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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

THE CONGRESSMAN IN NEVERLAND

by Diane Elayne Dees


Congressman Vitter and wife Wendy
stare down the cameras in a conference room
in a suburban hotel. To forgive, Wendy says,
is not an easy choice. But she forgave,
and, her husband says, so did God--he thinks.
He thinks his enemies are out to destroy him,
and the assault stings. Vitter understands battle:
Gay marriage, he once said, was worse than Katrina.
How gay marriage kills, destroys property,
wrecks the economy, and rips the spirit
of a city is unknown, but--God willing--
will be made known in time. It is already known
that Congressman Vitter had another Wendy--
a professional woman in a house on Canal Street.
That house is gone, and Vitter has no Wendy
House to hide in, even though, it appears,
he cannot grow up.Wendy Darling liked to fly
with the lost boys, but even she
grew tired of swordsmanship.


Diane Elayne Dees is a writer in Louisiana. Former publisher of the progressive blog, The Dees Diversion, Diane is a contributor to the Mother Jones MoJo Blog, and she publishes Women Who Serve, a blog about women's professional tennis.

Monday, July 30, 2007

HIGH GAS PRICES HURTING RODEO COWBOYS

by Rochelle Ratner


It used to be just as the song said--long, lonely nights, raging bulls, lingering bruises. And when he was new on the circuit he got used to that. But the last few years, he's brought his family with him in the truck. Now he rides with four other men. Even to fly is cheaper. Fifth in the circuit, and still his winnings just cover expenses. So he drinks a bit too much, saddles up Hendrik, rides straight on in to half a dozen pubs, requests one last shot of gin, straight, and an apple. Or a sugar cube.


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, July 29, 2007

KEEPING THE FAITH

by Jeremy Deutchman


My friend, Bren, drank way too much cola. She slurped through the morning and night. It’s a kind of addiction, this cola. But for Bren it made everything right.

What could have been wrong with my friend, Bren? Why did she need nurture and care? How could she heal, my friend, Bren? And what gave her such a big scare?

Her stories of love lost were legion. Her medical woes stacked up high. It’s not like she had lots of money. And then there’s the thing with the guy.

They met at a dive bar called Shooters. Threw darts, talked a lot, shot some pool. And then Bren became slightly daring. She asked him to call her at school.

My friend, Bren, taught first graders music. The trumpet; the oboe; the flute. The sound, over time, made your ears hurt. But Bren found it funny; a hoot.

And sometimes she’d find someone gifted. A boy or a girl with a flair. With a smile stretched real big and a toss of her head, she’d say, “Honey, you’re good; something’s there.”

This one student named Bram bowled her over. His talent just jumped off the page. From the moment she met him, Bren told him: “You could play with kids two times your age.”

My friend, Bren, gave him extra attention. Private lessons at lunch and the like. Bram played ‘til his fingers would stiffen. He was one quite determined young tyke.

There were times when his discipline wavered. When he wanted to splash in the rain. And play soccer, use crayons, eat pizza. Build sandcastles with his friend Jane.

But Bren made him feel inspiration. Helped him strive for the best he could be. Made him know he could turn into someone. The practice was merely the fee.

So this one day at lunchtime they practiced. Little Bram blowing hard on his horn. As he struggled through show tunes, Bren wondered: Why on earth did she feel so forlorn?

She was artsy and not unattractive. Her work was fulfilling and good. She had parents and siblings who loved her. They thought she was great, as they should.

But she always felt something was missing. A joie de vivre she just never had. She had jumped from a plane, been out clubbing in Spain, but still she was empty and sad.

With this guy at the bar, it was different. It was brief, but their time had been nice. They had talked and laughed and shared stories. She felt cozy and snug with this Bryce.

As Bram played my friend Bren recalled this. And wondered if it was a fluke. Had their connection been fleeting, a moment? Her face fell; a silent rebuke.

And suddenly there was this feeling. A quaking right down near her knees. Was she hungry and hypoglycemic? Or was something just jangling her keys?

Her cell phone was ringing, on vibrate. She fumbled as Bram played “Brigadoon.” “Hello?” she said, timid and careful. And the voice that she heard made her swoon.

“Well, hi there,” said Bryce, smooth and dreamy. “Been thinking we might grab a meal.” They’d meet at a restaurant that evening. “It’s a date,” said our Bren, “it’s a deal.”

Her black shirt hugged all the right places. Some turquoise stones gleamed in her ears. Her skin glowed from pumice and loofa. She’d scrubbed clean her doubts and her fears.

The magic was still there between them. Conversation flowed easy as wine. Bren spoke of her fibromyalgia. Bryce told her he thought she looked fine.

They went back to her place quite giddy. Bren put on some coffee and jazz. They looked through some old family photos. Bren laughed; she had been quite the spazz.

Their hands touched, and then they were kissing. First tender and gentle and long. And then Bryce stopped, yanking his shirt off. His muscles were well formed and strong.

