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Thursday, May 31, 2007

TO BUSH

by Michael Graves


It is not dream that troubles you, the self assured.
At night, you do not stand
After difficult descent
Among accusing shades
Of soldiers sent to sacrifice
Who murmur of incompetence,
Hungry for the world they left.
Neither the blinded, crippled, blasted dead,
Nor the legless, armless wounded rise from beds
To surround you in your sleep.
They do not speak within the words you speak:

You move and talk and look
As though you were an empty glove
Upon the hand of a puppeteer.


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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

LAURA BUSH DREAMS

by Mary Ann Mayer


Laura's Pretty Dream:

The cool air dark with roses;
restive, the mothers’ brow;
the fields festive, bombed
to Adam. More rapeseed
please! More garlic scapes
and hybrid teas, their pink tops
spliced onto horny stock
in time to blossom for you,
Laura, rose-cheeked Laura…


Laura's Ugly Dream:

Take him outside.
Smoke him. Loser.
Bite him, deadbeat.
Kick him, muslim.
Loser, knife him.
Bowels, pity.


Mary Ann Mayer lives in Sharon, Massachusetts. Her first book of poems, Telephone Man, was published in 2005. Her work has appeared in two anthologies, is forthcoming in the online journals Shit Creek Review and Umbrella, and in Raven Chronicles themed issue, Citizen, Subject, Slave. Before turning to poetry, she practiced occupational therapy for thirty years.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

INTELLIGENT DESIGNER

by Mary A. Turzillo

The Creation Museum, a project of the socially conservative religious organization Answers in Genesis, mocks evolutionary science and invites visitors to find faith and truth in God. It welcomes its first paying guests -- $19.95 for adults, $9.95 for children, not counting discounts for joining a mailing list -- just weeks after three Republican presidential candidates said they do not believe in evolution.

Opinion polls suggest that about half of Americans agree. They dismiss the scientific theory that all beings have a common ancestor, believing instead that God created humans in one glorious stroke.
--Washington Post | May 27, 2007


Of course he, or she, or it didn’t know enough
to make nature seamless so we could trace
how atoms went to molecules, molecules to peptides.
Too stupid to make it work intricately
without a clumsy “intelligent design” hand fumbling the plan.

Of course he, or she, or it couldn’t figure out in advance
whether this fertile egg was destined to venture living.
No, it’s easy to mess up his, or her, or its plan,
so easy that you have to call it sin.

Oh especially sin to fight death
or to trace root complexities of its opposite.
Oh, where would mystery be?
You have to have mystery!

And he, or she, or it never made anything higher than the moon
which is why we shouldn’t build golden ships.
Galaxies are just fuzz; that’s the way it should be.
The universe is oh say a hundred miles high.
Forget Mars, comets, stars.

That’s it. He, or she, or it wouldn’t have skill
to make it so you’d never see fingerprints.

Nothing is bigger, more complex, or older
than you imagine. That would be blasphemy.

Or is it just that you have to make him, or her, or it
smaller and stupider than you are, so you get to explain
the meaning of everything, to keep our heads bowed
lower than yours, so we revere you
not him
or her
or it.


Mary Turzillo's “Mars Is no Place for Children” won the 1999 Nebula, and An Old-Fashioned Martian Girl, her first novel, appeared in Analog. Among other magazines, Asimov's, F& SF, Cat Tales, Interzone, SF Age, Weird Tales, Oceans of the Mind, Electric Velocipede, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet have published her fiction and poetry. Your Cat & Other Space Aliens, her poetry collection, will appear from vanZeno press this year. An Emeritus Professor at Kent State University, she founded Cajun Sushi Hamsters and has taught in NASA's Science through Arts. Her favorite people include her son, Jack Brizzi, Jr., and her husband, writer-scientist Geoffrey A. Landis. Website: www.maryturzillo.com.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

RECRUIT


by Paul Nelson


Of last spring's lambs, at ease by the shed,
the brown ram will not go in for frost-soft apples,
not for grain, and it's this one pisses the fruit,
the thickened chard I've strewn on the ground,
and still butts the oblong bag of the one big ewe,
his eyes so dark and wide-set that he looks at nothing,
takes it all in with dead, dis-focused confidence,
stamps a delicate hoof, veers, moiling as if
he knows I intend to kill him, as if I were God.
He shoulders through the flock as he pleases,
tosses dollar leaves in the air while others
are keen to climb the ramp. This one must be first,
caught, cut, bled and taken to the hoist.
The rest will sleep, graze, calm, once he is.


