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Sunday, September 25, 2016

READING WHILE BLACK

by Floyd Cheung



“. . . it remains unclear whether he was holding a gun or a book at the time he was shot.”  --Brian Flood for The Wrap, September 21, 2016


driving while black
            we know
reading while black
            also dangerous
how could it not be?
         
Narrative of the Life
            of Frederick Douglass
provides an account
            of resistance
with words and fists

Of Mice and Men
            a tale of friendship
dreams and desire
            in which euthanasia
is the best choice

I Know Why
            the Caged Bird Sings
why Maya becomes Mary
            why Maya
turns to poetry

Othello
            married to Desdemona
leader of an army
            betrayed by Iago
and himself

reading
            waiting
dreaming
            knowing
dangerous


Floyd Cheung has taught American literature at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, since 1999. His chapbook Jazz at Manzanar was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

POLLING

by Gil Hoy




I read on the internet today, on
Get US out! of the United Nations

That Barack Obama
supposedly said

we deserved 9/11 because
we didn’t respect Islam
we should not repeat that mistake

With a photograph of our black President
with 80 shares, 178 likes

With readers comments:

This Muslim does not
speak for me and my family.
What an asshole.

  Obummer is anti-AMERICAN!!!!!

           NO more muslims!!!
All must return to their homeland!!

Trump 42% Clinton 44%

I want to bang a hammer
on the world’s noisiest can,

I want to set off the world’s
loudest alarm.


Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer currently studying poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program where he had received a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Hoy received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as Brookline MA Selectman for 4 terms. Hoy's poetry appears or is upcoming in Right Hand Pointing-One Sentence Poems, The Potomac, Clark Street Review, TheNewVerse.News and The Penmen Review.

Friday, September 23, 2016

SUNDAYS IN THE PARK WITH DONALD

by George Salamon


"Yet it took Mr. Trump five years of dodging, winking and joking to surrender to reality, finally, on Friday, after a remarkable campaign of relentless deception that tried to undermine the legitimacy of the nation’s first black president." —Michael Barbaro, The New York Times, September 16, 2016

Important men should be honored,
But they should not be believed.
So wrote a poet from Germany.
To give Trump his due, says this
Nattering nabob of doggerel,
Build him a statue in the park,
A place for pigeons to poop and
Shrine to his character.
Create hell of a hullabaloo
For talking airheads on TV.

Some of our presidents have been crooks,
Others just moral zeroes.
But now we really need heroes.
To ride up Capitol Hill.
Guess we'll have to make do
With Hillary and Bill.


George Salamon has turned from coverage of the campaign to reruns of M*A*S*H, but does not advise that you too do this at home. He lives in St. Louis, MO, often a blue pocket in a red state.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

STANDING ROCK RESISTANCE

by Akua Lezli Hope





Hey-ya Hey-ya Hey Hey O O

where is it that you go
cars stopped and searched
on their way to the gathering
where others sing and pray
land protectors, land protectors
sing and pray, police, police
stop intrusive machines
that churn holy ground
that plow the sacred into memory

Hey-ya Hey-ya  Hey Hey O O

gather all ye tribes to save
life water in North Dakota
Standing Rock Sioux
started in prayers in April
avert the threat to sacred earth
defend clean streams
at this end of the fossil fuel era
battle pipelines which burst
which quench an alien thirst for profit
trespass on treaty lands

Hey-ya Hey-ya  Hey Hey OO

a german shepherd pants with blood on his mouth
his nose drips with Indian blood
his handler yanks him this way and that
other dogs snap at horses’ legs which dance away
charge protectors, bite and wound
other handlers advance, spray the eyes
of protectors, mace Indian faces

Hey-ya Hey-ya  Hey Hey OO

come all defenders
stand by those whose land
has been blooded by slaughter
drowned by dams, washed away
confront the threat to who remains
from 17 banks, $3.8 billion
arrayed to transgress, to dig under rivers
dirty the clean, desecrate holy places,
intruders threading poisons
through the precious warp of earth
to steal again First People’s land

Hey-ya Hey-ya  Hey Hey OO

this is prayer ground
this is sacred water way
this is where First Peoples stand
this is where protectors stay.


Akua Lezli Hope is a creator who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, and metal, to create poems, patterns, stories, music, ornaments, adornments, and peace whenever possible. She has won fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Ragdale, Hurston Wright writers, and the National Endowment for The Arts.  She is a Cave Canem fellow. A crochet designer, she has published 114 patterns.  Her manuscript Them Gone won Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Editor’s Prize and will be published in fall, 2016.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

INSIDE THE BASKET OF DEPLORABLES

by Tanmoy Das Lala


“Basket of Deplorables” by Clay Jones, The Moderate Voice.