The tattoo on his chest might have warned her. The big cross should have helped her prepare. But she paid it no mind and moved downward. And his foreskin was – gasp! – still right there.

There are moments that clearly define us. Tell us what we believe, who we are. My friend Bren chose that moment and bolted. Made a beeline for her hybrid car.

Later on she returned, trepidatious. He had gone, left a note, saying “Hey.” “Just don’t know what went wrong, or what I did. But I sure hope you’re feeling okay.”

My friend, Bren, wasn’t overly Jewish. Didn’t wear her beliefs on her sleeve. Couldn’t read from the five books of Moses. Wouldn’t know to sit shiva and grieve.

Still some things she found to be sacred. Like blintzes and bagels with lox. Ending up with a tribesman was crucial. It didn’t matter that Bryce was a fox.

But the next day he texted her handheld. “Had fun; I M so hot 4 u.” And Bren, against all better judgment – Wrote, “Let’s make it soon; I M, too.”

So started their dating, their romance. Nice dinners, the movies, the park. And then there was life in the bedroom. Their coupling all passion and spark.

Bren’s parents had started to worry. Their daughter was wild for the boy. Her future was so full of promise. Would she throw it away on some goy?

And Bren was completely conflicted. Love grew like some beautiful fleur. But she still felt the tug of tradition. Wanted children who knew Yom Kippur.

Could the two coexist, asked my friend, Bren? Faith in God and the love of a man? Were these questions she’d know how to answer? Was it all part of some divine plan?

She struggled with how to move forward. Decided to make her best guess. And when her guy Bryce popped the question – She knew that her answer was “yes.”

Their wedding was done by a rabbi. Then a homily from Bryce’s priest. “Two bodies alone are like matzo. And now you’ve discovered the yeast.”

The party was joyous and soulful. Little Bram did a hora that killed. The unity candle burned brightly. The cola was bubbly and chilled.

Friends toasted the shining young couple. To a love that would surely endure. Bren threw her bouquet and her garter. Their future seemed set and secure.

It’s not that they never had problems. There were so many things to work out. Like Christmas and fancy bar mitzvahs. There were moments of crisis and doubt.

But together they met every challenge. Rose above all the bumps on the way. In tandem they built a strong union. One that still makes them happy today.

As time passed, Bren realized something. A lesson she’d thought was taboo.
That you can go marry a Christian. And still be a plenty good Jew.

Your children can still have menorahs. And sing every Passover line. It’s just that they’ll also have Easter. And learn to sip Eucharist wine.

Bren knew that the path would be daunting. Bryce saw that the road would be steep. But with hard work and honest commitment – They felt strongly that their love would keep.

Their relationship just goes to show you. The affection they have, hers and his. It may not be perfect or easy. But tell me: In this world, what is?


Jeremy Deutchman is a writer and essayist based in Los Angeles. His work has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Daily News and Tikkun Magazine.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

YOU DON'T KNOW SQUID

by Robert Dunn


MONTEREY, Calif. –Jumbo squid that can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh more than 110 pounds are invading central California waters and preying on local anchovy, hake and other commercial fish populations, according to a study published Tuesday.
– Associated Press, July 25th, 2007

Having mopped up the local anchovy and hake,
The jumbo squid are ticked off and turning
Their attention to California’s human flakes.
(Suddenly, my ears are burning!)

They’re objecting to old sea monster flicks,
Prop 13, the border fence …
Worst of all, our taste for fish sticks
Provokes their inky incontinence.

It won’t be long before they conclude
That, be it billionaire or beggar,
The human critter’s swell fast food.
(They want a piece of Schwarzenegger.)

And when they do, we’ll have to coax
Them to Lotusland, where sushi bars
Abound and, if you’ll stop making jokes,
We’ll audition them for Fishing With the Stars.

With that, we’ll have them in our power!
Then, we can razz them about their flab
Until we send them to the showers
With Paris and Lindsay in rehab!


Robert Dunn is the editor of the soon-to-be-released journal, Asbestos; former Editor of Medicinal Purposes Literary Review, the erstwhile host of the Poet to Poet cable television show, and has appeared in such publications as Krax, Imago, Mobius, Art Times, Rattapallax, Nomad’s Choir, Critical Perspectives in Accounting, and Pegasus. His full-length collections of poetry include Zen Yentas in Bondage, Guilty as Charged, Cannon Fodder (Cross-Cultural Literary Editions), Playing in Traffic (Founders Hill Press), Sunspot Boulevard (Xlibris), and Horse Latitudes (iUniverse.com).

Friday, July 27, 2007

ACACIA SPEAKS IN DARFUR

by Brenda Varda


Underneath my dark
dry spread of flowering branches
old ones hold small ones,

tender thin saplings
shivering in absent wind,
bodies' naked stalks.

Frail flailing runners
refuse to root for nourishment,
fleeing violent storms,

wither without water,
while thunder growls in dust clouds
made by stones on wheels.

