky
                       is a deceptive calm
today, considering the constant proximity
of Mars, the god of war
who never rests.


David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications on- and off-line, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His most recent book A Field Guide to Fire was his contribution to the Fires of Change exhibition shown in Flagstaff and Tucson in Arizona.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

SMACKED DOWN

by Bill Sullivan



Congress has historically treated drug abuse as a malady afflicting mostly poor, minority communities, best dealt with by locking people up for long periods of time. The epidemic of drug overdose deaths currently ravaging white populations in cities and towns across the country has altered this line of thinking, and forced lawmakers to acknowledge that addiction is a problem that knows no racial barriers and can be best addressed with treatment. —NY Times Editorial, Jan. 25, 2016. Photo: A 20-year-old heroin addict agreed to go to detox through the Gloucester [MA] Police Department Angel program in January after he overdosed. Credit: Katherine Taylor for NY Times, Jan. 24, 2016


blue nails  ashen skin
                                           pin size pupils
barely a breath
                                           another flat line looms
his savior if found
                                           a narcan syringe
white brown or black
                                           a teen or thirty something
or an aging boomer
                                           who went from prescriptions
pushed by physicians
                                           to bags of scag

he might collapse
                                           on a city street
or in a country lane
                                           be clad in a suit
or laborer's boots
                                           be an absent father
or live in lover
                                           once a dreamer
or a pragmatist
                                           now possessed
he rides a demon horse
                                           over a cliff
will it be a hospital
                                           or the morgue
for the man
                                           with the opioid eyes

for years jeered
                                           as a crackhead
or junkie
                                           he was left to die
or tossed into a cell
                                           but when the disease
infected the suburbs
                                           the country lanes
the club house
                                           and the gated estate
it was rehab for the addict
                                           progress no doubt
but too late for the poor
                                           who had no care or aid
who filled a grave
                                           or crawled around
a prison cave


Bill Sullivan is from Rhode Island where in the past five years over a thousand residents have overdosed on opioids, mainly heroin.  He is the co-author two books on twentieth century poetry, co-producer of two films and his poems have appeared in a number of on line and print publications.  His latest publication is Loon Lore in Prose and Poetry.

Monday, January 25, 2016

THE DAY THE POLKAS CRIED

by Laura Rodley






For thirty-seven years
Billy Belina drove in early morning light
or total dark to spin the polkas
on WMUA on Saturday,
not for the love of money
because he wasn’t paid
but for the love of the polkas.
Joined by Mitch Moskal and friends,
Polka Celebration ended
this morning with little warning,
cut by the powers that be
from UMass University.
Petitions are being signed
and voices raised but polkas
have been out-phased,
though folks listen on line
and twenty seven hundred
have signed from Japan
to Australia, to Chicago, polka land.
So many musicians, so many bands,
fifteen thousand shows
spurring polka music on,
but as of 11:45, that’s all gone.      


Laura Rodley’s New Verse News poem “Resurrection” appears in The Pushcart Prlze XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses (2013 edition). She was nominated twice before for the Prize as well as for Best of the Net. Her chapbook Rappelling Blue Light, a Mass Book Award nominee,  won honorable mention for the New England Poetry Society Jean Pedrick Award. Her second chapbook Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose was also nominated for a Mass Book Award and a L.L.Winship/Penn New England Award. Both were published by Finishing Line Press.  Co-curator of the Collected Poets Series, she teaches creative writing and works as contributing writer and photographer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  She edited As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology, Volume I and Volume II.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

JANUARY 11, 2016 — FOR ZIGGY

by Bill Hurley




David Bowie turned 69 recently.
I turned 69 recently.

18 months ago, David Bowie found cancer in his body.
18 months ago, I found cancer in my body.

Two days ago, David Bowie still had cancer.
Two days ago, I still had cancer.

Yesterday, David Bowie died.
Yesterday, I did not.

