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Thursday, July 28, 2016

AGAINST PURITY

by Judy Kronenfeld




My father slipped out of Nazi Germany 
in history’s hidden pocket, but the sister
and her family he never talked about stepped 
over the crack between everyday
and juggernaut (deportiert 1942, verschollen
in Auschwitz, or für tot erklart
in the same hell). 

Briefly paused in Recife
on the way to Ascension Island,
courtesy of the U.S. Army, 1944, my father took in
the faces in gradations of brown,
and said, according to family legend:
“We should all intermarry
until we blend.” As if, to fuse 
the blacks and whites, the us
and them tense in his newly beloved
America would move us towards
a gene-pool Esperanto, one flavor, nothing
sticking out, nothing to hoist
a flag, or cross or crescent on.
Even a star. 
        
He dipped his pinky
in the Passover wine to spill the ten drops 
for the plagues God visited on the Egyptians,
and with his post-retirement
congregation, bowed to praise
the Creator “who has set us apart.”
But never held himself
apart or wished a plague
on anyone. In his decline, when congregants
visited the dementia wing, he could still mumble
the Hebrew prayers he’d learned by rote
as a kid, though almost everything 
in his life—including Paula, Mendel, 
Hermann and Charlotte—
was by then verschollen.

But someone is always saying

We’ve fallen from our ancient  purity—
take back our country!
        
Someone like Anders Breivik, self-trained in pure
ruthlessness, whose bomb and bullets 
shattered the charm enclosing open Norway. 
I remember  all of Oslo—like a village—
celebrating light in the dark 
of the autumnal equinox, 
gathering for the River Walk, 
the mud-slick banks of the Akerselva glowing
with candles and torches, spangles flickering
off the silver foil the school kids used 
to decorate the trees, all families—adopted African
or Asian children, Muslim mothers
in their sculpted head-scarves—
safe as houses.

And someone else, afraid to disagree,
will wave a torn and faded
flag, so long suppressed,
and holler yes!         
        
Like the proud father who bows
to God when his wife-and-kids-abandoning son 
fighting for Islamic State in Syria
is killed, who celebrates that son’s
martyr’s wedding (though the mother says
‘it’s a funeral for me’) in a great tent 
draped with black. 
        
It makes me want 
all things maculate, muddied
mottled, pocked, all things
tainted,     
stained,
blotchy, motley,
mongrel, splotched,
hybrid, scrambled,
half-caste —

If that’s what it takes
to defy Ein Volk, Ein Reich
Ein Führer,
the wished-for
Caliphate, Judea and Samaria,
Trump’s Muslim- and Latino-
free America.         


Judy Kronenfeld’s most recent books of poetry are Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012) and the second edition of Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths (Antrim House, 2012), winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Prize. Her fourth full collection, Bird Flying through the Banquet, will be published by FutureCycle Press in the spring of 2017. Her poems have appeared widely in  print and online journals including American Poetry Journal, Calyx, Cider Press Review, Cimarron Review, Connotation Press, DMQ Review, Hiram Poetry Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Louisville Review, Natural Bridge, The Pedestal, Portland Review, Sequestrum, Spoon River Poetry Review, Stirring, and Valparaiso Review, and in more than twenty anthologies. She is Lecturer Emerita, Dept. of Creative Writing, University of California, Riverside, and Associate Editor of the online journal, Poemeleon.

MORNING IN AMERICA

by Edmund Conti


Image source: The New York Times


I get happy and all smiley
When the news is balanced and fair
Just listening to O’Reilly
As he permeates the air . . .

Michelle’s cup may runneth over
But that’s not Bill's cup o’ tea:
Though her girls grew up in clover,
She's no right to get so uppity.


Edmund Conti has been told not to say he "slaved" all his life—especially since he had it pretty easy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

RINSE AND REPEAT

by Ben Rasnic


Image source: Viewoftheworld


Tossed my whites
into the washing machine,
a few t-shirts and cotton socks,
then mixed in our K-mart bed sheets

for good measure;
hot water setting and a dash of vinegar
with a few splashes of bleach.

Cycling forward to the rinse,
the spin segment kicked in,
rocking with a violent crash of waves
banging incessantly against the porcelain tub.

Lifting the lid
I discovered the water had turned
red as the blood from a thousand wars.