Others of their kind
slice and chop in summer heat:
grove and bones in flame.

Sunlight cannot help -
severed limbs refuse to sprout
in red-soaked soil.

Long ago my wood
framed the arc of covenant,
shaped a crown of thorns,

now but brief respite -
bower for broken blossoms
clinging into night.


Brenda Varda is a playwright, poet and performer in Los Angeles, CA. Her works have been performed at The Met, The Evidence Room, 24th Street Theatre, Unknown Theatre, and she is the founder of Wordspace, a writer’s studio, providing classes and workshops for the community. She is currently in the MFA program at UCR.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

TAMMY FAYE'S TEARS

by Earl J. Wilcox


There is no order to it,
the reading of the Sunday papers.
I begin with sports, sometimes.
Other times, the comics come first.
My wife dawdles with the Section 1A,
finishes it between sips of coffee,
bites of buttered rolls,
the taking of morning meds,
with tiny gulps of OJ.

On days when the news is bad,
I prefer travel or weddings,
both seem preferable to war
and crime and malice and greed,
topics of great interest to mankind---
and me.

Today, Tammy Faye’s face is splattered across the front
of our local papers,
as she and PTL were our neighbors
for many years, here,
before preachers’ tears
about sin and sex
were commonplace
in the Sunday papers.


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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

WE ARE MAKING PROGRESS

by Marguerite Bouvard


Suddenly the power goes out
in the very last art gallery in Iraq.
The temperature rises
to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
There will be no exhibit
today. Just a few artists
have gathered, those
who have not fled.
Noori al-Rawi cries out
I haven’t picked up
a paintbrush in two years.
I want to burn my art history archives,
rip my heart out.
Hasan, the self-proclaimed
curator of what remains,
is one of the last to believe
in tomorrow. There are no more
hallowed spaces; golden domes
where hearts once soared
are shattered, neighborhoods
and villages are shuffled
like cards, a whole country in exile
within its own borders.
Here even the clouds bleed.


NOTE: Mr. Rawi, one of the pioneers of Iraqi modern art,is also a curator and art scholar who founded four art museums in Baghdad. -MB



Marguerite Bouvard is the author of several books of poetry as well as books on human rights and one on grieving. Her latest, Healing, is available from the University Press of New England. She is a resident Scholar at Brandeis University’s Women's Studies' Research Center.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

, . ; !

by Charles Frederickson

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

War is a dirty joke
        Rated X-ray abdominable belly guffaws
                Ononongoing pain in the colononon
                        V-Vertical smile crackup smug grin

…………………………

Polyp Greek meaning many feet
        Stuffed up hokey-pokey okey-dokey orifices
                Shrunken heads out of sight
                        Mindless barium bury’em worry warts

;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Show & rectal CCC Catty-Cornered Colonoscopies
        Follow-up progNONONOsis misdiagnosed foul-ups
                Bottom-line nothing to laugh about
                        Then again neither is War

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

COLONI@LISTS

by Bill Costley

for Dr. Worku Negash

They came up our rivers with gunboats,
renaming everything in our country after
their gods, heroes, generals, politicians,
adding those names to their new titles.

We were a pretext for their new glory.

We still called ourselves what we had,
but never within their hearing, never
in our own languages, because they
made us learn theirs. Who are we now?

We are still who we are, but renamed,
re-languaged, reinvented as their pupils.

What are we actually learning? Them!


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

Saturday, July 21, 2007

MARIE OSMOND AND THE REST OF US

Image by Jeff Crouch
Poem by Christopher Woods


At your mother’s estate sale
People looked at this and that,
Whatever had accumulated
Over eighty years.
Some bought.
Others drove away
Without a word.

Best of all was the old couple
Who bought the antique
Windsor chair.
They inspected it,
Taking their time, even
Bringing out a tape measure
So they might know
How high the seat
Was from the floor.
Their eyes brightened.
They were gloriously happy,
And paid for the chair
Without a bit of bickering.
Afterwards, I carried the thing
Out to the car for them.
We’re so pleased, the woman said.
I’m glad for you, I said.
We’ve looked for this chair
For years, the man said.
It’s for our collection, she added.
Collection? I asked.
Oh yes, the woman said.
For our doll collection.
This will be Marie Osmond’s chair.
She’s waited so long. So very long.

After they drove away,
I thought about the old couple.
I thought about all of us.
How we with so much
Are doomed to collect more,
How it gets worse with time,
Until we find ourselves entombed
With all the lovely things
That somehow seemed to matter.


Christopher Woods is the author of a prose collection, Under a Riverbed Sky, and a collection of stage monologues for actors, Heart Speak. His play, Moonbirds, about doomed census-takers at work in an uninhabited desert country, received its New York City premiere at Personal Space Theatrics. He lives in Houston and in Chappell Hill , Texas .

