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Saturday, April 21, 2018

WEST OF LUKEVILLE

by David Chorlton


While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh. This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness.  In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.” Over three episodes, Radiolab investigates this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it. Photo: Backpacks left by migrants crossing the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. (State of Exception/Estado de Excepción, Parsons School of Design at The New School. Created by photographer Richard Barnes and curator Amanda Krugliak with Jason De León. Photo: Marc Tatti via Radiolab.) 


The ravens don’t much care
about the border, bouncing
as they do
between one country’s light
and another’s. And a hawk can cast
its shadow on both
sides at once
with a wingspan as wide
as a bobcat’s leap
and an eye as focused as a border guard’s.
It’s mostly quiet
here, except for the trucks
that move in their sleep
while the desert shifts beneath them
faster in Spanish
than this gravel road allows
as it dips and crackles
underfoot. The vegetation
greens into sunlight
and dries back to desperation
depending on terrain
while mountain after mountain
cuts into a sky that burns
at its edges come June.
Right now, a hammer taps
in a mechanic’s tinny workshop
where his radio is tuned
to salt and teardrops.
There’s a heaven
for the poor who look across
at where they’ve heard
a land of plenty
is at hand, but all they see from here
are saguaro
and the buckled ground
where a mule is a man with no face
and coyotes
dispense promises
of work in one language,
pay in another,
with a long walk through the night
and slow death in the sun
for those whose mariachi prayers
go unanswered. Supply
and demand are the laws: the land
demands rain
while the sky won’t supply it.
The doves call
out to springtime, and a breeze
responds. Who’s there; who wants
to enter? Who is it
wants to build a wall
to keep the heat away?


David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His newest collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press, and The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant.

Friday, April 20, 2018

INTOLERANCE AFTERNOON

by Gary Glauber

Starbucks Logo Mermaid Redesign by Cory Marino at Deviant Art

No one wanted to wait on the mermaid.

I couldn’t believe the rudeness.
She was out of her element,
waiting on this long line
nowhere near the water.
The barista acted like
she wasn’t even there.

But she was. Patiently waiting
her turn, eager to order.
She deserved her vanilla latte
as much as the next guy,
who happened to be me.

I had been behind her,
trying to pretend I didn’t
notice her resemblance
to the national chain’s logo:
same enchanting smile,
same long locks of hair.

Did they not hear
that uniquely dulcet tone,
the unmistakable foreign accent?

I stood there mute
when they passed her by
& turned to me instead.
I refused to be party
to this obvious act
of blatant prejudice.
What was the deal?
No shirt, no legs, no service?
No way.

Her scales glistened in
what I perceived was anger
or at least righteous rage.
It reminded me of that time
at the barbershop
when they refused service
to the giant who stopped in
for a trim.
They said it was
by appointment only,
& ignored the way
he barely fit into the chair.
He sat there for a time,
all awkward knees & elbows,
but these barbers were a stubborn lot.
He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders,
let out exasperated sigh, then got up.
Something in the look
told me he got this a lot.
“There’s small,
& then there’s petty,”
was what he said
before storming out.

When I finally opened my mouth
it was with fast solution at hand.
I spoke out the very order
she had been repeating
over & over again,
followed by my own.
I spoke slowly & the barista
repeated it back.
I gladly paid for hers,
& was happy to hand over
the green & white cup
a few minutes later,
not so much as an act
of flirtatious friendliness,
but more one of
true civil justice.


Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. His works have received multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. He champions the underdog to the melodic rhythms of obscure power pop. He has published two collections, Small Consolations (Aldrich Press) and Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), and a chapbook Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press).

Thursday, April 19, 2018

DON'T NAP IN THE THUNDER

by Dianna MacKinnon Henning


Give my umbrella to the Rain Dogs / For I am a Rain Dog too.


