Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


by Simon Perchik

And the hillside pulling down this snow
--more dirt is needed, the dead
brooding how these flakes stick
how useless was their blood and wings

--it's impossible to breathe, your name
like a cold bit in my mouth
and I hear the snow too --this close

nothing but our names
and the sky is drained as if marshes
or swamps or the heart
where suddenly there's no more rain

nothing to freeze or melt
or cry yanking my mouth

--all you can hear
is my side to side without moving
or stomping my lips on the snow
or even this tree whose leaves
when they are wanted most

--nothing will warm this snow
or my still damp cry on its way
through the Earth.

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. Readers interested in learning more are invited to read Magic, Illusion and Other Realities at which site lists a complete bibliography.

Monday, February 27, 2006


by James Penha

“As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”
—Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With The Wind

[Guantánamo General Bantz] Craddock suggested that the medical staff had indulged the hunger strikers to the point that they had been allowed to choose the color of their feeding tubes.

—The New York Times

Qualities of mercy are not strained
although they have been liquified
in the bush war on hunger:
feed the world’s wretched
by lining poor nasal passages
with plastic hoses turbinated
into guts primed
for floods fulfilling
nutrition without even
the sharp pains and bleeding
of frequent tubal
insertions and extrications
since the satiated now keep
the apparatus in fashionable
red, white, or blue close within
themselves until starvation

is less striking.

James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


by David Thornbrugh

I killed the last buffalo last night.
Ran over him in a train outside Denver.
The meat of the last buffalo tasted like dawn.
We cleaned and dressed his body in the boxcar
taking us to Disneyland.
The last buffalo called me once too often
at dinner time asking for money.
When I killed the last buffalo I wore a Lee Marvin mask.
The blood of the last buffalo folded funny paper
when I sliced his furry telephone.
We chewed the last buffalo steaks in silence
with mouths full of legal arguments.
The last buffalo knew my name.
He answered the door holding the Wall Street Journal
and sipping a glass of red wine.
He looked like Robert McNamara sorry about Vietnam.
I killed the last buffalo yesterday before lunch.
I ran over him on my way to meet my agent.
I put him in the trunk to stuff later he’ll look great in the library.
When we kill buffalo my people waste nothing.
Every part of the buffalo is sacred to us
even the asshole which we pull over our heads to escape
the plains we’ve filled with used car lots.
We shipped his intestines to China to make jeans.
We gave his blood to the Mexicans to drink while picking our lettuce.
We rolled his eyeballs to Europe to see the great paintings.
When we cut open the last buffalo he was filled with computers.
Now that we have his bones we can start building the rocket ship
that will take us off this planet.
Last night I killed the last buffalo
walking in my sleep.

David Thornbrugh is an American poet currently living in Krakow, Poland.


by Diane Payne

Traffic is lined up for miles with a steady stream of cars
filled with South Dakota women heading north, south, east, and west.
Their husbands have left work and are spending the day in bars
boasting how they were only doing what was best.

“Those damn women ain’t listening to what we’re saying.
They always think they’re the ones who are paying!
Hell, if my wife’s life was really in danger,
I’d be the first to call the ranger
and let them know we weren’t breaking no law
and explain how she was near death and all
so she wouldn’t be locked up in jail
waiting for me to rescue her with bail.”

And all their young sons sit in school,
since the girls have left with their mothers
while the boys sit there silent, once again the fool
all because they refused to speak up with the others
when the girls passed pro-abortion petitions trying to get them on
their side,
but the boys thought of their fathers and said no with pride,
and now they sit there, remembering the close calls,
how they whined about a condom ruining their balls,
and weeks later the pregnancy test,
and they remember all the rest,
but their fathers will never know
and the women will continue to go
because in South Dakota the men know what’s best.
They know what’s best, and now they can rest.

They know what’s best, and now South Dakotans can rest.

Diane Payne teaches creative writing at University of Arkanasas-Monticello. She is the author of the novel Burning Tulips, and has been published in hundreds of magazines.

Friday, February 24, 2006


by Carol Elizabeth Owens

“People said they hoped I would fall & break my leg, using the n-word."
– Shani Davis

an “i” appears
in team. look closely— you
can see it on the ice. a cool
distance. a swift glimpse to-
ward our past.
the race

does make
a difference.
discrimination will
test the mettle of tainted gold
moments— the u.s. weighs
in: “we won!” yet
no warm

handshakes, or hugs.
hate loves to hold on. there-
fore the medal is never light.
thus, olympic rings sting
like that anthem
we sing—

“oh say
can you see.” how
this victory pains me!—
a foreign nation sustains me
as the u.s.a feigns
“does it

me?” probably.
but watch as i move on—
high speed and full circle. check out
my reflection when faced
with the impact
of race.

