Guidelines



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Monday, July 31, 2006

HEARD ON THE NEWS

by Jon Wesick


Sad tidings for the family of eighty-two-year-old Norman Goestler. The St. Louis native was vacationing in China’s Shanxi Province, when he died in an earthquake. Local officials say Mr. Goestler suffered a heart attack brought on by the shaking of his hotel room. Two hundred thousand Chinese were also killed in the quake.


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.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

MALEDICTION FOR THE MALEVOLENT

by Robert Emmett


mal
you speak
bad juju
follows you
male addiction
skull and
geronimo’s bones
ground to powder
up your nose
wired to brain pan
flashing male violence
heat seeking missile
straight to the baby’s heart
rub the blood in
scoop the blood out
now you drink your fill
malice
in your chalice
every lip it touches
burns with deceit
your tongue’s edict
no good valence
topsy-turvy
every word
a kiss of death
hovers near your ear
whispers
sand in your throat
magnetic wires
across your forehead
draw metallic shards
to a point
between your eyes
veins catch in
all your teeth
mal odor
your fly-blown breath
snuffs
the only candle


Robert Emmett finds some of these words flying through the air, caught in the branches of trees or among the beach stones of Michigan, where they may have a life of their own. He's just borrowing them for now.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

OBSERVATIONS OF DISSENT

by Casey Lee Cobb


A psychological social path, stuttering and stammering down well worn paths, of presidential prose.

Yet wavering, inconsistently, from the traditional norms, divisively emulating a civil right’s foes.

The masses look on with eyes glazed over, like donuts, doing nothing, hearing nothing, seeing nothing.

Nothing but doublespeak, doublethink, enshrouded into a message projection of patriotic bellyfeel.

Jellyfish! you could call them sheeple, you could call them asleep, or don’t call on them at all.

For if they are all just a lost cause, that cannot hear beyond the propaganda, we will certainly fall.


Casey Lee Cobb dedicates this poem (© 2006) to George Orwell, and his impeccable foresight, that the world ignored. Cobb adds. "Bloggers are the hackers of the corrupted main stream mediocratic monopoly. Our mission is truth, our numbers are many, and we are taking back the control of the public mind. Liberating it from those whom peddle complacency, conformity, and ignorance. This is our mission and not one of us can do it alone. Join us!"

Friday, July 28, 2006

FORFEITURE OF COLLATERAL

by James Penha


Bomb ‘em.

          Who?

‘Em.

          Why?

Because of what
               they did. We have to
               get ‘em
               back.

          But bombs--

Yeah.

          Mean war--

Yeah!

          And war--

Yeah?

          Means bombs--

?

          Will bomb others.

As well as ‘em?

          Probably.

Bomb ‘em.

          And the others?

Will never get us back.


James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

FROM THE ORCHARDS OF SILENCE

by Martin Burke


On the Lebanon border
The cedars weep

The orchards do not yield their fruit
And shells litter the shadows
Like broken arguments of peace.

History has come
And it seems some harsh necessity prevails
Above the exile’s song
And this verse that weeps with the cedars.

The orchards weep
The children weep

The exile cries aloud in desolation


Martin Burke is a widely published Irish poet/playwright living in Belgium whose latest e-book Gilgamesh is freely available from Cervena Barva Press.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

STABBING PAIN

by Rochelle Ratner


It's nothing to worry about. He's sixty-seven years old and
has had headaches for as long as he can remember. Two
Advil, sometimes four, or the new Advil Migraine, and it's
pretty much unnoticeable. The problem is, he's developed
an ulcer. Newly retired, and he develops an ulcer. Kiss
Advil goodbye. Say hello to headaches almost every
afternoon. The strongest over the counter drug he can take
is Tylenol. Doesn't do a damn thing. Finally he lets his wife
convince him to see a doctor. The doctor starts him on a
low dose of Elavil. When that doesn't help, they decide to
take x-rays, just in case there's a problem. The doctor's
office calls and makes another appointment. He walks in to
find two other doctors sitting there, one a neuro-surgeon,
the other a psychologist. They show him an x-ray with
three needles embedded in his brain. They say they've read
about cases such as his before: needles inserted in the soft
spots of an infant's head to stop his crying. Usually fatal.
Usually undetectable. Then they ask him to tell them
about his parents. He begins, of course, by saying how
much they loved him.


