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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

HOW WE MADE OURSELVES GREAT AGAIN: THE SHORT LIST

by Mickey J. Corrigan


Cartoon by Chris Britt, Mercury News, June 24, 2019


1.  We sent them back
the ones not in cages
without toothbrushes or soap.

2. We sent them all back
like spoiled groceries
browned lettuce, rank meat
even the ones we knew
were born here.

3. We sent them messages
to insult and threaten
taunt and troll
ruin and lie.
Oh, how we lied.

4. We sent them all back
in time to when white
was right and might
and everyone else
could go to hell
or just go home.

5. We sent them all back
and the cities were quiet
roads empty, food scarce
shops closed, homes dirty
our babies cried
nothing worked right
we were so alone
we told ourselves
we were the greatest
the only ones
who mattered.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan lives in South Florida and writes noir with a dark humor. Books have been released by publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Project XX, a satirical crime novel, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. What I Did for Love will be released by Bloodhound Books in October.

Monday, July 22, 2019

POLITICS IS DOWNSTREAM FROM CULTURE

by Howie Good


Image source: Wicked Local Harwich


This is beginning to feel
like the worst place to be.
Donald T***p just won’t
leave us alone. He howls,

“You die!” He wags
his veiny dick. He clinks
glasses with despots. He brags
about his astonishing ability

to avoid reading. Meanwhile,
the sign over there says,
“Do not swim near seals.”
Of course, people, being people,

do it anyway. I’m suddenly tired
of waiting for the shadow
of archangel Michael to climb
the Empire State Building

or even for ambient sounds
to relay meaning. It’s 12:24 p.m.,
on a Friday, and we’re still no closer
to solving the many crimes of fire.


Howie Good is the author most recently of What It Is and How to Use It from Grey Book Press. He co-edits the journals Unbroken and UnLost.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

(RED) HEAT / HOT / HAT (RED)

by Ron Riekki


“By 2050, the Northeast can expect approximately 650 more deaths each year because of extreme heat, the [National Climate] Assessment found.” —“Dangerous heat wave brings misery to 195 million from New Mexico to Maine,” CNN, July 19, 2019


for Robert Francis, Mark Strand, Hayden Carruth, and Reiko Redmonde


Heat and the colors of heat, like coal-mine hells,
and it gets so hot that the moon looks burnt
and the horizon itself is now a broiler pan
and my girlfriend in Lille says, “The fan broke.”
What about the AC?  “What AC?  We don’t have AC.”
And she tells me a neighbor died.  I say, “How old?
as if that’s an acceptable excuse, as if degrees
represent years.  And I remember a line from
Shakespeare: “the very birds are mute.”  And
I remember a line from a newspaper article today:
“June of this year was the hottest June on record

for the world.”  Temperatures climb and I think
of the moment in Free Solo where the guy fell
and we gasped until the parachute opened up
and we aren’t the ones gasping now, but we're
the ones falling.  And when I broke my ankle
in the military, one of the corpsmen said,
“Put heat on it” and there was another
corpsman there and he said, “No, put ice
on it.”  And they argued about it while I looked
down at the purple and brown and orange
under my skin, wondering if I’d ever walk again.


Ron Riekki's latest book is Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice.  On August 25, he appears at Revolution Books in Berkeley with Berkeley Poet Laureate Rafael Jesus Gonzalez and Sacramento Poet Laureate Julia Connor.

FIRE SEASON

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


Since the early 1970s, summertime forest fires—such as the Ferguson Fire last year—have gotten 800 percent larger. Credit: NOAH BERGER / GETTY via The Atlantic


Among the many processes important to California's diverse fire regimes, warming‐driven fuel drying is the clearest link between anthropogenic climate change and increased California wildfire activity to date. —Earth’s Future, July 15, 2019


The creek is drier than dry
The ground is dust upon dust
Every arid hour that goes by
Whispers, “Combust, combust!”
To the forest-covered hills
Where we hike to restore our souls
Jettison aches and ills
And take an hour’s repose.                                
But we know that rainless months
And temperatures gone berserk
Can conjure a blaze all at once
From the merest flicker or spark.
So we walk in the trees without blinders
For we cannot not picture the worst –
A paradise reduced to cinders
Whole biomes expiring of thirst.


Buff Whitman-Bradley's poems have appeared in many print and online journals. His most recent books are To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World and Cancer Cantata. With his wife Cynthia, he produced the award-winning documentary film Outside In and, with the MIRC film collective, made the film Por Que Venimos. His interviews with soldiers refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were made into the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California.

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.