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Sunday, August 19, 2018

THE PRISONERS

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman




Sister Norma Pimentel, a Missionary Sister of Jesus, and her team of volunteers work tirelessly to welcome thousands of immigrants each year, including many children, to the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas.


                they are prisoners of war they did not fight in
                                    escaping street and backyard battles
                they slip under the unwelcome sign
                  hoping against hope
                for the others
                                     the many nameless    the sun dries their bones
                who will mourn their slow death 
                who will mourn their shackled hope


Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and TheNewVerse.News as well as in two anthologies: Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recover for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Last year she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015 (Press 53).

Saturday, August 18, 2018

BLOOM

by January Pearson





From the blue loom of rivers
to Florida’s shorelines
where locals sift
sand for Tulip shells,
wind and current disperse
a deadly invisibility,
microscopic cells of algae
bursting in bloom

bursting with growth,
tentacling through coral
and seagrass to spread
its poison.

Karenia Brevis magnified
one thousand times
looks like soft dusty lobes
pinwheeling like a poppy
like a poppy
dead and colorless

dead as the seacow
unlowing in the waves
and the double-breasted
cormorants knuckled
with disease.

The schools of fish
pale in the harbor,
toxin-soaked
and sideways, hundreds
of one-eyes open to blue,
hundreds of ashen one-eyes open
unbloomed.



January Pearson lives in Southern California with her husband and two daughters. She teaches in the English department at Purdue Global University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Notre Dame Review, Atlanta Review, Third Wednesday, Gargoyle Magazine, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Journal of American Poetry, The Cape Rock Review, and Summerset Review.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Q

by Kathleen Murphey


What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory That Showed Up at a Trump Rally. —The New York Times, August 1, 2018


Questionable, quagmire, quack, quackery, quandary, qualm, quail, quarrel, quash,
            quasi, quaver, queer, quell, quench, querulous, quibble, quid pro quo, quietus,
            quip, quirk, quisling.

Q,  a fictional, Star Trek, New Generation, character, who thought humanity was a waste of time.
Q, an anonymous, conspiracy-theory blogger, who is content to further lies on
            T***p’s behalf despite the hate and harm of T***p’s verbal slime.
Captain Picard, on Star Trek, was put on trial by Q over the fate of humanity.
T***p, backed by Q, is shaking the foundations of American democracy
            and its integrity.

Q Clearance or Q Access Authorization, the Department of Energy’s highest security
            clearance level—similar to Top Secret Clearance, hence Q’s claims to legitimacy
            by association.
Q, the 17th letter of the alphabet, when uttered by T***p, confirms the validity of Q’s
            crazy conspiracy claims.  “Follow the rabbit whole.” 
            Everything is fine, T***p has everything under control, and everyone who
                        stands in his way will soon be sent to prison.  “Trust the plan.”
            Leading Democrats are wearing ankle monitors because they are criminals.
                        “Bread crumbs”
            Kim Jong Un was placed in power by the CIA.  “The Storm.”
            JFK, Jr., isn’t dead.  “Activated, the beam of LIGHT.”

T***p just has to be right.
            The Clintons are crooked, child molesters.  “Lock her up!”
            The media is unfairly critical of T***p.  Just look at SNL.
            The media is spreading fake news:  “Enemy of the people” and “CNN sucks!”
            Illegal immigrants are taking our jobs, “infesting” our country, with 
                        “criminals” and “rapists.”
            Climate change isn’t real; it’s just a scam to make us weak and lower our
                         productivity.
            T***p didn’t collude with Russia.  “The Mueller investigation is a
                        Witch Hunt!”
            The 2016 T***p election is a victory! “God bless fellow Patriots!”
                        “Great Awakening”
            It can’t be a scam!  “We are Q!”
            I can’t believe it is a scam, so I’ll believe Q and T***p.  I just have too!

