Guidelines



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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

SANCTUARY

by Esther Greenleaf Murer


Look at it this way: If we could
consign the Bush League
to the depths of the ocean trenches,
there to spend eternity mired in
graywacke, under excruciating pressure
in water superheated from the mantle
to 700 degrees Fahrenheit,
breathing rotten-egg gas—then

they'd promptly set about destroying
the giant tube worms, giant clams,
spider crabs, and most especially those
creatures unlike anything we know—
denizens of an alternate biosphere
whose very being engenders
an eerie hope.


Esther Greenleaf Murer lives in Philadelphia. She has published poetry in Friends Journal, Types & Shadows, Guinea Pig Zero, and Folly.

Monday, October 30, 2006

FOUR PUMPKIN ODES

by Verandah Porche


1. Disney


Roll from her
Garden a coach
Drawn by
Rodents.
Bear to the ball
His cinder-maid.

2. Nursery

Would Peter Peter
Put or eat her out
Of house and home
With only
Your shell
For shelter?

3. Naughty

Jack-of-no-trade
You slip from
Velvet
Pantaloons to
Moon the
Jaded stars.

4. Destiny

Had a great Fall.
Broke
Your crown.
Saw your eye.
We are what we eat.
Humble pie.


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.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A VIGIL BEFORE HALLOWEEN

by Paul Belz


Our faces, half lit by candles-
did they seem to dangle and bounce
in the dry evening light?
Our chins glowed like our noses,
the lower halves of our eyes,
our hands that clutched candles
by our chests. Upper eyes and hair
stayed dark, like our lower torsos.
Did we look disembodied, spooky
like decorations by some trick and treat house?
Maybe we reminded you of nightmares,
eight year old girl, face pressed against a window
in a car that rolled down the avenue
between two lines of us. Your dad drove
and gave you no comment. Windows closed,
you couldn't hear our song - where have
all the flowers gone - or our soft chant
for the 2000th American dead in Iraq.
If we scared you, we ghosts, sad jack'o'lanterns,
no terror you can imagine can equal
the real pain our presence here meant.
I know children fear more than the boogey man,
think of deeper things than candy. Maybe you'll hear
whispers about us. Night borne rumors
from the TV news and grownups' whispered thoughts.
Maybe you'll learn why we stood shivering,
witnesses for the war dead. Sleep comfortably,
find some comfort in blankets and pillows
that cover your ears. One day perhaps you'll make a change
that will banish our songs' words and themes
so specters like us won't come here again.


Paul Belz is an environmental educator based in Oakland, California. His work has appeared in Just Like Cabbage Only Different, Poetalk Quarterly, Gypsy Magazine, Olive Oyl, and Oral Recall. Notes and Niches, the newsletter for the Environmental Studies department at Antioch New England Graduate School has also published a number of his poems. Belz has coordinated two reading series in the Bay Area during the past five years, and he edits WHO? a small magazine that appears sporadically. He calls it "An Earth Based Newsletter for Progressive Poets."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

RECYCLED NOTE LEFT ON A REFUSE BIN

by Carol Elizabeth Owens


t.v.
drones on and on
delivering, at times
much of nothing except some filth
in the kitchen, a screen
door is open
and flies

love it
you can see them
gathering. they’re watching
whatever the payload may bring
a tabletop meal’s not
noisy enough
for them

to catch
a soundly buzz
or otherwise sample
bits & bytes of digitized wit
regurgitation lives
on a slow roll
the crust

carries
such curious
moldings— tastes are easy
to shape. advertisers know how
cash can micromanage
a flavored spin
that stinks.


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 "recycled note left on a refuse bin " is written in a form called eintou (which is West African for "pearl," as in "pearls of wisdom").

Friday, October 27, 2006

STAY THE COURSE

by Anne G. Davies


Said President Bush: "We must stay the course.
Insurgents can't rout American force.
Critics may whine, but our mission is blessed
I'm the Decider and I know best."

Then Pentagon brass had a great revelation:
All was not well in this bloodstained nation.
They saw civil life in Iraq imploding
And support for staying the course eroding.

"We're fighting Islamo-fascist thugs
High on martyrdom, the best of drugs,
It's only two weeks 'til the midterm election
Voters are screaming for a course correction.

"This is a mantra you've got to banish
Memories are short, it soon will vanish
We'll find a motto less vainglorious
If, in fact, we're not victorious
We're asking Iraqis to step up to the plate
And take charge of their anarchic state.
And we have a slogan that you can endorse:
'The Iraqi army must stay the course'."


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

Thursday, October 26, 2006

NCLB

by Desiree Kannel


My school is surrounded by
razor wire.
Put there to keep dangers out.
Or in?
Teachers lock up, and look suspiciously
At those they are supposed to
inspire, but
hard bigotry tells them:
What’s the use?

No Child Left Behind promises a better future,
But it’s the present that hinders my dreams.
Crimes of the family handicap my fate,
And lock downs, lock outs and razor wire
keep me in my place.


