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Monday, February 24, 2020

THE LADDER

by Howie Good





There are days when I look up from some small task,
answering a text or fixing coffee or leashing the dog,
and see miles more of the skyline burning and crowds
chanting encouragement to the flames, and on those days,
I feel broken and hollow and lost, too old and slow to be
able to make any sort of difference, but then I remember
I don’t have to be one of the ones who climb a rescue ladder;

I can stand on the ground and help hold the ladder steady.


Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

T***P HEARS ABOUT INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS TELLING CONGRESS THE TRUTH ABOUT RUSSIAN MEDDLING IN THE 2020 ELECTION

by Michael L. Ruffin




1969 or so.
Wednesday night prayer meeting.
Small rural Baptist church.
Guest preacher.
My deacon father
on the front row,
as always.

Guest preacher.
Not very good.
Losing us.
Tries to get us back
with attempt at humor.
Points at my father:
“Somebody wake up
that sleeping deacon.”

After the service,
my father lets
the preacher have it:
“Don’t you ever embarrass me
in front of these people again!”

In the car on the way
home, my mother says,
“Champ, what got into you?”

He replies,
“I was asleep.”


Michael L. Ruffin is a writer, editor, preacher, and teacher living and working in Georgia. He posts poems on Instagram (@michaell.ruffin) and prose opinions at On the Jericho Road. He is author of Fifty-Seven: A Memoir of Death and Life and of the forthcoming Praying with Matthew. He has poems forthcoming in 3 Moon Magazine and Rat's Ass Review.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

PRIMARY RANT

by Harold Oberman


Graphic via Nikki McWatters


At this exact moment
It is time to put your sonnets
      On hold.
No lyric musings
Until the Republic is secure,
Until the Senate gains sanity,
Until Justice does justice,
Until November.

“There is a criminal in the White House
Who bullies foreign powers to frame his political rivals”
Does not fucking rhyme with anything
So don’t even try,
At least for now.
“There is a criminal in the White House
Who pardons his cronies who fixed the last election”
Is not a simile, not even a metaphor,
So don’t get clever with it
At least for now.
“There is a criminal in the White House
Who foments hate for political gain”
Is not in iambic, nor even trochaic, so just say it,
At least for now.

Pick up your pen
And jab it in the back of someone’s hand
Goddammit
If they say, “I’m not going to vote on that day,
November Third.”
Pick up your pen
And jab it in the back of someone’s hand
Goddammit
If they say “It just doesn’t matter.”

Scream before you write the lyric.
Howl before you write the sonnet.
And whisper truth to your neighbor.


Harold Oberman is a lawyer and writer living in the midst of the South Carolina Primary. His work has appeared in the TheNewVerse.News  and in the Free State Review.

NOVEMBER 2020

by Gil Hoy
Graphic: MoveOn.org


When the poet's
arrow hits the mark,

a wishful paragraph
can become

a single word:

Blue


Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and served four terms as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman. He is a member of the Brookline Democratic Town Committee. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

FEBRUARY 2020

by Jennifer Franklin





Our long coats are all that separate us from the cold. Half-way around the world, the sky opens to put out wildfires over the carcasses of burned marsupials. We wait for the subway, for the train. My daughter waits for her short yellow bus that arrives each morning with one sobbing boy. He would be a perfect metaphor of Orwell’s belief that we’re all alone if he didn’t look so sad, his shirt buttoned askew. Politicians preen and posture; the air is damp with acquittal. We bend our heads but not in prayer. Our palms hold small backlit tablets that promise information and escape. Miles north, a student paints a swastika in my old dorm. Another student covers it with a star. Only the dog is calm, sleeping in a circle in her clean fleece bed. Orwell wrote, “There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.” I try to put my daughter to sleep on time in her new room. As I read the familiar incantations, flowers climb up the lamp to the ceiling. All the animals have escaped the zoo. I want the story to end there. All of them tucked into the corners of the zookeeper’s room—breathing their heavy eucalyptus breath across the night. Their fur shining in the moonlight through the blinds.


