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Saturday, February 16, 2019


by David Feela

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

in my head
where each brick
contains an insecurity.

I say they are drugs
and rape
and murder

but they also contain
my weight
my thinning hair

and my feeble resolve
which might be remembered
on the border there

between poverty and privilege
as nothing
but grievance and rage.

I want a monument
because gold
doesn’t please me anymore

and if enough debt
gets mixed into the mortar
the wall will divide generations

and then they’ll remember me
as the one
that got this thing done.

David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook Thought Experiments won the Southwest Poet Series. The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. A collection of his essays How Delicate These Arches was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Unsolicited Press will release his new chapbook Little Acres in April 2019.


by Phyllis Wax

Cartoon by R.J. Matson

are already being built.                  

It’s up to us
to chip at mortar,
remove bricks,
pull out pickets,
snip wire.

It’s up to us
to speak to people,                  
look them in the eye,
extend a hand,

We can undo
than he can build.

Social issues are a major focus of Milwaukee poet Phyllis Wax.  Her work appears in numerous anthologies and journals, among them The Widows’ Handbook, Birdsong, Spillway, Peacock Journal, Surreal Poetics, Naugatuck River Review, TheNewVerse.News, Portside, Star 82 Review.  When she’s not writing you might find her escorting at a local abortion clinic.  She can be reached at: poetwax38[at]

Friday, February 15, 2019


by Paul Smith

We didn’t know what to call it
it was not exactly a deal
a deal being something you picture
with a couple guys shaking hands
and congratulating themselves
on their good luck
so that was not it
neither was it a pact
because that suggests
something like a treaty being signed
by two hostile nations
maybe grudgingly
but at least with terms and conditions
to guarantee its sanctity and compliance
there was no sanctity anywhere
nor was it an understanding
there was none of that
each side calling the other side names
we didn’t know what to
make of it all
except selling it as something
that made us bigger
and made them small
on the surface we won
but when we looked deep
we lost
or maybe it was
the other way around
and it made them look cheap
where was the word
to make it sound like
we won
and the other side
Not knowing what name this thing went by
we just called it
Kentucky Windage

Paul Smith lives near Chicago. He writes fiction and poetry. He likes Hemingway, really likes Bukowski, the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kinks and Slim Harpo. He can play James Jamerson's bass solo for 'Home Cookin' by Junior Walker & the Allstars.

Thursday, February 14, 2019


by Alan Catlin

“Mountains are hard to climb
thus walls are your friends.
Learn your walls.”

“We laugh at your walls.”
Drug cartel tunnel rats.
Digging from one safe house
to another safe house.
Under border fences, razor wire
enclaves, ICE patrol car roads.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Tunnels for shrink wrapped
pure. White death by the pound.
Powdered snow by the kilo.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Tunnels under prison walls.
Two and half miles of digging.
No problema.  Cell to freedom
service. “Viva El Chapo!”
Viva Empire of the Opiates,
Reign of terror Take Two.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Steel stanchion impediments
where concrete is called for.
Easily breeched by purchased
at Wal-Mart, Home Depot,
Lowe’s, metal cutting tool department.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Tunnels for coyote caravans,
pay the tolls, travel the underground
railway. “Refugees show us the green,
hombre and we deliver the goods.”

“We laugh at your walls.”
US Army supplied terror cells
of the night.  Drug enforcers,
Zeta killers, Sinaloa lackeys,
CIA trained Torquemada’s.
Slipping under barriers, walls.
Mescal high, take-no-prisoners
instructed, rape and pillage experts,
mercenaries for moola, hostile
and loathsome, heartless as
the street criminals they once were,
laughing at walls.

Find a tunnel and fill it, ten more
are dug. Once you are in The Life,
The Life is in you, there is no looking
back, no escape possible: one foot in
Sodom, the other in Gomorrah.
Not point in last wills and testaments:
no one will bury you when you are killed
unless the tunnel you are in collapses.

