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Friday, February 29, 2008

AFTER ONE HUNDRED YEARS

by Susanna Lang


No one remembered snow falling in Baghdad.
We didn’t even have a word for this whiteness:
we called it a kind of rain, and used our phones to take pictures
so our grandchildren would know it really happened.
But the pictures did not show how this rain clung to the edges of things,
blurring one with the other, until the house we’d never entered
could have been our house; but only for a moment, like in the old stories
where if you spoke of the magic it would vanish.
There was even a rumor—who knows? it could be true—
that a snowman had been made in Balad, fifty miles north.
I do not know whether this is a lesson from God, said our neighbor.
Maybe snow is the language God speaks in,

when we have forgotten how to speak except in fire.



A collection of Susanna Lang’s poems has been accepted for publication next spring by The Backwaters Press. She has published original poems and essays, and translations from the French, in such journals as The Baltimore Review, Kalliope, Southern Poetry Review, World Literature Today, Chicago Review, New Directions, Green Mountains Review, Jubilat, and Rhino. Book publications include translations of Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy. She won a 1999 Illinois Arts Council award for a poem published in The Spoon River Poetry Review. She lives with her husband and son in Chicago, where she teaches at a Chicago Public School.
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Thursday, February 28, 2008

WATER QUESTIONNAIRE

by David Chorlton


Would you pay more for water than for oil?
When you buy a bottle of water
can you read the ingredients clearly on the label?
Do you know the location of the country
from which it was drawn?
What nationality were the clouds
from which it fell?
How much water does a president drink
to rinse down a speech?
If air from the Himalayas
could be packaged and shipped
how much would you pay for it?
How could you tell it was cleaner than air
you breathe without charge?
How many bottles of water fit
on a board room table?
Is slaking thirst a right or a privilege?
How many hundred years does it take
for the bottle in which your water was delivered
to degrade?
Would you support a law that makes you wait
until one bottle has degraded
before you buy another?
Do you support the use of battleships
in taking control of water sources?
How much water does it take to float one?
Have you ever seen a ship in a bottle?
Was it a plastic bottle?
Is it fair for bottled water to be given away
at conferences?
Would you answer differently if the conferences
were arranged to discuss the lack
of drinking water in Darfur?
Do you think Darfur without water
would crumble faster than Chad?


David Chorlton has two new chapbooks posted online, The Dreaming House and Dry Heat. Both draw on life in Arizona.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

WAKE

New Orleans Revisited


by Alan King



here you are – two years
later – on South Claiborne Avenue
among Walgreens, a tire shop and
gutted-out homes whose water marks
are the only signs of Katrina

it's just you and Joe, the driver,
in a YMCA van heading downtown

imagine ten-foot waves coming atcha',
clearing three blocks in five seconds, he says

and goes on about the Y's residents
retreating the flooded first floor to upper
levels where you and five other young
reporters from D.C. crash for the week

you watch the mile markers, and try
holding your breath between them before
you'd desperately gasp for air

like that time at the beach when
you, 10 yrs. old, jumped too soon
and the current snatched you
under the wave's wide body

like those who drowned here –
a fate you would've shared
if your dad wasn't close enough
to lift you above towering water

when you ride past the Superdome,
Joe says the stench inside
was so thick he swore he could see
its musty apparitions


A Cave Canem fellow and Vona Alum, Alan King's fiction and poems have appeared in the Arabesques Review, Warpland, Black Renaissance Noire, The Amistad, and Fingernails Across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS, among others. His work was also part of Anacostia Exposed, a collaborative exhibit with Irish photographer Mervyn Smyth that showcases the life and energy of Anacostia.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

QUESTIONS FOR A LOCAL BOY

by Anna-Elise Price


If you go to kill the infidel, the evildoing towel-headed agents of terror, will you finally be all you can be, an army of one, standing alone the hero of that video game you play for hours; will your mother weep tears of pride at the transformed slacker no longer cluttering her couch; will all those yellow magnets be supporting you; will your home town hang your name on a lamp-post with a yellow ribbon, and will that ribbon turn black

Or worse

Will you return without an arm, missing half your brain

But no, you are young and youth is better armor than what the army may not give you

And when they finally let you go, with new dead eyes and secrets you will not tell, will you be ready for the peace of the second-shift job your father can get you because he knows a guy, the job you are willing to join the army to avoid?


