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Saturday, July 20, 2019

THEY KILLED THE MOON I'D LIKE TO WRITE ABOUT

Photograph: Buzz Aldrin sets up an experiment into solar wind. Credit: Neil Armstrong/AP/Press Association via the Kennedy Space Center


Martha Landman lives and writes in Adelaide, South Australia. Her work has appeared online and in print in UK, US and Australia and she has previously contributed to TheNewVerse.News.

DEAD AIR

by Alejandro Escudé 




There is no man on the moon tonight.
And it is there, golden and full. I spot it above the empty golf course.
And one can watch as many footage hours of the first mission to the moon
as one desires, but they are never going to return.
Instead, they’re still debating our race. Instead, they’re still defining America.
It’s interesting to learn that Armstrong had to pilot over a cluster of boulders
to find a fitting landing spot. It’s interesting to know
that the astronaut suit-makers did not appreciate Buzz’s leaping, kicking up
moon dust.
And it’s fun to think of Collins circling the pale satellite like a giant man-embryo
inside a metallic uterus. But there is little room to be dumbfounded anymore.
Everyday, the internet steals the soul. They try to make us believe there’s an
alternative to coal.
Last week, Manhattan went dark. Just like in 1977. They tell young students they
don’t need to able to sit in a class anymore and to stay home and learn on an
online school.
They sell a long gun that can take out a small, midwestern town.
Our President is a clown-salesman, a weaponized being sent into the hallowed
chambers of a static, broken government. He is a human improvised explosive
device with a ticking mouth.
People still die in floods in the South.
Yet, they project the Saturn V rocket on the Washington Monument,
our country the equivalent of a middle aged man recalling his high school football
victories with rancid nostalgia, while his children have moved clear across the
country to get away from his unpredictable temper and judgement.
The Russians are still rivals.
Sputnik spins around the world yet.
Does time even really happen to us all?
Did Armstrong really come up with that poetry about one small step?
Such a quiet, distant man,
a man on the moon, three hundred thousand miles away, knowing just what to say
and how to say it—with that pause, that dead air between the word man
and the word one.


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.

Friday, July 19, 2019

PRIVILEGE CONFERRED

by James Hamby


Graphic by Jesse Draxler for The Atlantic from a photo by David Hume Kennerly / Getty


What happens to privilege conferred?

Does it swell up
in narcissistic pride?
Does it demonize everyone
not on its side?
Does it trample to the ground
everyone who is poor,
female, or brown?

Maybe it’s too inept,
too incompetent?

Or does it become President?​


James Hamby is the Associate Director of the Writing Center at Middle Tennessee State University. He has been a finalist for the XJ Kennedy Parody Award and a nominee for the Pushcart Prize. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

SALVADORIAN SAW

by David Radavich


Image source: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints


How best to
sacrifice a child?

Hand him over
to gang-leaders’ guns?
Pay for blood
in coinage?

Or give him to
government forces
in a simple box
I nailed myself?

Open her body
before the cathedral
with a scythe?

Or go to the U.S.
and shiver in a cage
without food
or shower or a bed?

Solomon, tell me
how to divide
this child

so her soul
can sing tomorrow.


David Radavich's latest book is America Abroad: An Epic of Discovery (2019), companion volume to his earlier America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007).  Other recent poetry collections are Middle-East Mezze (2011) and The Countries We Live In (2014).  He has served as president of the Thomas Wolfe Society, Charlotte Writers' Club, and North Carolina Poetry Society and currently administers the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet Series.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

COLORING

by Laura Lee Washburn


This drawing is part of an exhibition in Tucson, AZ of original watercolors and other artworks by kids whose families have fled to the U.S. seeking asylum. Casa Alitas operates a refugee shelter in a former Benedictine Monastery and offers art-making classes to traumatized kids released from detention.


“It’s not what you look at that matters,
  it’s what you see.”
—Henry David Thoreau


In the blue pool with jogging women
every morning this month I’ve seen
in distant tree yellow busted balloon.

I have ridden the packed dirt
on a brown three-speed bike
almost into long black snake.

I have been to the marsh
where green leaves reflect
from brown tannin waters.
I will go there again.

I have felt unease, eaten
too much sugar, sagged
at the loneliness of bad friendships.

