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Friday, September 29, 2006

RUMSFELD REFUGEE IM DEUTSCHLAND

by Bill Costley


Lent 2007, Weyhe-Sudweyhe,
nr Bremen, norDeutschland


(NichtsNachtNeues.de)

Recently-deposed SECDEF, Donald H. Rumsfeld
sought refuge in the chilly fields of norDeutschland
& wept to Deutsche Welle (TV) he’d "ever doubted
the deepest resources of the great German people"
as he knelt on the soil his Deutsche forbears tilled.

During the media build-up towards Gulf War 2,
he had promised to "punish treacherous Germany"
for not joining his war & was exposed by CBS-TV.

"I have not had a peaceful night's rest since then,"
Rumsfeld snarled. "In my heart I knew I was right;
in war, politics always kneels to highest necessity."

Hearing this deluded self-defense, many Germans
declared he now reminded them of Adolf Hitler.

"It is dreadful our cousin prosecuted such a war
against Iraq," said Karin Rumsfeld Cecere (59),
"We are now embarrassed to be related to him."

Her 85-yr-old mother Margerethe was incensed:
"We do not want to know him now he is deposed
American defense secretary. For God's own sake!
Did not he, himself, start this miserable war!?"

Bremen’s Rumsfelds welcomed him warmly
before the war; this time they insisted coldly
he crawl on his knees up to their brick house
in a public-housing project; then they silently
shared a cold, penitential Lenten sour-soup.


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

Thursday, September 28, 2006

WAR RANT

by Joan Gelfand


Alaina says she wants more passion
Andrea quit reading the morning news
Yvette sees “The Devil Wears Prada” –
Twice – her savior is in fashion.

I check my e-mails, avoid over long queues,
And await my daily dose of inspiration
Wondering each day if I’ve paid enough dues.


Adam watches the blogosphere
For flash mobs, trends and hot spots
And we all fret about the biosphere
While white girls don’t do much hip hop

But for me, I can’t help it –
Rhythm and words are my companions, true and loyal
So forgive me now if I don’t exactly know how to do it –
Just say it’s a rant, peace and love style:

I want to save the world, do it now, don’t get caught
By indecision, paralysis, missteps or overwrought.
But the world and I have conflicting views
On how to end this madness. Stop the bombing, end the wars,
I cry - but no one listen to my news.

My nighttimes glisten with the sweat of murder,
Mayhem and slaughter.


I could just go over there, I think,
Land smack down on the pavement.
I’d put on my white gloves; make a stink
Shout “What a horror!” while dancing on the griddle
Of hot sand, tar: “There is no left, no right, no middle
C’mon stop the killing! End the riddle.”

But I’d be dead before you could say red
And then I think:
“If not now, when?”
Wasn’t it I, who called myself a warrior?


Every day new news arrives stinking,
Reeking with tragedies undreamed –
Tidal waves, heat waves, bodies downstream.
A wave of bombings on an unsuspecting train
We seek for terror but what about D.C.? “We can’t explain.”

I voted right, I mean left - is my persistent refrain
I took myself off the list of dinner parties where people complain
Of gas prices and fish prices and politics not spoken
Cuz I’m getting sick of being powerless, feeling broken.

So c’mon people do one thing today for peace
Save a tree, save a child, sign a paper, beg for release
Of fighters and lovers, for peaceniks and hippies
This battle of west meets east is not what we ordered.


Winner of the 2005 Chaffin Fiction Award, Joan Gelfant’s letters, essays, poetry and stories have appeared in numerous national literary journals and anthologies including The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers, If Women Ruled the World, and The Streets of New York. Her story “The Art Critic” was nominated for a 2006 Carver short story award. Joan holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, California. A compelling moderator and speaker, Joan founded Salon CIEL, a group of interdisciplinary artists. She is currently serving as Vice-President of the Women’s National Book Association.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

INCREDIBLE DISCRIMI-NATION

by Charles Frederickson


In Thai Dutch Treat is
Colloquially American Share splitting check
And balance perverse unethical immorality
Abuse of power shameful mistreatment

Alien fondue melting pot dipped
Poking unconventional Geneva cheesy holes
Wonder bred to vino illusions
Passed off as supernatural miracles

Painting copper kettle black magic
Tinhorn values imposed on jailbait
Bragging rights uncivil wrong injustices
44.99% pure Ivory Tower soapsuds

Opportunity knockoff copies secondhand chances
Genuine antiques Made to Older
7-11 open 24 hours closed
Seeth heareth speaketh boll we-evil

Swede hot dish smorgas-bored ennui
Foreign affairs exes and Oreos
Democratic-tac-toe naughts & crosses
Republic-cantankerous unkempt bullyrag-a-muffins



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

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

NIGHT-CRIME

by David Radavich


Our raccoon robs in a masterful way.
A careful, charming thievery.

