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Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com.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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

ALL HALLOWS' EVE

by Lillian B. Kennedy


The night the dead
come home to roost
like this
picture from Abu Ghraib. Who
wears the dunce cap now?
Who

dances the puppet’s fractured stance
in the Headless Horseman’s cloak?

What barrage of boots
lines up for recruits’

cornucopian buses
to explode? Whose

birthright blood
or apostolic relic? All Hallows

Eve, the haggard faces,
the rent fabric

of embers like scopes
in the desert. The long procession

of Good Friday chants
bearing up crosses

transatlantic, noosed
in the KKK. Who

rigs up the tortured
to look like wizards? Who

names the saints
of eves that detonate days?


Lillian Baker Kennedy, author of Tomorrow After Night (Bay River Press, 2003) and Notions (Pudding House, 2004) practices law and lives in an old cape bordered by wild roses in Auburn, Maine. A part-time instructor at USM L-A, Kennedy is a Pushcart nominee and graduate of Stonecoast’s MFA program. Kennedy’s poetry has been anthologized, exhibited and published in numerous small presses and is forthcoming this fall in the Comstock Review and Puckerbrush Review. An interview, critical essay on poetics and some poems are available online.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

CONSIDER THE PEPPER

by Laurie Kuntz


On a Friday afternoon in southern Jerusalem ,
17 year-old Rachel Levy was entering a Supersol market
to buy a pepper for the Sabbath meal.
Another girl, 18 year-old Ayat al- Akhras, a Palestinian suicide bomber,
also walked into the market alongside Rachel Levy.

the soil is tilled
pepper plants
gingerly grow

in a measured line of ground
side by side, yet apart
under desert sun and rain
its bellied shape ripens
to fireball red
a plump season of sweetness and spice
the weighty stalk peppered
in greens and red leans to ground
    the pepper easily falls,
over soiled lands into toiled hands

consider the pepper
consider the possibilities
    the soil is tilled,
                                                the soil is stilled.

Laurie Kuntz’s bio is as elusive as her estrogen levels. Sometimes she remembers she is a poet and sometimes not. During her five minutes in the sun Laurie has done the following: She is the winner of the 1999 Texas Review Chapbook Contest and her chapbook, Simple Gestures, is published by Texas review Press (2000). Blue Light Press published her chapbook, Women at the Onsen, in 2003. Edwin Mellen Press published her poetry collection, Somewhere in the Telling in 1999. She is the author of two English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) books, The New Arrival, BKS. 1 &2(Prentice-Hall, 1982, 1992). She was the editor of the University of Maryland's Asian Division's literary magazine, Blue Muse, and was a contributing editor to Hunger Mountain Magazine. Currently, she is a contributing editor for RockSaltPlum online literary magazine. In 2003, three of her poems were nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. More on her life and poetry can be seen on lauriekuntzpoetry.homestead.com. Pining for the tropics, she works and writes in Northern Japan.

Monday, October 29, 2007

THE DEMOC RAT RACE

poeArtry by Charles Frederickson



Amazing trail blazing democRAT RACE
    VIPer sniper venomous campaign-in’ asps
        Wriggly debate shedding scaly glisten
            iPod split p’s & q’s spilt soup

Run Hillary Rodham Clinton run
    Arkansassy First Lady Prexy-in-waiting
        Bill’s better half frosty cupcake
            Skirting domestic affairs pantsuit issues

Barrack to Future Movin’ On
    Helloha all-American-do / will-do O+ transfusion
        Oprah’s fave physically morally fit
            Minus sneer Cheney’s cuz McO’bamawitzson

John Edwards cutie pee-can pie
    Veep designate Gored by bull
        Photogenic memory cool hair conditioner
            Declaring war on split ends

Gov Richardson borderline macho honcho
    Old West New Mex-Max-Mix-Moxie
        Buffalo Bill pushing Hispanic button
            UNity ambassador North Korea nogo-gotiator

Christopher Dodd revitalized Peace Corpse
    Joe Biden time ready-to Delaware
        Dennis Kucinich Don’t Gitmo Satisfaction
            Gravel-blind ex-spurt don’t Alaska


Dr. Charles Frederickson. Name: D. Mentor Stan Doubt; Nickname: Nun; Address: Genial Devilry State of Denial; Zip: B9-1-1; Phone: Taco Bell; Faxhole: telepathetic moonsense UFOcult; Sexile: manimal; He-male: e-diot dot commie; vagabondAge: Ironic; Blood: Taipei; Vision: 20-20-20; Religion: Born Against trance-incidental Vegetation; Education: U-Nique BSer IV Leak Overachiever; Major: Mickey Mouse Pad Commuter Séance; Club Memberships: A, AA, AAA, AAAA, AAAAA; Special Abilities: Unmentionable Listless Hypist; halluciDate: Blind Man’s Bluff TGIF.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

HOW DO YOU PLEAD?

by John E. Simonds


A generation only cares so much
for those who’ve passed
and shuffled to the door.
Courtly courtesies and step asides
give way in time to retro scorn
for things the elders left undone,
failed to do enough about,
didn’t see as problems—
asbestos, landfills, toxic waste,
tobacco, landmines, poison sprays,
abattoirs, unequal pay in tropic lands,
children tricking tourists to survive,
neighbors butchered for their faith or looks,
prisons, mental bins some states ran like zoos,
park creatures warming on sidewalk grates
blood past dried before we knew it spilled.

I don’t think we realized…
Actually, it was the law…

What choice did we have?

