Thursday, December 18, 2014

CORVIDS

by Jonathan Travelstead



Image source: WebEcoist



Want to catch an illegal alien? Study the crow,
its shiny things. Foil hat. Mirrors, chewing gum wrappers
wadded in nests.

We haven't been family for three hundred million years.
Their minds are closer to the lizard brain
where we parted ways, descending different trees.

Yet watch them make tools from straws they use,
solving riddles which require up to eight steps of critical thinking
to deftly pincer out the strip of raw beef.

Crafty. Pistachio, floating in a glass. I watched a crow fly
between an alley and a picnic table, plinking pebbles
and small stones until enough water

displaced the nut to within reach of its beak.
They're smarter than you. We haven't evolved in the right direction
to distinguish their motivations.

Pepper them with shot, and they remember, tell the next
generation about the change in route and elevation.
Screen a dome over the tomatoes walled within your garden

and a few tunnel the fence, but first send scouts
proficient in the killdeer's portrayal of a broken wing
along your flank, divert you while a murder

marches on the front gate. They'll rob you blind. In Arizona,
I hear blackberry pies vanish from windows.
Sheets hanging on the line disappear.

Canadian fishermen drop lines into holes
rough-cut in ice, later report their lines drawn up in a spaghetti tangle
of nylon, scales, and black feathers on the red snow.

Crow, rook, blackbird, raven- call them what you want.
Hell, my Chevy broke down near Roswell and one completed
my solenoid's broken circuit with a flat-head,

then wouldn't take a dime! Each can do the job of ten men.
They don't think like we do.

They don't need much.


Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he now works on an old dirt-bike he hopes will one day get him to the salt flats of Bolivia. He has published work in The Iowa Review and on Poetrydaily.com among others, and his first collection How We Bury Our Dead by Cobalt/Thumbnail Press is forthcoming in February, 2015.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MY DAUGHTERS MARCH

by Janice Lynch Schuster



Demonstrators block the intersection of Forest Drive and Hilltop during a police violence protest in Annapolis, MD on Friday afternoon. (By Matthew Cole, (Annapolis) Capital Gazette /December 12, 2014) 



Lined up with
signs and silent
rage
protestors stymie
rush hour drivers,
so eager to be home
and done
with the day.

For the marchers,
some things are never
done.
Even when they breathe
their nostrils
burn
with awareness
that others cannot.

some mother’s child
will be next
it is only a matter
of time before
another child goes down
on a playground
or in a school
or home
or sleeping
or whatever it is
the living
take for granted

What are my girls
to the irritated drivers
who bitch
to Facebook
and text their nannies?
Thugs, they shout
at my daughters,
safe behind
their horns.

Whatever they knew
of care
is gone on the wind.
The women--
solemn
behind their signs--
pray anyway


Janice Lynch Schuster is the author of a collection, Saturday at the Gym, and has been published in various print and online venues, including Poet Lore, Your Daily Poem, and The Broadkill Review. She writes about health care and public policy, lives in Annapolis, MD, and works in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NEW DARK AGE

by Richard Schnap


A crowd in Selma, Alabama before the historic March 1965 march. Photograph by STEVE SCHAPIRO, “The Long Road from Selma” in The New Yorker, 22-29 December 2014.


I hear the cry
Of a distant siren
Wondering if it will bring
A mother to tears

And I hear the words
Of a holy man’s sermon
Instructing small children
On the best ways to kill

And I hear the testimony
Of a fat politician
Saying that those tortured
Got what they deserved

And I hear the ticks
Of a madman’s clock
Moving with precision
Backwards in time


Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

Monday, December 15, 2014

WHO CAN BREATHE

by George Held





            “I can’t breathe.”
                        Repeated last words of Eric Garner, police victim


Like Fate’s arbiters,
Cops crush the breath
of those they oppress,
let the rich breathe easy;

Hawaiians couldn’t
smell the breath
of standoffish whites,
ha‘oles

(men without breath),
distrusting those whose
withheld breath might stink of
treachery.

If you are rich
or white and can breathe
easy these days,
you should shun

city streets, TV news,
and poems that can
take your breath
away.


