Guidelines



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Sunday, December 24, 2006

WAR OF WORDS

by Robert M. Chute


Sticks and stones may be less dangerous
than words. Does it matter whether the bomb
that killed Ali or Andrew was an act
of terror or of warfare when it blossomed
in all its brutal brilliance in Baghdad?

Even something as simple as stopping defies
definition. To disengage suggests a mutual
return of rings rather than retreat, and
giving up (I mean withdrawal) can easily
become new policy, the new way forward.

Somewhere between mission accomplished and
cut and run there must be an exit strategy.
(We've done our part, Iraq, now it's your turn.)
You can be sure we'll never say defeat.
The country's brightest seek a better word for it.

We need an answer urgently, before
Operation Iranian Freedom leads the news.


Robert M. Chute’s new book from JustWrite Books, Reading Nature, poetry based on scientific articles, is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

ON TETHERS TO TEXAS

by Carol Elizabeth Owens

“Saudi Arabia has been a key ally of the United States and is the world's top oil exporter.”
(Dec. 12, 2006 – CNN.com ‘Saudi Ambassador to U.S. Resigns’)


germans
have their beamers
the japanese – lexus
but our motors cross with fuel
between the middle east
and texas. bush
has burned

our mid-
night oil, melted
candles vex us. the lamp
encamps a conflict in such heat
as scene in texas. grease
those southern palms
and pump

that gas—
to yield profits
post a fresh militia
at the pipeline, lest they stop it
this flow of politics
is a real hot
topic

fire’s
never friendly
if the battleground’s false
and our nexus to the saudis
is one cause to give pause
when will texas
withdraw?


Carol Elizabeth Owens is an attorney and counselor-at-law in Western New York (by way of Long Island and New York City). She enjoys technical and creative writing. Her poetry has been published in several print and virtual publications. Ms. Owens loves the ways in which words work when poetry allows them to come out and play. The poem "on tethers to texas" is written in a form called eintou (which is West African for "pearl," as in "pearls of wisdom").

Friday, December 22, 2006

DECEMBER WALK

by David Chorlton


Beside a slender river
that mumbles to the stones
we walk in quiet shoes
with winter thoughts
and eyes for the silky light
falling on the cottonwoods
still holding to a few
last russet leaves.

One falls for the Chilean general
and a flurry scatters
for those who still support
him. It was right, they say,
to do the things he did
and not apologise. A tree shakes
unexpectedly

for the war that continues
without explanation
and we follow a dusty path
that tells us how long it has been
since rain or diplomacy.
Among the bare-limbed textures

of mesquite we are at peace
for a while. Nobody awaits
execution, nobody is tortured
until they cough up a reason
for it to stop, and nobody
stands in our way
prepared to strip us to our souls
before we continue
the journey. Along an uphill trail

we become ambassadors
from the country of grass
to that of rock and air. Back
in the shadows we report
to the water that clouds
are dispersing and the year

is drawing to a close
with unsettled accounts
and unburied dictators.
But as long as it flows
we will come here
to be with the trees
each one of which stands
as if nailed
to its place in the universe.


David Chorlton lives in central Phoenix where he keeps watch for hawks and other urban wildlife. He has published poems in magazines including Slipstream, Main Street Rag, Poem, Skidrow Penthouse and Parting Gifts, and has several books and chapbooks the most recent of which is Waiting for the Quetzal from March Street Press.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

IT FELL TO ME

by Michael Shorb


It fell to me
to express the confused
rage of the drowning
Polar bear battling
chemical winds and widening
water, its strength
exhausted by two hundred
miles of suddenly open ocean,
its mind unraveled by
the mystery of breaking
white ice canyons
teeming with easy prey
like ringed seals now vanishing

It fell to me to find
a calculus of the great creature's
final bellowing cry,
its final vision of glowing
cod and halibut slinking away
as it sank down
into cold darkness
it once had ruled

to find some explanation
for this vagrant,
unnatural sight:

colored waves dashing on leaden rocks

                    a massive white pelt

floating on the ocean's
warming surface.


