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Friday, August 12, 2022

TERRITORY

by David Chorlton


“El Jefe,” a jaguar last seen in Arizona nearly seven years ago, was spotted in the Mexican state of Sonora last year, researchers confirmed recently, reviving hopes that the species can thwart the border wall that bisects its natural habitat. Above: El Jefe in the Santa Rita Mountains in Arizona on April 30, 2015(AP). Below: El Jefe is seen in the central area of Sonora, Mexico in November 2021(AP). —The Washington Post, August 10, 2022


Land remembered
from the distance of a century
turns into rock and light afloat
on a thread of water
that runs down from a mountain and sings
to the stones in its path.
Here comes night with the moon in its teeth.
Here comes a prayer
with blood on its lip and a heart
that beats time with a past
it’s come to reclaim. When belief
has soaked back into sky
the sky wears a pelt
cut for survival as all the land beneath it
turns mysterious blue
and a jaguar at a water hole
licks away the stars. He’s invisible
all the way inside himself
and quiet as a holy man who went
into the desert for its solitude.
He’s shed one country’s language. Its grammar
ran as liquid through his limbs
and he spat out punctuation every time
he moved in for a kill. Here’s a pool
of thirst.
             A red cloud of breath.
Some bones.
                   A heartbeat running
underground.
                      Homeland.
 

David Chorlton is a longtime resident of Phoenix. While jaguar sightings are ever elusive, he is content to know that the big cats have allies in their quest for survival, such as the Northern Jaguar Project.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

SOMETHING ABOUT WOLVES IN LOUISVILLE

by W. Barrett Munn




They hunt
as if they were four wolves,
a pack in pursuit of its prey.
When found they surround.
Fearsome, they isolate the young, the weak.
The black

night of the deserted moon masks
their padded steps but rapid hearts
and adrenal sweat unmasks
their stealth intent.

In silence they surround.
Less silent comes their rush:
Sudden. Sure.
They come as one
faceless, nameless, savage fury
until prey can only hope
survival of encounter
but this prey never had a chance:
judged and juried,
justified the pack brings down
its game, misguided hunger quelled.

In silence they survive
the questions; they
close the open net
no game escapes
no mistakes as
the righteousness of nature
nestles close.

Silence is a necessity
voices turn blue ischemic,
black and whites become necrotic.
But the smell won't fade in silence.
Stench always has a cost.

Silence as a weapon is
too weak when conscience speaks
too weak and unreliable when
other hunters—larger,
more powerful—
lay down their open traps.


W. Barrett Munn lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His poems have appeared in Copperfield Review Quarterly, Volney Road Review, Speckled Trout Review, and The Asses of Parnassus. He is a graduate of The Institute of Children's Literature where he studied under Larry Callen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

REBOUND

by Devon Balwit




A mind in a body, we want
the body not to suffer,
but bodies must learn
 
what illness is. To avoid
unpleasantness is to leave them
vulnerable to reinfection.
 
How tempting are blister-packed
nostrums when better
is to roll in our fever sweat
 
and full inflammation, each cell
a diligent student
of never again.


Devon Balwit is trying to put her final days of isolation to good use and is crossing her fingers against her own rebound.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

TEACH TO THE TEST

by Phyllis Frakt




What is “rule of law”?
What stops one branch of government
from becoming too powerful?
What is the supreme law of the land?
What does the judicial branch do?
 
I slip through a distorted looking glass
to prepare the class for US citizenship,
to speak, read, write simple English,
and recite answers to 100 questions
about American history and government.
 
On their side of the looking glass,
I simplify revered founding principles
that most of their American neighbors
learned in school, then forgot.
But the class must learn and remember.
 
So, we thrash through a verbal thicket –
pursuit of happiness, colony, revolution,
Civil War, civil rights, Constitution,
democracy, Confederacy, emancipation,
declaration, representation, discrimination.
 
