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Friday, October 28, 2005

CROWS AND PINES

by Eleanor Brown Steele


Hurricane of feathers
crows storm in. They
heed the rallying cry
to the tops of pines.

What threat makes
them dive with shrieks
so fierce they shake
the forest?

The bombarded pines
seem not to notice,
but two bulky clouds
are hooked

by this public display –
this proclaiming of enemy,
this marking of avian borders.
My friend David tells me

about the book he’s reading,
about how we humans
are biologically designed
to defend and fight

to the end.
I tell him I won’t read it.
But I will ask these crows
what their take is

on the West Bank,
on Iraq. Where did
they stand
at Little Bighorn?


Eleanor Brown Steele holds an MFA from the University of Maine's Stonecoast Creative Writing Program. Her poems have appeared in the Puckerbrush Review, Earth First! Journal, Potpourri, Modern Haiku and Pudding Magazine. She was recently awarded a St. Boltolf Foundation Award for distinction in poetry. The hightlight of her week is teaching poetry to fifth grade students on Peaks Island, Maine.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

ROSA PARKS 1913-2005

by Alisa Gordaneer


doesn’t matter if it’s rosa’s bus

there on the corner in the weeds, tyree says
it is so it is, and it looks just like that old 1947 thing
its windows open to the mourning doves
who nest in the seats, taking places
where white asses black asses all those
asses sat and got to work in mornings filled
with promise or flitting dreams
from last night, afternoons footweary
and ready for supper, feet legs backs heads aching
with the strain of days and only a few more pennies
in the pocket after fare. you can see why
at some point you just gotta sit down
for your rights until they park the bus
and it’s either drive with you or drive over you
because you have become
miraculous, you find as you rise up
to the applause of angels that this time
even the weeds are gonna rise along
and you hold out your hand to pull the soft
fluff off a dandelion the same hair as your
grandmother who taught you
cradled in her lap
said you sit here you sit anywhere you got
a right to be sitting
and you think of here sitting on these seats
where the doves are nesting now and the sky
is open through the windows as wide
as blue as free as all that.


Alisa Gordaneer is the editor of Monday Magazine, an alternative newsweekly in Victoria, BC, Canada, where she lives and writes on an urban homestead with her family. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of poems.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

LIVING IN THE CONGO

by Linda A. Cronin

As many as 50 villagers, of Nindja in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, were carried off into the surrounding forest by armed attackers after a brutal assault.

Ever since the soldiers came
and took her daughter,
her hollow eyes stare into the air.
She crouches in the courtyard,
in the blazing sun, trying
to warm the chill from
her bones, and inside her, throbs
a hunger and an ache
that refuses to be silenced.
In a voice, barren of life,
she describes how each night
as the sun slips from the sky
and darkness falls, she heads
for the woods and spends her nights
cradled in the arms of trees,
staring at the stars above
with a single wish in her heart.


Linda A. Cronin, a poet and fiction writer, has recently finished her first collection of poems, Dream Bones. Her work has appeared in literary magazines such as The Paterson Literary Review, The Journal of New Jersey Poets, Kaleidoscope, Rattle, and LIPS.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

PLASTIC NOT BUDDHA REIGNS

by Barbara Schweitzer


The day glooms dark this afternoon
long before the appointed hour of dusk.
A fitful oak badgers the window
haunting the past like those pictures
of Munch’s scream. It’s a howling wind.

I’ve just returned from shopping
fighting to get the plastic bags
in the door before the huffs
make a brigade that discovers
flight in the modern elements
of carnage – I’ve heard new rocks
are germinating in earth from our
refuse, and lawn chairs as well.

I have tomatoes and cream cheese
and canola oil we’ve needed for a day.
We’re starving in abundance here,
our eyes profoundly impoverished
by TV images over which we can
only pour, corruption so deep
our hearts are forming new rocks too.

The weather has infected my mood.
Sunnier morning had me singing.
Now I can only remember rains.
Shattered things. Lives so different
from mine but made of the same
stuff. To see life as one whole thing
accepts poverty and ignorance and
only evolution to bring any peace.


Barbara Schweitzer is a poet and playwright living in northern RI. Her work has won numerous prizes including a merit fellowship from RI's NEA allotment. Her first volume of poetry, 33 1/3 (Little Pear Press) will be released in spring 2006.