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, February 12, 2019


by Mara Adamtz Scrupe

                       out beyond the blest kingdom
amongst the trackless traders & slavers & affluent technocrats 
            lands amassing & bomb shelters & clandestine

            airstrips & marble-tombed 
bathrooms & gated havens to get off on        on the other side
of the wall lizards dart in & out or lie in heat benumbed       
            amongst the Burdock catch-spring 
spurred ovate bolls/ reckless rule-less ghost moths skim

&lek/ scroll & whitecap        billow& spray exploding 
in quiver-pleasured olfactory raves & gullies            out beyond

                        the blest kingdom
insect/ amphibian/ mammalian females choose their mates
whilst the males of the species           
entice them uncontested/ none abstain in a homeland       

convinced of its quiddities
            I mark & mind an ancient détente as the eighty richest 
chock-full ride it out from a distance            

it’s a bad bad 
business the way the wall says                       

            inhale/ exhale            expect              nothing

as the dam diggers stem the flood over the faceless fence 

            & the wounded unwing-ed collapse & orange peacock-
eyed butterflies remind me 

            of rope & strand of knot & sign & climb 
& hold on tight           for dear    dear             
at the bottom of this breach 

holed & don’t they know it        up here  though
             on top between squab & hassock 
common six-line racerunner skinks queue a line 
            from my chaise across the porch floor not stiffs

            buried under a dune on the other side of a wall      
but languid/ marking a border
                        they simply                 slip over

Mara Adamitz Scrupe is the author of five poetry collections: BEAST (NFSPS Press, 2014), Sky Pilot (Chapbook, Finishing Line Press, 2012), Magnalia (Chapbook, Eyewear Publications, 2018) and a daughter’s aubade/ sailing out from Sognefjord (winner, Fledge Poetry Competition, Middle Creek Press, 2019). She is the winner of the 2018 Grindstone Literary International Poetry Competition, and the Brighthorse Press Poetry Book Prize for her manuscript in the bare bones house of was which will be published in 2019. Her poems have appeared in international literary journals and magazines and she has won or been shortlisted for the Kay Murphy Poetry Prize, Ron Pretty Poetry Prize, BigCi Environmental Fellowship, Erbacce Prize, Fish Poetry Prize, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Prize, Bristol Prize, and the National Poetry Society Competition, among others. She divides her time between her farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains piedmont and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she is Professor of Fine Arts and Creative Writing at The University of the Arts.

Monday, February 11, 2019


by Marsha Owens

When did he have an epiphany? she asked
unclear about how one is racist and then is not.

I know how life meanders, doesn’t march
in straight lines like VMI cadets stepping
around Stonewall Jackson’s horse, its body
stained with white and black blood before it
was stuffed and saluted, forever revered.

Her name was LaVinia, her body stout,
her words few, her work for my Mama—
clean toilets and stiffly pressed sheets,
her days long, two bus rides from Richmond
to the freshly coifed suburbs, all-white.

I didn’t know why LaVinia fixed sandwiches
for my brother and me but none for herself.

His name was Pete, lanky and dark, head bowed
to say, Mornin’ Ma’am to my Mama, Mornin’ Missy
to me, a five-year-old. His work for my Daddy—
boards nailed, shingles hauled up the ladder, laid
out just so—a few dollars at day’s end.

I didn’t know why Pete sat outside on the stoop
at lunchtime, eating his hot dog on a paper plate.

I swam in the culture into which I was born,
1950s, somewhere between slavery’s end
and the Act called Civil Rights.

I stumbled with other white people away
from horrible injustices and strode towards
desegregated neighborhoods, integrated schools,
JFK, MLK, Trayvon Martin, President Obama.

I listened and learned, read and reflected,
laughed and cried with new friends whose
memories were not mine, nor mine theirs.
No epiphany, just life. And I voted

“for the person who cares about all people,”
Daddy said in his old age, simplistic political
advice that had evolved over a lifetime
and became the politics I chose to follow.

Marsha Owens is a retired educator who still lives and writes in Richmond, VA. She voted for Ralph Northam and Mark Herring, not because they are perfect, but because their policies support "all people."

