Guidelines



Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com. No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

SURGE

by David Plumb


What light went out in the sand
Is this the dance we signed up for
I mean Jesus Christ I am not
Nor can I get the smirk off the President's craw
You just know there’s a car on the back lot
With a bad muffler
Such a deal he says
Somewhere between the words Terror
Democracy and Freedom
But what about the kid?
Not old enough to vote
And his leg is in the slop
Across the street from an oil well
It’s one of those days
In this case the day before Christmas
Well Santa was Turkish, then German
And now he’s a blow up doll
And some guy on camera is punching
The ten foot balloon that is him
So what if she gets a little chemo
Or Trump has weird hair, or Ms Dip
Showed a breast or unzipped
I mean what a cross we schlepp
Who the hell is watching the sheep
Take a little walk to cemetery
Leave flowers, a picture
Of what was him
Feel his innocence, his determination
The uniform, the infinity
Listen to the grass grow
See a gun, a kiss
A gift of sunlight
The other side of the moon


David Plumb’s latest fiction book is A Slight Change in the Weather. He has worked as a paramedic, a cab driver, a, cook and tour guide. A long time San Francisco writer, he now lives in South Florida . Will Rogers said, “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” Plumb says, “It depends on the parrot.”

THE BIG C

by George Held


John Wayne called it, knowing
He’d smoked too many coffin nails
But still believing he could fight it,
Like an Apache, to the death.

Today doctors and statistics confirm
When The Big C has reached
The lungs or liver, it won’t be
Long till it causes death.

This is a tough concept
For a nation at war
With the truth about death,
A nation that hides the coffins

Coming home from Iraq ,
That cancels plays and censors
Stories and photos that would bring
Home the truth of death

As though what’s natural and real
Was more frightening than horror
Movies in which the most grisly
Kinds of death occur over and over.

In Wayne ’s day euphemism was rank,
“A long illness” subbing for “colon c-----”
When Frank’s father lay silent as a tumor,
On morphine in his death bed,

His illness a word barely whispered
As if it could spread by word
Of mouth. Now The Big C fills
Headlines as it kills both a candidate’s

Wife and one of the President’s men,
Just as—say it!—cancer killed my mother.
She learned we all die alone, just as we
Must learn to face that death-sentence life.


George Held contributes regularly to The New Verse News. He lives in Greenwich Village, brooding on war, disease, and aging.

Friday, March 30, 2007

AT STATEVILLE

by Joanne Lowery


The sociology class goes on a field trip
to the prison to see what happens to those
who step outside society’s norms.

Built in 1929 for 1500, 3000 live there
because our century has so many
bad people that need to be punished.

The students love the death chambers.
Some sit in the electric chair and giggle.
Others prefer the lethal injection room

where Gacy stopped being Gacy.
The instructor tells them this is not Six Flags.
He upbraids them with accusations of being twisted.

They snarl back. Death is interesting.
They get to go home, stopping at McDonald’s.
They have stories to tell their friends
and are closer to getting three more credits.


Joanne Lowery’s poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including Birmingham Poetry Review, 5 AM, Passages North, Atlanta Review, and Poetry East. Her chapbook Diorama was the winner of the Poems & Plays 2006 Tennessee Chapbook Prize. She lives in Michigan.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

KALAT

by Aaron O. Gillego


Mama says that Filipinos only make
the news when they’re making
a mess: Nag ka-kalat lang sila!

Tingna’an mo sila! Look at them! she says
as we watch 60 Minutes.
“Filipinos call for President Arroyo’s Resignation”

the marquee says at the bottom
of the screen as the camera pans across
people on EDSA holding up signs

“Gloriagate!”
“Gloria MACAPAL Arroyo!”
“Impeach GMA!”

Wala silang ginagawa.
They have nothing else to do.
Tingna’an mo! Look!

And I think about just the handful
of occasions when Filipinos were
mentioned by Peter Jennings

or made a splash across the NYT:
Andrew Cunanan, Imelda
Imelda Imelda…and her shoes

ten thousand pairs neatly stacked
in the Palace while ten thousand
islands are torn apart by war.

Philippines Wins Little League
World Series--
only to be taken away in disgrace

when other Pinoys ratted out
some of the teammates who were too
old or not from the locale.

Kalat nang kalat.
So much man-made mess already that when a typhoon
causes mudslides to bury ten thousand

people, it’s not news-
worthy enough
to make the headlines.


Aaron O. Gillego, 27, graduated summa cum laude (B.A. in English) from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, where he was a recipient of the Corazon C. Aquino Scholarship. He received a fellowship to finish his M.F.A. in Creative Writing (May 2007) at the University of Miami. He resides in Miami Beach, FL and teaches high school English at Toras Emes Academy, where he has worked for four years.

The CHENI@D:
Volume Seven

by Bill Costley



Book LXXIII: CHENEY Under @ Cloud

[newspoem]

CHENEY stands under a massing cloud
descending from the banner of TIME’s
cover of March 19, 2007 in a black suit
hands joined demurely, mouth, as ever,
a compressed flatline. To his R, our L,
a bolded caption calls out his status:
The Verdict on CHENEY: "Libby was
convicted, but it’s the Vice President
who is under a cloud. How CHENEY’s
take-no-prisoners style has made him
one of Bush’s biggest liabilities." Cry,
cloud, drench him in earned obloquy.


Book LXXIV: CHENEY’s Absent


CHENEY's absent as McCain kicks-off
at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, finessing
his POW yrs: "34 yrs ago I came home from
an extended period abroad. I'm running to
protect this country against its enemies abroad,"
lambasting somebodies for "platitudes, not ideas,
insults, not ideas. Americans want ideas. I'll
challenge the American people to reject any
sound-bites that have failed us in the past."
(Wuzzat writ-by CHENEY's best bite-master?)


Book LXXV: CHENEY Ventriloquizing Giuliani

“Mayor Giuliani has a Big Problem – he sounds
like Dick CHENEY!” Howard Dean tells MSNBC;
Keith Olbermann: "A survivor of 9/11 threatens
voters with a new 9/11 if they don't vote
for him " & says ‘America will be safer w/a
Republican president & I mean me.’ "This is
terrorism dressed-up as counter-terrorism.
Do a...Robespierre, but don’t be surprised
Americans are sick & tired of you." Is in-
visible CHENEY ventriloquizing Giuliani?


Book LXXVI: CHENEY "Deeply saddened"

[newspoem]

WASHINGTON (CNN)


Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff
to VPOTUS Dick CHENEY, was sentenced Tuesday
to 30 months in prison for lying to investigators
looking into the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

He also was fined $250,000.
Libby was convicted March 6 of 4 counts in a 5-count
indictment alleging perjury, obstruction of justice
& making false statements to FBI investigators.

He plans to appeal the verdict.

CHENEY released a "deeply saddened" statement
& he hopes that his appeal
will "return
a final result consistent with what we know
of this fine man

who has served tirelessly & with great distinction
in the State & Defense departments
& in the White House.

I
have always considered him to be a man
of the highest intellect,
judgment & personal integrity --
a man fully committed
to protecting the vital security interests of the United States &
its citizens."


Book LXXVII: VPOTUS CHENEY Exempts His Office

[newspoem]
[U.S. House of Reps. Comm. on Oversight & Reform]


The Oversight Committee has learned
that over the objections of the National Archives,
VPOTUS CHENEY exempted his office
from the POTUS’ order that establishes
government-wide procedures for safeguarding
classified national security information.
VPOTUS CHENEY asserts that his office is not
an "entity within the executive branch."

As described in a letter
from Chairman Waxman to the VPOTUS,
the National Archives protested the VPOTUS position
in letters written in Jun. & Aug. 2006.
When these letters were ignored,

the National Archives wrote in Jan. 2007
to AG Alberto Gonzales
to seek a resolution of the impasse.