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

Sunday, December 14, 2014

EPISTLE TO THE DISPLACED

by Martin Willitts Jr



“On December 1st, the World Food Programme (W.F.P.), announced that it was suspending its operations to feed one million seven hundred thousand Syrian refugees—scattered across Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt—because it had run out of money. (The program is under the auspices of the U.N., but funded entirely by voluntary donations.) . . . As vast as the crisis in Syria is, it’s only one of several across the globe. In Iraq, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic, huge numbers of refugees are on the move; in West Africa, there is the outbreak of Ebola. Apart from watching all this, what can you do? You can send money. I’ve seen the work of both the World Food Programme and the I.R.C. up close, and I can tell you that both make a difference.” --Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, December 12, 2014. PHOTEO: Syrian Kurdish refugees enter Turkey, September 27, 2014. CREDIT PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER BROWN/MAGNUM via The New Yorker.



Peace to you in a place where there is no peace,
where grace has no meaning, and you hide
from the violence where there is no shelter.
Where you are is so dangerous, so uncertain,
there is no guarantee this message will reach you
or ease your fears. And I fear, you have died
or lay dying under ruins, wondering
where salvation is, where peace is promised,
and have you the grace necessary to go there.

Where I am, in safe for the moment, but
as we both know, not one moment is certain
or safe, and all my security could be gone,
wiped out in an instance, and my light taken.
So as grace leaves me in search of you,
you shall be making a different peace,
one before death, wiping the slate clean,
professing your faults, as the pieces of life
disassemble around you, lacking grace.


Martin Willitts Jr has 7 full-length collections and 28 chapbooks including his recent social issues poetry chapbook City Of Tents about the Occupy Movement and other historical and political poems (Crisis Chronicles Press, 2014).

Saturday, December 13, 2014

SCENES FROM THE HOEDOWN

by Joseph Reich



More than 25,000 people marched through Manhattan on Saturday, police officials said. --NY Times, December 13, 2014. Photo Credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images


