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Thursday, March 21, 2019

TWO WORLDS

by Shelly Blankman


The Hill, March 14, 2019


You gross millions in the public eye,
ride us on roller coasters of tears
and laughter at every jolt, get paid

to crusade for the starved, the sick --
lost souls left behind by war and hate
who blanket the globe while you snuggle

under your cozy quilt. You strut the red
carpet in your glitzy gowns and stilettos,
flashing your porcelain smile for the cameras

as crowds echo your name. But you never
let us see you without your makeup, did you?
We never saw you after the credits had rolled,

We never saw you play the role of a lifetime:
A thief who could buy your kid’s way into
a school for the elite. We saw you lounging

in bistros, sipping your lattes, chatting with friends
while a world away from Hollywood, an Ohio woman
sits in jail. She is Black. Poor. Alone.

She was led there hunched, shackled,
in a black-and-white striped uniform.
She sobs for her daughters, the ones she registered in

a better school using her father’s address. A father
with whom she once lived. No bribery. No money.
No bistros. No lattes. Nine days prison. Three years probation.

No fan clubs to rally around her.
No rich lawyer to let her go.
Just tears. Just tears.


Shelly Blankman is an empty nester who lives in Columbia, MD with her husband, foster dog and 3 rescue cats. They have two sons who live in New York and Texas. Shelly's career has spanned public relations and journalism, but her first love has always been poetry. She has had a number of poems published in journals, such as Praxis Online Magazine, Poetry Super Highway, Ekphrastic Review, and Social Justice Poetry.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

METHODISTS

by Eric Greene


It was a momentous vote for the United Methodist Church, as the future of the country’s second-largest Protestant church hung in the balance. In a former football stadium in St. Louis last month, church officials and lay leaders from around the world voted to strengthen their ban on same-sex marriage and gay clergy, a decision that could now split the church. But at least four ballots were cast by individuals who were not authorized to vote, according to interviews and a review of the church’s records. The individuals were from African delegations whose votes were critical to restricting the church’s rules on homosexuality. The final 54-vote margin against gay clergy and same-sex marriage exceeds the number of unauthorized votes discovered so far. But the voting irregularities raised questions about the process behind the divisive decision, which devastated progressive members. Some have discussed leaving the denomination and possibly creating a new alliance for gay-friendly churches. Church leaders are now discussing whether new votes should be called, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, who serves on the commission on the general conference, said in a phone interview. —The New York Times, March 14, 2019 Above: Members of the United Methodist Church reacted to the vote last month to strengthen the ban on same-sex marriage and gay clergy. Credit: Sid Hastings/Associated Press via The New York Times


I don't know the difference
Between a Methodist and a Baptist
Or an Episcopalian and a Presbyterian.
But I do know the difference between truth and falsehood.
One of them has power—
Power to split a church in half:
E=mc²
And m = the Methodists,
About to blow themselves apart by their own blindness—
Blind to the simple truth that
We are all what we are meant to be!


Eric Greene is a member of The Southeast Michigan Poetry Meetup Group. He has been previously published in TheNewVerse.News.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

FOR THE YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKERS

by Pepper Trail


Greta Thunberg on a stage in Helsinki after speaking to a crowd of 10,000 people at a March 15, 2019 Fridays for Future rally.

You will lie down in shallow water
Shelter under roofing tin
Move on, keep on moving

On small screens, the most fortunate
Will remember coral reefs
Forests not on fire, elephants, tigers

You will have children, yes, because

You will sing to them
When they are hungry, feverish
When the storm rages

Some few of you, the saintly few
Will not hate us, not curse us
Will forgive


Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.

Monday, March 18, 2019

MAKING OF AN ENEMY

by Nan Ottenritter




Last year, American Bridge submitted a FOIA request when it was reported that Trump’s former head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement kept a spreadsheet of information on pregnant minors in his care, including whether the minor had asked for an abortion. Those documents were finally received and Rachel Maddow made them public on March 15, 2019.


after Randall Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”


From border’s legal crossing I fell into the State.
And I nurtured a rape child in my belly.
Fourteen years old, separated from parents,
Dates of assault, menstrual cycle tracked,
Caged, and baby birthed, I became State’s enemy,
And you wonder why.


Nan Ottenritter is a poet and musician who lives in Richmond, VA.

