Guidelines



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Sunday, September 30, 2007

ELEVEN

by Joanne Lowery


Finally, after ten appeals in twenty-five years,
he is proclaimed innocent and set free.
Because of test tubes and microscopic juices
he is believed. Now his words are called true.
The girl, he did not rape and kill that girl.
It was all a mistake of justice and procedure.

Look at him weep in the arms of his mother.
Reporters want him to describe his happiness
in a metaphor that makes twenty-five years disappear.
How he woke up every day to an orange suit
and pig slop and unborn children is redeemed
by today’s passage through the prison gate.
Look at the happy man cry.

You too can feel that swell in your chest
where your heart lives caged in ribs.
You can forgive busy people their careless mistakes
and tell yourself you are stronger for all
you suffered, that what you know
about yourself is what really matters.
If you look at today’s sky, it can be bluer
for you than for any of the people who walk by
in couture clothes, jabbering on BlackBerrys.

On a happiness scale of one to ten, eleven
does not mean a freed man gets to eat a steak dinner.
To be off the charts does not require
that you forgive and forget most of your life.
We all share this same day—the guilty and the exonerated.
Later, he thinks about how good that hamburger tasted.


Joanne Lowery’s poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including Birmingham Poetry Review, 5 AM, Passages North, Atlanta Review, and Poetry East. She lives in Michigan.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

THE YEAR OF IRAN

by Bill Costley


[newspoem]

One ambassador in Washington said
even he was taken aback to hear John Hannah,
VPOTUS CHENEY’s national security adviser,
call this “the year of Iran” in which
a U.S. attack is a real possibility. Hannah
denies the quotation
marks.


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

HOUSEWORK

by David Chorlton


From the safety of our breakfast we observe
a line of monks passing
like fire across the television screen
so early in the day they could
be the remnants of a dream
in which we sought an image
to express a wish too easily
suppressed: that stillness in the face
of force can bring
it to surrender. Then there are clothes to be washed,

though none are so red
as the robes in the procession,
and the routine to pursue with those chores
that continue no matter who rules us.
Dust, sweep, wash the dishes, water
the plants and put seed out for the doves
who don’t know they’re a symbol of peace.
The work is neutral, and deflects

from issues of the spirit or from thinking
about how best to show
resistance. Fold the laundry, visit the store,
watch other people as they keep their views
inside themselves. Nobody wears red today
in my city. Nobody is marching. Nobody
has to clean a bloodstain from the pavement
where it pooled around a lost pair of sandals.


David Chorlton lives in Phoenix, writes and paints and keeps track of local wildlife. His newest book, The Porous Desert, was published this summer by FutureCycle Press, and testifies to his having internalised the desert during the past twenty-nine years. Some of his art work can be seen at http://www.davidchorlton.mysite.com/.

Friday, September 28, 2007

MAY WE BE FREE OF TORTURE

by Mary Saracino


30,000 maroon robes wafting in the wake of oppression,
red tongues of wisdom chanting, “May we be free of torture.”
30,000 voices singing, “May there be peace in hearts, peace in minds.”
30,000 monks flowing like a river of justice through the crowded streets
of Myanmar . 30,000 prayerful hands pressed palm to palm
in dissent. 30,000 warriors of compassion supplicating, “May kindness
spread around the world.” 30,000 seed-syllables scattered
in the waiting wind. May 30,000 pleas ripen, bear fruit,
fragrance our hearts with wisdom. May 30,000 songs of protest
instill hope in minds paralyzed with fear. May fierce witness
transform violence, sow peace, liberate our spirits from ignorant inaction.
May 30,000 echoing footsteps awaken us from separation,
proclaim this noble truth: this blood, these broken bones, those bullets
are no illusion. May all beings be free of torture. May all torturers
be free of hatred & despair. May all beings everywhere be free
from suffering & cruelty. May all beings everywhere know lasting peace.


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.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

MY SHOWERHEAD SINGS

by Dave Seter


My showerhead sings some mornings,
releases water confined long underground
in mazes of cylinders cankered with rust.

We city dwellers have great appetites,
lake the faraway rivers, fill the cylinders.
Pressure builds in chambers of government.

Pipe this water. Beneath stone-vaulted ceilings
senators squawk, stonewall legislation
resonant with questions.

Who owns this tree, that river,
which stone? Ashes to ashes, dust
to dust and mineralized rain, things

have no voice, but some mornings it's rain
makes the showerhead sing, rapid, elusive,
its silver running to drain.


Dave Seter was born in Chicago. A registered civil engineer, he now lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. His poems have appeared in various publications including Karamu, Blue Collar Review, Bear River Review, and Switched-on Gutenberg.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

GLOBAL DIMMING

by Joe Paddock


It is said
that those smokestack particulates
that rise to dirty our skies
and cloud our lungs
form a second sooty shield above
that one of gasses that hold in heat,
that flatulence risen from
our zipping around down here
in the throes of fear and desire.