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 "in the face of a race" above is written in a form called eintou (which is West African for "pearl," as in "pearls of wisdom").

Thursday, February 23, 2006


by Rochelle Ratner

All she ever wanted was for the boys to love her. To maybe
ask her out some Saturday night. But all they did was
tease. She skipped the school cafeteria most days,
preferring hunger to their insults, just as she learned from
fourth grade on (when she started "developing") not to use
the restrooms. She found seats at the back of every
classroom, slouching, hoping she wouldn't be called on. Not
that she wouldn't know the answers – she always knew
everything, which might have been part of the problem.
She just couldn't play dumb. And when the first boy who
ran his fingers through her just-washed hair, fondled then
slept with her, got her pregnant, there was no way anyone
could convince her to give it up. It was a boy, she just knew
it would be a boy. And he would love her. And her son's
high school friends would give her all the physical
attention she'd been so desperate for when she was their
age. All she ever wanted was to fit in, to feel like one of the
cool group, to be like the other girls, for the boys to love her.

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:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


by Mary Saracino

I spy a spy
in the land of the free
a spy down the block
in the house
on the phone
a spy in the office
line two it’s no joke
I smell a rat
a warrant-less tap
okayed by the man
from the bureau of prying
a rat-a-tat-tapping
illicit conniving
a whine of a deceit
a click on the line
domestically plotting
their eavesdropping crimes

I spy a spy
in the office of oval,
with eyes full of lies
and a heart full of guile
who speaks of terror
and winning the peace
as reasons for wiretaps
illegally seized
to spy after all
is power’s prerogative
surveillance of citizenry
keeps us all free
there are false gods among us
of this I am certain
purveyors of fear
running amok
they’ll do us all in
if we let them
speak truth to tyranny
don’t hesitate
stand up for liberty
before it’s too late

Mary Saracino is a novelist, memoir writer, and poet who lives in Denver, CO. Her newest novel, The Singing of Swans, is to be published by Pearlsong Press in the fall of 2006.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


by Bill Costley

Hitler didn’t do half of what They say he did. He did 1/3rd.
cavils David Irving, lying on his cold Styrian cot, depressed,
          despite hundreds of daily fan-mails,
after a righteous half-century, his cause nearly starved
          of lurid-media-color-supplements;
confused with Clifford Irving’s, his name blurs in the minds
          of hardkore komikbuchers devoted to Heil Hitler!
the moustachioed Hero of [{Sw@stik@Storm}] komikbuchs,
snappy dresser, jig-dancer, stern, standing auto-heiler!
He had it all! He almost had it All; He lost it All!
          Irving day-dreams as he thrashes...

Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union. Bill's epic-in-progress, The CHENI@D, appears here in The New Verse News.

Monday, February 20, 2006


by Wayne Crawford

Meek Clark Kent can't slip
through airport security. The Man
of Steel leaps
faster than a speeding missile, --not
fast enough to trick
a refurbished metal detector.
Beeping alarms and flashing lights
swell a mob
of Homeland rent-a-guards,
recently hired, to bug-eyed, red-alert,
empty holster panic,-- a clear
and present danger to all.

Latexed hands rake through luggage,
single out extra eye
glasses with fake lenses,
a form-fitting body
suit, obviously custom-tailored
for a criminal act,
a large red letter "S" embossed
on the chest, maybe an Arabic symbol,
coded threat to the American way.

Kent is stripped, searched
for detonators and tiny foreign
language scripts. An anal exam reveals
a tight ass. He pleads
incoherently to make a phone call
in a phone booth. Considering
that he might be gay--he is
well-built, well-endowed, good-looking,
and color-coordinates his belt
with his shoes, one guard, displaying
a red jock strap, warns that terrorists
have reached a new low, sending
queer men to do a straight job.

By the time Kent is cleared
for boarding--feted
as a metrosexual from Metropolis,
his flight is cancelled, his cape
missing, his glasses broken,
and some woman who looks--
in the surveillance camera video--
like Mimi from the Drew Carey Show
walks off in his boots.