People seemed to like living with their own…

(inside the red-lined blocks
where banks wouldn’t lend and

Realtors kept the market in their lock box…)

Women don’t need to make as much because

(a) they’re single (b) their husbands work…
Migrants, happy to be getting paid at all…

The barbed wire protected both sides…

We tore down all those trees to print your books…

We got more done with the doors closed…

If the hammer hits them right, the cattle never feel a thing…
That’s humane slaughter;
our oxymoron wasn’t gored...
It was stuff we sprayed to get rid of the leaves…

Always done that way, but it could never happen now…

Following orders led us to believe…Who knew?


Our bads, results of well-meant tries
that read today as compromise and later, lies,
on tomorrow’s courtroom screen,
as cascading bones and socketed skulls
plowed on the blades
of war-crime excavators
unearthing evidence, Exhibits A through Z,
in bulldozed piles of horror.

Initial frowning doubts (you knew about this, right?)
sour to annoyed (how could you let it happen?)
as the past becomes a body count
of benign neglect morphing to atrocities,
then atro-states and atro-nations of the planet,
places where we red-lined our misgivings
but waited for the world to change us...
waited for the law to make the changing safe.


John Simonds is a retired Honolulu daily newspaper editor and former mainland journalist who has lived in Hawaii since the 1970s.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

PRIMARY CAMPAIGN, 2007

by Nancy Kenney Connolly


They say they’ll pray on it, these mamas,
pray that God will tell them what to do,
the world is changing, this is a new beginning,
they will kill him, black man not supposed to
be sitting in that chair, ain’t anyone can stop it if
God wants it, they will kill him

Same as ever they have done these mamas
pray—for sons they know be safer
in the shadows—for sons they only sabotage
to save: this is not your blue-eyed end of town,
here forsythia survives by ruthless pruning
of its blossoms, O, let us pray


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.

Friday, October 26, 2007

AFTERMATH

by Wayne Crawford


There has never been a Department of Creativity,
a Secretary of the Arts, a Narrative Surgeon General.
Never an empire dedicated to peace, a nation
unified by love. We’ve always lived in the After:
After the Department of Defense. After war budgets.
After war.
After the most powerful governments of this day
became the most prolific arms dealers of all time.

II.
A steel door is a trick; A litter of Golden Retrievers,
eyes bright, tails wagging, scamper out. A raised deck,
plain-surfaced except for a half-dozen embedded shower
heads, a trap.

I’m watching a “Special Report” on chemical warfare.
These pups breathe the spray: tails stiffen, faces sink,
bodies tremble, one leg and then another collapses.
Bewilderment glazes their eyes during their thirty seconds
until death.

We could be next. The single-engine dustcropper we see
through our kitchen window circles low over our homes
at 7:00 a.m. We could be dead before the eight o'clock news.
Or we could sit on our east-facing patio while morning
warms us, our coffee steams, and our creamy Danish
sugars our appetite for another day.

III.
Our current leaders approve so large a war budget, they
threaten to bleed dry domestic programs that pump
our economy with human resources. Maybe: They are
drawing up a list of our first born, our most famous, our
intellectual leaders, scientists. They already ban poets
from the White House unless they promise to speak well
of the president’s policies, or not at all.

I read that we are enemies of their holy war--their war
against us, whose lives are less valued than oil fields, landfills,
the quarter acre on a nowhere cul de sac to be
developed by a sleezy investor, who will, like strip miners
of the past, turn land into dead holes, leave a mess no one
can redeem, and move on, pockets full of paper on which
is printed, “In God We Trust.”

Our leaders say, there are no innocents among us. We are
with them or we are wrong and must be silent. The only
true patriot is a capitalist pig. Everyone else: a sinner.


IV.
The carpenter aims his magnetic tool at a plaster
wall to locate its studs. I wish it were that easy for
archeologists to identify and unearth the road to peace,
but that road is buried deeper than memory, beneath
one civilization after another that reigned and waned.

We can’t return to the infancy of Cain and Abel:
Before there were marked men. Before we needed gurus
to tell us peace was within ourselves. Before
governments determined who would live in peace, hired
and holstered citizens as peace officers because there was
no peace without them. Hired and holstered citizens
to soldier because there was fear and insecurity without them.


V.
It’s normal to burn forests, flood land, claim what is ours
for ourselves and what is others for ourselves too. Genocide
is our most recurrent activity. It is normal, military capabilities
that, in seconds, can kill yellow labs, destroy green crops,
ignite natural disasters one hundred times worse than Katrina,
rocket Earth into a black hole. It is normal
when you live in the After. In the aftermath,
there are no never-neverlands.

VI.
Sitting on the patio this evening is almost perfect, cool
autumn, slight breeze, no mosquitoes, fish playing
in their pond, hummingbirds on Honeysuckle blooms,
butterflies on Zinnias.

I wrote checks this afternoon for my estimated taxes,
one for the state, another for the U.S. Treasury. I no longer
credit peace as a possibility. Mornings, before I eat my sweet
Danish with my designer coffee, sitting in my chair
at my table on my patio, my plate is half-
filled with sugar, half with greed.


Wayne Crawford manages the online literary journal, Lunarosity, and is co-managing editor of Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders, an annual anthology of New Mexico writers and others in that region. His work has appeared in New Verse News before, as well as in Mannequin Envy, Shampoo, Motherbird, and many others. His latest publication, a book-length collection of poetry, Sugar Trail, was released in September 2007. Sugar Trail can be purchased (and exerpts read) at www.zianet.com/lunarosity/crawford.html.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

CALIFLAGRATION

by David Feela


In the hills the homes
grow on trees.
Real estate is a dominant species
with conifers and oak
crowded out so that swimming pools
stay warmed by the sunshine.
When the fires started
picture windows broadcast the flames
as if they were high definition television.
When the winds gusted
the crowds would not be contained,
half a million fanned like smoke
into church basements, sports stadiums,
motels, and relatives’ homes.
The newscasters cleared their throats
and folded their hands:
Everything humanly possible
had been done, is being done,
still needs to be done.
The governor spoke calmly
with a smile on his face,
an expert in the business
of acting.


