Guidelines



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Sunday, December 24, 2006

WAR OF WORDS

by Robert M. Chute


Sticks and stones may be less dangerous
than words. Does it matter whether the bomb
that killed Ali or Andrew was an act
of terror or of warfare when it blossomed
in all its brutal brilliance in Baghdad?

Even something as simple as stopping defies
definition. To disengage suggests a mutual
return of rings rather than retreat, and
giving up (I mean withdrawal) can easily
become new policy, the new way forward.

Somewhere between mission accomplished and
cut and run there must be an exit strategy.
(We've done our part, Iraq, now it's your turn.)
You can be sure we'll never say defeat.
The country's brightest seek a better word for it.

We need an answer urgently, before
Operation Iranian Freedom leads the news.


Robert M. Chute’s new book from JustWrite Books, Reading Nature, poetry based on scientific articles, is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

ON TETHERS TO TEXAS

by Carol Elizabeth Owens

“Saudi Arabia has been a key ally of the United States and is the world's top oil exporter.”
(Dec. 12, 2006 – CNN.com ‘Saudi Ambassador to U.S. Resigns’)


germans
have their beamers
the japanese – lexus
but our motors cross with fuel
between the middle east
and texas. bush
has burned

our mid-
night oil, melted
candles vex us. the lamp
encamps a conflict in such heat
as scene in texas. grease
those southern palms
and pump

that gas—
to yield profits
post a fresh militia
at the pipeline, lest they stop it
this flow of politics
is a real hot
topic

fire’s
never friendly
if the battleground’s false
and our nexus to the saudis
is one cause to give pause
when will texas
withdraw?


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

Friday, December 22, 2006

DECEMBER WALK

by David Chorlton


Beside a slender river
that mumbles to the stones
we walk in quiet shoes
with winter thoughts
and eyes for the silky light
falling on the cottonwoods
still holding to a few
last russet leaves.

One falls for the Chilean general
and a flurry scatters
for those who still support
him. It was right, they say,
to do the things he did
and not apologise. A tree shakes
unexpectedly

for the war that continues
without explanation
and we follow a dusty path
that tells us how long it has been
since rain or diplomacy.
Among the bare-limbed textures

of mesquite we are at peace
for a while. Nobody awaits
execution, nobody is tortured
until they cough up a reason
for it to stop, and nobody
stands in our way
prepared to strip us to our souls
before we continue
the journey. Along an uphill trail

we become ambassadors
from the country of grass
to that of rock and air. Back
in the shadows we report
to the water that clouds
are dispersing and the year

is drawing to a close
with unsettled accounts
and unburied dictators.
But as long as it flows
we will come here
to be with the trees
each one of which stands
as if nailed
to its place in the universe.


David Chorlton lives in central Phoenix where he keeps watch for hawks and other urban wildlife. He has published poems in magazines including Slipstream, Main Street Rag, Poem, Skidrow Penthouse and Parting Gifts, and has several books and chapbooks the most recent of which is Waiting for the Quetzal from March Street Press.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

IT FELL TO ME

by Michael Shorb


It fell to me
to express the confused
rage of the drowning
Polar bear battling
chemical winds and widening
water, its strength
exhausted by two hundred
miles of suddenly open ocean,
its mind unraveled by
the mystery of breaking
white ice canyons
teeming with easy prey
like ringed seals now vanishing

It fell to me to find
a calculus of the great creature's
final bellowing cry,
its final vision of glowing
cod and halibut slinking away
as it sank down
into cold darkness
it once had ruled

to find some explanation
for this vagrant,
unnatural sight:

colored waves dashing on leaden rocks

                    a massive white pelt

floating on the ocean's
warming surface.


Michael Shorb's work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including Nation, Michigan Quarterly Review, California Quarterly, and The Sun. He writes frequently about political, historical and environmental issues, and lives in San Francisco, CA.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BOY GETS HANDCUFFED TO STUFFED REINDEER

by Rochelle Ratner


What he'd wanted for his sixth birthday was a toy gun, a
police badge, and handcuffs. But his parents didn't want
him playing with guns so he just got the handcuffs and a
stuffed reindeer. The reindeer's been a problem from the
start, hiding under the bed last week, and this morning he
found him crouched behind the door to his room. So the
boy decides to handcuff him, slipping the cuff first around
the reindeer's neck. He slaps the other cuff on his own
wrist, and so they stay until the reindeer promises to
behave. Then he can't get the cuff off. His mother can't get
the cuff off. His father can't get the cuff off. And the honest
to God policeman who comes to the house has a key that
doesn't fit and is worried bolt cutters might slip and injure
him. While they're waiting for the firemen his mother sits
him down, dries his tears, and tells him that there is no
Santa Claus.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

BECAUSE OF THE NUMBERS

by David LaBounty


The boss called me on Friday
and told me I had to do it
on Monday
and it didn’t matter
what I said, he said.
It didn’t matter because
the numbers,
the numbers
just weren’t there.
It’s the way it goes, he said.
It’s not like it’s by design, he said.
It’s not like we planned to lose
our ass this quarter and it’s
not our fault your store
couldn’t put up enough
numbers to save everybody.

He has a family, I said.

We have bills, he said.

He’ll lose his insurance, I said.

You’ll keep your job, he said
and he hung up the phone and I had been
looking forward to the weekend
but I kept that conversation
with me as I spent time with
my children, taking them
to the zoo and for ice
cream while grinding my
teeth and acting like I didn’t have
a care in the world.


David LaBounty's poetry has recently appeared in Four Volts, Boston Literary Magazine, The Verse Marauder and in upcoming issues of Autumn Sky Poetry and Pemmican. He served in the navy for four years and has worked as a miner, a mechanic, a reporter and a salesman.

Monday, December 18, 2006

TOO QUIET

(ODE TO SILENT AMERICAN NIGHT)



“…for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it…”
--Erich Maria Remarque All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

by Robert Emmett


it’s a little too quiet on the western front
all festooned with swag
while over there
it’s just another scene

the fervor of our handiwork
is enough to make you gag
stamp no return
on the invoice for the keen

the waking nightmare
seems so real
except they speak in tongues
and hot-spun cotton
makes it hard to breathe
a smirking cheek
a winking eye
all stuffed with glee
casts you aside
wipes bible spit
across a silken sleeve

somnambulists tote glitter in
the desperate bleed their poor hearts out
and strew forsaken children
in the street
don’t bother to give it another thought
the mindless chatter is already bought
your boundless bounty
puts fleece
on fortune’s feet

so tiptoe to the goody bag
you can have your choice
polish the pater’s pate
until it gleams
his pugnacious noggin’s noddin’ now
but you have lost your voice
you traded it on the cheap
for sugarplum dreams


Robert Emmett sifts dreams from waking nightmares under a blanket of heavy snow in the silent woods of Michigan.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

ADDENDA TO GREENSLEEVES

by Louie Crew


"Why hang AIDS bells on our green tree?"
          the State the leper is asking.
"I dare to claim that God loves me
          and in this hope I'm basking."

          This, this is Christ, the King
          whom peasants guard and angels sing:
          Haste, haste to bring God laud,
          The babe, the child of Mary.

"Your plastic bag is rude and smells,"
          the Church the beggar is chiding.
"It's all I have; a manger tells
          I'm safe in God confiding."

          This, this is Christ, the King
          whom peasants guard and angels sing:
          Haste, haste to bring God laud,
          The babe, the child of Mary.

"Why lie you down before the tanks
          we use exporting freedom?"
"The ox and ass to God give thanks
          and we are here to feed 'em."

          This, this is Christ, the King
          whom peasants guard and angels sing:
          Haste, haste to bring God laud,
          The babe, the child of Mary.