The alternative is too terrible to contemplate:
            That we elected a traitor (a quisling),
            That the Russians have compromised our country,
            That we would be better off with crooked Hillary,
            That we, T***p followers, are helping to destroy the fabric of our country,
            That Fox News is Fake News and the major media outlets are right
                        and under assault,
            No that can’t be!  It just can’t!  “Where we go one, we go all!”

QAnon!
QAnon!
It must be true!
We are Q!
Q!  Q!  Q!
Anything, but rational thought.


Kathleen Murphey is an associate professor of English at Community College of Philadelphia. She has been writing fiction lately, both poetry and short stories.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

by Scott C. Kaestner



Image source: The New York Times in solidarity with more than 350 newspapers editorializing today on the value of America’s free press.


The real enemy of the people are people

who don’t see themselves in other
people; in people unlike them
an undeniable commonality

in people our fate lies
people need other people
to hold up a mirror so as to say

“Listen people, we are one.”


Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet and dream weaver who eats cereal twice daily. Google 'scott kaestner poetry' to peruse his musings and doings.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

LEBRON JAMES WILL SAVE THE WORLD

by Alejandro Escudé






LeBron James, I make a teacher’s salary and can’t afford an apartment.
LeBron James, will you find the dirty and shirtless on the road a home?
LeBron James, are you ghostly? The nightmare trots over the hills, LeBron.
The makers are making sugar, LeBron. Have you been to Cuba, LeBron?
The ocean oceans, LeBron. Will you buy me a brand new couch, LeBron?
It matters there are too many fast food joints in my neighborhood, LeBron.
Once, I heard a young man say he was hungry in class and didn’t have lunch,
LeBron. Will someone call the police, or will someone call LeBron Jmes.
Does a basketball resemble a fish, LeBron? Will you feed the masses?
I call on LeBron James to slam dunk a basketball over Donald T***p.
Oh snap, did LeBron just dunk a basketball over Donald T***p? Oh snap!
Help me figure out my new Samsung Galaxy Nine, LeBron James. It’s a war
out there, LeBron, but I love you because you always give it your all at practice.
Practice! Yes! It doesn’t rain in Southern California, LeBron. Will you miss
Cleveland, LeBron? Or whatever gym you were forced to lay your head on
while the flood grew outside and the helicopters circled over your beard.
Oh LeBron, your beard is biblical, does that mean you are a messiah?
My children have never heard of you, LeBron James. Mexican mothers
searching for their children with flashlights in the under-caves of humanity
have never heard of you either, LeBron. My spellcheck keeps changing your
name from LeBron to Hebron. My spellcheck underlines your name in red;
is that a sign, LeBron? I hear cop sirens blaring outside my window, LeBron,
are you in one of those black and whites, LeBron? I bet if you were in one
of those cruisers, you’d be careful with your gun, LeBron, you’d never feel
unaware or scared or nervous. You’d know what do to because you’ve
been in tight positions before: two points down, thirty seconds to go
in the fourth quarter. Is it the fourth quarter, LeBron? My butt aches from
sitting on the hard, wooden bleachers, LeBron. I am a chubby angel with
red wings watching you dribble across a court of clouds, LeBron. We anoint
you King James. The people anoint you King. They want you to save them!
Save them LeBron. Can a basketball be rolled out like the Magna Carta?
LeBron, will you tie up all the Republicans with ropes made of batwings?
The news pundits, men and women, light up when they utter your name.
LeBron. I do too. I can’t get enough of your encompassing smile, your height.
My god you’re tall, LeBron! Yesterday, I overheard two women comparing
how tall their husbands were. It was important that they compare heights.
I heard the mouth of a river opening. It was not the mouth of the Mississippi.
It was no river with a poem written about it. It was River LeBron. It opened
it’s mouth and in sailed the ship of race, class, hunger, sickness, and war.


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.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

SKYWRITING

by Shirley J. Brewer


This undated selfie picture available on social media on Saturday shows Richard Russell, a ground service agent at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. He is believed to have died when a plane  he stole and flew crashed into Ketron Island, about 30 miles south of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, setting off a large forest fire. Authorities say he was suicidal. (AFP/Getty Images via USA Today)


Burdened by heavy baggage, he soars
low over Puget Sound,
performs an aerial loop—a suicide note?—
on his first and final flight.
He crashes the stolen plane,
burns in a rush of tangerine flame.