Monday, October 24, 2005

DEMOCRATS' DILEMMA

by James Penha


Left
to be digested
in the belly of the whale
at sea

the end of our agony
like Pinocchio's nose extends
beyond the power
of the ayes
to see.


James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

POLICE FIND CADILLAC BURIED IN WOMAN'S BACKYARD

by Rochelle Ratner


Blame it on the population growth. Blame it on the stock
market. Blame it on the government that set milk
regulations so they had to give up the farm that had been
in her family for generations. All she's left with is this
house and a yard that's less than an acre. She needs money
for dog food, and cat food. She hasn't dined in a restaurant
in nearly two years. What kept her going some days was
the thought of winning the lottery. Or maybe some
unknown relative dying and leaving her everything. Or
collecting on some insurance policy she didn't even know
she had. When her husband was alive, they lived fairly
well. Even as a child, her family was comfortable. Her
grandparents owned 124 acres. With only the one daughter
and the large house, they took in foster boys to help milk
the cows and feed the chickens. And as soon as those boys
learned to drive they wanted cars. As a little girl, she used
to walk in the woods and find parts of the cars they'd
pushed up there and abandoned: a horn, a door handle, a
broken mirror, what looked like the casing for a headlight.
To her, it was like finding buried treasure.


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

Friday, October 21, 2005

ON IMPACT

by Alisa Gordaneer


we’re not used to happy endings, the jet
circling los angeles for hours waiting until
emergency crews can foam the runway
with chemicals to keep it from burning
on impact.

there will be one.
impact, that is.
the television
screen captures the jet against blue
california sky at 20 thousand feet,
blue as the ocean lapping far below, blue
as the uniforms of the flight attendants who
must not show emotion.
we are circling.
we will land. thinking of their boyfriends
down there on the beach, of the number
written in lipstick of someone’s cell.

the passengers aboard just know they are waiting
for impact, though they expected to be
over des moines by now, eating lasagna
eyes upwards in prayer position to
screens and screens of tom hanks. this is
not what they expected. not how they
hoped to end.

but up here, a man kisses
the woman next to him, even though she has
a ring, even though they met just before boarding.
it’s a party, the last days, seeing the end of it all on
each tiny screen
but
as long as the fuel lasts, as long as they
are flying nothing can go wrong it’s only

on impact
everything begins
to change.


Alisa Gordaneer is the editor of Monday Magazine, an alternative newsweekly in Victoria, BC, Canada, where she lives and writes on an urban homestead with her family. She is currently working on a novel and a collection of poems.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

THE DIRECTORATE OF TUBE ALLOYS

by Elizabeth Pietrzak


The Directorate of Tube Alloys
lined up among mighty masters of fate
remembers that a sleek polished silver
shell can mask exquisite terror. Anger
hides beneath a glistening rod, fat hate
feeds hot fear, god-ordained to dominate
shoves it down my throat until I whimper
or beg, to lie with my eyes closed eager
for more, nourishment which I learn too late —
my insides ripped apart and full with his
burning seed, infected fissures hammered
home. He is satisfied and I leveled,
tread marks on the desert floor, dry kiss
licking the dirt, faithful, devout, covered
in the feces of his tube alloys.



“By the year 1939 it had become widely
recognized
among scientists of many nations that the
release of
energy by atomic fission was a possibility.”
—Winston Churchill,
“My Second Visit to the West”
from
The Hinge of Fate.


Elizabeth Pietrzak of Claremont, California is a mostly-vegetarian poet who spurns the meat of global over-consumption in favor of a sustainable, locally grown lifestyle. She received her BA from the University of La Verne and is working on her MFA in creative writing at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She is working on a novel as well as a collection of poetry, and has published her first chapbook, The Scent of Kisses in the Dark. She explains that the "The Directorate of Tube Alloys . . . refers to the title of the task force assigned to develop viable nuclear weaponry during World War II. . . . The threat of nuclear warfare has been surreptitiously shored up as our president supports replacement ‘detonators’ for current weaponry while not really committing to proper disposal of the old ones; i.e a great way to increase our stockpile without drawing too much attention. Meanwhile, the damage caused by depleted uranium from current warfare goes largely unchecked by the public. Nuclear war continues today, only in slightly modified form.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