Sunday, February 10, 2019


by Kathy Conway

You could look for colors—black shirts for Mussolini, brown
ones for Hitler, red t-shirts and baseball caps for Chavez,
yellow stars on Polish children separated from mothers at railroad stations.

Listen for righteous us/them propaganda, use of simple words,
untruths to incite aggrieved followers, as Hitler did, repeating lies
until they were accepted as truth.

Listen for insults, bullying, ultimatums, rants—"huge, very dangerous"
to silence those who disagree—the press, media, cohorts, partners -
a la Mussolini.

Be suspicious of unbridled nationalism, separating families at borders.
False charges of being "Red" helped McCarthy to intimidate, create fear in
innocent people and muzzle Congress.

Be alert for a huge ego demanding loyalty, not to country
or constitution, but to him personally, who, with warped reality,
listens only to his own gut, ignoring experts and advisors.

Watch for leaders who declare a state of emergency
like Erdogan, try to build a border wall like Orban or promise to
"drenare la palude"—drain the swamp—like Mussolini.

Heed if they goad violence against perceived enemies with
pumped-up machismo, incite prejudice or seek to destroy faith
in an independent press, electoral process, courts, military.

Notice how he gets away with it. The public doubts he'd
do more—until he does, incrementally. His followers believe
he's working for them, against "others".

Be leery of copy cats who, like Peron, aspire to be Hitler.
Do they admire and cozy up to Kim Jong-un,
Mohammed bin Salman or Putin?

Kathy Conway splits her time between a cottage on the coast of Maine and her home outside Boston.  She has taught memoir poetry in Maine and Florida. Her chapbook Bacon Street is about growing up in a large family.

Saturday, February 09, 2019


by Lisa Vihos

In the land of fake plenty
there’s a road paved with money.
If you’re something enough,
you can get on this road
but mostly you cannot.
Unless you can pull yourself up
on the straps of those boots
they stole from you.

Listen when the robot drones speak
from two sides of their mouth.
Do what you can to learn that language.

          Try our six-week, no money back
          guaranteed language
          immersion experience
          Time is running out. Send
          your first-born child.
          Or give us your planet.
          We can work with you on this.
          Payment plans are available,
          but you must act now.

Each day is an equivocation
of that which they said
they did not say the day before.
Who can imagine?
Look here, look there, look away, they say,
And do not do what I would not do.
          Or do it, at your own risk.

Advice is cheap. Money
is expensive. Walls are being built
as we speak.

The poems of Lisa Vihos have appeared in numerous journals, both print and online. Her fourth chapbook Fan Mail from Some Flounder was published by Main Street Rag Publishing in 2018. She is the poetry and arts editor of Stoneboat Literary Journal and the Sheboygan organizer for 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Friday, February 08, 2019


by Matt Witt

The Oregon Senate’s Housing Committee advanced a bill that would enact a statewide rent control policy and restrict evictions, sending it to the full Senate for a vote. Lawmakers heard nearly four hours of testimony from renters and landlords as Senate Bill 608 had its first hearing in the Senate’s Housing Committee. It’s poised to cruise through the Legislature, with support from leaders of the Democratic majority in both the House and Senate. Renters and tenants’ rights activists largely argued the bill would help protect against eye-popping rent increases that have frequently grabbed headlines across the state. —The Oregonian, February 5, 2019. Among those presenting testimony was the group of tenants pictured above who met at the Rogue Action Center in Jackson County in late November to discuss how to get local and state officials to take action on housing affordability. Nearly half of households there are renters, and one in three of those pay more than half their monthly income for rent. Credit: Matt Witt Photography

As a child
I played tic tac toe.
Should I go here,
or should I go there?

Then I learned:
you never win
if the other person goes first
with an X in
the middle square.

Olivia tells the city council
she and her son
had to move three times
after rent increases
left nothing to spare.

She works at Walmart
but after the rent
the paycheck covers only
food and bus fare.