It’s said
that our second shield,
formed of coal-fire’s black bits and other
dirt-bucket stuff, does us some good
down here. Though dimming
our dear old globe a little,
it fends off a deeper heat
sulking mean above,
easing some the simmering of
this strange stew we now
find ourselves in.


Joe Paddock is a poet, oral historian, and environmental writer who lives in Litchfield, Minnesota. His most recent books include the biography of wilderness preservationist Ernest Oberholtzer, Keeper of the Wild, and a collection of poems, A Sort of Honey.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

50-30=20 (YEARS)

by Katherine West


There is a picnic table
There is a liter of wine
There is a pipe

There is bad spaghetti and
not enough of it
The bread is burnt
The music loud Led Zeppelin

Everyone's hair is blonde
with black roots
Everyone wears
a dirty t-shirt
big silver jewelry and
too much of it
It is Monday but
No one is at work or

protesting the war

Everyone plays
with hoola-hoops and
fire

No one gets burned

Everyone tells jokes

No one listens

Everyone tells stories Mom
with Alcohol Dementia at 80
can't remember yesterday

Everyone says
she's enlightened
with her Eternal Now

No one cries

Everyone eats ice cream

No one says "no"

Everyone dances

No one knows
my name


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.

Monday, September 24, 2007

MAN SURVIVES FALL FROM 17TH FLOOR

by Rochelle Ratner


He'd been out with friends. He was drunk. He was in a Minneapolis Hyatt. He was running down a long hallway with a double-paned floor to ceiling window at the end. His fall was cushioned by a roof overhang. She, too, is on the 17th floor. But if she jumped from the small window on her left it would be because she's sober. Because she lives here.


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, September 23, 2007

PICASSO, 1963, AT THE BOSTON MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

by Liane Ellison Norman

for Andy, September 3, 2007

Painted the year our son was born, the year
        after we
married, the year the Buddhist monk set himself
        on fire,
in Saigon, Vietnam, two warriors, part ancient
        Roman, part
horse, going at each other in the midst of green
        fields—
in the background a church—trampling
        a mother
and a screaming infant with a hoof that looks
        like a hand.


Liane Ellison Norman won the Wisteria Prize for 2006, awarded by Paper Journey Press, for her poem "What There'd Been." She has also been published in the journal Rune, in Voices From the Attic (Carlow University Press, 2007), in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Pittsburgh City Paper. Her first book of poetry, The Duration of Grief, was published in 2005 by Smoke & Mirrors Press, which also published her novel, Stitches in Air: A Novel About Mozart's Mother (2001). A biography, Hammer of Justice: Molly Rush and the Plowshares Eight (1990) and Simpleton Story: A Fairy Tale For a Nuclear Age (1985) were published by PPI Books.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A WILE E. COYOTE ROCKET

by Frank Sloan


warm, muggy night.
Todd Tihart safely home in bed.
all his aides and analysts and speech writers
        resting comfortably on their thick mattresses
and the cost of health insurance for working people
                zooming crazily like a Wile E. Coyote rocket.

the wife and I can’t sleep.
the walls of their new economy close in on us.
we find it hard to breathe in peace.
all the congressmen, home in their bed dreaming of their generous pensions,
        either don’t see our don’t care about the trap they set for us.

we catch the wail of an ambulance slashing through the night.
some poor soul crashed on the highway and headed for bankruptcy, if he isn’t dead.
some poor slob
                on his way home from a second job at the paint factory,
slaving his health away
for his four kids and a tankful of gas and a worn out mattress.


Frank Sloan lives and writes in a small shack near the heart of the empire. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he believes it’s a heart that beats worth rescuing.

Friday, September 21, 2007

CONFOUNDED

by Barbara Daniels


Shadow of a woman
in a glass porch,
white dress gone rose
in the sunset,
light burning up from a red porch swing,
vines curled like snakes
through holes in the screens.

Why do I hear the moon whisper,
hear a dying animal?
Is it the woman zookeeper killed yesterday
by a jaguar?

My eye is a clock,
my mouth stretched wide
to the point of erasure.

Is it the bomb at the mosque?
The explosive detonated Thursday in Ramadi?

Army Staff Sgt. Joshua R. Hager, 29, of Broomfield, Colorado
Army Pfc. Travis W. Buford, 23, of Galveston, Texas
Army Pfc. Rowan D. Walter, 25, of Winnetka, California

The moon bulges, gibbous. The jaguar
shot. The woman
dead. My student raises
her hand. “Like you,
I am obsessed with death,”
she tells me.

In the front of the classroom
I am an ice cliff, all austerity,
all betrayal, confounded
by sorrow, holding
yesterday’s newspaper.