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. A new poetry book, The Home Atlas, will be released in 2009. His web page can be viewed at www.geocities.com/feelasophy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

DESTRUCTION OF THE CONSTITUTION

by Liane Ellison Norman


The column on the porch-
riddled by carpenter ants
and the leak that poured

into wood from the plugged- up
gutter-leans ready to fall away,
while the porch roof sags.

It's tricky to fix at this point.


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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

THE SURGE

by Barbara Daniels


To the young, everything’s history, even
this morning, ripe-peach sun at the horizon
pounding an empty ballfield with heat,
August firm in its aims and mission.

In 415 BCE Athenians sent a doomed
expedition to Sicily, expecting a welcome.
When all was lost, they doubled their numbers
to many thousands. Fleeing men broke

at a river and fought each other for mouthfuls
of water already crimson with gore. The young
stir in their bedclothes, tousled, dreaming.
In their sleep, their beds move like boats

on rising water. I half turn away when a TV
general tells of a splendid strategy, lightning
tactics, the glorious dead. Swallowtail butterflies
drift in a surge of sunlight. At a purple coneflower,

a hummingbird stops, sipping the sweetness.
It’s an immature with splotched iridescence,
returning from sleep to hot orange light. And
Athens? It lost everything, ships, land, lives.


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.

Monday, October 22, 2007

PHYSICIAN OFFERS FREE VASECTOMY FOR BRONCOS TICKETS

by Rochelle Ratner


1.

Ride 'em, Cowboy! That's what kept going through her mind on the long drive from New York to Colorado. On their second date he'd impressed the hell out of her when he mentioned his waiting room had seats from the old Mile High stadium. She's lived here barely six months and the Broncos make it to the final playoff. He assures her he knows his way around the ticket scene. She's already bought new jeans and her first pair of cowboy boots. She also knows, of course, they can't afford scalper prices. Her husband's just getting his urology practice started. It never crossed her mind that he performs vasectomies, or that any man in Colorado would want one.


2.

And now it’s the Rockies turn. Winning seven straight playoff games, almost unheard of. Football’s more his interest, but if he could get tickets between first and home it might be fun. or more than fun. Whatever “fun” is in these hyped-up steroid days. Newspapers spread out on the table, it’s hard to think straight. His thoughts turn back to football. He thinks of Michael Vick. He thinks about castration. He thinks of men wanting vasectomies reversed, whose wives leave them anyway. He can’t get Vick’s dogs out of his mind. He thinks, this year, he has nothing to offer.


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, October 21, 2007

THE BIG LOOPHOLE

OR, MATTHEW 19:24 REVISED


by George Good



George Washington was first in peace and war
and in his countrymen's hearts came before
John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, et al--
that's Latin for the names we don't recall.
A second George was middling and lukewarm--
he did a little good, perhaps more harm.
The voters spewed him out and swallowed Bill,
a sometimes sugared, sometimes bitter pill.
Now Poppy always wanted Jeb to run,
but born again from rehab rose this son--
we'll call him George III--to follow dad.
And thus we come full circle from a bad
monarch to a worse chief executive.
"Since it's more blessed to receive than give,
to help the rich get richer with this ax
I'll clear their path by cutting every tax.
The poor are always with us, so why not
reward those folks who drew the lucky lot?
If Caesar's close to you, you'll render less.
Go thou and win more money and--God bless!"
Here's Christianity with loopholes, friends.
The thing about the Bible is--it bends.
Now watch that needle's eye as it grows big
and lets pass through a camel--or a pig.

George Good has published previously in New Verse News as well as Light, The Evansville Review, Iambs & Trochees and Contemporary Rhyme.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

ANN COULTER'S PRIVATE MOMENTS

by Stephanie Woolley-Larrea


The curtains drawn
the television off
she fixes a mug of herbal tea
sinks into the overstuffed couch--
cat paws on hardwood,
patchouli candle burning,
stacks of novels near her feet.
She twirls her blonde hair into
a haphazard ponytail, blinks
her blue eyes, happy to be free of
makeup and smiles. “Good day?”
her lover asks, not looking up
from her book, taking Ann’s head
into her lap, stroking her cheek
absentmindedly as she turns the page.
Ann shrugs, “Just like any other.”


Stephanie Woolley-Larrea is a mother, writer and teacher living in Miami, Florida. She writes both poetry and prose, and doesn't play favorites. Her work has been published in Sentence, Mipoesias, Gulfstream, and Florida English, among other places.

Friday, October 19, 2007

IGNAZ SEMMELWEIS

by Helen Tzagoloff


The valuable lesson of handwashing before and between examining each patient is today honored mostly in the breach.
--New York Times, June 20, 1995

Numerous studies have shown that busy hospital workers disregard basic standards of handwashing more than half the time.
--New York Times, October 17, 2007


Women in the streets begged
the police to leave them alone --
Viennese hospitals were certain death.
Better here in a muddy ditch,
or sewer with rats.

Why were the women dying
after giving birth in the hospital,
but not at home in the absence of
the latest in medical care?
asked young Doctor Semmelweis,
observing his fellow doctors and
students examining sick women,
examining their corpses, examining
healthy women, examining them sick,
examining their corpses, examining
healthy women, coming back
to examine them sick or dead.

