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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

WAYS TO AVOID BEN SHAPIRO'S TWITTER DISDAIN

by CL Bledsoe and Michael Gushue



Reinvent Mozart as a swastika.
Assert the superior caste of privilege-filled eyes,
while never mentioning your stigmatism.
Beige as the new black.
Be goddamned sure about something.
A hammer called reason to subvert any consideration,
Moral assumption as a knife to cut through the gray.
Go back in time and give Mohammed a hickey.
Dress all seed-vessels in the finest birthing habits.
Never look directly at those who rule us,
but use a mirror to avoid being turned
into stop motion playdough. Recite
The Pledge constantly under your breath:

There is a light that never burns out. I carry it 
under my tongue. When I stand on tiptoe, it will guide 
the unwashed through the wilderness.


CL Bledsoe is the author of seventeen books, most recently the poetry collection Trashcans in Love and the novel The Funny Thing About… . He lives in northern Virginia with his daughter and blogs, with Michael Gushue, at https://medium.com/@howtoeven 

Michael Gushue is co-founder of the nanopress Poetry Mutual Press, and he co-curates the reading series Poetry at the Watergate. His work can be found in journals such as Indiana Review, Third Coast, Redivider, Gargoyle, The Germ, and American Letters & Commentary and his books are Pachinko Mouth, Conrad, Gathering Down Women, and—in collaboration with CL Bledsoe—I Never Promised You A Sea Monkey. He lives in the Brookland neighborhood (“a shabby and decidedly unhip neighborhood” —New York Times) of Washington, D.C. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

SARAH'S LEAVING

by Jeremy Thelbert Bryant


“So long, Sarah Huckabee Sanders” by J.D. Crowe


In her heavy makeup and pearls,
she spouts cheap words no one
wants to hear—
sounds of nothingness,
mantras of division.

I think back to the restaurant in Virginia,
how they had heard all they wanted,
asked her to leave, sent her on her way.
People wept because she was an “honest” woman,
a god fearing being.
What god I ask, the one of greed,
of lust,
of war?

As I watch images of her now,
during the last days of her post,
I wonder if heavy rouge and white baubles are enough.
Can they lure voters to make her governor?
Will her southern church chirp call them
                to submission,
                convert them into believing the unbelievable?


Jeremy Thelbert Bryant is a poet and a writer of creative nonfiction. He is a graduate of the low residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. His work may be found in TheNewVerse.News, Pikeville Review, EAOGH, Anima Magazine, and Prism. He finds inspiration in the red of cardinals, in the honesty of Frida Kahlo’s artwork, and in the frankness of Tori Amos’ lyrics.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

CUSTOMS AND CONCENTRATION

by Peleg Held


Child migrants sleeping on the ground at the McAllen, Texas Border Patrol station. —NowThis, May 19 2019


A scapegoat tkhine, the sound of the note
thinned into air, red string at the throat—
its knot sung to sleep in a clavicled swale—
marking her, keeping her, outside the Pale,
the deep-drumming pigment that lodged in the heart
the night that she drank down the well of their art,
the dregs of the umbra that darkened the mat
Tenemos preguntas, the click of the latch,
the last strand of horse-hair plucked from a bow
sung out through rosin, then cinder, then snow,
salt dropped like breadcrumbs while good people slept
in the town with a desk where papers are checked
and cages of souls who once dreamed across fire
covered on stone as the cold law requires.


Peleg Held lives in Portland, Maine with his partner and his dog Emitt. There is also the semi-feral cat, Smudge. And a kid or two. pelegheld(at)gmail.com.

NOT QUITE AMERICAN

by Myriam Arias


EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A legal team that recently interviewed over 60 children at a Border Patrol station in Texas says a traumatic and dangerous situation is unfolding for some 250 infants, children and teens locked up for up to 27 days without adequate food, water and sanitation. —NBC News, June 21, 2019


You always have been a lonely traveler,
haven’t you?

Lonely girl with no home;
your body is a house that you are not yet familiar with.

A country you were not born in
but you’re told it’s yours
you’re told it’s lovely
and if you could only see it.

