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Friday, September 30, 2005

BRITISH SOLDIERS GET GERM-FIGHTING UNDIES

by Rochelle Ratner


Richard holds the black boxers in front of his heavy thighs.
Boxers – is that what they are? They look more like those
tight-fitting long-leg swim trunks men wore in the 1920s,
or a woman's girdle. He can picture Iraqi rebels hooting
over some poor dead body that turns up wearing these
unisex dustcloths. Americans, now, that would be different.
All those men who posed as gay to get out of Vietnam.
Always fitting parts of their bodies into forbidden places.
They seem to have no fear of germs and heat and rashes.
His mother's sister in America always warned him to wear
clean underwear when he came to visit her, so if the plane
crashed they'd know what graveyard to send him to. He
recalls one winter break, visiting her in New York when
the temperature dropped to nearly zero, she held a black
turtleneck thingy out to him, just the turtleneck and a
little fabric, the neck hole maybe a tenth the size of his
head. She said it stretches, and she convinced him to try it,
and it went over his head and really did shut the cold out.
He refused to call it a Dickie, though.


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, September 29, 2005

DREAM DEFERRED

by J.E. Stanley

after Langston

Or does it implode,
become a denser than dense black hole,
consume itself, the dreamer and all who venture near,
forever obliterate that which could have/should have been,
leaving us only
what is?

J.E. Stanley is an accountant and on-again/off-again guitarist from the grayscale suburban wilderness of Northeast Ohio. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications including the chapbook Dissonance (deep cleveland press) and the short collection Ink (Gypsy Lips Press).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A FLAG UNFURLED

by John Lawson

for Langston

What happens to a flag unfurled?

Does it float above a valiant band
Of patriots who risk their honor and their lives
To free their land?

Does it mark the farthest desert reach of empire?

Does it drape the serial-numbered coffins
Of the young who never learn?

Or does it burn?


John Lawson lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have appeared in many venues, including South and West, Taproot, Cairn, and Paper Street. He was Visions Magazine's Poet of the Month in 2000.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

BARBIE SHIPS OUT

by Donna Hilbert


The only real fighting Barbie had ever done was at the Barney's tent sale at the Santa Monica Airport, where a quick stomp of her Manolo Blahnik heel into the unsuspecting toe of any opponent would clear her path. The corporate Biggies had promised it would only be a few weekends a year and it would be like going to camp. They said she owed it to the working-class girls who could never hope to grow up to be princesses or ballerinas, or even nurses. Give the girls hope! Hope that they too could escape from West Virginia, or big city ghettos, see the world, and then go to college on Uncle Sam. Those corporate guys knew how to push Barbie's buttons, she was overly sensitive to innuendo that she was not a good role model, and in fact had no heart. But, what clinched the deal for her was the promise of new accessories--the rifle she could carry over her shoulder like the yoga mat in its matching bag that she carried to class on alternate mornings. And the tank--they said she could drive it herself-an armored version of the Hummer Ken drives around town. She held out for days demanding pink fatigues, but the Biggies said that would compromise her safety. The word safety should have served as a warning.

She never actually expected to go overseas, but the Biggies said she was needed, was in fact obligated, to go after the Big Accessories: W.M.D's. It took some getting used to, seeing herself in olive-green drab. The Meals Ready to Eat took a toll on her waistline, and the constant sand blowing pitted her complexion. For the first time in her life, Barbie felt depressed. Not even the hard-bodied G.I. Joes excited her. The local people were not happy to see her and acted as if they didn't know she was America's sweetheart, role model, goddess, real doll. She couldn't figure out what she was supposed to be doing. The other soldiers didn't want to talk about her specialties: wardrobe, hairstyle or the accessories she'd left back at home. They all worried that they wouldn't have homes or jobs to return to. And they worried about their kids. Would the ex-husband get custody? And injuries were not like what she was used to. At home when arms or legs came off, her handler used rubber bands to re-attach them. Barbie once had her head yanked off and flushed down the toilet. Her handler got her a new one from a box of spare parts. But here, blood spills like punch at a picnic and bodies are not so easily fixed.

