Guidelines



Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com. No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

THE NEW AMERICA: BRING YOUR OWN DEATH

by George Salamon


"As states have faced  challenges to carrying out executions by lethal injections, various work-arounds and alternatives have been proposed . . . Arizona may have come up with the most original concept yet: an invitation for lawyers to help kill their own clients. With drugs that can be used for lethal injections in short supply, the Arizona department of corrections' latest execution protocol states that attorneys for death row inmates are welcome to bring their own." The Guardian, February 15, 2017


No more irresolution
For those awaiting execution.
It's rugged individualism to the end
Thanks to Arizona's new godsend.
Where the condemned's lawyer
Is appointed his destroyer.
Once witness and fellow weeper,
He may play grim reaper.
We shuddered once to that final yelp,
To be marketed as an existential act
Of self-help.


George Salamon is still trying to watch the American scene sixty-nine years after his arrival from Europe.  He does it now from St. Louis, MO.

Monday, February 20, 2017

MY QUESTIONS FOR ANY WOMAN WHO HAS ESCAPED FROM HUMAN TRAFFICKING

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman


Advertising campaigtn by Greg Wong for Restore NYC - Awareness for Sex-Trafficked Survivors



In honor of Restore NYC and all places of haven.


                                will you learn to love your skin again
                                 now scarred and scared
                                will the memory in your muscles
                                  relearn how to let go in trust
                                will your eyes come to understand
                                  that your tears
                               your weeping, your sobbing
                                 are prayers releasing your heart from horror
                             will your feet discover again the way
                                 the way a woman walks into life each day
                                and, finally, will your sacred breasts and womb
                                                realize again how they temple your soul
                                these are the questions only you can answer
                                                with a life that came back from the dead

                                             
Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S. published her first book of poetry, she: robed and wordless in 2015 (Press 53).  She has published numerous poems in Spiritus, Commonweal, First Things, and Sojourners. One of her poems appeared in After Shocks: The Poetry of Recover for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo and one in Down to the Dark River: Contemporary Poems about the Mississippi, edited by Philip C. Kolin and Jack B. Bedell.  She lives in Corpus Christi, Texas and she is also a spiritual advisor.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

SECURITY

by Joan Mazza


Drawing by Tom Gauld for The New Yorker, January 10, 2017


In scary times, I have my ways to cope.
I make art and distract myself by listening
to books or reading. I get some neglected
chore done, one unpleasant overdue task.

I purchase supplies to last more than a year.
Paper towels, toilet tissue, Kleenex by the case.
Soap and bleach, lotion, dental floss, toothpaste,
cotton swabs. Of course, I buy more six-packs

of canned green beans, corn, tuna by the dozen.
I maintain my stash of pasta. Who knows what
tweet might interrupt the flow of goods in shipping
containers crossing the oceans? Even

my cold tablets, nail polish, and art supplies
are made in China, all Smithfield pork processed
there. So I buy while I can, not quite the prepper,
not rich enough for a condo underground

in New Zealand or a pilot on call to take me there,
but I’m good at this, once an adept and eager
camper. Watch me rake my wood paths
and place Band-Aids on the coming avalanche.


Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Kestrel, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Slipstream, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

THE WARRIOR'S GRAVE

by Alejandro Escudé


This 3,500-Year-Old Greek Tomb Upended What We Thought We Knew About the Roots of Western Civilization: The recent discovery of the grave of an ancient soldier is challenging accepted wisdom among archaeologists. In late June 2015, the scheduled end to their season came and went, and a skeleton began to emerge—a man in his early 30s, his skull flattened and broken and a silver bowl on his chest. The researchers nicknamed him the “griffin warrior” after a griffin-decorated ivory plaque they found between his legs. Stocker got used to working alongside him in that cramped space, day after day in the blazing summer sun. “I felt really close to this guy, whoever he was,” she says. “This was a person and these were his things. I talked to him: ‘Mr. Griffin, help me to be careful.’” —Smithsonian, January 2017

The mouth grows
isolation

under the olive groves
a warrior waits

gold-laden, bronze statuettes,
oh rings double-scored

and you mount the Mount
to be with her;

she who knew you best
and whom you challenged,

as far as mainland Greece,
across the lunar bay

and into the ancient palace
of words

death finally made you a poet
as it does to us all.


