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Saturday, December 31, 2005

NEAR YEAR'S END

by Pete Mackey


Come here pretty boy she says to our dog
The latest pictures done on the screen
With lingerie and “Love Sick” sung (mumbling
Along to it I stand to let the other dog in)

By Bob Dylan himself. And there’s a war,
A pretty war, with the Best Pictures of 2005
Making it clear in today’s paper, on. The dog
(The other one) rushes in with the cold and I

Close the door. The song is done. Turn it off.
Turn it all off. The cold that came in is gone
Even if I still hear the melody. Let’s go to bed.
Yes, there’s a war on. Look in the morning.


Pete Mackey has published essays, stories, speeches, and a book on James Joyce's Ulysses and chaos physics.

Friday, December 30, 2005

WATCHING NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, 2005

by Ed Webb


Dispatches from the picket lines,
Latest outrage from the boardroom suits,
Echoes of the monastery--
Master-apprentice, chains of authority
Feudal, unfruitful
And bells tolling.


Ed Webb is a Brit who lives in Philadelphia. His checkered career includes diplomacy on behalf of a faded imperial power, a soon-to-be-finished (no, really) doctorate in politics, and the odd bit of union activism.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

SNOWMEN

by Karl Williams


In the rain just after a snow-white Christmas
Caught in mid-limp, Frosty and the Mrs.
Lean to one side, stick-arms doomed to droop.
Just days ago these happy-go-lucky dupes
Waved to a faceless friend above parked cars,
A flag stuck in his noggin for the war
That's nearer now the holidays are through:
If an enemy's evasive, kill another one in view.


During the 1970s Karl Williams worked with children with cognitive disabilities. His prose and poems have been published in magazines and books; songs from his five CDs have been aired on television and radio around the world. Williams' first play is now being made into a film.

Monday, December 26, 2005

RAIN CHECK ON THAT CUP OF COFFEE

by Holly Day


It had been so long since I’d had a dream about Christ
That it kind of took me by surprise when He
Appeared at the foot of my bed, floating
A couple of feet above the shag carpet in that way
He used to when He used to be a regular
Guest in my college dorm apartment.

He used to talk to me a lot, back then. This time, though
He just stared at me from across the length of my Amish-made quilt
His eyes so sad and sorrowful that I honestly felt
That I had done something wrong. “Can I get you something?” I asked
Because even if I am some sort of sinner, whatever, I don’t really know what kind
I am always polite to houseguests.

Jesus, He used to talk to me, and maybe
He would still, if I didn’t have a man asleep in bed next to me
But Jesus is just so damned polite I think
He was afraid of waking my husband up.


Holly Day’s poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have most recently appeared in Canadian Woman Studies, Skyway News, and Ruah. She currently works as a reporter and a writing instructor in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and lives with her two children and husband.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

THE GOSPEL TRUTH

by Louie Crew


Well, you remember how at Christmas
last year the two fairies down our street
wrote "Bah, Humbug!" on their front door,
using rhinestones in Olde English script
(You know how they are!)?
Well, I just learned that last week
the one who teaches art at the college
told a group of students at a Christmas party
that Jesus was born
without benefit of heterosexuality
and less than nine months
after Mary and Joseph were married!
There really ought to be a law
against such scandal!
If we don't stop them soon,
they'll probably claim
Jesus loves them!


Louie Crew has edited special issues of College English and Margins. He has written four poetry volumes Sunspots (Lotus Press, Detroit, 1976) Midnight Lessons (Samisdat, 1987) Lutibelle's Pew (Dragon Disks, 1990), and Queers! for Christ's Sake! (Dragon Disks, 2004). The University of Michigan collects all his papers. Editors have published 1,692 of his works.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

NeoGNOMICS

by Bill Costley


CHENEY CH@INS

Cheney isssss The Dick.
Cheney re-equals Dick NiXXXon.
Cheney runs Bush; Bush runs scared; Scared runs rampant.
How many Cheneys does it take 2eXch@nge our life-bulb? (None.)

E@TING disORDER

Mince the rich.
B@tter the middle.
Gre@se the poor.
The rich fe@st;
the middle f@sts;
the poor st@rf on rood.*

footnote:

L’Envoy of Chaucer

O moral Gower! this book I direct
To thee, and to the philosophical Strode,
To vouchesafe, where need is, to correct,
Of your benignities and zeales good.
And to that soothfast Christ that *starf on rood
With all my heart, of mercy ever I pray,
And to the Lord right thus I speak and say:

“Thou One, and Two, and Three, etern on live,
That reignest ay in Three, and Two, and One,
Uncircumscrib’d, and all may’st circumscrive,
From visible and invisible fone
Defend us in thy mercy ev’ry one;
So make us, Jesus, for thy mercy dign,
For love of Maid and Mother thine benign!”

Explicit Liber Troili et Cresseidis. [1385 CE]


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union.

Friday, December 23, 2005

EXCLUSION SOUP

by Ed Webb

Thursday December 22, 02:13 PM
NICE, France (Reuters) - An extreme-right French group has found a way to distribute Christmas cheer only to a chosen few by offering homeless people free hot soup containing pork, which observant Jews and Muslims do not eat.

Oh, land of my fathers!
Whence this brown tide?
Did Charles Martel turn back their ancestors in vain?
See them flowing up from the ports
Spreading like rats, like plague.

We will meet them,
We too will be a brown tide
Bring out grandfather's shirt from the attic,
Recall the days before this debased Republic which begs for its own rape,
Drink only Vichy water.
We must be our own leaders now:
Even the Holy Church does not dare to defend our sacred patrie –
Offers vegetable soup.
Ours will be a patriotic soup,
And even this Arab-loving Republic cannot make our soup illegal.
'Tis the Season of Good Will to our own;
Let the others eat cake.