Desiree Kannel is in the MFA Creative Writing program at Antioch University and teaches elementary school in Long Beach, California. She has had a short story published in Enjambed, the new literary journal for California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

CRY UNCLE SAM

by Charles Frederickson


Age of Disillusionment remains overcast
With mushrooming clouds of DCeption
Tarnished silver linings pillowslip-up oversights
Stuffed shirt Same Old Sheet

Insecurity blanket smothering free expression
Bedlam of nail-biters nothing mattress
Democrazy quilt spread like humanure
Credibility unravels USurper honor frays


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, October 24, 2006

MAN ARRESTED TWICE FOR NAKED VISITS TO COFFEE STAND

by Rochelle Ratner


She's left him. Left him with nothing more than the
kitchen sink and a pair of pants. The sink is useless.
All he ever learned to do was boil water, and before
they married he threw out all the dirty dishes. They'd
pick up coffee from a drive-thru on the way to work.
He stares at his pants, forlornly. Remembers once
spilling coffee on his pants and, the next morning,
she made him take them off before they reached the
window. His boxers also. He remembers her leaning
across his naked thighs as she reached to hand the
money to the teenage girl at the counter, her large
breasts dangling ever so close to him, the scent of
shampoo still in her hair. He looks down at his pants
again. He decides to take them off and drive up for
coffee. But it's not the same.


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

Monday, October 23, 2006

OUR BEST BEHAVIOR

by David Feela


We do not kill children
(intentionally)
or torture and rape their mothers.
We do not loot
after destroying a family’s home.
If offered a bribe
we report it.
When humanitarian aid drops from the sky
we give the old people a chance
to drag it away.
Holidays are observed
and holy days tolerated.
If a child picks a flower
from a field of rubble
we snap a photo
and send it to Washington.
Rules of engagement
prohibit bombing cemeteries
while the enemy’s funeral is in progress.


David Feela is a poet, free-lance writer, writing instructor, book collector, and thrift store pirate. His work has appeared in regional and national publications, including High Country News’s "Writers’s on the Range," Mountain Gazette, and in the newspaper as a "Colorado Voice" for The Denver Post. He is a contributing editor and columnist for Inside/Outside Southwest and for The Four Corners Free Press. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments (Maverick Press), won the Southwest Poet Series. His web page can be viewed at www.geocities.com/feelasophy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

EDWARD MORAN'S HENRY HUDSON ENTERING NY HARBOR SEPTEMBER 11, 1609

by Alan Catlin


Lone warrior
on Manhattan
Island beach

observing long
ships, sailors
from who-knew

where navigating
toward soon-
to-be harbor

site; the first
foreign terrorists
have arrived


The painting that inspired this poem may be seen in the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA.

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, October 21, 2006

THE BODY POLITIC

by Karl Kadie


The sun rises between two large dogs
loping angrily across the Baylands,
heads down, nosing through the ruins
of Silcon Valley.
Above, resting on the sun's shoulder,
is the still-visible moon,
a faint reminder of the big picture,
the community from which we came.
How well did our community plan?
Twenty years ago this was an industrial park,
pumping out world-changing technology,
drawing revenue from a seemingly endless tap.
Today we grab part-time work where we can get it
as a circuit designer or manufacturing analyst,
and a few weeks later
scavenge for sustenance,
prowling through the dumpsters
for something we can sell or trade,
arms sometmes scraping the bottom
of this long, economic chain.
Many talk of moving to China
the land of opportunity,
but I am older, weary of false promises,
and…someone has to tell this history.
How well did we plan?
Just look at us: cowering
behind the rocks and shacks,
waiting for the big dogs of capitalism
to pass.


Karl Kadie holds an MA in English from San Francisco State University and is a native Californian. He has been writing poetry for over thirty years, and published poems in Haiku Headlines, The New Verse News, and on poetry blogs. His poems reflect a powerful concern about the political events of the new century. Karl earns his living by providing marketing for high technology companies in the United States and Europe.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A FORCE OF HABIT

by Courtney Rae Rawls


these days he still wakes up at 4 am—
anxiety, a blunt alarm.

28 years of repetition,
he prepares his lunch like he’s on the line
bread, mayo, ham, swiss, lettuce, halve & repeat
a rhythm develops, a groove. 12 sandwiches later,

there’s no more bread and nothing to do
but watch talk shows and car commercials chanting

BUY AMERICAN which everyone in this town
already does. he never laid eyes on a toyota
until his daughter went to college on the east coast
where cars are aesthetic rather than political issues.
anymore, he’s not sure what this means, BUY AMERICAN—
laid off two years before retirement
he was told that his investment in the dream was
nonrefundable. no pension, no healthcare,
no treatment for the carpal tunnel syndrome he developed during his
tenth year. or the slipped disc during the eighteenth.
but he is hard, durable,
like a rock. so after 28 years of repetition,
he prepares his dinner like he’s on the line
and falls asleep at 10 PM—
a terse,
biting habit.


Courtney Rae Rawls is from Flint, Michigan.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

POSTSCRIPT

by Mel Waldman


If Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” was more than a short story…
If it was part of our new Constitution, could we live with
random sacrifice?
Could we live with infectious, hypnotic evil?
How do we balance this contagious madness
with the love of our country?
How do we balance the Scale?

Paranoia rushes through our veins and arteries.
Terror flows recklessly
within and without.
And the Scale tips.


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

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

DARFUR

by Michael Shorb


The thorn of the name
sticks in my throat,
coats my skin like black sand,
stretches out like the White
Nile flowing toward Juba.

We saw the black clad Janjaweed,
death mask faces mounted on
jeeps and camels coming
out of the desert, images wavering
in heated air, heard the grinding
of their transmissions just before
machine gun bullets
began to curse and sting,
our thatched houses
carried off by hate and flame.

Have you ever been alone?

Have you heard the terror
at night moving through
leafless branches,
seen the red eyes
of dawn and hunger?