He decides, then and there,
next time he schedules an emergency
flight, instead of leaving or arriving
in El Paso, Texas, he'll lift off
and land near Roswell, New Mexico
where he can travel without hassle
as just another of their promotable
unidentified flying objects.

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.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Mike Butcher makes his point. From his home,
his town is Leg-O-Land, red roofs like plastic bricks,
peat sod walls separate green Monopoly houses from brick
hotels. Beyond, Stanley harbor idles, a mirror, Falkland's

connection to the world. Near Pioneer Road, Mike's gate
--a Magellenic penguin, iron-wrought--does not invite
me in. No need, really. Rusty cannon so close
I could touch it through the fence, its voice

a hand-scrawled sign, 22,000 lives it took
from '37 to '65. Remnants of its deeds pock
his yard. Over there beside Mike's potato patch,
a Minke jaw, farther on a sperm whale's spine,

here harpoon clusters like arrows emblem-eagles
clasp in talons, explosives bound
to each to assure their spurs wreak instant death.
We needn't chat over tea, Mike and I.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's first novel, This is the Place, and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered are both award-winners. Her fiction, nonfiction and poems have appeared in national magazines, anthologies and review journals. She speaks on culture, tolerance, writing and promotion and has appeared on TV and hundreds of radio stations nationwide. Her how-to book, The Frugal Book Promoter won USA Book News' Best Professional Book 2004 and her chapbook of poetry, Tracings, is now available from Finishing Line Press. Carolyn is the founder of Authors' Coalition and editor of the newsletter for that organization as well as a blog that helps authors turn a dull book fair booth into a sizzling success. Her website is:

Saturday, February 18, 2006


by John Newmark

I went to Subway for lunch.
They wanted to know
what kind of cheese
I wanted on my turkey sandwich.
I asked for pepper jack.

John Newmark lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and writes grants for a not-for-profit. He has performed at open mics for twelve years, is Literary Editor for Tribalsoulkitchen, and has published poetry at Newspoetry, EOTU and Scared Naked Magazine. More information can be found on his website at

Friday, February 17, 2006


by Patricia Smith Ranzoni

Remarkable when you think it over,
raised in that bowl of papermill spew
his parents brought him to
where so many others' lungs and vitals
have grown in and gone down
and the Francos and Indians fighting it
and their mates and children fighting it
after they've gone into the ground
and fighting-back people all over the state
fighting it and the other mute smokestacks
to no avail. Try to find out how many tons
of particulates and immeasurable plumes
they're allowed, the way I did again
when my old man's kidney grew beyond
itself, and see for yourself the suppression.
Not even news anymore than any rain
over us all is news, even ho-hum lethal,
but Tom's turning 70 on the 17th beating
the odds chewing whatever grows here
with deadly juices in its stems and leaves,
papermaking belch and leech the sweet sap
in the timothy stalk he'll suck between his
teeth and swallow another summer
my mill father's brother no longer
cramming verse into his lunch basket
turning 70 the 17th but forever a union man
and Maine poet just the same what's new?

Patricia Smith Ranzoni was born and has lived in papermill towns nearly her entire life. Her father and uncles and most of her neighbors have worked for them, and her mother wrapped paper in one during WWII. Her children have had various part-time work through them, including cutting and hauling pulp to sell there with their father. She received scholarship aid for graduate work from one and once wrote for a local papermill's retirement program. She has one of the neuro-muscular disorders more common in regions with papermills. Tom is her friend.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


By Charles W. Harvey

America’s corporate souls
have just finished eating
at the buffet trough, ingested
noon day blues. In their bellies
burgers and fries acidify
into atomic shit particles
to be gassed out into commodes
into bayous and oceans
to feed fish which get ground up
to feed other fish and then cows
hormonized to make more burgers and fries.

Yesterday a postal clerk said to me
as she reloaded and unloaded her glock,
“I’ve given these SOB’s my ovaries
but they will not have my soul,
not my soul. I am a woman
not some damn fish.”

Charles W. Harvey lives in Houston Texas. He is currently working on a novel, two collections of poems, and stories.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


by David Thornbrugh

We say
it happened without warning,
as if one morning the sky
inverted and ejected cities,
forests, deserts, oceans
peppered with fish into space,
but it isn’t true,
we saw the headlights glowing,
we heard the footsteps echoing,
we felt the slackening
of once-tight embraces
and we knew what was coming,
we knew the message of mortality
in one melting ice cube,
the fly on its back
kicking at the sky.