Frank, who builds expensive homes
and has fifty rental units,
tells the council he would love to
help people like her,
he really would,
but prices are
whatever the market will bear.

Profit first.

The X in the middle square.

Matt Witt is a writer and photographer who lives in Talent, Oregon. He was recently selected a Writer in Residence at Mesa Refuge in California and has been selected an Artist in Residence at Crater Lake National Park, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon. His writing has been published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, the literary journal Cirque, and many other publications. His photography may be seen at

Thursday, February 07, 2019


by Tricia Knoll

While magnetic north has always wandered, its routine plod has shifted into high gear, sending it galloping across the Northern Hemisphere—and no one can entirely explain why. —National Geographic, February 4, 2019. EARTH PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA/JSC

They say north shifted as if we didn’t know
something bigger than big moved sideways
while liars lied and the thieves of night
hung plastic LED stars from phone lines.

They say it is almost too late when we know
too late came and passed like the reverb
gong on the sacred brass bell in the woods
where they want to fence the Pando

as if a fence is any way to save anything
except an illusion of privacy. Some say
they will feed the hungry and a few
are fed. Some dressed in white to stand

out and up, to be counted among the mix
of red ties and blue suits and to cheer
their presence in the mix. We aren’t sure
why north shifted in a molten globe.

Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet who has been writing snow poems for the past six weeks. Her work appears widely in journals and anthologies. Her recent collection How I Learned To Be White received the received the Gold Prize for Motivational Poetry in the 2018 Human Relations Indie Book Prize.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019


by Diana Poulos-Lutz

I want to build a wall 
that’s part of your home,
that blocks the cold
and rain while you rest.
I want to build a wall
with a window tall and wide
so you can gaze out as the
sun rises and sets and
see all the beauty in the ordinary—
a window that you can open
to hear songs of birds
and feel freedom and possibility
on your skin with each warm breeze
or cold gust of wind that visits you.
I want to build a wall
with a door that can lock out your
fears, or open wide when you’re ready
to face them.
I want to build a wall
sturdy and safe on the outside,
a blank canvas on the inside,
so you can paint the rainbow
of your spirit
or hang photographs of people
and places that make your heart dance.
I want to build a wall
that you can lean on if you need
to weep or hide in silence—
and then one day place a mirror
on that wall that shows you
what your smile looks like
when you’re in love with life or another,
or the success in your eyes
after a long day
or as you’re dressed
in courage and strength.
I want to build you that wall.

Diana Poulos-Lutz has a B.A. and an M.A. in Political Science from Long Island University and has studied Political Theory and American Politics at the New School for Social Research. She has taught Political Science and Political Theory courses for several years at Long Island University. She currently works at a public high school. Diana is also a photographer and writes about the natural world on Long Island. She is a contributing writer and photographer for the Long Island-based website Fire Island and Beyond. The Town of North Hempstead recently hosted a photographic and literary gallery of Diana's Long Island Nature photography at the historic Clark House at Clark Botanic Garden in Albertson. Diana's poetry is inspired by her deep connection to the natural world, along with her desire to promote equality and empowerment. 


by Gil Hoy

The viability of the Trump administration's border wall has come under fire as all eight prototype structures have failed at least one breach test. The eight border wall prototypes in Otay Mesa, California were assembled in early 2017 after an executive order directed the Department of Homeland Security to build the border wall. The news comes as the administration prepares to potentially declare a national emergency to jumpstart construction of the wall along the U.S.’s southern border. —ArchDaily, January 14, 2019

There is many
a living thing

That doesn’t love
a wall.

Like hunters, rabbits
and yelping dogs

Like the pine trees
and apple orchards

Like human beings—
Who are not cows—

And quirky elves don’t
like them much either.

The frozen-ground-
swells beneath can crack

Even the strongest stone.
And there are many gaps

Between the stones
nonetheless. You can

Rub your fingers rough
and raw by placing
and replacing

The fallen stones.
Mr. President:

I see you walking in the darkness.

An old, rough savage-stone

Firmly grasped in each
armed hand.