The VPOTUS' staff responded
by seeking to abolish the agency
within the Archives (that is) responsible for
implementing the POTUS' executive order.

In his letter to VPOTUS CHENEY, Waxman waxes:
"I question both the legality
& wisdom of your actions. ...
[I]t would appear particularly irresponsible to give an office
with your history of security breaches an exemption
from the safeguards that apply to all other
executive branch officials."


Book LXXVIII: LIBER@TING LIBBY
A warning4 the4th

What does it take to liberate a Libby?
The right man, putting the right word
into the right man’s ear, at the right time,
on Executive Rights for the right guys,
Dick CHENEY, sui generis, excepted,
pleading he’s not really an executive.
What is he, really? Why, just by asking
you’re violating his inexecutive priviliges.
If I were you, I’d watch what I was doing.
But I’m not you, I’m just warning you.


Book LXXIX: CHENEY P@cem@ker B@ttery Repl@ced

[newspoem
edited from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/6920722.stm]

[George Washington University Hospital (Washington D.C)]


US VPOTUS Dick CHENEY has had minor surgery
to replace the battery that powers a heart
pacemaker (defibrilator) monitoring &
maintaining his heartbeat.

During his June physical check-up it
was functioning properly &
he showed no signs of new coronary
blockages,
but last month, his doctors discovered
its battery was finally running low.
CHENEY, 66,

has had 4 heart attacks, quadruple bypass surgery operations to clear blocked arteries,
& operations to clear blood clots in his knees; in March he started taking
blood-thinning medicine
to treat another deadly blood clot in his lower left leg.


Book LXXX: CHENEY, Mr. Freeze

An invisible frost-line descends over CHENEY’s
Beltway-life on Frontline’s “Cheney’s Law” as
first he serves, then runs Republican presidents
by any & all stratagems; he ages, hardens into
the Mr. Freeze of the fridge of Republican power.


Book LXXXI: CHENEY submits himself

Once again, CHENEY submits himself
to the nano-surgeons of Walter Reed,
thinking: “I’m a mound of meat, a Man.”
He’s more than that, but when down,
Dubya’s up, doing his direst bidding;
or is he? CHENEY fears he isn't now:
“How the f*ck did Dubya slip my grasp?”
Dubya laffs behind the hospital curtain,
thinking of all he’s done on his own:
ride his bike, cut brush, drink beer.


Book LXXXII: CHENEY Lights Up An Obama-cigar

CHENEY lights up an Obama-cigar:
“S’been a g.d. while since I cracked
‘coon Obama’s my cousin 8th-removed.
‘S’it time to pitch that nigger a ball? No,
Wait! That’ll only bail Hillary out, now.
I’ll say she’s my cousin 7th-removed!
That’ll frost her Clintonista cookies!
Float it in time for the SC primary;
incest’s a no-no inside the Beltway,
but plays the balls in the boondocks!”


Book LXXXIII: CHENEY & McCain Vowed

Mar 17, 2008 7:44 AM (1 day ago)
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, AP


[Newspoem] (ed. by BC)


CHENEY & McCain vowed
in mtgs with Iraq's prime minister
Mon. that the U.S. would maintain
long-term military presence in Iraq
until al-Qaida is defeated there.

Explosions went off near the heavily fortified Green
Zone
shortly after CHENEY arrived. Helicopter gunships
circled
central Baghdad, but no details...immediately
available.

Presumptive [R] candidate for president, McCain,
linked his political future to military success in
Iraq,
& met with Iraqi P.M. Nouri al-Maliki who began
separate talks with VPOTUS CHENEY who discussed
ongoing negotiations over a long-term security
agreement
to would replace the U.N. mandate for foreign troops
set to expire by end of year.

Al-Maliki: "...relations between the 2
countries...future & agreement..
security...development of the economy & reconstruction
& terrorism."

McCain" "important to maintain U.S. commitment in
Iraq, clear al-Qaida from its last urban stronghold:
Mosul, 225 miles NW of Baghdad. We recognize al-Qaida
is on the run, but not defeated; continues to pose a
great threat to security & very existence of Iraq as a
democracy...still a lot more of work 2B done."

McCain arrived in Iraq on Sunday to discuss with the
Shiite leader need for progress on political reforms,
incl. laws on holding provincial elections & equitable
distribution of Iraq's oil riches.

CHENEY arrived at Baghdad International Airport for his
3rd trip to Iraq where 160K American troops are
deployed & the U.S. death toll is nearing 4,000.

Violence dropped throughout the capital with influx
30,000+ additional U.S. soldiers & a Sunni revolt
against al-Qaida & a cease-fire by radical Shiite
cleric al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.U.S. military says
attacks
have fallen by about 60% since last February.

McCain, senior [R] on the Sen. Armed Services
Committee,
accompanied Sens. Joe Lieberman, [I], & Lindsey Graham
[R] 2 top supporters of his presidential ambitions.
Weeklong trip will take McCain to Israel, Britain &
France.

Police found bodies of 3 members of a U.S.-allied
group fighting al-Qaida in Udaim, 70 miles n. of
Baghdad. Members of the mostly Sunni groups
increasingly targeted by suspected al-Qaida members to
derail recent security gains.

Bomb in a parked car in Baghdad's central Karradah
neighborhood killed 3 civilian bystanders & wounded 9;
separate roadside bomb in eastern Baghdad killed 1 &
wounded 3 others.

[Associated Press writers Bushra Juhi & Sinan
Salaheddin contributed to this report.]



Book LXXXIV: CHENEY Tour--Iran War Rumors

by Tom Coghlan, Kabul, Friday, March 21, 2008 (The
Telegraph/UK)

[newspoem] (ed. by Bill Costley)


Dick CHENEY, VPOTUS-US,
triggered speculation that he
has been using a tour of the Middle East
to prepare Iran’s neighbours
for a possible war with Tehran.

CHENEY’s 9-day tour included stops
in Turkey, the Gulf &Afghanistan,
insisting that Iran must not be
allowed to develop nuclear weapons:

“The important thing to keep in mind
is the objective that we share
with many of our friends in the region:
that a nuclear-armed Iran
would be very destabilising for the entire area,”
Mr CHENEY told ABC News before arriving
in Kabul, Afghan capital, after visiting Oman.

Challenged on the recent
National Intelligence Estimate by US intelligence
officials,
which concluded that Iran’s nuclear weapons programme
stopped in late 2003
because of international pressure, Mr CHENEY said:

“What it says is that they have definitely had in the
past
a programme to develop a nuclear warhead
–[but] that it would appear that they stopped
that weaponisation process in 2003. [Nontheless,]
We don’t know whether or not they’ve restarted [it.
but]
What we do know is that they had then, & have now,
a process by which they’re trying to enrich uranium,
which is the key obstacle they’ve got to overcome
in order to have a nuclear weapon. [We now know]
They’ve been working at it for years.” [da capo]

A senior aide to Mr CHENEY was forced to deny
that the 9-day trip to Turkey & the Middle East
was part of a strategy by the VPOTUS-US
to build support for military action against Iran.

Asked by journalists travelling on Mr CHENEY’s plane
about the VPOTUS-US’s repeated comments
about Iran during his tour, CHENEY’s aide said:
“That’s not what these discussions are about.”

The official [then] acknowledged Mr CHENEY’s talks
with the Oman government focused on “the concerns
we have about the full range of their [Iran’s]
activities”.

These included the country’s links
to the radical Hamas authorities in Gaza
& Washington’s belief that Iran has become
the dominant power in Lebanon
through its sponsorship of Hizbollah.

General Dan McNeill, US commander
of Nato forces in Afghanistan,
told The Daily Telegraph in Sept.:
Advanced weapons
smuggled across the Iran border
to the Taliban
could only have come with the complicity
of the Iranian government
or elements within its security services.