I reached inside, pulling
& tugging at the knotted mass
until the crimson waves
whirl pooled into a downward spiral

& there, tucked between the sheets
I found a Donald Trump cap
my friend had given me as a joke.


Ben Rasnic has authored four volumes of poetry: Artifacts and Legends, Puppet, Synchronicity, and The Eleventh Month. He currently resides in Bowie, MD.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

THE DIRTY OLD MAN

by Howard Winn


Donald Trump this weekend defended longtime friend Roger Ailes, the ousted chief executive of Fox News who is accused of sexually harassing at least two dozen women. Trump also questioned the motives of some of the women. —The Washington Post, July 24, 2016. Image source: DonkeyHotey: This caricature of Donald Trump was adapted from Creative Commons licensed images from Michael Vadon's flickr photostream. This caricature of Roger Ailes was adapted from a photo in the public domain from the U.S. Army available via Wikimedia.

The dirty old man
stands revealed when
led from his office
for the last time by
Security and denied
entry ever again to
the mostly anonymous
cheers of the Foxy
female news purveyors
behind the transparent
desks on camera to
reveal great legs so
who was listening
to their reports in
that old white male
audience captured
by the Republican
Master Mind without
morals who gave us
Nixon who was a crook
despite what he said
as was this now banished
Svengali of politics who
wished to turn news reporting
into a sexual trade-off
and sincere women
reporters into the slaves
of the dirty old man
who could give them fame
fair and balanced they
report you decide.


Howard Winn's work has been published in Dalhousie Review, Galway Review, Descant. Antigonish Review, Southern Humanities Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, and Blueline. His latest work is a novel published by Propertius Press. He is Professor of England at SUNY-Dutchess.

Monday, July 25, 2016

MY PTSD, or 558 AND STILL COUNTING

by Akua Lezli Hope




Each new report reopens old wounds:
time we pulled off the Jersey highway to nap
police lights blinding as husband yanked me
awake that night, fear and fury urgent in his voice
uniforms on both sides yelling, you can’t rest
on this white shoulder, threatening me back
to 16 with sweet baby sister on the subway
the short uniformed man’s hand on his stick
did it matter that we were on our way to Natural History
that she was only four like Lavish Diamond’s
girl made to witness violence and her protector’s
vulnerability?  We thought no, no, never again
when grandmother Eleanor Bumpurs was shot
at home for no good reason, never again be killed
for art, for its denial, or repression like Michael Stewart
never again when Abner Louima was broomsticked
and never again when Amadou Diallo was drowned
in a hale of 41 mistaken, misguided missiles and before
that did we think ourselves lucky, nothing permanent
when it was only a night stick upside Doug’s head
at the protest, only blunt force trauma,
not a noose in a lonely cell like Sandra Bland,
not spine-severing vehicular lynching like Freddie Gray,
not bullets, bullets, bullets as in Delrawn Small,
a father angry at being imperiled, bullets for preteen
Tamir Rice playing alone in the park, bullets
in Alton Sterling selling CDs, number 558
to be shot and killed by police this year
and I tremble remembering, remembering
all the insults hurled, the bullets I’ve dodged


Author’s Note: Eleanor Bumpurs was an African-American woman who was shot and killed on October 29, 1984 by New York City police. Michael Jerome Stewart  was a graffiti artist, beaten into a coma by New York City Transit Police for graffiti on a subway station wall  and died September 28, 1983. Abner Louima, was tortured by Brooklyn police (1997) and won $8.75 million dollars. Douglass David Walker was the founder of Alien Planetscapes and an activist. Amadou Diallo a West African immigrant was shot 41 times by 4 policemen in the doorway of his apartment building (1999). Sandra Bland died in a Texas jail cell after a traffic stop. Lavish/Diamond, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, broadcast the aftermath of their deadly traffic stop. Delrawn Small, a 37-year-old father of three, was killed in front of his family at a traffic light by an off duty Brooklyn cop while on their way to see July 4th fireworks this year. See “The Counted” at The Guardian.

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. Her manuscript Them Gone won Red Paint Hill Publishing’s Editor’s Prize and will be published in 2016.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

PHOTOREALISM:
CHUCK CLOSE IN LONG BEACH

by Rick Mullin


Chuck Close, Self-Portrait II, 2011 Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 inches. Saved to Pinterest from Blum & Poe.