Ed Webb is angry.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

TWO DRUNKEN MOOSE WANDER INTO HOME FOR THE ELDERLY

by Rochelle Ratner


And here she thought she was through with the drunken
bastards. One husband, buried with a full bottle at his side,
and two estranged sons. Why else would she move to a
retirement home when she's only in her early 70s, and
healthy? She'd mostly wanted a place she could turn her
lights out at midnight and not be awakened by frantic calls
or neighbors shouting. Those apple trees right outside her
window were an added attraction. Most years the apples
lasted well into December, some baked into pies, residents
picking others up from the ground and savoring them. But
the weather's been so bad this year – very hot to very cold,
almost overnight. And all that rain and wind. The apples
fell and just lay there, fermenting. It wasn't so bad, she
thought, that the moose came to enjoy those rotten apples,
not once but twice, sticking her head in an open window,
eyes glazed with that drunken stupor she knows only too
well. No, she wouldn't have even bothered reporting the
cow moose, it's just that the second time she brought her
calf along.


Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: www.rochelleratner.com.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

NO. 102

by Thomas D. Reynolds


A flood faces from memory
once high water disappears,
slinking out the front door
and down the muddy road.

This last was no worse
than the others I've endured,
for my foundation is strong,
could last another eighty years.

How easily they dismiss you,
avoid you like a cancer.
Toss hedge-apples at windows,
drive slowly just to stare.

Even the man with red paint
whistled as he approached,
soaked his brush in the can,
and slashed numbers on the door.

When the old lady returned
to retrieve her last belongings,
she scurried back to the car
and didn't even close my door.

I apologize for the odor,
bitter mold that burns the nose.
Thick carpet of river sludge,
rotting carpet circling the tub.

But I never turned anyone out
for any bad habit or bent.
The old lady barely kept house,
so she should be used to dirt.

I thought she might understand
what rejection feels like.
No visitors came for months.
Her best friend was daylight.

But no, I'm a grim reminder
of a great human catastrophe,
and so must be expunged,
the sooner the better.

There are still a few items
she needs to retrieve,
a photograph of a child
in stark black and white.

A thin silver necklace
buried in the closet.
She could still find it
with a little luck.


Thomas D. Reynolds received an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University, currently teaches at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, Flint Hills Review, The MacGuffin, The Cape Rock, The Pedestal Magazine, Eclectica, Strange Horizons, Combat, 3rd Muse Poetry Journal, and Ash Canyon Review.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

AFTER KATRINA,

THE REVEREND JESSE JACKSON CALLED FOR A REVIVAL
OF THE SPIRIT OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

by Jennifer Rose


In 1968--before Martin Luther King was murdered,
the same year he Marched for an economic bill of rights,
I knew I was beautiful. We All said Black is Beautiful.
We All said Black is Powerful. Quietly, our hearts told us
that Black Beauty and Black Power could save us All,
because it would be the last truth told.

Now, I am ready to say what I know. I know
Black People are the conscience and soul of our nation. We all know
how we treat our own soul.

Shackled in chains, we’d Drag it half way around the world
to see if we could get any money for it. Make it stand naked
in the public square to show it who is in charge. Run it ragged
to feed bosses who are already fat. Hang it by its neck
if it gets too full of itself. Let it starve,
then ask it to tell of its value, and Pretend we can’t hear its voice.

And when it is standing on the roof waving its arms, water rising all
around; when there simply is no more ignoring it; Call it the source of
our fear.
Don’t let it vote. Don’t let it weigh down the economy. Keep it silent.

But See

How We Can Not Put Out That Light


Jennifer Rose is a writer, editor and teacher. Her poetry has been published in the Cooper Point Journal, Rhetoric, and Bloody Wommyn.

Friday, December 16, 2005

FOR CABERNET HOMES TAKE THE 1ST SOLEDAD EXIT

by Fran Davis


That would be past the broccoli fields
where sprinklers throw blue mist
a blue repeated in the eucalyptus
planted to stall the valley wind

In the Salinas
the wind blows always
funneling from the cool wide mouth
of Monterey
to scour the warm flanks
of the Santa Lucias

There’s no reason for these houses
after Chualar
Amigo’s market – carnitas –
after the correctional facility
with its cyclone fence and razor wire
flying banners of thin plastic
like skin pulled from a sunburn

Front Street the exit calls
the homes named after wine
form a sullen cluster
roofs like sharp gray scabs
patch unbending hills
that couldn’t love a vine or grape
what long-distance people
wished these houses here
to squat at the talon feet
of the Gabilans?


Fran Davis’s stories, essays and poems have appeared in Calyx, The Chattahoochee Review, The Vincent Brothers Review, Reed Magazine, Passager, Quercus Review and several anthologies. She is a winner of the Lamar York prize for non-fiction and a Pushcart Prize nominee.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

CONCEPT

by Robert M. Chute


The possibility, perhaps inevitability

               of life came with a big bang;
the actuality of living things
               after a billion years or so.
Eventually the possibility of you came
               but with a somewhat smaller bang.
The probability of you as an actuality
               remained quite low.
Despite the odds some self, some you came
               and could be, or was, conceived.
When that was precisely
               is still in contention,
depending on which conception
               of conception we conceive
since life clearly is continuous.


