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Tuesday, January 15, 2019


by Dustin Michael

The devastating tsunamis that struck the coastlines of Chile, Haiti, Indonesia, and Japan in recent decades produced waves tens of meters high, unimaginable to most people accustomed to gentle seas. But millions of years ago, a truly inconceivable set of waves—the tallest roughly 1,500 meters high—rammed through the Gulf of Mexico and spread throughout the ancient ocean, producing wave heights of several meters in distant waters, new simulations show. (Photo credit: Science Photo Library/Alamy Stock Photo) —EOS, December 20, 2018

If there had been an Eiffel Tower,
an Empire State Building, a Great Pyramid,
One World Trade Center, a Statue of Liberty,
our house, our cars, and all the plates and dishes
from our wedding registry, our books, our children,
our children’s new dinosaur toys and my old dinosaur toys,
if there had been these things all stacked one on top of the other
like a mighty finger, they would point up to space, and to the terrible foam
of a still-much-taller wave.

If there had been human words to fail,
a rich tapestry of languages, a monomyth,
creation stories from every culture, all involving fire
and water, the name Enkidu in Sanskrit on a shard of pottery,
a diagram of the heroic cycle labeled fig. 2 in a student’s essay
about the earth-diver, the bones of Joseph Campbell
tumbling over and over in a tsunami that scrapes clean
all the bone beds, petroglyphs, an animated film on VHS about 
non-contemporaneous dinosaur friends on a dangerous journey,
drawer after drawer full of carefully labeled fossils all scattered,
all hit with the hose

If there had been a firebox containing the important papers,
passports, proof of citizenship, baptism certificates, bonds,
our homeowner’s insurance policy locating us in a flood zone,
topographical charts predicting sea level rise that the current administration
commissioned and then dismissed, the food and gas receipts from hurricane evacuations never submitted for a claim, fluttering away into a darkening sky like a thousand tiny lab coats

If there were a way to imagine a bullet from space
striking a planet of enormous birds, or to invent an instrument 
to measure emotions from plaster footprints made from casts of stone,
if there were a way to carbon date an animal’s scream and filter it
through a mile-high wave crossing the globe at close to the speed of sound,
or to photograph the world dying from our bedroom, I would reclaim these secrets from the quivering Earth for you and fall asleep with dirt from the backyard grave of our parakeet under my nails, tracing my finger along the crater
in your pillow where your face has pressed,
and discover a new layer of sediment there
composed entirely of thoughts
and prayers

Dustin Michael teaches writing and literature. He lives with his wife and children in Savannah, Georgia.

Monday, January 14, 2019


by Pepper Trail

Federal workers and contractors rally against the 8artial federal government shutdown in Washington DC last week. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images via The Guardian, January 13, 2019

Empty-handed, we are given furlough
My colleagues and I, turned away
The doors are locked against us
And all the work that we would do

My colleagues and I, turned away
Classified as mere Non-Essential
And all the work that we would do
Deemed to be—what’s the word?—worthless

Classified as mere Non-Essential
National parks, flight safety, food safety
Deemed to be—what’s the word?—worthless
Except as material to build a wall

National parks, flight safety, food safety
Ground into powder, melted into slag
All material to build a wall
Concrete or steel slats, shimmer of hot air

Ground into powder, melted into slag
The integrity of our government
Concrete or steel slats, shimmer of hot air
A mirage, distorted mirror of one man’s ego

The integrity of our government
Sacrificed to trumped-up fear, talk-radio rage
A mirage, distorted mirror of one man’s ego
Beyond, a weary mother, a crying child

Sacrificed to trumped-up fear, talk-radio rage
Empty-handed, we are given furlough
Beyond, a weary mother, a crying child
The doors are locked against us all

Author's Note: The government shutdown is many things. The national media has chosen to focus on how the shutdown is absurdist political theater in the service of one man's fragile ego, and is only now beginning to give attention to the shutdown's devastating financial impacts on many federal workers, its lasting damage to national parks and other public lands, and the huge waste of money that it represents.
     I am a furloughed federal worker. I work at a government science laboratory that carries out cutting-edge work in wildlife conservation. The government shutdown has prevented the lab's dedicated professionals from carrying out this important work for the past 22 days—with no end in sight. We are all classified as 'non-essential.' So are FAA plane safety inspectors, national park rangers, immigration judges, NASA scientists, USDA food inspectors—the list goes on and on.
     The pantoum form, with its repetitions and slow rhythms, seems particularly suited to express the seemingly unending frustration of the shutdown. The doors are locked against us all.