The ride lasts an hour, yet
who dares set a timer on this brief
bird's-eye view of silver wings_
within grief such a fleeting joy.
How long was he falling before he fell?
Like Icarus, no one can tell.

He said he was just a broken guy,
and leaves his family to ponder why.


Shirley J. Brewer serves as poet-in-residence at Carver Center for the Arts in Baltimore, MD. She earned an MBA from the Maryland Bartending Academy. Her poems garnish Barrow Street, Comstock Review, TheNewVerse.News, Poetry East, Slant and other journals. Shirley's books include A Little Breast Music (2008), After Words (2013) and Bistro in Another Realm (2017).

Monday, August 13, 2018

POEM

by Charlotte Innes


Photo by Andrew Harnik / AP to accompany “Black pastors betrayed their community by standing with Trump": opinion by Solomon Jones in The Inquirer, August 8, 2018




Malcolm X what happened?
it’s a hundred degrees
and sweat’s already
streaming drowsily
I browse the web
and then I see
sitting beside the pres
Martin’s niece
smiling hard
a pastor’s telling D
that he has done
the best for blacks
of any president ever
no it’s not
a dream but heartbreak
something like the death
of Malcolm X
he routed “tokens”
now look they’re back perhaps
I’ve been a token
but not like that
oh Malcolm we need you get up


Charlotte Innes is the author of Descanso Drive (Kelsay Books, 2017), a first book of poems, and two chapbooks, Licking the Serpent (2011) and Reading Ruskin in Los Angeles (2009), both with Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review and Rattle. They have also been anthologized in Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Beyond Baroque Books, 2015) and The Best American Spiritual Writing for 2006 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), amongst others. She has written on literary topics for the Los Angeles Times, The Nation and other publications. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

CHARLOTTESVILLE ECLIPSE

by Sally Zakariya


Messages are left on a chalkboard in Charlottesville on Aug. 10, 2018. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters via The Washington Post)


The light went out that week.

A violent march, a loathsome flag
a stunning show of moral blindness
and then the sun itself went out
hiding its light, ashamed to see
such darkness in the world.

Closing its fiery eye, the sun shut out
the hate, the taunts, the torches
the brutality and bigotry
the disregard of justice.

Earth turned, the moon moved on
along its cosmic path, and sunlight
shone once more. And now another
year, another march. But the light
of reason still has not returned.


Sally Zakariya’s Pushcart Prize-nominated poetry has appeared in 70 print and online journals. She is the author of When You Escape (Five Oaks Press, 2016), Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic (2011), and the editor of Joys of the Table (2015). Her chapbook Personal Astronomy is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

CHARLOTTESVILLE: A CAUTIONARY TALE

by Deborah Kahan Kolb





The Nazis have returned. To Charlottesville, VA.
        Pale wizards, frenzied mass, mad with purity.
Wands ablaze, heads of skin, howling blood and soil.

Tell your Jewish son. Repeat the story. Pray.
        Tell him he will never replace the whiteness of their line.
He will never replace never replace the blood pooled in the soil.

Tell your son the truth about the trains of yesterday.
        When children came in cattle cars and left as clouds of ash.
When memories were skin, bones, weeping bloody soil.

In Charlottesville the torches turn the nighttime into day.  
        Long ago these torches fired ovens for the Jews.
Step-children of goose-steppers want blood spilled on their soil.

Tell your Jewish daughter. Find the words to say
        They are raging to destroy her with fire and a flag.
Swear never again never again. No more blood for soil.
    
        Now you’ve told the story that bears repeating every day.
You’ve told your son. Now try to drain the olive from his skin.
You’ve told your daughter. Try to drain the darkness from her hair,
        Fix the hook that is her nose. Bury the blood lost in the soil.


