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Sunday, May 28, 2023


by Harold Oberman

AI-generated image

AI ate my sonnet.
Gulped it down / Digested it,
Spit it out in reconstituted iambs.

I want to slip it some clichés,
Gunk up its system with pablum,
Make its metaphors as mediocre as mine.

Oh, don’t taunt me you rhyming clock,
You metronome, you precise pizza.
You took away my love of form,
Translated poetry into pi.

Eat it all my clever friend.

Harold Oberman is a poet and lawyer writing in Charleston, S.C. He has appeared recently in The New Verse News, The Free State Review, An Anthology of Low Country Poets, and has been honored by the Poetry Society of South Carolina for, among other things, a sonnet. However, he has given up on that after a now antiquated version of AI generated the following poem, with minor prodding, in 3 seconds:

Oh gravity, force that keeps us all in place,
That pulls us down and holds us to the earth,
A power strong and constant in its pace,
That gives our feet a steady, solid girth.

But horses, with their grace and beauty wild,
Seem not to feel the pull of gravity's might,
They gallop free, their manes and tails unfurled,
As if to mock the laws that bind us tight.

But though they seem to fly, they too are bound,
By gravity's unyielding grip on all,
And though they run with freedom all around,
They too must fall, when gravity's call.

So let us strive to soar, like horses do,
But always keep in mind, gravity's rule.

Saturday, May 27, 2023


by Devon Balwit

The National Park Service is seeking information on a man who interacted with a newborn bison calf, which it said had to be euthanized after it was rejected by its herd. Credit: Hellen Jack, The New York Times, May 24, 2023

who moved a bison calf, causing it to be rejected,
who, I can guarantee you, was responding to the pleas
of his children—Dad, you have to do something! Dad!—
the way I respond to the urgency in my own kids’
voices and go charging off to school to intervene
in a situation that becomes worse, not better,
me ignorant of the whole story as I struggle to haul
the bellower out of the mud and set things right
while the herd looks on from a distance and sniffs
the wind. That dad and I wipe our hands on our pants
thinking job well done, unaware that kid and calf
both bear the unshakeable stink of a meddler.

Editor’s update from BuzzFeedA Canadian man who put a bison calf at Yellowstone National Park in his SUV, forcing officials to later euthanize it, has pleaded guilty and will be fined. Shamash Kassam picked up the bison calf because he thought it looked cold and assumed "it would have been roadkill" if he did not intervene. Thursday, Kassam pleaded guilty to a wildlife violation charge and was fined a total of $735, according to KTWO.

Devon Balwit walks in all weather. In her most recent collection, Spirit Spout [Nixes Mate Books, 2023], she romps through Melville’s Moby Dick.

Friday, May 26, 2023


by Paul Hostovsky

The name-sign for Ron DeSantis
in American Sign Language
is exactly the same as the sign 
for Satan, according to my deaf
informants at the Florida School
for the Deaf and the Blind
in St. Augustine. The etymology
of that name-sign may have something to do
with the visual similarity (deaf people 
are intensely visual, after all) between 
the letters in Satan and the letters in Santis, 
or it may have something to do 
with the similarity of their policies–
for example, their shared affinity
for burning, and also their preference
for darkness and the benighted 
over the light of day and the being fully 
awake. Bottom line, if you ever happen
to eavesdrop on some deaf people 
animatedly signing about Ron DeSantis,
it would be a forgivable and understandable mistake
if you thought they were talking about Satan,
because although they're not quite synonyms
they are unmistakably homonyms in ASL.

Paul Hostovsky makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter. His newest book of poems is Pitching for the Apostates (forthcoming, Kelsay Books).

Thursday, May 25, 2023


by Alan Walowitz

Russia has expanded its list of sanctioned Americans in a tit-for-tat retaliation for the latest curbs imposed by the United States. But what is particularly striking is how much President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is adopting perceived enemies of former President Donald J. Trump as his own. —The New York Times, May 21, 2023

I want to get on that Russia-list.

To be among those who can’t go to Moscow—

would be so Chekhovian, bittersweet

not to see the Cyrillic sights, or trade in  

Gazprom futures, or pass gas in Red Square.

