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Friday, April 19, 2019

DOING THE LAUNDRY WITH WILLIAM BARR

by Mary K O'Melveny

Cartoon by Randall Enos for The Nation.


Today, our local laundromat
was very crowded.  Lots to do.
My clothes are filled with dirt, was what
she said.  This muck goes through
and through. But he was not
concerned at all. Rinse and repeat,
he counseled.  No matter what you’ve got,
my formula is hard to beat.
The worst stains vanish like magic.
At first, there’s slime, then none.
Even when it all looks tragic,
rinse and repeat.  Soon it’s all gone.
Out damned spot, said she.
There’s nothing there, said he.


Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press.

THE BILL OF RIGHTS: REDACTED VERSION

an erasure by Ed Werstein

"Redaction Distraction" by John McNamee posted at TheNib, February 10th, 2017


Article I: Congress shall make law prohibiting freedom of speech and petition of grievances.
Article II: Necessary to keep arms.
Article III: Consent of war to be prescribed by law.
Article IV: Searches and seizures shall issue. Persons, things, to be seized.
Article V: Persons held in jeopardy, compelled to witness against freedom without compensation.
Article VI: Criminal prosecutions by the State shall be compulsory.
Article VII: Suits shall exceed. Dollars shall be preserved. No fact shall be reexamined.
Article VIII: Excessive bail shall be required; punishments inflicted.
Article IX: The Constitution shall be construed to disparage the people.
Article X: Power to the United States!  


Ed Werstein, a regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, was awarded the 2018 Lorine Niedecker Prize for Poetry by the Council For Wisconsin Writers. His work has appeared in Stoneboat, Blue Collar Review, Gyroscope Review, among other publications, and is forthcoming in Rosebud. His 2018 book A Tar Pit To Dye In is available from Kelsay Books. His chapbook Who Are We Then? was published in 2013 by Partisan Press.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

45

by Gil Hoy


Members of a family reunite through the border wall between Mexico and United States, during the "Keep our dream alive" event, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on December 10, 2017. Families separated by the border were reunited for three minutes through the fence that separates Ciudad Juarez Park in Mexico and Sunland in New Mexico, United States, during an event called "Keep our dream alive", organized by the Border Network for Human Rights on the International Human Rights Day. HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES via Texas Public Radio


In this poem, proper sentence 
structure will be followed.

For example, sentences will start
with a capital letter and end

with a proper punctuation mark.

Sentences will be grammatically correct.

Some may say that this will likely detract 
from the poem’s poetic quality,

but I’m not sure I can agree.

I’m also not sure real poems require words

I italicize for emphasis.

For example, is an image held 
in the mind of crying children—

of thousands of immigrant families

separated at the border—never
to be reunited, poetic?

Is the image symbolic and evokes
strong emotions? Is it repetitive 
and sick at heart?

Are the precise words of one’s 
internal dialogue describing the image 

what make it poetic or not?

Can a number be a poem, or at least poetic?
Such as the title of this poem?

I will never think of “45” in the same way again.


Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer who studied poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy’s poetry has appeared most recently in Chiron Review, TheNewVerse.News, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, I am not a silent poet, The Potomac, Clark Street Review, the penmen review and elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

IN THE JUNGLE, LIANAS COVER WHOLE CITIES

by Devon Balwit




After 1,700 years, two vast Buddhas fell
to dynamite. 856, and Notre-Dame scorches
the Paris skyline, a spark from a restorer’s blowtorch,
or some other carelessness, small
to have such large consequences. Strangers tell
each other stories of the time they marched
up the narrow spiral staircase to perch
in the tower, uplifted by history, and marvel.
The Stoics warn that as long as we place
our highest good outside ourselves, we’re at the mercy
of caprice. Inside is our rose window, our flying
buttress. Inside, the thunderous bell and the space
for God. It’s hard. We trust what we can see.
But each loss invites us to keep trying.


Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), Apt, Grist, and Oxidant Engine among others.

NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS

by David Southward





It took nothing—
a smoker’s match, a welder’s spark—
to start the blaze
in my ribs.

You will search
the smoldering grandeur
for some dire cause.
That is your rhythm.

But remember:
the one you blame
is small and frightened, like you.
Like you, my child.

Forgive him.


David Southward teaches in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His chapbook Apocrypha was published by Wipf & Stock in 2018; a full collection, Bachelor’s Buttons, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books (April 2020).

