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Friday, June 30, 2006

POEM FOR SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC

by Sheila Black


1.

I think I know when I begin
where I stand, but when I google your name
and “poetry,” 143, 214 sites appear
in which I cannot find a single poem.

One says you are vilified by the greedy
gods of Capitalism, their thunder-lust of
acquire and destroy. Another writes a book which
“vents his rage” at your “brutal regime.”

And there is “America” in my head and
somewhere else the experience of
being “American,” which are not remotely
one and the same, struggling through memories
of therapy-speak and banana seat bicycles to identify
that “engine of commerce,” which in the
words of yet another website, “continues
its devouring march yard by yard across the
besieged planet.”

I had forgotten you were a poet until
the day you were found dead in your cell
(to much unspoken relief and more
despair), the circumstances mysterious—
murder, suicide, conspiracy, accident?

You see even in these few simple verses
how the words unspool, multiply,
become in the words of Lacan
“unstoppable engine of desire” ?

2.

A mad professor writes his opus of the
Neanderthals, who he claimed never gained
language but were experts in the teleology of
“hmmmm.” In other words, they sang.
Music he says is “holistic, the meaning
apprehended in simultaneity rather than being
tied to symbol, or to the narrative prison of
time always moving forward, in music “there is
never a reason distinct from emotion.”
His evidence for this? The Neanderthals'
society remained as it came into being unchanged
for a quarter of a million years.

Slodoban what can this mean for us, here, now?
Only what any fool could tell you:
Words are not to be trusted. Such powerful little
soliders, builders of utopias, raisers of palaces,
paradise. Do you still remember the stories you
were told? Here is a blue bowl. Here is a dead horse
whose eye is a flower of flies. Or:

swift, on horseback, the barbarians ride to the attack;
an enemy with horses as numerous as their flying arrows;
and they leave the whole land depopulated.
Some flee, and with their plowed furrows
unguarded, know their fields will be despoiled.
The poor products of their labor, in creaking carts
are driven with their flocks, all the poor peasant owns.
Among the refugees, some are seized as captives
and with their arms bound, march to an unknown fate;
they cast a sad eye behind them, at their homes and farms.
Some fall in agony, pierced by barbed arrows;
for the metal head of the shaft is loaded with poison.


Or again:

The wet logs on the open fire gave the only light to the closely packed peasants and their wives, wrapped in thick smoke. If I tried to penetrate the curtain of smoke, the most I could see were the eyes of the human beings, numerous, sad and glaring with some kind of fluid light coming from nowhere. Some kind of reproach, even threat, radiated from them, and many times since then they have awakened me from my dreams.

3.

Yellow flower, watch face, twig underfoot. I have
seen the famous film of you with the rifle, firing down on
a city landscape, which is perhaps Sarajevo, is perhaps
Kosovo, is a maze of dense concrete buildings and
walkways and boarded windows where people fall
suddenly at random. You smile when the gun fires, retort of
it in your hand. Your smile is what one might call
mirthless; it is a smile meant to show steadfastness of
purpose, bared teeth. When you wrote a poem,
how many drafts, how many hours or minutes
moving the words about on the page? Surely you
learned much of the alchemy of governance
—nouns of interest, strong-are verbs, the active spark,
the craft of forging an image with sufficient traction to
slide into the reader, O unimaginable place in the body
where such visions are held, breathe, and grow, Slobodan
so many states, instants of being, and the obverse—
those burst bodies under the spreading lindens, the men-

women-children-who-will-not-speak-never-no-more
words-who-have-joined-hands-with silence,

bodies seen in the grainy impressions of 16 mmm film
slick video stock, digital cameras, red flash and
light leaking into silver, capturing the whole mess.

And how can I slide down there, below the words,
into the bodies themselves on the layered ground
of the Croatian woods, leech into oak and ash,
the spring flower, carnivorous-looking in its mottled
creams and pinks, curled above them, tendriling,

for each word demands another, does it not? You,
Slobodan, stabbing pencil into paper with energy
as you did everything. Strongman. Now two hours
warming the search engine and not a single poem
by you in your language or in mine. Yet I can picture them
on the page. Noun, corrosive verb, rhetorical
flourish. Inspired by--- Meaning ---. Such small
beginnings, truly. Tell me one story you have never
spoken, one moment, be as humble and as accurate
as you can Slobodan, remember when you were small,
remember when you knew nothing? Here you are:

A doorway. There is perhaps some smoke somewhere.
A sky with skittish clouds. The wind is cold, iron, slice.
Or it smells of flowers as if of another world. Whose
face do you see? Whose voice calls out what phrase?

4.

Slobodan, name like a rock, You see how it all goes and grows?
And the engine, the engine creaks on? The Neanderthals
went extinct, too, swallowed, the Professor says, by their
inability to dream beyond, no single artwork of any symbolic
content or reference, but they had what we lack:
the hmmm of the moment, the hmmm that takes all things
inside it, as the original poets aspired, mixing dance, song,
and word into Molpe, in which the participants assume
their masks, no longer men or women but the hollow
reed, the bone cup through which the thunder crackles,

Molpe: A name. Greek for song. Another Siren. In the Whorl, the goddess
of
music, dance, art, the winds, and lightness.

Historians describe that they moved and sang until the words were
swallowed, broken, garbled, the
name of the Siren, “Siren” chanted and
danced, as if the words themselves could be
distilled into the more-than-human-beyond where
language is said to lead.