David Thornbrugh is an American poet currently living in Krakow, Poland.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


by Barbara Schweitzer

At twenty-four she set off cross-country
and fired up her computer for world peace.
She set out with a burning talent, sultry
and sure, muscling, shouldering out her needs.
She shot up every third month, so she could hike
with the men, monthly overextended
her hormones to keep up with them, insight
of young women red-peppered, rendered
useless by reality. She expected
to come home, drop off the anti-menses,
pick up a woman’s life, her dress, unvexxed,
well-heeled, fall in love, get pregnant and seize
the day in the same way her brother could.
If they hadn’t kidnapped her, she surely would.

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, February 13, 2006


by Marcus Bales

Higgledy Piggledy
Richard B. Cheney
Was out with his buddies
To hunt for some quail;
In a moment of carelessness
Blasted another guest
Right in the tail.

"Ambulance! Ambulance!"
Richard B. Cheney
Repeated as somebody
Bled where he sat
Prey to Republican
If not a terrorist
Then Democrat.

Luckily luckily
Richard B. Cheney's
Security detail has
Medics on staff
And, since the guy is an
All that he'll say is
"It hurts when I laugh."

Remington Remington
Richard B. Cheney
Shot a Republican
Wealthy fat cat.
Cheney was sorry but
Said, "I'd have missed if
He wasn't so fat."

Wriggley wriggley
Richard B. Cheney:
“Executive privilege!”
SCOTUS: “Concur!”
After all, Hamilton
Died when shot down by
Vice President Burr.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


by Rochelle Ratner

She reads the headline, thinking: what a great story. She
turns to the story, anxious to read about some crazy who
went to his father's or grandfather's grave and asked how
to invest money or whatever, then lost the money and
blamed the ancestor. She misreads Austrian for Australian.
She's actually confusing Australia with Japan or China, or
thinking the Australian bush where primitives, she's
certain, still believe in the spirits of their loved ones. Then
she reads it's the family grave of a financial advisor. She
reads that the man trusted him with his severance pay,
and got bad advice. And she thinks of her last conversation
with her father.

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:

Saturday, February 11, 2006


by Bill Costley

Book I: CHENEY Qu@driDr@gon

CHENEY Qu@driDr@gon
spits 4 sizzling bullets,

     splitting his unravelling

          reptilian-tongue in 4:

1: pricks Dubya’s 1-track brain,
2: sprays the Ov@l Office w/vicious juice,
3: invokes the CHENEY, Bush & Rove Trinity
4: bewails his VP-apotheosis’ limitation
to quadrennial surges of dr@conic-power.

Hidden in a quasi-virtual cavern,
a dr@gon-slayer matches those 4-tongues
up/w a Shick Qu@dr@, mantra-ing:

     “Detongue the Qu@driDr@gon…”

unaware a 5-bladed Gillette Fusion

     will take his tongue as well…

Book II: CHENEY De@thSt@lker

Simple Sanity barely escapes
crossing the border at night,

claiming war-refugee status,

pursued by de@thst@lker CHENEY
w/blood in his eye, dually-armed
w/over & under shotguns, loaded
w/depleted uranium shot & shells,

hot-spitting: “Kill whoever rises!”
(Only the media rise.) “Kill all
despicable, disloyal, media!”

Blood-countess* Coulter cracks:
“Stand-up, all of you, Clintons!”
“Stand up, war-Traitor Kerry!”

* Erzsébet Báthory (Aug. 7, 1560 - Aug. 21, 1614)

Book III: VPh@ro@h CHENEY

spits hot uremic acid on Harry Whittington:

“H@rd-assed SOB never needed a he@rt;
mine’s mostly met@l, what the fuck’s his ?”

Rove’s oily bedside-manner explodes:
“This is bad, really bad! It strikes at the
living-he@rt of the vice-presidency, Sir.”

Scooter cowers in stir, fearing the worst:
living entombment for his VPh@ro@h.
Dense Dubya just don’t ‘get it’…yet.

FOX News Alerts ramp up&uP&UP!