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.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

BOY GETS HANDCUFFED TO STUFFED REINDEER

by Rochelle Ratner


What he'd wanted for his sixth birthday was a toy gun, a
police badge, and handcuffs. But his parents didn't want
him playing with guns so he just got the handcuffs and a
stuffed reindeer. The reindeer's been a problem from the
start, hiding under the bed last week, and this morning he
found him crouched behind the door to his room. So the
boy decides to handcuff him, slipping the cuff first around
the reindeer's neck. He slaps the other cuff on his own
wrist, and so they stay until the reindeer promises to
behave. Then he can't get the cuff off. His mother can't get
the cuff off. His father can't get the cuff off. And the honest
to God policeman who comes to the house has a key that
doesn't fit and is worried bolt cutters might slip and injure
him. While they're waiting for the firemen his mother sits
him down, dries his tears, and tells him that there is no
Santa Claus.


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, December 19, 2006

BECAUSE OF THE NUMBERS

by David LaBounty


The boss called me on Friday
and told me I had to do it
on Monday
and it didn’t matter
what I said, he said.
It didn’t matter because
the numbers,
the numbers
just weren’t there.
It’s the way it goes, he said.
It’s not like it’s by design, he said.
It’s not like we planned to lose
our ass this quarter and it’s
not our fault your store
couldn’t put up enough
numbers to save everybody.

He has a family, I said.

We have bills, he said.

He’ll lose his insurance, I said.

You’ll keep your job, he said
and he hung up the phone and I had been
looking forward to the weekend
but I kept that conversation
with me as I spent time with
my children, taking them
to the zoo and for ice
cream while grinding my
teeth and acting like I didn’t have
a care in the world.


David LaBounty's poetry has recently appeared in Four Volts, Boston Literary Magazine, The Verse Marauder and in upcoming issues of Autumn Sky Poetry and Pemmican. He served in the navy for four years and has worked as a miner, a mechanic, a reporter and a salesman.

Monday, December 18, 2006

TOO QUIET

(ODE TO SILENT AMERICAN NIGHT)



“…for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it…”
--Erich Maria Remarque All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

by Robert Emmett


it’s a little too quiet on the western front
all festooned with swag
while over there
it’s just another scene

the fervor of our handiwork
is enough to make you gag
stamp no return
on the invoice for the keen

the waking nightmare
seems so real
except they speak in tongues
and hot-spun cotton
makes it hard to breathe
a smirking cheek
a winking eye
all stuffed with glee
casts you aside
wipes bible spit
across a silken sleeve

somnambulists tote glitter in
the desperate bleed their poor hearts out
and strew forsaken children
in the street
don’t bother to give it another thought
the mindless chatter is already bought
your boundless bounty
puts fleece
on fortune’s feet

so tiptoe to the goody bag
you can have your choice
polish the pater’s pate
until it gleams
his pugnacious noggin’s noddin’ now
but you have lost your voice
you traded it on the cheap
for sugarplum dreams


Robert Emmett sifts dreams from waking nightmares under a blanket of heavy snow in the silent woods of Michigan.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

ADDENDA TO GREENSLEEVES

by Louie Crew


"Why hang AIDS bells on our green tree?"
          the State the leper is asking.
"I dare to claim that God loves me
          and in this hope I'm basking."

          This, this is Christ, the King
          whom peasants guard and angels sing:
          Haste, haste to bring God laud,
          The babe, the child of Mary.

"Your plastic bag is rude and smells,"
          the Church the beggar is chiding.
"It's all I have; a manger tells
          I'm safe in God confiding."

          This, this is Christ, the King
          whom peasants guard and angels sing:
          Haste, haste to bring God laud,
          The babe, the child of Mary.

"Why lie you down before the tanks
          we use exporting freedom?"
"The ox and ass to God give thanks
          and we are here to feed 'em."

          This, this is Christ, the King
          whom peasants guard and angels sing:
          Haste, haste to bring God laud,
          The babe, the child of Mary.


Louie Crew has edited special issues of College English and Margins. He has written four poetry volumes: Sunspots (Lotus Press, Detroit, 1976) Midnight Lessons (Samisdat, 1987), Lutibelle's Pew (Dragon Disks, 1990), and Queers! for Christ's Sake! (Dragon Disks, 2003).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