5.

From their chests up they had the form of sparrows, below they were women. Mythologers say that they were little birds with women's faces who beguiled sailors as they passed by, bewitching with lewd songs the hearing of those harkening to them. And the song of pleasure has no good consequence, only death.

6.

Slobodan, you hear nothing,
look where the words have taken you. See the woods,
the silence of the earth? It is morning. A deadness in the
air. The sparrow sings regardless. And again the yellow
flower pushes up. The lightness that is not us.

___________

✦Ovid (Tristia, III, x.), describing a raid 2,000 years ago by the Sarmatians, considered Slavs by some historians, against the ancestors of today’s Albanians.

✢Gavrilo Princip, letter to a friend, quoted in Vladimlr Dediler, The Road to Sarajevo, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1966, p.190. Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke of Austria, thus triggering the First World War Gavrilo Princip, who was born In Bosnia (in 1894).

✸“Suidas” the unknown compiler of the The Suda, a tenth-century Byzatine Greek historical encyclopaedia of the ancient world, selection from Select Epigrams from The Greek Anthology Edited with a Revised Text, Translation, and Notes, by J. W. Mackail London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1890.



Sheila Black received her MFA in 1998 from the University of Montana. Her poems have appeared in many print and on-line journals including DMQ Review, Puerto Del Sol, and Blackbird. In 2000 she received the Frost-Pellicer Frontera Prize, given annually to one U.S. and one Mexican poet living along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Her first book House of Bone is forthcoming from CustomWords Press in 2007.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

ON POLITICAL RAPIDS - LOSING GROUND

by Carol Elizabeth Owens

“[A] state of emergency was declared Tuesday [June 27, 2006] for…the District of Columbia. More than 2,200 people near a rising lake in Maryland were ordered to evacuate. Lake Needwood on the north side of Rockville was approaching 25 feet above normal [in] Montgomery County.” -- Associated Press (Jun. 28, 2006)

f.e.m.a.
is finally
on footing with the front-
line of disaster. floods must feel
funny when they’re running
close to the white
house’s

gated
community.
weather in the beltway
found a way to really keep folks
on their toes. fear’s exposed
and freedom’s not
the safe

haven
it once appeared
to be. equality’s
now on the same level with new
orleans. terror can take
different forms.
water

is just
one of them. race
and social stigmata
cause uprising, too. people may
be waist deep— government’s
likely to end
up wet.


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 political rapids -- losing ground" is written in a form called eintou (which is West African for "pearl," as in "pearls of wisdom").

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

BAG LADY

by Gary Beck


No longer young,
but not much older than me,
I have seen her often
in subway visions,
ravaged by her treasure
simmering in shopping bags,
her eyes the hunger of zoo animals,
with a wrinkled, worried face
that will not allow tomorrows.


Gary Beck’s poetry has appeared in dozens of literary magazines. His recent fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines. His plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced Off-Broadway.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

GEORGE W. BUSH LOOKS OVER THE DAY'S NEWS

June 3, 2006


by Rochelle Ratner


1.

In Vienna, a tax collector places a black attaché case filled
with the day's collections on the back of the toilet while he
takes a crap. He finishes, washes his hands twice to get all
the crud off, then leaves. By the time he realizes it's
missing it's of course been taken. Using a red marker,
George makes a note about how other countries waste
taxpayer's money. And he'll add some comment about how
all American public restrooms are stocked with extra toilet
paper.


2.

Some Canadian running for office accepted $27,000 in
contributions from school children. Raiding the piggy
banks, one challenger called it. Shaking down kids for their
lunch money, someone else said. Now they want to ban the
damn liberals from campaigning within 500 feet of an
amusement pier or kindergarten. George circles this one,
picks up the phone, asks an aid to find someone who'll
donate little plastic piggy banks his fellow Republicans can
hand out to promote family values. Only for senators
running for re-election. Only for those who don't speak out
against the war in Iraq.


3.

"Do not vote for the red coalition. Vote for a 20 percent
discount," a Czech sports store is advertising, trying to
make certain the communists don't gain seats in the
coming election. George taps his pencil against his
forehead as he thinks that one over. Czechs apparently
send out several ballots and you only return the ones
you're voting for, so he supposes that makes a difference. It
would never work here, would it? He taps his pencil against
his lips, chews on the eraser.


4.

Enough about foreigners. Let's put the focus back on
America. This country's really getting out of hand. A
woman in a Pittsburgh bus terminal tries to steal a bag of
peanuts, spits on two people restraining her, then slips out
of her shirt to get away, walks outside, takes off the rest of
her clothes and darts into traffic. Police chase her down
and take her to the psyche ward, but she's not facing
criminal charges. And what he wants to know is -- why
not?


5

Oh dear. It says here that Washingtonians love their game
of tag, wearing lanyards around their necks for admittance
to Congress, the State House, the Pentagon, the Supreme
Court, even some press conferences and museum openings.
And they display these tags like stripes on a uniform when
they go out for drinks after work. Sometimes four or five
tags will jingle around a man's neck, proving his
importance. He checks his wallet, his pockets, even the sofa
cushion, wondering where he could have lost the one they
gave him.


6.