Gentlemen, he said, if you would
wash your hands, mothers would
live to care for their babies.

His superiors scoffed, told him to stop
this nonsense about washing hands.
They couldn’t waste their valuable time
on something unpreventable. A miasma
settled in the wombs and did away
with society's undesirables, women
unfit to be mothers. Doctors must not
interfere with nature's way.


Helen Tzagoloff has worked as a microbiologist and often writes on subjects related to science and medicine. Her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Blueline, New York Quarterly, PMS and other journals. She was the First Place Winner in the Icarus International 2002 Competition in honor of the Wright brothers. She lives in New York City.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

BIPOLAR MELTDOWN

poeArtry by Charles Frederickson


Crisis of confidence glacial breakaway
    Noxious whitehouse gases no limits
        Massive icebergs hidden below surface
            Cracks revealing abysmal credibility gaps

Harsh CIA interrogations topless secrets
    Terror suspects barraged with humiliating
        Painful physical ill-conceived psychological tactics
            Waterboarding simulated drowning sadistic mind-games

Bent funhouse sideshow mirror distortions
    Warped values emotional roller coaster
        Derailed friction on collision course
            Loop-the-Loop thrill ride suffering whiplash

Unethical Age of Manic Depression
    Drip-drip-drip scandals unbecoming deluge
        Nothing too extreme mood swings
            Cruel uncivil rights inhuman wrongs

Technology capable of improving standards
    Conscientious objectors mass destruction weapons
        Potential for goodness gracious evildoers
            Grounded rusty anchor common decency

Moral is there are none
    If WE can do it
        To THEM why won’t THEY
            Do the same to US


An ARTiculate uinVERSEalist, heretical believer, pragmatic idealist and visionary enabler, Dr. Charles Frederickson’s seasoned wonderland intrepid wanderlust has taken him to 206 countries, images and impressions of each presented on http://www.imagesof.8k.com. One-man art gallery shows in Chicago, Bangkok and Amman, as well as dozens of magazine covers and graphic arts illustrations. His innovative poem & picture PoeArtry combos are ongoing Poem of the Day features @ listenandbeheard.net as well as progressive political viewpoints at newversenews.com. Current exhibitions of his artwork can be viewed at ascentaspirations.ca, abovegroundtesting.com and poetrycemetery.com.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

ARS POLITICA

by Fred Longworth


When the President said,
"Support our tropes,"

America’s dumbest poets
grabbed red wheelbarrows

& began pushing, certain
that in the pans, beneath

a ragged layer of sand, lay
good Christian democracy.

Klutzy me! My wheel
barrow tipped on its side:

Under a thin crust of bullshit,
a heavy body bag.


Fred Longworth restores vintage audio components for a living. His poetry has been published in California Quarterly, Stirring, The Pacific Review, Pearl, and many others.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

JOHN ADAMS' FIST

by Ed Bennett


There are nights when I dream
of George Bush discussing philosophy
with Blaise Pascal,
sometimes the father,
sometimes the son,
every time an absurd enjoyment,

or Homer and Bill Clinton –
ol’ folksy Bill contemplating
the pull of an oar
on wine dark seas,

Jimmy Carter and Gandhi
contemplating deities, religious systems,
boring – I move on

to my favorite:
John Adams throwing a roundhouse
at some random legislator
shouting “WRONG!” as he connects.

Dreams, absurd illusions,
Place holders for reality
during the boredom of night
spinning toward sunrise,
an old kinescope
run for my amusement.

Fading at sunrise,
the coffe jolt and
the news paper announcing:

the president read Camus,
Clinton crossed a turbid ocean,
and Saint Jimmy went to Stockholm.

Absurd illusions,
place holders for reality
framing my day
begun with a daily prayer
for the second coming of
John Adams’ fist.


Ed Bennett is a telecom engineer living in Las Vegas. He was born and raised in new York City, lived for a time in the New Jersey suburbs, eventually moving to the bucolic Eden of the Mojave Desert. His work has appeared in The Manhattan Quarterly, The Paterson Literary Review and he was a past finalist for The Alan Ginsberg Poetry Award.

Monday, October 15, 2007

DUCK LADY

by David Chorlton


Will you mind my tools for a while
the lady with the carrier says
I have to catch a duck.
She’s been clipping the vegetation
on the bank of a pond
to reach a drake she thinks is caught
in twine. Thank you. Thank you.
So we stand beside her shears and long handled net
while she treks to a Mexican mallard
struggling in the mud
until she returns with the bird
under her arm. All she needs is
an injection. I take her home. I come back
in half an hour. Forty minutes at the most.
We promise to wait and meanwhile scan
the shallows for slackened wings
or drooping necks. An hour flies by
before a man stops to ask what we have seen.
A yellow warbler and a flock
of peach faced lovebirds. Then I ask
him if he’d mind staying here a while
to relieve us. Saving ducks? he scoffs,
You can’t save ducks. Botulism kills ‘em off
in hundreds. Nothing you can do.
He lifts his binoculars to follow
a black phoebe. It seems like stopping wars,
this rescue undertaking. Nothing
we can do. Bombs, missiles, torture,
generals giving orders, and politicians
talking up the mission. There’s a melancholy
hanging in the air, until the duck lady
returns all out of breath and
struggling in her second language
to say I got to her early enough. She’ll be alright now.
I don’t know how many but one at a time I can do.


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/.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

THE BIG LIE

by Sherman Pearl


Looking regal in kingly costume
it strides onto the stage

sure of its lines, confident
its tremulous voice will shatter disbelief,

drown out the balcony's
nattering doubters. The script, concise

as a bumper strip, is pure poetry--
lines that explain

the corruption of culture, the betrayal
of history, the bad weather.