Barbara Daniels' book, Rose Fever, will be published by WordTech Press in 2008. The Woman Who Tries to Believe, her chapbook, won the Quentin R. Howard Prize and was published by Wind Publications. Her poems have appeared in The Louisville Review, Natural Bridge, Tattoo Highway, and many other journals. Barbara Daniels received two Individual Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

OBAMA NATION

by Earl J. Wilcox


Presidential candidate, Senator Obama, arrived
in town today, an entourage of media twerps
tagging along to swell the crowd, catch a glimpse
of a major voice in this next election cycle.
Obama spoke at the Freedom Center, now an
African-American church but decades ago a
center of activities in the Civil Rights Movement.
In those days, the Freedom Center housed the First
Baptist Church---lily white, angst-driven Old South
folks who did their fair share you can bet to prevent
Obama’s predecessors from eating at the Woolworth
lunch counter just down the street, about a block away.
The First Baptist Church moved to the suburbs.
Freedom Center remains near its roots.


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, September 19, 2007

SOME WOMEN JUST GIVE UP

by Diane Kendig

Some women just give up—they refuse to wear makeup or color their hair and end up looking more like a grandmother than a mother. That’s just not me! --Lynda, 52 in “Good Looks: Beauty, Fitness, News, Deals, Trends," Good Housekeeping, May 2007.

Some women just give up—they refuse to bleach their skin or straighten their hair and end up looking so African-American. That’s just not me.
--Fiona, age 37


Some women just give up—they refuse rhinoplasty or highlighting and end up looking so Jewish. That’s just not me.
-- Rachel, age 43

I know. Like some girls I know just give up. They refuse to give up meals and embrace their anorexia and like, they end up looking so fat, like my sister, who’s 107 pounds now.
--Ana, age 19

Well some women just give up and refuse to have children. They end up looking more like a godmother than a grandmother. That’s just not me.
--Glynda, age 87

Some women just give up—they refuse to curl their hair or streak it and end up looking more like a Native American than a real American. That’s just not me!
--Marilyn, age 60

Some women just live up—they refuse to look hard enough for a man and end up looking like a Lesbian. That’s just not me!
--Nicole—call me Nick, age 24

Some women just give up—they refuse electrolysis of facial hair and end up looking more like Frida Kahlo than Diego Rivera. That’s just not me!
--Lillian, age 72

Some women just give up—they refuse facelifts and botox and end up revealing their emotions. That’s just not me!
--Oriana, age 34

Some editors just give up. They refuse to separate advertising from content and end up looking more like a pimp than a publisher. That’s not for me!
--Diane, age 57


Diane Kendig, a poet, writer, and translator, is author of three chapbooks, most recently Greatest Hits, 1978-2000 (Pudding House). Her poetry and nonfiction have appeared in the journals Colere, Ekphrasis, Minnesota Review, Mid-America, U.S. 1 and Slant, among others, as well as the anthologies Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn and Those Winter Sundays: Female Academics and their Working-Class Parents. A recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Fellowships in Poetry, a Fulbright lectureship in translation, and a Yaddo Fellowship, she currently lives in Lynn, Massachusetts. Her website is at http://dianekendig.com/.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

HEADLINERS & LEGENDS

by Aaron O. Gillego


O J Simpson gets arrested as Hillary Clinton unveils her universal health care plan. It’s 1994 and my father sits there with his dialysis machine, watching Peter Jennings on World News Tonight. On the dining table, I work on Ms. DiLeo’s world map contest for the 8th grade Social Studies class. There are new nations to color in like Namibia, the Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and old ones that I don’t know how to label: Myanmar or Burma, the CIS or the USSR. Nations that had once been there have disappeared as if wiped out by a nuclear bomb or as if their existence didn’t matter. The U.S.A is still red, white and blue….and the Philippines just yellow traces on the corner of a map, next to the legend that’s supposed to make things easily understood: that an international border is a solid line, a provincial border is a dotted line…That’s how I viewed the map in front of me, as my father soaked in the news of the world.

Now in 2007, I watch the news anchored by a woman: OJ Simpson gets arrested as Hillary Clinton unveils her universal health care plan. The news doesn’t get old as I do. They show a provincial map of Iraq where war rages on—and there’s a legend that draws the lines in the desert sand, lines that are blurred by blood.


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.

Monday, September 17, 2007

TAP DANCERS REQUIRED

Visual by Jeff Crouch
Text by Christopher Woods



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.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

PLAGUE YEARS

by George Held

And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof
and goodness thereof; but when ye entered ye defiled my land
and made mine heritage an abomination —Jeremiah 2.7