Hot diggity dog! He knew Texas was in good hands under
Rick Perry's leadership, but it really took a genius to come
up with the idea of hundreds of video cameras along the
border, streaming live to computers everywhere. The
ultimate reality show. If you see something, say something.
Get the public, heck, get the whole world involved. He can't
wait to get home.


Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: www.rochelleratner.com.

Monday, June 26, 2006

REMEMBER THE MAINE

by Lucille Gang Shulklapper


“Stay the course,” keep using force, no remorse for the dead and dying, “stay the course,” keep on lying, “ support the troops” without buying armored tanks, protective gear, keep on lying, victory’s near, Iraq’s free of fear, Saddam’s dead, the Ba'athist Party’s fled, the new government loves us, their flag flies above us, “Stay the course”, the fourth amendment shredded ,our soldiers beheaded, our phones tapped, our economy sapped, our stem cells discarded, our privacy disregarded, “Stay the course,” a Trojan horse, in North Korea, and Iran, Rove’s talking points, those he anoints.

“Cut and run” from our ports, “cut and run” from Katrina,“Cut and run” from the legislative arena, “Cut and run” from those who disagree, from those who see torture and rendition, an unaccomplished mission, Islamic sects in opposition, “Cut and run” from our sick and poor, from knock and announce at your door, leave no child behind, “Cut and run” from the scientific mind, “Cut and run” from Murtha, a man of honor, “Swiftboat him” so he’s a goner, “Cut and run,” from CIA agents outed, subpoenaed journalists who shouted. “Stay the course,” or “Cut and Run,” peppered words, a loaded gun.


Lucille Gang Shulklapper is workshop leader for the Florida Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress. Her poetry and fiction appear in journals and anthologies, including: Switched-on Gutenberg, Into the Teeth of the Wind, Slant, Common Ground Review, and others. She is the author of two chapbooks of poems: What You Cannot Have, The Substance of Sunlight, and one mini-chapbook : Godd, It's Not Hollywood. Living up to traditional expectations led to work as a salesperson, model, realtor, teacher, and curriculum coordinator throughout schooling, marriage, children, and grandchildren.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

HAVE YOU ANYTHING TO DECLARE

by Carol Dorf


Every time I say no, I worry
Actually, first I’m angry, then
fear no will be someone’s turning point,
whiteboard erased to blank slate.

Have You Anything To Declare

I hate simile, prefer metaphor:
It is cold, a leaf trembles,
her lips tight with negation,
day fades too quickly into grays.

Have You Anything To Declare

I am afraid of war,
afraid of the American flag,
afraid of how happy we’ve become
at the sight of leveled cities.

Have You Anything To Declare

I am afraid of the ardor of my neighbors,
who declare solidarity, by breaking
a plateglass window, boxes of couscous
and jars of olives tumbling onto sidewalk.

Have You Anything To Declare

If I die before my child is grown
I’ll have left her in a world without siblings,
where she’ll be a meteor falling through night,
and I don’t have to power to stop twilight from fading.


Carol Dorf's work has been published in Runes, Coracle, Five Fingers Review, Transfer, Socialist Review (the issue Ron Silliman edited,) and Feminist Studies. She have taught in various venues including as a California Poet-in-the-Schools, at Vista College, at Lawrence Hall of Science, and in a large urban high school.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

HOW THINGS CHANGE

by Mary Saracino


There are things in this world
over which we have no control:

tsunami tombs and earthquake
crevices swallowing whole

the hopes of men and women
unhinged levees drowning

the dreams of children
inept officials courting tragedy

averting eyes from sorrow’s pleas for mercy
food, medicine, a roof over one’s head

justice tarries too long in the land
of the unseeing, loses its way

still, outrage emboldens swollen
hearts, spreads compassion

like manure to fertilize charity
which still begins at home

though not every knocked door opens
the ones that do change things


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 October 2006.

Friday, June 23, 2006

THE FIRST LADY

A FOUND TANKA
by Stephen Lawrence


Afghanistan will
be wonderful for tourists,
it is so exotic

and has a very, very
fascinating history.


Stephen Lawrence, who has an MA in English and Diplomas in Applied Psychology and Education, works for the South Australian government. His fiction and poetry has won or been shortlisted for twenty Australian literary awards, and he was guest author at the Adelaide Festival of Arts Writers' Week 2000. His third poetry collection, entitled How Not to Kill Government Leaders, was launched at Writers' Week 2002.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

MEANWHILE IN AFGHANISTAN

by Elizabeth Pietrzak


Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, suicide bombers
threaten aid workers as well as the insurgent
American troops. Rumsfeld parrots:
"Improvements every day!"
while even our soldiers lack faith
that the Afghan Army will soon be ready
to face the Taliban on their own.

In a rare photo op, two Afghan soldiers
pose with an American-made AK-47
while Lieutenant Average American Soldier instructs,
like a father on the basics of how to operate a lawn mower.
Only this father's smile lacks genuine sincerity.
His movement betrays him as he leaves
the outdoor photo studio, he still has
reservations about turning his back
to the Afghan he has just trained and armed.