I.

When you read out loud
the label names, the items,
at first, writhe in shame, then
fume with rage, demand
apology next, then hiss—forking out
their scornful tongues,
multi-pronged, whetted sharp, yet
quick to cry at truths about themselves
they know not how to defend.

II.

Standing along the perimeter of
the basket’s woven toe,
the xenophobe seeks to exclude—
in the guise of security. Everyone,
a foe, barring the throng of people,
whose skins, since birth,
have worn the lucky color of snow.

III.

Each ingredient in the basket
is wrapped and tied
in translucent films
of bigotry. Their gloat
of communion stems not
from an accommodating lens
of salt-and-pepper subsistence,
but from salt alone. The pepper—
they do not care for.

IV.

Some residents of the basket
still seek to sway, that the Bible
alone can help, pray the gay away,
that who one can love is a choice
self-paving a heinous fate, and I—
the basket outsider, cling desperately
to the belief that someday love will trump hate.


Tanmoy Das Lala lives in New York City with his partner, Eric and a pea plant. His works have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Thought Catalog and Chelsea Station Magazine.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

FRAGILE

by Edward A. Dougherty


A civil defence member carries an injured girl after an airstrike in the rebel-controlled city of Idlib, Syria. REUTERS/Ammar Abdullah, September 17, 2016.


The ceasefire grows more fragile.

Nights now of shelling
after years of street fighting.

How can the resistance still resist?
Where do supplies come from?

Who cooks the rice, the lentils?
It’s not the ceasefire that’s fragile.

Who has lentils? Whose stove works?


Edward A. Dougherty teaches a Corning Community College, and is the author of Grace Street (Cayuga Lake Books, 2016), Everyday Objects (Plain View, 2015) and other collections of poetry.

Monday, September 19, 2016

CHILDHOOD'S END

by James Cronin


Cartoon by Cagle.

The illusion, that those in charge must know
what’s right and wrong, will fade at childhood’s end.
Dense swirls of gray, not black and white, will rend
us then, and those whose past we rest upon
be seen, like us, as flawed but dear, and so
we’ll pass, but such is not the world’s antiphon.
Its song for the alpha male lets monsters breed,
Hitler, Stalin, Mao, to name a few,
who murdered more than every breath they drew
and left a legacy of homicidal greed.

If murder will out, so too, it will go on
as Aleppo proves day to day; while in
North Korea, a gulag not a nation,
a murderous piglet—in a starving land
the double-chinned is king—wants a weapon
of world’s end to brandish in his fat hand.
At home, a smirking clown—anxious to please
Putin—sides with him on world woes; and more,
he’d tell that seated child, face veiled by gore,
he’s quarantined out as a subspecies.


After a four decade career in the law, James Cronin returned to his first love, literature. Since his judicial retirement in 2007, he has participated in three poetry groups and has served as a facilitator in numerous courses for a lifelong learning program in Fall River, MA.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

GAME OVER

by Devon Balwit





The ark has disappeared as we stand on the roofs of our
submerged Costcos, diapers and dog food bobbing about us
in bulk, the sky backlit by flames in the distant hills.

Babies in arms, we will be scanning for boats, old-style,
no GPS, the only place to stand where we are, squinting
against the glare, skin itching from tainted water.

We are the naysayers wanting to drive, water our lawns,
air condition, upgrade, happy as long as there was Wi-Fi
to keep us tucked snug in our virtual landscapes.

Now, this is it.  We are the zombies come from our own
screens, arms reaching from our dwindling real estate,
faces green at the knowledge of what we have become.


Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, OR.  Her work has appeared before in TheNewVerse.News.  She always scans the sky for portents.

Friday, September 16, 2016

ELECTION:2016

by Wendy Taylor Carlisle


Dora vs. Trump Cartoon by ELISE MCCOMB, age14, ROSEVILLE, MINN. (New York Times 2015 Cartoon Contest)


There are only seven plots, we’re told,
        and blunder is this world’s first and second.
                The desire for triumph shoulders at
                        the mother-belly of moral vacuity although,
                                mercifully, not quite hard enough to squeeze out
                                        yet. My friends who are conscientious objectors

or Buddhist, my friends who are in the intellectual closet,
                 even my apathetic friends are all
                         on Short Pierre Street waiting to see
                                 what happens. Because it has been so unbearable,
                                         we have borne it for 18 months—

the N words sprayed on one of our two city busses,
        the theories of corruption, actual corruption. And now,
                after arguing and lamentations, we are a chorus
                        of the damaged, counting their wounds, storing up
                                  experience for a later excuse to whine, Cabo,
                                         Toronto and stark survival on our minds.


Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives and write in the Ozarks. She is the author of two books and three chapbooks, most recently Persephone on the Metro. See her work in Concis, Rat’s Ass Review, Mom Egg Review, and the Kentucky Review.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

AT THE FUNERAL OF A VIETNAM VETERAN

by Jimmy Pappas


Image source: Wounded Times


They did a study about veterans' suicides you know,
counted them and came up with an average: 22 per day.

Something like how many clowns can fit into a Volkswagen,
or how many hot dogs a person can eat without throwing up.

That's like saying, After you finish watching football today,
one veteran's going to blow his brains out, another one's going

to hang herself from the rafters if she can figure out
if she has any rafters to hang from in the first place.

The formality makes me want to put out a call for
the wailing women to gnash their teeth and tug at their hair.

The minister stands out from the crowd of leather-jacketed vets
with his tailor-made suit and conservatively perfect tie.

He quotes St. Paul, If God is for us, who can be against us?
to a group of men who have felt the whole world is against them.

Then he informs us that the prophet Isaiah believed God's
understanding is unsearchable, but I need an explanation of

why this soldier took every pill he could get his hands on. If he
did not want to be a burden, why do my shoulders feel so heavy?


Jimmy Pappas served for the Air Force in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 as an English language instructor. After his service, Jimmy received a Bachelor's of Arts degree from Bridgewater State University and a Master's  in English literature from Rivier University. He is a retired teacher whose poems have been published in many journals, including Yellowchair Review, New Verse News, Shot Glass Journal, Kentucky Review, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Off the Coast, Boston Literary Magazine, The Ghazal Page, and War, Literature and the Arts. He is now a member of the executive board of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I AM FORGETTING HOW TO TELL STORIES

by Megan Merchant




“When you recognize the childrenand find the Mother,you will be free of sorrow.” —Tao

My son is in the backseat. He asks for a story on the way to school.
I begin with immortality because there are bullets and I started this
morning reading about the abduction of a little boy, how he was buried
in his red jacket. My son has a red jacket and when he spreads his arms,
he looks like a ladybug scrawling air. His stuck out of the dirt like a flag,
but I cannot tell you what happened before the boy died. It will calcify
the tenderest parts of you. I know.  His mother waited for twenty-seven years
believing, the whole time, that her son would be found and come home.
Every mother I know says, my baby, no matter how much time has passed.
Which is why I begin with immortality. I’m sure that she wrote his name
in black ink on the tag, quite certain it would be lost. Ensuring, when it did,
that it would be returned to her, with care.


Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (available now through Glass Lyre Press) The Dark’s Humming (Winner of the 2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017), four chapbooks and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She lives in the tall pines of Prescott, Arizona and teaches Mindfulness & Meditation at Prescott College. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

AMBULANCE

by A.K. Das


A day after a tribal man had to walk 10 km carrying his wife’s body on his shoulder in Odisha’s Kalahandi (India) after failing to get a vehicle from a government hospital, a probe was ordered Thursday to ascertain the circumstances which led to the incident. Image source: The Indian Express, August 25, 2016.


The snow-white body, red beacon, siren
fitted on the top,
the ambulance waits at the hospital’s gate
for emergency calls.

A tribal man pedaling his pregnant daughter
to hospital, bringing back home
the mother and her newborn
again on his bicycle;

a poor laborer walking on foot,
dead body of his wife on his shoulder,
his little daughter following behind
in teary, stunned silence;

two men carrying on a dangling pole
a load of mangled, broken corpse
of a woman;

they all call frantically—
but no ambulance for them.

Yet the snow-white body, red beacon, siren
fitted on the top,
the ambulance waits patiently
at the hospital’s gate
for an emergency call from a VIP –

ready to move out,
speeding, blaring, flashing red light
through the snarling traffic.


A.K. Das, a retired civil servant in India, has had three books of poetry published: Another Voyage, Skyline Aglow, and Cherry Trifle.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A PANTOUM MORASS OF SOCIAL MORES

by Joe Amaral 

“He’s winning this. His critics are losing. We’re better for it.” —Tim Kawakami, The (San Jose) Mercury News, September 7, 2016. KHARTOON! by Khalid.