EASTER PASSION AS NOTRE-DAME COLLAPSES

by Earl J Wilcox





In my town today, construction workers
digging in red clay clipped cable lines
to thousands of homes causing early
morning mayhem—no computer
access, cable news, email, stock market,
baseball scores, weekly NEW YORKER—
civilization as we know it. They say, I
learned many hours later, the fire began
in the spire while all morning I fumed
and fiddled the hours away by cleaning
listening to old CDs, feeding humming birds,
washed/dried/folded three loads of
laundry, walked for 35 minutes—all
before noon as the Cathedral burned.
Early afternoon, as the fire spread
and panic roared in Paris, I napped,
after eating a spare lunch of boiled
cabbage, lima beans and a small meat
patty, walked again, vacuumed,
angrily and with petty vengeance
sprayed carpet bees buzzing my
pergola, watered an Easter Lily,
began the first of several classic opera
CDs, strolled to the street to fetch junk
mail, texted family and friends,
(none mentioned a great fire!)
as Parisians panicked in peril, prayed
for God’s intervention here in Holy Week.
In my passion, I ignorantly enjoyed our
Magnificent Spring sunshine, took
Images of my majestic azaleas, wondering
how a pilgrim feels spending April in Paris.


Earl J Wilcox is regular contributor to TheNewVerse.News.

AU REVOIR, SAINTE EGLISE

by J. D. Mackenzie





The holy church does not believe
inanimate objects like buildings
have souls, but I know you do—
I saw into yours

I recall a summer term
fixated on gargoyles,
drinking in the art
and St. Julien
on Bastille Day

Wood on the inside,
stone on the outside
centuries of incense smoke
spilled wax and wine

This of all weeks
hours after Palm Sunday,
the Easter sermon
already written

Fire takes us
when nothing else can,
not even time


J. D. Mackenzie is an Oregon-based poet with an unnatural dependence on topics found in the news, including international and progressive news outlets.

WATCHING THE BURNING OF NOTRE-DAME CATHEDRAL ON MSNBC WORLD NEWS

by Alan Catlin





The day after
Palm Sunday

in Paris is now
Black Monday.

The flames
oddly beautiful
at night

like fire fight
mad minute
tracer rounds
in the jungle

or the rockets
Wilfred Owen
was transfixed by

in the trenches
of a no man’s land
during World War 1.

The Nazis were
supposed to burn
the city as they left

but disobeyed
high command
orders.

When asked
Is Paris Burning?

There was no
answer.

Paris is burning now.


Alan Catlin has published dozens of chapbooks and full-length books, most recently the chapbook Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance (Presa Press), a series of ekphrastic poems responding to the work of German photographer August Sander who did portraits of Germans before, during, and after both World Wars.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

LEAK (OUT)

by Alejandro Escudé




Couldn’t he have moved to Ecuador? Surrounded by parrots and monkeys,
and colonial era churches? Instead, bearded, he was ushered

into a police van in London, and I pictured Sherlock Holmes standing off to one side,
a grin on his pointy face, pipe in hand, uttering something cheeky.

How else to process this 9/11 man? This walking man-virus
who somehow snatched the biggest governments on Earth
like a father might snatch his little son by the ear, dragging them to their perspective rooms.

White-haired wizard now, Assange protested his apprehension,
London traffic like a street scene in Thomas the Train;

because this time is…and was…a cave full of glittering fossils, mandibles of early hominids, skulls or skull fragments, roaring time signatures,
blue birds oozing from fissures in the once-dark ceilings.

Ecuadorians said Assange's residence was no longer tenable. A tree, alabaster white,
growing in his room, the roots digging deep, reaching for the planetary pole,
emailed enigmas, evil conspiracies,

a G-Man in Dealey Plaza, bullets screaming past, halting
mid-air, like satellites approaching the black hole of history,

and there, Assange, naked, albino, crucified on a hill outside the city’s firewalls.
I want to ask him what was the ultimate secret
he was searching for? I want to stroll over the glassy Thames
with him, like a heavenly correspondent
interviewing an implacable terrorist, the devil made flesh, a fiberoptic alien,

and just listen to the diatribe of his breathing,
and feast on what he sought, and probe as to what he’d embezzled
from the pressing otherness of our voiceless governments.


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.

Monday, April 15, 2019

THE STUMBLING STONES

by Mark Tarren


A candle and roses laid on a set of Stolpersteine in Berlin at a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Photograph: Eliza Apperly —The Guardian, February 18, 2019


So they walk.
This invisible procession of ghosts,
a march of mist.

Hidden amongst the alleyways
and cobblestones

of forgotten footprints
in stone and snow.

A fingerless glove
caresses a patch of brass.

Here I am

His words
shadows in the air.

Kristallnacht.

His home
the face of the past.


The girl recognises him.

The Boy with the Jasper Eyes.

They used to play and sing
in the alleyways of
snow and school satchels.

She could smell the scent
of leather between them.

His musty jacket.
The fragrance of childhood.

She could only see
the back of his head
as they walked.

An innocent almond
in its collared sheath.

She remembers his gentle hands.
His careful smile.

Please turn around.

The Boy with the Jasper Eyes.

His words fell to the floor
of stone and snow
in their quiet knowing.

Three pebbles rolled
off the tongue onto

The Stumbling Stone

Here I am

Then she was alone.


The girl suddenly felt tired.
It was as if the whole of history
was buried deep behind her eyes.

A Grave for the Jews.

