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Friday, October 18, 2019


by Ariana D. Den Bleyker

“But the American people are begging us for more than thoughts and prayers, they want an answer, and guess what? They want it now, because they know that this is a critical moment in our history.” — Elijah Cummings

The world is vacant for a moment,
grief a womb of air—
but how it lives through love,
the hunger for an abundant & eternal life—

even when it seems impossible to hope.

Today the fallen leaves sleep on a lake
from a wind waking the trees.
A voice shivers under the calm water & firm ground
to shake the faltering stars.

He offered his heart to our hands.

His words stay awake in the remaining raindrops
of an endless night; forbidden morning.
There’ll be no harvest here to reap.
There’s no one left to till the land.

Beneath the soil a farmer sleeps.

Close your eyes to the color
of the world & live your life
in black & gray. Love transcends
the empty room wishing you were here.

Real heroes are men of peace.

Ariana D. Den Bleyker is a Pittsburgh native currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley where she is a wife and mother of two. She is the author of three collections, including Wayward Lines (RawArt Press, 2015) and many chapbooks including, most recently, Scars are Memories Bleeding Through (Yavanika Press, 2018), A Bridge of You (Origami Poems Project, 2019), Even the Statue Weeps (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming 2019), and Confessions of a Mother Hovering in the Space Between Where Birds Collide with Windows (Ghost City Press, forthcoming 2019). She is also the author of three crime novellas, a novelette, and an experimental memoir.


by Mickey J. Corrigan

To be the scribe and whitewasher
changing slurs into diamonds
To edit out the coal dust, replace
with gold nuggets for all who believe
in the fraudulent intents
retro-disrupted and revised
so the world sees only the glitter
To lead the ruby-throated herd
to the edge of the flatland
let them jump, fall, moo
from burnt fields we insist
are green, lush, ready for bloom
To punch first, punch hard
blacken eyes that see the clarity
through the oil slicks
the choking smog
the hurricane winds
the historic floods that sweep away
rolls of paper towels, single serve
plastic soup in a hot bath
bubbling up
to engulf the debtors
the disenfranchised
the multitaskers
and hungry fat kids
listless on empty playgrounds
in the unyielding sun
To not speak of this
we use the magic cups
bait and switch-hunt
To lead with foaming mouths
red-faced faux outrage
at the shadows that must lurk
under the surface of greatness
To promise to those crushed
by the enormity of lies
if they continue to believe
if they continue to not see
the sleek black limo
nudging them
off the very edge

of the democratic abyss

Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes Florida noir with a dark humor. Project XX, a satirical novel about a school shooting, was released in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. Newest release is What I Did for Love, a twisted psychological thriller (Bloodhound Books, October, 2019).

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Original cartoon by  Steve Breen, The San Diego Union-Tribune, October 15, 2019

James Hamby is the Associate Director of the Writing Center at Middle Tennessee State University. He has been a finalist for the XJ Kennedy Parody Award and a nominee for the Pushcart Prize.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


by George Held

Trump Provides Cover For the Kurds by Pia Guerra at The Nib
Full story by Jennifer Griffin and Melissa Leon at Fox News.

The last vestige of shame
our Special Forces feel
for abandoning the Kurds,
our ablest warrior allies,

is pure attar in the rose
of battle grown in the garden
of the temporary victory
over ISIS and their allies.

That rose has faded and died
on orders from our supreme leader
to betray and abandon
our loyal Kurdish brothers.

In future where can shame
bloom? Who now will share
the arid earth where Kurd
and Special Forces bled

Out their lives in hard-earned
mutual trust? The old words
—trust and shame and loyalty—
have wilted and died.

George Held, a longtime contributor to TheNewVerse.News, has a new poetry chapbook out, Second Sight (Poets Wear Prada, 2019).

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


by Judy Juanita

“Last Saturday, a neighbor in Fort Worth called the city’s non-emergency line because he was concerned about his neighbors, 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson and her 8-year-old nephew. It was the middle of the night, but her front door was open. The dispatcher sent police officers, who appear to have treated the call as a reported burglary. While searching the perimeter of the house, Officer Aaron Dean saw a figure in the window. Without announcing himself, he yelled ‘Put your hands up! Show me your hands!’ Two seconds later, he fired his gun, killing Jefferson in her own home.” —Radley Balko, The Washington Post, October 15, 2019. Photo: A makeshift memorial outside the home of Atatiana Jefferson on Monday. Jefferson was fatally shot by a Fort Worth police officer early Saturday morning. (Jake Bleiberg/AP via The Washington Post, October 15, 2019

We wear a masque called freedom
But Atatiana was shot like a fugitive slave.
We masquerade as upright citizens
Brave this deadly force every goddam day
Masquerade as independent thinkers
While our thoughts get shot down in the streets.

We believe, like true believers, in the rule of law
The gangs in blue shoot through that too.
Our red, white and blue masques say VOTER
But our ballots keep disappearing.
When the ancestors greet Atatiana
They shake her alive. The masquerade is over.