Surprise! No Big Accessories! Barbie longs to go home, but her tour's been extended. Though any form of reflection not including a mirror, is hard for her, she's come to suspect the Biggies have lied. Though her head is just plastic, Barbie's smart enough to know Iraq is no place for a doll.


Donna Hilbert's latest poetry collection is Traveler in Paradise: New And Selected Poems, Pearl Editions 2004. Her work is the subject of the short film, "Grief Becomes Me," by award-winning filmmaker Christine Fugate, which will appear at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival in September 2005.

Monday, September 26, 2005

RECIPE FOR YELLOWCAKE

by Mary Saracino


separate the yolk of truth from the albumin of lies
add one tablespoon of cover-up
stir in half a cup of undercover anonymity
bake until half-crocked
serve cold with false justice


Mary Saracino is a poet, novelist and memoir writer who lives in Denver, CO. She is the author of two published novels and one book-length memoir, as well as numerous stories and essays published in literary and cultural journals. Her newest novel, The Singing of Swans, is to be published by Pearlsong Press in the fall of 2006.

Friday, September 23, 2005

CREON WILL NOT STAND WITH CINDY



CLASSIC VERSE NEWS
FROM
ANTIGONE
BY SOPHOCLES (442 BC)



CREON: But anyone who’s proud
and violates our laws or thinks she’ll tell
our leaders what to do, a woman like that
wins no praise from me. No. We must obey
whatever man the state puts in charge,
no matter what the issue—great or small,
just or unjust. For there’s no greater evil
than a lack of leadership. That destroys
whole cities, turns households into ruins,
and in war makes soldiers break and run away.
When men succeed, what keeps their lives secure
in almost every case is their obedience.
That’s why they must support those in control,
and never let some woman beat us down.
If we must fall from power, let that come
at some man’s hand—at least, we won’t be called
inferior to any woman.


This passage has been adapted from the translation of Antigone by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, BC, Canada.

Pictured above is Cindy Sheehan. For news about the march, click the . . .

Thursday, September 22, 2005

ARGENTINA

by Isabelle Ghaneh

Aeschylus in the fifth century b.c.:
“In war, truth is the first casualty.”

The mothers of the disappeared live in shadows
They can’t see their stubby swollen fingers in the mirror anymore
They can’t eat or drink or wash themselves
Without seeing ashes sprouting out of their eyes mouths armpits
They are cattle grazing on sawdust
Once again, they loo outside in the fields
Waiting for the local trash collector
To serve them up some dinner
Borges knows what its like to talk to yourself
Sitting on a public bench by the river
By the river I lay down and wept
Or so the psalmist said
But he never sat down and chatted for awhile
Maybe he should have
I wonder if the mothers of the disappeared are still standing there
After all this time
Have they ever collected the bright bones of their children
Or have they all been given to the dogs
So they have something to nibble on
Late at night
Julio Cortazar I love you
And Ernesto Sabato and Jorge Luis Borges
You come to me always
And lead the way
Out of the labyrinth
Or at least if that’s saying too much
You let me know
I am not the only one
Resting there
God bless the mothers of the disappeared
No one else does
So maybe He will
It’s about time
If you ask me


Isabelle Ghaneh has poetry in Dimsum-Asia’s Literary Journal, Ink & Ashes, The Magpie’s Nest, Pedestal Magazine, Surface Art Magazine, Pennine Ink, SNReview, The Fairfield Review, EOTU Ezine, The Copperfield Review and The Ridgefield Press.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

WATCHING A MAN WHOSE SON HAS GONE TO WAR

by Peggy Smith Duke


Montage of birthdays and T-ball. Invincible,
a paratrooper launches from the shop roof
into the backyard pool. Girlfriends, guy friends,
sleepovers. Confirmation. Graduation. Prom

with walking sticks, top hats, limousines.
Six weeks of soldiering promised college
when his nation went to war. The reasons
hovered like shapeless ghosts,

if you believe in ghosts. Suddenly a father
whose life has been manageable strains an ear,
an eye toward every byte of news, living
the teetering life of any parent who imagines

the horror of Isaac’s Abraham divinely unbidden.
Possibilities, uninvited companions, chattering
mindlessness. Phone calls shatter the night:
the soldier wants underwear. He prays earnestly,

bargains shamelessly. Black and white morph
into gray. No answers are the right ones. This man
who lights lives with acceptance, understanding
and love, clouds with confusion, his face dimmed

by the patina of whom we must be to craft
such retorts. Two soldiers are at war.