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

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

VIVA THE VETO

by Anne G. Davies


After nearly six years I've cast a veto
And I must admit the power feels sweet-o.

With a stroke of my pen I killed the ambitions
Of those godless stem cell coalitions
Who crassly deny that embryos frozen
Are truly human, though left unchosen.

Potent forces were arrayed against me;
Even Bill Frist inveighed against me.
I was shocked to see many Republicans fail me
Did they really think they could derail me?
I'm the Decider and what I decide
No two-bit Congress dares override.

The Innocents rescued from the slaughter
Might someday be your son or daughter
(Though embryos I've fiercely guarded,
may end as waste, to be discarded.)
I'm a kind man; I pity human afflictions
As long as they suit my higher convictions.

In one fell swoop I earned God's grace
And galvanized my strongest base.


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.

Monday, July 24, 2006

COMING HOME

by Sara McWhorter


In a couple hours I will shave and shower and grab my jacket and flag
and head downtown to be a face in the crowd, a hand waving, a hand
waving a flag for Bravo Company riding down downtown on a fire truck.
Finally home! And the hands waving and the signs not like the signs before. So
Welcome Home Troops! Bravo, Bravo Company! And the flags
waving and the yellow ribbons waving and the hands
waving the flags and the ribbons being taken down and the cheers,
Hurrah! and the hats coming off and the mothers crying a little and my hat off
and some dads saluting and my hand waving and the trucks wailing --
all this as sure as there is a war.


Sara McWhorter has appeared in 360 Degrees and in TheScreamOnline.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PEACE?

by Charles Frederickson


Declaring uncivil war against itself
Deadbeat planet willing aborted ceasefire
Outlandish sour milk viscid honey
Rareripe fruit that never rots

In cradled manger of humanity
Unholy mount overcast with melancholy
Olive branches lose vitality shrivel
Pitted hatred versus brotherly love

Arab to Zionist alphabet soup
Hearty mock chicken cure-all broth
Promissory covenant best perused backwards
Without rear view mirror hindsight

Desert oases shifting quicksand mirages
Hourglass overturned wishing well poisoned
Forced Exodus in reverse cave-in
Separate passage burrowing ant tunnels

Ordinary miracles hoodwink heretical believers
Wandering tribes misplaced not lost
Parted salty rivers neatly folded
Crossover bridges feathery snow fantasies

Inflicting revenge with nationalistic fervor
Razor wired perimeters off limits
Giants in miniature stonewalling stalls
Suppose world ends so what


Dr. Charles Frederickson is a Swedish-American pragmatic idealist, chronic optimist and heretical believer who has wandered intrepidly through 206 countries, an original sketch and poetic impression for each presented on http://imagesof.8k.com. Having spread rejuvenated roots and wings in Thailand, the past year has been devoted to providing volunteer comfort and supportive relief to children and families affected by the tsunami. 100+ publications on 5 continents.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

OBSERVING CELLS

by Erle Kelly


That cells contain life.
That cells incarcerate lives.
That cells extend life.
That cells divide humanity.
That cells challenge morality.
That cells politicize, terrorize.
That cells communicate.
That cells unify, multiply.
That cells atrophy and die.


Erle Kelly lives in Long Beach, CA and is a graduate of Cal State University Long Beach. For the last three years he has participated in a local poetry workshop conducted by published poet and writer, Donna Hilbert. Since Erle's retirement he volunteers his time tutoring, working for the local United Nations Association, traveling with his wife, Kristine, gardening, reading and writing.