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, February 17, 2017

THE DIVIDED STATE OF AMERICA

by Anna M. Evans




I wonder how they sleep at night, those folk
who disagree with me. Although their views
are driving current policy, the joke
is on them when they watch the nightly news
and see the protest rallies everywhere—
each witty hat, each cutely-worded sign.
Aren’t they ashamed? Do they not even care
the country will remember them as swine?

But then I see they think the same of me:
that they're the strong, while my kind are all flakes.
Impossible for either side to see
the other’s merits or their own mistakes.
By day, we all shake our self-righteous heads;
at night we lie uneasy in our beds.


Anna M. Evans’ poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, American Arts Quarterly, and 32 Poems. She gained her MFA from Bennington College, and is the Editor of the Raintown Review. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists' Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers' Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Rowan University at Burlington County College. Her sonnet collection, Sisters & Courtesans, is available from White Violet Press.

AMERICA 2017

by Edward Zuk


An old, crass, sad, vindictive president;
Congress a swamp its citizens abhor;
A cabinet of the incompetent;
The coasts and heartland in a shouting war;

Cracked pipes and bridges no one tries to fix;
Firms profiteering from the people's health;
Churches that preach on cash and politics;
Bankers and brokers hoarding all the wealth;

Companies persons; prisons privatized;
Courtesy dead; the crazies resolute;
News faked; land fracked; science politicized;
Judges abused; the Truth in disrepute;

And the poor hurt and lashing out in pain
Are what will make the country great again?


Edward Zuk is an essayist and poet from British Columbia, Canada.  His work has appeared in Haiku 21, Queen's Quarterly, Raintown Review, and other publications.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

DEAR PAUL RYAN

by Jacqueline Jules


Paul Ryan caricature by DonkeyHotey


After you’ve carried out your promises
to the American people,
I hope you’ll come to the chemo clinic with me.

Wait in my seat—rigid blue plastic,
stainless steel frame, comforting
as the flicker of fluorescent tubes
from the popcorn ceiling.

Notice how the legs of your chair
wobble on uneven green tile
while you listen
on a dying cell phone
to a bean counter at Blue Cross
explain why you don’t deserve
the drug your doctor prescribed.

Feel the bones
up and down your spine
burst into flames.

Then you can come home with me.
Sip canned soup at my table,
littered with pre-existing bills
for care no longer covered.

And you can tell me again
why you are so pleased
to be the face of the political party
which proclaims all life is precious
(no matter how tiny) as long
as no taxes are raised to protect it.


Jacqueline Jules is the author of the poetry chapbooks Field Trip to the Museum and Stronger Than Cleopatra. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including TheNewVerse.News, Potomac Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, Little Patuxent Review, and Gargoyle. She is also the author of 40 books for young readers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

IMMIGRANTS SPEAK TO THE NEW PRESIDENT

by Austin Alexis




We flee poverty
the way the U.S.A. will,
at some point,
seek escape from you.
You are to us
as a flaw is
when it mars a $1000 bill.
We so need that capital,
that liberating opportunity,
that expanse of fertile green.
If only you didn't shed
your blot on its face,
rendering it nightmarish,
its once-prized images and concepts
now garbled, unreadable.


Austin Alexis has been published in The Ledge: Poetry and Fiction, J Journal, Chiron Review, The Lyric, Home Planet News, TheNewVerse.News, and the anthologies Rabbit Ears: TV Poems and Poets 4 Paris (bilingual edition). His full-length collection is Privacy Issues (Broadside Lotus Press, 2014), and he has two previous chapbooks from Poets Wear Prada.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

POETS IN MOURNING

by Kate Carey




We scoured the world,
searching for bits that were not broken.
We find everyone is broken
and everyone is reaching for that bottle of glue.

The day after the election, my sister
called me at work and I found shelter
in a supply closet
so we could loudly openly weep,
mourning for our futures,
faces drowning in tears,
throats bubbling with absolute terror.
We were trying to make sense of a world that didn’t make sense.

