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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

THE WITLESS MAY PROCEED

 by Steven Kent




Hearings, we hold hearings by the score;
In fact, no time is left for legislation.
Our tools are slander, smear, insinuation,
Red herring, shady witnesses, and more.

Ukraine's on hold, and Israel to boot;
The "crisis" we decried down at the border
Seems not so pressing after all: Trump's order
To wait till post-election we salute.

Impeachment, though—Mayorkas—couldn't wait,
While hopes today are really, really ridin'
On hints and whispers aimed at Hunter Biden
(Since we've found zero evidence to date).

Hearings, we hold hearings by the score;
We talk the talk but balk at taking action.
We work instead through media distraction--
Real governance these days is such a bore!


Steven Kent is the poetic alter ego of writer, musician, and Oxford comma enthusiast Kent BurnsideHis work appears in 251, Asses of Parnassus, Journal of Formal Poetry, Light, Lighten Up Online, New Verse News, Philosophy Now, Pulsebeat Poetry Journal, and Snakeskin. His collection I Tried (And Other Poems, Too) was published in 2023 by Kelsay Books.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

CAGED BIRDS SINGING

by Lynn White


Songbirds have long been popular among Gaza’s population for their colour and song, but now they’re natural soothers against the thunder of Israel's relentless war [Mohamed Soleimane/Al Jazeera] February 17, 2024


She asked me why the caged birds sang.
I couldn’t tell her,
not for sure.
No mate will arrive this year,
just like last year.
I wonder if they remember,
perhaps they still
live in hope. 

She asked me if they heard the bombs falling
and if they felt fear.
I couldn’t tell her, 
not for sure.
Perhaps peace will arrive this year,
unlike last year.
I wonder if they remember peace,
perhaps they still
live in hope
as we all do here 
where the bombs never stop falling. 

She asked me if they knew
they brought us comfort.
“I think that’s why 
they still sing,”
I said.


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality and writes hoping to find an audience for her musings. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Peach Velvet, Light Journal, and So It Goes.

Monday, February 19, 2024

DEL’ MONOCLE TALES

by R Longfield


AI-generated graphic for The New Verse News by Shutterstock


Prologue

In the monthe of March, as the Ides blew colde,
Climbers of Capitol Hille, younge and olde,
And woerkers of the grate howse whyte would meet,
Their sorrows to drowne with wynes so strong and sweet,
Or bourbon’s amber anodyne in glass,
To make all sadness and trouble quickly pass.
Del’Monocle was called this wondrous place,
With its olde-tyme feel and ambient grace,
And I as the host of these raconteurs,
Their stories I will attempt to preserve.
The first, a staffer, an assistant younger,
In the grate howse whyte, so demure in tongue,
Yet so strong and brave in manner of speech,
Her spirit of golde let no man impeach.
Then, was an intern of the people’s howse,
Fair of face and hair, but a flitter-mouse,
Paled in comparison to what she heard,
Oh how she did clingge to every word.
A reporter of news was in their midst,
His drinkes, the strongest, and always a twiste,
Just like his stories and searches for truthe,
His favorite remedy was in vermouthe.
A cooke was among those in this party,
His laugh was loud, his appetite hearty,
For Oysters, Manhattans, and Cowboy steaks,
His favorite saying was, “Them’s the breaks.”
Next to the reporter, a Fixer sat,
His clothing was dark, his demeanor flat,
His eyes looked downe, his vicissitudes were blacke,
As if a large target were attached to his backe.
Beside the Fixer sat an Aesthetician,
Whose countenance was far from patrician,
Her language was flowery, to say the least,
While comparing her client to a beaste.
An ancient Senator joined them later,
Upon his escape from the high chamber,
Flaccid was his face of whyte, thin, his haar,
His half-pied clothes, from no Haberdasher,
Behind him a ladye from Georgia, faire,
With bleached wyhte teethe and badly tinted haar,
Many were her tayles of conspiracies,
Laysers from spayce and other such theories.
Last in the group, an insurrectionist, 
His convictions stronge, a long, written listed,
With grievances many, his anger and rayge,
Spewed forth from his mowth, discretion uncaged.

All of these pilgrims here rested awhile,
Each told a tale with various style,
Before heading home or travelling south,
To kisseth the ring of the man with the mowth.
The man with the mowth and the bright orange fayce,
Their object of worship, some seen as disgraced,
At least, this is what was told me tonighte,
Their tales I recount here as best I might,
Read on as you please, with scorne or delighte.