Jeff Crouch is an internet artist; he lives in Grand Prairie, Texas . Google “Jeff Crouch” to see what he currently has on the internet or go to: http://www.blueprintreview.de/6jeff_crouch.htm.

Friday, July 20, 2007

BANANAS

by Nin Andrews


I heard on the BBC the other night
that banana farmers in Latin America
are becoming sterile
from the pesticides used on the fruit.
Research is now proving the case.

The corporations already knew this
fact, but they figured
it was a reasonable cost to pay
to keep the bananas bug-free.

Linda heard the news too.
She said her husband, Jesus,
lived on banana plantations
first in Hawaii where she met him

and later in Nicaragua.
His sperm have been killed
as if they were aphids or worms or thrips.
Thrips, for those who don't know,
have sharp mouths that can penetrate
and suck the life right out

of a banana flower or fruit or leaf.
I keep thinking about this story.
I wonder how they calculated the costs.
Healthy bananas vs. sterilized men.


Nin Andrews is the editor of a book of translations of the French poet Henri Michaux entitled Someone Wants to Steal My Name from Cleveland State University Press. She is also the author of several books including Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane, a book of political poems written after the election of George W. Bush. Her book, Sleeping with Houdini, is forthcoming from BOA Editions.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

THE HAUNTING

by Jon Wesick


Little things made me apprehensive: logic books
falling off the shelves, Consumer Reports
shredded in the mailbox, the TV changing channels
to the 700 Club or a Star Wars movie.
An orange, prison jumpsuit appeared in my closet.
There were bloody fingerprints on the bananas.

Dad learned his health-insurance policy had vanished
after hair-growth gel made him sprout breasts.
Most frightening of all were the newscasters
who seemed to grow fangs as they introduced phrases
like family values, death tax, and judicial restraint.

What caused these strange events?
I scoffed at mom’s suggestion of a poltergeist
until I felt a cold spot outside her bedroom.
Inside I found Ronald Reagan’s ghost
poking holes in mom’s diaphragm with a thumbtack.
The Great Communicator grinned, wobbled his head,
and disappeared in a puff of high-sulfur smoke.

Jelly beans did not appease him. Our neighbors
moved from suburbia to the inner city
soon after Congress passed the bankruptcy law.
When pointy teeth protruded from dad’s curled lip,
I barricaded myself behind my bedroom door.

I’ve eaten most of the granola bars
but still have a squirt gun loaded with holy water.
I’ll make a break for it at dawn.


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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

EXHIBITIONISTS

by Rochelle Ratner


"Stace Owens has no intention of leaving this world when he dies. He plans to stick around for decades or longer -- preserved in plastic and displayed in a museum or medical school. The 33-year-old Dallas real estate agent is among more than 7,000 people who have agreed to donate their bodies for plastination."
-- AP, April 23, 2007


They lived through two Depressions, and World War II when metal was scarce. Their children's lives would be better. They bought red plastic tricycles and blue plastic wagons. The swing set out back was plastic, as was the slide. They had plastic guns and little plastic radios with plastic belt clips. They had pink plastic roller skates and plastic lunch boxes with Barbie's picture on the front. Foods came wrapped in plastic. They put white vinyl siding on their houses. Plastic pins that could be set in fractured knees or hips delighted them. But had they ever imagined bodily fluids replaced by liquid plastic after death--no formaldehyde, no discoloration, no smell--they might well have slaughtered their children some Christmas morning sixty years ago, hacked up body parts until it was impossible to know which was a son's, which was a daughter's.


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.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MERMAID PISS ON ICON WAR

by Merry Speece


If I was a mermaid, and a tourist attraction, I'd be glad if someone gave me a headscarf.

Someone very devoted to Little Mermaid vandalism whines why her and not Big Ben? But what, I wonder, do Big Ben and Little Mermaid have in common?

Isn't she more like Manneken Pis, which has indeed been stolen but the last time a hundred years ago and after that recovery a barrier around the little boy was erected?

And now I'm thinking, when was the last time I saw a Piss on Bin Laden decal? Are people ashamed? I wonder at what point the decals started to come down.

And whatever happened to Piss Christ? Don't you kind of miss him?



Merry Speece has published two chapbooks of poetry and been a recipient of a state arts commission fellowship in prose. Her Sisters Grimke Book of Days, which one reviewer called a prose poem, was published in 2003 by Oasis Books (England).

Monday, July 16, 2007

AFGHAN BOYS PLAYING IN WRECKED SOVIET PLANES 2000

by Alan Catlin


They used parts scavenged
from aircraft for small arms
fire, larger weapons require
more imagination, harder work
dismantling fuselage, cockpits
shot to hell by hand held missile
launchers, provided by CIA spooks,
Western allies not yet on the ground,
saturation bombings a firefight lit
night impressed upon future warriors
of Afghanistan resistance, no recruitment
necessary.