Born near the Chute River, Naples, Maine in 1926, Robert M. Chute taught and conducted research at Middlebury College, San Fernando State (CA), and Lincoln University (PA) before returning to Maine as Chair of Biology at Bates College. Now Professor Emeritus of Biology, Bates College, Chute has a record of scientific publication in Parasitology, Hibernation Physiology, General Biology, and Environmental Studies. His poetry and collage poems appear in many journals including Ascent, Beloit Poetry Journal, BOMB, The Cape Rock, Cafe Review, The Literary Review, Texas Review. His poetry books include a three language reissue of Thirteen Moons in English, French, and Passamaquoddy (2002), and most recently, a three chapbook boxed set, Bent Offerings, from Sheltering Pines Press (2003). He is currently working on a series of poems based on reading scientific journals such as Nature and Science.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

DÉJÀ VU

by Carolyn Howard-Johnson


After that morning of terror
I silenced the radio, shopped

for heritage tomatoes and romaine.
Civilized decades, distant wars,

strip centers scaped with potted
palms. We forget too easily. Nothing

has changed. Really. I reteach

myself (my young), to be alert
as a badger snouting out moles, to still

affect the serenity of a resolute monk. Peril
is not new. My ancestors beat down a scourge

of crickets with brooms and bonnets, farther back
they carried torches to fend off carnivores

that watched, waited, attacked. Frightened
as they were they sowed, milked, hunted ,

laughed around homefires. They knew
that beasts are everywhere.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson's first novel, This is the Place, and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered are both award-winners. Her fiction, nonfiction and poems have appeared in national magazines, anthologies and review journals. She speaks on culture, tolerance, writing and promotion and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide. Her how-to book, The Frugal Book Promoter won USA Book News' Best Professional Book 2004 and her chapbook of poetry, Tracings, is now available from Finishing Line Press. Carolyn is the founder of Authors' Coalition and editor of the newsletter for that organization as well as a blog that helps authors turn a dull book fair booth into a sizzling success. Her website is: http://carolynhowardjohnson.com.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

KILLER KISSES

by Deborah P. Kolodji


Butterflies in her stomach,
she kisses him after snack,
inhaling his peanut butter breath.

Unaware she was allergic
to his tongue seeking hers,
fresh euphoric teenage love
fading to anaphylactic shock.

Not yet sweet sixteen,
but kissed one time too many.



Deborah P. Kolodji's first chapbook, Seaside Moon by Saki Press, is a winner of the Virgil Hutton Haiku Memorial Chapbook Award. She is one of 16 haiku poets selected by Red Moon Press to appear in The New Resonance 4: Emerging Voices in English Language Haiku.

Friday, December 09, 2005

I CAME TO LISTEN

by Mary Lou Taylor


A cartoon in the newspaper
shows a man holding a sign,
“Fundamentally Opposed to War,”
and his aside to a compatriot —
Hope Saddam gets his at his trial.

We take pride in the men —often boys—
even girls —who serve our country.
They’re together through vicious sandstorms,
through fierce enemy fire, capturing a city
whose name they can’t pronounce.

Still I stand shoulder to shoulder
with a group of sodden poets
huddled under dark umbrellas
who protest the war with words.
A call to arms brings them
before a microphone at Cesar Chavez Plaza.
Rain falls from a sullen sky.

One by one the poets paint with quiet voice
the horror and the tragedy of war.
Friends ask when I will read my poem,
and I shrink beneath my black hood,
hesitate. I have no poem, I say.
Today I came to listen.

Mary Lou Taylor’s poetry book The Fringes of Hollywood was published in December, 2002, by Jacaranda Press, San Jose, CA. Her poems have appeared in The Montserrat Review, Bellowing Ark, Tundra, Chiyo’s Corner, caesura, Reed Magazine and other small presses. She serves on the board of the Center for Literary Arts at San Jose State University and is a colleague of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Leadership Council. Her new manuscript entitled High Music has just been completed. She's sending it out.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

ART, TRUTH, AND POLITICS

To see and/or read Harold Pinter's Nobel lecture, click on the link to the NobelPrize.org site:

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

CITIBANK

by Alex Galper
translated from Russian by the poet
with Igor Satanovsky and Mike Magazinnik


I found a job at Citibank
Near the Museum of Modern Art
But got fired on the second day
Because I thought that Citibank
Is the Museum of Modern Art
Since Modern Art is all about
Stock shares & percentage rates
And I with my fake resume
Tried to sneak in the very heart
Of this corporate monstrosity


Alex Galper was born in Kiev, Ukraine and emigrated to America at the age of twenty. In 1996, he graduated from Brooklyn College majoring in Creative Writing. (His professor was Allan Ginsberg.) Alex Galper's poems have been published in many Russian magazines.

Monday, December 05, 2005

GERMANS BATTLE RACCOONS

by Rochelle Ratner


Hermann Goering stops and looks around him. It's 1934.
He realizes, as if for the first time, how easy it might be to
manipulate animals. Crops can be tricked to spawn perfect
seeds. On impulse, he imports raccoons from North
America. Little masked bandits, their eye sockets almost
like swastikas. He expects them to enrich the local wildlife.
He doesn't understand how quickly they'll multiply, how
they'll eat the very crops he hoped they'd nourish. Sixty
years from now they'll wipe out an entire grape harvest in
less than a week. Some blonde-haired farmers will curse
when they hear his name, others will spit, and some just
shake their heads. Raccoons in their attics and basements,
one was found beneath the toddler's bed. There must be
over a million running wild. Bounty hunters will kill 3,471
in a single year. Each locality will keep exacting records.


Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: www.rochelleratner.com.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

MODERN LIFE IS RUBBISH

by Ed Webb


I

Up and out! Shake off the daze…
We leave our heroes in the trash compactor and head out

II

The daily hurtle
Seconds away from machine death
by the hand of some schedule-crazed tank-pilot mother (and how else
should she be, could she be, in such days? These are sanity's End
Times)
We live on the edge, without the taste of it -
We will die insulated deaths,
The tankmothers and I

III

Crowded desert, stretched-thin city
The ghost of the younger Eliot stalks these streets
(his later self, wound too tight, finally leapt
into the embrace of seductive mystery).
Camus is here also, being of the desert,
(contemplating his fiery wreck – sudden impact, blaze of glory,
twisted glamour of twisted metal):
To answer meaninglessness only with
The Struggle itself –
Who can be that strong? And for how long?
If machine death had not ended him, would he too have succumbed?

Instead of the aching hours of poets, we have progress:
We will make the desert green
Because we can –
Shoulds belong to other times, whys compel no answer

IV

Too much,
Too much piling up.
Choose! Choose now, choose often!
No choice to not choose:
Who can refuse this vastness, the always-on machine?
We leave our hero on the couch,
And head out


Ed Webb is a Brit who lives in Philadelphia. His checkered career includes diplomacy on behalf of a faded imperial power, a soon to be finished (no, really) doctorate in politics, and the happy memory of a poetry prize won at the age of 13 back in rural England.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

SHAKE 40 IN OUR DAYS

by Michael Shaler


Take my civil liberties, take them all:
What have we then more than we had before?
No war critique, no corruption to call?
All mine was yours before you wanted much more.
Then, the need of blind loyalty receivest,
I blame us all for our rights thou usest;
And blame if Alito us deceivest
And wanton waste of soldiers we refusest.
I won't forgive this robb'ry, evil thief
Left the Delta in flooded poverty
Attack Murtha, who spoke in honest grief
To bear witness to hate's known injury.
          Godly godless warriors your ill will shows,
          You kill us with your spite, you make us foes.


A former bilingual teacher in California public schools, Michael Shaler earned an MFA at San Francisco State. Currently at work on a novel, his fiction is forthcoming in The MacGuffin, and his nonfiction is forthcoming or has appeared in Elysian Fields Quarterly and The Dusty Shelf.

Friday, December 02, 2005

WE ARE PLANTING

SPECIAL TO THE NEW VERSE NEWS
FROM THE PENTAGON POETRY UNIT

We are planting
seeds
of freedom in the sands.

They will not lie
fallow.

Nor will
we.

We will not lie.
We did not lie.
We do not need
to lie.

We empower
our army
to inform

with facts,
not fiction . . .
but a soupcon

of poetic license from time
to time
perhaps.


The Pentagon Poetry Unit enforces the free expression of ideas with poems editors just can't resist.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

NEWS THE MICE SING

by Patricia Ranzoni

For young Jen Tibbetts whose poem for the grief she knows old hippies are feeling (from how sorrowfully things in the world are going) caused us to cry with her at Scoops along the Poetry Walk in Belfast.

It didn’t exactly make the
Bangor Daily headlines that day (November first, 2005) tucked under Spotlight on page 3 below Wildlife officials kill 9 wolves in Montana, Lesbian minister defrocked by council, Central Americans in shelters after [hurricane] Beta, and Haitian police free 3 [kidnapped] American children; and after Bird flu discovered in Canadian ducks, 2 more moons spotted at Pluto by Hubble, right above ads for Weber Mortgages and Van Syckle cars.

I’d’ve given it top billing instead of
Bush nominates Alito to Supreme Court post. At least below that, where it shouts (in even bolder letters because local, no doubt, Bangor ready for debut of slots for the tacky Hollywood theme scene they’d rather have up there than our own honest-to-God Indians’ games.

If you ask me, news the mice sing is about the only possible news able to counter the lower left account,
Seven U.S. troops killed in Iraq, raising the toll for October to more than 90, the deadliest month for our country (not to mention the Iraqis) since January with its map. Anchor the page against this year’s tragedies. Sure, 8.9 M environmental bond on ballot dealing with Maine’s immediate needs requires reading and Judge frees woman suspected of human trafficking attempt about girls smuggled through Canada forced into prostitution here....(tears.......).

But did you see it?
Mating songs detected in squeaks of mice? Yes! How that neurobiologist (bless his heart) showed the ultrasonic chirps of male mice to be songs, admitting them with whales, bats, insects and birds to the select category of animals that sing. This helps, doesn’t it, Jen?

Female pheromones trigger it, leading the study’s author, Timothy Holy...(
Holy...) to suspect the songs evolved to help mice find mates. And what aging homesteader wouldn’t marvel that the results were published on something they never could have conceived called online in Public Library of Science Biology? Or that with the strict definitions for the rhythms and melodic motifs required for animal song, mice could qualify? Listening, Jeff Podos, behavioral ecologist, noted in an e-mail (what back-to-the-lander could have shunned), “I agree they are complex enough to be called songs. Very cool!” Hear that, Jen? Very cool.

Inducing the crooning with female urine, males sniffed, then tasted, and in close to 30 seconds began chirping. What matter the chirps are eight octaves above a piano’s Middle C--about two too high for us to discern? Doesn’t it nevertheless transform
everything, knowing mice sing, and what we might also be missing that your generation, Jen, weeping old tears again, will, some far day, be astonished to learn? Holy (holy, holy, Lord God Almighty) makes the songs audible by shifting the pitch with software or slowing down the playback like spinning a 45 rpm at 33. In an interview, in denim and flannel (catch that, Jen?), Holy jumped to his computer to play disc jockey. One song revealed a mournful warbling like a whale. Another, more birdlike, with glissandos, grace notes, and fluted trills. Okay, I won’t say that day’s editorial should have been devoted to this, rather than outlawing torture, or that this revelation should have even taken the place of Danby’s cartoon showing Bush bubble-speaking, “It’s less about the court losing a swing vote than Cheney gaining a duck hunting partner.”

