Tuesday, July 07, 2015

A NEWEST COUNTRY'S ABUSES

by Valerie Sonnenthal



Photograph: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty . Rights investigators from the UN mission in the Republic of South Sudan (Unmiss) warned of “widespread human rights abuses”, including gang-rape and torture in a report based on 115 victims and eyewitnesses from the northern state of Unity, scene of some of the heaviest recent fighting in the 18-month-long civil war. —The Guardian, June 30, 2015



where do spirits go
when they have left
reddened earth
violated bodies
Sudanese girls
mothers
women burned alive
their tukuls leave no trace
in ashes of violence
Tabit two-day spree
every man bent
metal beaten
wood hammered
every girl fouled

Nuba Mountains reverberate
bombs obliterate
schools   mosques
health clinics   crumble
water  polluted
nothing  for no one
no one  the one
they were
yesterday

who counts atrocities
who counts
one war
one way
no where to flee
life simply
eviscerated
, but
where do the spirits go
are they free
must they bare witness
praying for the ancestors
please intervene


Valerie Sonnenthal joined the Cleaveland House Poets when she moved to Martha's Vineyard in 2006. She writes the Chilmark Town Column plus arts and lifestyle stories for the MV Times, Arts & Ideas magazine, and  publishes Errata Editions' Books on Books series. 

THE PAINTED FACES

by Vidya Panicker



It was business as usual at brothel 59 in Delhi's GB Road, which houses more than 4,000 sex workers. What was unusual on the night of June 23 was the deliberate gait of Sameer Tyagi, a regular client of this brothel. Sameer appeared a bit jaded, busy on the phone, scanning the faces of about 20 odd garishly painted faces of women as they waited around for the next deal. It was 10pm, humid and a Bollywood number was playing loudly. —Anasuya Basu, Daily O, July 3, 2015; Image: Oil painting of a prostitute from Lahore's Red Light District, by Iqbal Hussain. Source: The Express Tribune (Pakistan) Blogs.


Here, and there,
the women behind the curtains
do not strip for you.

Through the folds of their
saree, and the pinched
fabric of their blouse
you occasionally catch a glimpse
of a sagging breast
or a tummy with overlapping stretch marks.

Foreplay:
you ask the one you choose.

She smirks at you
with her betel red lips
which she wipes with her palm,
pinches out two condoms from a tray,
lifts her saree and skirt up in a swift motion
and spread her tired legs on you.

Your desperate self is ready
needing no foreplay, apparently.
You lay back, relax
imagine the shudders
are a jolly lorry ride to Ladakh
or something better
while she works on you.

In about two minutes, or less
you zip up your pants
and walk out of the door.
Someone else quickly moves in
for his turn.

The painted face smirks again.

There is a daily quota;
a number signified
by the missing condoms on the tray
and later, she would run
like the rest of them—

Run home
to a sleeping child or a drunk husband
or a pimp who smacks his lips
but more often,
just to pee, and to cry out loud when the warm salty
liquid touches the bruises
that are never left to heal.


Based in the God's own country of Kerala, Vidya Panicker’s poems have appeared in The Feminist Review, So to Speak, Shot Glass Journal, One sentence Poetry, Three Line poetry, Aberration Labyrinth, Bangalore Review, and 4and20 Poetry.

Monday, July 06, 2015

FORMALITY

by Peleg Held






Upon a bench one long sought June
a court has crawled from its cocoon
in a winged deliberation

if water should despise the dam,
if wool should curl out from the lamb,
if wood should burn against the cold,
if youth should pulse beneath the old,
if push should starving come to shove
if those that simply do may love.


Peleg Held lives in Portland, Maine with his partner and his dog Emitt. There is also the semi-feral cat, Smudge. And a kid or two. He writes poetry, does woodworking and lately, dreams of the summer. pelegheld(at)gmail.com

AUTUMN LEAVES

by Lind Grant-Oyeye



Image source: It's okay, to be a flaming homosexual



Like the rainbow, seasons to speak
Like the sun, seasons to tell
Like the moon, tides and seasons to speak
Like the bear, seasons to tell

Like the heart, seasons to dream
Like dreams, colors to wish.


