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Friday, December 08, 2023


by DeWitt Henry

Got rizz? The actor Tom Holland claimed to have none, sending the internet into a tizzy and inadvertently propelling the slang term to victory as Oxford’s Word of the Year. Photo: Araya Doheny/ Getty Images via The New York Times, December 3, 2023

Credit...Araya Doheny/Getty Images via The New York Times, December 3, 2023
Newly listed as noun
from cha-RIS-ma.

The power to captivate,
charm, compel, lead,
sway, stir, and attract 
mass followings.

Jeepers, creepers,
where’d you get those eyes?
How they hypnotize!

Personal magnetism.  It!
Grace.  Magic.  Presence.  Genius. 
Brand.  Whiz of a wiz 
in the sleight-of-hand biz.

Pot-bellied roue, quarterback,
or material girl. Swami
or clown: media messiahs,
though diz-dained by Orwellians,
have become so common
that abbreviation names 
their rise, claim, and fizz.

DeWitt Henry’s recent books are Restless For Words: Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2023), a new U.S. edition of Foundlings: Found Poems From Prose (with art by Ruth K. Henry) and Trim Reckonings: Poems, both from Pierian Springs Press in 2023. He was the founding editor of Ploughshares and is Prof. Emeritus at Emerson College.

Thursday, December 07, 2023


by Heather H. Thomas

“Reflected Autumn Light 2 Photograph” by Catherine Lottes

If I say I love god and hate my brother, I must be a liar.


Roots protrude over knots of weeds 

and wildflowers overgrowing the path 


to the old bench: knife scars. Initials dotted 

with bird shit. Today the ceasefire ended. 


Bombs resumed falling on crowded hospitals 

where the attacker says the enemy hides 


command centers that must be destroyed. 

The water’s green-black gloss. 


Slanted sun flares across it, flashes onto trees. 

Angled, the sun doubles its reflection, blinding me. 


For a second my face turns up to the sky 

glaring down. If I cannot love my brother


whom I have seen, how can I love god whom I 

have not seen? Quickly I turn away. 

My eyes burn. Behind them the sun repeats 

on my eyelids, retina, optic nerve. 


The riverbank is bathed in golden shimmers, 

shaking the leaves, making old branches dance.  


Pockets of air vibrate without breeze or wind, 

shaking me. Shifting reflections fracture into 


prisms of light flowing far away to the rubble, 

the dead, the injured, the taken, shaking every 


stripped-open heart that’s part of it all, the pulsing

downstream, the cross-stream ripple, the light 


refracted in this instant, as if the river upended 

and we were all under water. 

Heather H. Thomas is the author of Vortex Street (FutureCycle Press, 2018), and six other poetry collections. Her work has won awards from the Joy Harjo Prize, the Rita Dove Prize, and the Academy of American Poets, among others. Barrow Street; Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts; Pedestal Magazine; and The Wallace Stevens Journal have published her recent work. Widely anthologized, Heather's poems are translated into six languages, including Arabic. She lives along the Schuylkill River in Reading, Pennsylvania, and has taught creative writing for many years.

Wednesday, December 06, 2023


by Roderick Deacey

Check your phone—
it’s full of messages,
all are saying
check your phone.
Check your creek—
it keeps on rising,
so do temperatures,
the tundra’s melting,
ice floes are melting,
ice caps are melting.
It appears that ice
is getting scarcer.
Check your freezer—
it’s full of polar bears!
That’s not funny,
they are homeless,
so are penguins.
Check your oceans—
coral’s dying,
sea-weed’s dying,
whales are dying,
fish are dying,
even octopi
are saying bye-bye.
Sea’s full of plastic—
that can’t feed us.
What’s going on here?

Check your phone—
it’s full of fascism,
it’s caught a virus,
it’s caught fanaticism,
Christian nationalism.
The leading candidate
has set a camping date
to rehouse us vermin
soon as he is back in,
billionaires back him,
better believe him!
Hey, great-grandad,
those Nazis you fought—
they’re back again.

Check your phone—
it’s bleeding bargains,
don’t buy bargains,
but buy a bunch
of solar chargers.
And download books—
many, many books—
for long, dark evenings.
Are they coming?
What do Boy Scouts say?
Be prepared! But first,
download this handy volume:
"Edible Plants for Eating;
How to Find Them."
It’ll help you forage
in field and forest—
the hunter-gatherer diet,
you may have to try it!

Check your phone!
Computer projections
predict who’s winning—
no one’s winning!
We’re all sad losers,
no cause for mirth
on screwed-up Earth.
The Washington Post
confirms we’re toast,
The New York Times asks
“It’s really that time?”
CNN says start again,
while Fox whines Biden
should have known.
I wrote The Guardian—
they just groaned.
As for M-S-N-B-C,
they say truth will set us free—
that’s not proven to be true…
so now, what should you do?
You know, don’t you?
Check your phone!