                                                for Colin Kaepernick


They sack their own hypocritical souls,
judging a biracial man sitting down between
Gatorade coolers, bench warmer, while
standing in safe zones chanting anthems.

Character assassinating a person-
hostile when their comfortable tedium
is knelt upon during an incomplete poem,
overheated, entwined in symbolic confliction.

Dislodged from routine surroundings, habits
of public conformity become glare and troll;
despite loafing when the flag waves on private
TV: bloviating from couches about abstract duty.

In my Catholic days I swung suffocating incense
before hearing the priest who married my parents
molested little boys. We spurned the cross in peace.
Pleas from true patriots are treated with violence.

Some only meme, righteous as sacramental fire
while buying foreign cars, clothes and smartphones
made by slave labor, then pout: THANKS OBAMA!
Colin audibles brave; to Hail Mary the fallow loam

of this country, as American as freedom can be, calling
to the knee-jerks and neutrals, even to the haters,
for a healing conversation amongst culpable toxicity—
warming a bench for enemies to connect, sit,
and see.


Joe Amaral likes to spelunk around the California central coast as a paramedic and stay-at-home dad. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in 3Elements Review, Arcadia Magazine, Crow Hollow 19, Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora, Zingara Poet and other awesome places. Joe won the 2014 Ingrid Reti Literary Award. He also hiked Mount Kilimanjaro. It was epic.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

MONTHS AFTER

by Alan Catlin




Months after
the towers came down
he sat an Upstate
New York bar
drinking lunch,

in town for business,
his friends teasing him,
“So were you one
of those guys we saw
on TV running away
as the second twin
came down?”

“Bet your ass
I was.”
He said.
Not smiling.
Not even vaguely
amused, as if he was
thinking, ”I could
have been one of those
human specks falling
down the side of
a building from
just-above-impact-
floor.”

“What would you
have done?  Hung out
to watch or stayed in
the lobby to see what
happened next?
I don’t think so.”

I didn’t either.


Alan Catlin is poetry editor of online journal misfitmagazine.net. His latest book of poetry is American Odyssey from Future Cycle Press.

EAST THIRTEENTH STREET

by Terese Coe




Eventually he touched upon what she meant to him, not in so many words. In New York on 9-11 she walked the two miles crosstown to his apartment. They needed each other now. No other friends in walking distance. No transportation. Everything had stopped. The city was silent. He had tv news on. They sat on the couch the entire day, transfixed. Soon she could no longer speak. He didn’t see why. Asked her soberly,        

            Are you in shock?
            No, I’m not in shock.
            Why aren’t you talking?
            There’s nothing to say.

He looked at her as if he didn’t understand. He’d been talking to Bob on the phone. She said it more intently, so he’d know.
         
            There’s nothing anyone can say.

His silence may have been a form of agreement. It did not persist.


Terese Coe’s poems and translations have appeared in 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, New American Writing, Ploughshares, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Agenda, The Moth, New Walk Magazine, New Writing Scotland, Poetry Review, the TLS, The Stinging Fly, and many other publications and anthologies. Her latest collection is Shot Silk.

AT CENTURY 21

by Rick Mullin


Image source: drjudywood.com



It happened. And the man in front of me

exploded straight up off the street, a mile

high. Many things seemed similarly

amplified. A woman cried as all

the contents of her briefcase scattered

over Dey Street. I assume she worked

in Tower One and would have made it in

by 9. And then the transit cruiser parked

on Broadway hit its lights and faded in-

to smoke and mirrors and a sense that mattered 

more than any rational surmise.

A shadow stream. Outrageous hip hop sneakers

rocketing. I saw the clearest skies

rain paper as a fire at the farthest reaches

closed a ring on everything that shattered.


Rick Mullin's new poetry collection is Stignatz & the User of Vicenza.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

ANGEL OF ALEPPO

by Orel Protopopescu


Khaled Omar Harrah, a volunteer rescuer who spent nearly three years rushing to the scenes of airstrikes and barrel bombs to save lives, has been killed in the embattled city of Aleppo. The Syrian Civil Defense Force, also known as the White Helmets, tweeted remembrances of Harrah, calling him a "true hero" who saved "countless lives." A spokesman for the search-and-rescue group told CNN that he was killed during an airstrike, and was "with other members of his team helping people trapped in rubble." —NPR, August 13, 2016

“Only the dead see the end of war.”—Graffiti on a wall of the ruined Darul Aman Palace, Kabul

How long can angels keep dancing
on the head of a tyrant?