Jennifer Franklin (AB Brown University, MFA Columbia University School of the Arts) is the author of two full collections, most recently No Small Gift (Four Way Books, 2018). Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Blackbird, Boston Review, New England Review, Gettysburg Review, Guernica, JAMA, Love’s Executive Order, The Nation, Paris Review, Plume, “poem-a-day” on poets.org, and Prairie Schooner. She is currently teaching poetry in Manhattanville’s MFA program. She also teaches manuscript revision at the Hudson Valley Writers Center, where she runs the reading series and serves as Program Director. She lives in New York City. The poem appearing here is from Jennifer’s forthcoming collection Momento Mori: Antigone.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

HOW TO SETTLE A PERSONAL INJURY CASE

by Gil Hoy





Find out what they lost.
Maybe it's lost wages. Maybe
the monetary equivalent of
a permanent scar. Get
the medical bills paid. Past,
present and future. Robert
was just 18 years-old when
he stepped on a land mine
in Vietnam. Fresh
out of high school. Had always
dated the same girl.
You'll need to establish who
caused your client's misfortune.
And how they're responsible.
Maybe they ran a red light. Maybe
they forgot to turn off the stove
when heating up olive oil. What
you're looking for is money. The more
the better. How much is the loss
of a loved one worth? And an
amputated arm? Robert's
girlfriend is now married. His parents
have had to move on. They keep
his gold star pin beside their bed.


These images provided by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command show (left) Sgt. 1st Class Antonio R. Rodriguez, 28, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Sgt. 1st Class Javier J. Gutierrez, 28, of San Antonio, Texas, who died Feb. 8, 2020 from wounds sustained during combat operations in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. (US Army Special Operations Command via AP)


Gil Hoy is a semi-retired trial lawyer. Most of his cases were in the field of personal injury law.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

SPILLED WATERCOLORS

by Diane Elayne Dees



Tweeted by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir from the International Space Station.


From space, the aqua, cream, azure, and cerulean
appear as if blended by a master painter
with an eye for serenity and expansion. I imagine
a second painting, this one bright, yet soft,
with puffs of spoonbill pink and splashes
of sea turtle green streaked across a peaceful
background of bunting indigo. From space,
the Louisiana delta is an impressionist’s dream
of water and feathers and the reflections
of a stippled sky. Up close, the picture tears
at the edges as the coastline rapidly recedes.
The Rusty Blackbird, black bear and Great Blue
fade behind a foreground of erosion and loss.
From space, the watercolors spill a dream-like
beauty onto a canvas teeming with life,
while the landscape shifts precariously,
altering the perspective forever.


Diane Elayne Dees has two chapbooks forthcoming. Her microchap Beach Days is available for download and folding from Origami Poems Project. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women’s professional tennis throughout the world.

THE ANTARCTICA BEAUTY PAGEANT

by Christopher Woods






Temperature in Antarctica soars to near 70 degrees, appearing to topple continental record set days earlier. —Headline in The Washington Post, February 14, 2020


Has fewer contestants this year.
Girls from every continent once competed
Before the heat became too intense.
No more bikini strut, wet tee shirt parade.
Now just a few stagger about in a white furnace
Where the fevered winds that killed the penguins
Blow incessantly across the bones of elephant seals.


Christopher Woods is a writer and photographer who lives in Chappell Hill, Texas. He has published the novel The Dream Patch, the prose collection Under A Riverbed Sky, and a book of stage monologues for actors, Heart Speak. His photographs can be seen in his gallery. His photography prompt book for writers From Vision To Text is forthcoming from Propertius Press.

Monday, February 17, 2020

WHEN WORDS BECOME WEAPONS

by Jen Schneider


Kevin Euceda, now 19 years old, an asylum-seeker from Honduras, has an emotional moment in December 2019, after some 900 days in detention at three detention centers. After hearing statements he made to counselors—that he thought were confidential—read back to him at hearings, the traumatized teenager chooses his words more carefully now. (Michael S. Williamson photo for "Trust and Consequences" by Hannah Dreier, The Washington Post, February 15, 2020)


In the darkness of the night and the safety of artificial lights, I shared my story. 
The hundreds of miles walked and waters crossed. Go ahead. Swim
I spoke of piles of memories, papers, lost lives, broken bodies, missing books, 
and torn clothing—including the cloth worn by my deceased cousin and sewn 
by the handiwork of my deceased mother’s pale, scarred hands—left behind. 
My calloused foot kissed the stone, and I fell. Hard.