Having proved her liberal credentials by serving three years as a public defender for juveniles, and then a further three at legal aid doing education law, Anna-Elise Price is now studying writing at Eastern Illinois University.
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Monday, February 25, 2008

THEY WANT IT

by Dale Goodson


we don’t

in the bow
drifting through silver slippers

not involved in totals
not in subtotals

our fingertips
busy
leaving trails in the lake

we drum on the sides
with heels and palms
that other sound
that violent pounding

not ours

a duck feather drifts by
like a ticket
we take our seats fore and aft

the sky explodes

some of it theirs
some of it the melting sun

we look at each other

the water smells great
someone could take a big gulp and down we’d go

but
not right now

right now
we kiss each other’s foot
right now
two flies beat it around our heads

hey bombardment
hey wooden boat

we float and swat and sing
who wouldn’t
in the pink rooster tail
of day


Dale Goodson is a writer from Seattle currently living in New York City and working as a homeless outreach worker in Times Square. He recently created his own website.
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Sunday, February 24, 2008

AIRPORT SECURITY ALERT FOR TOYS WITH REMOTES

by Rochelle Ratner


He sits beside her on the couch, hugging the remote to his hip, switching to the baseball or football game at every commercial. This drives her crazy. But her feet are in his lap and he's also massaging them. He rubs the remote over her arch, then thinks better of that. It's been a long day. Then again, the days are getting shorter. Soon they'll have to make plans for Christmas travel. She recalls the year they sat up in bed at four a.m., looking at a guidebook to Disney World for adults. Another year they missed the plane when the limo driver, two days on the job, got lost at the airport. Two years ago her computer came crashing off the belt with a thud and the plane was already boarding, and it was over an hour before, fighting for leg room, she could get it out of its case to make sure it would boot. By that time she wanted nothing to do with him or his family.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Leads (Otoliths Press, 2007), Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

HEROES SHOW UP FOR WORK TOO

by Earl J. Wilcox


She came to our modest southern town
almost ten years ago, brought her two
children, her husband was already here
from somewhere in Mexico. We never know
exactly where. She washed dishes, swept
floors, sewed on buttons at Kim’s laundry,
sent her kids to school, loved her husband.

Three years ago---her improved English
obvious—she went to work at Salt Water Seafood
down on East Main Street. Every day
the same hard work---cleaning shrimp,
carp, cod, cat fish, learning to meet
and greet customers.

When the masked gunman dashed
into the store, she stood still,
having learned from Capt. Breen exactly
what to do if someone is going to rob you:
give the money, don’t be brave, don’t try
to figure out who is robbing you. Above all,
don’t call a cop while the robbery is in progress.
She did as the robber said: put the money
from that drawer in this plastic bag.”
He took the money, turned toward
the door, returned and shot her in the face.
Bleeding, she fell down. He stood over her,
shot her twice again. He was a bad shot.
Her husband, children, friends, and
community are glad she’s alive.
Capt. Breen says she’s a hero.


Earl J. Wilcox founded The Robert Frost Review, which he edited for more than a decade. His poetry was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
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Friday, February 22, 2008

TWICE UPON A LIE

by Sue Turner


transparent as vellum
the elected reminisce
from memory disjointed

moss-clad cells conceal
frail connections to truth
history varies day by day

distorted as bad fiction
reality takes hindquarter
in words pocked by rubble


Sue Turner's left brain turned right about a decade ago when writing and painting replaced gainful employment.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

TIGER'S TRAIL

by Karl Kadie

Outside the tiger pen, young men wave and shout.
As the sun dims, the restaurant and gift shop
glow like a warm, Christmas beacon.
Titiana intends to stay on her side,
but today meat odors cloud the zoo air
and the vision of a man climbing her fence
shakes her memory like a dumb monkey of temptation.
But if it was just a monkey, it would be easy:
Catch, claw, and kill. But this is man
man who keeps her walled in,
man who feeds her meat late, long dead,
man, many men, who never let her eat alone.
Where, then, will the tiger's trail lead?


Energy scurries up her tail, twitches into her paws.
She sees and feels her claws extend, contract, extend.
I love you, I love you not: the tension of a proud spirit.
Then it happens: the memory of everything
abandoned in an instant – the bored annoyance,
the tightening leash of tiny territory,
the unmet needs of higher hunger –
all gone, cast onto the tiger's trail.


From The News:
"A spokesman for the zoo corrects the facts:
the wall is twelve and a half feet high,
several less than regulation"


Tatiana scrambles across the dry moat,
Hearing and feeling her body's music,
claws scratching stone like hiphop turntable riffs.
Once at the wall, she crouches and leaps, scaling the wall easily.


From The News:
"Authorities were at a loss Wednesday to explain
how a 250-pound tiger escaped from its enclosure"


The San Francisco Zoo checks on Tony, the other tiger,
and considers a tranquilizer gun for stopping Tatiana.
When gift store and café employees learn a tiger is loose,
they lock themselves in the gift shop,
refusing to respond to the wildness,
to shouts and shrieks along the tiger's trail.


911 record:
From the Request: "Get me some towels…My brother's about to die out there."
Answer: "We have 16 different police units …We have to make
sure that the tiger doesn't hurt any of the emergency units."


