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Wednesday, April 30, 2008


by Karla Linn Merrifield

On the eve of the war in Iraq
she was contemplating opercula,
small doorways of protection for snails
-- ocean’s moon snails, slipper snails, also
augers & whelks of more intricate shells.

On the eve of the war in Iraq
she reminisced about hermit crabs
that tuck their tender hind ends
into any abandoned shell that suits,
taking shelter from predators.

On the eve of the war in Iraq
loggerheads in their formidable shells
were yet far off shore, so she touched
instead six silver turtles pinned to her vest,
gesture to totems of spiritual safety.

On the eve of the war in Iraq
she was reminded that she is:
human, she has no shell –
only the simulacrum of the warriors’
so-called shells that were put to use
on the morning of the war in Iraq.

Karla Linn Merrifield’s poetry has appeared publications such as CALYX, Earth’s Daughters, Poetica, The Kerf, Negative Capability, Paper Street and Blueline; on line in New Works Review, The Centrifugal Eye and Elegant Thorn Review, and in many anthologies. In 2006 she edited The Dire Elegies: 59 Poets on Endangered Species of North America, from FootHills Publishing (April); last fall FootHills issued her Godwit: Poems of Canada. She is poetry editor of Sea Stories, was guest editor for The Centrifugal Eye’s Autumn issue and held her first one-woman photographic-poetry exhibit (with accompanying chapbook) in October for the 3rd annual RochesterInk Poetry in Fusion Festival (Rochester , NY). She teaches writing part-time at SUNY College at Brockport.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


by Mary Saracino

A single day in April isn’t enough
to honor our Mother, save the planet
that is her body, restore her ocean womb,
revitalize the atrophied arms and legs
of her continents, remove the smog
from her pristine lungs, replenish all that’s
depleted by the lust for profit
over prosperity. Human hearts so greedy
for commerce they call deforestation progress,
think cloning is a medical advancement,
see artificial life as the wave of the future,
as if civilization can only advance
by killing or dismemberment,
by acquisition or annihilation.
How to survive a world of paper or plastic,
hybrid or gas-guzzler,
genetically altered seeds,
cloned cows, chemical poisons in the water,
run-off from the mouths of politicians
who think global warming is good for business.
What’s to be gained when
globalization soils our souls,
breeds a false sense of interconnection,
feigns compassion predicated on
corporate exploitation, skimming money
off the backs of underpaid workers,
trafficking in human life, in weapons
of destruction, raping the land of its bounty,
the rivers of their life-sustaining powers,
denying whole nations their dignity and worth.
That’s no way to treat our Mother,
no way to save our planet,
no way to mend our broken spirits,
no way to change the world.

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.

Monday, April 28, 2008


by Scot Siegel


We have this little word we
We misuse it
We speak of us not them as we
We condemn
We speculate
We weapons trade
We pander to the highest bidder
We class warfare
We spread democracy
We celebrate and ridicule autonomy
We embargo rogue nations
We water board
We call it security
We lose our integrity; for this little word we


Though we have this other word We
Not us nor them but We
We who build fences made of interlocking hands
We the generalists of human kind
We the specialists of peace and reconciliation
We are an army without a country now
We who are meals on wheels
We the doctors without borders
We the volunteers of AmeriCorps and
We the people of Ecumenical Ministries –
We the children who believe that sustainability is non-negotiable
We will have its way with us before long; we have no choice in the matter –
We have this word We
We must use it.

Scot Siegel is an urban planner and poet from Lake Oswego, Oregon, where he serves on the Lake Oswego City Planning Commission and Board of Trustees for the Friends of William Stafford. His poetry has previously appeared on The New Verse News, The Oregonian, Open Spaces, and Red River Review, among others.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


PoeArtry by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote

Gutter politricks lovers’ lane off-limits

Aiming to go all the

Way with nothing but strikes

Maplewood floorboard slivers resurfaced urethane

Iraqi road handicaps compensating scratch

Imperfect game plan bowled over-and-out

No OK/KO exit strategy rated-X

Tenpins down for the count

Kingpin George Bush-league Captain Warvel

Crooked hook missing 1-3 pocket

Leaving snake eyes 7-10 split

Mission Accomplished impossible sparely inconvertible

Callused thumb approaching preset frame-up

Tripping over two left feet

Angled spin landing in moat

Dead man’s float sunken hopelessness

Double-crossed betrayal keglers targeting darts

Steamy pressure cooker dropping ball

Stubbed toe swelling McCain painkiller

Alley allies crying Uncle Sam

No Holds Bard Charles Frederickson and coloraturartist Saknarin Chinayote edit AvantGardeTimes, a cosmopolitan, sharp cutting edge PoeArtryZine.