Faith leaders wear the masque of concern
But their brand-new bibles are warped and cracking.
Atatiana’s neighbor, in masque, cries out
They had no reason to come with guns drawn.
The ancestors ask: Are all the players numb?
Some, not all, though in costume, torn and dirtied, know.

The great pantomime and our long drawn out performance
Cracks and peels with every gun drawn and each bullet fired.

Judy Juanita's poetry has appeared in Obsidian II, 13th Moon, Painted Bride Quarterly, Croton Review, The Passaic Review, Lips, TheNewVerse.News, Poetry Monthly and Drumrevue 2000.  Her short stories and essays appear widely. Juanita's semi-autobiographical novel Virgin Soul chronicled a black female coming of age in the 60s who joins the Black Panther Party. Her collection of essays, DeFacto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland was a distinguished finalist in OSU's 2016 Non/Fiction Collection Prize.


by Rachel Mallalieu

I don’t want this to be 
about me, but of course it’s
always about me

With a face like mine,
a thousand ships were launched,
so needful were men of my rescue

With a face like mine,
a few words were said and
a fourteen-year-old boy was
beaten, shot and tossed
into the Tallahatchie River

With a face like mine, feel free
to burst into a black man’s home
while he’s eating ice cream
and demand that he shows you
his hands, and when he does not,
you can shoot him
when his blood stains the floor and
you realize your mistake,
stand in the hallway
and text instead of performing CPR

With a face like mine, the jury will
cry because you clearly didn’t mean
to do it, and (despite the racist texts)
you seem guileless, even
penitent (especially when you say
you wish you had died instead)
yes they find you guilty, but the bailiff
will smooth your hair and the
judge will give you her Bible
you will receive a light sentence
and still be young enough to bear children
once you’ve served your time

With a face like mine,
when the anguished brother
of the man you murdered embraces you
and offers forgiveness,
many will see your blonde hair next to
his black skin and consider
the sordid case closed

With a face like mine,
tears are weapons
so really, you should be careful
with a face like mine

Rachel Mallalieu is an Emergency Physician and mother of five. She writes poetry in her spare time. Her work has been featured in Blood and Thunder and is upcoming in Haunted Waters Press.

Monday, October 14, 2019


by Tricia Knoll

QAMISHLI, Syria – "Eight-year-old Sara Yousif has become a symbol of the Turkish war on northeast Syria, which has caused the death of around 40 civilians, according to a war monitor." —The Independent (UK), October 13, 2019. "Sara lost her leg when Turkish shells rained down on her neighborhood of Qudurbag, eastern Qamishli on Thursday, killing her brother 11-year-old Mohammed and wounding her mother and brother Ahmad." —Rudaw (Kurdish media network), October 13, 2019.  Below, Sara's father Yousif Gharib speaks to reporters at the funeral for his son. Credit Rudaw for photos.

to the glory light on sober gold
of Vermont’s falling leaves

or for the places we’ve seen
Ansel Adam’s Yosemite

now smothered in wildfire smoke.
Those people we remember –

the Afghani girl’s blue eyes
the minister on the hotel balcony

the monk in flames or the man
with a flower facing a rolling tank

the father’s arm holding daughter
Valeria on the banks of the Rio Grande

and now Sara, age eight,  a Kurd, who lost
her leg to a fast-moving Turkish bomb

and her father sobbing over the body
of his dead son, not yet pointing his finger

to the betrayal of a man in Washington
whose soldiers she may have once trusted.

The photos do not do justice, let them
remind us justice could be done.

Tricia Knoll’s most recent poetry collection How I Learned To Be White (Antrim House) received the Gold Prize in the Poetry Book Category for Motivational Poetry in the Human Relations Indie Book Prize for 2018.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


by Alejandro Escudé

by Brian McFadden at The Nib

If we dance
The haven of our riches

We dance right
The arms of contradictions

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.

Saturday, October 12, 2019


by Jan D. Hodge

He's rather hard pressed to explain,
however stupendous his brain,
      giving Kurds to the Turks
      and to Putin (with smirks)
Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

Jan D. Hodge's poems have appeared in many print and online journals, several being awarded prizes in open national competitions. Two of his books, Taking Shape (a collection of carmina figurata) and The Bard & Scheherazade Keep Company (double-dactyl renderings of Shakespeare, tales from the Arabian Nights, and Reynard the Fox) have been published by Able Muse Press.