TANOREXIA

by Mary E. Weems


It’s another Geraldo “and around the world”
The three white girls, without curls
Stand in front of the camera dressed
in swimsuits that look like skin
like they wear them even when not grinning
like clueless Cheshire cats.
They are all meant to be white-skinned,
white as the moon when she’s full of herself.
They have a look in their eye, a tunnel vision
of outside looking in, of dissatisfied,
of we don’t know, except what we want to know.
So, while the world spins on a billion behinds
all turning the soil in a different direction,
AIDS takes center stage with rage, poverty
and what should we care for, while the innocent
repeat the role of invisible sacrifices to the oil
gods,
and fake Bush gives a nod to drill addiction;
while new diseases are quickly added to all the
diseases
we already have, while in the middle of the mix
every day continues to amaze, affirm, and thrive;
they seek the ultimate tan, huddle in their basements
at night
whispering on cell phones, sharing the newest liquid
enhancements,
ways to hide their tanning time from parents, the
credit card bills
that come every month. They match arms, legs, faces in
mirrors
compare the results of the latest session to the
cutout gossip magazine
images of their latest tan-idols, look adoringly at
themselves each time
they pass anything that reflects. They are the tan.


Mary E. Weems, Ph.D. is an accomplished poet, playwright, author, performer, motivational speaker, and scholar of urban education. Weems’ work has been widely published in journals, anthologies, and several books including Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect: I Speak from the Wound in My Mouth (Lang, 2003), developed from her dissertation which argues for imagination-intellectual development as the primary goal of public education. She won the Wick Chapbook Award for her collection white in 1996, and in 1997 her play Another Way to Dance won the Chilcote award for The Most Innovative Play by an Ohio Playwright. Her most recent collection of poems Tampon Class (Pavement Saw Press, 2005) is in its second printing. Mary Weems currently teaches in the English and Education departments at John Carroll University.

Friday, December 15, 2006

MECHANICAL RAIN

by Christopher R. Vierck


Amost
four years running
i’m reminded how people
live in their own prophecies;
it’ll rain in the desert, roses will bloom,
democracy will spread, and everyone will love us…

it’s certainly easy to do… if you just pretend
shrapnel and bombs are just mechanical rain
in another country, nothing to concern our
pretty little wheat-covered american heads with,

it’s just a little lie in the long tall grass…
see all those listless clouds drifting on by?
if you can’t imagaine the dream i’ll whisper
it out for you; these clouds bring no drumming rain,
this one’s a bunny, that ones an emu.


Christopher R. Vierck's poetry has appeared in several Old Mountain Press Anthologies, as well as the upcoming Mourning Katrina: A Poetic Response to Tragedy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

DARFUR

by Mary Saracino


Two point five million scattered in the wind
tossed away like brittle leaves, scorched
by the sun, torn from the limbs
of ancient trees.

Bloodied souls in search of
safety
bread
clean water
a place to rest their heads, far
far from the gun barrels of genocide.

Displaced families trudge
through dusty hot noon-times,
huddle under darkened nights,
pray to the moonless heavens, the starless skies,
pray too for the world to give a damn
about human upheaval, about maimed mothers
and disenfranchised fathers
waiting with each step —
each breath — for the world to rage against evil,
end the slaughter.

Men & women, babies flee,
on foot, in haste, no time to gather
anything but their courage, no time
to mourn beloved relatives, savor a final meal,
enjoy the laughter that used to sweeten
the mouths of their sons & their daughters

Who will help them pacify
the hungry howls of children emptied
of food, of hope?

The hellish hounds run rampant:
starvation
disease
rape
torture
murder
despair

On camels and horses, the Janjaweed
raid villages, force boys and girls
into a thatched hut,
strike the fire, burn them alive,
kill their parents who race forward
shuddering in horror to rescue their young.

An ocean away in Denver, a man
in exile recounts the harrowing path
from hell to haven. He escaped with two shirts,
two pairs of pants, the clothes on his back,
grateful for his life, mindful of his country’s anguish.
From time to time, he clutches a phone
listens for the clandestine whispers
of a brother, still trapped in Khartoum ,
a brother who reassures, “Yes I am alive, for now,
for one more day.”

For now his brother rests safely, his hiding place secure.
Though he’s outsmarted the prowling Janjaweed
one more time, outside his window
the stench of hatred lingers. How long before his time runs out?
How long?
How long?
How long?


Mary Saracino is a novelist, memoir writer, and poet who lives in Denver, CO. Her latest novel, The Singing of Swans was published by Pearlsong Press in October 2006.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

THE NIGHT WE MURDERED TOOKIE WILLIAMS*

by Jacqueline Kudler

*Executed by lethal injection,
San Quentin, California
December 13, 2005

If the sun ever burned through that day
it happened somewhere else.
All day the deep chill insinuated itself
under doors, through bedroom louvers,
down the backs of our collars.
All day we waited for the clemency
that never came, while the good
folk, fog-cloaked, marched over
Wolfe Grade, gathered at the prison
gates with signs and speeches.

