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Sunday, April 21, 2019

UNBURIED ALLELUIA

by Jill Crainshaw


The devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris led to an immediate outpouring of donations and an ambitious pledge by the French president to rebuild within five years. But a continent away, the blaze also spurred more than $1.8 million in donations to rebuild three historically black churches burned in suspected hate crimes in Louisiana. The fires at the three churches in St. Landry Parish occurred over 10 days beginning at the end of March. Authorities said they were deliberately set and have arrested a suspect. As of Sunday, a GoFundMe campaignseeking donations for the churches had raised only about $50,000. By Thursday morning, donations had soared to more than $1.8 million. The money is to be distributed equally among the three churches, which were all a century old. —NBC News, April 18, 2019. Photo: St. Mary's Church in Louisiana was the first to burn. Natalie Obregon / NBC News file. [Editor's Note: The GoFundMe campaign is no longer accepting donations. It has raised more than $2 million, exceeding its goal.] 


a weary sister walks among the ruins
sweeping up cold ashes into a dustbin
for next year’s lenten initiation, she says as she
scoops priceless residue into her cupped hand
some of it slipping away through shaky fingers
settling again onto the charred ground
        “remember that you are dust
         and to dust you shall return”
the preacher said just 40 days ago while pressing
ashy imprints of mortality on eager foreheads
nobody even saw it coming then—
unholy tongues of fire stripping altars bare
out of sync with high holy ritual processions
where hopeful worshipers catch sparks
from an easter vigil flame and carry them
into silent sacred good friday sanctuaries
she puts a hand on her tired back and
when she lifts her face toward the pinking sky
a wayward bit of wind stirs the ashes in her hand
she lets them go
and even with all other words
smothered by smoke and tears
she tastes alleluia on her cracked lips


Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, NC.

OLD WOOD

by Karen Greenbaum-Maya


April 16, 2019 Fallen debris from the cathedral’s burned-out roof lies near the altar. Christophe Morin/Bloomberg News via The Washington Post.


Halfway through my last dinner, I saw the blaze,
unfathomable as the Grand Canyon creaking shut.
The owner confirmed:  Everyone on staff is following

as firefighters poured the river onto the flames.
When the spire lifted as it toppled, people gasped,
wailed as though a suicide had jumped.

The day before I’d walked the quais,
browsed the bookinistes, shot mood pics of the towers,
total cornball, through the mist of new leaves.

Arrow of God, the spire had fallen before the sun was down,
The fire turned the sky red, turned the cross white-hot.

Not all the water in the world, not even the river could help.
People stood and watched, sang and wept.
Rains came only the next morning.

Ash sifted down catching, reflecting coral light
I’d brought my husband’s ashes in a carved wooden box.
No need, no need.

After dinner, the owner walked me to the door. We sniffed the air.
Vieux bois, she shrugged, wincing. Old wood.


Karen Greenbaum-Maya’s third and weirdest chapbook Kafka's Cat will soon be available at Kattywompus Press.

EASTER 1958

by Alan Walowitz




To make me feel more welcome in their home,
the new neighbor, Mrs. Kelly, told me her doctor’s a Jew,
and she wouldn’t consider any other kind.
I was small and thought that friendly and fine,
till one of her sons—Fat Bob, I think,
asked me why I killed the baby Jesus
which sent me crying from their house.

The moms thought we could patch this up,
but first I made mine swear
that all this Easter-stuff—
not the pretty eggs in the basket,
nor the man in the Kelly’s entry way
asleep and hanging from the cross—
had anything to do with us.

Still, I felt uneasy Easter morning
when I went to pick a chocolate bunny
from their crèche of green excelsior,
where, Bobby assured me, the now-risen Jesus
had been laid to rest just yesterday,
and, he said, sort of kindly,
it was partly thanks to me.


Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off.  His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017 and 2018 and is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry.  His chapbook Exactly Like Love is available from Osedax Press, and his full-length book The Story of the Milkman and other poems will appear shortly from Truth Serum Press.

TRUMP'S TAKE ON THE MUELLER REPORT

by Anna M. Evans




I didn't say the things it says I said.
We didn't do the things it says we did,
and if it says we did, I say it's lying

because it also says it caught me lying
when there's no record of the things I said,
and no one witnessed anything we did.

I had my reasons for the things I did.
Everyone twists my words and says I'm lying.
You can't believe a single word that's said.

I didn't say I said I never lied.


