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Thursday, February 21, 2019

THREE EPIGRAMS ON THE EVE OF A CONFERENCE

by Julie Steiner




“With the Vatican resisting change, it will have to come from outside the Catholic world.”—“Catholic Church ‘nowhere close’ to confronting global ‘epidemic’ of child sex abuse by priests,” The Telegraph, 19 February 2019


1. A Concise Translation of the Vatican’s 1962 Crimen Sollicitationis Instruction 

Sadly,
some priests behave badly.
Give all who know it—even children—hell
if they tell.


2. The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37)

The priest and Levite couldn’t pause.
They scuttled past the victim.
To keep their cold religious laws,
the priest and Levite couldn’t pause.
The heretic could help, because
such rules did not restrict him.
The priest and Levite couldn’t. [Pause.]
They scuttled. Passed the victim.


3. The Lost Sheep (Luke 15:3-7)

The Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine
to save the one who’s in perdition.
The flock stay put, convinced they’re fine;
the Shepherd leaves. The ninety-nine
lose sight of him when they decline
to join him on his rescue mission.
The Shepherd leaves the ninety-nine
to save the oneWho’s in perdition?


Julie Steiner lives and writes in San Diego. Besides the TheNewVerse.News, the venues in which her poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, American Arts Quarterly, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Rattle, and the Rat's Ass Review.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

AND NOT THAT ONE, EITHER

by Devon Balwit


Cartoon by SIGNE WILKINSON, The Inquirer, February 13, 2019


Abrasive, ambitious, unlikable—
(truth is, you remind me of my mother,
or of those women who have “other
things to do” when I call) in short, unelectable,
no matter your platform. You remind me
of that girl in class who always scored
a point or two higher, who looked bored
when I spoke. You seem angry—
Why are you so angry all the time?
And who, if I may ask, is watching your kids
while you get uppity? Besides, bids
for President, for a place in the lime-
light should go to those with a prettier face—
(and who’d choose “pretty” for a Presidential race?)


Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), Apt, Grist, and Oxidant Engine among others.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

IN FRINGE

by James Penha





“The people of West Sumatra have a culture that can’t be separated from Islam. This has been the case since a long time ago. If the people and government here create a regulation that bans LGBT behavior because it’s not in line with tradition, then it’s not wrong nor is it a violation of human rights.” —Indonesia National Commission on Human Rights Chairman Ahmad Taufan Damanik, February 14, 2019


When human rights
ain’t right in its Head
of Human Rights who
writes off marginal runes

and the humans so cast

to religious rites of hate
and intolerance, a state
wrights a ship with tar
and feathers that sinks

of its own disaccord.


James Penha edits TheNewVerse.News.

Monday, February 18, 2019

WE NEED A CENTRIST

by Mickey J. Corrigan






"Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said Thursday that he would be willing to abandon his presidential ambitions midstream if Democrats nominate a centrist who makes it too difficult for him to win as an independent candidate." Washington Post, February 14, 2019


To work in a coffee shop
and brush off strangers'
busy hands
that reach for us
while we're on our cells.

We need a moderate
to walk the tray line
in hospital cafeterias
where people on crutches
await unpayable bills
for ambulance rides
to out-of-network ERs.

We need a centrist
to reinvigorate the liberal
DEMOCRACY
fading as ire mounts
against every slight,
WORDS
as offense,
opinions
as unacceptable
while the worlds' greatest living
CLOWNS
dictators and their apprentices
take advantage of our distraction
our infighting
our hash tagging
our whining and sad-sacking,
the opportunists
trolling debates
creating troll debates
taking and taking away.

It all looks so REAL
the show is addictive
in daily doses
Oxy and medical marijuana
we couch-sit and close-watch
the streaming BS
from the White House
the ideal agents of CHAOS
rivet our eyes
to the screen

their hands on our asses 
their hands in our wallets.



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. Poetry chapbooks include The Art of Bars (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and Days' End (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2017). Project XX, a novel about a school shooting, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

SONG OF THE OPEN ROAD

by Earl J Wilcox




From Frigid St. Louis to mild Florida; From Cold Chicago to Temperate Arizona. Spring Training Migrants: What the Trucks Carry on the Open Road.

O Sing us a early spring time song of the Open Road to the warm sun, the green grass, the soft breezes, the lure of a dream for a game and a team and great American pastime.

O take me to the Open Road, send my Truck on the Day, fill it  with my stuff, my life, my load.

O, Mighty Truck of the Open Road, bring my gear,  carry the stuff to transform us mortal men from hot stove junkie to spring time wizards.