united states of amerika!
ready or not here i come!
united states of amerika!
don’t know who i am
          anymore!
united states of amerika!
ready or not here i cum!
united states of amerika!
don’t know who i am
          no more!
united states of amerika!
what the fuck! jeeze-louise!
& sweet-fancy moses!
united states of amerika!
make way for the joker
& riddler & fiddler
on the roof! they took
everything from you
(your all-inclusive
now reclusive
heart & soul
hardened soul
gone numb & cold!)
& the bat signal is lost!
united states of amerika!
kkk! kentucky fried chicken!
& a chicken in every pot!
united states of amerika!
make love not war! huh?
make love not war! huh?
make love not war! huh?
make love not war! huh?
united states of amerika!
with your 3 recent
killings of 3 unarmed
black men with heads
down heads up hands up!
claiming can’t breathe man
man to man (to the man!)
5! 6! 7! 8! 9! times
might tell you to count
backwards 9! 8! 7! 6! 5!
to get rid of your anger!
to get rid of the trigger!
to get rid of the stranger!
to get rid of your crime!
united states of amerika!
where might will always
win out over right
(especially in
the middle
of the night!)
& when you find
are under their control
got absolutely no rights!
united states of amerika!
a wink & a nod
this one is 4 you!
o brave men in blue!
serving & protecting!
serving & protecting!
serving & protecting!
serving & protecting!
united states of amerika!
been given a warning!
been given a warning!
united states of amerika!
what would you call this?
a hit & run? road kill?
the hunting season?
pleading self-defense?
insanity? taking the
5th? mistaken identity?
united states of amerika!
how come cry uncle
doesn’t work anymore!
united states of amerika!
have you heard the one?
united states of amerika!
come on down!
come on down!
come on down!
calm on down!
united states
of amerika!
ringo-leevio!
123! 123! 123!
united states of amerika!
321! 321! 321! & then
zero! zap! they’re all gone!
united states of amerika!
how would your chalk
artist now draw chalk
around the broken
bones of those 3
recent innocent
dead bodies
on the run
& would they
look anything
like the crucified jesus?
like the boogie man?
like black man hanging?
united states of amerika!
i can’t get my arms
around? can’t get my
head? can’t get arms up!
united states of amerika!
with your torture report
your bible of what really
goes on behind closed doors!
(what they like to refer to
as “advanced interrogation”
& just curious? do they have
a remedial session? think
john lennon still asked
the operational question–
“how do you sleep at night?
jim morrison–‘5 in 1, 1 in 5
no one here gets out alive!’
gil-scott heron! the revolution
did get televised! & they’re
still in denial! still dying!)
united states of amerika!
i’ve got some developing news!
i’ve got some breaking news!
i’ve got rules & regulations!
i’ve got the blues!
united states of amerika!
i’ve got a rhetorical question?
ahhh! forget about it!
you already answered it!
united states of amerika!
i’ve got an onset & upset
case of tourette’s  & promise
you ain’t making it up
or doing it to attract
attention! matter of
fact quite the opposite!
united states of amerika!
my p.t.s.d. is kicking in
& don’t know what to do
to stop it, as your triggers
are so goddamn persistent!
so united states of amerika
what should i do? become
obsessive-compulsive
to try and get control?
to make sense of it all?
united states of amerika!
red rover! red rover!
let my loss & madness
come over! caught between
the fight & the flee & the flee
& fight syndrome & left with
just the raw flesh & bones
of symptoms & no place
to call my own literally
kicked out of bars
defending every
lost soul!
half-crazed!
holy! hysterical!
waddling, wandering
happily ever after
down the avenue
all by my lonesome!
like chaplin on-the-run
running into old runaway
pals & partners just as
abandoned & done wrong!
old black men now homeless
in the park turned out
by white girls they had
mistakenly fallen for
& used to give
exhibitions at
the guggenheim
& the whitney!
hoodlums!
enterprising
drug dealers!
old timer
madmen
geniuses!
multi-millionaire
hoteliers now
penniless!
vacant!
supported by
angelic daughters!
united states of amerika!
what’s up! what’s up!
united states of amerika!
is this your bloody & gory
version of world federated
smackdown? only not fake
& choreographed & the real
deal & brutishly acted-out
with guns & chokeholds
& the ones going down
the results always fatal!
united states of amerika!
with not enough evidence
to bring them into court!
united states of amerika!
to not even file a report!
united states of amerika!
with not enough
cold! hard! facts!
united states of amerika!
with not enough evidence
for dignity & respect!
united states of amerika!
to not bring them home
to their moms & dads!
united states of amerika!
innocent till proven guilty?
guilty till proven innocent?
sorry got that all mixed-up!
united states of amerika!
always a punch line
to your eternal joke!
united states of amerika!
hiccup! hiccup! he cough!
united states of amerika!
from st louis, missouri!
to the state of florida!
to new york, new york!
to phoenix, arizona!
united states of amerika!
where they still operate
& function by a poll
tax & ride the back
& coat tails of 40
acres & a mule!
united states
of amerika!
watch your back!
watch your back!
watch your back!
watch your back!
not by coincidence
all walk with heads
over their shoulders!
united states of amerika!
where the murderers roam!
united states of amerika!
where the romans murder!
united states of amerika!
worse than any roman empire!
united states of amerika!
worse than any rise & fall
(where hopefully one day
the fallen may rise once more!)
'cause you’re conveniently
turning you’re head
the other direction
& disrespecting
not even deserving
of bringing them in
in front of a judge & jury!
united states of amerika!
bring on the brainwash!
brutality! rationalization!
justification! manipulation!
united states of amerika!
still not showing an ounce
of remorse or contrition!
united states of amerika!
where they can stop you
based on suspicion or guilt
by association (‘cause they run
the show & they got the power!)
but never tell you what you’re
suspicious of & who you’re
associating with, like some
real-life fucked-up kafkaesque
word problem with no solution
as there are no possible
factors to the equation!
united states of amerika!
better to be seen & not heard!
or do i have that backwards?
or vice-versa? or does
any of that really matter?
united states of amerika!
with your infamous
anger management!
think about the state
of that statement
& deconstruct it!
anger management!
anger management!
anger management!
anger management!
like some cold-hearted
& callous corporation!
& will patronize
& parentify
& tell you to work
through your issues
& you got enough
to make a living!
united states of amerika!
what happened to your
jeffersonian democracy!
jeffersons moving on up!
archie bunker hand on
your heart hand on
your gun pledge
of allegiance
myth debunked!
united states
of amerika!
here once again
is your rerun!
your rerun!
your rerun!
your rerun!
your home movie
mu/dead played
in slow-motion
over & over
& over again!
united states
of amerika!
your real-life
son of a gun!
son of a gun!
united states
of amerika!
here’s your toast!
here’s your roast!
here’s your heart
& soul on a platter!
for all you white
devils & white
trash! for all you
lily-white tourists
& your instant
guide to success!
how to win friends
& influence the masses
& to forgive & forget!
united states of amerika!
you’re a cheap rip off!
you’re a chip
off the old block!
& the apple doesn’t fall
too far from the jock!
from the schmuck!
from the murderer!
from the manslaughterer!
from the police benevolent
association & supporters!
from the parent teacher’s
association & those don’t
let into the neighborhood!
(really no joke! & the real
estate agents back them up!)
from the kangaroo court!
from the puppet/tears!
from the dummies
& ventriloquists!
from the false witnesses!
from the hung jury!
from the judge
& the misses!
from the pimp
& politician
& people
who voted
them in!
united states of amerika!
off to the sacrifice & slaughter!
your breakfast of champions!
& madonna/whore daughters!
united states of amerika!
do not pass go!
do not collect 200!
united states of amerika!
in god we trust! & ashes
to ashes! dust to dust!
united states of amerika!
ready or not here i come!
united states of amerika!
don’t know who i am anymore!
united states of amerika!
yes sir! yes ‘um! uuum...
united states of amerika!
god a cross between a howl
& crying-out and nothing’s
coming out no more!
united states of amerika!
been there! done that!
united states of amerika!
beer here! beer here!
united states of amerika!
stand your ground
& give them
a beat down!
u knighted states
uuh...mur
eek! cold
united stay
of amerika!
united stain
on amerika!