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

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

OYSTERS

by Katie Antony


The sun was shining on the sea,
And then it shone no more;
For in the sky there rose a cloud
That swirled like none before—
And all the oysters without cars
Just huddled on the shore.

For those with pearls already fled
To higher ground than “thou”;
So when the brine waves pierced the walls
And pressed against the bough,
The oysters Walrus cared about
Were safe from this storm’s plow.

The huddled oysters listened
To the wind and then the waves,
And saw their neighbors choking
And swallowed-up in staves—
They climbed onto their rooftops
To seek a carpenter that saves.


Katie Antony is currently a third year student at the University of Rochester. She wrote "Oysters," which draws heavily from the allegory established by Lewis Carroll in "The Walrus and the Carpenter," following a trip to New Orleans intended to document peoples' return to "normalcy" after Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, October 16, 2006

REVENGE

by Barbara A. Taylor


money          power
buying          selling
can          slur
c h a r a c t e r
destroy          a person’s
r e p u t a t I o n

          hpprotest
hppretexts
          hppretend

there’s          pain
p o i s o n
on          the board
a          corporate
vendetta is          at hand

woman          on top
tall          poppies
f a l l i n g


Barbara A. Taylor has published short fiction and poetry on www, in print in USA, Europe and Australia. She is a regular reader/slammer at local poetry nights. Barbara's work is published in or is forthcoming at Triplopia, The Blue Fifth Review, Wisteria, Tattoo Highway and The Yellow Bat Review: Journal of Contemporary Rhyme. Her poetry with audio is at <http://batsword.tripod.com>. The last stanza of "Revenge" is a haiku first published in Folly, 2006.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

LETTER TO THE PARENTS OF PROSPECTIVE SUICIDE BOMBERS

by Carol Aronoff


Who will tend your olive groves when you are old,
rebuild your war-torn houses, find treasures
in the rubble of innocent lives?

I cannot fathom daily terror that sours milk,
curdling dreams before they even germinate.
I cannot look you in the eye and tell you things
will soon be better.

God knows I’d like to.

I haven’t walked in your shoes, buried good men,
felt your despair. My heart has not been torn by death--
of a child, a family, whole neighborhood.

I cannot tell you how to live,
whom to trust--or hate. But I can beg
for the lives of your children.

I weep for children everywhere: hungry,
afraid, alone. But especially for those we raise
to bomb themselves--and others.

There has to be another door that opens
into light, where everyone sits at the same
table, listening to children’s laughter.


Carol Aronoff's poetry has appeared in Comstock Review, Potpourri, Poetic Realm, Poetica, Mindprints, Dream Fantasy International, Beginnings, Hawaii Island Journal, In Our Own Words, Theater of the Mind, Animals in Poetry, From the Web, HeartLodge, Out of Line, Sendero, Buckle&, Iodine, Asphodel and Tiger 's Eye. She received a prize in the 1999/2000 Common Ground poetry contest, is a Pushcart Prize nominee. A chapbook, Cornsilk, was published by Indian Heritage Council in 2004. The Nature of Music was published by Pelican Pond in 2005. An expanded, illustrated Cornsilk was published by Pelican Pond in 2006.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

AMISH SCHOOL DEMOLISHED DURING NIGHT

by Rochelle Ratner


Pass Christian, Mississippi. A town godly even in its name.
Leveled by Katrina, but not the utter devastation found in Bay St.
Louis or New Orleans. There were bits and pieces of the buildings
standing. Men and women from Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania rode
down in their carriages to help clearing and rebuilding, working
side by side with the community. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh
away. Nature has moved further north now. Old and new friends
from Pass Christian have arrived to offer what little they can. And
by the time Amish women and children wake tomorrow, the
bulldozers will be far away. The waste will have been hauled to the
landfill. There will be no burning, no sacrifice to foreign gods.
They will see a field, cleared of debris, ready for plowing. God has
given them this field. And they will plant it.


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, October 13, 2006

USASTIGMATISM

by Charles Frederickson


Yogi Berra said “The future
Ain’t what it usta be”
Shortsighted myopic unilateralism blurry focus
Washington DCeption astigmatic faulty vision

American XS hazy lazy-unfair priorities
Fat cat tax cut-and-dried a-bomb-in-nation
Mushrooming federal budget nuclear warmonger
Buck passers parachuting greenback gurus

“You can” yoga Yogi remarked
“Observe lots just by watching”
Flagrant abuse humiliating unjust inexactitudes
Not to mention Social Insecurity

“It’s tough to make predictions
Especially about the uncertain future”
Taking the debasing low road
Off-course detour from all-American superhighway

Peaceful resolution perfect 20:20 insight
Leftist Rights vis-à-vis Uncivil Wrongs
Unified Inclusion not Divisive Exclusion
Fast-forward Progress overtaking Time-warped Regression


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.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

PET ALLIGATOR HAS GOD ON ITS SIDE, WISCONSIN MAN SAYS

by Jennifer Budenski


“I was thinking when the guy gave him to us that he was trying to hoax us, but it’s not white-out or anything—it’s real.”
--Michael Wilk, alligator owner, in the StarTribune, July 24, 2006


What if the universe were ruled
by the kind of God who manifests
His Holy Name, in English,
on someone’s pet alligator in Wisconsin?
A George Burns kind of God
who sends messages in cheese curds,
on viaducts and bumperstickers, or
sweating through beer labels.
A blue collar sort of guy
with an off-color sense of humor.

There would be war, the kind
of war that isn’t really a war
so much as the sort of violence
that passes the time like
bored young boys throwing stones
at dogs behind the junkyard fence—
ten points if you kill it—except
with grown men, foreign children,
and guns.

