Guidelines



Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com. No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Friday, July 21, 2017

MIRROR, MIRROR

by Jennifer Hernandez 



The single lines in the following poem are from Justine’s lecture “The Mirror Effect.”


for Justine Damond


Mirror her moves, sun salutation, cat and cow, warrior one, child's pose.
Mirror her breathing, peaceful expression, bright smile, calm voice.

The universe reflects back the energy you send out.

Mirror her concern, screams in the alley, a possible assault.
Mirror her fingers tap 9-1-1, watch out the window waiting.

We are all connected through a benevolent force.

Mirror her light footsteps, open the back door, step outside.
Mirror her strides to the police car, her shock at shots fired.

The quantum world is a world of unknowns and unpredictability.


Jennifer Hernandez lives in Minnesota where she works with immigrant youth and writes poetry, flash, and creative non-fiction. Much of her recent writing has been colored by her distress at that which appears in her daily news feed. She is marching with her pen. Recent work appears in Anti-Heroin Chic, Dying Dahlia, TheNewVerse.News, Rise Up Review and Writers Resist.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MATRYOSHKA DOLL

by Harold Oberman


Lawyers peel off the layers
Of suited smiling dolls,
The next one smaller,
Until they find
An orange
Infant
Tsar.






Harold Oberman is a lawyer working and writing in Charleston, SC.  He went to the University of Virginia where he took full advantage of the poets teaching in the English Department. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

LET OBAMACARE FAIL

by Jeremy Thelbert Bryant




“Let Obamacare fail,” he says
like “Let them eat cake”
like privilege is universal
like old folks don’t get older, sicker
like men don’t have prostates
like women don’t have breasts
like cancer is fake news
like kids don’t break
like everyone stays in a tower
like all inherit their daddies’ money
like no lives matter
like the leader of a country doesn’t care


Jeremy Thelbert Bryant is a poet and a writer of creative nonfiction. He is a graduate of the low residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. When he is not teaching English, he is burning incense, listening to music, drinking coffee, and writing. His work may be found in Pikeville Review and Prism. He finds inspiration in the red of cardinals, in the honesty of Frida Kahlo’s artwork, and in the frankness of Tori Amos’ lyrics.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

THE CHILDREN OF SYRIA

by Philip C. Kolin


CREDIT: Laurence Geai‏ @laurencegeai, July 14, 2017.  “#Mossul some of my pictures of our report with @OliveFlore for @ParisMatch . Some civilians are still locked inside, and fighting is not over."


There's no place for angels to sing anymore.
The children of Syria have gone away.
Some died of gas that looked like tulips exploding.
There's no place for angels to sing anymore.
Others received bullets for their birthdays
And so many burned in the fires of their enemies' eyes.
There's no place for angels to sing anymore.
The children of Syria have gone away.


Philip C. Kolin is the University Distinguished Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi where he also edits the Southern Quarterly. He has published more than 40 books on Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, African American playwrights as well as  seven collections of poems. His most recent book  is Emmett Till in Different States: Poems from Third World Press.

Monday, July 17, 2017

DAY NINE OF THE WHITTIER FIRE

by Peg Quinn





Our differences burn away
now petty as air-borne ash
we stare, united by the dark
smoke-swallowed sky
The sun, reduced
by this raging fire
to a simple burning
red disk of anger

as we wonder what
happens next—
sundowner winds
breathing
with indifference
toward us, a lesson
in how lucky
we have been


Whittier fire photo by the poet.

Peg Quinn is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, mural and theatrical set painter and award-winning quilter.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

ALEX'S TEETH

Spiraling Abecedarian
by Susan Vespoli


 “Trumpcare Will Be a Disaster for Opioid Epidemic” –Rolling Stone, June 28, 2017


Alex’s                                      baby
bottom                                     choppers
crept up like                            darts.
Duo of                                     early pearls
emerging                                 front row
finial twins,                             grinners,
grinders,                                  happy sprouts
held                                         in mouth like
innocence                                jiggled loose, lost,
jammed  beneath pillow.         Kid notes 
kissed up to tooth fairy          “Leave cash, please.
Lots.”  The                              mom
(me)                                        never said
“No”                                       or maybe
only rarely.                             Put five bucks under his
pillow, smiled                        quietly smoothed
quilt.    No sign of                  rotting then. Cavity free.
Really                                     straight
sans orthodontia.                    Teeth
to die for, eventually               under siege. Addiction is
ugly. I can’t watch them         vanquished,
vanishing into                         white powder,
wasting gray.                           Xed out by OxyContin
Rx. Then junk.                        Ya. I can’t watch 
you dissolve,                           zero each enamel bead into
zilch. Zot.