Paul Nelson is gainfully retired as Prof.of English and Director of Creative Writing for Ohio University, five books, many magazines, AWP Award for Poetry, NEA Fellowship, now trolling off the North Shore of O'ahu.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

SMALL THINGS

by Mike McCulley


A tiny moth flutters in a spiral
between my chair and the bookcase,
disturbed into the early light, the flutter hunts
out a dark place to be alone

for meditation. Out in the garden
a frog croaks to attract his love’s attention,
he’s been croaking for three days
but she doesn’t answer. A mosquito flies

around, looking for me again. To escape
the bustle and clamor I put on a hat
and walk the trail to Bottle Beach.
On the windy beach a feather curl

wildly tumbles along over the sand,
separated from its bird the curl is headed
for lonely oblivion among the broken shells
in the beach grass. Above my hat

the sky is filled with onerous clouds.
A mattress heavy with dark thinking
mulls over broken dreams, lost loves,
sudden falls, dancing with eyes closed.

The mattress doesn’t mean anything
when a flower can’t find a bee.


Retired from educating / rewired for recreating / pastime birding, / part time wording. Mike McCulley posts his tweedledum at wordanger dot blogspot dot com.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

MAY 15, 2007

by Jill Lange


I.
Today, Carol stopped by to tell me
Jerry Falwell died.
Carol is middle aged, a competent lawyer.
She tells good jokes.
I wait for the punch line. She smiles,
“No, really, he died.”
I say, “I don’t like Jerry Falwell, what
do I say now?”
She says, “Me neither. But it’s true.”
And she leaves.

II.
It’s supposed to rain tonight, maybe
even a storm. I’m on the upstairs porch
drinking wine, watching white lilacs
and wind chimes dance in the breeze.
Jerry Falwell blows in. Why? I hold my glass,
hear myself say, “Here’s to you, Jerry Falwell!”
Why? He has that smirk. He’s up in heaven.
But I won’t see him again. No way.
Feminists, ACLU card carriers, Democrats, Jews,
Buddhists, pagans, gays, and immigrant
peace activists ... we don’t go there.
We’ll be somewhere else, no doubt telling
stories with Mark Twain and Chief Seattle.


Jill Lange is an attorney, poet, and activist in most of the ways that have inspired Jerry Falwell's sermons.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CLEAN

by Judy Kronenfeld

Crime Scene Cleaners, Inc.
Homicide
Suicide
Accidental death
--Truck seen on the freeway.

Let them come like priests in white robes
and tenderly cleanse
the buttocks of the four-year-old
who shat in his pants, pressing his ears
against the scream of F16s
flying low over Gaza

Order them up for the smashed skull
at Haditha, the intestines’ spill
out of back wounds, the graffiti-scrawled
house where “democracy
assassinated a family”

Let them restore
the “accidentally” killed
children fleeing on the road
from Marwaheen, obeying
blasting loudspeakers into
their deaths

Order them up for the spattered mall,
the hall, the checkpoint, the crossing,
the wall

Order them up for the broken-necked
girlfriend, left to drown in their tub
by the returning Marine
Order them up
for his crazed pain

Order them up for the port-a-potty
splattered with blood--
any soldier’s whose wife’s “bad news”
is the last strain

Let them “with utmost respect” take down
the three “smart,” “creative,” “committed”
prisoners who hanged themselves
with bedsheets and clothes in Guantanamo,
their act “not desperation”
but “warfare waged against us”

Let them remove the bindings
around the necks, the plastic bags
over the heads, let them
wash out the shot-through mouths
of men revenged, let them re-leaf
the golden dome

Let the war presidents and prime
ministers and militia leaders,
for whom war is holy
or righteous, abstract,
mathematical, even joyous,
somehow made clean
in the mind,
be each given one small toothbrush,
and the sentence:
scour this blood.


Judy Kronenfeld has taught in the Creative Writing Department at UC Riverside since 1984. She is the author of a book and two chapbooks of poetry, the most recent being Ghost Nurseries (Finishing Line, 2005), as well as a book on Shakespeare, King Lear and the Naked Truth (Dule, 1998) Recent anthology appearances include Red, White & Blues: Poets on the Promise of America (Iowa, 2004), Regrets Only: Contemporary Poets on the Theme of Regret (Little Pear Press, 2006), and Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets (Tebot Bach, 2006). Her poems, as well as the occasional short story and personal essay, have appeared in numerous print and online journals; her most recent poem credits include DMQReview (Disquieting Muses Quarterly), Spoon River Poetry Review, Free Lunch, 2RiverReview, Pebble Lake Review, and Poetry International.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

GALILEE

by Michelle Bitting


for Dorianne


She speaks of blackberries, sweet multitudes of them
outside the house, stepping through the door
to be swallowed by a bulbous green tide. So flush
the blooming waves, neighbors spend Sundays
stooped about yards, hacking unruly nubs,
dark-fruited vines. Jam for eternity she says,
wonders why local markets overcharge
for what's manifold, rampant.

