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Thursday, April 28, 2005

TOURISTS

by Stuart Salomon


So docile and attentive. Like they really
Care about how the first settlers planted corn
And made candles.
So fresh in their new, white Reeboks.
So patiently waiting for the ride at Disneyworld.
So willing to gog and gape at the Falls.

Sheep.

But tourists are pulse signals, kitschy ambassadors,
Testaments to peace.

How I’d long to see them flocking to Falujah,
Buying souvenir plates from the Hindu Kush,
Or bumper stickers with, “ I LOVE Ramallah,” or a
T shirt, “My parents went to Groznyy, and all
I got was this lousy shirt.”


Stuart Salomon is an English teacher at Jakarta International School.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

THIS IS A POLITICAL POEM

by nils peterson


Three people stand in a shop in Paris looking
at an old piano. It might have been played by
Beethoven. The veneer is sumptuous, though
blistered where separated from the shaping
pieces. Inside, no cast-iron frame, but thick,
wooden struts. The woman attempts a scale, but
many of the notes are missing. “It’s like trying
to capture moonlight in a net." The man marvels
at the piano’s age and that it had been made
entirely by hand. The shopowner tells them,
"The trees for the wood were most likely planted
in the late sixteenth century. The woodworking
guilds of Germany planted trees so their children’s
children’s children would have the right kind of wood
harvested, sometimes, 250 years later. Then it was
cured from 10 to 40 years. Even in the nineteenth century,
such wood was rare, but now it is a substance
that has gone out of the world we live in."

Nils Peterson taught at San Jose State University for more than 35 years. He has a collection of poems called The Comedy of Desire edited by Robert Bly and published by Blue Sofa Press.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

VALID

by Shahé Mankerian


TODAY, April 24, Armenians all around the world will march for justice. For 90 years, the government of Turkey has denied the crimes it has committed on the Armenians in 1915. The have often used the following statement to justify their denial: “A claim without an owner is not a valid claim.” -SM


“A claim without an owner is not a valid claim,”
A dog without an owner is not a valid dog.
A god without a son is not a valid god.
A liar without America is not a valid liar.
A turkey without a valid gobble-gobble is not a turkey.
A puppet without a protruding nose is not a Pinocchio.
A map without bloody borders is not a valid map.
Thus,
A country without its mountain it’s not a valid country.


Shahé Mankerian spent his formative years in Beirut, Lebanon. He migrated to Los Angeles in 1979. He received his graduate degree in English from California State University, Los Angeles in 2000. Los Angeles Poetry Festival recognized him as one of the newer voices of 2001. In 2002, he was featured as a guest poet on Inspiration House with Peter Harris on KPFK. 2003 was a busy year for Shahé. He won both Erika Mumford Prize and Daniel Varoujan Award from the New England Poetry Club. Writers at Work selected one of his poems for the Common Prayers project. In the summer of 2004, he was a recipient of a writing grant from the Los Angeles Writer’s Project. Recently, Edifice Wrecked nominated Mankerian’s poem “She’s Hiding My Keys” for the 2004 Pushcart Prize.

Friday, April 22, 2005

SHAKING HANDS WITH DEVILS

by Scott Malby


"Many red devils ran from my heart and out upon the page." S. Crane


A red, white and black mulligan in my coffee turns into a hairy mutt in my gut mixing with regurgitations from a rancid politico Neocon Presidential fund raising dinner when the waitress approaches and asks, *Want another?*

Though brain sizzles like a frying egg and my pulse races like mad, I say, *Yes, and yes I will Yes.*

How could I have been so stupid? I feel inside like I've swallowed a mystery stew along with the greasy spoon carrying me along for a ride on the back of Big Brother to a place of government cover-ups where I enter a world of bogus TV. Commercials ruled by Queen Ptomaine and her husband the Lord of Misrule.

Here, everything important isn't important anymore. I discover who I’m not where past, present and future tangle, I hurl, rotting from inside out, turning into a bizarre hallucinatory machine.

I can only talk about what I don't know. Browse whole libraries of missing books. Back from Byzantium, a mechanical bird mutters, *Oh, to be human and not made of springs. Quackie quack baby. Ouch! Whoosh!*

I’m on a retinal scan planet under the influence of a raging hormonally unbalanced goddess bitch where children of greed don shadowy smiles to go with their stock portfolio fangs while twenty five German poets speak all at once in Geek. Still born gestures of compassion are laid out in coffins. A statue of Hitler hatches an egg. Twelve apostles take turns pulling out the hair of Christ.