Elizabeth Pietrzak, Claremont, California, is a mostly-vegetarian poet who spurns the meat of global over-consumption in favor of a sustainable, locally grown lifestyle. She received her BA from the University of La Verne and is pursuing an MFA at Antioch University, Los Angeles. She is writing her first novel as well as a collection of poetry, and her first chapbook, The Scent of Kisses in the Dark, was adapted into a performance by Kirsten Ogden in May 2005. She has co-authored a solo performance with Rob'n Lewis which is currently in development.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

WORLD C(arved)UP

by Ed Webb

"Up to 1,000 Dutch fans watched their side play Ivory Coast in their underpants on Friday after they were denied entry to Stuttgart's stadium for wearing orange trousers with the name of a Dutch brewery which was not an official sponsor." – BBC

We must protect, we must,
The rights of those who have paid to own this space and time,
This moment of international silly-seriousness
We must protect.

Your garments are unofficial.
They may not protect,
They have not paid, they do not own,
This is not their moment.
Please bare your legs for capital
Which we must protect.


Ed Webb has never worn orange trousers, but might start.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

DEMOCRACY . . .

by Maurynne Maxwell


Democracy in the Southwest United States at the End of the 20th Century
(early 1990s)

They want to put a wall along the border.
A wall comes down in Berlin,
goes up in the United States--
they propose this without irony.

A people without memory can do this.

What's the price of freedom in a market economy?
We can't afford idealism
(our ancestors paid in blood).
We are old money now, aristocrats of power;
we count the price.

Blood is always the true price.

Walls don't work, have never worked--
from Babel to China, from the Bastille to Berlin.
Desperation digs tunnels, builds balloons,
breaks through the strongest barriers, rebels.
Walls draw down lightning, cannot survive the storm;
Dreams drift through atoms of steel, stone, or flesh.

Freedom, that virus--
there is no cure.


Democracy in the United States at the Beginning of the 21st Century
(2006)

Repeat.
Repeat history.
Repeat with the wall.
Repeat with wiretaps.
Repeat with ISPs keeping records for the government.
Repeat with the President saying he thinks a dynasty is a good idea.
Repeat with the melding of Church and State.
Repeat with the rich getting richer.

Repeat history.
Repeat with wars,
especially with wars for freedom.
Especially if they're in another country--
over an ocean.
Repeat revolution.
But not next door.
Repeat with the wall.

Repeat history.
Repeat revolution.
Try out democracy--
someday it could happen.
Quit repeating.


Maurynne Maxwell is a native of Southern Arizona. Arizona was part of Mexico longer than it has been part of the United States. In fact, up until the 1400s, Arizona was just part of the world. If you were optimistic, you could say that Arizona and the United States were part of the world even now. At any rate, she would not really like to live anywhere else except maybe Baja, Canada, or Cornwall. Because even though we don't practice democracy in this country, it seems like we have the next best thing. Mauryanne Maxwell wishes she had the answer to perfection, but simply believes we must keep trying.

Monday, June 19, 2006

ARMED RESPONSE

by Lee Patton


ARMED RESPONSE
--warns every alarming sign
planted in each front lawn,
metal petals of SecureHomes,

Inc. Disarming, how only brown
arms tend empty yards to provide
the only motion, the only sign

that Beverly Hills bears life.
Brown arms guide the tools
and the whining, snippy machines

that manicure ever-green lawns
in February, tangerine-sweet.
Fruit’s a nuisance, though--

“Pablo,” Mycki wails, “that pulp
on the walkways? Clean, please?
Comprendes? Okay? I’ll be back.”

Sweeping uneaten fruit, does Pablo
recall his predecessors, braceros?
“The arm people,” whose manos never

knew manicures. While Mycki
day-spas her fingernails, Tanya
complains about “illegals--”

thinks they ought to be shipped
to Mexico “in manacles.” Mycki
says nothing, afraid of what

would jungle into her garden
without Pablo’s shears, so...handy.
Her Benz slips plush and silent

home, down the alley, swallowed
by garage. Someday, she’ll visit
her front lawn, she’s sure. Now,

though, Pablo mops up ripe pulp
and Mycki must write that overdue
check to SecureHomes, Inc., which

will plant a squadron of riflemen
front and back if any brute dares
pluck her Eden’s surplus fruits.


Lee Patton's work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, The Massachusetts Review, The California Quarterly, and Hawaii-Pacific Review. Among other literary activities and awards: Finalist, the 2001 Lambda Awards for best novel (Nothing Gold Can Stay), 2006 Colorado Authors League short fiction award, The Borderlands Playwrights Prize in 1993 (The Houseguest) and the 1996 Ashland New Playwrights (Orwell in Orlando).

Sunday, June 18, 2006

BUSH OPPOSES STEM CELL RESEARCH

A FOUND TANKA
by Stephen Lawrence



Each life is a gift—
these children I’ve brought today
are former embryos;

each of us started this way
and life can’t be exploited.

There is no such thing
as a spare embryo.
these kids remind us

each embryo is complete,
genetically intact.

This Bill will cross a
critical ethical line
and will bring about

destruction, dismemberment
of emerging human life.