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.

Sunday, January 13, 2019


by Maureen Rubin

500 academics and counting have signed the JVP Academic Advisory Council letter in support of Angela Davis. Jewish Voice for Peace calls on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to rescind their cancellation of the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award intended for Professor Angela Davis. The cancelling of this award by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is unjust, insulting and ill-conceived, especially because it is likely premised on Professor Davis' long-standing support for Palestinian human rights. The decision seems to stem from a misinformed view that to advocate for Palestinian human rights is somehow offensive to the Jewish community. —Jewish Voice for Peace

“Hell no. We won’t go!” “Hey! Hey! LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
Angry slogans soar while we march in our bell bottom jeans and tie-dyed tee shirts.

We can barely breathe. We cover our innocent collegiate mouths with wet washcloths to ward off the tear gas.  But washcloths couldn’t stop the bullets at Kent State.

College students are marching again. Dressed in yoga pants and ripped jeans they now yell “Fight the power. Turn the tide.  End Israeli apartheid” Same anger. New slogans.

They are BDS.  They demand Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions for Israel. They are Palestinians. They hate all things Israel.

They use tough tactics. They ban Israeli speakers from their campuses. They seek to forbid college funds from supporting the Jewish state. They pass resolutions.

They win at Barnard. George Washington.  University of Minnesota. Pitzger College. And now the US House of Representatives.  A new freshman Member of Congress admitted she backs BDS.

They demand freedom, justice and equality, just as we did.  But is it the same?

But my job is to teach aspiring journalists to cherish the First Amendment. “Democracy demands free speech,” I say. I quote Tallentyre. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

As I hammer the necessity of free speech into my student’s sponge-like brains, I always think of my causes.  The good ones.  The right ones. Viet Nam.  ERA.  #MeToo.

Free speech lives on college campuses.  They are safest of all places. Safe to debate. To argue.  To protest. To march.  To learn.

David Duke came to my campus.  I told my students to go see him. I quoted Justice Brandeis. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  Let them spew their hate on my campus.  Openness exposes idiocy.

But now, there is a cause that is not mine. There is a cause that makes me sick. I am a Jew and I do not want angry Palestinians working for their change in my backyard.

But don’t these protesters have the same rights as we did?  How can I teach my students to cherish the First Amendment rights of hateful BDS?

I can’t.  I am a hypocrite.

Maureen Rubin is an Emeritus Professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge. In her 30 years on campus, she served in a variety of administrative positions, published widely and received numerous teaching and public service awards.  Prior to joining the university, she was Director of Public Information for President Carter’s Special Assistant for Consumer Affairs in the White House, and held similar positions for a U.S. Congresswoman and several non-profits. She has a JD from Catholic University School of Law In Washington, D.C., an MA in Public Relations from University of Southern California and a BS in Journalism from Boston University.  

Saturday, January 12, 2019


by Ian Patrick Williams

We fought the British army to create a new democracy
But it turned out just to be a lesson in hypocrisy
Instead of having freedom in the new Home of the Brave
All the Founding Fathers got to hold on to their slaves.
So as our brand new nation was then starting to be shaped
African-Americans faced lynching or were raped
Abolitionists did what they could to raise a legal fight
But all the slavers said it was a matter of state’s rights.
Dred Scott escaped into the North and thought that he was free
His owner followed, claiming he was just some property
The Court agreed and sent him back, said he was not a man
And all the racists cheered: it was the Law of the Land.

The population grew and so the pioneers moved West
Looking for whatever land might suit their interests best
Killing all the Native tribes wherever they would go
They found themselves in what was then called Northern Mexico
From Texas, Arizona, all the way to California
They turned their guns on Mexicans and said, “We gotta warn ya
That it’s time for all you brown-skinned folk to cross the Rio Grande.
This is white people country, that’s the Law of the Land.”

The Civil War was fought and won and stopped the South’s secession
But they simply organized a new form of repression
The Jim Crow laws would still repress the black community
But that was not the only form of inequality
Only men would have a say in forming legislation
Women couldn’t vote, though they were half the population.
The Suffragettes went marching, but the men said they were wrong
“Go back into the kitchen; that’s where all of you belong.
To vote requires mental work, you couldn’t understand.
Only men can vote ‘cause that’s the Law of the Land.”