Robot machines of destruction make subterranean swampy smorgasbord things spewing mass mind insanity pills the department of homeland security gives out to intellectuals suffering from a bad case of unpatriotic sniffling persnickety kerfuffles.

I feel like I’m going to Gitmo. I'd strangle myself if I could. My throat demands lungfulls of air, so full it’s shouting: Fire! Avalanche! Despair!

Chief Rumsfeld and the Cheney Boys micro-waved in aspartame turn into nuclear warriors unfolding tasar wings as they whisper in my ear that every commander looks for an edge and the deconstruction of perception takes balls of lead. I find myself standing before Queen Ptomaine who takes the shape of my uncle Sam’s wife and I'm naked in the poverty of her sight.

She says *Hey, I’ve been inside you thinking about you for hours. You know my husband and I are infatuated with you. We’re falling in love… I no longer know what to do! If you’re also unhappy, let’s chat and see. We would trade anything for a night with you. What are you doing later on tonight? Why don’t you join the National Guard?*


Scott Malby is a frequent contributor to journals worldwide.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

HABEMUS*PAPAM

 Auferstehungspornografie

Niels Köhler
Auferstehungspornografie, 2001
Detail of the 12 panel Collage "Gott mit uns"
(2000 - 2002)



KING RAT: A Benediction
by James Penha


Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,
doctrinaire enemy of abortion,
homosexuality, contraception,
a married or female priesthood,
and the idea of his own fallibility,
was today elected 265th pontiff
of the world's one billion
Roman Catholics.

Habem . . . us?

Nope,

he ain't my Pope.



James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

OUR RIGHT

by Taylor Graham

We stood at the edge of highway right-
of-way holding aloft our signs
red white & blue
against the evening commute
sun glare in our eyes
sun snarling off oncoming windshields
blinding

honks & silhouettes of arms
raised inside cars headed home
fingers extended in Vs
or single birds or thumbs-down, fists
who could tell? traffic passing
mostly without much interest
headed home

under the Monday August sun coming down
hitting us over the head
until the squad car stopped
officer in blinding black uniform
telling us to disperse & desist
with our signs blue red & white
trespassing the right

-of-way. Our right.


Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler and is also involved in conservation projects for cavity-nesting birds.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

THE PEN AND THE SWORD


pen_festival_title
Originally uploaded by J.Olson.
In an article in today's New York Times, PEN American Center President Salman Rushdie writes of how "in our dumbed-down, homogenized, frightened culture, under the thumbs of leaders who seem to think of themselves as God's anointed and of power as their divine right . . . it is harder for writers to claim to be, as Shelley said, 'the unacknowledged legislators of the world,' to believe in the literary art as the proper counterweight to power, and to see literature as a lofty, transnational, transcultural force that could, in Bellow's great formulation, ''open the universe a little more."

"Harder," says Rushdie, "but no less necessary."

Friday, April 15, 2005

IN MEMORY OF OSSIE DAVIS (1917-2005)

Ossie Davis by Harlan Simantel


  • Art by Simantel


  • PURELY VICTORIOUS
    by Ewuare Osayande



    Act I

    what is art
    but advocacy

    (so said Ossie)

    nothing created
    that ever was created
    was wrought
    in a vacuum

    all art is made in the real world
    where opposites exist and collide

    of rich and poor
    of less and more
    of beauty and gore
    of ignorance and lore
    of despise and adore
    of ill and cure

    all art takes sides

    whom do you create for?

    (so said Baraka via Mao and DuBois)

    cant vacillate on the sidelines of life

    while the world is backed up against the Wall Street
    facing the firing squads of imperial goons
    and critics
    who deify dollars
    who reify the status quo
    with their front paged lies

    who don’t know poverty
    except as an entry in Webster’s dictionary

    but we who toil in the defecation of dictators
    fertilize an existence from their waste
    to indict and defy
    those who would have us die

    but with each utterance
    each manifestation
    of our minds

    we define for all time

    what we see, what we know and we wish to be

    the will to free or enslave

    if we are conscious or depraved

    is carved in the bone of our art

    and we are not saved
    by it
    whether sold or sought

    what matters in the end
    is the quality of our quest
    for beauty and truth

    all the rest
    is worth no more or less
    than the blood
    than courses through our veins