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

Sunday, July 15, 2007

WATER'S MIRROR

by Becky Harblin


The quiet morning,
holds her
hands out to birds
just fledged,
gently calming
the air,
readying for first
flight.
The water’s mirror
reflecting the world,
a mirror broken
by rising steam,
the heat that takes
us to our angry place,
our lowly spots,
our greed for singularity,
wanting to own the rights
to God and oil.
The mirror
broken, nothing but
bad luck now.


Becky Harblin, a sculptor who works in concrete and soapstone also writes daily haiku and senryu. Each morning starts with these meditative short "in-the-moment' poems. Becky lives on a farm with sheep in a rural county in upstate New York. After years of working in Manhatten, she moved to the more pastoral setting where life is no less demanding but offers different observations and opportunities. Her poetry has been published on New Verse News, and North Country Literary Journal.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

THIS TASTELESS, FECKLESS LIFE

by Earl J. Wilcox

Researchers say people with the inability to smell or taste some spices and certain fruit show signs of early onset of Alzheimer’s.
--Charlotte Observer, July 2007

Granulated sugar mixed with cinnamon sprinkled
freely on lavishly buttered piece of plain white bread---

One tiny yellow lemon, grown on grandmother’s back-
yard tree, juice enough to flood deep-fried calamari---

Slowly eaten morsels of thin-sliced banana, as if this
were the last meal before dying, before taste disappears---

Yesterday the toast, today the lemon, tomorrow bananas---
gone like recollections from this moment’s metaphors.


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.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

DEMONCRAZY

by Charles Frederickson


Haunted off-White House dispelling gee-wizardry
        Spooky diabolic spirits plaguing never-neverland
                Hairy plotter secret horror chamber
                        Wronged uncivil rights defying passage

Extraordinary privileged claims just-ice meltdown
        Warlocks’ brewed concoctions shackling freedoms
                Preferring fake-believe to wondrous true-lies
                        Unflinching faith in self-indulgent fantasies

Grasp what really is pragmatism
        Rather than persisting in delusion
                However satisfying and reassuring distinguishing
                        Easy speculation from hard fact

Fundamental insights delve within anima
        Challenging whatever is purportedly unchangeable
                Grateful for brief magnificent lifespan
                        Maximizing wisdom seeing the light

Prophetic skeptics fiendish wannabe deities
        Spinning rigged wheel of misfortune
                In Gold Wet Rust hypocrisy
                        Private hotline to God disconnected


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.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A WAR FOR GOLDILOCKS

by Robert M. Chute


Can a war be just the right size?
You need intermediate numbers:
X killed, Y wounded ( —Z enemies).
Not too many in any one town
so every casualty will have their
time on TV, their newspaper story,
not just a name on a boring list
down the side of a page. Family, friends,
grieve of course, others imagine
combat's hot adrenalin rush or
celebrate vicarious virtual sacrifice.
Baseball scores scroll the screen
while we watch the latest reality show:
this war that is just the right size.


Robert M. Chute’s book from JustWrite Books, Reading Nature, poetry based on scientific articles, is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. He is presently preparing a new chapbook, Settling In, about the settling of what is now Windham, Maine, where his ancestor, Thomas Chute, was the first settler in 1738.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

IRAQ: DANIEL NEVER CAME BACK

by Hanoch Guy


I

Yesterday I shot a pine tree
A rolling rock on the road.
My hand on the trigger day and night
Since I flew off my humvee in Mansura.
My eyes arrow
Every veil and kaffiya.
I volunteered to go on night patrol
So I would find and kill.

I sleep with my M-16
Another gun under my pillow.
May tremble but I am fit.
Behind any corner shadows lurk insurgents
Even at Fourth and Indiana.
I drive alert for threats.
Kids of ten are a menace to our force.
Wailing women masked gunmen
Even beggars, cripples ambush us.
Miss my platoon.
We would hunt together with infrared scopes
Find them spray them with gunfire.

Here at Fourth and Indiana I fortify my house
With sand bags, guns and piles of ammo
Lest they would come behead me.

Yesterday I shot a pine tree
Today a rolling rock.


II

You are absent 13 and one-half times
Submitted only 50% exercises on time.
I know, Professor, and I can prove to you
That statistics are in my blood.
Some I left in Mansura.
70% of the trees scorched.
77% of the water contaminated.
For every one employed seven shot.
The graph of casualties climbs up steeply
With every passing day.
I can project the graph tearing the page and disappearing.
The maimed and damaged are ten fold the dead.

Professor, I know I missed half the sessions
And 40 % of the assignments.
Consider that I am incoherent, foggy and delirious 21 hours a day.

Huge rats in rotting alleys chasing me
Into indiscrete bars.

I am living apart from my town.
My ten thousand mates and me did not come back
Are still in Kabla, Mansura Jabaliya patrolling dusty roads
Blown up by IEDS 55% of the time.
Professor, can you understand?
It’s not the course I flunked.
I am the dark logic
That cannot fit me into
Correlations, probability, or causation.