Saturday, April 26, 2008


by Spiel

how was it they made you
               feel so proud
when they addressed you as lady
               in your boyface
as they slapped you around
               to teach you
               the lesson
how to become
               a man of men

because it would be
               a very naughty thing
just to station a boy
               out there
               in the sand
where the big bangs
               bang and bang-bang
all night long and
               every bloody day

because a kid surely could never spot
               those bang-bangs coming
and only real men are fit
               to bang it back

plus they would
               never dare
to ship a boy back home
               in banged-up pieces


oh how they forget
               that with your mom
they don’t have
               the right
to slap her around
               to teach her not
to show her face
               on the 5 o’clock news

and say:

he always loved loud noise
he loved his christmas drums
he…he…is……uhh he was…my…baby boy

The Poet Spiel is a tight-wired author painting naked portraits of humankind, thin-layering its hirsute beastiness and, on rare occasion, revealing its humanity. His most recent chap, "come here cowboy: poems of war," is available from For more SpielSpeak and other Spiel Info, go to his website.

Friday, April 25, 2008


by Earl J. Wilcox

Penny, not Penelope, waits for Otis,
not Odysseus, who has been away
now for sixteen months in Iraq. Before
his current deployment, he was in
Afghanistan more than a year. Three
years ago he was sent to Turkey.
Before that, to Jordan as a Seal. Penny
waits today, not with suitors pleading
for her treasure. Her treasure is in
the Middle East, where Otis pursues
snipers, hoping his armor will be
sufficient, not seeking safe passage
through Muslim, Greek, or even
a Christian God. Only the sun
by day, the moon by night brings
Penny and Otis together when they
agree to pray each day and night as
they go to sleep and when they arise.
Most days it seems twenty years since
Otis spent time with Penny.

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 some 45 poems to New Verse News.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


by Andrew Rihn

These whitewalls howl
as ghosts
along the nighttime asphalt

and my
brake pads feel like sponges.
The rear view

mirror, slick with paranoia,
for the inevitable flashing

red and blue, behind me.

cracks the radio silence like
a whip
and I am no longer riding on

Kerouac's dream –

is no longer


Andrew Rihn is a student at Kent State University, where he is also a peer writing tutor. His poetry has appeared online in in journals such as the NeoAmericanist, Poetic Injustice, Dissident Voice, and Poets Against the War. He has had articles published in MR Zine as well as Praxis: A Writing Center Journal. Most recently, he won first place in Kent State's Wick Poetry Scholarship for undergraduates.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


by Terry Brix

Checked out Belcherville, TX trash embedded
In the weeds, plastic bags shredded by wind & sand
Like a reputation torn with foul words, cleaver lies.
Beer cans, Burma Shave signs, old store fronts
Sprouting fractured broken glass & tired dreams,
Red River in the distance--memories of the old West.

Glasgow, MT Air Force left the base two decades ago,
Only thing landing & taking off are tumbleweeds.
Base a ghost town, Glasgow town drying up so fast
Mud cracks, cakes & curls mute lips to utter silent
Words that end in leave, gone, bye, lost, dead.
These can be heard by people that have died or left.

Vici, OK near the Oklahoma panhandle
The only life being drawn from two miles down.
Brine 200 million year old seawater with a pinch
Of iodine that drives the town economy so poor
Otherwise streets & ramshackle buildings leaning
On each other like dying soldiers after battle.