Roderick Deacey recently discovered his bio had been replaced by instructions on how to turn himself in. He remembers regularly performing beat poetry with bass-player and drummer. He also remembers sending poems to literary magazines and occasionally having some published. He has decided not to turn himself in but to turn in a few spare poems instead.

Tuesday, December 05, 2023


by Sean Murphy

David Levine's caricature of Henry Kissinger.

Tainted midwife to travesty, a perverted Prometheus, bestowing agency to perfidious officials in conspicuous places.
Slick devil whispering nothing’s sweet, so many iniquitous seductions into the eager ears of meager men.
Fattened tongue sucking the leathered paws of a cur whose wet scent still befouls a nation’s hollow halls.
Aberrant principles unshackled by access to brokers of action breaking worlds like sadistic gods with glimmering eyes.
Thirty pieces of soiled silver times thirty a thousand times, it profits a man immeasurably if he has no soul to lose.
Peace through power, clarity through chaos, obedience through atrocity, efficiency through occupation, et cetera.
Malevolent proposals polluted by your corrupted seed, so much ruthless sperm seeking attainment in lethal deeds.
Grown engorged like an unkillable tick, the mother’s milk of abandoned empires a mainline to an obstinate heart.
Squatting on the shoulders of moral dwarves, the not-so-complex imprimatur of Napoleon your obscene escutcheon.
This crass pageant, at long last, expired: ignominy awaits and History’s already at work, unkindly revising the Final Cut.

Sean Murphy has been publishing fiction, poetry, reviews (of music, movie, book, food), and essays on the technology industry for over twenty years. A long-time columnist for PopMatters, his work has also appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, Washington City Paper, The Good Men Project, Memoir Magazineand elsewhere. His chapbooks The Blackened Blues (Finishing Line Press) and Rhapsodies in Blue (Kelsay Books) were published in 2021 and 2023. His next poetry collection, Kinds of Blue, and This Kind of Man, his first collection of short fiction, are forthcoming in 2024. His novel Not To Mention a Nice Life was published in 2015, followed by his first two collections of non-fiction, Murphy’s Law, Vol One and Vol. Two. He has been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize, twice for Best of Net, and his book Please Talk about Me When I’m Gone was the winner of Memoir Magazine’s 2022 Memoir Prize. He served as writer-in-residence of the Noepe Center at Martha's Vineyard, and is Founding Director of 1455, a non-profit that celebrates storytelling.

Monday, December 04, 2023


by Jerome Berglund

slashing prices
black friday

must go
black friday

fire sale
while supplies last
black friday

black friday 

and mortar
cyber monday

Jerome Berglund has worked as everything from dishwasher to paralegal, night watchman to assembler of heart valves. Many haiku, haiga and haibun he’s written have been exhibited or are forthcoming online and in print, most recently in bottle rockets, Frogpond, and Modern Haiku. His first full-length collections of poetry Bathtub Poems and Funny Pages were just released by Setu and Meat For Tea press, and a mixed media chapbook showcasing his fine art photography is available now from Yavanika.

Sunday, December 03, 2023


by Julie Standig

Vintage Judaica solid brass Weinberg dove bird Hanukkah menorah candlestick.

hooked to curtains

mylar dreidels, menorahs

glitzy glitter star of David 

dangles from the fireplace


the breakfast bar 

covered in hanukkiah,

driedels and drip trays

crafted by my children

thirty years ago


they’re asking for a truce

just two more days, two more

three hostages have died

one is a ten-month-old


dreidels fill plates

in our living room

dining room and den

I can’t spin them


the nine-month-old hostage

has yet to be released

is that the same baby that died?

how do you spin that?


newlyweds return to the rubble

of their Gaza home

a box of wedding candy 

the sole survivor of their stuff


One of my menorahs

takes the shape of a dove

I don’t know 

I don’t know


I cannot recall

the candle blessing

but those images of Israel

of Gaza burn bright

Julie Standig, a lifetime New Yorker, now lives in Bucks County PA. She has been published in anthologies, online journals, and is the author of a chapbook, and full collection, The Forsaken Little Black Book. A long-time participate at the 92Y, she loves the writing community she has found in Bucks County. 

Saturday, December 02, 2023


by Kai Jensen

Along the underside of the deck railing
1000 droplets hang
each catching the grey morning light
like a Christmas string
and a magpie’s carolling down by the lake
on and on. You’ve gone downstairs
to give your morning sessions
this first day of December, 2023.