Anna M. Evans’ poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, American Arts Quarterly, and 32 Poems. She gained her MFA from Bennington College and is the Editor of the Raintown Review. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists' Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers' Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Rowan College at Burlington County. Her new collection Under Dark Waters: Surviving the Titanic is out now from Able Muse Press, and her sonnet collection Sisters & Courtesans is available from White Violet Press.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

SPEECH SCROLL #69, #70

by David Chorlton


TUCSON, AZ (AZ FAMILY) Family members on Friday identified the woman killed in a shootout between federal agents and suspected human traffickers in Ahwatukee. Her name is Theresa Juan. —April 12, 2019


Beneath the unruffled blue
of Thursday’s sky, a helicopter
circles and circles. And circles
a vehicle bleeding
from each of its doors, and the truck
that broke a wall when it turned,
avoiding crossfire. Only the speed bumps
know what happened before
an ambulance carried
the victims away. Fifty shots,
a neighbor claims, on
such a pleasant day to sit
outside and listen to the starlings
chatter. It’s impossible
to tell whether the dead woman’s spirit
became a small white butterfly
or the drone over Forty-eighth Street
come to look back on her life.

A chorus of bees
leaves the hive in a rock
with the sun singing an accompaniment
of light. The authorities have left
the scene, one lifetime and
a half hour’s walk from the arroyo
where Rock wrens fly in peace.
The official story is
that good men chased the bad
and fire was met with fire. The doves
in the desert won’t say what ensued
and the tracks in the gravel
don’t lead to any truth but
what coyotes, who never
give anything away,
know about the bullet
that chose a woman without asking
whether she was guilty.


David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in Manchester, England, and lived in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in 1978. The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in My Ear, translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird is from Hoot ‘n Waddle in Phoenix.

Friday, April 19, 2019

DOING THE LAUNDRY WITH WILLIAM BARR

by Mary K O'Melveny

Cartoon by Randall Enos for The Nation.


Today, our local laundromat
was very crowded.  Lots to do.
My clothes are filled with dirt, was what
she said.  This muck goes through
and through. But he was not
concerned at all. Rinse and repeat,
he counseled.  No matter what you’ve got,
my formula is hard to beat.
The worst stains vanish like magic.
At first, there’s slime, then none.
Even when it all looks tragic,
rinse and repeat.  Soon it’s all gone.
Out damned spot, said she.
There’s nothing there, said he.


Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press.

THE BILL OF RIGHTS: REDACTED VERSION

an erasure by Ed Werstein

"Redaction Distraction" by John McNamee posted at TheNib, February 10th, 2017


Article I: Congress shall make law prohibiting freedom of speech and petition of grievances.
Article II: Necessary to keep arms.
Article III: Consent of war to be prescribed by law.
Article IV: Searches and seizures shall issue. Persons, things, to be seized.
Article V: Persons held in jeopardy, compelled to witness against freedom without compensation.
Article VI: Criminal prosecutions by the State shall be compulsory.
Article VII: Suits shall exceed. Dollars shall be preserved. No fact shall be reexamined.
Article VIII: Excessive bail shall be required; punishments inflicted.
Article IX: The Constitution shall be construed to disparage the people.
Article X: Power to the United States!  


Ed Werstein, a regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, was awarded the 2018 Lorine Niedecker Prize for Poetry by the Council For Wisconsin Writers. His work has appeared in Stoneboat, Blue Collar Review, Gyroscope Review, among other publications, and is forthcoming in Rosebud. His 2018 book A Tar Pit To Dye In is available from Kelsay Books. His chapbook Who Are We Then? was published in 2013 by Partisan Press.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

45

by Gil Hoy


Members of a family reunite through the border wall between Mexico and United States, during the "Keep our dream alive" event, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on December 10, 2017. Families separated by the border were reunited for three minutes through the fence that separates Ciudad Juarez Park in Mexico and Sunland in New Mexico, United States, during an event called "Keep our dream alive", organized by the Border Network for Human Rights on the International Human Rights Day. HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES via Texas Public Radio


In this poem, proper sentence 
structure will be followed.

For example, sentences will start
with a capital letter and end

with a proper punctuation mark.

Sentences will be grammatically correct.

Some may say that this will likely detract 
from the poem’s poetic quality,

but I’m not sure I can agree.

I’m also not sure real poems require words

I italicize for emphasis.

For example, is an image held 
in the mind of crying children—

of thousands of immigrant families

separated at the border—never
to be reunited, poetic?

Is the image symbolic and evokes
strong emotions? Is it repetitive 
and sick at heart?

Are the precise words of one’s 
internal dialogue describing the image 

what make it poetic or not?

Can a number be a poem, or at least poetic?
Such as the title of this poem?

I will never think of “45” in the same way again.


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, the penmen review and elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

IN THE JUNGLE, LIANAS COVER WHOLE CITIES

by Devon Balwit




After 1,700 years, two vast Buddhas fell
to dynamite. 856, and Notre-Dame scorches
the Paris skyline, a spark from a restorer’s blowtorch,
or some other carelessness, small
to have such large consequences. Strangers tell
each other stories of the time they marched
up the narrow spiral staircase to perch
in the tower, uplifted by history, and marvel.
The Stoics warn that as long as we place
our highest good outside ourselves, we’re at the mercy
of caprice. Inside is our rose window, our flying
buttress. Inside, the thunderous bell and the space
for God. It’s hard. We trust what we can see.
But each loss invites us to keep trying.


Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), Apt, Grist, and Oxidant Engine among others.

NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS

by David Southward





It took nothing—
a smoker’s match, a welder’s spark—
to start the blaze
in my ribs.

You will search
the smoldering grandeur
for some dire cause.
That is your rhythm.

But remember:
the one you blame
is small and frightened, like you.
Like you, my child.

Forgive him.


David Southward teaches in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His chapbook Apocrypha was published by Wipf & Stock in 2018; a full collection, Bachelor’s Buttons, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books (April 2020).

EASTER PASSION AS NOTRE-DAME COLLAPSES

by Earl J Wilcox





In my town today, construction workers
digging in red clay clipped cable lines
to thousands of homes causing early
morning mayhem—no computer
access, cable news, email, stock market,
baseball scores, weekly NEW YORKER—
civilization as we know it. They say, I
learned many hours later, the fire began
in the spire while all morning I fumed
and fiddled the hours away by cleaning
listening to old CDs, feeding humming birds,
washed/dried/folded three loads of
laundry, walked for 35 minutes—all
before noon as the Cathedral burned.
Early afternoon, as the fire spread
and panic roared in Paris, I napped,
after eating a spare lunch of boiled
cabbage, lima beans and a small meat
patty, walked again, vacuumed,
angrily and with petty vengeance
sprayed carpet bees buzzing my
pergola, watered an Easter Lily,
began the first of several classic opera
CDs, strolled to the street to fetch junk
mail, texted family and friends,
(none mentioned a great fire!)
as Parisians panicked in peril, prayed
for God’s intervention here in Holy Week.
In my passion, I ignorantly enjoyed our
Magnificent Spring sunshine, took
Images of my majestic azaleas, wondering
how a pilgrim feels spending April in Paris.


Earl J Wilcox is regular contributor to TheNewVerse.News.

AU REVOIR, SAINTE EGLISE

by J. D. Mackenzie





The holy church does not believe
inanimate objects like buildings
have souls, but I know you do—
I saw into yours

I recall a summer term
fixated on gargoyles,
drinking in the art
and St. Julien
on Bastille Day

Wood on the inside,
stone on the outside
centuries of incense smoke
spilled wax and wine

This of all weeks
hours after Palm Sunday,
the Easter sermon
already written

Fire takes us
when nothing else can,
not even time


J. D. Mackenzie is an Oregon-based poet with an unnatural dependence on topics found in the news, including international and progressive news outlets.

WATCHING THE BURNING OF NOTRE-DAME CATHEDRAL ON MSNBC WORLD NEWS

by Alan Catlin





The day after
Palm Sunday

in Paris is now
Black Monday.

The flames
oddly beautiful
at night

like fire fight
mad minute
tracer rounds
in the jungle

or the rockets
Wilfred Owen
was transfixed by

in the trenches
of a no man’s land
during World War 1.

The Nazis were
supposed to burn
the city as they left

but disobeyed
high command
orders.

When asked
Is Paris Burning?

There was no
answer.

Paris is burning now.


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, April 16, 2019

LEAK (OUT)

by Alejandro Escudé




Couldn’t he have moved to Ecuador? Surrounded by parrots and monkeys,
and colonial era churches? Instead, bearded, he was ushered

into a police van in London, and I pictured Sherlock Holmes standing off to one side,
a grin on his pointy face, pipe in hand, uttering something cheeky.

How else to process this 9/11 man? This walking man-virus
who somehow snatched the biggest governments on Earth
like a father might snatch his little son by the ear, dragging them to their perspective rooms.

White-haired wizard now, Assange protested his apprehension,
London traffic like a street scene in Thomas the Train;

because this time is…and was…a cave full of glittering fossils, mandibles of early hominids, skulls or skull fragments, roaring time signatures,
blue birds oozing from fissures in the once-dark ceilings.

Ecuadorians said Assange's residence was no longer tenable. A tree, alabaster white,
growing in his room, the roots digging deep, reaching for the planetary pole,
emailed enigmas, evil conspiracies,

a G-Man in Dealey Plaza, bullets screaming past, halting
mid-air, like satellites approaching the black hole of history,

and there, Assange, naked, albino, crucified on a hill outside the city’s firewalls.
I want to ask him what was the ultimate secret
he was searching for? I want to stroll over the glassy Thames
with him, like a heavenly correspondent
interviewing an implacable terrorist, the devil made flesh, a fiberoptic alien,

and just listen to the diatribe of his breathing,
and feast on what he sought, and probe as to what he’d embezzled
from the pressing otherness of our voiceless governments.


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.