Hanoch Guy, a bilingual poet in Hebrew and English, was borm in Israel. His poems have been published in Poetica, The International Journal of Genocide Studies, TM poetry, Visions International and other magazines,He is an Emeritus Professor of literature in Temple University. His Iraq poem is from his working collection: Poems of the Middle East.

Monday, July 09, 2007

PLUS ULTRA

by Esther Greenleaf Murer


The results came back from the hospital tests:
"Collapsed bladder grossly unremarkable."
Well excuse me, Mr. Hospital, for having
such an insufferably boring bladder.
Sorry it grossed you out, but these things
do happen. Whole cultures collapse unheeded,
eclipsed by the glare of golden arches.
Species become extinct and nobody notices.
The polar ice caps fragment into the sea
and the President declares it a non-event.
Our civil liberties crash before our eyes
and we yawn and switch channels.
So I guess I can (sigh) expect the HMO
to deny my claim: "We are not amused."


Esther Greenleaf Murer lives in Philadelphia. At 72, she considers herself an emerging poet. Her poems have appeared most recently in Types & Shadows, Light, and New Verse News, and more are forthcoming on The Ghazal Page.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

SHADOWS OF THE EVENING

by Nancy Kenney Connolly


Kurtz multiplies like maggots---

how bituminous the sky
that stokes the stars' outcry


                    seven hundred thirty-seven bases
                    not counting
                    installations in Etcetera

Crowned in plastic wreaths---

how odorous the offal
of fabricated laurel


                    in one hundred thirty-two countries
                    not counting
                    failed Etceteras

and, even as the darkness crawls,
who or what writes on the walls---



Nancy Kenney Connolly lives in Austin TX, though she will soon move to the Chapel Hill area of NC. Her poetry has been published in such journals as Asheville Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, Concho River Review, The Lyric, Sycamore Review, and many others. She has three books, most recently Second Wind, and a chapbook, I Take This World, winner of the Main Street Rag Chapbook Contest.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

RECLINER SAVES MAN WHO WAS SHOT IN HEAD

by Rochelle Ratner

You never got to recline
in the maternal tradition,
I never let you.
--James Tate, "For Mother on Father's Day"

When they first met, it was the only comfortable place to sit in his apartment. The sofa with its springs popping out. A single typing chair. The bed with a hotel mattress twenty years old before it came to him. His apartment with the one blood-orange wall everyone assumed would make it cheerful. The recliner had been his parents' gift, the desk chair came from his brother. She was an only child. And those first nights they'd curl up in the recliner, tv on as a background excuse for them cuddling there. Then over time the tv began taking over. They watched the space shuttle crash and the start of the Gulf War. They watched OJ's Ford Explorer driving alone on the highway. She complained of his fat stomach and he retorted that it certainly wasn't from her cooking. They bought a new sofa. She stocked Halloween treats for the neighbor children which he dug his grubby hands into. He made a tv dinner for himself the one night she was out with a friend and he put it in the oven upside down, on purpose. Grudgingly, he lifted the recliner back so she could vacuum under it. He watched football. He drank Heineken. He burped. She went into the kitchen which still had the smell of burnt plastic, opened the drawer, then stood behind him. The safety was halfway down the field with an interception. He ran to a neighbor's.


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.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

CAREFREE

by Barbara Eknoian


The boys, first and second graders,
play in the pool.
The six-year-old has to stand
on tiptoes to keep the water
below his mouth.
They place Styrofoam noodles
between their legs and pretend
they’re riding horses.
Jordan floats on his back
dreaming up a game.
“Let’s play you can be anyone
you want to be in the world.”
Then he whispers in Tai’s ear.
They both laugh.
I overhear “Tony Hawk,”
“Cat Woman.”
Jordan says,
“Cat Woman isn’t real.”
Fate allowed them to be born
in mild, sunny California .
No need to alarm them
that the world beyond
their backyard is unstable.
The war in Iraq ,
children just killed
in Afghanistan .
They don’t know the word,
hunger, as the children do
in Darfur or Malawi .
They row across the pool
on large tire floats,
splashing and laughing.
For now,
their juice and cookies
are set on the table
in the shade of the gazebo.


Barbara Eknoian is the first recipient of the 2002 Jane Buel Bradley Chapbook Award for her chapbook, Jerkumstances. She attends Donna Hilbert’s poetry workshops in Long Beach, CA.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

IN THE SANCTUARY

by Lillian Baker Kennedy


For July Fourth, 2007
From Cook Street, Auburn, State of Maine, USA


The lime-green swatch of light over the boundary patch, reflects off Geoffrey,
our muted statuary, an otter in a tuxedo, standing erect, hands on hips. He peers

over his pince-nez staring down the empty chaise beneath the apple tree’s branch.
A Willie Nelson Sunday, the radio volume lowered, to let the birds sing louder.

One darkened gray alights on the maple, its immature limb leaving space
for a pause pitched (in just the right angle) - to frame a profile.