But your body feels more like an almost
Like the distance between your mother’s hands and her home country
A space you don’t really belong in
but force yourself into.

An almost-
Mexicana
Americana
Que eres?
Niña de piel morena
con corazón de arcoiris.

You are the scars on your Mama’s back
and the gold coins in your Papa’s pocket.

Both a blessing and curse
you do not belong here.

What gave you the right
to sit in this American dream?

Dilute your adobe eyes
with the glimmer of white picket fences and nuclear families.

Let this sweet American air
fill the space in your lungs?

Inflate.
Deflate.

Your body will reject it.
Too sweet.

Lines of poems you will never write
will coat the inside of your mouth.

Choke on your words.
Swallow them.

     They do not quite belong here.


Myriam Arias is a third-year writing and literature major at University of California, Santa Barbara. She hopes her art moves forward her narrative and those of others like her so that their voices will be heard.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

NEW MATH

by Tricia Knoll




We have to assume other people do his math.
Fill out the multiple lines on multiple forms
with different answers depending on to whom
he is giving his tax returns. Maybe he is even
math challenged and would never check
those figures for exaggerations. How would
he know one from the other; his life is base-ten
on bloat. We know he thinks parts per million
of CO2 in the atmosphere are not proportionate
with disturbing one fraction of a second of his time.

The military did the recent math for him,
he hadn’t asked until late in the game
about the rules: how many people could die
to balance the loss of a drone. He says
one hundred and fifty is too many.
Not proportionate. (And ludicrously
low we suspect.) So are they sitting
around right now trying to decide
what is the right proportion? A figure
that works for a world teetering
on the brink of another war disaster?
Math you can explain to a child
who can hold up two fingers
to tell his age?

He might be able to handle the old daisy oracle.
It’s pretty simple. Pluck a petal. Pluck a petal.
He loves me. He loves me not.


Tricia Knoll is a Vermont poet whose work appears widely in journals and anthologies. She is spending a lot of time pulling up invasive species in a woods, thinking about math and probabilities.

STRAIT OF HORMUZ,
AN OPERA IN ONE ACT

by Sharon Olson


Photo credit: (AP/Shutterstock/Salon)


Everyone assumed it was unmanned,
everyone it appears but the Drone family,
Papa Drone who had proclaimed
he could fly the damned thing blind,
Baby Drone, excited about his first flight
but not tall enough to see out the windows,
and Mrs. Drone, who suddenly lamented
her husband’s lack of hands-on experience,
doubting whether he could really turn
the craft around on a dime, such that
when the familia found themselves
engulfed, bobbing among flotsam,
she cried out even though no one
could hear, Won’t someone please 
bring me the head of Pompeo?


Sharon Olson is a retired librarian. Her book The Long Night of Flying was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. Her second book Will There Be Music? was published by Cherry Grove Collections in 2019. She currently lives in Lawrenceville, New Jersey where she is a member of the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative, and also of the Cool Women Poets critique and performance group.

Friday, June 21, 2019

ON THE APPOINTMENT OF JOY HARJO AS POET LAUREATE

by Peter Witt


Portrait by Sophie Herxheimer for Poetry Foundation.


I jumped for Joy
  with her appointment
  her anointment
as poet laureate
  her native background
  her tone, her sound
  her qualities
  beyond a baccalaureate
a musician and author
what does she offer?
  a box checked
  for ancestry
  recognition of her poetry
  her mastery
  ultimate flattery

As a nation
  we're diverse
  should display
  in our verse
different voices
  make different choices
honor perspectives
  varied objectives

Joins Joseph, Louise,
Robert, Rita, Juan
as firsts, but not lasts
there will be more
  in store
for melting cauldron
to remind our children
  not all are white
  not all are male
but if we fail
to honor our diversity
  our history
  our mystery
we lose
  our sanity
  our humanity

So, yes
I jumped for Joy
as we enjoy
the magic
of her
poetic
wisdom


Peter Witt lives in Texas and is a retired professor.  His poetry appears on allpoetry.com and has been included in several publications.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

