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Thursday, December 08, 2016

LESSONS FROM THE 2016 ELECTION

by David Galef


NEW YORK DAILY NEWS PHOTO ILLUSTRATION


Narcissistic bigotry is never a crime.
You can be a billionaire on a very thin dime.
There’s no disgrace out of which you can’t climb.
One lie will pull another out of the slime.
Though interest rates vary, some slurs are prime.
You can fool enough people enough of the time.


David Galef is an American fiction writer, critic, poet, translator, and essayist. His most recent books are Brevity, A Flash Fiction Handbook and Kanji Poems. He has published over 100 poems in places ranging from The Yale Review to Shenandoah.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

THE PASADENA POOL ON WEDNESDAYS

by Jenna Le


“Dr. [Sammy] Lee went on to earn three Olympic medals, beginning at the 1948 Games in London, where he took home a bronze medal in the 3-meter springboard and a gold medal in 10-meter platform diving. He earned his second consecutive gold medal — a first for any diver — in platform diving at the 1952 Games in Helsinki. . . . At the Brookside Plunge pool in Pasadena, Dr. Lee, as well as other Asian, Latino and black men and boys, were allowed to swim only on Wednesdays, in a special session that the pool called ‘International Day.’” —Washington Post, December 5, 2016. AP photo of Dr. Lee in the 1948 London Olympics via the Washington Post.

          for Dr. Sammy Lee, 8/1/20-12/2/16


The diver Sammy Lee took home
two medals, two consecutive
Olympic golds. Our polychrome
America, our putative
post-racial land laves Lee with love;
it splashes pics of Sammy’s splashes
on TV, turning man to dove,
to symbol, as he turns to ashes.

But when the press says “Lee took home
two golds,” what does that word, home, mean?
Lee, born unto the styrofoam
and steel of California, seemed
American as one could get:
a scholar, athlete, doctor, spouse,
parent, and U.S. Army vet.
Yet, when Lee tried to buy a house
in Garden Grove in ’55,
he was told, “You’re not white enough.”

Can home be home if, where you live,
you’re banned from living, barred from love?
Had platform diving—Sammy’s sport—
not given him a platform, might
he still be roaming far from port,
a homeless wanderer in the night?


Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Anchor & Plume Press, 2016). Her poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translations appear or are forthcoming in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, The Best of the Raintown Review, Denver Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

NORTH DAKOTA

by Carl Boon




See the snow, the fire
in the snow, a native girl
swinging through the cold.
See what happens
when the water cannons
finally turn away,
the steed retreat,
the acute limbs
of authority and order
look elsewhere.
Hear the temporary joy
of a mother, maybe
yours or mine; listen
as the wind keeps her
eyes still distant
from what we love
and often despise—
the shopping mall,
the restaurant, the news.
It is almost 1823, it is why
we write songs
that tremble in the gut
all-conquering,
that verb that needs
a thousand more
to make a story. Hear
empire’s sound
moving back again,
white hands, white
ears that finally listen
in suburban rooms
of a thousand books
and a thousand quaint
mistaken phrases.


Carl Boon lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American culture and literature at 9 Eylül University. His poems appear in dozens of magazines, most recently Burnt Pine, Two Peach, Ink In Thirds, and Poetry Quarterly. He is also a 2016 Pushcart Prize nominee.

Monday, December 05, 2016

RESISTANCE IS NOT FUTILE

by Howie Good


Genevieve Griesau sat at Chapel of the Chimes, an Oakland funeral home, after the Oakland warehouse fire that killed more than thirty people. Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times, December 4, 2016


All it takes is that one guy asking,
“What if there is a fire?”
And now that room is on fire.

We will be here for days and days
to come. Give me some gloves.
I’ve got work shoes. I’m ready.


Howie Good is the recipient of the 2015 Press Americana Prize for Poetry for his new collection Dangerous Acts Starring Unstable Elements.

TENDING

by Jeremy Thelbert Bryant



BREAKING NEWS: The Army Corps of Engineers said that it would not approve permits for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a dammed section of the Missouri River. —The New York Times, DEC. 4, 2016

A mother bird, in the tree my grandfather planted, drops food into babes’ beaks.
How long have mothers tended this world?
A police officer opens hose on a woman protesting pipeline. A piece of her rips away.
How long have women fought for earth and man?
The babes without knowing to be grateful, blindly eat.
Water washes away blood, but dirt and rocks remember.