Here in the Times is a list of my peeps, my peers—

the Jews, the odd, the Kleptocrat wannabes, 

the comedians, the gays, the left-wingers, a few right

who despise George Santos, his lies which

make them queasy, though wonder at how easy. 

Some who grew up in Brighton, or 108th in Queens—

and here a Huckabee from Arkansas, 

notorious for lying herself. 

And others, much kinder, smarter—

actors, heiresses, entrepreneurs, free-thinkers

who submit clever Shouts to The New Yorker,

most never to be heard

except for an occasional squint 

through that imperious monocle.

All of us who would have been

red diaper-babes once upon a time

whose mothers never lived to see the day

our names had made the Russia-list 

in The New York Times.

Alan Walowitz is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry.  His chapbook Exactly Like Love comes from Osedax Press. The full-length The Story of the Milkman and Other Poems is available from Truth Serum Press. Most recently, from Arroyo Seco Press, is the chapbook In the Muddle of the Night written with poet Betsy Mars. Now available for free download is the collection The Poems of the Air from Red Wolf Editions.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023


by Mary K O’Melveny

She blew in like a Hurricane

A river deep    A mountain high


She ditched Ike   Took over the mike

Blew our minds   Broke our hearts


Tina Turner knew first hand 

What love’s got to do with it


She told us what we needed

Knew what we wanted


Tina stamped her feet   Released her hips  

Danced like unleashed wind


She defied age   Demanded respect

Broke the rules   Exposed the fools


Tina wore Stiletto heels   Spangled dresses

Split sexy skirts    Spiky blonde hair


She even taught Mick Jagger

How to dance   swivel   shake


Tina shouted loud   Made us proud

Said we’d better be good to her


She will keep on like a Hurricane   

Turning    Burning   Churning  


Tina was our Queen of Rock ‘n Roll 

Simply the best   Better than all the rest

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 most recent poetry collection is Dispatches From the Memory Care Museum, just out from Kelsay Books. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.


by Katherine Shehadeh


      (n) commitment to traditional values and ideas with opposition to change or innovation. (Oxford Languages 2023). 


I wonder what we’re clinging to

a deluge of half-sunken flags


a little boy shot dead, his hand 

forever blue in an ice cream cooler


his brother, the driver, wishes

he’d just trusted his sixth sense


not gone so late, recalls seeing the future 

suicided face of the murder-suicider


at the place on the corner that’s 

supposed to be convenient, 


& mom asks if it’s safe to go 

to the Middle East.


I mention the latest mass shooting, not 

the one in Texas or the car ramming from that weekend


a deluge of half-sunken flags

I wonder what we’re clinging to

Katherine Shehadeh is a poet, attorney, and current reader for Chestnut Review who resides with her family in Miami, Florida. Her recent poems appear in Maudlin House, Drunk Monkeys, Saw Palm, & others. Find her on Twitter @your_mominlaw or Instagram @katherinesarts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


by Diana Morley

A 13-year-old Michigan boy who used a slingshot to save his 8-year-old sister from an attempted kidnapping said he was “freaking out” and simply reached for something that could stop the attack. “So I grab my slingshot and open the window and I grab two things—a marble and a gravel rock or something,” Police said Owen struck the 17-year-old assailant in the head and chest, and his sister was able to get away. —AP, May 19, 2023

No semi-automatic rifle
but a simple slingshot 
grabbed by a young teen
saved his younger sister
being abducted. A sturdy 
wooden Y the why of her 
escape—of stopping 
the large target wounded 
by a rock and a marble. 

The boy a marvel today  
who instead of grabbing 
his cell phone for a photo
‘freaked out’ at seeing evil. 
A girl’s scream, a window,  
a thirteen-year-old boy with 
a slingshot, rock and marble. 

A biblical story played out
in Michigan—unusual—
but sure did tip the scales
for we the people at a loss
for words over sick shooters
still protected by politics. 

Diana Morley has published poems online and in journals as well as two books of poetry and a photographic/poetic documentary of Oregon’s 2020 wildfire and renewal. She writes and resides in North Carolina. 