R Longfield was born in Atlanta but has lived nearly all her life in Southern California. She believes in magic and the power of laughter to bring tyrants and buffoons down to size. Down to an extremely small size.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

NAVALNY: IS FREEDOM DEAD IN THE SIBERIAN GULAG?

by Mostofa Sarwar




You grew up watching: 
Birds open The Sky Gate
over the river Protva
 
You, awakened by the dreams of
chirping fieldfare and rock pigeon,
seagull’s greetings from the Caspian Sea
Dimensions, unbounded
 
Bathing in photons and sucking light’s nectar,
the birds whispered to you:
Infinite freedom, unshackled
 
Who knows? Those birds, perhaps,
decoded the stars’ cryptic notes
and then swam in the love wave of freedom
 
Near the bank of the Dnieper by the reed forest,
perhaps, you played with the sands
perhaps, those tiny particles,
the river carried as loads,
ended up, with your touch,
in the carnival of endless water
 
This gloomy morning, I read,
you are dead
in the “Polar Wolf,” a Siberian Gulag
An absurd tyrant pierced your body
with poisoned knives
It could be a rumor
Could it be?
 
Are you dead?
I saw you by the lake next to my home
You lead a demonstration
of seagulls, grasshoppers, doves, and egrets
I heard the slogan
Freedom and freedom and freedom
Nothing but the freedom
 
It echoed through the universe

Dr. Mostofa Sarwar is professor emeritus and former associate provost at the University of New Orleans, dean and ex-vice-chancellor and provost of Delgado Community College. His opinion essays were published in The Daily Star and Bdnews24.com of Bangladesh, The Strait Times of Singapore, The Statesman of India, Phuket News of Thailand, The Times Picayune of New Orleans, The Advocate of Baton Rouge, The Acadiana Advocate of Lafayette, The Daily Advent and The Opera News of New York. Recently, his English poetry has appeared in Sangam literary magazine, The Seattle Star magazine, New Verse Newsonline literary journal, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart. Sarwar published three books of Bengali poems. He frequently participates in Bengali talk shows at cable TV channels (broadcast out of New York, Washington, DC, and Dhaka).

NAVALNY, RAFAH

by dana yost





burning cars.

gas in the air.

navalny dead.

someone lights

a cigarette.

marley’s words.

bottle of teeth

on the vanity.

navalny dead.

arctic nights.

while we stand

aside and look.

forgive them?

not yet.

pick at the meat

with your 

squirmy fingers.

roasted logs

by the missouri.

fog in daylight,

doorways

and dust.

in rafah

women

and children

are the real

poets.



Dana Yost was a journalist for 29 years and, still, sometimes, when news happens he can’t help but comment on events as they happen. He wrote the poem in lower case to try, in some way, a mode of protest or a bit of anarchy in response to too many strongmen and would-be strongmen. We have to speak against them.

IDENTIFYING CHRIST

by Joy Kreves





In his final speech in court before his latest conviction, Navalny quoted the Bible: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” —Yahoo! News, February 16, 2024


No, Donald Trump is not America’s Navalny. —The Washington Post, February 16, 2024


On the one hand

a living carcass of a coward

who leads the GOP by nose ring

 

On the other

the now dead Navalny

who suffered then died for democracy for all

 

One, belly expanded 

with the gaseous stench 

of mockery and hatred

 

The other, thinned frame 

filled with wit and love

and bravery

 

Even a toddler could discern

which is more Christ-like

yet half of America remains confused



Joy Kreves is a New Jersey artist/poet, member of DVP/US1 Poets.  She has had work published in art exhibition catalogs and in WORKSHEETS Anthologies 2022 & 2023.  She says, I still remember grade school lessons on The Golden Rule.  We had to pledge allegiance to the flag of our country.  These lessons were reinforced in Sunday School.  I am baffled by the ability of so many to justify rude, dishonest, selfish and traitorous behavior.  What were they taught as children?  

Saturday, February 17, 2024

DISARMCHAIR

by David Rudd-Mitchell


AI-generated graphic for The New Verse News by Shutterstock


DisArmchair Linguists

While body counts are unconfirmed,
They view how breaking news is termed.

DisArmchair Activists

The blood is fresh,
And there’s no pause
Before the next post 
for their cause. 

DisArmchair Optimists

They hope that soon the war will cease,
And this will lead to lasting peace.

DisArmchair Hypocrites

They hate the hypocrites who stride,
To only see the other side,

Armchair Apologists

Water cut off, city bombed,
They say, “It’s how they must respond.”

Armchair Fascists

Cut all the power, cut off the phones,
Stop all the schooling, crush all the homes.
Close off the border, block every route,
Stop all the bombing, then start to shoot.

DisArmchair NeoNihilists

Watching from a safe retreat,
These optimists admit defeat.

DisArmchair Poet

A poem of protest,
angry tweets,
And yet our history
Still repeats. 

Reformed DisArmchair Poet

Words are precious,
In their way,
But it’s time to join the march
—and pray.