    Act II

    Purlie Victorious
    our whole lives are but satires
    the enslaved mocking the massa
    crackin up under the tracks of tears
    that trek down our brown faces
    we know more than we let on

    sometimes
    sometimes

    even to ourselves


    Act III

    and here comes another long-distance runner

    race man

    carrying the baton passed on by Robeson
    he bequeathed to you his vision and voice
    and there you stood
    smooth chocolate baritone
    like a Mingus bass line

    (from “II B.S.”)

    ba doom doom doom doom

    da da doimp doimp doimp

    da da doom doom doom
    da da doom doom doom

    doom dippa doom dippa
    da da da doom da da doooooommmmm

    doimp!

    a smooth bluesy
    Georgia cotton drawl
    spoke in the cadence of dignity
    a diction of defiance
    to hear you was to hear our history
    calling out loud to a future yet to be
    to be
    to be
    to be
    to be
    true to what we know is so
    a steady rhythm of words laced with longing

    you constructed verse like a scientist
    finding the appropriate weight or measure
    you treasured words and the meanings they held

    but your most precious gem
    was the Ruby you wore around your heart
    a courtship of commitment
    your marriage was one life-long kiss
    the bliss of living on the pulse of purpose
    to struggle
    to fight
    against those that would deny us our love

    serenaded by Marian Anderson’s contralto
    cracking the glass ceiling of whiteness
    with the siren of her sincerity

    actor with a worker’s heart
    and hands
    carrying our demands to governors
    who blocked the doorway to our destiny

    you eulogized
    both King and the man you called
    our Black shining prince
    your words covered them like burnt incense
    a holy offering
    sacred incantations
    that can resurrect the dead
    still

    your shoes cannot be filled
    the souls of your feet
    88 years thick
    double infinity
    eternity times two

    who will make us live again?

    who can speak words whose truths wont choke them before they leave their mouths?

    who can utter a vision then walk it without contradiction?

    who can say with you that

    "The profoundest commitment possible to a black creator in this country today
    --beyond all creeds, crafts, classes and ideologies whatsoever—
    is to bring before his [or her] people the scent of freedom."

    I have caught a whiff
    from you

    Da Mayor

    forever saying

    “Doctor, always do the right thing”

    I’ve got it.

    I’m gone.
    Copyright © 2005 by Ewuare Osayande

    Ewuare Osayande (www.osayande.org) is a poet, political activist and author of several books including Black Anti-Ballistic Missives: Resisting War/Resisting Racism. His next book of poems entitled Blood Luxury will be published by Africa World Press in 2005. Currently, Osayande resides in Philly, PA where he is the facilitator of P.O.W.E.R.: People Organized Working to Eradicate Racism.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2005

    AMERICA

    by Heather Taylor


    Inspired by "Standing in the Shadow of Love" by the Four Tops


    I'll do time if I stand in line to protest this democracy. Make signs, march in time to a beat of underground movements ready to pounce on a mis-said word, action, deed. Screaming freedom, smelling teargas, sitting in jail because we forgot, thought a democracy meant equal rights, a chance not life in a jail cell for peaceful protest for no reason but being there. This state of policy turning us into a police state.

    He says: We need to track terrorists.
    He says: We need to protect our citizens.
    He says: We need to defend our liberty.

    In a church, in a town, in the middle of wide open places I check in men, in women, in families. Faces clouded, fleeing from lives unseen within our borders. Our cocoon wrapping is what they search for, a new beginning, a new life, as men with federal badges search the papers, search the files, search their lives because of their foreignness, their differences, their threat. For me it’s horror, disgust at the filtering, an idea of being patriotic but to those families, to them it’s like they’re still home.

    He says: We have reached a time for hope.
    He says: We are confident in the future
    He says: Our country is the greatest nation on earth.

    I’m surrounded by suburbia. A perfect suburbia until the plant shuts down, files out, abandons us. All the windows in my neighbourhood turn to broken teeth. A lit street fades to a few fireflies. Friends move out, move on, sink in while

    He says: I’ll work to build a nation of justice
    He says: I’ll work to build a nation of opportunity.
    He says: The American dream is alive.

    My friends, father, brothers, cousins, sisters, mothers, sons, march as cannon fodder for single minded walking time bombs, not minding what faces as long as they turn faceless. No one knows why they are there, a generation of people who just want to come home.