Almost an art, with big
round eyes, fur sleek and tailored,

partying at night outside our patio door,
careful to wash hands thereafter.

A guest one could almost invite.

Too bad the cat-food he savors
belongs to another. Life is sometimes unfair.

This is becoming an ownership world,
with a few taking all and the host left to starve.

Let the clever fellow steal his million
morsels from houses far grander than ours.

I could almost stand the shifty
enterprise: so long as we’re not left

the political dupes.



David Radavich's poetry publications include Slain Species (Court Poetry Press, London), By the Way (Buttonwood Press, 1998), and Great Hits (Pudding House Press, 2000), as well as individual poems in anthologies and magazines. His plays have been performed across the U.S. and abroad, including five Off-Off-Broadway productions. He also enjoys writing essays on poetry, drama, and contemporary issues.

Monday, September 25, 2006

WE BREATHE FREEDOM

by Robert Emmett


we breathe freedom
freely as
soldiers bleed blood
for those who
would deceive us
when the lie is cast
the called won’t refuse
as high-born chums
work their gums
then snigger at
their ruse

the alarum is triple tested
the spells time-released
the hidden anti-alchemist
and the military priest
debase their craft
with a sleight
of tongue
as chosen bidders
up the ante
take liberty with the gold
and leave every mother’s child
free and clear
worth their weight in lead

teach your children
to beware
when vows vanish
in thick air
even a mangled incantation
by the feeble jester
lights a ready fuse
of caustic resolve
begets a shambles
a maniac’s manifesto
shivers the fundament
to bits
and commands silence
of the dumb
with a sliver
through the tongue

oh how we love freedom
we go to
and fro
and peddle the cross
across the arched door
and here’s how free we are:
we’re free to sell the arsenals
free to hide the cost
free to bluster what we’ve won
and bury what we’ve lost
free to exceed our enemy
and plow his people low
free to stack the cadaverous deck
and reap just what we sow
the trumped-up situation
is mouthed with a well-worn phrase
so we’re free to keep on doing this
for the rest of your born days

and the only nagging question
like a shard in the back of your brain
is how we deserve so much freedom
while ignoring all your pain
though we didn’t write the story
we still claim it as our own
since we’ve borrowed all the collateral
and welshed on every loan


Robert Emmett writes from the wooded hills of Michigan what else-wise he ought utter for a muse meant it be that way.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

HOMELAND SECURITY

by Alan Catlin


The police must be raiding
houses, their sirens on full
blare, searchlights waving
like crazy magic wands made
out of lasers, though imprecise
at fixing locations, finding what
is hiding out there in the dark

For a moment the light is
terrific, enough to read by,
if you were so inclined, that is,
if you had the time or were not
otherwise occupied

by all this chaos
all this confusion

No one questions what is
going on, no one asks who has
the authority or what for

Why bother?
Asking will not change what
has already begun, what is going on

They must know what
they are doing, these policemen
and women
Knocking on doors in the night

Yelling, "Open up, open up!
It's the police!"

We have no doubts about what
they are doing

We always open up
We have no choice


Alan Catlin's latest chapbook is a long poem, "Thou Shalt Not Kill", an updating of Rexroth's seminal poem of the same name. Whereas Rexroth riffs on the abuses of the Eisenhower adminstration, the update observes abuses of power in the current administration with particular attention to the cynical, criminal behavior towards the Katrina hurricane victims. One year later, the victims are not forgotten. No matter how many candles the Bushes light, the appalling lack of humanity and the blatant hypocrisy of the folks in charge is as apparent as the disenfranchised, the homeless, and the poverty stricken people of the Gulf states.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

HERMITAGE CURATOR SOLD ART WORKS FOR MEDICINE

by Rochelle Ratner


Some of the finest treasures in the world are in back
rooms here. Jewelry. Relics. Icons. People are
mesmerized just walking through these halls. (She
has diabetes). Even curators get paid a fraction of
what they're worth, and she's only an assistant. She
lives in a cramped apartment in not exactly what
you'd call a good neighborhood. (She has Type 1
diabetes). For years she's watched people above her
being given trinkets. She's watched workers stuffing
them in pockets. And she knows art dealers more
than willing to pay. (She's 52 years old). First time in
a decade they've done an inventory. All this dust can't
be good for her. (She has to see the doctor yet
again). In the park across from the Medical Center an
intern sleeps on a bench, tie loosened, mouth wide
open, pager on his belt. Grass protrudes through the
octagonal paving stones. Another section of the park
has been cordoned off. (Do you have any idea how
much an overdose of insulin costs)? She goes back to
her desk. She slumps over.