Lind Grant-Oyeye is an Irish-Nigerian poet and has work published in several countries. Her work discusses issues related to culture, social justice and equality.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

AFTER THE ESCAPE FROM PRISON IN DANNEMORA

by Alejandro Escudé



New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin hold a news conference in front of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y. Shumlin said his state is ready if the escaped prisoners are found hiding there. —SETH WENIG/AP via NY Daily News, June 10, 2015



Raw world,  animal transfiguration,

Governor         at a podium,
acetone square,  enforcement, 

his word,         forest of 
microphones, gulps of blood, 

mere prey, pair of stags 
stalked for weeks,

footprints

pride, mystery,  a wall a god, 

law, scripture,         a man like deer 

sprints  for the treeline.


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.

MY FLAG

by Marilyn Peretti







At the mic on the sidewalk
some kids say justice
is the meaning of the Fourth,
some say fireworks, some
some say cookouts,
but some say justice.

Did they mean fairness,
decency, moral rightness,
equity, abiding by law?
Is this taught to children now?
Fourth of July means justice?

Maybe these wise children know
that the Fourth does not mean
burning churches of black folks,
battering a man in a police van,
giving up on finding prison escapees,
denying the poor health insurance,
or shooting pray-ers inside a church.

I wave my American flag

for what the children have learned.


Marilyn Peretti, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, is published by The New Verse News and by various journals; nominated for Pushcart Prize; and publishes poetry books on www.blurb.com/bookstore. She writes with fellow poets in Chicago's western suburbs. 

Saturday, July 04, 2015

BOMBS BURSTING IN AIR

by Jean L. Kreiling






You gasp and smile at bright chrysanthemums
that bloom for just a moment in the sky,
and hardly give a thought to what becomes
of them, the black ash falling as they die.
But sometimes, buffeted by mighty booms
that follow flares of patriotic pride,
you think of patriots who met their dooms
amid such noise—red-white-and-blue’s dark side.
Why do we want to watch bombs burst in air?
Did Mr. Key imagine that we would?
That we’d perpetuate the din and glare
of combat?  Maybe we’ve misunderstood.
His anthem hailed a hard-won victory;
we’ve prettified the fires of tragedy.


Jean L. Kreiling is the author of the recently published collection, The Truth in Dissonance (Kelsay Books, 2014). Her work has appeared widely in print and online journals, including American Arts Quarterly, Angle, The Evansville Review, Measure, and Mezzo Cammin, and in several anthologies.  Kreiling is a past winner of the String Poet Prize and the Able Muse Write Prize, and she has been a finalist for the Frost Farm Prize, the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, and the Richard Wilbur Poetry Award.

Friday, July 03, 2015

STRIKE!

by Donal Mahoney


MILWAUKEE —Milwaukee County Transit System drivers walked off the job at 3 a.m., beginning a 72-hour strike. The union said it's holding a "work stoppage" and will return to work at 3 a.m. Saturday. —WISN, July 1, 2015. Photo: James Groppi is one of the 15 or so individuals featured on the Peacemaker mural, located at the intersection of Mitchell Street, Kinnickinnic Avenue and First Street, The late Fr. Groppi was a dedicated civil rights activist who, after leaving the priesthood, became a county bus driver and eventually the president of ATU Local 998. #MCTSstrike



It’s a big book, a thousand pages,
a million words, a bestseller,
and the verbs are mad as hell
because the nouns get all the credit
even though the nouns go nowhere
if the verbs don’t take them,
never mind the adjectives,
those leeches on the nouns,
getting the same free ride.

It’s reached the point where the verbs
have had enough and plan to quit
the book and leave the pages blank
unless they get $15.00 an hour
to keep on dragging nouns
and adjectives from cover to cover
plus overtime tossed in
for adverbs and prepositions
and a nice bonus for conjunctions.


Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has had fiction and poetry published in various publications in the U.S. and elsewhere. Among them are The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, The Galway Review (Ireland), Bluepepper (Australia), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria), and The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey).

Thursday, July 02, 2015

WHAT THE 4TH OF JULY MEANS TO ME

by George Salamon




Myths chain our minds.
Shibboleths cull our words.
Cynicism corrodes our expectations.
Lassitude lulls our vigilance.

A free people surrendered to lobbyists,
To hucksters of Wall Street,
To gurus of management,
To an elite empowered by degrees from institutions
Worshipping the con of the market and
Bowing to the mandate from Return On Investment.

Freedom's choices confined to
The aisles of Walmart and Target,
We make do with civic life as theater, its
Message acted out by pompous poseurs
Talking of "folks" and "freedoms"
Abandoned in the sewers of D.C.

"The system works," they proclaim periodically,
Insisting that a blind pig's stumbling upon a truffle
Reveals democracy at work.