The lighting allows no shadows.
In the glaring clarity

all threats and conspiracies
are exposed, all traitors unmasked.

The set, filled with facades
from less timorous times, is a miracle

of revisionism; the music a symphony
of togetherness, all instruments

in sync with the rousing tempo,
the majestic arc of the maestro's baton.

Harmony resonates from the walls,
the louder the sound the more vibrant

its echoes. The words, intoned
over and over, build to a crescendo;

the audience joins in, converted
into a choir of believers

who rush for the exits, still chanting
the lyrics, then down marbled steps

and into the square
where the simple, out-spoken truth

that fled at intermission
hangs from a lamp post.


Sherman Pearl is a co-founder of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and author of four published collections (most recently, The Poem in Time of War, ConfluX Press, 2005). His work has appeared in more than 40 literary magazines and anthologies (including Sam Hamill's Poets Against the War). His awards included first prize in the 2002 poetry competition of the 2002 National Writers Union, judged by Philip Levine.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

KINDERGARTEN'S NOT FOR SQUARES

by Rochelle Ratner


No whiners, stompers, biters, dawdlers, doodlers, bed wetters. China's finest school accepts only boys whose round heads already mark their intelligence. Every head is measured and remeasured. Molds are made for future reference. Those accepted will read by three and enter college by fifteen, bringing home honors. Hopeful parents take their newborns in their arms, reaching instinctively for that soft spot on the top of the head, letting fingers sink in, rubbing clockwise, shaping, smoothing, unavoidably caressing.


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.

Friday, October 12, 2007

FOURTEEN HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO

THE CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS POEM
rewritten by Dana W. Hall


In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
But everything else in the childhood rhyme,
Ignores and conceals a horrible crime.

The overland route between Asia and Spain,
Was closed making trade very hard to maintain.
But Oriental goods were in high demand,
A new route would allow this exchange to expand.

Aristotle had proved that the world was round,
You could reach eastern Asia by sailing westbound.
The Ancient Greeks calculated the length of the trip,
Far exceeding the range of the most modern ship.

Columbus made absurd and outrageous guarantees,
About his nautical calculations and skills at Sea.
But despite reservations expressed by the King,
He was given three ships outfitted by the Queen.

He set sail in August of 1492,
his Log Book describes what he planned to do.
To take wealth and riches wherever they were found,
His thievery would become historically profound.

Columbus reached Islands in the Caribbean Sea,
Not even close to where he thought he should be.
He said there was gold and made other false claims,
To gain the support for more voyages from Spain.

Columbus described the Natives as being,
Generous, hospitable, and very agreeing.
Not quarrelsome excitable - - devoid of hate,
He knew they’d be easy to dominate.

He made several voyages to the Caribbean Sea,
Visited the mainland where he thought Asia should be.
He colonized the region and controlled everything,
Destroying the culture and lives of every human being.

He appointed himself Governor; no one disagreed,
Extermination of the Natives could then proceed.
Their homes and lands were taken by force,
Those not killed were enslaved without remorse.

He created a “tribute system” very tragic to behold,
Intended to fulfill Spain’s unending lust for gold.
Requiring a quota from every Native over fourteen,
Or their hands were cut off, death became quite routine.

Natives were raped at will and many used as slaves,
The rest were exterminated, in a variety of ways.
By burning, hanging, cut in pieces or in half,
Babies swung by the feet and their skulls were smashed.

He initiated the conquest and genocide,
During his expeditions, 9 million people died.
Following the”Civilization” of the Western Hemisphere,
100 million vanished as a result of European profiteers.

Columbus didn’t keep the promises made to the Crown,
And a sea route to Asia, he never found.
He could not deliver on his guarantees of Gold,
But colonization of the Americas began to unfold.


Dana W. Hall is a semi-retired civil engineer. Reared in Redding, CA, he enlisted in the Marines out of high school and served in Vietnam. He pursued a bachelor's degree from Cal State Northridge and worked in the field of engineering until 2000. Member of Vietnam Veterans Against The War & a hardworking advocate for restoring liberties and freedom for future generations, he has created lyrics for two political based songs.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

HOW MUCH HEART I HAVE

by Charles W. Harvey


Here comes the Clipboard
With his pen blood filled
Dangling like a cut-off dick.
Here he comes. Here he comes again.

I’m the man on the treadmill
Being measured for how much
Heart I have.
I run fast. I sweat piss.
The clipboard nods, frowns
Hunches his feminine shoulders
As he adjusts dials and switches.

I’m the man in the vat of ice water.
A hood over my head hides me from him.
The clipboard yells out questions staccato style
His hot spit on my nipples is my only comfort.
I tell him I can’t even spell “Ben Laden”
The “Crips” and the “Bloods” are a rock group
And as far as I know they still hide cocaine inside Coca-Cola.
I’m just a working man, a foot soldier
Bringing home bacon
One slice at a time.
The clipboard harrumphs
Orders more ice for his drink.

Sitting down over coffee
What do you think of “nigger?”
The clipboard asks me.

I say it’s very good
Even on a scale of ten...
Yes I like it better than Aunt Jemima and Uncle Tom
The clipboard frowns and writes furiously
As if he’s screaming words at his Mama.

He feeds all my answers into a computer
And outcomes a composite sketch of me
Looking something like Willie Horton
Something like Colin Powell
Something like Clarence Thomas
Something like John Allen Muhammad.