Neighbors, having read the word of God
on an ear of picnic corn, would read too much
into each other’s lawn signs, stand
warily in their driveways, privately
wondering which ones are really
petty criminals, and which ones
are damned to hell.

And I would sit down to write a poem
to resist this miracle, this God
as ordinary as a ham sandwich,
and say I want the Watchmaker,
the one who rarely visits and then
only in the disputable visions of saints
and martyrs, the one, who like a Father,
lets us suffer our consequences without
reassurances like miracles
on the hides of alligators.


Jennifer Budenski teaches writing at an alternative high school in Minnesota. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Poetry East and Mom Writers Literary Magazine and is forthcoming in this fall's issue of Marginalia. She loves campaign season because of how the lawn signs draw boundaries in her neighborhood.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

CHOICE

by David Chorlton

You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.
--Franz Kafka

Turning away, from the face on the street
burning to a crisp after years in the sun,
from the bird unable to fly, from the lie
that launched a thousand warships,
is always the option

that allows us to go about our business
but the eyes have a way
of following, and the lie rests
like an undigested meal
that leaves us feeling heavy. The dollar bill
we might have given

is folded in a wallet fat with credit cards
like a broken wing.


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.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

FAMILY

by J. Ladin


After a phrase by Karl Miller


I was born into a family of hunters.

As anyone who follows me knows,
I am the nicest of predators, so squeamish in fact
I blush at the thought of intestines.

I too have intestines
but these days my cheeks rarely color.
I am a product of a disinterested era,

when my family was not only less established
but actually embarrassed
by the mockery of flightless birds

that followed us through the forests.
The birds were right.
We were ridiculous, completely absurd,

painting our caves with blood, propitiating stars
as though the universe was concerned
with whether we feasted or starved.

Some things haven't changed at all.
These days, though, the forest is quiet.
No one's laughing now.


J. Ladin's first collection of poems, Alternatives to History, was published in 2003 by Sheep Meadow Press. Sheep Meadow is bringing out Ladin's second collection, The Book of Anna, in spring 2007. Ladin's poetry is featured in the current issues of the British journals New Writing and EnterText, in Cross Currents, an interdisciplinary journal of religion, and in disClosure, Innisfree and College English Notes. J. Ladin's poems have appeared in many other magazines as well, including Parnassus: Poetry in Review, North American Review, the Italian journal Storie, Puerto del Sol, American Literary Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, The Minnesota Review, Exquisite Corpse, Seneca Review, Blueline, Cottonwood and Sequoia.

Monday, October 09, 2006

HABEAS CORPUS

by Robert Emmett


Damn it, said John, that’s the ballgame.
Anybody want this last drought of ale?
My brother brewed it special, he mumbled.

I can’t fucking believe it, exclaimed Ben,
pounding the table with a beefy old fist,
spewing bits of bread and roast chicken.

Thomas gazed up from his page, eyes ablaze,
stretched his legs, rose and put another log upon the fire.
Unutterable fools, he cursed, until the end of time.

Even Alex brooded, glancing pensively out the side window
of Grave’s End Tavern, fingering a shilling, lost in his thoughts.
If only, he muttered, if only…

Young Tom piped-up, it’s not over quite yet, is it?
There’s still time to do something, isn’t there?
Shall we wake the old man?

Leave George be. Let him sleep. He’ll never forgive you.

The general snorted and turned-over on his bench, lips blue, teeth
chattering.
A waking dream: the acrid smell of gunpowder scorches his nostrils,
flecks of red on a field of white.

Don’t ever call me George again
was all he could manage to say.


Robert Emmett writes from the tree-shrouded hills of Michigan when the spirit moves and the waking dreams come in the dead of night.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

CHAOS AND THE COMMON MAN

by Steve De France


Drinking morning coffee.
Out my front window I watch a man
standing in the rain--- stolidly
cleaning rainwater off his car's windshield.
Stoically he disregards the weather
as traffic flows about him.

Everywhere there are people like him
executing a superfluous rite,
exacting an extraneous task
partaking of some kind of human ritual.
Performing some private ceremony
that tells the mind I've cleaned a scrap of dirt
off my little piece of this world...
I've done something! I am not part of the chaos.
I look back out the kitchen window
And he still stands like a stone in a stream
Yes, he has the audacity, the balls, to stand
cleaning his God Damned wet Windshield,
as if he has all the friggin time left in creation.

I have a second cup of coffee.

Well, it's days like this
that just piss me off.
Days full of endless lines
of well-meaning chaps
down on their knees
cleaning a smudge off the carpet,
old crones sweeping the alley,
Park Rangers picking up leaves in the forest.

Watching TV--- I pour a third
cup of coffee. CNN is showing

citizens blown apart---bodies
smoking in the streets of Iraq.
Telling myself that caffeine
facilitates all thoughtful people
into reflecting on chaos.
I decide to consider uncertainty,
Then the lilies of the field,
Then the Aurora Borealis

I pour the remaining coffee into my cup.

Here we are on a one-way trip
pushing into a perplexed cosmos,
a cosmos spinning into, or out of,
some scientific fiction---a fictive thing
called an unknowable black hole.
Feeling philosophically vulnerable I speculate---
then extrapolate on a black hole in space,
a rip in the universe...sucking all of us
into an eternal vortex.