He bristles at the notion that his work
might be described in terms of photographs.
This is an affectation or a quirk—
“Seurat renouncing dots!” one critic laughs,
intrigued by the technique and color chart;
the way that paintings done before a crisis
that would leave him paralyzed foretold
what was to come (commanding epic prices);
at how the magic leaves some critics cold.

But the master doesn’t know quite where to start
this afternoon, concerned with where he’ll end.
“I think the portrait’s dead again,” he tells
a writer from The New York Times who’ll spend
a year examining the parallels
between the late self portraits and a term of art.


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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

NOMINATING HIGH RISK

by Margaret Rozga 


“Top of the Ticket” cartoon by David Horsey / Los Angeles Times, June 2, 2016.


Imagine a rabbit, running, late.
Imagine a rabbit no earlier
on the ground than under.

Alice locked out of the garden
too big, too small, never right
as much on the ground as under,

uncertain of direction,
advised only to take the road
that gets her where she wants to go,
as if she knew, either on the ground or under.

Even at tea, her place changes,
is changed, exchanged, until
she’s displaced, no rhyme nor reason
either on the ground or under.

At the queen’s command an unruly hand
of insubstantial and un-gamely subjects.
At risk anyone, everyone’s head,
no less on these grounds than under.

What time is this, what times are these,
rude, rough, incomprehensible
how a rabbit’s world surfaced,
and calm picnic grounds went under.

Alice, you just dreamed you fell and didn’t
know when, how, or where you’d stop.
Now that dream is playing out
on our ground,
not under.


Margaret Rozga is a poet, essayist, and author of a play, March On Milwaukee: A Memoir of the Open Housing Protests.  Her new manuscript of poems focuses on Jessie Benton Frémont (1824-1902), who actively campaigned in 1856 for her husband  John Charles Frémont, the first Republican candidate for president on an anti-slavery platform.

BURN THE WITCH

by Catherine McGuire




The arena turned in a moment
to a lynch mob, frothing, hanging
on the words of a “prosecutor” who parodied
his job for a spotlight and cheers.
Guilty! raged again and again – the crowd
inflamed by sentences honed
to razors – the truth be damned! –
She’s a witch and we know it – Salem shadows
spiraled up from the floor, ashy, dark,
trying to voice their warning. But blood
boiled up, blotted out reason,
the hounds of hate set loose,
howling for a victim. On the podium,
sneering, the man disgorged his bitter fury –
passed over twice! – and clawed back
the adulation he knew was his.


Catherine McGuire is a writer and artist with a deep concern for ecology and our planet's future. Her first full length poetry book, Elegy for the 21st Century, will be published in October 2016 by FutureCycle Press.

Friday, July 22, 2016

ZOOXANTHELLAE

by Eben Gering


Image source: Teach Ocean Science

“We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are 'isolated.' They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere.” —Sonia Sotomayor dissenting from the majority opinion in Utah v. Strieff, June 20, 2016


There’s a soft green thing inside the stony corals
we call Fingers, Brains, Tongues, that can turn
sunlight into fuel;
this is how the corals grow—an umbilical connection
to our planet’s mothering star.

Something we’ve done to the sea
is making them leave,
and leaving
bones of living reefs
to gasp at wet lenses
that flood with a harshening light.

We know some of why
this is happening—
acidification,
a kind of infection,
climatic instability.

And we also know,
in a better world,
bleached corals can grow again.

If their symbionts return, they’ll sing
the many-colored songs
of the healthy, living
reef.


Eben Gering is an evolutionary biologist at Michigan State University.

KEEPING TRACK OF THE DELEGATES

by David Feela






I’d prefer if you counted
the red, white and blue balloons
instead of politicos,
inhale the rhetorical helium

that transforms normal voices
into falsettos of hypertension,
words lost in the vast empty
ceiling of a Cleveland arena.

Try stabbing a finger
into the paunchy gut
of the next vacuous promise
inflated by rage.

Oh Ohio, all week you’ve built
a future on a platform of fear,
thinking it will rise
for the next four years.