INNOCENCE

by Jo-Ella Sarich


Credit: Jorge Silva/Reuters via Aljazeera


You were
the bawdy older sister; we thought we were
coquettish, the fish
on the end of the hook. Your tears
were a map traced upon the backs of doors; the other land
of someone else’s pain. I count the seagulls
carving new wounds across my eyelids -
30; 40; 49; someone said ‘terrorist’,
and our world shifted
just that fraction like a coin flipped. Now this mirror,
now this dress that
makes my thighs look like the Port Hills
at dusk and you hold me,
for just a moment and say,
I know what it means
to bleed inside. Some say
Aoraki’s feet are awash in his tears; some say
tears are just the ties that bind us. Men are
shouting in loud voices while our parents
are in bed; in summer we shook, now
we stand still. You call me, the one
who taught me how to count
with both hands and I try and
imagine how you feel
in Orlando right now, holding a lock
of my baby hair and praying,
Is nothing ever sacred?


Jo-Ella Sarich is a lawyer, writer, and mother to two young girls living in Pito-one, Aotearoa New Zealand. Her poems have appeared in a number of print and online publications, including New Statesman, The Lake, Cleaver Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Quarterday Review, Shoreline of Infinity, takahē magazine, Shot Glass Journal, the New Zealand Poetry Society’s Anthology for 2017 and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

AFTER CHRISTCHURCH

by Dana Yost






Calling them
white nationalists
gives them a pass,
gives them a level of credibility
well above reality.
It’s a lame, tame
name and I say
no more of the same:
call them what they are:
racists,
segregationists,
fascists,
un-democratic,
un-American,
failed,
afraid,
war-losing,
truth-warping,
lockstepped
sleazes with triggers.
Klan,
Lindbergh,
Nazis,
McVeigh,
Hannity,
LaPierre,
we set aside
our mourning
wreath
to lay
this on
you.
You don’t
get the 
polite name.
You get
the blame.


Dana Yost was an award-winning daily newspaper editor and writer for 29 years. He is the author of five books, including a history of the rural Midwest in the 1940 era, another period of isolationist, anti-immigrant, white-supremacist attitudes and acts. He has lived his entire life in the rural Midwest.

LINES FROM A QUIET ISLAND

by David Mason



Sydney Morning Herald, March 24, 2017


When you have left, beginning to look back,
you can see everything they covered up,
the iron of neighborhood, the layered hates.

Men go armed to market. They do not talk,
though lips move, emitting sounds like fists.
The commentators say the nation’s mad

yet too few get up from a chair and move.
There are no pitchforks, torches at the gates,
and all the lowered eyes look very sad.

The statues might have warned us this could happen,
those noble men accustomed to their slaves,
those domes and obelisks and public greens.

Now an island lies at peace in a southern sea
with well-kept paddocks, trees of cockatoos,
the stirring of a clerk in the bottle shop.

Here monuments, like peoples’ homes, are small.
You set out never wanting to look back.
You do look back. You look and try to breathe.

And if you think you’ve found your perfect island,
think further to what you do not see or hear.
There hasn’t been a change in human nature.

Here too the ammunition clip has clicked
crisply into the automatic rifle.
So quiet you can hear dead children scream.


David Mason is an American poet living in Tasmania.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

SHOCKFOX

by Mickey J. Corrigan




Flint-eyed  and bound
for ash on the edge
of bursting
into flame, that's
when you pull out
the mic and the camera
the global keyboard
and clickity clack share
your outrage journalism
in machinegun blasts

Never mind what all
the offense archaeologists
will dig up when
they dissect your diatribes
from the city crumble
bleak state disasters

Pay no mind
to the PC anthro-apologists
who'll scrape
the jackboot muck
off your commentary
after the bombs fall,
the mushroom cloud
passes overhead

You are still on target
your electronic pulpit hot
your right a kind of wrong
a viral spread
of abyss-mal charisma
peanut butter and bile
on the bread of our ears

our daily bread
we must take in
as we wait
for you
to explode.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan lives in South Florida and writes noir with a dark humor. Books have been released by publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Poetry chapbooks include The Art of Bars (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and Days' End (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2017). Project XX, a novel about a school shooting, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

ON WATCHING THE PRESIDENT SIGN COPIES OF THE BIBLE

by Robert West


on eBay



“The devil can cite Scripture to his purpose”
—Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice


We used to say to get his way
   Old Scratch himself would quote it,
but never thought we’d see the day
   he’d act as though he wrote it.


Robert West's poems have recently appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Light, Red Dirt Forum, and Asheville Poetry Review. Co-editor of Succinct: The Broadstone Anthology of Short Poems (Broadstone Books, 2013), he's also the editor of both volumes of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons (W. W. Norton, 2017).

MANAFORT DESTINY

by Edmund Conti




Of course there was heartbreak and strife
     As he travelled through valleys and peaks
But he “lived an otherwise blameless life”
     Which he managed in two or three weeks.