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

Friday, September 22, 2006

PSALM

by Stan Marcus


        A grenade was tossed into a soldier's pocket.
He paused, aware of the sudden weight on his
buttocks. It could have been an orange or an apple,
but, no, it was a grenade, a metallic fruit,
although not a gift from an aunt forced upon
him at a family gathering when he was eight
to alleviate his intense boredom. Nor a stone
that had levitated from the Mesopotamian sand.
        It happened spontaneously, not like a thunderstorm
when the sky is suddenly blackened by fierce clouds
unsatisfied with occupation and demanding autonomy,
freedom, but more like a snake crushing an ankle as
one passes a burnt-out shrub. Then soldiers adjacent
to him, tense and compliant, heard a curious pop
like a balloon bursting at a birthday party where the
festivities went on until the mothers had had enough.


Stan Marcus's poems have appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Stand, The Journal of New Jersey Poets, Poetry East, The Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, The Minnesota Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Denver Quarterly, College English, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Confrontation, Permafrost, GW Review, Ironwood, Kansas Quarterly, and other periodicals. Two of his poems were included in the anthology For a Living: The Poetry of Work, published by the University of Illinois Press.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

INANNA THINKS

by Beth Winegarner


It's not so much that I descended
into the earth as that
I became the earth.
In that time Heaven exhaled its breath
into the lungs of the land
and you could not separate the two.
Back then I walked among crops
fed by two fertile rivers
whose names are now the mantras of history books
but otherwise unmentioned.
Now the ground is as dry as the dust
one of their gods -- I forget his name --
said the people would return to.
They deny their own end,
every day shouting and firing their guns
as though their vacant blood
will nourish the land,
as though it matters whose footsteps
running through the streets
of Baghdad, of Babylon, of Sumer
will awaken me.


A native of Northern California, Beth Winegarner is a poet, author and journalist living in San Francisco. She is the author of the non-fiction book Sacred Sonoma; of Dream Brother, a chapbook of stories, poems and collages; and of two upcoming works: Beloved, a novella, and Read the Music, a collection of essays and articles on music. In addition to working as a full-time news reporter, she has freelanced for The San Francisco Chronicle, Addicted to Noise, ROCKRGRL and Crescent Magazine. Her poetry has appeared in Bardsong and Lime Green Bulldozers.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

BRITAIN

by Mark Murphy


Britain my father loved W.H. Auden and all his poetics.
        I loved them both and all their after-dinner conversation
though neither had the answers I was looking for.
Britain when I was 15 I read The Communist Manifesto.
I fought alongside the miners – those history makers,
those heroes of the class struggle – I thought
we could change the world.
Britain it’s 20 years since I joined the disaffected.
I never played the stock-markets.
I never climbed the social ladder or doffed the cap.
I never believed in the sanctity of the family or marriage
or went to church on Sunday’s.
Britain I never learned how to kill another human being.
Britain I would’ve converted to Buddhism but couldn’t grasp
        their need for prayer.
Britain I’m strung out with thoughts of smouldering bodies.
I’m wired with thoughts of unexploded cluster bombs
and flattened cities.
Britain when does a bomblet cease to be a bomblet?
What is the evil scourge of terrorism?
Who will write the history of the world?
Britain I’m afraid to sleep in case I dream my dream
        of the dead.
So many millions.
So many millions of delicate humans.
So many millions gone forever.
I’m on the side of the angels.
I’m larger than you think.
I contain multitudes.
All there is of love I contain it.
All there is of loss I contain it.
Britain where does the history of infamy begin –
Ireland … North America … India ?
Britain I am the redeemer of the oppressed.
I never meant to do you harm.
I’m dying all over again.
I’m history repeating itself.
I’m the children of the Gael burning at Drogheda .
I’m the Indian nations dying of smallpox.
I’m the walking dead in the lanes of Skibbereen
I’m the ghost people of Tasmania .
I’m James Conolly, my body all holes.
I’m the city of Dresden burning by starlight.