Charles Harvey's works have appeared on this site, Velvet Mafia, and others. He lives and works in Houston. You can see some of his fiction at www.amazon.com/shorts.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

THE HORS D'OEUVRES

by Derek Tellier


Just had a daughter, the bill
ran twenty thousand dollars,
two nights in the hospital.
Insurance hesitated. I cussed
at the phone. They forked,
but we still owe. If my balls
weren’t in a vice…

we’d have the next one
at home. This health
care monster licks
open wounds. Its
mixed-fraction,
math-forked tongue
laps blood off
the fat globules,
but its manners
are impeccable.


Derek Tellier’s work has appeared in Ascent Aspirations, Pindeldyboz.com, The Pedestal Magazine.com, Poetry Motel, Blue Lit and Small Spiral Notebook.com. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. He teaches English in the Twin Cities and is finishing a poetry collection.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

THE THINGS WE CARRY

by Stefanie Botelho


They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried. -Tim O’Brien

The Things We Said
The last phone call
Before your deployment
To Afghanistan
I could only imagine
Sand, fatigues, the void
Of you gone
You kept our goodbye
Neat, short

This was the first time I
Mean the phrase
I love you
As a shield, a warm blanket
Saying them again
So they would cover you
Over ocean, desert
I suck on my cigarette
As the words surface
Will the smoke
To absorb my tears

The Things We Hid:
In letters
Fears entrenched
In spaces between words
The first reports of gun fire exchanged
Delivered in muted tones on AM radio
Our mother clenched my hand
Her pinched face
Framed in the car window
A portrait
Of nausea gauging my insides
Of reality railroading to tragedy

Your letters home
Indecipherably cheery
Only good news
Amusing tidbits
The ego trip
Of chocolate eyed
Kandahari women
Treating you
Like a superhero
Kids slipping you
Mild 88 cigarettes, illegal whiskey

I’ll learn later
You lost a Corporal in your battalion
2nd L.A.R., Bravo Company, 3rd Platoon
To enemy fire at an observation post
My ears covered to this loss
Amidst your chaos
You refused to give
More reasons
For me to worry

The Things They Said:
Sitting next to you
After the welcome home parade
At our nicked dining room table
Listening to the reporter from
The Danbury News-Times
Fire question after question
Barely taking time to reload
He shoots,
You kill anybody over there?

You shift in the padded chair
Your gaze splicing
Between the reporter
And me
Your little sister
Holding in my breath
For the answer
Your hesitation
Already gave
Your head drops
Raising your eyes to him,
Do you really have to print that?

The Things That Remain:
The armor of I love you.
We don’t talk about it as
Much as I’ve read we should
The relief of having you home
Relinquishing the need
To revisit what you left behind
After we’ve both had a few beers
I tiptoe around questions
About your nightmares
Your memory lapses
Your souvenir photos of bodies
Limbs strewn around corpses
Like confetti
At a birthday party
In Hell
The things we carry
Too heavy
For us to begin to unravel


Stefanie Botelho, self-described book dork and devoted follower of the written word, recently graduated with a B.A. in English from Southern Connecticut State University, and was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta (The International English Honor Society) before graduation.

Monday, October 08, 2007

PUBLIC HEARING

by Scot Siegel


            I am not looking out a window.
I am not standing in front of or
Behind a window. I am not sitting with my back

            Turned toward a window. This room is
A parallelogram. Walnut veneer
and wall-to-wall Berber emit
Formaldehyde. Our elected officials

            File into the chambers; we huddle
Below them on steel folding chairs. We are
The public. Mr. Brook left his daughter
In charge of the diner. He is here to save it from
Condemnation. He could lose it all tonight.

            The Mayor enters. She just had her
Hair done. I wonder, has she ever tried
Brook’s Hungarian goulash? But we could use
A crosswalk there. So many have almost died
Dashing across five lanes in the darkness

            In the rain. Simon’s carwash. They call it
An eyesore; pedestrian un-friendly. They say,
Underutilized; Blighted; The City could make it

            The next mixed-use lifestyle center;
Empty-nesters or young couples would flock there.
Lattes, soap, kitchen accessories. –
(But have they seen the way Simon sprays

            Scrubs, waxes, buffs – The way he wipes
The blade-end of the squeegee, the white cloth?)
Service with a smile; that’s our town. Twenty-six
Dollars a square foot for Class ‘A’ Retail; and Maria’s
Consignment shop would go bust quick as an

E-mail –

            Thirty-two lean forward; we cannot hear. Some
Whispering, a shuffling of papers; a hand roving
Feedback grows to screech; someone muffles
The microphone– under their spell (the hovering gavel)
we wait –

            There are no windows in this room
Where policies are molded;
Where the future is made –


Scot Siegel is a land use planner and poet from Lake Oswego, Oregon. His poems have previously appeared in Open Spaces, The Oregonian, Red River Review, among others.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

FAITH IN THE DESERT

by John E. Simonds


Step this way,
I have an answer
to our problem
of belief and death.
I’ve found under the sand
the Word Made Divine we
were looking for all along.
Too late to bring back
the exploding dead
in their dusty boots
and pre-faded camouflage shrouds,
but through this door and
beneath the desert floor,
what if I told you we found
the arsenal, that grail that led us here?
The mother of all Manhattan Projects,
complete with yellow cake,
that quick-mix pride of nuclear kitchens;
and canisters of flu,
Asian and Avian,
anthrax and eboli;
tanks of nerve gas,
bugs ready to eat
the wheat of Kansas
in an afternoon,
wilder than a hazmat dream
or a toxic expo,
all on shelves clearly labeled
for holiday shipment.
What if we found it all here
like a Soviet May Day parade,
in mail-order warehouse display,
affirming the losses of those
who came here on probable cause?
Who cares how it got here?
Consider the planted clue
another form of “extreme rendition,”
shipping the answers you want
somewhere else to be found,
a new tune from an old score.
(Think Halliburton as Wal-Mart!)
Point is it’s here, and we found it.
We were right, after all, to bend
down the statue and also the rules,
flash the V fingers, plan welcomes
and hope for hosannahs.