And we continue to fool ourselves.


George Salamon taught German language and literature at several East Coast colleges, served as staff reporter on the St. Louis Business Journal and senior editor on Defense Systems Review. He published a reader in German history and a study of Arnold Zweig's novels on World War I. He contributes to the Gateway Journalism Review, Jewish Currents and The New Verse News from St. Louis, MO.

KLANSMEN

by William Ruleman



The self-proclaimed largest Ku Klux Klan group in America plans to rally outside the South Carolina statehouse next month, state officials confirmed. --The Washington Post, June 30, 2015



Good Christian men in white
Ride into the night
To keep their women pure
And families secure.

Good Christian men in white
Know that they are right
But tend to wait till dark
Before they will embark

(Good Christian men in white),
For their own brand of might
Tends not to thrive by day
On what mild judges say.

Good Christian men in white
Wake to see dawn light,
Their white robes stained in mud,
Stallions’ foam, and blood.


William Ruleman’s poems have appeared in many journals, including The Galway Review, The New English Review, The New Verse News, The Pennsylvania Review, The Recusant, The Road Not Taken, Rubies in the Darkness, The Sonnet Scroll, and Trinacria. His books include two collections of his own poems (A Palpable Presence and Sacred and Profane Loves, both from Feather Books), as well as translations of poems from Rilke’s Neue Gedichte (WillHall Books, 2003), of Stefan Zweig’s fiction in Vienna Spring: Early Novellas and Stories (Ariadne Press, 2010), of prose and poems by Zweig in A Girl and the Weather (Cedar Springs Books, 2014), and of poems by the German Romantics in Verse for the Journey: Poems on the Wandering Life (also from Cedar Springs Books). He is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

by F.I. Goldhaber



Image source: The Journal of Personal Cyberconsciousness



First Abraham Lincoln let them live longer than people.
Then the U.S. Supremes gave them personhood and freedom.
Privileges of citizenship -- free speech and the pretense of religion
-- to gain tax reductions and eliminate workers' rights.

The president wants to allow their interests to supersede
sovereign nations' ability to serve their people.
Laws protecting safety, clean air, public health, will be waived
if it's possible they'll inhibit corporate profits.

Protection of corporate revenue will usurp all
individual rights to free expression, privacy,
due process, and the ability to afford housing,
food, medical care, education, transit, internet.

Forget about human rights. Only corporate power
carries any weight. They bought the U.S. government and
many of the world's leaders, jailing any who speak out.
They negotiate in secret to take away more rights.


As a reporter, editor, business writer, and marketing communications consultant, F.I. Goldhaber produced news stories, feature articles, essays, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now, her poems, short stories, novelettes, essays, and reviews appear in paper, electronic, and audio magazines, ezines, newspapers, calendars, and anthologies.  Her latest book of poetry, Subversive Verse, collects poems about corporate cruelty, gender grievances, supreme shambles, political perversion, and race relations.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

BY ANY STANDARD

by Kenneth Salzmann



The Confederate flag represents Southern culture, Anna Robb said. In an interview with the News-Leader on Monday, she said the flag represents faith, family and freedom — not slavery, racism or white supremacy. On Thursday, the News-Leader was alerted by readers that Robb’s husband Nathan, co-owner of the store, once tried to adopt a highway in Arkansas on behalf of the Ku Klux Klan, and that Nathan Robb’s father is Thomas Robb, the national director of the KKK. (Photo: Valerie Mosley/News-Leader) —Springfield News-Leader, June 26, 2015



Far be it from me to rag on
the beloved flag that yet waves
not (as some say) to celebrate
the keeping of slaves but (as you
assure me) to pay all due tribute
to your valorous ancestors
who waged brave war against
the relentless arc of history even as
they carved your glorious home
land out of stubborn red
clay and soft lacerated flesh.

All praise be to those
who came before you bearing
whips and shackles ax handles
at the doors of shabby
roadside restaurants christly
crosses fierce fires
of redemption and the proud
blood that even now
flows freely in your veins.


Kenneth Salzmann is a writer and poet whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, literary journals and anthologies, including The New Verse News, Rattle, Comstock Review, Child of My Child: Poems and Stories for Grandparents (Gelles-Cole Literary Enterprises), Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude (Holy Cow! Press), Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers (Codhill Press), The Heart of All That Is: Reflections on Home (Holy Cow! Press).

DEAR GOD:

by Gil Hoy






Take down
the stars and bars,

the Confederate
battle flag that flies,

over the Capitol
in Charleston.