Book IV: D@rth CHENEY, Re@nim@tor

Hard-breathing D@rth CHENEY finally
confesses2 [{FOX-TV}] he shot Harry
on ‘the worst day’ of his own gasping life,

in media-suffering making Harry’s AOK
even tho his heart holds a shot, a pellet,
a beebee (shrinking daily); CHENEY
Re@nim@tor, raises an ‘aquaintance’.
2 media-beatification w/out even dying.

shattered quail awayback in TeX@s,
jest 2shot2walk, 2dead2talk tom-turkey,
buckets o' piss2 CHENEY Re@nim@tor.

BOOK V: CHENEY V@ledictor: forbidding media
This neo-pastiche consoled CHENEY during his hours of silence.

As virtuous men blast wildly away,
& whisper to shot soules, just goe,
Whilst some of their sad friends doe say,
Booze breath shows, but some say, no:

So let us hide & make no noise,
Neither beer, nor booze-breath prove,
'Twere prophanation of our boys
To tell the media we drew blood;

Making of news brings harmes & feares,
Media reckon what we did & meant,
Whilst ingesting just a few light beers,
Much lesser fare, is innocent.

Vice-presidential gunners who gun
(Whose soules are dry) must admit
Absence, because it doth remove
Media demons dementeing it.

We be by blood, so much refin'd
That we know well what this shit is,
Inter-assured of our fine mind,
N’er heads, chests, & hearts do misse.

Thy loyal soul therefore, which is one,
Though it must goe, endures not yet
Mere gun-breach, but an expansion,
Texas Sweet to very thinness beate.

If we be two, we are two so
As stiffe twin shotgunners are two,
Thine the fixt gun, makes no blow
Towards me, but waits for mine to blow.

And though I in the center sit,
Yet while another dog doth rome,
I leane, & bark-out after it,
& grow erect, as I come home.

Such must thou be to mee, who must
Like th'other fools, no more runne;
My firmness makes my circle just,
& makes me end, where I begunne.

translated from the oldWyom@n

CHENEY strode nobly upon his native soil
& unburdened his noble oldWyoman heart,
sorrow saturating his voice: “My Wyomen,
you knew my grandfather; you know me;
our blood descends from oldWyoman blood
& is in & upon me in these tribulous hours.”
(Standing ovation by his Wyobrothers.)

“Blood distinguishes us; it is distinguished
by certainty, service, loyalty, property & love
of the noble land of Wyoming we spring from.
Media-mongrels dare not pollute our blood.”
(Cascading cheers from his Wyobrothers.)

“Shall we ever cease to spill the mixed-blood
of a disloyal media-corpses? I ask you, now!”
(Blood-curdling No!s from his Wyobrothers.)

“On our native Wyoming soil we are supreme;
let no mixed-media dare to pollute our Wyorace.”
(Racial growls arise from his Wyobrothers.)

“Up in Big Sky (where I secretly abide) I live
the free life that oldWyoming only provides
to its sons of the blood of its Great Wyomen.”
(Cheers from the Sons of Great Wyomen.)

“Wyoman greatness flows thru & w/in us
whenever we rise to defend our Wyoblood;
as I did in TeXas, we all swear to now.”
(All rise to sing the Wyoman anthem:)

Great Sky, Great Land, Great People,
Arise & sing in our Great WyoHall!
Defy the dogs who’d us thrall
To mixed-media: corrupt, political.

Refrain: Wy-o-Men! Wy-o-Men!

BOOK VII: CHENEY: HunterP@stor

FROM: WH Office of Emergency Respeach
C@TEGORY: Dimunutional
IM@GE: respoken as “hunters’-pastorate”


"shot" already respoken "pepper" & "beebees"

“victim’s heart" already respoken (heartless) "chest."

“victim” to be respoken "willing participant,
who is "happy to have participated"

“hunting” to be respoken “hunter-pastoring”

“hunters” to be respoken “companion-pastors”

“game” to be respoken “participating-paracletes”

Further emergency respeaks (as required.)

Book VIII: CHENEY F@mily-jeweler

CHENEY secretly lambastes Rove:
“Ball-less eunuch, you’ve exposed
the palimpsest of my daily-deeds!

@sshole-proctologist FitzGerald’s
saying my logs are my family-jewels;
how’d that nutless proctologist know?”

Rove sweats-out CHENEY’s rage as
beneath his Master, a strong-box holds
his family’s family jewels, nacreous
pearls of great price few may know:

super-heated swe@ty Powerballs,
distilling his Master’s fuehrerfuel:
hot jewels of his incendiary rage.