Britain did you civilize the Mau Mau? Those damn Kikuyu
        always were trouble.
Do you still follow your humanitarian impulses?
When will you eradicate the propaganda of the left?
Britain I’m not joking.
You must defend the free world from state terror.
Britain there’s no need for excuses.
There is no insignificant enemy.
You’ll rewrite international law when the time comes.
Those rogue states must be dealt with.
They are like academics with their cock-eyed view of reality.
Past atrocities can remain safely forgotten like summer fetes.
What everybody says must be true.
Ah, those halcyon days.
Ah, those salad days.
Those heady days of empire.
OK you might not lead the new imperial order.
You might only be the junior partner but you must keep
        your eye on the ball.
Britain it’s a thankless task being faithful to the bitter end –
O cover ups…assassinations…dirty wars!
It’s time to enlist.
It’s time to dole out fig leaves for the dead.
Fig leaves for the tortured.
Fig leaves for the displaced.
Fig leaves for the dispossessed.
Fig leaves for the disenfranchised.
Fig leaves for the poor.
Fig leaves for the unholy.
Fig leaves for Kosovo.
Fig leaves for Iraq .
Britain taking afternoon tea won’t change history.
It won’t sweeten the pill.
It won’t strengthen your hand.
It won’t save your skin.
Britain the future is a long time.
And the wearing of cricket whites won’t impede the truth.
And the donning of tennis whites won’t delay the verdict.
And being British won’t excuse you from court.
And brass bands playing in park pavilions on a Sunday afternoon
won’t bring back the dead.
Britain we can be sure of this.


Mark Murphy was born in 1969 in Yorkshire. He studied philosophy and poetry at university. His first pamphlet was published in 1996 and was called Tin Cat Alley (Spout Publications). He is presently looking for a new publisher.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

RETURNEE / 5 FINGERS

by Spiel


1.

how it was back then
his long finger down there
her mouth so wide
frosting all over her nose
his knuckles so buried
with white sugar stuff
his fist almost looks like a giant
double hollyhock

how she can almost hear herself
gag on frosting and joy
and the heat of his finger
every time she polishes its glass
then wishes she’d sprung for a nicer frame

2.

how they scream when they wake afraid of
the bad guys where he is now
how they stick to her ankles
how they cling to her breasts
how they are sticky with kool-aid and mud
they are so cute they want to know who is he
why does he not come back home for them
why is his finger stuck
down her throat with that white stuff laughing

how she hears only herself
as she weeps in their bedroom mirror
for the taste
of his long sugar finger

3.

how he comes back
how they all come back in battalions
how they don’t know their homes
they look at their pictures but
they don’t know who that is
how they glance over their shoulders
how they wear shields on their backs
how they don’t trust their fingers

how they know their triggerbrain
will snap at so little
as the glimpse
of a frosted donut cast down on a curb

4.

how just the two of them are so anxious
how they say this: how they have waited so long
for this moment for this joy of life opportunity
how no one can possibly know how
they have waited to be alone
for this touch
how she has fixed her hair new short blonde
perfumed and cleansed herself

drawn his clumsy trigger finger
down there but
it is frigid and
estranged

5.

how they have agreed to meet
at a safe public place with security guards
like this wal-mart lunch room
where they will talk about it

how she brings the kiddies
for hotdogs and cokes but
the kiddies stick to him
like frosting on a cake
how they want him
to sleep with them in their bedrooms
to keep them safe
from the bad guys where he used to be

how he does not know them he does not know
her they have nothing to say
how his fingers have become so thick and so coarse
as they approach her throat

(how it is that they never trained him to be a lover
how it is that they never trained him to be a daddy)
how it is that what they trained him to do
best is what he knows best

how the security guards will see to it
that the children are taken away to be cared for


Spiel was 6 months old when the dark years of WWII were unleashed. He was 50 and in psychotherapy when it dawned on him the fear present in his parent’s bodies at that time of unprecedented upheaval surely must have had a profound and lasting affect on him. He is now 65 and frequently writes poems about war. "returnee: five fingers" is one of several "returnee" pieces which are about soldiers suffering with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). It will be included in the fall release of his new chapbook they put it in the water published by Four Sep Publications.