Joseph Reich has been published in a wide variety of eclectic literary journals both here and abroad, been nominated five times for The Pushcart Prize, and his most recent books include, A Different  Sort Of Distance (Skive Magazine Press), If I Told You To Jump Off The Brooklyn Bridge (Flutter Press), Pain Diary: Working Methadone & The Life & Times Of The Man Sawed In Half (Brick Road Poetry Press), Drugstore Sushi (Thunderclap Press), The Derivation Of Cowboys & Indians (Fomite Press) The Housing Market: a comfortable place to jump off the end of the world (Fomite Press) The Hole That Runs Through Utopia (Fomite Press), Taking The Fifth And Running With It: a psychological guide for the hard of hearing and blind (Broadstone Books) , and The Defense Mechanisms: your guide to the fragile mind (Pski Porch Press).

Friday, December 12, 2014

SOVEREIGNTY

by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote





Resounding global support for Palestinians
Demonstrates natural affinity of humankind
Empathetic to populace under siege
Public opinion demanding fair-minded justice

After 47 years of oppression
Self determination enshrined in humanitarianism
De facto military control restrictive prohibitions
Bullyrag abuse of power preconditions

Enough is never enough said
Gaza war senseless assault grim
Reaper bloody reminder 2000 dead
Conflict resolution no negotiable solution

Ending occupation oppression persecution devastation
Requires return to 1967-designated borders
West Bank Gaza East Jerusalem
2-state side-by-side civil coexistence

Stumbling block issues borderline security
Water rights religious site access
Palestinian refugees’ right of return
Jewish settlement expansion termed illegal

Aim just lasting comprehensive peace
Pseudo agreement hypocritical pyrrhic victory
Where everybody loses nobody wins
Israel more isolated than ever


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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