I did not march with them. I'm tired of
candlelight vigils and tired of whining.
I'm tired of not understanding how
half the people anywhere think what
they think about guns or justice.
I'm tired of the cold. So I cooked up
a pot of curried pea soup for supper
and went to bed before the Late News.

But we led him, shackled, down
the long corridor— the big man,
a vast embarrassment of blazing health—
laid him on the table, positioned him
with infinite care, precision, the way
they prep a patient for the OR, only
this time, what he needed to be
cured of was his life.

And all the while, The Select watched on:
the vengeful and the long-aggrieved,
the ever-avid press—watched on
until the last spasm of the chest
the last flutter at the throat.
What part of this procedure, Dear God,
am I not understanding?


Jacqueline Kudler lives in Sausalito, California and teaches classes in memoir writing and literature at the College of Marin in Kentfield. She serves as an advisory director on the board of Marin Poetry Center. Her poems have appeared in numerous reviews, magazines, and anthologies. Her full length poetry collection, Sacred Precinct, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, in 2003. She was awarded the Marin Arts Council Board Award in 2005 for “an exceptional body of work over a period of time,” and her “outstanding commitment to the literary arts.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

NO CHILD UNLEFT UNDONE

by Nancy Graham


This text is from section 9528 on pages 559 and 560 they keep
having to xerox pages and send them to us
of the 670-page
reauthorization of the Emirate
and Secondary Education Act. So, another reason
to go to the library!
commonly known as the No Child
Left Behind Act of 2001: SEC. 9528. ARMED
FORCES excitement! RECRUITER ACCESS
TO STUDENTS It’s really hard when a friend
does that. I’m not even talking about
someone in here I’m talking about having
leftovers. You don’t have to eat that!
AND
STUDENT RECRUITING INFORMATION.
Not without parents. (a) POLICY-This operation
is one of the worst:
(1) ACCESS TO STUDENT
RECRUITING INFORMATION- Notwithstanding
NOT WITHOUT YOUR PARENTS! section 444(a)(5)(B)
of the General Education Provisions Act and except
as provided in paragraph (2), you can’t just sit
still for a while and read this?
each local educational
agency receiving monetary assistance under
this Act must look at the floor
to see where their post-it notes are going
shall
provide, as a kind of quid pro quo, on a request
made by you don’t read? military recruiters
or make attempt to hollow out the sound of their
voices
or an institution of higher education
access to the nocturnal dreams to secondary
school students’ names, addresses, and telephone
listings. Ah, the marvels of public education!


Nancy Graham's poems have been published in BlazeVox, Chronogram, Eratio and Aught, and her short stories in Prima Materia, Cafe Irreal and Orchid (forthcoming). Her background is in alternative media and the arts, and she currently operates the blogs Alternative Films for Kids and Oswegatchie.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A MODEST FAMINE PROPOSAL

by Bonnie Naradzay


First came four imported breeds
of potato, like the Four Horsemen,
from the New World. The largest
tuber, the Horse Potato, soon
was all the Irish grew. Then,
within days, the withering blight -
and the sickening smell of decay.
The British levied tariffs on imported corn,
formerly used for animal fodder,
and cheaper wheat was diverted
from Ireland’s poor to sell to the Continent.
Sir Robert Peel’s idea, maize from America,
called “Peel’s Brimstone” for the yellow color,
did not catch on. The Chickasaw tribe donated
money and wheat. Then England sponsored
lectures, solely in English, on growing wheat
- to starving tenants farming quarter-acre lots
who spoke only Gaelic. Pamphlets
were handed out on agricultural practices
containing whole passages from Adam Smith.
Lady Gregory’s husband’s clause
in the convoluted Poor Law
forced tenants out of their huts,
newly roofed with boughs and sod,
away from their smoldering fires of peat,
while priests gave last rites in the wind.
In the winter of cholera,
crow-bar brigades pulled apart
the windowless huts of mud and stones,
turned stick-thin families loose
to starve in a ruined country.
Where do rooks go when the trees are felled?
Workhouses, devolved from charities,
were locked down by English landlords
claiming to have no food anywhere.
Whole families, moaning to be let in,
the next morning lay dead outside
the bolted door where they’d lain all night,
too weak to move on. After a week
of building roads to nowhere, famished men
on work crews died before their first pay came.
The Duke of Norfolk then proposed – Why not
curry powder instead of the potato? They could live
on curry powder mixed with water.