I texted every black woman I loved,
every white woman I loved,
my half-Cuban, half-‘rican best friend, my sister, my husband.
I reached out, showing where the thornprick bled red
“I hurt.” They clasped back “Us too.”

If our hurt were electoral votes, that
mother fucker’d be obliterated.

A magazine article titled ‘Edible Philly.’
And how now our country looks like a
tasty morsel
on a gleaming plate
for this conglomerous king.

We’ve elected an angry hairpiece to lead us,
gave a tyrant access to our vulnerabilities.
Let us set fire to the idea that dissent is not an option.


Kate Carey is a 20-something who writes while she’s supposed to be doing other things. Her day job is not very interesting but her life is beginning to be. She has had one poem published in Dying Dahlia Review. She lives in Philly with her parents and resents she had to say that part at all. 

Monday, February 13, 2017

THE FIRST THREE WEEKS OF THE FIRST HUNDRED DAYS

by Penelope Scambly Schott



This is a factual fact.
Day by day, it keeps on coming.
Rain. Hail. The winds
that brought branches crashing down.
Three days of darkness.
Three days of cold.
A lighter rain. Flakes
floating. Once
a snippet of blue sky.
But if you weren’t looking,
you missed it.
Another executive order.
New snow on top of dirty snow.
Ice.
It was the ice that was the worst,
paws of the old dog
splaying in four directions.
She looked at me
with baffled accusation.
More and heavier rain.
The saturated hillsides
slipping down the hillsides.
Darlings, where are we going?


Penelope Scambly Schott was awarded four New Jersey arts fellowships before moving to Oregon, where her verse biography A is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth received an Oregon Book Award for Poetry. In 2013 she had two books published: Lovesong for Dufur and Lillie Was a Goddess, Lillie Was a Whore. Penelope’s most recent book (2014) How I Became an Historian is a lyric examination of the connections between past and future, both in her family and in the larger world.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

AGAINST THE NEED TO WRITE POEMS IN THE AGE OF T***P

by Alan Walowitz


Photo Illustration by Jackie Friedman | Images courtesy iStock, Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images via The Week


In poems the facts don’t seem to matter much
but these alt-facts just rip the poems right out of me—
the thought of madmen milling unvetted at our ports
to eat the still-beating hearts of our young
keeps me up long into the night, and sometimes gets so bad
I have to head downstairs for a late-night snack myself;
aliens hover at the polls ready to disguise themselves as the dead—
how can I make even a gesture toward a poem,
under these intolerable conditions.
Wordsworth knew it’s best to conjure up a lake lapping steady
and not fire up the hookah his friend had left as a house-gift,
though God know Coleridge has convinced me once or twice to try
and it’s worked nicely some dark and stormy nights
while waiting for an imagined visitor on business from Porlock.

Me, I prefer to know some things might be true—
the time on the clock should be approximately right,
then I can look outside and tell day from night,
though wrong from right has always been a tougher sell
in someone like me who likes to make stuff up.
But here they are the alt-facts lined up right outside my home
in pretty paper, ready to prop up whatever I might prefer to think—
a tsunami’s due that will make my property waterfront,
or a torrent of water slushed down any unsuspecting throat
will wash the truth right out of even the most innocent.
Whatever I feel, what joy, what many-splendored
wonders of this brave new world we’ve stepped into
across the threshold of the T***p-house mirror—
hell, there’s no longer reason to write a poem.


Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in his native borough of Queens, NY. Alan’s chapbook Exactly Like Love was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing. He’ll be reading at the Cornelia Street Café on Tuesday, March 7th at 6 pm.

THUMPED

by Peter Krass


Caricature by DonkeyHotey


We get up from bed, but can’t be awake.
This must be a bad dream, a nightmare,
though sunlight burns behind the window shade,
a car’s engine growls back at a dog
taking its first morning dump
and the overhead neighbors clomp across the ceiling.
If only our thoughts could rise to that elevation.
Instead, they lie on the floor, then sink lower,
unable to stand, let alone walk.
Even pajamas no longer see the point.
Why bother getting dressed? they ask.
Coffee reminds us of other nightmares,
ones from which we could shake ourselves awake.
Also that dream of a gushing waterfall,
beautifully treacherous, alluringly violent,
and when we awoke, the bedsheet cold and wet
with embarrassing urine, leading us to wonder
if that were the beginning
of our own ignoble, feeble decline.
That must be what’s happening now,
the end of a dream, the start
of an ending, a crisis in formation,
this time involving everyone and something
even worse, more disgusting, terrible.