Peggy Smith Duke lives in rural Middle Tennessee, USA, with her husband. She is a retired human resources professional and has published in newspapers, professional journals and magazines for 30 years. She has published several poems and received recognition in a number of competitions. She holds a BS in Journalism and an MA in Industrial Psychology, from Middle Tennessee State University; and an EdD from Vanderbilt University.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

BEAM ME UP, SCOTTY!


by Linda Simone

For James Doohan, 85, d. 7/20/05


When I was a teen,
You beamed on to my TV screen
spoke the only Scottish I knew.
In 1966, you and the crew
my United Nations.

Lt. Commander Montgomery Scott ?
Chief engineer on the starship Enterprise ?
How did you keep your matter
circulating when you were James Doohan
When 6 D-Day bullets struck
your right middle finger
like a Klingon attack?

With galaxies about to collide,
how did you weather
Conventions, hailing
fans, exulting in adulation?

In 1993, an honorary degree
from Milwaukee School of Engineering:
He brought the field to the forefront of pop culture.

40 years at warp speed --
me, trekking toward AARP
and you, ashes to be launched into space,
the rest saved for the sea:
                    Captain, the engines canna take nae more!


Linda Simone's poems have appeared in Midnight Mind, Westview and Potomac Review, and in anthologies including en(compass) and Essential Love: Poems about mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. She was former poetry editor and managing editor for Inkwell, the literary journal of Manhattanville College and now serves as faculty advisor. Moon: A poem, her first book for children, was published in 2002.

Monday, September 19, 2005

FAMILY WAR STORIES

by Thomas D. Reynolds


Because of a faulty memory (I was seven)
or slip of a tongue while telling the story
around the dinner table one Thanksgiving
after the meal was eaten and chairs pushed back,
Uncle Ben, who served his country
during World War II in Fort Riley, Kansas,
battling dust, wind, and boredom,
hanging out with his buddies at the canteen
on Saturday nights eager for action,
with the whole world exploding around them,
spent twenty years battling
the Axis on the beaches of Normandy.

One day, he was walking back to the barracks
after a few beers to write his girl back home,
sitting on the steps just for a moment
to tidy his cap and spit-polish his left boot
when in the time it takes to light a cigarette
and stab half-heartedly at a last sliver of pumpkin pie
he crashed from that step onto the floor
of a landing craft awash with salt water and vomit,
bruising his forehead to add blood to the mix.
The ocean is already red.
Next to him were brothers he'd never seen before;
their gaunt faces somehow comforted him.

Maybe his sudden appearance in battle,
though it terrified him, didn't even seem unusual,
for he knew combat is often preceded by boredom,
endless drilling, dreams of heroic deeds,
before one finds himself retching his lunch
at the sight of dead comrades amidst the waves,
piercing rhythms of machine-gun fire,
the sickening thud of the gunboat striking shore
as he is propelled forward in the insane rush
to reach the battlements through exploding bodies.

Uncle Joe, until that moment aboard that gunboat,
found himself outside the Fort Riley barracks
ears exploding with silence of a Kansas dusk,
the spectacular sunset a deepening blood red.
Adrenaline still raced through his broad frame;
his fingers still gripped an imaginary rifle.

John's twenty years of drilling, dust, and boredom
ended around another elaborate Thanksgiving table,
smoke curling from the ends of a last cigarette,
the clank of dishes being carried into the kitchen.
"No, Ben was never in combat," my grandmother said.
"It was John who stormed the beaches of Normandy.
When he returned, he was never quite the same,
though Ben envied his battle experience."

In that instant, eighteen-year-old Ben returned to the step,
then strolled inside the barracks to locate his bunk,
there to dream of the horrors of battle,
while John again stepoed over mutilated corpses,
prayed to God that Ben, his little brother,
innocent and naive, would be spared such carnage.

