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Sunday, July 05, 2020

HE GETS IT

by Wayne Scheer




My neighbor wanted his five year-old to understand
why so many people,
including himself,
were demonstrating
for George Floyd.

After explaining
what had happened,
he took his son
to a demonstration
near downtown Atlanta.

When his son saw the crowd
he said,
“All these people
think people should be kind.
Cool.”

He gets it.

Why do so many others,
including the president,
find it so hard to understand?


Wayne Scheer has been nominated for five Pushcart Prizes and two Best of the Net. He's published numerous stories, poems and essays in print and online, including Revealing Moments,  a collection of flash stories. His short story “Zen and the Art of House Painting” has been made into a short film.

DEEP SOUTH

by Sari Grandstaff





"I'm concerned about voter registration in Mississippi. The blacks are having lots (of) events for voter registration. People in Mississippi have to get involved, too. —Gail Welch, Jones County, Mississippi Election Commissioner, June 28, 2020.


white water lily
the center of attention
hides its muddy roots


Sari Grandstaff lives in the Catskill Mountains/Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State.  She is a high school librarian and she and her husband are the proud parents of three adult children. Her work has appeared in Eastern Structures, Chronogram, TheNewVerse.News, and NPR among many other places.

DARNELLA'S DUTY

by Laurie Kuntz


Darnella Frazier is the brave young woman who filmed the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. The artwork is from the official Peace and Healing for Darnella Fund at gofundme.


How does it feel to be 17,
and just want to hold your life in your
glistening palm, go to the corner
and buy a sparkling water to quench
a parched mouth that longs to sing?

How does it feel to witness
a purpose too cruel
for all your 17 rotations
around a sun you only want to bask in?

How does it feel to beg a name,
witness a life breaking,
while your opened ebony eyes,
see loss and corruption corralled
to the borderless sky?

And, how does the humid wind feel
as you watch it carry one man's life
to a crevice where only the wind can go?


Laurie Kuntz is an award-winning poet and film producer. She taught creative writing and poetry in Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. Many of her poetic themes are a result of her working with Southeast Asian refugees for over a decade after the Vietnam War years. She has published one poetry collection (Somewhere in the Telling, Mellen Press) and two chapbooks (Simple Gestures, Texas Review Press and Women at the Onsen, Blue Light Press), as well as an ESL reader (The New Arrival, Books 1 & 2, Prentice Hall Publishers). Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her chapbook Simple Gestures won the Texas Review Poetry Chapbook  Contest. She was editor in chief of Blue Muse Magazine and a guest editor of Hunger Mountain Magazine.  She has produced documentaries on the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Law and currently is producing a documentary on the peace process and reintegration of guerrilla soldiers in Colombia. She is the executive  producer of an Emmy-winning short narrative film Posthumous. Recently retired, she lives in an endless summer state of mind.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

VOICES FROM THE PAST

by Gil Hoy




Their homes, cone-shaped poles
of wood covered with buffalo hides.
Set up to break down quickly
to move to a safer place.

She sits inside of one of them.
Adorning her dresses, her family’s shirts
with beads and quills.

Watches over her children. Skins, cuts
and cooks the buffalo meat. Pounds clothes
clean with smooth wet river rocks.

When she sees the blue cavalry
advancing, she begins to run again.
Is that what made America great,
back then?

African families working hard
on hot cotton farms. Sunrise to sunset,
six days a week. Monotony broken only
by their daily beatings. By their singing
of sad soulful songs.

Like factories in fields, dependent solely
upon the demands of cotton and cloth.

You could buy a man for a song, back then.
Is that what made America great,
once again?

There are swastikas in our streets today.
Black men being murdered. Whitelash.
While the new man at the top
tweets videos ranting of white power.
While the old man at the top
says he’ll make America great again.

They say the full moon was bigger and brighter
last year than it’s been in 73 years.
Than it’s been since Jackie Robinson
played his first big league baseball game.


Gil Hoy is a Best of the Net nominated 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 Right Hand Pointing, Tipton Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, Ariel Chart, Indian Periodical, Rusty Truck, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, and TheNewVerse.News.