The fight went on for years and years till Civil Rights could pass
We thought we had equality for every single class
But greedy corporations came up with a new solution:
They’d simply buy up all new laws with campaign contributions.
Crush the unions, cut their taxes, only pay low wage
And sure enough they had themselves another Gilded Age
With ever-growing profits, keeping all that they could get
Dumping on us peons twenty trillion dollars debt
The one-percenters cheered themselves and said, “Oh, ain’t it grand
When all us billionaires can buy the Laws of the Land!”

This struggle for control goes on, we’ve seen it all before
Deregulation, planned recessions, Middle Eastern war
All designed to line the pockets of the profiteers
The money-grubbing warmongers who’ve ripped us off for years.
There’s only one way out of living under their command
We have to come together and united, take a stand
We cannot have democracy until we all demand
That only We the People make the Laws of the Land.

Ian Patrick Williams won the Chicago Emmy award for co-authoring the teleplay Bleacher Bums for PBS-TV; the script was later purchased and produced as a M.O.W. by Showtime. He has also written and directed seven One Act plays for young people that toured Los Angeles Unified School District schools through the not-for-profit firm Enrichment Works. His one-act play "Provenance" was produced last year at Ensemble Studio Theater.

Friday, January 11, 2019


by Matt Quinn

"Going Medieval" by Matt Bors at TheNib

Down in the valley’s toxic murk
wild gangs of rapey goblins lurk.
All shifty-eyed with evil smirks
and unbesmirched by honest work,

they lust for trinkets they don’t need,
like fifty-inch plasma TVs,
and get mashed up on meth-laced mead,
and spread diseases when they breed.

Not one can read or use a quill,
they have no useful trades or skills
and never ever pay their bills,
but peer with envy up the hill

to where the air is pure and clean
and sparkles with a silver sheen,
where no one does a thing that’s mean,
and all are blond and tall and lean

and bathe in crystal waterfalls
as lute-strings fill the shopping malls
with songs of liberty for all.
And so we built this great steel wall

(which also helps keep out the smell)
to shield our sacred citadel
from those who do not mean us well,
inscribed it with this ancient spell:

Don’t fuck with us, for we are elves.
We want to keep this for ourselves.

Matt Quinn lives in Brighton, England in a hobbit hole a short walk from the sea. His poems can be found online in Rattle, The Morning Star, The Deaf Poets Society, TheNewVerse.News and various other places.

Thursday, January 10, 2019


by Sean Murphy

An asylum seeker looks out from the trailer of a truck heading to the U.S. border with the so-called migrant caravan. Photograph by Alfredo ESTRELLA / AFP / Getty via The New Yorker illustrating "Searching for a Substantive Response to Trump’s Hateful Speech" by Masha Gessen, January 9, 2019.

This nightmare: the awful image of your scared daughter,
frantic inside a hastily assembled cage, crying for nobody.

Or to all those stone-faced and silent, heavily-armed officials,
standing around in uniformed circles: watching, and waiting

to do nothing; or rather, the one thing, the sanctioned thing:
just following their orders and etcetera, as usual, as always.

Never tempted or inclined to pause, reflect, and wonder how
He, the one whom everyone is obliged to obey, above all—

and whose sleepless armies wrathfully guard the gilded border
that serves to separate eternal darkness from light everlasting—

would fathom or abide disobedience and iniquity such as this,
an affront to what He offered as clear and sacred commission?

But then, who amongst us can claim to comprehend the evils
that might be lurking in the dark hearts of unfamiliar men or

their wives—shuttling the blessed burden all mothers carry—
in search of safety or shelter, however fleeting or uncertain?

And what follows next, when haven is granted, then imitated,
until this begets wave upon unbridled wave…finally drowning

our new world in its tired, poor, huddled, and massive wake . . .
never ceasing from the commotion it came here to accomplish?

And yet, aren’t human souls created in some unsullied image,
Bound to consecrated laws written not in books, but with fire—

According to He who judges all others in the midst of rulers:
Our Father, who enabled us to fall and, finally, be forgiven?

Who warned us to pray for lesser brethren—born to suffer—
and to remember, always: There but for the grace of God . . .