Monday, September 18, 2006

AN UNTERPOPE'S CONFESSIO

by Bill Costley


I am the pope below the Pope you know.
If mistakes need to made, I make them.
If clarifications need to be clarified, our
Office of the Propagation Of the Faith
churns out engaging filigrees of faithery
that few of the media can read/penetrate;
anyone can quote an unter Pope; few can
really explain an uber Pope; few even try.
Can you really grasp my sub-significance,
comprehend my sub-utility to uber Popery?
You say you can, but you lack terminology
to justify my position vs the uber Pope’s.
Think: Caliban to Ariel; road to rubber.
Lie down & we will slowly flatten you.


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

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A NEW PLACE

by Tony Reevy

with apologies to e.e. cummings

So, how do you like
your blue-eyed baby
boys now, Mr. Death?
They’ve been cascading
in from Oklahoma and
the Center and the
outer limits and we’re
fresh out of cradles and
I think, Senior Muerto,
that you have to get
a larger place or
we’ll all be packed
in here like anchovies
when you roll
back the lid,
Mr. Death.


Associate director for advancement of the Carolina Environmental Program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Tony Reevy is a graduate of North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and Miami University. His previous publications include poetry in Asheville Poetry Review, Bath Avenue Newsletter, Charlotte Poetry Review, Now & Then, Pembroke Magazine, The Poet's Page, Writer's Cramp and others, as well as non-fiction and short fiction. His poems are anthologized in 2000: Here’s to Humanity, Earth and Soul: An Anthology of North Carolina Poetry, Poets for Peace: A Collection, and others. His books are Ghost Train!: American Railroad Ghost Legends, A Directory of North Carolina’s Railroad Structures (with Art Peterson and Sonny Dowdy), Green Cove Stop and Magdalena. He resides in Durham, North Carolina with wife, Caroline Weaver, and children Lindley and Ian.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

IT MUST BE THE BARRACKS STOVE

by Simon Perchik


It must be the barracks stove
bursting into clouds
--you can't see the coals :the planes
adrift on some last journey
rising toward the sun

and past --each Polestar, all afternoon
rushing toward one another --you don't see
the runway face both north and south
while some lost pilot looks down for flares
sees nothing but the sun
and all the stars at once, a sky
nothing but light and the hand over your eyes.

It happens every summer now, the sky
heats up, your hand
tightens on an invisible circle
--you can't see
but what you believed was the Earth
is just another fire
and that pilot the soft wind would close over
remains a hole, waiting
and these thunderheads banked so far off
from where their rain is needed.


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 www.geocities.com/simonthepoet which site lists a complete bibliography

Friday, September 15, 2006

THE FRAGRANCE OF FLOWERS

by Mary Saracino


“This is my rifle, this is my gun; one is for killing, one is for fun.”

--Lyrics from a U.S. military training song, as quoted in “Rape, Murder, and the American GI,” by Robin Morgan, AlterNet, 17 August 2006.


Only 14, Abeer hovered near womanhood, eager for love
no doubt, babies in time, an adventure or two,
perhaps content to feel the kiss of sun on her brown skin,
the caress of wind on a smolderingly hot morning,
all the many simple things that feed our frail human hearts.

Fragrance of flowers, her name meant.

At a checkpoint, the soldiers coveted Abeer’s beauty.
They marked her as prey, stalked her like bloodhounds,
the scent of violence heady in their nostrils. One Sunday night
in March, whiskey staining their sour tongues,
they set down their golf clubs, set aside their card-playing,
swapped fatigues for black civvies to hunt her down.

Her mother, Fikhriya, died first, then Qassim, her father,
followed by her tiny sister, Hadeel, five years young,
a bullet shattering each fragile forehead, blood splaying
the walls of their Mahmoudiya home. The GIs raped Abeer,
taking turns, they later reported. Afterwards, they stole her life.

The men doused the murdered family in kerosene,
set fire to their lifeless bodies, incinerating the evidence.
Then they grilled chicken wings.

At Camp Liberty , the soldiers rested their case,
copped to combat fatigue. War is hell, atrocities endemic,
trauma rampant. A few apples are bound
to go bad. Abu Ghraib. Okinawa . My Lai .

“This is my rifle, this is my gun; one is for killing, one is for fun.”

Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi lives no more.

No longer does her fragrant name perfume the air;
the stench of lies lingers instead, the rancid pleas
of battle-weary soldiers crying out for mercy.

Beside her bones, Justice wails: “Those are the rifles
those are the guns, they are the killers, they are the ones.”