Go ahead. Rise. Trusting the hands that caught, then bolstered, me, I complied. 
My words poured, pooled, and puddled around my person. Your head bobbed, 
a decoy, and encouraged me to swim to safety. Go ahead. Jump. A life vest, 
withs arm outstretched and encouraging, like the V that marks my forehead and maps 
my past - my own flesh and blood—I failed to realize I was in the deep end. 
Always have been. You, too. My lifelong fear of water consumed me, but I swam 
at your urging. Go ahead. Speak. Your superiors soaked my blood—yours, too—
and my language in a tissue of legal loopholes. Strangers twisted the rag, heavy 
with tales of my younger self, a person I neither know nor remember—Go ahead. Try.
—and dropped it in my lap. It stank. Still does.

The weight of my words lives on like bait and lure in deceptively choppy waters 
with a strong undercurrent. Go ahead. Float. Seeking a home base, safe land, in a sea 
that never calms. My words now a weapon, sharper than any before used, 
with finely seared edges and teeth that bite. Piranhas tear my younger flesh and chew 
my words at every meal, meeting, and moment. Go ahead. Pierce.
I lie before you. Empty. Broken. Alone.


Jen Schneider is an educator, attorney, and writer. She lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Philadelphia. Her work appears in The Popular Culture Studies Journal, unstamatic, Zingara Poetry Review, Streetlight Magazine, Chaleur Magazine, LSE Review of Books, and other literary and scholarly journals.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

AT THE SANTA ANITA RACETRACK

by Linda Stryker


Santa Anita Park in Arcadia said a horse died “suddenly” over the weekend on its training track, making it the sixth fatality this year. The 6-year-old named Double Touch died on Saturday, according to the racetrack. The exact cause of the horse’s death was unknown and results from a necropsy were pending, officials said. —KTLA, February 11, 2020. File photo, above, of Double Touch provided by Zoe Metz Photography to Horse Racing Nation.


Amazing     euphoria
all over my face

I am fifteen
driving a car

My Dad teaches me
the brake     the gears

how to stop     how to turn
how to make hand signals

at the Track parking lot
now empty of cars

My Mom had taken me there
to watch the whirlwind races

charging horses     jockeys
whipping       hounding

Weeks later       near home
I drove toward a paper bag

Don’t run over it     Dad said
it might have kittens inside

Advice     admonishment
image forever implanted

Of course     all that was
an ancient moon’s age ago

I did not know back then
about the numerous deaths

at the Santa Anita track
where      on average

fifty horses die     shot
each year of my life

Should I mention     so many
other world racetracks

I used to recall      driving
at the Santa Anita Racetrack

But now     all I can think about
are              dead horses


Linda Stryker writes from Phoenix, AZ. She volunteered for many years as a radio reader for disabled people. She taught for twenty-four years at Arizona State University. She founded the poetry groups Poetry Exchange and COW: Community of Writers. Stryker has been published in numerous journals and her chapbook Starcrossed was published in 2018. She is currently working on a collection.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

APOCALYPSE

by Charles Harvey


Police escort the last of about 150 masked members of the Patriot Front from a parking garage, after they peacefully ended a march near Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Theiler


I don’t give a fuck
About Donald Duck
Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!
He a chicken shit
He a mouth too small to
Blow smoke up my ass
But he sure blowing jazz
Up some white folk’s corn holes.
He blowing smoke, and they
Inhaling the shit he shit.
He gonna paint the White House red
From the blood of busted skulls,
‘Cause the cops are coming
The Neo-Nazis are coming
The skinheads are coming
The KKKs are coming
The Jew-haters are coming
The nigger-haters are coming
The stars and bars are coming
The Uncle Toms are bowing,
“Yas suh! !Yas suh!” thirty pieces of silver
to seal they thick lips.
They raising Bull Connor from the dead
The fools have been fooled
The turkeys are coming home to defecate,
But the wise will rise
From the ashes of democracy.