1945-2005

by Kathleen Sullivan


Two days after the bright ball of light,
the smoke and blast of fireworks

over Times Square dispersed
for a little while both the heavy chill

of winter and the dread of a nation,
in a makeshift maternity ward

of an Army Hospital where
sullen nurses were gypped

of the laurels of restoring crippled
soldiers—I was born. Later

that year, in the sweltering season
another kind of fireworks

split minds open to the fresh
physics of power; made obsolete

in one blink, those old atomistic
pictures of ourselves as hard

glass marbles spinning in blissful
autonomy; bestowed on us

new ways to be very afraid,
to act like the gods, to suffer.

Energy, which would have made
even Zeus cry and throw down

his bolt of lightning, energy
like a million gold chariots

ascending into the heavens—
blossomed over a city in Japan

and flower, child, stone,
cup disappeared into a pure flow

of light, shadows burnt black
onto walls. What does it mean

to be born in nineteen forty-five?
Buried in the dank

space behind our basement's
knotty pine walls were tall stacks

of aerial photographs, "Reconnaissance"
"Top Secret" scrawled in red ink

across each glossy face.
Something about those pictures

we knew never to ask
my father—and sneaking peeks

I might as well have been looking
at pictures of naked men:

it seemed somehow so awful.
Did all our fathers have secrets?

If you tell me yours
I will tell you mine.

On clear nights, with photo-
sensitive film in his knapsack,

my father strode under the palm trees
of some South Seas island,

and over the sand, climbed
into a B52, flew through

the stars to Hiroshima. Telling
this, all I can see is a forest

of fuliginous mushrooms, each
fungal body solitary, breeding

underground in dirt cellars. Mush-
rooms, the same metaphor

psychotherapists use for shame.
On this anniversary I ask who

are we, the children born in the year
Roosevelt's round "Little Boy"

dropped? Tiny and pink or brown,
tumbling in the air with dirty

atoms, minds and bodies open
like wounds, cunning bundles

of energy, growing into history
and already marked?


Kathleen Sullivan lives and works in Maine as a psychotherapist. She is also an MFA student in poetry at Stonecoast, in Maine. She has a poem entitled "Icy Lips" just published in Animus. Email Kathleen Sullivan.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

V@LKERIE FL@ME

A NEO-OPERA
by Bill Costley


Synopsis
:
Winnip@c, veiled 3-headed goddess of cia-deception, destroys all who invoke her hidden name.

Cast:
  • Winnipac, (helden sop.) goddess of cia-deception
  • Valkerie Frame/Plame/Wilson (mezzo-sop.) priestess of cia-deception.
  • Dubya Bush, (helden tenor), 43rd Potus.
  • Dick Cheney, (basso) his vicious-Potus.
  • Irv Libby (tenor), scooter to the vicious-Potus.
  • Karl Rover, (counter-tenor) castrator to the Potus.
  • Judith Miller (contralto), a priestess of the Nyt.
  • FitzGerald, (brass-bar.), the Inquisitor.

Act I: Upon the broad banks of the Potomac.
Aria:
“Bitch Goddess”

Dubya
(helden):
Bitch, goddess,
bitch your best.
I will not rest.
I will not rest.
I never...rest.

Dick Cheney
, to Dubya (sprechstimme):
Dub, who is this bitch?
What’s her f’n name?

Dubya
stammering (sprechstimme):
Valkerie Flame; Valkerie Plame, a Valekrie, a f'n dame.

Act II: Way Out West.
Aria: "Way Out West"

Libby
, to Miller (bel canto):
Way out West, where you vacation,
the aspens, they will be turning;
they turn in clusters, knowing
their roots so connect them.

Act III: At the Lincoln Monument, beside a flaming pyre on the broad banks of the Potomac.

Inquisitor Fitzgerald,
seated on Lincoln’s lap, thwhispers (sprechstimme):
What did Miller make...of this reference to...connected roots?

Miller, below him, an abject supplicant, (bel canto):
The last time
I’d seen Libby
was August 2003,
at a ro-de-o
in Jackson Ho’
a man in jeans
and cowboy hat
approached me
and asked me
about a conference
I'd just attended
in Aspen, CO; Oh,
I had no idea
who he was...
until he told me.