Go back to sleep, at ease with some absolution transferred
in sixty minutes every Sunday, the same day He rested and

beheld the work He’d made, finally dismayed by the shame
of us, declaring our earth too scarce for the meek to inherit.

Sean Murphy has appeared on NPR's All Things Considered and been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and AdAge. His work has also appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, The New York Post, The Good Men Project, Memoir Magazine, and others. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and served as writer-in-residence of the Noepe Center at Martha's Vineyard. He’s Founding Director of Virginia Center for Literary Arts. Twitter: @bullmurph.


by Lauren Haynes

Masks for everyone!
The tycoon flatters with free gifts
and they applaud his charity, a champion
of the working class.
Silk blindfolds for sleep
to lull leaky minds
that would spill ideas
and bleed tears of a dream blinked free
to see
the man licking the doorbell
of someone else’s home
a distraction, the war of words
forged to subvert the fact that
over there, the water runs radioactive
and there will be no food on the table
no books for learning—no, call me fantastic/look at the snow,
battles waged with flags waved by hands that will never know
the meaning of their colors,
hands held up by bodies that tremble with hunger, with fear.
Tomorrow is here, but we look away from the mirror.
So much unexplored universe out there . . .
we starve. we starve. we starve.

Lauren Haynes is a candidate for an MFA in Creative Writing at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. She worked as an English school teacher for years and seeks to contribute to a better world.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019


by Janet Leahy

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

the line at the border
families with little children.
They do not look like terrorists,
do not look like thugs,
they do not look like really bad people.
They do look tired
and hungry
and worried.
They wrap the baby
in a blanket of hope,
rock the toddler
in a loving embrace.
After long days and dark nights
they are here on the bridge
of promise.
Can you see the young boy
on his father’s shoulders,
the child holding tight
to her mother’s hand?
Can you see . . .
Can you . . .

Janet Leahy is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. Her work has been published in the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, Midwest Prairie Review, and online at My Daily Poem, TheNewVerse.News, and Blue Heron. She has published two collections of poetry. She enjoys working with a host of poets in the Milwaukee-Waukesha area.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


by Mary K O'Melveny

Ice is red here.  Blood red.
Lava red.  Forest fire red.
Cold sears like flame.  Or so
one might think from afar.

They say it all began
in this distant cluster
of frozen rocks.  Our sun
lies four billion miles out.

We could be wrong about
everything. Gravity’s pull
is different in new orbits.
Patience is required.

Warped by turmoil, we turn
outward, searching sky signs
for cosmic engagements,
for hints of original sins.

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.

Monday, January 07, 2019


by Martin Elster

A family of javelinas encounters the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border near the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona. (Image credit: Matt Clark / Defenders of Wildlife via Stanford Earth)

On a planet in a cosmos far away
there’s a USA that’s not the USA,
edged by a wall so ugly, Cooper’s hawks
and vultures will not perch atop it. Flocks
of bats and buntings ram it, while the turtle
and turkey blink and boggle at that hurdle
whose stainless teeth impale the stratosphere,
whose reach makes creatures prisoners all year.
Poets and meditators often wake
with hearts and kidneys missing. A mistake?
or just a program glitch inside a dream
hammered into heads by the regime
which built that barrier? Not the fiercest gale
nor hurricane nor earthquake can upset it.
Even the butterflies, bees, and beetles dread it.
Jumbo jet or Zeppelin or kite—
none dare traverse it. With the appetite
of a thousand whales, it gulps them in a bite.
When master mountaineers attempt to scale
the wall, they fall, or languish in a jail
with all the rest who waste away inside
a country or a cooler and abide
by the common rules in a cosmos far away
where the USA is not the USA.

Martin Elster, a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, has poems in numerous journals and anthologies. Honors include co-winner of Rhymezone’s 2016 poetry contest, winner of the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition 2014, third place in the SFPA’s 2015 poetry contest, and three Pushcart nominations.

Sunday, January 06, 2019


by Andrew Frisardi

In Greek mythology the Gray Sisters shared one eye and one tooth. Graphic via Pinterest.

The sisters had one tooth, one eye,
for all three: each had a day or week
to bite to eat, to see to seek.
But they got by fine, none said “mine.”