David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays How Delicate These Arches released through Raven's Eye Press, has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

THE DEVIL'S RUNNING MATE CONSIDERS HIS PLACE IN HELL

by Ned Balbo




I don't agree with everything he says--
his followers too often turn to violence--
but who am I to argue with success?
He knows how to inflame an audience.
I'm not sure whom he'll jail or deport
to warmer climes where punishment's severe,
whom he'll select to serve him on the Court,
which lands he'll occupy or treaties tear
to fiery pieces . . . Still, I wish him well.
I'm told I have a talent for persuasion:
he might reduce the temperature in Hell
if I stand at his side to lead the nation.
I'll state my views, whatever his decree is.
You must admit, he's got some good ideas.


Ned Balbo's newest book is Upcycling Paumanok, just out from Measure Press. His previous book, The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Story Line) was awarded the Donald Justice Prize and the Poets' Prize. He currently teaches in the MFA program in creative writing and environment at Iowa State University.




ELECTION 2016

by J.C. Elkin


Image source: Hail Dubyus!


Dumbocrats all aTwitter
over that bullyonaire glowerpuss
on the fascist track to Thief Executive

Repugnicans on Racebook
slamming that Recklessary of State
as too gliberal and smugly

A country harmed and dangerous
where words are weapons
with no pun control


J.C. Elkin is an omnipotent swing voter and the author of World Class: Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom which is based on her experiences teaching English to adult immigrants. Other poetry and prose drawing on spirituality, feminism, travel, and childhood appear domestically and abroad in such journals as The Delmarva Review, Kestrel, Angle, and Your Daily Poem.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A PLAGUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES

by Wendy Taylor Carlisle




Piles of dead bodies steam. Cremation reeks
like an all-day bar-b-que.We shift disease
from one mouth to another, one penis,
one vagina to another. We wait for plagues
to pass—Zika, insane cows, the bloody spume
of Ebola and long guns. Contagion will be
the end of us, or else we'll be ill all over
from the atmosphere, from the lead water.
Perhaps epidemics, pollution and violence
will slump, new drugs, new hope emerge.
But they seem out of reach in these first days
of the celebrity Republic when we are cajoled
to believe medicine or the administration
will lessen the lesions, the tension of being
a high risk population under the politics of dying.


Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives in the Arkansas Ozarks. She apologizes for her state's administration.

HOW TO BE THE BEST REPUBLICAN EVER

by Bill Livingston


Image source: Forward Progressives


Set your clocks back to 1950
Remove all foresight, no need to look forward

Be white
By any means necessary

Be a man
Only your wife or mother can control your body

Be the loudest one in the room
Let the meek inherit the rest of the earth

Listen to country music exclusively
Except Keith Urban – being married to Nicole Kidman ain’t country, Hoss

Actually live in the country
Don’t be that stubborn ball of flour in the melting pot

If you’re rich, live next to a country club
Toast the minorities who tend the greens, yet could never be members

Stay far away from cultural institutions
Such as libraries, museums, theatres, art house cinemas and bars featuring poetry nights Everything you need is on FOX, FOX NASCAR and the internet

Buy a gun, then another, then another, then another
Buy more bullets than you can possibly use in any kind of apocalypse

Protest abortion and Planned Parenthood with the same fervor you protest gun regulations
Let others appreciate the irony

Show your Southern pride and fly the Confederate flag
Show your Northern ignorance and fly it in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, etc

Love thy neighbor
As long as they’re straight, white, Christian, Republican and actually your neighbor

Go to bed early
Late night talk show hosts mock your heroes incessantly

Make love only in the Missionary position
You can get creative when the NEA is obliterated

Fill your nightstand with exciting works of fiction
Start with Rand, Clancy, Le Carre and, of course, the Bible

Instill envy in your peers
Take a selfie with Donald Trump, Sarah Palin or a dead lion

Support lawmakers who defund public education
While you teach your children to hate, hate, hate

Adopt a firm grasp of right and wrong
Remember, cops are always right and Black Lives Matter is always wrong

Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?”
Then do the opposite

Always offer Thoughts & Prayers
Without actually thinking or praying

Numb yourself to war, but choose your enemies wisely
Start with Muslims, Mexicans, filthy liberals and the irksome truth

Read this poem, hate this poem
It doesn’t even rhyme

Burn a cross on my lawn, ignite it with these words
Because I’m very different from you


Originally from Altoona, PA, Bill Livingston is a poet, humorist, screenwriter and advertising copywriter who has been published in Danse Macabre, Saturday Afternoon Journal, Treehouse, Flipside, Mobius, and forthcoming in Radius: Poetry From the Center to the Edge. He is a supporting member of The Poetry Project and an original member of Brooklyn Poets and Bowery Arts + Science. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and twin daughters.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CONSPIRACY THEORETICAL WITCH HUNTS

by Richard Hacken 


Image source: Unload and Unwind


            Hillary, it has been shown, created ISIS.
            Everything we know shows how that terror crisis
            Came from Clinton’s wicked wish to sacrifice us.
                        It’s not a conspiracy theory
                        If it happened (really)!