Makes me think of that Fat Cat oil exec,
thick-jowled one from Exxon
with lopsided lips. Who can forget
those seeds-for-eyes, the cartoon-huge cheeks
full of steaming smug loaves,
his ugly mug flooding the internet when
he greased millions during a presumed crisis?

What if plenty were enough, the crowded mouth
of one relieved by another too tired, too hungry to speak?
What if Jesus hadn't been such a loser,
had made disciples middlemen? Imagine bread
and fish wrangled, wrung through sweetheart pacts--
the profit crops, women and wine dealt, in the end,
to an elite few, while thousands grovel on hot
and dusty shores, swept away,
in time, by a sea of shimmering opulence.


Michelle Bitting has work forthcoming or published in Glimmer Train, Swink, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Daily, Narrative, Small Spiral Notebook, Nimrod, The Southeast Review, Many Mountains Moving, Passages North, The Comstock Review, Poetry Southeast, Vox, Rattle, Gargoyle and others. She has won the Glimmer Train, Rock & Sling Virginia Brendemeuhl Award and Poets On Parnassus Poetry Competitions. Formerly a dancer and a chef, she volunteers extensively with the hungry and homeless. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, actor Phil Abrams, and their two children. Visit her website. She says, "At this point, I write because I have to. There is just no other way to survive."

Monday, May 21, 2007

NYC TICKET SAYS MAN RAN LIGHT IN ROWBOAT

by Rochelle Ratner


Leave it to the newspapers to get it all wrong. He was pulling the
rowboat behind his car. But he didn't run the light, he was turning
the corner. The trailer lurched when he hit a pothole, and it might
have dented a car parked near the corner. He didn't stop to look.
His wife was slumped next to him in the front seat, having trouble
breathing. They never made it past Columbia Presbyterian
Hospital, let alone to that lake up in Westchester. By the time the
ticket reached him she was in a coma. He read it to her, mixed in
with get well cards from their friends and neighbors, but she
showed no reaction so, he doesn't know, maybe he just left it there
on the windowsill, maybe he tossed it into the trash. She's the one
who filed everything neatly, paid the bills on time, sent donations
to the PBA, the Police Athletic League, and the Red Cross.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Leads (Otoliths Press, 2007), 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.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

GOOD GRIEF

by Charles Frederickson


Mother Universe grieving lost sons
        Eerie cries bewailing inconsolable sadness
                Dispirited global despondency thickly veiled
                        Outlandish hooded ghosts graceless saviors

        Wrathful demigods committing mortal sins
                Double talk gibberish forked tongues
                        Unanswered prayers divine intervention denials
                                Adverse kismet misfortune fatal kiss-off

                Netherworld impulses brotherhood of hate
                        Unholy outsiders bent on revenge
                                Twisted vines mourning glory shrivel
                                        Purple heart funnels trumpeting taps

        Hard to imagine why wherefores
                Mothers are supposed to outlive
                        Firstborn heir apparent survivor guilt
                                Sinking quicksand no footprints left

We all must learn how
        To love other people’s children as our
                As our own sharing commonplace
                                        Lonely planet
demonstrating
heartfelt compassion


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.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

COOKING UP A POLICE STATE

by Earl J. Wilcox


Ingredients:
One U S President.

One Chief of Staff Andrew Card.

One Absent Yet Present Vice-President.

One First-Term White House Legal Counsel Alberto Gonzales.

One Blanched Attorney General John Ashcroft.

One Fast Acting US Attorney General James Comey.

One Fast-Fading Surveillance Law.

One Karl Rove.


Prepare the intrigue by removing the gall bladder from a blanched Attorney General John Ashcroft in hospital; marinate with sedatives.

Add a dash of Bourne-brand thrillers.

Separate two or three yokels—a Card and a Gonzales will suffice, though any number of others with same textures and fermenting qualities would do for a pinch—from the White House since the President and the Rove should remain tasteless in this recipe.