Friday, July 21, 2006

AN ESCAPE HATCH CHRONICLE

by Carol Elizabeth Owens

"We are desperately trying to evacuate and have become more and more disappointed and angry with the way the evacuation is being handled. These operations are taking place in a war zone."--CNN.com (Jul. 19, 2006 Americans to Leave Lebanon by Friday)

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government." --CNN.com (Sep. 14, 2005 The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina)

"I just want to assure the American people that, one, I've got the authority to do this; two, it is a necessary part of my job to protect you." --CNN.com (Dec. 21, 2005 Bipartisan Call for Wiretapping Probe [quoting, Pres. George W. Bush])

the crime
scene's natural.
disasters such as war
and widespread poverty seek peace
in far away places.
refuge eases
the pain.

distance.
it's hard to grasp
as everywhere you turn
there are these bright red webs. their tape
tends to make people stop.
getting unstuck
takes time.

patience
grows virtual--
it vanishes, moment
by moment, like a fuse in wait
of an explosion's end.
warning signs call
for swift

response
and government
struggles to line things up.
connections, often, are not made
to the importance of
planning exits
en masse


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 "an escape hatch chronicle" is written in a form called eintou (which is West African for "pearl," as in "pearls of wisdom").

Thursday, July 20, 2006

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD IN THE BUSHES

by Gretchen Fletcher


From bush to bush
we strain to follow with our eyes
where the guide is pointing out
the red-winged blackbird.

Now he lights on the very top
of a lodge pole pine
and the guide centers him
in the lens of his telescope

to give us a close-up view
of the red patches he wears
like a soldier’s insignia
on the shoulders of his black uniform.

Belligerent, he dares
other birds to go against him.
“The color red is like a threat
to birds,” the guide explains.

“They’re hardwired to fight
when they see it. But the blackbird
can hide his threatening patches.
Each feather is controlled by muscle.

In winter he covers his red feathers
with black ones to conserve energy
he would have wasted on fighting.”
Sometimes feeding is more important than making war.

The bird flits to another bush.
This time we know right where to look.


Gretchen Fletcher leads writing workshops for Florida Center for the Book, an affiliate of the Library of Congress. She was awarded the Grand Prize in San Francisco’s Artists Embassy International Dancing Poetry Festival, was selected as a finalist for the Howard Nemerov Sonnet Award, was awarded first honorable mention in Canada’s lichen literary journal Serial Poet competition, and was named a Juried Poet at the Houston Poetry Fest. Her poetry and essays appear frequently in literary journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

BAGHDAD MORNING

by John Grey


It's a warm dry morning
hours before the first car explodes.

A woman pushes an empty cart,
stops to admire the few goods in a shop window.

A stray dog paws a garbage can.
An old man stands at his second floor window and yawns.

A child pokes his head out of a doorway
but a mother drags him back.

A television truck rolls by
ahead of the street cleaner.

A coffee shop is opening its doors.
It sells a selection of the dark brews that the soldiers like.

The market sellers unpack tents.
A young man hauls oranges in a sack.

It all looks like the world I know,
the one that goes on without interruption.

But in a back street hovel,
a true believer arms himself with prayer and powder.

By midday, he'll be ten thousand scattered pieces,
a splatter of everybody's blood, a jumble of hate and body parts

and martyrdom, on the way to heaven.
He'll leave it to God to sort it out.


John Grey's latest book is What Else Is There from Main Street Rag. He has been published recently in Agni, Hubbub, South Carolina Review and The Journal Of The American Medical Association.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

INTELLIGENT DESIGN

by Bonnie Naradzay


Flashing his crest of feathery plumes like any royalty,
the Kingfisher plunges headfirst in the river, beaks prey
that only his air-and-water-designed eyes can see
and with a whir of wings against rock-like clay
feeds his flame-red, tail-lifted mate, astride their eggs.