David Rudd-Mitchell is an occasional poet who has had work published in zines, magazines, two shared chapbooks and anthologies. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

WITNESS

by Jean Mikhail




I have witnessed little animals, 
their death throes at my doorstep,  
ones killed or maimed by my cat, 
Phoebe,  and from time to time, 
I have nearly stepped on some small dead 
something, and I’d love to catch her 
before the killing act, to turn back time, 
and gently place the baby rabbit back 
in its burrow, or set the fledgling 
robin on a branch, safely, but instead, 
I have tossed the carcass in the trash 
or pitched the body into the woods,
a safe distance away, and I have   
shifted my focus, turned my eyes  
from their bloody mouths, lifted 
my shoe to float over them, 
like  a cloud crosses the convex 
eyes of a child of Gaza, lying dead, 
and I saw him in, of all places, 
a Facebook video while scrolling 
through all the other videos of surfers 
surfing, of people giving cooking 
lessons, and the bombing of this 
building, the concrete caving into
a boy’s chest,  he will never crack 
a smile, or break into laughter, ever 
again, he was made to be a martyr, 
in his mother’s eyes, a martyr, 
his brown eyes softening into cloud 
wisps, into blue sky reflection, 
and he and other children throughout
history, the children of the Holocaust,
of Syria, and those others murdered 
for no reason, no fault of their own, 
don’t even have a doorstep 
tombstone,  or a proper burial, 
or a bell ringing like a doorbell,  
no one will answer the question 
why their deaths don’t matter, 
or how can this be happening, 
because let’s face it, 
we’d never get anything done 
if we solely focused on the world’s 
horrors, we’d never even get our 
shopping done, or have the strength
to lift our heavy brown paper sacks 
to the car because everything would feel 
so burdensome, heavy as a body, 
as concrete collapsing into the child
counted among the dead, a number, 
a child cocooned in a burial cloth, 
and the world tilts on its heavier side, 
and we are on the lighter side giving  
nothing but a thumbs up for dying children, 
and all we can do is hope for better 
endings, for a ceasefire and for peace, 
I  can no longer watch a mother grieve,
yet can’t look away from her, either, 
as she  performs the ungodly task 
of collecting her child’s blown off 
ears and fingers, wiping tears 
on her hijab because what else 
does she have but a sheer will 
to survive and head covering, 
and how else can she know 
her child’s hand from any other 
child’s hand, like my own children's 
hands, how would I recognize them,  
whose hand would I hold, whose 
fingers thrown into the air, asking 
which almighty to help them. 


Jean Mikhail lives in Athens, Ohio with her husband, who is Egyptian. Two of her children are Guatemalan adoptees. She has published in The Appalachian Review, Sheila Na Gig Online, Pudding Magazine, and other journals and anthologies. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

STREETS OF BOUGAINVILLEA

by Elizabeth Rose


Since we started collecting data in 2012, 1,335 defenders across Latin America have lost their lives…. Yet very few families have seen justice for these killings. —Global Witness, September 2023



You must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
           —Naomi Shihab Nye, “Kindness

 


I have my own Indian story.

Fausto, my friend, was also dead

 

by the roadside, macheted

in a waterless gully.

 

Stripped naked,

hanged, and cut through,

 

on a Sabbath.

His daughters asleep in cribs.

 

Fausto could have been

my child had I been born

 

on another continent

with another skin color.

 

We were both bent

toward social justice,

 

for me a conceptual brick

tossed through a window,

 

for him a sink

with running water.

 

His mother’s cavity eyes

his father’s taut mouth

stretched toward inevitability.

 

A cold case upon death.

A national miscarriage of laws.

 

Is this the sadness that kindles kindness?

Allows us to go out each day

 

into the streets of bougainvillea,

and ride the Tuk Tuk,

 

bodies next to baskets

overflowing with avocados

and mangoes.



Photo courtesy of the Otzin family.


Author’s noteThis is the story of my friend Fausto Otzin. He was a lawyer in Guatemala. He worked on land rights cases representing indigenous people. He was an indigenous Katchakel himself. He worked in Guatemala City during the week and traveled back to Comalapa on the weekends where his wife and two baby girls lived with his parents, his younger sister and her son, and another brother, sister-in-law, and their three children. I was involved in building a school from rubbish in Comalapa for eighteen years and I became friends with the Otzin family during that time. In October 2009 he went out on a Friday night and didn't return. He was found in a gully hanged and stabbed thirteen times on the following Sunday. There was no investigation and now 14 years later there have been no arrests or even people of interest brought forward.



Elizabeth Rose is a poet and psychotherapist living in Massachusetts. She has previously published poetry in BarBar and Verdad. Her personal essays have appeared in the New Mexico ReviewThe Boston Globe, and Anti-Heroin Chic. She published a chapter in Escape, a memoir collection published in 2023 by the Pathfinders Collective. She received an MFA from Lesley University in 2019.