Click here for Book LXXXV.


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

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

GULAG

by Katherine West


Archipelago
Of prisons

Empty
Museums

Now

Where the water
Level
Is falling

At your feet
At the Bering Strait

Where you can walk
Out of
Siberian
Labor camps

And live

As the dripping
Basements
Expand

Dungeons

Blooming as the ocean
Drains

Black dahlia
Black mush-rooms
Blooming

Where no sun shines

Where you don’t live

Now

You shake my hand and
Make plans
Which are disappeared
Blindfolded and
Handcuffed
In the night

Boxcarred
Unloaded and
Put to work

In the black garden

Where no sun shines

Where you don’t live

Now


Katherine West is a poet presently living in northern Colorado and teaching Creative Writing at the local community college, museum, and Naropa University, which is in nearby Boulder, Colorado.

ARCTIC IDOLS: A POLAR BEAR DIALOGUE

by Mark Brazaitis


“What do we do?”

“What do you mean?”

“What do we do to let them know we’re about to drown
because of them?”

“We shout, ‘Help.’”

“Help?”

“Yes, ‘Help.’ We shout help until they…well…until they
help us. They have ears.”

“I don’t think so.”

“What do you mean? I’ve seen their ears. Of course,
they’re on the small side, and my cousin Fred told me
they taste good only when cooked in sea bass oil,
but…”

“I mean, it’s been done. Unsuccessfully.”

“When?”

“When hasn’t it? Humans hear the word every day from
their own kind. They’ve heard it in the Sudan. They’ve
heard it in New Orleans. They’ve heard it in Tibet.
Whenever there’s a life-threatening crisis—a natural
disaster, an incurable disease, a genocide, it’s
always, ‘Help, help, help.’ Humans are tired of
hearing the word spoken.”

“So what do we say?”

“We don’t say anything.”

“We don’t? We keep quiet like a bunch of penguin
eggs?”

“No, we sing.”

“We sing? What do we sing?”

“We sing, ‘Help.’”

“We do?”

“One of us does, anyway. And we sing it on the show
all the humans watch—the American humans,
anyway—American Icicle. American Idleness. American
Idolatry. Whatever it’s called. Twenty-six million
Americans a week watch it.”

“So we sing, ‘Help, help, help—we’re losing our ice
and we have no place to sit, to stand, to sleep. So
help, help, help.’”

“No, we sing the song the way it was written and trust
in their intelligence to comprehend its relevance to
our situation and their own impending environmental
calamity.”

“Wouldn’t the meaning go right over their heads? They
might think we were only Beatles’ impersonators, the
polar-bear equivalent of the Monkees.”

“You have a point. Maybe we should get a football team
together instead. Humans love football. And the NFL
has been talking about having an international
franchise. Why not in the Arctic? This would bring
publicity to our cause.”

“Or maybe we could become the icon of the most famous
soft-drink manufacturer in the world.”

“Been there, slurped down that. And what do we have to
show for it except for a couple of red-and-white beach
balls and a caffeine addiction?”

“Better start warming up your voice.”

“‘Help, you know I need somebody.’”

“Sing it, bear.”

“‘Help, not just anybody.’”

“That’s right!”

“‘Help, you know I need someone.’”

“Let it all out!”

“‘HEEEELLLLLLPPPP!’”


Mark Brazaitis is the author of three books of fiction, including The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award, and An American Affairs: Stories, winner of the 2004 George Garrett Fiction Prize.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

ROLL 'EM

by Phyllis Wax


The man who doesn't read a newspaper
can't visualize children cringing
at the sound of engines overhead or gunfire
in the street. It never crosses his mind
that people will hate soldiers
if they kick in their doors, ransack their homes.
These are not images his mind can capture.

This is only a movie and
he's the director in a white ten-gallon hat.
War is theoretical and clean:
black hats and white hats.
No messy pools of red.


Phyllis Wax keeps up with the news in Milwaukee, Wisconsin when she is not sailing up the Niger on her way to Timbuktu or trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Her poem "Fatalities in Iraq: 2nd Edition" appears in the recently released anthology on peace and justice, Out of Line.

TEXAS LEGISLATOR PROPOSES $500 TO STOP ABORTIONS

by Rochelle Ratner


That's right, ladies. Step right up here and claim your money. Five hundred dollars to each and every woman who has the baby then gives it up for adoption, to be paid within thirty days of the baby's birth. Hell, they'll even throw in free medical costs, and that doesn't mean shipping girls off to Walter Reed. Scout's honor. But if that fifteen-year-old impregnated by her uncle decides to keep the baby, deal's off. If that twenty-year-old mother of six decides she can't give this one up either, deal's off. There are infertile women with their arms already trapped in a rocking motion. Registered voters. Republicans. There were 75,000 abortions in Texas last year. Our president's home state. Our former president's home state. Lyndon Johnson's home state. The state where future presidents might be aborted. If they can convince just five percent of the women to go through with their pregnancies, that would save 3,000 lives. Almost as many soldiers as have died fighting in Iraq. Or been caught in Baghdad terrorist attacks. Or struck by Friendly Fire.


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, March 26, 2007

PRACTICE LEAGUE

by Just Kibbe


Bowling becomes us / we look the part
not half as old as we say we are
diseased obese & pleased to fool
around with fate and numbered lanes.
In fine soled shoes with wrists well braced
we face our pyramidly foe and stoop
or bow, then sweep our arm
                                                       first down
then up and back again to chase those pins
and splatter them.
                                   Each bowler is a soldier
with war face crying out / in victory
much like defeat.
                                   The real foe’s not in front of us.
It lurks in minds that mind too well
that think when thought is not a cure.
Those sounds are so inhuman
when they fail or fall or foul out
–– our face
contorts in shame: it does look good
to ridicule our pains
                                         before our teammates can.
Bowling becomes us / America is proud.
Our loyalty is to our balls and brand of beer
that’s cheap and tastes not like our lives.
With finger food and cigarettes
we feed the fight / the hype avenged
a piece of hope, a freedom gained.
Each soldier finds a place to stand
a chance to right the wrongs we’ve done
ourselves, those pins, each vacant night.
With two or three, the argument / It’s on
to finger, fist or palm our balls
off-center though they be / our barely legal
league minds blur of splits & sleepers, hooks & straights
a nudge, a wink & pink flamingo luck or love
could all end / without a perfect score.
To strike out . . . is a good thing
with thirty points a frame, and every game a loss
unless you rag & polish, dust & prey
some excuse – a ball, too drunk, the wet or dry
lane of the night – is conjured from the live décor
and leaves us down, not out, but hating
bowling pins, each Thursday night, the chants
You suck. I rock. It’s only practice league.


Just Kibbe believes in the power of words to transform lives. Words are not just concepts. They are cows to be milked, earth to be mined and cars to be driven around the world to any number of destinations. He is 29, lives in Tujunga and works as the editor for a local, weekly news magazine.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

POEM ON BLUE AFTER READING RILKE AND THE DAILY NEWS

by Bonnie Naradzay


Blue letter paper, the shadowy blue
of Egyptian hieroglyphs, a folding

of hands. October morning in Paris –
complete, supportless blue.

In Van Gogh, the self-contained
blue. Listening and thunderstorm

blue in Cezanne, bourgeois cotton,
opaque bluish white, greenish blue.

Cobalt patterns, certain tones,
light cloudy bluishness, heavy

dark-blue stripe, this rolling of red
into blue, hydrangea petals, waxy

blue of Pompeiian wall paintings,
densely quilted blue, heavenly

morning glory, Nabokov’s butterfly,
ice-blue gloves of the riot-armed

INS, worn to frisk immigrants caught
working at Swift meat-packing plants.

Prison-issued denim of the inmates
replacing them, paid 60 cents a day.

Crying the blues. Slope of curved hills
full of revolt, Blue, Blue, Blue.