Carnage comes from the same force and symmetry
that erected our wingless, fumbling selves on two legs.
Without redemption, there’s no evolving, and we’re buried
or eaten whether gobbled up, swallowed whole or poisoned.

Tyrannical to our own kind, we’ve doomed
ourselves to strutting and declaiming. Stunned
but insistent, stumbling among bloody blooms

of amputees’ limbs and headless bodies of our own making,
we savage an ancient Eden that’s paradise for birds’ migrations.


Bonnie Naradzay is in the Stonecoast MFA program, has a poem forthcoming in JAMA, and has published in numerous online publications.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

FORSAKEN

by John Cross


I have viewed the desolate Plains of Judea
from high atop the brow of a skull-shaped hill.

And I saw many things.

And I spoke of what I saw,
and did as I said I would
since I spoke of these things.

I have offered my domain to those who are poor in spirit.
I have granted homesteads to those who are meek.
I have comforted those who mourn.
I have sated those who are hungry and thirsty for justice.
I have shown mercy to those who are merciful.
I have looked upon those who are clean of heart.
I have adopted as my children those who strive to make peace.
I have offered my house to those who suffer persecution for the sake of
justice.

Why then, do some speak of my coming again,
when I have already spoken of all you need to know?

I have viewed the desolate Plains of Judea
from high atop the brow of a skull-shaped hill.
And have no desire to view those Plains again.

Did you not hear what I was saying?

Put down your hymnals.
Put down your exultation
of those who claim to know
what is in my mind.
Put down your differences.

And do as I have already spoken.


John Cross holds a BA and MA in History from Kent State University. He has spent the last 35 years pursuing a career in Marketing Communications. He is active in local grassroots progressive politics and in support of organizations offering services to the disabled. He has been writing poetry, primarily for his own consumption and sanity, since the mid-1960s.

Friday, July 14, 2006

CRAZY CAT TERRORIZES CONNECTICUT TOWN

by Rochelle Ratner


He might look like Felix, but really he's a pit bull in
disguise. Look closely at the black and white markings. If
you can get close, that is. It's a familiar story – his Tabby
mother abandoned him when he wasn't even a week old.
He scavenged the neighborhood and discovered a pit bull
with six teats and a litter of only four who was willing to
let him nurse. Maybe some of her fury was sucked in with
the milk. Maybe it was his natural mother's fault for
abandoning him. But he feels the need to prowl and protect
along with his adopted family. His hiss can sound like a
growl if he sucks in his breath and blows hard. Plus he has
something they don't have: extremely long claws. Six on
each paw. That can't be right. No. He counts again. Oh god,
he's deformed. So that's why his mother stopped washing
him. He sucks in an extra-deep breath and bounds toward
the Avon Lady.


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, July 13, 2006

ROAD MAPS

An Allegory


by James Penha



Whenever my mother felt she needed
a break from home, hearth, housewifery,
she demanded my father take her to, oh,
San Francisco or San Diego
or Chicago
or to her cousin Densy’s in Toledo
and Dad loudly thrilled to the prospect of a holiday for himself
not to mention a break
for his wife. He and I walked determinedly
down to the Gulf station on the boulevard
for the right map (free for the asking
in those days) and, once returned,
the whole family gathered round the dinner table
to watch Dad blaze the trail with a red china marker
from our town round cities and through mountains
and deserts to nirvana.

On the ensuing Sunday,
from the fat travel section in the paper
we cut out reply coupons
to request brochures from the resorts and attractions
along the road map. Thick envelopes came dropping
in days,
through our front door’s mail slot,
with totem poles and carved mountains,
orange groves and petrified wood,
canyons and chasms and caves
for days
until my brother had a big game coming,
I a little part in a play,
and my mother added up the prices in the pamphlets.

My father marked the destination boldly
atop a manila folder
big enough to hold the road map
and the guides. He filed it
alphabetically in his den desk drawer.