Susan Vespoli lives in Phoenix, AZ where the opioid epidemic is alive and well. Her work has been published in a variety of spots including Mom Egg Review, TheNewVerse.News, Write Bloody, and dancing girl press.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

AFTER THE MARE FINISHES JUMPING

by Tricia Knoll 




a hand holds out a cookie of molasses and oats.
Square in the center of that little cake,
red licorice, or black, a peppermint.
Job well done. Time for rest

and health care, cool water,
baths, consideration
of overtime, a refuge
with a solid roof,
greens, a kind hand,
good neighbors,
legal papers,
retirement benefits
and a living wage.


Tricia Knoll has loved to be around horses all her life. One of those kind of poet-girls. This poem came to her after watching a spectacular jumping competition in Wilsonville, Oregon. Tricia’s new book of poetry Broadfork Farm compiles love songs to a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington—and includes one other poem about horses in the midst of those about dogs, chickens, pigs, goats, farmers, and orchards. @triciaknollwind

Friday, July 14, 2017

AMERICA 2017: TWO WORLDS, WORLDS APART

by George Salamon


"The study shows that stagnating wages and inequality are deeply entrenched...and that inequality in lifetime incomes will persist and even worsen," in "Work and Reward: The Great Disconnect," The New York Times, July 6, 2017


Image source: Robin Ayres Pinterest: Art – Globes


Few things are more difficult
Than to move the powerful
And prosperous to pity.
Their heads are spreadsheets
For the accumulation of wealth,
Their hearts vessels for
Blood turned ice cold.
The poor may not obey the law
Because of utter need,
The rich do not obey the law
Because of extreme greed.
They live in worlds
So far apart
The center could not hold.

And there is no second coming.








George Salamon lives in St. Louis (MO) County, just outside the city of St. Louis. The two are worlds apart.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

MOTHER TONGUE

by Mark Ward


Image source: The New Yorker, July 3, 2017: “The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge.” See also “How a Russian Journalist Exposed the Anti-Gay Crackdown in Chechnya,” The New Yorker, June 10, 2017.

Chechnya 2017

I say nothing. The police interrogate me,
start to break me with electricity. I scream but
say nothing. I will only live if I say nothing.
Each shock dissolves the words they speak,
the taunts they throw, they've always known,
my whole community responds with voltage.


I no longer understand their language.
I am a tourist mixed up in all of this
waiting for my embassy to free me
and be a near miss story I'll tell to the man
who loves me, who will never leave me
like this: eighteen, severed, unkissed. 


I'm put in with thirty others; battery hens,
nowhere to move but for our sins, held
together by tears, the persistence of skin
and a confirmation, unintended by them,
that there are more of us. We cannot sleep so
we speak our secrets since it can't get worse. 


I jolt awake to see the boy beside me staring.
He’s from a few villages over, yet we've never
met. The hand that woke me keeps contact, his lips
open slightly. I can't breathe looking at that. My first kiss
approaches. We're being watched. All I want is this
but I shake my head no; saying nothing, but living. 


I lose track of days, of beatings. The wounds
no longer heal, keep bleeding. I am so thirsty,
I am starving. I cannot concentrate. I hear them
laughing. Or is that me when they ask me
questions. I will not speak. I will not lessen.
I'm dehydrated and delirious. I imagine a life


where I grow up somewhere else and this
would be a conversation, a status update,
an aspect of me. The village boy is dead.
I no longer sleep. I am a corollary. I dream.
There are millions like me, sleeping tonight.
I say nothing but still lose the fight.