THE UNITED STATES SENATE TORTURE REPORT

by Christina Pacosz




The griddle of truth is heating up now
The whine of a high speed drill
Blindfolded eyes
Opening
Shackled arms folded in a coffin      Alive or dead

Black  Latina  Arab  Yemeni  Somali Afghani Palestinian Iraqi Pakistani
Lives matter   Lives matter
Poland my motherland just one of dozens of countries Guilty
of hosting and performing torture
An Awful Ballet
written by two US psychologists who were paid $81 million
for their Ballet of Pain      Boasting about making $1000 a day
On the world stage    Now

We demand the Rule of Law
for All
US War criminals
Americans  high on medieval torture
CI A  diplomats   military elite  cabinet appointees   POTUS
Death to the Euphemism
enhanced interrogation techniques   rectal  feeding   black sites
Strawberry Fields
The names    We have the names
George Bush  Dick Cheney  John Ashcroft    Alberto Gonzales


Christina Pacosz’  poetry/writing has appeared in literary magazines and online journals for almost  half a century. A poet-in-the-schools and a North Carolina Visiting Artist, she has published several books of poetry, including Greatest Hits, 1975-2001, Pudding House, 2002, a by-invitation-only series.  Her chapbook, Notes from the Red Zone, originally published by Seal Press in 1983, was selected as the inaugural winner of the ReBound Series by Seven Kitchens Press in 2009.

A BAG OF WORDS

by Craig Brandis



Anti-Bush protester Anna White, from Washington lays a red rose and a banner outside the White House in Washington, October 17, 2006. Reuters/Jason Reed via International Business Times


“We tortured some folks” –Barak Obama, August 1, 2014


Like flying birds
We snapped as twigs

Covering our own heads
With a bag of words


Craig Brandis is a singer-songwriter and is the author of the poetry chapbook Altitude. His poems have been published in the Friends of William Stafford Newsletter and The Camel Saloon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

BORDER PATROL, ARIZONA

by Jonathan Travelstead




In-processing. Sunnyside High School, Tucson


The square-jawed sergeant snatches my orders.
Nothing that matters burns in the desert. Congratulations,
Airman First Class- You’re a medic. Shunts me
to a female private beneath the basketball hoop who,
with an IV and an orange bruised soft as skin,
instructs me with lessons on the military’s care towards aliens.
Cups my orange-clasped hand in hers. Finds the sweet spot
in four or less punctures. Suddenly it’s my lone hand

which holds the fruit. My hand puncturing its rind
with eighteen gauge holes like pinpoint windows
I imagine unlatch from the inside. Because the only beliefs
that matter in battle are attendance, minutes later
I find myself burdened beneath kevlar, a helmet
two wars old and missing its lining. Topographic maps
of dusty cattle-roads (useless after the first washout)
winged under one arm. Under the other, orders amended

with signatures validating my crude proficiency in Tex-Mex,
the Law of Armed Conflict, rules of engagement
briefings, and a crash course in medical training
to include intubation on all things American. America.
Where the line items that qualify for participation include
1) Warm Body, and 2) Able to throw a loaded die.
Just then the barefaced, double butterbar lieutenant
marches from the bivouac of a coach’s office

to a know-nothing airman planted at attention
beneath the free throw line. The way he exchanges salutes
of diplomatic importance, recites phonetically, de rigueur
from an index card as if each word were a sharp-edged stone
tumbled, slicing at the thin flesh in his mouth:
Como fway to entry nameento? It’s not me there at all,
but a boy, or a body-double who does not hesitate, says Si
just as the keys to a medic’s humvee and all its bastard

line-and-tackle plop into his outstretched hand. Tylenol.
Cases of Gatorade’s yellow electrolyte gruel
we dare not ask whose hands on what assembly line
in which Latin-speaking country have filled and capped.
A backboard projecting from the canvas window,
and he- newly-christened honorary phd in guardship,
Grand Poo-bah of Sonora’s mesas - is the one charged
with stitching together all the dotted lines.