Jeremy Thelbert Bryant is a poet and a writer of creative nonfiction who lives in Virginia. When he is not teaching English, he is burning incense, listening to music, drinking coffee, and writing. He finds inspiration in the red of cardinals, in the honesty of Frida Kahlo’s artwork, and in the frankness of Tori Amos’ lyrics.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

DISCORD

by Judy Kaber 




A distance of about five feet
separates my car from the mud-
spattered blue pick-up truck
with the Trump/Pence sign
on the cab’s rear window. This
wouldn’t be such a surprise
except we’re in the parking lot
of the YMCA and I can’t help
but wonder which of us is
out of place. Red-necks don’t
come here to exercise, but then
I am not young or male or even
Christian, so maybe the world
splits into more layers than I
can count, maybe the thrum
of feet on the exercise machines
sings songs of longing for
the past that never was, maybe
the man from the pick-up truck
misses the canning factory
and the chicken plant and what
do I know of belief, of prayers
whispered in the night when
you can’t pay your taxes,
your landlord wants you out
by next week and you smoke
two packs a day just to keep
your head on straight.


Judy Kaber lives in Belfast, Maine, and her poems have appeared in numerous journals, both print and online, including Eclectica, Off the Coast, The Comstock Review, and The Guardian. Contest credits include the Maine Postmark Poetry Contest, the Larry Kramer Memorial Chapbook Contest, and, most recently, second place in the Muriel Craft Bailey Poetry Contest.

IN OUR ETATS-UNIS

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske




the republic is kaput.
We have turned our dhabarkoodas
to the banderas which the Tribunal Supremo
says we can burn,
hoping four anos will pass by like manana.
We live in rebellion secreta.
Our menschen eat shakshuka
and after dinner, play mahjongg.
Only four years. There will still be
algebra, kayaks, canoes, haus katzen,
carne adobada and brassieres.
We are the homogenized parfaits
of years of einwanderung.
We have found chaque autre.


A retired professor of English at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Elizabeth Kerlikowske served 25 years as president of Friends of Poetry in Kalamazoo.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

BILLY COLLINS

by Erren Geraud Kelly


People use tents, makeshift plastic coverings and blankets as shelter in a block-long encampment that runs down San Pedro Street. Photo: Theonepointeight for The Intercept


Tried to get a ticket to
The reading, but it was sold out
So, i settled for watching his
Documentary
While i snacked on nachos
And beer.
I read another rejection letter
Earlier, i kept  thinking
Maybe if i wrote "safer"  poems
The New Yorker would love me
But the only safe place is in
My mind.
I tried to eat  Osso Busco once
But i kept thinking about the
Tent cities, strung along
Sixth street.
I want to be P.C., but everytime
I write polite poems,
I see dead black bodies
Floating between the lines


Erren Geraud Kelly is a Pushcart-nominated poet from Los Angeles whose work has appeared in Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, PoetryMagazine.com, Ceremony, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, Poetry Salzburg and other publications, most recently Black Heart Literary Journal. He is the author of the book Disturbing The Peace (Night Ballet Press) and the chapbook The Rah Rah Girl forthcoming from Barometric Press.

Friday, December 02, 2016

HAMILTON STILL SOLD OUT ON THE GREAT WHITE WAY

by Albert Haley




"History is happening in Manhattan: Hamilton has set a record for the most money ever made in a single week by a Broadway show."—The New York Times, November 28, 2016. 


That autumn a silver-haired man came
to see what was so highly rated.
The dancing, rapping, the black and brown
bodies bodiced and laced to build
a country from the pink soles up.

It wasn’t the livestock show
at the Indiana State Fair
or Peyton winning Super Bowl XLI
for the Colts stolen from Baltimore.

It wasn’t the cars going around
and around the Brickyard, spewing
fumes on Memorial Day.

It wasn’t even poor James Dean lying
beneath a marble slab in Fairmount
in the shadow of his uncle’s pig farm.

And it sure wasn’t talk radio,
Sunday pass the collection plate
church, or after home-school
milk and cookies. Not a goddamn
Oreo in sight.

Of course, the silver-haired man
knew this, only wanted credit
for trying to love the Founding Fathers
before being Secret Serviced out.
Dust rising, dust settling.

What did they think would happen?
It’s theatre. The show goes on.

The hills still alive with the sound
of that new music, the bold story
that must be sung.

A time-told tale that unleashes
rhyming tongues, night
after night, with men and women
who dance joyfully, freely on the graves
of any who might wish to enslave.