INTERTWINED

by Marguerite Guzman Bouvard


The highly publicized federal case against humanitarian aid worker Scott Warren, who was accused of helping migrants at the US-Mexico border, ended in a mistrial on June 11. Warren, a volunteer with the humanitarian aid group No More Deaths, was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport and two counts of harboring undocumented immigrants following a 2018 arrest. He was facing up to 20 years in prison. —“The Trump Administration Is Trying to Use the Scott Warren Case to Scare Activists. It’s Not Working,” Mother Jones, June 15, 2019. Photo: Scott Warren (center) speaks after his high-profile court case ends in a mistrial. Astrid Galvan/AP via Mother Jones.

            for Scott Warren on World Refugee Day


Banks of snow in early June with overflowing
rivers is a story of destruction and
becoming; chunks of water borne earth
still sprouting grass and flower buds

in the middle of the fast moving
river, and then on the banks, roots
of dead trees braid the rocks
together, and higher up the glow

of blue gentians rising from
the cold earth, tiny sparks
of light that always appear,
like the desert in Arizona where

migrants trek, dehydrated,
famished and terrified, fleeing
criminal gangs, drought, and
then border guards, only to find

a hand reaching out to give them
food, water and shelter where
they can rest for a few days,
find hope in their inner selves,

and continue on their arduous journey,
guided through the darkness
of hate, and divisiveness
by sparks of light.


Marguerite Guzman Bouvard is the author of 11 poetry books, two of which have won awards and non-fiction books on social justice and human rights. She teaches online at Archipel U. in Haiti.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

WILLIE THE SHAKE'S BEEN SHOOK AWAKE!

by Alan Soffin




To be, or not to be?
That is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler in the House
To suffer the Tweets and Falsehoods of our great misfortune
Or to take votes against the See of troubles
And by opposing, end him? To cry, to weep,
No more, and by that weeping say we end
The heartache and the endless verbal schlock
That citizens are heir to. ‘tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To cry, to weep;
To weep: perchance to scream; Oy, there’s the schlub;
For while we weep near death, what schemes may come
When we have shuffled off his rotten coil,
Must give us pause; there’s the respect
That makes calamity of public life;
For who would bear the whips of K street crime,
The T***pish wrongs, the constant contumely,
The pangs of threatened healthcare, the GOP’s delay,
The soullessness of Mitch and the spurns
That patient merit of the greedy takes,
When we ourselves might our withdrawal make
With a bare ballot. Who would injustice bear,
But that the dread of something after T***p,
The undiscovered source from whose bourn
The ruthless right returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those crooks we have,
Than fly to Pence and those we know not of ?
Thus conscience doth make outcasts on the Mall
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with stale cant that’s bought,
And legislation of great pith and moment
With this regard await a better day
Beyond the grasp of faction—Soft you now!
The Statue Liberty, in all thy orisons
Please be democracy remembered!


Alan Soffin, Ph.D., has taught at Michigan State and Temple. His Rethinking Religion: Beyond Scientism, Theism and Philosophic Doubt is published by Cascadia Press. His essays have appeared in Images of Youth (Peter Wang) and DreamSeeker magazine. His photography has been exhibited at the Tubac Center for the Arts. His avant-garde film Confessor (1968) was funded in part by the American Film Institute.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

THE BAKER'S SONG

by Tricia Knoll


The Supreme Court on Monday passed up the chance to decide whether a baker’s religious objections to same-sex marriage mean she can refuse to create a wedding cake for a gay couple when state law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Photo: Melissa Klein, co-owner of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, in Gresham, Ore., in 2013. (Everton Bailey Jr./AP) —The Washington Post, June 17, 2019


I got hooked on hood ornaments
(not naked figureheads, glaring skulls,
or flying chrome goddesses on stud mounts)
early on. Swooping red firefighter hats
gold eagles on flagpoles—
top-notch things on top.

A baker’s puffy hat lured me
to flour and frosting—
whisper your cake wish—
kitties, mermaids, pirate ships
Thomas the tank, horses charging
on a cinnamon sugar beach,
king cakes: you dream it, I bake it,
ice it, add a top knot.
I’ve got all kinds.