Louie Crew has edited special issues of College English and Margins. He has written four poetry volumes: Sunspots (Lotus Press, Detroit, 1976) Midnight Lessons (Samisdat, 1987), Lutibelle's Pew (Dragon Disks, 1990), and Queers! for Christ's Sake! (Dragon Disks, 2003).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

TANOREXIA

by Mary E. Weems


It’s another Geraldo “and around the world”
The three white girls, without curls
Stand in front of the camera dressed
in swimsuits that look like skin
like they wear them even when not grinning
like clueless Cheshire cats.
They are all meant to be white-skinned,
white as the moon when she’s full of herself.
They have a look in their eye, a tunnel vision
of outside looking in, of dissatisfied,
of we don’t know, except what we want to know.
So, while the world spins on a billion behinds
all turning the soil in a different direction,
AIDS takes center stage with rage, poverty
and what should we care for, while the innocent
repeat the role of invisible sacrifices to the oil
gods,
and fake Bush gives a nod to drill addiction;
while new diseases are quickly added to all the
diseases
we already have, while in the middle of the mix
every day continues to amaze, affirm, and thrive;
they seek the ultimate tan, huddle in their basements
at night
whispering on cell phones, sharing the newest liquid
enhancements,
ways to hide their tanning time from parents, the
credit card bills
that come every month. They match arms, legs, faces in
mirrors
compare the results of the latest session to the
cutout gossip magazine
images of their latest tan-idols, look adoringly at
themselves each time
they pass anything that reflects. They are the tan.


Mary E. Weems, Ph.D. is an accomplished poet, playwright, author, performer, motivational speaker, and scholar of urban education. Weems’ work has been widely published in journals, anthologies, and several books including Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect: I Speak from the Wound in My Mouth (Lang, 2003), developed from her dissertation which argues for imagination-intellectual development as the primary goal of public education. She won the Wick Chapbook Award for her collection white in 1996, and in 1997 her play Another Way to Dance won the Chilcote award for The Most Innovative Play by an Ohio Playwright. Her most recent collection of poems Tampon Class (Pavement Saw Press, 2005) is in its second printing. Mary Weems currently teaches in the English and Education departments at John Carroll University.

Friday, December 15, 2006

MECHANICAL RAIN

by Christopher R. Vierck


Amost
four years running
i’m reminded how people
live in their own prophecies;
it’ll rain in the desert, roses will bloom,
democracy will spread, and everyone will love us…

it’s certainly easy to do… if you just pretend
shrapnel and bombs are just mechanical rain
in another country, nothing to concern our
pretty little wheat-covered american heads with,

it’s just a little lie in the long tall grass…
see all those listless clouds drifting on by?
if you can’t imagaine the dream i’ll whisper
it out for you; these clouds bring no drumming rain,
this one’s a bunny, that ones an emu.


Christopher R. Vierck's poetry has appeared in several Old Mountain Press Anthologies, as well as the upcoming Mourning Katrina: A Poetic Response to Tragedy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

DARFUR

by Mary Saracino


Two point five million scattered in the wind
tossed away like brittle leaves, scorched
by the sun, torn from the limbs
of ancient trees.

Bloodied souls in search of
safety
bread
clean water
a place to rest their heads, far
far from the gun barrels of genocide.

Displaced families trudge
through dusty hot noon-times,
huddle under darkened nights,
pray to the moonless heavens, the starless skies,
pray too for the world to give a damn
about human upheaval, about maimed mothers
and disenfranchised fathers
waiting with each step —
each breath — for the world to rage against evil,
end the slaughter.

Men & women, babies flee,
on foot, in haste, no time to gather
anything but their courage, no time
to mourn beloved relatives, savor a final meal,
enjoy the laughter that used to sweeten
the mouths of their sons & their daughters

Who will help them pacify
the hungry howls of children emptied
of food, of hope?

The hellish hounds run rampant:
starvation
disease
rape
torture
murder
despair

On camels and horses, the Janjaweed
raid villages, force boys and girls
into a thatched hut,
strike the fire, burn them alive,
kill their parents who race forward
shuddering in horror to rescue their young.

An ocean away in Denver, a man
in exile recounts the harrowing path
from hell to haven. He escaped with two shirts,
two pairs of pants, the clothes on his back,
grateful for his life, mindful of his country’s anguish.
From time to time, he clutches a phone
listens for the clandestine whispers
of a brother, still trapped in Khartoum ,
a brother who reassures, “Yes I am alive, for now,
for one more day.”

For now his brother rests safely, his hiding place secure.
Though he’s outsmarted the prowling Janjaweed
one more time, outside his window
the stench of hatred lingers. How long before his time runs out?
How long?
How long?
How long?


Mary Saracino is a novelist, memoir writer, and poet who lives in Denver, CO. Her latest novel, The Singing of Swans was published by Pearlsong Press in October 2006.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

THE NIGHT WE MURDERED TOOKIE WILLIAMS*

by Jacqueline Kudler

*Executed by lethal injection,
San Quentin, California
December 13, 2005

If the sun ever burned through that day
it happened somewhere else.
All day the deep chill insinuated itself
under doors, through bedroom louvers,
down the backs of our collars.
All day we waited for the clemency
that never came, while the good
folk, fog-cloaked, marched over
Wolfe Grade, gathered at the prison
gates with signs and speeches.

I did not march with them. I'm tired of
candlelight vigils and tired of whining.
I'm tired of not understanding how
half the people anywhere think what
they think about guns or justice.
I'm tired of the cold. So I cooked up
a pot of curried pea soup for supper
and went to bed before the Late News.

But we led him, shackled, down
the long corridor— the big man,
a vast embarrassment of blazing health—
laid him on the table, positioned him
with infinite care, precision, the way
they prep a patient for the OR, only
this time, what he needed to be
cured of was his life.

And all the while, The Select watched on:
the vengeful and the long-aggrieved,
the ever-avid press—watched on
until the last spasm of the chest
the last flutter at the throat.
What part of this procedure, Dear God,
am I not understanding?


Jacqueline Kudler lives in Sausalito, California and teaches classes in memoir writing and literature at the College of Marin in Kentfield. She serves as an advisory director on the board of Marin Poetry Center. Her poems have appeared in numerous reviews, magazines, and anthologies. Her full length poetry collection, Sacred Precinct, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, in 2003. She was awarded the Marin Arts Council Board Award in 2005 for “an exceptional body of work over a period of time,” and her “outstanding commitment to the literary arts.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

NO CHILD UNLEFT UNDONE

by Nancy Graham


This text is from section 9528 on pages 559 and 560 they keep
having to xerox pages and send them to us
of the 670-page
reauthorization of the Emirate
and Secondary Education Act. So, another reason
to go to the library!
commonly known as the No Child
Left Behind Act of 2001: SEC. 9528. ARMED
FORCES excitement! RECRUITER ACCESS
TO STUDENTS It’s really hard when a friend
does that. I’m not even talking about
someone in here I’m talking about having
leftovers. You don’t have to eat that!
AND
STUDENT RECRUITING INFORMATION.
Not without parents. (a) POLICY-This operation
is one of the worst:
(1) ACCESS TO STUDENT
RECRUITING INFORMATION- Notwithstanding
NOT WITHOUT YOUR PARENTS! section 444(a)(5)(B)
of the General Education Provisions Act and except
as provided in paragraph (2), you can’t just sit
still for a while and read this?
each local educational
agency receiving monetary assistance under
this Act must look at the floor
to see where their post-it notes are going
shall
provide, as a kind of quid pro quo, on a request
made by you don’t read? military recruiters
or make attempt to hollow out the sound of their
voices
or an institution of higher education
access to the nocturnal dreams to secondary
school students’ names, addresses, and telephone
listings. Ah, the marvels of public education!