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, September 16, 2005

SLEEPY AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER DELAYS PLANE LANDING

by Rochelle Ratner


It wasn't so much that he overslept, or that he
stopped for strong black coffee on the way to work,
but that he'd been dreaming. There was a crisp,
clear September sky. He was watching bodies –
women's or angels', he's not sure which – circling
around his bed. Dancers, perhaps. Every one of
them gracefully reaching out to him.


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, September 15, 2005

I DUBYA SIR KARL DE ROVE

by Bill Costley


Dubya drops a shiny dime, coyly;
as Sir Karl drops onto loyal knee.
Dubya chuckles "Good dog, boy!
I kin see yuh lurnt a lot frum me!

A shiny dime saved’s a dime urnt,
s'whut Pres’d’nt Reagan, uh, lurnt!
but Pres’d’nt Truman's pretty far:
The bus stop’s...right ovuh thar."


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

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

MUSINGS ON THE PRODUCTION LINE

by Lucille Gang Shulklapper


If I were a product and not a person, I'd be Take Control, a butter substitute. I'd spread myself thin or thick, depending on my surface taste. I'd skim corn meal and smear pablum. I'd coat Scott McClellan's tongue but it's already thick with saturated oils fighting fat.

If I were Take Control and not a person, I'd fight my way out of my plastic container. I don't like artifice. I'd have to change my own chemical imbalance to live up to my name. I want to be an organic compound, respected not for my desire to be free, but to decide my own culture. Is there no one I can butter-up to? Or will I be melted down and out-sourced?

Perhaps, I should give up. Competing products outnumber me. Take oil, for example. It sells more than I do. Its stock is more valued no matter how much digging a customer does to find it. Put that in your pipeline and smoke it.


Lucille Gang Shulklapper is a workshop leader for the Florida Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress. Her poetry and fiction appear in Switched-on Gutenberg, Into the Teeth of the Wind, Slant, and other literary journals. She is the author of three collections of poems: What You Cannot Have, The Substance of Sunlight, and Godd, It's Not Hollywood. Recent work appears in Portrait, Poetic Voices without Borders, Whispers of Inspiration, and Still Going Strong.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

MEMORIAL DAY, 2005

by Michele F. Cooper


1

The radio's too loud, static
and explosions at 6 and 11,
counting the losses at midnight,
approval ratings up and down
the body politic, e-mails blinking
till the message leaks all over
and no excuse for not knowing.

It didn't used to be this way;
we chose our enemies from lists,
marked our territory,
our bills, budgets, and bunglings,
warning our moms to watch out,
our sisters, our children,
as the smiling trumpets passed,
the floats, the long batons.

You think it's only the Jews
in long beards and yarmulkes,
Islams looking out
from under their folded scarves
with daggers to their heads
and midriffs?

We're sleeping with enemies
in our mortgaged homes;
uncles and brothers leave
the table sulking, plates half full
with franks and slaw;
they could kill us for saying no.

2

The bunting, the uniforms,
gold buttons saluting the crowds,
fire-cracking rifles scaring the kids,
fragments of red and blue alerts
racing from brass to brass,

drums and trumpets puncturing
the good will of pacifists
as their families form committees,
inform and reform arrangements
with grandmas and school pals
for the cellar cot or second couch;
the trial's coming in four days,
news clips on treason still playing out
over black light and sickly green
though it's only for now, they say,
while the war's on.


Michele F. Cooper is the first-place winner in the 2002 TallGrass Poetry Competition, second-place winner in the 1999 Galway Kinnell Poetry Competition, a finalist in the 2004 War Poetry Competition; she has won honorable mentions in the 2003 Emily Dickinson Poetry Competition, the 2003 New Millennium Awards, and the 1999 Sacramento Poetry Competition. Her poetry and poetic prose have appeared in many journals including Larcom, Fiction International, Paumanok Review, Pedestal Magazine, R.I. Women Speak American Writing, Nedge, CQ, Faultline, Online Poetry and Story, and in a chapbook, Women on Women. She is the author of two books, founding editor of the Newport Review and Crone’s Nest, and of a chapbook series. She lives on a horse farm (not hers) in Portsmouth, RI.