Arrange yokels onto a bed of Ashcroft, there to rise with the pale signature of Ashcroft on to prolong illegal wiretapping and other surveillance procedures.

Take care not to allow a drop of Comey to enter the bed of Ashcroft prior to the addition of the yokels, for Comey will harden the Ashcroft against the normal action of the yokels.

Results will vary with this recipe and may not be evident for three or more years after preparation. Some ingredients such as the Alberto and Card may lose their fermentation. Card may no longer rise to the level of Chief of Staff, having been removed from the White House pantry, and the memory enzymes of the Alberto, serving subsequently itself as Attorney General, may conveniently perish. Further complications that may hinder full enjoyment of this dish: if the fomenter---Rove---is asked to testify in any Congressional hearings, it doubtless will rise to the occasion and fail to provide enough fermentation to suit the House's appetites. Ultimately, most diners during this political season may find the dish filled with maggots and learn to choose more carefully the commander-and-chef.

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, May 18, 2007

THE ONE-ARMED ECONOMIST

by Charles Reynard

"Give me a one-armed economist!"
--Harry S. Truman

When they spoke of predators, prisoners
(and their dilemmas), free riders, yellow
dogs, toxins, adverse selections, moral

hazards, it sounded like our candy-ass
normative values disintegrating
on sharp stone shoals of unforgiving facts,

like kindergarteners caught in a Freddy
Krueger film. All that we needed to do:
find the one-armed economist somewhere

between ad coelum et ad infernos,
to drive us in his special purpose vehicle,
fueled by CAT bonds, out of the nightmare

on Wall Street to the efficient frontier
where we learn minimum wages did not mean
to cause joblessness, nor was it intended

that increased fuel economy causes death.
We hope at last it’s there near the end
of our exquisitely short attention span

where we find equilibrium, i.e. the point
of no regrets, where we dig up the black
box for judging, found with the recipe:

put in the facts, add a notion or two
of law, shake well, the answer tumbles out.
On the other hand, even if the box

is not found, we will exist there, consoled
by this new way of thinking (remember
thinking like a lawyer, the ornament

of argument, wretched proofs of our gift),
knowing that the cost of living has not
yet diminished its popularity.


Charles Reynard serves as a Circuit Court Judge in Central Illinois . His poems have appeared on WGLT Public Radio’s Poetry Radio, also in the anthology Where We Live: Illinois Poets (edited by Kathleen Kirk, 2003), the 2004 Emily Dickinson Awards anthology by Universities West Press, the literary journals AfterHours, Crab Orchard Review, Kaleidowhirl (on-line), as well as National Catholic Reporter. He is co-editor (with Judith Valente) of Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul (2005, Loyola Press). He was a finalist for the Gwendolyn Brooks Award for emerging poets in 2003 and a recipient of a Jo-Anne Hirshfield Memorial Poetry Award in 2007.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

THE DARK MATTER WITH THE WHITE HOUSE

by James Penha


"Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope
have discovered a ghostly ring of dark matter . . .
The ring's discovery is among the strongest evidence yet
that dark matter exists."
-- May 15, 2007 hubblesite.org



Dark matter is not readily visible because it neither emits nor reflects light or truthful radio signals. Its existence explains anomalies seen in the motion and direction of the administration. Dark matter can be detected only indirectly, e.g., through the bending of light and truth. Dark matter may consist of dust, mirrors, and roving gas formed of ordinary matter, or of vice-presidential MACHOs [Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Objects], nonluminous bodies such as burned-out stars, black holes, and intellectual dwarfs; the discovery of a large concentration of white dwarfs in the halo surrounding the White House indicates that these burned-out stars could represent as much as a third of the dark matter in the administration.

Other theories hold that dark matter is made of subsidiary particles that played a key role in the formation of the administration, possibly the low-mass theoretical particles called WIMPs [Weakly Interacting Massive Particles]; these may be the so-called cold dark matter found as clumps in cabinet positions throughout the administration. Clumps have been found in two distinct regions: around a powerful office in the center of the State Department and, in larger amounts, around the entire Justice Department.

This suggests that the slower, cold dark matter might form the smaller clumps associated with the cabinet while the faster, hot dark matter might form the larger clumps associated with the administration as a whole.

Computer simulations of the formation of the administration favored the cold dark matter but tended to predict the formation of too many disastrous decisions when compared to the observed universe. This led to the postulation of warm dark matter, in an attempt to resolve the simulation problems. Unlike cold dark matter, which has mass but virtually no velocity or temperature, or hot dark matter, which has mass and is highly energetic, warm dark matter has mass and a low temperature corresponding to an extremely low velocity.