Friday, July 03, 2020

RED FLAG DAY

by Buff Whitman-Bradley




With the first wail of the siren
A seismic gasp
Shudders up and down the streets
Of our little town
Here at the base of the forested mountain
Where all the trees
Are named kindling,
Where all the trees are named tinder,
Where all the trees
Are named fire.
So in the midst of a rampaging pandemic
We must worry now
About this too,
That an errant spark
From an ill-maintained power line
Will ignite a rampaging conflagration
Leaving devastation and death
In its wake.

Access is closed to many of the trails
In the watershed
Until the high winds die down
And temperatures drop.
Not long ago
Access was closed
Due to the coronavirus.
Too many people in the woods?
What a thought!
When we could enter again
A few weeks ago
We headed to a favorite spot
On a wooded lakeside trail
Where we could espy an osprey nest
At the very top of a dead Douglas fir
And see if last year’s inhabitants
Had returned during our pandemical hiatus.
And when we found that the pair
Was back home
Our viral gloom briefly lifted
And our spirits did a little jig or two.

The osprey couple will soon be caring
For hatchlings
Who will raise a right old ruckus
Every waking moment
Demanding food from mom and dad
Until one day
Obeying a mysterious call,
An ancient hearkening,
They will perch on the very edge of the nest
Or on the diving board limb
Extending several feet out
Above the water
And after a great deal of fussing
After a great deal of high-pitched pleading
For further instructions,
They will surrender their anxiety
To the primeval urge
And step off into air.

The winds have died down,
There have been no more sirens,
But the red flag will remain hoisted
Until tonight at 10 PM—
And how many more times this summer and fall
Will the scarlet banner snap in the wind
Before the rains return?
The headlines say that COVID 19
Has killed half a million people worldwide
And is showing no signs
Of abating.
We are all exhausted and demoralized
By the constant threat of plague and inferno
But we manage to muster up a little hope
When we picture those young osprey
Dropping straight down toward the water
Then in a transformative instant
Finding their wings and flaring upwards
Into the shimmering day.


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: thirdactpoems.podbean.com .

Thursday, July 02, 2020

TO THOSE WHO REFUSE TO WEAR A FACE MASK WHEN ADVISED TO DO SO

A WARNING

by Brooke Herter James


Last week I was strolling the banks
of a creek in Montana when,
out of seemingly nowhere,
a sandhill crane exploded
from the tall grass at my feet.
She was fully my height,
her wings wide open,
beating theair,
her long beak pointing—
jabbing at me.

Beneath her, two eggs.

I am a mother,  too. I get it.

Especially right now,
with one child, pregnant,
working twelve-hour shifts
as a nurse in a walk-in clinic
clear across the country.

If you choose not to wear a face mask—
and you get sick—
and you seek care from my daughter
or any of the thousands of health care workers
who are some one else’s beloved child—
thereby endangering them with your selfishness,
I will come after you like that sandhill crane.
It’s that simple.


Brooke Herter James is the author of two poetry chapbooks: The Widest Eye ( 2016) and Spring took the Long Way Around (2019). Her poems have appeared in PoemTown Vermont as well as the online publications Poets Reading the News, TheNewVerse.News, Flapper Press, and Writing in a Woman’s Voice (forthcoming).  She was chosen as a finalist in the Poetry Society of Vermont’s 2019 National Poetry Contest. She lives on a hillside in Vermont with her husband, four hens, two donkeys and a dog.

MASK WORK

by Alejandro Escudé


Why Aren’t You Wearing a Mask? by Jen Sorensen at The Nib


T***p “sprays a mask on his face every day for vanity. But an actual mask that would protect other people, that, that, he just can’t do” –Anderson Cooper


Pull yourself up by your mask straps!
I work hard to keep myself and others safe,
but sometimes I too hate to have to reach up
for a mask hung like a hat on a makeshift
mask-rack in my entryway. I feel a strange
sweaty anxiety in needing to “muzzle”
myself, as you call it, and crave the feel
of fresh air on my face, unbridled breath.
But you of all people should understand
the logic of labor, the idea of work, you
who often block “entitlements,” who see
the world simply as divided between
those who can succeed and those who
cannot. I put on my mask of success!
I put on my mask and it is work to do so,
like raising a shovel, like crunching
the numbers, like mowing, like sewing
seeds, like picking stocks. I do my mask-
work because my kids depend on me
surviving and on their grandparents
surviving so that we can continue to work.
And I too am with you, I too put on my
mask and feel its claws dig into my skull.
I too rise in the morning to greet the sun-
disease for yet another day. But I mask.
And I wear my good work on my face.