The Grays were weird, and no one’s seen them,
yet Congressmen have learned their trick.
You might say men are politic,
sharing a single testicle between them.

Originally from Boston, Andrew Frisardi is a writer, translator, editor, and independent scholar who lives in central Italy.

Saturday, January 05, 2019


by Mickey J. Corrigan

Three days after most of the federal workforce was furloughed on Dec. 21, a 14-year-old girl fell 700 feet to her death at the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, part of the Glen Canyon Recreation Area in Arizona. The following day, Christmas, a man died at Yosemite National Park in California after suffering a head injury from a fall. On Dec. 27, a woman was killed by a falling tree at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee. The deaths follow a decision by Trump administration officials to leave the scenic—but sometimes deadly—parks open even as the Interior Department has halted most of its operations. During previous extended shutdowns, the National Park Service barred access to many of its sites across the nation. National Park Service spokesman Jeremy Barnum said in an email that an average of six people die each week in the park system, a figure that includes “accidents like drownings, falls, and motor vehicle crashes and medical related incidents such as heart attacks.” Photo: Lights shine at a shuttered entrance station at Joshua Tree National Park in California on Jan. 3, 2019. The gate is normally staffed during the day but is now unstaffed 24 hours per day, allowing free entrance for all visitors. Campgrounds have been closed at the park and other services suspended during the partial government shutdown. (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images) —The Washington Post, January 4, 2019

Let him start by counting
the number of refugees
that can fit in a pup tent
or a large tiger cage.

Let him make a pie chart
for the styles of rakes
needed for preventing
forest fires
in the state of California.

He will weigh the odds
for laundering Russians
in Florida or New York.

He will compare the rainfall
in inches
in Paris
in November
with flood levels in Houston
in their last hurricane.

Puerto Rico
he ignores.

Let him indicate the size of
small hands
used to measure
the big wall.

He will evaluate the climate data
removed from public view
divided by the number of bodies
that can't fit
in a city morgue

then chart the data
for his fans:
give them
what they want

the results:

Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan lives in South Florida and writes noir with a dark humor. Books have been released by publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Poetry chapbooks include The Art of Bars (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and Days' End (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2017). Project XX, a novel about a school shooting, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. 


by Mickey J. Corrigan

"Florida man gropes woman on flight, tells police Trump 'says it's OK': A Florida man is accused of groping a female passenger while on a flight Sunday from Houston to Albuquerque and later telling authorities that the president of the United States says it's OK to grab women by their private parts." —AP, October 22, 2018

Florida Man:
he's any race or creed
the redneck black man
Jewish anti-Semite
woman-hating womanizer
alt-right progressive
an everywhere monster
never apprehended
always on the loose
in a dark alley
in your bushes, waiting
in the parking garage
at your desk
at work, at school
to offend again.

You know Florida Man:
your quiet neighbor
the one in the media
the shy fellow
with the big mouth
with expensive shoes
riding a dented three-wheeler
living in an exclusive suite
at the pink sand country club.

Florida Man golfs hard
swims naked
eats flesh
passes laws
breaks laws
does drugs, injects
levity or ire
into any
about what's wrong
with the state
of the state
of everything
in America.

Florida Man:
and coming
to a nightmare
near you.

Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan lives in South Florida and writes noir with a dark humor. Books have been released by publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Poetry chapbooks include The Art of Bars (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and Days' End (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2017). Project XX, a novel about a school shooting, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2019


by Gil Hoy

Last night I dreamed, 

workers painting my house

Brought all of their children

to work in the morning

With brushes and buckets 

of water, to wash and to clean

To scrub and to scour
the faces,

Like paintings on canvas,

That had appeared overnight
on the walls of my house.

Black faces, white faces,
yellow, red and brown

Faces of every hue and tone,
every size and shape,

And the children all the while
washing and scrubbing

But never hurting the faces.

And me, all the while watching
the children hard at work.

And then, in my dream,
the parents and their children

Began to tear down the Wall
surrounding my house.

By the end of the day,
they had torn down every boulder

And every stone, torn down
the ground-swell beneath,

Until nothing remained of my wall
but green grass and brown earth.

And me, all the while watching
the families hard at work

With a growing sense
of contentment

Coming from deep inside.

Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and trial lawyer who studied poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy 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, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, The Penmen Review, I am not a silent poet, TheNewVerse.News and Clark Street Review.