Mark Ward is a poet from Dublin, Ireland. With his own poems  featured in many journals and anthologies, Ward founded and edits Impossible Archetype: A Journal of LGBTQ+ Poetry. He has completed two books, a chap called Circumference and a full-length collection called How to Live When Life Subtracts. He has watched every episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race many, many times.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE

by Devon Balwit




There are so many ghosts in our machines—their locations so hidden, their methods so ingenious, their motives so inscrutable—that not to feel haunted is not to be awake.  —Walter Kirn, The Atlantic, November 2015
                                                                                                         
We dish dirt over drinks—husbands, work,
yearnings—the room so crowded I yell

to be heard, but still wish our phones
elsewhere, mics disabled, wish everyone’s

locked away, apps always asking
for locations, each talking to the other

in a digital chorus, strands in an unseen web,
vibrating. When the photos in my feed

echo, the upflung arms of child mirrored
in an abstract painting, or when memes

ripple outwards, themes kaleidoscoped
myriad, this is no accident,

the fancy of my poetic nature. Like a
kook in a backwoods cabin, I mutter

about the eye in the sky, but know
my needle port already inserted,

perhaps now running saline, but
at any time opiates or annihilation.

Each keystroke resonates elsewhere,
saved in cold storage by the NSA

in Utah or somewhere in Russia, fodder
for the clever, data points in the on-going

experiment. We’ve been turned inside out,
pockets filched of coin. A single finger

can undo us, and, like any with a knife
pressed so intimately, we obey.


Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. Her poems have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Poets Reading the News, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat's Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.

THE TWO DONS

by David Spicer




Two vultures lurk on top of the tree,
both always wanting more, more,
slaves to their animal-egos’ greed,
each desiring money like a whore.
Don and Don, Jr. scowl, dark knights,
as if they despise the world they ravage,
father and son living to pick fights,
doing their best to act the savage.
Women? Just prized possessions
they might grab, fondle, and keep,
depending on their current obsessions
and whether they pounce after they leap.
Will Daddy devour Jr. under the bus?
More than likely, before he eats us.


David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Zombie Logic Review, Poppy Road Review, The Reed Magazine, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and four chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books.

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT

by Alejandro Escudé


“Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said,” —The New York Times, July 11, 2017


There is no way to confirm what we know.
A parade of Windsor knots. The meetings.
The taking and taking of meetings. In the East,
they say the West is “out here” when they’re
here. I travel the freeway under fiery skies
listening to the bare news sans the clothing
of images—unnecessary—as the haves take
more, history theirs, the colleges are theirs,
the homes, the beaches, the pearly oceans.
How do we unearth the hoard under the blip
on the metal detector? And how many cast
members! The lawyer, the singer, the orphans.
In the age of T***p, aren’t we all orphans?
Our ageless souls stripped from our organs.


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.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

FEARFUL FOR MY GOVERNMENT JOB

DREAMING OF RETIREMENT
I THINK OF DU FU

by Maryann Corbett



NPR Headline, June 27, 2017: “President Trump Looks to Slash Nearly 4000 Interior Department Jobs”

Tell me, venerable poet, how did you cope
with changes of regime?

Did you hear, in the gardens of Chang’an,
when men in new silk robes
spoke your name and snickered?

Did they practice, in their graceful calligraphy,
the characters for cutting the fat?
For starving the beast?

Did you watch as others suffered,
like you, demotion and disgrace?

You, too, longed for peace,
for a farm, a thatched cottage, the sound of a stream.

Teach me how you mastered yourself
so as to leave us poems of a thousand years
of rivers, moonlight, compassion.

Teach me how you knew it was time at last
to flee before the barbarians.


Video by the Bureau of Land Management published on Nov 10, 2016. In June 2017, T***p's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told lawmakers . . .  "that he plans to shrink his department’s sprawling workforce by 4,000 employees—about 8 percent of the full-time staff—as part of budget cuts to downsize the government’s largest public lands agency. . . . 1,000 jobs would be lost at the Bureau of Land Management—which manages hundreds of wilderness areas, two dozen national monuments and other protected lands in addition to issuing leases for livestock grazing and oil and gas extraction —according to an email its acting director sent to employees last Friday." —The Washington Post, June 21, 2017



Maryann Corbett is grateful that in fact she's already retired from almost 35 years of work with the Minnesota Legislature. Her newest book Street View: Poems is available from Able Muse Press.

Monday, July 10, 2017

SoCal ILLEGALS

by Peg Quinn



 
Rain washed out the gardeners morning.
They’ve gathered just beyond my back door,
leaning on trucks, getting soaked, their
laughter muffled except for one high-
pitched trill, like a girl. I smile,
embarrassed.