They grasp at historic words and principles
as keys to permanent homes in America
with steady income, education for their children,
safety from vicious gangs or husbands,
freedom from fierce dictatorships.
 
Feliz once was a high school teacher.
She escaped violence, and cleans houses now.
Selim and his family fled their country,
running from false government accusations.
No job back home for Abeo, a stutterer.
 
On my side, I cringe at lessons about
civic ideals now sullied or out of reach:
no one above the law? checks and balances?
The class waits patiently for me to explain,
and I slip back through the looking glass.
 

Phyllis Frakt's poem "Recoveries" will appear in the upcoming edition of Worksheets 67. She lives in New Jersey, where she has volunteered as a citizenship teacher for ten years.

EXTENDED MAGS FOR KING GEORGE III

by Dave Day


Source: For the Sake of Arguments


Grapeshot, grapeshot
British artillery and redcoat musketmen
undone by Rhode Island farmboys
heeding the militia’s call
bearing
fully automatic AR-15s with
laser sights and aerial drone support
the colonists spray the loyalists
in the killzone
nine-millimeter sidearm
dum-dum jacketed softpoint
magnum ACP
thirty rounds for Lord North and
the madman King George
to enfilade the tyranny of
the House of Hanover
well-regulated militiamen all
comporting with the history and tradition
of SEAL Team Six, which was founded after
the Battle of Agincourt
the militia, our militia
selfless minutemen doffing
tricorne hats, brass buttons gleaming on
ballistic body armor, hurrah!


Author’s Note: The recent Bruen decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, which broadly allows concealed carry of firearms at the national level, is based upon the "originalism" doctrine of jurisprudence, where constitutional provisions are interpreted in the light of the history surrounding their adoptions.  As has been noted, the Supreme Court's view of history is inconsistent to say the least.  See https://www.scotusblog.com/2022/06/cherry-picked-history-and-ideology-driven-outcomes-bruens-originalist-distortions/.  Among other things, the Supreme Court has said that while the scope of the Second Amendment should be interpreted according to Eighteenth Century history, we do not look at Eighteenth Century history when considering the type of weapons that must be permitted (i.e., muskets versus assault rifles).  This leads to the unfortunate situation where we are now, where very powerful weapons with high magazine capacities are widely available.  This is the subject of my poem.


Dave Day is an attorney from Honolulu, Hawaii.  Dave has published poetry in The Ekphrastic Review and The New Verse News, and extremely nonpoetic articles in the Hawaii Bar Journal and Emory International Law Review.

Monday, August 08, 2022

BULLETS


by Andrena Zawinski


Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School's 1200 building has been sealed since the massacre on February 14, 2018. On Thursday, jurors in the sentencing phase of the school shooter's trial walked through the undisturbed scene, where the blood of the victims still stains classroom floors. Bullet holes also mark the walls of the Parkland, Florida, school where Nikolas Cruz killed 14 students and three staff members. A lock of dark hair remains on a floor more than four years after the body of a victim was taken away. Valentine's Day gifts and cards are strewn about, as shards of glass crunched beneath of the feet of visitors. These are the unsettling notes from a group of reporters allowed to enter the building after jurors completed their walk-through to provide details to media outlets across the country, including CNN. —CNN, August 5, 2022


Bullets, 
their brassy caps 
glinting golden in the dark
ammo tray tucked under
a student study desk,
more bullets in a bandolier 
crisscrossing the chest, bullets
maneuvered across a screen
in slugs of anger and angst 
in bullet launchers, landmines 
of bullets, bullets of the slain 
in a shooting game.

Bullets,
their powder packed cartridges
of panic and fear, hollow points 
shattering identities, blasts 
sounding in sleep, bullets 
of grief from a spray hate. 

Bullets 
that silence at windows, on lawns, 
on street corners, in schoolrooms, 
supermarkets, factories, churches, 
all turned altars of flowers,
candles, placards, and prayers, 

while bullets 
fill bank accounts
of makers and regulators
dodging bullets whistling by,
shells jingling in pockets 
like loose change spent 
in puddles of blood.