Bonnie Naradzay is a degree candidate at the Stonecoast MFA Program, having earned her M.A. over 35 years ago. She has a poem accepted for publication in JAMA and has published in many online journals, including Salt River Review, Beltway Quarterly, Innisfree, Potomac Journal, and Convergence.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

STEM CELLS MAY LEAD TO CANCER VACCINE

by Rochelle Ratner


At least that's what tests in mice seem to suggest, but it's
only been 27 days, and it was only lung cancer. The next
step will be to teach the mice to smoke. They can start with
stubs found on the ground, easier for the mice to hold.
Besides, that's how people think of stem cells--thrown
away tips, mostly with filters. The experiments alone will
boost sagging tobacco sales. Marlboro Mickey. Give away
sets of mouse ears with little flames in the center. All she
ever wanted was the simple mouse ears but her mother,
who smoked Camels then, insisted upon the best. Her
husband also. Meanwhile, hundreds of miles away from her
mother's grave, mice have invaded their bedroom.


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.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

CAROLINA SNIPE HUNT

by Earl J. Wilcox


                              In the small tract of land
behind our house where we have lived long enough
to raise grandchildren, developers finally found
enough money to entice the owners to sell. Today,
we totaled up our losses. A staggering number of
nature's perennials no longer have homes: tall hard-
woods and pines, sumac, dogwood, squirrels, genera-
tions of ticks, Canada geese, rabbits, raccoons, deer,
night and day owls, millions of chiggers, Cardinals,
bluebirds, woodpeckers, finches both purple and yellow,
Carolina wrens, dandelions, blackberries, wild strawberries,
mice, rats, copperheads and common garden snakes, happy
sparrows, chickadees,---and our children's woods where
they built playhouses, waded in the streams, got their share
of ticks, reveled in romping in the woods as if they owned
the land themselves. Oh, and this: two turkeys are without a
home. We caught sight of them last week when the tractors
and trucks came to cut and haul the tree, rearrange the land
for condos, chase Carolina's critters out of their natural habitat.

                              We and all the creatures seem to
be adjusting except for the turkeys. Today, they stood in the
middle of a busy road, gawking and waddling around, confused, uncomfortable, lost. What loss have we suffered compared to the homeless.


Earl J. Wilcox founded The Robert Frost Review, which he edited for more than a decade. His poetry was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Friday, December 08, 2006

GRAVE AND DETERIORATING

by Anne G. Davies


The Iraq Study Group at last has spoken
Now we know officially that Iraq is broken.
Staying the course so baseless and brash
Has been firmly consigned to history's trash.

What of the neocons who closely hover
Will they find it expedient to dive for cover?
With Rummy gone, and just Cheney to lean on
Will Bush change the policies he's so keen on?

Even sterling, steadfast Jim Baker
The Bush family's mover and shaker
Seems uncertain how to convince our leader
That his strategy is an endless breeder
Of Iraqi chaos. At least he may tame Bush verbally
And stamp on his triumphal hyperbole.

But can Bush give up his mystical thinking
Even though he sees the Middle East sinking
Into anarchy? If not, he's ripe for impeaching,
A conclusion the country may soon be reaching.

Or will he only sheathe his bloodstained sword
On direct commandment from the Lord?


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, December 07, 2006

COUSIN HAROLD

by Wayne Scheer


I see the Village Voice finally gave you your fifteen minutes, Mr. G.
At least, that's what the Voice called you.
The family, of course, knows you as Cousin Harold.

You'd been showing porn at the Polk Theatre in Jackson Heights since 1959,
"Nine dirty films a day."
That's some accomplishment, Cousin Harold,
What with the way the city cleaned up Times Square,
Turning it into a haven for t-shirt buying tourists.

The article said the Polk was only one of three porno theatres left in the city.
And now you've sold the Polk.
It's expected to become an apartment building--
Just what New York City needs, another apartment building.

"I shouldn't have sold it," you say now.

It's not like you had a choice. Down to twelve customers a day,
Including the man with one glove
Who spent much of the time outside the theatre talking on his cellphone.