Titiana bounds onto the first man just outside the wall.
She bites and claws him, red mayhem rushing from his neck.
Then two other men shout and wave, distracting her from the kill.
With no barrier between them, Tatiana trails and takes them easily,
attacking one, then the other.


When police arrive, Tatiana lays beside one man,
her heart as calm as the hurricane's eye.
Police drive their patrol cars over, red lights whirling
like dervishes, and Tatiana jumps
back onto the man, re-staking her claim.


Experts Claim:
1) Captive tigers aren't nearly in the kind of
shape that wild tigers have to be.
2) Scaling the moat and wall is virtually impossible."


Then she looks up, rises with Sphinx-like grace,
and pads into the new winds of commotion.
The police shout a warning: "Halt! Come no further!"
English not being her first language, she continues unabated.
The police open fire. Tatiana drops.


The Final Count:
For the Tiger = 1 man dead, 2 wounded
For the Police = 1 tiger dead.


Experts Claim:
"Wild tigers in India or Russia prefer not to attack and eat people.
Typically, older tigers attack man in advanced age, when they are
no longer able to kill larger or faster prey."


Tatiana was only four years of age, far from old,
making her home with the keepers and the kept
until the final moments when she broke a new trail
for herself at the San Francisco Zoo,
changing the balance of tiger and man. Forever.


Karl Kadie holds an MA in English from San Francisco State University and is a native Californian. He has been writing poetry for over thirty years, and published poems in Haiku Headlines, The New Verse News, Santa Clara Review, and on poetry blogs. His poems reflect a powerful concern about the contemporary events of the new century. Karl earns his living by providing marketing for global high technology companies.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

THE AUTHORITY OF THE STATE

by Frank Potvin


After the first eleven days in that cell
before the shadows there became his
only witness, before he knew his time was up,
when he could still hold a cogent thought,
before the onslaught of blow after blow,
before the world became seamless and hell,
he thought she came to him, performed her
healing arts and laid with him, the days and weeks
flying by, as if in her reasonableness and care
he was free to falter, and in letting go, become
almost heroic, but, fearless in his bellowing.


Frank Potvin writes from the remaining woods of New Hampshire where he works as a Mental Health Counselor. Published poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Ellipsis, YAWP, and anthologized in The Maple Leaf Rag. He is a member of the River Voices Poetry Collective in Walpole, NH.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

DEMONCRAZY DERBY

Poeartry by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote


Hoarse race strep deep throat
     Putrefactive septic grating sore loser
          Badverteasement messages aloe massaging egos
               Off-track bettor or worse tri(per)fecta

               Hallohaha Obamama surf’s up Dude
          Also-ran soaking defeat sucking lozenges
     Now I lei me downhearted
Hillary grass skirting hip-hop hula-ti-da

Lone Star Wacko Taxes AlaMode
     Oil’s unwell high nonoonon NO-OK
          Filly versus stud final stretch
               Unbranded maverick bucking broncobuster odds

               Rodeohio courting unconventional stupor delegates
          Cracked Liberty Bellwether sheepish cashtration
     IndiePenndense declaring John McCaine Mutiny
Republigun bullets shooting ballot blanks



This Thaidings of Joy PoeArtry visualization was rendered in black & white by Dr. Charles Frederickson, with computer-generated coloration by Saknarin Chinayote. Their website features more than 500 original images and impressions, sketched and scribbled during travels to 206 countries on our fave planet.

Monday, February 18, 2008

SOVEREIGNTY

by Rochelle Owens


Ever on the surface appears a story
of Iberian days a state of mind
white sand from end to end
explaining the surface of the skin
a naked martyr standing pigeon-toed
opens her right hand pale yellow
the sand in the hollow of    her palm
the shade expanding more than
half-way organizing the lines between
atmosphere following the course
a space between words    etoile    horseshoe
evil-eye    taliswoman
And power a conjurer and truth a fissure
darkening yellowing on the bottom
   of her   left foot

Away from the traffic and pointing at
a hypothetical male a woman says a word
with a smile while her key ring slips off
slips off an index finger and before
another theft another theft in Calcutta    gaps
in the sequence of events
sequence of events a marriage between
pauper and wealthy woman from Delhi
and naught but sovereignty says a word
a word that you know    on the earth’s surface
seven continents rivers and deserts
the flexible long neck of a woman stretches
and an index finger waves    spiraling bands
of wind and rain and strong little legs
of    a pauper run little legs of a pauper run