Charles Harvey lives in Houston Texas. He is a novelist and poet. He is currently working on a volume of poetry, Rough Cut Until I Bleed, due to be out on March 24. He has numerous volumes of poetry and short stories all over the web. He is in the middle of revising several novels to be re-released soon.

Friday, February 14, 2020

VALENTINE'S DAY REMIX

by Howie Good





I like distortion and dirt, I like reverb and delay,
I like spirals and turning objects and how forms look
when they move in three dimensions.

What interests me isn’t success,
but love, with its nimble and sinister tricks.

Drag it outside the window.
The next person adds onto it without knowing,
something that happens all the time,
a white pinnacle pricking just above the horizon.


Howie Good is the author most recently of Stick Figure Opera: 99 100-word Prose Poems from Cajun Mutt Press. He co-edits the online journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

THOUGHTS OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT

as He Languishes with Dementia 
at Age 83 in the Year 2030




by Albert Haley

                            
Disgusting. Corrupt. Liars!
Who is Melania?
Really, Junior, again?
Tower, tower, tower.
Haters. Where’s Vlad?

Make America grate?
Gold plated and Colonel KFC.
How to spell anything.
Perfect. Ivanka. If she weren’t
my daughter.

Was a time I could have shot someone.
Right in the middle of Fifth!

Wall, we were going to have.
What happened Tim Apple?
Gold plated wall. Good!

Have I said “pussy” yet?
Where’s my phone? Sad.

Me, me, me, my country tis of me. 
Do you like this hair?
In the middle of Fifth.
Put a tariff on it.
Put a businessman in 
the White House and acquit him.
They rip babies out of mothers
and smother them. Bullshit!
Sharpies predict the weather
better.

But who is this Mitch? Why do I miss
him. Lyin’ Ted sure knew how to lie
down with the lion. Good crew,
kept their heads off the pikes.
  
Greatest hits. Rallies                                                  
and media is enemy of the state.
Some people say. Snow falling. 
Told you it was a hoax. 
The earth’s cooling—me too?

If they’d only respected
the Second. Right in the middle of Fifth. 
Might have spared me 
(A-l-z… how you spell?) this.

The focused hot blowtorch
of hatred so carefully cultivated. 
Main act in the middle of their circus.
Cancel the failing show
with a ratings bang.

Obama? Birth certificate?
Never saw it. Get him out of here!

Highest form of love
a man like me can ever know.


Albert Haley's poems have appeared previously in New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, and Rattle. He lives and teaches in dry, dusty Abilene, Texas, which at present seems far away from any refreshing blue waves. Haley's poems have appeared previously in TheNewVerse.News, Poets Reading the News, and Rattle. He lives and teaches in dry, dusty Abilene, Texas, which at present seems far away from any refreshing blue waves.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

ROOSTER

by Richard Garcia
Hand carved & hand painted rooster by Avelino Perez from Oaxaca, Mexico


Ricardo the rooster
only crows at dawn
or at 3 a.m. or noon.
So you never know.
Tonight he might crow
especially loud at the full moon.
Really loud.

             Ricardo
              the rooster  lives on the border.
so his papers, passports, birth certificate
                         like his crowing skills
are quite in order.
 For first he climbs
                         the fence of Colossal
& from thence
                         greets El Sol in Spanish,
Then he bows & greets
                         the sun in English:
 Coo-coo-rico!
                         Cock-a-doddle-do!
Coo-coo-rico!
                         Cock-a-doddle-do!
 Ola, Señor Sol,
                                    How are you?


Richard Garcia is the author of The Other Odyssey from Dream Horse Press, The Chair from BOA, and Porridge from Press 53. His poems have appeared in many journals and anthologies. He has won a Pushcart prize and has been in Best American Poetry. He lives in Charleston, S.C.