Like an aged hypothermic man
who is lost

and cannot find his way

Like your crotchety, stubborn
neighbor beyond the hill.

Mr. President:

Spring is coming.
Let’s walk the lines:

Remove the walls
separating pines
and trees bearing fruit.

Pull up the stakes,
fill in the ditch, until
not a trace remains.

Mr. President:        
Forget your father

He was so very wrong.

Good walls, like selfish men,
make bad neighbors.

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 and the penmen review.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019


by Laura Rodley

Officials in Hong Kong said on Friday that they had intercepted a shipment of nine tons of scales from pangolins, the largest seizure the city has ever made of products from one of the most frequently trafficked mammals in the world. A thousand elephant tusks were in the same shipment, officials said. The scales and tusks were seized on Jan. 16, said the customs authorities, who displayed the contraband for reporters. They were found hidden under slabs of frozen meat on a cargo ship that had stopped in Hong Kong on its way to Vietnam from Nigeria, said officials, who estimated the shipment’s value at nearly $8 million. —The New York Times, February 1, 2019

Minding their own business
pangolins slurp up termites
drawing squirming bugs into their stomach
with their tongues that begin in their stomach,
not the back of their mouths.

Minding their own business,
they do not smell the poachers or the poachers’ dogs,
poachers that cover their boots with pangolin musk
and the murky water they trudge through
to reach the pangolins emerged from their burrows at night.

Not even completely dead, poachers scrape away
pangolin scales, layered like pine cone fingernails on their backs
with sharp triangle blades that could but do not
cut the poachers’ hands, as they wear thick gloves,
poachers who consume the pulverized scales themselves

to combat pain of arthritis, asthma or rheumatism
that they have gained carrying baskets of scales out of the woods.
They have no awe of the stretched out beauty
of the pangolin’s body, peacock length with no feathers,
no awe of the babies that ride on their tails,

no fear of the way pangolins fight back—by rolling into a ball
around their young who just finished drinking their milk, easy to capture,
dismantle their scales, maybe carry some back alive to raise more.
They only think of their business, harvesting
the bounty, nine tons of scales seized mid January

in a Hong Kong port, amassed from nearly 14,000
rolled up balls expired, gasping, left behind,
so the razor edge of their scales can strengthen
someone’s bones, ease their pain. What about their conscience,
Does the eight million price tag cancel that?

Laura Rodley was a Pushcart Prize winner for her New Verse News poem "Resurrection." Finishing Line Press nominated her books Your Left Front Wheel Is Coming Loose and Rappelling Blue Light for the Mass Book Award. Former co-curator of the Collected Poets Series, Rodley teaches the As You Write It memoir class and has edited and published As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology volumes I-VI. Latest books: Turn Left at Normal by Big Table Publishing and Counter Point by Prolific Press

Monday, February 04, 2019


by George Salamon

The death toll from the sinking of two boats carrying migrants to Yemen from Djibouti rose to 52 on Thursday, the UN migration agency said, appealing to regional leaders to take action to stop such tragedies. . . . The sinking of the vessels, which survivors say were carrying Ethiopians, is the latest tragedy to occur on the risky route used by African migrants seeking work in the Middle East. —News24, January 31, 2019. Photo: People collect bodies on Wednesday along a beach in Obock, Djibouti, after two migrant boats capsized off the coast. — AFP/VNA, January 3, 2019.

"I lost massive amounts of money doing this job. " —President T***p to The New York Times, January 31, 2019

For forty-eight hours here in
The heartland ice and snow
And arctic cold stopped
America's wheels from turning.
Nothing stopped the mouths of
America's rich and powerful,
These time-bombs to the planet's
Survival, these Attilas the Hun to
Its peoples' welfare, from the
Usual lying and whining,
While the poor, the homeless,
The nomadic dispossessed in its
Cities, on its borders, adrift at sea,
Can only live in imaginary places, or,
As migrants in rickety boats, drown
In the frozen seas of the human heart.

George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, MO. He thanks Bertolt Brecht for the title.