And verily I say unto you that a nation
Brings a curse upon itself
That allows an outlaw leader
To waste its treasure and its warriors’ lives
And limbs on distant wars spawned of lies
And negligence and that visits death
And destruction on innocents; a nation
Whose merchants hawk sugary food and drink
So its people suffer the plagues of obesity
And diabetes; that fails to offer medical care
To its citizens so that they suffer the plague
Of rotting teeth and all manner of disease;
That lets its citizens fall homeless to live
In cars and on streets and suffer soaking rain
In fall and spring, bitter cold in winter,
And broiling sun in summer; that turns its mad
Out of asylums and into the streets,
That curses its poor, its deviant, its non-
Believers; that fails to rebuild where its negligence
Has caused devastation; that expects its courts
To uphold government fiats, and that violates
Treaties signed with allies; a nation that turns
A blind eye on abuses by polluters of air
And water, that lets its leader undermine
Fair elections and invite malfeasance
By cronies with no qualifications
But closeness to the leader. And verily I say
That the plagues the gods heaped on the House
Of Atreus for its hubris and that God unleashed
Upon the Israelites for breaking the covenant
Shall be no strangers to the land that has favored
Personal pleasure and gain over the health
Of the commonweal, shredding the social contract:
That nation not only will suffer such plagues
And worse but will suffer that which it has caused
Its victims—a return to life
That is violent, nasty, brutish, and short.


George Held has previously contributed to The New Verse News. His new collection of poems, The Art of Writing and Others, is available at www.finishinglinepress.com.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

WHAT THE MOON SAID

by R.L. Greenfield


diana of wales died ten yrs ago.
she predicted she’d die young in a crash.
she felt her impending disappearance
from the radiant earth-----she was radiant
& attracted to the grand opposite.
she & dodi al-fayed departed together
in a sleek mercedes-benz.
i sat up all night watching cnn
as news & propaganda trickled in.
what does it mean?
‘nothing’ happened:
the car crashed & the watch began.
nobody entered the mercedes-benz
to lift diana out of the car.
the cops & photographers were transfixed.
they stared & stared & stared:
diana was alive alone & traumatized.
the world stood still at the end of the tunnel
in paris, france 31 august 1997.
the world watched diana pass over the border
into the great void.
& then everyone came out of the houses
to celebrate with songs & flowers & paintings
& graffiti: there was no stopping them.
the masses thundered over the lawns
& parking lots out into the streets of great britain.
they waved banners & pounded guitars
they drank bottled water or snorted coke
they sang love songs & read poems & kissed.
it was open mike time in the house of commons
the lords & ladies wept for their sins.
there was a mighty hurricane of guilt unleashed
as pupils prepared to go back to school
for the first day of classes of the fall term.
every student would be assigned to write
an essay: What The Moon Said The Night
Diana Of Wales Died.


R.L. Greenfield's poems have been published in many U.S. reviews & journals. A few of them are The Wallace Stevens Journal, The New York Quarterly, The Minnesota Review, The Wormwood Review & Poetry/LA. He received an NEA fellowship in literature in 1995 for a manuscript of poems. That year he founded a television series in Santa Barbara called The Greenfield Code devoted to literature & the creative act. A few of the program's guests have been the poets Eavan Boland, Wanda Coleman, & Shirley Lim-Geok. R.L. Greenfield often reads his poems in L.A. & thereabouts.

Friday, September 14, 2007

CASA HILDA

by David Chorlton


Welcome to San Jose. Breakfast
is at seven. Papaya. Coffee. Conversation
in the language of your choice:
                                                            German
to describe the turtles on the coast
or faltering Spanish for us
to make a friendly gesture and sidestep
talking politics.
                                        There are books
for the visitor to read beside the chairs
downstairs:
                                        an Austrian novel too long
for short stays, some elegant French, Time
magazine, and the first ever guide to the birds
of Costa Rica, compiled by an American
thirty years ago when reproducing photographs
turned them misty
                                        but the author’s dedication
to the flowerpiercer and euphonia
survives in letterpress. Touch the page
and feel the wells made by the type
before Americans felt the need to apologise
for what their president is doing.


David Chorlton lives in Phoenix, writes and paints and keeps track of local wildlife. His newest book, The Porous Desert, was published this summer by FutureCycle Press, and testifies to his having internalised the desert during the past twenty-nine years. Some of his art work can be seen at http://www.davidchorlton.mysite.com/.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

THE PUNCHING BAG

by Rochelle Ratner


As a four-year-old he had a Superman punching bag. Then, when he turned seven, he pleaded for a Wonder Woman bag but his parents refused him. He wanted to punch his parents. When he was nine they gave him a heavy, professional, leather TKO punching bag. TKO: Technical Knock Out. Not one of those hanging bags that you see in gyms, but a floor model as tall as he was. A real man's bag, his father called it. And for the next month he beat up on it, then joined the Little League and lost interest. His father and older brother carried the bag to the basement. Then he took advanced science in seventh grade and decided to measure the effect water which sometimes drained into the basement had on the sand or pellets inside the punching bag. He unzipped the back. Bras, panties, thongs, and stockings tumbled out. He ran upstairs, choking with the smell. He stared at his mother.