Still, you loved the Polk, despite its piss and old carpet stench.
"All it needs is a paint job," you told the reporter.
You wanted to save it, but like your bowler hat and black overcoat
It had become an eyesore, an embarrassment. Especially to the family.

Your daughter moved far from New York, saying only that you were in real estate.
Your most loyal employee, Sandra the ticket-taker,
Attended church every morning begging forgiveness
For the sin of selling tickets at a dirty movie theatre.

How will she feed her sixteen cats, you worry.

The Polk is gone, and you, at seventy-five, sleep all day
Because you have no place to wear your bowler hat.


After teaching writing and literature in college for twenty-five years, Wayne Scheer retired to follow his own advice and write. He's been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net. His work has appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Pedestal, Smokelong Quarterly, Pindeldyboz and Triplopia. Wayne lives in Atlanta and can be contacted at wvscheer@aol.com.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

G.I. CAFÉ

by Mel Waldman


“Come in and drink a cup of hot or cold cider for peace.”

Nearby, a soldier gazes at the G.I. Café, unaware of the ghosts
of other wars surrounding him. He listens to a stranger’s voice
calling out to him.

“We love this beautiful country of ours, just like you. So join us
for a soulful discussion of the war, the way things are, and the
possibilities for peace.”

He’s a patriot. He’ll die for America to ensure our safety and
freedom. Yet the voice beckons him and he moves closer to the
entrance.

On this cold autumn morning, the air is biting and harsh. There
are no other humans outside the café. He believes he is alone. Yet
the ghosts watch him.

Then, suddenly, a fog develops, enclosing him in a preternatural
atmosphere of zero visibility.

“Let’s discuss the facts,” the disembodied voice cries out, penetrating
the fog. “I’m a soldier too.”

Inside the eerie circle of mist, he hesitates.

“Come in out of the cold,” the voice commands, appealing to old fashioned
pragmatism.

He has questions. And he’s curious.

“We’re a place to talk.”

He enters the Different Drummer Internet Café in Watertown , N.Y. , near Fort
Drum and the 10th Mountain Division, seeking the phantom voice that has
beckoned him. It belongs to a veteran, a woman with a magical smile.

“Welcome, soldier.”

He looks quizzically at her, his fugitive mind already drifting off to the wars
he’s fought and to the young soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division who will
go to Iraq and Afghanistan .

Buried in the deep snow of despair, he emerges from the heavy silence, filled
with fragmentary memories and shards of anguish, and says:

“Hello. I’m a soldier and patriot. But I’ve got questions.”

“We’ve got hot and cold cider, soldier. And a cup of peace, perhaps. Let’s talk.”


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.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

PINOCHET ASSUMES

by Bill Costley


Gen. Augusto Pinochet (91) assumes
full political - though not explicitly legal -
responsibility for crimes of his regime.

"Today, nearing the end of my days,
I want to say, I must say, I will say
I harbour no rancour against anybody,
I love my Fatherland above all &
I take political responsibility
for everything that was done
which had no other goal
than making Chile greater
& avoiding its disintegration.”

imagining himself borne into Heaven
by Chilean Jesuit-baroque angels
in white Chilean Navy uniforms,
chanting his baptismal name.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco chapter of the National Writers Union. His epic-in-progress The Cheni@d appears here on The New Verse News.

Monday, December 04, 2006

TWISTED PRETZEL LOGIC

by Charles Frederickson


Crimes against humanity legal reserve
Set aside moth-eaten security blanket
Shabby morals corrupted weevil ethics
Fallen Star Chamber black hellholes

Judgmental cases of double indemnity
Twice face value accidental demise
Welfare state bordering on bankruptcy
Tight squeeze craving bear hug

Unconscionable atrocities in denial debauchery
Monstrously unconventional dereliction of duty
Separating innocent from illicit motives
Lame excuses sorry about that

For all the wrong reasons
Good war bad peace do-or-dichotomies
Uncivil rights contentious democrazy bones
Hollow marrow transplants bullyrag intimidation

Praying to whatever God answers
Thou shalt not beheld accountable
Murder of crows mortal sins
Robbing soul of sanctified grace

Vultures nit-picking vulnerable carnal flesh
Tenderized values bloody excess standards
Never underestimate power of Fear
Meek naïve will inherit zilch