Escape to spring from one continent    to
another and a sign says “keep out” those
who will not dance to a tune of their misery
to a tune of their pain their pain as perfect
as tubular bells tam tam gongs and sitars
to be no more of this story cut out of the
middle this story of Iberian days and naught
but sovereignty says a word a word that you
know dividing itself into head inchoate eyes
and ears that grind up sound for the word:    theft
is sound ground up becoming a gift and it is
a gift of a red stone red stone in a bean-shape
and the size of a fist and beauty is the arch
beauty is the arch of the foot of a pauper

The operating room and lights that beam
scan across the screen are the eyes and eyes
are organs of wonder wondrous organs and
the two eyeballs set in bony sockets Behold
the gift the gift of a red stone in a bean- shape
precious the intact skeleton    precious the skull
spine bones joints the form of the human body
and naught but sovereignty is the matchmaker
naught but sovereignty says a body is its parts
knowing which side his bread is buttered
as a surgeon on a safari or a trip around the
world    Behold the bread of kali!- –an abundance
of paupers paupers of inchoate eyes rattling
spiral seashells jingling bracelets    They are called
the bread of Kali because Kali devours them
and they are deaf from birth they are the deaf
paupers deaf to the flutes deaf to the sitars deaf
   to the tam tam gongs deaf to the tubular bells


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.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

STOPPING BY WOODS WITH A SNOWY VANDAL

by Marcus Bales


Whose house is this? Don’t care, don’t know,

Some institution owns it, though,

And no authority is near

To salt the roads or shovel snow

This last half mile, and we’ve got beer;

So we will party hearty here

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

I give the door a half-assed shake

And kick the frame before I break

A window, reach around, unlock

The door, and hey, come on, let’s shake

This joint! Burn a chair and hock

A loogie! Poetry’s a crock.

Drink up! We’ll make this party rock!

Drink up! We’ll make this party rock!



Not much is known about Marcus Bales except he lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and his poems have not been published in The New Yorker or Poetry.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

HOLY THURSDAY IN AMERICA

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


Readiness is all
In a country such as this
One never knows
When one will meet one's bliss
The day after the day when the children get shot
Is always a busy time
We all need to shop for something somber, preferably dark
We all need to come together, at a time like this, preferably in some park
I can't think straight so I'm asking you to give me a hand
Remember, if you can, the name of the young man
The guy, big burly sort, that dated your cousin's daughter that summer
Remember, we all had a laugh, he was a funny kid
Over by the keg there, saying what he did
The big kid, now what the hell was his name?
Said he was a writer
You gotta know who I mean?
You know the kid I mean
I even remember a line he quoted, from a poem by Robert Blake
"The children walking two and two, in red and blue and green".
Remember how I ribbed him, remember me going:
"Two and two? It's two by two"!
And the kid goes: "Says you"!
But in such a goofy way, not like most kids today
Know what I mean?
The way they look at ya with their eyebrows instead of their eyes
Man, why can't I remember the name of that guy?
Was he Robert, too, like the poet dude Blake?
I remember like it was yesterday
Your cousin's daughter - the way she walked outta the water
And the way that poet kid looked at her
He had big arms, dammit, and I think he was a pizza guy
I think his dad is Angelo, or maybe Tony
One of those two
Over at Inferno, or Vesuvius
I'm not thinking straight today
What are they saying now?
The shooter used a handgun on himself?
I was right, what I said last night
Don't ask how I knew, I knew
John, maybe? Or Johnny? The name of the kid?
Call your cousin, she can track down his number
I know, I know they stopped seeing each other
But this kid's gotta know a poem or two
Something the parents can use
Nobody is gonna know what to say
That kid knew a shitload of poems, remember that day?
Black hair, slicked back, and that gap between his teeth
A Cubs tank top: Go Cubs, 2003
Funny what shit like this can do to your head
I remember his stupid shirt, remember what it said
What's the matter?
What's wrong?
Look at me
Don't cry
We'll come up with his name
Or we won't
No nevermind
C'mon, honey, don't cry
Oh
Oh, shit
He was one of the ones that died?


Steve Hellyard Swartz's poetry has appeared in The New Verse News, Best Poem, The Kennesaw Review, Haggard and Halloo, and switched-on gutenberg. In 1990, his film Never Leave Nevada opened in Dramatic Competition at the U.S. Sundance Film Festival. In 2008, his poetry will appear in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review.

Friday, February 15, 2008

EMBEDDED

by Mary Mueller


Ducking shrapnel like a journalist
embedded in Iraq, the cygnet
takes notes on his wing, chards of intelligence
gleaned in the crossfire, whispered or screamed
by soldiers in heavy metal jackets,
opaque bombast crowed by generals
crushing his feathers as he writes, quivering,
alert for explosions overhead, bullets
cracking like dogwhips around him. Can
the quill sustain scratches of truth to show
the world, carry the weight of Aries'
unleashed destruction? The war penetrates,
fuses with his slight bones, his delicate
heart protected by eggshells, his eyes dazed,
beak filled with hot sand, his down hardening
to concrete. How did he get here?
He snatches furtive glances at his wing,
pecks at the vane for clues to free him
from entrenchment. Like a mortar blast,
he sees that the words are not of his making.
He draws a bead on the scorched horizon
for a direction out, should his chance come,
to take flight.