Nancy Graham's poems have been published in BlazeVox, Chronogram, Eratio and Aught, and her short stories in Prima Materia, Cafe Irreal and Orchid (forthcoming). Her background is in alternative media and the arts, and she currently operates the blogs Alternative Films for Kids and Oswegatchie.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A MODEST FAMINE PROPOSAL

by Bonnie Naradzay


First came four imported breeds
of potato, like the Four Horsemen,
from the New World. The largest
tuber, the Horse Potato, soon
was all the Irish grew. Then,
within days, the withering blight -
and the sickening smell of decay.
The British levied tariffs on imported corn,
formerly used for animal fodder,
and cheaper wheat was diverted
from Ireland’s poor to sell to the Continent.
Sir Robert Peel’s idea, maize from America,
called “Peel’s Brimstone” for the yellow color,
did not catch on. The Chickasaw tribe donated
money and wheat. Then England sponsored
lectures, solely in English, on growing wheat
- to starving tenants farming quarter-acre lots
who spoke only Gaelic. Pamphlets
were handed out on agricultural practices
containing whole passages from Adam Smith.
Lady Gregory’s husband’s clause
in the convoluted Poor Law
forced tenants out of their huts,
newly roofed with boughs and sod,
away from their smoldering fires of peat,
while priests gave last rites in the wind.
In the winter of cholera,
crow-bar brigades pulled apart
the windowless huts of mud and stones,
turned stick-thin families loose
to starve in a ruined country.
Where do rooks go when the trees are felled?
Workhouses, devolved from charities,
were locked down by English landlords
claiming to have no food anywhere.
Whole families, moaning to be let in,
the next morning lay dead outside
the bolted door where they’d lain all night,
too weak to move on. After a week
of building roads to nowhere, famished men
on work crews died before their first pay came.
The Duke of Norfolk then proposed – Why not
curry powder instead of the potato? They could live
on curry powder mixed with water.


Bonnie Naradzay is a degree candidate at the Stonecoast MFA Program, having earned her M.A. over 35 years ago. She has a poem accepted for publication in JAMA and has published in many online journals, including Salt River Review, Beltway Quarterly, Innisfree, Potomac Journal, and Convergence.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

STEM CELLS MAY LEAD TO CANCER VACCINE

by Rochelle Ratner


At least that's what tests in mice seem to suggest, but it's
only been 27 days, and it was only lung cancer. The next
step will be to teach the mice to smoke. They can start with
stubs found on the ground, easier for the mice to hold.
Besides, that's how people think of stem cells--thrown
away tips, mostly with filters. The experiments alone will
boost sagging tobacco sales. Marlboro Mickey. Give away
sets of mouse ears with little flames in the center. All she
ever wanted was the simple mouse ears but her mother,
who smoked Camels then, insisted upon the best. Her
husband also. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away from her
mother's grave, mice have invaded their bedroom.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

CAROLINA SNIPE HUNT

by Earl J. Wilcox


                              In the small tract of land
behind our house where we have lived long enough
to raise grandchildren, developers finally found
enough money to entice the owners to sell. Today,
we totaled up our losses. A staggering number of
nature's perennials no longer have homes: tall hard-
woods and pines, sumac, dogwood, squirrels, genera-
tions of ticks, Canada geese, rabbits, raccoons, deer,
night and day owls, millions of chiggers, Cardinals,
bluebirds, woodpeckers, finches both purple and yellow,
Carolina wrens, dandelions, blackberries, wild strawberries,
mice, rats, copperheads and common garden snakes, happy
sparrows, chickadees,---and our children's woods where
they built playhouses, waded in the streams, got their share
of ticks, reveled in romping in the woods as if they owned
the land themselves. Oh, and this: two turkeys are without a
home. We caught sight of them last week when the tractors
and trucks came to cut and haul the tree, rearrange the land
for condos, chase Carolina's critters out of their natural habitat.

                              We and all the creatures seem to
be adjusting except for the turkeys. Today, they stood in the
middle of a busy road, gawking and waddling around, confused, uncomfortable, lost. What loss have we suffered compared to the homeless.


Earl J. Wilcox founded The Robert Frost Review, which he edited for more than a decade. His poetry was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Friday, December 08, 2006

GRAVE AND DETERIORATING

by Anne G. Davies


The Iraq Study Group at last has spoken
Now we know officially that Iraq is broken.
Staying the course so baseless and brash
Has been firmly consigned to history's trash.

What of the neocons who closely hover
Will they find it expedient to dive for cover?
With Rummy gone, and just Cheney to lean on
Will Bush change the policies he's so keen on?

Even sterling, steadfast Jim Baker
The Bush family's mover and shaker
Seems uncertain how to convince our leader
That his strategy is an endless breeder
Of Iraqi chaos. At least he may tame Bush verbally
And stamp on his triumphal hyperbole.

But can Bush give up his mystical thinking
Even though he sees the Middle East sinking
Into anarchy? If not, he's ripe for impeaching,
A conclusion the country may soon be reaching.

Or will he only sheathe his bloodstained sword
On direct commandment from the Lord?


Anne G. Davies is a fund-raising writer by profession and a writer and versifier by avocation. Her work has been published on local and regional papers. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

COUSIN HAROLD

by Wayne Scheer


I see the Village Voice finally gave you your fifteen minutes, Mr. G.
At least, that's what the Voice called you.
The family, of course, knows you as Cousin Harold.

You'd been showing porn at the Polk Theatre in Jackson Heights since 1959,
"Nine dirty films a day."
That's some accomplishment, Cousin Harold,
What with the way the city cleaned up Times Square,
Turning it into a haven for t-shirt buying tourists.

The article said the Polk was only one of three porno theatres left in the city.
And now you've sold the Polk.
It's expected to become an apartment building--
Just what New York City needs, another apartment building.

"I shouldn't have sold it," you say now.

It's not like you had a choice. Down to twelve customers a day,
Including the man with one glove
Who spent much of the time outside the theatre talking on his cellphone.

Still, you loved the Polk, despite its piss and old carpet stench.
"All it needs is a paint job," you told the reporter.
You wanted to save it, but like your bowler hat and black overcoat
It had become an eyesore, an embarrassment. Especially to the family.

Your daughter moved far from New York, saying only that you were in real estate.
Your most loyal employee, Sandra the ticket-taker,
Attended church every morning begging forgiveness
For the sin of selling tickets at a dirty movie theatre.

How will she feed her sixteen cats, you worry.

The Polk is gone, and you, at seventy-five, sleep all day
Because you have no place to wear your bowler hat.


After teaching writing and literature in college for twenty-five years, Wayne Scheer retired to follow his own advice and write. He's been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net. His work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Pedestal, Smokelong Quarterly, Pindeldyboz and Triplopia. Wayne lives in Atlanta and can be contacted at wvscheer@aol.com.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

G.I. CAFÉ

by Mel Waldman


“Come in and drink a cup of hot or cold cider for peace.”

Nearby, a soldier gazes at the G.I. Café, unaware of the ghosts
of other wars surrounding him. He listens to a stranger’s voice
calling out to him.

“We love this beautiful country of ours, just like you. So join us
for a soulful discussion of the war, the way things are, and the
possibilities for peace.”

He’s a patriot. He’ll die for America to ensure our safety and
freedom. Yet the voice beckons him and he moves closer to the
entrance.

On this cold autumn morning, the air is biting and harsh. There
are no other humans outside the café. He believes he is alone. Yet
the ghosts watch him.

Then, suddenly, a fog develops, enclosing him in a preternatural
atmosphere of zero visibility.

“Let’s discuss the facts,” the disembodied voice cries out, penetrating
the fog. “I’m a soldier too.”

Inside the eerie circle of mist, he hesitates.

“Come in out of the cold,” the voice commands, appealing to old fashioned
pragmatism.

He has questions. And he’s curious.

“We’re a place to talk.”

He enters the Different Drummer Internet Café in Watertown , N.Y. , near Fort
Drum and the 10th Mountain Division, seeking the phantom voice that has
beckoned him. It belongs to a veteran, a woman with a magical smile.

“Welcome, soldier.”

He looks quizzically at her, his fugitive mind already drifting off to the wars
he’s fought and to the young soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division who will
go to Iraq and Afghanistan .

Buried in the deep snow of despair, he emerges from the heavy silence, filled
with fragmentary memories and shards of anguish, and says:

“Hello. I’m a soldier and patriot. But I’ve got questions.”