Don’t assume the springs won’t break free
from their box mattress—sheets flaunting their disarray
across the bed, or

count on scenery through unwashed
windows, or that mice, anticipating
your arrival, will vacate. If

there’s a wishing-well in the front
yard, likely its weed-clogged, so
cast no coin, make no wish. If

you should happen to rest
on the hay-stuffed sofa, and a torrential
downpour slams your solitude, or should you

contemplate buying this foreclosed relic
for a getaway, don’t ease into the solitude
of sleep. Just when such calm seduces

you on the edge of its tricky precipice, thunder
shivers the walls of your potential buy, and any sanity
you thought you possessed surrenders to the rain

dogs—their teeth slavered with hope.


Dianna MacKinnon Henning holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. Published in, in part: The Moth, Ireland; Sukoon, Volume 5; Naugatuck River Review, Lullwater Review, The Red Rock Review, The Kentucky Review, The Good Works Review, The Main Street Rag, California Quarterly, Poetry International and Fugue. Finalist in Aesthetica’s Creative Writing Award in the UK. Three-time Pushcart nominee. Henning  received several CAC grants and taught through California Poets in the Schools and through the William James Association’s Prison Arts Program. Henning’s third poetry book Cathedral of the Hand published 2016 by Finishing Line Press.

EIGHTY-SIX ON MY SPEED DIAL

by James Bettendorf


Records fell as an April snowstorm blanketed the Upper Midwest. —CHANNEL 3000


The shadow I see in the meadow is really a sheep in wolf’s clothing.  I go swimming in the small pond but the ice is so thick I have to break it with an ax so I can’t chop the tree branches into firewood.  It is so cold in April I choke on clouds of ice.  I wrap myself in a buffalo robe for warmth but the snow keeps falling.  I wear a large wool hat but the snow keeps falling.  The sun is shining but the snow keeps falling.  Even the sunshine I feel is eight minutes old.  My congressman gives me the cold shoulder.  It is hard to believe anything he says. Perhaps I don’t get his attention.  If I see a poisonous spider I will crush it with my shoe.


James Bettendorf is a retired math teacher writing in Brooklyn Park, MN. He completed a two-year poetry internship in the Loft Master Track program in 2009 and has published a book of poems swimming in the earth which includes art by his daughter. He is also a contributor to  Gatherings, A Forward Poetry Anthology and In the Company of Others. He has had poems published in several journals including Rockhurst Review, Light Quarterly, Star Line, Ottertail Review, Talking Stick, and Free Verse along with several on-line publications.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

LESSONS OF THE OSTRACODS

by Richard Meyer

The male ostracod Cypideis salebrosa, his genitals shaded in the photograph. (Maria João Fernandes Martins)


By studying dozens of fossilized ostracods, [researchers] have found that species where males . . .  have larger penises—disappear far more quickly. They say that it’s not size that matters, but what you do with it; what ostracods do with it is go extinct. —The Atlantic, 11 April 2018


Attention homo sapiens—
the men, that is, the average ones,
the less endowed below the belt—
that insufficiency you’ve felt
is but a myth—you’re now set free
by studies in biology.

Among the creatures in the sea,
the species known as ostracods
whose males possessed prodigious rods
became extinct while others thrived.

No longer lacking, flawed, deprived,
with evolution on your side,
embrace your normal tools with pride
and know in life, to their chagrin,
the biggest pricks don’t always win.


Richard Meyer’s poems have appeared in various publications, including Able Muse, The Raintown Review, Think, Measure, Light, TheNewVerse.News, Alabama Literary Review, and The Evansville Review. He was awarded the 2012 Robert Frost Farm Prize for his poem “Fieldstone” and was the recipient of the 2014 String Poet Prize for his poem “The Autumn Way.” A book of his collected poems, Orbital Paths, was a silver medalist winner in the 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

ABOUT COMEY

by Frederick Shiels


Distraction Accomplished by Pia Guerra at The Nib


we were never wrong, nor were we right, nor did we know.
El Jefe de 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has no doubts: October, 2016:
“It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made
in light of the kind of opposition he had where
they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution,”
or—April, 2018, "not smart," "failure", "slimeball," "the worst
FBI director in history." And yet