Deborah Kahan Kolb is the author of Windows and a Looking Glass (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and the recipient of numerous poetry awards, including the 2018 BRIO (Bronx Recognizes Its Own) award. Much of her poetry is informed by the unique experiences and challenges of growing up in, and ultimately leaving, the insular world of Hasidic Judaism. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including Poetica, TheNewVerse.News, Literary Mama, 3Elements Review, Poets Reading the News, Tuck, Rise Up Review, Writers Resist, and Mom Egg Review.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SORROW IN YEMEN

by John Guzlowski


Dozens of children, many younger than 15, were killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike that hit a school bus in northern Yemen on Thursday, according to the Houthi-controlled Health Ministry. The children were on a field trip when their bus was struck at a market, the first stop of the day; 50 were killed and 77 injured, according to the ministry. Most of the children were inside the bus when the airstrike hit, according to a local medic, Yahya al-Hadi. The International Committee for the Red Cross said a hospital it supports in Saada had received 29 bodies of "mainly children" younger than 15, and 40 injured, including 30 children. —CNN, August 10, 2018


Sorrow is the gift
God gives to teach us
what won’t last,
what will fall and be left
on the side of the road
by the mother lost
among refugees.

Sorrow teaches her
the value of screaming.

It will last longer
than bronze shoes,
longer than her baby’s
photograph.

Nothing else she loved
is left. The home in Yemen
God bestowed? The husband
whose love was worth so much?
The baby?

The gift of everything is lost,
the way a penny is lost
In the dirt around her.

All that’s left
is the road she stands on—
that and the sorrow
He bestowed, the scream
that ends in screaming.


John Guzlowski's writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Rattle, Ontario Review, North American Review, and other journals.  His poems and personal essays about his Polish parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees in Chicago appear in his memoir Echoes of Tattered Tongues. Echoes received the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Foundation's Montaigne Award for most thought-provoking book of the year.  He is also the author of two Hank Purcell mysteries and the war novel Road of Bones.

Friday, August 10, 2018

AN ATHENA FOR MODERN TIMES

by Elane Gutterman





Marking the 25th anniversary of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s appointment as a Supreme Court justice.


Wielding her intellect 
and legal spear, she protects
the wronged and oppressed.

Decades ago, this Ruth,
shrewd as a snake
defended the right
of frat boys in Oklahoma
to buy their beers, at the same age
as their female peers,
knowing the nine men on the Court
would surely see the slight.
Then she could carry on
with women’s less frothy fight. 

Seated as one of the Nine, 
on a Bench that moved Right,
she is often caught 
in the minority,
yet delivers her dissents
with sword like flash,
crystal-gazing 
through owl-like glasses, 
that current losses will morph
into future triumph. 
She still invokes Sarah Grimké, 
warrior from an earlier era --

I ask no favor for my sex.
All I ask of our brethren
is that they take their feet
off our necks.

Now, the oldest
Left on the Court,
Bader Ginsburg’s battle gear
for the Supreme --
those lace collars.


Through poetry as advocacy, Elane Gutterman is rallying support for the NJ Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act (bills A1504 and S1072 pending votes in the NJ Assembly and Senate this fall). Her villanelle “Misplaced Rage” a response to Dylan Thomas’ iconic villanelle, was recently published in U.S 1 Summer Fiction Issue, July 2018. Her poems have also been published in Kelsey Review, Patterson Literary Review, and TheNewVerse.News.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

DARWIN AT WORK

by Howard Winn


When watching orangutans in nature documentaries, it is easy to imagine them as graceful rulers of the canopy; to whom climbing and brachiating through the trees is as natural and simple as breathing. This, however, would be an incorrect assumption. Just as toddlers learn to walk from following their parents, and through plenty of trial and error, young orangutans too must learn how to navigate the world around them. As the largest arboreal mammal in the world, orangutans face a steep learning curve when first grasping how to maneuver on their own in the forest. —Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, August 1, 2018