Bonnie Naradzay has a poem in the February 7, 2007 issue of JAMA, a poem in the Spring 2007 issue of SLAB, and poems in numerous online journals. She is a student in the Stonecoast MFA program and seeks signs of hope for this dark planet.

Friday, March 23, 2007

ILLEGAL BORDER CROSSER

by Michael Graves


In my own land,
Let me be
As an illegal border crosser,
A stranger dispossessed
Of kith and kin
Beneath the vast night sky
And metal barbs of shaky fences,
Afraid of dogs and lights
And hard faced officers
In cars and trucks.
Let my wet flesh gleam
Beneath the moon
As I emerge
Upon the dreamed-of bank
To face the frightening expanse
Of promised land.

I move as stealthily
As thieves and secret weapons
Of the sky among the crowded cities
Of my nation state.
Insubstantial and anonymous, a wraith
Beneath the notice
Of my solid fellow citizens
Who know I work the jobs
They can or would disdain.
I am a smuggler,
My self is contraband.

A menial seeker of my destiny,
I flee oppressed or not
In my conflicted loyalties
An origin I can’t escape
And honor in my movement forward.

I can be seen
In the shape of loiterers
Who linger on the corners
Of our neighborhoods
Waiting for the vehicles
That come to offer work

But I would be invisible
Within this mighty Babylon
A shadow on the sunlit walls
In public plazas uninhabited
When millions are inside
Their homes or at their desks.
I love the empty neighborhoods of night
The buzzing thrumming city
When it slows
And skeleton crews
And revelers or solitary citizens
Possess the streets
As streams of traffic flows
And neon glows
I move most freely then
Aware I am alive
And carry worlds within.


Michael Graves is a widely published poet and has a full-length collection Adam and Cain (Black Buzzard, 2006) nominated for a PEN Osterweil Award. Graves was the recipient of a substantial grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation in 2004.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

NEWFANEGLED

by Robert Emmett

Last winter the town of Newfane, Vermont became one the first in the country to pass a resolution against the un-American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Still standing up for principles in which they believe, residents of Newfane and other Vermont towns recently passed a resolution urging impeachment of the President.

A Boston paper quoted angry tourists threatening to take their money elsewhere.

maybe they got their wires crossed
the air sizzling with words
down here below
just so much static
bouncing off those landlocked peaks

maybe they’re too few and scattered
no critical mass of uncritical thinking
just do-it-yourself small-towners
and some old farmers
still mucking out stalls by hand
blowing steam across the rims of their
coffee mugs in the town hall
prob’ly still in their overalls

why can’t they be like us reg’lar folks
and go along to get along
follow all the orders from headquarters
don’t go running anything up the flagpole
just salute salute salute
then go shopping or something
and quit asking so damn many questions

tell you what
we’ll use the power of the penny
to bend their fancy talk to our will
their fine whitewashed fences
and pretty steeples can all go to hell
our by-god megaphones of glory
will show you how a 30% dis-
count really works

so watch us carefully now
nothing up our sleeve
we can do this even
steeped in self-induced sleep
minds closed to within a fare-thee-well
of a pig’s pucker hole
unfurl that
for what we say
the republic now stands


Robert Emmett tries to fathom the mind of the 30% and how they hold so much sway so uncritically from the frontwoods of Michigan where March is roaring.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

THE DENTIST

by Rochelle Ratner


A dentist from East Sussex has been erased from the Dentists Register after he pulled out an 87-year-old grandmother's teeth without anaesthetic "to teach her a lesson."
--BBC News, January 12, 2007.


The mother clips this article from the paper and has it blown up
and frames it in a bright pink frame and puts it on the wall in her
younger daughter's room. And she says this is what happens to
little girls who fake sore throats when they're supposed to go to the
dentist, who rest their tongues on their braces and break them then
tell the dentist to go ahead and pull them off, they don't care if
their teeth are straight or not and they never want to get married.
But the little girl, ten and small for her age, knows this is one more
fairy tale. From the Bright Pink Fairy Book, probably.


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.

HOMELESSMESS

by Charles Frederickson


Two million Iraqis have already
     Fled their once proud nativity
          Another two million internally displaced
               Rejects needing acceptance anywhere else

Affordable options no longer are
     Bloody loan sharks nest eggs
          Sucked dry safes cracked open
               Orphaned chicks gone to seed

Beheaded dysfunctional family heritage devalued
     Slit throats bullet-ridden neighborhoodlum skullduggery
          Humanure garbage dump ghosts dispossessed
               Tortured cadavers rotten trash stench

Rusty padlocked doorjambs coming unhinged
     Barbed promise Watergates outpouring restraint
          Unwanted posters live wire dead-ends
               Borderline hypocritical double-crossing No Entry

Labeled condemnable axes of we-evil
     Syria Iran Jordan absorbing drain-off
          Steely sieve leaking spaghetti western
               Good bad ugly un-American immorality

US versus everybody else myopia
     Not in my Pleasantville backyard
          Weedy grassroots welcome mat yanked
               Unsettling Lady Liberty’s torch snuffed

Innocent alien survivors plead guilty
     In search of freedom happier
          Future for reunited ever-loving family
               Nowhere should be off limits


Dr. Charles Frederickson is a Swedish-American-Thai pragmatic optimist, idealistic visionary and heretical believer who has wandered intrepidly through 206 countries, an original sketch and poem for each presented on http://www.imagesof.8k.com/. This maverick e-gadfly is a member of World Poets Society, based in Greece, with 200+ poetry publication credits on 6 continents, such as: angelfire, Ascent Aspirations, Auckland Poetry, bc supernet, Blind Man’s Rainbow, Both Sides Now, Caveat Lector, Cordite Poetry Review, Dance to Death, Decanto, Eclipse, Flutter Magazine, Greatworks, Green Dove, Indite Circle, International Poet, Listen & Be Heard, Living Poets, Madpoetry, Melange, Newtopia, Planet Authority, Poetisphere, Poetry Canada, Poetry of Scotland, Poetry Stop, Poets for Peace, Poetry Superhighway, Pyramid, Sage of Consciousness, Stellar Showcase, Subtle Tea, Sz, The Smoking Poet, T-zero, Ya’Sou! Ygdrasil, Zafusy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

ANTIWAR MARCH, MANHATTAN, 18 MARCH 2007

by George Held


My wife sleeps on the couch,
Fagged out from late nights at work all week
And entertaining out-of-town friends
Last night and marching in the antiwar
Demo this afternoon on a sunny winter’s
Day. We showed up because we knew
We’d never be as tired as our troops
In Iraq , and because we want them out
Of there. We showed up out of habit
Because we marched in the winter
Of ’03 to try to prevent the war
And in ’05 and ’06 to try to stop the war
And yesterday we showed up, like sheep,
To try again to end the war. We joined aging
Veterans of protest against Vietnam
And the first Gulf War, peacenik
Teachers and students, old Trots
And Socialists, even members
Of the Revolutionary Communist Party,
USA —all of us smelling of must or mothballs,
Needing a haircut or shave, bundled
Up against the late-winter chill,
Barely able to keep the antiwar chants
Going a full minute, hoisting our placards
At a thread of spectators, a few clapping
But most gawking like out-of-towners
At this ragtag spectacle of druids
Performing their vernal rites long
After their religion had obsolesced.
Four years after Shock and Awe
Slammed Baghdad and shook our faith,
Six years after our war leaders were sworn
In, and three months after the Dems took over
Congress and changed not a thing,
We showed up again, our hope as threadbare
As the clothes of the oldest Lefties on parade.



George Held's chapbook W Is for War (Cervena Barva Press, 2006) contains two poems nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

ANOTHER ANNIVERSARY

by Victoria Day


The US Government reminds me a lot of my ex-husband.
        This is not a compliment to either.