And take down
the Confederate

veterans' monument
and the statue of the white

supremacist who was once
governor and senator

that stand nearby.
Then take down all

the vestiges of slavery,
every fiber and every stone,

every hair-thin remnant
of that terrible time

until not a rootlet remains
in any city or town.

But when the symbols of racism
are all cleared away, taken down

carried off and finally
gone:  How to remove

the lingering hatred
from a grown man’s heart?


Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer. He studied poetry at Boston University, while receiving a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science, magna cum laude, and won a silver medal in the New England University Wrestling Championship at 177 lbs. Gil received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as an elected Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Gil’s poems have been published recently in The New Verse News, Clark Street Review, The Penman Review, The Antarctica Journal, Third Wednesday, The Potomac, The Zodiac Review and To Hold A Moment Still, Harbinger Asylum’s 2014 Holidays Anthology.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A CLASP

by George Held





So as I left the hygienist’s chair, white-clad Reesha
Said she’d taken a cruise to Turks and Bermuda
And, despite sunscreen, her tawny skin had turned
Black as the Nigerian queen Amina’s,

And I said, “Look at my sad white skin,”
Reddened and pebbled by actinic keratoses
(and smeared with cream to spare it from cancer)
And then I said what was on my mind about

Charleston, the city of Charles (whose name isn’t even
In the Bible), where white-racist hatred had burst
From a gun barrel and killed Pastor Pinckney
And his prayer-meeting sisters and brethren,

And I thought of all the black forbearance, the black
Sympathy, the black nobility that has steadied
A course that might have burst into whirlwind, war
And more deaths of worthy men and women,

And we two, Reesha and I, standing face to face
In the cramped space between high-tech dentistry
And the human race, the only race, clasped hands
And said to each other that in our own history

We at least are friends as I hoped that I was not
Just a superannuated white man
Deluded that he was without the taint
Of racial prejudice.


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, June 28, 2015

THE GREAT GOD

by Howard Winn



Image source: The Holy Prepuce



The Great God
gun speaks in its own language
and that is considered scripture
by the lovers of shotguns and pistols
even assault rifles which also
talk in the tongues of the
holy disciples congregated
in the church of the Association
that puts the fear of that god
into the souls of anxious politicians
who care more for re-election
than for economic justice or
saving the life of church goers
or innocent school children
as they continually bow their
heads in meek obeisance
to the power of that great
God gun the all powerful
ultimate Deity and icon of
their single minded faith


Howard Winn’s fiction and poetry, has been published recently by such journals as Dalhousie Review, Taj Mahal Review (India), The Long Story,  Cold Mountain Review, Antigonish Review, New Verse News, Chaffin Review, Thin Air Literary Journal, and Whirlwind. His B. A. is from Vassar College. He has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University. His doctoral work was done at N. Y. U. He has been a social worker in California and currently is a faculty member of SUNY as Professor of English.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

IMAGINING ETHEL LANCE

by Carl Boon 



Najee Washington holds a photo of her grandmother Ethel Lance, one of the nine people killed in Wednesday's shooting at Emanuel AME Church, as she stands outside her home Friday, June 19, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. "She cared for everyone. She took care of people. She would give her last to anyone," said Washington. "That's what she was and that's what she'll always be." David Goldman / AP via NBC News



Tonight and removed from bullets,
she'd be swinging her great-grandson
in Wannamaker Park
in North Charleston,
happy for the chance
to see him smile--this kid
of unruly teeth and Jurassic World
pyjamas. Because Saturday nights
while her daughter waited tables
at the Olde Harbor Restaurant,
she had him. They ate
her famous lasagna, did puzzles,
imagined steamships. It made her
alive--past the dusty pews
of the church and the gracious oaks
of West Ashley. I don't care tonight
that bullets brought her down;
I care that this boy,
who knew Mahalia Jackson's name,
and Jesse Owens's stance,
and Dr. King's speeches,
brought her up
on so many Saturday nights.


Carl Boon lives in Istanbul, where he directs the English prep school and teaches courses in literature at Yeni Yuzyil University. Recent ot forthcoming poems appear in The Tulane Review, The Blue Bonnet Review, Posit, and other magazines.

PRISM DAY

by David James Olsen







written about and on 6-26-2015


I do declare this Prism Day,
for, finally, Americans as one
look up and round together,
seeing through a single prism
equally, resulting rainbows
viewed with reverence unified
by simple love, needing
nothing other than a national
acknowledgement to set the
global table, turning tides to
placid calm where all can
swim in matrimonial sanctity.