Libby, thwhispering from behind a dusty screen (sprechstimme):
Judy – I’m Scooter…Libby.
Judy – you do not know me, but
Judy – you may someday name me.

[to be continued]


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

Monday, October 17, 2005

THE HIPPO'S LESSON

by Robert M. Chute


As lumbering on land as a
great half deflated ball too awkward
to roll, but submerged this River Horse,
Hippopotamus, becomes an
animate cloud, a four legged whale
dreaming of the sea. But evolution
is so impossibly slow nothing
ever seems to happen -- but of course
it already has and somewhere in
an arctic or a tropic ocean
a whale breaches, blows, and dives,
its history so long it's long forgotten.
While we, we lucky few, we know
where we came from, if we care to listen.


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, October 16, 2005

ELVIS IN A DARK DREAM

by J. T. Brown


Sleep Elvis
Dream of summer days gone by
In the heated beat of promise
The anticipation of something new
Dancing on endless highways through the dashboard radio

Dream Elvis
In the Land of Summer now
On the road of Gilgamesh and Enkidu
In the heat of hair dryer winds
Kicking blind in a simoon, the sheath of a grim giant

Shake it over the Tigris
Rock in the Abu Ghraib
Wattle and wail to tears and mourning
In a pink Cadillac jihad
Blast 'em inta tha space age, baby oily pelvis

Rock and roll forever
In shifting desert sands
Awash with the blood of ancients
From your guitar hands
You are dancing in a dark dream

Where is the idol we once knew
Where has the song gone to
Take the road home to the land of promise
Give us back our dreams
We'll be waiting for you


Tom Brown is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. His works include Journey to Cherchen and Other Tales and an audio collection entitled Dreams of Dreams.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

COUPS IN THE NEWS

by Paul Hostovsky

Don't you love a good coup?
I don't mean the fascists
and generals with mustaches
who overthrow them on the
front page. I mean
David. Right here
in the Metro section
of today's Herald:
"Deaf-mute motorist
proves in traffic court
that the hand signals of the cop
at Commonwealth and Main
where the accident occurred
were ambiguous
from a linguistic point of view."
Deaf David. I love it.
Says here he had a
PhD from BU
in applied linguistics.
The undefeated held scoreless
by who-would-have-guessed-it,
underscoring once again
life's fundamental who-the-hell-knew.


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.

Friday, October 14, 2005

VACATION

by Renée Guillory


If you want to find Tony Blair
look nowhere, man - then look at the
Sardinian Cliffs, which draw beleaguered
ministers like a magnet.

If you want to find George Bush, check
under Lance Armstrong's saddle, and then
in the ditch where the soldier's mother
decided she's had enough and
took out a handful of shiny nails, and -- when
the secret services were getting their autographs --
laid them across the road.

She's not malicious or violent.
She just needs to give good ole boy
George an earful.
And she likes her world leaders
with a bit of slapstick.

"Brush off the dust, Mr President,"
she might have said. "And while my
mother lies quietly in the hospital
and my son screams from his grave,
talk to me about how much you
need this war."

The force of her challenge knocks him
over and the president implodes in just
3 ... 2 ... 1
A puff of smoke and an unsettling dream
are all he leaves behind.

But the beat goes on all over the world.

"The U.S.," our Voice of America announcer
keeps insisting, "is YOUR DESIGN SOURCE for
DEMOCRACY".

And where still is Tony Blair?
Has he gone? Or gone mad? Has his sycophancy
finally been punished by angry Londoners,
who recently woke again to their long-sleeping nightmare
of terror and falling rubble. A nightmare of dark skies
and hunger
that had been forced back by the
psychedelic lights and glowing Apples of
It-dom in the 60s.

Has the prime minister been kidnapped by Karl Rove?
Is he Bible-tied, pistol-whipped?
Isolated in a hell of his own making by
kowtowing in the first place?

Has he passed the loyal opposition's torch,
or doused it?

Where is the dream for our Reconciliation Park? Has it
reached the all-important model-building stage?
Is it a dusty diorama, a Sabbath fancy--
this comical idea of peace in our bloody time?

Is it a punch line?
Is it still a living hope?
Is it a paint-splattered scar on the walls of the hanging
garden?
Or is it some other wall we need to build,
or tear down?


Renée Guillory is an author, musician and grassroots organizer. Her latest book is Best Hikes with Dogs - Arizona.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

CONFIDENCE

by Maureen Tolman Flannery


The insular life finds it surprisingly easy
to sleep through
remote imploding of bedroom walls,
throbbing in some phantom limb
missing from another man’s body,
blood it cannot see
turning the dust vermillion
on a distant road
it feels certain it will never
have to travel down.


Maureen Tolman Flannery’s Ancestors in the Landscape: Poems of a Rancher’s DaughterA Fine Line was also published this year and produced as musical theatre. Her other books are Secret of the Rising Up: Poems of Mexico; Remembered Into Life; and the anthology Knowing Stones: Poems of Exotic Places. Her work has appeared in forty anthologies and over a hundred literary reviews, recently including Midwest Quarterly Review, Amherst Review, Calyx, Atlanta Review, and North American Review. was nominated for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. Although she grew up in a Wyoming sheep ranch family, Maureen and her actor husband Dan have raised their four children in Chicago.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

IOWA MAN WALKS OFF WITHOUT PAYING FOR LEG

by Rochelle Ratner


Because he wants to. Actually, he'd briefly considered
hopping out. He'd considered becoming a stunt man,
maybe someone shot out of a cannon like the Quaker Oats
soldiers. Except the metal plate in his head intolerably
echoes even the sound of breathing. No one seems to care
about the circus these days, just as no one cares what
happens in Iraq. Or rather, what happens to people in Iraq.
Little American boys in G. I. Joe outfits carrying toy rifles.
The recruiter never told him this would happen. His
mother tugged at his jacket, trying to keep her with him,
promising to get a second, even a third job. Not wanting
her to see this proof that he should have listened, he
crouched for three days in a cornfield near the house.
When you come right down to it, he's owed this leg. It's
been fitted and refitted, so it's almost comfortable for a few
hours at a time. There was no other way, short of crawling.
Or maybe getting a crutch and dirty coffee cup and leaning
against a building two or three towns away where no one
knows his family. But yes, he just walked off. And he didn't
walk, he ran.


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

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

JOHN BROWN CABIN ATTACKED

by Thomas D. Reynolds


For all terrorists who justify their cause,
this monument is dedicated.
This cabin owned by a distant relative
and visited occasionally by Brown
when he traveled through the area
in his efforts to free the slaves.
The "Battle of Osawatomie" was fought near here,
though no one was actually killed.
I say the burning was a proper re-dedication.
The arsonist who stole two Civil War rifles
and then torched the cabin to cover his tracks
provided what no mayor's speech ever could:
the presence of Brown's anarchic spirit,
his passion, the scarred leathery skin.
The rather mundane assortment of artifacts
and printed cards didn't belong in a shrine
Even the grim portrait over the hearth
with beady eyes and gaunt face
couldn't have enticed Brown's ghost to visit
so far away from Harper's Ferry.
A thousand John Brown Jamboree Parades
couldn't accomplish as much as a cheap lighter
and a gallon of unleaded gasoline.
What would Brown think of the arsonist?
He would have admired his methods,
but would have thought he got little return.
Several guns over a century old
and a reputation among local law enforcement.
An inauspicious start for a cause of freedom.
Next time, scout the arsenal more accurately,
chose your strike for maximum impact,
and kill an innocent, say the caretaker,
to punctuate your will and intent.
Not bad for your reputation either.
Maybe Brown was even in the passenger seat
holding an old rusty musket with bayonette
watching the fire in the rear view mirror
as they headed for the Missouri border.


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.