Instead, I woke up, ate some oatmeal, played the piano,
Went to a garden, photographed statues and banyan trees,
Sipped a latte while browsing through Dorothea Lange pictures,
Had lunch in a museum café, went to a jazz concert,
Then helped the sun set in a drumming circle on the beach.

Today, I woke up again and learned that David Bowie did not.
So what am I to do with this one more day?

And how many more will I be given 

Before it’s my turn 
To return 
To Stardust?


Bill Hurley is a retired video/multimedia producer and former broadcaster.  He is a frequent contributor to open mikes around Columbus, Ohio. His work has appeared in Common Threads, The Institute for Poetic Medicine, and he won the 2005 Thurber Treat award given by Thurber House for humor/parody writing. This year he is the humor juror for The Ohio Poetry Association’s Competition for high school poets. He recently was the featured reader at The Poetry Forum. He also is the MC for the annual Poetry at Perkins event at Ohio Wesleyan University. His collection, No Weeds in Wahkeena is available on Amazon.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

BEAUTIFUL AND BITTER THE WATER

by Matthew Johnson




Before God had gone down to trouble those waters,
I had dipped and wash you child in the calm waves
Of the Nile.

From rooted Jordan and Babylon child,
I sang to you those ancient songs
As I scrubbed away the dirt from your black flesh.

In the plantation cots in the golden dusk of Georgia,
In steadfast resolute,
I tried to cleanse the expanse of your black skin with water.

But now child, I’ve been unsettled.
Muddy as the blackened conscious of Delta Blues,
I’ve seen the waters turn a syrupy-hue.

I now allow you child to drink bitterness
And etch the poison of human guile
In your god-like blood and god-like skin.

Let us flow to a return child,
When I sang those old spirituals, lulling you to sleep
With the most savory of shadows and dreams.

But in those days oh child,
The waters were far too deep
And your skin was far too beautiful to leave.


Matthew Johnson is a 2015 December graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Matthew is a sports journalist who has written for the USA Today College, Fansided, StoopSports and his university newspaper, The Carolinian. Matthew’s poetry has appeared in The Coraddi and The Carolinian. He lives in North Carolina.

Friday, January 22, 2016

THE TRAGEDY IN FLINT

by Yi Wu





The stream of cold and greedy blood, still pumped
from fastened hearts at Michigan’s elites
at speeds of clunkers steered by reckless drivers,
on engines burning leaded gas, stolen
from Hades of obsolescence, is as
corrosive as the river water chlorinated
by negligent passing down of a lethal mixture
of industrial waste and calendar years

Pipes as anachronistic as a political system
whose residue has poisoned the cups
threaten to hold back children’s development
by chains of heavier metals tied on brains
as they fear sharp minds unmaimed
would sense the urgency of their replacement


Yi Wu is a writer who now calls New York City home. His work has appeared in Uppagus, Slink Chunk Press and Clockwise Cat.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

THE YOUNG SOLDIERS OF GUANTANAMO

written on January 11, 2016, the fourteenth anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo Bay detention camp

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


Image source: Amnesty International: Guantanamo’s Poetry



I try to imagine the young soldiers
Given the job of interrogating
The prisoners of Guantanamo

I try to imagine them being repulsed
By what they were ordered to do
But afraid to disobey

I try to imagine the moral crises
They may have undergone
And the collateral damage to their souls

I try to imagine surreptitious rebellions of kindness
A smuggled pencil a friendly word a bit of extra food
A hand reaching out from the wreckage of the self

I try to imagine the nightmares of cruelty
Those young men carry with them
Into their civilian lives

For generations we have filled the haunted streets
With the discarded veterans
Of our perverse wars

For generations we have practiced the art
Of mangling the spirits
Of foe and friend alike

I try to imagine a world nearly here
Where torturers and tortured
Look as equals into each other's eyes

Where the young soldiers of Guantanamo
Come to realize they have more in common
With those they tortured than with those giving orders

Where the brutalized and debased and shattered
May howl their pain and rage
And their tormentors will not turn away

Where both will become healed and whole
From what was done to them and what they did
And will walk among us with great tenderness


Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai'i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday and others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.