But I’d’ve put it before the opinion for
A New Tourism Model courting well-heeled vs. backpacking visitors (got that, you hippies and yuppies?), a high-value, low-volume strategy at the same time confirming most Mainer’s can’t afford luxury vacations but that’s no reason to hold back the state’s biggest revenue-bringing industry. Seems we lag behind the national average in enticing visitors with annual incomes over 75 thou'and this paper’s view is we ought to consider a change, saying (coincidentally) this would return Maine to the turn-of-the-century model of well-off visitors spending long periods in the state at all-inclusive resorts. “All inclusive....”, you hear? Think the mice know that tune? Have Been There, Done That in their repertoire too?

Nor would I (nor, I know, would you, Jen) begrudge Rosa her due-in-full column inches, being another unbelievable voice higher than most could perceive in the old (just-yesterday) days.

And
amen! for space given Leubsdorf’s center piece, Rove still master of strategy. No Mr. Holy in flannel and jeans, that one, hey, Jen? But a jockey nevertheless with his spin spin spin, backwards, forward, every speed his trackable holier-than-thou droppings need need need to win win win with ways learned from that young mouse in training to be a rat not to slander rats, likening them to what’s infesting our beloved land, and the quite cute wharf ones we saw at low tide reaching on hind legs to suck and chew the living sweet meat of barnacles encrusting the pilings of Stonington’s piers. I tell you, Jen, I’d sooner sleep in a room over them, innocent, than walls near what’s gnawing away the very foundations of our Nation’s Home, causing disgust throughout the world.

But now, dear, we’ve this news to which we can cling, needing only to concentrate our dreams.
Shhhhhhh......... Right here, this very grain of time, nestled amongst us in chinks of fibers and shredded papers (who knows--poems? The Ellsworth American?), maybe, after spreading word (so to speak) of the new sack of barley in the pantry, tiny mouths are showing us how to carol above it all for life over death. So that whenever grief overpowers, and no protest or poem changes one single thing, we need only conjure The Jackson Laboratory Tabernacle Choir and news the mice sing!


Patricia Smith Ranzoni was born upriver in 1940 in Lincoln, Maine to a Canadian-American woodcutter and farm girl from offneck Castine, both descended from European settlers to Indian territory in what became Massachusetts then Maine, their roots mixing in relation with Native Americans and First Canadians. For work at the papermill when her father returned from WWII, her family relocated to Bucksport where she writes from one of the outback subsistence farms of her youth which her husband and children helped keep in the family. She worked her way through graduate degrees at UM, Orono, in education and counseling, in which she practiced as long as she could, but has had no formal instruction in poetry, being deeply folk schooled in the traditions of her people. Her poems have been published across the United States and abroad and collected by Puckerbrush Press (Claiming, 1995 and Settling, 2000) and Sheltering Pines Press (ONLY HUMAN, Poems From the Atlantic Flyway, 2005).

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

STRATEGY FOR VICTORY

COUNTER-INSURGENCY IN THE BORNEO BUSH

by James Penha



We stopped for a night in the longhouse
where the Dayaks live in congress
each family extended among itself
on platforms stilted high for breezes
but also against floods, animals, and Umot,

the beasts who rule the Borneo night. Umot
Sisi look like wild men, covered in hair;
they whoosh and whoop with the wind
among the trees until the morning shines
on branches denuded of their fruit and nuts.

We hoped to see such fearsome brutes in full
moonlight but the chief said, “Sisi are not
fools; they wait for darker skies and fuller forests.
But you will hear Umot Perubak beneath us
in the shadows of the longhouse where they

snort as they take their fill of our droppings
and our garbage and any pup or child who
fails to keep to the longhouse after dusk.”
After midnight, we heard Perubak munching
and felt the foul odors of their breath

between the floorboards. But what riled us
was the patter of claws and the ripping
of our backpacks. “What?” we yelled,
while the chief pointed to the rafters where
        “Perusong, the slyest of all Umot, enter

even our longhouse at will with the power
of transparency. Or they take the form
of rats and devour all we rely on and live for.
There. You see.”
                                I saw the rats. “Why don’t you
trap them?”
                                “If they were rats,

we would use traps, But against Umot
Perusong, incarnations of Evil,
we have potions, spells, and ancient crafts
our shamans have devised and ordain.
Only this faith in magic keeps our fears at bay.”


James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

THUNDER DRUMS

by Jill Gabriel


Heat beats down unbearable
churning skies pass over
earth rises into waves of cloud.
Dull reports from long-forgotten dirges
collectively pitch national anthem thunder
rumble to the hearts deep within us.

Heaven's doors slam shut
lightning slashes black velvet,
universal principles, the golden keys
stricken from our kite tails.
Mute, we see sound break stone.

Afterwards, we hold some noise within us
quarrel over what religion means
why darkness in daytime isn't safe.
We feel saved or damned
fantasize about selling life insurance.


Jill Gabriel is a walker in the Hudson Valley and a catboat sailor on Cape Cod. Her poetry has appeared in Space and Time magazine, in Quarter Moon, and in Inside Cape Cod.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

THE SHORTEST REVOLUTION

by Thomas D. Reynolds


Dragging his chain,
the dog nears the car.

I judge at once
the level of threat.

His chain is small.
He's no rebel, but a pup

who doesn't know what
to do with his freedom.

Oh, he raced for the squirrel,
chased a squirrel,

but now he is tired,
devoid of ideas, and lonely,

jowly imploring face
staring through the glass.

The chain tugged him
all through the grass.