Monday, October 10, 2005

EVENTS LEADING UP TO AN AFTERLIFE MEETING BETWEEN TERRI SCHIAVO AND MANADAL AL-JAMADI

by Ann Tweedy


the woman who committed a kind of extended suicide
clings to life in a hospice, her feeding tube removed,
after state courts and federal courts
refused to intervene. fifteen years earlier, while the eating disorder
ravaged her, before it stopped her heart
and killed her brain, she might have been savable.

the president who flew home early from his texas ranch
to sign the legislation that gave the federal courts jurisdiction
to review the state court’s life support decision
is the same man whose navy seals and CIA officers beat
an iraqi war prisoner near death with fists and gun muzzles,
then shackled him to the wall,
palestinian style, to die of complications.
Manadal al-Jamadi went from “ghost prisoner”
to ghost in less than an hour, a flexibility
that demonstrates the advantages
of “ghost prisoner” status.

and so a white woman in a self-induced
vegetative state, who didn’t want to be on life support
but whom our government nonetheless
sought to forcibly keep alive, and an arab man,
taken prisoner by our country and immediately
murdered by our soldiers, both take off,
maybe to the same place, to face whatever’s next,
leaving us with our silence.


Ann Tweedy grew up in a small town in Massachusetts. She has been writing poetry ever since she moved to the West Coast in 1996. Over fifty of her poems have been published or are forthcoming in publications such as Clackamas Literary Review, Rattle, Avocet, Harrington Lesbian Fiction Quarterly, Berkeley Poetry Review, and The Awakenings Review. For her day job, she works as a public interest lawyer in rural Washington State.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

THE NEW BARBARIANS

by Marguerite Bouvard


Envoys didn’t crowd the horizon with their ships
or trample the plains on horse back.
There was no jingling of spurs,
no wind gusting against our doors.
When they arrived, mothers
were driving their children to school
and the man across the street
was loading his golf clubs
into his car, the grocer was stocking
his shelves with cereal boxes
and the dress shop manager
was changing the display in her window.
When they arrived our ears were tuned
to our own footsteps, our thoughts
bounded by our ordinary days. Men
in well-pressed suits and carrying briefcases
slipped from their high-rise offices
and entered the wide open gates
of our city. This was no Troy
no Jericho. They spoke to us
about new dangers. They told us all
would be well now and we believed them.
They spoke a language
we thought we understood, assuring us
we would be safe now
from the barbarians far across the world.


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.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

WATCHING THE NEWS AFTER KATRINA

By Barbara Schweitzer


In the world I don’t know,
frightful images rule,
desires confuse the senses
so that hunger can become
a new iPod or sneakers
with red lights that dance
on four year old’s feet, cardboard
can be disguised as food,
bread is money, money is
paper thin and easily
becomes mere blow in the wind.
I don’t know this world,
I don’t know. I’ve glimpsed
it iconically, only
felt it in mornings after
too much cheer or in frittery
sleeplessness or in gizzardy
stirrings of knowledge that
I am the Other of it.

I know how the body craves
balance even if it is
akilter and dangerous.
It will fight change to death
even the good and healthful
change, like a child who wants
a nickel ‘cuz it’s bigger
than the dime. Life, life
is lusty, so gregarious, so
full of itself and blustery,
so magnetically driven,
it can throw itself away
without so much as a
fare-the-well, leaving behind
the rest of us tut-tutting
studying, reveling,
so often waxing poetic,
lapping luxuries we
take credit for.


Barbara Schweitzer is a poet and playwright living in northern RI. Her work has won numerous prizes including a merit fellowship from RI's NEA allotment. Her first volume of poetry, 33 1/3 (Little Pear Press) will be released in spring 2006.

Friday, October 07, 2005

TRAGEDY BUILDS

by Bill Costley


Our future is quickly getting far
bleaker than we'd ever imagined.
All old assumptions are off &
all new assumptions, barely-on:

What our parents thought is absurd;
what we now think is ridiculous, but
there’s nothing laughable about it.

Irony fails; tragedy builds; an empire
gone nuts can’t stop itself; its
propaganda fails; tragedy builds;
future History will record this
as our
2nd Greatest Delusion,
after A New World Order.


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

Thursday, October 06, 2005

TUNE OUT

by Doris Henderson


Imagine cotton fields: pure white puffs.
Like those cumulus clouds this morning;
you could reach up and squeeze them.

Connie claims she has no breasts.
She underestimates herself.
Connie, you don't need watermelons.

Compared to you I am a small boy.
But those clouds:
like cotton candy

like whipped cream
piled to infinity
for the gods to feast on.

You must try this restaurant.
Excellent pizza, succulent pasta.
They let you stay and talk all afternoon.