The rest of us stare from our respective windows
at the devastation of the ignorant. We see a
world mortally wounded----broken.
The death cock crows---as by fading light
the Savage Armies of Darkness race across barren
ground where they crash into a thing called eternity.
Even now
souls are being weighed against a feather.
I finish my coffee---the old man drives off.

Even now
Chaos is much closer than I thought.


Steve De France is a widely published poet, playwright and essayist both in America and in Great Britain. His work has appeared in literary publications in Canada, France, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, India and Australia. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry in both 2002 and 2003. A few recent publications include The Wallace Stevens Journal, The Mid-American Poetry Review, Ambit, Atlantic, and The Sun. In England he won a Reader's Award in Orbis Magazine for his poem "Hawks." In the United States he won the Josh Samuels' Annual Poetry Competition (2003) for his poem: "The Man Who Loved Mermaids." His play The Killer will have its world premier at the Garage Theatre in Long Beach, California (Sept-October 2006). In 1999, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Chapman University for his writing.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

STARTING A TRAIL

by Shahé Mankerian


They dragged a man down the street
with gunshot celebrations,
with gold-plated Christs around their necks,
with boys learning to throw stones.

They dragged a man
who worshipped the other god,
who spoke a different dialect,
who wore a militant scarf.

He lived in a metal shack
without windows, without a wife,
without the Koran on the nightstand.
He couldn’t read.

They dragged a dead man.
He died miles before.
He died long before a rope was tied
around his ankle. He died

when he carried his first gun,
when he was fourteen,
when he realized god was a bullet,
when he pulled the trigger.


Poet/playwright Shahé Mankerian spent his formative years in Beirut, Lebanon . After migrating to the United States, he received his graduate degree in English from California State University, Los Angeles . In 2003, he won both the Erika Mumford Prize and the Daniel Varoujan Award from the New England Poetry Club. Recently, Edifice Wrecked nominated his poem “She’s Hiding My Keys” for the 2004 Pushcart Prize. In 2005, his play Vort (Worm) was adapted into a short film; it premiered at the Silver Lake Film Festival spring of 2006. Recently, his play “Little Armenia” debuted at Hollywood ’s prestigious Fountain Theatre.

Friday, October 06, 2006

GEORGE W. BUSH HAS WOMB ENVY

by Grace Beeler


Yours is a god
with no uterus
he makes
people and
animals
simply by pointing a
finger.
He does not know
the joy
of incubation
the thrill of the quickening
he looks at me
with jealous eyes, stamps his
feet, says
if I can’t
have that
I’ll break everything
points his finger
and makes you.


Grace Beeler grew up in upstate New York and attended Grinnell College in Iowa . She currently resides in Middletown Connecticut . She the author of a chapbook, “A Lineage of Light,” put out by The Unforgettables Press, and was recently published in the anthology “A Chaos of Angels,” by Wordwalker Press. Her work has also been published by Mothering Magazine, Poetica Magazine and Poets against the War, among others. She can be found on the web at http://gracebeeler.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The CHENI@D:
Volume Three

By Bill Costley




Book XXV: CHENEY, Appro@ched and Repro@ched

(Denver CO)


Steve Howards is filing a lawsuit
against a Secret Service agent
for arresting him for approaching
VPOTUS CHENEY in Beaver Creek
about his Iraq policies last Summer.

While walking his 7-year-old son
to piano practice, he saw CHENEY
surrounded by people in an outdoor mall,
shaking hands & posing for pictures, &
walked to within a few feet of CHENEY & said:
"I think your Iraq policies are reprehensible,"
& walked on & was quickly approached by
Secret Service agent Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle Jr.
who asked if he’d "assaulted" CHENEY.
He denied it, of course, as he
was handcuffed & taken to Eagle County Jail.

Eagle’s Dist.Attorney's Office has just
dismissed all charges, but Howards is suing for
being arrested for exercising his 1st-Amendment
right of free speech, & violating his 4th-Amendment
protection against unlawful search & seizure.


Book XXVI: CHENEY, Wins Little Girl’s He@rt & Mind

[newspoem]

[TOPEKA, Kan., Oct. 12]

6-year-old Grace Mosier lives at home,
goes to birthday parties, takes ballet classes
just like lots of other little girls, but
she’s obsessed with VPOTUS CHENEY

thanx to the White House website for children;
“I really, really like him,” she says; she knows
what state he was born in, where he went
to grade school, the names of his dogs, favorite
teacher & that he used to run Halliburton.

When CHENEY came to Topeka, Grace was
at Forbes Field, little American flag in hand,
w/a sign: “Welcome, Mr. Vice President, pet
Dave & Jackson (your dogs) for me.”

“He’s like a rock star coming to our town,”
says Dene Mosier, Grace’s mother. CHENEY’s
an unusual object for a 6-year-old’s fixation,
but not in the heart of CHENEY Country:

hotel ballrooms, military bases, private homes
deep in the reddest of red states: Kansas
(where POTUS Bush and VPOTUS Cheney
won by 25 percentage points in 2004.) People
still love Bush in CHENEY Country; but since
POTUS can’t be everywhere, VPOTUS CHENEY
comes to build his his party’s base & raise $.

CHENEY flies around, Topeka last week,
Casper WY the week before, Wyoming MI,
the week before that, to events ignored
by national news media, but covered
by local press, raising big $ for his party
& its candidates: $4+M @ 114 events
since Jan. 2005, all in places like Topeka.