Not recognizing my face,
he makes his way up the street,

to lie on his front step
and wait for the blue car,

the harried master
to see the chain,

swat his nose,
and tie him up.

"Good dog!"


Thomas D. Reynolds received an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University, currently teaches at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, Flint Hills Review, The MacGuffin, The Cape Rock, The Pedestal Magazine, Eclectica, Strange Horizons, Combat, 3rd Muse Poetry Journal, and Ash Canyon Review.

Friday, November 25, 2005

FAKE BUTTER FLAVORED FUMES

by Mike Marks


Fake butter flavored fumes won’t make you fat,
but they kill your lungs in the Gilster-Mary Lee
Jasper, Missouri microwave popcorn factory.
And a jury has determined that
the smell will get you millions
if you were a popcorn packer who
collected wages mixing the offending goo
and halved your years compared to other civilians.
Was trading your time on earth any stranger
than dancing with that impostor flavor,
choosing it instead of your life to savor?
Now workers wear respirators to avoid the danger,
while lawyers invade this sleepy soybean town
to drink coffee at Judy’s Café and hang around.


Mike Marks is a baby-boomer, the middle child of five born in a six year span. His mom escaped to teach horseback riding full-time, obviously overwhelmed by her progeny. His dad was a traveling shoe salesman. Gwendolyn Brooks became his mentor in 1967. Mike is riding his poetry horse somewhere between Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan. Anita and he had their own five children, while he operated an art gallery for thirty years. The children are gone, but the poetry stays.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

SIMI@N TH@NKSGIVING

A PSEUDO-SONNET
bY Bill Costley


A year ago, I began singing

in an Episcopal church choir
as 2nd bass-baritone, joking:
"I'm one of the singing apes!"

after seeing a TV-documentary
on a family of singing tree-apes
marking their aerial territory
by singing out its boundaries
to each other, from tree to tree.

Singing's output; eating's input;
'sing' for simi@n-supper & eat it.

Few 1st-world poets refuse to,
so Gary Corseri's daring us to
refuse by f@sting on this day.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

AMERICANS PAY MORE TO KNOW MORE

by Rochelle Ratner


'People are starting to want to know more
about the food they put in their bodies,'

Patrick Martins of Heritage Foods USA,
said on Thursday. --Reuters



He watches one video three times, wishing he'd invested in
a larger monitor. He watches two other videos, then goes
back to the first. Aunt Stacy, they've named her. Small-
breasted but well-bred. No drug ever entered her body, or
her mother's body. Her lineage can be traced back to the
mid 1800s. She seems happy running about in the sun,
doesn't get ruffled when others try to share her midday
snack. YES! He calls his wife in from the kitchen, shows
her the video. She nods, smiles, then begins calling the
family. They're all looking forward to Thanksgiving. Her
sister's bringing the sweet potatoes, her daughter's
bringing two apple pies and a pumpkin pie, her son's
bringing more wine than they'll ever use, Aunt Stacy will
arrive fresh from Heritage Farms the morning before.


Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: www.rochelleratner.com

Monday, November 21, 2005

BOMBLETS

by Paul Hostovsky


The army spokesman
explaining the use
of the diminutive
cluster bombs
by American forces
in every war since Vietnam
says bomblets are small
shaped charges
that fall to earth
on tiny parachutes
and are capable of penetrating steel
of up to five inches thick
and are used for attacking
armored vehicles
and troop concentrations,
bunkers and other
dispersed targets.
It's their diminutive size, he says,
and bright color
when they alight unexploded
and sit in a field
or a meadow
or a backyard,
deadly,
that makes them intriguing
to passersby,
especially children,
and gives them their name.


Paul Hostovsky has recent work in Spoon River Poetry Review, Poet Lore, ByLine, Switched-on Gutenburg, New Delta Review, Alimentum, White Pelican Review, FRiGG and others. He works in Boston as an interpreter for the deaf.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

IF YOU KNEW MY STORY

A NEW VERSE NEWS SUNDAY FEATURE
by Karl Williams



CHORUS:
If you knew my story if you heard my song
I bet you'd decide you've been looking at things all wrong
If you saw this old world through my eyes
I got a funny feeling that you'd really be surprised

VERSE:
No she can't hear you when you speak
You could just go on thinking she's out of reach
And he can't see you when you come in
You could keep right on pretending you don't see him

CHORUS:
But if you knew his story if you heard her song
I bet you'd decide you've been looking at things all wrong
If you saw this old world through their eyes
I got a funny feeling that you'd really be surprised

VERSE:
Yes he's failed every test you give
In the back of your mind you wonder 'bout his right to live
I spend my whole life in this chair
It's so easy to overlook me like I'm not here

CHORUS:
But if you knew my story if you heard his song
I bet you'd decide you've been looking at things all wrong
If you saw this old world through our eyes
I got a funny feeling that you'd really be surprised

CHORUS/TAG:
If you knew my story if you heard my song
I bet you'd decide you've been looking at things all wrong
If you saw this old world through my eyes
I got a funny feeling that you'd really be surprised
I got a funny feeling you'd really be surprised
You'd recognize the way that you've been treating us is a crime


During the 1970s Karl Williams worked with children with cognitive disabilities. His prose and poems have been published in magazines and books; songs from his five CDs have been aired on television and radio around the world. Williams' first play is now being made into a film.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

INTELLIGENCE REPORT

by Deborah P. Kolodji


Exiled to the fringe,
Pluto goes his own way
in a different plane
from the rest of us.

There's a rumor circling --
two more followers have joined
this subversive orbit.

We just need to figure out
if the moons are real
or a Halloween trick.