What’s wrong with this
that I should pause to sing

the cotton candy roses leaning lax, reaching out over mint to suburban streets,
the foliage-dense surround, the Great White Pine nestled in its needled bed?

The dog’s half-hare lies abandoned on the back porch deck,
remnant of a frisky tug of war. Should I ask for more

than a faint cat-call or the unseen chirp,
tree-tops rustling like Civil War skirts?

The forecast uncertain, the clouds mass up, but bright cerulean
breaks through - smudge in the overhang.

A sudden, furious barking backs off an intruder. A midnight-blue stalker
saunters its reply receding down the long dirt drive. All is still

but for the creaking limbs, the warbling wind. How full the garden,
strained at the seams by Queen Anne’s Lace nudging the roses’ knees.
And should I be thankful

for French toast, the energy to make breakfast after a night of dreams
tossed off, rolling over to sleep in the softness of sheets,
to dream again? Let there be a name

for duty to give thanks
however the din is dimmed.

I take this pen as my taper,
the backyard pursed in my coffers.

The wooden couplet swings,
pews for America’s shades.

I eat
and give thanks.

And yes, the evening bursts fireworks sounding death-knells
and shadowy flags seemingly remnants of better selves,

but not today.
Now, beholden

to those who are dying in their own sweet nectar’s
clotted throats, I salute them

and tell them, without judgment
of the good or evil of men’s ways,

the sun broke through on the white, almost funereal, blossoms
and lifted a spray of nostalgia.

For youth, I won’t be afraid
to go there.

Oh flag of thirteen stars, I see your circle. I hear your snare drum,
the strap crossed over the puffed, immature chest of fear and bravery.

And what youth might be lost if I don’t do my duty
coming of age in the churchyard of my bounty?

On Cook Street, America, not on her knees,
but straight - up the thorniest stalks,

one of yours reaps what you sowed,
a dream not always awake.

A promise falters, stumbles
and gets back up –

like here, in the garden, one of yours
(perhaps an apostate) deposits her courage.

Lit wick – spark saying grace.



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.

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

by Mary Saracino


Declare your independence from iniquitous

leaders who commute jail time

into a loyal good-ole-boy slap on the wrist,

who circumvent truth to reign un-reined,

who muddy facts to perpetrate power,

instill fear, control the future,

who close their ears to the beating of their own hearts,

avert their eyes from the human suffering that ensues,

who deny global warming and endanger life on Earth,

who brandish independent thought as unpatriotic,

and misinterpret democracy as the rule of the few

no matter what the voices of the many proclaim.



Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet and memoir writer who lives in Denver, CO. Her most recent novel, The Singing of Swans, was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards finalist. For more information visit www.pearlsong.com or www.marysaracino.com.

SCOOTER SKATES

by Chris Vierck


If you ever commit a crime
don't worry, you'll never pay
        not a penny,
        not a nickel,
nary so much as a solitary dime;
here's how you budding cowboys
can break the law and still go free...free...free.

First, get yourself a conservative badge
and then we'll do the rest: we'll nail a pair of scooter skates
               directly
        to the souls of your feet.

You must know we're always happy to go to prison....
        and throw open the doors!
Hooray, hooray, hooray! Oh, how you'll fly!
Hooray, hooray, hooray! Oh, how you'll soar!
(And step all over everybody else screaming
FREEZE MOTHERFUCKER, FACE TO THE FLOOR!)

Oh, the laws you can break with scooter skates!
Come on now y'all, you should give them a try!

Oh the heavens you'll grace with scooter skates,
Places like the White House where US laws... never apply.

Hey, I know something we can do while we're there!
Let's rape the constitution, and burn the Geneva convention!
Who needs those uselss things? Those hideous inventions!
Now I don't want to alarm anybody, that's clearly not my intent.
Laws, my dear friend are deathly important! Yes sir, YES SIR!!!!
We're conservatives, true believers in law and order---
                for degenerates
        like those dirty
                rotten
        wall scaling lepers

who hail from south of the border!


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

MR. WANNING’S FIELD: DECLARATIONS & OBSERVANCES

(the Seconds of July, 2006-2007)


by Patricia Ranzoni


There were other expressions which I would not have inserted if I had drawn it up, particularly that which called the King tyrant. I thought this too personal, for I never believed George to be a tyrant in disposition and in nature; I always believed him to be deceived by his courtiers on both sides of the Atlantic, and in his official capacity, only, cruel.
--John Adams
on the writing of the Declaration of Independence


On the morning news, Cokie Roberts wears red, white and blue
to remind us today’s the actual anniversary of the Declaration
it took to the 4th to get quilled, roughed up, argued and scratched out.
The “talking heads” argue how the founders stood fast for Amendment One:
no more fear of publishing against a king, no more king! Even daring
to debate how our Supreme Court, after crowning a hard-to-believe one
after that failed election a few hard-to-believe years ago, pulled him up short
the other day saying we didn’t mean that. No blank check (hunting partners
and faith brethren dissenting).