Mary Mueller is a psychotherapist and writer living in Pawtucket, RI. Her poems have been previously published in the Rhode Island Writers' Circle Anthology.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A VALENTINE SONNET

by George Held

Millions Buy Valentine Gifts For Themselves.
—Reuters, Feb. 5, 2008

“Will you be my Valentine, my love?”
I asked my image in the mirror.
“No one could ever make me feel dearer
Than you who fit me like a glove.
The dozen red roses I bought you glow
With the passion I feel for you,
Mon semblable, mon frère, mon amour.
Others so fail to meet my needs, you know.
When I do deign to date another,
I always pick someone who looks like me.
But on this special day, I want no other,
Just to be with me myself and me.
I am so loveable I want to be alone,
To toast myself, to gift myself, to moan.”


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

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

ANCIENT HISTORY

by Sondra Zeidenstein


I was twenty-five, in Brooklyn, with two toddlers,
when I watched nine black children in their Sunday best
stopped by the Little Rock National Guard,
bayonets drawn, white women hooting,
their faces twisted with hatred, at least one of them
spitting on the girl whose skirt was prettily puffed out by petticoats.
The black of the woman’s open mouth, her wild eyes.

And here I am fifty years later, my eyes fixed on Gwen Ifill
who is near fifty, on a segment of the News Hour
with the Little Rock Nine. The fiftieth anniversary—
1957, ancient history—of their having “integrated”
the high school in Little Rock which had never had
a black student in its halls. Her guests nearing seventy,
her elders, Gwen, asks them in a reverent voice

how they are feeling today. Gwen’s face is without makeup
she wears on her own show, older, no polish to her cheeks,
her hair old-fashioned southern, her Blackness on display.
I knew that woman, said the one who’d worn the wide skirt,
her prettiest clothes. I remember the shock, she says.
I couldn’t believe that woman was spitting at me.
The whole year was like that.

There will be blood in the streets--we see the clip,
Governor Faubus of Arkansas--if these children try to enter.
We see Eisenhower’s bald head lean toward the camera,
signing the children an escort into and out of the building.
When I left school each day I didn’t know where I’d get
the courage to go back
. We, the remnant of those who watched,
remember the everyday looking woman who spit at the little girl

her brightly polished shoes, wide skirt, tight belt, books
under her arm. It’s so hard to come together this way, it
brings back the emotions, she said, who had the strength
to keep getting up each morning to be humiliated, scared,
alone--doing this, how could she know? for Gwen someday,
who would do it someday for the Rutgers five, doing it even
for me sitting against an icepack pressed to my upper spine

for the nerve pain that’s almost crippling me these days,
restoring me, in whose old brain 1957 is inscribed, with hope.


Sondra Zeidenstein's poems have been published in magazines, journals and anthologies, and in a chapbook collection entitled Late Afternoon Woman. A Detail in that Story is her first book, Resistance is her second. She is editor of several anthologies including A Wider Giving: Women Writing after a Long Silence and Family Reunion: Poems about Parenting Grown Children, and publisher of
Chicory Blue Press, a small literary press, now twenty years old, that focuses on writing by older women.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

PRIMARY DAY BLUES

by Eve Rifkah

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed.
--Langston Hughes

This land is my land
we walk shaky ground
listen for deep grumbles
expect the earth to open, to swallow, to belch.

our hands empty
in travels we hold a shield of not me.
in the land of the deluded

our freedoms lost, our words of greatness in shreds
so much confetti           the marriage failed
a nation divided.

we gather in small groups
shake out heads and moan for dreams deferred
cast votes for the lesser devils
press-manipulated we feel pressed -

folded, torn, useless.
we grab our comforts
curl in favorite chairs
try to remember

America of the dream dreamers dreamed—
sleep and wake to un-changed change.


Eve Rifkah is editor of the literary journal Diner and co-founder of Poetry Oasis, Inc., a non-profit poetry association dedicated to education, promoting local poets and publishing Diner. Poems have or will appear in Bellevue Literary Review, The MacGuffin, 5 AM, Parthenon West, newversenews.com, poetrymagazine.com, Chaffin Journal, Porcupine Press, The Worcester Review, California Quarterly, ReDactions, Jabberwock Review, Southern New Hampshire Literary Journal and translated into Braille. Her chapbook At the Leprosarium won the 2003 Revelever chapbook contest. At this time she is a professor of English at Worcester and Fitchburg State Colleges and a workshop instructor.

Monday, February 11, 2008

PROSTHETICS FOUND IN TRASH

by Rochelle Ratner


If you don't like it throw the damn thing out, her family told her. Which included two nurses. Buy another one. They'd also, of course, tried to convince her from the start to have implants made from cells elsewhere in her body, and certainly a tummy tuck wouldn't have gone unnoticed, but she refused that pain. She didn't throw it out, she shoved it in the back of the closet, thinking if she gained weight it might look better. But she didn't gain, she lost. The second prosthesis was smaller and less rounded. The third was so thin and light it was all but transparent. But her body didn't even have strength to hold it on. The moment the coffin was closed they threw the damn things out, along with two wigs (one synthetic) and a dozen turbans and cancer hats. It never crossed their minds there might be other people who could use these. People living just blocks away who couldn't afford to buy their own. People they passed on the street who looked so God-damned healthy in their $5.00 imitation Pashima scarves you wanted to pull an Isadora Duncan on them.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Leads (Otoliths Press, 2007), Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

INTANGIBLE SHRAPNEL

by Robert M. Chute


Due to the emergence
of emergency medicine
helicopters
reconstructive surgery
and prosthetic engineering
with each new adventure
called war
more pieces of people come home
to be reassembled
although
inside their heads
intangible shrapnel still rattles
ragged fragments
of the innocent dead
rattle
and rattle
but it's all in their heads
we are told
it's all in their heads


Robert M. Chute has a book from JustWrite Books, Reading Nature, of poetry based on scientific articles, that is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A CHANGE OF HEART

by Mary Saracino


She’s a woman. But don’t mention it.
He’s African-American. But mum’s the word.
Eyes wide shut we stare down the twin
barrels of gender and race, as if sexism & racism
weren’t still festering in the good ole USA ,
as if our country were able to drop the façades
of genitalia and color, cut through the
veneer of differences to cull courageous truths.
By what means will we unravel the bigotry,
liberate our indentured spirits?
What will it take to champion a real change of heart,
heed the songs of truth-telling tongues?
When will we venture deeper than skin-deep,
embrace the spiral DNA-dance of X or Y
in all its life-sustaining combinations?
When will we trust what our souls see
& rely less on our world-weary eyes?


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.

Friday, February 08, 2008

GOING GLOBAL

by Rochelle Owens


A woman says a word that you know
her high cheekbones cut from a red stone
a red stone sought by a global market
trafficking in human kidneys and an index
finger waves a finger waves for it is
a versatile tool uniquely capable a word
that you know from the earth’s crust
plant material and blood is cleansed in
the fist-sized bean-shape a word that
you know which consists of a brain
cut out from the skull of a woman her high
cheekbones cut from a red stone and a
typhoon the head-butting rains   gaps in
the sequence of events   laid down
and eroded away


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.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

101st FABLED EXTRAVAGANZA REVISITED

by David Plumb


In the blink of America, in the belly of Saudi Arabia
on the spine of China and Pakistan and Sudan
a day of magnificent explosions got sold in cracker boxes
and plastic toys and necklaces and underwear.
Digital cookies wrapped in tasty chocolate blowups
killed fish and babies and grownups and goats and chickens.
They killed the sky. It was a Fourth of July
Thanksgiving when everyone had their head up a turkey butt.
They mail-ordered nine hundred dollar caskets from Costco
with “He Didn’t Get It," printed on the lid.

Johnny Upton stepped on a Baghdad bomb in Rudyard Kipling’s Afghanistan
and the country made super dressing with that, a celebration of bowed heads
green peas and marshmallows on sweet potato pie.
Guns echoed in the plasma screen, the teams took the field.
The pretty girls wagged their rumps, beer frothed in Paradise
and all over everywhere, purple mountains majestically
watched the clicking, clacking, babbling, flickering game
roast an honorary degree on a cross of its own making.

Somewhere in Texas an Attwater Prairie Chicken scratched for a mate.
Somewhere near Hollywood, Florida, a pickup truck
raced past a commercial for black jack fried bread to Tuba City, Arizona.
Somewhere the President wore jeans and smirked.
Somewhere the Vice President hid in his fat listening to
his private heart machine beat him alive.

A thousand elephants with crosses tacked to their sides
and butterfly wings clipped to their ears marched out of the sky.
Mexicans and Puerto Ricans and Dominicans and Haitians
stood in line for the next trolley, the next truck or boat
the next something and somewhere in Chiapas, a Zapatista
sliced a strange Indian custom with a laptop.
America’s bugles hooted the alleys, the shopping malls
the empty schoolyards and the parking lots.

Movie stars wearing flashing teeth and short skirts wailed
cross-eyed songs in the Forget You Night. Flags flapped
in the bombed out brains of soldiers eating crow.
Babies screeched, mothers screamed and wives
stood at blank windows staring into emptiness.

Priests hailed Mary on her way to Dubai for a facelift.
Jesus took a good room overlooking the sea. Rabbis rallied.
Mid East kings sold slick promises of BEST Buy
in a Black Box with whores in the backroom on Sunday.
A man married his dog in India and Minnesota
opened five Bed and Breakfasts for single canines.

When all the announcements had been made,
all the prayers whispered, all the turkey stuffed in all the craws
and all the butchers closed their cash registers and Bibles
and all the tight canons and Constitutionals and all overheards were overheard
and all the pundits choked on the babble in their throats
and all the pretty girls jumped all the pretty boys
and all the slot machines stopped at strawberries and 7
and all the Easter Bunnies died in waiting and all the
monkeys hung from their cages waiting for somebody
somewhere to speak up about something besides Freedom
Democracy and Terror, the immortal screen went blank.



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.”

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

PRIMARY DAY

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


Cold rain on my windshield
Cold rain that hits the window and splats
That makes the sound:
I want to be snow

In the long line snaking out of the middle school parking lot
In the yellow buses with Garfields crucified on grilles
In the short boxy buses driven by suburban welfare queens who stare so mean
When you make fun of their Lacrosse Mom decals
The sound of radios can be heard through closed windows
The blab today is about the Primary
Who will it be? Obama or Hillary?
I am listening to the sound of rain trying to be something else
I am rolling down my window
And raising my face
To the part of heaven responsible for audio effects
I am getting wet
I am staring at the profile of America's Most Wanted
Which creep by me
Inch by inch
I can almost reach out and touch the dinosaur's toe nail that filled the tank of the Expedition that the pony tail'ed blonde is driving
What difference does it make who wins?
The bus driver had said to the Mom at the stop this morning
Will you still vote? She wants to know
Cuz if it's raining like this, I don't think I'm gonna go

I look across the street
Out onto 155
Where the traffic is a mirror image of the access road
I stick my head out the window and
A woman in a monster Toyota looks at me and makes a face
As if I'd just bequeathed her right to destroy the earth anyway she pleases
To someone who got to America a week after her grandmother arrived on the boat
I do something funny with my nose
A bus driver looks at me as if I was the guy who invented the fart
I am getting wet
My car's engine is dead
As my mother used to say:
Are you all right in your head?
My car answers for me
My little car with its capacity for spin
Radio off
Rain on the roof
My car tells the turned heads of the guilty
Look somewhere else
He's not in


Steve Hellyard Swartz's poetry has appeared in New Verse News, Best Poem, The Kennesaw Review, and switched-on gutenberg. He has won Honorable Mentions in the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Competition and the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards. In 2008, his poetry will appear in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review. His film, Never Leave Nevada, opened in Dramatic Competition at the 1990 U.S. Sundance Film Festival.

STOP RUNNING

by Dale Goodson


that’s what I want

all of them

already scrambled and tormented
what do we get out of this

the Devil
barking and chasing his tail

stop running

climb in a truck
drive down the street

and help

cook something
mend something
teach something

stop throwing money away
it’s horrific
it’s sad

no more of these elections
these tantrums
these savage shows

where even the righteous get it wrong


Dale Goodson is a writer from Seattle currently living in New York City and working as a homeless outreach worker in Times Square. He recently created his own website.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

DEMOCRACY

by David Chorlton


This is the day starlings mass
along the wires that sag
from pole to pole along Third Avenue
like pilgrims facing east
to stare back toward the land
from which they came

as they gather their voices in a chorus
that turns the chill to sound.
Every year on this day in late January
at eleven o’clock in the morning
when the sky has no season
and traffic is light

thousands of the birds
become one body
with a gloss on its black
and broken soul
as it crowds onto lawns and disperses
in the day’s half-hopeful light
shining on the prospect

of change after war and occupation.
They are a kind of democracy,
bound together yet flying
separately with so many pairs of wings
flying to what unites them.


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

Monday, February 04, 2008

ELEGY FOR AMERICA, 2001-2008

by Ellen Kombiyil


I write this like goodbye
or is it like a restraining order,
keep back 500 feet, further
than arm's distance, further
and further, until distance
matches vastness, your wheat fields,
your tornado crops, your mountains
cleaved up and rainwater
running sideways
into the oceans.
I write this like goodbye
for Byzantine
or Chichen Itza,
knowing one day
your time will come.
Nothing good
will come of this, nothing
good will come.
While I still can, I celebrate
your freeways, how wide
they ride, how smooth!
But oil drips like blood.
There, I've said it.
I haven't been arrested
at least not yet.
What of my children?
I tell them, there is goodness in everything.
Amber fields undulate in wind.
How beautiful, how desolate the sound
when I whisper I love you,
voice scratchy like grain,
my homeland, my country --
cracked chaff
falls from my mouth.


Ellen Kombiyil is originally from Syracuse, New York. Her poetry has recently appeared in Sojourn, 2river, Eclectica, and Contemporary Haibun. In addition, she had the honor of appearing as Featured Poet for The Hiss Quarterly's April 2007 issue. She currently lives in India with her husband and two children.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

RUN – RAN – RUN

PoeArtry by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote



“Mission Accomplished” in long Run
     Ran into “Mission Impossible” bunkum
          Running amok out of control
               Out of gas misbegotten Run-around

Running on Running in place
     Rings around oval office truthitudes
          Clocks Run fast Runaway time
               Unstoppable existence keeps ononon Running

Engines trains colors stockings Run
     You can Run errands guns
          A temperature rapids the distance
               Rundown Run-out of kismet luck

I-Ran you-Ran he-she-it-Ran TehRanny
     Running scared/sacred Run-off prospects bleak
          Unified Sunni Kurd Shiite coexistence               
               Runagate bullyrag ploticians Running rampant

Easy endgame solutions rarely are
     Ranting Bush-leaguer “Bring ‘em On”
          Hype must hopefully yield to
               Inside-the-park “Bring ‘em HomeRun”


This Thaidings of Joy PoeArtry visualization was rendered in black & white by Dr. Charles Frederickson, with computer-generated coloration by Saknarin Chinayote. Their website features more than 500 original images and impressions, sketched and scribbled during travels to 206 countries on our fave planet.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

MAN ARRESTED OVER HALLUCINOGENIC TOAD

by Rochelle Ratner


It seemed magical. The toads moved in the day he had the pond dug. Half an inch of water and half a dozen toads. He picked one up and stroked it. It wasn't more than two inches long – all he could imagine living in a pond that small. He went to wash the mud off his hands, and gave a sniff. He remembers it as well as the smell of his mother’s milk. He put a bit on his tongue. The hill behind his house seemed steeper. He could hear the wind. He hadn't even known there was a wind. Water filled the pond. Larger toads moved in. He tried licking different places, finally settled on the venom gland. Now it even tasted like mother’s milk.


Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Leads (Otoliths Press, 2007), Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.

Friday, February 01, 2008

WHY I'M PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN

by David Thornbrugh


That’s my face up there on the billboard,
I’m an American selling the dream of a better onion,
umbrella, vote bleaching powder.
A country of stumps stolen from the natives,
roast turkeys falling from the sky at the touch of a button,
buffalo robes shedding squaw bones in the attic
with Grandpa’s medals from San Juan Hill –
what it means to be an American
written on the back of a gum wrapper.
That’s me reading the funny papers in the tail-gun turret
by the light of Hiroshima ,
Mandrake the Magician comparing capes with Superman
while Brenda Starr Girl Reporter peels back the wax paper
from another Pulitzer.
Sacco and Vanzetti bought soap powder for the dish towels
folded inside neon cardboard boxes,
a conveyer belt of platitudes that stretched from Plymouth Rock
to Catalina Island , hard truths about the Founding Fathers
that Snowshoe Thompson slogged past a gauntlet of wolves
to deliver to Sacramento .
I’m an American stabbing myself in the big toe with a plastic fork
for Rose Bowl parade floats exploding with a Memorex screech,
as American as Al Capone in Alcatraz counting the spirochetes
swimming his spinal cord.
I was born in mud where the Snake River meets the Platte
in the journals of Lewis and Clark giving away a mile of land
both sides of the railroads as far as the eye can see
and Madison Avenue can jingle, I learned how to play Monopoly
from Pontius Pilate, I have been baptized in a river of oil
and come up white as George Washington’s wig,
I wash my conscience in a Diebold voting machine,
the Manhattan Project spun me out into Las Vegas high noon gunslinger pose
but I hate French movies and breasts smaller than the Gettysburg Address.
That’s me behind the counter punching cash register keys coded with burgers, fries,
shakes so the tax is automatic, you don’t have to compute the minimum wages
a Daisy Cutter imposes on Baghdad ,
you don’t have to raise the fetuses floating in TV aquariums,
you don’t have to stand in toxic slop to your knees in a Chinese prison shop
painting in a Teletubby’s baby blues or peel the orange jumpsuit
off a Guantanamo Bay torture hamster.
I learned to read by the light of Atlanta in flames,
I pay babysitters forty acres and a mule,
I won’t eat a strawberry that wasn’t picked by an illegal alien.



David Thornbrugh currently writes from South Korea, where he teaches English in a National University . He writes to push back the darkness a little bit at a time, in the same flighty manner as lightning bugs. He has been published in numerous small press journals, and once wrote the questions for a geography textbook. He prefers multiple choice questions to True/False.