Comey stresses:  "I don’t buy this stuff about
him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia.
He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who’s tracking conversations."
in other words—"not mentally unfit to be president,
but morally so . . .  a stain,"
The Director-emeritus seems not to be vengeful
not concerned about the weather, the yellow showers,

Summed it up—to date—about his first (public) meeting with the Man,
"well coiffed," he said, "hands about average" (charitably)
"And so I’m walking forward thinking that, thinking:
“How could he think this is a good idea? That he’s going to try to hug me,
the guy that a whole lot of people think, although that’s not true,

but think I tried to get him elected president—
and did. Isn’t he master of television? This is disastrous.”—
and so it is.


Frederick Shiels is an aspiring poet and Prof. Emeritus of Politics and History at Mercy College. He has published in Avocet, Deep South Review, The Hudson River Anthology, TheNewVerse.News, and most recent book is Preventable Disasters.

Monday, April 16, 2018

CRATERS

by Alejandro Escudé




The images
show only
bluish erasures,

the aftermath
of the airstrikes,

just days
after airing
the faces
of babies

squinting,
tears or poison
on their reddened
cheeks.

How does one
fill the holes
that no longer
have meaning?

Can another
Adam and Eve rise
from the smoldering
ruins?

Or another Tree
of Life
grow?

Wouldn’t that
be a sight?
In night vision,

a new man
and woman
squirming up
from the singed
earth

like two worms,
then a blazing
tree

bright as
an explosion.


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, April 15, 2018

READING THE IRISH POETS ON HISTORY

by Pepper Trail


Source: bewareofimages.com


How often the tyranny is revealed in the out-of-doors
The trodden muddy road, the lichen-knit walls of stone
Torn apart, the sodden sky pelting with rooks
Brambles, lost sheep, broken-limbed trees
These things happened in a place, they say
Our land is the container of our struggle
Here, blood was shed, just here
And the generations walk past, and do not forget

How to make such art out of a twittering fool?
As true a tyrant as any, but
No more tangible than the pixels on a screen
Existing only because we believe he does
Which is enough, we find, to blight the trees
To break the walls, to set the dogs loose
Running frenzied through the panicked flock
Their eyes wild, their jaws stained with slaver


Pepper Trail is a conservation biologist, poet, and photographer living in Ashland, Oregon.  His poems have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Pedestal, and other publications, and have 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.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

RED, WHITE, & STORMY

by Scott C. Kaestner




Presidential porn star spangled banner
apple pie, boner pills to manifest destiny
fake news erected in pleated khaki pants
fat cats and skinny puppies do the electric slide
in the land of semi-automatic gunfire and fentanyl laced dreams.


Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet, husband, dad, and good mojo seeker. Google 'scott kaestner poetry' to peruse his musings and doings.

Friday, April 13, 2018

BETRAYAL

by Beth McKim


by EvanOfTheYukon at Reddit.


To think I trusted you all that time.
From the first, I revealed intimacies:
what I ate (and with whom), where I went

(and with whom), my sacred political views,
the deaths of my parents, birthday greetings,
family photographs, reunions with friends,
exotic travel plans. In other words, touts

of the good parts of my life. You seemed
to be my friend, asked only for a personality
test, occasionally, to display my narcissism.

You were sterling, helped me renew friendships,
introduce beloved newborns to our world,
confirm my wit and smarts to everyone.
Now I am shocked, baffled by your betrayal

of my love. You apparently sought the money,
sold my secrets to the most lucrative bidder,
placed my finances in jeopardy,  traitorously

sabotaged a presidential election, made fools
of us all. And suddenly, you want me to pay
for protection against thieves.  Not on your
life.  I’ll miss you the way we miss habits

thwarted . But I won’t have the pressure to record
my life for the world to admire. You’ll never know I’m
gone. Goodbye Facebook, my unfaithful friend.