“We’ve got hot and cold cider, soldier. And a cup of peace, perhaps. Let’s talk.”


Dr. Mel Waldman is a poet, writer, artist, and singer/songwriter. His stories have appeared in numerous literary reviews and commercial magazines including Happy, Sweet Annie Press, Children, Churches and Daddies, Down in the Dirt, New Thought Journal, The Brooklyn Literary Review, Hardboiled Detective, Detective Story Magazine, Espionage, and The Saint. He is a past winner of the literary Gradiva Award in Psychoanalysis and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, American Mensa, Ltd., and the American Psychological Association. Who Killed the Heartbreak Kid?, a mystery novel, was published by iUniverse in February 2006. It can be purchased at www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/, www.bn.com, at www.amazon.com, and other online bookstores or through local bookstores. Recently, some of his poems have appeared online in The Jerusalem Post.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

PINOCHET ASSUMES

by Bill Costley


Gen. Augusto Pinochet (91) assumes
full political - though not explicitly legal -
responsibility for crimes of his regime.

"Today, nearing the end of my days,
I want to say, I must say, I will say
I harbour no rancour against anybody,
I love my Fatherland above all &
I take political responsibility
for everything that was done
which had no other goal
than making Chile greater
& avoiding its disintegration.”

imagining himself borne into Heaven
by Chilean Jesuit-baroque angels
in white Chilean Navy uniforms,
chanting his baptismal name.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union. His epic-in-progress The Cheni@d appears here on The New Verse News.

Monday, December 04, 2006

TWISTED PRETZEL LOGIC

by Charles Frederickson


Crimes against humanity legal reserve
Set aside moth-eaten security blanket
Shabby morals corrupted weevil ethics
Fallen Star Chamber black hellholes

Judgmental cases of double indemnity
Twice face value accidental demise
Welfare state bordering on bankruptcy
Tight squeeze craving bear hug

Unconscionable atrocities in denial debauchery
Monstrously unconventional dereliction of duty
Separating innocent from illicit motives
Lame excuses sorry about that

For all the wrong reasons
Good war bad peace do-or-dichotomies
Uncivil rights contentious democrazy bones
Hollow marrow transplants bullyrag intimidation

Praying to whatever God answers
Thou shalt not beheld accountable
Murder of crows mortal sins
Robbing soul of sanctified grace

Vultures nit-picking vulnerable carnal flesh
Tenderized values bloody excess standards
Never underestimate power of Fear
Meek naïve will inherit zilch


Dr. Charles Frederickson is a Swedish/American/Thai impassioned observer, daring experimentalist and progressive visionary who has wandered intrepidly through 206 countries, an original sketch and poem for each presented on http://www.imagesof.8k.com. A member of World Poets Society, based in Greece, his unique poetic style has been featured in: Ascent Aspirations, Auckland Poetry, Blind Man’s Rainbow, Both Sides Now, Caveat Lector, Cordite Poetry Review, Dance to Death, Flutter Magazine, Greatworks, Green Dove, Indite Circle, International Poet, Listen & Be Heard, Living Poets, Madpoetry, Melange, Newtopia, Peace Not War Japan, Planet Authority, Poetry Canada, Poetry of Scotland, Poets for Peace, Poetry Superhighway, Pyramid, Sz, T-Zero, Ygdrasil, Ya’Sou! and Zafusy.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A CONFIDENTIAL LEAK FROM RUMSFELD’S DAMNED SOUL

by James Penha


“Suddenly round the corner of the house a group of men appeared, as though they had come up from the ground.” --Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


I’m--my solid geometry trembles now--
not so certain it will prevail,
primeval but not eternal;
prime mover removed.

One more dead divinity.

Its headless people walk. They have always smelled their future
in themselves, heaps of oil and sand,

and they will have it,

shores and borders,
stockpiles and wells,
mines and monuments.

We sucked off the head like maggots
for this!
the scraps of our vision fouled
by monsters
enemies of our perfumed world.

The horror,
the horror.


James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

THE WIDOW IN THE NEW YORK TIMES WONDERS HOW SHE WILL FEED HER CHILDREN

by Liz Dolan


Ads for black and white
Chanel pumps,$575; a Coach
patchwork handbag, $428, beneath her photo.
Like a spider her black abaya
slips tendrils around
her nine daughters yawning and curling
at her feet, her husband and sons
Falah and Salah all shot. Ali,12,
too tired to work slept in the bed
of the truck they had to push
to start, two bullets in his hairless chest.
"I made them breakfast, rice and sauce,"
she said, keening, brushing her hands across
her face. "Saw the washing
of their bodies. So handsome,
so handsome...."


A Pushcart nominee in fiction and poetry, Liz Dolan has also received a poetry fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts. Liz has published poems, memoir and short stories in New Delta Review, Rattle, Harpweaver, Mudlark, and Natural Bridge, among others. She has also been published in the following anthologies: The Farmer’s Daughter, Wicked Alice, Philadelphia Stories and the upcoming Delaware Anthology. Liz was recently accepted as an associate artist in residence with Sharon Olds at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and invited to become a member of the poetry board of Philadelphia Stories.

Friday, December 01, 2006

IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES

by Jacqueline Kudler


It began with a blow job in the Oval Office,
a hand-delivered gift to Rove Incorporated
It began with the annointing of the boy king,
Florida proffered on a silver platter

A hand-delivered gift to Rove Incorporated,
it began with a blow from the highest bench—
Florida proffered on a silver platter.
It began with bodies falling through the doomed
         blue air of an Autumn morning.

It began with a blow from the highest bench--
justice gagged, hooded, wired to the General Terror.
It began with bodies falling through the doomed
         blue air of an Autumn morning.
Huddled in half-lit rooms, we watched

justice gagged, hooded, wired to the General Terror--
the fabric of our freedom ripped, unraveled.
Huddled in half-lit rooms, we watched
bombs braying out a shameless 4th of July over Baghdad.

The fabric of our freedom ripped, unraveled—
did no one cry out when the first thread was severed?
Bombs braying out a shameless 4th of July over Baghdad,
the American Dream borne home in a flag-draped coffin.

Did no one cry out when the first thread was severed?
It began with the annointing of the boy king.
The American Dream borne home in a flag-draped coffin
began with a blow job in the Oval Office.


Jacqueline Kudler lives in Sausalito, California and teaches classes in memoir writing and literature at the College of Marin in Kentfield. She serves as an advisory director on the board of Marin Poetry Center. Her poems have appeared in numerous reviews, magazines, and anthologies. Her full length poetry collection, Sacred Precinct, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, in 2003. She was awarded the Marin Arts Council Board Award in 2005 for “an exceptional body of work over a period of time,” and her “outstanding commitment to the literary arts.”

Thursday, November 30, 2006

U.S. BANS SALE OF iPODS TO NORTH KOREA

by Rochelle Ratner


Poor Kim Jong II. He'd wanted a few of the new photo iPods for
Christmas. He even had an iPod dock built into his new BMW, and
a huge iPod-only speaker system in his favored bedroom right
alongside his 40-inch plasma tv. IPods aren't made in China and
Japan refuses to sell to him. Six hundred people on his staff have
looked everywhere. They've called in long-overdue favors from
neighbors, subordinates, and distant cousins. All of a sudden even
one-gig shuffles are not to be found, even in the stores that sold
them just last week. Something about a battery recall. Something
about dangers and power.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ELVIS AND THE BEADS OF SWEAT

by Wayne Crawford


I see Elvis in my dreams,
his low-cut shirt exposes
beads of sweat across his chest,
each a token of love. He smears them
with his palm, raises his hand to us,
his viewers, his fingers covered with prayer.
He sings, "Let there be peace in the valley."

I see Elvis in his GI haircut.
An announcer informs us:
Elvis has left the auditorium.

I wake to coffee, turn on
the television. Barbara Bush
is asked which American leader
she has most admired during her
life time. She answers, "George Bush."
No beads of sweat surround her
familiar neck, instead a string of white pearls.