Deborah P. Kolodji's first chapbook, Seaside Moon by Saki Press, is a winner of the Virgil Hutton Haiku Memorial Chapbook Award. She is one of 16 haiku poets selected by Red Moon Press to appear in The New Resonance 4: Emerging Voices in English Language Haiku.

Friday, November 18, 2005

STRANDED (WHILE THE WORLD WAITED)

by Jen Hinton


Stranded
on rooftops
in Ohio precincts
by roadside bombs
by Enron, Exxon
by stop loss
by freedom
on the march.
Sorry Rosa.
Sorry Cindy.
What on God’s sweet
green earth will it take
to get millions
into the streets?
Here.
Do we think
some better reason
is coming along
tomorrow?


Jen Hinton lives in Schaumburg, Illinois. She has been published in several anthologies, including Skin Deep, Prairie Hearts, and Alternatives: Roads Not Taken.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

THE BALLAD OF THE TRIPLE FREETHROW AMIGOS

by Bill Costley

“Cheney Bush & Rove: the holy Trinity
…for the Republican base.” -Rich Galen,
a GOP consultant & Cheney defender.

They are the Triple Freethrow Amigos,

This every base-Republican™ knows,
The Triple Freethrow Amigos,
The Triple Freethrow Amigos!

They thrive on Frito-Lay’s Fritos ™
& their hard, knobby Cheetos ™
The Triple Freethrow Amigos!
The Triple Freethrow Amigos!

Where one goes, they all go...all-go...-go,
Tho just one shows, only one shows,
The Triple Freethrow Amigos!
The Triple Freethrow Amigos!

When one goes, they’ll all go...all-go...-go,
To run their greedy-show, greed-show,
The Triple Freethrow Amigos!
The Triple Freethrow Amigos!

Look for their triple perp-photo, photo, -o
In the glass case at the u.s.p.s. p.o..
Those Triple Freethrow Amigos!
Those Triple Freethrow Amigos!

Refrain

O, where did They go, go-oh, -o?
O, where did They go, go-oh, -o?


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

PASSAGE WAY

by Carol Elizabeth Owens

to Rosa Parks—a spirit, at liberty, at last

no inch
along the road
would be given to you
on a measured journey of miles
the distance between stops
somehow moved me
backward

but once
the day arose
for you to be seated
where freedom often found itself
i was moved forward, black
like those wheels of
progress

we turned
a right corner—
left injustice fuming
in the movement’s exhausting wake
at last we grew closer
to being first…
human


Carol Elizabeth Owens is an attorney and counselor-at-law in Western New York (by way of Long Island and New York City). She enjoys technical and creative writing. Her poetry has been published in several print and virtual publications. Ms. Owens loves the ways in which words work when poetry allows them to come out and play. The poem "Passage Way" above is written in a form called eintou (which is West African for "pearl," as in "pearls of wisdom").

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

BUSH'S NOVENA

by Paul Renato Toppo


Down at the fireplace the shadows throw
little missives,
at the base of a titanium heart

while the bloodless thumping
beneath the roots

caves to its own echo, and ends, each wave
overtaking the effortless wake

shutting out light
tight,

against a hurricane of tears

Amid bemused and bewildered black contractions,

he arrives and ejaculates at the Superdome,
perfecting,
articulating
a Fox with eyes like rubies of the thousand points of light
which mutate into a kinder and gentler
hyena

killed
inside cages of water,
(because wrath must reach out
to kiss even Parishes
of the soul),

they rattled their pistol-hot bone chains,

the moist air carried footnotes from a sax, down
to the 9th ward, as if
a riff
would suffice
(ne c'est pas, cher?)
to save their black asses.

Time around frames
the dark with blue
and rises

and so forth

through the branches toward
where the hummingbird was stilled
by a machine gun

Here I wait for the bus to the day
before yesterday

I'm strung along in semicircles,
by politics
in
fat
evenings with bored looks
Nancy Grace
and dead babies
that flash for a moment on screens
of the subconscious

Time to fly to the eye:

voices slide like a sleet of sorrow
vague and silly,
presidential

I feel pressure, a refinement of
gravity whose hue
I never knew

couldn't be bribed but

could clap bones on a drumhead,
so violently
independent
of the country
of the three-fifths
of themselves.

Now, he
calls the twitching toads down to a pious lunch
with cookie sheet Gospel music,

while horses reappear on Bourbon Street,
born again the electric atmosphere that

Conjured the exceedingly small love
which may play underneath,
banging skin
hard enough to raise the dead.


Born 1959 and raised in the New York city area, Paul Renato Toppo graduated from the University of Connecticut with degrees in Chemistry and Mathematics. He has lived in Spain, Puerto Rico and México and currently works in Trenton, New Jersey, but spends half the year in Mexico City with his son, who continues to be his adoration.

Monday, November 14, 2005

METEORITE THEORETICALLY FOUND IN KANSAS

by James Penha


A meteorite hunter has discovered a million-dollar gem
seven feet below a field in southern Kansas:
an asteroid to make collectors drool, says its finder
who will sell it to a museum for study and display.

The rare oriented pallasite—conical and crystalline
and fourteen hundred pounds—did not tumble toward earth,
according to scientists, but followed a stable trajectory
centuries ago to what is now the State of Kansas.

But that State, unsure meteors are anything more
than theoretical, may argue that the rock was placed
where it was placed, at creation, in a place that always
was intelligently designed Kansas, and so it will

it will
it will not be moved.