Beth McKim is a writer and actress. Her poetry, essays, and  short stories have been widely published in anthologies and literary magazines.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

ZOMBIES

by Amber Miller 




We do not recognize the mangled faces of the bodies we take as trophies
We do not hear the sounds of their tortured wailing as they flee for their lives
We are complicit in their deaths because we do nothing to stop it
No matter how much we want to believe we are/aren’t the servants
     of a less violent world
Our children die the same and what can we offer but more guns and
     more bullets in their backs
And more bombs and more heroin and more opioids and more lies
     and more false hope
That’s it we’ll gaslight them all until corruption looks like truth and truth
     looks like lies
We are mass murderers we are tools of destruction we are killing ourselves
     and we don’t care


Amber Miller has poetry and essays featured in Aois21 publishing, Making Queer History, TheNewVerse.News, Anti Heroin Chic, and SubverSions: a journal of feminist queries.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

AGAIN, A GUN

by Akua Lezli Hope


As Stephon Clark’s death shows, we live in a time when the term “unarmed” is becoming inconsequential—and, for a black man in certain settings, meaningless. —Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, April 5, 2018. Photograph by Max Whittaker / NYT / Redux via The New Yorker.


Whose cell phone is a gun
Whose frown is a gun
Whose toy is a gun
Whose today is a gun
Whose smile is a gun
Whose tomorrow is a gun
Whose wallet is a gun
Whose loud is a gun
Whose soft is a gun
Whose CDs are a gun
Whose silence is a gun
Whose protest is a gun
Whose stop is a gun
Whose go is a gun
Whose yes is a gun
Whose no is a gun
Whose pipe is a gun
Whose hand is a gun
Whose stand is a gun
Whose advance is a gun
Whose retreat is a gun
Whose plea is a gun
Whose kneel is a gun
Whose showerhead is a gun
Whose question is a gun
Whose answer is a gun
                         is a gun
                         is a gun


Akua Lezli Hope is a creator who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, handmade paper and wire to create poems, patterns, stories, music, adornments, sculpture and peace whenever possible. A paraplegic, she has founded a nonprofit paratransit firm. Her poetry collection Them Gone will be published by The Word Works Publishing on June 1, 2018.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

RED HAT

by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco





On our way north,
red brake lights
slam like doors.

We see debris
before we see anything
else:

a half-rolled license
plate, glass stars
ground into dirt.

The car is smashed
in on itself—rain
streaks along each

shattered window. A man
bends

down with his hands flat
on his thighs

to see inside,
his shoulders

tight. Someone has put out
flares.

The thing I can’t
believe

is the man’s MAGA
hat, clean like it is new,
holding the rain up

off his face.
I have to read it twice
to get it’s not

a joke, and then
it aches

and I’m ashamed,
the afterimage of the hat

and the wrecked car

drifting with me
all day long
like floating leaves.


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California and co-edits One Sentence Poems. Her chapbooks Various Lies and Lion Hunt are available from Finishing Line Press and forthcoming from Plan B Press, respectively.

Monday, April 09, 2018

SO TWO GOATS WERE STUCK ON A BEAM UNDER A BRIDGE

by Jill Crainshaw


Amidst a turbulent week on Wall Street, two goats were found stranded on a bridge beam in western Pennsylvania on Tuesday. Goat photo source: Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission via NPR.

stormy
with a chance of thundersnow
these are the headlines we are living in
curators clamoring for credibility on facebook fake newsfeeds
talking heads trading on trending turbulence
the bald eagle has landed—on the mariners shoulder—looking for bears
hugging the life out of
fragile economies
while easter bunnies on the loose quadruple a towns investment
a teenagers hair creates a buzz breaking into the prophetic sound of her silence
as bells toll to remember the king who had a dream that one day—one day—
and a presidents goldilocks
blow in the

wind


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