Jonathan Travelstead served in the Air Force National Guard for six years as a firefighter and currently works as a full-time firefighter for the city of Murphysboro. Having finished his MFA at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale, he now works on an old dirt-bike he hopes will one day get him to the salt flats of Bolivia. He has published work in The Iowa Review and on Poetrydaily.com among others, and his first collection How We Bury Our Dead by Cobalt/Thumbnail Press is forthcoming in February, 2015.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

THE FALL

by Jan Steckel



Tamir Rice memorial. Source: NBC News.



I don't want to be Joan of the Narrative Arc here,
wielding my flaming sword of story to drive you out
of my personal bleeding-heart-liberal paradise, BUT
here's a prompt: write a poem using the words
grant, bell, garner, brown, ford, and rice.
Employ a light touch, no sing-song or doggerel.
No sentimentality, please. No rants.
Attention to form but not formality.
Invoke all the senses. Let me see, hear, feel
what the twelve-year-old saw, heard, felt
waving that BB gun around the park.
The gold and orange leaves of Cleveland.
The smell of them rotting in rainwater.
The black-and-white pulling to the curb.
The crack. The pavement rushing up.


Jan Steckel's poetry book The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011) won a Lambda Literary Award. Her poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in Scholastic Magazine, The Bellevue Literary Review, Yale Medicine, American Journal of Nursing, The Pedestal Magazine, and elsewhere.

Monday, December 08, 2014

ELEGY FOR CLAUDIA EMERSON

by Joan Mazza


Claudia Emerson, Florida, 2008. Photo by Joan Mazza.



Even when your flame flickered, you still

shone in photos of the stitches of your

upper arm, broken when opening a jar.



Through surgeries and radiation, you coupled

your words with music, stanzas we entered

unafraid. You kept your smile when your hair



fell out, and showed us how to fall in love

with love again when you and Kent gazed

at each other. You said that when you were gone



women would line up around the block

with casseroles for Kent. He’s widowed

twice now. Another late wife.



Before your brain surgery, you wrote,

I hope I wake up! and you did.

How we’ll miss your light and words.


Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize nominee. Author of six 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.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

MONSTER

by George Held



"The last thing I remember is blacking out and Cosby mounting me like the monster that he was.”
--Janice Dickinson


Which came first, the blacking out or the mounting?
Can the Cos turn/be turned into a monster?
Is this just another case of black on white crime?
Is this just another case of white hysteria?
Is this just another episode of Beauty and the Beast?
Why is there a statute of limitations on rape?
Is this just another act of racist vengeance?
Is this just an instance of “buyer’s remorse”?
Is this a case of a black superstar without boundaries?
Is Bill Cosby more like Ray Rice or O.J.?
Is Dr. Cosby more like Dr. King or Dr. Marcus Welby?
How long will Bill Cosby remain beloved?
How long will Bill Cosby remain funny? 
How come Cosby is heavily booked into 2015?
Is the Cosby monster just a diversion from Ferguson?


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

Saturday, December 06, 2014

THE DAYS AFTER

by Catherine McGuire





Our streets are filled with the dying –
not like Freetown or Dakar, where flies feast,
but boys in blue hoodies, dark-haired girls
with taped mouths, lowering themselves to asphalt,
lying on wet roads and looking up
at the thousand-eyed headstones our cities erect
to cover the dead. I Can't Breathe.
Above them, the window eyes glow with money,
with silk-suit rituals to appease a Quad of Horsemen
who are already too near. The children below
give themselves lovingly to the pavement;
no real fear of death can penetrate the young.
But they've offered their hearts
to those who have been pierced – they've seen mothers
crushed and groping, tear-drenched or too numb for tears.
They've seen the impotent rage – that they can feel –
and they lend their bodies, their voices
hoping to be the horns that sounded so pure
that Jericho itself came down.


Catherine McGuire is a writer/artist with a deep interest in philosophy. Using nature as a mirror, she explores the way humans perceive themselves and their world. She has poems published in the US and abroad and has four chapbooks: Palimpsests, (Uttered Chaos, 2011) Glimpses of a GardenPoetry and Chickens, and Joy Holding Stillness.