Albert Haley is a past winner of the Rattle Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in the Texas Review, Poems & Plays, and other journals. He lives in Abilene, Texas, which is as odd of a place as it sounds.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

MORGAN

by Ann Neuser Lederer


When William Morgan was executed outside a Havana prison on March 11, 1961, his strange story seemed to vanish from the popular imagination as quickly as it had appeared; it was lost in the classified archives of the Cold War; and it was edited out of Cuban history by Fidel Castro’s retelling of the revolution as an epic tale of a handful of men fighting under his direct command at the exclusion of all others. —PBS American Experience


Under the low thorn bush it lurked, planning to pounce.
The white and black cat, named Morgan, for the lady
who gave us his mama as a kit, vowing it was male.
But now I know better: all calicos are girls.

The secret buzz was: Mrs. Morgan’s son was killed in Cuba.
His little daughter was sent to her grandma.
This could happen to any of us: a father runs off
to join the revolution, the "Yankee Comandante"*
falls out of favor, faces a firing squad.

Morgan the cat’s needle teeth poked out
from its cavernous, soundless mouth.
It was born mute, we soon figured out. Maybe deaf, too.

One time too many times it wandered near
the neighbor's fence,waving its feathery tail
at the pacing black-gummed Chow Chow
whose orange mane flared and fangs spit drool.
Morgan didn’t hear those loud barks of warning.

I didn't witness the feline neck fur wet with red,
when the big beast shook and bit.
I never heard yowls, but still can hear them.

I never saw the lineup, blindfolds, smoke or slump.
Often enough I saw the little girl, a quiet waif.
By and by, Castro, frail in his papery shell,
lay on his stark white bed.

Every little instance holds a tidbit to pass on.  
When driving on a winding road,
always point straight toward the curves.


Ann Neuser Lederer was born in Toledo, Ohio and grew up hearing whispers there about the legendary "American Comandante." She also lived and worked in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Kentucky as a Registered Nurse. Her poetry and nonfiction appear in journals, anthologies, and in her chapbooks Approaching Freeze, The Undifferentiated, and Weaning the Babies.

DEATH COMES FOR THE COMMANDANT

by Bruce Dale Wise


Castro will be buried at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in southern Cuba. Photograph: Jonathan Watts/The Guardian.


        "Cambiar de amos no es ser libre..."
                —José Martí


The flags are at half-mast, beside the palms out in the air.
The Sun is shining over Revolutionary Square.
The people stroll about, meandering. Not much has changed.
The silence shows. The individuals are rearranged.
The statues and the towers, still, remain . . . another day.
The avenues, the walkways, and the latest news are gray,
as are his ashes, his cigars: Fidel Castro is dead.
Havana cannot hold him longer in white, blue, and red.
It's time to go, to leave the capital, alone, uncoil,
to Santa Ifigenia in Santiago soil.


Bruce Dale Wise is a poet and essayist who writes under various charichords (anagrammatic heteronyms). The creator of new poetic forms, like the tennos (10 lines of iambic heptametre), his publication credits include magazines and ezines under his own name and various pseudonyms. This tennos is an example of his docupoetry. Among poets he admires are Cubans José Martí and Nicolás Guíllen.

CUBA, NOVEMBER 2016

by Clara B. Jones 


Ropa Viejo



Yet soul food & southern food are the same thing though Inga is a common tree flowering in March when raucous monkeys peer up at toucans near the dam at Havana where you chose principle over compromise . . . reading Galeano thinking—Life isn't simple after all & Birds fly North of the tropics & Ordering the Daily Special is usually a bad idea—you exchanged chaos for order . . . form inverted function [like Jakobsen said media changes poetry] as écriture noire was a separatist movement in Martinique where fruit bats roost in caves with Didelphids . . . by June rains soaked roaming tapir alert yet cautious as you were vigilant at El Barracón eating Ropa Viejo amid the sounds of crowds & the smell of tap beer . . . you were privileged but everyone has a cross to bear since Phyllis Wheatley was a member of the Black Arts Movement after Che Guevara called you a “belligerent force.”


Clara B. Jones is a retired scientist, currently practicing poetry in Silver Spring, MD (USA). As a woman of color, she writes about the “performance” of identity, alienation, and power and conducts research on experimental poetry, as well as, radical publishing. Clara is author of three chapbooks, and her poems, reviews, essays, and interviews have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous venues.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

SIX-YEAR-OLD SYRIAN BOY RESCUED FROM DEBRIS AFTER A BOMBING IN ALEPPO

by Ryan McNamara





My body beneath the weight of rock and rubble,
taken by what surrounds me, wanting to return
my feet upon the sturdy earth, but still,
rescue men search through rock and wreck
toward me. My words have fled the border lines
I hear them shouting, say something, please.
Photographers surround my lonely emergence
As I'm lifted like burdened stone, toward war.