In noon steam we pull on cotton, heading for Blue Hill
where the berries (picnic cooks are fixing with red ones
and whipped cream stripes on cakes) are swelling not with pride
but their pure nature up the mountain overlooking the pretty white life
along the bay, cemeteries along Penobscot waving new Old Glories
for the vets among the flowers. Fields at Horsepower Farm standing ground,
and piles of next year’s wood and choppers of next year’s wood,
hard at it all along the road, splitting what they believe in.

Rufus Wanning’s field worth a fortune left alone like this
smack on the road down to town. What some would give...
he gives to something hard to name for the sake of names.

White bandage sized flags ripple by the thousands in the harbor wind
more like miniature linens on the miniature clotheslines
of the miniature women seen, say, from heaven, who take in
miniature laundries every summer, than sails of the miniature privileged
navigating off shore right through this war.

Windrows not of hay but of holy ghosts, numbered and called out loud.
Thousands of relations cried, stuttered, whispered over the miniature pasture.

Miniature angry, reverent people leave off chores to tend it, mowing
in shifts. Other miniature angry, reverent people abhor it. Some,
who may never have known unelected hunger, fast on the town lawn
to stop it. Some, knowing only what they know, grill hot dogs downwind
to stop it. All with miniature breaking hearts doing their best.
Miniature Democrats and Republicans. Miniature Liberals and Conservatives.
Miniature Nothings and Nobodies. Miniature Revolutionaries and Loyalists.
Miniature Patriots and Disciples not stopping it.

All believing. All beloved. All looking alike, from heaven or hell,
to the killed in action and maybe God.



Patricia Smith Ranzoni writes from one of the subsistence farms of her youth in the heart of American Revoluton land. A mixed-blood Yankee, her unschooled poetry has been published across the United States and abroad, is used by Colby College's "Many Maines" course, and is drawn from by the University of Maine Orono's departments of English and history. Puckerbrush Press published Claiming (1995) and Settling (2000) which are included in the summer exhibit, "Turning the Page, Writing Castine" in Castine, Maine, her maternal ancestral ground. Sheltering Pines Press published Only Human ~ Poems from the Atlantic Flyway in 2005. She has poems in The Other Side of Sorrow: Poets Speak Out about Conflict, War, and Peace (Poetry Society of New Hampshire, 2006) and participates as she can with regional efforts toward peace and justice.

Monday, July 02, 2007

iPHONE HYSTERIA

or BELLS PALSY,
or CAN WE TALK?

by Ken Fisher


Alexander Graham must be convulsing in his grave
As you show me what technology has sold you
Thinner than a baseball card, not much bigger than a sponge
All that one could want, packed into microscopic circuits
It organizes every detail of your overwhelming life
It talks you through your panic when you’re lost
It schedules the maintenance for your SUV
And downloads every i tune at your whim
You can watch a movie, squinting at your two inch screen
You can piss your life away playing mindless games
You can surf for endless porn (a hand-held miracle!)
And take a quick snapshot beneath some unsuspecting skirt
The one thing that you can’t do, is place a clear, crisp call
That people might be capable of understanding
And that is why you stand before me now, for yesterday
I couldn’t comprehend one word of your garbled message
So though you’re proud to text “your five” with boring, endless drivel
You paced the sidewalk searching for a spot with good reception
Me- I’d rather use two cans stretched taut along a string
For the answer to Joan Rivers’ question, now, is “No, we can’t”
But only I seem bothered by the static


Ken Fisher has been writing poetry for over thirty years. Some of his recent publishing credits include The Well Tempered Sonnet, The Performance Poets Association Literary Review, Poetic Hours, Westward Quarterly, and For Loving Precious Beast, an anthology of pet poems by Purple Sage Press.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A RAWARAWARAWAR

by Charles Frederickson


Whose country is it anyway
        We are all casualties of
                This atrocious demoralizing misbegotten war
                        Spitfire melting pot boiling over

Just like La-La-Land horror movies
        But not global village translocations
                Venice California Cairo Illinois Toledo
                        Ohio Rome Georgia Paris Tennessee

How would you feel if
        Your hometown were taken over
                By stranger than strange aliens
                        Ignoble warriors offensive worry warts

Blackhawk switchblades hovering over Pleasantville
        Un-neighborly hoods blocked debris maze
                Alleyways strewn with human garbage
                        Shell shock trying American-can patience

Hollow unkempt promises breaking wind
        Echoes beginning to echo themselves
                Not-so-smart cluster bombs targeting infrastructure
                        Zapped electricity generating power struggle

Reel-life collapse of everyday routine
        Millions forced to flee chaos
                Private property possessions left behind
                        Bleak forecast abandoning last remains

Whose side are we taking
        Straddling whitewashed sectarian picket fence
                No hemorrhoidal relief in sight
                        Save never-ending saga grim reminders


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.