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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

AN I FOR AN I

by Charles Frederickson


I wanted to serve my
     Country but not like this
          Both first and last mission
               Impossible dreams loathsome nightmarish fears

I hoped to somehow make
     A difference true values markdown
          Immoral ethics dishonorable unbecoming conduct
               Good-for-nothing bad blood spilt regrets

I never thought – not really
     Daily life stifling dead-end impasse
          Stench of decaying human garbage
               Misdirected one-way alleys U-turns forbidden

I didn’t give my life
     Lost struggle to keep it
          Lame excuses leaning on crutches
               Uprightness kicked out from under


Dr. Charles Frederickson is a Swedish/American/Thai No Holds Bard who may be described as a Wired Weirdo, Independent Outsider or Wonkish Ex-spurt. This e-gadfly has wandered intrepidly through 206 countries, an original sketch and poem for each presented on http://www.imagesof.8k.com. A member of World Poets Society, based in Greece, his unique poetic style has been featured in more than 200 publications on 6 continents. A gallery of his artwork can be viewed at Ascent Aspirations and his “PoeArtry” word and image combos appear regularly as Planet Authority's Poem of the Day @ listenandbeheard.net.

THE STRATEGIST: KARL ROVE

by Nancy Hansen

Rove chokes up on final day at White House. --CNN.com headline, 31 August 2007

Discreetly standing to one side
A cherub sizes up the scene
Like Satan viewing Paradise.
He lifts his fine-carved bow unseen
And carefully draws back the string.

With baby-blue tied round his neck
To complement his steely eyes,
And with method jovially opaque,
He smiles and sways to mesmerize
Believers who deny the snake.

In soft pink flesh his reptile part,
Unseen by mortals, shoots the dart —
Then lightening-quick re-coils to hurl
In rapid sequence bile-tipped smears,
Wildfiery whispers kindling fears,
And epithets to burn the ears.
The slurs drawn from his arsenal
Incriminate or just suggest,
Delivered with cherubic smile —
“Immoral,” “traitor,” “atheist,”
And “homosexual pedophile” —
Bring down his quarry to provide
For hunger never satisfied.

He rested then and planned his next attack
But thought he heard, as he was settling back,
        An investigative sleuthing sound
Toward where the gentle media kept him hid,
A clouded land most consciences forbid.
        Instinctively he turned around,
To ask his legal counsel for advice:
A friend at court could kill, thought Babyface,
        Indictments that are overdue.
“What crime?” “A little mischief!” “Wit, at play!”
In mists of pleasantries, he slunk away
        As he declined an interview.

The ordered rule of Mount Olympus
Was breaking down, until at last
Affronted Principles took notice:
   “That little god is going somewhere fast.”
His charioteer, whose name is Avarice,
Charged and contemptuously galloped past
Who watched him driving toward the precipice.


Nancy Hansen has been a professional artist for decades and have been studying poetry for the last 5 years. Her anti-war play Glory Glory was produced in 2000 at the Providence Atheneum and a new version with musical arrangements is now under consideration.

GONZALES PUNTS

by Anne G. Davies


Gonzales treats civil rights with insouciance
As though they were a public nuis-i-ance.
After shredding the Justice Department to bits
Alberto's decided to call it quits
Before Congressmen have scrutinized
The illegalities he routinized.
He leaves a vital agency in tatters
Unfit to grapple with critical matters.

This little man showed great tenacity
Keeping Guantanamo filled to capacity.
Abu Ghraib did not his soul encumber,
Ruffle his feathers, or disturb his slumber.
He pushed for wiretaps sans warrant
Despite fears of excesses abhorrent.
He advocated any kind of violence
That might break a detainee's silence.

Oiling his way like Uriah Heep
He woke a sick man from his sleep:
"To keep the homeland safe," he said
As he badgered Ashcroft in his bed.
His "I don't recalls" and constant denials
Have generated a roomful of files.
As for the eight D.A.s he fired:
"No, Senator, I never conspired;
That was just a routine decision'
Too minor to require my supervision."

We're rid, at last, of this pandering poodle
Destined to lobby and earn buckets of boodle.
Alas, he's unlikely to pay for his sins
Like his boss before him, the worst man wins.


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

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

THE TOWERS OF BABEL

by David Feela


If I were a Muslim
I’d try not to speak
in this poem, on this
day, when ideology
crashed into steel.
What could I say
if I were a Muslim.
What could I do
except go to the mosque
and pray, pray to Allah
that Jesus Christ
won’t be angry
for six more years,
seeking blood for blood,
praying to Jesus Christ
that Allah won’t
be vilified forever.
Not forever
but on this day
when all it takes
is the wrong word
to start the twin tears
falling again, as if
I ever intended to do
anything today except
go to the mosque
and pray, pray that
Allah won’t leave me
here in a land of fear
and reproach for being
a Muslim man, unpacking
these words from my heart
and leaving them
beside my shoes
at the door.


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

THE END BEGINS AGAIN

by Becky Harblin


The ancients came down
or up holding scrolls, or tablets,
or nothing but the wind.
They never lied.
All they say is true, all they said is true.

And we mortals pick our noses,
our fleas, our friends. and our right religious
ways. And they are all true, all right, all ours
to pick or not. All we say is true, all we said is true.