Dr. Charles Frederickson is a Swedish/American/Thai impassioned observer, daring experimentalist and progressive visionary who has wandered intrepidly through 206 countries, an original sketch and poem for each presented on http://www.imagesof.8k.com. A member of World Poets Society, based in Greece, his unique poetic style has been featured in: Ascent Aspirations, Auckland Poetry, Blind Man’s Rainbow, Both Sides Now, Caveat Lector, Cordite Poetry Review, Dance to Death, Flutter Magazine, Greatworks, Green Dove, Indite Circle, International Poet, Listen & Be Heard, Living Poets, Madpoetry, Melange, Newtopia, Peace Not War Japan, Planet Authority, Poetry Canada, Poetry of Scotland, Poets for Peace, Poetry Superhighway, Pyramid, Sz, T-Zero, Ygdrasil, Ya’Sou! and Zafusy.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A CONFIDENTIAL LEAK FROM RUMSFELD’S DAMNED SOUL

by James Penha


“Suddenly round the corner of the house a group of men appeared, as though they had come up from the ground.” --Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


I’m--my solid geometry trembles now--
not so certain it will prevail,
primeval but not eternal;
prime mover removed.

One more dead divinity.

Its headless people walk. They have always smelled their future
in themselves, heaps of oil and sand,

and they will have it,

shores and borders,
stockpiles and wells,
mines and monuments.

We sucked off the head like maggots
for this!
the scraps of our vision fouled
by monsters
enemies of our perfumed world.

The horror,
the horror.


James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

THE WIDOW IN THE NEW YORK TIMES WONDERS HOW SHE WILL FEED HER CHILDREN

by Liz Dolan


Ads for black and white
Chanel pumps,$575; a Coach
patchwork handbag, $428, beneath her photo.
Like a spider her black abaya
slips tendrils around
her nine daughters yawning and curling
at her feet, her husband and sons
Falah and Salah all shot. Ali,12,
too tired to work slept in the bed
of the truck they had to push
to start, two bullets in his hairless chest.
"I made them breakfast, rice and sauce,"
she said, keening, brushing her hands across
her face. "Saw the washing
of their bodies. So handsome,
so handsome...."


A Pushcart nominee in fiction and poetry, Liz Dolan has also received a poetry fellowship from the Delaware Division of the Arts. Liz has published poems, memoir and short stories in New Delta Review, Rattle, Harpweaver, Mudlark, and Natural Bridge, among others. She has also been published in the following anthologies: The Farmer’s Daughter, Wicked Alice, Philadelphia Stories and the upcoming Delaware Anthology. Liz was recently accepted as an associate artist in residence with Sharon Olds at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and invited to become a member of the poetry board of Philadelphia Stories.

Friday, December 01, 2006

IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES

by Jacqueline Kudler


It began with a blow job in the Oval Office,
a hand-delivered gift to Rove Incorporated
It began with the annointing of the boy king,
Florida proffered on a silver platter

A hand-delivered gift to Rove Incorporated,
it began with a blow from the highest bench—
Florida proffered on a silver platter.
It began with bodies falling through the doomed
         blue air of an Autumn morning.

It began with a blow from the highest bench--
justice gagged, hooded, wired to the General Terror.
It began with bodies falling through the doomed
         blue air of an Autumn morning.
Huddled in half-lit rooms, we watched

justice gagged, hooded, wired to the General Terror--
the fabric of our freedom ripped, unraveled.
Huddled in half-lit rooms, we watched
bombs braying out a shameless 4th of July over Baghdad.

The fabric of our freedom ripped, unraveled—
did no one cry out when the first thread was severed?
Bombs braying out a shameless 4th of July over Baghdad,
the American Dream borne home in a flag-draped coffin.

Did no one cry out when the first thread was severed?
It began with the annointing of the boy king.
The American Dream borne home in a flag-draped coffin
began with a blow job in the Oval Office.


Jacqueline Kudler lives in Sausalito, California and teaches classes in memoir writing and literature at the College of Marin in Kentfield. She serves as an advisory director on the board of Marin Poetry Center. Her poems have appeared in numerous reviews, magazines, and anthologies. Her full length poetry collection, Sacred Precinct, was published by Sixteen Rivers Press, San Francisco, in 2003. She was awarded the Marin Arts Council Board Award in 2005 for “an exceptional body of work over a period of time,” and her “outstanding commitment to the literary arts.”