Violence is their shared language.
        The desire to control everything, everyone around them invades every fiber of their personalities.
Force, the weapon of the weak, is their weapon of first choice.

Both are Bullies.

Saturated with dangerous power
        and damaged by paranoia.
Acting in ways that they can defend as rational
        but disconnected from the real-life consequences
of their actions,
        they reap unacknowledged tragedies
                and leave their devastations
                        like slug-trails
behind them,
        messes for others to clean up and live with and somehow, survive.

They are men that have no idea
        that compromise, as a concept, requires a movement,
                                a risk,
                                        a sacrifice
from
all
sides.

Nor do they understand that their risk,
        their sacrifice, must
really matter,
must be an honest offering,
        a giving up of something valuable.
Without this knowledge, their gestures of peace, are by their very nature, hollow
                of any truth.

My ex-husband
        And the men who run my government
both seem to live in a mindset, a black or white duality,
        where it is imperative to create the
desperately desired
                 illusion of rightness.
And to balance their world view, they create

                a monster

one who carries the weight
of the responsibility for all
that is wrong
in their world.

Addicted,
        obsessed with their insatiable need for satisfaction,
        willfully forcing themselves into other’s lives,
        irresponsibly consuming the life blood of others,
        over bloated, pompous, selfish and dangerous
        commanding, demanding order and perfection from others
        while willfully failing to take care of their own.

My ex-husband behaves a lot like my government,
        and this morning I wake
        feeling very connected to the people of Iraq.


Victoria Day is a priestess, mother, dancer, creatrix and activist doing her best to work and play in a spot of purple-tinted blue in the middle of a very red state. All that she does is connected with, inspired by and a homage to her deep belief in the Divine and the necessity for peace in our lives.

Monday, March 19, 2007

TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

by David Chorlton


A tree fell while you were sleeping
and it was the last of its kind
in the last plot in which
such a tree can grow. Some birds flew away from it
without knowing where to land
and have not been seen
since the sun cast the tree’s last shadow
like an arm reaching
to grip the earth. And unbeknownst to you
in the night, warships
gathered at the coast of a country
regarded as an ally yesterday and an enemy
today as the first attack begins
in the name of a cause
which seems not to concern you and even
if it did you have been forbidden to object
due to a law that passed at midnight
when you thought you were dreaming.
While you were sleeping
your house was condemned, your assets
were seized, and your clothes were taken away
as evidence of a crime
yet to be identified. The forecast for today
is cool at first, then warmer. No measurable wind.
Good morning.


David Chorlton plans to take poetry to local nature festivals this springtime and hopes to find a way to an audience unused to poetry but aware of the beauty in wildlife. He goes into the Arizona landscape to be refreshed after too much exposure to bad news in the city and teaches a weekly writing class for seniors of all ages in Scottsdale.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A SCANDAL HERE, A SCANDAL THERE

by Chris Vierck


I.

Joe said there's no uranium:
you're talking out your ass.
Dick got wind of it and said,
"Boys we got us a job to do;
go stab that man's
woman
in the back!"

A scandal here, a scandal there,
we've got more scandals
than grandma's got cats!

Tell me, how does feel, Mr. Fibby?
tell me how does it feel, when Dick
buries the the blade in fast,
gives it a turn,
and makes you dance,
a puppet on a stick?

II.

Ohhhh, tell me now, tell me true,
we've gotta support our troops:
shut your mouth you lovers
of Iraq!

We love our boys,
we adore our girls, we love them through and through...
just...never mind, the toxic mold
or the scurrying of fury little
rats.

A scandal here, a scandal there,
we've got more scandals
than Tony Snow's got facts!

III.

Halliburton got our bucks
the US attorneys got the axe,
the whole country's got a wheel
stuck in the track...

Quick, somebody find the wizard!
Dick needs a heart that actually ticks;
Karl needs a soul, not oily black;
Scooter needs more memory
than yer average fish! And W,
our boy W, needs more
fodder boys to curtain
his bloody act.


Chris Vierck is a poet who lives and writes in North Carolina.

AFTER ST. PATRICK’S DAY

by Lee Patton


The green dye's already cast
among plastic beer cups, trashed.
Steel wind lacerates, a lenten
knife slicing all pleasures.
Crows chase robins off branches
barren as paper accords unsigned,
dropped on hungover lovers in the park
who rend remnants of loyalty and regard:
"You've become a vulture, Patrick."
"And you, Megan? A parasite."

The two played Irish last night, lucky,
shamrocked, plucked from contention
into Guinness and joshing and sentiment.
The bar hummed with dancing lephrechauns
and shameless tries at broad brogues
from those Kevins, Mollys, and Seans
whose only Emerald Isle is a green-crepe
aisle at Safeway pitching dyed daisies.
Swilling from the passing pitchers,
innocent of Bloody Sunday, Falls Road, Brit
bombardment, fungal famine, indentures--
they raised mugs and pinched the greenless,
then bore homeward real Irish drunkenness.

Every holiday breeds its afterbirth,
sterile tomorrows--say, March eighteenth.
Like a fertile island waking to hunger,
the day's vector’s lost, its tide out,
its pantries empty, its final treaties sunk.
Pat and Megan prowl the park, ache-headed,
locked in civil combat, when--begorra!--
where clouds abate over the foothills,
skeins of snow sift like trigger fingers
unclenched to sprinkle sugar over the bliss
of a union too sweet for rancor. Across
a border long wired and mined,
they reach to risk a kiss.


Among several sites and quarterlies that have published Lee Patton's work: Country Mouse, Innisfree, The Threepenny Review, The Massachusetts Review, The California Quarterly, and Hawaii-Pacific Review. Among many anthologies: Hawaii-Pacific Review’s Best of Decade, XY-Files, including the title poem in What’s Become of Eden: Poems of Family at Century’s End. Among other literary activities and awards: Finalist the 2001 Lambda Awards for best novel (Nothing Gold Can Stay), 2006 Colorado Authors League short fiction award, The Borderlands Playwrights Prize in 1993 (The Houseguest) and the 1996 Ashland New Playwrights (Orwell in Orlando).

Saturday, March 17, 2007

COMMUNITY SERVICE

by Jan C. Snow


In no way sought, the knowledge that
Anna Nicole Smith was buried in a pink gown
from a pink church in the Bahamas
is slathered on the surface of my brain like margarine.
I did not want or need to but DO know these things.
Standing at my kitchen window
scanning the dirty snow outside

I pour a cup of coffee and wonder how it is
I know about the pink church, I know about
the pink dress and do not as effortlessly know
how many were killed today, how many
bombed, maimed, burned, how many
kidnapped and murdered last week,
how many this month, this year, this war?

I check the front page for a box score
and find the weather. I flick a switch
and stock quotes crawl across the screen
where names of the forever young should be.
I turn a knob and hear the horrible cost - of
Paul McCartney’s divorce -


If this were a charity drive, there would be
a sign on the lawn of city hall with
figures updated every day,
a bar graph, a shaded pie chart or red
rising in a giant thermometer,
red rising as we all give
so generously to the campaign.


Jan C. Snow writes in Lakewood, Ohio, one city west of Cleveland on the Great Lake Erie. She has published widely in a variety of venues and is heard regularly on “Weekend Radio.” Among her recent honors are a Pushcart Prize nomination and an Ohio Poetry Day award.

Friday, March 16, 2007

HIGH TIDES AND MISDEMEANORS

by Jon Wesick


On the jetty waves thunder by, while I search
for an image to hang my understanding on. Awareness
floats with glittering ice crystals in the stratosphere.
Each a unique hexagon frozen from the contrail
of a bomber pregnant with a cargo of ruined bridges,
severed limbs, and bawling orphans. Only the safely dead
escape the rumble of Katyusha rockets and 500-lb bombs.