James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

FOR IMUS

by Noah C. Renn


Some people still drive wedges,
chop wood, incinerate
for their own warmth.

Those on sallow roads,
jingling like chains or pocket change
with nothing else
in the back of their minds
ever since.

These logs,
still burn in homes
with sooted caves.
Their change, now a keyboard clicking,
not like it used to be.
We have come so far.

We can see color over the radio
and ourselves on screens.

Perhaps, when we’re done with trees,
and have abandoned our typing skills,
we’ll all have huddled together,
drawn inward,
by some fancy new central heat.


Noah C. Renn is a student of English and Philosophy at Old Dominion University. He has had his poetry published in volumes 3 & 4 of Channel Marker and has had non-fiction published in Cezanne's Carrot where he won the editor's prize.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

HALF THE DISTANCE

by Charlie Mehrhoff


As the crow flies it is 6211 miles
from Washington, D.C. to downtown Baghdad.
Every 3,000 miles
I change the oil in my truck.
Pouring the used oil into a container
the funnel tips over splashing oil upon the cold
New England ground.
Small puddle of oil,
dim reflection of a man
praying
for the wings of a crow.


Charlie Mehrhoff has sent out little work in the past decade. Survival issues. However, he was recently featured in ORIGIN 2, Sixth Series. Crafting the Word is a Web site window into his work.

Monday, May 14, 2007

EBB

by Paul Nelson


Among surf rods, skewered in sand,
under monofilament shimmering, a boy,
rigid and grim, cranks his spinning reel fiercely,
the fish sawing the lagoon in shortening sweeps,

a lovely Jack, oval, silk-silver, sickle tail
a paring of one pound moon, like the one
I hooked in the same water, sixty years ago.

He hauls the papio, flopping from the surf,
drops his rod, drops upon it, eye to eye,
its weight quivering in his relentless grip and thrill,
what we expect of boys, the right of first kill.

Had he slowly pinched the hook from its jaw,
slid it quivering to water, watched it swim away,
would we send him, or let him go?


Paul Nelson is gainfully retired as Professsor of English and Director of Creative Writing for Ohio University. Five books; many magazines; AWP Award for Poetry; NEA Fellowship; now trolling off the North Shore of O'ahu.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

THE GREAT SILENT GATHERING OF GRANDMOTHERS

by Mary Saracino


On Mother’s Day, across the wide, round world,
Wise Ones gather on bustling urban street corners,
in flower-laden parks, in school yards laced
with the laughter of children,
on mountaintops, and pasturelands brimming
with bleating sheep, grazing cows.
South to north, east to west, they ask
for five sacred minutes of silence to save the world.

Grandmas, Nanas, Abuelas, Nonne, Grands-mères.

Their bodies cradle life’s blessings and burdens,
their bones bear the memory of childbirth,
their breasts recall the tender lips of suckling infants,
their hands, stained with the salty residue of tears,
tremble with compassion.

Warriors of Justice, these Crones dream a world
of peace for every child, seven generations to come;
a world of clean air and safe water, enough food
to quell hungry bellies, enough schoolbooks
to feed growing minds, enough medicine
to curb disease, heal the many woes that ail us.

Those whose wombs have borne the wealth of ages
labor now to banish violence from every home,
birth a globe where fear and war are obsolete.

Asking only five meager minutes of silence,
they implore us to stand strong beside them,
before our world-weary legs can no longer
bear the many sorrows of our planet.

Great and silent, the Grandmothers urge us
to gather our courage, impart 300 seconds of peace,
pledge our hearts to a different path,
honor our children, whose fragile lives depend
on how well we are able to mend
the deep, round Mother-soul of the world.


Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet, and memoir writer who lives in Denver, CO. Her latest novel, The Singing of Swans, is a Lambda Literary Awards finalist in the Spirituality category. For more information visit www.pearlsong.com or www.marysaracino.com.

Friday, May 11, 2007

EYE WRECK

by Stan Marcus


Is it possible for a country to run out of people?
Every day in a country I prefer not to name 30,
40, or 50 people are killed in various ways. Is it
possible that one day the last surviving native of

the country gets killed and there's no one left? Well,
maybe the killer, but then he would probably move
to an adjacent counry because there'd be no one around
to grow food. What happens to the country then?