Monday, September 12, 2005

CLASHES OF CULTURE

by Barbara A. Taylor

"Perspective is a hell of a thing. Perhaps now that we have Iraq under our belt, perhaps now that we have Katrina under our belt, perhaps now that we have had a few unspeakably costly lessons on just how wretched, stupid, useless, blind, willfully ignorant, dangerous, petulant, frightening, narrow-minded, foolish and ultimately deranged this administration is, perhaps now we can look at September 11 for what it really was: just another Bush administration failure that came with another massive body count."
-- William Rivers Pitt, "September 11 Revisited," truthout

Operation Enduring Freedom:
Relentless retaliation for
the crushing fall of Twin Towers.
A violent evil attack on democracy
in a world of cultured casualties.
Those Twin Towers spoke of Power and Greed,
Racism and Sexism. To a pacifist teenager
they were Arrogant. Audacious. Symbolic:
Gross icons to capitalism, all that is wrong
in her enronomic native land. Land of the Free,
where today in southern Midwest USA, white-hooded
malevolent terrorists claim human lives, roam
reckless with guns, can legally be. This country
America has no place for difference.
Like a volcano, rumbling through generations
in hatred and ignorance, cracks in the great
American melting pot now erupt to confront
a new humility, an acceptance
that other people’s worlds
do exist.

But sadly, it’s still the same old bugles, blowing
trumpets of war. Siege mentality. Emotive
bagpipes for death. Drums for marching.
Machine guns of battle drown all rational discussion.
Send in the marines! A call to arms is praised.
Wave the flag! Patriotic jingoism. God is on our side!
Priority: precision weapons, high-tech-unmanned-armored-vehicles,
the very best to wipe the cruel enemy out.
Forget the innocent for they do not count.
Sorrow and more bloodied human faces;
Collateral Damage: families destroyed.
Unending grief for mothers, daughters, sisters.

There’s money in these killing machines.
Empires are built by terrorists. War Barons Rule.
Heroin from pretty poppy flowers’ lethal harvest
will prick pretty young veins of Europe. Opium Wars
rage, make money, as do black spouts of crude.
Oil buys food. Commodities with bargaining powers.
Threats and sanctions. Everything’s for profit.
Everything’s for freedom.

Parents want to feed and educate their children.
People need more than a diet of grass. Women want
to live in safety. They have this human right.
This catastrophic chasm: the gap between
rich and poor is greater than ever.
Around the world it continues to grow.
This is a war on poverty where hopes always
should remain and must be fed to stay alive
with freshness of new starts. Where equality
and tolerance means the same for you and for me.
Fear-free for the teenager of tomorrow
with or without the veil, in the temple or
in the mosque. And you quite rightly ask,
Who is the unseen enemy of the universal soldier?

Just when will the fig tree bloom?



"Each day demands that I write and that my fingers touch and feel the earth." Barbara A. Taylor has published prose and poetry, and is a regular performer at Live Poets Poetry Slam evenings. Nature, politics, peace and women are the main interests and themes. Her poems have been on local, community, national, internet radio, and various ezines around the globe. Barbara writes from the sub-tropical Rainbow Region of New South Wales, Australia where inspiration, peace and freedom to create, comes from the serenity and beauty of this special area. Samples of her diverse poetry with audio can be accessed at Batsword and Triplopia.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

NOTES REVISITED FOUR YEARS LATER

by Robert M. Chute


It can’t be just because I was
not there, had not seen those two trade
towers before they fell in flaming
video. It’s not as though I do
not care although it’s true I’d not
visit as large a city willingly.

I still think of people trapped who
jumped, or fell. It wouldn’t matter
where death is. Death’s death anywhere.
Why can’t I concur when you tell
me everything is changed, nothing
will ever be the same again?

Of course for victims, kith, and kin,
the world is raw and new. But has
the whole world suddenly become
wiser and humane? Men still beat
their wives. Men will still be beaten
for what they seem, not what they are.

What’s good is also much the same.
We’ve one more fear, but our lives go
on much as before. What’s new is
where. It was here, not over there.