Who assigns good and evil? And according to whose interests?
The president plays liar’s poker with the Washington press corps,
while minions dispatch cans of brutal aid. “Want Jesus with that?”
Business paints the rainbow gray. If you don’t like it, join the hungry
watching Paris Hilton stub out a cigarette in uneaten cheesecake.

Back in the courtyard of hurt feelings, poet’s words limp in iambs –
drag, step, drag, step, drag, step. How hard it is to sing,
when I must sing of terror. Yet I light candles in sacred dances
cursing the raven to come forward. Eyes soaked in the blood of tears,
I will print no line before its time.


Jon Wesick has a Ph.D. in physics, has practiced Buddhism for over twenty years, and has published over a hundred poems in small press journals such as American Tanka, Anthology Magazine, The Blind Man’s Rainbow, Edgz, The Kaleidoscope Review, Limestone Circle, The Magee Park Anthology, The Publication, Pudding, Sacred Journey, San Diego Writer’s Monthly, Slipstream, Tidepools, Vortex of the Macabre, Zillah, and others. His chapbooks have won honorable mentions twice in the San Diego Book Awards.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

LIBBY IS CANNED

by Robert Emmett


libby is canned!
the crass boot of swift
retribution deflected for a
velvet-slippered toe nudge
expertly applied to his pensionless
butt off-shore account all lawyered-
up con job certified cell-free
libby is canned!
talking head sampled
lip-sync bullshit flushed
out the pipeline fully vetted
spun in the echo chamber
with just enough reverb
to air brush dry side up
libby is canned!
packed tight vacuum
sucked heat treated
steel-processed enclosed
labeled and dosed
for longer shelf life light-
less nutrient content
libby is canned
‘cause nobody said he can’t


Robert Emmett paws through the dry goods and waits for the coming of a better greenery in the melting woods of Michigan.

YOUTH BEFORE DUTY

by Norman Ball


For casting death as something swell,
an elder statesman serves quite well
As for their part, the young excel
at marching headlong into Hell.


Norman Ball is a Virginia-based musician and writer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

DELTA FORCE

by George Held


The Delta Zeta newsletter wants to “put an end
to the media circus that is undermining
the educational experience, and causing
undo emotional stress and damage for all parties.”

That must be the educational experience
that caused the misspelling of “undue”
and the use of “for” for “to” after “damage.”
No, let’s not let the cliché “media circus” do

more damage to the education of Delta Zetes,
who claim they were mistreated when the Times
reported the National had forced the Local
to purge itself of its diversity—the Oriental,

the fat, the black, the ugly, and the drudge
who spends her time studying instead
of putting on makeup and putting out
for the Dekes and Betas. Hey, don’t misjudge

these gals—they just want to be proud of their House.
Who wants to be seen on campus with a loser
instead of a blonde beauty or a bouncy brunette?
Oh, excuse the stereotypes. It’s just the Greeks

have a way of molding frat men in the image
of Adonis and sorority girls as Helen of Troy.
Oh boy! And don’t we pick our friends by the way
they look and dress and walk and talk—as much

like us as possible? And how can diversity
compete with all those hand-in-hand Greek
couples who look like real brothers and sisters?
Now, that’s what I call campus harmony.


George Held publishes widely online and in print. His tenth collection of poems, The Art of Writing and Others, will appear from Finishing Line Press this year. He lives in Greenwich Village with his wife, Cheryl.

PI FANS TO MEET MARCH 14

by Rochelle Ratner


3.14.The sun, the globe, the full moon, the tire, the mandala. It's a world of circles. She learned this in Colonel Clymie's geometry class, her sophomore year of high school, before she felt abandoned by the other students, outcast, weird. She quit school at fifteen. Now she reads of a fifteen year-old girl who can rattle off the first fifty digits, half of what her father can recite, and her father's proud of her. A man recites Pi, 1000 numbers at a time, into a tape recorder, then gives it high and low notes, the rhythms of a Mozart composition. A poet mixes in numbers with lines from Prufrock or The Raven. 3.1415. Just making it from today to tomorrow.


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, March 13, 2007

DUB YA IN DUBAI

by Carol Elizabeth Owens


Halliburton “said it was making the moves [from Texas to Dubai] to position itself better to gain contracts in the oil-rich Middle East.” [CNN.com – Mar. 12, 2007]


a figurehead is lurking as we sleep
but some of us refuse to close our eyes
we contemplate him shadowing the veep
while up for sale our tolls of death arise

with oil incorporated in the east
amidst such profit margins that expand
on winds of war as compromised is peace
& devastation’s raze obtains command

imagine if the white house truly cares
about democracy beyond these shores
or if instead america holds shares
in assets which the target country stores

so let us understand thru common cents
when money moves along lines of defense


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.

IN GUATAMALA CITY TODAY

by Earl J. Wilcox


In the glare of media hype,
Mr. Bush tours a farmers’ market,
touts his program to help aliens
make a life for themselves in America.

In America, at the Piggly Wiggly Supermarket,
the Guatemala produce guy hides
his broken down Honda in the shadows,
where he lives, hardly ready for prime time today.


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.

Monday, March 12, 2007

BLACK IS WHITE, DAY IS NIGHT

by Anne G. Davies


White House definitions of winning
Keep apparatchiks madly spinning:

Blair's withdrawing British forces?
Cheney says: "It's the best of courses.
Deriders may think it indicates stress
But Deciders know it means success
Basra's becoming a haven of peace,
Why else would British troops decrease?
Iraqi units have been trained and burnished
The deadliest weapons have been furnished
Now they can handle their own defense."

The President agrees this makes perfect sense:
"Around Baghdad," he admits, "things are iffy,
And our surge won't fix them in a jiffy
But two or three years are all we need
For the Pax Iraqus to succeed.
Gates, my new Rummy, assents absolutely
(I didn't appoint him to dispute me.)
Condi concurs when I say dross is gold
And tells world leaders what she's been told.
With advisors like these, steady and strong
No way my decisions can ever be wrong."

Honesty is the grimmest fatality
Of an Administration mired in unreality.
If we don't defuse this obsessive warrior
We're going to be infinitely sadder and sorrier.


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.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

SOFTBALL IN BAGHDAD

by Paul Brooke


On the grounds of Saddam's
     largest and most
     impressive palace,
The soldiers divide into teams,
     one softball, one bat,
     three gloves.
Everyone swings easily, no
     homeruns, just liners
     or grounders.
Somewhere a roadside bomb
     explodes. Beyond,
     a sniper waits.
The game drags on, all tied up.
     No one wants to win.
     Inside the palace,
Marble fades, coated
     with plaster dust, desks
     overturned, piss in the fountain.
The men rankle when a shot
     rings out and when one soldier
     bare hands the softball
Near the wall. Still tied.
     Night drops in the 12th.
     "We'll finish it tomorrow."


Paul Brooke lives in Ames, Iowa, where he counts the days until his two younger brothers return from Iraq. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals including The North America Review, Rocky Mountain Review, and Isotrope.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A NEWT IS A SMALL LIZARD-LIKE CREATURE

by SuzAnne C. Cole


[A found poem based on Newt Gingrich’s comments after being asked about having an extramarital affair while leading the charge against President Clinton over Monica Lewinsky, and if that might be considered hypocritical.]



Certainly
at times I’ve fallen short of my own standards.
at times I’ve fallen short of God’s standards,
there were times
when I was praying,
when I was doing wrong things
but
I was still doing them.

I look back on those times as
periods of weakness,
periods I'm not proud of.
I ran the risk of
being deeply embarrassed,
but
the president committed a felony.

I did not render judgment
on another human being;
I drew a line in my mind.
As a leader
of the government
trying to uphold the rule of law
I had no choice
except
to move forward—
you cannot accept perjury
in your highest officials.