CHENEY reaps love.“How’s about a big
Kansas welcome for VPOTUS CHENEY!”
shouts 5-term Republican Rep. Jim Ryun.
CHENEY gets cheers, sustained applause,
even some loving war whoops. “Well, that
warm welcome's almost enough to make me
want to run for office again. Almost.”

CHENEY’s favorability ratings are below
POTUS’s ( 20% in the most recent NYT poll).
Critics deride him as a Prince of Darkness
swearing at a U. S. senator, shooting
a friend in a hunting accident, showing
he doesn’t care how he’ s perceived. Even
admirers of his intellect & steadiness
rarely say he electrifies rooms or people.

But listen to people at the Capitol Plaza Hotel
Manor ConferenceCenter in Topeka. “It’s just
such a big thrill to see & hear this man,” says
Marvin Smith, a farmer & former teacher:
“People I know feel the same way, except
for a few of those peacemakers” (protesters)
picketing down the street. “We love him here,”
says Susan Wagle, a KA state senator.

Sustained & rollicking ovations pulling
a rare smile up both sides of his mouth,
CHENEY delivers an old vpotential saw
about how 1st VPOTUS, John Adams
enjoyed Senate floor privileges, until revoked.
CHENEY's told it 48 times, but skips another
about himself as the 1 WY congressman:
"...a small delegation, but it was quality,"
that he's told 67+ times as VPOTUS.

He delivers his usual hommage to tax cuts,
warning about how terrorists are still trying
“to cause mass death here in the United States;”
derisively catalogues the “Dean Democrats,”
Rangel (NY), Waxman (CA), Frank (MA), whose
power will grow if Democrats take over Congress.

The crowd boos. “Don’t hold back,” CHENEY eggs;
the crowd laughs. It believes his unpopularity in polls
follows attacks from Democrats & “liberal media.
They throw so much trash at him, it’s just unbelievable,”
says Morris Thomason, a rancher in Belvidere, Kan.,
who grew up in Casper, WY, Cheney’s boyhood home,
spending his formative years with CHENEY who even
came to his 13th birthday; they water-skied together
in an irrigation canal near Casper. But he hasn’t spoken
to CHENEY since he was Bush 1 SECDEF or when
he was POTUS Ford's chief of staff Today, he won’t
see CHENEY up-close because it costs $1,000
for a photo op; his$100 ticket’s only for the speech.

“There was a peacefulness & a truthfulness
to this man that really caught my heart,”
says the R-congressman’s wife, Anne Ryun,
clutching a [Bush-Cheney 2000] placard
VPOTUS CHENEY had just autographed.
She spoke briefly to CHENEY to tell him
she was praying for him, saying his wife, Lynne,
“is the most gracious, intelligent woman
I’ve ever known of,” & she wants to model
her life after her, her voice going soft,
her eyes going a little glassy.

While CHENEY spoke, 6-year-old Grace
stayed behind at the airport, getting a solo
tour of Air Force 2, wowing Secret Service agents
with her CHENEY knowledge (exceeding theirs),
a 6yr old prodigy of CHENEYism in Topeka.


Book XXVII: CHENEY--W@ter-Bo@rding ‘No Br@iner’


Water-boarding: holding the head under water or
pouring water on cloth/cellophane over the nose & mouth
simulating drowning, until the head agrees to talk or confess.

Banned by U.S. law & international treaties on torture; the
U.S. Army, Republican lawmakers, experts on human rights
& laws of war call waterboarding cruel, inhumane & degrading.



CHENEY admits captured al-Qaida suspects
were water-boarded: “Wouldn’t you agree a dunk
in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives? It's
a no-brainer for me, but for a while there, I was
criticized as being the vice president ‘for torture.’

We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in;
we live up to our international treaty obligations;
you can have a fairly robust interrogation program
w/out torture & we need to be able to do that."

Lee Ann McBride, CHENEY’s spokeswoman
denied CHENEY admitted using water-boarding
or endorsed the technique."VPOTUS CHENEY
referred to an interrogation program w/out torture,
& never goes into techniques/methods of questioning."


Book XXVIII: CHENEY on the Porcel@in Throne

pulls the constitutional-roll out
reaching Article I, section 3,
snarling at his Vpotential brief:

"…shall be President of the Senate,
but shall have no Vote, unless
they be evenly divided" swiftly

wiping his vpotential butt with it,
flushing it with cold rage. “Powers,
my vpotential butt,“ he snarls, his

hardening cloaca blocked by laws
the Founders put in place, chanting
“Power comes from the barrell

of my vpotential butt!” his bowels
expel rock-like turds, filling up
the porcelain throne, raising him

to a hardening vpotential height.


Book XXIX: VPOTUS CHENEY Wrings Both Hands


The latest Evans-Novak Political Report suggests
the way POTUS Bush fired DEFSEC Rumsfeld
caused considerable friction in the White House.
"Even VPOTUS Dick Cheney is said to be pro-
foundly disturbed by Rumsfeld's treatment."



VPOTUS CHENEY wrings both hands
as he snarls on the porcelain throne,
cyber-heart thumping mechanically.

“I could be next! That punkass POTUS
sunafabitch’s no man@all, no man@all.
Fuckin’ Ke-rist, I was elected, I got votes!
I sucked in shitloads of votes both times!”

His cyber-heart pumps his roasting nuts
dangling in the throne’s chilly-water pool,
raising hot white steam all around him.

“I made that punkass POTUS look real;
I’m the real POTUS & everyone knows it.
I’ll pull the plug on that punkass POTUS.”
As he pulls the chain to flush the steam,

the porcelain throne explodes, blowing
him into a blizzard of ex-vpotential flesh.