As I'm lifted like burdened stone, toward war,
photographers surround my lonely emergence
I hear them shouting, say something please
toward me. My words have fled the border lines.
Rescue men search through rock and wreck.
My feet upon the sturdy earth, but still
taken by what surrounds me—wanting to return
My body beneath the weight of rock and rubble.


Ryan McNamara is a student at Central Connecticut State University majoring in Biomolecular Science. He lives in Meriden, CT. This is his first publication.


Editor's Note: When the bombs rain down, the Syrian Civil Defence rushes in. In a place where public services no longer functions, these unarmed volunteers risk their lives to help anyone in need—regardless of religion or politics. Known as the White Helmets, these volunteer rescue workers operate in the most dangerous place on earth. You can help: Support the White Helmets.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

THANKSGIVING 2016—
A RETROSPECTIVE

by Joan Colby


Image source: Cooking with Drew


Sky of beaten tin
Addressed by the bare
Limbs of the hickories.

We gather to eat
Tradition—our politics
Aligned in fortune.

We plan to march in the new year
Against dark forces
That lean like barbed wire
Upon the liberty
Of an open range.

Today, the pasture has gone
Brown and dormant. Like
Those who say give him a chance.
Those who hunker down when the Nazis
Pound on a neighbor’s door.

It won’t be us, we vow,
Unfolding our napkins,
Slicing the breast and the
Good dark meat,
Ladling the gravy
Of our lives so far.


Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press), Dead Horses and Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), and Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.

Monday, November 28, 2016

CHRISTMAS PAST WITH THE TRUMPS

by Alan Walowitz


Image source: Pinterest

The Q17 would take me past Jamaica Estates—
though I didn’t know then of Trump,
whose pop already was a big deal in Brooklyn,
but I knew this was where the rich folks lived.
And I’m sure young Donald, though a bully even then,
wasn’t the one who pushed me aside
and shook me down for a couple of dimes
in the arcade at the Jamaica Terminal
just to get at the shooting range,
with a rifle that shot light at the little metal ducks that
would shut with a snap like a flock of cheap valises.
A guy like him didn’t take the bus, I learned,
and would have pocketsful of dimes to fill his own machines
that lined his basement finished in teak and kingwood—
and had real guns to shoot at summer camps
with riflery and riding, Western and English,
and cloth napkins that came with service
and they didn’t dare call it mess.

My father would drive us through Trump’s part of the world
this time of year to see the Christmas lights of the rich,
and we probably went by his house a couple of times,
though the really well-to-do never put up lights,
while the newly rich installed just one color—a melancholy blue—
on their mansion’s outer edge so passersby like us might be awed by its size,
in the winter dark, while the family that might have lived inside
was off on a cruise, though they likely left the curtains open,
and the white lights shaped like candles on the huge tree
would illuminate those ten foot ceilings, in those cavernous front rooms
that otherwise were never permitted to reveal
even a shadow.


Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in Queens, NY. Alan's chapbook Exactly Like Love is available from Osedax Press.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

CONFRONTING THE GHOST OF BULL CONNOR AT STANDING ROCK

by Dana Yost



Pray With Standing Rock November 26th at 3:00 PM Central US Time

So.
Bull Connor lives
again, dragging his water hoses
to North Dakota. The spray of hate
and intolerance. The dogs, the nightsticks,
broken bones and open wounds.

But.
Bull Connor
forgets. On the streets of Birmingham,
people slipped and fell as his hoses shoved
them, slickened their footing, exposed a shin
to dog teeth and paw. But they got back
up. They outlasted the water, the spray
that sliced flesh. They stitched and bandaged and stood
and took it again, the sidewalks resolute
with the content of their character.

In North Dakota, they get back
up, too. They will let their flesh be split,
they will outlast the hoses. Duty and justice
will overtake the ache. Open wound, broken bone: honorable sacrifice
for the right to march over the bridge. Bull Connor with his nozzle
always ends up the embarrassment, the one slip-sliding
down the drizzle, down the sidewalk of disgrace.


A lifelong resident of the Upper Midwest, Dana Yost was a state and national award-winning daily newspaper journalist for 29 years. Since 2008, he has published four books. His fifth book, a history of 1940 Middle America, comes out early in 2017. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

OTHER SIDE GHAZAL

by Judith Terzi




The quinceañera, the college graduation. You won't be here.
For your parents' fiftieth. Sorry, you won't be traveling here.

Deported for one ounce of grass. You rode the big bus twice.
You wander dreamless south of the border. You won't be here.

Your mother––sin papeles. Twenty years of tucking corners.
Ten more nurturing others' kids. She can't go there, she's here.