O Red Truck, Blue Truck, Green Truck, every color truck bring my stuff, my special bats and helmets, gloves, my candy bars, cheese and crackers, my jock straps, a few hundred baseballs, uniforms, t-shirts, laundry detergent, my own bicycle, my shoes, socks, deodorant ,bubble gum, sun screen, sun flower seeds, tar, baby cribs, birth control, medical equipment, one load of Pennsylvania dirt, our money ball stats guy, string cheese, and Tylenol.

O Mighty Maker of the Open Road, give us a season filled with the hope of spring training, the vision and energy of the summer, and wisdom of autumn.


Earl Wilcox waits for baseball season while watching spring open in his back yard with daffodils, azaleas, and dogwoods in South Carolina.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

I AM BUILDING A WALL

by David Feela


Cartoon by J.D. Crowe


in my head
where each brick
contains an insecurity.

I say they are drugs
and rape
and murder

but they also contain
my weight
my thinning hair

and my feeble resolve
which might be remembered
on the border there

between poverty and privilege
as nothing
but grievance and rage.

I want a monument
because gold
doesn’t please me anymore

and if enough debt
gets mixed into the mortar
the wall will divide generations

and then they’ll remember me
as the one
that got this thing done.


David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook Thought Experiments won the Southwest Poet Series. The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. A collection of his essays How Delicate These Arches was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Unsolicited Press will release his new chapbook Little Acres in April 2019.

WALLS

by Phyllis Wax


Cartoon by R.J. Matson

are already being built.                  

It’s up to us
to chip at mortar,
remove bricks,
pull out pickets,
snip wire.

It’s up to us
to speak to people,                  
look them in the eye,
extend a hand,
smile.

We can undo
faster
than he can build.


Social issues are a major focus of Milwaukee poet Phyllis Wax.  Her work appears in numerous anthologies and journals, among them The Widows’ Handbook, Birdsong, Spillway, Peacock Journal, Surreal Poetics, Naugatuck River Review, TheNewVerse.News, Portside, Star 82 Review.  When she’s not writing you might find her escorting at a local abortion clinic.  She can be reached at: poetwax38[at]gmail.com.

Friday, February 15, 2019

AT A LOSS FOR WORDS

by Paul Smith




We didn’t know what to call it
it was not exactly a deal
a deal being something you picture
with a couple guys shaking hands
and congratulating themselves
on their good luck
so that was not it
neither was it a pact
because that suggests
something like a treaty being signed
by two hostile nations
maybe grudgingly
but at least with terms and conditions
to guarantee its sanctity and compliance
there was no sanctity anywhere
nor was it an understanding
there was none of that
each side calling the other side names
we didn’t know what to
make of it all
except selling it as something
that made us bigger
and made them small
on the surface we won
but when we looked deep
we lost
or maybe it was
the other way around
and it made them look cheap
where was the word
to make it sound like
we won
and the other side
lied?
Not knowing what name this thing went by
we just called it
Kentucky Windage


Paul Smith lives near Chicago. He writes fiction and poetry. He likes Hemingway, really likes Bukowski, the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kinks and Slim Harpo. He can play James Jamerson's bass solo for 'Home Cookin' by Junior Walker & the Allstars.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

21 GRAMS

by Alan Catlin




“Mountains are hard to climb
thus walls are your friends.
Learn your walls.”
            —Bukowski

“We laugh at your walls.”
Drug cartel tunnel rats.
Digging from one safe house
to another safe house.
Under border fences, razor wire
enclaves, ICE patrol car roads.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Tunnels for shrink wrapped
pure. White death by the pound.
Powdered snow by the kilo.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Tunnels under prison walls.
Two and half miles of digging.
No problema.  Cell to freedom
service. “Viva El Chapo!”
Viva Empire of the Opiates,
Reign of terror Take Two.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Steel stanchion impediments
where concrete is called for.
Easily breeched by purchased
at Wal-Mart, Home Depot,
Lowe’s, metal cutting tool department.

“We laugh at your walls.”
Tunnels for coyote caravans,
pay the tolls, travel the underground
railway. “Refugees show us the green,
hombre and we deliver the goods.”

“We laugh at your walls.”
US Army supplied terror cells
of the night.  Drug enforcers,
Zeta killers, Sinaloa lackeys,
CIA trained Torquemada’s.
Slipping under barriers, walls.
Mescal high, take-no-prisoners
instructed, rape and pillage experts,
mercenaries for moola, hostile
and loathsome, heartless as
the street criminals they once were,
laughing at walls.