Friday, December 05, 2014

FACING IGNORANCE

by Erle Kelly






“We reserve the right not to serve
anyone and I’m not serving you.”
The burly restaurant owner
points his finger at Aaron.
Three of us get belligerent,
stand up but Aaron quickly
steps in between us and the owner:
“Hey guys, let’s go; he’s just ignorant.”

In early 1963 I’m on a two-day military
pass in Mobile---a night-on-the-town---
with a group of cadet buddies.
We need a bathroom call
and find one in a public building.
“Hey Kelly, not that one, it’s Colored.”
I glance up: Men, Women and Colored
marked boldly over the bathrooms.

In the mid-Sixties, while off duty
on flight patrol, a crew member
lends me To Kill A Mockingbird.
Reading it, I can’t help but recall
what Aaron endured a few years before.

Over fifty years have passed.
I’ve lost contact with Aaron.
I wonder what he’s thinking now?
I turn the TV on to a split screen.
On one President Obama pleads
for calm and peaceful demonstrations.
On the other, Ferguson is burning.


Erle Kelly lives in Long Beach California and graduated from CSU Long Beach. He has been published in The New Verse News, Chiron Review and Silver Birch Press.  For several years he has been in a local poetry workshop conducted by Donna Hilbert, noted writer and poet in the Southern California area.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

NOT FAR FROM FERGUSON

by Donal Mahoney



ST. LOUIS • One teen was charged with murder, two more were held and a fourth was sought Monday as officials spent another day trying to quell speculation that the bludgeoning death of a Bosnian immigrant was racially motivated. “There is no evidence that this was a crime occasioned by the race or ethnicity of the victim,” Mayor Francis Slay declared in a formal statement. He added, “Speculation that this attack had anything to do with the Ferguson protests is absolutely unfounded.” Police have been saying the same thing about the killing of Zemir Begic, 32, who was beaten to death with at least two hammers near Gravois Avenue and Itaska Street about 1:15 a.m. Sunday. --St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 2, 2014. PHOTO: A growing memorial to Zemir Begic as seen on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. Photo by David Carson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.



Not far from Ferguson
in South St. Louis,
a Bosnian man
was murdered days ago
by four teens--three Black
and one Hispanic.
They pounded Zemir Begic
with hammers
while his fiancée watched.

The newspaper claims
race didn’t play a role
in Zemir’s death but
the Bosnian community
felt otherwise as they
marched peacefully down
the main thoroughfare
in their neighborhood.

Today the newspaper teems
with articles about Ferguson,
something it has offered daily
in the three months since
the killing of Michael Brown.
But three days after the death
of Zemir Begic the paper offers
no further explanation.

No word either as to whether
the Reverend Al Sharpton
will come to St. Louis to meet
with the Bosnian community.
President Obama has yet
to offer condolences.

Most Bosnians in St. Louis
are immigrants who understand
hatred and discrimination,
having come to the city
to escape death in Bosnia
at the hands of Serbs.

This is not a good time
to be either Black or Bosnian
in metropolitan St. Louis.
It’s not a good time
to be anyone else either.
We are at best observers
in an urban forest
surrounded by
anger and gossip.

Many of us would prefer
a  bridge to crawl under
provided it’s home to trolls
who offer a silent night.
That might be the best place
to spend Christmas this year,
better perhaps than
almost anywhere else
in St. Louis.


Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

INSTRUCTING INGENIOUS INDIGENES

by Sultana Raza



‘Noble Juveniles’ 2014 Sultana Raza Mixed Media



Cocooned in comfortable zones
will the well-heeled ‘educate’

starving millions
forced to beg for work,

borrow permanently,
steal sympathy in grim daylight?

Billions of babies aching to learn
the basics of how to melt glaciers,

cause virgin forests to shrink,
help economy spurt/stutter

after earning enough to consume
as mindlessly as those ensconced

in miles of matching carpet
wall-paper, curtains, trivialbilia,

with too many bulbs,
burning too brightly too late at night.