Book XXX: CHENEY’s Desperate Wraith Sweeps

CHENEY’s desperate wraith sweeps
the sands in search of old oil-allies
in the boiling hours of Iraqi civil-war;

Saudies welcome his sandy wraith
with open arms & oily love-kisses
as it dissolves into a sandy mound.

Who shall raise it? What oily spell
can reconstitute this sandy VPOTUS
as an man of moilmentum? Speak,

oilmen & oil-masters, speak oilily
to this drily whispering sand-wraith:
Oil! Oil! Oil! Oil! Oil! Oil! Oil Oil!


Book XXXI: CHENEY'S Holid@ys Greeting Card

Careful to offend only 'gutlesss' liberals,
CHENEY'S Greeting Card for the Holidays
is awhirl with red, white & blue sandstorms

surging towards a city burning in the desert,
which, lest any 'gutless' liberals wonder, is
(doubtlessly) American-occupied Baghdad.

Burn, Baghdad, awaiting surging Americans,
coming again to mop-up the mess they began.
Once again, the shuddering shock is theirs,

but from IEDs exploding on deadly roadsides,
not aerial fireworks provoking instant surrender.
What's on the ground lies dead on the ground.


Book XXXII: CHENEY to Rumsfeld to Ford

Gerry Ford, Hoover’s zombie,
chewing gum, stumbles upon
CHENEY & Rumsfeld plotting
in a White House blackout cellar.

“Hi-ya guys, how-zit hangin’?”
ol’ wooden-head asks; they grin;
Gerry’s dumber than The Post,
truly clueless & dependably so.

Maize & Blue Ford’ll forever-be
that leather- helmeted U of M
3-year (1932-4) letterman,
center, linebacker, ’34 MVP.

“Kin I turn a light on?’ sez Gerry;
“nfw, MVP, nfw,” sez CHENEY.


Book XXXIII: CHENEY - The Dark Side

On 9/11, deep inside a White House bunker, Vice President Dick Cheney ordered U.S. fighter planes to shoot down any commercial airliner still in the air above America. At that moment, CIA Director George Tenet met with his counter-terrorism team in Langley, Virginia. Both leaders acted fast, to prepare their country for a new kind of war. But soon a debate would grow over the goals of the war on terror, and the decision to go to war in Iraq. (more »)
--PBS - WGBH-TV, Cambridge MA, The Dark Side, Jan. 2, 2007 at 9pm

(voiceover)

On 9/11, deep inside a White House bunker,
VPOTUS Cheney ordered U.S. fighter planes
2shoot down any commercial airliner still
in the air above America. At that moment,
CIA Director George Tenet met with his
counter-terrorism team in Langley, Virginia.
Both leaders acted fast, 2prepare their country
for a new kind of war. But soon...a debate
would grow over the goals of the war on terror,
& the decision 2go2 war in Iraq...

"Click over to FOX, g'dammit," snaps CHENEY;
"Gutless documentaries suck-wind, besides,
I know how this one'll end up: I get an Oscar!"

Rove, speechless, trembles, barfs on the rug.
"Lick that barf up, turd-blossom!" drawls Dubya;
"A cowboy cleans-up after hisself, dammit!"


Book XXXIV: CHENEY's m@ssive

CHENEY's m@ssive dong dangles
from his manicured hand, "No, no,
that's 2 faggy", he thinks, perched
above the city on a chilly windowsill

as he contemplates a stony leap.
Naked, facing a city that made him,
he admits 2 being utterly defeated,
a VPOTUS gone utterly impotent.

Hard thoughts for a man who wars
on the gutless, liberal, concessive,
Democratic ass-wiping congress:
"What they wipe they know not."

he fulminates, his bareass freezing
to the chilly granite windowsill.

CHENEY’s m@ssive member surges
with renewed energy, its essential moil
peaking for a final glorious moment.
“Piss on them while I’m still The M@n!”

he bellows from his chilly windowsill
above the city of granite monuments.
“My power’s still in my own hand,”
2 command armies surging over sand.

“My vision’s sharper now than ever!”
he hisses; his glasses drop far below,
shattering on frosted Pennsylvania Ave.
lost among random headlight fragments.

Who can distinguish his from the others?
CSI, of course, in its upcoming special.


Book XXXV: Seeking the HyperPOTUS

Let's seek VPOTUS CHENEY in allies
of neo-national re-boughtten souls, in a rue
of commerce, on Street of Wall, on boards
of bigness, electronic exchanges of stock.

Do we see him in his true form, or is it only
his shimmering reflection on glassy towers
when we pass them by at speeds set by law?
Can we tell one from the other? CHENEY's

not what we see him as, nor do we see him.
He doesn't really see us; he just sees thru us,
in2 the future of his hyper-apotheotical role
as HyperPOTUS: He who rises to the Hype.

Somewhere it's daytime, somewhere night,
somewhere neither, CHENEY, nowhere.


Book XXXVI: Finding the HyperPOTUS

We have found him in the re-hardening
language of a POTUS who is even surer
that re-force is our solution. CHENEY
informs his resolution. He is his strength.

Heart of metal, bowels of brass, mind
of re-forged steel, all of these resound.
None of these are ours, we all talk about
just how he got here, where we go next.

CHENEY is his pole star, his cold light,
his eYe, ignoring many glittering points.
Enumerating them, most agree he’s lost.
What’s lost when you’re still POTUS?