Find a tunnel and fill it, ten more
are dug. Once you are in The Life,
The Life is in you, there is no looking
back, no escape possible: one foot in
Sodom, the other in Gomorrah.
Not point in last wills and testaments:
no one will bury you when you are killed
unless the tunnel you are in collapses.


Alan Catlin has published dozens of chapbooks and full length books, most recently the chapbook Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance (Presa Press), a series of ekphrastic poems responding to the work of German photographer August Sander who did portraits of Germans before, during, and after both World Wars.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

THE OTHER SIDE OF A WALL

by Mara Adamtz Scrupe




                       out beyond the blest kingdom
amongst the trackless traders & slavers & affluent technocrats 
            lands amassing & bomb shelters & clandestine

            airstrips & marble-tombed 
bathrooms & gated havens to get off on        on the other side
             
of the wall lizards dart in & out or lie in heat benumbed       
            amongst the Burdock catch-spring 
spurred ovate bolls/ reckless rule-less ghost moths skim

&lek/ scroll & whitecap        billow& spray exploding 
in quiver-pleasured olfactory raves & gullies            out beyond

                        the blest kingdom
insect/ amphibian/ mammalian females choose their mates
whilst the males of the species           
entice them uncontested/ none abstain in a homeland       

convinced of its quiddities
            I mark & mind an ancient détente as the eighty richest 
chock-full ride it out from a distance            

it’s a bad bad 
business the way the wall says                       

            inhale/ exhale            expect              nothing

as the dam diggers stem the flood over the faceless fence 

            & the wounded unwing-ed collapse & orange peacock-
eyed butterflies remind me 

            of rope & strand of knot & sign & climb 
& hold on tight           for dear    dear             
at the bottom of this breach 

holed & don’t they know it        up here  though
             on top between squab & hassock 
common six-line racerunner skinks queue a line 
            from my chaise across the porch floor not stiffs

            buried under a dune on the other side of a wall      
but languid/ marking a border
                        they simply                 slip over


Mara Adamitz Scrupe is the author of five poetry collections: BEAST (NFSPS Press, 2014), Sky Pilot (Chapbook, Finishing Line Press, 2012), Magnalia (Chapbook, Eyewear Publications, 2018) and a daughter’s aubade/ sailing out from Sognefjord (winner, Fledge Poetry Competition, Middle Creek Press, 2019). She is the winner of the 2018 Grindstone Literary International Poetry Competition, and the Brighthorse Press Poetry Book Prize for her manuscript in the bare bones house of was which will be published in 2019. Her poems have appeared in international literary journals and magazines and she has won or been shortlisted for the Kay Murphy Poetry Prize, Ron Pretty Poetry Prize, BigCi Environmental Fellowship, Erbacce Prize, Fish Poetry Prize, Aesthetica Creative Writing Award, University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Prize, Bristol Prize, and the National Poetry Society Competition, among others. She divides her time between her farm in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains piedmont and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she is Professor of Fine Arts and Creative Writing at The University of the Arts.

Monday, February 11, 2019

WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I SPOKE LIKE A CHILD . . .

by Marsha Owens




When did he have an epiphany? she asked
unclear about how one is racist and then is not.

I know how life meanders, doesn’t march
in straight lines like VMI cadets stepping
around Stonewall Jackson’s horse, its body
stained with white and black blood before it
was stuffed and saluted, forever revered.

Her name was LaVinia, her body stout,
her words few, her work for my Mama—
clean toilets and stiffly pressed sheets,
her days long, two bus rides from Richmond
to the freshly coifed suburbs, all-white.

I didn’t know why LaVinia fixed sandwiches
for my brother and me but none for herself.

His name was Pete, lanky and dark, head bowed
to say, Mornin’ Ma’am to my Mama, Mornin’ Missy
to me, a five-year-old. His work for my Daddy—
boards nailed, shingles hauled up the ladder, laid
out just so—a few dollars at day’s end.

I didn’t know why Pete sat outside on the stoop
at lunchtime, eating his hot dog on a paper plate.

I swam in the culture into which I was born,
1950s, somewhere between slavery’s end
and the Act called Civil Rights.

I stumbled with other white people away
from horrible injustices and strode towards
desegregated neighborhoods, integrated schools,
JFK, MLK, Trayvon Martin, President Obama.

I listened and learned, read and reflected,
laughed and cried with new friends whose
memories were not mine, nor mine theirs.
No epiphany, just life. And I voted

“for the person who cares about all people,”
Daddy said in his old age, simplistic political
advice that had evolved over a lifetime
and became the politics I chose to follow.


Marsha Owens is a retired educator who still lives and writes in Richmond, VA. She voted for Ralph Northam and Mark Herring, not because they are perfect, but because their policies support "all people."