Peter Krass is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. He teaches creative writing at The Writers Studio in New York, and he recently served as poetry co-editor for a forthcoming issue of Epiphany that will celebrate The Writers Studio's 30th anniversary.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN

by Devon Balwit


Top photo: “How New Yorkers Deal With Swastikas on the Subway” by Gregory Locke, The Forward, February 5, 2017.

Images collide in my news feed
the way strangers do on a train,
strangers on a NYC subway car,
rubbing out swastikas, the words
“Jews belong in the ovens,”
above archival Giacometti,
working papier-mâché
over the armature of a man,
a man gaunt like the Jews
after their ride in the trains,
heads shaved, teeth stripped,
children gone, names erased,
Giacometti’s man rising
like a corpse, refusing to stay dead,
race hatred rising, spectral,
bans, deportations,
Giacometti, the NYC riders,
showing what resistance looks like
when train doors open on shadows,
showing what makes a human being.


Devon Balwit is a writer and teacher from Portland, OR. She has two chapbooks forthcoming—how the blessed travel from Maverick Duck Press and Forms Most Marvelous from dancing girl press. Her recent work has found many homes, both on-line and in print.

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE

by Chris O’Carroll



Confronted with new evidence of torture and mass hangings in one of his military prisons, Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an exclusive interview February 10, 2017 with Yahoo News that the allegations were the product of a “fake news era” and charged that a human rights group, Amnesty International, had fabricated evidence to discredit his embattled government.


Our prez now finds a brand new soulmate;
Putin’s not his only bro.
Assad, fellow fan of torture,
Learns to whine that news is faux.


Chris O’Carroll has published unfair attacks on the president in dishonest journals on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s disgusting the stuff he gets away with. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

#LOVETRUMPSHATE

by Brian Glaser


Levi Snyder-Allen dressed as a wolf when he joined his mother Diana at a North Dakota oil pipeline protest. The wolf is an endangered species in North Dakota. About 30 protestors gathered for a "Stand With Standing Rock" demonstration against the North Dakota Access Pipeline in Santa Ana on Saturday. (Photo by Bill Alkofer, Orange County Register/SCNG Nov. 27, 2016)


By ordering construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to resume, the President is participating in one of this country’s oldest traditions—repressing Native Americans.
—Bill McKibben, The New Yorker online, February 8, 2017

Dakota Access protesters vow 'mass resistance.' 
They will be hard to stop. 
CNBC, February 8, 2017


“No trespass, no peace.”
That’s the chant as my son heard it when we stood
with thirty others
at a Santa Ana intersection
to show solidarity with the water protectors of Standing Rock.
As a beginner, I was impressed by the preparation of the young woman
who had organized the gathering:
not only summoning us all,
but the extra signs, bilingual informative flyers, a whistle to acknowledge
the gestures of agreement from passing cars.
And the chants, begun across the street from where we stood,
connecting us like impalpable thread.
Just today, the Army announced that it will shut down
the encampment blocking the black snake
in December.
Kurt Vonnegut said of the afterlife that one might have to choose
an age to remain for eternity.
I might choose sixty-five or so,
I think, but forced to commit to one I would miss
the overtones and undertones and ironies
with which the chant describes the changing years
of my already forty-three:
no trespass, no peace.