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 in October 2006 by Pearlsong Press.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

ROVE GOPushes BARTLEBY

By Bill Costley


[A tragic GOPlaylet]

Behind double-locked White House doors
in a miniscule room with only [1] window
Karl Rove berates Rep. Bartleby Scrivener
for his pitiful lack of GOP@rty enthusiasm:

Rove: “Do you know what’s @ stake here?”
“Only the eternal GOPresidency!”
Bartleby (groaning): “I prefer not2.”

Rove: “Your preference is GOPre-fixed!”
“You already pre-prefer the GOP!”
Bartleby (moaning):“I prefer not2.”

Rove: (standing & looming over him):
“You have only 1way2go this Fall;
I’m shoving you on2 the GOP@th.”

Bartleby: (frightened) “I prefer not2!”
crawlingon2 the open window ledge.

Rove (pushing Bartleby): “Jump!"
Bartleby (falling): “I GOPrefer not2.”

Rove (smiling): “He fell on-message.”


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

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

WOMAN CRASHES WHEN TEACHING DOG TO DRIVE

by Rochelle Ratner


The story doesn't say what breed of dog it was, or
even if it was large or small. But a friend says she
bets it was a beagle. No, she thinks, couldn't have
been a beagle. Beagles don't crouch on the steering
wheel, they don't watch you drive, they're hunting
dogs, on the lookout for prey. Her puppy kept
outside all day after it playfully bit her. The picket
fence her father built. The puppy instinctively
digging, tunneling, then running, barking, standing in
the street. Lying in the street. Its body crushed like
the plastic model beagle she'd been pasting fake fur
on that she threw against the wall as soon as she got
home, ten years before her first official suicide
attempt. And it was only then that her mother
learned to drive.


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

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

FUTILITY MUSIC

by Alan Catlin


Futility Music

That's what they
call it:

the interrogators,
assassins
spooks

Heavy metal to us

Twisted Sister
Metallica
Kiss

Angry music:

Limp Biskit
Slip Knot
Rage Against the Machine

"Interro-tunes"
say those in the trade,
approved by your
Defense Department

"Mood music for
jolting your jihad"

Unholy, infidel
noise, horror sounds

the ultimate
cultural clash:
pure torture:

"We're Not Going to Take It"
"Shoot to Thrill"
"The Sandman"

Drowning Pool,
"Let the Bodies Hit the Floor"


Alan Catlin's latest chapbook is a long poem, "Thou Shalt Not Kill", and updating of Rexroth's seminal poem of the same name. Whereas Rexroth riffs on the abuses of the Eisenhower administration, the update observes abuses of power in the current administration with particular attention to the cynical, criminal behavior towards the Katrina hurricane victims. One year later, the victims are not forgotten. No matter how many candles the Bushes light, the appalling lack of humanity and the blatant hypocrisy of the folks in charge is as apparent as the disenfranchised, the homeless, and the poverty stricken people of the Gulf states.

Monday, September 11, 2006

WHY DO THEY HATE US?

By Charles Frederickson


US versus THEM bombastic confrontations
Mucky environment pitting drastic extremes
Absolutely good versus relatively evil
Pure white abysmal black dichotomies

Divisive hypocritical double standard contradictions
More farcical tragedy than strategy
Think tank running on empty
Losing side out of gas

Globe neatly divided into categories
Perceived adversaries or feckless friends
No neutral ground sinking quicksand
Where wronged left is right

Warped false truths destruction bent
Unintended consequences facing innocent victims
Intimidation humiliation desperation root causes
Poverty versus greed hapless powerlessness

Violence begetting more senseless violence
Dichotomy between enlightenment and darkness
Lunar phase disk half illuminated
Counterfeit promises passing the buck

Avenging angel creating worldly hell
Haloes versus horns derisive put-downs
Does black-and-white color blindness represent
Moral clarity or sheer madness?!


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

Sunday, September 10, 2006

BUSH SETS THE AMERICAN PUBLIC STRAIGHT

by Anne G. Davies


Fellow Americans, you need to understand
Victory in Iraq is not yet at hand.
We have a big problem with Islamic militias
Who behave in a manner barbaric and vicious.
If we don't inflict massive defeats
We'll be fighting terrorists on U.S. streets.

You see, these folks really hate freedom
But we'll try to convert 'em and lead 'em
Toward democratic ways and means
Or blow them all to smithereens.

War is hard on innocent civilians
But America's invested multi-billions
To wipe out the evils of Saddam's reign
And give the Iraqis a peaceful domain.

American forces will remain at their post
Until these fiendish militias are toast.
I can rely on intervention divine
To make it happen before 2009.