They’re dressed in layers of faded clothes,
teeth framed in gold, defiant knuckles raw
and determined as their letters home.

When the sun returns they’ll protect their necks
with bandannas draped from baseball caps,
scrunch in rusted, dented trucks and
clank away to guaranteed uncertainty.


Peg Quinn is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, mural and theatrical set painter, award-winning quilter and art specialist at a private school in Santa Barbara, California.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

FOURTH OF JULY 2017

by Susan P. Blevins
Sad Food Face Canvas Print  by Smetek


I could not celebrate this year
the lonely clamor to feed the hole in our
hearts with hot dogs and hamburgers,
hoping for alchemical miracle, from
simple-minded barbecue to
manna from heaven to feed our wounded
hearts, but instead all we ate turned to
bitterness and regret, leaving a
mouthful of ashes and dust,
uneasy and hungry still, listening to
the bands, watching the fireworks
in all their frenzied attempt to heal the
mockery of 2017’s Independence Day.


Susan P. Blevins’s blood pressure is up since last November. She is sure the country will have serious health problems in the next four years unless an antidote is found.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

THE SHORES OF BROOKLYN

Saturday July 1, 2017, 3 p.m.

by Tsaurah Litzky


Pier 5 Brooklyn Bridge Park, photo by Etienne Frossard


Seen from my kitchen window, the line in front of Luke’s Lobster
across Water Street (lobster rolls $20 each) is longer than the B25 Bus
weaving its way through the crowd.
Families with strollers, dogs walking their owners, young lovers, old lovers,
people alone eating ice cream cones, legs, legs everywhere legs,
women of all sizes, shapes, ages showing off their knees, at least.
Shorts are in this year. T***p beware! Screw your tweets, your T***p care!
You won’t stop us from strutting our stuff on the shores of Brooklyn,
a big woman in pink short shorts, her thighs jiggling like Jell-O is
escorted by a guy who looks like a young Brando,
I want to cut in, steal her shorts, steal her date,
while behind them four young dudes joke and pass a basketball,
followed by three sweet teen angels in hijabs.
The waterfront is still a free country! Such happiness!
Suddenly! Claps of thunder! Lightening cracks across the river
the heavens open, rain comes pouring down, the crowd scatters,
to huddle under the trees in the park or push into the ShakeShack,
the happiness so quickly shattered!
I already know there are no guarantees of permanence anywhere,
especially in a country that could elect T***p for President,
yet something pulls me to the window, I open it, stick my head out,
in less time than you can say “the land of the free,”
my head is soaking wet but when I breathe in, I smell the sea.


Tsaurah Litzky is a widely published poet who also writes fiction, memoir and commentary. Her poetry collections are Baby On The Water (Long Shot Press) and Cleaning The Duck (Bowery Books). Her most recent poetry chapbooks, Full Lotus: Poems about Yoga and Jerry in the Bardo, were published by NightBallet Press.

Friday, July 07, 2017

MEALS ON WHEELS

by Peggy Turnbull 


A Meals on Wheels cook moves trays down the line to be packaged. (Josh Galemore/Associated Press) —“Mr. President, come take a ride with Meals on Wheels,” The Washington Post, April 7, 2017.


A cruciferous scent wafts
from the institutional kitchen
where a helper drops cheese
on a main dish we can’t identify.
We cover foam trays tightly
in plastic wrap, pile them high
in an insulated carrier, grab
cold lunches from steel carts.

Eat your bread in happiness.

At subsidized senior apartments
we roam dim corridors, step
on well-worn carpets, pound
on thin doors. We enter a den
of cigar smoke. Across the hall
Yorkshire terriers bark. Ladies
in the lobby are excited
about the Brussels sprouts.
We ring the light for the deaf woman,
who gestures for us to tie
her high-topped leather shoes.
A paper towel is her placemat.
Her plate and fork are ready.

Eat your bread in happiness.

A corridor reeks of bowel movement.
The elevator smells of kitty litter. A man
isn’t dressed, asks us to pass his meals
through the gap in the chained door.
We deconstruct the cold lunch, hand
him a milk carton, squeeze a sandwich
through.  We leave the building, hold
our noses at the urine soaked entrance.      

Eat your bread in happiness.