James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

MUD

by Laura Madeline Wiseman


Paris is burning

not of balls

no transgendered murders

this year they burn the ghettos

boys electric heated

fear running

over steel currents

like lovers kisses

if you break it

you can privatize it

the police feel hoods of youth

if they’re damp

they've all been steeling


and then I hear bodies

igniting in Fallujah

with white phosphorus

the skin gone the clothes intact

dressed for their own funeral

whisky pete wilco

obscuration or

incineration

the stuff slips

though your mask

mud stops it

by then it’s too late

they’re all terrorists


Laura Madeline Wiseman is an award winning writer teaching at the University of Arizona. Her works have appeared in 13th Moon, The Comstock Review, Fiction International, Poetry Motel, Driftwood, apostrophe, Moondance, Familiar, Spire Magazine, Colere, Clare, Flyway Literature Review, Nebula, and other publications. She is the Literary Editor for IntheFray and a regular contributor to Empowerment4Women.

Friday, November 11, 2005

MILITARY WIVES TELL BUSH: GIVE LAURA DIAMONDS

by Rochelle Ratner


Once upon a time in Persia (now Iran) there was a wise
king whose beautiful wife was concealing her Jewish birth.
His chief advisor was a man named Haman, who hated
that the Jews would not bow down to him. Well now, this
story could drag on and on, just as any war could. But
suffice it to say that the king asked his advisor how to
honor a man who had done much for him, and Haman
assumed the king had him in mind. He, who pictured
himself in royal dress paraded through the streets, found
himself instead leading Mordechai's horse. Or so the
bedtime story goes. The women sitting at the table nearest
the President put down their salad forks and titter that
such a man would ask for their advice, however facetiously.
Then they resume eating, taking sips of white wine and
delicate bites of their buttered onion rolls.


Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: www.rochelleratner.com

Thursday, November 10, 2005

BREEDING IN CAPTIVITY

by Katherine West


Sometimes in dreams
The war comes back to me and
I remember dying
I remember being killed –
No breath
Blackness and no breath—
Stolen breath

That was the worst part
The theft
Not dying but
Being killed
And killed
And never finishing

If you kill someone completely
They are free
This is what I didn’t know
If you kill someone a little bit
Each night
They are slaves
To the moments of non-killing
And to the hope
For an end

Did my enemies know
They were pros?
Did they know
I sent them my breath
For years
After the war was over
I prayed to them for freedom
I prayed to them for death

They were hungry
Like a gecko
I fed them
The tip
Of my tail
Which grew back
During the day
And fear
I fed them
Goblets of thick red fear
To make them dizzy

This is how I escaped
Into dreams of captivity
A garden of blood roses
Blooming and breathing and
Stealing my breath—
Then the war was over
I planted my own garden
With roses white as babies
Milk roses
Who required constant feeding

I had children and taught them
How to nurse the roses
We called it art—
People came from miles around
To view our blooms—
We loved
The applause

My children dreamed of war
Although they had never
Known it
They fed their tails
To each other for a treat
Washed down with fear
By the gallon
They wrapped their breath
In packages
Tied with string and sent off
To mythical enemies they had never met

Then I died—
I finished dying
I dreamed I died and it did not matter how—
I did not forget
It simply became
Unimportant—
The way one toe
Always walks with the others
There we were
Ready for our new adventure
My toes and I
My dreams and I
My deaths
My enemies
My children
All of us
Setting out
together


Katherine West is a poet presently living in northern Colorado and teaching Creative Writing at the local community college, museum, and Naropa University, which is in nearby Boulder, Colorado. Her first full-length collection of poetry, The New Land, is due out this December from Howling Dog Press.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"THE PAVEMENT SLABS BURN"

"The government hasn't really realized we're facing a major political crisis," said Patrick Lozes, a political activist and president of the Circle for the Promotion of Diversity in France. "The French social model is exploding." In a country that has prided itself on its egalitarian social system, Lozes said, "black people and Arab people are not really considered to be from this country. They are considered an inferior group."

"People are shouting they want to be equal," said Christophe Bertossi, an immigration specialist at the French Institute for International Relations. "And the government is treating them as if they were criminals or terrorists."
--Washington Post, 8 November 2005

CLASSIC VERSE NEWS FROM 1925:

WHITE HOUSES

by Claude McKay


Your door is shut against my tightened face,
And I am sharp as steel with discontent;
But I possess the courage and the grace
To bear my anger proudly and unbent.
The pavement slabs burn loose beneath my feet,
A chafing savage, down the decent street;
And passion rends my vitals as I pass,
Where boldly shines your shuttered door of glass.
Oh, I must search for wisdom every hour,
Deep in my wrathful bosom sore and raw,
And find in it the superhuman power
To hold me to the letter of your law!
Oh, I must keep my heart inviolate
Against the potent poison of your hate.


The generation of poets who formed the core of the Harlem Renaissance, including Langston Hughes and Countée Cullen, identified Claude McKay (1890-1948) as a leading inspirational force, even though he did not write modern verse. His innovation lay in the directness with which he spoke of racial issues and his choice of the working class, rather than the middle class, as his focus. --from an article by Freda Scott Giles.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

LESSONS ON ELECTION DAY

by Paul Hostovsky


On Tuesday we might
dissect a squid.
A squid is an invertebrate.
It's squishy and has
an outer protective shell
called an exoskeleton.
It has a mantel and a jet
propulsion.
It's a mollusk.
A mollusk is a phylum.
There are lots of species
in a phylum
but there are only 8 phyla
in the whole thing,
and California has the most
popular people
because they're worth
55 electoral votes,
and to be the president
you have to be born
in America,
and you have to go to
an electoral college,
and you have to have
a spine.


Paul Hostovsky has recent work in Spoon River Poetry Review, Poet Lore, ByLine, Switched-on Gutenburg, New Delta Review, Alimentum, White Pelican Review, FRiGG among others. He works in Boston as an interpreter for the deaf.