Sunday, February 10, 2019

HOW TO SPOT A FASCIST, or WHAT I LEARNED FROM MADELEINE ALBRIGHT

by Kathy Conway




You could look for colors—black shirts for Mussolini, brown
ones for Hitler, red t-shirts and baseball caps for Chavez,
yellow stars on Polish children separated from mothers at railroad stations.

Listen for righteous us/them propaganda, use of simple words,
untruths to incite aggrieved followers, as Hitler did, repeating lies
until they were accepted as truth.

Listen for insults, bullying, ultimatums, rants—"huge, very dangerous"
to silence those who disagree—the press, media, cohorts, partners -
a la Mussolini.

Be suspicious of unbridled nationalism, separating families at borders.
False charges of being "Red" helped McCarthy to intimidate, create fear in
innocent people and muzzle Congress.

Be alert for a huge ego demanding loyalty, not to country
or constitution, but to him personally, who, with warped reality,
listens only to his own gut, ignoring experts and advisors.

Watch for leaders who declare a state of emergency
like Erdogan, try to build a border wall like Orban or promise to
"drenare la palude"—drain the swamp—like Mussolini.

Heed if they goad violence against perceived enemies with
pumped-up machismo, incite prejudice or seek to destroy faith
in an independent press, electoral process, courts, military.

Notice how he gets away with it. The public doubts he'd
do more—until he does, incrementally. His followers believe
he's working for them, against "others".

Be leery of copy cats who, like Peron, aspire to be Hitler.
Do they admire and cozy up to Kim Jong-un,
Mohammed bin Salman or Putin?
                                                 

Kathy Conway splits her time between a cottage on the coast of Maine and her home outside Boston.  She has taught memoir poetry in Maine and Florida. Her chapbook Bacon Street is about growing up in a large family.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

SPEAK

by Lisa Vihos




In the land of fake plenty
there’s a road paved with money.
If you’re something enough,
you can get on this road
but mostly you cannot.
Unless you can pull yourself up
on the straps of those boots
they stole from you.

Listen when the robot drones speak
from two sides of their mouth.
Do what you can to learn that language.

          Try our six-week, no money back
          guaranteed language
          immersion experience
          Time is running out. Send
          your first-born child.
          Or give us your planet.
          We can work with you on this.
          Payment plans are available,
          but you must act now.

Each day is an equivocation
of that which they said
they did not say the day before.
Who can imagine?
Look here, look there, look away, they say,
And do not do what I would not do.
          Or do it, at your own risk.

Advice is cheap. Money
is expensive. Walls are being built
as we speak.


The poems of Lisa Vihos have appeared in numerous journals, both print and online. Her fourth chapbook Fan Mail from Some Flounder was published by Main Street Rag Publishing in 2018. She is the poetry and arts editor of Stoneboat Literary Journal and the Sheboygan organizer for 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

Friday, February 08, 2019

TIC TAC TOE

by Matt Witt


The Oregon Senate’s Housing Committee advanced a bill that would enact a statewide rent control policy and restrict evictions, sending it to the full Senate for a vote. Lawmakers heard nearly four hours of testimony from renters and landlords as Senate Bill 608 had its first hearing in the Senate’s Housing Committee. It’s poised to cruise through the Legislature, with support from leaders of the Democratic majority in both the House and Senate. Renters and tenants’ rights activists largely argued the bill would help protect against eye-popping rent increases that have frequently grabbed headlines across the state. —The Oregonian, February 5, 2019. Among those presenting testimony was the group of tenants pictured above who met at the Rogue Action Center in Jackson County in late November to discuss how to get local and state officials to take action on housing affordability. Nearly half of households there are renters, and one in three of those pay more than half their monthly income for rent. Credit: Matt Witt Photography


As a child
I played tic tac toe.
Should I go here,
or should I go there?

Then I learned:
you never win
if the other person goes first
with an X in
the middle square.

Olivia tells the city council
she and her son
had to move three times
after rent increases
left nothing to spare.

She works at Walmart
but after the rent
the paycheck covers only
food and bus fare.

Frank, who builds expensive homes
and has fifty rental units,
tells the council he would love to
help people like her,
he really would,
but prices are
whatever the market will bear.

Profit first.

The X in the middle square.


Matt Witt is a writer and photographer who lives in Talent, Oregon. He was recently selected a Writer in Residence at Mesa Refuge in California and has been selected an Artist in Residence at Crater Lake National Park, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, and PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon. His writing has been published in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, the literary journal Cirque, and many other publications. His photography may be seen at MattWittPhotography.com.