I’ve helped light one hundred and forty candles
after dark, listened to testimony, heard
the names of six dead migrant children:

Darlyn, Jakelin, Felipe, Juanito, Wilmer, Carlos.
I’ve read the judicial arguments on soap
and sleep, toothpaste, blankets.

When the green leaves blow,
I watch through bamboo blinds,
live action but dim impressions of bright.

I have driven in blind white
sun on the turnpike’s upward curve
and made it south enough to see again.

I have driven twenty in storm
shocking white water rains
when the pea-sized summer hail
begins to tap.
I have not turned
around at the lake in the road.
 —I have judged and been judged—

Stupid people    this local woman
hosted a vigil because of “images” she saw.
How does she know [How does she know?]
the images are really detention centers?
    people who serve the DARK!
    scum invading      disease and violence
our president taking down the evil
Stop believing or search for the truth
everything is really a lie!


Laura Lee Washburn has taught how to tell creditable sources from biased sources, has never been held in a cell, and donates her time to a Southeast Kansas organization that helps women in poverty resolve crises.

NO RACIST BONE IN MY BODY

by Tricia Knoll


Image source: PoliticalForum


My, my, you old fool.
Of course, bones aren’t racist.
We’ve seen the pictures.
Kennewick man, skull sort of yellow,
sort of green, sort of gray.
All the bones at the end
come to some sort of pale.
You know, Alas, poor Yorick.

It’s the brain, you fool.
The synapse connections
met out of bounds, sparks
you must have learned
as a child. Who is good,
who is not so good, who
should vote, not vote,
breathe, not breathe,
share the earth, molder
in cages. The concept
of division rest in a brain.

I’d give you credit
for not having a racist
big toe. Although... I fear
the boots you might put on.

No racist bone
in your body. Get real.
Look at your heart.


Tricia Knoll is a poet as tired as so many Americans of lies, cruelty, and idiocy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

WRITTEN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY

by Richard Garcia



Image source: The Navage Patch


On this day I say Happy birthday Mom. She died a long time ago. But she was always dying. You'd say Good morning Mom, how are you? I'm dying. she would say. What's for dinner? You'd ask. I'm dying, she would answer. She died so much that when she did die we hardly noticed. Of course, she had a long life since she was born a long time ago. She was the cleaning lady at The Continental Congress in Philly in 1776. She did such a good job cleaning up, all the dirt and dust and ashes and spittoons and bathrooms, that the founding fathers gave all their slaves that were working the concessions and greeting the carriages and grooming the horses and cleaning up, their freedom. My mother was from Mexico and much cheaper than the slaves, and all they had to do was feed her pancakes, which she thought were Yankee tortillas. The founding fathers were so happy with my mother's work that they named Independence Day for her birthday, the Fourth of July. The slaves that had been freed that day were really spies for the English. They were happy too and went back to England and became butlers and grooms and were paid for their work, not a lot but the English had good pancakes and lodging and the workers had insurance and a retirement plan.


Richard Garcia is the author of The Other Odyssey from Dream Horse Press, The Chair from BOA, and Porridge from Press 53. His poems appear in many journals, including The Georgia Review, Poetry and Ploughshares

Monday, July 15, 2019

BOXCUTTER BLUES

by Damian Balassone


They put me in these overalls
They put me in these shoes
Yeah, they put me in these overalls
They put me in these shoes
They handed me a Stanley knife
Said, ‘son it’s time to pay yer dues’

Well, the stock is rolling in
And the stock is rolling out
Yeah, the stock is rolling in
And the stock is rolling out
I’m walking like a branded slave
When all I wanna do is twist and shout

Well, mama get me outta here
This ain’t the life I choose
I said mama get me outta here
This ain’t the life I choose
I’m shackled to this factory
Lord, I got the boxcutter blues


Damian Balassone is an Australian poet whose work has appeared in over 100 publications, most notably in The New York Times.  He is the author of three volumes of poetry, including the forthcoming Strange Game in a Strange Land.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