Stephen Lawrence, who has an MA in English and Diplomas in Applied Psychology and Education, works for the South Australian government. His fiction and poetry has won or been shortlisted for twenty Australian literary awards, and he was guest author at the Adelaide Festival of Arts Writers' Week 2000. His third poetry collection, entitled How Not to Kill Government Leaders, was launched at Writers' Week 2002.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

U.S. MINT CONFISCATES 10 RARE GOLD COINS

by Rochelle Ratner


Every time the phone rings she jumps, expecting it's her
father calling. She knows he's old and sick, knows she
should be in touch with him more often, but she has her
own life. She doesn't have time for all his stories about
watching Antique Road Show. Never before was he a
dreamer, but suddenly everything he owns might be worth
a fortune. The cast iron skillet and the pewter bird-in-hand
paperweight she easily found a place for. But not the coins
he gave her on her last visit – carton after carton, an old
gym bag, an even older suitcase. He wiped off the mouse
turds. He took each mint set apart to show her what it was,
most still in their shipping boxes, some in velvet cases. He
was sure there were some boxes missing.


Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: www.rochelleratner.com.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

IRAQBODYCOUNT.COM OR SURFING THE NET IN TIME OF WAR

by Sheila Black


One click and I’m in. Minimum 6543, maximum
10,432. In the forum someone writes
we should all fuck ourselves throw up our milkshakes
and big Macs. It is years since I ate a Big
Mac but suddenly I want one. Then again I want
to throw out my cupboards and smash all the jars—that
jewel-like plenty. Raspberry Salsa, Kiwi-Chipotle
Barbecue sauce, the boxes of pastini, jars of pesto.
Explain how the television is always on and filled with
the pictures of the suffering of other people?
And what does it mean that my daughter asks about the
bomb that explodes in yet another car,
Did a person really die? And why there are never
photographs in the paper of the suicide bombers or much
detail about their lives before. As if their gesture
made everything after—the sun-glassed
eyes, the hooded face, the malignancy. Yet I cull what
I can. The straight-A student, a girl, who had a
voice like nightingales. The boy who once loved a bear
made out of a sock even though it had no eyes,
and he had never seen a bear, not in the zoo, not in
the forests, which have all been cut down in his part of the world,
due to heavy settlement, the close proximity of
swelling populations. Is it a tightening or a letting go?
And why do we feel immune from this sickness,
the longing just to blow everything up?
The crowded cupboard of wine bottles and foodstuffs
stares back at me, reflected in the flat ethereal blue
of the personal computer. If this life were a house
it would be trashed, brim-full of disposable consumer goods.
How will I cleanse it, sort out, throw away, how
will I arrive at the sweet kernel, life of
sanity and balance. The 10,432 (maximum) crowd beside
me at the stove as I cook my family dinner.
Why do I imagine it will please them if I make
perfect rice, slice ripe tomatoes from the garden?
The greed of our small, cramped joys. I spread my arms,
wave my wooden spoon in the air, imagine us all
breaking, breaking, breaking up.


Sheila Black received her MFA in 1998 from the University of Montana. Her poems have appeared in many print and on-line journals including DMQ Review, Puerto Del Sol, and Blackbird. In 2000 she received the Frost-Pellicer Frontera Prize, given annually to one U.S. and one Mexican poet living along the U.S.-Mexico Border. Her first book House of Bone is forthcoming from CustomWords Press in 2007.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM!

by Christopher Woods


Their field is wide
Enough for the soldiers
From every country in time.

Crowded, always crowded,
Not an inch to turn
Away from so much grief.
But still the god calls to them,
“Make room! Make room!”

And so they bunch closer
Together, a Roman soldier,
A Viet Cong boy in black,
Doughboys without faces,
Grudgingly make room
For the new war dead
Arriving unexpectedly
At all dark, bloody hours.

Death’s badges identify them
Victims of catapults, boiling oil,
I.E.D.s, napalm and gas,
Sticks and stones,
All the tools of the wars
That lead them all here
Where there is no need
To speak, only to acknowledge
Tears and every once proud flag.


Christopher Woods is the author of a prose collection, Under a Riverbed Sky. His play, Moonbirds, about census-takers at work in an unpopulated desert country, was produced in NYC by Personal Space Theatrics. He lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill, Texas.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

DICTIONARY'S LAMENT

by Jon Wesick


Groupthink whisks meaning from my pages
and hides the gaps behind news anchors’ smiles.
The status quo puffs cigars of self-congratulation.
A ceiling fan’s blades cut blue
smoke and mirrors into sound bites.
The motor drowns lone voices in white noise.
Words that could once turn a bullet
form a puddle on the library floor.


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.

Monday, June 12, 2006

WEAVING A WEB

by Marguerite Bouvard


A spider is working diligently before me
this Sunday morning. Long silken threads stretch
from its mouth, waving in each gust of air.
It’s like the game of hide and seek where
only a burst of unexpected light reveals the intricate,
ever changing pattern. It’s skill is in
its invisibility so that we can walk
through our morning without seeing
its handwork as we turn our attention
to the World Cup soccer match. Meanwhile
Iman Abou Omar is snatched from the sidewalk
as he walks home from his mosque in Milan,
vanished in the web that stretches
from Cairo to Amman, to Timisoara, Kabul,
Islamabad and Guantanamo. No one ever
sees this network of secret renditions
and detentions, an underworld
that pulses beneath our secured houses:
thousands hooded, naked and hurled outside of time.
I remember meeting a young German in the early 70s
when the history books were still cleansed.
I asked him about Auschwitz, Buchenwald,
and Dora Nordhausen. He looked at me
bewildered, answering What Camps?


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

Saturday, June 10, 2006

WHISPERS

by Ray Templeton


I thought I saw somebody passing in the night.
You saw no-one. The city gates are locked.
But my father heard the steps of someone running.
It is against the law to run; there was no-one there.