BOOK IX: CHENEY Tr@nscend@nt

CHENEY sheds his grey-sharkskin suit
for a mottled reptilian skin, shedding that
for a shimmering set of wet, folded wings.

Glittering with compounded-rage, his eyes
see beyond what's around & below us,
our pitiful confusion, briefly blinding us

to his magnificent neo-insectile vision:
exoskeletal transcendance of human folly.
weakness, indecision, incompetence. His

dry, buzzing, mandibular click confuses
his staff, used only to hot, bloody bursts
of wounded mammalian insults & rage;

fearing they cannot fully adapt quickly
enough to this neo-specific ascendancy;
some choose crickethood, others turn ant.


Bolting-up&out of troubled sleep,
CHENEY visualizes a conspiracy
arrayed against him, its legions:

Colin Powell's dingy lieutenants,
Teddy Kennedy's pussy-hounds,
Hillary Clinton's bullydykes,

naked hoardes, hungrily advancing
upon his naked body, hungry for his
Wyomanly, noble, living flesh. In

anguish, CHENEY screams: "Save
me, Master of my Righteousness,
save me from such Viciousness,

such pitiless-bully teeth, grinning as
they attach my balls to stop-clocks
set to my hour of trial! Such horror!"

Mercifully, his vexed mind descends
again to subterranean, cold, oblivion,
sunk in the fitful sleep of the unjust.

BOOK XI: CHENEY W@tchm@ster

“Bring me Lincoln’s watch!” CHENEY
snarls at a cowering gofer in his cave;
(Lincoln’s watch is brought.) “Wind it!”

(Its loud ticking fills the cave with fear.)
“Set it to the hour of Lincoln’s death.”
(The gofer quickly sets it to 7:22 AM.)

“Bring me…my Dubya!” CHENEY,
in his cave, snarls at the terrified gofer.
(Dubya is duly admitted to the cave.)

“This is Lincoln’s watch, Dubya…”
smiles CHENEY, “Carry it well. It’s
set to his hour of greatest triumph.”

Dubya grins. “I’ll carry it for the rest
of my natural life, Sir.” CHENEY:
“See to it that you do, Dubya. Go!”

Dubya holds Lincoln's watch close,
its loud ticking filling him with joy
as he carries it onto Air Force One.

BOOK XII: CHENEY, Russi@n Rouletteer

CHENEY thumbs the shiny cylinder
of his silver-plated oldWyoman.44,
spang upside the head of a reporter

strapped into a shiny steel chair.
"Watch me clean your paper clock,
you treasonous S.O.B." he snarls,

spinning the shiny, clicking cylinder:
"I'm steel-jacked. I run this country
under EO 13292! No way I can lose.

Feeling lucky, punk? M@ke my d@y!"
CHENEY squeezes the trigger slowly.
(No report.) "G'dammit, yesterday,

it reported on first-pull!" CHENEY
spins the cylinder again, squeezes
the trigger slowly, hot4the report.

Continue to Volume Two of The Cheni@d.

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

Friday, February 10, 2006


by Alisa Gordaneer

the newsroom is silent, the clitter of fingers
paused, the electric current
of air a river moving
and unrecorded

by the fax, your best friend
holds her head and watches,
paper waiting white in its tray
her face smudged with toner,

a phone rings
on your desk.
someone answers, shakes their head.

still we wait. we who
have laughed at worse, washed
chills away
with you, ouzo and whisky
last night, before you went
just to see.

the message this morning said
they had you. would kill you.
or give you up.
nobody negotiates anymore.
you will be. or not.
we have been given a deadline .

the news must be told.
we are struck dumb with the thought
it has happened
and we
are silent.

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, February 09, 2006


for Betty Friedan

by Laura Madeline Wiseman

You who doesn’t tote mace
or own an oversized mutt
or check your car at night
and the closets before bed.
You who doesn’t bother
to learn self-defense kicks
or watch your drink when out
for a too steep decline
from a one drink drunkenness.
You who never gave up
on pretty in favor of safety
while reconciling desirability.
You who never thinks twice
about the neighborhood
leering from slow cars
never jumping at cat calls.
It’s you who says we’re
overreacting and nothing more
than man-hating lesbian cunts.
It’s you who won’t get it
until it’s your sister or your
mother or your wife
or your daughter and then,
it must’ve been how she dressed
a signal that said she wanted it
and deserved it and needed it
or it wouldn’t have occurred.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is an award winning writer teaching at the University of Arizona. Her works have appeared in 13th Moon, The Comstock Review, Fiction International, Poetry Motel, Driftwood, apostrophe, Moondance, Familiar, Spire Magazine, Colere, Clare, Flyway Literature Review, Nebula, and other publications. She is the Literary Editor for IntheFray and a regular contributor to Empowerment4Women.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


