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Wednesday, November 30, 2005



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


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


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


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


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


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:

Monday, November 21, 2005


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,
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


by Karl Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


by Jen Hinton

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?
Do we think
some better reason
is coming along

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

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


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!


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.


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

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

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

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


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

against a hurricane of tears

Amid bemused and bewildered black contractions,

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

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
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,

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
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


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


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


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


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:

Thursday, November 10, 2005


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
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

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 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



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


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
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.

Monday, November 07, 2005


by Robert M. Chute

Torture, or at least the cruel
satisfaction extracted, the bully’s games
played at Abu Ghraib reminded me
of a boy I’ll call Billy, de-winging flies.
Mostly a sad showing off I now realize.
They were, after all, only flies, he’d say,
although I supposed you could work
to death beating you missing wings.
They were just flies and might well been
swatted, sprayed, stuck on fly paper to die.
Or was the prison scandal more like
the frogs Billy found by the brook
and inflated with straws stuck up
their asses? They floated off, swimming
helplessly in air. “They’ll recover. Won’t
even remember,” he said. They were
only frogs after all and I presume
neither flies nor frogs feel shame or
post traumatic stress syndrome--but Billy?
Billy, I’m sure, was never the same.

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.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


by Rick Wishcamper

The sounds of my
girlfriend loading the dishwasher
remind me of the marketplace in Sadr City
The clinking clanging always-so-close-to-shattering –
knives rub cold one against another
sharp along the spine, across the front of the throat.

A click could be…
and a mix of shouts, angry Arabic, may be…
and the general din escalates always louder and louder with
a pulse of panic buried
beneath the chaos of sound

The sounds move, shake –
take on a life inside
and images flash
and mix with voices, dishes, voices,
images of the dead
and dying.

Rick Wishcamper lives, writes, and works in Missoula, Montana. He recently completed an M.F.A. in Poetry at New England College and owns and operates a progressive real estate development business that searches for new solutions to the various problems of appearently conflicting needs between humans and ecosystems in western landscapes.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


by Gayle Brandeis

When Blanche Dubois arrived in New Orleans,
she was told to "take a streetcar named Desire,
and then transfer to one called Cemeteries
and ride six blocks and get off at Elysian Fields".
After people in New Orleans were flooded
out of their homes, after they were left to rot
in the Superdome, they were told they could stay
on a cruise ship named Sensation, a cruise ship
named Holiday, a cruise ship named Ecstasy,
three Carnival Cruise ships docked in the Gulf.
Carnival charged FEMA more than their normal
tourist fares, even though evacuees don't get
the stage shows, the casino, the midnight buffet,
even though they don't get the holiday,
the sensation, the ecstasy. Blanche Dubois always
depended on the kindness of strangers.
What can we depend on but corporate
greed, administrative indifference?
Who can we turn to but one another, no longer
strangers when the waters rise like desire,
when the cemeteries float all around us,
when the Elysian Fields are clotted with oil
and the streetcars that could ferry us out
are all submerged, like stones.

Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperSanFrancisco), Dictionary Poems (Pudding House Publications), and The Book of Dead Birds: A Novel (HarperCollins), which won Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change. Her novel Self Storage will be published by Ballantine in 2007. She was named a Writer Who Makes a Difference by The Writer Magazine.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


by Bill Costley

Lying-liars lie creatively on-camera,
in-print, anywhere media suck-it-up,
demonstrating just how it's done:

The Scooter takes 5 hits & resigns
& the Coulter lies: "I never heard of
Scooter Libby until 10 minutes ago."

The Rover, he's still dodging bullets.
Dubya's wurkin' so hard, hard, hard.
Cheney's no-where 2 B seen-o, oh

Ain't it, hard, hard, hard, Cheney?
Ain't it, hard, hard, hard, Cheney?
Ain't it, hard, hard, hard, Cheney?

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