My favorites
are wedding cakes, love cakes,
banana cream to pineapple upside down
rocked in a sea of sugar cream,

two women, two men, people
in wheel chairs, dark men, light women,
dark women, light men, men in skirts,
women in tuxedos,
one guy married a tree.

That’s all right with me.


Tricia Knoll is proud to live in Vermont which was the first state to allow same-sex marriages. She lived in Oregon when this legal case first erupted. She is a poet who would consider marrying a tree if she weren't already married and has children who are trees.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A 30-DAY TRIP ON THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION

by Martin Elster


One day soon, you won't need to be a member of the traditional astronaut corps to visit the International Space Station. But you – or your corporate sponsors – will need very deep pockets. "We are announcing the ability for private astronauts to visit the space station on U.S. vehicles and for companies to engage in commercial profit-making activities," said Jeff DeWit, NASA's chief financial advisor, at a launch event held Friday in at NASDAQ headquarters in New York. Up to two private astronauts – who must meet the same physical requirements as any other NASA astronaut – will be allowed to fly per year and work on behalf of companies. Each seat is expected to cost more than $50 million and the first could launch as soon as 2020. —USA Today, June 7, 2019


Far higher than the vultures, cranes and bats
that soar as in some reverie or dream,
for loads of dough, you ride inside the cream
of satellites, race round a world of rats
and angels locking horns like dogs and cats,
observe vast oceans glisten, cities beam,
and feel about to hurl. You start to deem
the whirling washers in the laundromats
of Earth remarkably serene. Somewhat
emboldened by the expedition crew,
you try to take deep breaths. Yet, truth be told,
what’s really making you a sickly sot
are all the greenbacks you’ve just spent, your hue
now paler than a wilting marigold.


Martin Elster serves as percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Honors include co-winner of Rhymezone’s 2016 poetry contest, winner of the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition 2014, third place in the SFPA’s 2015 poetry contest, and three Pushcart nominations.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

WE SIMPLY HAD ENOUGH
(STONEWALL 50)

by Devon Balwit




Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found in here as well as in Jet Fuel, The Worcester Review, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Apt (long-form issue), Tule Review, Grist, and Rattle among others.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

EXOTIC THRILLS

by Mark Zimmermann


April 13, 2019 photo taken at USA ガンクラブ Shooting Range, Tamuning, Guam.


Luxury shooting ranges
dot the tourist colony of Guam,
draw planeloads of Japanese.

They want an authentic
American experience
unavailable at home:

blasting away with firearms.
Pistol, shotgun, assault rifle,
submachine gun—open fire,
get a glossy souvenir photo.

Their moment of exotic thrills
over, the tourists return
to life in Japan.

Where in 2017
there were
three gun homicides.


Mark Zimmermann’s first poetry collection, Impersonations, was published by Pebblebrook Press in 2015. His work has previously appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Wisconsin People and Ideas, Stoneboat, and elsewhere. From 1990-2001 he lived in Japan and is currently working on a poetry ms. centered on his time there. Currently he lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Friday, June 14, 2019

HARDWARE

by Gil Hoy


I’ve no use for
a stainless steel
lightweight

Corrosive resistant
contraption

That encumbers
my wrist
and can’t

Tell me anything
useful anyway.

“There will be time,
there will be time

To prepare a face
to meet the faces
that you meet.”

No, this soul
has no time

For a chronometer

With a full
date display,

Blue dial, rhodium-
plated hands,

And an alligator
strap—

I already know
too much about

Coffee spoons
and sugar spoons

Bus stops,
Trolley stops

Business meetings
and phone calls.

Preparing
for that
special show

A meeting
with the CEO.

And I don’t
want one
in my pocket
either,

Like a mouse.

Tick tock
Tick tock

I grow old
I grow old

My pants
grow mold.

Tell me
something
good–

Surprise me,
It’s my Birthday.

What I really
want to know is:

When will
my kids
grow up;

When will
my heart
stop beating;

And when will
the last
polar bear

step off
the last piece

of melting
Arctic sea ice

and silently
disappear.




Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer studying poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy’s poetry has appeared most recently in Chiron Review, TheNewVerse.News, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, The Potomac, The Penmen Review and elsewhere.