Saturday, April 19, 2014

THE OTHER NINETY-EIGHT PER CENT

by Laura Rodley


28th Annual Alma Spinach Festival, April 19, 2014


Migrant worker’s hands stained green
from picking spinach, green leaves
full of iron he cannot eat, washes
his hands in a bowl in his room
sleeps on a bare mattress on the floor
window glass broken, curtains frayed
their once brilliant yellows whitened
with sun that only tans his face
deeper, squints his eyes when
he walks back out to the rows of spinach
washing his hands in the sprinkler
set for the plants, not allocated
for him, the chuckwagon rolls in, sells
warm bagels and cream cheese, hot coffee
but not Columbian like he drank at home,
the drops of mercy that carried him through
the morning, saving money for his daughter’s
communion, the priest's drops of mercy,
holy water touched to her forehead
to protect her, keep her from a future
like this where he bends his back to the hot soil
the green leaves he cannot eat;
they are for sale, not for him.
Maybe at home the corn he planted
has come up, maybe his conchita
has already picked them, or his son,
what he would give to go back home,
only drops of mercy now
the sweat that rolls down his face
ten o’clock sun and it’s already eighty degrees,
and the spinach needs picking before it wilts.


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.

Friday, April 18, 2014

CHILDREN OF THE WAR

by Jonel Abellanosa


“On Tuesday, we saw the aftermath of the mortar round which crashed into the schoolyard where children were assembling for the start of classes. Torn trainers and little black shoes ripped in two were stuck in dark pools of congealed blood. One boy, Sinar Matanious, died instantly that day. Sixty children and teachers are being treated for injuries, including a young girl whose two legs had to be amputated. On Wednesday, we heard a loud blast when we were inside a school used as a shelter for displaced families in the city of Homs. Children who had recently escaped the painful siege of the rebel-held Old Quarter were in the midst of describing their frightening ordeal there of living under constant bombardment and gunfire.”            --Lyse Doucet, BBC News, April 17, 2014

Image source: A Mis Behaved Woman


Forced to memorize
The bullet’s alphabet, study
Arguments of machine guns,
Grenades, mortars.  We’ll
Have our day, or pay.

Streets couldn’t keep secrets.
Death machines in the sky
Bombarding our holes.
When we found weapons without
Their warriors, we convened like men.

Favored with the will to leave,
Saddled with sacks of uncertainty,
Others swarm like ants past borders
To whatever morsels surprise hopes.
They might return one day.

Fate doesn’t choose the fallen:
Some look peacefully asleep,
Woundless, without bruises,
No hints of fear in their faces
But they’re dead.

We who live among ruins
Learn to survive unparented,
Conflicts claiming adults faster,
Grownups succumbing
To freedom’s lies easier.

In our games we pretend
To be soldiers.  In lulls some
Stoke comfort round found
Fires, too afraid to fall asleep,
Too young to be storytellers.


Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines.  His poetry is forthcoming in Anglican Theological Review, Pyrokinection, Ancient Paths, Inkscrawl, and has appeared in Windhover, The Lyric, PEN Peace Mindanao anthology, Star*Line, Liquid Imagination, Mobius Journal of Social Change, Inwood Indiana Press, Jellyfish Whispers, Golden Lantern, Poetry Quarterly, New Verse News, Qarrtsiluni, Anak Sastra: Stories for Southeast Asia, Fox Chase Review, Burning Word, Barefoot Review, Red River Review, Philippines Free Press, Philippine Graphic.  He is working on his first poetry collection, Multiverse.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

BOGEYMAN

by James O. Ferrugia


Image source: Loonwatch.com


The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said. --NY Times, April 15, 2014


I board an early bird Southwest flight late ― non-stop
LA to Chicago ― scuffle down the aisle dragging
my carry-on to the last empty seat where my determination
to stifle a claustrophobic cattle car feeling is over-
whelmed by the presence of my two seat-mates.

Preconceived notions spread out uninvited before me
like a patchwork perfect quilt of midwest farmland
at thirty thousand feet, notions cultivated
in the rich bottomlands of fear and prejudice
by generations of family and friends and teachers and priests
and pearly-eyed strangers whispering dark-toned warnings
about those people:  japs and jews and niggers and spics
and gooks and guineas and queers and . . . I’m staring.