If humanity does not change its ways
soon there will be no orangutans
we are told by the latest scientific
findings and the survey of these
strange beasts who seem like the
crazy cousins of homo sapiens
but in a world run by the rules of
business capitalism these sub-human
beasts have no union to protect their
status in a jungle with profit hidden
in the vines and the rain forests
just waiting for the latest entrepreneur
to make the proper business move
perhaps Chinese or Middle Eastern
to join the one percent who own
the semi-civilized world stash the
profits off-shore and buy expensive
real estate in London or New York
while the residual orangutans in
their diminishing jungle residences
find themselves as homeless as
the other immigrants of this time
with no where to go and no welcome
there or anywhere even if labor
is running short in the civilized nations.


Howard Winn's novel Acropolis is published by Propertius Press. He has poems in the Pennsylvania Literary Journal and in Evening Street Magazine.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

IF ONLY ORCAS ATE SEAWEED

by Linda Stryker


The orca named J35, or Tahlequah, carrying her dead calf on the seventh day. Credit: Ken Balcomb/Center for Whale Research via The New York Times: “The Orca, Her Dead Calf and Us” by Susan Carey, August 4, 2018.


Our babies are dying, she said
without words. Look!

as she held up her newborn
and newly dead on her nose.

Days go by, and she still
clings to the tiny she-orca.

Do something! she says
without words. Look!

Our clan will die of hunger,
where are the salmon we

feed on? grandmother
orca says without words.

Our babies die of hunger,
as do we. You, humans,

can solve this. You must,
she says without words.

Her loud voice carries over
the waves and into hearts

who want her to live, but
who know she cannot.


Linda Stryker writes from Phoenix, Arizona, and is a volunteer radio reader for Sun Sounds. Her chapbook Starcrossed was recently published by dancing girl press. Her creative writing has been published in Highlights for Children, New Millennium Writings, Ekphrastic Review, Third Wednesday, and Chiron Review, among several other venues.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

CALIFORNIA STATEWIDE FIRE MAP, AUGUST 2018

by Ron Riekki


Source: CAL FIRE


for Zachary Schomburg and Nick Flynn


“Where the hell is global warming?” —DJT

“The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire” —DJ Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three


I used to sit on the shore and watch the waves,
but now the shore is closed and the heat waves

and I’m seeing death in the woods and feeling
death in the air and hearing death on the radio

and knowing death is lurking next to Death so
that there are two deaths everywhere that I look

at all times and the death is the death of booths,
the death of voting booths, the death of all

of the animals near the voting booths and in
the voting booths, except there are no voting

booths anymore, just the rigor mortis of these
electoral colleges that are universities with no

freedom of speech unless you count death
speech, the threats to countries, when we don’t

want to concentrate on the fires, on the air
outside of my apartment right now with its 154

red listing of unhealthy and main pollutant:
atmospheric particulate matter, which really

means death but we can’t say death when we
mean death, and what I mean is the newspapers

are having the headlines of California Ablaze
except that we’re told all media is fake that

death is fake, although here we’ve had more deaths
from forest fires in the last year than in the last

decade combined and we are becoming the last,
with the death taste in my mouth—can you

taste it?—The cereal I had this morning was death
brand.  And the milk was death.  And the bowl

was made out of death and I ran after my death-
bus but missed it so I walked through the forest,

a shortcut, except the deer were on fire and my
head was filled with the particles of death

because death is made up of the little things,
the smallest moments of ignorance, the tiniest

bits of hate, until they pile up and I just read
the graffiti near my apartment: CALIFIRENIA

with dotted capitalized Is in cartoonish flames
and 1.4 million acres is burning in thirteen

states with the third-degree burns of the earth’s
crust, the earth’s nerve endings being destroyed,

its skin swelling, the way these wounds tend to heal
poorly, and the heat is a death and the death is a heat

and this is not theater but rather our lives, my life, your
life


Ron Riekki wrote U.P. and edited The Way North (2014 Michigan Notable Book), Here (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award), And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing (Michigan State University Press, 2017), and Undocumented (with Andrea Scarpino, MSU Press, 2019).