Peggy Turnbull lives in Wisconsin near Lake Michigan.  Her poems have recently been published in Verse-Virtual, The Young Ravens Literary Review, and Snapdragon.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

THE WEEKLY NUISANCE

by Edmund Conti


"Trump Time" by John Mavroudis, The New Yorker


You want to be a cover boy
And that is good and well.
But let me tell you, Lover Boy,
Time will tell.


Edmund Conti has never been on the cover of any magazine, real or fake. Sad.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

ROADSIDE CALVARY, FLAGPOLE PRESIDING

                          due west of Washington, DC

by Gilbert Allen




Supersized, it seemed a little strange
at first, Old Glory. Then I realized
trussed up here hung America. Our two
states of the spirit, left and right—thieves crossed,
clutching the splinters of our government.

One penitent, the other not so much—
wraiths framing a high ideal inclined to die
above our heads. It stimulates our faith,
clear as an HOV lane to a shining
city on a hill—concrete, and never there.


Gilbert Allen's newest books are Catma (a collection of poems) and The Final Days of Great American Shopping (a collection of linked stories). He lives in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, and recently drove to our nation's capital.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

NAMING OF PARTS

by Tricia Knoll


Image source: White Mountain Puzzles


After Henry Reed


Spring eased the almond blossoms open
and promises of cherries while we named parts
left over from winter. Collusion. Taking
away, reducing, throwing in the trash
legal widgets that keep the water pure,
air open to the cherry’s pollen flight.

We named parts with words round
to our tongues, like emoluments, to see
how that piece fit in the grooves
of palaces and greens like golf courses.
Lies are new lower swing swivels
alternatives, the stock aiming.
We call the liar  a number, not a name.

We watched tired armies of people
whose papers dictate that they bolt
backwards, locked. Riled bees assault
the fumbling flowers and some too
called that easing the spring.

Assembled from parts, the barrel
is loaded and pointed at every one
of us. The sick. Disabled. Those
who stumbled. Women mourning
in too many dry cities to count.
Children born to know only this.

Whatever bitter cold silence ensues,
whatever violence, these parts came
forged as cocking-pieces, and the many
words to name them buzzed over us
diseasing the spring.


Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet who in the last week has read Henry Reed's famous 1942 poem "The Naming of Parts" about fifteen times, sharing the dismay of progressives at how rapidly important protections of people and the environment can be dismantled. Her new book, Broadfork Farm, is a series of love poems to a small organic farm in Trout Lake, Washington.

Monday, July 03, 2017

GENEALOGY AND THE BAN

by Judith Terzi


Demonstrators waited outside the Supreme Court on Monday, when it was announced that a limited travel ban would be allowed until the justices could hear arguments this fall. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times, June 28, 2017


And just for the record,
close family does not
include half sisters but
stepbrothers, not step-
fathers but second cousins
once or twice or thrice
removed on the father's
side if they can sing and
third cousins on the mother's
side if they can tango nuevo
with a son-in-law on no
one's side but not first
cousins unless they're chefs,
and not step-grandmothers
if their hair is short and
white and if they write.


Judith Terzi's poems appear in a wide array of journals and anthologies including Caesura, Columbia Journal, Raintown Review, Unsplendid, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Web and Net and included in Keynotes, a study guide for the artist-in-residence program for State Theater New Jersey. Casbah and If You Spot Your Brother Floating By are recent chapbooks from Kattywompus Press.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

IMPERATIVE ON FACEBOOK FROM NEIGHBOR WHOM I THOUGHT ONLY DISCUSSED THE WEATHER

Found Poem by Donna Hilbert

Really, Donna
Stick to art and poetry
Enough politics!
He’s the President
Get used to it!


Donna Hilbert is observing the collapse of free speech from Long Beach California.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

A SORE WINNER

by William Marr




he won
yet he is not satisfied
all the cheering and hailing came from the living
but few, if any, from the dead

so he vows to investigate
how many dead people are really dead
and how many living people pretend to be living


William Marr has published 23 volumes of poetry (two in English and the rest in his native Chinese language), 3 books of essays, and several books of translations.  His poetry has been translated into more than ten languages and included in over one hundred anthologies.  Some of his poems are used in high school and college textbooks in Taiwan, China, England, and Germany. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

SEVEN SAILORS

by Eric Weil


TOP, FROM LEFT: Xavier Alec Martin, 24; Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25; Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19; Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23. BOTTOM, FROM LEFT: Ngoc Truong Huynh, 25; Noe Hernandez, 26; and Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37. (U.S. Navy via AP via The Washington Post, June 19, 2017.) Their snapshot stories from the AP can be read in The Star-Tribune.