I excuse myself, shamefaced, and slide into the center
seat as they eye me uncomfortably, lips pursed
behind well-trimmed goatees, fidgeting and fingering
their colorful kaffiyehs with slender, tawny hands, looking for
all the world like strangers in a strange and dangerous land.


James O. Ferrugia lives in Columbia, MO.  His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Solo Novo and Big Muddy; his songs have been published and recorded on the 3-CD compilation, This is My America,  and the Rand Bishop CD, Big Emotions.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

IT MIGHT RAIN

by Jim Gustafson


Reat Underwood, 14; his grandfather; and another innocent bystander were shot and killed when an anti-Semitic gunman opened fire in the parking lot of a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City on the eve of Passover. --Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America


"My wife has always been concerned about some loonies out there 
doing this type of stuff. You hear these things and it's really surreal. . . . 
We'll be back. You can't leave in fear."
--Jeff Nessel who had just dropped his 10-year-old son off 


Even on the clearest day
when the sky is dressed-up
in its best self
It might rain

Even after the storm
when the water gutters
down to mix the earth in mud
It might rain

Even in the night
when the airliners strobe
unclouded in the sky
it might rain

Even beyond the door
when breath comes
and goes home with ease
it might rain


Jim Gustafson’s most recent book, Driving Home, was published by Aldrich Press in 2013 and is a 2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee. He is an MFA candidate at the University of Tampa, teaches at Edison State  College and  lives in Fort Myers, Florida, where he reads, writes, and pulls weeds.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BOSTON APRIL

by Sarah Edwards


Image source: Boston University Facebook Page


We were a river of runners.
Each one, a drop of water
poured over the finish line.

We found no respite or reward,
but only waves of wounds
crashed red upon the pavement.

Now we run with bombs
to throw at the tears,
to make them stop
being blood.


Sarah Edwards is a retired clergyperson, former runner, remembering....

Monday, April 14, 2014

IN THE TIME OF MAD MEN: 1960-1969

by Sharon Lask Munson




She doesn’t laugh when he proclaims
before their wedding
he will be the one
to bring in the money, dole it out.
All he expects in return—
three meals a day
and a lot of you know what.

If it were ten years later
she might have read
Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique
or Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics,
might have seriously questioned
her choice of a mate.

Eventually breakfasts of bacon and eggs
turn into cheerios and cold milk.
Still, she sets up, dishes out, pours.

In due course she finds a job
refuses to hand over her paycheck—
continues with meals, irons his shirts
empties ashtrays, plants roses, dahlias
deals with the plumber when the sink clogs,
the construction guy for the new thermal windows

until early one morning,
as the bleached sun
bursts through gray smoky clouds
she walks out of the house
leaving her key in the lock

ignores the morning paper
tossed on the porch,
takes no notice of
milk in the milk chute
beginning to sour.

No note is left on the mantle,
no witness driving by takes notice,
no neighbor glances
from behind lace curtains

and like Harry Houdini’s escape act—
she squares her shoulders,
tightens her grip on a small valise,
quickens her pace
and disappears into tomorrow.


Sharon Lask Munson is the author of the chapbook Stillness Settles Down the Lane (Uttered Chaos Press, 2010) and a full-length book of poems That Certain Blue (Blue Light Press, 2011).  She lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

FOR YUNA. FOR HER FATHER.

by Paula Schulz


(CBS News) — Norio Kimura knows he may never find his daughter’s body amid the radioactive rubble of Okuma, Japan, his deserted hometown near the Fukushima power plant. Still, he returns as often as authorities will allow, looking for Yuna, his dead daughter. It’s what keeps him sane. The survivors of Okuma, about 11,000, left the town after the earthquake on March 11, 2011, most never to return. Yuna was one of 111 – including Kimura’s wife and father — who perished in the earthquake; her body is the only one not recovered there. Kimura has so far found just one of her shoes.

                    Fukishima five years later: only one unaccounted for


For Yuna: a small deity to keep her company forever.
For her father: one pink tennis shoe.