Does the land it was on get squashed by surrounding
countries? And what if a foreign force is occupying
the country and the force suddenly finds there aren't
any natives left to understand their country is being

liberated, and, in fact, the liberators have become
its only inhabitants? I guess the liberators can then
declare the country part of their country. But that move
could upset other countries and then the liberators

could begin losing 30, 40, or 50 people a day until
there are none of them left either. This rumination is
ridiculous. Even in a full-scale war not all the people
in a country get killed. There are plenty of people.


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

Thursday, May 10, 2007

CHERRY HILL

by Rochelle Ratner


Cherry Hill. The closest New Jersey town to Philadelphia. If you didn't count Camden. And slum-laden Camden didn't count back in the 1960s. One of the first honest-to-god malls she ever saw was in Cherry Hill. It was there she bought the charm she pretended her high school boyfriend bought. The Latin Casino was there. Her uncle promised to take her someday.

Cherry Hill. The suburbia of her childhood dreams and adult nightmares. But she doesn't often have nightmares. That's where she chose to set some scenes in her novel. She and her husband spent the day at the mall, recording the names of stores, staring at teenagers. They asked the clerk in a record store where to go for dinner, and were directed to the first Olive Garden they'd heard about, not knowing it was a chain, not expecting the crowd from that day's high school football game. They filled up on garlic bread but the pasta made them slightly queasy. They should have just gone to some local dive for subs, or pizza.


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.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

AFTER VIRGINIA TECH

by Ching-In Chen


My father calls to make
sure I'm ok, his voice
an awkward
star in the constellation of dark
miles between us. In our
patchwork family, he is the
one kneeling in the corner,
examining these strips
which used to hold
together, as if tight knots would
never come undone. He
an observer while my mother
opened herself for the feeding.
My father the immigrant
wants me to take caution
in a country where he has learned
how to be lonely.
Out of his mouth swims a name from the Asian
American textbook of my past –
Vincent Chin.
Do you know the man mistaken,
beaten to death?
Yes, I say.
But these are stark lessons he has never
taught me –
his own jobs not won,
which dreams he has left.
We never speak of these things.
Tonight,
he is singing a lament
for those families without second chances,
for men who sit in the darkness
with no one living in their hearts,
for a country he once believed could be
his own,
before all this.


A Kundiman fellow, Ching-In Chen is the daughter of Chinese immigrants as well as a poet and community organizer. Her writing has been published in Growing Up Girl: Voices from Marginalized Spaces and is forthcoming in Tea Party and CRATE. You can find her at www.myspace.com/chingin.

A NOTE TO MOVIE MAKERS WHO SEEK TO SCARE

by Tracey Paradiso


Evil creatures are not bright
like a traffic light –
green skin, red eyes
and yellow teeth.
They don’t necessarily sleep
by day, and they certainly don’t
have to be wrapped in seaweed,
masked, pustuled oozingly
or speak in maniacal octaves
with threatening laughs
to cause hairs to raise
and hearts to race.

An expressionless,
emotionless, baby-faced
young man
will do the job.
Direct him to quietly cross
a serene, well populated
setting where he
blends in with the crowd.
Give him a gun.
Inspire him to match it
with his steely intention
to kill, machine-like,
indiscriminately.

Sound should be eerily silent
except for the pops
of the gun, the wails of those
hit and the shushing sound of writhing.
Make sure the male wails are equal
to the those of the females;
it will take the audience, conditioned to expect
women-shrieks,
by complete surprise.

There are many options for endings.
Have him captured
by a well-muscled, likable hero
so that the audience cheers.
Though it won’t feel quite like justice,
at least there’s the remote possibility
of learning: “Why?”

Or:
Have him take his own life
and let viewers simmer between feeling
he got what he deserved,
and he got better than he deserved.

Or:
Better yet, let him live on,
eluding arrest, leaving behind
a slew of bodies and the threat
that he’ll be back.
Because evil always comes back,
doesn’t it?
And an audience is always on the lookout
for a good sequel.


Tracey Paradiso writes all manner of business copy by day and poetry by night. She has studied with poets Sharon Olds and Carol Frost. Tracey resides in Cranford, New Jersey with her husband, Jerry and their two children.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

SKELETON'S NEO-CLOTHES

by Robert M. Chute


Energized by epiphanies and electoral
collegiality Skeleton meandered
in his garden, communing with roses.
He no longer wore his ten-gallon
hat (which actually held three quarts).
Only Nosey, the newsboy's dog, noticed
Skeleton wore only his thin skin, dry bones
rattling within. Nosey, who knew a
thing or two about bones, barked
until guards, aids, came running
to wrap a robe around Skeleton. But
there was a leak (it may have been Nosey).
Yellow journalists cried. Skeleton's
staff denied. Pundits prophesied.
Security shuddered. The people
worried about Erectile Dysfunction
and Restless Leg Syndrome.