Her son, George W., speaks
from the White House,
beads of sweat stick to his upper lip. He
swipes them away with the side of his hand,
points to us, his viewers, his fingers covered
with oil, strings clearly attached.


Wayne Crawford's poetry has appeared in many journals, Sin Fronteras, Las Cruces Writers and Poets, Language Arts, and Aethelon: Journal of Sports Literature, among them. He is the Editor of Lunarosity.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

POSEURS IN VIET NAM

by Bonnie Naradzay


Mr. Bush, bedecked in the conical hat
of a paddy farmer and Asian sky-blue
garb, looked comical and worry-free
at the Heads of Countries photo-op.

Standing next to Putin, in matching hues,
he ribbed the man once head of the KGB
who'd just decreed the death by poison
for a London-based critic of his ruthless style.

Speaking in Ho Chi Minh City, Bush praised
the country for triumphing over certain
obstacles to be our steady trading partner.

"Democracy may take a while but wins out
in the end," he gushed. And Agent Orange
still disfigures the little children born here.


Bonnie Naradzay is a degree candidate at the Stonecoast MFA Program, having earned her M.A. over 35 years ago. She has a poem accepted for publication in JAMA and has published in many online journals, including Salt River Review, Beltway Quarterly, Innisfree, Potomac Journal, and Convergence.

Monday, November 27, 2006

W LANDS KURDISH MAYOR IN JAIL

by Rochelle Ratner


Mr. Bush doesn't find out about this until he reads it in the
paper. Damn aides must be holding out on him again. They
always do this as elections near. But it says right here in
the Washington Post that the mayor sent out New Year
cards with the letter W in them, and now he faces six
months in jail. Mr. Bush decides he ought to call him.
Maybe invite him to dinner at the White House. Is he in
Kurdia? Kurda? He really ought to be better informed
on foreign affairs. But who ever heard of a language with
no W? When he first took office a man in New York had a
vanity license plate that was just W and they said he
couldn't renew it. Been driving with it for years, and boy,
was he upset. He doodles a W on the pad before him, then
turns it over to form an M. There's no god damned way to
please everyone.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

MULE MANEUVERS

by Chad Faries


--February 6, 2005: Mules laden with sacks of ballots were led into Haiti's countryside Monday to reach remote villages on the eve of elections aimed at putting Haiti's experiment with democracy back on track.


My hoof prints are cracked hearts in the pebbles and sun baked soil
that blow away in puffs of dust. I may bray. At the summit I pause
and lift one hoof in a heroic pose, seared to the sky and great distance.

Pray that I might drink of water on the other side.
I carry the messages in fat leather packs.
Freedom pokes at my guts, heavy, with every step.

I’d trot if I could. I’d love fine conditioners for my mane; my locks
flaming in the moonlight. A farrier takes my step
in his calloused hands and gives me the attention I deserve.

Instead I sleep tied to a tree with mangled rope. In my dream
it is an earthly umbilical cord of threads of gold hand picked from rays
of the sun and streaking stars pulled brilliantly through atmosphere.

But what I have done is sacrificed all that for utilitarianism.
I have a message and it is a dream that only I can channel.
I could stop and stand stubborn and bow to stereotypes but I refuse.

This is the birth of freedom, in the stride of a neglected beast
whose wildness has been bred out. It is still in me, that adolescent
precariousness and I rub it all over these pieces of paper.

I allow myself to be a pawn, dispensable, when in my soul I am brook,
I am knight and castle, and men in parks take me in their fingers and plan great
moves all in their hopes of finding a new promise and a better game.

A plane flies overhead. A truck mumbles in the distance, a mule brays;
and below, along the briny shores, emerald leaves flutter not from wind,
but from the movement of beasts with heart and machines with naught.


Chad Faries has published poems, essays, photographs, interviews, and creative non-fiction in Exquisite Corpse, Mudfish, New American Writing, Barrow Street , The Cream City Review, Afterimage, Post Road , and others. His book, The Border Will Be Soon: Meditations from the Other Side was a winner of Emergency Press’s open genre book competition. It chronicles his visits to Yugoslavia between 1995-2000 and will be published in May 2006. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was a Fulbright Fellow in Budapest . His memoir, Some Houses, is seeking a publisher. When not traveling he is a carpenter and professor. He recently purchased an old Victorian home and now is planning his next Triumph motorcycle in order to solidify his artificial existence as a renaissance man.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

THE MOTHERS OF THE DISAPPEARED BOOKSTORE, BUENOS AIRES

by Jon Wesick


The snapshots are unremarkable
save for clothing thirty years out of date.
Some black and white, others color.
These are the victims of the dirty war. The generals,
now ghostly TV images, their faces gray as intestines,
ordered deaths by the thousands. Ordinary people
hustled into Ford Falcons, tortured. Their bodies
tossed from DC-3s into the Atlantic.

But it’s not that simple. Photos of Lenin, Castro,
and Che Guevara hang on the bookstore’s walls.
I buy a Mothers-of-the-Disappeared T-shirt for my mom
and pray it doesn’t’ become a prophecy in Bush’s America.
Outside pounding drums. Marchers with red flags.
Do ghosts of Ford Falcons still cruise these streets?

We wait on the sidewalk, while tens of thousands pass.
“Muchos gentes,” a shop owner says. I nod.
The drums – boom, ba boom, ba boom. Girls
selling socialist newspapers. Marchers
with banners wide as the Avenida de Mayo.
Lauren takes out her camera. The flash!
Rows of men with clubs bring up the rear,
their faces disguised with bandanas or keffiyehs.

We cross to Café Tortoni. Fine china. Cloth napkins.
Waiters in tuxedos. Photos of celebrities on mahogany walls.
I drop a submarine-shaped chocolate in my cup of hot milk.
Lauren sips coffee and says, “This is the best night of my life.”


Jon Wesick has a Ph.D. in physics, has practiced Buddhism for over twenty years, and has published over a hundred poems in small press journals such as American Tanka, Anthology Magazine, The Blind Man’s Rainbow, Edgz, The Kaleidoscope Review, Limestone Circle, The Magee Park Anthology, The Publication, Pudding, Sacred Journey, San Diego Writer’s Monthly, Slipstream, Tidepools, Vortex of the Macabre, Zillah, and others. His chapbooks have won honorable mentions twice in the San Diego Book Awards. Recently in Argentina, Jon and his girlfriend went to the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo Bookstore. The Madres are the mothers who protested Argentina's dirty war by holding their disappeared childrens' pictures in the Plaza de Mayo.

Friday, November 24, 2006

THANKSGIVING: FOUR TO SIX A.M.

by Verandah Porche


Double-take in the dark.
Sleet needles me
un-knits my sleep: it’s that tick
below think itch within speech
the tsk of task.

Ice seeps back to rain—
Won’t coat a stick
slur a wheel.
Two fluorescent hunters
cruise toward dawn
in a bronze Dart.
A hip flask loosens their intent.

The cats yowl for tinned meat
while rodents drunk on compost
snicker by the chimney.
In this sumac-red farmhouse
my young sack out
and I’m easy: la-de-dah
no axe to grind.

Day takes shape:
boughs bear globes
of pop-it beads
pretty and cheap.

Swank heat blows up
the grates: propane
Yahweh made
invisible and full of himself
comes clear from elsewhere
pricey as love or war.


Based in rural Vermont since 1968, Verandah Porche has published The Body’s Symmetry (Harper and Row) and Glancing Off (See Through Books) and has pursued an alternative literary career. She has written poems and songs to accompany her community through a generation of moments and milestones. As a teacher and facilitator, she has created collaborative writing projects in schools and nontraditional settings: literacy and crisis centers, hospitals, factories, nursing homes, senior centers, a 200 year-old Vermont tavern and an urban working class neighborhood. Her work has been featured on NPR’s “Artbeat,” on public radio stations around New England and in the Vermont State House. The Vermont Arts Council awarded her a Citation of Merit, honoring her contribution to the state’s cultural life in 1998, and a recent grant to support the preparation of poetry for publication and performance.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

THANKSGIVING

by Esther Greenleaf Murer


My browser is taking a poll:
What are you most thankful for?
        a) turkey
        b) football
        c) shopping

For the turkey
whose mana we ingest
so that we too
can be stuffed
to immobility
and impotence
let us be virtually thankful.