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.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

WHEN THE JAZZ AND THE FOOD AND THE MARDI GRAS STOPPED

by Ngoma


there are more ghosts here
than in ole hiroshima
as karma comes
knocking on the door
hand stuck out
for reparations over due
the war profiteers
vote everyone expendable
as spirits choose
to sacrifice it all
in the name of poverty and despair
nature out of balance
constipated w/global warming
til the levee broke
then the shit was on
as the suited ones w/god complexes
control the weather, news and
your imagination
fascism break dancing in the alley
waiting for a chance
upon the stage
jack asses and elephants
stand impotent
too dumb to know
that they are not in charge
the real terrorist play mind control
on presidents in photo ops
who think they talk to jesus
but only pledged to kill
sacrificing souls
that left the planet
to bring attention to the problem
as we look into the mirror
and see unsightly scars
that may no longer be ignored
naked for all the world to see
the emperor has no clothes
as excuses and dead bodies
rise to the top
like feces in broken toilets
the stench contaminates the atmosphere
the village idiot from texas
promises to fix it
sending soldiers programmed
to only shoot to kill
as human kind starves
the repair contract goes to Halliburton
like salt poured in the wounds
of whip lashed slaves
and civilization teeter totters
on the edge of chaos
nostradamus prophecies
come full surface
ass out w/ i told u so's
stamped on its butt cheeks

genocide and ethnic cleansing
drips blood on my psyche
like the days of wounded knee
and the many times before then
in this country of the free
rwanda on my mind
in this time of tragedy
king george is AWOL once more
playing golf on vacation
soldiers obedient to ignorance
turn back boats and trucks
sent to help the victims
and those who looted the world
turn help away
bloated bodies floating
bloated babies starving
bloated egos lying
no pictures of the dead
on the screen
or the newsprint and its pages
but still this crisis rages
as it asks are you listening
reading the handwriting on the wall
that says that we must work together
let's hope it's not too late
to save us all


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.

Friday, September 09, 2005

WHAT FLOWS

by George Perreault


The movement's always downward
of course, from chickens, slimy, small,
small-minded too in common parlance:
the adherence to minutia, clinging
to the soles of our shoes.

Whereas horseshit's larger, sidestepped and
less processed, just piled up, baled almost,
into the daily work we do: just as bullshit
is the easy lie, the grease on the gears,
and later, tall clumps in the field.

But bushshit, that's a lie which doesn't
even trouble to pretend, it's: here's your
ration, eat it and die: we didn't know levees
would burst, soldiers bleed into the sand,
darkies float out through the oily dark.


George Perreault teaches at the University of Nevada and has published in numerous journals including Northwest Review, Shendandoah, and Journal of American Culture. His third book, All the Verbs for Knowing, is due out soon from Black Rock Press.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

OLD TIMES

by Kiki Denis


There was a time that words were heavy like stones and guns
Missiles made of iron hanging off red tongues
Those were the times we were swallowing saliva made out of bullets
And the intensity of our voices was like the bells of war.
There was a time that father and mother worked at the farm
Wearing clothes made of sheets and underpants made of pillowcases.
While we played with the mud and ate only once a day
As tears of joy were dripping off our cheeks when we shared a piece of candy.
There was a time that our nights were illuminated with stars
When mother squeezed next to father and warmed her palms in his
When the purpose of breath was more than breathing the body
When we shared stories in bed and giggled out of desperation.
Those were the times that poverty was our war
Violence was hanging off empty spoons
And bloodsheds filled our stomach
Pushing brutally the walls of our emptiness.
And then one day warm bread was placed on the table
And muddy paths were covered with asphalt.
Food sharing stopped and breathing became shallow
Words were light as feathers and spoons heavy like stones.
And for a second we thought that old times were gone.
But then we look outside our window and saw war laying on the neighbor’s yard
Pushing from outside in.