The ancients came down
or up holding their hands upon their hearts
or holding their hands on genitals
so large as to be fantastic.
But, they showed their true selves, they show their true selves.

And we mortals pick our mates,
and multiply. And train our children
in our ways. And each way is true, all ways
right, all ours, because all we say is true, all we said is true.

The ancients came down
or up holding sacks of seeds, and cages of fowl,
and simple tools to garden or farm.
Some liked grapes, others wanted guinea, but they
shared their knowings, All they said is true, all they say is true.

And we mortals took up
the sacks and tools and raised
the plants and farmed the fowls. And we trained
our children in our ways. All we say is true, and all we said is true.

The ancients came down
or up holding weapons and raised fists into the bloody
air. Until their gargantuan anger lay the earth bare.
They never lied. They showed their true selves, they show their true selves.

And we mortals took up
the shouts and raised our weapons into the bloody
air. Until our righteous anger lay the earth bare.
But, we showed our true selves and all we say is true
and all we said is true. And now the end begins again.


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.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A WOMAN SIGHED

by Robert M. Chute


In the doctor's waiting room
a woman sighed, said
to a friend, "Tommy's teacher
wants all the children
to wear something patriotic
tomorrow — the anniversary
of nine-eleven, you know."
That was when I knew
the terrorists were winning.


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

"YOU BASTARDS BETTER NOT CUT MY ARM OFF"

1st Lt. Dawn Halfaker, June 19, 2004 Baquba, Iraq


by Terry M. Dugan


Dawn Halfaker is interviewed by James Gandolfini in the documentary Alive Day Memories broadcast on television on September 9, 2007. Her quoted words appeared in a news article in the Washington Post by Donna St. George on April 18, 2006, “Limbs Lost to Enemy Fire, Women Forge a New Identity.


Maimed by war,
unconscious at Walter Reed Hospital
No other way to save her life, they said.
She lost pieces of herself in war.

“Get us out of the kill zone”
The female platoon leader yelled
When the rocket-propelled grenade
Exploded behind her.

“I didn’t want to know
What I looked like.”
Burns on her face, her arm missing,
Towel covered the mirror in her hospital room.

A basketball standout at West Point,
A commissioned army officer,
Wondering now how she could hold
A child close to her.


Terry M. Dugan's anti-war poetry has appeared in Women's Studies Quarterly, Poetry Ink, and New Verse News, and the Anthology of New England Writers 2008. She is currently finishing a graduate writing degree at Manhattanville College.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

YOU MAY NOT UNDERSTAND

(TO THE TROOPS)


by Jim Bush


You may not understand why
I write what I write

You may not agree with it

You may think I'm unpatriotic
Or that I don't care

You may think
That I don't understand
Why you fight

You may think
That I don't understand
The threat

On the other hand
You may hear my words
And they may ring true to you

Perhaps you've seen the light

Maybe things have become
More clear now

Maybe now
You understand
My outrage

Maybe now
You see
How wrong it is
To send
American men and women
Into a war they can't win

Maybe now
You see
How wrong it is
To send
The pure in heart
To be corrupted by this war

Maybe now
You will believe me
When I tell you
That I have cried for you

Maybe now
You will forgive me
For caring this way
Whether you want me to
Or not

I have seen the damage of war
I have seen the damage
That even a "good war" can do

I have seen the damage
That a bad war can do

I have seen the damage
That this war has done

You may think you are fighting
For freedom

You may think you are fighting
To protect America

You may even believe
That you are fighting
For Jesus

I think you are caught
In a cross-fire
Between evil men

I think you have been duped
As many on the other side
Have been duped

I think you are a pawn
In an evil game
Of power and control

I think too many of you
Have died or been hurt
For the wrong reasons

I think too many innocents
Have died or been hurt
For no good reason at all

So I'll keep writing and crying
Even though you may hate me for it

And I'll keep protesting
Even though you think me wrong

And I'll keep caring
In my way
All the way
To the end

And if you start to hear me
Perhaps you'll choose to join me
And then, together
We can bring this bloody mess
To a final end

But

You may not understand


Jim Bush is a 60 year old, Vietnam-era veteran, currently living in Katy,Texas. He was raised in a military family. His father received the Silver Star for directing troops while under air attack at Clark Field in the Phillipines, survived the Bataan Death March, and spent three and a half years in a Japanese POW camp. He also received the Purple Heart for wounds received while a POW. Jim served as an army photographer in Okinawa and Korea. In 1987 he traveled to the war zones of Nicaragua with a veteran's group dedicated to stopping the Contra War.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

HOME FROM IRAQ

by Howie Good

for Mikey O.

They said the Army would be good for you
supply the discipline you needed

and when you came back at 21
with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart

there was a ceremony at the high school
with speeches and a color guard

and they renamed a park after you
and planted a tree but you didn’t know

how could you at the top of the hill
under a simple stone in the town cemetery


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Death of the Frog Prince (2004) and Heartland (2007), both from FootHills Publishing. He was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize and is the featured poet in the Autumn 2007 issue of The Grand Rapids Literary Review.