Monday, May 22, 2023


by Howie Good

“Springtime” Claude Monet 1886 Fitzwilliam Museum (University of Cambridge), Cambridge, UK

Baby dies in attic fire. 400 dead in floods and landslides. 3 killed, 6 injured in New Mexico shooting. “All of life,” the Buddha said, “is sadness,” as if he’d been reading the same headlines as me. Cops seek masked gunman. Ukrainian attack looms. 12-year-old charged with murder. Every day the mirror held up to existence only darkens further. Then the spring melt reveals there’s been grass alive under the snow this whole time. Birds return to the marsh from the hot countries full of excited chatter. Sunshine grows brighter and more frequent and falls like a benediction on old bent trees and fat buds and us who don’t even deserve it. 

Howie Good's newest poetry collection Heart-Shaped Hole which also includes examples of his handmade collages, is available from Laughing Ronin Press.

Sunday, May 21, 2023


Down Radio Age’s Memory Lane of Childhood 

by Dick Altman

Congress is trying to prevent the death of AM radio calling it ‘irreplaceable’ as car companies drop it from their new EV models. —Fortune, May 19, 2023

Back when it’s nothing to scoot home alone—

a mile or two from school—I leave on the run—

to hear voices live bring to life Jules Verne’s 

To the Center of the Earth—or pretend to be

Captain Nemo—in his 20,000 Leagues 

Under the Sea. Nothing but imagination—no bot—

no screen—a few vacuum tubes—to illuminate 

the colossal octopus strangling Nemo’s submarine – 

or vessel boring—like a giant screw worm—

into planet’s core.


Some days I’m Buck Rogers—Others—Flash 

Gordon dodging Ming the Merciless—rocketing 

star to star—Back on earth—I run collie Lassie 

and shepherd Rin-Tin-Tin, till my legs drop—King—

my huskie, never tires, as I play Sargeant Preston 

of the Royal Canadian Mounties.  You can almost

hear me in the street yell—“Stop—in the name

of the Queen!”—as King holds at bay one more

perp in snowy wilds.


Three o’clock in the afternoon and I turn

into sheriff Tennessee Jed, then Hopp Harrigan

piloting bombers over Germany. Back on ground,

I’m the Green Hornet, whose sting sends many

a gangster up river. Sundays see me as Nick Carter—

ace detective—followed by Lamont Cranston—

whose guise lets me know what evil lurks in hearts

of men—as I purge streets of crime—invisible—

but for my indelible shadow.


A lifetime ago—yet the characters—imbedded in

memory—enfolded in imagination—rise from the mists

as if from yesterday—I recall most  how deeply I lose

myself in the spoken word—each syllable taking 

on a life of its own—with each breath of my own—

Even beyond words—as I Toscanini—pencil in hand—

conduct  a live rehearsal of Prokofiev’s Love of Three 

Orangestheme—poundingly militaristic—to radio’s 

FBI, In Peace and War. Into which—come Thursday

nights—I again disappear.


Dick Altman writes in the high, thin, magical air of Santa Fe, NM, where, at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. He is published in Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, riverSedge, Fredericksburg Literary Review, Foliate Oak, Blue Line, THE Magazine, Humana obscura, The Offbeat, Haunted Waters Press, Split Rock Review, The RavensPerch, Beyond Words, The New Verse News, Sky Island Journal, and others here and abroad. A poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition, he has in progress two collections of some 100 published poems. His work has been selected for the forthcoming first volume of The New Mexico Anthology of Poetry to be published by the New Mexico Museum Press. 

Saturday, May 20, 2023


by Julia Bair

Ukrainian word for bread: хліб [khlib]

friends say: 

you will write about completely other things now  

the war blanks flowers and butterflies 

it blanks the old books and new plays 

blanks the birds 

blanks men

it blanks hunger   

hungry people share their last crumbs with birds 

becoming the birds themselves 

disgusted to share their bread and life with occupiers 

and fall into the ground as crumbs 

instead of the grain 

to sprout over the “i” in every staff of life 

as the ultimate dot

Author’s note: Russians have no letter “i” in their alphabet.

Julia Bair is a Ukrainian poet, essayist and cultural critic writing on various topics, especially literature, fine art, cinema, and theater. Born and bred in a small town close to the Subcarpathian foothills and educated in the big city of Lviv at Ivan Franko National University, Julia travelled across Europe and lived in the USA for some years.