Blue River, OR a former gold & old growth timber
Town plus the Cougar Dam reservoir in the 1930s.
Last café closed, liquor store gone, acres of old mill
Barracks burned & bankrupted. Local school,
Highway 126 skirts past the town
Like a jugular artery bypassing the brain.

Small rural town diagnosis—terminal.

Terry Brix travels worldwide for his business as a “green” chemical engineer. A collection of his poetry Chiseled from the Heart was published in 2000 by Vigeland Museum, Norway. His poetry has appeared in The Evansville Review, Fireweed, Exit 13, Curbside Review, Small Brushes, Blueline, Bellowing Ark, Liberty Hill Poetry Review, Main Channel Voices, and The Antioch Review.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


by Linda Lerner

a large white convertible cruises
into late December, turning heads,
a few rub their eyes, “wow, neat car,”
someone yells, another gives a thumbs up
to the white haired man behind the wheel;
          he nods back,
just taking his baby out for a spin,
not wired to twenty first century sound bytes
no seat belts to strap him in
                    It's 1959. His first car.
“aint nothin’ but a hound dog” rocks;
just out of college and ready to make news
he’s burning rubber in Brooklyn
the country still riding I love Ike
prosperity, victory in not
just one but future wars;

what would have paid
kids’college tuition, bought a nice home
keeps his engine running, heart beating:
50 years and good as new,
but every creak in the car’s struggle
to push open its top echoes in his bones
means it’s back to finding a mechanic
knows how to fix classic cars
won’t rip him off;
price doesn’t matter: in this car
he’s lost nothing

driving down Flatbush Avenue toward
a sign that reads Atlantic
crosses another avenue back to
the mom & pop owned Brooklyn
of small grocery stores, drugstore counters
he sat at sipping egg creams, feeling
like he was standing in the outfield
at Ebbets Field ready to pitch into greatness,
back on that old route 66, reaching
skyward across the American imagination,
down streets barber shop poles twirl
red white and blue’s possibilities;

people stop walking, stare
or peer out small car windows
from cost of gas, high rent & job worries
their own era’s annihilation threats
roaring overhead to where
the Armageddon didn’t happen
bomb the Russians never dropped,
stare at this shiny new-looking Ford
James Dean or Elvis might have driven
top pulled down waving to the crowd,
stare in wonderment; almost prayer...

two women in jeans, stiletto heals
rings in their noses, lips,
bring the troops home buttons on
jackets point to the car,
“it rocks” one shouts, he looks out,
abruptly rear ended by 2008;
“hey mister,” the woman cries,
“if you’re going to Williamsburg,
can you give us a lift?”

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.

Monday, April 21, 2008


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

Email in Lincoln's day
Instant Messaging in Alexander the Great's
Video games in Jefferson's
Credit cards in Emily Dickinson's
Keno in Descartes's
GPS in Bret Harte's
Drive-Thrus in Walt Whitman's
Hallmarks in Harriet Tubman's
What if
George Bush
High from the rush and the black spewing gush
Of a Midland/Odessa hardon
Kissed the pre-Jihadist Osama Bin Laden
What if hippies really had stopped the war
And Bush, with his heart turned to mush,
Whispered (in his real voice, the voice which derives
from his Connecticut core)
What on earth
Are we fighting for?

Steve Hellyard Swartz's poetry has appeared in New Verse News, Best Poem, switched-on guttenberg, levelpoetry, and The Kennesaw Review. An Honorable Mention winner in The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Competition, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, and the Mary C. Mohr Poetry Award, Swartz will be published in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review in 2008. In 1990, his film Never Leave Nevada opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


by David Chorlton

As long as there is one
call still among the trees
we listen. It is the cuckoo

and we remember the notes
to repeat them when even
it has gone, the way

the mockingbirds
learned to imitate
the many ways our cell phones rang.

David Chorlton has two new chapbooks posted online, The Dreaming House and Dry Heat. Both draw on life in Arizona.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


by HL

Those brave
Boys with the Stars
Marched up to the shrine of demonocracy.
While they did the lying,
We did the crying.

You leaders,
Tell our boys, “No more death!”
We got no time for suffering
& dying,
Let the unwashed
& unknowing
Do it for us.

Clear our memories of deep freeze
Use the oil on our highways.
Dress them up like Philistines.
Keep us safe from Khyber
Paint their faces with grotesque
Make them murderers
That got no cool.

Help us win
This climate conquest.
Keep us on the airways
Melt the snow on highest
Blame it all on

Chinese coal.
Blood money at our gates,
More credit!
Save our sorry
Mortgaged asses.
We shall be last to face our fates.

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 his HL link here and in the left column of The New Verse News.

Friday, April 18, 2008


by Barbara A. Taylor

We are devout victims
of a Church which misinterprets,
expounds God’s word to mean
there is no love, no respect
for those less powerful, like cute
choir boys or orphans in their care
We are devout victims of a Church
which misinterprets, expounds God’s word
to mean there is no love, no respect
for those among us, one in three
deemed deviants. We are devout victims
of a Church which misinterprets, expounds
God’s word to mean the bishop cannot be gay.
Nuns and professors don’t do that, never did,
and homosexuals do not pray, nor ever
should they marry. But I have sung His glory
in cathedral choirs, taught catechism
at the Sunday School, learned not to kill
or steal or hate. In middle-age I still rejoice
each day I give my daily bread to beasts and man.
Let no one hunger, starve from want of
human love, compassion.
Everywhere every life is sacred:
The girl, the boy, the woman, the man
The flashing lights of fireflies
The trees in bud, the hanging fruits
The baby in her crib, gurgling, calling for her mother’s breast
Bird songs, exotic insects, sexual scents--
The Lord was My Shepherd
I’ve studied science, thrown away
intelligent design, threats of religious zealots
And I shall not want.

Barbara A. Taylor is a regular reader at poetry nights. Her poems appear in literary journals including Triplopia, The Salt River Review, Tattoo Highway, Kaleidowhirl, Poemeleon, The Blue Fifth Review. Short form verse is at Lynx, Sketchbook Journal, Stylus, Simply Haiku, Contemporary Haibun On Line, Modern English Tanka, haiku and tanka anthologies, and elsewhere. Poetry with audio is at

Thursday, April 17, 2008


by Wayne Crawford

Ten minute walk west of Abraham Lincoln’s tomb.
4:20 p.m., April 17, 2007. Springfield, Illinois.
An elderly man in long-sleeves steps off
his front porch slab, walks to his flagpole
near the street, drops

the U.S. flag to half-mast.
Blacksburg, Virginia. Same day.
The campus of Virginia Tech. Police identify
the 23-year old student/killer of 30 students and
faculty. Flags drop to half-mast across the country.

The same Tuesday. Washington D.C. The govern-
ment reports 3,300
U.S. service personel killed
                    so far in the war in Iraq.
Among the most recent: Male, 32, Texas. Male,
25, Indiana. Male, 29, Illinois. Male, 20, Ohio.
Male, 19, Idaho.

Same Tuesday. Geneva, Switzerland. Representatives
of Jordon and Syria ask the international community
to help meet the needs of nearly two million
Iraqi civilians
          driven from their homes by war.

Wednesday. Campus of New Mexico State University.
Flags fly at half-mast for Virginia Tech. Earlier
this year. NMSU athletic director and
his lieutenants replace the school
mascot, Lasso

Larry, afraid
he won’t rope in the manly fans they propose
to sell beer to during football games. They rally
around Pistol Pete, probably don’t discuss the obvious

motto: If you can’t beat ‘em , shoot ‘em. Probably
won’t take responsibility for 8,000
sports fans, both barrels

at the end of a losing game.
Pistol Petes in administration.
Pistol Petes among the regents.
Pistol Petes in the legislature.
          Pistol Petes in the Whitehouse.
Pistol Petes nowhere held

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 excerpts read) at

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


by Yolanda Coulaz

on the anniversary

Two days before,
I scratched the earth
beneath the columbine
in my garden.
Pulled weeds
that overwintered there,
ripped up their roots,
thought nothing
of their sweat and sap.

sprouts from sand and soil,
cuts through cracks
in the asphalt path.

stuck in my mind;
a different meaning now
since ’99.
The columbine
she spits her seeds;
like weeds they multiply.
Her vibrant blooms
less beautiful
for her name.

violence multiplied.
her name
shall never be the same.
Virgin rage,
virgin blood,
virgin tears,

Yolanda Coulaz is a poet, photographer, editor, and founder of Purple Sage Press. She teaches poetry workshops to middle and high school students throughout Long Island and coordinates and hosts the Farmingdale Library Reading Series. Coulaz edited and published the anthology For Loving Precious Beast to help benefit Loving Touch Animal Rescue. Her first book of poetry Spirits and Oxygen is being used in an advanced course in poetry at SUNY Stony Brook.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


by Ed Webb

Dawn found her calm, but unslept.

Her mother made tea, and stroked her hair,
Took no breakfast help nor comfort.
Was the single tear proud or sad? Asking was out of reach.

She washed carefully, dressed carefully, offered confident prayers for
This house abandoned,
her mother's remaining years,
the day's deeds.
Stepped forth proudly from this house with no men
Into a world of strangers,
Holding at her breast her secret joy.

At the checkpoint, the explosion.

Ed Webb studies and teaches Middle East politics. It can be depressing.

Monday, April 14, 2008


by Barbara Schweitzer

And what if we had never known of fire –
if Prometheus had kept it to himself,
saved his liver and left us cold – and why
did we expect otherwise? This great gelt
of his mind gelded him, after all,
while we have gone blissfully along,
erecting not one Prometheus Mall,
no monument, not an airport or song,
not a holiday, nor any way, thanking
him for his sacrifice of warm embrace.
Poor Meethy. He couldn’t have known of our rank
ingratitude, our superior race
for arms and other ilks of fire, or our sweet
stupid skill of shooting ourselves in the feet.

Barbara Schweitzer is a poet and playwright and author of 33 1/3.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


by Terry Brix

Scientists search for years looking for Zinnium,*
Thought to be able to reduce anxiety like lithium
Yet be as valuable and useful as gold/platinum.
At first they looked for it in the nuclear reactors, particle accelerators
Science never found it. Asked industry
Best brains didn't get cold fusion, cheap hydrogen, helium-3
Got non-stick aluminum foil, strips for teeth whitening
Not even close. Looked to the wealthy, their troves,
Off-shore accounts, gold deposits. Not a trace
Zurich, Tokyo, Fort Knox, even in Bill's basement.
Spirituality was tried, Vatican gave up in a week,
Mormons and Moslems hung out for two.
First found in Acoma Indian Reservation in New Mexico,
A land twice stolen, then used as a tribe dump.
Then veins in walls of ghettos in Chicago, the Bronx,
Ozarks, Hell's Kitchen, Havre, Watts wherever
Poverty rampant, which is about everywhere--Zinnium.
Industry tried to buy it, merge it, acquire it, steal,
Anti-trust, intellectual property theft it, but couldn't,
Eminent Domain failed couldn't even class it under
Homeland Security, trumped up terrorism shenanigans
As unused as IRS tax laws for the wealthy.
Zinnium--a kind of memory metal that remembers
Real shape of the past. A metal that detects lies,
Reflects truth like polished aluminum, but the mirror
Can't be broken with media spins, false attacks.
Alloys with propaganda feeds back direct opposite
Like a photo negative complete with real x-ray motives.

*A cross between lithium and platinum

Terry Brix travels worldwide for his business as a “green” chemical engineer. A collection of his poetry Chiseled from the Heart was published in 2000 by Vigeland Museum, Norway. His poetry has appeared in The Evansville Review, Fireweed, Exit 13, Curbside Review, Small Brushes, Blueline, Bellowing Ark, Liberty Hill Poetry Review, Main Channel Voices, and The Antioch Review.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


by Diane Elayne Dees

"It wasn't women as a gender that were taken against their will, shackled...and put in slavery." --Clarence Jones, former MLK advisor, What Martin Would Say.

The women of Salem, swaying from wood beams
on Gallows Hill, cannot speak. The women banished
to Indian reservations, sent because they dared to speak,
are silent now. The women shackled and force-fed,
gut-broken for the rest of their lives, because they were brazen
enough to believe they should vote--can no longer talk to us.
The girls sold as prostitutes do not dare say a word.
The women who did speak up, and were locked into
assylums, were never heard from again. The women
whose genitals were mutilated to cure them of loving
too many men, or loving even one woman--
they, too, are silent. The women fighting in Iraq--who fear rape
as they fear the enemy--try to speak, but our ears are stuffed
with American flags, and we do not hear. Women taken
against their will and shackled...that, too, is America.

Diane Elayne Dees is a writer in Louisiana. Her poetry about social issues has been published in Out of Line, HazMat Review, The New Verse News, Mobius, Umbrella, Poetry Super Highway, and the anthology, Hurricane Blues: How Katrina and Rita Ravaged a Nation.

Friday, April 11, 2008


by Genevieve Jencson

The headline reads:
Soldiers despair
as public ignores
Iraq conflict
I read it,
finish my toast, drive to work,
and I forget

until I see her,
a girl perched on top of that old tank
that guards the memorial garden at the American Legion.
Her bare legs dangle on either side of the barrel
and a breeze lifts stands of her corn silk hair.

She looks so beautiful, so innocent, at this moment
it’s hard to believe we’re at war.
The morning paper says thousands dead,
and those are just the ones on our side.
Who is counting the all the girls
with dark frightened eyes caught under a shower of bombs,
born in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Who is counting the angry young men,
taught to fight with no other choice?

From her spot on the tank,
it appears the world cannot touch her;
and on this warm spring evening, I feel like the world
cannot touch me.
But how close are we to the edge,
how long can we remain unscathed,
and were we ever really innocent?


by Silvia A. Brandon Pérez

is not news anymore
or so the local so-called
news providers believe
thousands of people
marching through the streets
of San Francisco or New York,
DC or the midlands
is not an occasion for reportage,
the arrests, and tasers and pepper spray
for peaceful protesters
the subject of torture
the subject of imperial and every bloody
is not fit for consumption
in this land of the bleating
and the comfortable

Silvia A. Brandon Pérez is a recent transplant to the West Coast; she is a writer, activist, translator, singer/songwriter, basically in a permanent state of fed-up-ness.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


by Rochelle Ratner (1948-2008)

398. She counts them again. The inventory list says 400. Probably gave two to the hussy. She walks along the shelves, picks up a camera phone, takes a picture of her cunt, then finds a phone with more resolution and takes another shot. The deep sex smell’s enticing. She walks along the rows now, match in hand, careful to light one phone at a time so she can hear each sizzle. She remembers that sizzling rice dish she went to so much trouble to make for him. Here’s a small blue phone a customer used for a test call last Monday. She hits the redial but the number’s blocked. Of course it’s blocked. She picks up speed now, trying to get them all to burn together. She has less than twenty phones left when the police arrive. She turns back to look one more time. The fireworks have abated. By next week these phones will be replaced with newer models, she supposes. There will always be new phones, new men, new women.

Rochelle Ratner's most recent poetry books included 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 was the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press).

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


by Mike McCulley

When the uniforms come home
clean them deep,
hot stain sets hard,
hot stink comes back
in the quiet dark.

When the uniforms come home
pin a medal,
sew a stripe,
set crease and arrange
for the mourner.

When the uniforms come home
this is the itchy fabric
that wraps our wound
clean them deep.

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


by Barbara A. Taylor

in chaos as
the torch of harmony
across the globe
clashes with cultures
emphasises injustices
hidden by The Great Firewall

Barbara A. Taylor is a regular reader at poetry nights. Her poems appear in literary journals including Triplopia, The Salt River Review, Tattoo Highway, Kaleidowhirl, Poemeleon, The Blue Fifth Review. Short form verse is at Lynx, Sketchbook Journal, Stylus, Simply Haiku, Contemporary Haibun On Line, Modern English Tanka, haiku and tanka anthologies, and elsewhere. Poetry with audio is at

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


by Marcelle Kasprowicz

Oh Torquemada
hammer of heretics
light of Spain
saviour of your country
honour of your order*
we kiss your blessed ring
We kiss your white unctuous hands
that never shed blood

We your children
your zealous disciples
follow in your hallowed poulaines
We have selected waterboarding
--Like you we struggle
to keep our hands clean
Oh Torquemada
we have progressed so
You would be proud
Like you we combat heresy
one suspect at a time
but we've gone beyond
Our techniques are such
we've devised a way
--CO2 has replaced the soaking cloth--
to waterboard the earth

And the oceans are rising

*Torquemada was honored in such words by the kings of Spain.--M.K.

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

Monday, April 07, 2008


by Amy Holman

First, I appreciate your subtle editorializing, Earthlink, filing this under strange news.
I agree that torture is not a form of love, a mercy, a forgiveness of difference,
that rat droppings are no aphrodisiac, even if hate this is not. Second, these mothers,
sons and daughters kiss with machetes and tuck in with shovels, so why not let them
court by slur, fondle with cable cord, toilet water, dagger? Why set an example now?
Still, top news is better, upon consideration of the 108 prior felony charges
among the six kidnappers, one the former swain of the woman whose skin was stripped
of some of its color. Sexual assault charges carry a longer sentence so the prosecutor
is leaving it at that, never mind the trigger word beginning with N that says I hate you.
Not so strange these days, a national problem, not news. Still, make it.

Amy Holman has been playing around with current news and/or headlines for a couple of years, here and there, including publications in Failbetter, Archaeology (online), Unpleasant Event Schedule, Rattapallax, Shade, and soon, on the Red Morning Press web site. She is the author of Wait For Me, I'm Gone, which won the 2004 Dream Horse Press annual chapbook prize. She writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction and work freelance as a Literary Consultant out of her tiny apartment in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

Sunday, April 06, 2008


by Matthew T. Hummer

“Dios es amor” says the graffiti on corrugated steel
stripped from war ships—sticking
into pacific waters like a ribbed condom
keeping brown Tijuana from green-turfed San Diego .

On the far ridge, a stone, like a gray whale,
rises for air where border patrol,
in white trucks watch the rusting snake.
Men crouch against the barrier, Mexico side,
beneath an improvised shrine—
plastic crate nailed to the steel,
candles burn before the Aztec Virgin.

They wait for dusk—
oil clouds spoil
the heron-blue sky,
tar seizes sunset legs.

Matthew T. Hummer’s daughter uses the word "awkward" in the new fashion--to signify that which her peer group considers to be outside the norm. She is ten and starting to realize the demands of conformity that that age invents. He lectured her because it offended him that his intelligent, creative daughter was using a word loosely, as she has heard it used in school and on the Disney channel, because he wants her to weigh words with a sacred deliberateness. But then he thought that maybe he is just getting old: thirty-four, well-married, well-housed and well-fed, with a teaching job for as long as he wants it. His delusions are falling fast and he is letting go of dreams and starting to embrace basic comforts. He is an American.

Friday, April 04, 2008


April 4, 1968

by Alan Catlin

News bulletin

Top 40


"Martin Luther
King shot dead

in Memphis.
He was 39.

President Johnson
declares National

Day of Mourning
Now back to

the Countdown
with the next song up,

The Beatles
All You Need

Is Love."

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


by George Held

The time has come to express your rejections and raise your voices loud against the unjust occupier and enemy of nations and humanity, and against the horrible massacres committed by the occupier against our honorable people...." —Moqtada al-Sadr, calling for a million-Iraqi march on the 5th anniversary of the April 2003 fall of Baghdad

Who ever thought it would come to this?

The savior of an oppressed people and the spreader of democracy

denounced by a would-be beneficiary, a religious leader,

dressed in black and like an Old Testament prophet,

calling on his people to march against “the unjust occupier,”

whose leaders urge staying the course against the War on Terror.

Is the cleric’s Mahdi Army fighting as terrorists or in self-defense

of the homeland? Is the occupier an unwanted invader

who has spread the pestilence of high-tech war to the point

of diminishing returns? Has the occupier once again had to destroy

the country to save the country? My God, we met the enemy forty years ago

and he was us. How can this have happened again? Can we blame

the terrorists, the clerics, the insurgents forever, or as we watch

footage of Saddam’s statue toppled by the invaders, can we at last

admit that we have merely tilled the soil for a new autocrat’s statue

to sprout where the old one was uprooted?

George Held has previously contributed to The New Verse News. His latest poetry collection is The Art of Writing and Others (, 2007).

Thursday, April 03, 2008


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

reflections on Bush's first pitch
at the Washington Nationals' new stadium,
March 31, 2008

From the mound where I practice night and day
Where I grip the rough lace this and that way
Feel the small of the ball
The fat
I wince at the twinge in my back as
Laura shouts
Don’t forget to ice!
Gosh darn, Laura's’s nice
Night and day, night and day
The repetition of dedicated motion
The gravity of play
The string on my finger
To remind me to kick my leg
And twist my hip
To hold onto the ball until the very last blip
Laura tells me that I look the part
She says the little curl of my lip
Is like I'm the dude who puts the black hats
Where they need to go after the kill
Out where I'm from we call it Boot Hill
It's getting dark on the White House lawn
Pretty soon I'll be going in
Ten more throws
Ten more good hard ones
And I'll call it a day
When I’ve kneeled down to pray - hang on a sec -
That’s one! Heck, this is fun!
I've asked God why he made me say what he made me say
Two! Oh, baby, that's what ol' GW do!
About the romance of war
Three! Wow-whee!
What, dear Jesus, did you have in store?
Flippin' four! Man, that crowd is gonna roar!
Jesus is such a fine man
There isn't one question he dodges
Five! Everyone should feel half this alive!
He told me
That he wanted me to celebrate the joy of giving
Just as he gave all
Six! Like pickin up sticks!
He wanted me to make the boys (and ladies, too)
Know that I knew how their hearts soared
Seven' For all y’all up in heaven!
To die for their country
To give their life's blood so we all can be free
Eight! Heck, life is great!
To have the opportunity
To leap onto a live grenade
Nine! This is fine!
Jesus I love you, man
You are my rock and my redeemer
Ten! That's it, then!
I walk off the mound
I wave to the crowd
Jesus says He loves me too
And I pat Him on the back
As he puts the balls away
In His big ol' equipment sack

Steve Hellyard Swartz's poetry has appeared in New Verse News, Best Poem, switched-on guttenberg, levelpoetry, and The Kennesaw Review. An Honorable Mention winner in The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Competition, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards, and the Mary C. Mohr Poetry Award, Swartz will be published in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review in 2008. In 1990, his film Never Leave Nevada opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


by James Penha

for Rochelle Ratner, 1948-2008

Although his mother died almost one year ago, the editor hasn't yet erased her number from his phone. As if her immortality depends on him. His mother. But he never even met Rochelle. Except in these cyberpages. She doesn't need him. Great poets, he knows, survive in their words and lines, books and archives. But he will not soon be able to cut the links to her site or to her blog. Her poems, of course, are beyond anyone's control. They are here; they are everywhere.

James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


by Rochelle Ratner

He stays in bed all day, except for taking a shower, going to the bathroom and making something to eat. He’s set up a webcam and is asking for donations. One thrust and she lifts her head from the pillow the maid’s once again laid out in the wrong direction. She reads the article again, thinking of Warhol. Then she reads a third time.

Poets, fans of poetry, and readers of this Web site mourn the death of Rochelle Ratner whose prose poems enlightened us, shocked us, and charmed us--as did she. --Editor.


by Earl J. Wilcox

Last night the dog fidgeted,
paced the kitchen tile,
hinted at something exotic under cabinets
or the garbage hamper,
staring at unlikely places
as if her treasure were stuffed
inside with coffee grounds, burnt toast,
Buffalo wing bones,
a drink can that managed
to escape the recycling bin.

When Vice-President Dick Cheney
returned from his recent trip
to assuage our friends,
massage our enemies,
looking for treasure in unlikely places,
someone asked if he were aware
that most Americans hold none
of his views about progress and eventual outcome of the Iraq war.

Like my dog sitting beside the garbage hamper, waiting for an end game sure never to come, Cheney replied: “SO?”

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 some 45 poems to New Verse News.