Brian Glaser has worked as a grant writer, a dramaturge, and a professor, and he has created six environmentally themed courses at his current school, Chapman University. Glaser has published more than thirty poems, translations, essays and reviews.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

PROSTITUTE

an anagram poem by David Spicer





For months I’ve watched Rose,
not a woman of ill repute
but a unique kind of poet,
a smooth blonde who’s a poster
girl for works of prose
she recites by rote
for the misogynist she touts
every morning. She doesn’t protest
when asked to produce tropes
glorifying him, writes riots
of rhetoric that possess a tinge of eros,
that she delivers with poise
to the cameras as though a tourist
familiar with any kind of ruse.
She holds a gold-sequined purse,
proceeds to tutor
male reporters who don’t trust
her to do anything except roust
questions in their heads they store
away, just to deprive them of a rest,
to convince herself she can pour
her special brand of suet
for them, and then stir
it, inducing a rise
from them, supplying enough rope
so they stop, think, and sort
thoughts in their sore
minds, the last step
before she fools them to posit
they have passed a test
which allows them to tour
her body that she’ll pose
for them, and instead she’ll step
forward to reveal her intellect’s tits,
an act she considers anything but trite,
but expected for her kind of prostitute.


David Spicer has had poems in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares,  Gargoyle, Rat’s Ass Review, Reed Magazine, Slim Volume, TheNewVerse.News, North Dakota Quarterly, Chiron Review, Easy Street, Bad Acid Laboratories, Inc., Prime Number, among others, and in the anthologies Silent Voices: Recent American Poems on Nature (Ally Press, 1978), Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing From Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003), and A Galaxy of Starfish: An Anthology of Modern Surrealism (Salo Press, 2016). He has been nominated for a Best of the Net twice and a Pushcart, and is the author of one full-length collection of poems, Everybody Has a Story (St. Luke's Press, 1987), and four chapbooks. He is also the former editor of Raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books.

BANANAS

by Scott C. Kaestner




tired of writing about the t***p administration
so today gonna’ write about… um
hmm… let’s see… that’s it…
bananas!
ya’ heard me, bananas!
the potassium rich phallic fruit
bright yellow and ready for action
affordable and portable, simply delicious
just peel back the outer layer and bite into it
an andy warhol painting, a velvet underground album cover
founder of republics, foreign multinational corporate dominance
impoverishing the working class and abusing their labor… you see
the world is bananas… a place where fruit can be a tool to abuse power
a place that has everything for everyone being denied by a greedy few
instead of feeding the masses bananas are used to entrap the masses
sometimes too green or too rotten or they fall into tiny lil’ spoiled hands
which leads me to our current president… oh wait… fuck… nevermind…

BANANAS!


Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet, a dad, Lakers fan, guacamole aficionado, and leftist dreamer. Google 'scott kaestner poetry' to peruse his musings.

SHE PERSISTS

by Cally Conan-Davies





Beyond my door is a stream I sit beside
and consider the lastingness of things
—rubber soles, for instance, and woollen socks,
a glass bottle, a foam cup, a knot of fishing line—
things that get caught up in the stream.

The hills sharpen the shriek of the owl
and one thought tears away
like a hound into the wind:
men must give a mind
to earth's own laws. I've seen

her body of fresh water
glaze the dark roots of her weedy banks,
her luxury of flowing downstream not locked in
to anything but pouring and falling down; her lowly law:
to round the shape of everything she meets.

She sings syllabically. She looks troubled.
She is and she isn't. Doing her cold work
she streams. She won't go quietly
because the quality of water is not just
locked in. It is fluidity and partner to the wind.

She is what comes from broken stones,
she won't be silent. She is water-talk
from a clouded mountain thrown down on her
and from the weight of this history
she can improvise a trickle in the dust.

She is last and thirst, her religion is open to life.
She puts her money on the ground and sees it gone.
She is the bend in the spear grass. She gives
her light to irises. She stands
in the poppies where a battlefield was.

By otter and crow, these are the faithful facts.
The stream flows even past the span of stone and heron.
She is the engine drinking in every moment,
clear, and charged, and overlapping,
and making things green where she passes

streaming . . .


Cally Conan-Davies is a writer who lives by the sea.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

WHEN WE TALK




Michelle Marie was a blog correspondent for Stop Street Harassment and reader columnist for The News Tribune.

WONDER WOMAN IS MAYBE A 5 AT BEST

by Daniel M. Shapiro





The Orange Menace offers $10 million to “the man who invents the best device—
THE best device—for grabbing a woman and making her keep quiet about it. GO!”