For images of stylized mayhem
with arbitrary rules
which we can safely
watch from our roost
and pretend that
the outcome matters
let us be virtually thankful.

for the constant stream
of clutter which gives
our lives meaning
and helps us
outgrow our coops
let us be virtually thankful.

For protection from a world
with real anguish
and real mourning
and maybe even repentance
not to mention
blessings worth counting
let us be virtually thankful.


Esther Greenleaf Murer lives in Philadelphia. She has published poetry in Friends Journal, Guinea Pig Zero, Folly,and the New Verse News.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

INCOGNITO: FRONT LINES

by Kevin Hodgson


They published front line letters this week in the New Yorker and they arrived like missives in the night, exploding my own sense of calm from a world away with an increasing powerful detonation of fear and bravado.
As I sank down between the words, I could almost taste the fine grit of sand on my tongue and the layers of dust on my teeth. I could almost feel the dry scorch of the air of the desert days and the bone-chilling cold of the nights beneath the shooting stars. I could almost sense the tight clench of the M16 gun barrel between my fingers and the rattle of the Humvee over potholed roads in my bones.
Almost.
(But I’d be lying – I was just another passive reader in a safe house on the other side of the universe, drinking coffee and folding laundry and not even thinking about IEDs or mortars or spies along the roadside or midnight raids or body parts)
I spied in from afar on these young men writing to mothers -- young women reaching out to fathers --
friends explaining to friends --
inching towards a way of trying to understand themselves what was happening,
what had happened,
why they had done what they had done or feared what they were going to do,
even as the military censors were watching (and I was watching the censors watching the soldiers watching the roads and imagined another strange set of frightened eyes, trailing our soldiers from the darkened corners of bombed out buildings)
and I realized that these script characters on the page ultimately failed them,
powerful though they were,
the words were not nearly enough ammunition to overcome this internal enemy of theirs and might never be.
There was blood on my back and hands, and pain, too, but it wasn’t real, just images from someone else’s thoughts and I felt like the intruder into the minds of these writers emerging from reality seared with strangeness and violence.
Yet, here they were, moving across the page like armies in the dunes
– the words, I mean –
and so I gently reached out and grabbed a handful of those letters,
placing them in my pocket for safe keeping – doing my best to protect them and vowing to never forget they were there (but I do, from time to time, until my fingers accidentally wrap around the crinkled papers at the bottom of my memory and I suddenly realize that they are there in harm’s way, and I am caught again in the wave of forgetting)
contemplating that imaginary border crossing between Iran and Iraq
where the man I knew from long ago remains steadfast at his security post,
incognito.


Kevin Hodgson is a sixth grade teacher in Southampton, Massachusett, and a technology liaison with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. He has his own Weblog (http://dogtrax.edublogs.org/) in which he explores the intersections of writing, technology, education and other issues.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY, JR. ON THE CON-MOVE

by Bill Costley


"The con-movement is, in a sense, inanimate,
compared to 20-30 years ago, with a kind of
ideological slovenliness affecting its morale."

Given the current combination of low taxes,
high government-spending & moderate-inflation
sustaining our current illusion of short-term
e-con-prosperity, what would it take to revive it?

"Something electric, like dollar-depreciation!
Other countries no longer subsidizing our debt
would shock lots of people! Then reservoirs of
con-thought would once again be con-sulted."


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union. His epic-in-progress The Cheni@d appears here on The New Verse News.

Monday, November 20, 2006

DARFURY

by Charles Frederickson


Dark Continent lost cause rebels
Desolation and despair ember ashes
Slow burning wars singeing consciousness
Smoldering conflict mired in neglect

Where government dams bloody rivers
Blue headstream conjoining White Nile
Political frustrations percolating for decades
Oily motives shamelessly disclaiming rights

Brutal faithless ethnic cleansing campaign
Black voices silenced throats slit
Marooned in fruitless arid wasteland
Traditional means of livelihood destroyed

Cross-border refugees fleeing for survival
Attempting to escape marauding Janjaweed
Makeshift camps overcrowded tent cities
Innocents held hostage to deadlock

Meager access to potable water
Bare necessities in limited supply
Hand-to-mouth existence reliant on strangers
Incommunicado muffled cries forcibly raped

Furrowed brows creased with dust
Tribal scars dimpling ruddy cheeks
Wounds that never heal cover-ups
Festering open sores crusty scabs

Dirt poor mud hut cracks
Soiled future fertile as sandbox
Desert battered by windswept grit
Sunstroke nomads begging for mercy


Dr. Charles Frederickson is a Swedish/American/Thai impassioned observer, daring experimentalist and progressive visionary who has wandered intrepidly through 206 countries, an original sketch and poem for each presented on http://www.imagesof.8k.com. A member of World Poets Society, based in Greece, his unique poetic style has been featured in: Ascent Aspirations, Auckland Poetry, Blind Man’s Rainbow, Both Sides Now, Caveat Lector, Cordite Poetry Review, Dance to Death, Flutter Magazine, Greatworks, Green Dove, Indite Circle, International Poet, Listen & Be Heard, Living Poets, Madpoetry, Melange, Newtopia, Peace Not War Japan, Planet Authority, Poetry Canada, Poetry of Scotland, Poets for Peace, Poetry Superhighway, Pyramid, Sz, T-Zero, Ygdrasil, Ya’Sou! and Zafusy.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

BUSH TO VISIT INDONESIA TOMORROW

by James Penha


Shaman slits
the throat of a goat,
collects its blood in earthenware
holding already the flesh of a red snapper
for this nation is sea and soil
and must be saved
all of it
from pollution.

Shaman wears a Muslim peci on his head
but these are dangerous times,
he says, and the sooth of our ancient archipelago
from many mouths must be heard
against black magic.
He listens to the bowl,
quaffs its eerie contents

and chants spells
so to bewilder the terrible Wizard in our midst:
that his alien abracadabra will fail
ever again
to bemuse the water and land.


James Penha edits The New Verse News from Indonesia.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

DISCOVERY

by Mel Waldman


We stopped searching years ago after dreams were obliterated
during our metamorphosis, when darkness came to us and
swallowed our light, and we gazed into the broken mirrors of
our shattered souls and saw only shadows-nothing human.

We lost much, especially our innocence, and after the devastating
emptiness, we were filled with something familiar but alien-
emerging from our darkest dreamscape.

We stopped searching years ago and some no longer asked: “Where
are the other human remains?”

The recovery effort ceased. And reconstruction began above sacred
ground, where ghostly secrets were buried in the catacombs of ground
zero.

Yet now, when hundreds of human remains have been discovered, we
must question why we stopped.

What is more horrific: that we now know terror or that in this intimate
knowledge of evil, we stopped searching for our own?

What discovery shall we make, when looking back, we see the Void of
human omission?

And if we are offered redemption again, in a second metamorphosis,
somewhere in tomorrow’s treacherous landscape, shall we search the
catacombs of our souls and never stop, or shall we fail again, when
facing evil, giving up before the final discovery?


Dr. Mel Waldman is a poet, writer, artist, and singer/songwriter. His stories have appeared in numerous literary reviews and commercial magazines including Happy, Sweet Annie Press, Children, Churches and Daddies, Down in the Dirt, New Thought Journal, The Brooklyn Literary Review, Hardboiled Detective, Detective Story Magazine, Espionage, and The Saint. He is a past winner of the literary Gradiva Award in Psychoanalysis and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, American Mensa, Ltd., and the American Psychological Association. Who Killed the Heartbreak Kid?, a mystery novel, was published by iUniverse in February 2006. It can be purchased at www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/, www.bn.com, at www.amazon.com, and other online bookstores or through local bookstores. Recently, some of his poems have appeared online in The Jerusalem Post.