Lost confidence? Hardly. Lost hope? No.
Lost the popular mandate? HyperPOT…


(To be continued.)


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

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

JUDGE TO RULE IF 'MEOWING' IS HARASSMENT

by Rochelle Ratner


She goes out with the garbage. Meow. Twit of a
teenager. She's lived in this house since before his
parents were born, and she'll be damned if they'll
harass her into moving an inch. Meow. She at least
got some peace when the brat was in school, but it's
summer now, he's around all day. Ought to be in
reform school. Meow. She walks out on the porch for
her mail. Sounds exactly like a bitch in heat. Meow.
First it was the damn cat, digging up zinnias and
mums not two hours after she'd planted them,
thinking she was in some god damned litter box.
Meow. Free to good home, indeed. Should have just
drowned the beast. Meow. Can't even take a nap in
the middle of the afternoon. Meow. She sits by her
picture window, looking out, just waiting for the little
bugger to pee in her flowerbed.


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, October 03, 2006

A POLITICAL PRIMER FOR THE CURSED FIG TREE

by Joseph Byrd


Arrogant arbiter of worldly foolishness!
Boorish beekeeper of unwanted interferences, ineptly dipping into the hive for honeys unbecoming and of no belonging to you—you
Contentious cuss of a childish republic! I have one question, if I’m still allowed:
Does democracy yet hold the right to differ with you, or is it now just an empty,
historical echo? Does patriotic duty currently require a closed mouth? I wonder.
This    bullying,
    this earmarking of beloved bad boys; it’s an
Embarrassment. Ever seen a pimp slobber over his
Favorite floozies before sending them into the streets? That’s what you look like,
God grant us mercy.
Hell—who put you in charge as righteous router of the devil’s
Inventory? I don’t recall casting a vote. Oh. That’s right. You’re a Christian nation.
    You’re doing this in the name of
Jesus. Just tell me this: who gave you the
Knife? Killing, my friends, isn’t Christ’s m. o. (though when your number’s finally
    up, he’ll
Likely lop off [cf.
Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:14] your
Nuts ‘n your figs if you’ve spent your days
Offing opponents instead of tending your own gardens). So
Please, people! Stop this belligerence! Stop picking your holy bibles apart,
    pasting together whatever words in there say that war is nothing more than a
    holy chance to roast the devil on this great big, god-blessed American
    Bar-Be-
Que. "Quo jure?" God’ll ask, when you someday face the great tribunal in the sky.
"By
    what
Right, rich, Christian nation, have you
So self-assuredly
Taught the sons and daughters of your country to
Unwittingly usurp, from the great I AM, the decision to take or give life, in
Violence?" Victory’s never built on such. You’ll squirm, stammering
‘Wh—what was that, Lord?’ and he’ll likely thunder back "What was what, you
Xenophobic
Yammerer!?
Zounds!" That’s the word for it, too. Zounds. God’s wounds weren’t for war.


Joseph Byrd
's work has been published by earthsongs, Prism, Foxfire Books, The Westwind Review and Concordia Publishing House. He was an Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts under Joy Harjo in 1996, and currently lives in Holland, MI.

Monday, October 02, 2006

THE STADIUM

by Kenneth Salzmann


This is no game, remember,
Because the elevated rumbles still
Through the kitchen smells of each
Wave of ever-dark-eyed strangers
Ever cooking up strange dishes
Strangely spiced, and all the while
Slipping strange words
Into the spiced atmosphere
Hovering over 161st Street
To rise above the
Train's insistent jazz,
To swell into an unequivocal
Roar that will be joined by ghosts
As surely as forgotten ancestors
Will never let us go.
America is dark-eyed, too,
Against all its wishes,
And speaks in tongues,
And can't subdue
Its hunger for a common language.


Kenneth Salzmann has been an arts administrator, journalist, editor and freelance writer, and has been active in small press publishing since 1979. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Rattle, Comstock Review, Sow's Ear Poetry Review, CQ and Afterthoughts. He lives in Woodstock, New York .

Sunday, October 01, 2006

WE ARE FAMILY

by Susan H. Case


I’m reading about another country going nuclear
and how we, this collective we, have snuck in
undercover to get information on what to strike.
I hope we don’t.
Because maybe someone’s here, doing the same
thing, and could retaliate, destabilize my favorite park
bench, where I take my dogs.
How could I know this bench sits on a secret stash
of proliferating enriched uranium?
I worry about quotidian concerns—like the pigeon shit
on the window ledge; I’m waiting for
the next big rain storm to wash it all away, not
thinking about sabotage,
regime change—while the window, everything
may be about to blow.

We are all one family. Aren’t we?

Here’s a story about families:
my dad and uncle don’t talk to one another for twenty-five
years. Finally, I say—this is ridiculous,
let’s have a little détente—and I drive my father
to New Jersey for a reunion before one of them dies.
In my uncle’s nursing home room, they sit, snipe
at each other, not even clandestinely, for the afternoon.
Later, my dad says he’s glad he went—it makes him happy
to compare their lives, to see his brother ended up worse.


Susan H. Case, professor at the New York Institute of Technology, has recent work in many journals, including: Eclipse, Georgetown Review, Gulf Stream Magazine, Oyez Review, Pebble Lake Review and Saranac Review, as well as the anthology, Rough Places Plain: Poems Of The Mountains. Recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, she is the author of The Scottish Café (Slapering Hol Press, 2002), Hiking The Desert In High Heels (RightHandPointing, 2005), and Anthropologist In Ohio (Main Street Rag Publishing Company, 2005).