    He says: We have a calling from beyond the stars
    He says: The cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory - overwhelming.
    He says: We need to stand for freedom

    Standing in the Shadow of love, we wave our flag, pledge allegiance, erect towers, monuments, remembrance of people missing, maimed slaughtered. We wear pins, t-shirts, badges our hearts on our sleeve, we wait by the TV, radio, polling station to make a difference, make our choice, forget the heat of the sun as we stand in endless shadow.

    And he says: Do you? Do you? Do you love this country as much as I do?


    Heather Taylor studied music, acting and writing in western Canada where she first began performing with Mirror Theatre, a group that co-created and toured social theatre pieces for youth. After working on over 30 film and theatre productions both onstage and off, Heather began performing her own solo work in Vancouver and co-produced the multimedia showcase Skidrow Theatre with Silent Productions. Her writing has led her to claim a first place poetry prize with Speak Out and a top-ten position in the Praxis Screenwriting Competition with her full-length screenplay "Two Fists." In January 2002, Heather pulled up stakes and moved to London, England. Since arriving in the UK, she has been a featured performer at Borders, Poetry Café with New Blood, Ladyfest Amsterdam, and at the Spitz with Writers on the Storm. She has also performed at Brave New Word, Backroom Vodka Bar, Backstage Lounge, Aromapoetry and Walking the Dog. Recently, Heather's work has been published in X-Magazine, Wolf and Unpublished as well as various college and youth papers. When not working on her writing, Heather acts as a co-editor for the Veg Out section of youthone.com and has most recently been working as an intern for Sable Literary Magazine.

    Sunday, April 10, 2005

    THE WAR ON WILSHIRE BOULEVARD

    by Scott Odom


    The palm trees line the sky like anti-aircraft bursts
                  above the graffiti bricks and the chain link fences
                  and the cars thumping war thumps,
                  above the spinning red and blue lights of the patrol cars
                  that have cordoned off the block,

                  and the sweat-stained uniforms
                  of the policemen, five of them or so,
                  standing beside the ragged shot body of a homeless man,
                  and the German tourists who told them
                  they thought he was a bag of garbage.

    Someone had tried to set the man’s leg on fire
                  and a policeman laughs as he pokes at it.
    I think that’s the guy from Hollywood, the sergeant says.
    I busted him last month for drunk and disorderly.

    An Uzi fwaps in the distance.

    A helicopter turns above the flak and the lights
                  and spins excitedly, like a buzzard smelling carrion and
                  at the edge of the man’s coat, the embers are still warm.

    His dead hand is raised to shake like a true gentleman,
                  a bottle of Windex and an oddly spotless rag
                  are half hidden beneath him.

    Yeah, the sergeant says, wiping his mouth,
                  definitely that guy from Hollywood, the windshield washer.
                  Who cares? someone says.

    Then the wind changes and they turn from the horror,
                  one of the officers puts a handkerchief over his mouth,
                  the helicopter spins madly,
                  and the sergeant whispers a eulogy above the dead monster:
                  It seems like everyone out here wants to kill you.


    Scott Odom is a writer and teacher living in Los Angeles. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The New York Quarterly, The New York Magazine of the Arts, Prairie Poetry, and other mags and zines throughout the country. A novel he has written called 95 South will appear in December.

    Saturday, April 09, 2005

    LINE IN THE SAND

    by Ken McManus


    Linear perception of the Balkanized has Americanized us:
    Let us believe that forward motion is manifest.
    We don’t see the elliptical nature of things,
    Circles turning over and under, separate circles
    Spinning concurrently, orbiting, rotating,
    Like the universe or seasons or crops in the fields,
    Or like the clouds of sand—
    Billowing, filling, rolling over themselves, sweeping
    In all directions on all planes—
    Which will soon envelop our most tender buds,
    Work as burial mounds for the other hemisphere’s
    Most cherished.


    Ken McManus has published poems most recently in Warpland (Chicago State University), Coloring Book (Rattlecat Press) and Word Is Bond (Unblind Communications). He lives with his family in Connecticut.