(but, being Heathens, you may not understand the meaning of that)

by Rasma Haidri Sjøvoll

In Norway twenty years ago, The Life of Brian
was considered too dangerous
(wait, that’s not quite correct
let’s say it like it was)
too blasphemous
to be allowed into the country
so we had to flee into Sweden
to see what was so funny.

We learned to laugh,
you might say we lightened up,
so the censors bravely opened the gates
and let Brian through
for serious scrutiny
by viewers over the age of 18
though no subtitles were allowed
(full comprehension was still dangerous).

We knew to keep the children safe.
Anyone under the age of maturity
would surely be corrupted and doomed to
for their ensuing misconception
of the death, life and not least conception
of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

It was serious business,
this monitoring of the media’s ability to rock
the foundation of our Judaeo-Christian heritage
as if our cornerstone of faith
would not withstand Monty Python’s wisecracks.

Twenty-five years later any eleven year old
(proof of age required) can rent The Life of Brian
at the corner kiosk, so liberal and enlightened
have we become, so open, so understanding,
so (let’s say it) worldly, even cosmopolitan,
multi-cultural, non-denominational

that we have no tolerance whatsoever
for religious paranoia
and all those frowning Imams (ever notice how they always frown?)
who can’t even take a joke.

Rasma Haidri Sjøvoll is an American writer living on the Arctic seacoast of Norway. Her poems and essays have appeared in literary journals including Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Fourth Genre, Ice Floe and Kalliope, and been widely anthologized, most recently in Waking up American: Coming of Age Biculturally (Seal Press 2005) and Only the Sea Keeps, (Bayeux Arts 2005). She won the 2005 Southern Women Writer’s emerging writer award in creative non-fiction and the 2005 Mandy Poetry Prize.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


(For Robert Grillo, 1952-2005)

by Peter Bates

For years, he tuned the instruments
of the well-heeled.
He sweetened the sour notes, pumped up the flats,
shaved sharps till they no longer stung.
“I think we’re getting there,” he’d say
as a piano slowly recalled its glory days.
Under his power, suburban Steinways showed their teeth
and baby grands stopped bawling.
What he got in return was an almost living wage.
Last week, they couldn’t silence the cacophony in his body.
His blood cells were so far off-key,
no tuning forks could bring them back.
Needles and tubes screeched through him,
louder than the Franklin high band.
The day his organs slammed shut,
he looked up and said to his wife,
“I think we’re getting there. I’m sorry.”
Dressed in black and white,
she welcomed mourners near the G-clef wreath.
In church, Amazing Grace played
and the organ flatted out at middle D.

Peter Bates has been writing poems and stories since he was sixteen. He has published in the St. John's Prep Concordia, The Bates College Student, The Newpaper, the Boston Globe, the Boston Phoenix, Bostonia, the Boston Business Journal, Radical America, Liberation, Lynx Eye, Aspect, American Book Review, Cineaste, Film Quarterly, Laughing Bear, Gray Wolf, Jump Cut, the Potomac Review, Gypsy, Stony Hills, and a score of other magazines named after animals and places. In addition to poetry, he has published film criticism, interviews, short stories, book reviews, and journalism. He has worked as a power plant tour guide, a vacuum cleaner coroner, a librarian, film critic, technical writer, teacher, photographer, computer consultant, and videographer.

Monday, February 06, 2006



by Anne G. Davies

As your president, graced by God's blessing,
I'll tell you how our country's progressing.
The union's strong, the economy's booming
Despite Democratic gloom and dooming.
I'll even acknowledge greenhouse emissions
Hurt our environment under certain conditions.

As for the addiction to gases and oils
Now that the industry's reaped the spoils,
I'll give my good buddies plenty of tools
So they can be first to develop alternate fuels
I don't know what hybrid will rule the road
But Halliburton will own the mother lode.

Iraq has not been a Coalition romp
But I deny it's become an American Swamp.
The insurgents will fall for democracy's charms,
Of their own free will, they'll lay down their arms.
Sunni and Shia will patch up their grievances
And that will be one my greatest achievances.