My child found footprints in the dust.
Not a man’s prints, those are cats’ or dogs’.
My wife was roused before the sun rose
by the voice of someone calling. She heard the wind.

This is not the first time. There have been
other nights when sleep’s been troubled.
This time of year, the animals are restless;
it will pass over. Go back home.

Where is the one I spoke to last time?
He is not here. He could not be trusted.
Who decided that? On whose authority?
You ask too many questions. Go back home.

But these new laws – how can I learn them?
You will know them when you break them.
My family lives in fear of what will happen.
You need not worry. We will speak again.


Ray Templeton is a Scottish writer and musician, living in St. Albans, England. His poetry has appeared in Magma, Iota and at Eclectica, Poems Niederngasse and The Argotist Online. He is a member of the editorial board of Blues & Rhythm magazine, and his writing on various kinds of music has also appeared in Musical Traditions and Keskidee.

Friday, June 09, 2006

IMBECILES

           800 BC -- 2006


by Roberta Gould


Not that Cambysis himself
mocked the gods of the others
he who murdered his sister named wife
when the law was twisted  to allow
what his God forbade
but that his men did the acts
entered the temples of the other nations
burned their mummies
sneared excrement over the dead
and the holy images
to prove they were there
Not Cambysis himself
though history gives him credit
Cambysis who lead Persia to ruin
and Asia and the future
in his madness  and notions
in his war games and whims
not Cambysis who murdered
ten thousand that week
but his men
in his name
loosed like beasts
with their banners and steel
fearing perhaps for their  lives
their skin
their children
or simply
following leader
and having fun


Roberta Gould’s poetry has appeared in many journals and periodicals, including Confrontation, The New York Times, Green Mountain Review, Blue Line, The Village Voice, Chapultepec Review, The Pacific Coast Journal, Helicon Nine, Bridges, and Rio on Line. Her published books are Dream Yourself Flying (1979), Writing Air, Written Water (1980), Only Rock (1985), Esta Naranja (1988), Not by Blood Alone (1989), Live Show (1993), Three Windows (1997), In Houses With Ladders (2000). Her eighth book, Pacing the Wind, will be out this summer.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

TIME-WON’T-FLY ZONE

by Verandah Porche


1. Police Lobby

Immaculate marble, wet paint, putty-gray:
three girls wait to file their plaint.
--You a lawyer?
Me: No, you need one?
--She does.
Samantha (name changed, blonde
with a smacked face) relates,
--I’m like, ‘Stop staring. You queer? ’
& he hits me here!
(His red hand, still faintly visible.)

Dorita & Carmela chime in
with their crimes, killing time in a fun-free town.

Now chitchat.
Me: Where will you be in ten years?
Dorita (smiling, unhesitant): ‘You want fries with that?’
Samantha: Probably picking bottles from the trash.
Carmela: Me? I’ll be a famous rapper…smoking up
on my front porch…Honestly, we’re burning a CD now.

Carmela edits out loved substances when I say,
--O, may I quote you?

2. Off Gray Street

Pulse moon, full strobe. Officer no-neck
tilts at a car window, reads a riot act to
a local boy with so-so sobriety
who shrinks in his chassis.
Crime of cutting corners; smoke & mirrors.

Between the blinds on Gray Street
life aches. Leaves itch to fall
as they peel away.

3. Defunct Dunkin Donuts

sells nothing but holes. Lo & behold!
marbled tables, tufted chairs, dust
for customers. Scratch art scarifies facades.
Ah, edgy beauty, ennui
etched by car key, pen knife.

Broad daylight on the donut lot:
Girls whisper. Pick-up kisses car. No spark.
Guys bend under hoods. Snake out
their cables. Hook-up. Flick, hiss, rev.
Friends with benefits
jumpstart, veer apart.

4. Heat Wave before Halloween

Downtown vogues toward Christmas.
Men in shirtsleeves unearth wreathes
and ropes of faux fir; stretch tethered
lights across cornices & street trees.

Trick or treat. Down the strip
sun slashes its hours.

5. By Ollie’s Convenience

Pixie-girl asks: Lady, why the cart?
You collect bottles and cans?

Dad parks a lit cig on the window ledge to enter
a moment & ends our chat with a roll of Smartees.

Grackles hunt & peck at vacancy of Value City.
I park the laptop open on my knees…

          Remember Henry Cushman, father
          of the rubber eraser, notable native son.

          Truth & consequence erode.
          Write like the river.
          Speak your mind
          & be mum.


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.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

SCAVENGER NIGHT

by Thomas D. Reynolds


Two armies slither
upon the rocks
like serpents positioning
themselves for a strike.

Nearly motionless,
they make final adjustments,
tails curling to the side
while the heads arch back,

anticipating their prey,
and then all is motionless,
waiting for the flick of a tail
followed by a frenzied rush.

Through the long afternoon
only hours before dusk,
the prey refuses to break
while the attacker playfully taunts,

In the darkening sky,
night is the scavenger
waiting for carrion,
devouring all that's left.