Photos of wounded children can’t stop bombs,
though the soft steel of their eyes
penetrates the thickest armor.

Under the halo of his white helmet,
Khaled Omar Harrah dug through
rubble, through five stories,
untellable stories, compressed,
an illegible album that he opened,
after sixteen hours,
to pull from a hole,
from out of the womb of war,
the best story of the day—
a live child, ten days old,
covered in fine, white powder
like a loaf of bread
for the world to digest.

Where helmets are targets,
to link wings with other angels
can bring down rains that burn.
Yet Khaled refused, in New York,
the false Paradise of exile.
Running toward the sounds
of thousands of explosions,
he sought the cracks
where his light could shine.

Death dropped from the sky
on this relentless angel—
husband, father of two daughters,
a painter by trade—
who had no need to seek martyrdom
by exploding the gates of Paradise.
He knew they were light as eyelids
and could be opened with a smile.

Now those splintered gates
scream on rusty hinges.


Orel Protopopescu, children’s author, translator and poet, has been published by major houses (Simon&Schuster, FSG, Scholastic) and her book of translations, A Thousand Peaks, Poems from China (with Siyu Liu) was honored by the New York Public Library. Orel won the Oberon poetry prize in 2010. What Remains, a chapbook (2011) followed. Thelonious Mouse, her fourth picture book, won a Crystal Kite, 2012, from SCBWI.  A Word’s a Bird, her animated, bilingual (English/French) poetry book for iPad, was on SLJ’s list of ten best children’s apps, 2013. Her poetry has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Light, Lighten Up Online, and other reviews and anthologies.

Friday, September 09, 2016

LAMENTATION

by David Radavich



Is Putin on the "Trump Train"? —Scott Stantis, Chicago Tribune, July 28, 2016.


For Donald


I am hearing the dirge
of my people.

The sound gets louder
and louder, like a train
approaching a station

which has been waiting
and waiting
as an eager slave.

Soon all the passengers
will board and slowly

the landscape will pass
by windows waving
at amber grain.

I stand at the crossing
with torn eyes.

I remember when
the country rose in wings
and did not hope
for engines

hard on
their dark way.


David Radavich's most recent poetry collections are The Countries We Live In (2014) and a co-edited volume called Magic Again: Selected Poems on Thomas Wolfe (2016).  His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe.  He has published a variety of articles and is current president of the North Carolina Poetry Society.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

THE FIGURE IN THE TOAST BURNT FOIL

by Alejandro Escudé





The shooter was hiding in the gleam
of a trashcan lid—he held the gun close
to his chest and sped from lid to lid
across international terminals.

They dropped their bags and ran
looking back for the coil of a black flag,
Arabic scroll, a figure in the toast burnt foil
as night broke among the neon columns.

The human mind is a spider slipping
off wet shower curtains, the heart,
a hundred hounds howling, the feet
like eighteen feet, the neck hacked
by Jihadi John in the military dawn.

No all clear on the horizon, more shots
heard from the coin-din of the airport
where the forest of propeller blades meet
the lost baggage mountains, a river rippling
where a tiger stalks the naked prisoner.


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.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

BLOOD ON THE DOG'S MOUTH

by Laura Lee Washburn





After dinner we have cherry pie.
We are four people from three continents.

The pie: thick with red, butter
crusted: we are sure some old woman made it.

My friends say French and German words
with some ease.  Cherries burst under forks.

We drink tall glasses of iced tea
made with cool water from the kitchen tap.

We have come to live on the plains.
The town festival with a European name offers pie today.

George Washington, cherry pie, pure
dumb luck to be born in this country, and deliberate movements.

What must you be born to
to go out on the land against the oil machine?

You must love the water like life
to tie yourself to the digging machine that doesn’t stop

even with thin court orders.  You must
know the earth is not yours to give while others

train dogs to tear at strangers, loose dogs trained
to tear human skin.

The blood on the dogs’ mouths is human blood.

All over America while folks sit down to dinner,
the blood on the dogs’ mouths is the human blood of water protectors.

Breathe through your nose not your mouth.
[Cry liiiiiiii if you still have the bloody red heart to cry it.]
#nodapl


Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Apple Valley Review, Whale Road Review, Ninth Letter, The Sun, OccuPoetry, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.