            In Libya she only made things worse, because she
            Purposefully waited to send in the posse
            At the embassy when needed in Benghazi.
                        It’s not a conspiracy theory
                        If it happened (really)!

            Email servers were her tools of choice for treason
            As she lured and let the spies of the Chinese in,
            Laughing as she lied about her sordid reason.
                        It’s not a conspiracy theory
                        If it happened (really)!
         
            Shocking to our sensibilities as humans,
            Hillary dropped bombs less ethical than Truman’s,
            Pimping out her husband to young female students.
                        It’s not a conspiracy theory
                        If it happened (really)!

            Hillary remains untouched by House committees
            Searching hard to bring her down by her Achilles,
            While bribes she paid stack up in banks in offshore cities.
                        It’s not a conspiracy theory
                        If it happened (really)!


Richard Hacken enjoys trochaic political satire.  While slightly amused by conspiracy theories and witch hunts, he hates to see them linked to each other. 

CIRCUS ELEPHANTS

by Ed Shacklee
Dave Granlund Cartoons


In Cleveland, pachyderms regroup
as hired clowns arrive in troop
to fan the flames and jump the hoop,
rousing rubes they hope to dupe.

With talk so cheap our shoulders droop,
reporters keep us in the loop,
but pomp cannot conceal the poop—
so little news, so much to scoop.


Ed Shacklee is a public defender who represents young people in the District of Columbia. He is working on a bestiary.

Monday, July 18, 2016

THE LUMBERYARD

by Margaret S. Mullins




as i read the news, 
i think of the lumberyard
near the railroad tracks, three floors
of stacks of fresh-cut wood,
pine, cedar, black walnut, oak
of all sizes, shapes and smells

my dad and i drove right in, up the ramps
past long table saws and piles of sawdust,
to the workers standing there to give advice,
pull the planks and cut them to size

workers who could hold and look down a board, 
scrutinize it, proclaim it straight
or put it to the side as bowed, imperfect.
we need those mavens today 
to hold our political candidates up, squint,
and proclaim them true or bent


Margaret S. Mullins lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She is the author of Family Constellation (Finishing Line Press) and the editor of Manorborn: The Water Issue, (Abecedarian Press).

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A NOT SO PRECIOUS FREEDOM BITES THE DUST IN BOULDER

by George Salamon


Image source: Old Prison Museum

"Under a new city policy, kids spending their summer days at the city pools may not buy ice cream—the quintessential childhood delight on a hot summer day—because city officials don't think it's healthy."             —Editorial, The Boulder (Colorado) Daily Camera, July 2, 2016

First they came for the ice cream
And I did not protest
Because ice cream is fattening.

Then they came for the hot dogs
And I did not march
Because hot dogs are carcinogenic.

Then they came for the hamburgers
And I did not shout
Because hamburgers clog the arteries.

Then they came for the customers
Because they do not choose wisely.

And so there was no one left
To eat politically incorrect.


Author's note: With a deep bow to Pastor Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)

George Salamon tries to get on with a relatively healthful diet in St. Louis, MO.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

MEMORY'S GARDEN

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman





Sister Lou Ella Hickman is a member of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament. She was an all level teacher and a librarian. Presently she is a freelance writer and a spiritual director. Her poems and articles have been widely published in numerous magazines. One of her poems was published in the anthology After Shocks: Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Her first book of poetry she: robed and wordless, published by Press 53, was released in the fall.

THE ART OF PEACE

by Cally Conan-Davies

                     
Picasso, “Dove of Peace,” 1949. Source: “The Dove: Picasso and Matisse,” Lewis Art Café.


When Matisse

gave Picasso his last

fancy pigeon

he drew it

as though

it were a line in the wind

from which all things come

forgiven.


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