Bullets, 
their full metal jackets 
dug from the corpse 
with its legacy of wounds, 
bullets that pierced the flesh, 
shattered the bone, riddled 
the heart and all the wild in it,
depositing dreams
to urns and coffins
buried in holes in the dirt,
screams smothered, 
breaths sealed.


Andrena Zawinski’s poetry has received accolades for lyricism, form, spirituality, and social concern. It has appeared in Artemis, Blue Collar Review, Progressive Magazine, Aeolian Harp, Rattle, Verse Daily, The New Verse News, and elsewhere. Her latest collection is Landings. She has two previous award winning books: Something About and Traveling in Reflected Light and a fourth collection, Born Under the Influence, forthcoming in 2022.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

HAVE YOU ANY CLUES?

by Indran Amirthanayagam




The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today responded to the murder of another Albuquerque Muslim by a serial shooter who has allegedly been targeting Muslims for nine months by raising its reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible to $10,000. Photo: People spread dirt over Aftab Hussein's grave at Fairview Memorial Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Aug. 5, 2022. (The Albuquerque Journal via AP)



Four Muslim men in New Mexico—a grocer,
a busser, a city planner, and Friday night 
another, a worker in a refugee center—
 
have been shot dead, three over the last
week, serial killer roaming, targeting 
brown people who worship Allah, 
 
the news not breaking yet in all 
the feeds of the nation but spilling 
digitally here; and I am asking you 
 
to report suspicious behavior where 
you live. Be your brother's and sister's 
keeper, your brown and Muslim 
 
brother’s,  your brown and Muslim 
sister’s. Take care of your back,
their backs. Work with the police. 
 
Provide any leads. Find 
the killer. It takes a village. 
It takes a country.


Indran Amirthanayagam's newest book is Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant (BroadstoneBooks). Recently published is Blue Window (Ventana Azul), translated by Jennifer Rathbun.(Dialogos Books). In 2020, Indran produced a “world" record by publishing three new poetry books written in three languages: The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, New York), Sur l'île nostalgique (L’Harmattan, Paris) and Lírica a tiempo (Mesa Redonda, Lima). He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and has twenty poetry books as well as a music album Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly and helps curate Ablucionistas. He won the Paterson Prize and received fellowships from The Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, US/Mexico Fund For Culture, and the MacDowell Colony. He hosts the Poetry Channel on YouTube and publishes poetry books with Sara Cahill Marron at Beltway Editions.

KANSAS

by Donna Katzin




In the wake of Roe v. Wade’s demise
we see it coming—a blood-red wave  
that threatens to drown us
and our rights.
 
As pundits puzzle
and suited strategists opine,            
we step out from porches, campuses, back alleys,
leave our coat hangers in our closets,
 
rags and basins in our kitchens,
knock on doors of neighbors
who have yet to come out
of the house.                 
 
A horse parade prances by
with signs, “vote neigh,”
posters of a uterus
in a cowboy hat.
 
Texts like urgent birds,
words whispered, then spoken,
fly by in flocks unfettered
as our voices and our votes.
 
Our minds, our bodies                                                  
are our own—
will not be captured
any more than the wind.       
  
 
Author’s Note: On August 2, Kansas women and their supporters mobilized voters across the state to beat back a proposed amendment that would have allowed the state legislators to restrict or ban the abortion rights affirmed in the state’s constitution.  With an historic primary turn-out of half the state’s registered voters, the 59 to 41 percent victory at the polls built on decades of activism to protect women’s right to make their own decisions about their own bodies and health.  In the process, it set an important precedent for the nation following the US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.