Having seen the goods,
can we now blow them up
and go home,
and let others find
what they want
to believe in the desert?

Or was there something else,
another reason to search
for a cause beneath the sands?
(Surely not the price at the pump.)
The Word Made Divine
could be what we sought,
and found was here all along
in the valley where life began,
the place that drew us all back
to remind us how far we’ve gone
in chasing things we believe.


John E. Simonds, a retired Honolulu daily newspaper editor and former mainland journalist, has lived in Hawai'i since the 1970s.

THE 11TH HOUR AND GENERATION Z*

by HL


The end of civilization?
Not the Greatest Generation
nor W,X,Y or the Boomers can face the Z
Who will come to be
                The doomsday eye witnesses
But WE
The 4F generation, the Q-pals
are not, are not among that list
Our parents camouflaged credulity
forced them under dust storm clouds
beneath empty hay racks
covered with Russian thistles
gathered for critters
too thin to butcher and stew

Once the war made them fat
those marked souls
traded gas rations for love children
one of those few
who only heard the
unremembered
fireside chats on the radio

Our draft deferment education wasted
Some trudged off to their own war
while the boomers ranted
the Q watched the Chicago seven on TV

10 week wonders with brains but no balls
who dodged mandatory ROTC in protest
Grew rebel hair that touched their ears
They was the quick minted colonels
Boomers had to juice

The Q generation was unqualified
The wrong cohort
An anomaly conceived in a hurry
before a probable death
a hope to replace what was sure to be
a Patton wet dream
                “duty and country”
An afterthought not worth counting

Thankful to be taken for granted
About a death wish
Sold at the fish market
10 cents on a dollar

Smelling like Friday
It is only Tuesday when the Clock
reset by Eisenhower
grinds to a halt for lack of petroleum
An interstate highway
needing repair
can't take us away to our
Red Planet fantasy before
the nuclear snow storm
melts in a greenhouse
built without a plan

*title from article by Kelpie Wilson t r u t h o u t | Environmental Editor (Sep 14, 2007)


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

Saturday, October 06, 2007

CLUELESS OXYMORONS

PoeArtry by Charles Frederickson


WAR SPELLED BACKWARDS IS RAW

Peaceniks rebels championing honorable cause
    Liberals weird perverts who care
        Progressives controlled chaos unsung heroes
            Patriotism vested interest unquestioning loyalty

SPIN SPELLED BACKWARDS IS NIPS

Friendly Fire clearly ambiguous buttheads
    Rules of war safety hazards
        Never civil holy or just
            Good grief mighty fine mess

EVIL SPELLED BACKWARDS IS LIVE

True lies doublespeak we-evil hitlist
    Politically incorrect equal rights wronged
        Defense budget fatcat contributor paybacks
            Known-covert operation open secret denials

IRAQ SPELLED BACKWARDS IS VIETNAM

Military intelligence smart bomb clusters
    Pre-emptive strike misguided unprovoked attack
        Crusader Mission Accomplished dead-end quagmire
            Cardinal sins Mea Culpability bloodshed

WON POTS SPELLED BACKWARDS IS STOP NOW!


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.

Friday, October 05, 2007

IMMIGRATION POLICY

by Wayne Crawford


1. The Republican Immigration Policy

Go home, immigrant. Go back
to your filthy, crowded homes,
your war-arteried skies,
your barren land, your foreign
tongue. Go back to your hunger,
your hopelessness, your manual,
minimal skills, your diet
of insects and leaves, spoiled meat,
toxic fish, and your angry god.

Go back to your hurricanes,
your uncontrolled fires and floods,
your fleas,
your stolen goods, knives and guns,
diseases, rapists, your dumb
sons of bitches. Go back to your lies
and your packs of liars, your drugs
and your drug lords, your hordes
of law-breakers. We don’t want
you here, now or ever, never did.
Go back, go back to stay, and
take your family with you.

II. The Democrats’ Immigration Policy

We love immigrants.
We are all immigrants.
Immigrants are us.
(sing) We are the party of , We are the party of ....
We are the party that parties
while the other one organizes churches.
We speak White English.
We speak Black English.
We speak Spanish, Spanglish, yiddish and New Jerseyish.
(sing) We are the party of, we are the party of....
We do the white handshake. We do the black handshake.
We do the homo hug, we dig Latino love.
We’re Democrats. Not aristocrats.
Immigrants, not fat cats.
Democrats
love immigrants.
(sing) We are the party of, we are the party of....


Wayne Crawford manages the online literary journal, Lunarosity, and is co-managing editor of Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders, an annual anthology of New Mexico writers and others in that region. His work has appeared in New Verse News before, as well as in Mannequin Envy, Shampoo, Motherbird, and many others. His latest publication, a book-length collection of poetry, Sugar Trail, was released in September 2007.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

FIFTY YEARS AGO, SPUTNIK

by Earl J. Wilcox


I remember it well, my dear.
I was a soldier on bivouac,
and you were back home
working in the diner.
We lowly privates had done
all the chores the sergeant had
asked us—cleaned our weapon
(not rifle, my dear), hiked two
miles in the dark, dark night
deep into the craggy hills
of western Arkansas. Set up
our pup tents, signed on for
our turn at guard duty.