Friday, November 17, 2006

BOMB

by Doris Henderson


We are sitting in a darkened room,
inert, like a drawing in charcoal.
A thief waits outside the window.
He swallows dreams, memories.

There is a bomb under the couch.
No one is trying to remove it.
We sip red wine, comment on
the inevitability of the explosion.

Then we stop talking about it altogether;
it becomes an impolite subject.
We play music, tell stories
to soothe our jangled nerves.

Today is the Official Celebration of Hope.
We wear bright colors,
pretend to love each other and the fate we share,
pretend safety, solidarity, high purpose

pretend we have time.


Doris Henderson's work has appeared in Sagewoman, Black River Review, Calliope, Comstock Review, Window on the World, prior issues of New Verse News, and other journals and anthologies. "Bomb" is about those things --- too numerous to mention --- currently "under the radar."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

WOMAN ARRESTED IN THEFT OF MULE HARNESS

by Rochelle Ratner


When the XXX videos no longer excite her, when the
whips and handcuffs in the window of the sex shop
no longer seem like enough, she goes for a drive,
alone, along dirt roads, past farms and houses
patched with tar paper. She turns country music
stations on, then off, then on again. She spots two
mules in a field and pulls over to watch them,
plodding along side by side, tails brushing against
each other. She watches so long that the sunset
turns rows of corn a sort of scarecrow-black. She
watches the farmer drive the mules into the barn,
sees him leave a half hour later. She parks on a
nearby hill, waits till the lights go out in the
farmhouse, then drags that double-harness over to
her car, already halfway to orgasm.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

THERMAL SIGHT

by Luke Welch


Late at night is the best time,
after the baked streets cool.
Then people appear
as bright constellations
moving about in the dim world.
Even their footprints
are incandescent trails
in the dust.
It is hard, in this light,
to discern enemy
from noncombatant,
a basket of bread
from a bomb.
Women and kids as radiant
as men of fighting age.
A pregnant woman
shimmers like a nebula
in my scope.
Far too easy
a target.


Luke Welch has published recently in Pemmican and Centrifugal Eye. He works as a sign language interpreter in northern Illinois.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A SHORT CONVERSATION

by Robin E. Sampson


Did you see the news today?

Which news?

There are so many
and so few
versions now

and all the news is old,
older than time.


Robin E. Sampson, born on the east coast, raised on the west coast, now back on the east coast, is a writer of poetry, fiction, and even some non-fiction, at least when she’s not avoiding the pen. She’s a member of the CT-based six-woman poetry performance troupe Shijin. Her publishing credits include their chapbook We Shijin, Book 1, Wicked Alice, The Bitter Oleander, and several anthologies.

Monday, November 13, 2006

BAGHDAD

by Charles Frederickson


Hoodwinked neighborhood under occupied siege
Unruly no man’s corrosive wasteland
Dreaded fear and hopeless distrust
Stoking desensitized raw nerve trepidation

Daytime slayings become routinely common
In once-prosperous normally quiet havens
Fortified compound gates slammed shut
Temporarily sealing off unspeakable violence

Concertina wire thwarting rogue demons
Barbed promises infecting unhealable wounds
Rumors spread like decomposing garbage
Mangled corpses sewage ditch dumped

Abandoned shops barred windows shuttered
Shortchange trading places storefronts defaced
Petrol stations running on empty
Disillusioned outcasts rescinding overstayed welcome

Remotely uncontrollable militia roadside bombs
Drive-by shootings no exit dead-ends
Phony checkpoints targeting shell-shocked convoys
Maneuvering potholes spewing upchucked asphalt

Uncivil war undermining booby trapped
Stratagem adversarial chessmen cutting corners
Droves fleeing anywhere else bound
Checkmate forcing victimized pawn moves


Dr. Charles Frederickson is a Swedish-American-Thai 4midable, 10acious, cre8ive 1derer who has wandered intrepidly through 206 countries, an original sketch and poem for each presented on http://www.imagesof.8k.com. This maverick uniquecorn is a member of World Poets Society, based in Greece, with 100+ poetry publication credits on 5 continents, such as: Ascent Aspirations, Auckland Poetry, Blind Man's Rainbow, Both Sides Now, Caveat Lector, Cordite Poetry Review, Dance to Death, Fullosia Press, Greatworks, Green Dove, Indite Circle, Language & Culture, Listen & Be Heard, Living Poets, Madpoetry, Melange, Newtopia, New Verse News, Planet Authority, Poetry Canada, Poetry of Scotland, Poets for Peace, Poetry Superhighway, Pyramid, Sz, Ya'Sou, and Ygdrasil.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

URBAN STORY: A SYNOPSIS

by Jan C. Snow


There are only two characters.
One has more than the other, therefore
one has less. One is taken from, one given to.
Each begrudges the other’s lot.

One strikes, the other retaliates.
Hard envy and hot anger well between them.
There may be a robbery, perhaps a killing,
no more or less brutal than any other,
although not necessarily a murder.

One is the victim, one the perpetrator.
Repeatedly, one flees, the other pursues.
Injury is strewn like grimy litter on a spring sidewalk.
What we cannot know is,
who holds the gun?


Jan C. Snow teaches and writes in Lakewood, one city west of Cleveland on Lake Erie.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

GERANIUM SCENTS

by Wayne Crawford


In the lower cabinet
near the oven, a bloated
mouse has expired in a trap.
I scrape particles of its
hind leg from the metal shelf.

A truck driver enters
the exit lane of Interstate10,
crashes into a van, kills
one, hospitalizes two others;
third time this month someone
has driven the wrong way.

Our country is at war again.
I wonder if the demand
for geraniums will slacken
their scent of funeral homes
already hanging in the air.


Wayne Crawford's poetry has appeared in many journals, Sin Fronteras, Las Cruces Writers and Poets, Language Arts, and Aethelon: Journal of Sports Literature, among them. He is the Editor of Lunarosity.

Friday, November 10, 2006

PRESIDENTIAL DREAM

by Donald Illich


Sometimes I dream FDR
rises from his wheelchair
turns our ship back to harbor,
while we tie ourselves
to masts, so sirens adorned
in glitzy suits and watches,
don’t keep us from the shore.

In the same fantasy I hear
Lincoln laughing behind me,
pointing to the Liberty Bell
healing its crack, while
an elephant stomps past me
chased by mice dancing to
echoing peals of joy.

Then Nixon apologizes inside
a pool of Agent Orange,
Cowboy Reagan ropes
himself to a nuclear weapon.
The mediocrities of our present
are stuffed with mines that’ll
explode if they try to speak.

A map of my country grows
beneath my feet, and I mix
separate and unequal cities
with a quick stir of my hands,
welcome the cheering crowds
massing in buildings and parks,
waving their arms like flags.