“The honest answer is yes.”*

*Newt Gingrich, 3/9/2007


SuzAnne C. Cole
writes from a studio in the woods in the Texas Hill Country and finds herself, a bit to her surprise, becoming more and more liberal as she ages. Perhaps it's thinking about the world her three grandsons and forthcoming granddaughter will inherit. A writer for many years, she's published more than 300 poems, essays, short stories, and plays in a variety of publications from commercial to academic. She was a juried poet at the 2003 and 2005 Houston Poetry fests and a featured poet at the 2004 event.

Friday, March 09, 2007

YES, MY IRAQ

by Robert Anbian


Yes. Hello. How are you? What’s the news?
We don’t have electricity, there are bombings and
shootings, what are you talking about?
Yes. Early this morning. Assassinated. Yes.
These are the fruits of democracy…rubble, tanks,
barbed wire.
No, the bodies are quickly removed.
Take a breath. Slowly. Open your mouth.
People are not going to Friday prayer, afraid of
explosions or arrest.
As for my leg…the doctors cannot do the surgery.
Yes. Helicopters are flying over the city, above the
chaos.
Brother, I recorded everyone in the neighborhood with
chronic disease, everyone too old to walk, the
orphans, the wounded, the maimed, the released
prisoners, the widows.
Excuse me, brother, we recorded them day after
day…they never stopped….
We tried to give everyone something, a bit of food,
medicine, a blanket, or hope, God willing.
Why shouldn’t we help them, even if they are three
hundred or three thousand or three million?
Brother, tell me, do religions preach injustice?
Do they call for killing, raping, and abusing other
people?
I tell you, brother, my leg hurts but my heart hurts
worse.
My leg turns gray but my heart turns black.
My brain is always pounding.
Don’t listen to the news reports, brother.
Don’t listen to the exiles in Amman or New York,
or to the people with too much money.
The inhabitants of Falluja are suffering shortages of
drinking water, food, medicine.
The American Army forbids entry.
Nobody sees, nobody hears.
Falluja, Ramadi, only a short time ago the Americans
never heard of them,
now they must possess them at all costs.
Our doctors were bombed out the first day.
Over 100,000 people fled to Amiriyya.
They brought with them the sick and wounded,
what belongings they could carry.
Tell me, brother, when can I ask George Bush why he
sent soldiers all this way to kill Iraqis and destroy
their homes?
Saddam Hussein killed many Iraqis,
so the Americans say, kill more Iraqis!
The foreign jihadis kill Iraqis,
so the Americans say, kill more Iraqis!
I ask you, brother, where is the justice in a bomb?
Where is democracy in a hail of bullets?
George Bush can say what he likes, but he cannot
control the situation.
He can bring war, but not peace.
He can say ‘freedom’ but no one feels free,
even to venture into the street or onto his roof.
They call the main street here, ‘Vietnam Street,’
and the graffiti says, ‘fake USA.’
Well, they don’t have the spelling down to say ‘fuck
USA,’
so they say, ‘fake USA,’ okay?
I tell you, the word ‘democracy’ will bring a bitter
taste to Iraqi mouths for generations.
Yes? No! Yes! What can we expect?
We are an occupied country with a puppet government.
Open your hands. Close your hands.
We won’t vote for anyone from outside,
no matter how many car dealerships he owned in
California.
Honestly, extremism turns me off. People should be
moderate, live and let live.
Even now, we see ourselves as a civil resistance.
But when they bomb you…moderation is the first thing
to blow up in your face.
Then how can I neglect my brother?
We have the same religion, the same country, we drink
water from the same river.
Even our blood is the same.
How can my brother’s life not be as sacred as my own?
God has entrusted us with this country.
How can we let someone steal it?
Yes, I need to eat, sleep, stay alive.
Take a deep breath, please, yes, thank you.
Open your eyes. Open your mouth. Exhale.
Peace be upon you.
Brother, you ask me if I can go on living in this
country,
and I say, yes I can.
My daughter says, please, there is no country. Our
country is lost.
My wife says, don’t be suicidal!
My Iraq, my Iraq…
God willing;
God willing.


Edgetone Records is releasing the poetry and jazz CD Robert Anbian and the Unidentified Flying Quartet this April. Robert Anbian has published four collections, most recently WE, Parts 1 & 2 (Night Horn Books) and the chapbook Blame the Powerful: Political Poems (War and Peace Press). His work appears in the anthologies Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Confront the Holocaust (Northwestern) and Practicing Angels: A Contemporary Anthology of San Francisco Bay Area Poetry (Seismograph), and in periodicals including City Lights Review, North Coast Literary Review, and the online Rif/t.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT

by Michael Shorb


Celebrating synapses of dubious
authenticity the upcoming
vote in the Congress of Clowns
heavily lobbied by well-dressed and
well-endowed slaves of
the meat and sugar industries-

Investment strategies are swept from
coffer tables of the rich and fatuous,
ground into floors of the Age of Reason-

Caught in the maw of global
warming the rabbit-eyed wetlands
shrink to a torrid vanishing point.
That's not fair in the witch's mirror
or the evaporating glacier
or anywhere else by the time
dusty African villagers starve and
the last light bulb for 100
miles flickers out-

But the sermon's been canceled in favor
of 24-hour barbecue and polar
bears smoke cigarettes in the shade
of Alaskan taverns and you,
if you carry a six figure
mortgage, watch yourself-

they're itching for a fight.


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, March 07, 2007

MOUNTING MEAT

by Spiel


i just don’t care about the daily hundreds of…

how can i care about another hundred casualties
piles and piles mounting up in pounds of
dead meat on their streets
i don’t care if the meat is theirs or ours
i don’t care if it is men or women
chickens or children or donkeys

same as i don’t care about the heaps of pounds of burgers dispensed
by mcdonald’s in one year or twenty years or fifty
i am certain it must be in the billions by now     but i will say this
at least that fast-meat giant puts out
for real exchange in return for its primetime
to show off its meat

only it’s we who have to cough out the billions
for the tens upon tens of thousands of pounds of bloody
somewhat skinned and oft-times conveniently partially boned
and much too often so blown-to-bits-it-can’t-be-shown
raw man-meat voraciously consumed by our t.v.s
to teach us not to care
where our consumption dare not matter anymore

and it does seem that it is working
because     i     do     not      care

but     i     do     wonder
might the fluid nature of blood plasma become more frightening
in the last days when we all cave to wal-mart
each of us squeezed into its aisles there and hacking
out bucks for a high-wired much wider so much flatter new plasma t.v.

or might that fluidity become even more delicious     more and more
thus suspending the red of its reds
even more extravagantly than ever before
like gloss lipstick on the whore we have not yet dreamed
                         because she can only be seen IF one is wide-awake
as she torpedoes thru our own front door


the poet Spiel is a tight-wired author painting naked portraits of humankind, thin-layering its hirsute beastiness and, on rare occasion, revealing its humanity. his spoken word c.d. "breathing back words," a collaboration with music/soundman Jack Moss, will be realeased in late 2007. his most recent chap, "come here cowboy: poems of war," is available from www.puddinghouse.com.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY

by Rochelle Ratner


1.
Use duct tape. Secure the wrists and ankles, wrapping tape around several times. Make sure the astronaut's hands are tied behind his back. Duct tape, once started, rips easily. Talk softly but firmly while restraining him. Or her. Say you are doing this to insure his safety.

2.
Was it The Bell Jar? David and Lisa? I Never Promised You a Rose Garden? She's fairly certain it was The Bell Jar. There was a scene near the start of a woman packed in ice to calm her down. Better than shock treatment, she supposes. Her aunt got shock treatments for years before she killed herself.

3.
Once the person stops screaming or crying or flailing about, offer a Haldol pill. This should dispel whatever monsters are in his arms and legs. If he or she refuses, feel free to crush the pill and inject it. Remember that anti-depressants take weeks to become effective, and therefore won't be of use here.