Or you can read your newspaper,
listen to your tiny ipod,
criticize the latest political speech.

This afternoon our President spoke
to an audience of poets. Well, he thought
it was the military he was addressing

but the poets were listening too,
thousands of us, seated before our TV sets,
waiting for the P word (peace, remember?)

But it never came.
We are going to stay right there,
taunt our enemies into attacking us

on foreign ground, where our skyscrapers aren't,
then destroy them, with all their sympathizers.
(This could take another 50 years, at least.)

So just hold fast, don't watch too much TV,
turn up the music on your tiny ipod,
think clouds, breasts, watermelons.....


Doris Henderson’s poems have appeared in numerous journals including Slant, Comstock Review, Connecticut River Review, and in collections such as Red Flower and Heartbeat of New England. Her poem "Distances," published in the anthology Caduceus in 2004, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A recent winner of the Wallace Winchell Poetry Competition, she facilitates a writing workshop, volunteers for liberal causes, is active with the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office in New York. "After years of doing social commentary," she says, "I find a little humor sometimes helps!"

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

THEME FOR MATHEMATICS B

by Anthony Gayle


“You have 15 minutes to complete the next worksheet."
I don’t think. I just move.
Let the pencil lead.
Speed is the key.
Teacher tells me
that this will help me compete
in the real world.
If I can fill out the worksheet
in time, maybe I can fill out the time sheet to work.
At the very least:
I'll be able to recite my DC number during roll call,
the points scored by the local legend
during his first game of pro-ball,
and the amount of money I have left at the commissary
after the bribe to make sure I get to make my phone call.

Is there room for me in Mathematics B?--
In a room that has more students than it has seats.

She works the double shift
at the factory.
15 years on the job
and the supervisor wouldn't know her name
if it weren't sown into the pocket
of her light blue smock.
Stacking/packing
box after box,
exactly 25 minutes for lunch-
1 minute late means 15 minutes docked.
Time to zone out,
mentally fly away
while her body continues to obey.
She's got mouths to feed,
bills to pay--
just sent one out,
the next one's already on its way.
Who, better than her,
knows the Infinities contained within theday?

Is there room in Mathematics B
for someone like me?
Somewhat like you,
and somewhat less free.


Anthony Gayle is a 27 year old math instructor. He states, “I write to learn (about myself) as I learn to write. It is a positive, empowering cycle.”

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

WOOL AND WAR

by Kathleen Sullivan


The Texas rancher whose cattle roam
where oilrigs bow to the prairie grass
says he’s a “dyed in the wool Republican”
which is not how American boys in Iraq
are dying. They are dying in chichi cotton

camouflage; in flimsy unarmored tanks
and despite the president swearing
he didn’t pull the wool over our eyes.
Outside, the wooly bear crawls on the road:
fat and furry, an omen of an awful winter

to come. Growing up, my mother bought
all the girls “ a good wool coat.” Perhaps
she thought wearing one could protect us from what
she’d seen. Like those wool socks! Mothers
knitting socks, sisters knitting, wives. Socks

sent overseas to Normandy and Flanders. They
died in their socks, in their foxholes, while
we pulled the wool over our eyes, surprised to find
that Bergen–Belsen wasn’t a hot springs spa.
About Iraq, Mr. Bush says he doesn’t need

the facts because he “feels it in his gut.”
He’s wired to the Big Guy in the Sky who’s whispering
in his ear, whispering that he’s Moses, that
he’s chosen to lead those other fundamentalists out
of the hands of heathens, into the Land of Freedom—

no matter how many women and children
he blows up. Soft skeins of llama, alpaca, the yarn
stores are full of worried women buying needles,
knitting, like saying the rosary, praying for
a watchful mother to bring us all a good wool coat.


Kathleen Sullivan lives and works in Maine as a psychotherapist. She is also an MFA student in poetry at Stonecoast, in Maine. She has a poem entitled "Icy Lips" just published in Animus.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

THE NUMBERS

by Paul Hostovsky


A thousand feared drowned.
Two hundred dead.
Nine hundred killed.
The numbers
are so round.
They're like the planets.
Unimaginable.
Uninhabitable.
Out there.
Yet under
foot.


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.