The president disparages immigrants.
My great grandfather Bernat stepped off the boat
about 1880 with no papers, before Ellis Island.
Seven US sailors died when a container ship

T-boned their missile destroyer. Bernat fled
southwest Germany’s pogroms, local tornados
to the future’s hurricane named Holocaust.
Seven sailors bunked in friendly seas. Bernat

sold shoes. The seven ring the watch-bell
of America’s immigrant present and past:
Douglass, Hernandez, Huynh, Martin, Rehm,
Rigsby, Sabayan. Bernat raised a son

drafted for WWI, who raised a son drafted
for WWII, who raised a son whose number
just missed Vietnam. The seven volunteered.
Bernat’s citizenship paper, dated 1885, adorns

our guest room. Photos of the seven line
America’s front pages and will hang
as memorials in seven American homes
while the president disparages immigrants.


Eric Weil teaches at Elizabeth City State University, in North Carolina.  His poems have appeared in journals ranging from American Scholar to Poetry and from Dead Mule to Sow's Ear.

NEWS RECYCLE

by Rick Mullin






The president’s sheer crudeness shocks the nation.
Social media heats up. The conversation
clicks and double clicks and clicks again.
We’re sickened by the tenor of  his tweet,
but then
it’s not what you might call new information.


Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Transom.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

ALL TENANTS ARE SCUM

by David Susswein


Grenfell Tower before the fire. Image source: Blueprint Printing.


I pasted aluminium and sparked diamonds
upon a crow of dirty concrete slabs
my followers know
I made their sight beautiful;

inside cockroaches leaped and prayed in their ways,
darkness, as they had their dirty sex, and bred

their roach mothers scrawl-scrubbed their children
clean of
black, darker skins
make them whiter white, right for our times

those scum dislike water
and won’t buy expensive organic food.

I hand pick cereal flowers for my kids
kiss them in milk hand-picked cows
glower them in precious Branded clothes
I drive a Bugatti, and always will.


Tenants in [Jared] Kushner’s East Village buildings . . . have often complained about lack of services. In April, residents of 118 East 4th Street, after five months spent with a garbage mountain in their backyard and with no cooking gas, won a court settlement in which [Kushner’s management company] Westminster agreed to make repairs, give rent-stabilized tenants 60 percent off their rent for the time without gas and market-rate tenants 30 percent off, and cover the tenants’ legal fees. —The Village Voice, January 12, 2017


Author’s note: As of today, 30 June 2017, one hundred and twenty-five tower blocks in the UK have failed fire-safety tests. Many thousands of the poor have been living in fire-hazards. Without knowing. The only thing keeping them safe is the lack of chip-pan fires, failed appliances. The state has left them vulnerable, hopeless and afraid. Anger is growing.


David Susswein writes from the bottom of England, close to the sea. He writes only to talk and communicate; to others he has never seen. Ramblings, such as above, can be found at Envoi, DreamCatcher, Picarroon Poetry, Morphrog.com, TuckMagazine, and others.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

BASHŌ WOULD CRY, THEN . . .

A Tanka Anticipating Summer in Honor of Matsuo Bashō
On the Occasion of Japan’s Three Mega-Banks Receiving All Fs on the 2017 Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card

by John Brooks 


"There's no question that funding climate change is a deadly investment strategy," stated Jenny Marienau, 350.org's U.S. campaigns director. "Yet banks around the world are funneling billions of dollars into the fossil fuel projects leading us closer to catastrophic warming every day." —Common Dreams, June 21, 2017. Image source: Rainforest Action Network/Report Cover Detail


dream cicadas thrum
as banks bake-rape the planet
fossil fueling greed
annihilating Earth wa
Bashō would cry … then protest


Author’s Notes: The poem utilizes the traditional Japanese poetic form of the tanka—with its five-line pattern of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7 syllables—which was one of the forms employed by Japan’s most famous poet Matsuo Bashō many of whose works exude his deep love and respect for nature.
     “wa” is a term for a traditional Japanese cultural concept related to holistic harmony.
     As for “Anticipating Summer” in the poem’s subtitle (though this poem was completed on June 24th), “summer” in Japan isn’t considered to have actually begun until semi (Japanese for cicadas) start their yearly rhythmic buzzing following the end of Japan’s rainy season sometime in July.