The Orange Menace ends up hiring his sons, who repurpose a glove designed to conceal
offshore funds. They buy silencing technology from a mastermind for steaks and ties.

The Orange Menace enjoys setting traps. He tweets, “@realAmazonWW can’t fight.
She’s nothing without bracelets and tiara. Knows where I live. Do her hips look bigger?”

The Orange Menace hears a bump on the roof, an invisible jet he refers to as “a rip-off.
Disaster.” He puts on the glove. Wonder Woman walks through an unlocked door.

The Orange Menace lunges at her. She feels nothing. The glove has malfunctioned because his
sons made it too large. Wonder Woman slips her lasso around The Orange Menace for his truth.

“What do you want in life?” Wonder Woman asks. “All I want is to be loved,” The Orange
Menace says. She records the confession, which goes viral. “Fake news. I have it all!” he tweets.


Daniel M. Shapiro is the author of Heavy Metal Fairy Tales (Throwback Books, 2016) and How the Potato Chip Was Invented (sunnyoutside press, 2013). He is a senior editor with Pittsburgh Poetry Review.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

THE BALLAD OF BRAVE SIR BANNON

by Arnold Snarb
Bannon head caricature by 


In the distant future, a decade from now,
            when our planet has ceased to be,
those intergalactic aliens
            shall recite my song with glee.

So gather round, ye representative few
            who make up the Electoral College,
And I’ll tell ye a tale of doughty deeds
            That’ll fill your brain with knowledge.

O I sing of a lad who fought the good fight,
            or would, had he shown up to fight it,
but word of a protest made him think twice,
            so he said, well they can just bite it.

A true son of Eire, a man of the Cross,
            in his blood run the waters of Shannon:
nor better a bloke e’er ran Breitbart News
            than wild-eyed, race-baiting Bannon.

A son of the South who gave fatwa ‘gainst Islam
            and savaged the global elite;
when he found out that Jews went to school with his kids
            he cut out two holes in his sheet.

A Birther by birth, he was early to ken
            the charms of our Dear tweetin’ Leader.
So he rolled up his sleeves, and pulled down his pants,
            said here’s all that you’ll need to beat her!

The shit that he peddled the Donald sold wholesale
            and they shared an establishment beef:
Though he’d worked for a decade at Goldman Sachs
            he’d make T***p Pussy Grabber in Chief.

A cock-of-the-walk who never looked back
            at the three divorces behind him,
that dark day in Cambridge he chickened out,
            O Brave, Brave Sir Bannon!

The protesters stood all night in the rain
            with their signs, petitions and banners
while safely ensconced on the Upper West Side
            Was Brave, Brave Sir Bannon!

One day he’ll return, Harvard’s Prodigal Son,
            and stick like a fly in the ointment;
on wind of impeachment he’ll take the next plane
            for a cushy K-School appointment.


Arnold Snarb is a poet and scholar who holds degrees from Harvard, Oxford and Yale. He is currently working on a memoir written in blank verse that recounts his youth and education.

Monday, February 06, 2017

THE NEW CURRICULUM

by William Aarnes




                        America First

At dinner tonight
our eighth-grader repeated

how all the kids just love
their Patriotism teacher.

She asked if we knew
that for centuries

people have misjudged
that Samaritan as good.

Each evening she seems
more and more suspicious

of our baffled looks,  
of our needing to have explained

something so self-evident
as the moral that only someone

alien to our way of life
would help a victim

who probably deserved
a worse beating than he got.


William Aarnes lives in South Carolina.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

DAKOTA CLEARING

by Peleg Held



On February 1st, several water protectors established the "Last Child Camp" in exercise of the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties. In response the Morton County Sheriff, National Guard, and armed mercenaries raided the camp arresting over 70+. —Winona LaDuke Honor the Earth, February 3, 2017


A man in holster and badge parts the fabric
of a Tipi. He is looking but doesn't see
the enemy or the polls as they converge
over his head. Behind him, his people come
as they have always come, with the license
of force and numbers to clear the land.
Warriors wait, laughing, chanting, bound
together by song and the smoke of their fire.
Under the earth, cold iron rings the emptiness
as a black snake dreams of the last child
on the land and how good it will be to be full.