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.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

HOW TO OBSERVE MEMORIAL DAY

by Amy Ouzoonian


Have a barbeque.
Support the Troops.
Honor the fallen.
Drop wreathes in the Hudson River.
Drop grenades on homes in Fallujah.
Spray a mother and child with bullets
while chanting Terrazas! Terrazas!
Force your kid to play a trumpet
in 95 degree weather, watch him
collapse in the stifling heat.
Kill the kid’s parents and then
feel bad about it and ask him
how he feels. Commend them on
their bravery, honor their hero
mother and father and give those
brave kids big hugs that won’t
give them mommy and daddy back
and tell them their mommy and daddy
did a self-less and honorable thing.
Ask the orphan children of Iraq
if they want a hotdog or a hamburger.
With your back to the propane grill,
Just purchased from Home Depot,
Ask a soldier
Would you like a road side bomb?
Or Coke with that?
You don't get a choice but
you can lose a limb, a future,
your mind
charbroiled over a bed of greens
tossed lightly with oil and
lots of blood.


Amy Ouzoonian is a playwright, poet and editor of two anthologies of poetry including the recently released In the Arms of Words: Poems for Disaster Relief. She is the author of a book of poetry Your Pill and editor of A Gathering of the Tribes magazine. www.locknloadpublishing.com

Monday, June 05, 2006

FOR THE DAYS AFTER (MEMORIAL DAY)

by Robert Emmett


now all your stars are polished
and your keepsakes safely hid
among the tarnished memories
of what you say you never did
it always comes around to this
there’s only one right side
it’s not like it was hit or miss
you made the choice they died

but they’re not even human
just some politician’s pawns
we say their blood’s expendable
not like our pretty fawns'
‘cause we’re a far far cut above
and we can prove the point
so pass the ammunition
and let’s fuck up this joint

we suck the bitter poison
from the lips of our pale brothers
don’t try to sell me sanctity
of children or of mothers
when the fever’s high
and the target’s rich
it’s a call out to the willing
(nits make lice
the general said
so clean them out
from under the bed)
we can justify the killing

hey they’re just slopes
and gooks to us
raghead and haji
we kill them by the dozen
to keep their fathers free
free to follow orders
free to toe the line
but watch you don’t step over
everything you see is mine

for we are unencumbered
by conscience law or rule
who says i’m just a number
i’m a wealthy asshole’s tool
but i’m extremely proud of it
what i’m told to do or say
it’s easy being number one
when murder is ok
who can stop us
who’d even try
no one dares break rank
who-rah we grunt for honor
it’s like money in the bank
so if you’re looking for apologies
recriminations or a sign
don’t ask me those dumb questions
i won’t bother wastin’ time

but if you think the market’s cornered
on revenge jumped up with pride
then you didn’t see her cousin
how his eyes were opened wide
he saw her brains splashed on your boot
her blood upon your chest
stained by the same uniform
that dragged her out to rest
and that will be his memory
for a thousand thousand days
‘til the twinkle of your eye grows bright
yet you wander in the maze
of a nagging recollection
of some long-ago mother’s son
and the bullet that always finds a way
to the muzzle of your gun
you won’t even see it coming
you won’t recognize the sound
when he tears the life
within her flesh
all your pictures
fall unbound

this is the great awakening
to a mercenary beat
and those who tie the tidy knot
stand upon their feet
they shuffle softly to and fro
never having fought
and speak in voices pitched so low
to cover their deceit
and they say:
we only pass the orders
we do just what we’re told
don’t ask if it is right or wrong
take your place among the fold

and those who shape the mumbled word
and twist it with their jive
display their feckless clattering tongues
to convince you they’re alive
if you tune your ear to them
they’ll steal everything you give
and hope that you won’t notice
when they shit right where you live
for all their clever mimicry
is bought by a well paid shill
so they sup on meats
and finest wines
then pass the bitter pill
all is for the best they say
(for us but not for you)
and when the padded bill is paid
their throats fill up with rue
let’s not forget what we forgave
all those who turned their backs
if they give us any more trouble
their heads will fill the sacks

so another year will pass
and you will cast your lot
among the silk tie warriors
who spit and polish all the rot
it’s hard to take their puny words
and the glory that they crave
when they try to grab the credit
on a fallen soldier’s grave


Robert Emmett practices fitting words together somewhere in the woods of Michigan.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

THE CONQUEST OF SOMALIA

by Gary Beck


Mogadishu, Mogadishu,
you have almost been forgotten
by our leaders who sent soldiers
( seeking glorious victories )
to patrol your poor, dusty streets
and tremble in the rains of evening
from tropical disease, or fear,
dazed by one more unclear mission,
dumped on our obedient troops,
ordered to build a quick triumph,
so D.C. strutters and prancers
could boast their boasts and brag their brags
that the administration kicked ass.

We saw action, Mogadishu,
but once again we sailed away
on sullen ships that knew defeat.
Movers and fixers surrendered
( they always do when things get tough )
‘cause they didn’t know how to capture
the gangster, tyrant, war-lord, thug,
the uncooperative foe
who would not let the boys and girls
of Washington, D.C. look good.

So we landed on your beaches
crammed with the waiting media
equipped with cameras, mikes, lights,
greeting our surprise invasion.
We couldn’t turn back with CNN
directing us to storm ashore,
their instant satellite transmission
displaying the troop’s deployment
(that only took six weeks longer
then the troops in the Crimean War )
to a hundred million viewers
watching our embarrassed leaders,
caught once again with their plans down,
who chose to sacrifice the lives
of G.I.’s who followed orders,
rather than admit they were wrong.
So the troops were ordered ashore,
fought off media resistance
( refusing to land one more time
to give viewers better footage )
and took minimal casualties
from the international press.
We marched without the faintest clue
where the hell Mogadishu was,
but we lucked out, for CNN
cut to its commercial break
and missed our heroic capture
of the Somalia dispatcher
of the local cab company,
who not only took the short cut,
but charged us out of season rates.