Donald Illich has published poetry in The Iowa Review, Fourteen Hills, Roanoke Review, and New Zoo Poetry Review. His work will be included in future issues of Passages North, Nimrod, LIT, and The Sulphur River Literary Review. He received a Prairie Schooner scholarship to the 2006 Nebraska Summer Writer's Conference.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

RIFLING IN THE RANKS

by Carol Elizabeth Owens


“President Bush announced Wednesday that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is stepping down from his post.” – CNN.com [Nov. 8, 2006]


hunting
season’s open
republicans can duck
for some proverbial cover
yet there isn’t safety
in the bushes
these days

you’ll see
leaves camouflage
a natural target—
the nation’s biggest bird of prey
its call tends to carry
abroad – it kills
quickly

before
firing off
a succession of fresh
rounds – those security details
are pure peacockery
but truth shall hit
the fan

squatters
have just mounted
an attack on foreign
policy – watch capitol hill
closely as the feathers
and fur begin
to fly


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

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

COWBOY SONG

by Robert Emmett


medicine hat drifted into town
with a black cigar and
the brim pulled down
droning not the flood
but the fire

snuck up behind
the hair-trigger beast
slipped a stone in his pocket
whispered now you’re released
and blew a spark from the fire

the beast rolled an eyeball
on the back of his hand
saw razor lightning jump
from a tattooed sand
as he bellowed his curse for the fire

incandescent shapes
rose from the dead
wove a horse-hair noose
all ‘round the beast’s head
chanting now you’ll be with the fire

so he slung his fear
in the face of the stars
but all the king's mountes
couldn't bank on the scars
of an ever-erupting fire

the smell of his sweat
put a singe in the air
he snarled and he spat
and jumped for his lair
then spun as he hissed in the fire

when the stone did drop
and the stench did rise
red medicine hat
loosed her disguise
for none could see through the fire


Robert Emmett writes where the north wind howls at his windowpanes in the woods of Michigan.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

ELECTION DAY

by Mikhail Horowitz


Crossing the bridge, the
river’s brightness abides,

for the moment it takes
a Japanese car to span it,

outside of history. This,
despite the memento mori

of an oak leaf, brittle
as an absentee ballot,

affixed to the windshield
wiper. On the far side,

an already antique cluster
of campaign signs—losers all,

including the winners—is
buffeted by the wind. The

sugary maples fade with no
sense of defeat; the sumacs

redden, but not with any
shame. How deeply do I

wish that I and we
could say the same.


Mikhail Horowitz is a poet and performer who lives in the Hudson Valley. He and his performance partner, Gilles Malkine, recieved an award from Sullivan (County) Peace and Justice in 2005 for "furthering progressive causes through the arts."

CHENEY TO GO HUNTING ON ELECTION DAY

by Rochelle Ratner


along with his younger daughter, Mary, the same one outed
by the Kerry bastards, the daughter he had no choice but
to bring along on the campaign trail after that. Maybe
she’d help draw the liberals, his advisors told him. And he
supposes it didn’t hurt. Whatever, he’s glad not to be
running for anything this year. Delighted that reporters
will have enough other things to focus on, get off his back
for a minute or two. He can just walk in the woods and
trust his staff to keep him informed of how the voting goes.
Maybe catch himself a few grouse while he’s at it. Hunt
and peck is how he thinks of it, fondly recalling how he
used to type his school reports, looking up and seeing his
mother standing beside him. His fingers are more than a
little arthritic now, like his mother’s were. The doctors say
exercise might even be good for his heart. And he needs to
plan more days alone with his family. This time it will just
be the two of them.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.

Monday, November 06, 2006

THE SNOW JOB

by Lucille Gang Shulklapper


Tony Snow lives up to his name, playing that slick political game, whitening Delay’s, and Foley’s corruption, denying allegations of the war’s disruption, claiming victory to Bush’s no plan, in a voice that asks in straight deadpan, what do Democrats strategize, when Michael Fox and Webb might tell us lies, Snow seems to ask with perfect diction, what is real, and what is fiction?

It’s Snowing all over Capitol Hill, from the President’s secretary, his personal shill, like Cheney’s “no brainer” endorsement of “dunking”, no apology needed, just one for Kerry’s “debunking,” those who are truly shafted, not those eligible to be drafted, for if there were a universal draft, Americans would quickly craft, a Snow plow to clear, that old and tired fear, of the terrorists in Iraq, of shock and awe, awe and shock.


Lucille Gang Shulklapper is a workshop leader for the Florida Center for the Book, an affiliate of The Library of Congress. Recent and forthcoming work appears in Still Going Strong, Oasis, The Mona Poetica Anthology, Poetic Voices Without Borders, and Gulfstream. Three children's stories have also been accepted for publication. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks: What You Cannot Have, The Substance of Sunlight, and one mini-chapbook, Godd, It's Not Hollywood. Recent awards include honorable mention by the Rrofihy Trophy Award, Common Ground Review, and The National League of Pen Women.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

DEMOCRACY

by Luke Welch


My town hunkers low
beneath a troubled sky.
There will be a parade today,
weather permitting, and I will run
with the Democrats, smiling
past the houses and heavy faces
of my Republican town.

The new one is better
than the ass in there now,
and I am not a politician
but I will run with one's name,
like a rock star's on my chest.
I will smile at my neighbors
and ask for their votes.

I'll keep my place between the clowns,
circling in their funny cars,
and the high school marching band,
which despite the occasional stumble
and missed note, does an excellent rendition
of the Star Spangled Banner.


Luke Welch has published recently in Pemmican and Centrifugal Eye. He is always a father, often a poet, not often enough a political activist and for a living works as a sign language interpreter in northern Illinois.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

POLITRICKS

by Charles Frederickson


Democratic Republican Socialist Cocktail parties
Bridge soiree get-togethers stimulating 4-play
Tables superstitiously turned bathtub direction
North East West South NEWSmongers

Underhand sneaky peeky casual side-glances
Double-dealing from bottom of deck
Missing few cards shortchanger cheats
50 state pickup cutthroat shuffle

13 original star leopard stripes
Country club acquaintances diamond friends
Spadework domino effect chain-reacting gangs
But nobody is keeping score

Auction bridge contract trading places
Red hearts finessing black minds
Well-suited alphabetical order of merit
Royalty losing face Aces pipped

Same as whist but different
Variation of one-upmanship gone overboard
Tournaments run according to Hoyle
Competitors vying for Master Points

Politricks overbid unmakable Grand Slam
Fear jeer smear outrank trumpery
Vulnerable teammates one rubber up
Knock on Blackwood conventionally flouted


Dr. Charles Frederickson is a Swedish-American-Thai 4midable, 10acious, cre8ive 1derer who has wandered intrepidly through 206 countries, an original sketch and poem for each presented on http://www.imagesof.8k.com. This maverick uniquecorn is a member of World Poets Society, based in Greece, with 100+ poetry publication credits on 5 continents, such as: Ascent Aspirations, Auckland Poetry, Blind Man's Rainbow, Both Sides Now, Caveat Lector, Cordite Poetry Review, Dance to Death, Fullosia Press, Greatworks, Green Dove, Indite Circle, Language & Culture, Listen & Be Heard, Living Poets, Madpoetry, Melange, Newtopia, New Verse News, Planet Authority, Poetry Canada, Poetry of Scotland, Poets for Peace, Poetry Superhighway, Pyramid, Sz, Ya'Sou, and Ygdrasil.

Friday, November 03, 2006

COUPLE FINDS CONDOM INSIDE BAG OF NUTS

by Rochelle Ratner


He takes the afternoon off work to be with her. They drive
from the doctor's office, having been told what they already
knew: she isn't pregnant yet. On the way home they stop at
Walmart, drooling over nursery furniture that gets more
expensive every month. They pick up a bag of loose nuts
and sit in the parked car eating them, like they did in high
school. He hasn't worn a condom since the night they
married, and he wouldn't be caught dead in bright yellow.
Crinkled up inside a filbert, that's how small it is. They'll
have to take it to the police, he supposes, though he doesn't
really see the crime here. It feels more like having his
fortune read.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

NO TRANSLATION REQUIRED

by Sue Repko


In general, we do not march
Protest
Stomp our feet
For our brothers and sisters with brown skin
Crossing deserts here and there
Who speak languages we do not yet understand,
Languages that compel our silence
And why?
A cry of pain -
A cry of loss -
No translation required.

We understand two towers collapsing
We understand the wrath of hurricanes and
Learn the science of tsunamis
Apply compassion
And give and give and give.
But why are we not moved to move our feet
Unconditionally
Across the lines in the sand here and there
And raise our voices
To say
Enough is enough,
He is my brother,
She is my sister?

The bombs and rockets
The guns of the few
On all sides
Do the talking for the many.
No translation required.


Sue Repko is a writer, urban planner, community activist, and high school girls' basketball and softball coach. Her fiction has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Bryant Literary Review, Kelsey Review, New Millennium Writings and online. Her nonfiction has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online. Her website is www.suerepko.com and she recently started blogging at www.suerepko.blogspot.com. She lives with her family in central New Jersey.