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.

SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME

by Jack Powers 





Washington was a sea of pink pussy hats Saturday
         and New York and Stamford and Chicago and LA
while Anne and I sat at home, realizing we missed out,
         thinking if we all march on Day 2, what's left for Day 100?

I emptied the dishwasher, let the dog lick the plates,
         read the signs on TV: We shall overcomb,
Ovaries before Brovaries, Electile Dysfunction.

I re-tied my blue and orange Asics, perfect marching shoes,
         bought in a mall in California when one of my old sneakers
fell out of our rental car. I'm obsessed with avocados.
         But low blood sugar is costing more rain forests.

I called Will on his first day at NYU, my brain a half step
         behind my mouth. You keep contradicting yourself, he said
when I told him to eat well and then to find cheaper food.

I sounded just like my father. Some days I can't get both feet
         out of my mouth. Last year I wrote about wanting to be black
when I was young, about fro-ing my hair and reading Soul on Ice.
         about dressing up for Mardi Gras as a black jazz musician,

playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" on a kid's plastic trumpet.
         Zak shook his head, said something about appropriation.
True. True. But I nailed that Louis Armstrong rasp,
     
singing, Lord, I want to be in that number, Oh, when the saints!
         squeezing the red and green plastic valves, mopping my brow
with a white handkerchief. He was so damn cool. I am not.
         Zak asked me to hide the picture when his girlfriend visits.

 In a dream last night, I proposed to Anne by spreading
         peanut butter on her hand and licking it off.
To make matters worse, I told her about it in the morning.

The Times' top left column seems dedicated to T***p's lie of the day:
         crowd size, illegal voters. By Day 100 will everyone want a do over?
For dinner I may eat crow again with just a sliver of avocado,
         keep my sneakers tied—ready next time to shut up and march.


Jack Powers teaches special education. English and math at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut, and directs the school’s Writing Center. He won the 2015 and 2012 Connecticut River Review Poetry Contests and was a finalist for the 2013 and 2014 Rattle Poetry Prizes. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, The Southern Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Poet Lore, Cortland Review and elsewhere. 

Saturday, February 04, 2017

THE GOVERNMENT

by Samantha Pious




after a ballade by Christine de Pizan


Where will outcasts comfort find
—asylum-seekers, refugees—
 now the land we thought to be
the sunset gates, the golden door,
the harbor where the tired, poor,
and fearful could at last breathe free
has neither love nor amnesty?
The one-percenters are severe;
the young professionals, resigned.
The government won’t deign to hear.

To lawyers they have no recourse,
ill-counseled by their advocates,
without protection from the courts.
The officers who stop and frisk
interrogate with undue force—
and sometimes suspects disappear
before they’re properly accused.
(But could that ever happen here?)
The magistrates condemn, unmoved;
the government won’t deign to hear.

Where shall they go, when there is no
safety here, or anywhere
that hope is vain, and friend is foe?
The underground will take them in
if they believe the garbled voice,
the tiny hands, the laquered hair,
the orange pawn—or puppeteer?—
who has big plans for his first year.
(But will he keep Obamacare?)
The government won’t deign to hear.

Folks, after this election year
the ship of state has sprung a leak
while navigating up shit creek.
We’ll have to pray or maybe hope
our captain doesn’t rock the boat.
The government won’t deign to hear.


Samantha Pious's first book A Crown of Violets (Headmistress Press, 2015) offers a selection of the French poetry of Renée Vivien in English translation. Some of her other translations and poems have appeared in Adrienne, Lavender Review, Mezzo Cammin, and other publications. Her poem "The Government" is loosely adapted from the Middle French of Christine de Pizan (1364-ca. 1430), an Italian-French woman poet and philosopher of the Late Middle Ages.

WE ARE ALL KENTUCKIANS NOW

by Diane Elayne Dees




How do we mourn
those who lost their lives
in the great Bowling Green
Massacre? For no one knows

how many died, who was left
lame or blind, who tearfully stares
at the photo of a dead loved one
at the end of each day.