    Wednesday, April 06, 2005

    ON THE DAY THE POPE DIED

    by Ngoma


    On the day the pope died
    no one knew that he'd been dead since before 911
    no one told you
    no one paid enough attention to push him over
    obviously not crusaders
    praying to jesus
    while bombing mosques
    they say he was a man of peace
    admonished by St. Lauryn Hill
    for the sins of pedophile priest
    gas prices rising like the flames
    of souls dying for oil
    and the lies about those
    weapons of mass destruction
    yet to be found-
    Tsunami's rage
    like the tears of the planet
    wounded and ravaged
    of a raped ecology
    as water becomes the next commodity
    It wasn't on the Disney Channel
    so don't look on Fox 5
    or Hot 97
    where misled hip hoppers
    pimp coca cola
    and labor leaders disappear from Columbia
    where the peso is worth even less than a dollar
    Did the evangelicals tell u in church on sunday
    that social security has been high jacked by gangsta's
    the christians that lied and stole 2 elections

    on the day the pope died
    the most impoverished people of the land
    who are mostly Black, Beige and Brown
    still genuflect to a white man
    heads bowed
    kneeling on the ground
    not realizing they've been
    hoodwinked into thinking that they've sinned
    giving their hard earned cash
    to one of the richest men on earth
    while the kingdom of heaven is within

    so on the day the pope died
    the truly faithful cried and gave praise to Mary-the Black Madonna
    otherwise known as Isis,
    marched in the street bearing death symbols-
    turned their backs to the vatican
    for not excommunicating Hitler
    opened their closets
    and burned sage to exorcise demons
    set fire to democracy disguised as witches
    fanned the coals
    while channeling phoenix

    on the day the pope died
    el Salvadoran martyrs
    were still not vindicated
    Archbishop Romero
    turned in his grave
    as the death of Sister Dorothy Stang
    of Brazil is being investigated
    and the conspiracy of murder continues
    for peasants protecting the rainforest
    angels of justice guard
    brave priests like Reverends Leclerc
    and Sandoval
    as they preach the theology of liberation
    in a world that is still evil and hostile

    on the day the pope died
    it seemed as if no one had been listening
    as millions of oppressed nationalities
    left the earth from man made dis-eases
    while coat hangers return for those seeking abortion
    still Mumia Abu Jamal sits on death row
    and our children suffer death from MacDonald's
    trying to pay student loans w/salaries from StarBucks
    dreaming of a making a living on Def Jam
    combing the country doing
    open mics and poetry slams
    til realizing the dream's turned into a nightmare
    as Def Jam Poets line up for Welfare

    on the day the pope died
    we pray for a new regime
    that truly projects a "culture of life"
    where the strong will truly protect the weak
    as bells ring in the vatican
    vibrations striving to save the planet
    for true liberation of the human spirit


    Ngoma is a performance post, multi-instrumentalist and paradigm shifter based in Harlem, NY, who for over 30 years has used culture as a tool to raise socio-political, and spiritual consciousness. For continued news and updates visit his site Ngomazworld at http://www.ngomazworld.com/Ngoma_ParadigmShifter26E.html by clicking on the following . . .

    Monday, April 04, 2005

    WILD DONKEY

    by Shahé Mankerian


    Where have you come from and where are you going? – Genesis XVI:8


    I come from a city where the wells are dry,
    and the walls divide the sliver moon
    from the sapphire star.

    I come from a land where women,
    barren by choice,
    refuse to feed the children to the war.

    The fish no longer swim near the cliffs,
    and fishermen eat carcass for breakfast.

    The bang of the backgammon silences
    the streetwalkers permanently;
    the click of their heels rest
    against the fallen cedars of Solomon.

    The donkey strikes the tendon
    attached to the socket of the hip.
    Our common thread is the flesh-eating fly,
    and the bullet that does not discriminate

    the children of Jacob and Esau—
    locked in the womb of the countryside,
    separated by the burning stew.

    The sun rises and sets
    in this land of sour milk and wild honey.

    Where are you going?
    “I’m running away from my mistress…”

    Where are you going?
    “I’m running away.”

    Where are you going?
    “I’m running.”


    Shahé Mankerian spent his formative years in Beirut, Lebanon. He migrated to Los Angeles in 1979. He received his graduate degree in English from California State University, Los Angeles in 2000. Los Angeles Poetry Festival recognized him as one of the newer voices of 2001. In 2002, he was featured as a guest poet on Inspiration House with Peter Harris on KPFK. 2003 was a busy year for Shahé. He won both Erika Mumford Prize and Daniel Varoujan Award from the New England Poetry Club. Writers at Work selected one of his poems for the Common Prayers project. In the summer of 2004, he was a recipient of a writing grant from the Los Angeles Writer’s Project. Recently, Edifice Wrecked nominated Mankerian’s poem “She’s Hiding My Keys” for the 2004 Pushcart Prize.