Friday, October 11, 2019


by Emily Jo Scalzo

"The Swamp" by John Cuneo.

the scar tissue of America’s soul
at its core the betrayal and genocide
upon which we were founded
surrounded by others through history
a throbbing fibrous mess
pockets of infection
waiting to surface

kids in cages
parents packed in cells
seeking to escape the scars
America’s created elsewhere
children returning from school
to homes raided and empty
ghosts of innocence

alternative facts and distrust
journalists labelled enemies of the people
scientists defunded and censored
the second a man enamored of theocracy

neo-Nazis galvanized in the streets
attack protesters with impunity
veterans’ efforts in Europe negated

children strike for climate awareness
specters of their futures dimmed
churches celebrate Armageddon
expecting rapture for failed stewardship

one party mired in racist xenophobia
the other craven in identity crisis

same shit
different president
and we still swirl the drain

Emily Jo Scalzo holds an MFA in fiction from California State University-Fresno and is currently an assistant teaching professor teaching research and creative writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Her work has appeared in various magazines including Midwestern Gothic, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Blue Collar Review, TheNewVerse.News, and others. Her first chapbook The Politics of Division was published in 2017 and awarded honorable mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards in 2018.

Thursday, October 10, 2019


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

It is quiet now
In the corners
Where dust collects itself
And afternoon light
Relaxes its shoulders
As it prepares
For its daily departure.
All day it has been
Early October
Hot as August or July
And drier than dry—
But we are not fooled.
Look at the leaves
Teasing us
With the faintest hints
Of the russets and golds
And wild vermillions
That soon enough
Will inhabit the snug dwellings
Where their green sister chlorophyll
Has resided
Since the February arrival
Of spring.
Look at the long shadows
Falling across houses and streets
Lounging in parks and playgrounds,
Look at the honeyed light
Sprawling on manicured lawns
And fading gardens.
Feel the air,
Apologetically hot
And promising that this heat,
This spit-thickening dryness,
Will not last much longer,
That the familiar, reassuring chill
Of autumn
Will soon return to our evenings
To herald the arrival
Of the season of heavy rains.
But of course these days
With the climate being systematically mauled
By billionaire carbon-suckers
We can’t be sure
What the coming months
Will have in store for us.
And for that matter
We cannot even count on October
Remaining the October
We have always loved,
That paragon of months,
The crown jewel
In the year’s annular passage,
The golden door
Between summer and winter.
We must struggle and hope,
Defy and resist and disrupt
To defeat those who are ravaging
Our weather and our earth
And replace them
With our kind of folks,
The ones who believe in communities
Of mutual support and nourishment,
The ones who reject profit
As a way to measure human worth,
The ones whose furious spirits take flight
In October light.

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poems have appeared in many print and online journals. His most recent books are To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World and Cancer Cantata. With his wife Cynthia, he produced the award-winning documentary film Outside In and, with the MIRC film collective, made the film Por Que Venimos. His interviews with soldiers refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were made into the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California. He podcasts at: .

Wednesday, October 09, 2019


by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

This is what it looks like when national parks are sacrificed for a #borderwall. Footage at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument via Kevin Dahl, NPCA Arizona Senior Program Manager
— National Parks Conservation Association (@NPCA) October 4, 2019

no need to migrate, so geese fly laps around the county
lake to lake at dawn, louder than garbage trucks.

A friend makes a demon cozy, so she doesn’t always have to face it.
She can know where it is even if she doesn’t know what it is

unlike mosquitos with valises full of Eastern equine encephalitis
come to visit. Swatting lunchmates, even on the face, becomes socially acceptable.

A friend draws stories with her own language of shapes not everyone can read.
That’s okay. Lilacs do not bloom this year; there is a mid-April blizzard.

Fawns come to the door wanting the cat to play.  Children holding hands
walk across a lake of grass. Yard lights never let the trees sleep, not deeply.

A friend grieves deeply and with laughter, at once. She raises monarchs
and tonight the government will poison them as well as mosquitos.

On her balcony flickers and doves fight squirrels and raccoons for seeds
and a little honey.  Tomorrow the butterfly rain.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske most recent book is Art Speaks with painter Mary Hatch. She tries to live outside as much as possible while owning a house.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019


by Pepper Trail

Amuse bouche: honey-soaked Smyrna fig with bitter Kurds

Soup:  bisque of watered-down regulations, topped with nutmeg and shredded tax

Appetizer: bruschetta of tariff-marinated soybeans and pork belly, dusted with
                     artisanal Kentucky coal

Salad:  wilted checks and balances, arugula, and raw ego, with a drizzle of raspberry—
            infused Saudi sweet light crude

Entrée:  tenderloin Republican reputation, flash-seared and bloody in the center,
                served with blanched asparagus wrapped in subpoena parchment

Sorbet:   whipped frozen tears of Guatemalan children, with savor of Miller lemon

Dessert:  half-baked crumble of sour grapes, drowned in a simple syrup of self-pity

Wine List:  Diet Coke

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.

Monday, October 07, 2019


by Janice D. Soderling

We are each but a minuscule dust mote
adrift for better or worse.
This earth is our bobbing lifeboat
in an alien universe.

So if T***p builds a Southern Wall
is of no consequence at all,
except for those on history's pages
who have their babies locked in cages.

Janice D. Soderling is widely published in print and online journals. Her work is included in the anthologies Nasty Women Poets and The Great American Wise Ass Poetry.