Kiki Denis was born in Thessaloniki, Greece and came to the United States in 1990 to attend Mount Holyoke College where she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Philosophy. After graduating from Mount Holyoke she lived in England for a couple of years where she completed her Master’s degree in Psychology at the University of Exeter. For the last five years she have been writing short stories and poetry, and working full time on her novel titled The Last Day of Paradise.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

MY COUNTRIES

by Marguerite Bouvard


The headlines want nothing less than total
surrender, to have us raise our hands
above our heads with their pistols
against our backs. If we are afraid,
we’ll stop trusting our eyes,
our steps that carry us through the day’s
rough terrain. Our hands will forget
the kingdom of touch, we’ll rein in
our voices, stop sending thoughts
that would bind us to each other
across oceans, through mountains.
But a moment can redeem us:
a dove piercing the morning air
with its hoo hoo, the crimson throat
of an orange hibiscus opening,
a pair of monarch butterflies
swooping and weaving in tremulous
foreplay, then soaring above the trees
reminding us that we too are citizens
of the sky, the wind, the light.


Marguerite Bouvard is the author of five books and three chapbooks of poetry and several books on human rights and one on grieving. She is a resident Scholar at Brandeis Univeristy's Women's Studies' Research Center.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

THE SEA, SEARCHING

by Robert M. Chute


The sea makes no exceptions,
          accepts no excuses.
When it asks in the wind, where
          are my marshes,
where are the dunes which once
          were my pillows,
it does not expect an answer. It
          comes ashore searching.
Those who think to live on the land
          are not ignored,
they are simply irrelevant when
          the sea comes searching.
They call it hurricane and try to
          tame it with a name.


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.

Monday, September 05, 2005

BUDDY, CAN YOU SPARE A DIME


CLASSIC VERSE NEWS FROM 1932
by E. Y. Harburg & J. Gorney


They used to tell me I was building a dream
And so I followed the mob.
When there was earth to plow or guns to bear
I was always there -- right on the job.

They used to tell me I was building a dream
With peace and glory ahead.
Why should I be standing in line
Just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, made it run,
Made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad -- now it's done.
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once I built a tower to the sun,
Brick and rivet and lime.
Once I built a tower -- now it's done.
Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits -- gee, we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee-doodle-dom.
Half a million boots went slogging through hell
And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember? They called me Al,
It was Al all the time.
Say, don't you remember? I'm your pal.
Buddy, can you spare a dime?

You will get to the donation page of the American Red Cross by clicking the following . . .

Sunday, September 04, 2005

AUGUST 29, 2005

by Rochelle Ratner


Provo, Utah. God's country. Forget the fact that his
basement's flooded. For the second time in five years he
comes home to find sewer pipes have broken, gushing like a
geyser from bathrooms all along the street, gurgling up
from toilets, even the one in his upstairs bedroom. This
time it was a dead dog someone stuffed down a manhole.
Other times it's been bowling balls and carpet scraps. They
say it hasn't happened to the same house twice. But here's
proof. No matter that the city will sanitize, repair the old
pipes, lay new pipes, he's too old to spend the rest of his life
feeling like the victim of a goddamn hurricane.


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). An anthology she edited, Bearing Life: Women's Writings on Childlessness, was published in January 2000 by The Feminist Press. She lives in New York City, where she is Executive Editor of American Book Review and reviews regularly for Library Journal. More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: www.rochelleratner.com.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

N'O'L'NS' DROWNING

by Bill Costley


Breached levee walls

bare the grim truth:

NO safespaces 4

desperate people

dying b4 relief

comes 2late,

thanx2Rove

&Duby@


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

Friday, September 02, 2005

PRESIDENT

by Lisa Manzi


“. . after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA [Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project] dropped to a trickle. The [Army] Corps [of Engineers] never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the [New Orleans] Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars.”
--Will Bunch, senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News,
in Editor and Publisher, August 30, 2005.


Last year when things were a mess,
you came down and lent a hand.

You stood next to your brother
handing out water and ice

as if you were a normal man.
Now things are even worse.

You survey the scene.
Your plane doesn't touch down.

Yes, eventually, I know,
you'll stand in the wreckage.

Megaphone in hand, lying to us.
I hear you.


Lisa Manzi writes from her home in the Batten Kill Valley of upstate New York. Her writing has been published in The Sun, Salvage Magazine, Other:______, Democratic Underground, Poetry Super Highway, and Strangeroad.com. You can contact her via her web log at www.lisamanzi.com.