During a smoke break (smoking
Was still very popular then, and
almost all of us GIs did it, stripped
the butts and ground them out
with the heel of our GI-issued boots),
some smart Yankee had heard
somehow about Sputnik and asked
the sergeant if he thought we could
see it rocketing overhead.

What happened then is still drilled
in my memory, my dear. The man
with three stripes opined that the
Russians were just making it all up,
and that we weren’t likely to see
any “flying saucers” floating around
the bush country of Arkansas. His
reply quieted us as we trudged on,
bones aching, sore-spirited.

Still, before the night ended, three
of us snuck out of our pup tents,
easily steered clear of the so-called
guards on duty, and took another hike
On a little ridge about a mile from camp,
we three sat most of that night until we
finally caught a glimpse of that little
bleeping, bright star circling round
and round our mother earth in orbit.

From that time on night marching
was a lark for me and my buddies,
as we always knew where to look to
see the first rocket into space. Turns
out the Russians weren’t making it
all up after all, my dear.


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, October 03, 2007

POSSIBLE CANCER BREAKTHROUGH "INVENTED" IN FLORIDA GARAGE

by Rochelle Ratner


1.

Smile for Grandpa. No, he's not your grandpa, just a kindly old man going through the same chemo you are. Smile for him. And the first week the children smile. Week after week, he watches their bodies waste away. No energy for smiles now. He wants to take them home with him. He wants them to hear the ham radio he built himself. He wants to pull out the pots and pans and let them bang away. But they have other homes. So at three in the morning he pads into the kitchen and cuts up his wife's gold pie plates. Knowing radio waves will heat gold, knowing gold can be injected into people. Thinking maybe radio waves can heat just those cells, kill just those poisoned cells, leave the others alone. It worked on the hot dogs he kept on hand just in case the children came.

A medical lab's taken over now.


2.

Don't ask why he went to the beach that day, except sometimes it calms him. Don't ask why he brought home a jar of salt water. Don't ask why he poured it into a tube, but the radio waves hit and it caught fire. Suddenly a new possibility for fuel. Suddenly a nation excited. But that's not what he's looking for.

Or maybe it is what he's looking for. Parents suddenly able to afford a car. Children driven back and forth to school, and maybe even play dates. Getting to the hospitals they couldn't reach before. Smiling for the doctors.

His own doctors and two reporters greet him with huge smile. Maybe that's enough for now.


3.

Friend writes to friend writes to friend. Scientists write back to him. This sort of firewater thing's been tried before. Unfortunately it takes more energy to heat the water than to run the car.


He tears up the letter. He buys his wife new clay pie plates. He reminds himself that's not why he started this. He smiles at the latest group of children. Three of them feel well enough to smile back at him.


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, October 02, 2007

LADY HUNTERS

by Rita Catinella Orrell


Extreme sexual violence against women is pervasive in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and local authorities do little to stop it or prosecute those responsible, a U.N. investigator said on Monday. Rape and brutality against women and girls are "rampant and committed by non-state armed groups, the Armed Forces of the DRC, the National Congolese Police, and increasingly also by civilians", said Turkish lawyer Yakin Erturk. "Violence against women seems to be perceived by large sectors of society to be normal," she added in a report after an 11-day trip to the strife-torn country. —Reuters UK, July 30, 2007


In the Democratic Republic of the Congo
soldiers carve up women
with less care than bushmeat.

Their flesh and pelt
are worthless to sell,
unlike the wild bonobos and gorillas.

Like unlicensed medics they
excavate wombs with knives and guns.
Unborn babes are tossed to the gutter
for daring to be born into hell.

I wish the women, alive and dead,
could rise up, castrate these creatures,
drive them from Congo,
from Earth,
from Life.


Rita Catinella Orrell works as an editor and writer in New York City. She is currently a featured poet at www.whlreview.com.

Monday, October 01, 2007

GHAZAL FOR BAIJI, GODDESS OF CHANG JIANG*

by Joan Gelfand


Ancient lore recounts I was born with a princess’ spirit, a princess with a dream,
Of a chosen love, not pre-ordained. I lived on beauty, on dancing, in a dream.

I was re-born in slender dolphin’s form. Followed stars, planets, a moonbeam
(I refused the ugly suitor; my parents drowned me - this was no dream.)

Across continents I journeyed to the Yangtze, a river so rich, so very pristine.
Immersed in pure waters, I sang and swam and loved – this is not a dream.

I lived my new life for millions, yes, millions of years – I reigned supreme
Until you dammed the river! Destroyed our food, then a dream

That I was dying from lethal, man-made things. You didn’t heed my scream
My warning: You will pay for fouling the waters, for the misguided dream

Of shipping on my river, my delicate home. Still, you want to be redeemed
By forgiving waters; you dispatched scientists by boatloads - they didn’t dream

That I would leave this place forever – leave the stench, the once pure stream
Damaged ages of equipoise, yearning forever for that first kaleidoscopic dream.


*the rare river dolphin that inhabited, until its extinction in 2006, China's Yangtze River.


Winner of the 2005 Chaffin Fiction Award, Joan Gelfant's letters, essays, poetry and stories have appeared in numerous national literary journals and anthologies including The New York Times Magazine, Poets & Writers, If Women Ruled the World, and The Streets of New York. Her story "The Art Critic" was nominated for a 2006 Carver short story award. Joan holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Mills College in Oakland, California. A compelling moderator and speaker, Joan founded Salon CIEL, a group of interdisciplinary artists. She is currently serving as Vice-President of the Women's National Book Association.