John Brooks, a longtime resident of Japan, is a writer, child sexual abuse survivor-activist, climate change activist, and animal rights activist (among other things, of course) deeply concerned with anthropogenic global warming and its massively dystopian consequences if humanity’s thoroughly inadequate—though in some locations and respects noticeably improving—response continues. His self-published novella Preludes depicting the horror of child sexual abuse from a child’s perspective, has received favorable reviews by readers and is available for free download on various ebook sites.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, EVEN IF IT KILLS US

by George Salamon


“Young Americans are dying from despair. After the Great Recession, people aged between 25 and 44 started to overdose on opioids at an alarming pace. Overall, death rates for this age group rose an astounding 8% between 2010 and 2015.” —Jessika Bohon,  “Deaths of despair are rising in America. They are claiming lives all around me,” The Guardian, June 22, 2017. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images via The Guardian.


Flavius Josephus chronicled
The suicide of 960 Jews in 73 CE
Besieged by a Roman legion in Masada.
It may be history, it may be legend.
What young Americans are doing today
Is the real thing.
It is making America ugly and mean
And a mockery of the American Dream.


George Salamon has been watching the crumbling of the American Dream in and from St. Louis, MO.

Monday, June 26, 2017

QUESTION TIME

by Jerome Betts


Theresa May Caricature by Masakonen


T. M. still PM? Why is this?
The leader Fortune gave a miss
A faded star that’s on the blink,
A stock which now can only sink,
A Premier who’s lost the plot,
Majority and trust, the lot,
But carries on, a headless hen,
Behind the door of Number Ten?

Not hard, perhaps, to read the runes.
The five-watt bulbs and weird buffoons
The Tories muster to compete
To win her hot and thorn-strewn seat
Prefer to leave the Brexit folly
To blow up on some other wally,
And so until that dismal day
We’re stuck with hopeless hapless May.


Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, where he edits the quarterly Lighten Up On Line. His verse has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web venues such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Light,  Per Contra, TheNewVerse.News, The Rotary Dial and Snakeskin.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

BOY TURNED GIRL

by William Ruleman


Image source: National Geographic


You gaze from the face of the magazine at me,
And you are beautiful, I have to say,
Despite an impish male audacity
That lingers round your lips and eyes the way
A lad will do when forced into a fray.
O brave new world indeed, when we can change
Impediments in us that make us strange
To all the wonder that most suits the soul!
Some surgeries can show us who we are—
Can heal us, make us healthy, human, whole—
And whether love is near to us or far,
We know how we will meet it, play our role.
Not so when manmade tribal mutilations
Cheat the flesh of heavenly sensations!
The Lord God guard you from all hate and harm:
Self-righteous rants and priggish piety,
Lascivious longings and resentment’s storm.
May you find in saints’ society
A means to keep your heart and senses warm,
And may your offspring—if you have them—know
The gracefulness and courage you now show.


Editor's Note: Meanwhile . . . "A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals this week lifted a lower court injunction that had stopped the implementation of what many legal observers and LGBTQ activists view as the worst, most dangerous legislative attack on LGBTQ people yet. . . . The law allows for businesses and government employees to decline service to LGBT people, and that includes bakers, florists, county clerks and even someone working at the department of motor vehicles, based on religious beliefs. It allows for discrimination in housing and employment against same-sex couples or any individual within a same-sex couple. Businesses and government, under the law, can regulate where transgender people go to the bathroom. The law allows mental health professionals and doctors, nurses and clinics to turn away LGBT individuals. It also allows state-funded adoption agencies to turn away LGBT couples." —Michelangelo Signorile, "Queer Voices," HuffPost, June 23, 2017


William Ruleman resides in east Tennessee. His newest books include the poetry collections From Rage to Hope (White Violet Press, 2016) and Munich Poems (Cedar Springs Books, 2016), as well as his translations of Hermann Hesse’s early poems (Cedar Springs Books, 2017) and Stefan Zweig’s unfinished novel Clarissa (Ariadne Press, 2017).