IRON RULE OF DAS DRUMPF TRUMPF FUHRER

by Matthew Scott Harris


Image source: YouTube


Tell me this haint no nightmare, or refashioned twenty first
century episode of the twilight zone from the outer limits
of believability! Reiteration of oft told hankering before
these forty eight contiguous established whirled wide webbed
surveyed enclaves (plus Alaska and Hawaii) wove a tapestry
withal as one benightedly August democratic continent got
trampled, sear suckered, and punched thru with utter jingoism,
narcissism, and racism, activating ramifications radicalizing
homegrown terrorism (where hot pockets of anarchy a minor
threat during last Democratic dénouement), now finds nearly
every citizen righteously bear arms to the teeth, so please do
feel at ease to question me if ye will be so brave of heart to risk
your life and limb to hear mine kempf redolent recitation, when
(by George) bushwhacking days of yore, this generic garden
variety guy revisits (ha, then how populace did quail!) at scant
qualification of post Clinton dynasty, now appears quaint in
retrospect, and my parlaying such opprobrious opinions
condemning, damning, and emasculating current Baby loving
T***p (as aired in this communiqué), could find me punished
for note treason at all in attempt at expression per usurpation of
dereliction against the rubric of our forefathers furtherance for life,
liberty and pursuit of happiness, free trade and TruMark brand
(ye oh man lumpenproletariat feigning deprecation loathing)
pacification since day one, there rumbled a seismic shock, a
throwback to King Kong, chest pounding oppression, now illegal
immigration stopped dead in the tracks viz secret service agents
privileged with narco-trafficking leeway in collusion with forced
emigration, such public events commander in chief warrants,
whereby notification amongst G-men stationed at every and any
strategic borderline for maximization, the White House a coven
and denizen grooming henchmen toward lionization catering,
favoring, inculcating, levying taxation without representation
privately parlaying billions of dollars per proscribed philanthropy
(pivotally predicated upon particular political partisan programs—
there’s no app for that), where said action committees passively pander
(provided penthouse suites as an incentive) to cozy up and keep in
Czech insubordinate slow vox sing traitors, who v lad lee host pewter
tinned (miniature Taj Mahal) shaped coffee cakes (tea total ling
participants) possibly celebrating a birth err day, and/or crowning
of baron ness (exhausting government coffers) behold Kenya bully
eve klatch cha feted victory, pillaring (with figurative little rocks).


Hi (Matthew Scott Harris—berthed January xiii, mcmlix). Hi yam juiced a penniless dime a dozen bitcoin (a chip off the ole nick culled blockchain) bending, bloviating, branching... off the rushing limb bough tree (shawn of ha nitty conformity) with men dos city skeined webbing courtesy humanity.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

CONTINUOUS MIGRATION

by Joanne DeSimone Reynolds 


“[At McAllen TX detention center on July 12, 2019] VP saw 384 men sleeping inside fences, on concrete w/no pillows or mats. They said they hadn’t showered in weeks, wanted toothbrushes, food. Stench was overwhelming. CBP said they were fed regularly, could brush daily & recently got access to shower (many hadn’t for 10-20 days.) Facility we saw earlier in the day with children was new & relatively clean and empty. There were cots & medical supplies & snacks. Children watched TV and told Pence through translator they were being taken care of. But at least two said they’d walked for months to get here.” —Josh Dawsey @jdawsey1 White House @WashingtonPost

The species depends on the freedom of movement
It's in the DNA
Wings of the fathers and fathers and of the mothers and mothers too
All come for one milk
Metabolizing a weed's poison to foil enemies
Five generations to complete the journey
Butterflies like bees tell the harvest

The species depends on the freedom of movement
It's in the DNA
Baja or ports of call or the Bering Strait
All come for one milk
Who knows the many generations to complete the journey
Fear a poison to a nation's people
Children like blossoms tell the harvest


Joanne DeSimone Reynolds is the author of a chapbook, Comes A Blossom published by Main Street Rag in 2014.

Friday, July 12, 2019

HAS ANYBODY SEEN THE RESISTANCE?

by George Salamon





"For their heroism was that they had to conquer themselves first."
—Albert Camus, "Letters to a German Friend: First Letter"


The word is everywhere,
Action remains nowhere.
Consciousness is raised,
Resistance demands deed,
Not just correct creed.
Occupy Wall Street troubled
No one on the actual street.
Call it protest, call it outrage,
Only oneself does it assuage.


