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Tuesday, May 22, 2018


by j.lewis

thoughts and prayers
get in the way so often now
it's hard to know when to think
and when to pray, or think about praying
or pray about thinking
as if the mere voicing
of the thoughtless prayer
or the prayerless thought
could make anything at all
better than bleeding kids

bleeding kids, kids bleating
parkland comes to mind
as the survivors don't just think
and don't just pray
but stand and challenge aloud
the bleating politicians
who thoughtlessly offer
through hypocritical lips
a silent prayer that they will not
have to stand up, stand against
their donors, take a stand
and watch the campaign coffers bleed

bleeding coffers, coffins bearing
faces bled white against white satin pillows
as if the pain of separation from life
could be soothed by the softness
smoothed by the softly falling tears
tears that tear apart the future
the past, the present as though
thoughts and prayers were knives
hurled against a wall of inaction
politics—inaction in action

guns in action, bolt action
action figures, police reaction
but not until the blood has spilled
thoughts, prayers, blood spilling
every day, every classroom

classes, classes, we all fall down

j.lewis is a Nurse Practitioner who has seen far too much violence in his lifetime to be quiet in the face of the disgrace of unchecked gun deaths in America.


by Jennifer Hernandez

The fire alarm sounds sixth hour
buzz-shriek pierces all senses
vibrates bones and deep tissue

prep period almost over
pile of papers nearly graded
end-of-year vocab tests
never enough time

new batch of students in ten minutes
eighth graders
mentally checked out weeks ago
this sure won’t help

but better during prep
than with a room full of kids
pinballing off the walls
bursting through the doors

one breath of spring air
and they’ll be lost
frolicking in the grass
picking dandelions

No, better to be on prep
to walk out with teachers
who ask, Did you hear
there was another shooting?

not locked in our classrooms
lights off
voices silent
huddled in corners

I can’t help thinking
about the shooters
who pulled fire alarms
lured their targets outward

outside now
we move forward
scan the perimeter
for anything suspicious

anyone running
any prone bodies
pools of blood

Jennifer Hernandez lives in Minnesota where she teaches middle school and writes poetry, flash, and creative non-fiction. Much of her recent writing has been colored by her distress at the dangerous nonsense that appears in her daily news feed. She is marching with her pen. Her work appears in such publications as TheNewVerse.News, Rise Up Review, Tuck Magazine and Writers Resist. She is working on  a chapbook of hybrid writing on teaching as a political act.

Monday, May 21, 2018


by Harold Oberman

It’s days like this
When I’m glad I’m not
Britain’s Poet Laureate.
Appointed by the monarch,
Expected to write verse
About significant national occasions,
There’d be an expectation I’d have to write about this.
Oh Lord
And Ladies,
Commoners and Kings,
Take me to the Tower.

I’m content to be
The self-appointed
Poet Laureate Of My House
And write about
Significant occasions there:

How the AC clicked on for the first time all Spring
Filled the upstairs bedroom with cold air
Soon confused by the ceiling fan
Into a current or eddy or breeze
That stirred the blank pages of this pad Into a rustling call for a blue pen;

How a random bee somehow got inside again,
Buzzed against the window pane until it dropped
Onto the inside sill, exhausted and wing-broken
From, I guess, its quest to get back to the hive
To produce honey or such, or to mate,

Or to meet the Queen.

Harold Oberman is the Poet Laureate of 25-d Montagu Street.  He likes pomp, but not necessarily circumstance or monarchy.


by Joan Mazza

Three days of steady rain, power flickers
off and on, pond overflowing. Flooded roads
and mud slides where trees are taken down
for another pipeline. Another school shooting

with ten dead. In Cuba a plane crashes. Over
one hundred dead. Lava ignites houses, cars
in a Hawaii subdivision. The acrid air is ash
and smells like rotten eggs. Bad news

headlines can flip you into a downward spiral.
I’m not prone to depression, not inclined
to expect the worst. The universe seems
eager to test optimists with an overdose

of cruel reality, reminds us we’re getting
old and no one is exempt from diminishment.
For now, I can read the news. Forgive me
for this day of shallowness, for enjoying excess,

the waste of resources on flowers, fancy hats,
buglers and British troops marching in full regalia.
I don’t care how much it costs. We need
a lift, a smile. We need to believe in love

stories, that one woman can defy predictions
of her limits, can become a princess, if not
queen. No one has to give her away. She’s
a grownup, can walk herself down the aisle.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has twice been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of six books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), and her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Off the Coast, Kestrel, Slipstream, American Journal of Nursing, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, and The Nation.


by Alejandro Escudé

Two young dollar signs
hitched at St. George’s Chapel

and the dollar signs drive off
in a vintage Jaguar convertible.

Super-Mouth pronounces
it faithfully; she says

it’s romantic. But there’s nothing
romantic about dollar signs.

The dollar signs
must fulfill new roles,

Duchess and Duke—and they
sure do know it.

Dollar signs construe
all things under the sun.

The day pristine, the river
flowing, a victor’s history.

Super-Mouth drinks the flowers.
Super-Mouth weeps.

People of Great Britain rejoice!
Dollar signs vow

to cart the monarchy into
the future. Baby dollar signs

hover in the air. The moats
empty, the Queen hears

the jangling of ice cubes
in her rosé. She scans

the new couple, sparkling
like the crown jewels.

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.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


by Jeremy Thelbert Bryant

I can’t breathe as Ivanka’s white teeth flash grin
can’t erase the whites of dead child’s open eyes
can’t forget the beautiful young man with smoke stains
can’t unsee the blurred body dropping from a bullet strike, slow
                like an elegant dancer
can’t ignore the men with kid slingshots shooting into fog

There’s Ivanka, men before her who believe in a god,
there’s cameras and applause
Elsewhere, there is death

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.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


two triolets
by Julie Steiner

"Trump finally calls Waffle House hero." —Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2018

"'I'm Not A Hero,' Says James Shaw Jr., Acclaimed As Hero Of Waffle House Attack." —NPR, April 23, 2018

"Trump on Florida shooting: 'I really believe I'd run in there, even if I didn't have a weapon.’" —CNN, February 26, 2018

Heroes ain’t born—they’re cornered.
They say, “I wasn’t brave!
I had no choice,” when honored.
Heroes ain’t born—they’re cornered.
What accolades they’ve garnered,
they claim they don’t deserve.
Heroes ain’t born—they’re cornered.
They say, “I wasn’t brave.”

That puffed-up politician
who claims heroic courage
and lack of hesitation—
that puffed-up politician—
has trademarked truth-distortion.
Disgusted, I disparage
that puffed-up politician.
(Who claims heroic courage?)

Julie Steiner rolls her eyes in San Diego, California.

Friday, May 18, 2018


by Katherine Smith

I was born for the same journey as the birds,
the poem about the poem, the pure lyric
of the ovenbird in the wood
calling for a mate to end its solitude
from the top of the American chestnut tree.
I learned to distinguish the American chestnut
from the oak chestnut by the serrated edge,
from the beech by the clasp at the hooked tip.
I learned to recognize my kind by its serrated song.

I step into the woods this morning,
chasing the ovenbird, stepping around a pile
of mating dung beetles. Pure lyric
was once mine. I woke this morning

to fungus on the radio: sixty Palestinians
shot at the border the day the embassy opened
in Jerusalem, the president’s Indonesian resort
paid for by China, and the Russian oil company sold
to Qataris to pay off the president for lifting sanctions.

Pure lyric was once my everyday speech.
The ovenbird calls in the tree canopy
of hickory and oak.
All winter I taught writing
to teenagers from Honduras
now scheduled for deportation.

I’m part of a vast experiment
like the Lego experiment
in which people are given Legos
and told to build, then watch
as their creations are destroyed
while their despair is measured
and recorded for eternity.

I fantasize about what I’d do
if an ICE officer came to the classroom door.
The sweeps never happen
where I can see them.
One by one my students—
Transito, Luis, Fernanda—
will be dropped off at the border
with their English composition skills,
their aspirations and their associates degrees.

Now it’s May and I’m mildly depressed.
Pure lyric hasn’t been my style for twenty years.
The ovenbird calls deliriously from the top
of the American Chestnut tree.

Katherine Smith’s publications include appearances in Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review and many other journals.  Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction International and Gargoyle. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. Her second book of poems Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press), appeared in 2014. She teaches at Montgomery College in Maryland.


by Howard Winn

Emerging from the slime
accumulated over past time
it rears its frightening head
licking its lips preparatory
to swinging its massive
posterior shaking off the
gunk which never the less
clings as if a growth on
this beast of the slime
out of the past seeking
a future in the muck of
self-satisfaction at being
an organism that knows
without knowing that it
is the future unless we
eradicate it in its present moment
as it rises out of the self-
serving stinking quagmire

Howard Winn has just had a novel Acropolis published by Propertius Press as well as poems in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal and in Evening Street Magazine.

Thursday, May 17, 2018


by Tricia Knoll

The video: a Syrian boy, Ibraheem, says he has seen
everything. We come to believe he has. The bombs and skies
blew one of his legs into shriveled tags. His mother died.
His siblings died. He and his father found a way to Canada.

We became fragments. Let me not usurp what it means
to pivot on crutches that carry his thin leg along with him.
Let me not pretend I have suffered as he has. Let me hope
that over time his life will coalesce. He will feel safe.