Donna Katzin is the former and founding executive director of Shared Interest, a fund that mobilizes the human and financial resources of low-income communities of color in South and Southern Africa.  A board member of Community Change in the U.S., and co-coordinator of Tipitapa Partners working in Nicaragua, she has written extensively about South Africa, community development and impact investing.  Published in journals and sites including The New Verse News and The Mom Egg, she is the author of With the Hands, a book of poems and photographs about post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

WE ARE ALL IN THE GUTTER, BUT SOME OF US ARE LOOKING AT THE STARS OF INFOWARS

by Julie Steiner




Sandy Hook parents' lawyer says Alex Jones' phone leak contains 'intimate messages with Roger Stone' —Business Insider, August 5, 2022


Though “intimate” (you naughty thing)
need not mean "prurient,"
that word makes certain thoughts take wing
along a vulgar bent.

Your conscience frowns and shakes her head.
Although she’s tsked and clucked,
you hope these bad boys’ texts, when read,
show both completely fucked.


Julie Steiner is a pseudonym in San Diego, California. Besides The New Verse News, the venues in which Julie's poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, Rattle, Light, and The Asses of Parnassus.

Friday, August 05, 2022

ON ART, LINES & EARTH(LINGS)

by Jen Schneider

in honor of James Longenbach (1959-2022)




“Hold the line, please,” the hospital operator says
and all i can think
/ while waiting, wondering, worrying
—mostly wanting
is this must be how poems get made


Longenbach teaches poetry as the sound 
of language (organized in lines)
while physicists teach sound as a type of pressure 
/ a wave & not physical matter 
& that non-physical matter can’t be held  


—but consumed / like a sunburn, a shooting star,
a child’s cry, a first kiss 
/ a gust of wind (of a sea) 


            i inhale / then try
            to hold the line
cup my palm / & imagine
            coiled elastic compressions
            
            pressure creases 
            shadow / then settle
i pull / the line pushes
            all springs (& senses) engaged


Longenbach writes on a poem’s life & death
/ line, meter, & rhyme all tools of construction 
/ danglers & run-ons distanced / some say decried
            
            i cry—unexpectedly / 
            poetry is like that / “the sound 
 
with punctuated breath & cupped palms, 
i consume syllabic beats 
/ despite earthling’s desires / all spiral cords 
(& choruses) prone to tangle. all moons cyclical
 
The operator returns & says, “I’m sorry.
We can’t locate the clerk,” at the same time
an overhead speaker buzzes / sound waves press
—& hang up, wishing to continue to hold the line


Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. Recent works include A Collection of RecollectionsInvisible InkOn Habits & Habitats, and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups.

HINT OF AN ELEGAIC SUMMER VOICE

by Earl J. Wilcox

for Vin Scully (1927-2022)




Some say his dulcet tones

Soothed the raucous hard ballers.

 

Some say his mellifluous vocals

Quelled the rabid Dodgers horde.

 

Others say his soothing cache

Of insightful swag saved the day.

 

The wonderful horde of baseball

Lore and treasure allured us forever

 

the day he arrived in Brooklyn &

the era he shined in his city of angels. 

 

We shall not hear again his storied

Trove of love for our nation’s game—

Our man with a voice for all seasons.



Earl Wilcox writes from his retirement balcony in upstate South Carolina. A collection of his poems—It Goes On, Life Poems—will be published in 2023.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

THE FIRST RULE OF COMEDY

by Thomas J. Erickson




Monkeys are always funny.
 
Remember when Sergeant Bilko inducted the little scene stealer into the Army
or when Ronnie Reagan put Bonzo to bed?
Lance Link Secret Chimp did a helluva Ed Sullivan imitation.
 
We all have Neanderthal DNA. Someone must have shtupped a Neanderthal
on a dare or maybe it was some type of prehistoric performance art
or the drunken jerk did it for laughs apparently before there were any
rules of comedy.
 
Should we get another dog after Edie dies, my wife asks.
Yes, let’s get two. 
One for me and one for you.
Yours can have the booties and the rain coat.
 
How do we know when something is over?
Why are we so slow to realize the death
of a plant or a season or a library
or a democracy?
 