KRISTIAN TELLS HIS STORY TO THE SUN AND THE MOON

by Bárbara Renaud González


To Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, from Houston , Texas , who was captured and brutally killed in Iraq on June 16, 2006.


I am the sun and moon
And forever hungry
To hear your story.
Your mother, did she not love you?
I bet your father abandoned
Both of you. Is that why
You went off to war?
Your mother’s crying now, won’t talk
To CNN.
They’ve told her how you died.
She knows you suffered,
But I know much more.
They say you became a man
In the Army. I say
They planned it so
You had no choice but
To die so they could sleep,
Without fear of sharing a little bread.
Help us, God, take Kristian.
Your story is an old one
But I’m still hungry. Come, sit beside
the sun and moon.


Bárbara Renaud González is a writer/journalist in San Antonio. In 2000, González received the Inter-American Press Association Opinion prize in Santiage de Chile for columns "that inspire community debate." In 2001, González was censured for opposing aggression in Afghanistan after 9/11. González' work has been published in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies.

Friday, September 07, 2007

COURTSHIPS

by Marcelle Kasprowicz


He is toeing ballerina-style
spinning his feathered skirt
like a top
The stage has been cleared
and the audience is perched
on an overhanging branch
perhaps sitting in rows of folding chairs
set up for the séance

No deep-throated calls
but cooing expected platitudes
sound bites

It's all in the length and curl of tail feathers

Spin Spin Spin
Make them dizzy
Make them quiver with anticipation
Explode into a sunburst of colors smiles

And that's where the resemblance ends

The Carola Parotia* plunges into his performance
with the wildest abandon
exposing pale flanks skinny legs
The Candidatus presidentialis
can't afford such candor

What unsightly features
might he be hiding
under his manicured flight feathers

* Bird of Paradise


Marcelle Kasprowicz was born in Niort, France. She received an M.A. from UT at Austin and is an Austin resident. She writes in English and French and also translates her French poems in English. In 2001 she was awarded first prize for her poem "House of Bones" in the Austin International Poetry Festival Anthology. She has had her poems published in Ascent, Aspiration, Farfelu, The Texas Poetry Calendar, the AIPF Anthologies, Gival Press, Languageandculture.net (on line). She is the author of Organza Skies, a book of poems about the Davis Mountains of West Texas, published in 2005.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

INCENTIVES

by Rochelle Ratner


1.

Right out of school, can't find a job, and now the Army's offering $20,000 just to ship out quickly. Well, it's working – nearly 4,000 recruits in just three weeks. Except he and his friends go out drinking. His vision's too blurry for the fine print. First comes basic training, then comes more training, then comes $10,000. The rest is doled out over time. Get killed and it stops right there. Lose an arm or leg and forfeit twenty percent. Fingers and toes barely matter. If the head is lost, the remaining bonus is forfeited. Here is a soldier no longer fit to serve.


2.

No one defines what losing your head means.


3.

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Susie with a baby carriage. Okay, maybe not marriage. Still, the new soldier, actually a kind, caring teenager, would really like to help her out.


4.

Should both testicles be lost, the remaining portion will be passed on to enlistee's children


5.

Senator Dan Patrick has a great idea: $500 for any woman who elects to bring a child to term and put it up for adoption. That's about what she'd spend for an abortion. And there are so many Texas families desperate to provide loving homes for children they can scarcely conceive of. State taxes can cover the costs. There are a lot of rich Texans. 75,000 women in Texas had abortions last year. “If this incentive changes the mind of five percent of those women that’s 3,000 lives," Mr. Patrick said. "Almost as many people as we’ve lost in Iraq."


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.

IDAHO

by Chris Freifeld


Idaho, the joke's on you
you hunk of heartland,
home of hunters and rifles
and men.

"I am not nor have I ever been," he
said, "I am a tall senator, here is my wife.
We sing in the wheat colored choir on Sunday."

But turn away now,
turn away from the broken man.
The flag is in flames,
there's no time for the fallen.


Chris Freifeld is recovering from a 30 year career in psychiatric nursing somewhere in Southern California. Her poetry was, until today, universally unpublished. e-mail address: fern-hill(at)hotmail.com.

TO BE GUILTY OR NOT TO BE GUILTY, THAT IS THE QUESTION

by Earl J. Wilcox


Whether tis nobler to tell the truth,
fess up to it,
go ahead, unload to the wife,
let the kids in on it, too.

Call the Governor,
other Idahoans
who want to hear you say it,
let them all know the truth.
You could even call
the Senate Ethics Chair,
give him the skinny,
tell him how you really want
to come back to the Hill,
but somehow truth keeps getting
in your way.

Always hunkering around any
version of truth
you tell is that little problem
of the foot tapping,
the hand signal.

You know that version,
it’s in the transcript, dude,
where you told the truth to the cop in the next stall,
even if you have not yet told another single bring.