Your father––paperless––mower of grass, nurturer of crops.
Builder of bookcases, family, walls. Thirty years of here.

No re-entry to the USA. No entry. Stay in Aleppo, Mosul.
Trek to Gaza City, Jordan, Istanbul. No welcome mat here.

Endure the tarp of tents, bitterness in your husband's glance.
Let dust on your wife's hijab thicken. You can't come here.

Another quiet cycle through your prayer beads––misbaha.
Kiss weariness from your children's smiles. Not allowed here.

We're sorry our gods have seized the heart of this matter.
They say our country may be great again. You won't be here.


Judith Terzi's poetry has appeared in a wide variety of journals and anthologies including Caesura, Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai, Raintown Review, Spillway, Unsplendid, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. If You Spot Your Brother Floating By is her most recent chapbook from Kattywompus Press. Her poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and Web.

HOSPITALS

by Marilyn Peretti


Several medical facilities, including a children’s hospital and the largest general hospital in the area, have been hit or destroyed since airstrikes on besieged East Aleppo resumed on November 15, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières Saturday. —Medecins Sans Frontieres, November 19, 2016

I'm in a good hospital
my visitor recalls
the small dark
shack-of-a-hospital she saw
once in Guatemala
I recall recent news
second bombing
of the largest functioning
hospital in Aleppo
the great horror and puzzlement
of terror from the air
air meant for breathing
viewing stars and flying
but now constant terror
threats from dropped submunitions
of sharp metal fragments
striking child after child


Marilyn Peretti from near Chicago continues to feel bombarded with the infractions of our human interactions, heightened by the war in Syria, the invasive Dakota Access Pipline, and this Presidential election result. Recently in rehab following surgery she spent long hours writing. Her poems are published in Kyoto Journal, Journal of Modern Poetry, TheNewVerse.News and others.

Friday, November 25, 2016

EXPECTING A TRUMP PRESIDENCY

by Michael T. Young


Eviction of Nikkei from Bainbridge Island, March 1942. Image source: Friends of Minidoka. Most of the Japanese-Americans interned at Minidoka were from Seattle and Bainbridge Island as well as Alaska and Oregon. Many were housed in a temporary camp at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. They were then sent by train to the Minidoka Center. The Minidoka Relocation Center was on 33,000 acres of unused federal land in Jerome County, in south-central Idaho located on the north bank of the North Side Canal providing water diverted from the Snake River to vast irrigation tracts.


It surely won’t be as bad as people say.
The news plays on our fear, exaggerates.
It’s not like they’ll be marching us away.

It’s not like he made lists of who will pay,
who said he’s a fool the public overrates.
It surely won’t be as bad as people say.

He wouldn’t dare to bundle us like hay,
mark those who wear hijab, open the gates,
rounding them up and marching them away.

It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay.
He can’t determine rights by who one dates.
It surely won’t be as bad as people say.

The checks of government will keep at bay
his burning ego and his raging hates.
It’s not like they’ll be marching us away.

Ignore the knocking. It’s just another day.
Don’t be afraid of how he celebrates.
It surely won’t be as bad as people say.
It’s not like they’ll be marching us away.


Michael T. Young's fourth collection The Beautiful Moment of Being Lost was published by Poets Wear Prada. His chapbook Living in the Counterpoint received the 2014 Jean Pedrick Award. He received a Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the Chaffin Poetry Award. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals including The Cortland Review, Main Street Rag, Off the Coast, Peacock Journal, and The Potomac Review. His work is also in the anthologies Phoenix Rising, Chance of a Ghost, and Rabbit Ears: TV Poems. He lives with his wife, children, and cats in Jersey City, New Jersey.

THE TRAIL OF FEARS

by Alejandro Escudé


Opening scene of The Gold Rush by Charlie Chaplin


As if the sun had turned into a great pyramid
as if the moon were the trophy wife of Ares
as if the sidewalks were now trapped in the 50’s,
just the sidewalks, as if the purr of the cat where
the same purr of the cat in Slovenia, in Krakow,
as if the professor were under arrest, handcuffed
to the rusty rail of a secret prison, as if the road
were now one long burning trail, a fiery border
on each side and just beyond a trio of Cherokee
staring across to a herd of dead, scattered buffalo,
as if the arrowhead had been taken to a Hooters
in downtown Denver, where it was left on a greasy
table along with leftover fries like the bodies
of Syrian children, as if all Americans were
exiled from America, a great migration across
an invisible land bridge, sidestepping mammoth
carcasses and landmines, sabertooth skulls,
to reach a country that no one ever promised.


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.