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.

BREATHING IN FLORIDA

by Mickey J. Corrigan


Fort Myers resident Wilson Cardenas tosses a cast net during sunset at Bunche Beach Preserve on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Saharan dust is blanketing parts of U.S. including SWFL. Photo by Andrew West, The News-Press, July 1, 2020


The sky's a dirty white
Saharan dust brushing
through crusty air
pulsing in and out
bruised blue lungs
crablegs scuttling skin
burnt to the touch.

Weddings are off,
funerals are on again.

You breathe great again
on the sand, in bars, half-naked
bodies clumped around you
over cheap beers, laughs
strained burgundy faces
maskless, so careless.

Happy hour's brisk,
the ERs overcrowded.

Throw dust on the data,
another round to your health!
Joke about the washed out
camped in steamy hideouts
wringing scrubbed hands
germfree and chapped.

Red sunset fireworks
in a sky full of sand.

This is the kind of dirt
you throw at poetry too
making it shine darker
revealing bleak truths.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes Florida noir with a dark humor. Novels include  Project XX about a school shooting (Salt Publishing, UK, 2017) and What I Did for Love a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books, 2019). Kelsay Books recently published the poetry chapbook the disappearing selfGrandma Moses Press will publish Florida Man later this year.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

GEORGE FLOYD'S LEGACY

by Crowfeather


George Floyd by Sam Dunn


One life ended
by an unyielding knee
and ice-bound hearts.

One man’s private death,
ghastly and obscene,
stunning millions.

Not just another death,
but maybe a catalyst
for change.


Crowfeather is a 72-year-old woman who writes and tells stories in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

GEORGE FLOYD ELEGY

by KP Liles 


German artist Eme Freethinker has painted a portrait of George Floyd on what used to be the Berlin Wall to honour the unarmed black man killed May 25 by a white Minneapolis police officer, who knelt on his neck for almost 10 minutes.


George Floyd
George Floyd
George Floyd

And so many
buried unheard
we now cannot unhear

Nor can we ignore
revolutions’ anthem
I can’t breathe

Impossible to unsee
George Floyd
that pressing knee

Ahmaud Arbery
jogging Glynn County
Georgia George Floyd

Breonna Taylor
sleeping Kentucky
Less than a meme’s life apart

Eric Garner New York City
Michael Brown Ferguson Missouri
Nia Wilson George Floyd

Oakland California Trayvon
Martin Sanford Florida
Tamir Rice Cleveland Ohio How

many George Floyd George Floyd
until name becomes flood
spilling all the killed Black folks

into brightly lit kitchens
until the dream’s ghost
upends breakfast table

until No
No Some risks George Floyd
do not resolve in mind

So if it is not for me
to lift your body or name
let mourning

be pallbearer
to token grief
minstrel solidarity

Head bowed shouldering memory
let us at long last George Floyd
carry outrage ‘cross that bloody river

end this procession
where we face off
the uniform night


KP Liles has penned two poetry collections, Singing Back the Darkness (NYQ Books) and Spring Hunger (Plain View Press). He currently lives in the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

BALTIMORE HAS MORE POTHOLES THAN BEVERLY HILLS

by Valerie Frost


Graphic from Rolling Stone, June 28, 2020


"I think there's racism in the United States still but I don't think that the law enforcement system is systemically racist.” —William Barr on CBS Face the Nation, June 7, 2020

“There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal justice system is racist. Here’s the proof.” —The Washington Post, June 10, 2020