He can visit only ten times a year, stay only five hours.
So he does, come hell or high water or blizzard, though

there’s not even a cold hope of finding her now.
But their connection not grey waves

nor cesium 137’s silver melt can sunder.
The blind hunt for anything of Yuna’s:

to keep sanity and soul together
from rising sun to rising sun, year after year--

this is the heart’s grind and gnaw,
this is the stone permanence of love.


Paula Schulz has taught for nearly twenty years.  She lives in Slinger, Wisconsin with her husband, Greg.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

THE SOMETIMES LAKE

by Laura Rodley


Image source: The Heart of New England


Low in the pasture slings a wide clear lake,
winds rippling its surface without a break.
Wide and wider still each day it grows
fed by the runoff of fast melting snow,
so wide today whole pasture is sheer green
from water with slivers of icy sheen,
tall white birch and pine reflected, the sky
and all its clouds, rippling, three feet high.
The Sometimes Lake stands, it legs quickly moving,
mallards land, peddle round, flick tails, grooving.
No herons yet, no tiny frogs, just ducks
and Canadian Geese  who press their luck
landing where other times they’d have to duck
no farmers treasure they, wings tightly tucked.


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. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

THE KNOWN UNKNOWN

by Margaret Rozga



He squints through his narrow glasses, looking
above the shoulder and beyond the ear
of the journalist.

He takes the numerical part
of the question, ruminates,
Two, three.  Not so many.

He draws his lip in an upward
arch flat against his face.  His teeth edge
into the opening of what passes for a smile.

Death falls from the sky
Death marches on the capitol.
Truck bombs, IEDs, rocket propelled grenade launchers.
Death strikes back.

Put death in prison.  Abu Ghraib.  Guantanamo.
A black hole at Bagram.  Secret centers of interrogation.
Enhanced death.

Waterboard until the interrogated wish they were dead.
Construct your smile out of this vacuum.


Margaret Rozga has published two books, Two Hundred Nights and One Day and Though I Haven’t Been to Baghdad.  Her most recent poems and book reviews appear in the Spring 2014 issue of Verse Wisconsin online.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

TO AN AFGHANI WOMAN

by Sarah Edwards        



Image source: Policy Mic; Image credit: AP
       

Today on my azalea street
The church bells rang
“O God of peace
Make wars throughout the world
To cease
To cease”

I walk out to my sunny curb
Pick up folded daily news
In a photo coffin
There you are
again
again

No veil can hide
The shroud of fear
You wear into exploding streets
To brace against the fiery dust
And death
And death

You send your children off to school
Into a backpack bombed out world
That tears their limbs and scatters them
Like textbook pages left
Unread
Unread

To Allah and to God
I do not speak
They do not hear
To you
I know not
What to say

Our bells are raucous
Clanging wildly
Stop now
Stop now
Stop


Sarah Edwards is a retired clergyperson in the United Church of Christ, who now turns sermons into poems and poems into sermons.  NVN is a well-used resource. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

AT THE VENETIAN RESORT CASINO ON THE STRIP

by Janet Leahy



LAS VEGAS (The Borowitz Report)—The casino billionaire and Republican kingmaker Sheldon Adelson met several 2016 G.O.P. candidates available for purchase over the weekend, but decided to buy none of them, Adelson confirmed today. --The New Yorker, March 31, 2014


An escape to Vegas, to bend
the ear

of a rich man, a foot
in the silver door

to dirty money, to hunger
that gnaws

for more, a psalm of himself
chips piled high to buy

someone plastic, the candidate
cannot wear a dark patina


Janet Leahy writes poetry in New Berlin, Wisconsin.  A member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, she has two collections of poetry, The Storm, Poems of War, Iraq and Not My Mother's Classroom.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

BEFORE DAWN IN TEHRAN

by Raul Puzon

           for the painter and the singer



Iran hanged teenagers Ayaz Marhoni and Mahmoud Asgari in 2005 because they were gay.
Image source: ExecutedToday.com

European parliament angers Iran with human rights resolution: Islamic republic dismisses MEP accusations of freedom of speech restrictions and call for executions moratorium.  --The Guardian, April 7, 2014


Why cannot I forget that August mud
gray in the rain, the old revered facade
harsh in the afternoon, the stubborn god?