Yesterday Shane McGowan died
that broken beautiful man. Maybe
that’s why the magpie sang so long
although it’s fallen silent now,
and why I sit here, on and on,
mesmerised by these beads of light.

Vale Shane McGowan, 25 December 1957 - 30 November 2023, lead singer of The Pogues.

Kai Jensen is a US-born Kiwi/Australian poet who now lives at Wallaga Lake on the Far South Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kai’s poetry has appeared in many Australasian literary journals.

Friday, December 01, 2023


by Matthew Murrey

“Two Turkeys ‘Liberty’ and ‘Bell’ Pardoned by Biden” —VOA, November 20, 2023

For Thanksgiving week, forty-six million, 
while the sweep of a year will reap 
over four times as many, but not these two. 
They won the lottery of born 
right time, right place: were given room 
to roam, good food, and the light of the sun.
Their beaks and toes weren’t scissored, clipped; 
they weren’t warehoused for a life of stink and filth.
They are the inverse of scapegoats: suffer liberty 
and tender, attentive care to cover for the rest—
multitudes hoisted and hacked, gutted and wrapped. 
Thankful at the table, see and smell the golden, 
roasted bird—headless, plucked, and stuffed—
and give thanks for the generous spread of luck:
you here, and not there. Surely that rings a bell.

Matthew Murrey is the author of the poetry collection Bulletproof (Jacar Press, 2019). He's published widely, most recently in The Dodge, Bear Review, and Redheaded Stepchild. He was a public school librarian for 21 years, and lives in Urbana, IL with his partner. He can be found on Instagram, Twitter/X and Bluesky under the handle @mytwords.

Thursday, November 30, 2023


by Barbara Eknoian

Why do tears keep falling from my eyes as I watch? They say Rosalynn stood by her husband for seventy-seven years, and that she cared deeply for the most vulnerable among us. Throughout my life, although I am a good person and wouldn’t harm anyone, I never did anything as inspiring as she did for others. When the choir sings “America the Beautiful,” I’m a young girl again at school singing. Why do I find this tribute so touching? The religious music playing is the old-fashioned kind, which I miss very much. Maybe, that’s why the tears flow easily while listening to all her good works. One of the speakers comments that Rosalyn would be pleased that First Ladies from both sides have come to honor her, including Biden, Obama, Bush, Clinton, and Trump, and everyone laughs. I feel like I’m at an inspiring church service, though I haven’t attended in years. I’m so glad I’m watching. Her husband Jimmy, left hospice at their home in Plains, Georgia, traveling l40 miles so as not to miss his wife’s tribute. He is wheeled into church. Their daughter, Amy, says, since her dad can’t speak, she’ll read a love letter he wrote to Rosalynn when he was in the Navy seventy-five years ago. I imagine him thinking this right now: 

Good-bye Darling, 
Until tomorrow 

Barbara Eknoian’s work has appeared in Chiron Review, Cadence Collective, Redshift, and Silver Birch Press's anthologies. Her recent collection of short stories Romance is Not Too Far From Here is published by Amazon. She lives in La Mirada, CA with her daughter, grandson, one cat, and a very mischievous kitten.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


by Alejandro Escudé

An afternoon grading on the internet, I walk out

To the November skies of Los Angeles, warm,

A day moon more orb-like than usual in the east.

The sun a shining lake behind fair weather clouds.

I’m thinking of you. How you stalked us in our 

Classrooms for years, removing first our books.

Taking our grades and popping them on screens

That would never time out, even on vacations.

It’s you I blame whenever I can’t direct students

To a specific page, numbers eliminated long ago,

The corners, dog-eared, the scanning of the hand

Across print to mark a quote, to seize an argument.

But I’m a gnat on a remote beach of the economic

Planet to you staring at a sea of adolescents with 

Endless passwords tattooed on their brains. Strolling,

I spot a Yellow-rumped Warbler shadowing me along 

The side of the road. An intelligence, a god, birthed

Of the moon and sun. Buffering, my human hopes.

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.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023


by George Salamon

“‘All the cemeteries are full': Palestinians buried in a mass grave in Gaza.” —Reuters, November 22, 2023

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." —John Donne, Meditation 17, 1623

On the pile of rubble
the wailing of a mother
means nothing.
On the broken street
the raised fist of a father,
The weeping of entire
populations on both sides,
The killing of the air,
the end of our oceans,
In times of exhaustion
and nihilism, values
have vanished and we
are turning into machines,
surviving to function, not
to live.

George Salamon thinks the lords of Silicon Valley have,  million clicks after millions of more clicks, succeeded into turning most of our minds and hearts into file clerks and bean counters.