David James Olsen is a 32-year-old published poet/actor/singer/researcher living and thriving in New York City. Recently, he has volunteered with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and PFLAG NYC, as well as filling the role of House Manager for The York Theatre Company. He aims to start his own specialized NY theatre company soon, wanting to learn from the best while laying the groundwork. Previously, his poetry has been published in The South Townsville micro poetry journal, Instigatorzine, and here in The New Verse News. Continuing to compose daily, he hopes to have much more of his work out there very soon.

Friday, June 26, 2015

ON FATHER'S DAY

by Joan Mazza






I’m not posting photos on social media
of my father with his arm around me,
both of us grinning, oozing affection.
No photos like that exist, not even
from my childhood.

On Father’s Day, I’m perusing again
of my boozy father’s last act, self-
inflicted gun shot that whisked him out
of this world and our lives. How did he
excuse it?

I’m remembering how my short-fused
husband insisted my father have a gun,
took him to buy that Walther PPK
and showed him how to use it.
Self-defense,

he said. That was the gun he used when
he could not defend himself against misery
and hopeless blues, my mother’s cancer.
I’m thinking how glad I am that my Ex
never was a father.

In an old photo, my not-yet-Ex husband stands
unsmiling, pistol on hip, rifle and Confederate flag
crossed across his chest, wearing a string tie
and cowboy hat. I took that photo, and only
was bemused.


Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Whitefish Review, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, 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.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

THEIR FLEEING

by Robert Farmer



“Nearly 60 million people have been driven from their homes by war and persecution, an unprecedented global exodus that has burdened fragile countries with waves of newcomers and littered deserts and seas with the bodies of those who died trying to reach safety.” —New York Times, June 18, 2015


Their fleeing

is from these times
mired in apocalyptic struggle
spread through and by power
coated with ancient enmities and beliefs
brought up to slaughter and stagnation.

Safely sequestered, we trace the ways to today,
tracking back through old empires
and all manner of community
to rest in those imaginary ages
ruled by honored sages who left us

with stories of Tang poet-governors gathered
round wine and evening composition,
calm in the certainty of their world
and accepted sureness
of suffering and death.

Yet even they flaunted rants
on injustice of their times,
satire buried in language
which led them to exile
in far provinces.


Robert Farmer is a retired forester who lives in Cleveland and occasionally publishes poems in small journals.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

CHARLESTON CHURCH MASSACRE

by Roger Aplon






"We forgive you."


Swept-up
on  a blast of heated air – one flash & another

& nowhere  to run,
to hide, to breathe free  . . . & he keeps
coming on
this pilfered heart, this shameless ragging,
like a lion on fire,
provoked, pissed-off,  punishing, a collapsed invention where
fear marries power,
with guns blazing the angel of death smacks his lips
slurping up a treacheries soup . . .
Speak not of justice, sanity & bigotry in one breath. Speak not
of mercy without
passion. Do unto others as you do unto me. 
The words ring wrong.
If harmony reigns what will come to fill the vacuum?
Guilt-of-the-fathers
passed to the sons.  Inbred fear of retribution. The Other, no longer dark
but from the light
comes to resurrect that supreme fabric. Owner. Master. Overseer.
That sublime indifference
born of  guilt – suspicion – nurturing – fomenting.
Is there no one to speak
against the blind warrior?
We forgive you.
It’s said with conviction – tearful & full of grace. Who’s earned
such a holy gift?
Tattooed across his brow a crown of thorns, swastika etched
between his shoulder blades.
This is the time of mutilation, of dementia, of disgrace.
Where are the voices of revolution?
Those willing to stand & be counted, unafraid of hard choices?
The one who bears malice bears
a cataclysm too long dismissed as fated, too long
      tolerated, too long unchallenged.
“Born in blood, so blood must be spilled.”
It’s the way of the smuggler,
the rapist, the strangler of kids, the demon lover of hatred & dread.
To this we say, with all our strength – No more!


Roger Aplon has had eleven books published: Ten of poetry (most recently It’s Only TV) & one of prose: Intimacies. He’s been awarded prizes & honors including an arts fellowship from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. After eight years in Barcelona, Spain, he now lives in Beacon, New York where he publishes the poetry magazine Waymark & is working on a new collection: Poetic Improvisations after musical ‘experiments’ by composers such as John Adams, Elliot Carter, Miles Davis & John Zorn.