After my father died, I counted eighty-three road maps,
eighty-three untaken trips
fading in their folders in the drawer.
My mother smiled at my recollection of them
and pointed to the dumpster.


James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

AUSTIN JOURNAL #1

by Ruth-Miriam Garnett


I am here deliberately, but not intentionally.
It is not where I need to be, except here,
I can avoid loneliness, interruptions, questions,
see my sun-haired sister, my kind nephews.
As is typical for a New Yorker, I am suspicious
of the nice people. In the coffee place with the cute name,
the coffee sucks, the bagels and brownies suck,
as well. I miss the givens of New York City,
a good bagel, great coffee everywhere,
though I am suspicious of any capitalist
who smiles or who is concerned that I do not.

Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.
Motherfuck, they know precisely what they do.
It is moreso a question of empathy, where it prevails,
where it falters. Like empathy for cowboy chic,
poor white people, their hair. I don't have any.
I really do hate them. For it. And don't let them
open their mouths and desecrate the English of the king
with that twang shit. Speaking of which, Condoleeza,
my workshop people tell me, does what her boss tells her
to do, to keep her job. According to Aaron McGruder,
her job is killing people. According to Ruth-Miriam Garnett,
so was Colin's, and politics has an ethics that wavers,
but then, all ethics waver, all civilizations wane.

Death, how ever, is for ever, as well, the lines we cross,
smiling, as we prepare to drink the blood of an enemy;
I learned recently some aggressive monkeys do this,
while some peaceful monkeys have a lot of sex.
Maybe Condoleeza should fuck her boss, turn him out,
resign, then volunteer for future fucking. Maybe then,
the two of them could work together to cultivate
avoidance issues, like how to avoid the genocide
of African Americans in coastal regions,
the viagra bombing of Afghanis on camels.

Consider morality by default as delusion, as nihilist.
Consider, nothing falls straight by accident.
I know; I have a Dirt Devil.


Ruth-Miriam Garnett is author of a novel, Laelia, published in January 2004 by Simon & Schuster/Atria Books and A Move Further South (poems, 1987; Third World Press, Chicago). Her poems have appeared in Black Scholar, Callaloo, Essence, New Rain, Pivot, River Styx, Steppingstones and in the anthologies In Search of Color Everywhere (Stewart, Tabori, Chang, New York, NY 1995) and Beyond the Frontier: African American Poets in the 21st Century (Black Classic Press, Baltimore, MD, 2002) and her essays most recently in The Green Magazine and the NNPA website. "Austin Journal #1" (© 2006; Onegin Publishing) will appear in her new volume of poems, Concerning Violence, out later this year from Onegin Publishing.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

JOHN BOLTON ON US ALTERNATIVES

A FOUND TANKA
by Stephen Lawrence



The UN is a
target-rich environment;
the US will seek

other environments
other mechanisms.


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.

Monday, July 10, 2006

RUMMY TALKS IN HIS SLEEP

by Roberta Gould


"Light is slipping under
the dream shade
No matter what we’ve attempted
can’t darken the room for the show
the one that surpasses their mothers

The shade is not long enough
can’t cover the entire window
and they are struck by the world
intruding with every horror
we’ve tried to keep out

So we board up the glass
and tell each house to do likewise
flash pictures on the walls
amuse seduce bemuse
hypnotize the populace

They sing our hymns and anthems
We are free Now they kill as we choose"


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. Her website is www.robertagould.net.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

THREE LITTLE KIDS, A PHOTO

by Kathy Rogers


Yesterday they were playing on the beach
Scratching pictures in the sand
And eating mangos in the shade.
They were laughing and singing
In a language I don't know. Their eyes
And teeth were bright and shiny. Someone
Smiled at them and gave them lunch.
They still had on their school clothes.

Today they are inside the pages
Of the L.A. Times. They are motionless
And their wrists are tagged. Their eyes
And mouthes are closed. There is no warmth,
No color. They don't belong here.
They still have on their school clothes.
Details are recorded only in black and white.
Something about a bus, a bomb,
And innocent children.
Above them a man wails silently.
I stop reading.