Even so, Senator Hawley’s mad dash through the hall broke me up
which reminded me of the second rule of comedy: 
Always leave them laughing.




Thomas J. Erickson is an attorney in Milwaukee.  His latest book is Cutting the Dusk in Half by Bent Paddle Press.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

EARTHLINGS

by Peter Witt




If earth was my father, he’d sit me down
for the talk, about how the birds and bees
are under threat, how humankind has polluted
its nest, and how our actions may doom us
to the inevitably of a rage of forest fires,
hurricanes, tornadoes and other
devastating weather events.
 
If earth was my mother, she’d send me
to my room, cut off my social media
for a month, make me eat green vegetables
and fresh fruit instead of junk food
that comes in non-degradable packaging.
 
If earth was my mentor, he’d tutor me in ways
to live a life that respects the planet, take on
advocacy roles that can reverse the holocaust
of degradation that human greed has wrought.
 
If earth was my lover, she’d touch me in ways
that reach deep in my being, hold me close,
look into my eyes and beg me to love
her forever for the sake of every rock, ocean,
mountain, turtle, rabbit, snake, and ladybug.


Peter Witt is a Texas poet, a frequent contributor to The New Verse News and other online poetry web-based publications.

A STRENGTH & BEAUTY RARE

by Dick Altman




Flying jewels I thought they were
as a child.  To entice one onto
a finger, to bring it up to the nose,
as the black-bordered tangerine
wings slowly opened and closed—
could a little boy be any more
smitten?
                        *
Thirty-five years later, on a lake
in upstate New York, I rediscover
Monarchs—beguiling not of fragile
sweetness, but ferocity almost beyond
the syntax of belief.  I’m transfixed
at how they tilt against late summer’s
gusting head winds.  As if they had
no choice.  As if wings were oars—
as if boats launched from shore
into raging tidal seas—as they press
forward, only to be repulsed—again
and again.  As they fight, tirelessly,
to stay aloft above the aqueous grave
awaiting any that falter.  Fight as if
drowning in air, frantic to surface
in northern Mexico’s Mil Cumbres hills. 
Frantic to give birth, after voyaging
twenty-five hundred hectoring miles,
until they all but drop.
                        *
The vision of embattled, desperate
fleets returns, when I drive into
the Cumbres, dumbstruck by forests
black and orange, pulsing, folding,
unfolding, eager after winter to create
a new generation. One destined
to traverse, like their forbears, lake’s
grueling flyways north to Canada.
                          *
I pee as a kid on a log bordering
our cabin’s path to the water.  What
of my essences lures Monarchs
to the spot in droves, I’ll never know. 
Part of me evolves into part of them.
An entwining of winged and bipedal,
one bound to earth, the other to air—
a lifetime ago, and I behold it yet
with a child’s wonder un-frayed.
                            *      
Days of Monarchs’ madness pass.
The lake’s autumnal transit
a fragment of memory.  Gales black
and orange out-fought, out-flew
the winds.  When Milkweed,
their caterpillars’ favorite food,
their only food, succumbs to man’s
punishment of earth, winged courage
proves no match.  But when
imagination wanders back to those
bejeweled days on the water, I conjure
soaring, gliding gems of fortitude. 
Pray for the day skies confetti again
with their dancing fury. Odysseus
takes twenty years to sail home.
Monarchs, but a few months.


Dick Altman writes in the high, thin, magical air of Santa Fe, NM, where,at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. He is published in Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, riverSedge, Fredericksburg Literary Review, Foliate Oak, Blue Line, THE Magazine, Humana obscura, The Offbeat, Haunted Waters Press, Split Rock Review, The RavensPerch, Beyond Words, The New Verse News, Sky Island Journal, and others here and abroad. A poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has in progress two collections of some 100 published poems. His work has been selected for the forthcoming first volume of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry to be published by the New Mexico Museum Press.