I still remember your unsaid goodbye,
the orchard’s hush, the throatless bulbul’s sigh,
the sudden air, the angel’s phantom lie.


The pomegranates are crimson now but odd.
If I’ll go first, recall that tulip bud
I gave you when the crescent moon unclad.

With covered eyes and limbs untied, I’ll try
to wilt and sway— together you and I.
In autumn do the soft persimmons die?


Beside you I’ll engrave that earth with blood.
With you I’ll tell the world our last aubade.



Raul Puzon is a human rights and LGBT activist who writes poetry and short fiction.

Monday, April 07, 2014

BE PREPARED FOR THE BIG IF

by Tricia Knoll


Image credit: lukich / 123RF Stock Photo


                                      Nehalem Bay Spit, Oregon


Twenty years ago a snowy plover explored
the bay spit to nest -- I could have been there.
A June day when one palm-size trilling wader
scooted on stick-black legs on the scruff
of a minus tide poking for shore flies.
Perhaps I didn’t notice.

Were nester-plovers to show up now,
rules weigh down the bird books, heavy NO
horseback riding, kite flying, dogs,
bicycles, sand sails, beach volleyball,
kites above the tide line. Back ups
include poisoned eggs to kill
crows and ravens that gobble
plover eggs. Ropes
to keep birders out.

One commissioner complains
of  limiting family fun.
Another fears phone calls.

We’d notice the yellow signage
to save the tiny plover.
The betting at the bar
is the plover will be a no show.

So the waves have washed
across the tides of time.


Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet.  Urban Wild, her poetry chapbook, is now available from Finishing Line Press.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

DISCOVERY OF A HOMELESS MAN AFTER CHURCH

by William L. Alton


Image source: Tithing


You sleep beneath the pines, the new needles growing pale green. Your head cradled on a root. One hand lies on your chest, rising and falling.

I imagine you as a child, growing to this. There is no time for you. The day does not slip. You live with the sun. It is either light or dark.


William L. Alton was born November 5, 1969 and started writing in the Eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric prison. Since then his work has appeared in Main Channel Voices, World Audience and Breadcrumb Scabs among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published one book titled Heroes of Silence. He earned both his BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he continues to live.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

FRAGILE COSMOS HANDLE WITH CARE

by The Bangkok Bards Saknarin Chinayote & Charles Frederickson




Gaze turned skyward illuminating darkness
Lunarocity casting spellbound enchanting aura
Craving purposeful radiant cosmic challenge
Seeking nobly valiant worthy goals

Vast tapestry of quilted nothingness
Tiny dusty speck barely visible
Hiding behind own shadowy existence
Gritty round pearl cultured quintessence

Ethereal overcast sky catching breath
Straightening uphill crooked winding path
Imposing windswept membrane floating rhythms
Horizon contour gracefully bent curve

Virtually uninhabitable planet killing off
Humanimal strays passing as friends
Looking beyond hostile uninviting vacuum
It’s okay to have flaws

Glistening astral pinpoints seeping through
Murky chaos fixed focus blurred
We’ve come long way to
Discover own vulnerable self-indulgent extremes

Firmament freely embracing world peace
Sunbeams impartially pouring forth hope
What we share far more
Valuable than what divides us


No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson and Mr. Saknarin Chinayote proudly present YouTube mini-movies @ YouTube – CharlesThai1 .

Friday, April 04, 2014

CIRCUS BUT NO BREAD

by Janice D. Soderling


Image source: Ann Telnaes Archive


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its abolition of limits on election spending, striking down a decades-old cap on the total amount any individual can contribute to federal candidates in a two-year election cycle. --NY Times, April 2, 2014


Democracy is not for you.

She's for those who can buy

her wholesale. You can kiss good-bye,

your obsolete world view

that politicians' pas de deux,

adagio, is danced for you.

Democracy!



For businesses are people too.

Like other folks they like to screw

around. Now lift your glass on high

and toast King Cash. Mud in your eye,

Democracy.


Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to The New Verse News. Recent and forthcoming work at The Rotary Dial, Rattle, Hobart, Blink|Ink, B O D Y, Shot Glass Journal et al.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

EX-OLYMPIAN

by David Southward


PRETORIA, South Africa — Listening to the prosecution lay out its case against him at his murder trial over the past month, Oscar Pistorius could not keep silent, or still. He sobbed, prayed, threw up, buried his face in his hands and covered his ears, a response to the graphic and upsetting evidence, and, perhaps, to the grim reality of his own changed circumstances.
     But through all the testimony — about the lethally expanding bullets he kept in his gun; about the horrific wounds suffered by the victim, his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp; about his own mercurial temperament, obsession with firearms and irrationally jealous nature — Mr. Pistorius, the world’s most famous Paralympic athlete, has not spoken in his own defense.
     That will most likely change on Monday, when the case resumes after a weeklong recess and Mr. Pistorius is expected to take the stand. And though he has already provided the court with a written account of how, he says, he shot Ms. Steenkamp because he mistook her for an intruder, his testimony will be crucial as he tries to rebut the prosecution’s case: that he killed her in a violent rage as the two argued late into the night. --NY Times, April 2, 2014
Image source: M&G Live Blogs


Oscar Pistorius
bolts for the glorious
gold
on his boomerang heels.
Crowds at the starting line
gasp as Pretoria's
champion
gallantly kneels.

Off goes the pistol!
The crowd leaps, uproarious,
watching the sprinter
break free . . .
scarcely imagining
what a victorious
marksman
the sprinter could be.

Now that his haste
has occasioned the goriest
halt
to a Valentine's Day,
and he's mustered the sorriest
look that a boyfriend
of any dead girl
could display,

will Oscar explain
how he found it uxorious—-
heeding a woman's
appeals?
When the crowd stands aghast
at how feeble his story is,
Oscar may know
how she feels.


David Southward teaches in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  His partner Geoff and dog Sammy patiently await his discovery by a wider audience.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY (JUST NOT FOR YOUR PROSPERITY)

by Chris O’Carroll






Hi, we’re the Brothers Koch.
Our ads are full of lies.
Our massive bankroll bies
Big mirrors and big smoch
To con you low-class foch,
You losers we despies.

No tears flow from our ies
When you get sick and croch.
Obamacare’s a joch.
Your kid or grandma dies?
Who cares?  You’re little gies.
We’re loaded, you’re all broch.


Chris O’Carroll
is a writer and an actor.  In addition to his previous appearances in The New Verse News, he has published poems in the anthologies The Best of the Barefoot Muse and 20 Years at the Cantab Lounge, and in print and online journals including Angle, Big City Lit, Light, Measure, and The Rotary Dial.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

APRIL

by T.D. Peterson


Image source: The Project Gutenberg eBook, Connor Magan's Luck and Other Stories, by M. T. W.

Cruel, I should
not mention our nation's
big celebration
of pecans, welding, and poetry
is nearing, a punishment
I believe, friends, that would hurt me
lots more than you
at the annual convention
of benevolent shindigs again this year.
Pecan pie for dessert though
if able to steel your wits through
haiku roundtable, known in some circles as the yawn
from on and on ... and the PowerPoint presentation:
Metallurgy in the Dirges of Wallace Stevens.


T.D. Peterson lives with Karen, and  dogs Honu and Sherpa in Lincoln, Nebraska, nowhere near the Mississippi.

Monday, March 31, 2014

MYSTERY PLANE

by Phyllis Wax




They keep searching the seas:
the Bay of Bengal, the Gulf of Thailand,
the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean.
Might as well look in Lake Michigan.

No terrorists on board, no hijackers.
Two good pilots—a grandfather and
a young man looking forward to marriage.
Only good people (ask the relatives,
wailing and weeping), a planeload
of concentrated goodness
from Asia, Australia, Europe
and North America.  Where
could they possibly be?

I know.  A night flight.
Two pilots, heads in the clouds.                        
One gives a nod, turns                   
off the transponder.  The plane
rises to 45,000 feet, 60,000, higher—
approaches the glowing face of God.         


Phyllis Wax muses on the news and politics from a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan in Milwaukee, WI.  She's been widely published, most recently in  The Widows' Handbook:  Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival from Kent State University Press.