How can we grieve
when the talking heads conspire
to cover up the detritus
of a bloody national tragedy,

while the women wearing hijabs
laugh at us behind their sinister
veils? The survivors have been
silenced, their misery dismissed.

How do we move on
if we are not allowed to rage
at those who came from a foreign
place, and quietly entered

Bowling Green and slaughtered
unknown numbers? The secret
had to be exposed, the reckoning
will come in time. Prepare.


Diane Elayne Dees's poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women's professional tennis worldwide.


Friday, February 03, 2017

WHAT I TELL YOU THREE TIMES IS TRUE

by Sheila Wellehan



A lie told often enough becomes the truth. –Vladimir Lenin 

Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:  What I tell you three times is true. –Lewis Carroll


When you tell a story three times
it becomes the truth.

Assert it four times
you slam shut open windows and doors.

Spinning the false tale five times
kills every bee in its hive.

With the weight of six repetitions
tall buildings collapse and the sky rains bricks.

Singing the same song seven times
poisons every ocean, every lake.

If you mislead eight times
you blind everyone who’s survived.

When you deceive nine times
they believe it even in heaven.

Repeat a lie ten times
that’s it, it’s the end.


Sheila Wellehan's poetry is featured in Chiron Review, The Fourth River, Off the Coast, Poetry East, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. She lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.


Thursday, February 02, 2017

BUILDING WALLS

by Megan Merchant




I have seen the most beautiful walls painted by children,
walls with crowds of hands shaped into doves and flowers
tall. I have seen the most beautiful walls sledged by exhausted
fathers who wear the stucco-dust home and lull their babies
into sleep with tales about how they gutted that great beast.
I have seen the most beautiful walls dressed for carnival, lined
with stars, and helmets in remembrance of our fallen. I have seen
the most beautiful walls drenched with ivy, an accord with nature,
water dripping into buckets down brick. I have heard the word
wall in a thousand clumsy ways, the buzz saw and hammer
being cleaned in the toolbox of his mouth, the easy-dirt of his words,
where we tunnel. I have seen the way men resurrect walls to keep
the light out, too afraid to meet the eyes of a woman directly. Because
he knows she has learned to see around the symbol, that it is not a greater
means of division, or a blockade, but a chance to climb, to see people
holding hands from a different perspective, high enough that their
bodies blur into one.


Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016 Book of the Year), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017), four chapbooks, and a children’s book with Philomel Books.

DRONES

by Stew Jorgenson




The streets are pink with mud.
Too many people unfriended.
There's a bear shaking the tree.
The hive is pissed off.
It's hard to find peace of mind
in this culture war.
Everyone's buzzing to the sound
of other people's mad noise.  
Take a deep breath.
A little pepper spray
goes a long way,
up close and in your face.
We rage at the machine
but we are the machine.
Just one black swan away
from a social meltdown
of 2nd amendment proportions.
This is your complacency
wake-up call America.
The bees are dying.
Our democracy is stale.
It's a colony collapse disorder.
We like to wave our flags
until everyone tears up
and gets stupid.
Nothing gets done,
but it feels good
to blow off a little steam and
take credit for throwing a hissy fit,
like in the cold war comedy
The Russians Are Coming
where people panic,
the whole town is in an uproar,
mob mentality takes over,
no one listens to reason, and
Jonathan Winters is imploring people,
"We've got to get organized!"
Only this time it isn’t funny.


Stew Jorgenson is a part-time wordsmith who has more words than he knows what to do with each day.  Sometimes he uses the extras for poetry, celestial navigation, or target practice.  He has worked on farms, fishing boats, and in factories.  He is currently employed as a freelance muse wrestler.  He's skilled at mistakes, guilty by association, and suffers from occasional bouts of inspiration.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

WHITE HOUSE POSITIONS 2017

by Terese Coe


Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Bannon. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)


For those who see no duty
to honor, truth, or beauty,
the taint of corrupt but gainful
employment becomes less painful.


Terese Coe’s poems and translations have appeared in 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Cincinnati Review, New American Writing, Ploughshares, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Agenda, The Moth, New Walk Magazine, New Writing Scotland, Poetry Review, the TLS, The Stinging Fly, and many other publications and anthologies. Her latest collection is Shot Silk.