I've noticed the growth in partisan feeling
Time to promote Congressional healing.
Cheney says to throw Dems a bone
And try to adopt a friendlier tone.
At first, we'll demonstrate humility
While praising bipartisan civility.
Then back to the gospel according to Rove
Hitting them with thunderbolts worthy of Jove.

We can't let terrorists again catch us napping
So I'll continue unwarranted wiretapping
We're at permanent war with barbarians
I don't need trouble from civil libertarians.

And I'll say it out loud-no need to be stealthy
Once again I urge tax cuts for the wealthy
It won't raise the deficit, of that I'm quite sure:
I'll make equivalent cuts in aid to the poor.

It's an honor to lead the world's greatest nation
On the country's behalf, I accept your ovation.

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.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

1974, 1984 & 2004

from 1984
by George Orwell

On the sixth day of Hate Week, after the processions, the speeches, the shouting, the singing, the banners, the posters, the films, the waxworks, the rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, the tramp of marching feet, the grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, the roar of massed planes, the booming of guns -- after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces -- at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.

There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy. . . .

Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete. Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs -- all had to be rectified at lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence anywhere.

on 1974 in 2004
by David Kay,
former head of the Iraq Survey Group,

speaking in November 2004
at the Center for Strategic and International Studies

The first thing - of what we do know, and it's amazing how many Americans seem to skate over this - the first nuclear reactor given to Iran was given by the United States in 1967 - a five-megawatt trigger reactor, research reactor, under the Eisenhower Atoms for Peace Program. Still operated ... The other thing that Americans forget is that in 1974, the shah announced a policy of 23,000 megawatts of nuclear energy in Iraq. The US reaction? Henry Kissinger beat down the door to be sure that two US constructors, General Electric and Westinghouse, had a preferred position in selling those reactors. We did not say, "it's a stupid idea, why would you want to do that when you are flaring gas and you have immense oil reserves?" We said, "That is very interesting; it's an example of how the Iranian economy is moving and becoming modern." Imagine in Iranian ears how it sounds now when we denigrate that capacity. They remember. We were sellers of nuclear reactors and wanted to be sellers of nuclear reactors to the shah.

See also the Nuclear Threat Initiative website.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


by Lillian B. Kennedy

They all rushed to the side to see him,
gripped the rail tightly.

The balance shifted;
the hull rolled up slightly

and turned them over
and out
like sand
through an hourglass waist,

all those longing arms,
the jumbled string-kicking feet
green air’s open mouths,
“oh”s bubbling,
that last astonished singing
up toward the overturned shell,

the drowning

Lillian Baker Kennedy, author of Tomorrow After Night (Bay River Press, 2003) and Notions (Pudding House, 2004), practices law and lives in an old cape bordered by wild roses in Auburn, Maine.

Friday, February 03, 2006

STOP, STOP . . .

by Thomas D. Reynolds

Killing two men is bound to affect you.
Even if it's war and your orders are to eliminate.
Your hands, chapped from the cold, grip the rifle,
not an extension of your arms as advertised,
but a foreign ribbon of steel you find in your hands
as if surprised again and again when you look down.
In your mind, you plead for them to stop, stop,
and even your lips mouth the words, fogging the scope.
Don't they know you can see them among the weeds,
detect the scrape of their knees against the rocks?
That a munitions dump, even a small one,
would be guarded by at least one soldier
so plagued by insomnia his hand shakes?
A calloused finger, black from smoke, if given time
and provocation, will find its mark. And not only find it,
but obliterate it, as per its orders, beyond recognition.

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.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


by Rochelle Ratner

Twelve feet shorter than when it was measured thirty
years ago. And it doesn't mean the earth has eroded, they
tell us, just that there are better tools for measuring now.
Ignore global warming. Ignore a Tsunami, a hurricane, and
now an earthquake. They act as if twelve feet doesn't make
a difference. Don't they realize that at two feet a little girl
can't reach the sink or the top drawer of the dresser?
Haven't they known the thrill when, growing a mere six
inches, suddenly she can jump and reach the light switch?
Even at that height she finds herself the last one in line
when her class marches toward recess, when only seven
inches separate her from the bully. Look at how easily the
tall, strong Russians could lord it over the Mongols with
even their feet bound. She hoped at least some woman in
China might understand.

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: