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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

LOVE AT LAST SIGHT

a new year's resolution
by Scot Siegel


Is there such a thing?
Can it happen more than once?

What if it happens every day?
and has nothing to do with lust,

     or envy
     or democracy

     or god
forsake
     our country…

This is how I might strike-up a new conversation
with the world

If we can do it all over again
but differently…


Scot Siegel is a poet and land use planner from Oregon, where he serves on the board of trustees for the Friends of William Stafford. He is the author of Some Weather (Plain View Press, 2008), and Untitled Country, a chapbook due out from Pudding House Publications in 2009.
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NEW YEAR'S EVE, 2008

by Earl J. Wilcox


For once, then, let’s not toast
those arcane resolutions. OK,
maybe one or two, say something
like we hope for the best in the
new year for the young family
down the street, who had to put
their house up for sale, move
away without telling us where
they went because the dad lost
his job, the mom couldn’t find one,
and their little guy that we loved
watching play catch with his dad
is gone, too, God knows where,
and we’re left holding empty
cups nobody’s going to fill up,
no matter how much toasting
a new year we do.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

BODY COUNT

by David Plumb

New Year 2009

Each day he cuts out
the New York Times Dead in Iraq
and places them in a green metal dish
to rest with the rest
of the silence in between.


David Plumb’s latest fiction book is A Slight Change in the Weather. He has worked as a paramedic, a cab driver, a, cook and tour guide. A long time San Francisco writer, he now lives in South Florida . Will Rogers said, “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” Plumb says, “It depends on the parrot.”
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APPROACHING DECEMBER 31

by Phyllis Wax


The old year’s got
plenty of testosterone left,
enough for a surge
of violence in Gaza ,
in Sri Lanka, in Pakistan ,
and God knows
where else and
what’s He going to do about it,
just send the new lad in
to continue the job— and where
will it all end?


Phyllis Wax keeps up with the news from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. Most recently, she has been published in Out of Line, Free Verse, Wisconsin Poets' Calendar and The New Verse News.
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Monday, December 29, 2008

THE DUSTBIN OF HISTORY

by Jon Wesick


actually a rusty dumpster
behind the Smithsonian
Soggy newspapers, broken glass,
black banana peel on its lid

The last deposit
a dripping garbage bag
coffee grounds, apple cores,
the Taliban
Before that
a broken comb tangled
with Karl Marx’s unruly hair

When the lights go out
dumpster divers crawl inside
searching for anything they can sell:
thumbscrews, Spanish boots,
Hitler’s old razor blades,
dead sparrows, backyard blast furnaces,
Herbert Hoover’s musty economics text,
vials of phlogiston, the recipe
Typhoid Mary used for ice cream,
McNamara’s board games,
Stalin’s toenail clippings,
Pol Pot’s busted stereo

Bad ideas get a quick rinse
in the waters of forgetfulness
and a fresh coat of PR.
Then grocery carts bulging
with Lysenko science,
crusades, jihads, and Thirty Years Wars
the shadowy junkmen scurry
to the marketplace
or political convention
to start a new round
of famine, disease, and war


Jon Wesick has a Ph.D. in physics, has practiced Buddhism for over twenty years, and has published over a hundred poems in small press journals such as American Tanka, Anthology Magazine, The Blind Man’s Rainbow, Edgz, The Kaleidoscope Review, Limestone Circle, The Magee Park Anthology, The Publication, Pudding, Sacred Journey, San Diego Writer’s Monthly, Slipstream, Tidepools, Vortex of the Macabre, Zillah, and others. His chapbooks have won honorable mentions twice in the San Diego Book Awards.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

SNEAKERS

by Earl J. Wilcox

after Robert Frost

When I see white sneakers swinging
from low hanging wires, I like to
think some kid grew tired of wearing
them and heaved them high, or was
celebrating a first kiss, maybe the
baseball coach named him the team’s
catcher. You must have seen these
shoes here and there in the hood, even
in unlikely places. But a boy with only
one pair of shoes summer and winter
holds on to them, would never throw
away his sneakers just when he got
them broke in. Gangs do that, I am told—
toss shoes up on wires---signaling a
nearby hangout, where members do
whatever. But I was going to say
before reality broke in that I wish
instead the shoes were a boy’s whose
graffiti scuffed soles, smudged tongue,
prayed for someone to draw his name
from an office pool ---size, color,
brand don’t matter—and would send
new sneakers to that boy who tossed
the old, paper thin pair up high, a new
ornament dangling from a wire, a
burnished, bright star at Christmas.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News.
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Friday, December 26, 2008

THE FAREWELL LEGACY TOUR

by Earl J. Wilcox


He takes to the road like a fading pop singer,
A farewell tour for the fans, for the faithful
Who long for just one more tune from his
Masterful mouth, one more round of tales
Of his adventures in eight years of singing
The same tunes. He laughs, he jests, he
Fibs, he smirks, he tells jokes, he swaggers
Onto the stage as his minions scribble
New lines for the new songs he will sing
In the Presidential Library, the Auto-
Biography, redefining, rewriting his story.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News.
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Thursday, December 25, 2008

25TH OF DECEMBER

by Joseph Dorazio


No cardboard skeletons
gleefully dance the Charleston now.
No pumpkins grimace.
No cackling witches stir the heated broth.
All that's left are winter's bare bones,
stark and hard and black.
And St. Nick's alchemical tricks:
     earth turned to iron
     water to stone.
The solemnity of another year's end
with its concentric loneliness.
The sun stands still at solstice
while the distant songs of carolers
move past in Doppler Effect
leaving you,
standing alone,
in the silent night

suspended—

like Lot's wife.


Joseph Dorazio studied anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, and served as a docent at Penn's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. His poetry has appeared in a number of regional reviews.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

WOMAN FROM TIBET

by Rochelle Owens


I

There was once a woman from Tibet
who paid the rent and electric bill
flaying carcasses in the Market Place
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
The pants she wore
were made of burlap and silk
          and the edges were frayed
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
Watching the woman from Tibet
earn her living was as good as any
blood sport
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
Hidden in the pockets of her pants
were four lapis lazuli rings
tied together with a string
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
Work is a binding obligation—
You must flay carcasses
in the Market Place
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together
Living in the fiction of her glass eye
the gouged out one of the past
the woman from Tibet flays carcasses
          Bones of a bird’s wing
               hinged together

II

Words from bones the woman from Tibet
her hard skeleton her animal soul
pouring into your blood
Tibetan words words moving up and down
felt in your spine your fibrous substance
          Moving her lips
the woman from Tibet
standing in front of a camera
in the fiction of its glass eye
living in the fiction
the gouged out one of the past
          Work is a binding
obligation—
You must flay carcasses
in the Market Place
as good as any blood sport
rows of birds rows of knives
FLESH becomes WORD through your teeth
your eyebrows through your skull
your brain your nasal bones
in your muscles
          Moving her lips
words in Tibetan     spiraling etching
onto your corneas
turquoise glass lapis lazuli words
embedded into the knives
the blades vibrating
circling white lights circling
through your auditory canal
felt on the palms of your hands
soles of your feet
through your heart
          The woman from Tibet
standing in front of a camera
in the fiction of its glass eye
living in the fiction
the gouged out one of the past
          Work is a binding
obligation—
You must flay carcasses
in the Market Place


Rochelle Owens is the author of eighteen books of poetry and plays, the most recent of which are Plays by Rochelle Owens (Broadway Play Publishing, 2000) and Luca, Discourse on Life and Death (Junction Press, 2001). A pioneer in the experimental off-Broadway theatre movement and an internationally known innovative poet, she has received Village Voice Obie awards and honors from the New York Drama Critics Circle. Her plays have been presented worldwide and in festivals in Edinburgh, Avignon, Paris, and Berlin. Her play Futz, which is considered a classic of the American avant-garde theatre, was produced by Ellen Stewart at LaMama, directed by Tom O’Horgan and performed by the LaMama Troupe in 1967, and was made into a film in 1969. A French language production of Three Front was produced by France-Culture and broadcast on Radio France. She has been a participant in the Festival Franco-Anglais de Poésie, and has translated Liliane Atlan’s novel Les passants, The Passersby (Henry Holt, 1989). She has held fellowships from the NEA, Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and numerous other foundations. She has taught at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Oklahoma and held residencies at Brown and Southwestern Louisiana State.
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Monday, December 22, 2008

WHEREHOW

by Karla Linn Merrifield


Going upstream
testing our limits

canoe & paddles
on Rio Grande

Santa Elena
fatigues us with silt

no Border Patrol
no fence nearby

we edge exhaustion
grow thirsty

with nothing illegal
in our slow thoughts

just making a bend
surely as turtles do

nationality or species
unimportant

more shade desired
more water necessary

but canyon walls
mock us like ravens

we lumber along
elementally

between two countries
belonging only

to tiring muscles
our wasting pink skin

we trespass the silence
without clear borders

in this hot, sere land
accompanied by

thunder—clear warning
to go downstream now

strokes before heat strokes
we must go homeward

but where, how?


A Pushcart Prize nominee and 2009 Everglades National Park Artist-in-Residence, Karla Linn Merrifield has had poetry appear in publications such as CALYX, Earth’s Daughters, Poetica, The Kerf, Negative Capability, Paper Street and Blueline; on line in The Centrifugal Eye, Terrain.org, Elsewhere: A Journal of the Literature of Place, and Elegant Thorn Review, and in several anthologies. In 2006, she edited The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America, from FootHills Publishing; in 2007, FootHills issued her Godwit: Poems of Canada. She is poetry editor of Sea Stories and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. She teaches writing part-time at SUNY College at Brockport.
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

GLOBAL UNITY PRAYER

PoeArtry by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote


Praying to whatever God listens
Keep the faith universal salvation
Chanukkah Christmas Kwanzaa Ramadan Solstice
Offering compassionate kindness merciful forgiveness

Prickly holly sneaky mistletoe kisses
‘Elf conscious North Pole meltdown
Yuletide carols harmonized Silent Night
Birch logs rekindling hearthstone glow

Still believing in wondrous miracles
Temple flame burned eight days
On oil just for one
Menorah candles votive lamp remembrances

Kwanzaa Swahili for First Fruits
African harvest bountiful taproot blessings
Uplifting spirit marching ever onward
Kinara candles red black green

Fasting from dawn to sunset
Obligation demands appetite denial continence
Eid-ul-Fitre feast shared willful charity
Thanking Allah for blessed mercy

Celebrating Tree of Life diversity
Evergreen bodhi cedar baobab pine
All children indiscriminately presented greatest
Gift Peace on Earth TLC



Dr. Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote are co-editors of AvantGardeTimes.com.
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Friday, December 19, 2008

FASHION STATEMENT

by Matthew Quinn


If I were Bush
and ducked a 10 inch shoe
but the Secret Service crew
didn't rush
till after loafer number two,
I would note this
and never shop at Payless.


Matthew Quinn is a freelance writer, editor and researcher. He resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with his muse and a menagerie of disembodied voices.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

:COLON: OSCOPY:

by David Feela


So it’s true that it’s not true
that 90% of all colon procedures
identify cancerous growths.

So it’s also true that being 50
gives you only a 50% chance
of finding polyps in the tract

where men (mostly) suffer
the indignities of being
probed for alien life.

Nothing, it seems, is conclusive
except that final breath
where all the fiber you ate

makes no difference
and the trouble you’ve feared
sneaks up from behind.


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 the High Country News "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.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SOMETHING BETTER ABOUT TO HAPPEN

by Scot Siegel


hard to believe an entire generation
of American children

have grown up in a foreign country
where the anti-war poets, feeling nostalgic

& pathetic, thud our sooty windows
like finches drunk on toxic hedge funds

while the unemployed, mentally ill, and others
incarcerated in upside-down mortgages

wipe the daily grime away and drink from
a cracked urn called the-American-Dream-

on-Trickle-Down-Lies-Ambush-Economics
& other toxic drivel too disturbing to name here . . .

hard to believe so many still get up and go to
school or college or what's left of the jobs

most mornings believing something
better is about to happen . . .

O these days, what I would give
for a new administration, my grandfather's generation

O what I would give for a few rogue epiphanies!
an early inauguration; the next WPA


Scot Siegel is a poet and land use planner from Oregon, where he serves on the board of trustees for the Friends of William Stafford. He is the author of Some Weather (Plain View Press, 2008), and Untitled Country, a chapbook due out from Pudding House Publications in 2009.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

THREW SHOES?

by Bill Costley


“So what if he threw shoes?”
says cheekily defiant Dubya,
missing the symbolism after
a Cairo TV-reporter threw
his shoes at Dubya during
a Baghdad press-conference,

one shoe forcing Dubya
to lame-duck, the other sailing
over Dubya’s head & slamming
into the wall behind him. Throwing
shoes at someone is the worst
insult possible in the Arab world:

shoes cover the body's lowest part,
tread on animal dung, are removed
on entering a house or mosque.
What’s lower? Just the dung itself.



Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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THESE SHOES ARE MADE FOR THROWIN'

by Earl J. Wilcox

after Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra

You say you’ve done something for us

Something we can’t seem to see is true.

You been messin’ where you ought not to be messin'

Now I’ve got something here for only Y O U.


These shoes are made for throwin’

And throwin’ is what I’ll do

I take both of ‘em off right here today

And throw them both at Y O U.


You keep lyin' when you ought to be truthin’

We’re losing and you know it’s true

But I got a pair of number tens on today

That I’m throwin' right at Y O U.


These shoes are made for throwin’

And throwin’s what I’ll do

I’m takin’ both of em’ off right here today

And throwin’ them both at Y O U.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

BIRTHRIGHT

by Scott Simpson


Jacob stole his birthright,
being clever and tricky
and gets the bad rap
on account of greed,
but what about the sin of Esau
who sold his birthright for a single
bowl of soup?

And sure, at the time
it seemed reasonable
Esau seeing nothing but his hunger
                    —gut wrenching hunger
but emptiness doesn’t always
render us clear of sight—
sometimes it shapes desperate eyes
and snatching hands.

I imagine Esau there at table,
hunger sated, realizing now
the emptiness of the bowl
the emptiness—
what he’d given up…

                    or maybe not,
maybe Esau simply belched
and excused himself, because
satiation doesn’t always
render us mindful
of consequence.

Keep brother stuffed;
he’ll never know he’s being taken.

And sometimes my own hunger
is the voice I hear telling me to short-sell
for a few immediate spoonfuls…

I have seen the children
of stolen birthrights,
stolen, in the end, by their feeders--
by those who have something
to sell them… and something to gain
from the selling.

And I’m a teacher
for Heaven’s sake,
with a bowl of soup
and some hungry students
willing to eat
what I’m dishing up--
indiscriminately--
filling the pits of swollen bellies
with what’s been mandated
with what the research says
will surely fill them.

And I could spend days
feeding them data soup
chock-full of standards
in a warm broth of best practice
and we could raise the bar
make AYP
incentivize the path
till no one’s left behind.

But what if something
has been squandered
while I was ladling—
what if they’ve traded
some blood-right,
some unique mark…

What if we educators
have helped them trade
a birthright
for a bowl of
compliance soup?


Scott Simpson is a former high school teacher, college professor, camp director and lay-minister who attempts to live a contemplative lifestyle on a planet that views quietness and stillness as destructive ideas that could potentially undermine the fabric of society. He, indeed, hopes to undermine the fabric of that society with quietness and stillness. Scott lives on a planet called Earth. Scott's poems have appeared in Switched-On Gutenburg, BigCityLit, and New Verse News, and anthologized in In Praise of Pedagogy (2000, Calendar Press). You can listen to some of Scott's music and poetry on MySpace.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

CAPPUCCINO SMILE

by Peter Branson

"The opinion that art should have nothing to
do with politics is itself a political attitude."
--George Orwell, “Why I Write.”

Young Costa girl
with fashionable dreadlocks
and early morning eyes
sits down, no customers
about, asks what
you write: a poem
on 'Tolpuddle',
at least you're trying to.
"They pay the minimum,
this lot. No unions here;"
melt-water over stone.
The coffee bar warms up
so she must leave,
missing your mulled
apology by miles.

Robbed of their common wealth,
farm workers starve
on seven bob a week.
These fields were hedged with greed.
No combination laws,
the charge is fixed and primed:
transported seven years,
but not for what's been done
and said, grapeshot across
the bows. "The Safety of
the country is at stake,"
the Judge points out.
In 1984,
"The enemy within,"
life imitated art.


Peter Branson is a creative writing tutor. Until recently he was Writer-in-residence for "All Write" run by Stoke-on-Trent Library Services. He began writing poetry seriously about five years ago and has had work published by many mainstream poetry journals, including Acumen, Ambit, Envoi, Iota, 14, Fire, The Interpreter's House, Poetry Nottingham, Red Ink and Other Poetry. In the last two years he has had success in several competitions including a first prize in The Envoi International, a second place in The Writing Magazine Open and a highly-commended in The Petra Kenney. His first collection, The Accidental Tourist, was published in May 2008.
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Friday, December 12, 2008

DEEP IN PINEY WOODS

by Garland Strother


Forty years ago my friend
Henry chained himself
to the courthouse stairs
in the timber town
of Bogalusa chanting
freedom now in the key
of Dixie, getting himself
whipped across the poor
white skin of his burnt
bald head all the way
down the justice steps
of Washington Parish.
Forty miles south of here
last month deep in piney
woods, the Klan killed
a woman who wanted
to join them, but then
changed her mind. The
Klan said no with a gun,
killing her to keep her.


A native of Tensas Parish in north Louisiana and a retired librarian, Garland Strother currently lives in River Ridge near New Orleans with his wife, Liz, also a librarian. Strother’s poems have appeared in Louisiana Review, Arkansas Review, South Dakota Review, Texas Review, Common Ground Review, Big Muddy, and others.
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Thursday, December 11, 2008

PAPER TIGER

by Bill Costley


In Silicon Valley's Cupertino,
a dutiful grandson eagerly awaits
an annual U.S. Savings Bond

from his indulgent grandfather,
a manufacturer in Shanghai
who shuffles yuans, reading
his falling quarterly orders
report on the United States.

This year his indulgence
will bear the 2-tongued-E
of a Eurobond instead.

Facing the Chinese in Beijing,
Paulson involuntarily shudders
at a hint of chill across the table.

Something’s morphing. Paper’s
no longer just promissory scrip.


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

DOWNTURN

by Howie Good


Everywhere I go, it’s the same thing,

pockets filling up with dirt, with tears,
with small, gray feathers of smoke,

crowds in the background murmuring
a familiar prayer, a powerful name,

impatient for the century to at last begin,
or at least for this dry season to end,

and as I stare out across the page,
I wish I could remember a time

when shadows were merely shadows
and our skin was blue and gold

like the gorgeous raiment of sacred kings.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of six poetry chapbooks, including most recently Tomorrowland (2008) from Achilles Chapbooks. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Net anthology.
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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

SETTLERS

by Mary Dingee Fillmore


The chainsaw rips the air
of this quiet quarter where trees
are already scarce.

When the lumberman ropes
a locust tree's concentric layers,
I'm sure I've seen him before.

Asked why cut, he replies
"We're cleanin' up the land -
 it belongs to the owner."

Defeated, I walk home under
maples whose crowns
can't be seen overhead -
survivors of woods men cleared
a century ago to make the garden
I love and live by.

They cut even more in the vanishing
Vermont forest: cedar to shingle my house,
spruce to frame it, and golden pine
and birch for floors -
     yes, birch, its snowy bark peeling
      in the darkened woods -

I live in this calamity of cutting, and now
I remember the lumberman's name

It's carved on my great great great
grandfather's gravestone he's the man
whose hard-swung axe hewed out
the place we savages know
as Canada.


Mary Dingee Fillmore earned her M.F.A. at Vermont College after a twenty-five year career in organizational development and a hidden life as a writer. Her poetry about the Holocaust in the Netherlands and other subjects has appeared in Upstreet, Pearl, Diner, Westview, Main Street Rag, Pinyon and Blueline among other venues. She won the Poetry Grand Prize in the 2007 Tallgrass Writers' Guild Contest, and is a winner of the 2006 Iowa Source contest.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

SOCIALIST POKER

by Bill Garvey


The sweet sound of an Obama speech –
words soothingly spoken, the weight he gives each
syllable as if articulation can reach
into our souls, as if reaching into our souls
matters to him – eases my fear about losing my job
or every dollar I’ve saved in my 401K…
which reminds me of a guy named Mike
who won three hands in a row at our Friday night game.
Stacking red, white and green poker chips,
he averted his eyes from the glare of his friends
and then, as if uncomfortable with sudden prosperity,
tossed chips to the poorest among us
as if he were Obama spreading the wealth –
and how I love to utter Obama! Maybe I
voted for the sound of it, knocked on doors
for it, called voters, like Margaret, who raged
into the phone Obama and Biden! Osama bin Laden!
I shouted Change! Argued against for more
years of pasty-faced men who don’t care
about syllables, I actually said, and then
I tossed to Margaret the O in Hope!


Bill Garvey lives in New Hampshire with his wife. Their grown children live in Toronto. Garvey’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in several journals including Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, The Worcester Review, 5AM, Slant, Diner, Concho River Review, and New York Quarterly. Finishing Line Press published his chapbook The Burden of Angels in 2007. Garvey received his MFA from New England College.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

CRY

by N.C. Haiduck


Around and around the world it goes
to Africa, China , England , Malaysia ,
a hole in its pocket, sitting in hard polished shadows,
a cry for peace.

We are people, unemployed, in peril,
trying to master rents, insurance,
our lives interrupted by a televised glimpse,
crying for peace.

Oily gloves count all of the signs
in all of the streets, worth trillions of dollars,
on every continent,
a cry for peace.

We want jobs, clean air, water,
to teach our children,
to answer each, in the unprecedented cathedral,
with a cry for peace.

It staggers through Serbia , Korea , Russia ,
careens, through Turkey , Arabia , America ,
black shoes scuffed by the cold, white Artic Circle ,
a cry for peace.

Ignoring the voices of nuclear dust,
newspapers tease us a bit,
Hiroshima unravels, Nagasaki falls and we all
cry for peace.


N.C. Haiduck teaches writing at The City College of New York, where she won the English Department’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 2007. Her poetry can be found in the Paterson Literary Review, New York City Streets in Poetry, Main Street Rag, BigCityLit, Anderbo.com, and other online and print journals.
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Friday, December 05, 2008

LETTERS FOR JUSTINE MASIKA BIHAMBA IN THE DRC

by Kaci Elder


Was this the man who laid himself upon your little girl,
He, whose belt nearly unbuckled itself in a feverish haste to get something,
Something onto her, into her, through and around and between her
Tightening tightening thighs?
Was this the man who locked eyes with you when you'd suddenly
RUN into the room?

Was this the gun he used to break into your home
Into the safe and protected space you'd set aside from the world you usually roam,
With the risks you take to defend we whose cunts are called shame
Who are still scrubbing down the walls inside ourselves to feel clean again?
Was this the gun he held to your children's heads, your six trembling babes
NOW fearing death?

Was this the uniform he wore on the night he stormed inside,
His matching buddies by his side as he shouted "Where did Justine go!"
They wanted you, yes, you know, because you work to stop rape, you work against the pain thickly slapped against women in the democratic republic of this congo.
Was this the uniform he wore when he knew the military men would look
AWAY from punishment?

Well,
I've taken his gun and I've taken his clothes and I've taken this man
Without taking his life.
I've done nothing more than bring him to you,
Cuffed inside of this courtroom.

I wrote my thoughts to your dear president, a simple thing,
But there were thousands of us, so many thousands of us that he was forced to relent
And now here you are, and here is that man and I'm with you still, Justine,
As black marks on a white page
Tucked in an envelope, telling the world your story.


An actor and poet, Kaci Elder is learning the long, slow lesson that black lines--magically assembled into letters then words then indented messages on the page--can subtly shift consciousness and the way we see each other. Can even lead to freedom. She manages a hostel in Redwood National Park with her muses, Ryan her husband and Rory her son.
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Thursday, December 04, 2008

TWINKLE

by Lori Desrosiers

Doctors in India are baffled as to why a young girl spontaneously bleeds through her pores without being cut or scratched, the Telegraph reported Tuesday. Twinkle Dwivedi, 13, sometimes wakes up in the morning covered in dried blood that has seeped through her eyes, nose, hairline, neck and the soles of her feet. She has undergone several transfusions. --AOL Health News, 1 October 2008

Mystics and Krishna won’t cure you
Halleluiah child of bleeding pores
child of India, mother holds your hand
in blue and fuscia striped pajamas
waiting for another transfusion
another doctor to say he doesn’t know
ask the Sufi saints
who sing and dance for you
al hamdu’l ‘illah but nothing happens
your face is lovely I see why they
called you Twinkle and the red stain
runs down your cheek like a teardrop
that won’t come off, but at the same time
you smile for cameras hoping someone will
bring the right medicine, poor little star
so the children will play with you again
so the saints will go sing for someone else


Lori Desrosiers' chapbook Three Vanities is being published by Pudding House Press in 2009. Her poems have appeared in Common Ground Review, Big City Lit, The Equinox, Ballard Street Poetry Journal, November 3rd Club, Blue Fifth Review, Gold Wake Press' mini-chapbook series and others. She is the managing editor/publisher of Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry. She lives in Westfield, Massachusetts and is a member of Florence Poets Society.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

OF COURSE THIS NEVER HAPPENED

by George Spencer


2 black cops come to check a suspicious white guy
at the country club

he's armed with a driver, a 5 iron
starts to pull something out of his golf bag

hard to see white guys in the bright sun

100 bullets
fifty from each gun


George Spencer lives in Ecuador half the year where he started its first poetry slam. Recently, he had poems in CLWN WR, Stained Sheets, Rain Tiger, 63 Channels and Poetry MidWest. PWP is publishing his chapbook Obscene Richness of Our Times in '09.
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Monday, December 01, 2008

EARTHSHINE

a found newspoem by Scot Siegel
based on "Doorstep Astronomy: Venus Shines Bright" by Joe Rao at Space.com


These days, there is much ado
about Venus & Jupiter hovering
aligned in the near sky. Never mind
that planetary spectacle.

Monday night, shift your lens
to the right and you might spot
the full globe of the darkened moon
gloating, its shadowy portion

Glowing with a blueish-gray
hue interposed between sunlit
crescent & the not much
darker sky

This vision,
some call "the old moon
in the young moon's arms"


Scot Siegel is an urban planner and poet from Lake Oswego, Oregon where he serves on the Lake Oswego City Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees for The Friends of William Stafford. His first full-length poetry collection Some Weather is forthcoming in 2009 from Plain View Press.
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Sunday, November 30, 2008

TO THE MAXX AT WAL-MART

by James Penha


"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed,
people were yelling `I've been on line since yesterday morning,'"
[a witness] said. "They kept shopping."



From the first crisp November morning tackle
that brought me down onto the stairwell floor
strewn with the glass confetti of firecrackered doors,
I felt proud with every boot to my teeth,
heels grounding down my eyes
and kneecaps, toes hummered into my groin,
again and again, I felt proud with every explosion
of my spleen and the unfurling of my guts
like leftover Turkey stuffing
to give my life even temporarily
at a minimum wage to jump-start the economy
for 9-11 pilgrims and terror warriors
in need of black-light bargains
on this most American holiday.


James Penha edits The New Verse News.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

JUST TRYIN TO GET THIS STRAIGHT

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


So the guy who didn't desert his lover of two months time when that lover said
I'm sick and may be dyin
This guy who stayed with him through thick and thin, for six years
Or was it seven?
When on a snowy Sunday mornin the angels came and carried him up to
Back-a-the-bus heaven, this guy

And the two women who adopted the little boy with the fiercest cowlick
And the most godawful tick
Taking his sister, too, who had MS
The little boy in a dark blue suit
The little girl in the prettiest dress,
These two women cuz of their love for each other
(And for their kids, better than any 20 other mothers)

All the on-and-ons, the Janices of Joplin, and Johns
of Elmira, the guys with their soft eyes and softer smiles,
The women whose hearts are red and blue
Just like me, just like you
Only a little better, just a little better
As hearts are when they've been in use
Through years of silence, the science of abuse

Come on
Have the goddamn guts
For now, now and forever after
Squatting on your haunches
On your temporal rafters

Say it
Say it I said
Say it to my sister and your brother
My daughter and your son
Our parents
Our gods

Say how they ain't

They ain't, ain't, ain't, ain't, ain't, they AIN'T

What qualifies
In your reality of morbid constraint
The perfect union of sticks and stones
More perfectly known as
A
Latter-Day
Saint


Steve Hellyard Swartz's poetry has appeared in New Verse News, Best Poem, Haggard and Halloo, switched-on gutenberg and The Kennesaw Review. He has won Honorable Mention in the 2007 and 2008 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, as well as the Mary C. Mohr and Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. His poems will appear next year in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review. In 1990, his film "Never Leave Nevada" opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
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Friday, November 28, 2008

MUMBAI BURNS

by Vivek Sharma


Did you see the sobbing reporter describe how the Taj of Mumbai burns?
How many will Asuras cause to die before O Vishnu as avataar returns?

The fanatic bullet hunts gazelles everywhere that nostalgia mourns.
Where is the machine crafted that chokes our unfinished yearns?

Differences are astonished at the atrocities flowing in their name.
Can anyone explain it to these cubs, where this feud begins?

Words loaded into Kashalnikovs explode in believer's brains.
What savage desires issue death sentences to their sons?

You fight your kith and kin, seeking separate land-holdings.
See our heritage now desecrated by our own selfish actions.

Tearful ocean is filled with the ash of my extinguished loves.
My hurt is the chorus of subdued sighs of colossal nations.

There is absolutely no God who honors assassins.
He is all powerful. He needs no help from tainted persons.

Courage is in protecting, in fighting limitations, in peace.
Who is using this chicanery to teach the faithful satanic lessons?

Light up a diya, whisper me the ancient hymns of Shanti!
Forge within Vivek again that grit for overcoming tribulations.


Vivek Sharma grew up in Himachal Pradesh, a state in the Himalayas, India. Vivek (Ph. D., Georgia Tech.) is conducting post-doctoral research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming in Poetry, Atlanta Review, The Cortland Review and Terminus and was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize by New Verse News. He is a columnist for Divya Himachal, a Hindi newspaper in India and his research has appeared in science journals.
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

VENISON

by Thomas D. Reynolds


My ancestors were hunters,
Walking wooded paths at dusk.

In lean times their eyes turned to sky,
at squirrels leaping from weeping willow branches.

Catfish tested their bobbers atop the Buffalo River,
and across the fields stared glassy-eyed from stringers.

Hogs were slaughtered just beyond flower beds,
and amidst carnage, people gossiped about weddings.

So when my brother the hunter brought venison steaks
to be cooked with turkey and ham on Thanksgiving Day,

That was only fitting.
Still a few of us leaned over as they sizzled on the stove,

detecting wildness unloosed into the kitchen--
rain dripping from pines and dried leaf piles,

the biting briskness of the first autumn snow,
dedge smoke drifting in from a distant line shack.

My brother recounted the hunt in western Missouri,
how the doe trailed off for miles after she was shot,

finally falling beside a stand of scrub oak.
My brother and the others immediately set to with knives,

first dragging her onto a sheet of new fallen snow,
then slicing her from end to end and removing the heart.

Wind beat against a loose pane in the kitchen window,
and no one even grimaced when her head was removed.

How soon even the skittish settled into old ways!
The wood in the stove spat sparks onto rugs.

My uncle and a few of the boys stood outside the shed,
hurling knives into dirt and judging the depth.

The two youngest began running through rooms,
with the smallest one destined to be shot and quartered.

Deer Boy maintained a step or two until he was cornered,
and all of us smiled to see him die so gracefully.

My aunt handed me a plate of newly thawed venison,
and after laying them in the pan, I stared at my hands.

Dark blood coursed down small rivulets,
While echoes of night woods encircled me.


Thomas D. Reynolds received an MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University, currently teaches at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas, and has published poems in various print and online journals, including New Delta Review, Alabama Literary Review, Aethlon-The Journal of Sport Literature, Flint Hills Review, The MacGuffin, The Cape Rock, The Pedestal Magazine, Eclectica, Strange Horizons, Combat, 3rd Muse Poetry Journal, and Ash Canyon Review.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

LARGE MAN SMALL DOG

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


A very large man is walking a very small dog
Along the sidewalk in the business district of town
He may be going to the post office or to the store to buy a jar of mustard
And combining the errand with the dog’s walk for the day

At one end of the taut leash the little dog is all energy and alertness
Ears up looking around smartly and importantly
At the other end of the leash the man looks disconsolate shuffling along
Gazing at the pavement his large belly filling up the front of his Hawaiian shirt

Perhaps the man is thinking about the shattered economy
Perhaps he has lost his job and is wondering
How soon or if he’ll be able to find another one
And how he’s going to buy dog food and pay the rent

Or is he thinking about the weather and what it means
That a day in late November is warm and sunny and rainless
When by all rights it should be cold and dreary and wet
With storm after storm filling up the creeks and reservoirs

Not far from here are creeks where salmon return every year
And where the locals go to watch them swim upstream and cheer them on
As they hurl themselves against the current
Up waterfalls and the steps of fish ladders

Maybe the very large man with the very small dog was one of those
Who helped to build the fish ladders and maybe he is worrying
Not about his lost job but about what will happen to the salmon
As the earth warms and the creeks dry up

Or it could be that he is mentally counting the war dead in Iraq and Afghanistan
Or the corpses piling up in the Congo for our cell phones
He might be thinking about starvation in Gaza
Or the Navajo grandmothers being evicted from Big Mountain

Of course the dog knows nothing about the economy or global warming
About occupations and proxy resource wars and brutal sieges and genocide
But it does sense that something is wrong that its friend is in pain
So the very small dog is taking the very large man for a walk because

A dog understands how important it is not to give in to despair
How important it is to get out of the house every day and taste the air
To sniff out the facts to dig up the truth to stand up to the Big Dogs
And let the whole world know that you’re alive and barking


Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LETTER TO PUCCINI

by David Chorlton


Dear Giacomo, after much resistance I came around
to accepting the premise that beauty
is most beautiful in tragedy. Poor Mimi, cold
and terminally ill, touches us where no inspirational speaker
can reach. Earning what we deserve
doesn’t sound so attractive after listening to her die
and there’s something vainglorious
about the way people strut their successes and talk
into cell phones to set up the next deal
while the spotlight shines on a dying aria and they
don’t even know it’s happening. Give me
a story with tears; I’m tired of victory marches,
of boasting as a qualification to be president, of compound
interest as a way of life, let me enjoy
a good long cry. It’s a shame that Madama Butterfly
killed herself, but it feels good to see it.
The Buddhist dies. The Navy lieutenant lives.
The sympathy and music are hers.
You liked exotic settings, but they’re hard for us to reach
with travel agencies turned into counter-terrorism
units these days. You might have found a plot
right here to make into opera. A poor girl from Mexico
cleans a rich man’s house but is arrested
for jay-walking on her way back
to the tumbledown apartment where she lives
and because she has no papers the sheriff orders
that she be deported. You could have written such
a stirring chorus for the scene in which she tries
to escape. You could have made us cry
for everyone who tried to help her, but we don’t really need
the score anymore. It happens and it’s beautiful
to watch people confront the harsh authorities.
Even when they fail and none of them can sing
I think of your most painful scenes
where no border runs
between happiness and grief.


David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix for 30 years and come to love the desert around it. He recently won the Ronald Wardall Award from Rain Mountain Press for The Lost River, a chapbook whose contents reflect his unease with what is happening to our planet. More of his work, including paintings, is at his Web site.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

LEAVES

an ode to e e cummings


by Earl J. Wilcox


Here,
where
leaves
by the ton
fall
every fall
nobody can solve
the mystery
of when leaves
will fall
or how to tame ‘em
once the fall
is underway.
This fall
leaves
seem slower
but brighter
in hues,
falling
slowly one day,
faster the next,
insisting on
their own pace
until they all
fall
down
down
down.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he has contributed 43 poems to The New Verse News.
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

THE LAMB CHOPS OF GOD

by Joseph Dorazio


The word God spelled-out in the seeds of a slice of eggplant—
that regal and chaste purple beauty. Now ask yourself,
could that ever happen in a cucumber?

The blessed Virgin Mary appears as a grease stain
on a pizza pan, or on a toasted cheese sandwich.
While the world hungers for meaning,

God simply hungers. And why shouldn't the Lord appear
in our food? The Devil certainly does: E. coli in spinach,
salmonella tainted peanut butter jars,

prions and mad cows. While obese Americans battle the bulge,
the powers of good and evil are duking it out in our food.
It's a Biblical struggle for our tines: extra virgin olive oil

versus tabasco sauce. Sur la table apocalypse style for the
second coming of Child, and Nostradamus' third anti-pasto.
Ah, such is life in these endive times.


Joseph Dorazio studied anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, and served as a docent at Penn's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. His poetry has appeared in a number of regional poetry reviews.
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Saturday, November 22, 2008

DREAMS FROM MY OBAMA

by Donna Hilbert


On the first night we celebrate
victory on the reservation.
Even my brother dances
though he is Republican.
I drink too much
and must be helped
from the stage.

On the second night my love
and I give birth to a baby boy.
We are surprised
to find the baby
is Bolivian.
This is Obama’s first miracle.

Donna Hilbert’s latest book is The Green Season, newly released from World Parade Books. She is the subject of the documentary Transforming Matter, by director Christine Fugate, which is nearing completion.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

THE WAY TO WIN IS TO LOSE

by Gary Lehmann


In the days of rising winds, about 500 BC,
the Viscount of Wu was faced with an
overwhelming enemy at his gates.

Wu calmly arrayed his 3000 soldiers in the field
and commanded that they cut their throats.

When they all obeyed, the enemy was so horrified
they ran away, refusing to enter a city of madmen,
and leaving Wu in command of his city.

Sun Tzu says the essence of effective warfare
is not destruction, but disorientation.


Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Gary Lehmann’s essays, poetry and short stories are widely published. Books include The Span I will Cross (Process Press, 2004) and Public Lives and Private Secrets (Foothills Publishing, 2005). His most recent book is American Sponsored Torture (FootHills Publishing, 2007).
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

WALL STREET

by David Radavich


Something
keeps spiraling

down
down

beyond words
or images

seasons

almost
a rain dance

black snake
coiling

or uncoiling
in sun

that glints
into a solemn

smirk

outside
the cold window


David Radavich's poetry publications include Slain Species (Court Poetry Press, London), By the Way (Buttonwood Press, 1998), and Great Hits (Pudding House Press, 2000), as well as individual poems in anthologies and magazines. His plays have been performed across the U.S. and abroad, including five Off-Off-Broadway productions. He also enjoys writing essays on poetry, drama, and contemporary issues. His latest book is America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (Plain View Press, 2007).
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GOLDSTD DENTISTRY

by Bill Costley


“Capitalism's an extraction process,”
explains Dr. Gold, GoldStd dentist,
solar-powered drill in R-hand,
“relentlessly attacking all decay
(crumbling within a system),
removing dross, replacing it w/gold
whose purity is self-protecting,
an agreed upon standard of purity
filling vaults in the world’s banks
until they're sufficiently golded-up,
(I like to say), or backed by gold.
Those that aren’t get eaten by those
that are; some countries’ treasuries
now stockpile purest platinum,
of absolutely no use, dentally.”


Bill Costley serves on the Steering Committee of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the National Writers Union.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

WINTER SOLDIERS

by Howie Good


Can’t you feel it,

the troops dimly massing
on the border,

horses the color of doom
dragging cannons

along old lumber roads,
their hooves muffled with cloth,

as the collaborators among us
count down the days

till manic petals of snow
will be falling murderously

everywhere.


Howie Good, a journalism professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is the author of six poetry chapbooks: Death of the Frog Prince (2004), Heartland (2007), and Apocalypse Mambo (forthcoming) from FootHills Publishing; Strangers & Angels (2007) from Scintillating Publications; the e-book, Police and Questions (2008), from Right Hand Pointing; and the e-book, Last Words (2008), from Gold Wake Press. He has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and twice for the Best of the Net anthology.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

EXIT POLL

by Scot Siegel


I had a dream
we were sweating bullets

Oakland. 1973
soul-music-afro-sheen

Nixon. Panthers
Grandmother

Didn't trust
blacks

Called them
shvartzes --

*

Twenty years
grandma dead

Now I wonder how
she would have cast

Her ballot:
white/black

Bush administration
says fear

Is our greatest asset.
Waged war

For war's sake.
Said:
be afraid


*

Today, I keep
pinching myself,

Wanting to believe
my grandmother

Lied. I pinch myself
until I bleed

Black blood
blood of our brothers

Blood of our sisters:
Black. Brown. Yellow. Jew --

Blot my eyes
with the rest of you --

Overcome, and
wet with joy


Scot Siegel is an urban planner and poet from Lake Oswego, Oregon where he serves on the Lake Oswego City Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees for The Friends of William Stafford. His first full-length poetry collection Some Weather is forthcoming in 2009 from Plain View Press.
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Sunday, November 16, 2008

THE EMPRESS OF AFRICAN SONG

by Mary Saracino

“I will sing until the last day of my life.”
--Miriam Makeba




Mama Africa sang her final song on stage in Italy
her seizing heart snatched away the music

pata pata
malaika
qongqothwane

for over 30 years Miriam Makeba lived in exile
banned from her African homeland

no longer a refugee, the cry for liberation still
riffed from her 75 year old tongue:
joy & sorrow, justice & jazz notes,
the syncopated solace of South African rhythms

death is not strong enough to silence her;
the whispering wind reminds us: the sins of apartheid
are the sins of the world; no nation is absolved

mourning shouts her name: Makeba!
sing loudly for freedom wherever you are;
choirs of angels greet her resplendent soul;
may her vision outlast her last breath;
on Earth, sorrowful voices pray:

pata pata
malaika
qongqothwane


Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet and memoir-writer who lives in Denver , CO . Her most recent novel, The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006) was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. Her short story, "Vicky's Secret" earned the 2007 Glass Woman Prize.
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Saturday, November 15, 2008

RETURNEE: LAST WORDS

by Spiel


roberts is so glad to be free
of those god-forsaken sandstorms

glad to sink his heels into real dirt
he has worked before

but he cannot know these bodies
occupying the same address
where he’s been mailing his checks

they have the same names as those
he’s been receiving goodies from
jen and tiffy and billy lou and john

they watch tv at the same address
he’s been paying big rents on
all these years

but even though they have
somewhat familiar faces
he’s got nothing to talk about
with these strangers

and the square truth is:
he just doesn’t have to kiss
          nobody’s ass
          no more

and he’s already said his “last words”
every ten breaths of his life
for the past one thousand days


Neither the NEA nor an MFA influences Pushcart Prize contender, the poet Spiel, in his diverse works of personal conflict and social consciousness, published frequently online and in independent press journals around the world. His latest books are: she: insinuations of flesh brooding published in 2008 by March Street Press and once upon a farmboy published 2008 by MadmanInk.
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Friday, November 14, 2008

BACKYARD WEDDING

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


The silverware’s back in the drawer
The dishes are all put away
The house has been swept clean
and the broom’s in the closet
The garbage can is stuffed
The tablecloths and napkins
are hanging on the clothesline
in the back yard
where the wedding took place
The newlyweds are traveling south
on Highway 1
The relatives from far away
are boarding airplanes
and the friends from nearby
are headed back to work

The bride was beautiful
and the groom was handsome
and as they waited to say their vows
they trembled a little
and gazed at each other
with such tenderness and intensity
that they seemed almost overwhelmed
by loving someone so much

The night was warm
The waning moon rose
over the neighbor’s house
The fig tree was strung
with pale orange paper lanterns
Conversations and music mingled
in the dark branches of trees
The toasts were generous, touching, funny

No fighter jets or attack helicopters or drones
strafed and bombed the wedding party
as the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan
and as Israel has done in Gaza
No wedding guest lay decapitated in the ivy
or sprawled in broken glass
on top of a white linen tablecloth
bleeding to death
No government official had to claim
that the caterers were terrorists
No military spokesman was called upon
to feign regret

After midnight
when all the other guests had left
two of us cleaned up a little
collected empty wine bottles
helped the giddy, exhausted pair
load wedding gifts
into the back of their car
We used a bar of soap
to write Just Married on the rear window
and as the young couple left
we showered them with rose petals
and watched them drive away
down the quiet street
to their new life


Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.
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Thursday, November 13, 2008

BUILDING IN THE GREEN

October 2008

by Linda Lerner



They came with saws, drills, a truckload of illegals
and plenty of 1990’s cash . . .

an old couple, their two family house vanished
as I slept . . . green disappeared in the green
that pushed up a building thru neighbors' anger
thru the dusty noise ignorance purified;

jackhammering echoed thru the city
crossing state lines; everyone waited for
this building that resembled every other one
going up to be finished;

a tree centuries old lay on the dead grass
behind a fence separating that property from
where I lived, leaving a concrete area
I looked out on, everything

cold, hard, and gray,
felt like November in March, April, any month
of that year, the next and the one after

when green shoots rose up
through cracks so small it didn’t seem possible
came up through a drain hole

and a sudden flowering of weeds, morning glories
broke thru the unfenced sides
tangled on the cellar banister where
cats lined up to be fed, eyeing the squirrels,
and sparrows perched on overhead wires;

is there such a thing as green sunshine
green silence?

some days no workers came where once
half a dozen; arguments broke out
among the builders, rumors of green drying up,
green teasing them everywhere they looked

and then can you hear it . . . that crash
like a tree felled, only louder, much louder


Linda Lerner is the author of twelve poetry collections, the most recent being Living in Dangerous Times (Pressa Press) and City Woman (March Street Press). Recent poems appear in Tribes, Onthebus, The Paterson Literary Review, The New York Quarterly, Home Planet News, and Van Gogh’s Ear. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 1995 Andrew Gettler and she began Poets on the Line, the first poetry anthology on the Net for which she received two grants for the Nam Vet Poets issue. Its anthology remains on line although new publication ceased in 2000.
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

PROP 8 / PROP HATE

by Mary Saracino


The wedding bells have been silenced;
The rice meant for jubilation
is now confined to canisters
or cooked in a pot for Sunday supper
by women who love women
men who love men.
People of every color, kind &
persuasion, who love life & honor families,
don’t give a damn who signs the marriage license
when one true heart reaches out to another,
promises steadfast devotion — for better
or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness & in health,
‘til death do they part.


Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet and memoir-writer who lives in Denver , CO . Her most recent novel, The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006) was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. Her short story, "Vicky's Secret" earned the 2007 Glass Woman Prize.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

MONKS BRAWL IN HOLY SEPULCHER

by Daniel E. Wilcox


Riot police enter the pewed rows
In Jerusalem, the city of pieces
On earth
Where faiths forever conflict;
Armenians and Greeks monk it out,
Separate those reversed for love
Filled with uncyclical violence;
Splinters of the cross nail So and So again,
No keys to Heaven to open the door,
But plenty of blessed brawling,
'Holey' vestments,
Vermin, and invested vice
So universal.


Daniel Wilcox earned his degree in Creative Writing from Cal State University, Long Beach. A former activist, teacher, and wanderer--from Montana to the Middle East, he casts lines out upon the world's wide shores in Mad Swirl, The Writer's Eye, Erbacce, Scruffy Dog Review, ocean diamond, etc. Poems will soon be published in Moria and Word Riot. A short story, "The Faces of Stone" based on his time in the Middle East, was published in The Danforth Review. Currently, Daniel is finishing a novel and a poetry collection. He lives on the central coast of California with his mysterious wife and youngest son.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

SONG FROM OUT OF UR

by Rochelle Owens


          1
Speak to a configuration of stains
even a silk shirt of the man from Marrakech
even a configuration of stains will be
made to speak sublime yellow-green
smears of avocado pulp the man from
Marrakech enemies at his feet the son
of a Macedonian his peach porcelain chin
its cleft pierced by a thorn pierced
is the man from Marrakech the son of a
Macedonian he crouches over a vanity sink
dappled with mother-of-pearl bearing
the weight of a nightmare a nightmare
about iron stairs about a long row
of embryos luminous organs fibrous pits
Narcissus purging
jabbing his two-inch pinky nail evil it feels
into the cleft of his chin
a levantine hook on a rampage
from out of Ur into the hotel his private
quarters red hot mosaic tiles hooks for
every hang-up made by master craftsmen
the man from Marakech
eyes of pale gray-green pale gray-green eyes
son of a Macedonian
mummified is his code of honor

In ancient Phoenicia
a woman holds a sublime yellow-green
fabric smeared with avocado pulp
years later her unmarried hump-backed
son will unfold the cloth
Even a configuration of stains
will be made to speak

          2
An urge for rhythms of Marrakech
gilded the row of upper teeth of the school master
listening to American jazz smiling at a man
from Sudan an engineer wearing a necklace
and a diamond stud in his ear
The man from Marrakech rises from the
Greek revival chair feeling the rays of the sun
resurrecting the dead

The false door of lust opens
frustrates and disappoints
famous the false door of lust
slamming the head breaking the nose
cracking the jaw splitting the gums ejecting
the gilded row of upper teeth teeth
of Cavafy Donatello Passolini Versace
small dark solid men mavericks
with spleens of hot lava
orbiting the mediterranean sun

          3
A djellaba is a djellaba is a robe a robe of roses
sings the man from Marrakech
letting fall around his ankles purple roses
the djellaba its distinct parts is like a fluid
a fluid of roses is a chemical analysis—proof
le bien et le mal
drop by drop its sound distinct
le bien et le mal
And he sings to pierced nipples nipples
on the sculptured torso—a man from Sudan
And when he sings the words
the words are pigment cells vegetal to vegetal
cooling the skin the words are hairs
pushing through layers pushing through
layers of skin scalp armpit bones in a sac
words of a song from out of Ur from out of Ur
from out of the throat of the man
from Marrakech

          4
The children always crawl to golden coins
golden coins draw the children
whispers the man from Marrakech
And he grants wishes to a man from Sudan
and desire breaks its molten outer core
then drawing upon his economic advantage
whispers I am the Alpha and Omega
world without end

          5
In the picturesque Medina
two old men are trading photos
cruise ships voyaging to America
Inside a galaxy a cloud of dust and gas
gas and dust inside a galaxy
Two old men are smoking water pipes
in the picturesque Medina
two old men are playing cards talking politics
sipping coffee
hearing the call to prayer
the man from Sudan an engineer
wearing a necklace
and a diamond stud in his ear
the man from Marrakech
eyes of pale gray-green pale gray-green eyes
son of a Macedonian
an athlete whose stamina was tested
with javelin hammer and discus
smiling and remembering a silk shirt
smeared with avocado pulp
hammer and discus are thrown
and the weight of the athlete
spirals in as dense as a star

          6
Come see what has been called
the poignant picture--a father bearing
twin sons in his arms—poignant the chanting
aramaic words and they were born
from frozen embryos
Forced deeper the weight of a dream
about a gold ostrich egg and shining through
the shell the form that you should put
your money into—a two-headed child
two pairs of pale gray-green eyes
colors and patterns of the iris painted
with a fine sable brush
And dread is a light transparent veil
over the eyes of the man from Marrakech
smoking a water pipe eating sleeping reading
playing computer games
then feeling for his wallet for the accordion-fold
interior, credit cards, driver’s license, bills
receipts , coins and photos
of the winged cherubim their halos
glittering circling red orange yellow
the young always crawl to golden coins
then chanting in aramaic a prayer
‘And they are the winged cherubim
with the faces of children’


Rochelle Owens is the author of eighteen books of poetry and plays, the most recent of which are Plays by Rochelle Owens (Broadway Play Publishing, 2000) and Luca, Discourse on Life and Death (Junction Press, 2001). A pioneer in the experimental off-Broadway theatre movement and an internationally known innovative poet, she has received Village Voice Obie awards and honors from the New York Drama Critics Circle. Her plays have been presented worldwide and in festivals in Edinburgh, Avignon, Paris, and Berlin. Her play Futz, which is considered a classic of the American avant-garde theatre, was produced by Ellen Stewart at LaMama, directed by Tom O’Horgan and performed by the LaMama Troupe in 1967, and was made into a film in 1969. A French language production of Three Front was produced by France-Culture and broadcast on Radio France. She has been a participant in the Festival Franco-Anglais de Poésie, and has translated Liliane Atlan’s novel Les passants, The Passersby (Henry Holt, 1989). She has held fellowships from the NEA, Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and numerous other foundations. She has taught at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Oklahoma and held residencies at Brown and Southwestern Louisiana State.
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Sunday, November 09, 2008

MURDER BY THE (WRONG) NUMBERS

by Christina Pacosz

“My point is that it has to be both: beautiful and political.
I’m not interested in art that is not in the world.”
--Toni Morrison

One spring night not long
ago, a barred owl
hooted from the ailanthus tree
outside our window.
Now weaponry of assorted caliber is what I hear

as I try to sleep soundly
enough to dream
and remember.
This past August
a man was found dead in the street.

I heard the shots that killed him
at 56th and Garfield –
three loud pops in a row.
Then, only a few nights ago
another man.

Gunshots and submachine
gun fire, a brief
and deadly duet.
And last night
windows open

to the dark
street, vehicles
at high speed –
maybe cop cars –
but turning over is difficult and painful.

Without my glasses
I can’t be certain
but swift cars at 3 AM
tear up and down
the narrow street.

You wake long enough
to ask, “What’s wrong?”
Facing east
trying to explain
my unease

as if dawn itself was a menace.
Despite October’s chill
the triplet of old windows
is open still.
Our butterscotch cat

a pale shadow
hunched on the edge
of the mattress
gazing east.
At 5 AM

the local station
has Breaking News:
about 2:30 AM
an eleven year old girl was shot sleeping
in her own bed.

Her condition is now upgraded
to stable.
This child’s survival
a reply to the lethal greeting
from the predatory street.


Christina Pacosz has been writing and publishing prose and poetry for almost half a century and has several books of poetry, the most recent, Greatest Hits, 1975-2001 (Pudding House, 2002). Her work has appeared recently in Jane’s Stories III, Women Writing Across Boundaries, Pemmican, Umbrella, qarrtsiluni, Letters to the World. She has been a special educator, a Poet-in-the-Schools for several state and city programs, and a North Carolina Visiting Artist. For the past decade she has been teaching at-risk youth of all ages on both sides of the Missouri/Kansas state line.
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