They’d have a better shot
of being treated nobly

royally, exaltingly
if somehow they got out word

of how they suffered
at the hands of an enemy

that necessitates
the creation, maintenance, and sustenance

of the ‘defense’ industry.
Defending the rights of kids

to stale mouthfuls, rags,
a semblance of childhood

under the highest roof in the world
would be so much more justified

highlighted, applauded,
if only they’d dramatically denounce

popular enemies
of nations who actually possess

rational weapons of mass destruction
who ‘helped’ create

said empty-headed adversaries
in the first place.


Of Indian origin, Sultana Raza has an MA in English Literature. Her short stories and poems have been published in Ancient Heart Magazine (Australia), India Currents (USA), Szirine (USA), Kindred Spirit (UK), Cygnus Review (UK), Arabesque Review, London Grip (UK), Literary Gazette (USA), All Things Girls (UK), and Caduceus (Ed. Yale University, USA), Beyond Bree, (an American MENSA newsletter), the Peter Roe Series, (Tolkien Society UK), The Whirlwind Review (USA), Writer’s Asylum (India), and Silver Leaves Journal #5 (Canada). An awarded artist, Sultana Raza has taken part in numerous group exhibitions in the USA and Europe. She has also participated in international art shows, such as the Nightshow at Riccione, Italy, B.AGL Postbanhof during the Berlin Art Week, the Biennale of Chianciano, Italy in 2013; and ArtExpo New York (alongside Andy Warhol), and Art Monaco in 2014.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

BUKOWSKI'S GHOST

by Robert Halleck





November 29, 2014
California Chrome raced at Del Mar

A San Diego day
clear, 70 degrees
perfect track conditions.

By the 8th race I was
down $14 using my
winning jockey technique.

I was thinking safety first
as I walked to the window.

I saw him
leaning on a pillar
cigarette in a lowered 
right hand, racing form in his left.

Bukowski's ghost.

I went toward him.
Looking up he froze me
in my tracks.

"Chrome's a sucker bet
don't be an asshole."

At the window I bet
Sawyer's Hill to show
and lost another $2.

Leaving Del Mar I saw him again
counting his money and smiling.


Robert Halleck is a hospice volunteer and retired banker. His poems have appeared in The San Diego Poetry Annual, The Camel Saloon, The Rainbow Journal.

Monday, December 01, 2014

CIRCLES

by Jenna Le


Image source: CP4


Once, I was so young
that, like a raw onion,
my concentric circles reluctant
to relax their grip on
one another’s whiteness,
a whiff of me could make you cry.
I had so much power,

but all I wanted
was to see people smile
when I walked into a room.
So I kept mum about
my real opinions
so that people would like me.
And it worked. I began to

feel smug about my popularity.
When I saw a rabble-rouser
hoisted on the gallows,
I sneered,
thinking he would not
be hanging there
if, like me, he knew

the secret to being liked.
When I saw a man
with six circular gunshots
in his face and chest
sprawled on crimson cement,
I did not say, “There but for the grace…”
I did not believe

in favors. I believed
I had carved my own niche
in the world using
my smarts, my likability.
I had a vivid memory
of myself with a penknife
in my hand, carving,

never thinking to ask
how that bloody knife
ended up in my hand,
or whose blood it was.


Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), which was a Small Press Poetry Bestseller. Her poems have appeared in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, Massachusetts Review, The Southampton Review.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

OUR REBEL, YOUR REBEL

by Norman Ball


"The U.S. military will subject Syrian rebels taking part in a new training program to psychological evaluations, biometrics checks and stress tests under a screening plan...as it expands support for armed groups in Syria." --The Washington Post, November 28, 2014. Image source: Vice.


Our rebels are tested, well-rested and true.
Your rebels seem murderous, antsy and blue.
Rebellion breeds hellions. So take proper care.
Adjusted jihadists don't fall from the air.
Beheadings solve nothing, head doctors report.
Try shrinking your head as a final resort.

Yes, off with your quest for our heads and our necks!
We need them to think about where to bomb next.


Norman Ball is a poet, author and songwriter whose work has appeared in Counterpunch, Asia Times, Pop Matters, The Foreign Policy Journal. His poetry book Serpentrope is available from White Violet Press.