George Salamon supports many of the protests and marches, but thinks "resistance" requires what the protestors and marchers are not (yet?) willing to risk. Can't blame them. He lives and writes, often politically incorrect stuff, from St. Louis, MO.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

MAYBE IT STARTED WITH A HAMSTER

by Judith Terzi


and maybe the two albino rats
came next. And the rock collection.
Smooth oblong rocks he'd paint
faces on. And maybe shells came
next, and then stamps, though
he hardly knew where the countries
were on his globe. He liked
the biggest stamps the best, ones
with faces on them, faces of men
he could become. And maybe
the aquarium came next––red-tailed
sharks lurking behind rocks in his
bedroom with Jack Dempsey
cichlids and sucker fish. And maybe
the model building came next:
ocean liners with tiny people he'd
wave at, fighter planes with grounded
toy pilots. And tanks with soldiers
he would salute, but who never
saluted back. The tanks––stuck
between his childhood bed, with its
beige striped bedspread, and a shiny
maple highboy where he shoved
all of his desires, all of his heartache.
For later.


Judith Terzi is the author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay Books, 2018) as well as of five chapbooks including If You Spot Your Brother Floating By and Casbah (Kattywompus Press). Her poetry appears widely in literary journals and anthologies, has received nominations for Best of the Net and Web, and has been read on the BBC. She holds an M.A. in French Literature and is a former educator who taught high school French for many years as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

EQUAL WORK / EQUAL PAY

by Tricia Knoll





They won the applause. And the little trophy.
And the Nike swooshes on their uniforms.
They took it hot and humid, running.
Heart and soul. Heads and heels.
We waved our flags.
We painted our faces.
They won the games:
one after another won.
New York throws a ticker tape
down the Canyon of Heroes
and confetti rains down
on their ponytails and bobs.
(Who’d want to go
to the White House?)

Now the big question
is not skill, commitment,
drive, energy, or strength:
will they get equal pay?
The golden question.





Tricia Knoll has held feminist ideals aloft for many decades, rejoices in the strength and athletic prowess of all the womens' teams who competed in the World Cup, and celebrates the success of the U. S. Women's Team and their friendships.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

THINKING OF MIGRANT DETENTION CENTERS WHILE ON LINE FOR THE SIMPSONS RIDE AT UNIVERSAL STUDIO

by Alejandro Escudé




A Wednesday, early July, and the line is over an hour long
for the ride at the kitschy, Hollywood theme park
based on Bart, the lovable, ironic, cigarette-shaped prig
whose story lines challenge the very economy that swindled
the crowd to pay hundreds of dollars to sit in a shaky vehicle
while images of a roller coaster create a roller coaster.
On a wall, a sign reads: max capacity 1023, and right behind me
a Mexican family speaks Spanish while they’re seven-year-old
stares up at me with big, luminous, and questioning eyes.
He could be one of those confined to cages at the border, his mother too,
and his aged father with the cracked, bemused smile. Hundreds
are gathered here. It could be the detention center itself; the heat,
standing-room only, the fussed-with chains meant to hold us in place.
There’s a strained happiness, but as the line meanders that happiness
fades into boredom and even to the hint of dicey mob anxiety;
we wind around one room then wind in another. I comprehend
the Mexican family, yet the lilting accent begins to grind in my ears.
I don’t like what they sound like. I don’t want them behind me,
and the father has thrice bumped into my backpack in which I carry
a water bottle and my daughter’s cap, a gaudy thing displaying
a bling-ed-out American flag. It’s a mass of snaking families, many
are foreigners actually, come to see and taste and touch
the America America sells abroad. But it’s now late in the day,
and I’ve grown tired of the French, with their self-assured le français,
the Chinese groups who jolt into you moving to and fro in the line,
the out-of-state whites, fathers with blurry, meaningless tattoos,
the stone-faced, beefy mothers with sunburned, thick, freckled arms
and their giant sons, who are always trying too hard to be funny,
the triads of pretty teenaged girls, maybe local, wearing
denim shorts so small they barely veil their immaculate vaginas,
firm buttocks bulging out from below the frayed threads.
I think back to the mothers, fathers, and kids in detention centers,
the lawyers and senators gawking at them, inhaling the human stench
of days on end without proper hygiene care: piss, shit, and sweat.
Here, in the line, it smells of sweat too, sweat and ratty impatience.
Homer helps himself to a frothy beer mug, Bart whips out a snarky comeback,
and Marge floats into the scene, deeply flawed yet motherly,
a cartoon version of Mother Mary—the three of them holy in their hilarity.
Krusty the Clown—the greedy villain, the threat that threatens us all.
We board a claustrophobic vehicle, lower the snug safety bar,
and below appears a field of fluorescent, Springfield palette hellscapes
we fall breathlessly toward then rise (we believe) abruptly from.


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.