Edmund Conti's life is best left unexamined.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

THE LANGUAGE CAGE

by Alejandro Escudé


Available from Nielsen Magic


     “Sir, we don’t use cages for children,” the DHS secretary said. “Yes. I’m being as clear as I can, sir. Respectfully, I’m trying to answer your question.”
     “Just yes or no. Are we still putting children in cages?” [House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie] Thompson asked again.
     “To my knowledge, [Customs and Border Patrol] never purposely put a child in a cage,” [Kirstjen] Nielsen stated.
—Salon, March 6, 2019


When the child first enters the cage,
The spaces in the chain-link are made of words.
The words are in Spanish, they read, jaula, carcel,
A series of synonyms meaning the same thing.
A child is also the child entering; one could
Make a cage out of anything. Even sunbeams.
The doorway, a  gleaming nexus of rays,
the benches made of aurora borealis green,
and the child would be a child sitting on it, waiting
for the wound in her to heal with a parent’s touch.
There are many words, and also, there aren’t any others.
The immigrant is an outsider, an illegal, an alien.
Words on their own never show compassion.


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, March 12, 2019

IN THE AFTERMATH

OF KASHMIR'S FEBRUARY 14, 2019 ATTACK ON AN INDIAN ARMY CONVOY

by Huma Sheikh


A bitter winter in Srinagar had just started to ease when the latest crisis in Kashmir was sparked on 14 February. That afternoon a local member of a Pakistan-based militant group rammed a car laden with explosives into a bus carrying Indian paramilitaries. The explosion was heard for miles around. At least 40 people were killed, the highest death toll from a single attack in the history of the insurgency. Above: A Kashmiri Muslim woman looks on as Indian government forces stand guard after clashes with separatist protesters. Photograph: Yawar Nazir/Getty Images. —The Guardian, March 2, 2019


No matter what the glistening forms
in blue cosmic wings tell me, I see
drones soaring in despair.

I left Kashmir lives ago and my veins
drained of past gore,
hallucinate in this world—Florida’s panhandle,
pounding, floating wraiths, spanning the distance,
gasping—
Rumi’s chaotic freedom.

Today, on the internet, a deceased trooper's daughter wailing;
forty mugshots scrolling the dead across the screen;
Kashmiri students, children of Indian Kashmir,
disappearing in Dehradun dungeons,
eyes of Sikh keepers burning a storm—protestors’ roar outside;
Kashmiri traders in Lucknow, whipped and kicked;
pack animals, carrying identity wares.

How to rebuild a sense of refuge when hope beans spill,
dissolve, in a battle?
Hadn’t these students, traders, escaped warfare in Kashmir?
Deaths bloom for the kith of the slain;
memories of dear ones an endless crackle of real flesh storm
dropping to ashes.
For Kashmiris still there,
war an everyday meal,
some eat, some fast by chance.

I question violence;
India and Pakistan’s territorial land-grab war,
ask myself if voicing feelings,
otherness, isn’t transcending bitterness?

Kashmir floats with me even here,
new crises piled on old ones—
a pedantic coop, winged prison,
war crumb confetti.
I do the ant’s painstaking
weight lifting of fragments—
senile Socrates.


Huma Sheikh is originally from Kashmir, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Florida State. Her prose and verse have appeared in various journals and magazines. A memoir and book of poems are in progress.

Monday, March 11, 2019

FOR DYLAN MCKAY

by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco



Luke Perry, who became a household name playing Dylan McKay in the 1990s TV series Beverly Hills 90210 suffered a stroke and died on March 4.


how many girls
are writing sad poems
for dylan

as we speak maybe

not girls
maybe just

women
who have eye cream
and hard jobs

i was a brenda but
you broke my heart with kelly

and i cried
in my old cutoffs
on the couch in our old house

and i forgot
until just now

what we had meant

when we were young
when we were going to change
the world

but now
i drop my kid at school
i see my face
slipping away in the rear window

and i think
of surfer boys

who would have loved all us cold girls
in the right way

if they were real

if we had let them
if the things we were

were ever
good enough


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley, and co-edits One Sentence Poems. Her chapbooks, Various Lies, Lion Hunt, and Water Weight are available from Finishing Line Press, Plan B Press, and Right Hand Pointing (for free!) respectively.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME

by Earl J Wilcox


Source: Meme


We have sprung forward,
lost an hour, here and there.
To close this gap time
let’s consider ourselves
fortunate: in these lost
minutes we have avoided
25 new lies by T***P—
not seen a so-called
news conference in which
T***P evades a dozen reporters’
questions--closed our ears
for 3600 seconds to the sounds
of a callow voice of hypocrisy
self-praise, pure narcissism and
a million nanoseconds of fake rage.


Earl J Wilcox is regular contributor to TheNewVerse.News.