Every foreign correspondent,
even the cub from the Tribune,
and one hundred million viewers,
through the courtesy of CNN,
knew the expedition arrived.
But there wasn’t a single link
on the rusty chain of command
with common sense enough to say:
“I’m sorry, sir. They know we’re here.”
Even general whats-his-name
who we were supposed to arrest
( or was it bomb, or execute?
The orders never were quite clear. )
had concessionaires on the beach,
selling souvenirs to the troops.
But we couldn’t billet the soldiers
in beautiful beachfront hotels
( even though it’s out of season
and they offered us tourist rates )
without orders from higher up.

Traditional rooters who loved
frequent failures of the U.S. of A.
chuckled from hooches, tents, shanties,
snickering at our willing troops
marching to a police action,
pursued by hordes of at-risk youth
demanding the usual pay,
the American subsidies,
gum, chocolate, cigarettes, and coke,
promising in return their best wares
shoe shines, virgin sisters, great dope,
the usual native exchange.

Now warrior Bill took D.C.
just promoted from C.I.C.
of the Arkansas National Guard,
ready for foreign adventure,
grasped the big picture at a glance,
inflated for authority,
reddened with exasperation,
glistened with anticipation
gained from motel campaigns
at the head of his state troopers,
bellowed with combat assurance
to the combined wisdom of D.C.,
“What the hell do we do now, huh?”
Both Sonorous and Clamorous
orated at length from the floor
and Sonorous requested peace,
but Clamorous demanded war.

So Bill and Hil went up the hill
to fetch some help from Congress.
But Bill fell down and broke his crown
and Hil came tumbling after….

There we were deployed for battle,
with tribesmen to the left of us,
and tribesmen to the right of us,
and the U.N. all around us.
CNN reporters were poised
to describe to the world our advance
along the Boulevard of Broken Dreams,
as we entered a new city
that sure wasn’t American,
so all the destruction was foreign.
Now that doesn’t mean we believe
that underdeveloped nations
need extensive devastation
before getting reconstruction,
but if you want us to rebuild,
we first have to blow everything up.

( With diverse methodologies
that assault with technologies.
The selection is enormous,
without long lines, or other fuss )

We offer smart bombs, laser bombs,
A-bombs, H-bombs, cluster bombs,
fragmentation bombs, broadway bombs,
racial discrimination bombs,
mortar bombs and pestle bombs,
even ultimate doomsday bombs.
There are bombs that make you happy,
" " " " " " wheeze,
" " " " " " grouchy,
" " " " " " sneeze....
There is nothing quite like a bomb.
Nothing that can compare with it.
Nothing that even competes with it.
Its explosion is detonous.

So we were tortured by tse-tse’s,
mutilated by mosquitos,
made delirious with desire,
polluted and prostituted,
then we were driven mad by you,
our treacherous Mogadishu.


Gary Beck’s poetry and fiction have been published in numerous literary magazines. His plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced Off-Broadway.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

REMINDER BEFORE RITA MADE LANDFALL

by RaynRoberts


Hurricanes are not stopped by prayer and it’s
nothing to joke about, I know
still I cannot but recall
how after Katrina
some ministers blamed
The Big Easy‘s sinful history
for provoking God's wrath upon the city.
So as Rita turned for Texas,
knowing the damage could be Biblical
I said she was God's judgment
on the president’s home state
for the war in Iraq, the deaths of so many Americans
not to mention 100,000 Iraqi men
women, children gone to untimely graves--
An unreasonable, unkind
stupid point of view? Yes,
and exactly the point: It is not
in the nature of Love
to curse the world with untimely death, disease,
disaster and war, "God is Love."
You’d think his people would’ve gotten that by now.


RaynRoberts is found in print and online at Rattle, Rattapallax, The Sow's Ear Review, Thunder Sandwich, Pedestal Magazine, Poetic Voices, Voices in Wartime and many others. He appears in four anthologies. His poetry is known in cities across the United States. He toured the U. S. in 2003 to promote "Jazz Cocktails and Soapbox Songs". He has also published in England, Australia, Italy & South Korea where he teaches English. His books are distributed by Poetic Matrix. A new book published by Poetic Matrix, Of One and Many Worlds, is expected out September 2006. Website: www.geocities.com/raynrobkorea.

Friday, June 02, 2006

JOHN BOLTON IS PRO-AMERICAN

A FOUND TANKA
by Stephen Lawrence



International
courts come from fuzzy-minded
romanticism.

International
laws help our enemies squeeze
the United States.

Negotiation
will not succeed with rogue states—
I don’t do carrots.


Stephen Lawrence, who has an MA in English and Diplomas in Applied Psychology and Education, works for the South Australian government. His fiction and poetry has won or been shortlisted for twenty Australian literary awards, and he was guest author at the Adelaide Festival of Arts Writers' Week 2000. His third poetry collection, entitled How Not to Kill Government Leaders, was launched at Writers' Week 2002.