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

Monday, May 07, 2007

SUBWAY HEADACHES

by Rochelle Ratner


She writes, she teaches, she gives a reading in Brooklyn. It's fifteen minutes late and even the organizer isn't here yet. The subways are a mess, she's told. She has a headache. The organizer arrives, trouble with the G train. She reads, she stays for jazz, gets home late, turns on the news. A transit worker was killed on the tracks in Brooklyn. She goes to bed with a headache, she writes, she teaches. One of her favorite students doesn't log in for the creative writing chat. She lies down with a monster headache. She gets up, drives thirty-five miles, teaches. She brings her headache home, checks her e-mail, there's a note from the student. She reads, preoccupied. For those who don't know: my husband died on Sunday, a worker struck on the subway tracks. She reads again, more slowly. She follows the link to a video, mostly on dangers subway workers face. This was the second worker killed within a week. Her student's husband was also a painter. She has a headache. She doesn't know what to write.


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.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

ICARUS AGAIN: ALMOST TO THE SUN

by Joe Paddock


Things coming in on him now,
one by one, and see him up there,

inflated and rising.
See him, Icarus Bush, the son,
the tiniest speck ascending
the heavens. In love with
the sun, stayin’ the course,
making his run at the sun.

Your not-so-distant forebears, Icarus, including
your Daedalas daddy, who so cunningly crafted
the House of Bush, crafted as well for you,
son Icarus Dubya, a fine set of wings
on which to soar: everywhere
on the inside track, always money
and connections to save
your foolish young ass, governor
of the Big Hat, and yes,
then the Pres, most powerful man
on this our planet. But strange, Icarus,
just not enough for you,
our oil-worshipping, hell-roaring
Commander in Chief, anointed,
you suggest, by God himself,
and soaring now
fast toward Ol’ Sol.

It’s said your daddy warned you, Icarus Bush,
mutedly to be sure, as the aging father must,
warned you:

“Don’t fly too high, Son.
It’s only wax that binds
your wings. It could melt when--”

“Pshaw! Daddy. You just give a watch at me.
I have a mandate to fly free,
and I’m goin’ t’ use it. Watch meeeeee!
I’m goin’ t’ do it. No matter what.
I’m the big change
on the wing!”
He’s way up there now, flyin’
free on his mandate,
our American eagle
and the rest of us with him,
barely a speck against the sun,
feathers beginning now
to singe and smoke.

Almost to the sun!


Joe Paddock is a poet, oral historian, and environmental writer. He has been a Regional Poet for Southwestern Minnesota, a poet-in-residence for Minnesota Public Radio at Worthington, and has taught in the Creative Writing Department of the University of Minnesota. His books of prose include Soil and Survival (Sierra Club Books) and Keeper of the Wild (Minnesota Historical Society Press). His books of poetry include Handful of Thunder (Anvil Press), Earth Tongues (Milkweed Editions), Boars’ Dance (Holy Cow! Press), and A Sort of Honey (Red Dragonfly Press). For his poetry he has received the Lakes and Prairies Award of Milkweed Editions and the Loft-McKnight Award of Distinction.

OSIRAK

by Michael Graves


Now, the tongue of the father-avenging son,
Stumbling in sleep,
In mocking mispronunciation,
Like a heckler from hell,
Like a student unprepared
At the most important exam
In a classroom of competitors
Silently scribbling,
Or respected professional
Standing unaccountably naked
In his bright office,
Attempts to say Osirak,
Desert reactor in flames,
But utters Osiris, O sires, O rises,
O sires, O rises, O sires,
And stumbles, and stumbles, and stumbles . . .


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.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

SAME OLD STORY

after Mother Goose


by Esther Greenleaf Murer


Hours of playing riffs
on "Brother, can you spare a dime"
have netted the busker his pint.
He eyes a flock of starlings
wondering how they would taste
with biscuits and gravy,
and suddenly a new song begins
to pirouette in his mind, a song
about a murder of crows
morphing into a gift
for the president's table, succulent
as the best Greek horsemeat.