The bits and pieces of our fractured world are myriad,
scattered across so many continents and living next door.
In this time we must sew, knit, darn, secure, bind, mend,
link, weave, patch together, perhaps heal.

Tricia Knoll is an Oregon writer whose poetry book How I Learned to Be White (an investigation of how white privilege has impacted her life and how she has come to understand it) is now available from Antrim House. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


a rhupunt
by Elizabeth Spencer Spragins

A Palestinian demonstrator with a slingshot is seen during a protest. CREDIT: Mohammed Salem, The Washington Post, May 14, 2018. “  Israeli forces killed 58 Palestinians at the boundary fence with Gaza on Monday, local health officials said, a level of bloodshed not seen since the most violent days of Israel’s 2014 war in the territory.” —The Washington Post, May 14, 2018.

When dreams draw near
And specters leer
I face my fear
And call the crone.

By night she stands
On sun-scorched sands.
With folded hands,
She weeps alone

For wasted lives
Cut short by knives
Where hatred thrives
On blood and bone.

I search her face
For signs of grace.
“Show me the place;
I will atone.”

She bows her head.
“To mourn your dead
You must break bread
On mount of stone

With open palm.
Present the balm
Of peaceful psalm
Where thorns have grown

On Dome of Rock.
You must unlock
The hearts you mock
In undertone.

You must unwrite
All deeds of spite
As Sarah might
Had she but known.”

Resolve holds strong
Till evensong.
I right no wrong—
Good will has flown.

Elizabeth Spencer Spragins is a writer, poet, and editor who taught in community colleges for more than a decade. Her tanka and bardic verse in the Celtic style have been published in England, Scotland, Canada, Indonesia, and the United States. An avid swimmer and an enthusiastic fiber artist, she currently lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA.

Monday, May 14, 2018


by Carol Parris Krauss

Napping in a Yale dorm common room
Lolade Sinyonbala working on papers
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Three prom shoppers at St. Louis Nordstrom Rack
We don’t have your size
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Unloading suitcase at California vacation Airbnb
10-4 burglary in process
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Native Americans on Colorado State University tour
0.6% Native Americans, 2.3%  Blacks attend
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Other golfers exist beside Tiger ?
Grandview Golf Club
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Coffee, black, no cream
$1.00 for your Starbucks trouble
I’m going to have to ask you to leave
Representative Maxine Waters
May 5, 2018
I do not yield. Not one second to you.
Not one second.

Carol Parris Krauss resides in the Tidewater Region of Virginia. She teaches English at Lakeland High. In her free time she enjoys cats and college football. She is a Clemson University graduate. Her work can be found in online and print magazines such as Storysouth, Eunoia Review, and The South Carolina Review.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


by Alejandro Escudé

Pablo Picasso's "Fillette à la corbeille fleurie"
Credit: Courtesy Christie's via CNN.
Christie's sale of a Picasso nude for $115 million
kick-started what some experts have been
calling "the sale of the century"—over 1,000
works of art and fine objects from the
storied collection of the late David and Peggy
Rockefeller. On Tuesday night, the first of
three auctions in New York achieved
a total sale of $646 million for works
from the 19th and 20th centuries. —CNN, May 9, 2018
The girl stares out beyond
an audience of paddles;
she balances herself

on a rose-colored floor;
she weeps for the adults
bidding on her body, seeping
in and out of the walls.

Her hair, uncombed. Her face
reveals a fatherless expression,
and she clutches flowers
that cannot replace
her mother’s coldness.

How much for that basket?
How much for the red towel
one cannot see?

Her eyes, slits of woe,
do not open enough
to fully ever love again.

Bought, she hangs on an avenue
of shallow breaths, inside
a house within
a thousand houses.

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, May 12, 2018


by John J. Brugaletta

How all dissensions strip the body politic

and cast each virtue into festered stench.

Is this a stammer of our history
or the corroded end of moral life?

Our garden is unweeded, and the gorge

gives rise to venomed cates and fetid lies.

Where stand the heroes, heroines to salve
our running sores with clean and dauntless truths?

They speak despite the tide of predators

who seek their heads to dangle at our gates.

But still carnations kiss the air with scent,
birds build, the friendly sun still shines.

And still we counter blows unflinchingly.

John J. Brugaletta is professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at California State University, Fullerton, where he edited South Coast Poetry Journal for ten years. He has published over 370 poems in 75 venues and has six collections of his poetry in print, the latest of which is Peripheral Visions (Negative Capability Press, 2017). A seventh volume, Selected Poems, is in press with Future Cycle Press. X.J. Kennedy has called his selected poems "a vital contribution to American poetry."