Kathy Rogers first found her voice in a poetry workshop she attended by mistake. Years later, she still enjoys these poetry classes wtih Donna Hilbert. When not teaching reading to adults in a community college, she travels with her husband Jack.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

SIGNING STATEMENTS AND OTHER OFFENSES

by Anne G. Davies


Bush loves to invoke the signing statement
Forcing congressional power abatement.
He views his Executive rule as royal
Obviating legislative toil.
Why should two branches be involved
When he and Cheney have it all solved?
He's the Decider and he will decide
By which parts of the law he will abide.

To our surprise, enter Arlen Specter
Never known for a leftward vector
Incensed at Presidential dismissiveness,
Causing inter-branch divisiveness.
He accuses Bush of usurpations
That defy Executive limitations;
Of running the country like a feudal fiefdom
Orchestrated by an absolute chiefdom.
(Will Specter show the same brutal skill
That blew away Anita Hill?)

Now that the Court's rapped Dubbya's knuckles
We'll see if our Bush league Caesar buckles
And yields with grace to the Justices' bidding
Or tries to pretend they were merely kidding.
And while he continues his covert crimes,
He'll blame all mishaps on the New York Times.


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.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

INSTRUCTIONS FOR EXILE

by Jon Wesick


Where will you go now
that sanity’s hoarse voice is barely a whisper,
and the house that Reagan built crumbles
on its foundation of wishful thinking?
Take the gifts your nation gave you.
Sew a thought, a poem, or a book
in the lining of your coat
and join the diaspora of reason.

Leave your countrymen to their chosen fates.
Help them by sheltering language and meaning far away.
Flee the nation of black lung, monkey trials,
and thalidomide babies, where dime-store preachers’ rants
on the am dial drown out the screams from the torture chambers.
Flee the New Deal that became the same old deal.
Flee the eight-dollar-an-hour Wal-Mart American Dream.
Flee the crowded jails, the union busters,
pregnant teens draping hopes on rusty coat hangers,
and the wars declared to win popularity contests.

Before silver wings cut cumulus clouds
and sever your past, look down at what you’ve lost.
Weep for the smell of bacon and eggs on a crisp Colorado morning.
Weep for the cold steel wind off Lake Michigan,
for backyard barbecues, corn on the cob,
and lightning bugs on a warm summer night.
Weep for tree houses and tire swings.
Weep for drive-in movies and first cars with wide back seats.
Weep for ruby-throated hummingbirds
and fresh tortillas on an Austin night.
Weep for veterans sipping Orange Crush,
their uniforms threaded with needlepoints of shrapnel.
America has wasted so much.


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.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

AS LILACS PLUME BY YANKEE

by Verandah Porche


1.
We chafe in the cafeteria,
make points, scratch notes as two men clarify:
Should their power plant put out a plume,
we’ll get word over the airwaves to
Stay Put (I quote from an old emergency
radio decal): Close all doors and windows.
Go into your basement
if you have one.
or Evacuate (I exaggerate):
Sling Gram’s walker into the hatchback.
Never mind sleet, foot-deep mud ruts,
livestock, pets. Motor north to the high school
gym, find kids, tumble, shoot hoops,
eat bologna till the all-clear siren.
Old Mert who has run a snake down
a thousand drains raises his hand:
Why waste another fifty grand for a man
to train us to do the impossible?

2.
Winter throttled us: blizzard, hazards.
Now May, Yankee-men rehearse
Terror over the Ridge again.
I hack roots, heap rock, sort trash,
sprinkle ashes for a new clearing, scented
by lilac, scored by semi-automatics.
Look, we are not the target.
Shots tat our safety net.
Listen, it’s a fireworks finale,
minus the dazzle. Each pop, my pang
of solidarity with all who till
in peril.


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.