In the Oval Office the president
signs an executive order: "To him
that hath shall be given."
In the Green Room the first lady
serves coffee and truffles to wives
of corpulent felines.
In the Rose Garden the press
poses inconvenient questions
in reference to dirty laundry,
and a suitably low-ranking aide
ends up with a snootful
of pâté de corbeau.


Esther Greenleaf Murer lives in Philadelphia. She has previously contributed to The NewVerseNews.

Friday, May 04, 2007

THE WAR ON WOMEN

by Mary Saracino


“As many as 50,000 women were raped during the war in Bosnia . During conflicts in West Africa thousands of young girls were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery and prostitution. Rape is rampant in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where as in so many other places it is again being used as a weapon of war, a tactic used to terrorize, destroy and humiliate communities, its impact devastating." --The International Rescue Committee


Strong, calloused hands flew everywhere,
grabbing baskets of grain, bowls brimming
with ripe fruit, a jug of water on the table,
the table itself; the red and yellow cloth her mother
had woven for her wedding day, torn and dirtied
by the soiled, greedy fingers of the men.
Worldly goods were not enough
to fill the empty sockets of their souls;
they blindfolded her eyes, gripped her arms,
hauled her, her sisters, her daughters, her nieces
away from everything good they knew,
twisted their hearts with horrors their tongues wept to describe,
eviscerated their innocence, desecrated their lives;
when the women dared to resist
the men shot bullets at their defiant heads;
six torturers taught, by god knows who,
to wage rape, inflict war where none is called for,
for reasons no sane heart will never understand or accept;
pain so brutal her skin cried out for mercy,
and afterwards, they tossed her out
like rubbish, her body, the bodies of her female kin, too,
strewn, like litter, along the roadside
left to rot, until some kind hand—a compassionate man
perhaps or a grieving woman—took the wounded
women to the hospital; twelve hours later
she awoke in the bright womb of convalescence,
remembering everything; her bruised mouth opened wide
and howled for all the world to hear.


Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet, and memoir writer who lives in Denver , CO . Her latest novel, The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006), was named a Lambda Literary Award finalist, in the Spirituality category. Visit www.pearlsong.com or www.marysaracino.com for more information.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

YOU DON'T KNOW HOW LUCKY

for America’s ex-pats


By Lillian Baker Kennedy


you are – no longer
watching the evening

news, ensconced on the couch,
the foolish dog huddled up, holding
what’s left of his stuffed duck
in his mouth; no longer watching

the TBIs, acronym-short
stitches that show on the scalp
through the buzz cuts; the stars & stripes
pillows to rest their heads (what’s left
of their To Be Determined).

Here, on the mainland, to-night
our boys lolling, eyes rolling;

a mother hovering, urging
reply, “thumbs up!”– a half-mast;
shrieks on the therapy mat;
the left arm limp and twisted,
pushed back. We are wasted. God –

damned lucky – you are no longer watching.


Lillian Baker Kennedy, a 2005 Pushcart nominee, author of Tomorrow After Night (Bay River Press, 2003) and Notions (Pudding House, 2004), lives next to wild roses in Auburn, Maine.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

HABITAT

by Gary Beck


The order of things
natural and contrived
is dissolving.
Our laws serve injustice.
Our streets are congested
with the ill, the lost and the mad.
Our hopes are upscale fashions.
Our dreams are sleek electronics.

We have forgotten
the tremble fear of thunder,
open fields of disobedient flowers,
rain pattering on leafy shelter.
Generations of cities
have stunted
the order of things.


Gary Beck's poetry has appeared in dozens of literary magazines. His chapbook, The Conquest of Somalia, will be published by Cervena Barva Press. His recent fiction has been published in numerous literary magazines. His plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced Off-Broadway.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

MAD CONS

ON THE FOURTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE
"_ _ _ _ _ _ _          _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _"


by HL


2003
Piss poor planning
pu_ped up a president
pretending to be a p_lot.

2004
POTUS proposes
prepo_terou_ palliative,
“Pra_se petroleum p_wer!”

2005
Premature publicity presents
ple_ty of problems, so he
pl_yed preventative politi_s.

2006
Pre-Iraqi in____etence
Penned his preconceptions into
painfu_ choices:

2007
Pern_ciou_ propitiation,
pull the plug on Pretaus, or t_e
P_lozi’s provocation, _uh.


HL is a computer-nerd bicyclist who cranks out poetry as he rides along prairie grass and gravel roads. He says, "War is not the Answer / Ride a Bicycle," and more at cornfedtrouble.