It was then she noticed the fire.

A window. A fireplace.
Laughter. Papa’s arms.
The smell of pine.

The taste of boiled lollies.

There was no brass plate
beneath her feet.

No Stolpersteine.

My name is Anna

and I live here.


Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including TheNewVerse.News, The Blue Nib, Poets Reading The News, Street Light Press, Spillwords Press and Tuck Magazine.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

SONNET: AMERICA IN 2019

by Robert Darling


Donald Trump — Riding the Wrecking Ball, by DonkeyHotey


A would-be tyrant and accomplished liar
as president, the courts deaf to the poor,
and Congress filled with dotards up for hire;
the churches silent on what they should deplore
with priests and pastors who serve their own desire,
and conscience quiet in communities at war
with common sense.  As once the drivers of slaves
claimed they were slaves themselves, is hypocrisy
the driver of our facts? We build on graves
of genocide and treat our history
as promised consummation, the end of days,
and claim our innocence has kept us free.
And if bare, battered Truth somehow appeared
would we have eyes to see or ears to hear? 


Robert Darling has published two full-length collections of poetry, So Far and Gleanings, three chapbooks of poems, Boundaries, The Craftsman’s Praise, and Breaking the Silence and a volume of criticism on the Australian poet A.D. Hope. He has contributed poems and reviews to over fifty magazines and articles in several reference books in the US, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia.  He is Professor in Humanities and Fine Arts at Keuka College. The above poem is a response/updating of Shelley's "Sonnet: England in 1819."

STEALTHY BOMBERS MIGRATING TO VERMONT IN FALL 2019

by Tricia Knoll


A federal report on the noise impact of F-35 jets on the area surrounding the Burlington International Airport is delayed again. Noise exposure information due from the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter jets was due in December, then February. Now, according to airport officials, the information will be publicly available—tentatively—next month. —Burlington Free Press, March 14, 2019


The cemetery and the dairy face off against each other
on the winter-potholed two-lane road that runs
between two towns that aren’t really very big.

The F-35s are coming to the most populated part
of the state with the politicians’ blessings. On those wings
hang jobs, a possibly spotty safety record, and cost over-runs

that bring the war machine to where
the cemetery and the dairy face each other
on a first warm spring day.  The flags

in the cemetery reflect winter tatter
and the pasture grass for the cows
is brown. Someone on the radio

states that the new planes are four times
louder than the F-15s that left town
on Saturday, but whose brain can multiply

sound and decibels well enough to imagine that?
Suspicious why the FAA hasn’t issued
those sound maps, where the four times

as loud will be suffered. One man half-heartedly
blames the government shut down. The kids
in the school haven’t had their exercises yet

for when the noise terrifies them. They are
busy having their regular old active-shooter
drills. Even when the pasture grass is brown

and the flags on the cemetery are winter torn.


Tricia Knoll lives directly in the flight path of the F35s that will be stationed at the Vermont Air National Guard. She is a poet who is very tired of war machines, bellicose wall builders and those who seek to jail young children. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

PRESENCE IN THE ABSENCE

by Mary K O'Melveny


Illustration by Andy Gilmore for The New York Times, October 4, 2018. Stephen Hawking said that particles that fall into a black hole “can’t just emerge when the black hole disappears.” Instead, “the particles that come out of a black hole seem to be completely random and bear no relation to what fell in. It appears that the information about what fell in is lost, apart from the total amount of mass and the amount of rotation. If determinism breaks down, we can’t be sure of our past history either,”  Hawking said. “The history books and our memories could just be illusions. It is the past that tells us who we are. Without it, we lose our identity. Black holes are stranger than anything dreamed up by science fiction writers, but they are clearly matters of science fact.” —NWO Report, April 24, 2016


Black holes have our attention
once again. We still know little
or nothing. They are consummate
known unknowns, as Rumsfeld once said.

An image haunts us as we guess
at portraits of bending space, our
breath catches mid-inhale, as we
ruminate on combustion.

Or collapse. I had a lover
once who made me feel I could do
both at the same time—plummet from
heat to nothingness in seconds.

How I gravitated to flame
and then to black ice still amazes
all these light years later even
when my days now rotate with sun.

Perhaps we are obsessed with past
lives when they become places of
no return. Where memories curve
inward, leave us to read between lines.

That is why we hunger for things
we don’t know or can’t remember.
Why, even though ignorance may
devour us, shadows of faith adhere.


Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press.

BLACK HOLES

by Rick Mullin
The Quantum Black Hole by John Baez


I liked the way they looked in my imagination.
Huge aortas in the midnight sky
devouring time and space and light,
demolishing the errant satellite.

I like subjective characterization
and not forever asking why.

But here comes a received and peer-reviewed design,
a doughnut over-lit and over-glazed.
The hole’s too small for all that stuff
and overall not black enough.

I liked the black holes more when they were mine,
when I was curious, confused and dazed.


Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Lullaby and Wheel.