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.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

WMD & OUR PRESIDENT AGAIN

by Gary Kay


WMD
The case for WMD--
discarded, departed or dead.
Where can these weapons be found?

Inside the president's head.


Our President Again
presents the case for war.
The choice is clear, his mouth insists,
eyes shifting with the light.
We fight them there, or fight them here.
The one beside you on the plane,
the bus, the train,or in your car
could be a terrorist.
Beware of those who smile or wave.

They're holding hostages, he says,
in Gaza, Baghdad, Lebanon,
omitting U.S.A.


Gary Kay has had poems published in California Literary Quarterly, Poetica, Canadian Verse, Litchfield Review, Sheltering Pines. He teaches reading and English at Broward Community College in south Florida.

Friday, September 08, 2006

TRYING TO KEEP OUT THE BIRDS

by Elizabeth Farrell


We have tried netting over the bushes;
a mesh canopy nailed on a wooden frame
to mark the boundary of where the birds
may not go. They flew in anyway.

Fluttering their wings in confusion
with blueberry in their beak, sometimes
they made it back to the free sky,
and other times their wings were caught.

We took pity and brought our fingers
to pry them loose, or saw too late
the silent hanging body and cut away the mesh
to release what remained of bone or feather.

Perhaps we should regret that we want
the dark purple sweetness to collect in numbers
at the bottom of our bowls, or have enough
to fill the crust of a pie shell.

We know we have our own confusion
about taking what we think is ours,
rustling the leaves to pull from the branches
what would have been only for the birds

had we not tried to construct this barrier
between us. So we've created a war
in a yard that might have mimicked Eden
had it not been for our appetites.


Elizabeth Farrell has a poem forthcoming in the anthology, The Chaos of Angels. She has published in numerous periodicals, been a copy writer, and worked in advertising in Chicago. She has been a teacher of creative writing in various schools in New England where she lives.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

THE HORSES AT TROY

by Barbara McDonald


The horses at Troy wore bells
To drown out the horrors of battle.
Jingling sleigh bells distracted them
From the crushing of bones, the breaking of bones.
For ten years the Trojans and Achaians fought.
Chariots careened across the great plain
Led by magnificient steeds with bells on their bridles
To mask the chaos of combat,
The manisfestations of pain.
Iraq is a different kind of war.
Hummers rather than horses,
Rockets, guns, human greandes.
Gone are the spears, arrows and swords.
This war is fought over oil and greed
Not for a beauty spawned by a god.
Warriors return limbless, broken, shattered
Or in draped coffins hidden from public view.
It is the fourth year of battle. Each evening
Likenesses of dead heroes flash across the screen,
All that remain of intrepid young soldiers.
Unlike the horses we have no bells to shield us.
The horror is transparent.
So we weep for the dead, the injured, the maimed
And wonder what we have gained.


Barbara McDonald lives in Greenbrae, California. Her work has appeared in anthologies and periodicals. She is currently working on a play about a soup kitchen.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A FROG AND A PAN OF WATER

by Mike McCulley


Put a frog in a pan of water,
let him relax, slowly add heat.
The frog adapts and settles in,
he can forecast the present

but not the future, he can’t tell
what’s coming. Increase the heat
and the frog gets anxious,
tell him it’s a natural cycle.

Add more heat, the frog starts to worry,
tell him the scientists don’t agree
on pan warming, it’s not our fault,
it’s beyond our control. Increase the heat,

the frog says it’s never been this hot,
there’s never been so much steam,
old ways need to change.
Tell him not to worry,

the solution is technology.
When the steam clears
cash out the carcass,
get a new frog, and a pan of water.


Mike McCulley: Retired from educating / rewired for recreating / pastime birding, / part time wording.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

DRY HEAT

by David Chorlton


We say the heat is dry
to deflect from its burn.
We call uncontrolled expansion
into the desert growth
suggesting houses are a life form
that flourishes without water.
Words have begun to wear a disguise.
Even the freedom
the president keeps boasting
feels like we’ve drawn the blank tile
in a Scrabble game
only to find all the words on the board
are already complete.
Homeland Insecurity would better name
the office responsible
for patting us down at the airport
and every time I hear the city
has a village plan
I look for rural life
but find only herds of cars
grazing at stop lights.
Free speech zones
make the areas surrounding demonstrations
safe for censorship
while democracy metamorphoses
into five hundred dollar
fundraising meals
where the tables are set
with the bones of victims
from foreign policy deployments.
Terror is the key
of the age, repeated often
to inspire love of country
and to foment war
which is another word for it.
Economics is the science
of loose change trickling down
to a minimum wage
in a working week
with hours based
on a forty-eight hour day.
English only is the language
of thieves
intent on stealing culture
from illegals who smuggle themselves
across borders
that capital is free to cross
without the Minutemen reporting it.
The rich get richer
in this climate
of a hundred degrees
while the poor rest when they can
but it’s only
dry heat.