I am lost in a sea of
Lily Pulitzers
with their miniature Matilda Janes
and matching hair bows
twice the size of their heads.
Can’t tame my frizzy
Shea Moisture mane
paired with brandless denim pants
from Macy’s Last Chance
Clearance rack.
An ex ruined my 720-score credit
when he co-signed my name
on his gray Impala without permission.
Now I’m raising our kids in public housing
alongside pill abusers and meth addicts.
It’s hard to be financially stable
with two children all alone.
No family to help, can’t own a home.
I have a master’s degree
but that doesn’t mean a thing–
when your digitus medicinalis lacks a ring
they see a pariah, a painted liability.
If I get a raise above subsistence,
strain to put food on the table.
Quick to strip your stamps,
if you dance over
their basic assistance.
They say they don’t see color,
systemic racism is a myth.
Tell that to someone in the struggle,
my white friends don’t live like this.
All lives matter–
only if you’re silent.
When they sold you
that achievable “American Dream,”
they were lyin’.


Valerie Frost lives and works in Central Kentucky with her twin three-year-olds. Her poems have appeared in the Eastern Iowa Review, Headline Poetry and Press, and Dissident Voice, and she has forthcoming pieces elsewhere. 

Monday, June 29, 2020

SOUND BITES

A Found Poem Pantoum of Shit I Read in the News
by Brady Riddle


More Shit found from #TRE45ON


One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.
We inherited a broken test, a dead system
that didn’t work. One of the worst things that didn’t work.
Great marks for handling the infectious source!

We inherited a broken test, a dead system:
You got it wrong! They didn't use tear gas.
Great marks for handling protesters there!
Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. 

You got it wrong! They didn't use tear gas—
riot control agents make people unable.
Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. 
These THUGS dishonor Peace, on his knees, hands up.

Riot control agents make people unable
to rally against the death, the outrage.
These THUGS dishonor Peace, on his knees, hands up.
False and misleading claims, most of them from the past

rally death, outrage, control, downplay the situation—
that didn’t work. None of the things even worked.
False and misleading claims, most of them from the past
one day, like a miracle, will disappear.


Brady Riddle currently resides in Shanghai, China where he teaches secondary English at Shanghai American School. His poems can  be found in Lean Seed (San Jacinto College, Houston, TX), Ottawa Arts Review (University of Ottawa Press),  Spittoon Collective (Beijing, China), and most recently A Shanghai Poetry Zine.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

CORONAVIRUS PLANET

by Alejandro Escudé




The day is too
bright
to go out

and besides
the virus
is out there

hiding in little
political pockets
of air

according
to the media
it looks

like a red
spiky globule,

a planet,
if hell were a planet

orbit-less
in outer space.


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.

IN SEARCH OF ALIEN CIVILISATIONS

by Martha Landman


According to a new study in The Astrophysical Journal, scientists at the University of Nottingham estimate that there is a minimum of 36 communicating intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. —CBS News, June 18, 2020


sitting on the veranda the other night
enjoying a hashish pipe
I got dreamy
and disappeared into the Milky Way
passing Venus and Mars
I didn’t stop this time
because they had a domestic quarrel   again
                                      palm to palm
my sky map forged me ahead      to Orion
who offered beer and cigarettes, chips and cheese
Conselice was staying the night
his nephew E.T. played with his Rubik’s Cube
                     trying to solve the Drake equation
we sat on a mega rock   Orion and I had a long chat
                                           between wake and sleep
about alien galaxies meandering around
when his laser phone detonated three loud shrills
it was Peter Backus wanting us to know
“we live in a very quiet neighbourhood”
Orion’s eyes were large      I tried to pacify him
quoting Rumi: “Love is the breath of the cosmos”
he took out his horoscope and zoomed in
                                      on other galaxies
stars were born as we looked at them
alien galaxies were signed in different languages
in front of No 23 a sign on a large wooden gate
said in Hebrew:  תישאר בחוץ לעזאזל – “stay the heck out” -
this is holy land      we assumed
         we needed an exit strategy
we weren’t going to make a covenant with hypocrisy
or with gypsies on walking sticks    their blood green
so we flowed down lava tubes through pigeon holes
                                into a glorious dystopia


Martha Landman writes in Adelaide, South Australia and has previously contributed to TheNewVerse.News.  Her chapbook Between Us was published by Ginninderra Press in November 2019.