4.
Haldol. Mellaril. Tuinal. She's been on all the antipsychotics around in the early Sixties. The doctor told her they were sleeping pills and, like the child she was at the time, she believed him. She gulped Mellaril that time she tried to kill herself. She should have realized then there was something wrong.

5.
In the Fifties, when she was growing up, wives and mothers kept their psychiatrists hidden in their closets. Divorce was all but unheard-of, and one couple who separated then tried to reconcile was killed when their house caught fire. In the Fifties, when NASA compiled this 1000 page manual, astronauts were heroes. John Glenn was elected to congress and was close friends with the Kennedys.

6.
Everything in that manual was based on the Army's guidelines, then never updated. She read an article in yesterday's paper about how soldiers in Iraq with severe but not life-threatening head wounds were being observed for a day then rushed right back into battle. Surprise, surprise. All in the mind. Shock.

7.
Love him. Feed him. When you aim that high, carry food that makes you smile. Curry dishes brought by the son of an Indian. The imitation sushi with pre-packaged salmon and wasibi sauce brought by the Russian. Wasabi squirting everywhere. The smell uncontained. Better to have taken along dried wasibi peas. That would be her comfort food. The spice heading her headache off somewhere between the nose and eyes. She used to think it was sinus, but knows better now. And she used to dream of a space helmet contraption, air conditioned, keeping her cool in summer. Everything would have been fine were there not this heat, these hot flashes.

8.
She travels too, you know. Her plane delayed nearly three hours, a later plane getting out on schedule while she nurses a few grapes in the lounge. She understands what the astronauts must feel, waiting for shuttles that don't take off. Just waiting. She understands anger, she understands disgust. Then to find a woman already in her seat, a computer case there's no room for, all because she waited until her row was called: she understands Haldol. But at least they get to fly off into a sunset, weak though it is.


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, March 05, 2007

MY SPIRITUAL MAKEOVER

by Debora Lidov


I empowered myself today
by turning Oprah off
after the first five minutes.
I watched the fifty thousand dollar
Amazon.com Use Your Life Award
go to help fifty thousand
dollars worth of women
get cancer treatment this week,
and then I turned it off. I walked away
from the rest of the hour,
from Dr. Phil’s win-win conflict
resolution training. I confronted
my talk-show codependence, the corporate sponsors, and all
the helpyourself helpyourself first philosophy
I’d swallowed to date. Oprah, I said, No more.
I can no longer abide by your contradictions.
It is no longer okay to talk about the history of slavery
and planters that block your parking space
with the exact same urgency anymore.
It isn’t okay to celebrate charity and say nothing
of the Clintons killing welfare. I
refuse to be moved
by the woman selling used bridal gowns
to pay the mortgages of strangers.
She’s an example to us all.
But bridal gowns, Oprah?
You might be much smarter than I am
and have done more with your pain
than I’ll ever do with mine.
But think of it this way:
If I give up the show
I’ll have more time to cook healthy
and to write in my Gratitude Journal,
which I will always be grateful for
and where I am writing this now
with its soft cloth binding and purple leaves.
Just like the Use Your Life Award recipients
and the people they help will always be grateful,
as will all the Penguin Putnam authors you’ve pushed
to date. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful
for the Book Club, Oprah. It’s good
to get America reading, but why tell me
every book is made to make me think
more about me? Maybe it’s just me
but I’ve noticed the more I think of me
the more depressed I get. And that’s why it’s time
to pull the plug, to cut the cord, to take back the hour
between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m.
and to try to inspire others to do the same.
Thank you bringing Tina Turner’s Dream Tour
into every American home
and for reminding us to change our clothes
first thing after work. America needs
transition, you said. So now when I come home
and run my essential salts bath
or slide into my best silk boxers,
I will face and embrace my aloneness alone.
How I will miss your laughter
and seeing what guests you pick
and the audience’s
rainstorm of claps and cheers
their tears of surrender
their tears of surrender
their tears.


Debora Lidov is a hospital social worker, living and practicing in Brooklyn . She has taught poetry and fiction workshops at Hunter College, City University of New York, and her poems and reviews have appeared in Descant, Entertainment Weekly, Threepenny Review, and Sojourner. She holds writing degrees from Hunter College and Sarah Lawrence College , as well an MSW from NYU.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

HOME WITHOUT A HOME

by Timothy M. Connelly


I travel with a heavy backpack
strapped across my shoulders,
and a plastic bag of clothes.
When you are homeless,
these are the things you carry.
And tucked away somewhere
are the memories of a war
that are still fresh.
No yellow ribbons greeted me
when I returned home.
Now I soldier on each day
trying to find some place to call my own,
riding late night buses to shelters
only to be rousted out at dawn.
A private first class,
now a second class war veteran
walking the dark streets.
Home but without a home.


Timothy M. Connelly has been a soldier, a reporter, and without a home. He now has a home and has discovered poetry as a way of expressing his feelings about war, poverty and the human condition.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

BASEBALL BUS TUMBLES OVER EMBANKMENT

by Gary Lehmann


I was asleep when the bus hit the wall on the overpass and tumbled,
God I have no idea how far down slowly rotating up side down.
I looked out of the window and saw the pavement rushing toward me.

What did it feel like? Well, it felt like I was suddenly trapped
inside a Jackson Pollack dry point etching, c. 1944, with all sorts
of black figures jumbled in a twirl of heads and arms thrown into free fall.

In one terrible moment, I suddenly realized that I was going to die.
Then I had a sense of resolution and peace, even though I was going to die.
Then I felt like I was being compacted into a ball of bones and blood.

What? No I haven’t been seen by my trauma counselor yet.
Do you think I’m all right? Yes, I do feel different. I suddenly have
a need to articulate the darker side of post-war abstract expressionism.

I hope Coach doesn’t find out.


Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize,
Gary Lehmann’s poetry and prose is published in literary and popular journals all over the world, over 100 publications per year. His most recent book is Public Lives and Private Secrets [Foothills Publishing, 2005]. Look for his forthcoming book entitled American Sponsored Torture [FootHills Publishing] in May 2007. Visit his website at www.garylehmann.blogspot.com.

Friday, March 02, 2007

TAKING CARE OF WOUNDED SOLDIERS

by Diane Elayne Dees


A few miles from the White House, in Building 18,
a soldier sits in his wheelchair, drooling, but is alert
enough to hear he has been ordered to report
to a base in Germany. No one can find his paperwork;
no one will fix his wheelchair. His platoon seargeant
was just discharged from another wing of Walter Reed.
His eyes are blank, his speech slurred, his concentration
tenuous. The mice are in better health, and show up
more often than the doctors. The roaches, on the other
hand, lie belly up on rotting boards, waiting for someone
to finish their paperwork so they can have proper
autopsies and free up space for the next occupants.


Diane Elayne Dees recently received two Pushcart Prize nominations for poetry. She publishes a blog, The Dees Diversion, and is also a regular contributor to Mother Jones' MoJo Blog.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

CLARITY

by Margarita Engle


Exhusted by war news
I watch the aquarium
instead of television

only to discover
that the lunar eyes
of captive fish

make me think
of children
caught between armies

this life of glass
imagined, a fragile
view of wishful peace.


Margarita Engle is a botanist and the Cuban-American author of three books about the island, most recently The Poet Slave of Cuba, a Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano (Henry Holt & Co., 2006). This historical novel-in-verse has received various honors, including awards from the International Reading Association, and the American Library Association. Short works appear in journals such as Atlanta Review, Caribbean Writer, and Hawai'i Pacific Review, as well as Poets Against the War, and other online journals. Recent literary journal honors include a Pushcart Prize nomination, and semi-finalist selection for the Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize. Margarita lives in central California, where she enjoys hiking and helping her husband with his volunteer work for wilderness search-and-rescue dog training programs.