David Chorlton has spent the last twenty-eight years in Phoenix, trailing English and Austrian roots. His poems have appeared widely in the small presses and he currently anticipates a new book, Waiting for the Quetzal, from March Street Press. It reflects his increasing preoccupation with the natural world.

Monday, September 04, 2006

DER SCHEISSM@N SPEAKS

a Labor Day poem
by Bill Costley



auf B.B.

All of you have seen me walk behind;
none of you will see me walk before
Der Elef@nt as it stupidly scheisses
fouling the Cirkus' Parade; quickly, I
shovel-up its scheiss before comrades
slip & slide & smirk like silly clowns.

My work is just as useful as yours is
& so I proudly bear my worker-title
on my uniform-back: Der Scheissm@n.
Comrade, consider the Cirkus? pitiful
state if I did not do my work so well:
Der Elef@nt is not the only scheisser.


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

Sunday, September 03, 2006

PACKING

by Elizabeth Farrell


We make a list of things to pack: toothpaste,
shampoo, aloe vera in case of sunburn.

How simple to take our carry on bags,
avoid long lines at the airport.

The news intrudes on our vacation. Returning home
will not be so easy; security rules are in effect.

Gathering the lipstick, shaving cream and gels
a terrorist might use to disguise explosives on the plane,

we send them in a box to our home address instead
of discarding them at the departure gate.

Our teeth brushed with water, there is no escaping
what could be delivered to our doorstep.


Elizabeth Farrell wrote advertising copy in her early years in Chicago. She settled in southeastern Massachusetts where she raised two sons with her husband. Her poems have appeared in Animus, Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge, New Bedford Magazine, The Onset Review, and many others. She has been writer-in-residence in several schools. She has a new poem in the forthcoming anthology, The Chaos of Angels.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

HOW TO ACHIEVE WETBACK STATUS

by Margaret Towner


She showed up
in my classroom,
one day, a tiny
sliver of life.
Wisps of wilted
plumes framed
her eyes, the color
of the river.
Once left behind
on the rancho
by her mother,
she now carried
buoyant hope north.
School was of no use
when she arrived.
She knew no books,
but she knew
about the river.

The coyotes
never asked
if she knew
how to swim.
They blew up
plastic grocery
bags, tied them
to her arms,
you know,
like wings.
At school
she spoke
of the mud,
how it oozed up
between her toes.
How her feet sank
into the sludge.

She spoke of fear
that wrapped around
her skin like darkness,
of stepping off
into nothing
with only plastic
bags around her arms.
She whispered
of haunting voices
that called her
into the river
as she clung
to the embankment.
Searching for her mother
where water and night
become just one,
she sought to keep
her hope afloat.
I watched
the other girls
encircle her,
as her words traced
the path of the water.
Like she-dogs
they shielded her
from fly balls
on the playground
and hovered close,
as if their presence
could erase that
night, so they could
all forget the
journey north.


Margaret Towner has taught elementary school for many years, working in bilingual programs and with English language learners. She has lived many years in Latin America and performs in a Latin American folkmusic group. A participant in a poetry workshop led by Donna Hilbert, Margaret has been writing about the difficulties faced by immigrant students.

Friday, September 01, 2006

THE NEW YORK WOMAN LOOKS AGAIN AT KATRINA PHOTOS

by Rochelle Ratner


on this, the storm's first anniversary. Vivid photos.
Bright blue skies and golden water, the facade left on
some buildings also golden. Reflected orange flames
are sheer magnificence. Red cars wading up to their
bumpers look as if they'd always yearned to swim.
Outside the Convention Center, even the camouflage
uniforms are reflected bright tan and green in
standing water. A little boy's riding piggy-back.
And no matter how high it rises, water covers refuse.
The New York Woman who once thought of herself as a
photographer turns to look at the dull blues, greys
and browns of her wedding photos. It was pouring
rain that day. The brightest spot is two blurry parrots
on their shoulders a month later, in Florida. She
thinks of them as her children.



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