Except God.


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, September 05, 2007

ALL MY SON

by Deborah Geis


"For all the public drama of Arthur Miller's career—his celebrated plays (including Death of a Salesman and The Crucible), his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, his social activism—one character was absent: the Down-syndrome child he deleted from his life."
--"Arthur Miller's Missing Act" by Suzanna Andrews in Vanity Fair September 2007


Daniel
is not traveling tonight (or any other night)
on a plane:
he hasn't been off the grounds
since that time when he was seven
and he and that lady
who said she was his mother
took a drive to the beach--
she had a camera and took pictures
but only of the rocks.

Someone told him
that his dad writes plays.
He knows what that means--
he likes to play--
and sometimes he plays with the younger ones
though he's too old for dollhouses.
They have a family that bends
and he likes to make them
watch TV together.
And he also likes to write,
he can write his name:
one time he did it over and over
till the crayon broke
and there was no space left
on the big white sheet.


Deborah Geis is Associate Professor of English at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. She has published several books and articles on contemporary drama. Her poems have appeared in First Class, Free Lunch, and Bellicose Lettres. She is also a (recovering) slam poet and was in the 2000 National Poetry Slam.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

SURPRISE VISIT

by Martha Deed


“How’s morale?” I ask upon my arrival at your house
on a surprise visit that did not require an invitation
Have you stopped fighting with your brothers
as I demanded after I sent in the neighborhood
bullies to take away your toys? You who choose
to leave your chamber, I’ll show you what fun is–
It’s sneaking off in the night with Condi and her buddies
leaving Laura to sulk at home with her “pinched nerve”
from doing you-know-what with me,
and don’t you just love it – the Tony phony schedule
to throw you news bastards off the scent
and Air Force One dark with excitement
in its hangar– waiting just for me
But just because we’re having fun at your expense
don’t think you can photograph my bad side
see me salute our happy troops thrilled to play
Hide and Seek Cops and Robbers in the sand
and the sign – Oh, God, I love the sign stuck there
waiting for me just in case I come to visit again
like Thanksgiving


Martha Deed's chapbook, 65 x 65, was recently published by Peter Ganick's small chapbook project (December 2006). Her poems have recently appeared in Shampoo, unlikelystories, 3by3by3, 21 Stars, and Iowa Review Web (with Millie Niss). Her website is www.sporkworld.org/Deed.

I STEPPED IN SOME SHIT

for G. W. Bush


by Jerome Gold


I stepped in some shit. It was round, not like
a cow's or a buffalo's, but like a
bear's, or a human being's. It wasn't
like a dog's. It was too thick, too perfectly
round, round without seam. It had too much heft
to be a dog's. Or so it appeared.

It could have been a human's, or a bear's.
It was about a foot long and, as I say,
almost perfectly round. There were no
wrinkles, no indentations. There were
no imperfections, none to be seen on the
surface, at least. The coloring was
uniform, a rich brown.

I was out walking. Taking a stroll
following my afternoon coffee.
It was a nearly glorious day: sun,
large, white clouds to make you think sailing
ships and the sea, a breeze with the
occasional gust to, say, six knots.
Light jacket weather; a thin windbreaker.
And there it was, on the sidewalk. (It was
probably not a bear's.)
I saw it.
I stepped in it.


Jerome Gold is the author of several books, including Sergeant Dickinson (a novel), Prisoners (poetry), and How I Learned That I Could Push the Button (personal essays). He is a founder of Black Heron Press, a literary book publisher.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

JUST BECAUSE HE'S PARANOID...

by Bill Costley

A paranoid boyhood friend of a friend
recently told him he's certain Dubya
won't willingly quit the Oval Office.
Instead, he’ll precipitate an incident
calling for martial-law; detention camps
hidden in the landscape will open up,
run by Minutemen ready to lock up
every kind of dissident. Kommandant
Karl Rove will greet them at the gates.
Gonzales' resignation was the signal.


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

OF HUGS AND HAND SIGNALS

by Earl J Wilcox


There was a brief, shining moment in Iowa
yesterday when two honest gay men openly

sealed their marriage with a hug and a kiss,
under a tree, before the public, during the few

minutes prior to a judge retracting his
permission for the men to wed in that state.

There was a brief, cloudy moment in a stall
in a Maryland airport men’s room this summer,

when a less honest U S Senator tapped his
foot against another’s, placed his hand under-

neath the toilet wall, giving an undercover cop
authority to arrest the Senator for his hidden acts.


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.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

SEPTEMBER

by David W. Rushing


It wasn’t so much the destruction of buildings
or even the searing loss of life
as much as it was the undeniable presence of evil
that day and the next
as the world took an eye for an eye
and the devil laughed and God got ready.


David W. Rushing's articles and poems have appeared in over 100 magazines. His two chapbooks are Unrequited Love, Unfinished Lives and Appearances, and his first work of non-fiction prose will be out in the summer of 2008.